15 Signs That We Are Near The Peak Of An Absolutely Massive Stock Market Bubble
One of the men that won the Nobel Prize for economics this year says that “bubbles look like this” and that he is “most worried about the boom in the U.S. stock market.” But you don’t have to be a Nobel Prize winner to see what is happening. It should be glaringly apparent to anyone with half a brain. The financial markets have been soaring while the overall economy has been stagnating. Reckless injections of liquidity into the financial system by the Federal Reserve have pumped up stock prices to ridiculous extremes, and people are becoming concerned. In fact, Google searches for the term “stock bubble” are now at the highest level that we have seen since November 2007. Despite assurances from the mainstream media and the Federal Reserve that everything is just fine, many Americans are beginning to realize that we have seen this movie before. We saw it during the dotcom bubble, and we saw it during the lead up to the horrible financial crisis of 2008. So precisely when will the bubble burst this time? Nobody knows for sure, but without a doubt this irrational financial bubble will burst at some point. Remember, a bubble is always the biggest right before it bursts, and the following are 15 signs that we are near the peak of an absolutely massive stock market bubble…
#1 Bob Shiller, one of the winners of this year’s Nobel Prize for economics, says that “bubbles look like this” and that he is “most worried about the boom in the U.S. stock market.”
#2 The total amount of margin debt has risen by 50 percent since January 2012 and it is now at the highest level ever recorded. The last two times that margin debt skyrocketed like this were just before the bursting of the dotcom bubble in 2000 and just before the financial crisis of 2008. When this house of cards comes crashing down, things are going to get very messy…
“When the tablecloth gets pulled out from under the place settings, you’re going to have a lot of them crash and smash on the floor,” said Uri Landesman, president of Platinum Partners hedge fund. “That margin’s going to get pulled and everyone’s going to have to cover. That’s when you get really serious corrections.”
#3 Since the bottom of the market in 2009, the Dow has jumped 143 percent, the S&P 500 is up 165 percent and the Nasdaq has risen an astounding 213 percent. This does not reflect economic reality in any way, shape or form.
#4 Market research firm TrimTabs says that the S&P 500 is “very overpriced” right now.
#5 Marc Faber recently told CNBC that “we are in a gigantic speculative bubble”.
#6 In the United States, Google searches for the term “stock bubble” are at the highest level that we have seen since November 2007 – just before the last stock market crash.
#7 Price to earnings ratios are very high right now…
The Dow was trading at 17.8 times the past four quarters of earnings of its 30 components, according to The Wall Street Journal on Friday. That was up from 13.7 times its earnings a year ago. The S&P 500 is trading at 18.7 times earnings. The Nasdaq-100 Index is trading at 21.5 times earnings. At the very least, the ratios are signaling that stock prices are rich.
#9 Twitter is a seven-year-old company that has never made a profit. It actually lost 64.6 million dollars last quarter. But according to the financial markets it is currently worth about 22 billion dollars.
#11 Howard Marks of Oaktree Capital recently stated that he believes that “markets are riskier than at any time since the depths of the 2008/9 crisis”.
#12 As Graham Summers recently noted, retail investors are buying stocks at a level not seen since the peak of the dotcom bubble back in 2000.
#13 David Stockman, a former director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Ronald Reagan, believes that this financial bubble is going to end very badly…
“We have a massive bubble everywhere, from Japan, to China, Europe, to the UK. As a result of this, I think world financial markets are extremely dangerous, unstable, and subject to serious trouble and dislocation in the future.”
#14 Bob Janjuah of Nomura Securities believes that there “could be a 25% to 50% sell off in global stock markets” over the next couple of years.
#15 According to Tyler Durden of Zero Hedge, the U.S. stock market is repeating a pattern that we have seen many times before. According to him, we are experiencing “a well-defined syndrome of ‘overvalued, overbought, overbullish, rising-yield’ conditions that has appeared exclusively at speculative market peaks – including (exhaustively) 1929, 1972, 1987, 2000, 2007, 2011 (before a market loss of nearly 20% that was truncated by investor faith in a new round of monetary easing), and at three points in 2013: February, May, and today.”
As I mentioned at the top of this article, this stock market bubble has been fueled by quantitative easing. Easy money from the Fed has been artificially inflating stock prices, and this has greatly benefited a very small percentage of the U.S. population. In fact, 82 percent of all individually held stocks are owned by the wealthiest 5 percent of all Americans.
When this stock market bubble does burst, those wealthy Americans are going to be in for a tremendous amount of pain.
But there are some people out there that argue that what we are witnessing is not a stock market bubble at all. That includes Janet Yellen, the new head of the Federal Reserve. Recently, she insisted that there is absolutely nothing to be worried about…
“Stock prices have risen pretty robustly,” Yellen said. “But I think that if you look at traditional valuation measures, you would not see stock prices in territory that suggests bubble-like conditions.”
We shall see who was right and who was wrong. Let’s all file that one away and come back to it in a few years.
So where are stocks going next?
If you had the answer to that question, you could probably make a lot of money.
Yes, the current bubble could burst at any moment, or stocks could continue going up for a little while longer.
After all, the S&P 500 has risen in December about 80 percent of the time over the past thirty years.
Perhaps that will be the case this December as well.
Do you feel lucky?
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
By Daisy Luther
GMO Rat Study Retracted..by New Journal Editor from (Surprise!) Monsanto
Remember the Seralini study, with those gruesome images of GMO-fed rats that were engulfed by horrific tumors? Well, great news! You can grab yourself some GMO corn and chow down now because the journal that published the study has retracted it. Silly us, there was absolutely nothing to worry about!
The new editor over at the journal, Food and Chemical Toxicology, says so – you know, Richard E. Goodman, the editor that used to work in the hallowed halls of Monsanto.
I guess it wasn’t enough for Monsanto to infiltrate the government at every level - now they have to install staff to keep their GMO death crops from being negatively reviewed at respected scientific journals.
In February of 2013, the FCT hired Monsanto’s former employee, Richard E. Goodman, for a new position reviewing biotechnology papers. On November 19, the FCT reported its decision to retract the published paper stating the study’s results were inconclusive because there weren’t enough rats used in the study, and the strain of rat used was not acceptable.
Writing for CRIIGEN, the independent lab with which Seralini is affiliated, Frédérique Baudouin noted that a short Monsanto study, which was published in the same journal to prove the safety of its product, “was conducted with the same strain and number of rats.”
Séralini has promised to sue. (source)
In case you don’t recall the findings of this study that has Monsanto running scared, here’s a quick refresher.
The rodents were fed a lifetime of genetically modified corn that had been doused with Roundup (glyphosate) during its growing process. The tragic results proved that the rats had a 50-70% chance of developing horrific, grotesque tumors from the diet. Naysayers attempted to refute the science behind the study and a war developed in the scientific community, one that is clearly ongoing with this Monsanto scientist that was very obviously put in place to discredit the harmful-to-Monsanto report. Natural News summarized some findings of the study:
• Up to 50% of males and 70% of females suffered premature death.
• Rats that drank trace amounts of Roundup (at levels legally allowed in the water supply) had a 200% to 300% increase in large tumors.
• Rats fed GM corn and traces of Roundup suffered severe organ damage including liver damage and kidney damage.
• The study fed these rats NK603, the Monsanto variety of GM corn that’s grown across North America and widely fed to animals and humans. This is the same corn that’s in your corn-based breakfast cereal, corn tortillas and corn snack chips.
The infiltration of Monsanto into the halls of academia did not go unnoticed to a group of scientists in Europe. They have harshly denounced the whole sordid camouflage job.
A European network of scientists (ENSSER) has also published a scathing condemnation of FCT’s behavior, warning that this level of corruption is “a flagrant abuse of science” that will “decrease public trust in science.” No doubt.
Going further, ENSSER condemned the FCT for violating “not only the criteria for retraction to which the journal itself subscribes, but any standards of good science.”
