Posts tagged government

55 Things About America You May Not Know

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Source: http://endoftheamericandream.com

By Michael Snyder

55 Things About America You May Not Know

 

American-Flag-2014-Photo-by-HARRIS-News-300x225Is America the greatest nation on the planet?  Before you answer that question, you might want to check out the statistics that I have shared in this article first.  The reality is that the United States is in a deep state of decline, and it is getting harder to deny that fact with each passing day.  Mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually and financially we are a train wreck.  Many that are “patriotic” attempt to put a happy face on our growing problems, but the truly patriotic thing to do is to admit just how bad things have gotten so that we can start finding solutions.  If you truly love this country, then you should know that this nation needs a huge wake up call.  We have abandoned the values and the principles that early Americans held so dear, and as a result our society is a giant mess.  The following are 55 things about America that you may not know…

#1 We are supposed to have a government “of the people, by the people, for the people”, but only 25 percent of all Americans know how long U.S. Senators are elected for (6 years), and only 20 percent of all Americans know how many U.S. senators there are.

#2 Americans spend more on health care per capita than anyone else in the world by far, and yet we only rank 35th in life expectancy.

#3 Only one state in the entire country has an obesity rate of under 20 percent.  11 states have an obesity rate of over 30 percent.

#4 Of all the major industrialized nations, America is the most obese.  Mexico is #2.

#5 Back in 1962, only 13 percent of all Americans were obese, but it is being projected that 42 percent of all Americans could be obese by the year 2030.

#6 According to a new report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 31 percent of all food in the United States gets wasted.  In case you were wondering, that amounts to approximately 133 billion pounds of food a year.

#7 America has the highest incarceration rate and the largest total prison population in the entire world by a wide margin.

#8 In America, we even put 81-year-old women in prison for feeding the birds.

#9 According to a Newsweek survey taken a few years ago, 29 percent of all Americans could not even name the vice president.

#10 Americans spend more time sitting in traffic than anyone else in the world.

#11 60 percent of Americans report feeling “angry or irritable”.  Two years ago that number was at 50 percent.

#12 36 percent of Americans admit that they have yelled at a customer service agent during the past year.

#13 Only 30 percent of all Americans can tell you in what year the 9/11 attacks happened.

#14 There are more “deaths by reptile” in America than anywhere else in the world.

#15 Right now, 29 percent of all Americans under the age of 35 are living with their parents.

#16 Average SAT scores have been falling for years, and the level of education that our kids are receiving in most of our public schools is a total joke.

#17 According to a study conducted by the Mayo Clinic, nearly 70 percent of all Americans are on at least one prescription drug.  An astounding 20 percent of all Americans are on at least five prescription drugs.

#18 Americans spend more than 280 billion dollars on prescription drugs each year.

#19 According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, doctors in the United States write more than 250 million prescriptions for antidepressants each year.

#20 Children in the United States are three times more likely to be prescribed antidepressants than children in Europe are.

#21 In the United States today, prescription painkillers kill more Americans than heroin and cocaine combined.

#22 America has the highest rate of illegal drug use on the entire planet.

#23 According to the federal government, the number of heroin addicts in the United States has more than doubled since 2002.

#24 It is hard to believe, but 56 percent of all Americans now have “subprime credit”.

#25 America exports more weapons to other countries than anyone else in the world.

#26 The United States has the most complicated tax system on the entire planet.

#27 Corruption is rampant throughout our society.  In fact, America leads the world in money given to fake charities.

#28 America leads the world in soft drink consumption by a wide margin.  Today, the average American drinks more than 600 sodas a year.

#29 In 2008, 53 percent of all Americans considered themselves to be “middle class”.  In 2014, only 44 percent of all Americans consider themselves to be “middle class”.

#30 70 percent of Americans do not “feel engaged or inspired at their jobs”.

#31 40 percent of all workers in the United States actually make less than what a full-time minimum wage worker made back in 1968 after you account for inflation.

