Orwell

The Internet of Things

Off the keyboard of Michael Snyder

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Published on The Economic Collapse on March 1, 2015

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A Dystopian Nightmare Where Everyone And Everything Will Be Monitored On The Internet

http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Biometric-Security-Cartoon-By-Welleman.jpgCan you imagine a world where your home, your vehicles, your appliances and every single electronic device that you own is constantly connected to the Internet?  This is not some grand vision that is being planned for some day in the future.  This is something that is being systematically implemented right now.  In 2015, we already have “smart homes”, vehicles that talk to one another, refrigerators that are connected to the Internet, and televisions that spy on us.  Our world is becoming increasingly interconnected, and that opens up some wonderful possibilities.  But there is also a downside.  What if we rapidly reach a point where one must be connected to the Internet in order to function in society?  Will there come a day when we can’t even do basic things such as buy, sell, get a job or open a bank account without it?  And what about the potential for government abuse?  Could an “Internet of Things” create a dystopian nightmare where everyone and everything will be constantly monitored and tracked by the government?  That is something to think about.

Today, the Internet has become such an integral part of our lives that it is hard to remember how we ever survived without it.  And with each passing year, the number of devices connected to the Internet continues to grow at an exponential rate.  If you have never heard of the “Internet of Things” before, here is a little bit about it from Wikipedia

Things, in the IoT, can refer to a wide variety of devices such as heart monitoring implants, biochip transponders on farm animals, electric clams in coastal waters, automobiles with built-in sensors, or field operation devices that assist fire-fighters in search and rescue. These devices collect useful data with the help of various existing technologies and then autonomously flow the data between other devices. Current market examples include smart thermostat systems and washer/dryers that utilize wifi for remote monitoring.

But there is also a dark side to the Internet of Things.  Security is a huge issue, and when that security is compromised the consequences can be absolutely horrifying.  Just consider the following example

It is a strange series of events that link two Armenian software engineers; a Shenzen, China-based webcam company; two sets of new parents in the U.S.; and an unknown creep who likes to hack baby monitors to yell obscenities at children. “Wake up, you little ****,” the hacker screamed at the top of his digital lungs last summer when a two-year-old in Houston wouldn’t stir; she happened to be deaf. A year later, a baby monitor hacker struck again yelling obscenities at a 10-month-old in Ohio.

Both families were using an Internet-connected baby monitor made by China-based Foscam. The hacker took advantage of a weakness in the camera’s software design that U.S.-based Armenian computer engineers revealed at a security conference in Amsterdam last April.

The Internet allows us to reach into the outside world from inside our homes, but it also allows the reverse to take place as well.

Do we really want to make ourselves that vulnerable?

Sadly, we live at a time when people don’t really stop to consider the downside to our exploding technological capabilities.

In fact, there are many people that are extremely eager to connect themselves to the Internet of Things.

In Sweden, there are dozens of people that have willingly had microchips implanted under the skin.  They call themselves “bio-hackers”, and they embrace what they see as the coming merger between humanity and technology.  The following is what one of the founders of a Sweden based bio-hacking community had to say during one recent interview

“The technology is already happening,” says Hannes Sjoblad, one of the founders of BioNyfiken. “We are seeing a fast-growing community of people experimenting with chip implants, which allow users to quickly and easily perform a variety of everyday tasks, such as allowing access to buildings, unlocking personal devices without PIN codes and enabling read access to various types of stored data.

“I consider the take-off of this technology as another important interface-moment in the history of human-computer interaction, similar to the launches of the first windows desktop or the first touch screen. Identification by touch is innate for humans. PIN codes and passwords are not natural. And every additional device that we have to carry around to identify ourselves, be it a key fob or a swipe card, is just another item that clutters our lives.”

