Food stamps

Let them Eat Twinkies

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Published on The Daily Impact on August 29, 2016

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let them eat twinkies

 

A change in food stamp benefits for up to a million people such as this one is affecting WalMart’s profits. Something must be done. (Photo by FaceMePLS/Flickr)

In this, the eighth successful year of our Glorious Recovery from the Great Recession, things are really looking up for the American Lower Class, formerly known as Middle. The unemployment rate as calculated by the U.S. Government (adjusted for inflation, seasonally adjusted, smoothed, combed and curried) is down to a piddling five per cent, which is regarded by the country-club set as better-than-full employment, because, they suspect, thousands of people are working against their will. Moreover, the number of able-bodied adults capable of working, but not working, classified as “not in the labor pool” and therefore not unemployed (and thus not included in the calculation of the unemployment rate) is only up to 95 million people.

 

Things are looking so good for poor people that between 500,000 and 1,000,000 of them are being dropped from SNAP, formerly known as the Food Stamp program, this year. Some 20 states are reinstating the three-month limit on benefits to adults 18-49 who are not disabled or raising children. Thus freed from a crippling dependency on government handouts, these poorest of the poor are doing much better now, many of them actually motivated to go out and create jobs — in the field of heroin marketing, for example.

Surprisingly, it turns out there’s a downside to cutting Food Stamp benefits. It has been a serious blow to the sales of WalMart and Dollar General Stores — the sector of the retail market known as the Bottom Feeders. In addition to the fact that the employees of these stores need Food Stamps to survive (witness WalMart’s warm-hearted annual drive to collect canned SpaghettiOs so their employees and their families can have a Christmas Dinner), it turns out that the stores also need Food Stamps to survive.

Dollar General last week reported an 18% drop in its stock price after it reported disappointing sales, and found itself in a price-cutting war with WalMart, all since the food stamp cuts started to materialize. DollarTree reported similar problems. Cutting prices on staple items will reduce profits further, of course, but the companies hope it will allow them to hang on to their customers until things get better. (As we all know, things always get better, always before the system breaks down. That rule is as inviolate as the one we all relied on in 2008, the one that said: housing prices never go down.)

As we wait for things to get better, we cannot help but notice that they are getting worse. A Google Consumer Survey conducted this month found that more than 60% of all Americans — not just the Lower Class — have less than $1,000 in total savings. And 20% don’t have any. None.

Forbes, the magazine of the 1%, immediately ran a piece debunking the claim. “It’s Simply Not True,” thundered the headline. After clearing its throat for a number of paragraphs, down near the end, the article admitted that well, yes, it was true, actually, but irrelevant because these people have credit cards, don’t they? They’ll be fine.

So you see the problem.  

Dollar General CEO Todd Vasos said last week he has been surprised to learn that while things seem to be getting better on the surface, they are most definitely not getting better down where his customers live. There, rents are expensive and rising, home ownership is out of the question, and so is health care insurance, while the costs of health care and medicines are skyrocketing. But Mr. Vasos known exactly where to place the responsibility, and find the hope. “Our core customer,” he said proudly, “is very resilient,” and will “figure it out over time.”

So now we know the solution.

Food Insecurity

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Published on The Doomstead Diner on May 1, 2016

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It was announced recently that some 500,000 to 1,000,000 or so Amerikans currently receiving SNAP Card bennies are in danger of having their monthly allotment of food CUT OFF.  If you are between 18 & 50 years old with no dependent children, are able bodied and capable of some kind of work but you have no job paying any money, you get to STARVE.  Here in the Land of Good & Plenty where the Golden Corral will serve up all you can stuff your face with if you can just come up with the $15 Entrance Fee to the Palace of Fat People.

From the Center on Budget & Policy Priorities:

More than 500,000 and as many as 1 million of the nation’s poorest people will be cut off SNAP (formerly known as the Food Stamp Program) over the course of 2016, due to the return in many areas of a three-month limit on SNAP benefits for unemployed adults aged 18-49 who aren’t disabled or raising minor children.  These individuals will lose their food assistance benefits after three months regardless of how hard they are looking for work.  The impact will be felt in the 22 states that must or are choosing to reimpose the time limit in 2016.

More than 500,000 and as many as 1 million of the nation’s poorest people will be cut off SNAP over the course of 2016.One of the harshest pieces of the 1996 welfare law, this provision limits such individuals to three months of SNAP benefits in any 36-month period when they aren’t employed or in a work or training program for at least 20 hours a week.  Even SNAP recipients whose state operates few or no employment programs and fails to offer them a spot in a work or training program — which is the case in most states — have their benefits cut off after three months irrespective of whether they are searching diligently for a job.  Because this provision denies basic food assistance to people who want to work and will accept any job or work program slot offered, it is effectively a severe time limit rather than a work requirement, as such requirements are commonly understood.  Work requirements in public assistance programs typically require people to look or work and accept any job or employment program slot that is offered but do not cut off people who are willing to work and looking for a job simply because they can’t find one.  In fact, SNAP has separate work requirement authority much like this, where states can require individuals to participate in job search or a training program but cannot terminate them if no program is available.

This is a long article and I am tempted to paste the whole thing because there is so much important information in it, but hopefully you will go to the site and read it there.  I'm just going to comment on this travesty and present a few strategies to work around these rules.

First off, I don't see why "ABAWDs" (Able Bodie Adults Without Dependents) are any less deserving of food than people who have dependents.  Are you less of a citizen if you don't have children?  Did you pay less taxes than they did?  No, in fact you paid more because you don't get any of the deductions for having dependents.  Then there is that Age Cutoff at 50 years old.  Why does a 51 year old get to keep her bennies, while a 50 year old loses his?  You are more worthwhile to keep fed if you are 51 than 50?  Whether you are 50 or 51, if you lost your job these days, your chances of getting re-hired for any kind of work that is going to pay a living wage become slimmer by the day.

Now, it's not like folks receiving Food Stamps are being showered with money.  The allotment is somewhere between $140 and $170/month depending on the state.  The whole program currently costs a measely $75B or so.  Compare that to the $TRILLIONS$ showered on the Banksters to bail out their sorry asses.  Compare that to the $TRILLION$ Pentagon Budget to drop Death from Above on a bunch of sorry ass Syrians and sprinkle mayhem around the world on a daily basis.  You can't find a few extra billion to keep these folks from starving?  The Print Key on Dammit Janet Smellin' Yellen's laptop has malfunctioned?  What?

http://www.bluenc.com/sites/default/files/styles/node_body/public/homelessincharlotte.jpeg?itok=9jxY4ylr Fortunately, there are some private charities which will try to take up the slack, but these charities are already overwhelmed   It means their supply of food will be spread that much thinner.  If it were true that we really had a food deficit here in the FSoA and there wasn't enough to go round, you could make a case for triaging off some people, preferably Banksters & Geochemists who are Scum Sucking Leeches on society.  However, at the moment there is PLENTY of FOOD for EVERYBODY in the FSoA to get as fat on as they like!  Just take a walk down the aisles of Safeway sometime or a trip to the aforementioned Golden Corral, or any Trucker Buffet served up at Truckstops of Amerika, Petro or the Flying J.

The justification for this stupidity is that these folks just don't WANT to work, so if you cut off their food they will hustle their asses and GET A JOB!  Now really, do you think anyone currently receiving SNAP bennies LIKES living on around $40/week worth of food?  They're not working because they get this huge supply off food every month?  OF COURSE NOT!  They're not working not because they get free food, but because there aren't jobs for everyone that the industrial society will pay everybody a living wage to do anymore!

Another effect often brought up on Libertarian sites like The Burning Platform is that occassionally you see SNAP Card recipients with Premium Foods like Lobster or Filet Mignon in their baskets.  This may periodically be true, as I have demonstrated with the SNAP Card Gourmet Series, if you are real careful about how much you spend for 3 out of the 4 weeks of the month, in week 4 you have enough extra credits left over to buy some premium foods and enjoy a little taste of what the upper class gets to eat every day.  However, by NO MEANS is a $40/week Food Budget an exorbitant amount of money.

If it really bugs you so much that occassionally a poor person gets to eat a Lobster, then instead of the SNAP program you could run Soup Kitchens like they did back inthe Great Depression, and just serve up Spaghetti and Meatballs or Chili, etc.  But you know what?  Running Soup Kitchens on such a large scale would cost FAR more money than just handing out a Plastic Card for people to go pick up food at the regular retail outlets.  They are already staffed and their distribution systems are in place.  Setting up Soup Kitchens would require a whole new staff, a whole new distribution system and even more costly, a whole new Goobermint Bureaucracy and more folks on Da Goobermint Payroll.  SNAP Cards are the CHEAP alternative here, unless of course you believe letting people STARVE is a valid alternative, which apparently many Libertarians do think is valid.

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So now let's get on to the really important task, which is devising STRATEGIES not to get yourself cut off from at least $40/week to stay fed.  Remember folks, this is about the ONLY Benny that everyone in the society is eligible for, and it's not going to pay your rent or your transportation costs to go job hunting or your cell phone bill to stay connected so your prospective employer has a place to call you with the Good Newz she has a job for you.  http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/pictures/jesus_multiplies_loaves.jpg Folks who are this far off the cliff are the poorest of the poor, the kind of people Jesus Christ was concerned about helping.  Besides not having jobs, they often have no home either.  Most often from the long term underclass, poorly educated and even if there were jobs for them, often unemployable.  There are more people than just this of course, and new ones created each day as Industrial Civilization winds down to a close and more formerly Middle Class people fall off the economic cliff.  If you do fall into either of these, what can you do to keep your SNAP Card charged up and some food in your belly?

Well first off, if you read the various rules carefully, on the "official" level, if you are in some kind of Job Training program or can at least find 20 hours of work a week, even if that is not enough to pay rent, you still will likely be under the minimum income required to be eligible for food stamps.  Problem of course here is you may not be able to find 20 hours of work, and Job Training programs are few and far between because they are expensive to run.

However, there is nothing I have read that stops you from being in your OWN Job Training program.  One of the Diners, JDW suggested the possibility of training in areas of post collapse resilience, like permaculture etc.  You probably would need to get some sort of official recognition of the training program by the bureaucracy for this to work though.

In many states there is also the Loophole that if you Volunteer for a certain number of hours/month doing some kind of Community Service, again you are not cut off, so go find someplace to volunteer at.  Obvious Choice here would be to volunteer at a Food Bank.  Other possibilities are to volunteer at a Senior Center or volunteer as a Big Brother/Big Sister.

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What do you do though if the State you live in is so scum sucking awful they won't even give you $40/week for food if you show you are willing to work by volunteering to work for FREE, for the community benefit?

https://img.rt.com/files/news/42/ce/e0/00/michigan-prison-food-maggots.jpg One option is already being taken by many people, which is the GO TO JAIL option.  3 Hots & a Cot! 🙂 This of course costs the state WAY more than $40/week, it costs somewhere around $40-50K to keep you in jail which is a LOT more than $40/week which if you collect 52 weeks a year only comes out to a measely $2000 or so.   If you are going to choose this option pick a crime with a fairly short average sentence time and commit it in a state that has a reputation for fairly well run prisons. You'll also have free medical care and dental care during this period.  You may of course not want to choose this option for many reasons.  You may be morally opposed to criminal acts, although choosing your criminal act wisely you probably can avoid the moral quandary there.  If your criminal act is say Spray Painting a Bank Glass Window with "Banksters are Evil", that is not morally too bad.  LOL.  Of course, that may not be criminal enough to get you prison time, so you have to find the right crimes which both get you prison time AND are morally defensible to yourself.

There are other reasons for not wanting to choose Jail as an option of course.  You may value your "Freedom", although how free you really are if you are starving on the street is an open question.  Then of course also if you are young and attractive male, some other prison inmate may want you for a prison wife, as well as sharing you with a few of the prison guards for a pack of cigarettes.  This may not appeal to you as a way to spend a few years until you are next eligible for  SNAP bennies.  lol.

http://appx.sanook.com/rip/r/w300/ya0xa0m1w0/aHR0cDovL3AzLmlzYW5vb2suY29tL2d1LzAvcGljZnJvbnQvcGVkaWEvMjY3NjMyX18xNjEwMjAxMjExMDIyMC5qcGc=.jpg In terms of picking crimes that are morally defensible and possibly will NOT land you in jail but also keep you fed, one option might be to go into Burglary, just targeting the homes of the 1% living in upscale gated communities.  Doctors, Lawyers, Dentists and Accountants primarily here.  You case the place and find out when nobody is home, so you don't run into some Prepper Dentist with Gunz & Ammo out the Wazoo who might shoot you as you come in through the window. lol.

After you do the break-in, what do you steal?  Not the Big Screen TV, not the Laptops, not even the artwork on the walls or the Mercedes in the garage.  No, you just steal the FOOD out of the refrigerator and pantry!  Then you leave an IOU Note to this person on the Kitchen table beforeyou exit the scene of the crime.

Dear 1%er Friend,

I recently became Homeless after losing my job working for Intel as a manager in their personal computers division, which they are downsizing. My McMansion was foreclosed on by JP Morgan Chase, my SNAP Card bennies have been revoked,  I am currently living in my Stealth Van and have tried to no avail to find new work of any kind. I am almost 50 now, and nobody will hire me even to flip burgers at Mickey D's.

I am Greatful for your help here in keeping me from DIEING OF STARVATION, and it appears to me you will be able to restock your fridge and pantry without too much trouble with overpriced Organic Vegetables from Whole Foods.  I leave you this note as an IOU, and promise to repay you IN FULL  if/when I get back on my feet again and get a job or means to repay.

Now, what self-respecting Dentist would prosecute this guy, or even call the Gestapo to report the crime?  If said Dentista was stupid enough to prosecute, can you IMAGINE the publicity when the Media gets hold of the story?

"1% er Dentist prosecutes Homeless Man for stealing Spaghetti from his Pantry"

This would not be too good for bizness. lol.

OK, off the topic of Criminal Means to stay fed here (and also tweaking my fellow Diners 🙂  ), let us look at a completely LEGAL means of maintaining your SNAP Card Bennies in the face of these current regulations.  There is in reality no need for Volunteering and no need for a job training program available in your neighborhood either! 🙂

Each year when you file your Form 1040, there is a spot on it for you to list your “Occupation”. You can list just about anything here, you could even list “Prostitute”, although I think few who pursue this profession (the world's oldest) actually list that way here in the FSoA. They probably list as “Professional Escort”. lol.

irs-occupation

You can also list yourself as “Self-Employed”, and there is nothing illegal about that, in fact self-employment is lauded as being entrepreneurial and a good thing by Capitalista Pigmen. Self-Employed people are respectable go-getters! lol. If you do file as self-employed, you will also have to file a Form 1099 with the IRS for “Miscellaneous Income”. Do not neglect to do that.

http://www.diybusinessinabox.com/images/mainpage/Handyman.jpg So what is the plan? Well, as a self-employed person, no Minimum Wage laws apply, you can contract to work for WTF you want to charge, whatever the market will bear here. You list yourself as a “Self-Employed Handyman”, and you do whatever needs to be done for friends. Like sweep the garage, trim the hedges, wash some windows, whatevah. You have your friend video record you on your smart phone doing these tasks, you also Log the Hours spent in a log book, and you have a Receipt Book for when your friend pays you for the service. What do you charge? Any Non-Zero Number, say 10 cents, whatever your friend can afford.  If he can't afford 10 cents, loan him a dime to pay you with. lol.

You RECORD all these payments scrupulously, and you list them all on your Form 1099. You have now PROVED you worked and PROVED your income, which of course is WELL below the maximum income for SNAP bennies.

I cannot see how under the law as written that you could be denied SNAP card bennies if you do this.  You fulfill all the requirements of working, and it is all documented with the IRS.  You file your taxes with your Total Income for the year as $66.66 evil4 , and you pay your taxes on this, although there won't be any.

Of course, long term here the SNAP Card program, Social Security, Medicaire, Pension Funds and even Stock Portfolios will all fail.  However, when that comes to pass, the whole system is FUBAR, and as soon as it is made truly impossible to acquire food for millions of people, the food riots will begin and Da Goobermint as it exists now will cease to exist.  Nothing brings down a Goobermint faster than hordes of starving people.

Ideally, you should also be working on Personal Food Security by other methods also, growing your own as possible with Permaculture, Hydroponics and Aquaculture, as has been discussed on many occasions here on the Diner.  Goobermint Food Distribution will eventually fail, but here in the FSoA I don't think complete failure will occur that soon.  So in this situation in this country, your goal is to make sure you do not get yourself cut off by the system.  Your personal food security entails understanding the system rules and manipulating them to your favor, and not getting caught with your pants down unaware that these bennies are being cut off piecemeal to others like yourself caught in the maelstrom of Industrial Society collapse.

Awareness is EVERYTHING.  Stay aware, and seek alternatives and work arounds.  That is the KEY to SURVIVAL.

RE

SNAP Card Gourmet Gumbo

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on November 8, 2015

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What is a Gumbo?

Gumbo is a stew that originated in southern Louisiana during the 18th century. It consists primarily of a strongly-flavored stock, meat or shellfish, a thickener, and the vegetable holy trinity of celery, bell peppers, and onions.

That's the official definition anyhow.

To me though, a Gumbo is anything you throw in a pot to make a fully nutritious and filling meal.  It should have everything you need to eat for the day in one pot.  Animal Protein, Corbohydrates, Veggies etc.  It should also be spicy and flavorful.  You throw into your pot whatever is available.

Gumbo ingredients should also be CHEAP (relatively speaking of course these days).  So no expensive cuts of meat in there.  In fact, if you can get the meat for free by nailing a squirrel with your slingshot, even better!  Same with the veggies, if you can get them out of your own garden instead of buying the overpriced GMO versions in the food superstore, this also is better.

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/31vMUhKeJcL.jpgGenerally speaking though, the SNAP Card Gourmet Homeless Person or Road Warrior doesn't have these options most of the time.  For this week's edition of SCG, I made two Gumbos utilizing only my Homeless Cooking Apparatus, a portable propane grill and a 2 burner portable propane stove.  The key in both cases is you want to make maximum use of your propane once you start cooking.  When doing my SCG experiments, I try to get a full week out of 2 one liter size cannister of propane.  One cannister goes to run the grill, the other one to run the stove.  They run about $3 each right now here on the Last Great Frontier, and I have dozens of them in the Preps.  You can also refill them with adapters available in the camping department of your local Walmart.

It's cheaper still and more efficient to use a typical 5 gallon Propane tank that most home BBQs work on, but for the Homeless person unless well set up in a  semi-permanent Tent City, such a large cannister is tough to move around, although if you still have car and storage unit, this is the cheaper way to go than the individual cannisters.

The portable Grills and Stoves are also relatively inexpensive, anywhere from $30 to $60 usually.

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These are the models I use for SNAP Card Gourmet Cooking

You also want to keep yor cooking utensils to a minimum.  Even if you still have your car, too many pots, pans, knives etc clutters up your valuable private space. I keep my SNAP card utensils to 2 sizes of pots which nest, and 2 sizes of sautee pans that nest.  I also have a small electric slow cooker which is great to use if you have a source of electricity.  Also worthwhile to have is an electric single or double burner to use when electricity is available.  This can save you money on propane and has the bonus you can use them indoors just about anywhere, for instance in a cheap motel room once a week or bi weekly, where you additionally can shower and clean up, hopefully for a Job Interview the following day.  You also do laundry on these motel vacations.  So when you arrive at the job interview, you don't appear to be a smelly homeless person, but rather still a normal member of industrial society.  You will of course need to be able to scrape up the $40-50 necessary for a night in such a Bates Motel.  Motel mini-vacations from the Road Warrior lifestyle should be judiciously chosen when on a limited budget.

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OK, now that you have all your SCG Cooking apparatus in place and ready, it's time to go SHOPPING! 🙂

http://static.caloriecount.about.com/images/medium/kroger-italian-sausage-hot-4086.jpgAs mentioned, you want to go with the cheapest cuts of meat available, which is usually chicken or pork.  Chicken is great for the chicken soups and chicken salads you can make, but pork in the form of sausage is better for the gumbos.  Some form of Beef is best for the stews, but beef usually comes in pricier than the chicken and sausage.

For the sausage, I usually get the generic house brand of sausage at the local Kroger, which comes in at around $1/lb less than the Johnsonville National sausage brand.  I like the Hot Italian sausage, but you can also get mild, or Bratwurst, all the same price around $3.75 for a 5-pack, $.75 per sausage around here.  One sausage is enough for your Animal Protein needs for the day, although I usually also have an Egg with a thin slice of breakfast meat and cheese on a roll as breakfast also on SCG experiment days.

The pack of sausages doesn't just go in the Gumbo, I like to have a Sausage, Pepper & Onion Hoagie/Sub/Hero also, a favorite of mine from street vendors  at the Festival of San Gennaro back in Little Italy in NY Shity in my youth.

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Fresh Green Peppers, Onions, Potatoes and Carrots are the best choices of veggies for the Road Warrior.  They require little to no refigeration and will stay good for a week at least.  You get some needed roughage and vitamins from them as well.  An EZ one pan morning meal is to chop up some peppers and onions, chop up a leftover potato from a slow cooker stew, then crack a couple of eggs over the whole mess and swish around untile the eggs congeal.  Slide that onto a plastic plate for eating, then just wipe down the pan and the plate with a paper towel!  Pretty EZ Cleanup!  A multi-vitamin with this breakfast is also recommended.

I'll also usually throw one in with some Spaghetti Sauce to have a Spaghetti Sausage Marinara meal, and sometimes use 1/4 of one for breakfast meat on the morning roll, although I like a thin slice of nice smoked ham instead, and I'm not really broke and homeless (yet!).  So you can get a nice variety of meals out of one package of sausages that will last you all week  easily.  Your biggest problem here if truly homeless is the refrigeration problem.  However, at least with the Gumbos and Spaghetti Sauce, the way around that is to Reheat the gumbo the next day to boiling temperature.  Any bacteria that might have got going overight gets killed off.  I have eaten both Gumbos and Sauces 3 days old without refrigeration simply by reheating them each day.  If you do still have a car or van and drive around regularly enough in it to keep the battery charged, you can use a thermoelectric cooler to keep your letovers good for a couple of days usually.

Better still than this method if truly homeless in a Tent City is to work together with other Homeless People.  5 people can be fed pretty well with 1 package of sausages and the rest of the ingredients in your Gumbo, so each Homeless person buys one set of ingredients a week which you all cook and eat together on the day the food is purchased, handed out at a food pantry or shoplifted perhaps.  lol.