#32 Back in the 1970s, about one out of every 50 Americans was on food stamps.  Today, about one out of every 6 Americans is on food stamps.

#33 The marriage rate in the United States has fallen to an all-time low.  Right now it is sitting at a yearly rate of 6.8 marriages per 1000 people.

#34 In the United States today, more than half of all couples “move in together” before they get married.

#35 America has the highest divorce rate in the world by a good margin.

#36 America has the highest percentage of one person households on the entire planet.

#37 100 years ago, 4.52 were living in the average U.S. household, but now the average U.S. household only consists of 2.59 people.

#38 According to the Pew Research Center, only 51 percent of all American adults are currently married.  Back in 1960, 72 percent of all adults in the United States were married.

#39 For women under the age of 30 in the United States, more than half of all babies are being born out of wedlock.

#40 At this point, approximately one out of every three children in the United States lives in a home without a father.

#41 In 1970, the average woman had her first child when she was 21.4 years old.  Now the average woman has her first child when she is 25.6 years old.

#42 America has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the world by a very wide margin.

#43 Approximately one out of every four teen girls in the United States has at least one sexually transmitted disease.

#44 America has the highest STD infection rate in the entire industrialized world.

#45 According to the latest figures released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, there are 20 million new sexually-transmitted infections in the United States every single year, and Americans in the 15 to 24-year-old age range account for approximately 50 percent of those new sexually-transmitted infections.

#46 As I wrote about recently, there are 747,408 registered sex offenders in the U.S. according to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.

#47 America produces more pornography than any other nation in the world.

#48 America has the most lawyers per capita in the entire world.

#49 If you choose to be a “Constitutionalist” in America today, you may get labeled as a potential terrorist by the U.S. government.

#50 America has the largest national debt in the history of the world.  Back in 1980, the U.S. national debt was less than one trillion dollars.  Today, it is over 17 trillion dollars.

#51 According to the Congressional Budget Office, interest payments on the national debt will nearly quadruple over the next ten years.

#52 Americans spend more money on elections than anyone else does in the world by a very wide margin.

#53 65 percent of Americans are dissatisfied “with the U.S. system of government and its effectiveness”.  That is the highest level of dissatisfaction that Gallup has ever recorded.

#54 Only 8 percent of Americans believe that Congress is doing a “good” or “excellent” job.

#55 70 percent of Americans do not have confidence that the federal government will “make progress on the important problems and issues facing the country in 2014.”

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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.

 

 

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Image credit: http://endoftheamericandream.com

 

Webcam Spying: All the Gov Surveillance Agencies are Doing It

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Source: http://www.occupycorporatism.com

By Susanne Posel
Occupy Corporatism

Webcam Spying: All the Gov Surveillance Agencies are Doing It

 

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Apparently the GCHQ, the British equivalent to the National Security Agency (NSA) has been watching millions of Yahoo users with their webcams.

Documents given to the press by Edward Snowden state that this scheme called operation Optic Nerve (ON) was a collaboration of the GCHQ and the NSA in order to gather 1.8 million users’ images from webcams between 2008 and 2010.

According to the report, “it would appear that a surprising number of people use webcam conversations to show intimate parts of their body to the other person. Also, the fact that the Yahoo software allows more than one person to view a webcam stream without necessarily sending a reciprocal stream means that it appears sometimes to be used for broadcasting pornography.”

The document continues: “Face detection has the potential to aid selection of useful images for ‘mugshots’ or even for face recognition by assessing the angle of the face. The best images are ones where the person is facing the camera with their face upright.”

Yahoo, Inc. denied this allegation as a “completely unacceptable” violation of their privacy policy.

The tech corporation stated: “We were not aware of nor would we condone this reported activity. This report, if true, represents a whole new level of violation of our users’ privacy that is completely unacceptable and we strongly call on the world’s governments to reform surveillance law consistent with the principles we outlined in December. We are committed to preserving our users’ trust and security and continue our efforts to expand encryption across all of our services.”

