There is Only One Way to Solve the World’s Economic Crisis –Jubilee

The situation as related to “public debt” global is beyond insane. Governments are being held hostage by global banks and central banks to repay odious debt that simply cannot be repaid. We could argue till the cows come home on the nature and responsibility for this debt, but the real point here is it is impossible for this debt to be repaid, period. The 100-year contract established with this privately-owned corporation known as “The Federal Reserve” will come to an end on December 23, 2013.On its 100th anniversary, the Federal Reserve System leaves the American people about 17 trillion dollars in debt , and times five in long-term debt. As of 2012, the Gross Domestic Product of the United States was close to $16.5 trillion. Comparatively, Spain’s Gross Domestic Product for 2012 was about $1.3 trillion. Spain’s debt was $2.3 trillion. Spain has a 167 debt-to-GDP ratio. The United States has a 106 percent debt-to-GDP, or nearly $17 trillion; Italy’s debt at $2.5 trillion is 108 percent debt-to-GDP. The European Union was at 85 percent debt to GDP at year-end 2012.

It is hard to talk about these numbers because frankly most of us cannot conceive the scope of these numbers. We feel the pain, but we cannot conceive or get our heads around the crisis. So a little exercise is in order to try and visualize what a trillion means. One trillion seconds is almost 32,000 years. So to pay off the debt, if Congress put a hundred dollar bill per second into an account to pay the debt, it would take well over 4,000 years to get the job done. Now expand that globally. It is just insane, isn’t it? Couple that with the fact if we let the Fed, and all the other central banks convince us this is our only course, we are indeed dead heads in the most extreme sense. One of the main reasons this is just impossible is the fact for every dollar we print to repay our debt, we go 46 cents more in debt than we were before we printed the currency (or sold the bond or keyed a number into a computer) to reduce our debt.

There is a solution, a real solution, that could change the whole situation with a stroke of few pens and the resolve of we, the people, to demand it. The crisis could literally end overnight and the economies of the world would boom. This solution has a long historical precedent dating back to ancient times. Simply declare a jubilee.  In ancient Jerusalem the 50th, (one year after the 49th) there would be a jubilee year during which any slaves would be emancipated and everyone would return to their land and family to live off of natural providence. A clear implication of this teaching is that all obligations, including debt obligations, would be forgiven in the process.  This was known as The Septuagint rendered the Hebrew yovel as “a trumpet-blast of liberty”.

Simply stated, all debt, both public and private would be reset to “0”, period, end of statement. This is not so crazy and if you think there is no modern precedent, you would be wrong.  After the Civil War, it was found that the Confederate States incurred great debt in its attempt to secede from the Union. The North won that war. It would have been immoral for the taxpayers of the United States (North and South) to be forced to pay the debts of the Confederacy which had seceded from the Union during the time the debt was incurred. The 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution repudiated those debts.

 Section 4.

The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any state shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.

We do not honor debts resulting from dishonorable purposes. We did not honor the debts of the Confederacy. After the Spanish-American War ended in 1898, the US turned to the Doctrine of Odious Debt when it rejected Cuba’s debts to Spain. We said the debts “…were imposed upon the people of Cuba without their consent and by force of arms.”

The peace negotiators argued that much of the debt was used to crush the efforts of the Cuban people to revolt against the domination of the Spanish. The money was spent in a way that was contrary to the interests of the Cuban people. To ask them to pay for debts incurred to help continue keeping them in a perpetual state of slavery would be immoral… it was odious debt – or, unlawful debt. To command the people of any nation to keep their shoulders to the rock of debt and keep pushing it uphill under threat of imprisonment if they do not is… slavery.

Citizens of this nation and of the world had an economic war declared against them by too big to jail banksters when the protections of the Glass Steagall Act and the McFadden Act were, with careless disregard for the outcome, over-ridden. For close to ten years, the world’s political machine has used debt to enslave the populace… what else can you call debt that is so huge it is not repayable?  In the US, the only thing that stands behind the value of the US Federal Reserve Note – American currency, regardless of what you call it – is the blood, sweat and tears of the American people. If you don’t pay your taxes, you go to jail.  According to the 14th Amendment, public debt must be authorized by law. From where does our Rule of Law in America flow? The Constitution!

Given that if a jubilee were to be declared, it would be the sovereign act of the government with the full backing of the constitution and since no physical assets would be lost, the only “so-called’ losers would be the banksters, who have been proven over and over again to be involved in criminal activity; and the central banks which are privately held and NOT sovereign, why not do it?

