Posts Tagged ‘recession’

By Mac Slavo

SHTFPlan.com

When a nation goes into economic crisis the paradigm to which its people have become accustomed begins to deteriorate. Access to critical supplies becomes difficult, sometimes immediately. In the case of Greece, which has been dealing with a loss of confidence in its debt instruments and economic policy, the collapse of life as Greeks know it has taken place over the last several years.

While we have been fortunate enough to avoid as severe a calamity here in the United States, many of the forecasts put forth by ourselves and others regarding the effects of an economic collapse are already taking place in Europe, namely Greece. In the midst of the Greek panic in 2010, for example, as Greece’s meltdown was in full swing and the people scrambled to get out of paper currencies, the price of gold, which was trading for around $1100 an ounce in the global commodity exchange marketplace, soared to over $1700 an ounce on the streets of Greece. In recent months, as Greece implements austerity measures and the unemployment rate sky rockets, its people have lost the ability to engage in traditional commerce because, simply put, they have no tangible income or money to do so. As a result, we’ve begun seeing a barter society emerge  all over the country, making it possible for some people to directly exchange labor for consumptive goods and service.

When things get bad – and they will – the most essential items necessary for survival will disappear first. As currencies collapse, financial market destabilize and economies come to a standstill, critical supplies like food and medicine will become difficult to acquire at any price. This is exactly what is now taking place in Greece, where access to life-saving drugs and even common over-the-counter medicines like aspirin is becoming a tragedy where the losses will be measured not in Dollars or Euros, but lives.

For patients and pharmacists in financially stricken Greece, even finding aspirin has turned into a headache.

Mina Mavrou, who runs a pharmacy in a middle-class Athens suburb, spends hours each day pleading with drugmakers, wholesalers and colleagues to hunt down medicines for clients. Life-saving drugs such as Sanofi (SAN)’s blood-thinner Clexane and GlaxoSmithKline Plc (GSK)’s asthma inhaler Flixotide often appear as lines of crimson data on pharmacists’ computer screens, meaning the products aren’t in stock or that pharmacists can’t order as many units as they need.

“When we see red, we want to cry,” Mavrou said. “The situation is worsening day by day.

The 12,000 pharmacies that dot almost every street corner in Greek cities are the damaged capillaries of a complex system for getting treatment to patients. The Panhellenic Association of Pharmacists reports shortages of almost half the country’s 500 most-used medicines.

“It would be unrealistic to deny that there are many difficulties regarding all public services due to the financial crisis,” Nicolaos Polyzos, secretary general of the Ministry of Health, wrote in a response to McKee’s article posted on the ministry’s website.

The reasons for the shortages are complex. One major cause is the Greek government, which sets prices for medicines. As part of an effort to cut its own costs, Greece has mandated lower drug prices in the past year. That has fed a secondary market, drug manufacturers contend, as wholesalers sell their shipments outside the country at higher prices than they can get within Greece.

Strained government finances only make matters worse. Wholesalers and pharmacists say the system suffers from a lack of liquidity, as public insurers delay payments to pharmacies, which in turn can’t pay suppliers on time.

Source: Bloomberg

This is what happens when a country’s economy falls apart.  In a report from 2010, economist John Williams warned that a hyperinflationary environment in the US would not only cause food disruptions, but also disrupt the regular flow of commerce. And, while Greece may not specifically be experiencing a hyperinflationary environment (yet), an economic collapse resulting from a debt crisis has similar consequences as evidenced above.

But such a thing couldn’t happen in the United States, right? As we approach yet another debt ceiling this month, requiring some $1 trillion dollars just to keep the system from seizing up like an engine that has run out of oil, our elected officials and leading economic decision makers will ensure we avoid such an outcome.

Or will they?

How willing are you to trust the health of your family to the very individuals and corporations who are responsible for causing the crisis in the first place?

Like Greece, we will see a continued deterioration of basic services here at home. We may be able to print trillions upon trillions of dollars, but eventually those dollars will become worthless and no one will accept them as a trusted currency. This means that all of the food we import from other countries, the drugs we buy from pharmaceutical companies, and the oil we buy from the middle east, will become difficult, if not impossible, to acquire.

Now is the time to get prepared. Food, of course, is one of the first essential preparedness items to stockpile. But how many have given thought to life saving medications? If you have someone with a medical condition in your family, how will you gain access to that medicine when it’s no longer available at your local pharmacy. We recommend taking steps immediately to secure at least a 3 – 6 month supply of the drugs you or your family members need to survive (and to consider proper off-grid storage methods for those requiring refrigeration). Additionally, we strongly encourage you to consider adding Antibiotics for SHTF Planning to your stockpiles, because if things get so bad that you are unable to find medicines like penicillin or cipro at a local pharmacy, you can be assured that no one on the street will be willing to sell them – at any price.

Washington Post


The mushroom cloud of the first test of a hydrogen bomb, “Ivy Mike,” as photographed on Enewetak, an atoll in the Pacific Ocean, in 1952. (U.S. Air Force via Reuters) By at least one measure, the world just got that much closer to apocalypse.

The Doomsday Clock, a figurative timepiece used as a barometer of humankind’s fate, was moved one minute closer to midnight on Tuesday, the first time it has been nudged forward since 2007. It is now 11:55, five minutes before the appointed hour.

The re-setting of the clock has become something of a gimmick in recent years, carried out by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, a group established to raise awareness about the perils of nuclear weaponry, and aimed at warning the public about various catastrophic dangers.

But the process involved in deciding the time is a deeply serious one, overseen by a venerable board of scientists, Nobel laureates and others and concluded with a symposium in Washington. The setting of the clock is no longer based only on the proliferation of nuclear arms, but also on threats such as climate change and biological weaponry.

In moving the clock ahead on Tuesday, the BAS cited the failure of world leaders to achieve significant progress on the reduction of nuclear weapons and in developing a comprehensive response to climate change. Just two years ago, following global talks on climate change in Copenhagen and international pledges to reduce nuclear stockpiles, the BAS moved the clock backward by a minute.

“Faced with clear and present dangers of nuclear proliferation and climate change, and the need to find sustainable and safe sources of energy, world leads are failing to change business as usual,” said Lawrence Krauss, co-chairman of the group’s board of sponsors.

“As we see it,” Krauss said, “the major challenge at the heart of humanity’s survival in the 21st century is how to meet energy needs for economic growth in developing and industrial countries without further damaging the climate … and without risking further spread of nuclear weapons — and in fact setting the stage for global reductions.”

Since being unveiled in 1947, the clock has been reset 20 times. It came closest to doomsday in 1953, when the start of the nuclear arms race pushed its hand to two minutes to midnight, and moved the farthest away in 1991, when the signing of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) by the United States and the Soviet Union gave the world 17 minutes until midnight.

Despite the passage of various nonproliferation treaties, including the New START treaty under the Obama administration, the United States and Russia remain the chief reasons for concern when it comes to nuclear weaponry, according to Kennette Benedict, the BAS’s executive director. The United States and other major powers have not yet ratified the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. There has also been little progress on a treaty that would prohibit further production of fissile material for nuclear weapons.

“Overall, there’s just really no new thinking,” Benedict said.

BAS said not all news was bad over the past year. The group’s members say they were heartened by the Arab Spring, the Occupy movements and political protest in Russia.

Those developments, said Benedict, “indicated that people are waking up, and want to have a say in their future.”

by James Lyons, Daily Mirror
Marbella, Andalusia, Spain (pic: Getty)Marbella, Andalusia, Spain (pic: Getty)

EMERGENCY evacuation plans for Brits living in Spain and Portugal are being drawn up amid fears of the euro collapsing.

The drastic proposals emerged as a former Security Minister warned expats could be left stranded and destitute by the break-up of the single currency.

Brits who invested their savings in their adopted countries may not be able to withdraw cash and could even lose their homes if banks call in loans, worried ministers are warning.

The Foreign Office is preparing to bring them back from Spain and Portugal if the two countries are forced out of the euro, triggering a banking collapse.

A million Brits live in Spain and 50,000 in neighbouring Portugal – plus a million in the other eurozone countries.

And Baroness Neville-Jones, who only stepped down as a minister in May, called the situation “very, very worrying”.

The Tory peer – who once chaired the Joint Intelligence Committee for MI5, MI6 and other security agencies – said: “Spain is clearly a vulnerable area. If that happens, one of the things that will happen in a crash of that kind, is that the banks would close their doors. You would find that there are people there, including our own citizens, a lot of them, who couldn’t get money out to live on. So you would have a destitution problem.”

Brits living in Europe Map

British planes, ships and coaches could be sent to pluck our citizens from debt-ridden Spain and Portugal

Commenting on the evacuation plans, she added: “I think they are right to be doing that. I think this is a real contingency that they need to plan against – very, very worrying.”

Officials are braced for a nightmare scenario where thousands end up penniless and sleeping at airports with no means of getting home. Planes, ships and coaches could be sent, with some expats being brought out through Gibraltar.

The Foreign Office could offer small loans while piling pressure on the banks to give Brits access to their funds.

Spanish and Portuguese banks guarantee the first 100,000 euros deposited by savers but many put limits on withdrawals in a crisis.

A powerful credit rating agency downgraded 10 Spanish banks last week, while another warned over the weekend the debt crisis was threatening to spiral out of control.

Boris Johnson at the announcement of Venue for 2017 IAAF World Athletics Championships (Pic: Getty Images)

Boris Johnson

Top Tory Boris Johnson yesterday became the first senior politician to predict the eurozone will break up.

The bungling London Mayor even joked about Greece being forced out, which would threaten a credit crunch.

“Ouzo will be substantially cheaper,” he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show.

He claimed letting the single currency collapse might be the best thing for Europe – but Deputy PM Nick Clegg warned it would end up hurting Britain.