In 2013, Marcus Thomas, former assistant director of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) Operational Technology Division commented : “The FBI has been able to covertly activate a computer’s camera—without triggering the light that lets users know it is recording—for several years, and has used that technique mainly in terrorism cases or the most serious criminal investigations.”

Spying via webcam is apparently quite easy.

Last December, researchers at Johns Hopkins University (JHU) discovered security vulnerabilities within the Apple iSight system in the MacBook laptop and iMac desktop units that allow an third party to disable the webcam indicator LED.

Matthew Brocker and Stephen Checkoway authored a paper entitled, “iSeeYou: Disabling the MacBook Webcam Indicator LED” which outlines the process of reprogramming the iSight camera via the microcontroller to disable the LED activation light.

The paper reads: “In the past few years, the ever-expanding set of sensors present in commodity laptops and smartphones has prompted the security and privacy community to begin searching ways to detect and limit the undesired use of sensors,” the “iSeeYou. At the same time, researchers have demonstrated attacks exploiting the presence of sensors.”

This allowed Brocker and Checkoway to take photos and video of the subject from the webcam.

Shockingly, their technique also worked on 1Mac G5 and Intel-based iMacs; as well as 2008 MacBook Pros.

According to the paper: “Our results in this paper demonstrate that, at least in some cases, people have been correct to worry about malware covertly capturing images and video. We show a vulnerability in the iSight webcam that affects a particular range of Apple computers … that can be exploited to turn on the camera and capture images and video without the indicator illuminating.”

Image credit: http://www.occupycorporatism.com


About the author:

Susanne Posel Chief Editor, Investigative Journalist OccupyCorporatism.com Radio Host: The Region 10 Report, Live Thursdays 1-3PM PST on American Freedom Radio.

 

Pat Caddell: The Establishment GOP wants the IRS to go after Tea Party

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Source: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org

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Pat Caddell: The Establishment GOP wants the IRS to go after Tea Party (See, the Republicans and the Dems CAN agree on something.)

 

Believe it or not this guy worked for Jimmy Carter.

Believe it or not this guy worked for Jimmy Carter.

 

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Caddell says that’s why the issue is not being pressed by House leadership. My gut tells me that he’s right. The consulting crew  in Washington (which hires each other for gigs for top top dollar) fear the Tea Party because they know that they are toast if it takes power. All sorts of information will flood out, skeletons will come tumbling out of the closet, questionable checks written by questionable people will come to light. The establishment GOP is way more scared of the Tea Party than even the Dems, who though they won’t admit it publicly are pretty scared.

The GOP DC cronies are holding on for dear life and they want the Tea Party dead even if it means a Hillary Clinton presidency.

Below is a speech Caddell gave at CPAC after the defeat of Romney, just in case you want to know what the guy REALLY thinks.

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Image credit: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org


Nick Sorrentino
About Nick Sorrentino

Nick Sorrentino is the co-founder and editor of AgainstCronyCapitalism.org. A political and communications consultant with clients across the political spectrum, he lives just outside of Washington DC where he can keep an eye on Leviathan.

 

 

Lew Rockwell On Endemic Corruption of US Government

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Source: http://bastiat.mises.org

 

Lew Rockwell On Endemic Corruption of US Government

 

Former New Orleans, La. Mayor Ray Nagin was convicted of 20 counts of corruption, while found not guilty on one count. Nagin was the mayor of the Crescent City from 2002 to 2010, shepherding the city through the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and the rebuilding that began immediately after. But during the rebuilding phase, Nagin required kickbacks from people looking to help the battered city. RT’s Perianne Boring discusses the case and corruption in America with libertarian author Lew Rockwell.

 

2-15-2014 6-29-45 PM

 

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The latest book by Lew Rockwell available here:

 
 

Woman Criticizes Honolulu’s Government, Has Her (Anti-Eminent Domain) Protest Signs Bulldozed

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Source: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org

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Woman Criticizes Honolulu’s Government, Has Her (Anti-Eminent Domain) Protest Signs Bulldozed

 

Arthur Dent fighting a similar battle in the 1970s.