It doesn’t take a lot of mathematical skill to figure this out. The dollar, or more accurately stated the Federal Reserve Note, has depreciated to the point where its value is about 6 or 7 cents when compared to the 100 cents it was worth when the Federal Reserve Act was passed on December 23, 1913 and the unlawfully established Federal Reserve System took over the reins of America’s monetary management.

How is the Federal Reserve System unlawful, you ask? Article One, Section 8 of the United States Constitution says “The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United State.”  Section 8 also says Congress has the responsibility “To coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coin, and fix the standard of weights and measures;”.

There is a lawful way to change the Constitution of the United States. It involves both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Each must approve by a two-thirds supermajority vote a joint resolution amending the Constitution. The joint resolution does not require the signature of the President but is sent directly to the states for ratification. Once ratified via a vote by the People, the Constitution is lawfully amended. That is the process put in place by our Founding Fathers.

As anyone who is familiar with the history of the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 knows, this procedure was not followed. Instead, politicians who supported the concept of a central bank (which America had only briefly on two occasions until 1913) let their opponents go home for Christmas on December 23rd and proceeded to pass this Act unconstitutionally. The Congress cannot, under its own limited power, change the Constitution of the United States. The Federal Reserve Act of 1913 and the banking system that evolved from it have never been constitutional.

Aside from nations that view the Doctrine of Odious Debt as a means to get out of debt every ten years, this concept may lend itself to an exit strategy for sovereign nations of the world to escape the crushing debt being heaped on the heads of people worldwide. The idea does hold some thoughtful possibilities. Iceland thought so – and its crooked bankers and its crooked politicians sit in Icelandic prisons rather than getting multi-million dollar bonuses annually… and Iceland thrives. Too bad the Greeks and Spanish haven’t followed in their footsteps.

What the Doctrine of Odious Debt makes quite clear is that a lie has been forced upon the majority of the world’s population by oligarchic elites. They like the concept of a two-class system with them as the elitists, running things, while the rest of us who used to be middle class are shoved into the labor class forced into careers they, not we, decide are best for us.

The question, then, becomes what debts are “odious” or “immoral,” and which are not? What is an illegitimate debt? In America, we can look at mortgage-backed derivatives and millions of unlawful foreclosures and costing the people trillions of dollars to immediately identify trillions of dollars of property value and profits by banks that can be defined no way other than immoral. Well, perhaps unlawful, too. These debts and the government funds loaned to the banksters that created them and who got bailed out by additional funds from taxes on American citizens can probably make the best claim of “immoral” or “odious” debt of any citizens in the world.

These are the facts of history. It would seem by any definition or legal argument, the debts we now face, on a global basis stem from these facts of the criminal and immoral acts of the too big to fail banks and the subsequent immoral acts of the central banks to “cover” their butts, and therefore the debts both public and private are by any acceptable or legal definition odious, immoral, and illegal.

If we as the people who select our representatives and leaders understand these fundamental facts and insist that the government we elect abides by the constitution, then declaring a jubilee is the ONLY correct solution to our current problem. This is not conspiracy rantings. This is simply the truth of it and the truth can set us free. More importantly the truth can set our children free. I would welcome anyone to tell us where we got this wrong. Anyone?

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The Economy is Improving..Says Who?

Since 2008, we have heard many statements made about how the economy is improving. Yet, none of us can feel it, right? We hear the words, we see the graphs, and we hear the politicians, economists, and financial talk show pundits mouth the words, but we just don’t see it. Cities and counties are now going bankrupt, and we see more and more layoffs and losses of good jobs. The cold, hard reality is the U.S. economy has been steadily declining for over a decade. So let’s just look at the FACTS behind the story.

When Barack Obama entered the White House, 60.6 percent of working age Americans had a job.  Today, only 58.7 percent of working age Americans has a job. Since 2008, seven out of every eight jobs that have been “created” in the U.S. economy have been part-time jobs. Seven out of eight! Walmart and Kelley Temp Services are the number 1 and number 2 employers in the country.

The number of full-time workers in the United States is still nearly 6 million below the old record that was set back in 2007. It is hard to believe, but an astounding 53 percent of all American workers now make less than $30,000 a year. Remember here that the poverty level for a family of four is $21,200! This means that more than half of American families are on the edge of poverty.  So when you hear some blow hard politician seem to intimate that anyone who can’t find a decent job is some sort of slug, well slug him, figuratively speaking of course. To put a sharper edge on this, 40 percent of all workers in the United States today actually make less than what a full-time minimum wage worker made back in 1968.