OK!  So now it is time to GET COOKING on the porch and imagine my future life as a homeless cripple gourmet chef in a Tent City while Industrial Civilization progresses to Complete Collapse! 🙂

Step 1 is the meat preparation.  As mentioned in prior SCG recipe articles, I prefer my meat cooked over an Open Grill for the nice smoky flavor that it gives it, plus all those tasty carcinogens that get created over the flame.  lol.  I also want to maximize the use of my propane cannister, so I usually do not cook just one package of sausages, but rather fill up the grill space with other meat for other meals, which then gets stored in the refrigerator since I still have one of those and still can afford to pay my electric bill.  In this case, I filled up the rest of the grill with Beef Back Ribs, perhaps the cheapest beef cut you can buy that has some meat on it at around $2.79/lb up here these days.

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Right after the initial grilling, I'll eat the best parts of the ribs straight off the grill.  Then what is left on the bones goes in the Slow Cooker with some beef broth and simmers until the meat falls off the bone, and then I use that to make a Grilled Ribs Beef Stew, which I have gone over before in a prior SCG article.

http://www.progresso.com/~/media/images/heart%20healthy/southwest-style.ashxFor the Gumbo with the Sausage, I'm going to go with the single size batch I make, which only takes one or most 2 of these sausage links. You can easily upscale the recipe for a family or other Homeless Compadres.  For this, in good Homeless Person fashion, I use mostly canned goods off the shelf at Kroger.  My current favorite is a "Southwestern" style Gumbo that starts with a Base of a can of  Progresso Soutwestern Black Bean & Vegetable soup.  I usually can pick these up ON SALE for between $1.50-.1.75, current regular retail price is $2.15 up here though.

To me though, the soup by itself doesn't have enough Black Beans or Corn Kernels.  So I add to it a can of generic black beans and a can of generic sweet corn kernels.  $.80 each here for these cans, again ON SALE.

Then I take about 1/4 cup of rice and steam it, and add the steamed rice into the gumbo for the carb component.  No more than $.50 worth of rice here.  Then I dice up some fresh green peppers and onion, not too much maybe another $.50 worth, sautee until soft and carmelized, and dump that in the Southwest Gumbo.  Meat component is the Sausage, which after cooling from the grill I slice into thin disks that come in around 20 in number from a single sausage link.  Each disk fits nicely into one soup spoon dip into the Gumbo.  Finally I splash in some Habanero Pepper Hot Sauce which usually comes in around $3/bottle, but one bottle lasts months even unrefrigerated. $.10 for the seasoning here.

So total cost for this 1 person Gumbo is ~$5-6, and it usually lasts me 2-3 days.  So call it $2/day for this component of my daily sustenance.  The Egg/Cheese/Meat/Bread Breakfast comes in around $1.  Together, this is usually enough food for me in a day.  Days when I eat spaghetti, or leave out the fresh veggies I can get the feeding cost lower than that, and it's still pretty tasty eating.  If you can qualify for a SNAP Card, use Food Pantries and still have a place to do your cooking, at this point here in the FSoA you should not be going hungry yet, and neither should your kids if you have some.  Watch your food budget carefully, buy ON SALE foods of good general quality, balance your meals with protein, fat, carbs and roughage.  You should have enough left over at the end of the month to buy some Multi-Vitamins too, which should be added in because so many of the canned foods and even fresh GMO veggies are rather devoid of vitamins these days

Good eating, on the cheap, here on the SNAP Card Gourmet. 🙂

Living the American Dream is a Nightmare

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In Plato’s little-recognized prediction of the Age of Television, slaves chained to their couches watch reflections of events, while philosophers struggle up to the sunlight to see what’s really going on.

In Plato’s little-recognized prediction of the Age of Television, slaves chained to their couches watch reflections of events, while philosophers struggle up to the sunlight to see what’s really going on.

First published at The Daily Impact  January 12, 2014

 

Plato asked us to imagine a group of people chained to a wall in a cave in such a way that they could not see what was going on around them, only reflections cast on the cave wall opposite them by firelight. He invited us to consider how skewed the prisoners’ understanding of the world would become over time, and to value the contributions of philosophers who go out into the sunlight and see things as they really are. It’s easy for us Americans of 2015 to grasp the first part of his allegory, because it’s a perfect description of us watching TV (remarkable that he nailed that prediction 2,000 years ago, don’t you think?). It’s the second part that mystifies: what would a philosopher, stumbling out of the cave of shadows on the wall, make of our realities?

The shadows on the cave wall are dancing in eternal, unrelieved, twitching ecstasy: gas prices are down, the government-calculated unemployment rate is down, job creation is up, the stock market is setting altitude records, and because of the happiness of the shadows on the wall, the prisoners chained to the wall are feeling better about their futures than ever.

So, prisoners. What’s really out there? The philosopher has returned from a brief sojourn, wherein he found that the American Dream has become a nightmare.

  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics — the agency responsible for the “good news” that America has created 605,000 low-paying jobs in the last two months, reported at the same time that the total number of American employed was in December only 182,000 more than the October total. So where are the other 423,000 jobs that were “created?” Shadows on the wall.
  • Also note that in December alone, 451,000 people left the labor market — they joined the 93 million adult Americans who have given up and stopped looking for work (and thus are not counted when the “unemployment rate” is calculated). Quick, another chorus of “Happy Days are Here Again.”
  • Since the last time America was doing okay, 2007, we have added 16 million people to our adult population, and we have subtracted 2 million full-time jobs. Thus we have a situation that (to hear the shadows on the wall tell it) has improved every year for seven years but is now worse than it was seven years ago.
  • Two recent surveys have found that well over half of adult Americans have no savings – none — and do not have enough cash in their possession to cover a sudden expense ($400 in one survey, $1,000 in the other).
  • In contrast to the shadow land where there is no inflation , the philosopher finds that real Americans are struggling with an inflation rate for food of more that 20%. Ground beef has just hit a national average price of $3.88 per pound, an all-time record high. But food prices are not included in the government’s calculation of the rate of inflation. More than 50 million American households — not people,  households full of people – last year experienced what is politely referred to as “food insecurity”. That’s the term the shadows use, out in the sunlight we call it “hunger.”
  • 46 million Americans are on food stamps, 20 million more than were enrolled in 2007, before the Great Recession started. And in nearly three-quarters of large American cities, requests for emergency food aid were up sharply in 2014 and are expected to skyrocket in 2015.

So out here in the sunlight, we see rising hunger, poverty, unemployment, sea levels, desertification and collapsing energy and stock markets. Who can blame us for preferring the cave, where at least somebody sees to it that the fire is kept burning?

 

***

 

Thomas Lewis is a nationally recognized and reviewed author of six books, a broadcaster, public speaker and advocate of sustainable living. He also is Editor of The Daily Impact website, and former artist-in-residence at Frostburg State University. He has written several books about collapse issues, including Brace for Impact and Tribulation. Learn more about them here.

 

 

A Homeless Thanksgiving

Off the keyboard of RE

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on November 27, 2014

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FoodDonationsFrom the title you might have suspected that I headed over to one of the “Thanksgiving Blessings” that several Churches and Senior Centers do around here, which actually we have been helping to supply from the Food Pantry I volunteer at.  We rounded up 100 cans of Cranberry Sauce for one of these Blessings.

Twice a year, at Thanksgiving and Christmas, these large scale “traditional meal” extravaganzas are held to make sure even homeless people can share in the great Food Bounty of Industrial Agriculture.  The rest of the year, as a Homeless person you are basically SOL, because there are like ZERO Soup Kitchens that operate year round.

http://photos.dailycamera.com/News/Annual-Thanksgiving-dinner-at/i-xksSZf7/0/M/1120DINNER5-M.jpgThe Thanksgiving Blessings around here also mostly don’t serve real Homeless People, as there are very few of them.  They mostly serve the population of Octogenarians and up who either did not have families of their own, or whose sons and daughters moved on elsewhere and don’t fly them in to wherever they now live for Turkey Day.  If they still can take care of themselves on their SS and Pensions, they live in usually dilapidated houses, and then eventually they end up in Nursing Homes of varying quality depending on what kind of monthly income they still have.  The population of elderly people with no children who care about them is quite large actually.

“86% of Americans aged 45 or older have had children, and nine in 10 of these say they would have children if they had to “do it over again.” Of the 14% of Americans aged 45 and older who do not have children, 50% say that if they had to do it over again, they would have at least one child.”

14% never had children at all, then of the ones that did, if they are in their 80s they may have actually outlived any children they did have.  With the Mobile culture we developed, families did not stay together in any event, and my best guess is for people 80 years and older now, at least 25% of them have nobody who even visits them in the Nursing Home, much less invites them for Thanksgiving Dinner.

I remember in this case my mom’s oldest sister, my Aunt Ruth.  She was 20 years older than my mom, one of those scenarios of the long fertility time from 15 to 50 for women which can have some pretty wide spreads in siblings.  When mom was in her 60s, Ruth was in her 80s and in a Nursing Home.  She went to visit with her maybe every other week or so.  Ruth did have children, and they actually lived in the same general neighborhood, but you know how BUSY everyone is of course.  Maybe she got a few visits a month.  You can see the reality of this simply by visiting a Nursing Home, which I do periodically but not this Thanksgiving.  Its very depressing overall to do this, and a good reason to hope you go out quick at some point rather than last a long time this way.

So, rather than attend one of these Dinners, with the Buffet Table of the usual Turkey, Stuffing, Cranberry Sauce and Sweet Potatoes, I though I might examine today how a real Homeless person can feed himself or herself, both most of the year as well as on Thanksgiving.  Also, I am still going to do this on the SNAP Card Budget, and keep the Daily Expense down to $5/day.

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-It0-vR16wYc/UXbNTU_aboI/AAAAAAAABx0/jsaO96_fbTQ/s1600/bag+lady.PNGThe completely destitute Street Person Bag Lady type of Homeless person who pushes all her meager belongings around in a Shopping Cart has VERY limited ability to either acquire food or cook it, I often wonder how these folks survive at all.  Mostly by dumpster Diving I suspect.  Leaving your cart of stuff to go into a Food Emporium to shop risks having it stolen, or more likely trashed.  So you would have to hide it somewhere.  Said Bag Lady also probably does not have a Camp Stove in her cart, so the only cooking means would be to drop in a Convenience store and use the Microwave, or make a Fire Hobo style, but finding fuel to burn and a place to do it in the city where you won’t be accosted by the police also very hard.

Besides this is the problem of Food Storage.  As a Homeless person of this type, you have no ability to buy in bulk and store food, and no refrigeration to store your Leftovers.  As mentioned in prior SNAP Card Gourmet episodes on this topic, for the single person both buying in bulk and eating leftovers are a big part of keeping your costs down.

So, in this thought experiment, my homeless person is not a completely destitute Street Person.  He used to work up here in Alaska on the Slope as an Ice Road Trucker, and for many years made a good living.  He used his savings to go into Real Estate development, and did even better for another decade.  However, he was levered up heavily before the crash in 2008, and after the Bankruptcy proceedings were all said and done, he lost all the properties he was planning to develop, plus his house which he had used as collateral for a really choice property on the Matanuska River he was going to build a Hunting & Rafting Resort on.

http://businessbewareshow.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/walmart.jpgAll he was left with in the end was a few hundred dollars in his checking account, his SUV and clothes and his camping gear.  He also has some Medical Problems, he is in his late fifties and not yet eligible for Medicare or Social Security but has Peripheral Artery Disease in his legs which makes walking difficult and a semi-paralyzed right arm.  He is too proud to go for SSDI, and doggedly looks for a job, finally landing a part time Minimum Wage position 20 hours a week as a Greeter at Walmart.  He does apply for SNAP card, and he goes to the Food Pantry he used to volunteer at once a month for a Food Box.

His total income not including the PFD he gets from Alaska Oil every year is around $600/mo gross, less after the taxes are taken out but we’ll call it $600 for simplicity purposes.  He looks around for a place to live, but they all cost more than he makes each month, or right at it, so he elects to live in his SUV, also getting a Storage Unit with 24/7 Access which costs him $80/mo.  He keeps his food, camping gear, clothes etc in the storage unit, and he sleeps in his SUV.  He buys a $50/mo membership at the Alaska Club, where he showers and cleans up every day so that he is presentable for his shift Greeting at Walmart.  He also keeps a Cell Phone with the minimum 1GB 4G Data Plan for $30/mo so he can still receive calls and pick up email on jobs he sends out Resumes for.  He uses Free Wifi most of the time from the Coffee Shop for doing serious Web Surfing, and to run the Free Blog he has on Blogspot and the Free Forum he has on Create-a-Forum along with his You Tube Channel and Soundcloud Channel where he has the Basic Free Accounts and does periodic Podcasts and Vidcasts to chronicle his life as a Homeless Person.

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-CAg8G1mk3vY/UjKpFOnT4MI/AAAAAAAAALk/skIyIG5bMXU/s1600/IMG_0403.JPGIn his SUV he also has wired in a Deep Cycle Marine Battery which mostly charges off the car alternator, but he periodically tops off by charging it while doing Laundry at the Laundromat or while surfing the net at the Coffee shop.  He has a 500W Power Inverter for AC Current which allows him to keep all his Diode Lights and Cell Phone and Laptop charged up all the time.  He also can run his Slow Cooker and DC Cooking Oven off the battery to heat up food.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESHis fixed monthly costs besides running the car are $140.  He spends all his time in the Mat Valley, with Daily Driving around no more than 10 miles/day, mostly less since he also has an Electric Scooter to make grocery trips and trips to the coffee shop on.  Average driving is 200 miles/mo, around 10 gallons @ 20 mpg @ the current price of $3.50/ Gallon for $35.  Insurance costs him another $50/mo, and Registration $10/mo.  Add this to the $140, total fixed costs now @ $235, still well under the $600 he earns at Walmart as a part-time Greeter.

To complete the Picture here before we move on to the COOKING, here is how yesterday went for this Hypothetical Homeless Person (HHP), as he told it to me:

“I woke up yesterday morning parked in an Apartment Complex  in Wasilla.  These are better than the commercial parking lots, the cops don’t cruise them so much.  It was around 25 F last night which is pretty toasty warm in winter here so I just needed my Sleeping Bag good to -30 and did not have to use my DC current blanket or foot warmers. When I woke up I drove over to the convenience store to hit the toilet and brush my teeth and Nuke Up a Breakfast Burrito.  Then I drove over to the Alaska Club and worked some leg therapy exercises for my legs, took a shower and changed clothes.  After that I drove over to the Coffee Shop and did some Web surfing, then over to Walmart for my Greeting shift.  I picked up a can of soup and a can of beans and a can of corn to make a Gumbo with.  I went over to the Storage Unit after my shift and heated up the soup and rice and had a nice dinner.  After that I drove over to the Laundromat and did some writing on the Laptop until just before they closed at 10PM.  I topped off the Big Battery while I was there, because it was supposed to drop down to 15 tonight and I like to run my Foot Warmers all night at 15.  I don’t have to add in the electric sleeping pad until it goes below Zero.   I did some more writing in the SUV before leaving, until about 11, then drove over to another apartment complex and sacked out. I use different parking lots all the time so I don’t get noticed by the residents of the complex.  I woke up this morning early around 6, so headed over to the Coffee Shop to do some web surfing, and found your Blog, the Doomstead Diner!  Maybe we can meet up since we both live around here!”

HHP is not a REAL PERSON of course, he is just a Thought Experiment of who I COULD BE if I fell off the economic cliff for one reason or another.  He is my friend, and he is with me all the time in my head.  There But for Fortune, go you or go I.

Now, obviously HHPs daily activities vary some from Day to Day, but overall it’s not THAT much different than the life I live right now.  Main difference is of course I have a Home and place to cook and store all my stuff, which makes everything WAY easier.  For the added Convenience and Comfort, it costs me around another $1000/mo, by the time you add up the Rent, the Heat & Electricity and the Broadband Internet.  The Psychological difference would be enormous though, having your own space to putter around in and just the overall level of COMFORT makes it much better.  Besides that though, none of the cooking aspects from here on in would be different, so let’s move on now to some daily meals & methods for HHP to eat, as well as his Thanksgiving Dinner, which he elects to do on his own rather than going to a Thanksgiving Blessing and getting depressed hanging with all the rest of the people who are off the cliff.

First we have to examine what Cooking Utensils and methods HHP actually has.

His personal Cooking Artillery consists of a Propane fired Portable Grill,  a Propane fired Camp Stove, a Solar Oven, 12V Oven and Immersion Heater and Electric Slow Cooker.  His Utensils are a couple of Pots, a couple of Pans a Dutch Oven or Roaster and his Hobo Knife set.  He also can access Microwave ovens in Convenience stores.  Everything we prepare will be possible with these tools for cooking.

http://www.portablegrillsreview.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/weber1520.jpghttp://r1.coleman.com/ProductImages/Full/2000004124_500.jpghttp://www.ethicurean.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/image/IMG_1219.JPGhttp://www.globaltrucker.com/images/catalog/category22.jpg

With your Storage Unit, you have a place to store bulk foods, but your Refrigeration capability is limited, although here in Alaska from about November through March it is cold enough all the time you can keep leftovers in a cooler without too much problem. The rest of the year you can buy Bagged Ice @ $2.50/Bag which probably is good for around 2 days most of the time.  However, I would mostly avoid trying to store foods that need to be kept cool.

The main Bulk Foods you keep in the Storage Unit is Rice, Pasta, Flour and Potatoes, aka CARBS.  You can add these to any Canned or microwave food to double or triple calorie content while keeping the cost down and leftovers to a minimum.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESFor the first meal, we will cover the Gumbo that HHP had yesterday. This actually IS a meal that a Bag Lady could do, long as she can get hold of the canned food without having her shopping cart trashed while she buys it anyhow.  Its pretty much all Canned Foods, although you definitely can expand on it easily with a little Rice and leftover meats if you have some. ,  You start with a Can of Progresso Soup, I like to use either the Minestrone or the Black Bean & Vegetable varieties for this, but you can drop in similar things with most of their soup varieties.  By themselves, they are a bit pricey and only come in around 300 calories or so, not enough to fill you up.  Around here most of the time, around $2/Can, but On Sale you find them often around $1.50.  In order to fill them out and make them “heartier” you add a can of beans and can of corn, around 75 cents each.  This adds another 300-400 Calories.  This is probably enough if you had a Breakfast Meal that came in at around 800 calories, but you can add to it by boiling up some Rice also and adding that in, or adding in a Potato you microwave at the convenience store when you drop in there.  Here’s the real complex cooking proceedure for your Canned Soup & Veggie Gumbo  which you basically just need a pot, a can opener and source of heat to cook up.  You could in fact eat it cold if necessary.  Meal Cost without Rice, $3, add 50 cents to double the calorie content with rice.  The Header Video covers this complex cooking technique.  LOL.

I mentioned having a good calorie filled Breakfast here, and one EZ way as mentioned is to just buy a Breakfast Burrito at the conveninece store for $2.50 or so.  Add a Microwave Potato, you are in good shape overall.  However, you can occassionallly do better than this if you got some time, making Steak & Eggs with sauteed peppers and onions, home friees or pancakes or toasting up some leftover bread and melting some cheese and garlic on it.  All this EZ to do with just a grill and Camp Stove.

Stews also very EZ with your Slow Cooker, which you can use together with your Solar Oven, bury with some Hot Rocks in a hole overnight, or just use stored Electric power in your Battery to cook for a few hours.  Combinations of stuff you can throw in the slow cooker are endless of course.

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I picked up this Organic Chicken ON SALE for the Bargain Price of $6.66. What Doomer could resist that BUY for Thanksgiving Dinner?

For Thanksgiving, I am doing a Miniature Version of the Turkey I used to cook when we did the big family Thanksgiving back in the Flushing McHovel, in this case using a smaller Roaster and an Organic Chicken in place of a Big Turkey.  Stuffing it full of Goodies, and filling up the rest of the space with carrots, potatoes, onions etc.  I’ll cook it in the Oven of course burning the NG that flows in here at a pretty cheap price these days, but I could cook it with the other methods if necessary.

However, since this is THANKSGIVING, and you are supposed to have more out on the Table than you could possible eat, I am NOT stopping at the Roast Chicken.  I also picked up a “Flamecraft Ham”, which is Fred Meyer’s ripoff of Honey Baked Hams.  “Possibly the BEST ham you will ever Eat” says the tag line, and they are quite tasty, as are the Honey Baked Hams themselves.  These come in a good deal cheaper though, and I bought a half ham size which will for a single guy besides adding more to eat on Thanksgiving be part of Breakfast for the next week at LEAST.

Besides just making the plate more full though with Goodies to Consume, there is Nostalgia behind my reasons for buying the Flame Craft Ham.  During my Trucking Years, my sister ran the annual Thanksgiving Food Fest, and since I was out in the Truck I couldn’t do too much in terms of cooking, but since I had copious MONEY at the time, I would buy a Honey Baked Ham to add in to our Turkey Day Food Celebrations.  As I recall, they usually cost me around $60 at the time, and there were always leftovers which I took back on the road in the truck to eat for the next week.

http://www.commonsensewithmoney.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Honey-Baked-Ham-Coupons.jpgThe BIG Problem of course with the Homeless Thanksgiving Dinner though is of course the storage of leftovers, since even a small chicken is more than I will eat at one sitting, especially with the potatoes and rest of the stuff for this meal.  Fortunately though, this time of year average temps are around 25, so I can just store the leftovers in a pot left in the cooler.  I can probably work through it all in 3-4 days, making a soup stock and chicken salad out of the leftovers.

Not stopping there either, I ALSO bought a huge thick and juicy Ribeye which I marinated for a few days in a super secret Marinade, which will cook on the Homeless Grill and then I will Thin Slice and serve with Sauteed Mushrooms on my Thanksgiving Platter.  It will probably take me all day to work my way through eating this plate, and OBVIOUSLY if I was really HOMELESS I would never do this.  Too many Leftovers to store up.  In fact any ONE of the meat dishes, the Chicken, the Ham and the Steak are good for at LEAST 4-5 days of Leftovers, so I will be eating this stuff well into December to consume it all.

As has been noted by Surly in some of the previous SNAP articles, this is strictly a First Worlder problem, even a relatively poor HHP First Worlder.  On a very limited budget by First World Standards, if I harbor my money carefully I can buy COPIOUS food to eat and rather than starvation the usual bigger problem these days is to limit yourself so you don’t get outrageously FAT.

For the real Kollapsniks here, you’ll find all sorts of reasons why this paradigm won’t work too well in the future. Most obvious one of course is the GAS needed to run your SUV.  However, when we have descended so far you cannot access any gas at say$5/gallon, the whole society would be in a world of shit, not just the HHP living in his SUV.  I don’t currently think we will get that low in the next 5 years, though I may be wrong on this estimate.