And of course this is happening in the United States as well

In America, a dedicated amateur community — the “biohackers” or “grinders” — has been experimenting with implantable technology for several years. Amal Graafstra, a 38-year-old programmer and self-styled “adventure technologist”, has been inserting various types of radio-frequency identification (RFID) chips into the soft flesh between his thumbs and index fingers since 2005. The chips can be read by scanners that Graafstra has installed on the doors of his house, and also on his laptop, which gives him access with a swipe of his hand without the need for keys or passwords.

But you don’t have to have a microchip implant in order to be a part of the Internet of Things.

In fact, there are a whole host of “wearable technologies” that are currently being developed for our society.

For instance, have you heard about “OnStar for the Body” yet?  It will enable medical personnel to constantly monitor your health wherever you are…

Smart, cheaper and point-of-care sensors, such as those being developed for the Nokia Sensing XCHALLENGE, will further enable the ‘Digital Checkup’ from anywhere. The world of ‘Quantified Self’ and ‘Quantified Health’ will lead to a new generation of wearable technologies partnered with Artificial Intelligence that will help decipher and make this information actionable.

And this ‘actionability’ is key. We hear the term Big Data used in various contexts; when applied to health information it will likely be the smart integration of massive data sets from the ‘Internet of things’ with the small data about your activity, mood, and other information. When properly filtered, this data set can give insights on a macro level – population health – and micro – ‘OnStar for the Body‘ with a personalized ‘check engine light’ to help identify individual problems before they further develop into expensive, difficult-to-treat or fatal conditions.

If that sounded creepy to you, this next item will probably blow you away.

According to one survey, approximately one-fourth of all professionals in the 18 to 50-year-old age bracket would like to directly connect their brains to the Internet…

According to a survey by tech giant Cisco Systems, about a fourth of professionals ages 18 to 50 would leap at the chance to get a surgical brain implant that allowed them to instantly link their thoughts to the Internet.

The study was conducted on 3,700 adults working in white-collar jobs in 15 countries.

“Assuming a company invented a brain implant that made the World Wide Web instantly accessible to their thoughts, roughly one-quarter would move forward with the operation,” the study found.

In the end, they are not going to have to force most of us to get connected to the Internet of Things.

Most of us will do it eagerly.

But most people will never even stop to consider the potential for abuse.

An Internet of Things could potentially give governments all over the world the ability to continually monitor and track the activities of everyone under their power all of the time.

If you do not think that this could ever happen, perhaps you should consider the words of former CIA director David Petraeus

“Items of interest will be located, identified, monitored, and remotely controlled through technologies such as radio-frequency identification, sensor networks, tiny embedded servers, and energy harvesters — all connected to the next-generation Internet using abundant, low-cost, and high-power computing”

Are you starting to get the picture?

They plan to use the Internet of Things to spy on all of us.

But we just can’t help ourselves.  Our society has a love affair with new technology.  And some of the things that are being developed right now are beyond what most of us ever dreamed was possible.

For example, Microsoft has just released a new promotional video featuring 3D holograms, smart surfaces, next-generation wearable technologies, and “fluid mobility”…

The elaborate, highly produced video shows jaw-dropping technologies like a SCUBA mask that annotates the sea with 3D holograms, a multipart bracelet that joins together to become a communications device, and interactive, flexible displays that automatically “rehydrate” with information specific to the people using them.

This video from Microsoft was posted on YouTube, and I have shared it below…

So what do you think about all of this?

Sea Gypsy Freedom

Off the keyboard of Ray Jason

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Published on The Sea Gypsy Philosopher on April 13, 2014