During the first four years of the Obama administration, the number of Americans “not in the labor force” soared by an astounding 8,332,000.  That far exceeds any previous four year total on record.  In 2007, the homeownership rate in the United States was 67.5 percent.  Today, it is 65.0 percent.  That is the lowest that it has been in 18 years.  Median household income in America has fallen for four consecutive years.  Overall, it has declined by over $4000 during that time span.

What is amazing, the do nothing CONgress has the gall to encourage us all to support less government at exactly the time when we are experiencing the worst economic hardships in recent history, by some accounts far worse than the depression. The Speaker of the House had the gall to recently say it wasn’t the number of laws they passed, but the number of services they can cut! Remember this slow rolling disaster has been going on for over 10 years now. In the first four years after the crash in 2008, the number of Americans on food stamps increased by an average of about 11,000 per day. At this point, more than a million public school students in the United States are homeless.  This is the first time that has ever happened in our history.  That number has risen by 57 percent since the 2006-2007 school year. So let’s see, CONgress looks the other way as the banksters fleece America, and now as the collateral damage from that neglect is manifesting, NOW they say we need less government? How bold I say is guilt!

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According to one recent survey, 76 percent of all Americans are living paycheck to paycheck.  According to the Survey of Income and Program Participation conducted by the U.S. Census, well over 100 million Americans are enrolled in at least one welfare program run by the federal government.  In the face of the ever increasing crisis, the hidden face of inflation of basics needs is devastating the shrinking ability of Americans to have a basic level of living.  Electricity bills in the United States have risen faster than the overall rate of inflation for five years in a row. Health insurance costs have risen by 29 percent since 2008. Rents and education costs are out of control.

Folks, we have to wake up from this polarization game these politicians are playing. Pitting patriots against progressives, whites against blacks and browns, takers against makers, it is all a bunch of crap. The banksters and their political hacks, both Democrats and Republicans currently holding office ARE THE PROBLEM. PERIOD.

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As we approach the 2014 elections, let’s wake up and not buy this rhetoric any longer. Neither side is going to fix this problem, we have to fix it, and we need to encourage people who understand the problem and are willing to run to stand up. In a bi-partisan manner, we should encourage and support those people to come forward. When you attend the town halls and campaign rallies, remember this article and don’t let ANY candidate blame “the other side” because they are the cause of this by the grossest negligence in the history of the Republic. Don’t be sucked into the “them and us” crap and demand they answer these questions we have raised in this article. Let’s not be “played” any longer.

August 19th Solar Watch Advisory

As we monitor natural activities that could affect us all globally, solar activity is at the top of the list. Recent solar activity and a news release by NASA last week are prompting us now to issue a watch advisory.

The Sun is about to flip! This news comes by way of a NASA press release about the impending solar polar shift, wherein the Sun will flip its magnetic poles in the culmination of its roughly 11-year solar cycle. The event of the polar flip will serve as the much-hyped solar maximum.

Speaking on the upcoming magnetic flip, Todd Hoeksema, the director of Stanford University’s Wilcox Solar Observatory, said that “it looks like we’re no more than three to four months away from a complete field reversal . . . this change will have ripple effects throughout the solar system.”

Based on our observations, this may be happening sooner rather than later in that time estimate. The “internal pole” has already deviated by 30 degrees, and surface changes are becoming more frequent and intense. Today there was a massive CME on the far side of the sun from old sunspot 1809. If this eruption would have occurred when earth facing, we would be subject to a massive geo-magnetic storm that would certain caused major problems with the global power grid and would have definitely fried a lot of satellites. Here are some photos from this August 19th eruption to give you an idea of the scale of the events we could face.

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Right now, the Sun is headed for solar maximum, the peak in activity in its 11-year cycle. Because blasts of energy from the Sun are sure to become more powerful and frequent in the future, the chances for Earthly impacts of solar storms increases dramatically. When the highly-charged particles of the solar wind hit our upper atmosphere, they interact with Earth’s magnetic field, causing disruptions in electronic communications and power grids. One job for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is to keep an eye on solar weather which, NOAA chief Jane Lubchenco warns, could have dire effects for us on Earth.