A recent article calling this matter ‘The Goodman Affair,’ noted that:
Richard E. Goodman is professor at the Food Allergy Research and Resource Program, University of Nebraska. But he is also a former Monsanto employee, who worked for the company between 1997 and 2004. While at Monsanto he assessed the allergenicity of the company’s GM crops and published papers on its behalf on allergenicity and safety issues relating to GM food (Goodman and Leach 2004).”Beyond all this, Seralini wasn’t even looking for cancer, which would require a larger number of animals, but merely prepared a chronic toxicity study under the same conditions that Monsanto used to assert the GM corn’s safety.
ENSSER explains that the short term study found not only “pronounced toxic effects” but also “increased tumour rates.” Further, the Sprague-Dawley strain of rat is the “commonly used standard for this type of research” and was the same one Monsanto used.
Most importantly, “Unpleasant results should be checked, not ignored. And the toxic effects other than tumours and mortality are well-founded.”
ENSSER concluded that, “Prof. Séralini’s findings stand today more than before, as even this secret review found that there is nothing wrong with either technicalities, conduct or transparency of the data – the foundations on which independent science rests. The conclusiveness of their data will be decided by future independent science, not by a secret circle of people.”
Monsanto is clearly striving diligently to undo the damage done by activists spreading the word about their toxic takeover of the food supply. They are blatantly covering up the information that people need to have access to in order make informed decisions about the consumption of GMOs. I’m certainly not swayed by this retraction. I stand by my former recommendation: GMOs are not safe, even in moderation.
Learn more here: Monsanto behind Journal’s retraction of GMO rat-cancer link
Daisy Luther is a freelance writer and editor. Her website, The Organic Prepper, offers information on healthy prepping, including premium nutritional choices, general wellness and non-tech solutions. You can follow Daisy on Facebook and Twitter, and you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Image credit: http://www.theorganicprepper.ca
20 years ago NAFTA passed, This is what one of the greatest free market economists ever had to say about it at the time.0
20 years ago NAFTA passed, This is what one of the greatest free market economists ever had to say about it at the time.
This essay by Murray Rothbard holds particular relevance as the Trans Pacific Partnership continues to be negotiated in secret.
Yet Nafta is more than just a big business trade deal. It is part of a very long campaign to integrate and cartelize government in order to entrench the interventionist mixed economy. In Europe, the campaign culminated in the Maastricht Treaty, the attempt to impose a single currency and central bank on Europe and force its relatively free economies to rachet up their regulatory and welfare states.
In the United States, this has taken the form of transferring legislative and judicial authority away from the states and localities to the executive branch of the federal government. Nafta negotiations have pushed the envelope by centralizing government power continent-wide, thus further diminishing the ability of taxpayers to hinder the actions of their rulers.
Black Friday: A Shameful Orgy Of Materialism For A Morally Bankrupt Nation
It has been called “America’s most disturbing holiday”. Black Friday is the day when millions of average Americans wait outside retail stores in the middle of the night in the freezing cold to spend more money that they do not have for more cheap Chinese-made products that they do not need. It is a day when the rest of the world makes fun of Americans for behaving like “rabid animals” and “zombies” as we indulge in a tsunami of greed. It truly is a shameful orgy of materialism for a morally bankrupt nation. It is being projected that approximately 140 million Americans will participate in this disgusting national ritual this year. Sadly, most of them have absolutely no idea that they are actively participating in the destruction of the economic infrastructure of the United States. If you don’t understand why this is true, please be sure to read this entire article all the way to the end.
The amount of merchandise that is purchased on Black Friday is absolutely staggering. For example, just consider how much stuff is sold at Wal-Mart alone…
Wal-Mart said it recorded more than 10 million register transactions between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. Thursday in its stores and nearly 400 million page views that day on walmart.com. It sold 2.8 million towels, 2 million televisions, 1.4 million tablets, 300,000 bicycles and 1.9 million dolls. Big-ticket electronics like big-screen TVs and new videogame consoles were among the top sellers.
But each and every year, Black Friday also seems to bring out the worst in many people, and this year was certainly no exception. The following are just a few of the national headlines about the rioting and the violence that we witnessed…
And sometimes the violence extends out into the parking lots and into the surrounding neighborhoods. In Las Vegas, a man that was carrying a big-screen television home from Target was shot in the leg…
According to police, a man purchased a big-screen television from the Target store near Flamingo Rd. and Maryland Pkwy. While he was walking to a nearby apartment complex, a man approached and fired a warning shot, causing the victim to drop the television, police said.
Officers tell 8 News NOW the gunman then took the television to a nearby car that was waiting, where a second man helped the gunman load the TV into the car.
The victim approached the two men and tried to get the television back. That prompted the gunman to fire several more rounds, shooting the victim in the leg.
Every year I go over to YouTube to check out the madness that breaks out on Black Friday night all over the nation. Posted below is the best compilation video from Black Friday that I could find. In particular, I love how this video compares American shoppers to zombies…
And there is one more video that I wanted to share with you. In this video, activist Mark Dice dresses up like Santa Claus and mocks Black Friday shoppers for being “parasites” and for ruining Thanksgiving…
Meanwhile, as retail stores all over America actively encourage this zombie-like behavior, police are actually cracking down on other groups of Americans that are actively trying to make this country a better place. For example, a Christian group in Lake Worth, Florida was kicked out of a public park for trying to feed the homeless on Thanksgiving. Of course this kind of thing happens all the time. In fact, dozens of major cities all over the country have now passed laws that make it illegal to feed the homeless. For much more on this, please see my previous article entitled “One Lawmaker Is Literally Smashing The Belongings Of The Homeless With A Sledgehammer“.
At the beginning of this article, I stated that those who go shopping on Black Friday “are actively participating in the destruction of the economic infrastructure of the United States”.
How could that possibly be?
Aren’t they helping the economy by spending their money?
Actually, it isn’t that simple.
Just think about it for a moment. Where are most of the “advertised specials” that people go crazy over on Black Friday actually made?
If you guessed “China”, you would be correct. In fact, it is very difficult to find any “Black Friday specials” that are actually made in the United States.
When you buy stuff made in China, you support workers and businesses in China. As I mentioned in a recent article, the U.S. economy loses approximately 9,000 jobs for every 1 billion dollars of goods that are imported from overseas.
Overall, the U.S. has run a total trade deficit with the rest of the world of more than 8 trillion dollars since 1975.
So when you look around and see lots of unemployed people, it should not be a surprise to you.
Right now, the labor force participation rate is at a 35-year-low and more than 102 million working age Americans do not have a job. That number has increased by 27 million just since the year 2000.
Because the American people are not supporting American businesses, our formerly great manufacturing cities are being transformed into rotting, festering hellholes. Just take a look at Detroit. At one time Detroit had the highest per capita income in the entire nation, but now it is a dying, bankrupt ghost town.
And of course this is happening to manufacturing cities all over the nation. Since 2001, more than 56,000 manufacturing facilities in the U.S. have permanently shut down and we have lost millions upon millions of good paying manufacturing jobs.
Back in the 1980s, more than 20 percent of the jobs in the United States were manufacturing jobs. Today, only about 9 percent of the jobs in the United States are manufacturing jobs.
Good job America. And the following are some more facts from one of my previous articles about how our massively bloated trade deficit is absolutely killing our economy…
-There are less Americans working in manufacturing today than there was in 1950 even though the population of the country has more than doubled since then.
-When NAFTA was pushed through Congress in 1993, the United States had a trade surplus with Mexico of 1.6 billion dollars. By 2010, we had a trade deficit with Mexico of 61.6 billion dollars.
-Back in 1985, our trade deficit with China was approximately 6 million dollars (million with a little “m”) for the entire year. In 2012, our trade deficit with China was 315 billion dollars. That was the largest trade deficit that one nation has had with another nation in the history of the world.