Also unclear how long Walmart would keep me on as a Greeter since their profits are going south or how long JP Morgan Chase will keep refilling SNAP Cards, so when these supports drop off the map the paradigm ends.  However, so ends at this time ALL semblance of middle class living too, even if you HAVE a domicile you are quite fucked here.  The ONLY difference here is having a domicile to live in, everything else the average Konsumer must have to move around the society.

As it appears at the moment, the meme is for ever increasing impoverishment, with the system still operational to some extent.  I’ll guesstimate that can last another 5-10 years, so for this period, this Homeless Person Paradigm might work.  It depends of course on having a functioning Automobile and available GAS to work.  When this type of Homeless Paradigm does NOT work, just about everyone in Middle Class Amerika is EQUALLY FUCKED.  HHP has reduced his expenses so much here he could probably stand a rise in the price of Gas to $10 or even $15/gallon and still maintain his SUV Sleeping Quarters.  Most remaining Middle Class Amerikans could not withstand such a price increase in gas.

When the Gas becomes either completely unavailable OR outrageously expensive, even people who still HAVE domiciles in suburbia will generally be forced to either abandon them or to live without heat, electricity etc.  The whole system just will not run if/when the prices run up that far, and at the moment it does not look like they will, but rather go in the opposite direction, while more unconventional oil fields are shut in, and more people drift off this economy one way or the other.

In the best case scenario, during this devolution off the Industrial system, localities will develop their own economic system.  Making the Changeover is the next great CHALLENGE we face, and to negotiate it successfully we must all work together in our local communities, right after we hang all the Banksters and Frackers who got us into this mess.  As one of my Tag Lines goes, “The Meek Shall Inherit the Earth. Right AFTER the Meek get very, VERY Angry.”

To close this Thanksgiving Food Extravaganza, a few thoughts.

First, although I can do a Thought Experiment on how it might be for me if I were to fall off the cliff economically, there is no way to really know how it is until you are THERE.  I’m not REALLY Homeless, and I’m not REALLY limited to a SNAP Card Food Budget either.  I also have Savings that insulates me from DISASTER.  What happens in HHPs life if the tranny on his car gives out, and it costs $2000 to fix it?  Even if he HAS the $2K to fix it, he is without his sleeping quarters for a week or two while it is in the shop.  What does he do if that happens in Mid-Winter and it is 30 Below outside?

Second and even more affecting to me is that while I have this cornucopia of food to cook up on my porch and I can make an intellectual assesment of how it is possible to feed yourself on a limited budget, I know for a FACT that in reality there are many children out there going HUNGRY tonight, maybe not too many in the FoA, but globally in the millions easily.  There is no good reason for this right now, since at the moment there is plenty to feed even the 7B human Souls walking the Earth.  Right now, it is just a distribution and economic issue, not a supply issue.

It is also plain stupid that there are any Homeless People AT ALL in the FSoA, because there are simply TONS of foreclosed on and abandoned properties these folks could make into viable shelters, but the LAW prevents them from doing so.  Besides the empty McMansions, there is empty land everywhere people could set up Tents on, but if you do it the Gestapo comes and sweeps them away.  You MUST pay into the Rentier economy to have a place to live!

We have to let this stupid sort of Economy GO!  It’s not working now, and really it has NEVER worked, it impoverishes most people while making a few rich beyond measure.  It is WRONG.

I will leave you this Thanksgiving with a Hans Christian Andersen story, The Little Match Girl.  She is coming back here now, and only YOU can keep her Warm, if it is in your Heart to do so.

http://www.catherineshafer.com/images/martch_girl_1_.jpgMost terribly cold it was; it snowed, and was nearly quite dark, and evening– the last evening of the year. In this cold and darkness there went along the street a poor little girl, bareheaded, and with naked feet. When she left home she had slippers on, it is true; but what was the good of that? They were very large slippers, which her mother had hitherto worn; so large were they; and the poor little thing lost them as she scuffled away across the street, because of two carriages that rolled by dreadfully fast.One slipper was nowhere to be found; the other had been laid hold of by an urchin, and off he ran with it; he thought it would do capitally for a cradle when he some day or other should have children himself. So the little maiden walked on with her tiny naked feet, that were quite red and blue from cold. She carried a quantity of matches in an old apron, and she held a bundle of them in her hand. Nobody had bought anything of her the whole livelong day; no one had given her a single farthing.She crept along trembling with cold and hunger–a very picture of sorrow, the poor little thing!The flakes of snow covered her long fair hair, which fell in beautiful curls around her neck; but of that, of course, she never once now thought. From all the windows the candles were gleaming, and it smelt so deliciously of roast goose, for you know it was New Year’s Eve; yes, of that she thought.

In a corner formed by two houses, of which one advanced more than the other, she seated herself down and cowered together. Her little feet she had drawn close up to her, but she grew colder and colder, and to go home she did not venture, for she had not sold any matches and could not bring a farthing of money: from her father she would certainly get blows, and at home it was cold too, for above her she had only the roof, through which the wind whistled, even though the largest cracks were stopped up with straw and rags.

Her little hands were almost numbed with cold. Oh! a match might afford her a world of comfort, if she only dared take a single one out of the bundle, draw it against the wall, and warm her fingers by it. She drew one out. “Rischt!” how it blazed, how it burnt! It was a warm, bright flame, like a candle, as she held her hands over it: it was a wonderful light. It seemed really to the little maiden as though she were sitting before a large iron stove, with burnished brass feet and a brass ornament at top. The fire burned with such blessed influence; it warmed so delightfully. The little girl had already stretched out her feet to warm them too; but–the small flame went out, the stove vanished: she had only the remains of the burnt-out match in her hand.

She rubbed another against the wall: it burned brightly, and where the light fell on the wall, there the wall became transparent like a veil, so that she could see into the room. On the table was spread a snow-white tablecloth; upon it was a splendid porcelain service, and the roast goose was steaming famously with its stuffing of apple and dried plums. And what was still more capital to behold was, the goose hopped down from the dish, reeled about on the floor with knife and fork in its breast, till it came up to the poor little girl; when–the match went out and nothing but the thick, cold, damp wall was left behind. She lighted another match. Now there she was sitting under the most magnificent Christmas tree: it was still larger, and more decorated than the one which she had seen through the glass door in the rich merchant’s house.

Thousands of lights were burning on the green branches, and gaily-colored pictures, such as she had seen in the shop-windows, looked down upon her. The little maiden stretched out her hands towards them when–the match went out. The lights of the Christmas tree rose higher and higher, she saw them now as stars in heaven; one fell down and formed a long trail of fire.

“Someone is just dead!” said the little girl; for her old grandmother, the only person who had loved her, and who was now no more, had told her, that when a star falls, a soul ascends to God.

She drew another match against the wall: it was again light, and in the lustre there stood the old grandmother, so bright and radiant, so mild, and with such an expression of love.

“Grandmother!” cried the little one. “Oh, take me with you! You go away when the match burns out; you vanish like the warm stove, like the delicious roast goose, and like the magnificent Christmas tree!” And she rubbed the whole bundle of matches quickly against the wall, for she wanted to be quite sure of keeping her grandmother near her. And the matches gave such a brilliant light that it was brighter than at noon-day: never formerly had the grandmother been so beautiful and so tall. She took the little maiden, on her arm, and both flew in brightness and in joy so high, so very high, and then above was neither cold, nor hunger, nor anxiety–they were with God.

But in the corner, at the cold hour of dawn, sat the poor girl, with rosy cheeks and with a smiling mouth, leaning against the wall–frozen to death on the last evening of the old year. Stiff and stark sat the child there with her matches, of which one bundle had been burnt. “She wanted to warm herself,” people said. No one had the slightest suspicion of what beautiful things she had seen; no one even dreamed of the splendor in which, with her grandmother she had entered on the joys of a new year.

RE

The SNAP Card Gourmet: 002

Off the keyboard & camera of RE

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on November 9, 2014

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kuroda-laughingIn this week where the Japanese have gone FULL RETARD in their Monetary Policy and Vlad the Impaler gave a Speech which actually made some political sense, making our local Politicians look like the hacks they are, it’s tempting to use my Sunday Brunch space once again to look at the Big Picture, but I also want to follow up on my first SNAP Card Gourmet episode and get rolling on the great experiment of eating on a SNAP Card budget.  So for a while here, the Sunday Brunch offering on the Diner will be all Food Related, and I’ll save ranting and analyzing the ongoing Geopolitical and Economic Clusterfuck for other dishes served up during the week.

Getting rolling on the SNAP Card Budget isn’t easy, particularly for the individual.  It’s a bit easier for a family, because you can buy more Bulk purchases, which drive down the cost quite a bit.

Eggs are an EZ example here.  If I buy eggs by the Dozen (about as much as I will usually eat of eggs in a week), around here they come in around $3/Dozen right now.  However, if I buy 5 Dozen, I get them for $2/Dozen, a HUGE 50% savings! The same is true for a 5lb bag of Potatoes vs a 20lb bag, etc. So you want to buy in bulk as much as possible, especially for Staples that have a long Shelf Life.

In order to get started on this as an Individual, my first week I am going to focus on buying Staples in medium bulk, which will insure I won’t go the least bit hungry the first couple of weeks, but it will be a mighty limited Diet overall, eating pretty close to the same damn things every day which gets very boring.  Boring is not the only problem though, you don’t want to eat the same stuff every day because to capture all the vitamins you need, variety is important.  However, for 2 weeks you can eat the same stuff over and over again and not die from Scurvy or some other vitamin deficiency. The important Criteria for Week 1-2 is to have plenty of food for the period, keep the price down below $25  to save for better foods and more variety, and begin some storage of longer lasting foods to improve variety as time goes by.

DAY 1: JP Morgan Chase just dropped $140 on my Newly Issued SNAP Card!  I recently lost my job as a NASA Engineer after they shut down our SETI program.  I have applied for a job with Richard Branson at Virgin Galactic to develop Space Tourism for the 1%, but haven’t heard anything yet on my Resume.  At least I can EAT this month though! Thank you Jamie Dimon!

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My Future Job with Virgin Galactic

Until Richard gets back to me, my Food Purchases for the next 2 weeks are…

5 Dozen Eggs- $10

5 lbs Alaska Potatoes- $6

2  Green Peppers- $2

2 lbs Onions- $2

4 Heads Garlic- $2

2 lbs Spaghetti- $4

2 lbs Rice- $3

1 pckg Breakfast Sausages (14)- $2.25

2 Jars Spaghetti Sauce: $2.50

1 pckg Hot Sausage: $6

1 lb Ground Beef $5

1 Container Italian breadcrumbs- $2

2 Pkgs Bear Creek Chili- $6

For the next 2 weeks, I will be eating 2 meals a day, a Breakfast with Eggs, Meat, Potatoes & Onions, and Dinner of Spaghetti with Meatballs and Sausage or Chili with Rice.  The only real variety will be in how I prepare the Breakfasts, it is going to be very boring 2 weeks of eating.  However, it is only costing me $52 out of a $70 Budget, and I should have plenty of Potatoes and Eggs left at least, and possibly other leftovers as well.  So $18 will be conserved in this initial period.

If hungry between the Breakfast and Dinner, I will simply eat a couple more eggs or some leftover Spaghetti.

So now, let’s have some COOKING FUN with this simple set of ingredients!  I’ll start with the eggs, since there are a lot of ways to prepare them and even if you don’t have a lot of variety here in ingredients, at least you can make things different from day to day with some different preparations.

 photo PICT0600_zpsed9e854f.jpgMy personal favorite for the Morning Breakfast is very traditional, 2 Eggs Over Easy, Breakfast Meat of some type and Hash Browns.  If you can’t get hold of breakfast sausage, you could always substitute Squirrel or Earthworms for Breakfast Meat of course. For the Hash Browns, you use leftover Baked or Boiled potatoes usually, but you can also just Nuke a Potato in the microwave and then throw it on the skillet with some onions, garlic and peppers. Usually to have some potatoes available for hash browns,  I let the potatoes and garlic slow cook for 3 hours along with a couple of soy sauce packages and a ketchup package all scarfed up for free and in the larder here.  I’m not using any of my preps I BOUGHT, but I will use freebies I have collected at the beginning to add some flavor to this stuff until I can afford some decent spices.

I like Over Easy because you can thicken up the Yolk to make it like a nice Sauce if you don’t break the yolk in the cooking, which of course is something of a challenge depending on your cooking utensils.  When I first started cooking Over Easy Eggs, I would drop both in the pan, cook over medium flame until the egg white firmed up, then split them with the spatula and flip each half individually.  Here is a demonstration of this basic method, which is very Low Class overall as cooking technique goes.  lol.

After a few months of making my own breakfasts though when I was a kid, I decided I should get COOL and flip both eggs in the pan without a Spatula like I saw the Pros doing on TV.  Needless to say, I messed up numerous times doing this, and even now it is still a bit of a challenge to catch the eggs just right so the yolks don’t break on you when you do it.  However, if you really want to impress your girlfriend with how good a cook you are, if you pull this off flawlessly its just about as good for getting laid as playing the Electric Guitar. LOL. Thank God I am Left Handed, because with my now Semi-Paralyzed Right Arm, I couldn’t flip an egg with that one to save my life, and impressing Babes with cooking technique is the least of my concerns these days. LOL.

Obviously, there are many other ways to prepare your eggs, scrambled, omelletes, soft or hard boiled etc, but right now I’m limited on both type and amount of ingredients inside the SNAP budget, so you can’t do too much here.  I’m looking forward to buying some Cheese, but I want to buy in bulk for this so I am saving up for it.  In next week’s episode, I will have some more interesting egg breakfast preparations than just Eggs Over EZ.

The two main Lunch/Dinner meals are equally simple and basic, though with the Spaghetti and Meatballs/Sausage there are a couple of tricks to extend out your limited meat supply.  I’m taking 2/3 of the 1 lb of ground beef to make Meatballs, and the other 1/3 I will brown with onions and garlic to go in the Chili.

To extend the number of Meatballs I can make from 2/3rds of a pound, I smush in 2 raw eggs and some seasoned breadcrumbs, about 1/2 a cup.  This also makes the meatballs more flavorful and they have a nicer texture.  The first order of bizness is to brown all the meat in a skillet, and then drain off and conserve the fat.  Here’s that proceedure:

After you have browned and drained the fat off the meat, set it aside and then saute up whatever veggies you have to put in to the Sauce and Chili.  Veggies up here are fairly pricey, although I often get them free from friends who do gardening.  However, since many SNAP card recipients don’t have access to fresh veggies friends grow, I am not going to use those in the accounting here and just stick to what I can afford on the SNAP card budget.

Once the meat and veggies have been initially prepared, all that is left to do is throw everything into the slow cooker and let simmer around 3-4 hours.  If you do have some spices in the larder, add your favorites here!  Oregano, or Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme!

Just one Word here…PLASTICS!

Once you have your Spaghetti Sauce and Chili cooked up, you transfer it to a container and drop it in the fridge.  Each day all you cook up the rest of the week is some Rice or Spaghetti, ladle out a helping into a small pot to heat it up and then pour it over the carbs.  Alternatively, you can cook all the spaghetti and rice at once also, and then make portions for each day in Microwaveable containers.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThis gets us through Week 1 & 2, and there should be leftovers of some things at the end of the 2 weeks, we’ll see how much.  In Week 3, I’ll buy some more bulk goods and try to stay under $30.  With the $52 spent in weeks 1&2, that is total $82, leaving me around $58 to finish out the month with.  I should be able to put together some nicer meals in Week 4 with the savings.  What they might be depends very much on what I see On Sale in my visits to the Food Emporiums, so I can’t predict at this point.

https://s.yimg.com/ea/img/-/100127/homeless-family-400x300-15m069s.jpgOne final note as far as Doom is concerned.  Obviously, this paradigm assumes a kind of Bizness as Usual, with food available at markets and money that functions to buy it.  I am NOT here developing cuisine and recipes to live on if you cannot get hold of any food at all this way.  The objective here is to simply see how little you can spend each week on food in the BAU paradigm currently operating to help keep your overall expenses down.  it is also applicable only in 1st World countries, much of the stuff you might currently still buy simply is not available in 3rd World countries.

There are many other things you want to do to reduce total expenses also, such as moving into smaller living spaces, carpooling with friends and neighbors and limiting and consolidating trips you take that require Gasoline to accomplish.

Probably the most important way to reduce expenses is to get together with others and pool resources, such as moving in with friends or relatives, or creating buying cooperatives amongst people who live separately.

My current goal with this project is to see if I can reduce my total monthly expenses to what a Minimum Wage worker earns each month, around $1200, for a yearly income gross around $14,400.  Hopefully I can get under that so I can have Savings besides.  I will be including my monthly communications bill in this total, for my phone and internet connection, because really it is not possible to live in this economy without these things and have a semi-normal existence.  Without good communications connections, if you are a laid off IT worker for instance from NASA SETI, you can’t post your Resume on the net or have a cell phone for Richard Branson to call you at.  These are basics in the society we live in now, if you fall so far off the cliff you lose access to this, your downhill spin to homelessness will be very rapid.

As you can see from the Videos & Pics, my package of ground beef made 9 Meatballs, and I divided the sausages into 3 parts each, for a total of 15 sausage sections.  Total of 24 Meat servings, which I divided into 3 pieces each serving.  Each meal comes in around 1000 calories, and the breakfasts similarly at 1000 calories for 2000 calories/day.  Both meals are very filling, and more than I really need, so actually I end up with some leftovers.

http://www.lousfoods.com/wp-content/uploads/0076026300029_500X500.jpgThe other main Dinner meal for the 2 week initial period is very EZ, and is good for storage too, the Bear Creek Chili is dried food requiring no refrigeration.  I ended up just using one of the packages, so the other package will be used next week and reduce my expenses for week 3.  All you do to prepare this is add water to the mix and throw it in the slow cooker, brown the remaining ground beef in a skillet with onions and garlic and add that to the mixture with a can of tomato paste, then ladle it over rice to serve.  Hopefully you know how to make rice.  You boil it or steam it.  Duh.  Make as much as you need to fill out your calorie requirement for the day.

With my leftovers, all I am going to buy for next week is some stew meat $6, a large block of cheddar cheese $7 so I can make cheese omelletes, baked potatoes with cheese etc, butter $4 sour cream $2.50, flour $2.50 and cooking oil $2.  $24 total.  Together with the $52 from the first 2 weeks, that is $76, leaving me $64 to finish out the month.  I will make my first “gourmet” meal during this week, and buy more staples to fill out the larder and make more variety possible in month 2.

It is worthwhile to note this is much harder to get going for a single person than for 2 people living together.  You can get to more variety quicker with 2 people.  Also worth noting is that you can supplement a lot from Food Pantries if you qualify, but in the first month I am not considering that part of it.  Since I do not qualify for food pantry assistance in reality, I can’t get one of these boxes of food, but I know what goes in them since I volunteer at a Food Pantry.  So next month I will also buy what goes in a Pantry Box but not include what I spend on it in the food budget.

In SNAP Card Gourmet 003 next week, we will make a simple Stew and Cheese Omelettes, and maybe a Surprise Meal as well.  See you then!

RE

The SNAP Card Gourmet 001

Off the keyboard of RE

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on October 31, 2014SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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A while back I wrote an article called The Starvin’ Diner Cookbook, which I intended on becoming a series with Recipes for meals you can cook up on the cheap, but it’s one of those ideas that got lost with all the rest of the stuff going on in Doom, along with all the other projects we are always undertaking on the Diner to get the message out about the Collapse of Industrial Civilization, Podcasts, Vidcasts, yadda yadda.  These days, just Blogging Text doesn’t reach enough people, because they simply do not READ.  You have to use the whole panoply of media to capture an audience.

However, I recently moved to New Digs, and took the opportunity last weekend to do some Home Cookin’, which I rarely do anymore since it is much easier to just buy prepared foods or microwaveables, and I’m not really on a SNAP Card budget, although I don’t usually spend too much more than the SNAP allotment each week on food anyhow.

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With some 47 Million People in the FSoA now living on a SNAP Card budget, developing good recipes with the current food available that you can access either low priced at Food Superstores or sometimes free at Food Pantries is very important.  So over the next few months, I will be keeping my Food Purchases under the typical SNAP Card allotment for the individual of around $140/mo, $35/wk or for simplicity sake here $5/day.  File this under the idea that even if you are currently flush, it’s a decent idea to learn how to live CHEAP BEFORE you actually are faced down with the challenge for real.  Not the $2/day many folks in the 3rd World live on, but the economy here is different and making it on $5/day in food is something of a challenge in the FSoA.

FoodDonationsIn order to be better connected to the people who actually are currently in this situation and to become more active Locally, I have begun Volunteering at one of the local Food Pantries that serve the folks around here who have already fallen off the Economic Cliff, people for whom Collapse is  not a “Someday it Might Come” thing anymore, Collapse is already here for them.  I hope over time to be able to develop connections between my friends who own Local Farms and who are Commercial Fishermen and the folks already off the cliff or soon to be in need of sustenance to develop a comprehensive food distribution system ready to drop in place when JIT shipping and the Dollar fail.  I am in a unique position to do this for many reasons, and it is probably the most “real” way I can be of service, beyond writing on the Internet.  While I still believe it is important to try and work on the Grand Scale of the Global Internet and Blog the Collapse, I also realize that most solutions will need to be local, so ya can’t just Blog on this stuff, you gotta do something in your neighborhood too.

I decided to change the name of the Series from “The Starvin’ Diner Cookbook” to “The SNAP Card Gourmet” for a few reasons.  One is to highlight how large a segment of the population is already in the situation of needing Food Security Assistance here in the FSoA.  The other reason is it is an Homage to my favorite TV Chef from my youth, Graham Kerr, The Galloping GourmetWAY better than Julia Child! 😀

If you watched about the first 2 minutes of this, you should be able to tell Graham generally did his Cooking Show 3 Sheets to the Wind, and often enough would consume an entire bottle of wine in recording the show.  LOL.  He had a ton of fun doing Galloping Gourmet, and it was hilarious because it was all impromptu.  I’ll be trying to do my Doomstead Diner Cooking Show in the same tradition. 🙂

I’m not going to try recording 20 minute shows yet, this biz will take some practice.  However, I will include a few clips along with the recipes and an accounting of the costs and cooking means, which I am going to adapt for Doom.

For this Week’s Episode, the two Dishes are Grilled Peppered Steak RE and Slow Cooked Baby Back Ribs & Alaska Veggies RE.