When the Sun was at its last peak period in the early 2000s, we were nowhere near as reliant on satellites as we are today. Think back to 2001, far fewer people had a cell phone in their pocket, a GPS unit in their car, and satellite TV in their house. Now, while losing anyone of these conveniences (imagine having to actually read a map!) would be a minor irritation, the fact that solar storms can damage power grids can have massive implications. In March 1989 (during the Sun’s maximum 2 cycles ago) a massive solar storm knocked out power over a large section of Canada. The frightening fact, in the larger scheme of things, that storm wasn’t that big, certainly not the perfect solar super storm. Worst case scenario: if transformers and capacitors were really fried, power could be out for months, essentially transporting us back to the pre-industrial age.

There are those who are suggesting that this solar flip may occur much more rapidly and therefore much more violently than previous events. Given this recent activity and the increasing behavior of activity we think it is prudent to issue to watch advisory. It could happen tomorrow and we would have about 48 hours to react. Simply do the following checklist and make sure you are as ready for such event as you can be.

Consider your needs for the number of residents in your home

Do you have a source emergency power and heat? For how long?

Do you have food, medicine, water, an ability to deal with sanitation?  For how long?

Will you need alternative shelter for the residents?

What are your anticipated transportation and child care needs?

Do you have the ability to communicate with family and emergency services without power?

Now would be a good time to review these things. Pay attention to this activity daily. You can follow here:  Solarham

This is Shocking Proof of the Dumbing Down of America

In our continuing effort to focus attention on the atrocious state of our public education system, a very pointed article appeared in the Examiner. You can find the complete article here, A 1912 Eighth Grade Final Examine . We have attached some of the exam in the article for you to appreciate.

We really haven’t seen anything like this to so eloquently make the point of what we have come to accept as OK when it comes to the education of our children. Yes, we have pointed out a number of problems and we have linked to a number of studies, but nothing can make the point as clear as this examine.

The 1912 eighth grade exam was in the form of a scroll and thought to contain several typos. It turns out the spellings were correct 100 years ago. The test was administered in the county courthouse in rural Kentucky. This was the place where students would have taken tests like this one in 1912. One room schoolhouses were scattered around the county and eighth graders would meet at the courthouse a couple of times per year to be tested.  The Bullitt County Museum is located in Shepherdsville, Ky.

Ready to take a sampling of the test?

Math

1. Spell out these numbers: .00003, .5764, 43.37

2. Solve: 35.7, plus 4

3. Solve: At $1.62 1/2 a cord, what will be the cost of a pile of wood 24 feet long, 4 feet wide, and 6 feet 3 inches high?

Grammar

1. What is a personal noun?

2. Define common noun, proper noun.

3. Adjectives have how many degrees of comparison? Compare good; wise; beautiful.

Geography

1. Locate Erie Canal; what waters does it connect, and why it is important.

2. Locate the following countries which border each other: Turkey, Greece, Serbia, Montenegro, and Romania.

3. Locate these cities: Mobile, Quebec, Buenos Aires, Liverpool, Honolulu.

Physiology

1. How does the liver compare in size with other glands in the human body? Where is it located? What does it secrete?

2. Define Cerebrum and Cerebellum.

3. Where is the chief nervous center of the body?

Civil Government

1. Name and define the three branches of government in the United States.

2. Give three duties of the President. What is meant by the veto power?

3. Name three rights given Congress by the Constitution and two rights denied Congress.

History

1. Who first discover the following places: Florida, Pacific Ocean, Mississippi River, St. Lawrence River?

2. Describe the battle of Quebec.

3. Name two Presidents who have died in office: three who were assassinated.

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We are sadly laughing with you as you read this. It is remarkable isn’t it; how far we have fallen? The education of our children is no laughing matter. Our future and more importantly their future will be shaped by their level of education. So when we hear what the political debates are about on TV, let’s consider again what WE want them to be about. Education seems to us to be much more important that the jibberish and inane BS we are listening to on a daily basis. Say, we have got an idea! Let’s make it a requirement that anyone running for office must pass the 1912 eighth grade exam from Shepherdsville, Kentucky! Surely Senator Mc CONnell would have to agree to that!

CONgress Acts in a Bipartisan Way!..Or Did They?

The House is expected to vote and possibly pass a student loan bill that passed the Senate last week by a vote of 81 to 18. The new bill would tie the student interest rate to market rates instead of the current 6.8 percent on federal loans taken out for the 2013-2014 school year. Rates on the subsidized Stafford federal loans doubled to 6.8 percent on July 1 because the bipartisan CONgress could not agree on a way to keep them at 3.4 percent.