-According to the Economic Policy Institute, America is losing half a million jobs to China every single year.
-According to Professor Alan Blinder of Princeton University, 40 million more U.S. jobs could be sent offshore over the next two decades if current trends continue.
Unfortunately, most Americans never stop to think about what happens when we buy stuff from China.
When we buy stuff from them, our money goes over there.
At this point, they are sitting on trillions of our dollars and they have purchased more than a trillion dollars of our debt.
Up until now, Chinese demand for our dollars has helped keep the value of the U.S. dollar artificially high. This is one of the reasons why Wal-Mart can sell you those Chinese imports so inexpensively.
And up until now, Chinese demand for our debt has helped keep long-term interest rates artificially low. So the U.S. government has been able to borrow money at ridiculously low interest rates and U.S. home buyers have been able to get mortgage rates that are well below the real rate of inflation.
But no irrational state of affairs ever lasts indefinitely, and the Chinese recently announced that they are going to quit stockpiling U.S. dollars. Many analysts believe that this means that the Chinese will soon stop stockpiling U.S. debt as well.
So enjoy those super cheap “Black Friday specials” while they last. That era is rapidly coming to an end.
Now that the Chinese have stolen tens of thousands of our businesses, millions of our jobs and trillions of our dollars, perhaps they feel that there is not much more looting to be done. Our economic infrastructure has been essentially gutted at this point. Moving forward, China can afford to let the value of the U.S. dollar fall and the value of their own currency rise because even Barack Obama admits that “those jobs are never coming back”.
And every single American that went shopping on Black Friday and bought Chinese-made goods actively participated in the ongoing destruction of the U.S. economy.
Good job America. You are a nation that is utterly consumed by materialism and greed, and you don’t even realize that you are destroying yourself with your own foolishness.
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
By Rick Wells
Abolish The IRS and End Income Tax Legislation Introduced in Congress
Three American Congressman are taking a stand for the citizens of this nation and leading an effort to steer us back in line with the Constitutional government as it was given to us by our founders. It is a large step but one that is sorely needed if we are to ever free ourselves from the shackles of our global government protagonists.
Congressman Jim Bridenstine, R-OK, along with Reps. Ron DeSantis, R-FL., and Thomas Massie, R-KY., has introduced House Joint Resolution 104, “an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to repeal the 16th article of Amendment.”
Among the arguments made in favor of this legislation is a resolution to the conflict which exists between the 16th amendment and the 4th Amendment protections to be secure in our persons, houses, papers and effects from unreasonable searches and seizures. Bridenstine’s contention is that the methodology of IRS seizures and IRS data-mining in the form of intrusive mandatory tax form submissions violate the fourth amendment protections.
Repealing the 16th Amendment would eliminate the personal and corporate income taxes, the estate and gift taxes and the taxes on investment earnings at the federal level.
The process is not difficult but does require some time and the involvement of the states and citizens. There is a simple three-fourths of the states approval threshold which must be met in order to repeal an amendment.
After ratification, there would be a two-year period which is more than enough time in which to determine a replacement revenue system.
The Money Changers Serenade: A New Plot Hatches
Former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, a protege of Treasury Secretaries Rubin and Summers, has received his reward for continuing the Rubin-Summers-Paulson policy of supporting the “banks too big to fail” at the expense of the economy and American people. For his service to the handful of gigantic banks, whose existence attests to the fact that the Anti-Trust Act is a dead-letter law, Geithner has been appointed president and managing director of the private equity firm, Warburg Pincus and is on his way to his fortune.
A Warburg in-law financed Woodrow Wilson’s presidential campaign. Part of the reward was Wilson’s appointment of Paul Warburg to the first Federal Reserve Board. The symbiotic relationship between presidents and bankers has continued ever since. The same small clique continues to wield financial power.
Geithner’s career is illustrative. In the 1980s, Geithner worked for Kissinger Associates. In the mid to late 1990s, Geithner served as a deputy assistant Treasury secretary. Under Rubin and Summers he moved up to undersecretary of the Treasury.
From the Treasury he went to the Council on Foreign Relations and from there to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). From there he was appointed president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, where he worked to make banks more profitable by allowing higher ratios of debt to capital, thus contributing to the financial crisis.
Geithner arranged the sale of the failed Wall Street firm of Bear Stearns, helped with the taxpayer bailout of AIG, and rejected saving Lehman Brothers from bankruptcy in order to create the crisis atmosphere needed to more fully subordinate US economic policy to the needs of the few large banks.
Rubin, a 26-year veteran of Goldman Sachs, was rewarded by Citibank for his service to the banks while Treasury Secretary with a $50 million compensation package in 2008 and $126,000,000 between 1999 and 2009.
When a person becomes a Treasury official it is made clear that the choice is between serving the banks and becoming rich or trying to serve the public and becoming poor. Few make the latter choice.
As MIchael Hudson has informed us, the goal of the financial sector has always been to convert all income, from corporate profits to government tax revenues, to the service of debt. From the bankers standpoint, the more debt the richer the bankers. Rubin, Summers, Paulson, Geithner, and now banker Treasury Secretary Jack Lew faithfully serve this goal.
The Federal Reserve describes its policy of Quantitative Easing — the creation of new money with which the Fed purchases Treasury debt and mortgage backed securities — as a low interest rate policy in order to stimulate employment and economic growth. Economists and the financial media have parroted this cover story.
In contrast, I have exposed QE as a scheme for pumping profits into the banks and boosting their balance sheets. The real purpose of QE is to drive up the prices of the debt-related derivatives on the banks’ books, thus keeping the banks with solvent balance sheets.
Writing in the Wall Street Journal (“Confessions of a Quantitative Easer,” November 11, 2013), Andrew Huszar confirms my explanation to be the correct one. Huszar is the Federal Reserve official who implemented the policy of QE. He resigned when he realized that the real purposes of QE was to drive up the prices of the banks’ holdings of debt instruments, to provide the banks with trillions of dollars at zero cost with which to lend and speculate, and to provide the banks with “fat commissions from brokering most of the Fed’s QE transactions.” (See: www.paulcraigroberts.org )
This vast con game remains unrecognized by Congress and the public. At the IMF Research Conference on November 8, 2013, former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers presented a plan to expand the con game.
Summers says that it is not enough merely to give the banks interest free money. More should be done for the banks. Instead of being paid interest on their bank deposits, people should be penalized for keeping their money in banks instead of spending it.
To sell this new rip-off scheme, Summers has conjured up an explanation based on the crude and discredited Keynesianism of the 1940s that explained the Great Depression as a problem caused by too much savings. Instead of spending their money, people hoarded it, thus causing aggregate demand and employment to fall.
Summers says that today the problem of too much saving has reappeared. The centerpiece of his argument is “the natural interest rate,” defined as the interest rate at which full employment is established by the equality of saving with investment. If people save more than investors invest, the saved money will not find its way back into the economy, and output and employment will fall.
Summers notes that despite a zero real rate of interest, there is still substantial unemployment. In other words, not even a zero rate of interest can reduce saving to the level of investment, thus frustrating a full employment recovery. Summers concludes that the natural rate of interest has become negative and is stuck below zero.
How to fix this? The way to fix it, Summers says, is to charge people for saving money. To avoid the charges, people would spend the money, thus reducing savings to the level of investment and restoring full employment.
Summers acknowledges that the problem with his solution is that people would take their money out of banks and hoard it in cash holdings. In other words, the cash form of money provides consumers with a freedom to save that holds down consumption and prevents full employment.
Summers has a fix for this: eliminate the freedom by imposing a cashless society where the only money is electronic. As electronic money cannot be hoarded except in bank deposits, penalties can be imposed that force unproductive savings into consumption.
Summers’ scheme, of course, is a harebrained one. With governments running huge deficits, who would purchase bonds at negative interest rates? How would pension and retirement funds operate? Would they also be subject to an annual percentage confiscation?