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Now the first thing you are probably going to say is “RE!  There is NO WAY you could afford to make meals like this on $5/Day!  That Steak BY ITSELF cost $23!!!!”

http://www.scuffproductions.com/scuff/wp-content/uploads/2007/10/mban490l.jpgYou would be right also, if you tried to eat this stuff EVERY day, and if you consumed all of it in one day at a single sitting like the typical patron of an All You Can Eat Buffet like Golden Corral.  You also can’t buy such stuff the FIRST week you start eating on a SNAP Card budget, you have to work your way into it by eating cheaper than $5/day for a couple of weeks, then use the savings to start buying some Premium Foods to sprinkle into your diet later.  I’ll demonstrate how to do this in succeeding episodes of The SNAP Card Gourmet, here on the Doomstead Diner.

Let’s begin here with the Pepper encrusted USDA Prime Ribeye, which is a very typical BBQ preparation utilizing a Dry Rub, a little BBQ Sauce, a couple of days marinating and about 20 minutes on the Grill.

The reason the price comes in so high here for this piece of beef is that it is USDA Prime, which generally you only get in Fine Dining Restaurants that serve the 1%, or in Gourmet Markets serving the same crowd.  However, here on the Last Great Frontier, at 3 Bears Food Warehouse, they occasionally get USDA Prime in their huge meat section, and this one looked so perfectly marbled and the right thickness for a good grilling I just HAD to buy it in Celebration of my move to the new Digs, which I chronicled recently in The Great Moving Adventure I & II.

Here is what the Steak looked like after a couple of days of marinating, but before being seared on the portable propane fired BBQ.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESOriginally I was going to go the full 9 yards with this and fire it up on a traditional Charcoal BBQ with a soaked Hickory Plank, but I got lazy and besides I have so many canisters of Propane in my preps I might as well use them.  Overall the improvement in flavor doing it this way is marginal, and it’s a pain in the ass so I just screwed in a canister and AWAY we go!

As you can see, this piece of beef is Picture Perfect with just the right amount of Fat Marbling, which is what gets it that USDA Prime designation.  If you scope out the Meat racks regularly though, you can often find USDA Choice cuts that are just about as nice, at about half the price of Prime.  I just about always buy Choice cuts for the BBQ, this was just a Special Celebration so I splurged on the Prime Beef.  NEVER buy Select Cuts for the BBQ, unless you really like chewing a lot.  Select is only good for the slow cooker.

Far as Spicing it up goes, here you do need to rely on Preps because some stuff like Peppercorns are going to be hard to come by when JIT fails, so you need a good supply of Spices laid in here.  Fortunately, Spices are one of those Preps that last a long time without Refrigeration, and as long as you Vaccuum seal them they will be good for years.  Salt will be good FOREVER.  Your main spices are Salt & Pepper of course, this I am good for 5 years at least.  Garlic after that is pretty easy to grow, and then many other spices like Rosemary, Thyme etc can be grown indoors hydroponically, so you can have a continuing source of those.

http://www.mccormick.com/-/media/McCormick/Categories/Products/GM_Bottles_289x194.ashxNo need for this right now though, I just used some of my copious prep supply of McCormick Old Monterrey Spice, one of my favorite meat spice mixtures.  Basted on a little hickory flavored BBQ sauce and let it sit a couple of days so the flavor penetrates into the meat and doesn’t just sit on the outside surface.

As you can see from the Cooked Picture above, the Ribeye is pretty well Blackened, so you might think it is burnt.  No, this is how I like BBQ meat, it’s called “Pittsburgh Rare“.  Black on the Outside, Still MOOING on the inside.  I came pretty close to perfect on it, just maybe 2-3 minutes longer than I should have had it on the grill to be perfect for me.  If you like a less black outside and pink inside, use a lower flame or move the grill surface higher off the flames.  Here’s the Taste Test of this BBQ:

In terms of Meals out of this Steak, I got 4 of them.  I can’t eat a Steak this size with all that FAT at one sitting anymore, I ate about 1/3rd of it right off the Grill and the rest went into Steak Sandwiches I had for lunch the rest of the week.  You can do all sorts of things to make them their own Gourmet meals, to one I added herb infused Brie I picked up on sale, to another I added some grilled onions and mushrooms, etc.  Still beyond the daily budget of $5, but not by too much, and within it if you buy a more economically priced Choice Cut.

OK, on to Dish #2, Slow Cooked Baby Back Ribs & Alaska Veggies!

As you can see in the background of the Steak Taste Test Vid, there’s a bunch of Batteries, a Slow Cooker, rechargeable Diode Lights and a Power Inverter (converts 12V DC to 120 V AC).  This is my “Battery Corner” with stored Power for short 1-2 Day power outtages, generally coming from weather related phenomena these days, but in the future possibly coming fro Rationed Electricity and Rolling Blackouts.  The main battery storage here on the counter is a 12V Lawn Tractor Battery, and one of the Battery Packs from my EWz Electric Scooter, which runs on 36V but is actually 3 12V deep cycle batteries in series which can be separated to work with a 12V Inverter.  Not necessary for this experiment, the Lawn Tractor Battery was sufficient.  Besides these batteries, I also have a much larger Deep Cycle battery in the Bugout Machine and its starter battery, and of course the starter batteries that are in my 2 Carz, a 1983 Mazda MPV and a 2003 Ford Explorer, and the other 36 Volt battery pack that is aboard the EWz.  Altogether, without recharging this is enough electric juice for a couple of weeks well rationed easily.

Why was a small 12V Lawn Tractor Battery sufficient in this case?  Because Slow Cookers have a VERY low power draw overall, not much more than an incandescent Lightbulb.  You can’t run an 1100 Watt Microwave Oven off a small SLA battery like this, but it will do a Slow Cooker no problemo.

Slow cooking is great for numerous reasons besides the fact it is low power draw.  Overall it retains the Vitamin content of the food better than when you cook rapidly at high heat.  It also blends flavors better, plus the broth you end up with makes fabulous and very nourishing Soup as well.  Besides that, you are by no means limited to doing it off your stored battery power, you can quite easily do the same thing by digging a hole in the back yard, burning some charcoal or wood and heating some rocks, then cover with some dirt, drop the Crock in on top of that and cover up the whole thing with more dirt.  Dig it out after 5 or 6 hours, same result as using the electrics.

http://www.sunoven.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/G-cooking-rice-and-beans3.jpgYet another way to do the same thing is to drop the crock into a Solar Oven.  Even here in Alaska, for most of the year if you do this on a sunny day, if you drop your Crock in the Cooker in at 10AM, the food is ready by 4PM.

The only downside of Slow Cooking is that except for stews and such, it doesn’t present all that well, so in this case with the Slow Cooked Baby Back Ribs, I threw them on the grill for a few minutes after the slow cook to caramalize the sauce and blacken the meat a bit.  This is tricky because the meat is pretty much falling off the bone at this point.  On the upside though, the veggies you cook along with the meat absorb all the flavors, and are as good or better than the meat itself!  They also really fill out the meal with both Calories and Vitamins.

Anyhow, without further ado and explanation here is the Taste Test on the Slow Cooked Baby Back Ribs and Alaska Veggies RE dish:

For those of you wishing to try this dish on your own Doomstead, here’s the Ingredients:

1/2 Slab Baby Back Ribs

1/2 a Large White Onion

4-6 Large Cloves of Garlic

Enough Carrots and Potatoes to fill the rest of the Crock Pot (1.5-2 Quart size)

2 Soy Sauce Packets (I save these so I never buy Soy Sauce)

1/4 Cup Teriyaki Marinade (you can substitute other marinades, whatever you got on the shelf)

1/2 Can of BEER! 🙂 (drink the other half while loading the Crock)

Salt & Pepper to taste

Cooking Instructions

Cut the slab up to size to fit the Crock.

Chop the onion into about 1/2″ size pieces

If the Potatoes are Large, cut to around 2″ cubes.  I use small potatoes though even though they are a little more pricey

Use Baby Carrots or cut the carrots into 2″ long sections

Throw in the whole cloves of Garlic or chop them up, your choice.

Throw everything into the Slow Cooker and go Surf the Net looking for Doom Storiez for 5-6 hours

Fish out everything with a Strainer Spoon, and take the Ribs over to the Grill for about 3 minutes on each side to caramalize.  Do it carefully or the ribs will fall apart and through the grill and you’ll lose some tasty meat.

Conserve the remaining Broth to make Onion Soup with Stale Bread and some Swiss or Gruyere Cheese.  Another meal there.

——————–

Now, as mentioned, you can’t start off on your SNAP Card Budget with these kind of meals, you have to get very BASIC at the beginning.  Your nourishment for the first couple of weeks on the SNAP Card Budget is going to be pretty dull if you don’t have at least a few spices and other basics in the cubbard when Da Goobermint courtesy of JP Morgan Chase issues you your first month’s SNAP Card.  Obviously I have a ton of stuff to perk up meals stored, but for the purposes of demonstration here I won’t use them as we begin this exercise.

Next Week here on the SNAP Card Gourmet, we’ll start with the basics, and work our way up the Culinary Ladder from there.  By the end of the month, I should have enough saved up for at least 2 meals worthy of a $100 Ticket at a 1% Restaurant.  Not sure what I will go for with this yet, first I gotta see what I can conserve and what ingredients I can find on sale over the course of the month.

In the mean time, eat well, enjoy the Plenty while you can.  This is bound to get more difficult as time goes by.

RE

The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on October 5, 2014

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I’ve spent the better part of the last decade Blogging Collapse.  It’s the Gift that Keeps on Giving, not a day or week goes by that something ever more egregious occurs in the Global Theatre, there is NEVER a shortage of Collapse stories to write on or examine.  Right now for example, ongoing we have:

1- Ebola Rising

plague

2- Hong Kong Occupy

04Occupy2RDV-tmagArticle

 

3- Oil Prices Collapsing

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4- ISIS

isis

5- Ruskie Sanctions

http://www.usnews.com/dims4/USNEWS/be1ba1b/2147483647/resize/652x%3E/format/png/quality/85/?url=%2Fcmsmedia%2F09%2Fb4%2Fa84230e14cf9ac0e9054288e46b4%2F20140422edcmc-a.tif

6- CA Drought

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http://www.occidentaldissent.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/snap.pngAnd those are just the relatively new ones!   Fukushima hasn’t stopped Nuke Puking into the Pacific, a few dozen new species go extinct every week and the number of people on SNAP Cards inexorably climbs while the number of people in the workforce inexorably declines.  The Greeks are about to Default (AGAIN!) too.

As a Blogger, you can randomly just pick one of the topics out of a hat and there is something to write about and examine on any given day.  With this explosion of collapse topics, you would think that this would translate to an explosion of Blogs and Bloggers writing about them, but the exact opposite is true.  The longer this goes on, the fewer people who write on them there are, and of those that do, the less often they publish.

Some of the folks I used to read regularly like Nicole Foss (Stoneleigh) of The Automatic Earth almost never publish anything new.  Other folks like George Mobus of Question Everything have turned towards topics of a theoretical nature that interest them, but are only tangentially related to collapse if at all.

Here on the Diner, my fellow Bloggers Lucid Dreams of Epiphany Now and William Hunter Duncan of Off the Grid in Minneapolis just about never publish anymore, concerned more with their own daily lives than the Big Problems of the world.  Jason Heppenstall of 22 Billion Energy Slaves still publishes occassionally, but his Blogs come sporadically, maybe one a month.

Discussion in the commentary of some Blogs and on Forums is settled into a kind of formula for each place and is generally entirely predictable wherever you go, if you have been following collapse for any length of time anyhow.

Why is this?  It’s obviously not due to a shortage of topics, that is for sure.  The most obvious reasons to me are Collapse Overload TM on the part of the readers and commentariat, and Collapse Burnout TM on the part of the Bloggers.  It’s been going on so long now that anyone concerned with these topics has pretty much shot their wad on their own opinions and ideas and has read everything anyone else had to say about it, formed their own opinion on where it is going and what it means, and now is just living their life as best they can in the face of it.

For the most part this means finding or keeping a job and continuing to scratch out a living in the industrial economy.  Only a few people can afford to build their own Doomsteads © and try to become at least partially self-sufficient, and even that idea gets bollixed up by changing climate and precipitation patterns.  Diner Eddie who has a Doomstead © in Texas is quite aware that the progressing drought there makes that place likely unsustainable in the medium to long term.

http://www.wantchinatimes.com/newsphoto/2013-05-06/450/CFP433417743-182026_copy1.jpgBesides Collapse Overload TMCollapse Burnout TM in the long time Cognoscenti of Collapse TM is the more serious problem of Collapse Frustration TM.  For Doomophiles TM,  after years of jawboning Doom & Collapse on the net, the apparent inability to actually DO anything about it or even get the large majority of the population with their noses stuck in their I-Phones to even realize it is occurring leads many Doomers TM to throw up their hands and just give up!  Why bother talking about it or even DOING anything about it, because we are so seriously fucked here nothing makes a difference anyhow!

This is the meme over on Guy McPherson’s Nature Bats Last, where the Batters there have drawn the conclusion that not only are we economically fucked but we are all Doomed to Near Term Human Extinction by the now updated date of 2030.  Definitely, if we are all going to be extinct by 2030, there is not a whole lot of point to be blogging anymore, start working on your Bucket List instead!

The fact so many Bloggers have succumbed to Collapse Overload TMCollapse Burnout TM is actually a benefit for the Doomstead Diner ©, since newbies seeking out information about Collapse have fewer places to surf to on a daily basis these days, which translates to an ever rising Alexa Ranking for the Diner! Doom Surfers like the Diner so much they hang out for an amazing 17 Minutes a Day Time on Site now consuming Doom on the Diner! LOL. Most sites are lucky if they can keep short attention span readers on site for even 3 minutes! I personally battle the CO & CB Demons by sprinkling in some humor with the Doom, if you don’t look at the Lighter Side of Doom TM, you get Gloomy & Depressed and that makes it hard to keep going.

Besides Humor, the other way to battle against the Depressing Side of Doom is to NOT give in to the idea that everything is HOPELESS and there is nothing you can do, particularly if you are FRNs strapped without a lot of money to set up your own Doomstead ©.  There still are many strategies to explore, which is why we created the Non-Profit Sustaining Universal Needs Foundation, at SUN4Living.com.  While a case can be made that Collapse is inevitable and things are not going to be improving as time goes by here, there is still plenty to work out in terms of how to deal with it as it does progress.  I don’t see it as worthwhile to capitulate here as of yet, while the situation looks pretty grim, it is always Darkest Before the Dawn, as the saying goes.  Visit with us on SUN to help workout the logistics of a BETTER TOMORROW TM

In any event, the fact so many folks concerned with Collapse have left the stage or just sing the periodic aria has left a huge GAP in Collapse Analysis on the net, and a GREAT OPPORTUNITY for the Diner!  At the very least, I have got every good Collapse & Doom Term & Slogan either Trademarked or Copyrighted here!  LOL.

The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades.

http://www.cheatcc.com/imagesfeatures/futuresobrightwegottawearshades.jpg

This is not the time to GIVE UP!  So what if the Germans Bombed Pearl Harbor?  Are you going to let a few Dead Phytoplankton get you down?  How many people ever born get to live through the Collapse of their Civilization?  It’s like Winning the LOTTO!  Let’s get out there and grab this opportunity to build a BETTER TOMORROW TM

NOTHING IS OVER UNTIL WE DECIDE IT IS!

http://www.isd547.com/Elem/extras/images/dogreporter.jpgDon’t miss the latest New Feature on the Diner Blog, Knarf’s Knewz!

Knewz Storiez Carefully Curated and Selected from around the Web by a Buddhist Monk filling you in on some of the less  well known Collapse Shenanigans.

Find the latest in Collapse Storiez in Knarf’s Knewz Widget on the Diner Blog!

Classic Rant Series: TSA Follies & Myths of Transportation Security

SNAP to RIOT 3: Bring on the National Guard

Off the microphone of RE

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Aired on the Doomstead Diner on August 19, 2014

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Visit Diner Soundcloud for the full archive of Podcasts and Frostbite Falls Daily Rants.  Visit the Collapse Cafe for Diner Vidcast Interviews and Debates

Coming Soon: An Interview with Dmitry Orlov on the Ukraine Conflict and Resource Depletion

SNAP to RIOT 2 in #ferguson             SNAP to RIOT IN #ferguson

Discuss this Rant at the Podcast Table inside the Diner


Filed Under: Ferguson, Food Stamps, Militarization, Missouri, National Guard, Nixon, Obama, Police State, Poverty, Race War, Riots, St. Louis, Unemployment, Welfare, Death Penalty, Cop Killers

National Guard troops arrive at a mall complex that serves as staging for the police in Ferguson, Missouri.

Protesters face off with police after tear gas was fired at crowds in Ferguson, Missouri, on Sunday night.

Not such a great holiday: President Barack Obama follows through on a swing while golfing on the island of Martha's Vineyard.

Snippet:

…I was intending on moving on tonight to more International Doom, but #ferguson is the Doom Gift that Keeps on Giving.

For the 3rd night in a row with no sign of slowing down, the looting and rioting continue. The livestreams and pics from tonight’s action look like a War Zone, gas and smoke bombs being fired all over the place, and numerous shots fired, though no reports yet of anyone getting hit.

The Obamanista still hasn’t made an appearance there, you would think after a solid week of this shit escalating it might be worthwhile to fly Air Force 1 into Lambert Field and make an appearance. Even George Bush eventually got the GPS coordinates for where Katrina hit and made it to NOLA.

Even as far as making some speeches are concerned, Potus Telepromptus has so far only been given complete pablum to read by his speechwriters, and Goobernator Jay Nixon hasn’t pitched out anything substantive either.

The Gestapo agent who pulled the trigger has disappeared, his house shuttered and dark. Perhaps he is being given a New Identity by the FBI Shooter Relocation Program. Obviously what the community there wants is to see this guy “brought to justice”, which for them would mean conviction for Murder in the 1st Degree followed by a trip to the High Voltage Recliner. Missouri is a state with the Death Penalty of course…

For the rest, LISTEN TO THE RANT!!!

The Fourteen Year Recession

Off the keyboard of Jim Quinn

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Published on The Burning Platform on March 24, 2014

recession-2

Discuss this article at the Economics Table inside the Diner

“When a government is dependent upon bankers for money, they and not the leaders of the government control the situation, since the hand that gives is above the hand that takes. Money has no motherland; financiers are without patriotism and without decency; their sole object is gain.”Napoleon Bonaparte

Click to View

“A great industrial nation is controlled by its system of credit. Our system of credit is privately concentrated. The growth of the nation, therefore, and all our activities are in the hands of a few men … [W]e have come to be one of the worst ruled, one of the most completely controlled and dominated, governments in the civilized world—no longer a government by free opinion, no longer a government by conviction and the vote of the majority, but a government by the opinion and the duress of small groups of dominant men.”Woodrow Wilson

When you ponder the implications of allowing a small group of powerful wealthy unaccountable men to control the currency of a nation over the last one hundred years, you understand why our public education system sucks. You understand why the government created Common Core curriculum teaches children that 3 x 4 = 13, as long as you feel good about your answer. George Carlin was right. The owners of this country (bankers, billionaires, corporate titans, politicians) want more for themselves and less for everyone else. They want an educational system that creates ignorant, obedient, vacuous, obese dullards who question nothing, consume mass quantities of corporate processed fast food, gaze at iGadgets, are easily susceptible to media propaganda and compliant to government regulations and directives. They don’t want highly educated, critical thinking, civil minded, well informed, questioning citizens understanding how badly they have been screwed over the last century. I’m sorry to say, your owners are winning in a landslide.

The government controlled public education system has flourished beyond all expectations of your owners. We’ve become a nation of techno-narcissistic, math challenged, reality TV distracted, welfare entitled, materialistic, gluttonous, indebted consumers of Chinese slave labor produced crap. There are more Americans who know the name of Kanye West and Kim Kardashian’s bastard child (North West) than know the name of our Secretary of State (Ketchup Kerry). Americans can generate a text or tweet with blinding speed but couldn’t give you change from a dollar bill if their life depended upon it. They are whizzes at buying crap on Amazon or Ebay with a credit card, but have never balanced their checkbook or figured out the concept of deferred gratification and saving for the future. While the ignorant masses are worked into a frenzy by the media propaganda machine over gay marriage, diversity, abortion, climate change, and never ending wars on poverty, drugs and terror, our owners use their complete capture of the financial, regulatory, political, judicial and economic systems to pillage the remaining national wealth they haven’t already extracted.

The financial illiteracy of the uneducated lower classes and the willful ignorance of the supposedly highly educated classes has never been more evident than when examining the concept of Federal Reserve created currency debasement – also known as inflation. The insidious central banker created monetary inflation is the cause of all the ills in our warped, deformed, rigged financialized economic system. The outright manipulation and falsity of government reported economic data is designed to obscure the truth and keep the populace unaware of the deception being executed by the owners of this country. They have utilized deceit, falsification, propaganda and outright lies to mislead the public about the true picture of the disastrous financial condition in this country. Since most people are already trapped in the mental state of normalcy bias, it is easy for those in control to reinforce that normalcy bias by manipulating economic data to appear normal and using their media mouthpieces to perpetuate the false storyline of recovery and a return to normalcy.

This is how feckless politicians and government apparatchiks are able to add $2.8 billion per day to the national debt; a central bank owned by Too Big To Trust Wall Street banks has been able to create $3.3 trillion out of thin air and pump it into the veins of its owners; and government controlled agencies report a declining unemployment rate, no inflation and a growing economy, without creating an iota of dissent or skepticism from the public. Americans want to be lied to because it allows them to continue living lives of delusion, where spending more than you make, consuming rather than saving, and believing stock market speculation and home price appreciation will make them rich are viable life strategies. Even though 90% of the population owns virtually no stocks, they are convinced record stock market highs are somehow beneficial to their lives. They actually believe Bernanke/Yellen when they bloviate about the dangers of deflation. Who would want to pay less for gasoline, food, rent, or tuition?

Unless you are beholden to the oligarchs, that sense of stress, discomfort, feeling that all in not well, and disturbing everyday visual observations is part of the cognitive dissonance engulfing the nation. Anyone who opens their eyes and honestly assesses their own financial condition, along with the obvious deterioration of our suburban sprawl retail paradise infrastructure, is confronted with information that is inconsistent with what they hear from their bought off politician leaders, highly compensated Ivy League trained economists, and millionaire talking heads in the corporate legacy media. Most people resolve this inconsistency by ignoring the facts, rejecting the obvious and refusing to use their common sense. To acknowledge the truth would require confronting your own part in this Ponzi debt charade disguised as an economic system. It is easier to believe a big lie than think critically and face up to decades of irrational behavior and reckless conduct.