Is this a victory for students and taxpayers as Rep. John Kline, Republican chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, has said?

It’s a victory to a manufactured problem, and a small one at that. You know, the actual financial ramifications of the interest rate having doubled was only about somewhere between $1,000 and $3,000 over the life of the loan for affected undergraduates to begin with. So it was really not that big of a deal to start out with. This whole fiasco has been essentially a distraction to the fact that there are structural problems with the student lending system that CONgress has yet to deal with and absolutely needs to in a very critical way.

Do you know why anybody or everybody can get a student loan? Well, when it comes to student loans, the lending system has turned functionally and structurally predatory because of the fact that the most standard consumer protections that American citizens have every reason to expect and exist for every type of loan don’t exist for student loans. They’ve been removed by CONgress. This includes bankruptcy protections, statutes of limitations, and truth in lending requirements. This, in turn, has created a very serious and unprecedented collection industry that has been given power that no collection industry has ever enjoyed. This has created a debt system where it’s quite frankly more profitable for the lending side when loans default rather than remain in good stead.

This is very dangerous, and it has enabled the inflation that we’ve seen. It has enabled a cavalcade of corruptions across the system. While it has greatly enriched the universities and allowed them to raise their prices willy-nilly and also enabled horrible inexcusable absent government oversight, it has not helped the students.  As we have reported here in previous articles, it’s the sticker price, and until CONgress deals with the structural problem, the price of college will only continue to rise.

How massive is this problem? Currently students across the country are over $1 trillion in debt, which is more than credit card debt. In 2005 we owed less than $400 billion as a nation in student loan debt, and that was a huge amount at the time. Here we are eight years later, and we currently owe about $1.2 trillion in student loan debt. The availability of student loans has raised the price of college faster than health-care costs, faster than even home prices before the bubble and bust in 2008.

CONgress manufactured this crisis by removing, number one, bankruptcy protections, but also statutes of limitations, state usury laws, and other fundamental consumer protections that enabled the debt spiral to begin. Similarly, Congress can very quickly solve this situation by returning at a minimum the standard bankruptcy protections that should have never been taken away. By doing this, they will force the lending side to have skin in the game on the side of the borrowers rather than on the side of the banks. In that environment, we could expect the Department of Education to begin cracking the whip on the schools to get serious about lowering their prices, improving their quality, and so forth. This is how a free-market system works. Even the most ardent conservative economists would agree with that approach.

We can only hope that the affected citizens will take this very seriously, because it is a guarantee that if the citizens do nothing and expect the PTB in Washington, D.C., to do their work for them, it will not get done. This is incumbent upon the citizens to fight this battle for themselves, unfortunately, because we are on our own.

This is one issue that I think does involve all of us, every single family with kids in school. We need to organize a giant lobby, since that seems to be the only thing that matters to the gangsters on the Hill. Only this lobby wouldn’t deal in campaign cash, it deals in votes. They still do count votes in Washington. This is an issue that isn’t left or right, liberal or conservative. Parents and students, this is one project you could work on together. Moms and Dads could the write the petitions and present to CONgress and kids can organize the whole movement through social media and texting? DO IT!

Is This Who We Really Are? The Story of John Wrana

Our society will be what we accept it to be in terms of justice and public service. So do we remain silent and compliant in the face of increasing physical and constitutional abuses or do we stand up together and loudly say, ENOUGH!

Increasingly, police departments all over the United States are being transformed into military-style units.  These days, even very minor violations of the law can result in a SWAT team raid.  The following is from a recent article by John Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute

Consider that in 1980, there were roughly 3,000 SWAT team-style raids in the US. By 2001, that number had grown to 45,000 and has since swelled to more than 80,000 SWAT team raids per year. On an average day in America, over 100 Americans have their homes raided by SWAT teams. In fact, there are few communities without a SWAT team on their police force today. In 1984, 25.6 percent of towns with populations between 25,000 and 50,000 people had a SWAT team. That number rose to 80 percent by 2005.

SWAT Team

But it is not just local police departments that are being militarized.  This is happening on the federal level as well.  In fact, according to Whitehead even the Department of Education and NASA now have their own SWAT teams. When it comes to SWAT-style tactics being used in routine policing, the federal government is one of the largest offenders, with multiple agencies touting their own SWAT teams, including the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Consumer Product Safety Commission, NASA, the Department of Education, the Department of Health and Human Services, the US National Park Service, and the FDA.