We know that the response of consumers to the long term decline in real median family income, to the loss of jobs from labor arbitrage across national borders (jobs offshoring), to rising homelessness, to cuts in the social safety net, to the transformation of their full time jobs to part time jobs (employers’ response to Obamacare), has been to reduce their savings rate. Indeed, few have any savings at all. The US personal saving rate is currently 2 percentage points, about 30%, below the long term average. Retired people, unable to earn any interest on their savings from the Fed’s zero interest rate policy, are being forced to draw down their savings in order to pay their bills.
Moreover, it is unclear whether the savings rate is an accurate measure or merely a residual of other calculations. With so many people having to draw down their savings, I wouldn’t be surprised if an accurate measure showed the personal savings rate to be negative.
But for Summers the plight of the consumer is not the problem. The problem is the profits of the banks. Summers has the solution, and the establishment, including Paul Krugman, is applauding it. Once the economy officially turns down again, watch out.
This column first appeared as a Trend Alert, Trends Research Institute
Reprinted with permission from www.paulcraigroberts.org
About Dr. Paul Craig Roberts
Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. His latest book, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West is now available.
By Daisy Luther
How to Survive a Personal Economic Collapse
With all that is being written about the national economic collapse, people seem to be waiting for some huge event.
However, for many North Americans, the collapse is here. This isn’t relegated to only lower income neighborhoods. As an article from a Cinncinnati new station stated, “Hunger doesn’t know a zipcode.”
For many people who were formerly financially comfortable, the economic collapse has already happened, in the form of a job loss, hours that have been cut back due to Obamacare requirements for employers, an exorbitant medical bill or other crushing debt, or simply an inflation rate that has outstripped your pay increases. Despite all of the warnings, many people are still going to be absolutely blindsided.
For many families, personal finances have reached a catastrophic level – they are left to make terrible choices:
- Which utility can I live without?
- Should I walk away from my mortgage?
- Should I eat something so I can work harder or should I skip meals so my kids have food?
- Should I use the grocery money to take my child to the doctor or should I wait and hope he/she improves without medical intervention?
- Do I risk the IRS-enforced penalties by forgoing enrollment in Obamacare or should I skip that whole grocery shopping thing so I can pay the monthly premiums and enormous deductibles in order to stay in the government’s good graces?
These are the kind of decisions that people across the nation are grappling with every day.
I’m talking about good people, hardworking men and women who have always been employed and paid their bills. A personal financial crisis does not just strike those stereotypical “welfare queens” with the long manicured nails, Gucci knock-off purse, and a grocery cart full of EBT-funded lobster.
I’m talking about the person next door, who seems to have it all together. I’m talking about that quiet family that sits two rows in front of you at church. I’m talking about that two-income family with two children and a car in the driveway that takes them to work and school 5 days a week. I’m talking about people just like you and me.
What is a personal economic collapse?
A personal economic collapse is a little different than the major crises you see all over Europe right now, where huge segments of the population can’t feed their children or stay employed. It is a crisis that just hits your family due to a given set of circumstances. (In actuality North Americans are on the brink of the kind of collapse that is occurring in Europe, but because of easy access to credit and a buy-now, pay-later society, many of us still have the appearance of prosperity.)
Here are some signs that you may be in the midst of a personal economic collapse:
- You can only afford to pay the minimum payment on most of your bills.
- The same dollar amount you used to spend on groceries doesn’t buy enough food to feed your family for the week.
- You can’t afford to go to the doctor when you’re sick.
- You are taking dangerous steps to “stretch” needed medications because you can’t afford the prescriptions.
- Your utility bills are past due and your power is in danger of being cut off.
- You skip meals in order to save money or to have enough food for your kids.
- You’ve lost your job or had your hours cut.
- You have lost property due to foreclosure or repossession (such as your home or your vehicle).
Surviving the crisis
Times are tough but you can survive this.
1.) First you have to see exactly where you are.
It’s time for a brutally honest assessment of your finances. If you use your debit card or credit card for most expenditures, you’ll easily be able to see what you’re spending and bringing in.
Print off your bank account statements for the past 2 months. On a piece of paper, track where your money is going. List the following
- Car payments
- Vehicle operating expenses (fuel, repairs)
- Credit card and other debt payments
- Telephone/Cell phone
- Extracurricular activities for the kids
- Extracurricular activities for the adults
- Dining out
- School expenses
- Recreational spending
- Miscellaneous (anything that doesn’t fall into the above categories gets it’s own category or goes here)
Don’t say to yourself, “Well, I usually don’t spend $400 on clothing so that isn’t realistic.” If you spent it, then it’s realistic. You are averaging together two months, which should account for those less common expenses. Brutal honesty isn’t fun, but it’s vital for this exercise.
So….what do you see when you look at your piece of paper with your average monthly expenditures for the past two months? Are there any surprises? Did you actually realize how much you’ve been spending? Most of us will immediately see places that we can trim the budget. Those $1-$5 purchases can really add up. Reining them in may just allow you to take care of an important need that you thought you could not meet.
It can’t continue like this. The economy will not withstand it. Step one is to see where you can cut things out right now from the above expenditures. Can you reduce your grocery bill? Slash meals out? Budget more carefully for gift-giving and school clothes?
2.) Rethink necessities.
If your finances are out of control, the best possible reality check is a stark look at what necessities really are. It is not necessary to life to have an iPhone, a vehicle in both stalls of your two-car garage, or for your children to all have separate bedrooms. People in Southern and Eastern Europe right now will tell you, as they scramble for food, basic over the counter medications like aspirin, and shelter, that necessities are those things essential to life:
- Food (and the ability to cook it)
- Medicine and medical supplies
- Basic hygiene supplies
- Shelter (including sanitation, lights, heat)
- Simple tools
- Defense Items
Absolutely everything above those basic necessities is a luxury.
So, by this definition, what luxuries do you have?
3.) Reduce your monthly output
Reduce your monthly payments by cutting frivolous expenses. Look at every single monthly payment that comes out of your bank account and slash relentlessly. Consider cutting the following:
- Cell phones
- Home phones
- Gym memberships
- Restaurant meals
- Unnecessary driving
- Entertainment such as trips to the movies, the skating rink, or the mall
4.) Waste not, want not.
We live in a disposable society. Food comes in throw-away containers. People replace things instead of repairing them. If you throw out more than a couple of bags of garbage each week, that’s a very good sign that you may be wasting resources.
Before throwing anything away, pause and think about how it might be able to be reused.
- Food: Many times small amounts of leftovers can be recycled into a brand new meal. Meat bones can be used to make broth or stock. Small amounts of veggies or grains can be frozen and added to a future soup or casserole. Leftovers can be frozen in meal-sized portions to take to work for a brown-bag lunch. (Learn more about repurposing leftovers HERE.)
- Clothing: Clothing that is torn or damaged can often be repaired with only rudimentary sewing skills. If it has been outgrown or cannot be repaired, often the fabric or yarn can be reused for other purposes, from cleaning rags to fashionable accessories like scarves and headbands, or home items like throw pillows, potholders or rag rugs. When all else fails, the fabric can be used for cleaning rags or patches to repair other items. Keep jars full of buttons, elastic, and other notions that can easily be removed before you throw a clothing item away or relegate it to the rag bag.
- Electronics: Obviously, initially you should attempt to repair (or have repaired) electronic items that are not working. If this is not feasible, are there components of the item that can be reused, either now or in the future? What about hardware such as screws or fasteners?
- Containers: Most food comes in a container of some sort. Before throwing the container away, consider whether or not it might be useful. Glass jars, plastic tubs, and plastic bags can often be reused to store food in your refrigerator or to contain food in brown bag lunches. Clean aluminum cans can hold all manner of items, from hardware and tools in a workshop to sewing and craft supplies. Use your imagination.