ray-at-new-transmissionIt was a moment of pure, transcendent bliss. AVENTURA had just cleared some treacherous, shallow reefs south of Jamaica. As I studied my chart, it suddenly dawned on me that now there was nothing but open Caribbean water between my lovely sailboat and a cornucopia of enchanting destinations.
I could select the beautiful and historic walled city of Cartagena. Or perhaps the stunning San Blas islands with their feisty Kuna Indians, who never fell to European conquest. Maybe a visit to the magical Rio Chagres was in order. It is a jungle wonderland where the howler monkeys outnumber the humans. Or possibly I should set my course for the undiscovered jewel of the Caribbean – Bocas del Toro. But then again, maybe I should sail west to the turquoise, fish-lush waters of Belize.
Pondering these exquisite choices reinforced my belief that there is no freer way to live than the sea gypsy path. Since I didn’t want to waste my fresh stash of Jamaican limes, I made myself a tall gin and tonic. Then I retired to the foredeck with my clipboard. Feeling utterly at peace – with the sails pulling and the wind-vane steering – I decided to inventory the many forms of freedom that wandering the Wide Waters bequeaths me.
·

FREEDOM FROM FRENZY – The usual speed for AVENTURA is around five knots, which is only about twice as fast as someone out walking their dog. This allows me to leisurely observe and enjoy my surroundings. The adjoining world is not reduced to a frenetic blur, it is a panorama to examine and savor. I love the fact that my sailboat is such an organic part of nature. It is enmeshed within its rules and constraints. In the same way that you never see a turtle driving a jet-ski, you never see a boat like mine traveling at 50 knots. This magisterial pace is also vital for someone with a philosophical inclination. That’s because Speed is the arch-enemy of contemplation.
· FREEDOM FROM A BRAVE NEW 1984 WORLD – The two classic dystopian novels of the Twentieth Century proposed very different approaches that governments might use to impose tyranny. In Huxley’s BRAVE NEW WORLD, the authorities used entertainment and drugs to enslave the people so effortlessly that they didn’t even notice their bondage. But in Orwell’s 1984, the rulers used gruesome “boot on the neck” totalitarianism to subdue and neuter the people. They combined a vicious secret police force with an inescapable surveillance grid.
I contend that the evolving, low-grade tyranny that is so evident in the USA combines BOTH of these tactics. The populace is sedated and dumbed-down with a 24/7 kaleidoscope of escapist media that prevents them from noticing the erosion of their freedoms. Simultaneously, the State is militarizing police forces and installing a surveillance dome that is all-pervasive. Orwell would be shocked at how thoroughly the Overlords can monitor the modern citizen. Out here in the sea gypsy world, I am invulnerable to their electro-techno seductions and much less visible to their all-peeping eyes.
· FREEDOM FROM HUMILIATING DEPENDENCY – Self-reliance is mandatory for the ocean sailor. You can’t call a plumber a thousand miles from land. But not only is being able to fix that leaking toilet vital – it is also extremely invigorating. Being a “minor master” of one’s seagoing domicile is deeply empowering in a modern world overflowing with incompetency.
· FREEDOM TO EMBRACE MY WILD, FERAL, ANCESTRAL SELF – The Western techno-industrial paradigm has decimated almost all of the indigenous cultures on our planet. There are only about 85 native tribes still surviving in the deserts, jungles and Arctic snow fields. But even though civilized people view them as savages, they see themselves as self-reliant human animals who can attend to their complete life needs. On the other hand they are amused by our deadly dependencies, and they think of us as domesticated animals – like sheep or cows. By spending much of my time in un-peopled places, I can reconnect with my lost feral self. When I whack open a coconut with my machete and savor my Tarzan Tea or greet the sunrise with a blast from my conch shell or stop my boat in the far ocean to swim in miles-deep water, these are not just symbolic gestures. They are steppingstones along a path to greater freedom and back to the wisdom of the wild.
· FREEDOM FROM THE FEAR OF COLLAPSE – When I first started cruising many years ago, there was no such thing as Peak Oil or derivatives or methane venting. But as our Energy, Economic and Ecological mega-systems have become overwhelmed, the specter of a major societal unraveling is a genuine possibility. Fortunately, a well-equipped ocean-worthy sailboat is probably the best survival module there is. I have discussed this belief thoroughly at my various “Sea Gypsy Tribe” essays that can be easily scrolled down to here on my blog. So when I finish this essay, I will sleep soundly knowing that AVENTURA can handle almost any catastrophe that the world might present to us.
· FREEDOM FROM “WORKER BEE EDUCATION” – The actual goal of state-sponsored, industrial-model education is not to inspire the love of knowledge into students. Instead, it is designed to teach them just enough so that they can operate the machines that are needed to keep the system functioning. The prevailing educational template does not just discourage critical thinking, it suffocates it. That’s because too much careful inquiry would reveal a system that is founded upon injustice and exploitation. But the children that I see around me in the sea gypsy community, who are being home-schooled by their parents, are full of curiosity and creativity. They are learning about Nature and other cultures not from documentaries but from direct contact. The normal inquisitiveness and originality that comes with childhood is not suppressed – it is supported.
· FREEDOM FROM SUPPORTING IMPERIAL GOVERNMENTS – In my ideal world, there are no borders. And as a symbol of that vision, I fly the Earth Flag aboard AVENTURA. It also permits me to show no allegiance to my birth country, the USA, which has become such a malevolent force on the planet. I am not referring to the bulk of its people, who are largely decent, caring humans, but to its political, corporate and military Overlords who wreak havoc and death around the world. And to those foreigners who claim that I SHOULD ridicule the average American because they keep electing such soul-less leaders, I submit that the system is now so corrupted that voting or protesting no longer offer any genuine hope for change.
· FREEDOM FROM AN UN-CULTURE WHERE “OUR STUFF” DEFINES US – Most of my friends suspect that my lifelong simplicity has been involuntary rather than voluntary. They believe that if I had applied myself better I could have been successful and wealthy. But much of it has actually been conscious and deliberate. It began when I first read this sentence by Thoreau: “A man is rich in direct proportion to the number of things that he can live without.” That inspired me to judge the worth of a person not based on their “stuff” but on their non-material qualities such as intelligence, kindness and humor. Such a non-conformist perspective means that I am dramatically out of step with the dominant culture. Fortunately, by living close to Nature in my small boat, I can avoid a disposable un-culture that is addicted to “the latest and greatest.” My sextant could have been used by mariners 200 years ago – and it could be used by future sailors 200 years from now.
· FREEDOM FROM “WORST-CASE EVIL” – It is fairly indisputable that those who control our world are greedy, arrogant, selfish power freaks. But there seem to be credible insiders and whistleblowers who maintain that the people in charge are even beyond hideous – that they are genuinely diabolical and evil. My genuine hope is that this is not the case. But if it is so, what better way to escape their web, than to wander about the seldom visited coasts and the vast ocean expanses of our wild, wet planet.