Arthur Dent fighting a similar battle in the 1970s.

 

Local governments love to seize property for projects. Since the Kelo Decision such seizures often are blatant transfers of wealth from the relatively poor and unconnected to the rich and very connected. If your property isn’t generating enough tax revenue for the city fathers (and their underlings) watch out, a bulldozer my be on your doorstep soon.

 

(From Forbes.com)
 
But now the city is showing a callous disregard for Choon’s freedom of speech.  Back in May, Honolulu seized two of her eminent domain protest signs.  Without her consent, city employees went onto the property and seized and impounded her signs before damaging them. Even worse, the city slapped her with a notice for trespassing, for property she is trying to defend in court.
 
After these signs were torn down, Choon placed three more signs there.  These lasted just a few months before the city once again seized the signs.  This time, Honolulu was much more dramatic.  On October 18, city workers, backed by police officers, squad cars and a bulldozer, came by and literally bulldozed those protest signs.

Click here for the article.

Image credit: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org

 

Government in Ukraine Resigns

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Government in Ukraine Resigns

 

1-28-2014 6-34-29 PM

 

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Published by NextNewsNetwork

The Prime Minister of the Ukraine, Mykola Azarov, resigned his position, along with his cabinet, who also left their posts. This follows months of unrest in the former Soviet Republic.

Serhiy Arbuzov, the first deputy prime minister, has taken over the position as Prime Minister. President Viktor Yanukovich accepted the resignations, asking the cabinet to remain on until replacements can be found.

Unrest has been reaching a fever pitch in the Eastern European nation. Demonstrators are occupying many government buildings. At least five people have died during rioting, including three police officers.

The government responded to demonstrations by enacting laws, restricting the actions of protesters. These laws were highly controversial and unpopular.

The resignation of the Ukranian cabinet took place after Parliment recently repealed one of these laws restricting demonstrators. The regulation forbid protesters from wearing helmets, or blockading public buildings. The lawmaking body removed those prohibitions on a vote of 361 to 2. The legislative body also voted to consider amnesty for participants who broke laws.

The protests were fueled, in part, because of the laws restricting protestors. Most of the fury, however, was aimed at removing President Yanukovych from power.

Azarov said, “In an effort to provide for additional opportunities for a social political compromise, to find a peaceful solution to the conflict, I’ve decided to offer my resignation as Prime Minister. The conflict in the state threatens the social and economic development of Ukraine and threatens the entire Ukrainian society and every individual citizen.”

As long as Yanukovych remains at his post, protests are likely to continue. The Parliament building is now surrounded by hundreds of armed security officers, readying themselves for possible battle against their own people. If widespread violence engulfs the nation with no geographic or ethnic distinctions, the strife will place brother against brother.

Maria Matios, a member of the Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reform, appeared with the growing crowd near the Parliament building, wearing a bullet-proof vest.

“This is my moral protest against what’s happening,” she said. “I never would have thought that we’d be living in the cross hairs of a Kalashnikov.”

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Gerald Celente: 2014 Global Collapse and the Next War

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Gerald Celente: 2014 Global Collapse and the Next War

 

1-21-2014 7-37-51 PM

 

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Published by NextNewsNetwork

With the coming of the new year, everyone wants to know what 2014 will hold for themselves and the world.

Futurists do their best to predict what events will come about over the next 12 months, as well as how current trends will affect, and be affected by, what happens around the world. Some of the predictions announced by forecasters turn out exactly as they predict. Others land far from the mark. Still, a few forecasters have been around for years, due to the accuracy of their predictions.

One of the best-known futurists in the country is Gerald Celente. He is the founder of the Trends Research Institute. He is also the best-selling author of Trends 2000 and Trend Tracking. He has appeared on several of the largest media outlets in the world, offering his predictions for the future. His forecasts have often proved to be highly accurate.