5.) Take control of your food budget.
The price of food is skyrocketing. Who hasn’t been to the grocery store recently and been shocked at the high price of that cart full of groceries or at the mysterious shrinking food packages that are the same price as yesterday’s larger ones?
- Stockpile: Create a stockpile of nutritious, healthy staples at today’s prices to enjoy when the cost goes even higher tomorrow. (Learn how to create a frugal food stockpile HERE.)
- Preserve: Learn to preserve food yourself when you come across a windfall. Pressure canning, waterbath canning, freezing, and dehydrating can allow you to take advantage of great sales or end-of-season scores.
- Eat less: This suggestion isn’t for everyone, but many of us could stand to shed a few pounds. Perhaps now would be a good time to cut back a little and shrink both your waistline and your weekly food bill. Lots of people eat for the sheer entertainment of it or out of habit. Next time you’re watching TV, grab some mending or a crossword puzzle instead of a bag of potato chips. Dish out slightly smaller servings at dinnertime to leave enough to stretch the leftovers for a brown bag meal the next day.
- Drink water: Skip the beverages and drink water instead. At less than $1 per gallon for purchased water you simply can’t beat the price. It’s better for you, also, than sugar-y drinks. If you are lucky enough to have well water or access to spring water, your drinks don’t have to cost you a penny.
- Focus on nutrition instead of convenience: Buy the best quality of food you can, and skip the processed, nutritionless convenience foods.
- Grow your own. In the summer, grow the biggest garden you can. In the winter, or if you are an apartment dweller, put some sprouts and greens in a sunny windowsill to add some fresh produce for pennies.
6.) Reduce your dependence on utilities.
Energy rates are skyrocketing. As the prices begin to rise, more and more people will be unable to pay their bills and eventually their power will be shut off. Check your bill each month and as prices increase, use less power. Try some of these ideas to reduce your reliance and drop your bills.
- Hand wash your clothing
- Hang clothes to dry
- Cook on a woodstove or outdoor grill
- Can foods to preserve them instead of relying on a large chest freezer
- Turn the heat down a few degrees and use non-grid methods to keep warm
- Use rain barrels to collect water
- Direct the gray water from your washing machines to reservoirs
- Turn off the lights and open the blinds
- Use solar lighting whenever possible
How do you intend to weather the storm?
There are bleak days ahead. Have you planned for this? What strategies do you intend to use to weather the financial crisis that is coming for all of us?
Daisy Luther is a freelance writer and editor. Her website, The Organic Prepper, offers information on healthy prepping, including premium nutritional choices, general wellness and non-tech solutions. You can follow Daisy on Facebook and Twitter, and you can email her at email@example.com
Image credit: http://www.theorganicprepper.ca
32 Privacy Destroying Technologies That Are Systematically Transforming America Into A Giant Prison
If you live in the United States, you live in a high tech surveillance grid that is becoming more oppressive with each passing day. In America today, the control freaks that run things are completely obsessed with watching, tracking, monitoring and recording virtually everything that we do. If we continue on the path that we are currently on, we will be heading into a future where there will be absolutely no privacy of any kind. In fact, many would argue that we are essentially there already. Many people speak of this as being the “Information Age“, but most Americans don’t really stop and think about what that really means. Most of the information that is considered to be so “valuable” is actually about all of us. Businesses want to know as much about all of us as possible so that they can sell us stuff. Government officials want to know as much about all of us as possible so that they can make sure that we are not doing anything that they don’t like. There is a constant hunger for even more information, and so the surveillance technologies just continue to become even more advanced and the Big Brother control grid being constructed all around us just continues to become even more pervasive. Even though you may not be consciously aware of it, the truth is that it is surrounding you right now even as you read this. We live in a society where liberty and freedom are literally being strangled to death, but most Americans don’t seem to care.
Do you know who else gets watched, tracked and monitored 24 hours a day?
Surveillance is a form of control, and at this point we are little more than inmates inside a gigantic Big Brother surveillance grid.
Posted below is a list of 32 privacy destroying technologies that are systematically transforming America into a giant prison. Following each item, there is a short excerpt from a news report about that particular technology. If you want to read the entire article where the excerpt came from, just click the link to find the source. Individually, each of these technologies is deeply troubling. But when you step back and take a look at them all collectively, it is absolutely horrifying…
#1 Spying On Us Through Our Televisions: Put simply, our TVs have started spying on us.
Last week, there was a high-profile case in point. An IT consultant called Jason Huntley, who lives in a village near Hull, uncovered evidence that a flat-screen television, which had been sitting in his living room since the summer, was secretly invading his family’s privacy.
He began investigating the £400 LG device after noticing that its home screen appeared to be showing him ‘targeted’ adverts — for cars, and Knorr stock cubes — based on programmes he’d just been watching.
Huntley decided to monitor information that the so-called smart TV — which connects to the internet — was sending and receiving. He did this by using his laptop effectively as a bridge between his television and the internet receiver, so the laptop was able to show all the data being sucked out of his set.
He soon discovered that details of not just every show he watched but every button he pressed on his remote control were being sent back to LG’s corporate headquarters in South Korea.
#2 Next Generation Facial Recognition Technology: In a single second, law enforcement agents can match a suspect against millions upon millions of profiles in vast detailed databases stored on the cloud. It’s all done using facial recognition, and in Southern California it’s already occurring.
Imagine the police taking a picture: any picture of a person, anywhere, and matching it on the spot in less than a second to a personalized profile, scanning millions upon millions of entries from within vast, intricate databases stored on the cloud.
#3 Your Next Password Might Be Your Eye: You can use your phone to figure out your heart rate, track how much you walk, and even measure your sex life. But the powerful sensors inside smartphones can do more than keep you updated on your health: They can also turn your body into a password.
EyeVerify is a small Kansas City–based security company. Its core product is biometric eyescan software for smartphones. Every person has a unique pattern of blood vessels in their eyes. These blood vessels contrast with the whites of the eyes so clearly that they can always be read, even when there’s a lack of light. The best part? Those blood-vessel patterns can be photographed by phones and turned into unique data signatures which can be used to replace or supplement traditional passwords. “We turn a picture of your eye into a key that protects your digital identity,” says EyeVerify CEO Toby Rush.
#4 “Pre-Crime” Surveillance Cameras: Hundreds of pre-crime surveillance cameras are to be installed in San Francisco’s subway system that will analyze “suspicious behavior” and alert guards to potential criminal or terrorist activity – before any crime has been committed.
“Manufacturers BRS Labs said it has installed the cameras at tourist attractions, government buildings and military bases in the U.S. In its latest project BRS Labs is to install its devices on the transport system in San Francisco, which includes buses, trams and subways,” reports the Daily Mail.
The cameras are programmed with a list of behaviors considered “normal”. Anything that deviates from usual activity is classified as suspicious and guards are immediately alerted via text message or a phone call.
Equipped with the ability to track up to 150 suspects at a time, the cameras build up a “memory” of suspicious behavior to determine what constitutes potential criminal activity.
A total of 288 cameras will be installed across 12 transport hubs.
#5 New Software That Will Store And Analyze Millions Of Our Voices: ‘Voice Grid Nation’ is a system that uses advanced algorithms to match identities to voices. Brought to the US by Russia’s Speech Technology Center, it claims to be capable of allowing police, federal agencies and other law enforcement personnel to build up a huge database containing up to several million voices.
When authorities intercept a call they’ve deemed ‘hinky’, the recording is entered into the VoiceGrid program, which (probably) buzzes and whirrs and spits out a match. In five seconds, the program can scan through 10,000 voices, and it only needs 3 seconds for speech analysis. All that, combined with 100 simultaneous searches and the storage capacity of 2 million samples, gives SpeechPro, as the company is known in the US, the right to claim a 90% success rate.