The sun had now vacated my longitude in the Caribbean, and so I decided to go below and cook my dinner. But the remembrance of that Thoreau quote about voluntary simplicity, inspired me to dig out my little folder of what I call “road quotes.” I had collected them during my long ago hitch-hiking days on the Asphalt Seas. I freshened up my gin and tonic, and settled in to renew my acquaintance with these memorable quotations. About halfway through them, I came across one that I had forgotten. It is by Albert Camus, and it is so relevant to the subject of this essay that I was both stunned and delighted. Allow me to share it with you:

“The only way to deal with an un-free world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.”

Welcome to Terminus

Off the keyboard of Jim Quinn

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Published on The Burning Platform on April 6, 2014

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“Life improves slowly and goes wrong fast, and only catastrophe is clearly visible.” Edward Teller

 

I was a late arrival to the Walking Dead television program. I don’t watch much of the mindless drivel passing for entertainment on the 600 worthless channels available 24/7 on cable TV. I assumed it was another superficial zombie horror show on par with the teenage vampire crap polluting the airwaves. Last year a friend told me I had to watch the show. I was hooked immediately and after some marathon watching of seasons one and two, I understood the various storylines and back stories. What the show doesn’t openly reveal is the deeper meanings, symbolism, and lessons we can learn from viewing human beings trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic world. In my opinion, the horror and gore is secondary to the human responses to horrific circumstances and the consequences of individual and group decisions to their survival.