Although we are hearing daily of wide spread abuse, over use of force, and significant harm of both people and animals by various police forces, certainly the case of John Wrana should galvanize us all to stand up and begin the effort to curb these excessive abuses.

The headline read:  Illinois State Police have launched an investigation into why police in Park Forest shot a 95-year-old man with a bean bag round, leading to the man’s death.

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Park Forest Police say in a statement they were called to a Victory Centre nursing home at 101 Main Street to assist a private ambulance company with what they say was a combative 95-year-old male resident who was being involuntarily committed for medical treatment. When John Wrana, a U.S. Air Corps veteran who served in Burma and India during World War II, flew into a fit at his assisted living home in Park Forest, Illinois because he didn’t want to receive surgery at a nearby hospital, one might not think the best course of action to physically subdue the frail old man would be to hit him with a taser and bean bag rounds.  John’s surgery was likely going to leave him on life support and he made a decision not to have the surgery. One would think that is his prerogative.

John Wrana

WBBM Newsradio’s John Waelti reports World War II veteran John Wrana met his demise at the hands of Park Forest police officers last week, after allegedly threatening nursing home staff and paramedics with a cane, butcher knife, and shoehorn at the Victory Centre assisted living center.

But Wrana family attorney Nicholas Grapsas denied Wrana ever wielded a knife, and questioned why police needed to use force on an elderly man, when the staff was offering to assist. “When the police came, they took over. They wouldn’t even let the staff calm him down, even though they repeatedly, literally, begged them ‘Let us try and calm him down,” Grapsas said.

He claimed officers stormed into the room with riot gear, shooting Wrana with a stun gun. They then shot him in the abdomen with a bean bag round from a shotgun.  Grapsas said Wrana was sitting alone in a chair when police shot him.

The Cook County Medical Examiner’s office said Wrana died from internal bleeding from blunt force trauma caused by the bean bag rounds. We do not know the exact circumstances after police forced themselves into Wrana’s nursing home room with riot shields, but we do know they ended the situation with precisely those tactics. Wrana was brought to the hospital shortly thereafter, but died from internal bleeding.

According to an investigative report by John Kass of the Chicago Tribune, reports from staff and family members who were at the scene challenge the police’s official report, arguing that in spite of police claims, Wrana did not pose much of a threat. Wrana, who was described by his family as an independent, vital man who still regularly partook in the nursing home’s activities, was still physically weak and often required a walker to move. Though police claimed Wrana had armed himself with a 12-inch butcher knife, staff explained they did not see any weapon when they were in his room. Wrana was also seated at the time of the incident, casting further doubt on police claims that he needed to be forcefully subdued, especially with equipment typically used for riot control. Were they afraid he would hobble over with the knife stuck point-forward in his walker?

The staff even claimed they pleaded with police to let them handle the situation. If unarmed staff were willing to let armed police step aside to assist an allegedly dangerous man, what does that tell you about his true threat level? It does appear this case is a matter of over-enthusiasm for aggressive tactics replacing due discretion.

Ultimately, one the most tragic parts of this story is, it was a minor incident, which may have never even required a police presence, much less riot gear. In the end, force was used to resolve a situation which was likely to naturally dissipate. However, beyond being a teaching event for law enforcement, it begs us to re-evaluate the militarization of our police forces.

The CATO institute recently found over the last 25 years, America has seen a disturbing militarization of its civilian law enforcement, along with a dramatic and unsettling rise in the use of paramilitary police units (most commonly called Special Weapons and Tactics, or SWAT) for routine police work. The most common use of SWAT teams today is to serve narcotics warrants, usually with forced, unannounced entry into the home.

These raids bring unnecessary violence and provocation to nonviolent drug offenders, many of whom were guilty of only misdemeanors. The raids terrorize innocents when police mistakenly target the wrong residence. And they have resulted in dozens of needless deaths and injuries, not only of drug offenders, but also of police officers, children, bystanders, and innocent suspects. The complete report can be read here.. Overkill of Police SWAT tactics.

We fund these activities with our tax dollars, both on the local level and through Federal grant programs. I believe it is time to show up your next city council meeting or county supervisors meeting and demand a stand down of these efforts. At minimum, our city and county leaders should have to JUSTIFY such commitment of these resources as it DIRECTLY relates to your locale. We really do have to act on these issues, don’t you think?