Nick Clegg arrives for a Cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street, in London (Pic:Getty)

Nick Clegg

The Lib Dem leader said: “I hear a lot of people sort of breezily predicting almost with a sense of glee that the eurozone is going to fall apart. I don’t think witnessing the break-up of the currency block in our European backyard would do us any good at all.”

Expat Doreen Peplow keeps most of her money in a British bank account

Doreen Peplow, 68, who lives between Marbella and Fuengirola, says: “I am worldly wise enough to have made sure I have kept most of my money in my British bank account.

“Until now I have been getting my pension paid directly into a Spanish account. I might change that now.

“I cannot imagine there will be an evacuation; people retired to Spain and Portugal before Britain entered the Common Market and they managed.

“I have lived here 15 years. I don’t want to go back to Britain as the weather is dismal and it is overcrowded.

“But if it comes to it I am prepared to sell up and buy myself a retirement property near my son in Dorset.

By: Mac Slavo

SHTFPlan.com

Before the economic crisis of 2008 there were few who considered the possibility of The End of The World As We Know It (TEOTWAWKI). We were aware of the threats posed by natural disasters – Tsunamis in Asia, earthquakes along the western Americas, and hurricanes in the Gulf. But the notion that the very system in which we live is susceptible to a man-made shock so powerful that it could wipe out the very infrastructure that keeps us alive was an outlier so far removed from our daily reality that it was reserved for Hollywood scripts and obscure conspiracy web sites.

But the possibility of a system collapse so severe that it could cripple our and monetary systems, food distribution networks, and emergency response services is now becoming a real concern for people all over the world.

The warning by economists that Britain is just ‘nine meals from anarchy’ is brutally borne out. Unlike last summer, the rioters on the streets aren’t looking for trainers and flat-screen TVs — just food.

An absurd fantasy? Perhaps so, but in an increasingly uncertain world, such a scenario can no longer be dismissed out of hand. And strange as it may seem, it’s one that many believe is worth preparing for.

Across the country, steps are being taken to cope with such a situation. But not by central or local government. Their contingency planning for such an emergency is focused on the most important and most vulnerable in society.

Instead it is ordinary people who are taking action: stockpiling their larders with non-perishable food, buying water-purifying pumps and camping stoves.

While five years ago such behaviour might have been dismissed as  the activities of ‘end-of-the-world’ eccentrics, those doing so today are professionals from every walk of life.

Source: Daily Mail

In many cases it’s the people working directly within the large financial and governmental institutions that are most attune to what’s happening now – and what could happen in the very near future – and they aren’t taking any chances:

‘It is not “crazies” buying this,’  says James Blake, whose company Emergency Food Storage specialises in freeze-dried foods. ‘We get a lot of high-powered business people as customers. Most people buy insurance for their health, their house or their life — this is food insurance.

‘Of course, we hope it never happens, but if there is a major catastrophe, then money is not going to be worth much after a couple of days. It will be food that becomes the most needed thing.’

Dave Hannah and his company B-Prep sell similar products. He says a number of his customers are bankers. Their average spend is £3,000.

‘It makes you think: “What do they know?” ’ says Hannah. ‘When we’ve talked on the phone, they’ve told me: “This whole thing is going to go down.”

As the world fell deeper into crisis and more information, namely from alternative media, began to emerge about the fragility of the existing financial, economic, monetary and social paradigms, more Americans and citizens of other nations came to the realization that perhaps not everything was as under control as it has been made out to be. When the financial system collapsed in late 2008 it wiped out trillions of dollars in wealth and turned once successful middle class laborers into poverty stricken recipients of emergency services. Governments around the world, led by the monetary policy of the United States, responded by attempting to infuse trillions of dollars of new debt into an already debt-laden and over-leveraged system, with Congressional members reportedly being threatened with the real possibility of martial law in the streets of America unless they took action.

The unprecedented government intervention on a massive global scale was not enough. As it stands now, the banks of Europe are set to fall, just as they did in the 1930′s. The United States, far removed from the creditor status it held during the Great Depression, is the largest debtor in human history. It’s creditor, China, is an up and coming economic giant who has made known, on numerous occasions, that it would like nothing more than to see an end to US dollar’s dominance as the world’s reserve currency and America’s military and economic might weakened. Tensions amid nuclear allegations in the middle east are heating up with Iran, while influential countries in the region like Egypt and Syria are progressively being destabilized on a daily basis.

The world, for those paying attention, is on the brink of a major paradigm shift. And many have come to the conclusion that government really has no way of mitigating the fundamental problems we face. Many believe that the problems we face today are worse than the crisis that took hold in 2008. If there was a possibility that tanks would be needed in the streets then, how bad could it get now? Would our governments be able to deal with mass riots in multiple major cities, or a hyperinflationary collapse of the US dollar, or the downing of our electrical infrastructure resulting from a cyber attack or electric magnetic pulse weapon?

If Hurricane Katrina was any guide, then the answer is no. Katrina left tens of thousands without food, potable water, medical care or law enforcement response for a week – and that was a disaster isolated to a single metropolitan area. The issue is one of scale and resources, and as we wrote in 2009 in The Rise of the Preppers, local, state and federal government emergency responders would simply be overwhelmed if an emergency happened on a multi-state or national level:

Don’t get us wrong, emergency responders like police, fire and medical teams do their very best in the situations described above, but when you’re dealing with millions of unprepared people whose only thought at the time is to survive and “get out,” the situation can detiorate quite rapidly. Preppers understand this, and have not just reserve food, water and fuel, but secondary and tertiary evacuation routes, multiple “bug-out” destinations where they can go if something happens, and are mentally, physically and psychologicaly prepared to handle the stress.

It is, as was mentioned above, simply a form of insurance to prepare supplies like food, water, cooking materials, flashlights and the means to defend yourself when the rule of law breaks down:

‘We don’t know what’s going to happen in the future. I’m not totally pessimistic and I do have faith in the Government, but I have more faith in my store cupboard. I know we’ll have food in times of trouble.’

A wise precaution or an over- reaction? Either way, in recent years, a series of events have served to highlight the fragility of the infrastructure of developed First World countries in the 21st century.

Source: Daily Mail

Crazy or not, it’s clear that the prepper phenomenon is not limited to the fringe corners of the internet or backwoods survivalist. People from all walks are storing long-term emergency foods, barterable supplies to use in lieu of money and learning skills that will be useful in a post-collapse world.

At all boils down to this: Are you willing to entrust your life and the lives of your loved ones to government officials who will have their own families to worry about?

http://endoftheamericandream.com

Are we on the verge of another Great Depression?  Christian Lagarde, the head of the IMF, said this week that if dramatic action is not taken immediately we could actually see conditions “reminiscent of the 1930s depression” and that no country on earth “will be immune to the crisis”.  Right now, financial panic is sweeping across Europe, but most Americans are not too concerned about it because they simply don’t understand how important the EU is.  The truth is that the EU has a much larger population than the United States does.  The EU has an economy that is nearly as large as the economies of the United States and China combined.  The EU has more Fortune 500 companies that the United States does, and the banking system of Europe is substantially larger than the banking system of the United States.  Anyone out there that believes that a massive financial collapse in Europe would not dramatically affect the rest of the globe is being delusional.  The European debt crisis is one of the biggest stories that we have seen in a long, long time and the coming financial meltdown is going to permanently change the global economy.

So far, politicians in Europe have held 19 high-level emergency meetings in an attempt to solve this crisis.

All of their efforts have failed.

Right now, this is the situation in Europe….

-Most EU governments are drowning in toxic levels of debt

-Bond yields have risen dramatically this year and this has caused borrowing costs for most EU members to soar

-In an attempt to get debt under control, governments all over Europe are implementing brutal austerity measures and this is causing European economies to slow down substantially

-There is a tremendous lack of confidence in the European financial system at this point and this is causing a massive credit crunch

-The credit crunch is causing the money supply to drop significantly in almost every nation in the EU

-Major banks all over Europe are massively overleveraged and are on the verge of failing

This is all so similar to what we saw back during the early 1930s.

In fact, things have gotten so bad that prominent world leaders are now using apocalyptic language when describing the situation in Europe.

Just check out what the head of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, recently said about Europe.  Speaking at a State Department conference in Washington D.C. this week, Lagarde made the following very shocking statements….

*“The world economic outlook at the moment is not particularly rosy. It is quite gloomy”

*“There is no economy in the world, whether low-income countries, emerging markets, middle-income countries or super-advanced economies that will be immune to the crisis that we see not only unfolding but escalating”

*“It is not a crisis that will be resolved by one group of countries taking action. It is going to be hopefully resolved by all countries, all regions, all categories of countries actually taking action.”

*“No country or region is immune. All must take action to boost growth. Work must start in the eurozone countries and must continue relentlessly. The risks of inaction include protectionism, isolation and other elements reminiscent of the 1930s depression.”

*“This is exactly the description of what happened in the 1930s, and what followed is not something we are looking forward to.”

But didn’t the politicians in Europe recently reach a deal which was supposed to fix all this?

Well, unfortunately the deal basically did nothing to fix the underlying financial problems that Europe is facing.

In fact, global financial markets seem entirely unimpressed by this recent deal.  A recent article by Professor Peter Morici detailed some of the problems with the deal….

Investors are rejecting the euro deal, because the agreement does not effectively meet the funding needs of Italy and other Mediterranean governments, address the weak balance sheets of European commercial banks, or fix the underlying structural flaws in the euro architecture.

The €440 billion European Financial Stability Facility is providing short-term funding—guaranteed by 17 Eurozone member states as a whole—to tide over the more troubled governments.

However, those bailouts impose huge cuts in spending and tax increases. Coupled with austerity plans also adopted by France and other healthier European states, those packages are pushing Europe into a recession that could last several years.

What is even worse is that there are signs that this recent deal is already unraveling.  Some EU nations have decided that they are not sure that they want to go along with the program.

The following comes from a recent article in the Telegraph….