As the end of season four approached, the disbursed characters were descending upon a place called Terminus. They were drawn by the intriguing and hopeful signs posted at various railroad junctions promising sanctuary, community and survival. Of course the name Terminus does not sound very inviting or hopeful. There are multiple possible meanings regarding Terminus. The Roman god Terminus protected boundary markers and sacrifices were performed to sanctify each boundary stone. The bones, ashes, and blood of a sacrificial victim, along with crops, honeycombs, and wine, were placed into a hole at a point where estates converged, and the stone was driven in on top. Maintaining boundaries and sacrifice are major themes throughout the series.

The show is set in the metropolitan Atlanta area of Georgia and the surrounding countryside. It just so happens that during the 1830s Terminus was the name of a settlement at the end of the Western and Atlantic railroad line. That settlement is now Atlanta. Terminus is also the title of the final poem ever composed by Ralph Waldo Emerson. The poem focuses on a conversation between the author and the god Terminus, discussing the author’s forthcoming death. The message of the poem is to resist fear and prepare for death. The destination is worth the journey.

“As the bird trims her to the gale,

I trim myself to the storm of time,

I man the rudder, reef the sail,

Obey the voice at eve obeyed at prime:

“Lowly faithful, banish fear,

Right onward drive unharmed;

The port, well worth the cruise, is near,

And every wave is charmed.”

We are only given a short time on this earth and the end of the line will be the same for everyone. What matters is how we conduct ourselves during our own journey towards our personal Terminus. Have we served as a virtuous example for our children, sacrificed for others, and benefited humanity or have we displayed greed, avarice and selfishness during our trek through life? As we approach our own meeting with destiny, the actions and morality of individuals will matter. I don’t know the motivations of the writers creating the themes for the Walking Dead, but the show connects with me on a number of levels. I look around and see hordes of zombies everywhere.

Zombification of America

“The real hopeless victims of mental illness are to be found among those who appear to be most normal. Many of them are normal because they are so well adjusted to our mode of existence, because their human voice has been silenced so early in their lives that they do not even struggle or suffer or develop symptoms as the neurotic does. They are normal not in what may be called the absolute sense of the word; they are normal only in relation to a profoundly abnormal society. Their perfect adjustment to that abnormal society is a measure of their mental sickness. These millions of abnormally normal people, living without fuss in a society to which, if they were fully human beings, they ought not to be adjusted.” – Aldous Huxley – Brave New World Revisited

The vast majority of the population in the post-apocalyptic world of the Walking Dead is mindless zombies driven by only their need to feed upon human flesh. They are infected with a disease that disables the cognitive portion of their brains and leaves them as slobbering predatory zombies seeking to satisfy their vile needs. They are referred to as “walkers” or “biters” as they aimlessly roam the countryside seeking human flesh. Everyone bitten or killed by a zombie is infected and turned into a zombie. The only way to stop them is by destroying their brain. The relentless violence and gore is not for the squeamish, but is probably a realistic portrayal of the brutishness and harsh conditions that will overwhelm this country once the electrical grid goes down, fuel becomes scarce and the global supply chain fails. Our just in time society is about one week from chaos, lawlessness, starvation and death on a grand scale.

As I watch the hordes of hideous brain dead zombies shuffling across the apocalyptic landscape seeking to satiate their basest cravings I can’t help but see the parallels with the millions of mindless tattooed obese slobs waddling across mall parking lots past vacant store fronts staring zombielike at their iGadgets as they seek to satisfy their basest desires at Macy’s and Chipotle. A virus has overspread our country causing a vast swath of the population to gratuitously assuage their every want without thinking of the consequences. The sickness is caused by being imprisoned for twelve years in government run public schools, watching thousands of hours of propaganda emitted by the corporate media, viewing hundreds of brain cell destroying reality TV shows, reading and sending thousands of texts and tweets, and being overwhelmed by the delusional belief spending more than they make, saving nothing, and piling up mountains of debt is the path to success in our contaminated society.