Gerald Celente is our guest on the show today.

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2014 Will Bring More Social Collapse

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Source: http://www.paulcraigroberts.org

By Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

2014 Will Bring More Social Collapse

 

2014 is upon us. For a person who graduated from Georgia Tech in 1961, a year in which the class ring showed the same date right side up or upside down, the 21st century was a science fiction concept associated with Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 film, “2001: A Space Odyssey.” To us George Orwell’s 1984 seemed so far in the future we would never get there. Now it is 30 years in the past.

Did we get there in Orwell’s sense? In terms of surveillance technology, we are far beyond Orwell’s imagination. In terms of the unaccountability of government, we exceptional and indispensable people now live a 1984 existence. In his alternative to the Queen’s Christmas speech, Edward Snowden made the point that a person born in the 21st century will never experience privacy. For new generations the word privacy will refer to something mythical, like a unicorn.

Many Americans might never notice or care. I remember when telephone calls were considered to be private. In the 1940s and 1950s the telephone company could not always provide private lines. There were “party lines” in which two or more customers shared the same telephone line. It was considered extremely rude and inappropriate to listen in on someone’s calls and to monopolize the line with long duration conversations.

The privacy of telephone conversations was also epitomized by telephone booths, which stood on street corners, in a variety of public places, and in “filling stations” where an attendant would pump gasoline into your car’s fuel tank, check the water in the radiator, the oil in the engine, the air in the tires, and clean the windshield. A dollar’s worth would purchase 3 gallons, and $5 would fill the tank.

Even in the 1980s and for part of the 1990s there were lines of telephones on airport waiting room walls, each separated from the other by sound absorbing panels. Whether the panels absorbed the sounds of the conversation or not, they conveyed the idea that calls were private.

The notion that telephone calls are private left Americans’ consciousness prior to the NSA listening in. If memory serves, it was sometime in the 1990s when I entered the men’s room of an airport and observed a row of men speaking on their cell phones in the midst of the tinkling sound of urine hitting water and noises of flushing toilets. The thought hit hard that privacy had lost its value.

I remember when I arrived at Merton College, Oxford, for the first term of 1964. I was advised never to telephone anyone whom I had not met, as it would be an affront to invade the privacy of a person to whom I was unknown. The telephone was reserved for friends and acquaintances, a civility that contrasts with American telemarketing.

The efficiency of the Royal Mail service protected the privacy of the telephone. What one did in those days in England was to write a letter requesting a meeting or an appointment. It was possible to send a letter via the Royal Mail to London in the morning and to receive a reply in the afternoon. Previously it had been possible to send a letter in the morning and to receive a morning reply, and to send another in the afternoon and receive an afternoon reply.

When one flies today, unless one stops up one’s ears with something, one hears one’s seat mate’s conversations prior to takeoff and immediately upon landing. Literally, everyone is talking nonstop. One wonders how the economy functioned at such a high level of incomes and success prior to cell phones. I can remember being able to travel both domestically and internationally on important business without having to telephone anyone. What has happened to America that no one can any longer go anywhere without constant talking?

If you sit at an airport gate awaiting a flight, you might think you are listening to a porn film. The overhead visuals are usually Fox “News” going on about the need for a new war, but the cell phone audio might be young women describing their latest sexual affair.

Americans, or many of them, are such exhibitionists that they do not mind being spied upon or recorded. It gives them importance. According to Wikipedia, Paris Hilton, a multimillionaire heiress, posted her sexual escapades online, and Facebook had to block users from posting nude photos of themselves. Sometime between my time and now people ceased to read 1984. They have no conception that a loss of privacy is a loss of self. They don’t understand that a loss of privacy means that they can be intimidated, blackmailed, framed, and viewed in the buff. Little wonder they submitted to porno-scanners.

The loss of privacy is a serious matter. The privacy of the family used to be paramount. Today it is routinely invaded by neighbors, police, Child Protective Services (sic), school administrators, and just about anyone else.