#6 A Device That Captures Your Fingerprints From 20 Feet Away: Gaining access to your gym or office building could soon be as simple as waving a hand at the front door. A Hunsville, Ala.-based company called IDair is developing a system that can scan and identify a fingerprint from nearly 20 feet away. Coupled with other biometrics, it could soon allow security systems to grant or deny access from a distance, without requiring users to stop and scan a fingerprint, swipe an ID card, or otherwise lose a moment dealing with technology.
Currently IDair’s primary customer is the military, but the startup wants to open up commercially to any business or enterprise that wants to put a layer of security between its facilities and the larger world. A gym chain is already beta testing the system (no more using your roommate’s gym ID to get in a free workout), and IDair’s founder says that at some point his technology could enable purchases to be made biometrically, using fingerprints and irises as unique identifiers rather than credit card numbers and data embedded in magnetic strips or RFID chips.
#7 Molecular Scanners That Can Secretly Scan You From 164 Feet Away: Within the next year or two, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will instantly know everything about your body, clothes, and luggage with a new laser-based molecular scanner fired from 164 feet (50 meters) away. From traces of drugs or gun powder on your clothes to what you had for breakfast to the adrenaline level in your body—agents will be able to get any information they want without even touching you.
And without you knowing it.
The technology is so incredibly effective that, in November 2011, its inventors were subcontracted by In-Q-Tel to work with the US Department of Homeland Security. In-Q-Tel is a company founded “in February 1999 by a group of private citizens at the request of the Director of the CIA and with the support of the U.S. Congress.” According to In-Q-Tel, they are the bridge between the Agency and new technology companies.
Their plan is to install this molecular-level scanning in airports and border crossings all across the United States.
#8 Mobile Backscatter Vans: American cops are set to join the US military in deploying American Science & Engineering’s Z Backscatter Vans, or mobile backscatter radiation x-rays. These are what TSA officials call “the amazing radioactive genital viewer,” now seen in airports around America, ionizing the private parts of children, the elderly, and you (yes you).
These pornoscannerwagons will look like regular anonymous vans, and will cruise America’s streets, indiscriminately peering through the cars (and clothes) of anyone in range of its mighty isotope-cannon. But don’t worry, it’s not a violation of privacy. As AS&E’s vice president of marketing Joe Reiss sez, “From a privacy standpoint, I’m hard-pressed to see what the concern or objection could be.”
#9 RFID Microchips In Our Schools: Upon arriving in the morning, according to the Associated Press, each student at the CCC-George Miller preschool will don a jersey with a stitched in RFID chip. As the kids go about the business of learning, sensors in the school will record their movements, collecting attendance for both classes and meals. Officials from the school have claimed they’re only recording information they’re required to provide while receiving federal funds for their Headstart program.
#10 Palm Scanning Devices In Our Schools: Puyallup School District says by the end of the year, every lunchroom will have palm scanning devices that will allow students to pay for their lunch with a wave of a hand.
“Efficiency is another reason for implementing this. The accuracy of the scanner reduces human error, reduces fraud, the ability for students to share numbers allows parents to know the money that they’re spending is being spent on their child’s lunch,” said Brian Fox, spokesperson for Puyallup School District.
The district says the devices will be in all 32 schools by the end of the school year.
#11 Iris Scanning Devices In Our Schools: Kids lose their school IDs but they don’t often lose their eyeballs.
That’s one of the reasons why a growing number of schools are replacing traditional identification cards with iris scanners. By the fall, several schools — ranging from elementary schools to colleges — will be rolling out various iris scanning security methods.
#12 Implantable Medical Laboratory-On-A-Chip: French researchers are zeroing in on a tiny, chip-based medical laboratory test device designed to be implanted under the skin. This miniature blood laboratory may revolutionize healthcare by continuously monitoring high-risk, chronically ill patients.
This ground-breaking work is being done by developers at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), or Swiss Institute of Technology, in Lausanne, Switzerland. The implantable lab-testing device is linked to the user’s cell phone and can send alerts to doctors before symptoms are evident.
#13 Smart Phone Eye Scanners: A patent application filed by Samsung seems to indicate that next-generation Galaxy smartphones might feature biometric authentication as an alternative to PINs or passwords.
Unlike arch-rival Apple’s Touch ID, however, the South Korean technology giant won’t be scanning users’ fingerprints. Instead, the patent – spotted by blog Patent Bolt – describes a novel iris scanning technique.
According to Samsung, the non-contact nature of eye scanning means handset owners “do not feel uncomfortable” with the technology, while at the same time the iris offers more unique patterns than the fingerprint does.
#14 Cell Phone Tower “Stingrays”: You make a call on your cellphone thinking the only thing standing between you and the recipient of your call is your carrier’s cellphone tower. In fact, that tower your phone is connecting to just might be a boobytrap set up by law enforcement to ensnare your phone signals and maybe even the content of your calls.
So-called stingrays are one of the new high-tech tools that authorities are using to track and identify you. The devices, about the size of a suitcase, spoof a legitimate cellphone tower in order to trick nearby cellphones and other wireless communication devices into connecting to the tower, as they would to a real cellphone tower.
The government maintains that the stingrays don’t violate Fourth Amendment rights, since Americans don’t have a legitimate expectation of privacy for data sent from their mobile phones and other wireless devices to a cell tower.
#15 Using Your Cell Phone Microphone As A “Roving Bug”: The FBI appears to have begun using a novel form of electronic surveillance in criminal investigations: remotely activating a mobile phone’s microphone and using it to eavesdrop on nearby conversations.
The technique is called a “roving bug,” and was approved by top U.S. Department of Justice officials for use against members of a New York organized crime family who were wary of conventional surveillance techniques such as tailing a suspect or wiretapping him.
#16 The Government Is Using Our Cell Phones To Track Our Movements: One of the biggest changes is the ability to track your physical location. I’m sorry I came in at the end of the previous talk. I heard them talk about surveying cell phones with a drone, in a wide area — this is something that is done routinely now. I can tell you that everybody that attended an Occupy Wall Street protest, and didn’t turn their cell phone off, or put it — and sometimes even if they did — the identity of that cell phone has been logged, and everybody who was at that demonstration, whether they were arrested, not arrested, whether their photos were ID’d, whether an informant pointed them out, it’s known they were there anyway. This is routine.
#17 Police Using “Extraction Devices” To Take Our Cell Phone Data: The Michigan State Police have a handful of portable machines called “extraction devices” that have the potential to download personal information from motorists they pull over, and the ACLU would like to know more about them.
The devices, sold by a company called Cellebrite, can download text messages, photos, video, and even GPS data from most brands of cell phones. The handheld machines have various interfaces to work with different models and can even bypass security passwords and access some information.
#18 Automated License Plate Readers: More than 250 cameras in the District and its suburbs scan license plates in real time, helping police pinpoint stolen cars and fleeing killers. But the program quietly has expanded beyond what anyone had imagined even a few years ago.
With virtually no public debate, police agencies have begun storing the information from the cameras, building databases that document the travels of millions of vehicles.
Nowhere is that more prevalent than in the District, which has more than one plate-reader per square mile, the highest concentration in the nation. Police in the Washington suburbs have dozens of them as well, and local agencies plan to add many more in coming months, creating a comprehensive dragnet that will include all the approaches into the District.
#19 Street Lights That Can Record Private Conversations: Federally-funded high-tech street lights now being installed in American cities are not only set to aid the DHS in making “security announcements” and acting as talking surveillance cameras, they are also capable of “recording conversations,” bringing the potential privacy threat posed by ‘Intellistreets’ to a whole new level.
#20 Spying On Us Through Our Video Game Systems: Users of the new Xbox One are complaining that Kinect is monitoring their Skype conversations for swearing and then punishing them with account bans. Microsoft has admitted it is punishing gamers for bad language but denied that it is snooping on private Skype chats.