Amid fresh warnings that Europe is triggering a 1930s-style global depression, the German chancellor faced open rebellion against the key plank of her Brussels accord. The leaders of Hungary and the Czech Republic told a joint conference in Budapest they were ready to reject the planned treaty changes and implied move towards a centralised tax system. Czech prime minister Petr Necas said he was “convinced that tax harmonisation would not mean anything good for us”.

In Poland, we are actually seeing people march in the streets to protest against this new agreement….

Poles marched under banners that read: “We want sovereignty, not the euro.” They were protesting against the Brussels deal that could see EU countries, including those outside the eurozone, face penalties for breaking tough centralised spending laws.

So not only does this new deal not address the fundamental problems that Europe is facing, there is also a tremendous amount of doubt about whether or not it will eventually be approved.

Meanwhile, the brutal austerity measures that are being implemented all over Europe are pushing many EU nations into recession.

The EU (led by Germany and France) and the IMF have been pushing financially troubled nations all over Europe to make incredibly deep budget cuts.  But these very deep budget cuts have had a devastating economic impact.

In a recent article, I discussed how brutal austerity measures have already pushed the economy of Greece into a full-blown depression….

Just look at what happened to Greece.  Greece was forced to raise taxes and implement brutal austerity measures.  That caused the economy to slow down and tax revenues to decline and so government debt figures did not improve as much as anticipated.  So Greece was forced to implement even more brutal austerity measures.  Well, that caused the economy to slow down even more and tax revenues declined again.  In Greece this cycle has been repeated several times and now Greece is experiencing a full-blown economic depression.  100,000 businesses have closed and a third of the population is living in poverty.  But now Germany and France intend to impose the “Greek solution” on the rest of Europe.

Right now, the flow of government money is drying up all over Europe and so is the flow of money from the banks.  European banks are shrinking their balance sheets and have dramatically cut back on lending in order to meet new capital requirements that are being imposed upon them.

All of this has created an environment where there is not much credit flowing in Europe at all.  When there is a credit crunch of this magnitude, it causes the money supply to start to shrink.  This is already happening all over Europe as a recent article in the Telegraph noted….

All key measures of the money supply in the eurozone contracted in October with drastic falls across parts of southern Europe, raising the risk of severe recession over coming months.

Right now, we are seeing the money supply in each of the “PIIGS” nations fall at a staggering rate.  The following comes from the same Telegraph article referenced above….

Simon Ward from Henderson Global Investors said “narrow” M1 money – which includes cash and overnight deposits, and signals short-term spending plans – shows an alarming split between North and South.

While real M1 deposits are still holding up in the German bloc, the rate of fall over the last six months (annualised) has been 20.7pc in Greece, 16.3pc in Portugal, 11.8pc in Ireland, and 8.1pc in Spain, and 6.7pc in Italy. The pace of decline in Italy has been accelerating, partly due to capital flight. “This rate of contraction is greater than in early 2008 and implies an even deeper recession, both for Italy and the whole periphery,” said Mr Ward.

Those numbers scream “Recession, Recession, Recession“.

There may be one glimmer of hope on the horizon.  The Federal Reserve has been lending huge amounts of money to the European Central Bank and the European Central Bank has been lending that money out to European banks.  In turn, the European banks have been using much of that money to buy up European government bonds.  It is a massive Ponzi scheme, but it has stabilized bond yields in Europe for now.  This scheme was described in a recent article by Simone Foxman….

That’s because the European Central Bank may have already introduced roundabout measures that will solve some of Europe’s big problems—it’s making investing in peripheral sovereign debt a huge profit opportunity for banks.

Theoretically, financial institutions will be able coin money by borrowing ultra-cheap from the ECB and buying higher yielding sovereign debt.

Essentially, it appears the ECB might allow European banks to pledge everything but the kitchen sink in return for funds. First, the new policy allows European banks to hold far fewer assets as collateral in exchange for funding from the ECB—freeing up liquidity to the tune of €103 billion ($134 billion). More importantly, relaxing collateral restrictions could also allow European banks to use even somewhat risky sovereign assets as collateral for bond purchases.

But this Ponzi scheme cannot go on indefinitely.  A lot of European banks are already starting to run out of collateral for these loans as one Australian news source recently explained….

“If anyone thinks things are getting better, they simply don’t understand how severe the problems are,” a London executive at a global bank said. “A major bank could fail within weeks.”

Others said many continental banks, including French, Italian and Spanish lenders, were close to running out of the acceptable forms of collateral, such as US Treasury bonds, that could be used to finance short-term loans.

Some have been forced to lend out their gold reserves to maintain access to US dollar funding.

So will the European Central Bank keep lending them money once they are out of collateral?

If they do, the ECB itself could potentially be in a great deal of danger.

The truth is that the ECB is already playing with fire.  So far, the European Central Bank has spent over 274 billion dollars buying up European government bonds in an attempt to keep bond yields down.

How many toxic assets can the ECB buy up before they get into real trouble?

That is a very interesting question.

Meanwhile, the rest of the world is becoming increasingly concerned about the financial panic that is sweeping Europe.

For example, Australian banks have been given one week to perform a stress test that evaluates their ability to survive in the event of a European financial collapse.

Why all the urgency?

Do they know something that we don’t?

Just like back in 2008, we are seeing massive problems at some of the largest banks in the world.

On Thursday, Fitch Ratings downgraded a whole bunch of the world’s most prominent banks….

The banks included Bank of America, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, as well as Europe’s Barclays, Societe Generale and BNP Paribas.

Germany’s Deutsche Bank and Switerzland’s Credit Suisse were also downgraded.

The global banking system is a giant house of cards.  There is simply way too much debt, way too much leverage and way too much risk.

On average, major banks across Europe are leveraged 26 to 1.

If the value of the assets held by those banks declines by just 4 percent, they will be wiped out.

Yes, that is how serious things are.

And already we are starting to see major banks fail in Europe.

This week it was revealed that Germany’s second largest bank is going to need a bailout.  The following comes from a Sky News report….

Germany’s second largest bank, Commerzbank, is reportedly in discussions with the German government about a bailout after regulators said it needed to raise more money to cope with a potential default on its loans to governments.

“Intense talks” have been going on for several days, according to sources who spoke to the news agency Reuters.

So if Germany’s second largest bank is failing, are any banks in Europe safe?

Just like we saw back during the 1930s, we are starting to see a run on banks all over Europe.

In fact, according to a recent Der Spiegel article, a run on Greek banks has been going on for a while now and is rapidly accelerating….

He means that the outflow of funds from Greek bank accounts has been accelerating rapidly. At the start of 2010, savings and time deposits held by private households in Greece totalled €237.7 billion — by the end of 2011, they had fallen by €49 billion. Since then, the decline has been gaining momentum. Savings fell by a further €5.4 billion in September and by an estimated €8.5 billion in October — the biggest monthly outflow of funds since the start of the debt crisis in late 2009.

If you can believe it, approximately 20 percent of all bank deposits in Greece have been withdrawn since the start of 2011.

Europe is in a massive amount of trouble.  The euro is dropping like a rock and the European financial system is paralyzed by panic and fear.

It is going to take a miracle to prevent a massive financial collapse from happening in Europe in 2012.

Unfortunately, there do not appear to be any miracles for Europe on the horizon.

http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com

Never in the history of the NFL has there ever been anything like this.  Today, Tim Tebow engineered yet another miraculous 4th quarter comeback.  Almost everyone has been expecting this unprecedented string of comebacks to come to an end, yet Tebow just keeps pulling off miracle after miracle.  It seems like nearly every week now we are talking about another unbelievable Tim Tebow comeback.  It is truly a great story, and what is wonderful about Tebow is that he is not out to glorify himself.  He is very humble, he always recognizes his teammates and he is a terrific role model for a generation of American youth that is in desperate need of one.  Unfortunately, there is not going to be a similar comeback story for the U.S. economy.  It is late in the 4th quarter, we have accumulated over 50 trillion dollars of total debt as a nation, and our economic guts are being ripped out at a rate that is almost impossible to believe.  The game is essentially over and we are headed for an incredible amount of economic pain as a nation.

We desperately need a “political Tim Tebow” to come along to dismantle our current debt-based economic system.  But instead, the corrupt politicians in Washington D.C. just keep patching up our current system and hope that somehow it will recover.

Unfortunately, this is about as good as things are going to get for the U.S. economy.  The federal government and the Federal Reserve are already pushing things to the “red line”, and all of that effort has not accomplished much.

We have been experiencing “economic stagnation” for much of the past year, and there is not much more that they can do to improve things under our current system.

Right now, the Federal Reserve has pushed interest rates as low as they can go.  They can’t go any lower.

Right now, the federal government is borrowing and spending unprecedented amounts of money.  Federal spending cannot go much higher.

Right now, we have already seen tax cut after tax cut and virtually none of them have been paid for.  Any additional tax cuts will just send our budget deficits even higher.

Right now, we have already seen unprecedented intervention by the Federal Reserve.  They have done just about everything short of dropping huge bags of money over the countryside from helicopters.

The federal government and the Federal Reserve have done just about everything that they can possibly do to “stimulate” the economy, and yet things just keep getting worse.

So what is going to happen when the federal government and the Federal Reserve quit stimulating the economy?

As I wrote about the other day, when evaluating the future of the U.S. economy, it is vitally important to look at the balance sheet numbers and the long-term trends.

When you do that, you suddenly do not feel so good about the upward “blips” that we have seen in the economy lately.

Yes, the “official” unemployment rate recently went down slightly.  But as Mac Slavo recently pointed out, even with the recent “improvement” the truth is that the “real” level of unemployment in the United States is still well over 20 percent.

And all of the long-term trends indicate that we heading for a massive amount of trouble.

The number of good jobs continues to decline.  Even though our population is rapidly increasing, there are 10 percent fewer middle income jobs in the U.S. today than there were a decade ago.

In recent years, the employment to population ratio has been steadily declining.  At the start of the recession it was at 62.7%.  Today, it is at 58.5%.