Consider this: A mother of six and nine year old kids sat in a lawn chair next to her house watching her kids ride scooters in the driveway and cul-de-sac on which they live.

Normally, this would be an idyllic picture. But not in America. A neighbor, who apparently did not see the watching mother, called the police to report that two young children were outside playing without adult supervision. Note that the next door neighbor, a woman, did not bother to go next door to speak with the mother of the children and express her concern that they children were not being monitored while they played. The neighbor called the police. http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/sideshow/mom-sues-polices-she-arrested-letting-her-kids-134628018.html

“We’re here for you,” the cops told the mother, who was carried off in handcuffs and spent the next 18 hours in a cell in prison clothes.

The news report doesn’t say what happened to the children, whether the father appeared and insisted on custody of his offspring or whether the cops turned the kids over to Child Protective Services.

This shows you what Americans are really like. Neither the neighbor nor the police had a lick of sense. The only idea that they had was to punish someone. This is why America has the highest incarceration rate and the highest total number of prison inmates in the entire world. Washington can go on and on about “authoritarian” regimes in Russia and China, but both countries have far lower prison populations than “freedom and democracy” America.

I was unaware that laws now exist requiring the supervision of children at play. Children vary in their need for supervision. In my day supervision was up to the mother’s judgment. Older children were often tasked with supervising the younger. It was one way that children were taught responsibility and developed their own judgment.

When I was five years old, I walked to the neighborhood school by myself. Today my mother would be arrested for child endangerment.

In America punishment falls more heavily on the innocent, the young, and the poor than it does on the banksters who are living on the Federal Reserve’s subsidy known as Quantitative Easing and who have escaped criminal liability for the fraudulent financial instruments that they sold to the world. Single mothers, depressed by the lack of commitment of the fathers of their children, are locked away for using drugs to block out their depression. Their children are seized by a Gestapo institution, Child Protective Services, and end up in foster care where many are abused.

According to numerous press reports, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 year-old children who play cowboys and indians or cops and robbers during recess and raise a pointed finger while saying “bang-bang” are arrested and carried off to jail in handcuffs as threats to their classmates. In my day every male child and the females who were “Tom boys” would have been taken to jail. Playground fights were normal, but no police were ever called. Handcuffing a child would not have been tolerated.

From the earliest age, boys were taught never to hit a girl. In those days there were no reports of police beating up teenage girls and women or body slamming the elderly. To comprehend the degeneration of the American police into psychopaths and sociopaths, go online and observe the video of Lee Oswald in police custody in 1963. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4FDDuRSgzFk Oswald was believed to have assassinated President John F. Kennedy and murdered a Dallas police officer only a few hours previously to the film. Yet he had not been beaten, his nose wasn’t broken, and his lips were not a bloody mess. Now go online and pick from the vast number of police brutality videos from our present time and observe the swollen and bleeding faces of teenage girls accused of sassing overbearing police officers.

In America today people with power are no longer accountable. This means citizens have become subjects, an indication of social collapse.

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.

 

 

Government Policies Hurt Low-Wage Workers

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Source: http://the-free-foundation.org

By Ron Paul

Government Policies Hurt Low-Wage Workers

 

Fast-food workers across the county have recently held a number of high profile protests to agitate for higher wages. These protests have been accompanied by efforts to increase the wages mandated by state and local minimum wage laws, as well as a renewed push in some states and localities to pass “living wage” laws. President Obama has proposed raising the federal minimum wage to ten dollars an hour.

Raising minimum wages by government decree appeals to those who do not understand economics. This appeal is especially strong during times of stagnant wages and increased economic inequality. But raising the minimum wage actually harms those at the bottom of the income ladder. Basic economic theory teaches that when the price of a good increases, demand for that good decreases. Raising the minimum wage increases the price of labor, thus decreasing the demand for labor. So an increased minimum wage will lead to hiring freezes and layoffs. Unskilled and inexperienced workers are the ones most often deprived of employment opportunities by increases in the minimum wage.