In the show there is no clear explanation as to why the majority of the population have been infected and turned into zombies, while a tiny minority is unaffected and able to think critically and act rationally. It is revealed that all living people are infected with the zombie virus, but it remains dormant in a minority of the survivors. Death by any means triggers the virus and turns the corpse into a mindless flesh eating zombie. There are 318 million Americans and a majority of them fall into the category of zombies in my estimation. Every American has the zombie virus within them. It has been incubated by corrupt vote seeking politicians, control hungry government sociopaths, mind numbingly worthless public education, and the relentless dumbing down through corporate media propaganda and vacuous reality TV entertainment. Once cogent thinking aware citizens have been zombiefied into mindless impulsive consumers.

How can you not see the parallels between American society and the zombies in the Walking Dead? Walk down any city street in America and you see hordes shuffling along staring with blank faces and glazed over eyes at their iGadgets. Black Friday is identical to flinging a freshly slaughtered hog in front of the flesh eating zombies. Americans flock to malls across our apocalyptic suburban sprawl landscape and proceed to stampede, gouge, and punch their way to a fantastic bargain on a Chinese slave labor produced microwave they must have to cook their toxic frankenfood created by one of our corporate food conglomerates. The Black Friday crowds actually make the zombies from the Walking Dead seem well behaved. While the American zombies are shambling through superficial lives of pleasure seeking, mass consumption, and a delusional faith in debt based wealth, there is still a minority of rational thinking people who can control their impulses and resist the disease devouring our culture.

“Our economy is based on spending billions to persuade people that happiness is buying things, and then insisting that the only way to have a viable economy is to make things for people to buy so they’ll have jobs and get enough money to buy things.” ― Philip Slater                  

Collapse Will Be Sudden

“That’s the thing about the collapse of civilization. It never happens according to plan – there’s no slavering horde of zombies. No actinic flash of thermonuclear war. No Earth-shuddering asteroid. The end comes in unforeseen ways; the stock market collapses, and then the banks, and then there is no food in the supermarkets, or the communications system goes down completely and inevitably, and previously amiable co-workers find themselves wrestling over the last remaining cookie that someone brought in before all the madness began.” ― Mark A. Rayner – The Fridgularity

What you note after watching a few episodes of the Walking Dead is that collapse happened suddenly. Cities, towns, houses and highways remained relatively intact. The decay and deterioration caused by neglect and abandonment are the only visible signs that modern civilization has ceased. The show highlights the life-threatening difficulty of enduring on a day to day basis without the certainty of shelter, food, water, and fuel. The average asleep American isn’t prepared to last one week without the basics of modern life. They haven’t stocked any food, water or fuel in case of an emergency. Their normalcy bias keeps them from even considering the high likelihood of even a natural disaster caused by a hurricane, snowstorm, or earthquake. Recent examples of most people’s complete helplessness were the snow and ice storms that struck this past winter and hurricanes Sandy and Katrina. Without power and access to food and water, modern society breaks down quickly, with chaos, looting and anarchy only days away.

It is unlikely that collapse of civilization as we know it will happen due to some extreme event such as nuclear war, super volcano, or asteroid. When our central banker masters of the universe trigger the next financial system collapse, with no monetary bullets of debasement left in their pop gun, the resulting chaos when ATMs stop spitting out $20 bills and EBT cards for 47 million people stop functioning at Wally World will be epic. We got a glimpse into the future this past October when the EBT system went down in several states for a few hours on a Saturday afternoon. Zombies began to ransack Wal-Mart stores attempting to steal as much as they could get away with. Chaos, anger and criminal behavior was virtually instantaneous. A vast swath of EBT dependent zombies live in our numerous urban ghettos and when the EBT system goes down permanently violence will quickly erupt. Police will be vastly out-numbered, hungry mobs will become armed gangs of violent looters burning down their ghettos, ransacking and plundering businesses, stores and homes, and stealing everything that isn’t nailed down. Visualize the L.A. riots after the Rodney King verdict in every urban area in the country.