Household incomes continue to go down as well.  Since December 2007, median household income in the United States has declined by a total of 6.8% once you account for inflation.

So why is this happening?  Well, as I wrote about recently, the United States has the worst balance of trade in the entire world by far.

Wealth, jobs and economic infrastructure are pouring out of this country and very few politicians are trying to stop it.

An average of 23 manufacturing facilities were shut down every single day in the United States last year.

That represents a huge amount of lost jobs.

So do you hear any political candidates talking about how they are going to stop this from happening or about how they are going to get all of those lost jobs back?

Overall, the U.S. has lost a total of more than 56,000 manufacturing facilities since 2001.

So how can an economy be great when it is constantly bleeding huge amounts of economic infrastructure?

We have become way too dependent on other nations for the things that we need.

How much trouble would we be in if Saudi Arabia suddenly decided to quit shipping us oil or if China suddenly decided to quit shipping us cheap plastic products to sell in our stores?

Right now, businesses are absolutely racing to get out of the United States.  Big corporations are shipping as many jobs as they possibly can out of the country.  Our insane economic policies have turned American workers into tremendous liabilities.

One economist from Princeton University is warning that 40 million more U.S. jobs could be sent offshore over the next two decades if nothing is done to stop this.

So why aren’t more politicians screaming and yelling about this?

Without good jobs, Americans are falling out of the middle class in staggering numbers.

Since 2007, the number of children living in poverty in the state of California has increased by 30 percent.

So is that a sign that things are getting better or that things are getting worse?

A higher percentage of Americans is living in extreme poverty than has ever been measured before.  Not only that, 2.6 million more Americans fell into poverty last year.  That was also a new all-time record.

So are those signs that things are getting better or that things are getting worse?

The American people generally do not understand why these things are happening, but they are clearly getting frustrated.

A recent Gallup poll found that an all-time record 76 percent of all Americans believe that most members of Congress do not deserve to be reelected.

But when election time rolls around, they will probably send most of them back to Washington D.C. anyway.

Our politicians keep kicking the can down the road, but time for doing that is running out.  The unprecedented “stimulus” efforts by the federal government will be coming to an end sooner or later.

In a recent article, author Bruce Krasting listed a whole bunch of reasons why the economic can is not going to be able to be kicked down the road much farther.  The following are some of the things that he says are scheduled to end by the beginning of 2013….

A) The Bush tax cuts on those making more than $200k will expire.

B) The Bush tax cuts on those making less than $200k will also expire.

C) The Patch on AMT will expire.

D) The 2% payroll tax holiday will expire for all workers on 12/31/12 (I’m sure the current holiday will be rolled for another year)

E) The 99-week extended unemployment benefits die on 12/31. (The emergency benefits will also be extended for 2012)

F) There will have to be a budget that is approved. Alternatively, a series of continuing resolutions is required to avert a government shutdown. We have not had an approved budget in over 900 days.

G) 2013 is the first year that there will be mandatory caps on discretionary spending. These limits will result in a YoY decline in government spending.

H) The Federal Reserve has promised to keep interest rates at zero into 2013. While it is possible that the Fed could continue the madness for even longer, the reality is that interest rates have nowhere to go but up.

I) By January 2013 it will be painfully evident that the country’s key social programs, Social Security and Medicare will be running in the red at a pace that is far higher than anyone considered possible. The need for dramatic changes in these programs will have to come onto the table. The implications of this will be significant.

J) In 2013 the issues of Fannie, Freddie, FHA and the Federal Home Loan Banks must be addressed. The problems at the housing agencies has festered too long.

K) The country will face another debt ceiling extension. The last time cost us our AAA.

Sadly, we will probably not have to wait until 2013 to feel a whole lot of economic pain.

The reality is that a 15 trillion dollar debt and trillion dollar yearly budget deficits are not sustainable.  We have created a situation where a horrible crash is inevitable, and there is no way that our current debt-based system can be fixed to keep a nightmarish collapse from happening.

During the Obama administration, the U.S. government has accumulated more debt than it did from the time that George Washington took office to the time that Bill Clinton took office.  That is a recipe for national financial suicide.

Meanwhile, despite what you may have heard, the European debt crisis has not been fixed.

Not at all.

The truth is that none of the fundamental problems were fixed by this recent “agreement” as Ambrose Evans-Pritchard recently noted in one of his columns….

There is no shared debt issuance, no fiscal transfers, no move to an EU Treasury, no banking licence for the ESM rescue fund, and no change in the mandate of the European Central Bank.

In short, there is no breakthrough of any kind that will convince Asian investors that this monetary union has viable governance or even a future.

Germany has kept the focus exclusively on fiscal deficits even though everybody must understand by now that this crisis was not caused by fiscal deficits (except in the case of Greece). Spain and Ireland were in surplus, and Italy had a primary surplus.

For many more reasons why Europe is headed for big trouble, please read this article: “22 Reasons Why We Could See An Economic Collapse In Europe In 2012“.

When Europe goes down, it is going to have a devastating impact on the United States.

Meanwhile, the economies of China and Japan are also steamrolling toward recession.

There is simply way too much debt in the world, and a great day of reckoning is coming.

Combined, the industrialized nations of the world borrowed more than 10 trillion dollars this year, and that number is expected to soar even higher next year.

Jim Cramer of CNBC stated recently that the global economy is at “DEFCON 3, two stages from a financial collapse so huge it’s hard to get your mind around.”

Most Americans don’t understand this yet.  But hopefully we can get more of them educated while there is still time.

The global financial system is a big shell game.  It is a gigantic mountain of debt, leverage and risk.

You would have thought that we would have learned some key lessons from the financial crisis of 2008, but we didn’t.

Back in 2002, the top 10 U.S. banks controlled 55 percent of all U.S. banking assets.  Right now, the top 10 U.S. banks control 77 percent of all U.S. banking assets.

Today, the “too big to fail” banks are larger than ever.  The total assets of the six largest U.S. banks increased by 39 percent between September 30, 2006 and September 30, 2011.

So instead of doing something about the “too big to fail” banks, they are now more “too big to fail” than ever.

As big banks and big corporations have come to dominate our economy more than ever before, wealth and power have also become much more concentrated….

*The wealthiest 1 percent of all Americans now own more than a third of all the wealth in the United States.

*The poorest 50 percent of all Americans collectively own just 2.5% of all the wealth in the United States.

*The six heirs of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton have a net worth that is roughly equal to the bottom 30 percent of all Americans combined.

*Overall, the wealthiest one percent of all Americans have a greater net worth than the bottom 90 percent combined.

It would be wonderful if we could send a “Tim Tebow of politics” to Washington D.C., but instead the Democrats and the Republicans look like they just plan to give us more of the same.

Are the Republicans really going to nominate someone who co-sponsored 418 bills with Nancy Pelosi?  The truth is that the latest “anti-Romney candidate” is almost a clone of Mitt Romney.

Newt Gingrich is essentially an older, ruder version of Barack Obama.  If you are counting on him to “save America” then you are going to be incredibly disappointed.

Sadly, we just do not have nearly enough men like Tim Tebow in America today.  The following comes from a recent profile of Tebow that recently appeared in the Wall Street Journal….

While at Florida, Mr. Tebow became well known for spending his summers helping the poor and needy in the Philippines. He also spoke in prisons and appeared to accept every opportunity to volunteer. He encouraged his teammates and classmates to follow his lead.

You can see video of Tim Tebow speaking to a group of prisoners at the Lake City Correctional Facility while he was still attending the University of Florida right here.

Unfortunately, there is no “Tim Tebow comeback” on the horizon for the U.S. economy at this point.

But when the U.S. economy does get worse, we can take a cue from Tim Tebow and be very generous with those in need.  There are going to be a lot of people that will be really hurting, and those of us that have been blessed should do what we can to help them out.

A lot of people say that my site is all about “doom and gloom”, but telling the truth to the American people is never a bad thing.

We do not do ourselves any favors by sticking our heads in the sand and pretending that everything is going to be okay.

There is going to be no miracle comeback for the U.S. economy.

A horrific economic collapse is coming.

You better get ready.

Copper Theft Click To Watch…

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Campuses in the Dallas Independent School District (DISD) have been the repeated victims of copper thieves.

The district has suffered thousands of dollars in damage, as a result of the thefts.

“Included in those [thefts] are gonna be some HVAC units,” explained DISD police chief Craig Miller. “And two HVAC units were damaged and that’s $37,000 apiece, so it gets to be very expensive.”

In the month of November alone, copper thieves targeted nine schools.

The school district has released surveillance video from Peeler Elementary School that shows two men removing copper piping from the plumbing system.

Miller said there is a two-prong investigation — trying to find out who is stealing the copper and also who is buying it. “Recently, there was 200 feet of copper that was taken and there’s obviously a market in metal recycling where this product is sold.”

Copper theft isn’t the only problem facing the Dallas ISD. Over the past month, there have been 41 campus break-ins. Thieves are stealing computers, and other equipment.

During the next month or so, the DISD is taking special steps to guard schools. “Each of the Dallas police department investigative units/substations has a copper metal theft [division] and we’re working with them on this,” said Miller. “I mean obviously we’re gonna have a task force that goes on during the holidays.”

Crime Stoppers is offering up to a $5,000 reward for information on the thefts.

by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger

(NaturalNews) The economic plundering of our world is well under way, with the Goldman Sachs “white shoe boyz” taking over entire national economies as they confiscate the wealth of the working class. They aren’t the only evildoers wreaking havoc across the world, of course: A cabal of powerful and criminally-insane corporations are destroying the future of food, plotting to keep citizens suffering from disease, and even perpetuating war so they can earn obscene profits from selling more bullets, bombs and missiles.

You can help resist this economic imperialism by taking simple actions that protect your wealth and pull it out of the hands of the globalists who are actively destroying our world. Here are five of the most powerful action steps to take that can turn the tables and restore economic sovereignty at every level — household, community, state, nation and the entire globe.