Minimum wage laws are not the only example of government policies that hurt those at the bottom of the income scale. Many regulations that are promoted as necessary to “rein in” large corporations actually hurt small businesses. Because these small businesses operate on a much narrower profit margin, they cannot as easily absorb the costs of complying with the regulations as large corporations. These regulations can also inhibit lower income individuals from starting their own businesses. Thus, government regulations can reduce the demand for wage-labor, while increasing the supply of labor, which further reduces wages.

Perhaps the most significant harm to low-wage earners is caused by the inflationist polices of the Federal Reserve. Since its creation one hundred years ago this month, the Federal Reserve’s policies have caused the dollar to lose over 95 percent of its purchasing power—that’s right, today you need $23.70 to buy what one dollar bought in 1913! Who do you think suffers the most from this loss of purchasing power—Warren Buffet or his secretary?

It is not just that higher incomes can afford the higher prices caused by Federal Reserve. The system is set up in a way that disadvantages those at the bottom of the income scale. When the Federal Reserve creates money, those well-connected with the political and financial elites receive the newly-created money first, before general price increases have spread through the economy. And most fast-food employees do not number among the well-connected.

It is not a coincidence that economic inequality has increased in recent years, as the Federal Reserve has engaged in unprecedented money creation and bailouts of big banks and Wall Street financial firms. As billionaire investor Donald Trump has said, the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing policies are a great deal for “people like me.” And former Federal Reserve official Andrew Huszar has called QE “the greatest backdoor Wall Street bailout of all time.”

Many so-called champions of economic equality and fairness for the working class are preparing to confirm Janet Yellen as next Chairman of the Federal Reserve. Yet Yellen is committed to continuing and even expanding, the upward redistributionist polices of her predecessors. Washington could use more sound economic thinking and less demagoguery.

By increasing unemployment, government policies like minimum wage laws only worsen inequality. Those who are genuinely concerned about increasing the well-being of all Americans should support repeal of all laws, regulations, and taxes that inhibit job creation and economic mobility. Congress should also end the most regressive of all taxes, the inflation tax, by ending the Federal Reserve.

 

Does fighting crony capitalism necessarily involve fighting the growth of government?

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Source: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org

By

Does fighting crony capitalism necessarily involve fighting the growth of government?

 

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I have to say that I enjoy articles like this one by Mike Konczal in the New Republic. He argues that all the focus on crony capitalism is a “Right-wing” ruse. He argues that it is just a smear used by reactionary idiologues to tarnish this progressive president. Obama is no corpoartist he explains. All the regulations which have been used to enrich a certain group of campaign donors and otherwise connected individuals? This is a side issue. Such enrichment was certainly not done on purpose. It’s just the nuts on the “Right” who have a problem with this stuff. He argues that the small government anti-crony capitalism critique, which highlights how business and government collude to screw the taxpayer, is nothing but flack. There’s no real concern for people, or the Republic, or justice. It’s nothing but a meme created to derail the bright and shining day, corpoarti…, er I mean fascis…, I mean progressivism will one day deliver to us.

It not an unfamiliar charge. Many people who believe that government can make the world a better place, have a very difficult time coming to terms with crony capitalism. Often people think that fighting crony capitalism means passing new regulations, but sadly as many people dig into the issue they come to realize that this has never worked and that it always seems that regulations (and I speak in the broadest sense right now, there is a limited place for regs), and government are always manipulated by the powers that be for their ends.

Anyone who doesn’t understand this is deluding themselves. Where there is government there will be corruption, and once government reaches a certain size there will be crony capitalism. The size of government and the amount of crony capitalism correlate very closely.

The state is not some benevolent force. It is not “the people” as we have been taught by our civics text books. It is SOME people. People who are interested in power for one reason or another. A sophisticated and modern understanding of politics demands an understanding of this.