The fragility of our debt financed oil dependent just in time global supply chain system is beyond the comprehension of the average zombie American. They are too distracted by mass consuming the products dependent on that very same fragile scheme. They are clueless zombie-like dupes who believe $20 bills magically appear in ATMs, Funyuns and Cheetos miraculously materialize on Wal-Mart shelves, gasoline endlessly bubbles up from the ground into the hose they stick in their $40,000 monster SUVs “bought” with a 0% seven year loan from Ally Financial, and that enchanted plastic card with a magnetic strip empowers them to fulfill every craving like a zombie feeding on a dead carcass.

There is a worldwide currency and petroleum war being waged today as too much fiat currency is chasing a dwindling amount of cheap petroleum supplies. The developed world has experienced a century of relative illusory prosperity as cheap easy to access fuel and cheap easy to print fiat currency have led zombies to believe progress and prosperity are their god given right. The most highly educated zombies will be the most shocked when they realize the reality they believed was all an illusion. The Starbucks “Triple, Venti, Half Sweet, Non-Fat, Caramel Macchiato” crowd who isolate themselves in their 100% financed 5,000 square foot luxury cookie cutter brick McMansions amidst 200 other identical McMansions occupied by reclusive strangers in enclaves pretentiously named The Preserve at Meadow Lakes, and driving multiple leased BMWs, are about as prepared for a collapse of modern society as a helpless child. The suburban wasteland of strip malls, office parks, and fast food joints is completely dependent upon an endless supply of cheap oil and cheap credit.

The cracks in this delusionary foundation are visible for all to see as Space Available signs outnumber actual businesses, pothole dotted highways deteriorate, sewer lines crack, and houses in disrepair outnumber those being kept up. It takes money to keep a home from deteriorating and it happens to be in short supply for 90% of the population. Despite the non-stop money printing operation at the Fed and the mainstream media fantasy stories of shale oil energy independence, the suburban dream is turning into a nightmare. When the inevitable financial implosion strikes in the next few years, the illusion of progress will come to an end. The inner cities will explode in violence and will burn. The police will be helpless and scared. There will be death on a large scale.

Suburbia will turn into a lawless landscape where neighbors turn on each other, as they have failed to create real communities. The isolation and seclusion which have marked suburban existence for the last thirty years will contribute to the creation of criminal gangs looting and pillaging stores, businesses and unprotected homes. After the collapse the only people likely to survive relatively unscathed are rural folk. Farmers, ranchers and those capable of living off the land have the abilities to endure a breakdown in our modern society. These people are prepared, know how to use firearms and create communities of self-sufficiency. No one will thrive in the world coming our way, but those not dependent upon or tied to our modern societal paradigm have a better chance to survive.

“If people feel lost and alone and helpless and broken and hopeless today, what will it be like if the world really begins to come apart at the hinges?” Brandon Andress – And Then the End Will Come!

Individualism vs Community

“The values to which people cling most stubbornly under inappropriate conditions are those values that were previously the source of their greatest triumphs.” Jared Diamond – Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed

Our society has always glorified rugged individualism. We celebrate individual accomplishments and make heroes of those who have gone it alone and triumphed either in business, politics, sports, or the arts. Overcoming tremendous obstacles and going it alone in the face of adversity has been the narrative Americans admire and seek to emulate. Even the reality TV shows about preppers focus on individuals who plan on going it alone when civilization enters collapse mode. These rugged loners take pride in individualism, build bunkers, amass small arsenals and stockpile food and supplies. They will likely survive the initial onslaught of collapse and first wave of violence. But how long can an individual expect to survive alone in a Walking Dead environment? The traits which were appropriate and rewarded in modern society will be inappropriate and fatal in a post-modern society. A lesson from the show is clearly that a community of like-minded individuals working together has a better chance at long-term survival than a loner. Just make sure you join the right community.