#1) Shop at local farmers’ markets, food co-ops and local grocers

Stop buying Tyson chicken. Stop buying Monsanto-engineered GMO foods at the grocery store. Stop giving your money to food industry globalists such as ADM, Cargill and PepsiCo. Every time you buy a can of brand-name soda, a carton of genetically modified soy milk, or a bag of popular snack chips, you are financially supporting a system of global agricultural poverty and food domination that destroys life and liberty.

If you shop based solely on price and not ethics, you are take part in the economic destruction of our world. Shop local, buy organic and avoid all the corporate food giants and their deceptive, dishonest packaged foods.

Remember: If the food you eat comes in a box, your family and friends will eventually find YOU in a box, too.

#2) Pull your money out of the big banks and put it in local credit unions

When you deposit $1,000 in a globalist bank, they can turn around and, through a series of fractional reserve banking transactions, turn that into $9,000 in loans that earn them interest. Inversely, by pulling $1,000 out of a globalist bank (JPMorgan Chase, Citibank, Bank of America, etc.), you deny them the ability to make $9,000 in loans, thus shrinking their profits by a significant factor.

One of the most powerful and honest strategies you can use to protect your own savings and stop financially supporting the global financial crooks who are running the largest banks is to move your money to a local credit union.

Most credit unions, by law, cannot bet on derivatives. So they don’t have the $68+ TRILLION in financial exposure that Bank of America has right now, for example. (http://seekingalpha.com/article/301…)

Of course, your local credit unions are normally not insured by the FDIC, but that’s actually a bonus because the FDIC will itself be insolvent in the first 24 hours of a true banking debt collapse (its own funds are a pittance compared to the scale of the global derivatives debt possessed by the banks it claims to insure). (http://seekingalpha.com/article/215…) You’re far smarter holding your money in a local credit union covered by an independent insurance agency that has nothing to do with the large global banks and their coming derivatives disasters.

#3) Stop working for The Man as a wage slave

If you punch a clock working for The Man, then you’re part of the problem. Every hour of your effort goes to keep propping up the very system that’s bringing you down.

It’s difficult, of course, to find work these days, and it’s absolutely true that The Man pays double or even triple the wages of anyone else. Heck, even TSA jobs come with great pay, government health benefits, and the “administrative right” to sexually molest innocent people, which is a real bonus to some of the disturbed psychopaths who take those jobs in the first place. (http://www.naturalnews.com/034323_N…)

If you want to stop working for The Man, you are going to have to downsize your material wealth and instead be content to possess spiritual wealth (and ethical currency, so to speak). Yes, you might live in a smaller house and drive a smaller car, but you won’t have to sell out your soul to an evil system of tyranny and oppression.

So if you’re currently punching a clock for some evil corporation, some tyrannical government entity, or some poison-pushing pharmaceutical company, find a new line of work and stop supporting the very system that’s destroying us all.

#4) Trade soon-to-be-useless paper currency for real goods

Are you still sitting on a bunch of paper currency and hoping it will somehow be worth the same amount in five years? Stop kidding yourself… the value of all the top global currencies is eroding by the hour. At times, it seems like it’s not happening because they’re all eroding together, so the relative valuation between currencies appears to be deceptively stable. But underneath it all, global currency devaluation has viciously accelerated — and both the European Central Bank and the Federal Reserve are committed to printing even more counterfeit currency to further speed the process.

By the time all the European banks are bailed out, and the U.S. banks are bailed out, and the Canadian and Australian banks are bailed out, if you’re still left holding hyper-inflated currencies like the U.S. dollar, you’re going to be lucky to still own ten cents on the dollar in terms of today’s purchasing power. That’s why smart people are exchanging their soon-to-be-worthless currencies for real things that hold real value: Dirt (farmland), gold, silver, quality firearms, stored food, hand tools, tractors and much more.

We recently ran an article promoting Himalayan Salt Lamps which are an easy way to store 3-4 pounds of valuable full-spectrum salt while also using it as a lamp in the short term. All 1,000 of the lamps we had sold out within 6 hours, which just goes to show you that NaturalNews readers are getting it (http://www.naturalnews.com/NNStore-…). They understand the value of having things of real worth rather than sitting on mere dollars (or the electronic equivalent thereof).

#5) Stop voting for politicians funded by Wall Street bankers

This is perhaps the most important — and yet most difficult — principle of all: Stop voting for politicians and bureaucrats who are propped up by banker money.

It’s almost impossible to do, of course, since nearly all the politicians — across the political spectrum — take big money from the big banking cartels. Obama himself is deeply in bed with Wall Street interests, but so was Bush and others.

Herman McCain, who thankfully dropped out of the Republican race just a couple of days ago, was a Federal Reserve insider. You couldn’t pick a more compromised candidate to try to fix the economy when he’s part of the very system of theft that’s destroying it!

The only real candidate who would challenge the economic plunder of our world is, of course, Ron Paul (www.RonPaul2012.com). He’s the guy who has stood firm on the principle of auditing the Fed and even ending the Fed so that the money supply of America can be put back into the hands of the Congress (i.e. the People) and not a private bankster cartel run by globalist crooks.

Do these five things now if you want to help save your nation from total economic destruction

Right now, whether you are Republican, Democrat or Libertarian, one of the most patriotic things you can do to save your nation is follow these five steps and start redirecting your financial resources away from the globalists and toward your local community.

Support small, local businesses. Support local financial institutions. Don’t buy the stock of evil corporations, even if they pay financial dividends. Vote for candidates who operate with consistent ethics, not the ones who give the slickest speeches and promise the most handouts.

Put your time, money and effort into restoring your nation or you will lose your nation. Every dollar that you spend, save or invest in a profit-driven bank or evil corporate giant is a dollar that will one day be used to wage economic warfare against you and your own children.


UPI/Maryam Rahmanian

Iranian soldiers march during the annual military parade on September 22, 2011 in front of the mausoleum of the Iran’s late leader Ayatollah Khomeini in Tehran,Iran. The parade marks the beginning of the 1980-1988 war between Iran and Iraq. UPI/Maryam Rahmanian

Two incidents that occurred on Sunday—Iran’s claim of a shoot-down of a U.S. drone, and an explosion outside the British embassy in Bahrain—may have been unrelated. But they appear to add to growing evidence that an escalating covert war by the West is under way against Iran, and that Tehran is retaliating with greater intensity than ever.

Asked whether the United States, in cooperation with Israel, was now engaged in a covert war against Iran’s nuclear program that may include the Stuxnet virus, the blowing-up of facilities and the assassination or kidnapping of scientists, one recently retired U.S. official privy to up-to-date intelligence would not deny it.

(RELATED: Reports—Unmanned U.S. Aircraft Shot Down in Iran)

“It’s safe to say the Israelis are very active,” the official said, adding about U.S. efforts:  “Everything that [GOP presidential candidate] Mitt Romney said we should be doing—tough sanctions, covert action and pressuring the international community  — are all of the things we are actually doing.” Though the activities are classified, a senior Obama administration official also would not deny that such a program was under way. He indicated that the U.S. was not involved in every action, referring to recent alleged explosions at Isfahan and elsewhere. But, he added: “I wouldn’t assume that everything we do is coordinated.”

Former undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns, who oversaw America’s Iran engagement during the Bush administration, asked Sunday about reports that the U.S. program began under George W. Bush, said he could not comment on intelligence matters.

In September, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani, accused Great Britain, Israel and the U.S. of conducting attacks on him and other Iranian scientists.”Six years ago the intelligence service of the UK began collecting information and data regarding my past, my family, the number of children,” Abbasi-Davani told a news conference at the annual conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna. Abbasi-Davani, who was said to have been wounded in 2010 car bomb explosion, said the attacks were carried out by Israel with the “support of the intelligence services of the United States and England.”

Last week, Iranian protesters stormed the British embassy in Tehran. Dominick Chilcott, Britain’s ambassador to Iran, later said the attack occurred  “with the acquiescence and the support of the state.” Then, on Sunday, Bahrain’s interior ministry announced that an explosion occurred inside a minibus parked near the British Embassy. There were no immediate reports of serious damage or injuries.

U.S. officials alleged in October that agents acting for Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, which has increasingly exerted control over the Tehran regime, were involved in a plot to kill that Saudi ambassador to Washington in a restaurant. Iran denied the allegations. Then, on Sunday, in what have been another escalation, Iran’s news agency reported that Iranian armed forces shot down an unmanned U.S. spy plane that illegally crossed the country’s eastern border.

Responding to the Iranian report, NATO command in Afghanistan released a terse statement Sunday: “The UAV to which the Iranians are referring may be a US unarmed reconnaissance aircraft that had been flying a mission over western Afghanistan late last week. The operators of the UAV lost control of the aircraft and had been working to determine its status.”

The White House declined to comment but officials did not seem unduly alarmed, suggesting that the drone’s capture would not provide Iran with significant information about U.S. surveillance technology and techniques.

Trita Parsi, president of the National Iranian American Council in Washington, said the tit-for-tat incidents “add up to a very worrisome picture,” in part because “the Iranians are absorbing all of these assassinations without seeing the pace of their nuclear program slow down to the extent it would be acceptable to the West.” But if Iranian retaliations grow serious enough, he said, they could provide “the pretext for a much larger war” in which the Israelis, and possibly the Americans, launch a full attack on Iran.

Mark Hibbs, a nuclear expert at the Carnegie Endowment in Germany, says the intensity of the covert war indicates that this is where the U.S. and Israel are putting their energy for now.  “If the U.S. or Israel were determined to take Iran’s nuclear installations out they wouldn’t be wasting time pinpointing individual scientists like this,” he says. Still, he points out, that Israel’s 1981 attack on Iraq’s Osirak reactor was also preceded by assassination attempts on Iraqi scientists.

By accident or not, it’s entirely possible the covert war could escalate into a real one, experts say.  “I am less enthusiastic about how effective all this going to be than some people in the administration,” says Matthew Bunn, a nuclear investigator at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. Bunn says he has occasionally discussed the program with the Obama administration officials, and “some have broadly suggested they think this is major element of slowing down Iranian progress.”