What’s In Your GDP                          

“The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is one of the broader measures of economic activity and is the most widely followed business indicator reported by the U.S. government. Upward growth biases built into GDP modeling since the early 1980s, however, have rendered this important series nearly worthless as an indicator of economic activity.  The popularly followed number in each release is the seasonally adjusted, annualized quarterly growth rate of real (inflation-adjusted) GDP, where the current-dollar number is deflated by the BEA’s estimates of appropriate price changes. It is important to keep in mind that the lower the inflation rate used in the deflation process, the higher will be the resulting inflation-adjusted GDP growth.”John Williams – Shadowstats

GDP is the economic statistic bankers, politicians and media pundits use to convince the masses the economy is growing and their lives are improving. Therefore, it is the statistic most likely to be manipulated, twisted and engineered in order to portray the storyline required by the oligarchs. Two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth usually marks a recession. Those in power do not like to report recessions, so data “massaging” has been required over the last few decades to generate the required result. Prior to 1991 the government reported the broader GNP, which includes the GDP plus the balance of international flows of interest and dividend payments. Once we became a debtor nation, with massive interest payments to foreigners, reporting GNP became inconvenient. It is not reported because it is approximately $900 billion lower than GDP. The creativity of our keepers knows no bounds. In July of 2013 the government decided they had found a more “accurate” method for measuring GDP and simply retroactively increased GDP by $500 billion out of thin air. It’s amazing how every “more accurate” accounting adjustment improves the reported data. The economic growth didn’t change, but GDP was boosted by 3%. These adjustments pale in comparison to the decades long under-reporting of inflation baked into the GDP calculation.

As John Williams pointed out, GDP is adjusted for inflation. The higher inflation factored into the calculation, the lower reported GDP. The deflator used by the BEA in their GDP calculation is even lower than the already bastardized CPI. According to the BEA, there has only been 32% inflation since the year 2000. They have only found 1.4% inflation in the last year and only 7.1% in the last five years. You’d have to be a zombie from the Walking Dead or an Ivy League economist to believe those lies. Anyone living in the real world knows their cost of living has risen at a far greater rate. According to the government, and unquestioningly reported by the compliant co-conspirators in the the corporate media, GDP has grown from $10 trillion in 2000 to $17 trillion today. Even using the ridiculously low inflation BEA adjustment yields an increase from $12.4 trillion to only $15.9 trillion in real terms. That pitiful 28% growth over the last fourteen years is dramatically overstated, as revealed in the graph below. Using a true rate of inflation exposes the grand fraud being committed by those in power. The country has been in a never ending recession since 2000.

Your normalcy bias is telling you this is impossible. Your government tells you we have only experienced a recession from the third quarter of 2008 through the third quarter of 2009. So despite experiencing two stock market crashes, the greatest housing crash in history, and a worldwide financial system implosion the authorities insist  we’ve had a growing economy 93% of the time over the last fourteen years. That mental anguish you are feeling is the cognitive dissonance of wanting to believe your government, but knowing they are lying. It is a known fact the government, in conspiracy with Greenspan, Congress and academia, have systematically reduced the reported CPI based upon hedonistic quality adjustments, geometric weighting alterations, substitution modifications, and the creation of incomprehensible owner’s equivalent rent calculations. Since the 1700s consumer inflation had been estimated by measuring price changes in a fixed-weight basket of goods, effectively measuring the cost of maintaining a constant standard of living. This began to change in the early 1980s with the Greenspan Commission to “save” Social Security and came to a head with the Boskin Commission in 1995.

Simply stated, the Greenspan/Boskin Commissions’ task was to reduce future Social Security payments to senior citizens by deceitfully reducing CPI and allowing politicians the easy way out. Politicians would lose votes if they ever had to directly address the unsustainability of Social Security. Therefore, they allowed academics to work their magic by understating the CPI and stealing $700 billion from retirees in the ten years ending in 2006. With 10,000 baby boomers per day turning 65 for the next eighteen years, understating CPI will rob them of trillions in payments. This is a cowardly dishonest method of extending the life of Social Security.

If CPI was calculated exactly as it was computed prior to 1983, it would have averaged between 5% and 10% over the last fourteen years. Even computing it based on the 1990 calculation prior to the Boskin Commission adjustments, would have produced annual inflation of 4% to 7%. A glance at an inflation chart from 1872 through today reveals the complete and utter failure of the Federal Reserve in achieving their stated mandate of price stability. They have managed to reduce the purchasing power of your dollar by 95% over the last 100 years. You may also notice the net deflation from 1872 until 1913, when the American economy was growing rapidly. It is almost as if the Federal Reserve’s true mandate has been to create inflation, finance wars, perpetuate the proliferation of debt, artificially create booms and busts, enrich their Wall Street owners, and impoverish the masses. Happy Birthday Federal Reserve!!!

Click to View

When you connect the dots you realize the under-reporting of inflation benefits the corporate fascist surveillance state. If the government was reporting the true rate of inflation, mega-corporations would be forced to pay their workers higher wages, reducing profits, reducing corporate bonuses, and sticking a pin in their stock prices. The toady economists at the Federal Reserve would be unable to sustain their ludicrous ZIRP and absurd QEfinity stock market levitation policies. Reporting a true rate of inflation would force long-term interest rates higher. These higher rates, along with higher COLA increases to government entitlements, would blow a hole in the deficit and force our spineless politicians to address our unsustainable economic system. There would be no stock market or debt bubble. If the clueless dupes watching CNBC bimbos and shills on a daily basis were told the economy has been in fourteen year downturn, they might just wake up and demand accountability from their leaders and an overhaul of this corrupt system.

Mother Should I Trust the Government?

We know the BEA has deflated GDP by only 32% since 2000. We know the BLS reports the CPI has only risen by 37% since 2000. Should I trust the government or trust the facts and my own eyes? The data is available to see if the government figures pass the smell test. If you are reading this, you can remember your life in 2000. Americans know what it cost for food, energy, shelter, healthcare, transportation and entertainment in 2000, but they unquestioningly accept the falsified inflation figures produced by the propaganda machine known as our government. The chart below is a fairly comprehensive list of items most people might need to live in this world. A critical thinking individual might wonder how the government can proclaim inflation of 32% to 37% over the last fourteen years, when the true cost of living has grown by 50% to 100% for most daily living expenses. The huge increases in property taxes, sales taxes, government fees, tolls and income taxes aren’t even factored in the chart. It seems gold has smelled out the currency debasement and the lies of our leaders. This explains the concerted effort by the powers that be to suppress the price of gold by any means necessary.

 

Living Expense

Jan-00

Mar-14

% Increase

Gallon of gas

$1.27

$3.51

176.4%

Barrel of oil

$24.11

$100.00

314.8%

Fuel oil per gallon

$1.19

$4.07

242.0%

Electricity per Kwh

$0.084

$0.134

59.5%

Gas per therm

$0.712

$1.078

51.4%

Dozen eggs

$0.97

$2.00

106.2%

Coffee per lb

$3.40

$5.20

52.9%

Ground Beef per lb.

$1.90

$3.73

96.3%

Postage stamp

$0.33

$0.49

48.5%

Movie ticket

$5.25

$10.25

95.2%

New car

$20,300.00

$31,500.00

55.2%

Annual healthcare spending per capita

$4,550.00

$9,300.00

104.4%

Average private college tuition

$22,000.00

$37,000.00

68.2%

Avg home price (Case Shiller)

$161,000.00

$242,000.00

50.3%

Avg monthly rent (Case Shiller)

$635.00

$890.00

40.2%

Ounce of gold

$279.00

$1,334.00

378.1%

Mother, you should not trust the government. There is no doubt they have systematically under-reported inflation based on any impartial assessment of the facts. The reality that we remain stuck in a fourteen year recession is borne out by the continued decline in vehicle miles driven (at 1995 levels) due to declining commercial activity, the millions of shuttered small businesses, and the proliferation of Space Available signs in strip malls and office parks across the land. The fact there are only 8 million more people employed today than were employed in 2000, despite the working age population growing by 35 million, might be a clue that we remain in recession. If that isn’t enough proof for you, than maybe a glimpse at real median household income, retail sales and housing will put the final nail in the coffin of your cognitive dissonance.

The government and their media mouthpieces expect the ignorant masses to believe they have advanced their standard of living, with median household income growing from $40,800 to $52,500 since 2000. But, even using the badly flawed CPI to adjust these figures into real terms reveals real median household income to be 7.3% below the level of 2000. Using a true inflation figure would cause a CNBC talking head to have an epileptic seizure.

Click to View

The picture is even bleaker when broken down into the age of households, with younger households suffering devastating real declines in household income since 2000. I guess all those retail clerk, cashier, waitress, waiter, food prep, and housekeeper jobs created over the last few years aren’t cutting the mustard. Maybe that explains the 30 million increase (175% increase) in food stamp recipients since 2000, encompassing 19% of all households in the U.S. Luckily the banking oligarchs were able to convince the pliable masses to increase their credit card, auto and student loan debt from $1.5 trillion to $3.1 trillion over the fourteen year descent into delusion.

When you get your head around this unprecedented decline in household income over the last fourteen years, along with the 50% to 100% rise in costs to live in the real world, as opposed to the theoretical world of the Federal Reserve and BLS, you will understand the long term decline in retail sales reflected in the following chart. When you adjust monthly retail sales for gasoline (an additional tax), inflation (understated), and population growth, you understand why retailers are closing thousands of stores and hurdling towards inevitable bankruptcy. Retail sales are 6.9% below the June 2005 peak and 4% below levels reached in 2000. And this is with millions of retail square feet added over this time frame. We know the dramatic surge from the 2009 lows was not prompted by an increase in household income. So how did the 11% proliferation of spending happen?

Click to View

The up swell in retail spending began to accelerate in late 2010. Considering credit card debt outstanding is at exactly where it was in October 2010, it seems consumers playing with their own money turned off the spigot of speculation. It has been non-revolving debt that has skyrocketed from $1.63 trillion in February 2010 to $2.26 trillion today. This unprecedented 39% rise in four years has been engineered by the government, using your tax dollars and the tax dollars of unborn generations. The Federal government has complete control of the student loan market and with their 85% ownership of Ally Financial, the largest auto financing company, a dominant position in the auto loan market. The peddling of $400 billion of subprime student loan debt and $200 billion of subprime auto loan debt has created the illusion of a retail recovery. The student loan debt has been utilized by University of Phoenix MBA wannabes  to buy iGadgets, the latest PS3 version of Grand Theft Auto and the latest glazed donut breakfast sandwich on the market. It’s nothing but another debt financed bubble that will end in tears for the American taxpayer, as hundreds of billions will be written off.

The fake retail recovery pales in comparison to the wolves of Wall Street produced housing recovery sham. They deserve an Academy Award for best fantasy production. The Federal Reserve fed Wall Street hedge fund purchase of millions of foreclosed shanties across the nation has produced media proclaimed home price increases of 10% to 30% in cities across the country. Withholding foreclosures from the market and creating artificial demand with free money provided by the Federal Reserve has temporarily added $4 trillion of housing net worth and reduced the number of underwater mortgages on the books of the Too Big To Trust Wall Street banks. The percentage of investor purchases and cash purchases is at all-time highs, while the percentage of first time buyers is at all-time lows. Anyone with an ounce of common sense can look at the long-term chart of mortgage applications and realize we are still in a recession. Applications are 35% below levels at the depths of the 2008/2009 recession. Applications are 65% below levels at the housing market peak in 2005. They are even 35% below 2000 levels. There is no real housing recovery, despite the propaganda peddled by the NAR, CNBC, and Wall Street. It’s a fraud.

It is the pinnacle of arrogance and hubris that a few Ivy League educated economists sitting in the Marriner Eccles Building in the swamps of Washington D.C., who have never worked a day in their lives at a real job, think they can create wealth and pull the levers of money creation to control the American and global financial systems. All they have done is perfect the art of bubble finance in order to enrich their owners at the expense of the rest of us. Their policies have induced unwarranted hope and speculation on a grand scale. Greenspan and Bernanke have provoked multiple bouts of extreme speculation in stocks and housing over the last 15 years, with the subsequent inevitable collapses. Fed encouraged gambling does not create wealth it just redistributes it from the peasants to the aristocracy. The Fed has again produced an epic bubble in stock and bond valuations which will result in another collapse. Normalcy bias keeps the majority from seeing the cliff straight ahead. Federal Reserve monetary policies have distorted financial markets, created extreme imbalances, encouraged excessive risk taking, and ruined the lives of working class people. Take a long hard look at the chart below and answer one question. Was QE designed to benefit Main Street or Wall Street?

The average American has experienced a fourteen year recession caused by the monetary policies of the Federal Reserve. Our leaders could have learned the lesson of two Fed induced collapses in the space of eight years and voluntarily abandoned the policies of reckless credit expansion, instead embracing policies encouraging saving, capital investment and balanced budgets. They have chosen the same cure as the disease, which will lead to crisis, catastrophe and collapse.

“There is no means of avoiding the final collapse of a boom brought about by credit expansion. The alternative is only whether the crisis should come sooner as the result of voluntary abandonment of further credit expansion, or later as a final and total catastrophe of the currency system involved.” – Ludwig von Mises

 

Dense Fog Turns into Toxic Smog

Off the keyboard of Jim Quinn

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Published on The Burning Platform on December 31, 2013

Discuss this article at the Kitchen Sink inside the Diner

 

In mid-January of this year I wrote my annual prediction article for 2013 – Apparitions in the Fog. It is again time to assess my inability to predict the future any better than a dart throwing monkey. As usual, sticking to facts was a mistake in a world fueled by misinformation, propaganda, delusion and wishful thinking. I was far too pessimistic about the near term implications of debt, civic decay and global disorder. Those in power have successfully held off the unavoidable collapse which will be brought about by their ravenous unbridled greed, and blatant disregard for the rule of law, the U.S. Constitution and rights and liberties of the American people. The day to day minutia, pointless drivel of our techno-narcissistic selfie showbiz society, and artificially created issues (gay marriage, Zimmerman-Martin, Baby North West, Duck Dynasty) designed to distract the public from thinking, are worthless trivialities in the broad landscape of human history.

The course of human history is determined by recurring cyclical themes based upon human frailties that have been perpetual through centuries of antiquity. The immense day to day noise of an inter-connected techno-world awash in inconsequentialities and manipulated by men of evil intent is designed to divert the attention of the masses from the criminal activities of those in power. It has always been so. There have always been arrogant, ambitious, greedy, power hungry, deceitful men, willing to take advantage of a fearful, lazy, ignorant, selfish, easily manipulated populace. The rhythms of history are unaffected by predictions of “experts” who are paid to spin yarns in order to sustain the status quo. There is no avoiding the consequences of actions taken and not taken over the last eighty years. We are in the midst of a twenty year period of Crisis that was launched in September 2008 with the worldwide financial collapse, created by the Federal Reserve, their Wall Street owners, their bought off Washington politicians, and their media and academic propaganda machines.

I still stand by the final paragraph of my 2013 missive, and despite the fact the establishment has been able to fend off the final collapse of their man made credit boom for longer than I anticipated, they have only insured a far worse outcome when the bubble bursts:

“So now I’m on the record for 2013 and I can be scorned and ridiculed for being such a pessimist when December rolls around and our Ponzi scheme economy hasn’t collapsed. There is no disputing the facts. The economic situation is deteriorating for the average American, the mood of the country is darkening, and the world is awash in debt and turmoil. Every country is attempting to print their way to renewed prosperity. No one wins a race to the bottom. The oligarchs have chosen a path of currency debasement, propping up insolvent banks, propaganda and impoverishing the masses as their preferred course. They attempt to keep the masses distracted with political theater, gun control vitriol, reality TV and iGadgets. What can be said about a society where 10% of the population follows Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga on Twitter and where 50% think the National Debt is a monument in Washington D.C. The country is controlled by evil sycophants, intellectually dishonest toadies and blood sucking leeches. Their lies and deception have held sway for the last four years, but they have only delayed the final collapse of a boom brought about by credit expansion. They will not reverse course and believe their intellectual superiority will allow them to retain their control after the collapse.”

The core elements of this Crisis have been visible since Strauss & Howe wrote The Fourth Turning in 1997. All the major events that transpire during this Crisis will be driven by one or more of these core elements – Debt, Civic Decay, and Global Disorder.

“In retrospect, the spark might seem as ominous as a financial crash, as ordinary as a national election, or as trivial as a Tea Party. The catalyst will unfold according to a basic Crisis dynamic that underlies all of these scenarios: An initial spark will trigger a chain reaction of unyielding responses and further emergencies. The core elements of these scenarios (debt, civic decay, global disorder) will matter more than the details, which the catalyst will juxtapose and connect in some unknowable way. If foreign societies are also entering a Fourth Turning, this could accelerate the chain reaction. At home and abroad, these events will reflect the tearing of the civic fabric at points of extreme vulnerability – problem areas where America will have neglected, denied, or delayed needed action.” – The Fourth Turning – Strauss & Howe

My 2013 predictions were framed by these core elements. After re-reading my article for the first time in eleven months I’ve concluded it is lucky I don’t charge for investment predictions. Many of my prognostications were in the ballpark, but I have continually underestimated the ability of central bankers and their Wall Street co-conspirators to use the $2.8 billion per day of QE to artificially elevate the stock market to bubble level proportions once again. If I wasn’t such a trusting soul, I might conclude the .1% financial elite, who run this country, created QEternity to benefit themselves, their .1% corporate CEO accomplices and the corrupt government apparatchiks who shield their flagrant criminality from the righteous hand of justice.

Even a highly educated Ivy League economist might grasp the fact that Ben Bernanke’s QEternity and ZIRP, sold to the unsuspecting masses as desperate measures during a crisis that could have brought the system down, have been kept in place for five years as a means to drive stock prices and home prices higher. The emergency was over by 2010, according to government reported data. The current monetary policy of the Federal Reserve would have been viewed as outrageous, reckless, and incomprehensible in 2007. It is truly a credit to the ruling elite and their media propaganda arm that they have been able to convince a majority of Americans their brazen felonious disregard for the wellbeing of the 99% is necessary to sustain the .1% way of life. Those palaces in the Hamptons aren’t going to pay for themselves without those $100 billion of annual bonuses.

Do you think the 170% increase in the S&P 500 has been accidently correlated with the quadrupling of the Federal Reserve balance sheet or has Bernanke just done the bidding of his puppet masters? Considering the .1% billionaire clique owns the vast majority of stock in this corporate fascist paradise, is it really a surprise the trickle down canard would be the solution of choice from these sociopathic scoundrels? Of course QE and ZIRP have impacted the 80% who own virtually no stocks in a slightly different manner. Do you think the 100% increase in gasoline prices since 2009 was caused by Bernanke’s QEternity?

Do you think the 8% decline in real median household income since 2008 was caused by Bernanke’s QE and ZIRP policies?

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Do you think the $10.8 trillion stolen from grandmothers and risk adverse savers was caused by Bernanke’s ZIRP?

Was the $860 billion increase in real GDP (5.8% over five years) worth the $8 trillion increase in the National Debt and $3 trillion increase in the Federal Reserve balance sheet? Was it moral, courageous and honorable of the Wall Street plantation owners to syphon the remaining wealth of the dying middle class peasants and leaving the millennial generation and future generations bound in chains of unfunded debt to the tune of $200 trillion?

My assessment regarding unpredictable events lurking in the fog was borne out by what happened that NO ONE predicted, including: the first resignation of a pope in six hundred years, the military coup of a democratically elected president of Egypt – supported by the democratically elected U.S. president, the rise of an alternative currency – bitcoin, the bankruptcy of one of the largest cities in the U.S. – Detroit, a minor terrorist attack in Boston that freaked out the entire country and revealed the Nazi-like un-Constitutional tactics that will be used by the police state as this Crisis deepens, and revelations by a brilliant young patriot named Edward Snowden proving that the U.S. has been turned into an Orwellian surveillance state as every electronic communication of every American is being monitored and recorded. The Democrats and Republicans played their parts in this theater of the absurd. They proved to be two faces of the same Party as neither faction questions the droning of innocent people around the globe, mass spying on citizens, Wall Street criminality, trillion dollar deficits, a rogue Federal Reserve, or out of control unsustainable government spending.

My predictions for 2013 were divided into the three categories driving this Fourth Turning CrisisDebt, Civic Decay, and Global Disorder. Let’s assess my inaccuracy.

Debt

  • The debt ceiling will be raised as the toothless Republican Party vows to cut spending next time. The political hacks will create a 3,000 page document of triggers and create a committee to study the issue, with actual measures that slow the growth of annual spending by .000005% starting in 2017.

The government shutdown reality TV show proved to be the usual Washington D.C. kabuki theater. They gave a shutdown and no one noticed. It had zero impact on the economy. More people came to the realization that government does nothing except spend our money and push us around. The debt ceiling was raised, the sequester faux “cuts” were reversed and $20 billion of spending will be cut sometime in the distant future. Washington snakes are entirely predictable. I nailed this prediction.

  • The National Debt will increase by $1.25 trillion and debt to GDP will reach 106% by the end of the fiscal year.

The National Debt increased by ONLY $964 billion in the last fiscal year, even though the government stopped counting in May. The temporary sequester cuts, the expiration of the 2% payroll tax cut, the fake Fannie & Freddie paybacks to the U.S. Treasury based upon mark to fantasy accounting, and the automatic expiration of stimulus spending combined to keep the real deficit from reaching $1 trillion for the fifth straight year. Debt to GDP was 104%, before our beloved government drones decided to “adjust” GDP upwards by $500 billion based upon a new and improved formula, like Tide detergent. I missed this prediction by a smidgeon.

  • The Federal Reserve balance sheet will reach $4 trillion by the end of the year.

The Federal Reserve balance sheet stands at $4.075 trillion today. Ben is very predictable, and of course “transparent”. This was an easy one.

  • Consumer debt will reach $2.9 trillion as the Feds accelerate student loans and Ally Financial, along with the other Too Big To Control Wall Street banks, keep pumping out subprime auto loans. By mid-year reported losses on student loans will soar and auto loan delinquencies will show an upturn. This will force a slowdown in consumer debt issuance, exacerbating the recession that started in 2012.

Consumer debt outstanding currently stands at $3.076 trillion despite the fact that credit card debt has been virtually flat. The Federal government has continued to dole out billions in loans to University of Phoenix wannabes and to the subprime urban entitlement armies who deserve to drive an Escalade despite having no job, no assets and a sub 650 credit score, through government owned Ally Financial. It helps drive business when you don’t care about being repaid. Student loan delinquency rates are at an all-time high, as there are no jobs for graduates with tens of thousands in debt. Auto loan delinquencies have begun to rise despite the fact we are supposedly in a strongly recovering economy. The slowdown in debt issuance has not happened, as the Federal government is in complete control of the non-revolving loan segment. My prediction has proven to be accurate.