#21 Data Mining: The company fits into a category called database marketing. It started in 1969 as an outfit called Demographics Inc., using phone books and other notably low-tech tools, as well as one computer, to amass information on voters and consumers for direct marketing. Almost 40 years later, Acxiom has detailed entries for more than 190 million people and 126 million households in the U.S., and about 500 million active consumers worldwide. More than 23,000 servers in Conway, just north of Little Rock, collect and analyze more than 50 trillion data ‘transactions’ a year.
#22 A New Technology Called “Coin” Is Being Called “The Future Of Money”: The future of money has arrived, and it’s called Coin.
It looks like a credit card. It’s the size of a credit card. It swipes in credit card machines. But it holds the information of up to eight of your debit, credit, rewards, or gift cards. And you can switch between cards by simply pressing a button.
The new product, launched recently, promises to change the way consumers spend money in a secure and efficient way.
#23 A National Database Of All Financial Transactions: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is looking to create a “Google Earth” of every financial transaction of every American, Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) warned today in a Senate speech opposing confirmation of Richard Cordray as CFPB director.
“This bill (creating the CFPB) was supposed to be about regulating Wall Street. Instead, it’s creating a Google Earth on every financial transaction. That’s right: the government will be able to see every detail of your finances. Your permission – not needed,” Sen. Enzi said.
#24 The Coming National DNA Database: A national DNA database is coming. Barack Obama has already said that he wants one. A major Supreme Court decision last month paved the way for one. The DNA of those that commit “serious crimes” is already being routinely collected all over the nation. Some states (such as New Jersey) are now passing laws that will require DNA collection from those charged with committing “low level crimes”. And a law that was passed under George W. Bush allows the federal government to screen the DNA of all newborn babies in the United States. So how long will it be before we are all required to give DNA samples to the authorities?
#25 The Systematic Recording Of Talk Radio Programs: Next time you call a talk radio station, beware: The FBI may be listening.
According to WMAL.com, “The FBI has awarded a $524,927 contract to a Virginia company to record as much radio news and talk programming as it can find on the Internet. … The FBI says it is not playing Big Brother by policing the airwaves, but rather seeking access to what airs as potential evidence.”
#26 The FBI’s Next Generation Identification System: The US Federal Bureau of Investigation has begun rolling out its new $1 billion biometric Next Generation Identification (NGI) system. In essence, NGI is a nationwide database of mugshots, iris scans, DNA records, voice samples, and other biometrics, that will help the FBI identify and catch criminals — but it is how this biometric data is captured, through a nationwide network of cameras and photo databases, that is raising the eyebrows of privacy advocates.
Until now, the FBI relied on IAFIS, a national fingerprint database that has long been due an overhaul. Over the last few months, the FBI has been pilot testing a facial recognition system — and soon, detectives will also be able to search the system for other biometrics such as DNA records and iris scans.
#27 Trapwire: “You are being watched. The government has a secret system – a machine – that spies on you every hour of every day.” That is how each episode of “Person of Interest” on CBS begins. Most Americans that have watched the show just assume that such a surveillance network is completely fictional and that the government would never watch us like that. Sadly, most Americans are wrong. Shocking new details have emerged this week which prove that a creepy nationwide network of spy cameras is being rolled out across the United States. Reportedly, these new spy cameras are “more accurate than modern facial recognition technology”, and every few seconds they send back data from cities and major landmarks all over the United States to a centralized processing center where it is analyzed. The authorities believe that the world has become such a dangerous place that the only way to keep us all safe is to watch what everyone does all the time. But the truth is that instead of “saving America”, all of these repressive surveillance technologies are slowly killing our liberties and our freedoms. America is being transformed into an Orwellian prison camp right in front of our eyes, and very few people are even objecting to it.
#28 Spyware That Monitors The Behavior Of Government Workers: When the Food and Drug Administration started spying on a group of agency scientists, it installed monitoring software on their laptop computers to capture their communications.
The software, sold by SpectorSoft of Vero Beach, Fla., could do more than vacuum up the scientists’ e-mails as they complained to lawmakers and others about medical devices they thought were dangerous. It could be programmed to intercept a tweet or Facebook post. It could snap screen shots of their computers. It could even track an employee’s keystrokes, retrieve files from hard drives or search for keywords.
#29 Political Campaign Databases: If you voted this election season, President Obama almost certainly has a file on you. His vast campaign database includes information on voters’ magazine subscriptions, car registrations, housing values and hunting licenses, along with scores estimating how likely they were to cast ballots for his reelection.
#30 Spying On Us Through Our Appliances: Spies will no longer have to plant bugs in your home – the rise of ‘connected’ gadgets controlled by apps will mean that people ‘bug’ their own homes, says CIA director David Petraeus.
The CIA claims it will be able to ‘read’ these devices via the internet – and perhaps even via radio waves from outside the home.
Everything from remote controls to clock radios can now be controlled via apps – and chip company ARM recently unveiled low-powered, cheaper chips which will be used in everything from fridges and ovens to doorbells.
The resultant chorus of ‘connected’ gadgets will be able to be read like a book – and even remote-controlled, according to CIA CIA Director David Petraeus, according to a recent report by Wired’s ‘Danger Room’ blog.
#31 Unmanned Aerial Drones: Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency is using aerial drones to spy on farmers in Nebraska and Iowa. The surveillance came under scrutiny last week when Nebraska’s congressional delegation sent a joint letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson.
On Friday, EPA officialdom in “Region 7” responded to the letter.
“Courts, including the Supreme Court, have found similar types of flights to be legal (for example to take aerial photographs of a chemical manufacturing facility) and EPA would use such flights in appropriate instances to protect people and the environment from violations of the Clean Water Act,” the agency said in response to the letter.
#32 NSA Snooping: Speaking to a raucous audience via Skype on Friday, Greenwald said the NSA’s “brand-new technology” gives it the power to “redirect into its own repositories one billion cell phone calls every single day.”
“But what we’re really talking about here is a globalized system that prevents any form of electronic communication from taking place without its being stored and monitored by the National Security Agency,” Greenwald said. “It doesn’t mean that they’re listening to every call; it means they’re storing every call and have the capability to listen to them at any time, and it does mean that they’re collecting millions upon millions upon millions of our phone and email records.”
Greenwald added that the NSA technology is “designed to destroy all privacy. And what’s incredibly menacing about it is that it’s all taking place in the dark with no accountability and virtually no safeguards.”
Every single day, the NSA intercepts and permanently stores close to 2 billion emails and phone calls in addition to a whole host of other data.
So where does all of that data go?
Well, the NSA recently completely construction of the largest data center in the history of the world out in Utah. It will reportedly have the capability of storing 5 zettabytes of data. That is an amount of data that is almost incomprehensible.
This data center has approximately a million square feet of storage space, it cost nearly 2 billion dollars to build, and it is going to take about 40 million dollars a year just to pay for the energy needed to run it.
Without a doubt, we have become a surveillance society.
And if the American people don’t object now, this will just be the tip of the iceberg.
If we continue down this same path, what is coming will be far more horrifying than anything that George Orwell ever dreamed of.
So what do you think about all of this?
Image credit: http://thetruthwins.com
This piece of satire is too funny / realistic to not share.
By J.D. Nail
“Uh, how much are the flowers? Well uh…How much you got?”
I found this on a friends facebook page. I’m not sure who is the author, but kudos to them! Thought I’d share….
Big Brother knows best. ,,,,, Welcome to Obama Flowers
November 26, 2013 at 11:04pm
Receptionist: Hello, Welcome to Obama Flowers, My name is Trina. How can
I help you?
Customer : Hello. I received an email from Professional Flowers stating
that my flower order has been canceled and I should go to your exchange to
reorder it. I tried your website, but it seems like it is not working. So I
am calling the 800 number.
Receptionist : Yes! I am sorry about the website. It should be fixed by
the end of November. But I can help you.