He’s not so sure. “Take Stuxnet. It’s possible that a thousand centrifuges went down” because of sabotage by the mystery computer virus _ a super sophisticated program said to have caused substantial parts of Iran’s uranium enrichment program to self-destruct several years ago. “But Iran has a thousand more than they would require to enrich to highly enriched uranium” needed for a bomb. Bunn also notes that Iran is increasingly keeping its key scientists such as Mohsen Fakrizadeh, said to be the “Oppenheimer” of the Iranian program, hidden away from sight and burying its facilities deeper underground.

Beyond that, says Hibbs, “Some of the concern in the expert community is that in going this route we’re unleashing forces we cannot control.”

Mac Slavo
SHTFplan.com

Either gun manufacturers did a fantastic job on Black Friday promotions, or the American people are quickly waking up to the reality that all is not as peachy as it may seem.

Gun dealers flooded the FBI with background check requests for prospective buyers last Friday, smashing the single-day, all-time high by 32%, according to bureau records.

Deputy Assistant FBI Director Jerry Pender said the checks, required by federal law, surged to 129,166 during the day, far surpassing the previous high of 97,848 on Black Friday of 2008.

The actual number of firearms sold last Friday is likely higher because multiple firearms can be included in a transaction by a single buyer. And the FBI does not track actual gun sales.

Dennis Henigan, acting president of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, said he was “skeptical” of the Black Friday gun surge.

“I think there may be no real signifcance at all,”

Source: USA Today via Zero Hedge

“Gun Sales Surge on Black Friday” Video report:

Perhaps Mr. Henigan of the Brady Center is right and the fact that this was the single largest sales day for private gun sales in American history holds no significance.

Or, maybe there is something more to the recent surge in gun sales. Perhaps over a hundred thousand Americans came to the conclusion that rising crime, sustained unemployment, suggestions of apocalyptic meltdown in Europe, and  fear of a potentially catastrophic hyperinflationary depression in the United States are reason enough to have a firearm – just in case.

The preppers were out in droves last week, and they weren’t interested in the latest tablet PC, 3D television or video game system. Instead, they were stocking up on gear and preparing  for the “possible collapse” of society.

Video produced by New America Now

http://www.thecomingdepression.net/countries/europe/s-us-credit-rating-at-risk-again/#axzz1fAM9sJ6G

hidenburg disaster

“Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services today said it reviewed its ratings on 37 of the largest financial institutions in the world by applying its new ratings criteria for banks, which were published on Nov. 9, 2011″

Following Fitch Ratings decision to lower the US outlook from stable to negative, the S&P has thrown yet another bombshell after it informed in an official release post NY close that it had just downgraded 37 global banks. Goldman, BofA, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, BNY Mellon were amongst the cuts based on a new reviewing critera it applied. Japanese and UK banks were either cut or the outlook lowered as well.

The US does not longer held AAA rating from the three agencies because on August S&P lowered the grade. US Treasuries continue to rally despite the downgrade. Recent change in the outlook by Fitch had relatively no effect on the Treasury market. “Both the action and the timing had been previously signaled by Fitch and there was no FX reaction,” said Chris Walter, from UBS Strategy. Fitch mentioned back in August that a failure of the bipartisan committee to reduce the deficit would likely lead to a negative rating.

Rating agencies are demanding the government to implement more measures to lower current fiscal deficit that is above $1 trillion on a year basis. The public debt is estimated to be around $15 trillion. The failure of Congress to make a bill that includes a credible deficit reduction plan could trigger another downgrade in US rating. According to Fitch, the use of the US Dollar as a reserve currency help the country keep its AAA rating. Source: (1) FX Street News

Global fiat currency is to blame for this mess

We hope you all understand that this whole financial services bailout episode is more accurately about further shifting the risk towards the public balance sheet and away from the once privately held. (but first they had to extract their bonuses and comp packages.)

It is the largest transfer of wealth in history! When they are bailed out once again, they will also be compensated for the mere acceptance of the bailout funds. That’s the way it worked last time and the way we’re headed again this time.

For years people have been sounding the alarm about both the size/amount of public/household debt but to no avail. We saw we were headed for the wall; as politicians crossed their fingers and hoped for the best.

Now we have the de-leveraging continued de-leveraging of small, private businesses and households and the advent of too big too jai

World debt is in the trillions, there isn’t enough energy or materials to ever generate the kind of growth that will require to repay that amount. It will NEVER be paid back.

 

Fractional reserve banking, interest, fiat currency have put us here. A growth economy based upon loaning money into existence and creating debt is inherently doomed to fail. You cannot have infinite growth on a finite plante. We’ve hit the wall, economic contraction for a generation is the order of the day, year, and decades.

Our best hope is aiming for a steady state economy and living within our fiscal and environmental limits.

The IMF / ECB / EU / Banks etc. are preparing for a Greek default on their debt and that’s why they want banks to get another MASSIVE “cash injection”. They don’t have the courage to come out and say it though – they want the taxpayer to backstop this.

On the US downgrade: S&P is nuts

S&P has no right to issue a downgrade because it blew it on the mortgage-backed paper. The fact that S&P did blow it during the mortgage fiasco, by continuing for years to rate junk bonds as AAA, shows just how serious the United States fiscal problems are. It covered up the problem with US government debt for years and now it can no longer do so and retain its credibility.

By the way, the Chinese rating agency Dagong already downgraded the US to A, down from AA, last November and is considering further downgrades. S&P is behind the curve and Fitch & Moody’s are like the monkeys with their hands over their ears and mouths.

Read more: http://www.thecomingdepression.net/countries/europe/s-us-credit-rating-at-risk-again/#ixzz1fGU2rRRx
Original story at http://thecomingdepression.net
Under Creative Commons License: Attribution Non-Commercial

The Burning Platform

via

http://www.thedailysheeple.com

 

Hello?
Is there anybody in there?
Just nod if you can hear me.
Is there anyone at home?
Come on, now,
I hear you’re feeling down.
Well I can ease your pain
And get you on your feet again.
Relax.
I need some information first.
Just the basic facts
Can you show me where it hurts?

Pink Floyd – Comfortably Numb

 

As I observe the zombie like reactions of Americans to our catastrophic economic highway to collapse, the continued plundering and pillaging of the national treasury by criminal Wall Street bankers, non-enforcement of existing laws against those who committed the largest crime in history, and reaction to young people across the country getting beaten, bludgeoned, shot with tear gas and pepper sprayed by police, I can’t help but wonder whether there is anyone home. Why are most Americans so passively accepting of these calamitous conditions? How did we become so comfortably numb? I’ve concluded Americans have chosen willful ignorance over thoughtful critical thinking due to their own intellectual laziness and overpowering mind manipulation by the elite through their propaganda emitting media machines. Some people are awaking from their trance, but the vast majority is still slumbering or fuming at erroneous perpetrators.

Both the Tea Party movement and the Occupy Wall Street movement are a reflection of the mood change in the country, which is a result of government overreach, political corruption, dysfunctional economic policies, and a financial system designed to enrich the few while defrauding the many. The common theme is anger, frustration and disillusionment with a system so badly broken it appears unfixable through the existing supposedly democratic methods. The system has been captured by an oligarchy of moneyed interests from the financial industry, mega-corporations, and military industrial complex, protected by their captured puppets in Washington DC and sustained by the propaganda peddling corporate media. The differences in political parties are meaningless as they each advocate big government solutions to all social, economic, foreign relations, and monetary issues.

There is confusion and misunderstanding regarding the culprits in this drama. It was plain to me last week when I read about a small group of concerned citizens in the next town over who decided to support the Occupy movement by holding a nightly peaceful march to protest the criminal syndicate that is Wall Street and a political system designed to protect them. My local paper asked for people’s reaction to this Constitutional exercising of freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. Here is a sampling of the comments:

“What are those Occupy people thinking?! The whole concept is foreign to me. There are always going to be the haves and the have nots. Get over it. Blame yourself for not paying more attention in school or not working hard enough. Just wish people would take responsibility.”

“If they worked half as hard actually working as they do being a pain in everyone else’s ass, they’d be rich! Being born does not guarantee success or wealth. Only hard work does. Maybe we should let them all occupy a jail cell or two.”

“If the goal is to irritate hardworking suburban commuters on their way home, that sounds like the perfect time and location.”

“Let’s hope they don’t pitch tents and trash Lansdale. They need to look for a job, not occupy the streets.”

“I work, and even if I wasn’t working I wouldn’t (march); I would be out looking for a JOB!”

I was dumbfounded at the rage directed towards mostly young people who haven’t even begun their working careers and have played no part in the destruction of our economic system underway for the last 30 years. The people making these statements are middle aged, middle class suburbanites. They seem to be just as livid as the OWS protestors, but their ire is being directed towards the only people who have taken a stand against Wall Street greed and Washington D.C. malfeasance. I’m left scratching my head trying to understand their animosity towards people drawing attention to the enormous debt based ponzi scheme that is our country, versus their silent acquiescence to the transfer of trillions in taxpayer dollars to the criminal bankers that have destroyed the worldwide financial system. I can only come to the conclusion the average American has become so apathetic, willfully ignorant of facts and reality, distracted by the techno-gadgets that run their lives, uninterested in anything beyond next week’s episode of Dancing with the Stars or Jersey Shore, and willing to let the corporate media moguls form their opinions for them through relentless propaganda, the only thing that will get their attention is an absolute collapse of our economic scheme. Uninformed, unconcerned, intellectually vacant Americans will get exactly that in the not too distant future.