The state is many times the most efficient means by which private interests can to derive power. Goldman Sachs for instance should be dead. It should be long gone. It leveraged itself out too much and then the market caught the bank with its pants down. But because Goldman had the right connections in Washington they were bailed out by the US taxpayer.

Mr. Konczal would like us to believe (following the logic in the attached article) that the Wall Street bailout was only the result of a well-meaning state seeking to keep the world economy from imploding. It wasn’t crony capitalism. So what if Goldman Sachs benefited and took all of the TARP money and spent it on bonuses for its people in 2009? Obama would never do that on purpose. He’s a “progressive.”

But “progressivism” is fundamentally a corporate ethos going right back to its birth at the turn of the 20th Century. At progressivism’s core is the idea of doing well and doing “good” (which is a laudable goal and one I strive for within the market) using government, while consolidating power for connected interests. That is fundamentally what “progressivism” is.

Notice how all the “progressive” reforms of that era and beyond seemed to end up working to the benefit of large private interests.

Take for instance the Interstate Commerce Commission, which was sold to the public as a way to bring the era’s “robber barons” to heel. It was the first big regulatory effort by the Feds and it set the tone for regulations to come.

This is what Richard Olney, Attorney General under Grover Cleveland had to say about the “reform.”-

“The Commission… is, or can be made, of great use to the railroads. It satisfies the popular clamor for a government supervision of the railroads, at the same time that supervision is almost entirely nominal. Further, the older such a commission gets to be, the more inclined it will be found to take the business and railroad view of things.… The part of wisdom is not to destroy the Commission, but to utilize it.”

Whether a “reform” is intended to help private interests or not, it is only a matter of time before that institution is captured.

Who befefits most from the Federal Reserve system? The big banks.

Who benefit’s the most from the FDA? The big drug companies.

Who benefits most from farm subsidies? Big agriculture.

Who benfits most from the Federal Communications Commission? The crony media and intellectual property zealots.

Who benefits most in the Obamacare scheme (if it worked)? The health insurance companies which were licking their chops at the prospect of a vast new group of customers subsidized by taxpayers.

And on and on.

It would be nice if government was some disinterested party which existed only for the greater good of all. But it is not. At best, government is to be tolerated, and kept small. When government is given power the crony capitalists start jockeying almost immediately. It’s like pouring tuna entrails into a shark tank.

I know that many people want to believe that government is here to help us. I am fairly sure that Mr. Konczal is one of these people. It is a nice thought, and limited government does indeed have its place, but benevolent government is not even a dream, it’s a delusion.

It’s a delusion- which one could understand in the days before the Information Age. People only heard one perspective. People were told that the government worked in their best interest. That government and evil corporations were opposing forces not complimentary ones. That taxes were “the price of society.” That wars were fought for “democracy.” And so on.

But there is no excuse for holding such naive views of government today. All one has to do is dig just a little bit to see that throughout history, probably since the dawn of history, the state (government, whatever) has been a tool by which the powerful have manipulated things in their interest. It is how monopolies survive – they don’t ever survive in a free market. It is how serfs were kept in their place. How slaves were kept in their place. It is how young men are drafted to fight wars. It is how our modern system of debt servitude is perpetuated. Ideally, for the average person who is not part of the “club” the state should be kept small and watched with a weary eye. The state is a drain on resources for most people.

The temptation of course (and the song of “progressivism”) is that the power of the state can be turned for good. Just think of the utopia which would blossom if the power of the state could be harnessed for the “people.”

But sadly government doesn’t work that way, history has shown us this over and over. At this point Mike Konczal, and many other “progressives” should understand this.

And Mike, it’s not the “Right-wingers” calling Obama a corporatist these days, it’s the “Lefties“. 

Image credit: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org


Nick Sorrentino
About Nick Sorrentino

Nick Sorrentino is the co-founder and editor of AgainstCronyCapitalism.org. A political and communications consultant with clients across the political spectrum, he lives just outside of Washington DC where he can keep an eye on Leviathan.
 

 

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