Customer : Thanks, I ordered a “Spring Bouquet” for our anniversary, and
wanted it delivered to my wife.
Receptionist : Interrupting, Sir, “Spring Bouquets” do not meet our
minimum standards, I will be happy to provide you with Red Roses.
Customer : But I have always ordered “Spring Bouquets”, done it for
years, my wife likes them.
Receptionist: Roses are better, sir, I am sure your wife will love them.
Customer : Well, how much are they?
Receptionist: It depends sir, do you want our Bronze, Silver, Gold or
Customer: What’s the difference?
Receptionist: 6, 12,18 or 24 Red Roses.
Customer: The Silver package may be okay, how much is it?
Receptionist: It depends sir, what is your monthly income?
Customer: What does that have to do with anything?
Receptionist: I need that to determine your government flower subsidy,
then I can determine how much your out-of-pocket cost will be. But if your
income is below our minimums for a subsidy, then I can refer you to our
Flower Aid department.
Customer: Flower Aid?
Receptionist: Yes, Flowers are a right. Everyone has a right to flowers.
So, if you can’t afford them, then the government will supply them free of
Customer: Who said they were a right?
Receptionist: Congress passed it, the President signed it and the Supreme
Court found it constitutional.
Customer: Whoa! I don’t remember seeing anything in the Constitution
regarding flowers as a right .
Receptionist: It is not really a “Right in the Constitution,” but
Obama Flowers is Constitutional because the Supreme Court Ruled it a “Tax”.
Taxes are Constitutional. But we feel it is a right.
Customer: I don’t believe this.
Receptionist: It’s the law of the land sir. Now, we anticipated most
people would go for the Silver Package, so what is your monthly income sir?
Customer: Forget it, I think I will forgo the flowers this year.
Receptionist: In that case sir, I will still need your monthly income.
Receptionist: To determine what your ‘non-participation’ cost would be.
Customer: WHAT? You can’t charge me for NOT buying flowers!
Receptionist: It’s the law of the land, sir, approved by the Supreme
Court. It’s $9.50 or 1% of your monthly income.
Customer interrupting: This is ridiculous, I’ll pay the $9.50.
Receptionist: Sir, it is $9.50 or 1% of your monthly income, whichever is
Customer: ARE YOU KIDDING ME? What a rip-off!
Receptionist: Actually sir, it is a good deal. Next year it will be 2%.
Customer: Look, I’m going to call my Congressman to find out what’s going
on here. This is ridiculous. I’m not going to pay it.
Receptionist: Sorry to hear that sir. That’s why I had the NSA track this
call and obtain the make and model of the cell phone you are using.
Customer: Why does the NSA need to know what kind of CELL PHONE I AM
Receptionist: So they get your GPS coordinates sir.
Door Bell rings followed immediately by a loud knock on the door
Receptionist: That would be the IRS sir. Thanks for calling Obama Flowers.
Have a nice day and God Bless.
Banks Prepare to Charge Deposit Fees to Customers
During the late October meeting of the Federal Reserve (Fed) Board and the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), it was revealed that the 0.25% annual interest rate on money that the banks keep in the Fed would be reduced.
Kris Dawsey, economist for Goldman Sachs said: “The probability of a reduction in the interest rate has increased somewhat . . . The Fed will ultimately decide not to pursue it. One risk is that the move could prompt charges … on bank deposits.”
Industry experts are now decrying that this scenario could affect certain businesses through deposit fees.
Kristin Lemkau, spokesperson for JP Morgan & Chase Co said: “We have no intention of charging for retail customer deposits.”
David George, analyst for Robert W. Baird & Co, explains that the financial institutions “would need to find alternative revenue sources to compensate” because of this decline in the Fed’s interest rate and fees on deposits “would be the most likely” option.
George said: “Having a bank account is a service, like the water and electric bill. And it has become less and less profitable.”
Wayne Abernathy, executive vice president of the American Bankers Association confirmed: “Banks could respond to a drop in the Fed’s interest rate by charging a fee to large business customers that hold millions of dollars in savings accounts. Banks must bear the expense of managing that money.”
Gary Schnitkey, economist at the University of Illinois commented : “Market-watchers do expect the slide in interest rates to end in the near future, but that doesn’t mean they will turn higher immediately. In fact, federal officials will likely take action to keep them at currently low levels in an effort to spur badly needed macroeconomic growth.”
Wall Street is being described as taking this move by the Fed as a threat.
The announcement would cause depositors who earn close to or zero percent interest on checking and savings accounts as a side-effect of the third round of quantitative easing performed by the Fed.
Joshua Siegel, managing partner and chief executive officer with StoneCastle Partners (SCP) said: “From the Fed’s point of view, by discouraging banks from leaving their excess cash at the fed, they are encouraging banks to buy securities in the market (the same as the what they are doing with quantitative-easing purchases) or to go out into the market and make loans. And banks, given their current capital requirements, can be a little riskier, and funds being deployed back into the market would be good for the economy.”
Analysts say that the Durbin Amendment within the Dodd Frank Act which limited fees imposed by merchant retailers onto banks who issue debit cards “has effectively hit consumer-banking revenues pretty hard.”
When accessing debits, banks view checking accounts as high-risk and costing “a lot of money” to the banks.
Insurance is taken when banks impose a minimum balance to the account to ensure the customer retains specified funds by which the bank can manipulate; however this does not equal high revenue for the banks in the long-term.
In 2012, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that when a bank is insolvent, under duress or in bankruptcy the funds in private checking accounts could be used to pay off debts or loans owed by the bank.
Since the ruling gives banks the right to co-mingle customer funds with their own, no crime can be committed for the use of customer deposited monies.
According to Walker Todd, former lawyer for the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and Cleveland: “Basically, there is a new 7th Circuit opinion saying that there is no reason to impose a constructive trust on a lender’s takings of customers’ funds from client commodity firms that were used (inappropriately) to secure the firms’ borrowings, as long as the lender can say that it did not know WITH CERTAINTY that customers’ funds were being repledged. Negligence and misappropriation (vs. knowing criminal intent) are now a sufficient excuse for letting the lender keep the money and go to the head of the line for distributions in bankruptcies of the client commodity firms.”
When a customer deposits money into a bank, the bank essentially issues a promise to have those funds available when the customer returns to withdraw the deposited amount.
When the same customer withdraws funds from their account (whether checking or savings) the customer assumes that the bank has enough funds to cover their withdrawal; including the presumption that their monies are separate from the bank’s assets.
Now, those funds are up for grabs by the bank at their discretion without explanation to the customer – nor is the bank obligated to recoup the customer should they “lose” those funds due to bad loans, bankruptcy or stock market loss.
Canada has proposed in their government budget entitled, “Economic Action Plan 2013” that those too big to fail banks will benefit from a bail-in. Just like the European Parliament, Canada is setting the stage for depositors to have their funds removed from their accounts on behalf of the government for the benefit of the technocrats.
The document reads: “The Government proposes to implement a “bail-in” regime for systemically important banks. This regime will be designed to ensure that, in the unlikely event that a systemically important bank depletes its capital; the bank can be recapitalized and returned to viability through the very rapid conversion of certain bank liabilities into regulatory capital. This will reduce risks for taxpayers. The Government will consult stakeholders on how best to implement a bail-in regime in Canada. Implementation timelines will allow for a smooth transition for affected institutions, investors and other market participants.”
Analyst Jim Sinclair explained : “Bail-ins are coming to North America without any doubt, and will be remembered as the ‘Great Leveling,’ of the ‘great Flushing’ (of Lehman Brothers). Not only can it happen here, but it will happen here. It stands on legal grounds by legal precedent both in the U.S., Canada and the U.K.”
According to Sinclair “bail-ins do not require a crisis to occur and can surface one bank at a time, spread out over years. The major situation is deposits above insurance levels in banks too big to fail. Those deposits are directly in harm’s way.”
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