Greater Depression Hidden from View

“Look at the orators in our republics; as long as they are poor, both state and people can only praise their uprightness; but once they are fattened on the public funds, they conceive a hatred for justice, plan intrigues against the people and attack the democracy.”Aristophanes, Plutus

 

The anger and vitriol directed at OWS protestors by middle class Americans is a misdirected reaction to a quandary they can’t quite comprehend. They know their lives are getting more difficult but aren’t sure why. They are paying more for energy, food, tuition, and real estate taxes, while the price of their houses decline and their wages stagnate. More than a quarter of all homeowners are underwater on their mortgage and many are drowning in credit card and student loan debt. At the same time, government drones tell them the economy is in its second year of recovery and corporate profits are at all-time highs. Government statistics, false storylines, and entitlement programs are designed to confuse the public and obscure the fact we are in the midst of another Depression. Everyone has seen the pictures of the Great Depression breadlines, farmers forced off their land during the dustbowl, and downtrodden Americans in soup kitchens. The economic conditions today are as bad as or worse than the Great Depression. This Depression is hidden from plain view because there are no unemployment lines, bread lines, or soup lines. We are experiencing an electronic Great Depression, as food stamps, unemployment compensation, Social security payments and welfare benefits are electronically delivered to millions of recipients.

There have been over 12 million foreclosure actions since 2007, with millions of Americans losing their homes. Another 16 million homeowners are underwater on their mortgages as home prices continue to fall and the economy sinks further by the day. The value of household real estate has fallen from $22.7 trillion in 2006 to $16.2 trillion today, a loss of $6.5 trillion concentrated among the middle class. In contrast, mortgage debt has only decreased by $600 billion mostly due to write-offs by the banks that created fraudulent mortgage products to lure Americans into debt.

The unemployment rate in the United States reached 25% during the Great Depression. The government manipulated fictional unemployment rate reported to the public by drones at the BLS is currently 9.0%. They conveniently ignore the millions of people who have given up looking for work and those who have taken jobs as part-time pickle ploppers at McDonalds, when they previously assembled automobiles at GM. The true number of unemployed/underemployed is 23%.

Since 2007, unemployment has officially gone up by 7 million. In reality, the same percentage of the working age population should be employed today as in 2007 (63%). Since only 58.4% of the working age population is employed today (lowest since 1983), another 4 million needs to be added to the official unemployment tally. The fact is there are 240 million working age Americans and only 140 million are employed. This means there are 100 million working age Americans not working, but our government only classifies 14 million of them as unemployed. There is certainly millions of stay at home moms, students, and legitimately disabled among the 86 million people classified as not in the labor force, but you can’t tell me that another 20 to 30 million of these people couldn’t or wouldn’t work if given the opportunity.

The deception in government reported figures is borne out by the most successful government program of the Obama administration, which has been adding participants at an astounding rate. The Food Stamp program has been a smashing success as we’ve added 13.8 million Americans to this fine program since Obama’s inauguration, a mere 43% increase in less than three years. There are now 45.8 million Americans dependent upon food stamps for survival, 14.7% of the U.S. population. This program began in 1969 and enrollment always surges during recessions and declines during recoveries. But a funny thing happened during our current “recovery”. The government reported our recession over in December 2009. It was certainly over for the Wall Street psychopaths as they rewarded themselves with $43 billion of bonuses in 2009/2010. The number of Americans on food stamps has risen by 6.8 million during this government sponsored “recovery”. You’ll be happy to know that Obama’s good buddy – Jamie Dimon – and his well run machine at JP Morgan earns hundreds of millions administering the SNAP program.

Since 2007, Federal government transfer payments have increased from $1.7 trillion annually to $2.3 trillion, a 35% increase in four years. This is surely a sign of a recovering economy. Bernanke’s zero interest rate policy has stolen $400 billion per year from senior citizens and savers and handed it to the very bankers who caused the pain and suffering of millions. Personal interest income has declined from $1.4 trillion to $1.0 trillion, while Wall Street faux profits have soared. The game plan of the oligarchy has been to transfer hundreds of billions from taxpayers to bankers, report profits through accounting entries reducing loan loss reserves, pump up their stock prices and convince clueless lemming investors to buy newly issued shares at inflated valuations. The plan has failed. The zero interest rate policy’s unintended consequences have caused revolutions throughout the Middle East and massive food inflation across the developing world.

The single biggest reason the middle class feel frustrated, angry and like they are falling behind is due to the Federal Reserve and the relentless never ending inflation they produce in order to support their masters on Wall Street and provide cover for the trillions in debt spending by politicians in Washington DC. It is no surprise that beginning in 1980 when government spending began to accelerate much more rapidly than government revenues, the government decided to “tweak” how it measured inflation. The government reports inflation at 3.5% today. The truth is inflation is running in excess of 10% if measured exactly as it was in 1980. That’s right, we have a recession and we have inflation in double digits. No wonder the masses are restless.

The reason middle class Americans are being methodically exterminated and driven into poverty is the monetary policies of the Federal Reserve. Since 1971, when Nixon extinguished the last vestiges of the gold standard and unleashed politicians to spend borrowed money without immediate consequence, the U.S. dollar has lost 82% of its purchasing power using the government manipulated CPI. In reality, it has lost over 90% of its purchasing power. The average American, after decades of being dumbed down by government sanctioned education, is incapable of understanding the impact of inflation on their lives. As their wages rise 2% to 3% per year and inflation rises 5% to 10% per year, they get poorer day by day. The Wall Street banks, who own the Federal Reserve, step in and convince the average American to substitute debt for real wealth in order to keep living the modern techno-lifestyle sold to them by mainstream corporate media.

The oligarchy of moneyed interests have done a spectacular job convincing the working middle class they should be angry at 20 year old OWS protestors, illegal immigrants and the inner city welfare class, rather than the true culprits – the Federal Reserve, Wall Street banks and mega-corporations. This is a testament to the power of propaganda and the intellectual slothfulness of the average American. U.S. based mega-corporations fired 864,000 higher wage American workers between 2000 and 2010, while hiring almost 3 million workers in low wage foreign countries, using their billions in cash to buy back their own stocks, and paying corporate executives shamefully excessive compensation. The corporate mainstream media treats corporate CEO’s like rock stars as if they deserve to be compensated at a level 243 times the average worker. The S&P 500 consists of the 500 biggest companies in America and while the executives of these companies have reaped millions in compensation, the stock index for these companies is at the exact level it was on July 9, 1998. Over the last thirteen years workers were fired by the thousands, shareholders earned 0% (negative 39% on an inflation adjusted basis), and executives got fabulously rich.

Man made inflation has stealthily devastated millions of lives over the last four decades. When the weekly wages of the average worker are adjusted for inflation, they are making 12% less than they did in 1971. Using a real non-manipulated measure of inflation, the average worker is making 30% less than they did in 1971. Sadly, our math challenged populace only comprehend their wages have doubled in the last forty years, without understanding the true impact of inflation. Thankfully, the Wall Street debt dealers with a helping hand from Madison Avenue propaganda peddlers stepped up to the plate and imprisoned the middle class with the shackles of $2.5 trillion in consumer debt. So, while real wages have fallen 30% since 1971, consumer debt has increased by 1,700%.

Americans have been snookered into renouncing their citizenship and converting to being mindless consumers. Citizenship requires a person to be actively engaged in the community with obligations to fellow citizens and future generations. Consumerism requires people to love things, embrace debt, worry about what others have, and become driven by the accumulation of possessions and the appearance of wealth. The disgusting exhibition that Madison Avenue maggots have coined Black Friday is the ultimate display of consumerism. In a nauseating display of senseless spending driven by retail conglomerates, Americans act like Pavlov’s salivating dogs by lining up for hours to stampede over and pepper spray other consumers to get the ultimate deal on that Chinese made toaster oven, Vietnamese made laptop, Korean made HDTV, or Mexican made tortilla maker. They don’t seem to grasp the irony of going deeper into debt buying cheap crap made in foreign countries by the workers who took their jobs. The mainstream media proclaims a hugely successful Black Friday as millions bought crap they didn’t need with money they don’t have, while millions more ate their Thanksgiving meals in food shelters – unreported by the media.This repulsive manifestation of consumerism is applauded and encouraged by our government, as described by George Monbiot:

“Governments are deemed to succeed or fail by how well they make money go round, regardless of whether it serves any useful purpose. They regard it as a sacred duty to encourage the country’s most revolting spectacle: the annual feeding frenzy in which shoppers queue all night, then stampede into the shops, elbow, trample and sometimes fight to be the first to carry off some designer junk which will go into landfill before the sales next year. The madder the orgy, the greater the triumph of economic management.”

The masses have been brainwashed by those in power into thinking consumer spending utilizing debt is essential for a strong economy, when the exact opposite is the truth. Saving and investment are the essential ingredients to a strong economy. Debt based spending only benefits bankers, mega-corporations, and politicians.

Mass Manipulation through Propaganda

“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. …We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society. In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons…who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.” – Edward Bernays, Propaganda, 1928 

Edward Bernays, the father of propaganda to control the masses, would be so proud of his disciples running our country today. He clearly believed only an elite few were intellectually capable of running the show. Essentially, he hit upon the concept of the 1% telling the 99% what they should think and believe over eighty years ago. The mechanisms for controlling the thoughts, beliefs, and actions of the population are so much more efficient today. The conditioning begins when we are children, as every child will be bombarded with at least 30,000 hours of propaganda broadcast by media corporations by the time they reach adulthood. Their minds are molded and they are instructed what to believe and what to value. Those in control of society want to keep the masses entertained at an infantile level, with instant gratification and satisfying desires as their only considerations. The elite have achieved their Alpha status through intellectual superiority, control of the money system, and control of the political process. Their power emanates from eliminating choices, while giving the illusion of choice to the masses. People think they are free, when in reality they are slaves to a two party political system, a few Wall Street banks, and whatever our TVs tell us to buy.