The Real Killer in the Economy – Income Inequality

Four years of so-called stimulus, a record setting stock performance, banksters racking in record profits but still on the edge of economic collapse. What is the real deal killer here? Growing income inequality in the United States has Americans talking about justice and economic fairness, but a new study suggests the burgeoning wealth gap is threatening more than just our pocketbooks. It might be raising our risk for an early death.

In one of the few studies to track the health effects of income inequality over time, one Ohio State University (OSU) researcher has discovered that an increase in inequality leads mortality rates to begin rising after five years. Inequality-linked mortality peaks about two years later, before tapering off five years after that. All told, even a modest increase in American societal inequality more than doubles an average individual’s cumulative risk of death over the next 12 years.

Drawing data from the U.S. National Health Interview Survey for the years 1986 to 2004, the study found that for every 0.01 increase in the Gini coefficient — a standard measure of a country’s economic disparity where 0 represents perfect societal equality and 1 represents maximum inequality — an average person’s cumulative risk of death increased by 112 percent in the next dozen years. Hui Zheng, the OSU sociologist who ran the study, replicated the results using three different measures of inequality across a sample of more than 700,000 Americans aged 30 and older. He then ran the same test on 18- to 25-year-olds, with similar results.

The possibility may be precisely the argument Occupy Wall Street protesters have taken up for themselves: that the accrual of wealth to the nation’s elites creates further incentives to preserve that wealth at the expense of the disadvantaged. Inexplicably, the effect of income inequality on death rates drops off after a dozen years. But, Zheng said, the point is that income inequality doesn’t simply have an immediate impact on public health, as previous studies have suggested. Income inequality may increase over time.

Since 1980, the Gini coefficient in the United States has grown from 0.403 to 0.469 in 2010. Even if inequality were held constant for the foreseeable future, Zheng’s research suggests that Americans will be likely to feel the knock-on mortality effects of past inequality increases through at least 2021. Add that to the growing list of things that are killing us slowly.

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Here’s a finding that would have made for great occupy sign last year: American income inequality may be more severe today than it was way back in 1774 — even if you factor in slavery.

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That stat’s not actually as crazy as it sounds, but it might upend some of the old wisdom about our country’s economic heritage. The conclusion comes to us from a newly updated study by professors Peter Lindert of the University of California – Davis and Jeffrey Williamson of Harvard. Scraping together data from an array of historical resources, the duo have written a fascinating exploration of early American incomes, arguing that, on the eve of the Revolutionary War, wealth was distributed more evenly across the 13 colonies than anywhere else in the world that we have record of.  Suffice to say, times have changed.

In this case, Williamson and Lindert use occupational directories, tax lists, post-revolutionary census documents, and earlier scholarship, among other resources, to build approximations of what people earned when we were getting ready to start turning our muskets on the British. Inherently, such a process involves lots of conjecture.

In the end, the pair find that the colonies were an exceedingly egalitarian place, financially, if not politically. Williamson and Linderts compares the original 13 colonies to contemporary England and the Netherlands (including the former Kingdom of Holland) using a popular measure of inequality known as the Gini coefficient.

Not only was income more equally divided in the colonies, but Americans across the economic spectrum tended to be richer than their European counterparts. Even slaves, who were occasionally paid a tiny sum for their forced labor in addition to shelter and food, technically earned more than the poorest Europeans, Lindert and Williamson write. (From a human rights perspective, they were obviously worse off).* The single big exception to this rule was the top 1 percent: Europe’s elite were still wealthier than ours.

On measures of equality, the colonies also compare extremely well to the latter-day United States. By the time the Civil War came, the top 1 percent of U.S. households laid claim to 10 percent of the nation’s income, versus about 7 percent during the founders’ era. Today, the same group accounts for about 19 percent. Even if you use more conservative measures of American income inequality from the Census Bureau, it still appears we were more of a middle-class society back when tri-corner hats were actually considered high fashion. 

We are a much richer nation, and much better off today, than 240 years ago. In the 1770s, America was a heavily agrarian country of yeoman farmers, merchants, and tradesmen, with an economy that accounted to just a few billion dollars in present values. Like India or Russia today, both of which technically enjoy more income equality than the United States, early Americans were relatively poor compared to us. They were just relatively poor together. The first wave of industrialization in the 19th century increased living standards, but also offered bigger rewards to factory owners than their workers. That pattern neatly fits our classic understanding of what’s supposed to happen when economies move from farming to manufacturing. And by now, we’ve gone through several epic rounds of economic upheaval that have left us with a vast gulf between the rich and the rest, as well as a welfare state that tries to mitigate some of the side effects of that difference.