  • The Bakken oil miracle will prove to be nothing more than Wall Street shysters selling a storyline. Daily output will stall at 750,000 barrels per day and the dreams of imminent energy independence will be annihilated by reality, again. The price of oil will average $105 per barrel, as global tensions restrict supply.

Bakken production has reached 867,000 barrels per day as more and more wells have been drilled to offset the steep depletion rates of the existing wells. The average price per barrel has been $104, despite the frantic propaganda campaign about imminent American energy independence. Tell that to the average Joe filling their tank and paying the highest December gas price in history. My prediction was too pessimistic, but the Bakken miracle will be revealed as an over-hyped Wall Street scam in 2014.

  • The home price increases generated through inventory manipulation in 2012 will peter out as 2013 progresses. The market has been flooded by investors. There is very little real demand for new homes. Young households with heavy student loan debt and low paying jobs will continue to rent, since the oligarchs refused to let prices fall to a level that would spur real demand. Mortgage delinquencies will rise as job growth remains stagnant, leading to an increase in foreclosures. Rent prices will flatten as apartment construction and investors flood the market with supply.

Existing home sales peaked in the middle of 2013 and have been in decline as mortgage rates have jumped from 3.25% to 4.5% since February. New home sales remain stagnant, near record low levels. The median sales price for existing home sales peaked at $214,000 in June and has fallen for five consecutive months by a total of 8%. First time home buyers account for a record low of 28% of purchases, while investors account for a record high level of purchasers. Mortgage delinquencies fell for most of the year, but the chickens are beginning to come home to roost as delinquent mortgage loans rose from 6.28% in October to 6.45% in November. Rent increases slowed to below 3% as Blackrock and the other Wall Street shysters flood the market with their foreclosure rental properties. My housing prediction was accurate.

 

  • The disconnect between the stock market and the housing and employment markets will be rectified when the MSM can no longer deny the recession that began in 2012 and will deepen in the first part of 2013. While housing prices languish 30% below their peak levels of 2006, the stock market has prematurely ejaculated back to pre-crisis levels. Declining corporate profits, stagnant consumer spending, and increasing debt defaults will finally result in a 20% decline in the stock market, with a chance for losses greater than 30% if Japan or the EU begin to crumble.

And now we get to the prediction that makes me happy I don’t charge people for investment advice. Facts don’t matter in world of QE for the psychopathic titans of Wall Street and misery for the indebted peasants of Main Street. The government data drones, Ivy League educated Wall Street economists, and the obedient corporate media propaganda apparatus declare that GDP has grown by 2% over the last four quarters and we are not in a recession. If you believe their bogus inflation calculation then just ignore the collapsing retail sales, stagnant real wages, and rising gap between the uber-rich and the rest of us. Using a true measure of inflation reveals an economy in recession since 2004. Whose version matches the reality on the ground?

 

Corporate profits have leveled off at record highs as mark to fantasy accounting fraud, condoned and encouraged by the Federal Reserve, along with loan loss reserve depletion and $5 billion of risk free profits from parking deposits at the Fed have created a one-time peak. The record level of negative earnings warnings is the proverbial bell ringing at the top.

negative earnings

I only missed my stock market prediction by 50%, as the 30% rise was somewhat better than my 20% decline prediction. Bernanke’s QEternity, Wall Street’s high frequency trading supercomputers, record levels of margin debt, a dash of delusion, and a helping of clueless dupes have taken the stock market to another bubble high. My prediction makes me look like an idiot today. I’m OK with that, since I know facts and reality always prevail in the long-run. As John Hussman sagely points out, today’s idiot will be tomorrow’s beacon of truth:

“The problem with bubbles is that they force one to decide whether to look like an idiot before the peak, or an idiot after the peak. There’s no calling the top, and most of the signals that have been most historically useful for that purpose have been blazing red since late-2011. My impression remains that the downside risks for the market have been deferred, not eliminated, and that they will be worse for the wait.”

  • Japan is still a bug in search of a windshield. With a debt to GDP ratio of 230%, a population dying off, energy dependence escalating, trade surplus decreasing, an already failed Prime Minister vowing to increase inflation, and rising tensions with China, Japan is a primary candidate to be the first domino to fall in the game of debt chicken. A 2% increase in interest rates would destroy the Japanese economic system.

Abenomics has done nothing for the average Japanese citizen, but it has done wonders for the ruling class who own all the stocks. Abe has implemented monetary policies that make Bernanke get a hard on. Japanese economic growth remains mired at 1.1%, wages remain stagnant, and their debt to GDP ratio remains above 230%, but at least he has driven their currency down 20% versus the USD and crushed the common person with 9% energy inflation. None of this matters, because the .1% have benefitted from a 56% increase in the Japanese stock market. My prediction was wrong. The windshield is further down the road, but it is approaching at 100 mph.

  • The EU has temporarily delayed the endgame for their failed experiment. Economic conditions in Greece, Spain and Italy worsen by the day with unemployment reaching dangerous revolutionary levels. Pretending countries will pay each other with newly created debt will not solve a debt crisis. They don’t have a liquidity problem. They have a solvency problem. The only people who have been saved by the actions taken so far are bankers and politicians. I believe the crisis will reignite, with interest rates spiking in Spain, Italy and France. The Germans will get fed up with the rest of Europe and the EU will begin to disintegrate.

This was another complete miss on my part. Economic conditions have not improved in Europe. Unemployment remains at record levels. EU GDP is barely above 0%. Debt levels continue to rise. Central bank bond buying has propped up this teetering edifice of ineptitude and interest rates in Spain, Italy and France have fallen to ridiculously low levels of 4%, considering they are completely insolvent with no possibility for escape. The disintegration of the EU will have to wait for another day.

Civic Decay

  • Progressive’s attempt to distract the masses from our worsening economic situation with their assault on the 2nd Amendment will fail. Congress will pass no new restrictions on gun ownership and 2013 will see the highest level of gun sales in history.

Obama and his gun grabbing sycophants attempted to use the Newtown massacre as the lever to overturn the 2nd Amendment. The liberal media went into full shriek mode, but the citizens again prevailed and no Federal legislation restricting the 2nd Amendment passed. Gun sales in 2013 will set an all-time record. With the Orwellian surveillance state growing by the day, arming yourself is the rational thing to do. I nailed this prediction.

  • The deepening recession, higher taxes on small businesses and middle class, along with Obamacare mandates will lead to rising unemployment and rising anger with the failed economic policies of the last four years. Protests and rallies will begin to burgeon.

The little people are experiencing a recession. The little people bore the brunt of the 2% payroll tax increase. The little people are bearing the burden of the Obamacare insurance premium increases. The number of employed Americans has increased by 1 million in the last year, a whole .4% of the working age population. The number of Americans who have willingly left the labor force in the last year because their lives are so fulfilled totaled 2.5 million, leaving the labor participation rate at a 35 year low. The anger among the former middle class is simmering below the surface, as Bernanke’s policies further impoverish the multitudes. Mass protests have not materialized but the Washington Navy yard shooting, dental hygenist murdered by DC police for ramming a White House barrier, and self- immolation of veteran John Constantino on the National Mall were all individual acts of desperation against the establishment.

  • The number of people on food stamps will reach 50 million and the number of people on SSDI will reach 11 million. Jamie Dimon, Lloyd Blankfein, and Jeff Immelt will compensate themselves to the tune of $100 million. CNBC will proclaim an economic recovery based on these facts.

The number of people on food stamps appears to have peaked just below 48 million, as the expiration of stimulus spending will probably keep the program from reaching 50 million. As of November there were 10.98 million people in the SSDI program. The top eight Wall Street banks have set aside a modest $91 billion for 2013 bonuses. The cost of providing food stamps for 48 million Americans totaled $76 billion. CNBC is thrilled with the record level of bonuses for the noble Wall Street capitalists, while scorning the lazy laid-off middle class workers whose jobs were shipped to China by the corporations whose profits are at all-time highs and stock price soars. Isn’t crony capitalism grand?

  • The drought will continue in 2013 resulting in higher food prices, ethanol prices, and shipping costs, as transporting goods on the Mississippi River will become further restricted. The misery index for the average American family will reach new highs.

The drought conditions in the U.S. Midwest have been relieved. Ethanol prices have been flat. Beef prices have risen by 10% since May due to the drought impact from 2012, but overall food price increases have been moderate. The misery index (unemployment rate + inflation rate) has supposedly fallen, based on government manipulated data. I whiffed on this prediction.

  • There will be assassination attempts on political and business leaders as retribution for their actions during and after the financial crisis.

There have been no assassination attempts on those responsible for our downward financial spiral. The anger has been turned inward as suicides have increased by 30% due to the unbearable economic circumstances brought on by the illegal financial machinations of the Wall Street criminal banks. Obama and Dick Cheney must be thrilled that more military personnel died by suicide in 2013 than on the battlefield. Mission Accomplished. The retribution dealt to bankers and politicians will come after the next collapse. For now, my prediction was premature.

  • The revelation of more fraud in the financial sector will result in an outcry from the public for justice. Prosecutions will be pursued by State’s attorney generals, as Holder has been captured by Wall Street.

Holder and the U.S. government remain fully captured by Wall Street. The states have proven to be toothless in their efforts to enforce the law against Wall Street. The continuing revelations of Wall Street fraud and billions in fines paid by JP Morgan and the other Too Big To Trust banks have been glossed over by the captured mainstream media. As long as EBT cards, Visas and Mastercards continue to function, there will be no outrage from the techno-narcissistic, debt addicted, math challenged, wilfully ignorant masses. Another wishful thinking wrong prediction on my part.

  • The deepening pension crisis in the states will lead to more state worker layoffs and more confrontation between governors attempting to balance budgets and government worker unions. There will be more municipal bankruptcies.

Using a still optimistic discount rate of 5%, the unfunded pension liability of states and municipalities totals $3 trillion. The taxpayers don’t have enough cheese left for the government rats to steal. The crisis deepens by the second. State and municipal budgets require larger pension payments every year. The tax base is stagnant or declining. States must balance their budgets. They will continue to cut existing workers to pay the legacy costs until they all experience their Detroit moment. With the Detroit bankruptcy, I’ll take credit for getting this prediction right.

  • The gun issue will further enflame talk of state secession. The red state/blue state divide will grow ever wider. The MSM will aggravate the divisions with vitriolic propaganda.

With the revelations of Federal government spying, military training exercises in cities across the country, the blatant disregard for the 4th Amendment during the shutdown of Boston, and un-Constitutional mandates of Obamacare, there has been a tremendous increase in chatter about secession. A google search gets over 200,000 hits in the last year. The divide between red states and blue states has never been wider.

  • The government will accelerate their surveillance efforts and renew their attempt to monitor, control, and censor the internet. This will result in increased cyber-attacks on government and corporate computer networks in retaliation.

If anything I dramatically underestimated the lengths to which the United States government would go in their illegal surveillance of the American people and foreign leaders. Edward Snowden exposed the grandest government criminal conspiracy in history as the world found out the NSA, with the full knowledge of the president and Congress, has been conspiring with major communications and internet companies to monitor and record every electronic communication on earth, in clear violation of the 4th Amendment. Government apparatchiks like James Clapper have blatantly lied to Congress about their spying activities. The lawlessness with which the government is now operating has led to anarchist computer hackers conducting cyber-attacks on government and corporate networks. The recent hacking of the Target credit card system will have devastating implications to their already waning business. I’ll take credit for an accurate prediction on this one.

Global Disorder 

  • With new leadership in Japan and China, neither will want to lose face, so early in their new terms. Neither side will back down in their ongoing conflict over islands in the East China Sea. China will shoot down a Japanese aircraft and trade between the countries will halt, leading to further downturns in both of their economies.

The Japanese/Chinese dispute over the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands has blown hot and cold throughout the year. In the past month the vitriol has grown intense. China has scrambled fighter jets over the disputed islands. The recent visit of Abe to a World War II shrine honoring war criminals has enraged the Chinese. Trade between the countries has declined. An aircraft has not been shot down, but an American warship almost collided with a Chinese warship near the islands, since our empire must stick their nose into every worldwide dispute. We are one miscalculation away from a shooting war. It hasn’t happened yet, so my prediction was wrong.

  • Worker protests over slave labor conditions in Chinese factories will increase as food price increases hit home on peasants that spend 70% of their pay for food. The new regime will crackdown with brutal measures, but the protests will grow increasingly violent. The economic data showing growth will be discredited by what is happening on the ground. China will come in for a real hard landing. Maybe they can hide the billions of bad debt in some of their vacant cities.

The number of worker protests over low pay and working conditions in China doubled over the previous year, but censorship of reporting has kept these facts under wraps. In a dictatorship, the crackdown on these protests goes unreported. The fraudulent economic data issued by the government has been proven false by independent analysts. The Chinese stock market has fallen 14%, reflecting the true economic situation. The Chinese property bubble is in the process of popping. China will never officially report a hard landing. China is the most corrupt nation on earth and is rotting from the inside, like their vacant malls and cities. China’s economy is like an Asiana Airlines Boeing 777 coming in for a landing at SF International.

  • Violence and turmoil in Greece will spread to Spain during the early part of the year, with protests and anger spreading to Italy and France later in the year. The EU public relations campaign, built on sandcastles of debt in the sky and false promises of corrupt politicians, will falter by mid-year. Interest rates will begin to spike and the endgame will commence. Greece will depart the EU, with Spain not far behind. The unraveling of debt will plunge all of Europe into depression.

Violent protests flared in Greece and Spain throughout the year. They did not spread to Italy and France. The central bankers and the puppet politicians have been able to contain the EU’s debt insolvency through the issuance of more debt. What a great plan. The grand finale has been delayed into 2014. Greece remains on life support and still in the EU. The EU remains in recession, but the depression has been postponed for the time being. This prediction was a dud.

  • Iran will grow increasingly desperate as hyperinflation caused by U.S. economic sanctions provokes the leadership to lash out at its neighbors and unleash cyber-attacks on Saudi Arabian oil facilities and U.S. corporations. Israel will use the rising tensions as the impetus to finally attack Iranian nuclear facilities. The U.S. will support the attack and Iran will launch missiles at Saudi Arabia and Israel in retaliation. The price of oil will spike above $125 per barrel, further deepening the worldwide recession.

Iran was experiencing hyperinflationary conditions early in the year, but since the election of the new president the economy has stabilized. Iran has conducted cyber-attacks against Saudi Arabian gas companies and the U.S. Navy during 2013. Israel and Saudi Arabia have failed in their efforts to lure Iran into a shooting war. Obama has opened dialogue with the new president to the chagrin of Israel. War has been put off and the negative economic impacts of surging oil prices have been forestalled. I missed on this prediction.

  • Syrian President Assad will be ousted and executed by rebels. Syria will fall under the control of Islamic rebels, who will not be friendly to the United States or Israel. Russia will stir up discontent in retaliation for the ouster of their ally.

Assad has proven to be much tougher than anyone expected. The trumped up charges of gassing rebel forces, created by the Saudis who want a gas pipeline through Syria, was not enough to convince the American people to allow our president to invade another sovereign country. Putin and Russia won this battle. America’s stature in the eyes of the world was reduced further. America continues to support Al Qaeda rebels in Syria, while fighting them in Afghanistan. The hypocrisy is palpable. Another miss.

  • Egypt and Libya will increasingly become Islamic states and will further descend into civil war.

The first democratically elected president of Egypt, Mohammed Morsi, was overthrown in a military coup as the country has descended into a civil war between the military forces and Islamic forces. It should be noted that the U.S. supported the overthrow of a democratically elected leader. Libya is a failed state with Islamic factions vying for power and on the verge of a 2nd civil war. Oil production has collapsed. I’ll take credit for an accurate prediction on this one.

  • The further depletion of the Cantarell oil field will destroy the Mexican economy as it becomes a net energy importer. The drug violence will increase and more illegal immigrants will pour into the U.S. The U.S. will station military troops along the border.

Mexican oil production fell for the ninth consecutive year in 2013. It has fallen 25% since 2004 to the lowest level since 1995. Energy exports still slightly outweigh imports, but the trend is irreversible. Mexico is under siege by the drug cartels. The violence increases by the day. After declining from 2007 through 2009, illegal immigration from Mexico has been on the rise. Troops have not been stationed on the border as Obama and his liberal army encourages illegal immigration in their desire for an increase in Democratic voters. This prediction was mostly correct.

  • Cyber-attacks by China and Iran on government and corporate computer networks will grow increasingly frequent. One or more of these attacks will threaten nuclear power plants, our electrical grid, or the Pentagon.

China and Iran have been utilizing cyber-attacks on the U.S. military and government agencies as a response to NSA spying and U.S. sabotaging of Iranian nuclear facilities. Experts are issuing warnings regarding the susceptibility of U.S. nuclear facilities to cyber-attack. If a serious breach has occurred, the U.S. government wouldn’t be publicizing it. Again, this prediction was accurate.

I achieved about a 50% accuracy rate on my 2013 predictions. These minor distractions are meaningless in the broad spectrum of history and the inevitability of the current Fourth Turning sweeping away the existing social order in a whirlwind of chaos, violence, financial collapse and ultimately a decisive war. The exact timing and exact events which will precipitate the demise of the establishment are unknowable with any precision, but there is no escape from the inexorable march of history. While most people get lost in the minutia of day to day existence and supposed Ivy League thought leaders are consumed with their own reputations and wealth, apparent stability will morph into terrifying volatility in an instant. The normalcy bias being practiced by an entire country will be shattered in a reality storm of consequences. The Crisis will continue to be driven by the ever growing debt levels, civic decay caused by government overreach, and global disorder driven by resource shortages and religious zealotry. The ultimate outcome is unpredictable, but the choices we make will matter. History is about to fling us towards a vast chaos.

“The seasons of time offer no guarantees. For modern societies, no less than for all forms of life, transformative change is discontinuous. For what seems an eternity, history goes nowhere – and then it suddenly flings us forward across some vast chaos that defies any mortal effort to plan our way there. The Fourth Turning will try our souls – and the saecular rhythm tells us that much will depend on how we face up to that trial. The saeculum does not reveal whether the story will have a happy ending, but it does tell us how and when our choices will make a difference.”  – Strauss & Howe – The Fourth Turning

Trying to Stay Sane in an Insane World- At World’s End

Off the keyboard of Jim Quinn

Published on The Burning Platform on September 10, 2013

Cuckoos_Nest

Discuss this article at the Geopolitics Table inside the Diner

In the first three parts (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3) of this disheartening look back at a century of central banking, income taxing, military warring, energy depleting and political corrupting, I made a case for why we are in the midst of a financial, commercial, political, social and cultural collapse. In this final installment I’ll give my best estimate as to what happens next and it has a 100% probability of being wrong. There are so many variables involved that it is impossible to predict the exact path to our world’s end. Many people don’t want to hear about the intractable issues or the true reasons for our predicament. They want easy button solutions. They want someone or something to fix their problems. They pray for a technological miracle to save them from decades of irrational myopic decisions. As the domino-like collapse worsens, the feeble minded populace becomes more susceptible to the false promises of tyrants and psychopaths. There are a myriad of thugs, criminals, and autocrats in positions of power who are willing to exploit any means necessary to retain their wealth, power and control. The revelations of governmental malfeasance, un-Constitutional mass espionage of all citizens, and expansion of the Orwellian welfare/warfare surveillance state, from patriots like Julian Assange, Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden has proven beyond a doubt the corrupt establishment are zealously anxious to discard and stomp on the U.S. Constitution in their desire for authoritarian control over our society.

Anyone who denies we are in the midst of an ongoing Crisis that will lead to a collapse of the system as we know it is either a card carrying member of the corrupt establishment, dependent upon the oligarchs for their living, or just one of the willfully ignorant ostriches who choose to put their heads in the sand and hum the Star Spangled Banner as they choose obliviousness to awareness. Thinking is hard. Feeling and believing a storyline is easy.

 

A moral society must be inhabited by an informed, educated, aware populace and   governed by honorable leaders who oversee based upon the nation’s founding principles of liberty, freedom and limited government of, by and for the people. A moral society requires trust, honor, property rights, simple just laws, and the freedom to succeed or fail on your own merits. There is one major problem in creating a true moral society where liberty, freedom, trust, honor and free markets are cherished – human beings. We are a deeply flawed species who are prone to falling prey to the depravities of lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy and pride. Men have always been captivated by the false idols of dominion, power and wealth. The foibles of human nature haven’t changed over the course of history. This is why we have 80 to 100 year cycles driven by the same human strengths and shortcomings revealed throughout recorded history.

Empires rise and fall due to the humanness of their leaders and citizens. The great American Empire is no different. It was created a mere 224 years ago by courageous patriots who risked their wealth and their lives to create a Republic founded upon the principles of freedom, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; took a dreadful wrong turn in 1913 with the creation of a privately held central bank to control its currency and introduction of an income tax; devolved into an empire after World War II, setting it on a course towards bankruptcy; sealed its fate in 1971 by unleashing power hungry psychopathic elitists to manipulate the monetary and fiscal policies of the nation to enrich themselves; and has now entered the final frenzied phase of pillaging, currency debasement, war mongering, and ransacking of civil liberties. Despite the frantic efforts of the financial elite, their politician puppets, and their media propaganda outlets, collapse of this aristocracy of the moneyed is a mathematical certainty. Faith in the system is rapidly diminishing, as the issuance of debt to create the appearance of growth has reached the point of diminishing returns.

 

Increase in Real GDP per Dollar of Incremental Debt

“At the root of America’s economic crisis lies a moral crisis: the decline of civic virtue among America’s political and economic elite. A society of markets, laws, and elections is not enough if the rich and powerful fail to behave with respect, honesty, and compassion toward the rest of society and toward the world.”Jeffrey Sachs

Five Stages of Collapse

The day of reckoning for a century of putting our faith in the wrong people with wrong ideas and evil intentions is upon us. Dmitry Orlov provides a blueprint for the collapse in his book The Five Stages of Collapse – Survivors’ Toolkit:

Stage 1: Financial Collapse. Faith in “business as usual” is lost. The future is no longer assumed to resemble the past in any way that allows risk to be assessed and financial assets to be guaranteed. Financial institutions become insolvent; savings wiped out and access to capital is lost.

Stage 2: Commercial Collapse. Faith that “the market shall provide” is lost. Money is devalued and/or becomes scarce, commodities are hoarded, import and retail chains break down and widespread shortages of survival necessities become the norm.

Stage 3: Political Collapse. Faith that “the government will take care of you” is lost. As official attempts to mitigate widespread loss of access to commercial sources of survival necessities fail to make a difference, the political establishment loses legitimacy and relevance.