Our entire system is designed to control the thoughts and actions of the masses. In many ways it is done subtly, while recently it has become more bold and blatant. It is essential for the ruling elite to keep control of our minds through media messages and the educational system. It is not a surprise that our public education system has methodically deteriorated over the last four decades. The government gained control over education and purposely teaches our children selected historical myths, social engineering gibberish and only the bare essentials of math and science. The government creates the standardized tests and approves the textbooks. We are left with millions of functionally illiterate children that grow into non-critical thinking adults. This is the exact result desired by the 1%. If too many of the 99% were able to ignore the media propaganda and think for themselves, revolution would result. This is why the moneyed interests have circled the wagons, invoked police state thug tactics, and used all the powers of their media machine to squash the OWS movement. It threatens their power and control.

“Experience has shown that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.” – Thomas Jefferson

A highly educated engaged citizenry would be a danger to the existing social order. The 1%, educated at our finest universities, does not want average Americans to obtain a great education for a reasonable price. They want them to get a worthless diploma at an excessively high price tag and become debt slaves to the Wall Street 1%. They want uneducated, indebted consumers, not educated productive citizens. Our republic has been slowly perverted since the time of its inception. The insidious process had been slow and methodical until 1913. The establishment of the Federal Reserve by an elite group of bankers and their politician friends and the establishment of a personal income tax created the conditions that have allowed a small cabal of powerful men to dictate the course of our economic, political, social, and military policies for the last 98 years. Anyone that chooses to open their eyes and awake from the propaganda induced stupor can see the result of allowing a small group of corrupt authoritarian men using their power to pervert our government into tyranny. The majority remains oppressed, buried under trillions of debt, while the shysters reap obscene profits, poison the worldwide economic system, and walk away unscathed in the aftermath of their crimes.

The ruling oligarchy has become so brazen in the last few years that it has attracted the attention of the critical thinking minority. The advent of the internet has allowed these critical thinking few to analyze the un-sanitized facts, discuss the issues, and provide truth amidst a blizzard of lies. The proliferation of truth telling websites (Zero Hedge, Mish, Financial Sense, Naked Capitalism) has allowed truth seekers to bypass the government sanctioned corporate media. The pillaging of society by the politically powerful, corrupt 1% is plain to see in the graphs below.

The divergence in household income was not the result of hard work, superior intellectual firepower, or the media touted entrepreneurial spirit of the rich. It was the result of the 1% capturing the economic and political system of the United States and using it to ransack the wealth of the formerly working middle class. The fatal flaw which will ultimately result in a fitting end for the powerful elitists is their egos. They are psychopaths, unable to feel empathy for their fellow man. Enough is never enough. They always want more. Life is a game to them. They truly believe they can pull the right strings and continue to accumulate more riches. But they are wrong. They are blinded by their hubris. There are limits to growth based solely on debt and we’ve reached that limit. The world is crumbling under the weight of crippling debt created by these Wall Street psychopaths, while the corrupted bought off politicians try to shift the losses from the bankers who incurred them to the citizens who have already been fleeced. Nomi Prins captures the essence of our current situation:

“Today, the stock prices of the largest US banks are about as low as they were in the early part of 2009, not because of euro-contagion or Super-committee super-incompetence (a useless distraction anyway) but because of the ongoing transparency void surrounding the biggest banks amidst their central-bank-covered risks, and the political hot potato of how many emergency loans are required to keep them afloat at any given moment.  Because investors don’t know their true exposures, any more than in early 2009. Because US banks catalyzed the global crisis that is currently manifesting itself in Europe. Because there never was a separate US housing crisis and European debt crisis. Instead, there is a worldwide, systemic, unregulated, uncontained, rapacious need for the most powerful banks and financial institutions to leverage whatever could be leveraged in whatever forms it could be leveraged in. So, now we’re just barely in the second quarter of the game of thrones, where the big banks are the kings, the ECB, IMF and the Fed are the money supply, and the populations are the powerless serfs. Yeah, let’s play the ECB inflation game, while the world crumbles.”

Those in power are beginning to lose control. You can sense their desperation. Their propaganda is losing its impact as the pain for millions of Americans has become acute. The outrage and anger flaring across the country on a daily basis, reflected in the OWS movement, is just the beginning of a revolutionary period descending upon this nation. The existing social order will be swept away, but they will not go without a fight. They will use their control of the police, military and media to try and crush the coming rebellion.

 The Dream is Gone

“The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws.” – Tacitus, The Annals of Imperial Rome

In addition to controlling the monetary system and brainwashing the inhabitants with relentless propaganda, the ruling class has used their control of the political process to impose thousands of laws, statutes, rules, and regulations upon the citizens. Again, an apathetic, distracted, trusting populace has been easily convinced that more laws will make them safe and secure. They have willingly sacrificed liberty, freedom and self reliance for the façade of safety, security and protection. The overwhelming number of government rules and regulations are designed to control you and insure your compliance and obedience to those in power. In a non-corrupt society inhabited by citizens willing to honor their obligations, government’s function is to insure property rights and defend the country from foreign invaders. Citizens don’t need to be herded like sheep with threats of imprisonment to do what is right. We don’t need 90,000 pages of regulations telling us the difference between right and wrong.

There were 400 pages of Federal Tax rules when the 1% personal income tax was implemented in 1913. Did the 18,000% increase in tax rules since 1913 benefit the average American or did they benefit the 1% who hires the lobbyists to write the rules which are passed into law by the politicians who receive their campaign contributions from the 1%? Do you ever wonder why you pay more taxes than a billionaire Wall Street hedge fund manager? Do you think our tax system is designed to benefit billionaires and mega-corporations when corporations with billions of income pay little or no taxes? Complexity and confusion benefits those who can create and take advantage of the complexity and confusion. Corporations and special interests have used their wealth to bribe politicians to design loopholes, credits, and exemptions that benefit their interests. The corruption of the system is terminal.

“The mistake you make, don’t you see, is in thinking one can live in a corrupt society without being corrupt oneself. After all, what do you achieve by refusing to make money? You’re trying to behave as though one could stand right outside our economic system. But one can’t. One’s got to change the system, or one changes nothing. One can’t put things right in a hole-and-corner way, if you take my meaning.”George Orwell

The American people are paying the price for allowing a few evil men to gain control of our government. The American people cowered in fear as the 342 page Patriot Act was somehow written in a few weeks after 9/11, introduced in Congress on October 23, passed the House on October 24 with no debate, passed the Senate on October 25 with no debate, and signed into law on October 26 by George Bush. A law passed by the ruling elite that stripped Americans of their freedoms and liberties was passed using fear mongering false patriotism propaganda to squelch dissent and the American people had no say in the matter. The government has used fear to keep the American people under control. We now unquestioningly accept being molested in airports. We shrug as our intelligence agencies eavesdrop on our telephone conversations and emails without the need for a court order. It is now taken for granted that we imprison people without charging them with a crime and assassinate suspected terrorists in foreign countries with predator drones. Invading countries and going to war no longer requires a declaration of war by Congress as required by the Constitution. The State grows ever more powerful.

Therefore, it is no surprise that Americans sit idly by, watching their 52 inch HDTVs,  as young people across the country are beaten, pepper sprayed, shot with rubber bullets and tear gas, and scorned and ridiculed by corporate media pundits for exercising their free speech rights to peacefully protest our corrupt system. The American tradition of civil disobedience is considered domestic terrorism by those in authority. Our beloved protectors in the Orwellian named Department of Homeland Security write reports classifying Ron Paul supporters and returning Iraq veterans as potential terrorists. If the powers that be get their way, the internet will be locked down and controlled, as it poses a huge threat to their thought control endeavors. Freedom to think, learn, question and organize resistance is unacceptable in the eyes of the elite. The country has reached a tipping point. Will enough right thinking Americans stand up and fight to bring down this corrupt system, or will we be herded silently to slaughter. The truth is there is something terribly wrong in this country. We are facing a myriad of problems that will require courage and common sense to overcome. We need only look in the mirror to find the guilty party. It is time to stop letting fear dictate our actions. Conflict is coming to this country due to the evil sanctioned by our corrupt leaders and the upright men and women who will bear the burden of destroying that evil.

Our civilization has adopted the worst aspects of the two most famous dystopian novels in history – Orwell’s 1984 and Huxley’s Brave New World. The question is whether the population of this country is too far gone to recover. The answer to that question will determine whether the country chooses authoritarian dictatorship or a renewal of our founding principles. Aldous Huxley understood the three pillars of Western civilization fifty years ago and that their destruction would result in a collapse of our economic system:

“Armaments, universal debt, and planned obsolescence – those are the three pillars of Western prosperity. If war, waste, and moneylenders were abolished, you’d collapse. And while you people are over-consuming the rest of the world sinks more and more deeply into chronic disaster.”

The three pillars sustaining the American empire edifice of never ending war, ever accumulating debt and excessive consumerism are crumbling. The growing corruption and weight of un-payable debt have weakened the very foundation of our grand experiment. The existing structure will surely collapse. My entire adult life has tracked the decline of the American empire. I had become comfortably numb. I came to my senses and began to question all the Federal government/Wall Street/Corporate Media sponsored truths about eight years ago. Many others have also awoken and begun to challenge the false storylines dictated by those in power.

The young people leading the protests across this land are showing tremendous courage and a tenacity of spirit that has been dormant for decades among the lethargic, distracted, over-medicated public. Despite being subjected to government education conditioning, these young people have zeroed in on the enemy. They may not have all the solutions, but they have correctly identified the corrupt banking system as the central nervous system of this vampire squid sucking the life out of our nation. I will support any effort to shine a light on our crooked system. My three young sons deserve a chance at a better life than they will get under the thumb of this oligarchic criminal enterprise. As a child I caught a fleeting glimpse of the American Dream. I turned to look, but it was gone. I choose not to become comfortably numb. I choose to do whatever it will take to renew the opportunity for my sons to achieve the American Dream.

When I was a child
I caught a fleeting glimpse
Out of the corner of my eye
I turned to look but it was gone
I cannot put my finger on it now
The child is grown,
The dream is gone.
I have become comfortably numb.

Pink Floyd – Comfortably Numb