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Politically, though, there may be a lesson in this. Some would argue that income inequality is an acceptable sacrifice to make in return for income mobility — the ability for children and families to work their way to better stations in life. But as Chrystia Freeland has noted, the founding fathers evidently formed their ideas about democracy in a social context very different than our own, when distinctions of wealth simply weren’t as sharp. It’s possible they expected an equal society to remain considerably more equal than it is today.

Income inequality is not a uniquely American problem. Over the past 30 years, it’s surged across the developed world, driven by everything from the insane wealth generated by big finance to the victory of computers (and offshoring) over blue-collar labor.

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That said, there’s a case to be made that U.S. income inequality is in fact exceptional, and not just because of its severity.  A 2008 report by the OECD tells us is that in many developed countries, a rising tide has truly lifted all boats, with the wealthy rising a bit faster. In the United States, the tide is lifting up the rich, while drowning many of the poor.

Like their peers across the developed world, American women’s earnings rose as they broke into the labor force — though less so for lower-income women. For American men, it was a different story. Among the upper-middle-class and rich, male earnings inched up on the whole. Among the lower-middle class and poor, their incomes shrank. The only other country that saw a similar phenomenon was Canada, where incomes seemed to stagnate in general.

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That’s what’s so frightening about the way the U.S. economy was changing even before the Great Recession. It’s not just that the rich saw their finances improve faster than everyone else’s. It’s that many Americans were seeing the value of their work, and in some cases their standard of living, decline. And that makes us at least a little bit special, in a very unfortunate way.

Perhaps the most politically contentious aspect of President Barack Obama’s new proposed legislation, aimed to revive the still-struggling U.S. economy, is $1.5 trillion in tax increases, much of it aimed at wealthy Americans. The White House is calling this “the Buffett rule.” Named for super-investor Warren Buffett’s complaint that he pays a lower tax rate than some of his most menial wage employees, the legislation would be designed to ensure that anyone making more than $1 million per year will pay at least the same rate as middle-income taxpayers.

Obama’s “Buffett rule” is a response to a number of U.S. economic issues related to the recession. One of the most severe is income inequality — the gaps between wealthy, super-wealthy, and everyone else — a serious, long-worsening problem that makes the recession more painful and recovery more difficult. To get a sense of just how bad our income inequality has become, it’s worth taking a look at how we stack up to the rest of the world.

Viewed comparatively, U.S. income inequality is even worse than you might expect. Perfect comparisons across the world’s hundred-plus economies would be impossible — standards of living, the price of staples, social services, and other variables all mean that relative poverty feels very different from one country to another. But, in absolute terms, the gulf between rich and poor is still telling. When you look at the US, we are comparable income inequality to countries like Cameroon, Madagascar, Rwanda, Uganda, and Ecuador. A number are currently embroiled in or just emerging from deeply destabilizing conflicts, some of them linked to income inequality: Mexico, Côte d’Ivoire, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Serbia.  Perhaps most damning is China, which is significantly more equal than the U.S. with a Gini coefficient of 0.415, where the severe income gap has been a source of worsening political instability for almost 20 years. Leagues ahead of the U.S. on income inequality is India, Gini coefficient 0.368, where outrage over corruption and income inequality recently inspired a protest movement that shook the world’s largest democracy. Russia, which has seen three popular revolutions in the last century against the caviar-shoveling oligarchs who still run everything, is also less unequal than the U.S., at 0.422 Gini.

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These are the facts, and they don’t paint a rosy picture for “the world’s leading economy”. These are facts verified by scholars, not politicians, banksters, or those pseudo-scientists called economists. These are facts that should outrage the American people. To you tea party folks, I would suggest THIS is the issue you should focus on, instead of being dupes to the very oligarchy that is crushing you and cajoling you to say big government is the issue.  The fact of the matter is you are the masters of your own demise and you don’t even know it. To those who are “blindly” conservative, WAKE UP!

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There are only two possibilities to put this ship back on course to a vibrant economy. First, we can foment a revolution, but the elites have armed themselves well and have a very well planned “martial law” scheme to handle that contingency OR we can educate ourselves correctly and deal with these issues politically by putting people in office that will demand our GOVERNMENT take the necessary steps to deal with the real KILLER issue- INCOME INEQUALITY. Duh, how hard is this to understand when you have the facts.