Stage 4: Social Collapse. Faith that “your people will take care of you” is lost, as social institutions, be they charities or other groups that rush to fill the power vacuum, run out of resources or fail through internal conflict.

Stage 5: Cultural Collapse. Faith in the goodness of humanity is lost. People lose their capacity for “kindness, generosity, consideration, affection, honesty, hospitality, compassion, charity.” Families disband and compete as individuals for scarce resources. The new motto becomes “May you die today so that I can die tomorrow.”

The collapse is occurring in fits and starts. The stages of collapse do not necessarily have to occur in order.  You can recognize various elements of the first three stages in the United States today. Stage 1 commenced in September 2008 when this Crisis period was catalyzed by the disintegration of the worldwide financial system caused by Wall Street intentionally creating the largest control fraud in world history, with easy money provided by Greenspan/Bernanke, fraudulent mortgage products, fake appraisals, bribing rating agencies to provide AAA ratings to derivatives filled with feces, and having their puppets in the media and political arena provide the propaganda to herd the sheep into the slaughterhouse.

The American people neglected their civic duty to elect leaders who would tell them the truth and represent current and future generations equally. They have neglected the increasing lawlessness of Wall Street, K Street and the corporate suite. The American people have lived in denial about their responsibility for their own financial well-being, willingly delegating it to a government of math challenged politicians who promised trillions more than they could ever deliver. The American people have delayed tackling the dire issues confronting our nation, including: $200 trillion of unfunded liabilities, the military industrial complex creating wars across the globe, militarization of our local police forces, domestic spying on every citizen, allowing mega-corporations and the financial elite to turn our nation from savings based production to debt based consumption, and allowing corporations, the military industrial complex, Wall Street, and shadowy billionaires to pick and control our elected officials. The civic fabric of the country is being torn at the points of extreme vulnerability.

“At home and abroad, these events will reflect the tearing of the civic fabric at points of extreme vulnerability – problem areas where, during the Unraveling, America will have neglected, denied, or delayed needed action. Anger at “mistakes we made” will translate into calls for action, regardless of the heightened public risk. It is unlikely that the catalyst will worsen into a full-fledged catastrophe, since the nation will probably find a way to avert the initial danger and stabilize the situation for a while. Yet even if dire consequences are temporarily averted, America will have entered the Fourth Turning.”  – The Fourth Turning – Strauss & Howe – 1997

Our Brave New World controllers (bankers, politicians, corporate titans, media moguls, shadowy billionaires) were able to avert a full-fledged catastrophe in the fall of 2008 and spring of 2009 which would have put an end to their reign of destruction. To accept the rightful consequences of their foul actions was intolerable to these obscenely wealthy, despicable men. Their loathsome and vile solutions to a crisis they created have done nothing to relieve the pain and suffering of the average person, while further enriching them, as they continue to gorge on the dying carcass of a once thriving nation. Despite overwhelming public outrage, Congress did as they were instructed by their Wall Street masters and handed over $700 billion of taxpayer funds into Wall Street vaults, under the false threat of systematic collapse. The $800 billion of pork stimulus was injected directly into the veins of corporate campaign contributors. The $3 billion Cash for Clunkers scheme resulted in pumping taxpayer dollars into the government owned union car companies, while driving up the prices of used cars and hurting lower income folks.

Ben Bernanke has peddled the false paradigm of quantitative easing (code for printing money and airlifting it to Wall Street) as benefitting Main Street. Nothing could be further from the truth. He bought $1.3 trillion of toxic mortgage backed securities from his Wall Street owners. He has pumped a total of $2.8 trillion into the hands of Wall Street since September 2008, and is singlehandedly generating $5 billion of risk free profits for these deadbeats by paying them .25% on their reserves. Drug dealer Ben continues to pump $2.8 billion per day into the veins of Wall Street addicts and any hint of tapering the heroin causes the addicts to flail about. Ben should be so proud. He should hang a Mission Accomplished banner whenever he gives a speech. Bank profits reached an all-time record in the 2nd quarter, at $42.2 billion, with 80% of those profits going to the 2% Too Big To Trust Wall Street Mega-Goliath Banks. It’s enough to make a soon to retire, and take a Wall Street job, central banker smile.

“The money rate can, indeed, be kept artificially low only by continuous new injections of currency or bank credit in place of real savings. This can create the illusion of more capital just as the addition of water can create the illusion of more milk. But it is a policy of continuous inflation. It is obviously a process involving cumulative danger. The money rate will rise and a crisis will develop if the inflation is reversed, or merely brought to a halt, or even continued at a diminished rate. Cheap money policies, in short, eventually bring about far more violent oscillations in business  than those they are designed to remedy or prevent.” Henry Hazlitt – 1946

Any serious minded person knew Wall Street had too much power, too much control, and too much influence in 2008 when they crashed our economic system. When something is too big to fail because it will create systematic collapse, you make it smaller. Instead we have allowed our sociopathic rulers to allow these parasitic institutions to get even larger. Just 12 mega-banks control 70% of all the banking assets in the country, with 90% controlled by the top 86 banks. There are approximately 8,000 financial institutions in this country. Wall Street will be congratulating themselves with record compensation of $127 billion and record bonuses of $23 billion for a job well done. It is dangerous work making journal entries relieving loan loss reserves, committing foreclosure fraud, marking your assets to unicorn, making deposits at the Fed, and counting on the Bernanke Put to keep stocks rising. During a supposed recovery from 2009 to 2011, average real income per household grew pitifully by 1.7%, but all the gains accrued to Bernanke’s minions. Top 1% incomes grew by 11.2% while bottom 99% incomes shrunk by 0.4%. Therefore, the top 1% captured 121% of the income gains in the first two years of the recovery. This warped trend has only accelerated since 2011.

The median household income has fallen by $2,400 to $52,100 since the government proclaimed the end of the recession in 2009. Real wages for real people continue to fall. A record 23.1 million households (20% of all households) are receiving food stamps. After four years of “recovery” propaganda, we are left with 2.2 million less people employed (5 million less full time jobs) and 22 million more people on SNAP and SSDI. A record 90.5 million working age Americans are not working, with labor participation at a 35 year low. Ben’s money has not trickled down, but his inflation has fallen like a load of bricks on the heads of the middle class. Bernanke’s QE to infinity constitutes a transfer of purchasing power away from the middle class to the bankers, mega-corporations and .1%. This Cantillon effect means that newly created money is neither distributed evenly nor simultaneously among the population. Some users of money profit from rising prices, and others suffer from them. This results in a transfer of wealth (a hidden tax) from later receivers to earlier receivers of new money. This is why the largest banks and largest corporations are generating the highest profits in history, while the average person sinks further into debt as their real income declines and real living expenses (energy, food, clothing, healthcare, tuition) rise.

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Ben works for your owners. Real GDP (using the fake government inflation adjustment) since July 2009 is up by a wretched 5.6%. Revenue growth of the biggest corporations in the world is up by a pathetic 12%. One might wonder how corporate profits could be at record levels with such doleful economic performance. One needs to look no further than Ben’s balance sheet, which has increased by 174%. There appears to be a slight correlation between Ben’s money printing and the 162% increase in the S&P 500 index. With the top 1% owning 42.1% of all financial assets (top .1% own most of this) and the bottom 80% owning only 4.7% of all financial assets, one can clearly see who benefits from QE to infinity.

The key take away from what the ruling class has done since 2008 is they have only temporarily delayed the endgame. Their self-serving exploits have guaranteed that round two of the financial collapse will be epic in proportion and intensity. This Fourth Turning Crisis is ongoing. The linear thinkers who control the levers of power keep promising a return to normalcy and resumption of growth. This is an impossibility – mathematically & socially. Fourth Turnings do not end without the existing social order being swept away in a tsunami of turmoil, violence, suffering and war. Orlov’s stages of collapse will likely occur during the remaining fifteen years of this Crisis. We are deep into Stage 1 as our national Detroitification progresses towards bankruptcy, with an added impetus from our trillion dollar wars of choice in the Middle East. Commercial collapse has begun, as faith in the fantasy of free market capitalism is waning. The race to the bottom with currency debasement around the globe is reaching a tipping point, and the true eternal currencies of gold and silver are being hoarded and shipped from the West to the Far East.

Monetary Base (billions of USD)

When the financial collapse reaches its crescendo, the just in time supply chain, that keeps cheese doodles and cheese whiz on your grocery store shelves, Chinese produced iGadgets in your local Wal-Mart Supercenter, and gasoline flowing out of gas station hoses into your leased Cadillac Escalade, will break down rapidly. The strain of $110 oil is already evident. The fireworks will really get going when ATM machines run dry and the EBT cards stop functioning. Within a week riots and panic will engulf the country.

“At some point we are bound to hear, from across two oceans, the shocking words “Your money is no good here.” Fast forward to a week later: banks are closed, ATMs are out of cash, supermarket shelves are bare and gas stations are starting to run out of fuel. And then something happens: the government announces they have formed a crisis task force, and will nationalize, recapitalize and reopen banks, restoring confidence. The banks reopen, under heavy guard, and thousands of people get arrested for attempting to withdraw their savings. Banks close, riots begin. Next, the government decides that, to jump-start commerce, it will honor deposit guarantees and simply hand out cash. They print and arrange for the cash to be handed out. Now everyone has plenty of cash, but there is still no food in the supermarkets or gasoline at the gas stations because by now the international supply chains have broken down and the delivery pipelines are empty.”  Dmitry Orlov – The Five Stages of Collapse

We are witnessing the beginning stages of political collapse. The government and its leaders are being discredited on a daily basis. The mismanagement of fiscal policy, foreign policy and domestic policy, along with the revelations of the NSA conducting mass surveillance against all Americans has led critical thinking Americans to question the legitimacy of the politicians running the show on behalf of the bankers, corporations and arms dealers. The Gestapo like tactics used by the government in Boston was an early warning sign of what is to come. Government entitlement promises will vaporize, as they did in Detroit, with pension promises worth only ten cents on the dollar. Total social and cultural collapse could resemble the chaotic civil war scenarios playing out in Libya and Syria. The best case scenario would be for a collapse similar to the Soviet Union’s relatively peaceful disintegration into impotent republics. I don’t believe we’ll be this fortunate. The most powerful military empire in world history will not fade away. It will go out in a blaze of glory with a currency collapse, hyper-inflation, and war on a grand scale.

“History offers even more sobering warnings: Armed confrontation usually occurs around the climax of Crisis. If there is confrontation, it is likely to lead to war. This could be any kind of war – class war, sectional war, war against global anarchists or terrorists, or superpower war. If there is war, it is likely to culminate in total war, fought until the losing side has been rendered nil – its will broken, territory taken, and leaders captured.”The Fourth Turning – Strauss & Howe – 1997

In Whom Do You Trust?

“Use of money concentrates trust in a single central authority – the central bank – and, over extended periods of time, central banks always tend to misbehave. Eventually the “print” button on the central banker’s emergency console becomes stuck in the depressed position, flooding the world with worthless notes. People trust that money will remain a store of value, and once the trust is violated a gigantic black hole appears at the very center of society, sucking in peoples’ savings and aspirations along with their sense of self-worth. When those who have become psychologically dependent on money as a yardstick, to be applied to everything and everyone, suddenly find themselves in a world where money means nothing, it is as if they have gone blind; they see shapes but can no longer resolve them into objects. The result is anomie – a sense of unreality – accompanied by deep depression. Money is an addiction – substance-less and unreal, and sets itself up for a severe and lengthy withdrawal.” Dmitry Orlov – The Five Stages of Collapse

Our modern world revolves around wealth, the appearance of wealth, the false creation of wealth through the issuance of debt, and trust in the bankers and politicians pulling the levers behind the curtain. The entire world economic system is dependent on trusting central bankers whose only response to any crisis is to create more debt. The death knell is ringing loud and clear, but people around the globe are desperately clinging to their normalcy biases and praying to the gods of cognitive dissonance. It seems the only things that matter to our controllers are stock market levels, the continued flow of debt to the plebs, continued doling out of hush money to those on the dole, and of course an endless supply of brown skinned enemies to attack. With every country in the world attempting to the same solution of debasing their currencies, we are rapidly approaching the tipping point. India is the canary in the coal mine.

Government, Household, Financial & Non-Financial Debt (% of GDP)

An exponential growth model built upon cheap plentiful energy and debt creation has its limits, and we’ve reached them. With the depletion of inexpensive, easily accessible energy resources, higher prices will continue to slow world economies. Demographics in the developed world are slowing the global economy as millions approach their old age with little savings due to over consuming during their peak earnings years. Bernanke has already quadrupled his balance sheet with no meaningful benefit to the economy or the financial well-being of the average middle class American. Financial manipulation that creates nothing has masked the rot consuming our economic system. The game has been rigged in favor of the owners, but even a rigged game eventually comes to an end. Americans and Europeans can no longer maintain a façade of wealth by buying knickknacks from China with money they don’t have. The US and Europe are finding that their credit is no longer good in the exporting Far East countries. This is a perilous development, as the West has depended upon foreigners to accommodate its never ending expansion of credit. Without that continual expansion of debt, the Ponzi scheme comes crashing down. As China, Japan and the rest of Asia have balked at buying U.S. Treasuries with negative real yields, the only recourse for Ben has been to monetize the debt through QE and inflation. The doubling of ten year Treasury rates in a matter of three months due to just talk of possibly slowing QE should send shivers down your spine.

We are supposedly five years past the great crisis. Magazine covers proclaimed Bernanke a hero. If we are well past the crisis, why are the extreme emergency measures still in effect? If the economy is growing and jobs are being created, why do we need $85 billion of government debt to be monetized each and every month? Why are the EU, Japan, and China printing even faster than the Fed? The answer is simple. If the debt was not being monetized, it would have to be purchased out in the free market. Purchasers would require an interest rate far above the 2.9% being paid today. The debt levels in the U.S., Europe and Japan are so large that a rise in interest rates of just a few points would explode budget deficits and lead to a worldwide financial collapse. This is why Bernanke and the rest of his central banker brethren are trapped by their own ideology of bubble production. Just the slowing of debt creation will lead to collapse. Bernanke needs a Syrian crisis to postpone the taper talk. Those in control need an endless number of real or false flag crises to provide cover for their printing presses to keep rolling.

There are a couple analogies that apply to our impending doom. The country is like a 224 year old oak tree that has been slowly rotting on the inside due to the insidious diseases of hubris, apathy, selfishness, dependence, delusion, and debasement. The old oak gives an outward appearance of health and stability. Winter has arrived and gale force winds are in the forecast. One gust of wind and the mighty aged oak will topple and come crashing to earth. I think an even more fitting analogy is the sandpile with grains of sand being added day after day. Seven out of ten Americans receive more in government benefits than they pay in taxes. Goliath corporations and the uber-wealthy use the tax code and legislation to syphon hundreds of billions from the national treasury every year. We spend $1 trillion per year on past, current and future wars of choice. Annual interest on the debt we’ve racked up in the last few decades already approaches $400 billion per year. The entire Federal budget totaled $400 billion in 1977. The sandpile grows ever higher, while its instability expands exponentially. One seemingly innocuous grain of sand will ultimately cause the pile to collapse catastrophically. Will it be an unintended consequence of a missile launch into Syria? Will it be a spike in oil prices? Will it be the collapse of one of the EU PIIGS? Will it be an assassination of a political figure or banker? No one knows. But that innocuous grain of sand will trigger the collapse of the entire pile.

Worried people are looking for solutions. They often get angry at me because they don’t think I provide answers to the issues I raise about our corrupt failing system. They want easy answers to intractable problems. Sadly, I’ve come to the conclusion that our system and majority of citizens are too corrupted to change our course through the ballot box or instituting policies along the lines of those proposed by Ron Paul and many other thoughtful liberty minded people. We are experiencing the downside of a representative democracy.  Once a person is democratically elected a gulf is created between the electors and the person they elected, as the representative becomes corrupted and bought by moneyed interests. Elected officials become a class unto themselves. The political class grows to be puppets that resemble human beings but are nothing but cogs in a vast corporate run machine, pawns in an enormous game of chess played by powerful vindictive immoral men.

There are no cures for our disease. It’s terminal. Anyone telling you they have the answers is either lying or trying to sell you something. More people and organizations are on the take than are playing by the rules. The producers are being overrun by the parasites. The barbarians are at the gate. An implosion of societal trust is underway. The next stage of this crisis, which I believe will materialize within the next twelve months will try the souls of the weary.

“As the Crisis catalyzes, these fears will rush to the surface, jagged and exposed. Distrustful of some things, individuals will feel that their survival requires them to distrust more things. This behavior could cascade into a sudden downward spiral, an implosion of societal trust. This might result in a Great Devaluation, a severe drop in the market price of most financial and real assets. This devaluation could be a short but horrific panic, a free-falling price in a market with no buyers. Or it could be a series of downward ratchets linked to political events that sequentially knock the supports out from under the residual popular trust in the system. As assets devalue, trust will further disintegrate, which will cause assets to devalue further, and so on.”The Fourth Turning – Strauss & Howe – 1997

As a nation we have squandered our inheritance, born of the blood of patriots. A freedom loving, liberty minded, self-responsible, courageous people have allowed ourselves to fall prey to selfishness, apathy, complacency and dependency. Once we allowed our human appetites of greed, power seeking, and control to override the moral responsibility for our own lives and the lives of future unborn generations, collapse was inevitable. The danger now is what happens after the unavoidable collapse. Will the millions of dependency zombies beg for a strong dictator to protect them, provide for them and lead them into further bondage? Or will the spark of liberty and freedom reignite, allowing citizens to throw off the shackles of banker and corporate control? I believe most of the people in this country are good hearted. We are merely pawns in this game of Risk being played by those seeking power, wealth and world domination. We are all trapped in our own forms of normalcy bias. Have I cashed out my retirement funds, sold my suburban house and built a doomstead in the mountains? No I haven’t. Do I second guess myself sometimes? Yes I do. But even the aware have families to support, jobs to go to, bills to pay, laundry to do, lawns to mow, and lives to live. I can’t live in constant fear of what might happen. We only get 80 or so years on this earth, if we’re lucky. The best we can do is leave a positive legacy for our children and their children. A drastic change to our way of life is coming, but most of us are trapped in a cage of our own making.

Each living generation will need to do their part during this Crisis if we are to survive the coming storm. Since no one knows the nature of how the next fifteen years will unfold, it would be wise to at least make basic preparations for food, water, heat and protection. This is easier for some than others, but you don’t have to star on Doomsday Preppers in order to stock up on items that can be purchased at Wal-Mart today, but won’t be available when the global supply chain breaks down. Make sure you have neighbors and family you can rely upon. A small community of like-minded people with varied skills is more likely to succeed in our brave old world than rugged individualists. With no financial means to maintain our globalized world, living locally will take on a new meaning. After much turmoil, chaos, violence, and likely mass casualties the best outcome would be for the Great American Empire to break into regional republics, incapable of waging global war, led by law abiding moral liberty minded individuals, and willing to trade freely and honestly with their fellow republics. Daily life would revert back to a simpler Amish like time. Would that be so bad?

This Fourth Turning could end with a whimper or a bang. There are enough nuclear arms to obliterate the world ten times over. There are enough hubristic egomaniacal psychopathic men in power, that the use of those weapons has a high likelihood of happening. It will be up to the people to not allow this horrific result. I love my country and despise my government. The Declaration of Independence clearly states that when a long train of abuses and usurpations lead toward despotism, it is our right and duty to throw off that government and provide new guards of liberty. My family comes first with my country a close second. I will fight with whatever means necessary to protect my family and do what I can to influence the future course of our country. Time is running out. Will we have the courage, fortitude and wisdom to make the right decisions over the next fifteen years? Will we choose glory or destruction? The fate of our nation hangs in the balance. Are you prepared? Are you ready to fight for your family and your rights?

The Fourth Turning could spare modernity but mark the end of our nation. It could close the book on the political constitution, popular culture, and moral standing that the word America has come to signify. The nation has endured for three saecula; Rome lasted twelve, the Soviet Union only one. Fourth Turnings are critical thresholds for national survival. Each of the last three American Crises produced moments of extreme danger: In the Revolution, the very birth of the republic hung by a thread in more than one battle. In the Civil War, the union barely survived a four-year slaughter that in its own time was regarded as the most lethal war in history. In World War II, the nation destroyed an enemy of democracy that for a time was winning; had the enemy won, America might have itself been destroyed. In all likelihood, the next Crisis will present the nation with a threat and a consequence on a similar scale.The Fourth Turning – Strauss & Howe – 1997

 

 IT’S OUR CHOICE.

Trying to Stay Sane in an Insane World: Part 3

Off the keyboard of Jim Quinn

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Published on The Burning Platform on August 25, 2013

Cuckoos_Nest

Discuss this article at the Economics Table inside the Diner

In Part 1 of this article I documented the insane remedies prescribed by the mad banker scientists presiding over this preposterous fiat experiment since they blew up the lab in 2008. In Part 2 I tried to articulate why the country has allowed itself to be brought to the brink of catastrophe. There is no turning back time. The choices we’ve made and avoided making over the last one hundred years are going to come home to roost over the next fifteen years. We are in the midst of a great Crisis that will not be resolved until the mid-2020s. The propagandists supporting the vested interests continue to assure the voluntarily oblivious populace the economy is improving, jobs are plentiful, inflation is under control, and housing is recovering. Bernanke and his band of merry money manipulators, Obama and his gaggle of government apparatchiks, and their mendacious mainstream media mouthpieces have enacted radical measures in the last five years that reek of desperation in their effort to give the appearance of revival to a failing economic system. Stimulating the net worth of bankers and connected corporate cronies through engineered stock market gains has not trickled down to the peasants. Our owners try to convince us it’s raining, but we know they’re pissing down our backs. Our Crisis mood is congealing.

“But as the Crisis mood congeals, people will come to the jarring realization that they have grown helplessly dependent on a teetering edifice of anonymous transactions and paper guarantees. Many Americans won’t know where their savings are, who their employer is, what their pension is, or how their government works. The era will have left the financial world arbitraged and tentacled: Debtors won’t know who holds their notes, homeowners who owns their mortgages, and shareholders who runs their equities – and vice versa.” The Fourth Turning – Strauss & Howe – 1997

The core elements of this Crisis have been discernible for decades. The accumulation of private and public debt; the civic, moral, and intellectual decay of our society; the growing power of the corrupt corporate fascist surveillance state; growing wealth inequality created by crony capitalist skullduggery; the peak in cheap easily accessible oil; and global disorder caused by overpopulation, scarce resources, religious zealotry, and war; combine in a toxic brew of unimaginable pain, anguish and tragedy. The Crisis began in September 2008 and the sole purpose of the deceitful establishment has been to avert a catastrophe that is destined to extinguish the wealth, power and control they’ve treacherously procured over the last few decades.

The appearance of stability is illusory, as the civic fabric of the country continues to tear asunder. Record high stock markets do not trickle down. The debt engineered stock market gains enrich the .1% at the expense of the working class. Bernanke’s “wealth effect” theory is a charade. He has backed the country into a corner with no escape for the prisoners of his QE prison (he’ll escape to collect his Wall Street paycheck in January). He knows that without the combined $300 billion per month being pumped into the veins of zombie U.S., European and Japanese insolvent zombie banks by central bankers, the worldwide financial system will implode. He blathers on about tapering while awaiting the next government manufactured crisis to give him an excuse to continue or increase his money printing exercise. Control P is the only key on Bennie’s laptop. To think dropping trillions of dollars into the laps of Wall Street will somehow stimulate Main Street is beyond laughable. Some ideas are so ridiculous that only intellectuals and academics could possibly believe them.

The masters of propaganda seem baffled that their standard operating procedures are not generating the expected response from the serfs. They have failed to take into account the generational mood changes that occur during Fourth Turnings. Propaganda loses its effectiveness in proportion to the pain and distress being experienced by the citizenry. Goebbels’ propaganda enthused and motivated the German people during the 1930s as Hitler re-armed, scrapped the Versailles Treaty and took over countries, as well as when he was conquering Poland and France in the early phase of World War II. Propaganda didn’t work so well when the U.S. Air Force was obliterating Dresden, Hitler was hunkered down in his bunker about to put a bullet in his skull, and the Russians were on the outskirts of a burning Berlin. Propaganda works when the people want to believe the falsehoods. When the cold harsh reality slaps them in the face, propaganda no longer works.

    Propaganda Working Well                   Propaganda Not Working So Well

  

The American Empire propaganda machine continues to gyrate but the gears are getting clogged with the gunk of mistruths revealed. Even the willfully ignorant masses are beginning to realize they have been screwed by those running the show. After five years of debt bankrolled “no Wall Street banker left behind solutions” and Keynesian crony capitalist handouts, real median household income is 8% lower, there are 5 million less full-time jobs, there are 19 million more Americans on food stamps, gasoline prices hover near all-time high levels, health insurance premiums are skyrocketing, local, state and Federal taxes relentlessly rise, and the national debt has gone hyperbolic – up by $6.7 trillion in five years.

This 67% increase is more debt than the country accumulated in the 214 years from its founding in 1789 through 2003. The $6.7 trillion of new debt, along with Bernanke printing almost $3 trillion of new fiat dollars and handed to his puppet masters on Wall Street, have generated a pitiful $1.8 trillion of GDP growth. We know Main Street has not benefitted from this insane expansion of our empire of debt. But, someone benefitted.

Shockingly, those who profited from the actions of Bernanke, Obama, Congress, and the U.S. Treasury are the very same malevolent predators that created the financial disaster and prompted the emergency response in the first place. QE to infinity has not been a failure. It has done exactly what it was designed to do. In September 2008 every major Wall Street bank was insolvent. Orderly bankruptcy under existing law was the solution. The richest, most powerful men in the world would have seen vast amounts of their illicitly acquired wealth vaporized. Hundreds of billions in bad debt would have been written off, with no lasting impact on the average American. A brief violent depression would have ensued, but with the bad debt purged from the system and only prudent sensible bankers left, the economy would have rapidly recovered. Instead, a small cadre of financial elite hatched a plan to preserve their ill-gotten gains through accounting fraud, and manipulation of monetary and fiscal policy.

Bernanke and Paulson compelled the pocket protector wearing accounting weenies at the FASB to allow Wall Street banks to mark their assets to make believe rather than market. Bernanke then proceeded to buy up toxic assets from the Wall Street banks, providing a never ending flow of QE heroin injected directly into the veins of Wall Street bankers, and paying .25% on all deposits made by the Wall Street banks. Bernanke didn’t do this so the banks could make loans to John and Susie Q Public and small time entrepreneurs with great business ideas. He did it so Wall Street could repair their insolvent balance sheets on the backs of American taxpayers. The $2 trillion of excess reserves parked at the Federal Reserve by Wall Street banks is “earning” $5 billion of risk free profits for the Too Big to Trust autocrats. Wall Street has generated billions of additional accounting entry “profits” by pretending their future losses on worthless loans will be minimal. Lastly, the “Bernanke Put” allows the Wall Street traders to use their HFT supercomputers and advanced notice of economic data to front run the muppets and syphon billions of risk free trading profits from the real economy. The chart below reveals all you need to know about the true purpose of Bernanke’s QEfinity.

You’d have to be blind, deaf and dumb to not realize who Bernanke is really working for. But it seems the majority of people in this country don’t care, don’t understand or don’t want to know the truth, as long as the ATM keeps spitting out twenty dollar bills, there are still Cool Ranch Doritos on the shelf at the Piggly Wiggly, and the EBT card gets recharged on the first of the month.

“The mischief springs from the power which the monied interest derives from a paper currency which they are able to control, from the multitude of corporations with exclusive privileges which they have succeeded in obtaining…and unless you become more watchful in your states and check this spirit of monopoly and thirst for exclusive privileges you will in the end find that the most important powers of government have been given or bartered away….” ― Andrew Jackson

Parasite on a Parasite on a Parasite

  

“This is by no means a new idea, nor is it the least bit radical; it is deeply conservative and highly traditional. It was Aristotle who first defined the economy as an exchange of goods and services for money, commerce as a parasite on the economy (where those who create nothing extract a share by trading) and finance a parasite on commerce (which extracts a share by switching money from hand to hand – a parasite on a parasite). A typical US politician, such as the president, who counts financial companies such as Goldman Sachs among his top campaign donors, could be characterized as a parasite on a parasite on a parasite – a worm infesting the gut of a tick that is sucking blood from a vampire bat, if you like.” – Dimitri Orlov – The Five Stages of Collapse

The bastardized form of capitalism that passes for our economic system today is based upon a parasitic relationship between Too Big To Trust Wall Street banks, powerful mega-corporations, connected wealthy cronies, and bloodsucking politicians, with the American people as the debt bloated host. The parasites have put the host on life support in critical condition. It took forty years, since Nixon unleashed immoral bankers and devious politicians by decoupling our currency from gold, but the financialization and gutting of America through the false promises of globalization is almost complete. The quaint days of the 1950s and 1960s, when the country was supported by an economy that produced goods, invested in productive assets and citizens who saved money to buy things they desired, are long gone. The insane concepts espoused in the mid-1960s that created our current day welfare/warfare state required Americans to stop using their brains and start using their credit cards. The degenerate Wall Street banking cabal were thrilled to oblige by providing vast sums of debt to the government and the masses. Constant  war, uncontrolled materialism, and an ever expanding welfare state is the triple crown of profits for unscrupulous bankers and corporate CEOs. Once the inconveniant anchor of gold was cut loose by Nixon, the bankers and politicians were free to guide the U.S. Titanic towards its ultimate destination.

The decades long shift from a productive manufacturing society based on savings and investing in productive capital assets to a predatory consumption society based on borrowing and spending has enriched the Wall Street financial elite and destroyed the working middle class. An economy where 25% of its GDP was produced by manufacturing products allowed all boats to rise. A hard working middle class family had a chance to move up the social ladder. An economy where more than 20% of its GDP is dependent upon parasitical financial intermediaries that produce nothing and add no value creates the extreme wealth inequality we have in our society today. Only the yachts rise in such a society. The shift has been slow and methodical and we’ve crossed the point of no return. The propaganda being spewed by the mainstream corporate media and the connected crony capitalists like Jeffrey Immelt about a U.S. based manufacturing revival is designed to pacify the distracted masses. The pillaging by the FIRE sector will continue until the host is deceased.

The growth as a percentage of our GDP in business & professional services from 5% of GDP in 1970 to 12% today provides further evidence of a country in a downward spiral. The country wastes billions hiring “experts” (lawyers, accountants, consultants) to interpret the millions of pages of indecipherable laws, regulations and tax codes created by politicians used to control, monitor, tax and bilk the masses. The 3,300% increase in spending on healthcare and education since 1970 has created tens of millions of sickly functional illiterates. The corporate food conglomerates mass produce processed poison, Madison Avenue maggots peddle the poison to the masses through relentless Bernaysian propaganda marketing, creating nauseatingly obese human beings, and then the corporate healthcare conglomerates treat the dozens of diseases created by this insane process with their drugs, while corporate profits soar ever higher. We all know that superstar corporate CEOs like Jack Welch, Jamie Dimon, Angelo Mozillo, and Mark Zuckerberg deserve hundreds of millions in compensation for adding so much value to our everyday lives. How would we survive without a Best Buy credit card through GE Capital at 21% interest, or a JP Morgan created credit default swap sold to customers and then shorted, or a subprime negative amortization liar loan used to purchase a $750,000 McMansion, or having a place to post every inane thought we have so employers and the NSA can keep up to date on our status.

Corporate-Profits-GDP-081613

The corpulent populace have been so dumbed down by the public educational system run by social engineers and union teachers, along with the 24/7 corporate media propaganda inundating them since childhood, they are content to stare into their boob tubes, play with their iGadgets, or read what a friend of a distant relative ate for breakfast, on Facebook. The government provides enough welfare handouts to keep the increasingly larger lower classes from rioting by borrowing $1 trillion per year from future unborn generations. When the middle class shows signs of discontent regarding their declining wages and lack of jobs, the government and the military industrial complex use the bogeyman of impending terror threats and evil foreign dictators to wage undeclared wars and distract the willfully ignorant masses. Plus, there are always fantasy football leagues, paying $300 to take your family to watch drug enhanced millionaire baseball players not run out a ground ball at a $1 billion taxpayer financed stadium, shopping at a suburban ghost mall with one of your nine credit cards to dull the pain of a meaningless pathetic life, or watch eight year old Honey Boo Boo dress like whore and parade before adult judges on the Discovery Channel. Our choice to ignore the basic mathematics of our lives has resulted in creating a nation of sub-humans wandering through life like zombies in a bad horror movie.

“Anyone who cannot cope with mathematics is not fully human. At best, he is a tolerable subhuman who has learned to wear his shoes, bathe, and not make messes in the house.” ― Robert A. Heinlein

And we owe it all to the bankers and politicians that have procured undue influence over the political, economic, and financial mechanisms that control the country. The 2008 financial collapse, systematically created by the pathologically egomaniacal financial elite who are programmed to thrust their vampire squid blood funnels into every potential pot of untapped wealth in the world, should have led the American people to tear down their criminal enterprise and throw the treacherous predators into prison. Instead, the fearful masses begged the Wall Street bankers and the pandering politician flunkies in Washington D.C. to steal more of their money. The bankers won again.

“They have been able to pay off politicians with political campaign funds and have been granted informal and unspoken yet complete immunity from prosecution, setting the scene for even bigger confiscations of investor capital. With the risk of legal repercussions so small and the temptation to steal so large, why would any of them not take advantage? What do they have to do to stop people from entrusting them with their savings? Put up neon signs that say, “We steal your money”?” – Dimitri Orlov – The Five Stages of Collapse

This capturing of unwarranted power by an unelected group of rich powerful men through deceitful means has left the country at the mercy of these psychopaths as their increasingly desperate measures insure the ultimate destruction of wealth across the planet. There are four central bankers (U.S., EU, Japan, China) who are the front men for the oligarchs. They are empowered with control over 70% of all the money on the planet. Do you think they have your best interests at heart? The financial crisis was caused by excessive levels of debt, created to benefit the issuers of the debt and the politicians who used the debt to promise voters more goodies than they could ever possibly deliver. Those politicians would be long gone before the IOUs came due, but the promises got them re-elected and made them rich. The “solutions” put forth by our owners since 2008 to solve our debt crisis have been to create debt at an even more rapid pace. Total credit market debt in the U.S. has surged by $6 trillion since 2007 to $57 trillion, 345% of GDP (it was 150% in 1970). The entire world is awash in un-payable levels of debt as reckless central bankers and gutless politicians know only one response to every crisis they cause – PRINT!!!

The decline in U.S. household debt has been solely due to write-offs, as the bad debt was shifted from reckless households and gluttonous bankers to the government books, where those who prudently abstained from the debt orgy are now on the hook for trillions of newly created unfunded obligations. Despite a moribund economy, with the lowest percentage of the population employed since 1983, consumer spending tanking, interest rates rising, gas prices near record highs, and poverty levels at all-time highs, corporate profits are off the charts. It seems the “solutions” implemented by the Ivy League MBA financial elite bankers and bureaucrats have had the desired result – enrichment of the criminal class who financialized the nation. The establishment and their media propaganda machine have somehow convinced a vast swath of Americans to believe that record profits accruing to the largest corporations in the world and stock market gains accruing to the 1% are beneficial to their lives. It’s a testament to the power of propaganda that people can be convinced to cheer on their own downfall as they are dehumanized and enslaved by the plantation owners who run this country.

“Crime follows money like a shadow. The more money there is within a society, the greater are its social inequalities. Financialization dehumanizes human relationships by reducing them to a question of numbers printed on pieces of paper, and a blind calculus for manipulating these numbers mechanically; those who take part in this abstract dance of numbers dehumanizes others and, in turn, lose their own humanity and can go on to perform other dehumanizing acts. Money is, in short, a socially toxic substance.” – Dimitri Orlov – The Five Stages of Collapse

There is no more revealing statistic than real median household income to gauge the winners and losers from the financialization and dehumanization of America. The real median household income of $52,100 is still 8% below the early 2008 level of $56,600. It is still 5% lower than it was in 1999, before the Federal Reserve/Wall Street bubble blowing wealth destruction machine really got going. In fact, real median household income has only risen 9% in the last 35 years. Prior to that, most families could live comfortably with only one spouse working. I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that these calculations are based on the fraudulently manipulated CPI figures which are understated by at least 3% per year. Using a true measure of inflation would reveal median household income to be lower today than it was in the mid-1960s. The bottom 80% have seen a decline in their standard of living since the mid-1960s as inflation has robbed them of purchasing power and the financial elite have skimmed the cream off the top of our economic system. The economic gains have accrued to the top 5%, with astronomical gains being amassed by the .1% ruling elite, who have rigged the game in their favor through laws written by their lobbyists, regulatory shenanigans, tax code manipulation, and buying off politicians. Thank you Bob Rubin, Larry Summers, and Phil Gramm for repealing Glass Steagall and stopping any regulation of financial derivatives. Where would the country be without those two courageous acts on your part?

Those in control of the system have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams as 72% of all the wealth in the US is held in the hands of 5% of the population, with 42% of this in the hands of the top 1%. The top 1% now “earn” over 20% of all the income in the U.S., a level exceeded only once before in the 1920s prior to the Great Crash of 1929 and ensuing Depression. During the heyday of middle class upward mobility, from 1950 through 1970, the top 1% earned 10% of all income. Today, the top 1% is dominated by debt peddling bankers creating derivatives of mass destruction, hedge fund egomaniacs in collusion with bankers to syphon capital away from productive ventures, mega-corporation job destroying executives, entertainment personalities, and shyster lawyers preying on the weak and feeble minded. Our insane society heaps accolades on these rich and famous narcissists, who add no value, produce nothing, create economic havoc, and drain the lifeblood from the dying carcass of a once great nation. The nearly extinct middle class owes their fate to the malevolent men that turned the country into a gambling casino of debt, derivatives, delusion and dreams of jackpots that will never materialize. The bankers and their cronies run the casino and the house always wins, as the chart below confirms.

wealth-change-epi

It is mind boggling that we have allowed ourselves to be brainwashed by the ruling class about the tremendous benefits of globalization, efficiency, productivity, and profitability. When academia, the mass media, and government leaders use their power and influence to convince the masses that ever higher mega-corporation profits benefit the well-being of the country, you end up where we are today. Globalization was nothing more than a scheme by our biggest corporations to use labor arbitrage as a way to increase profits. As American jobs were disappeared overseas to countries that allow slave labor conditions and wages, median household income declined.

The banking cabal stepped to the plate and convinced the increasingly poorer middle class to replace that lost income with easily accessible debt. Just whip out that credit card and use your house as an ATM and you still give the appearance of increasing wealth. You might be in debt up to your eyeballs but, by God, at least the neighbors would think you were doing great. Until the foreclosure sign went up in front of your house in 2009. The marriage of corporations outsourcing American jobs to China with consumer debt peddled by the predator banks was a match made in heaven until the country ran out of decent paying jobs, one in six people was on food stamps, and the average middle class family was drowning in debt. People are beginning to wake up to the fact that corporate efficiency and productivity means firing American workers, cutting benefits, and bigger bonuses for corporate executives as their stock price is boosted by the announcement of more layoffs. The country has been gutted by the predator class in their unquenchable thirst for more. Human nature never changes. Greed, desire, avarice and stupidity will always rear their heads, leading to predictable outcomes.

“Indeed, it had not – not when the nation’s most sophisticated corporate financiers and their accountants were constantly at work finding new instruments of deception barely within the law; not when supposedly cool-headed fund managers had become fanatical votaries at the altar of instant performance; not when brokers’ devotion to their customers interest was constantly being compromised by private professional deals or the pressure to produce commissions; and not when the style-setting leaders of professional investing were plunging as greedily and recklessly as any amateur.” – John Brooks

The psychopaths controlling this country have fashioned untenable financial conditions by further weakening an already structurally deficient economic structure that will result in an epic flood of financial destruction destined to destroy the lives of millions in the U.S. and around the globe. Those who put their faith in financialization and interconnected globalization will reap what they have sowed. We will all feast at a banquet of consequences. Encouraging central bankers across the world to print trillions of fiat currency out of thin air as the solution to our debt problem is the ultimate in idiocracy. The unsustainability of this scheme should be evident to even an Ivy League economist. But the dimwitted government apparatchiks, overeducated economists, greedy corporate executives, vacuous media talking heads, and intellectually dishonest journalists cheer on Ben Bernanke and his central banker brethren.

When you see a Bloomberg bimbo interviewing an Ivy League Wall Street economist about the tremendous merits of QE to infinity, you have a millionaire interviewing a multi-millionaire, with both working for corporations owned by billionaires. Their jobs depend upon the sustenance and further enrichment of the establishment. Therefore, they will lie, obfuscate and mislead their audience about the criminality of their bosses and the true consequences of these crimes against humanity. The existing hierarchy will not willingly surrender their control, power and illegitimately acquired wealth. Only the process of economic collapse, war and revolution will end their reign of terror.

We’ve seen it all before. The cycles of human history have provided us with centuries of proof that a few evil men can gain control over a civilization and procure an inordinate amount of wealth and power before ultimately relinquishing it due to their myopic pathological desire to acquire more. Powerful wealthy narcissists are never satisfied with what they have. Their arrogance and hubris will always be their downfall. Their foolish belief in their own omniscience reveals their true ignorance. Their enormous egos and confidence in the linearity of history blind them to their impending demise. Time is no longer on their side. A reckoning will happen within the next decade. Their gated communities and penthouse doormen will not keep them safe.

The American people cannot shirk their responsibility for this ongoing tragedy. The evil men could only pull off this bank heist with the silent consent of the governed. And that is exactly what has happened. The American people have been gradually persuaded through propaganda and fear to willingly give up freedom, liberty and self-responsibility for safety, security and government provided succor. Over the last forty years the Americans people have allowed themselves to be enslaved in debt by bankers, corporations and politicians, who realized all the riches, while binding the citizens in chains made of credit cards and mortgages. Now that the system has reached its breaking point and the further issuance of debt no longer generates the appearance of growth, the ruling class have resorted to more authoritarian measures, all done in the name of protecting us from phantom terrorists and evil dictators. It’s for the children.

Decisions about our economy are made in secret meetings by unelected officials and with sparse details announced with great fanfare by the corporate media. The President, with the full support of the military industrial complex, chooses which dictators are evil and which are good, with each being interchangeable depending upon the circumstances. The iron fist of American democracy attacks countries at will, without a declaration of war as mandated by the U.S. Constitution. Twenty five hundred page laws, indecipherable reams of regulations, and 60,000 pages of tax code are rammed down the throats of Americans without the benefit of even a debate. Each crisis caused by the previous government solution is met with more laws and regulations, designed and written by the very entities they were supposed to control. The farce of party politics is used to give people the appearance of choice, when there is not an iota of policy difference when the opposing party assumes power.

The people are told every situation is too complicated for them to understand and they should let the “experts” solve the problems. Every authoritarian measure used to control dissent among those capable of thinking is done in the name of national security. Edward Snowden is declared a traitor for revealing the traitorous actions of our own government, and the people silently consent. The head of the NSA is caught lying to Congress, and no one cares. The Department of Homeland Security locks down one of the biggest cities in America looking for a teenager and the people cower and beg Big Brother for more protection. The NSA and other secretive government agencies treat the 4th Amendment like toilet paper, and the people feebly respond by breathlessly texting, twittering and facebooking about Anthony Weiner’s cock. The U.S. military desensitizes the masses by conducting live fire exercises in American cities, and the people just change the channel to Bridezillas or I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant.

Each new economic “surprise”; each new foreign “threat”; each new government “solution” is met with secrecy, spin, and no avenue for the people to impact the decisions made by our owners. The people no longer matter. They can’t change the course of the country through legal means or the ballot box because the system has been captured. It has happened before. The American people are under the mistaken impression we are free. That boat has sailed. Our economic, financial and political systems have been usurped by malicious men posing as gangsters in this saga. We have allowed this to happen. We mistakenly put our trust in bankers, academics and politicians and will suffer the consequences of our choices, just as the German people experienced during the last Fourth Turning.

“What happened here was the gradual habituation of the people, little by little, to being governed by surprise; to receiving decisions deliberated in secret; to believing that the situation was so complicated that the government had to act on information which the people could not understand, or so dangerous that, even if the people could not understand it, it could not be released because of national security.

Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, ‘regretted,’ that unless one understood what the whole thing was in principle, what all these ‘little measures’… must someday lead to, one no more saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing…. Each act… is worse than the last, but only a little worse. You wait for the next and the next. You wait for one great shocking occasion, thinking that others, when such a shock comes, will join you in resisting somehow.” – Milton Mayer, They Thought They Were Free, The Germans 1933-45

In the fourth and final installment of this seemingly never ending treatise on a world gone insane, I’ll address how the disintigration of trust will ultimately lead to a collapse of the worldwide Ponzi scheme and how the collapse could lead to a rebirth of a society built upon family, community, cooperation, local commerce, compassion, freedom and liberty. I can dream, can’t I?

Knarf plays the Doomer Blues

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