With hordes of flesh eating automatons roaming the countryside it was essential for the living to form communities in order to fend off the zombies, protect each other, provide shelter, and forage for food. An individual alone had no chance at survival as falling asleep would ultimately prove fatal if a zombie stumbled upon your camp. The group led by Sheriff Rick Grimes eventually creates a community within the gates of an abandoned prison. The irony of seeing mindless throngs of soulless killers attempting to breakdown the fences to get “into” the prison is not lost on the audience. At first, the occupants of the prison would leave on foraging/pillaging missions to nearby cities and towns attempting to find food, medical supplies, gasoline and any other essential necessities of life. Eventually Hershel, the wise old man of the community, convinced Rick that cultivating the soil, sowing seeds and growing their own food was the only chance for their community to thrive over the long haul. Working with your hands is refreshing to the soul. Jesus’ Parable of the Sower immediately comes to mind.

Hearken; Behold, there went out a sower to sow: And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the birds of the air came and devoured it up. And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth: But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. And some fell among thorns, the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit. And other fell on good ground, did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, some an hundred. He said unto them, He that has ears to hear, let him hear. Mark 4:3-9

Some communities are evil at their core and will commit malevolent atrocities. Some communities will appear ethical, but when hardship strikes they will fall back to their wicked ways. Communities of those addicted to riches and wealth will ignore the pleas of the downtrodden and wail and gnash their teeth when their worldly wealth evaporates.  A fruitful community that chooses decent honorable leaders, adopts a moral code, treats all members with respect, encourages hard work and accountability, and plans for the future, will reap the benefits of sustainability and stability. Cultivating a good community is difficult, requiring sacrifice, compromise, hard work, difficult choices, and depends upon the goodwill of all members. Rick tried to become a farmer, but Carol saw the future clearly telling him, “you can be a farmer, you can’t just be a farmer”. A peaceful happy ending was not to be.

The community of Woodbury, led by a despicably evil man referred to as the governor, gave outward appearances of stability and health. But it was ruled through fear, intimidation, vindictiveness and evil. Leaders like the governor arise during desperate times when the weak seek someone who promises to save them and keep them safe. Leaders like the governor are far more savage, ruthless and dangerous than the flesh eating zombie hordes because they kill with malicious intent, fully knowledgeable of the consequences of their actions. Eventually good communities led by good people must stand up and fight bad communities led by evil men, no matter the consequences. Under dire circumstances and an uncertain future we will need to decide what kind of community we will be. What kind of people we will be. Will we fight for a better future for our children? Can we retain our humanity or will we become no better than the walking dead?

Brutal: Hershel awaits his fate at the hands of The Governor on last night's The Walking Dead

“What fascinates me is not so much humanity’s engulfment in darkness, but what kind of culture we will construct from the rubble of this one.” Carolyn Baker – Collapsing Consciously: Transformative Truths for Turbulent Times

Who Are the Real Walking Dead?

The central question permeating the Walking Dead is whether the living can maintain their humanity amidst so much horror, brutality, death, and desolation. Can the living continue to show compassion, kindness, mercy and love in a world torn apart by disarray, violence, viciousness and despair?  Throughout the series those who haven’t “turned” still have the capacity to empathize, comfort one another, offer succor, and show mercy and kindness. But after enduring unending horrors, cruelty, death and sorrow, it appears some of the characters are “turning” into the very monsters pursuing them.

Every human being has their breaking point. The main characters must commit increasingly heinous acts in order to survive. The walkers have no choice. Their humanity was stripped from them by the virus. The living have a choice. The mental anguish pushes some (Lizzy) over the edge into insanity. Others (Michonne and Carl) are torn by guilt that they have become monsters. Carol justifies her ruthlessness as the only choice for survival – just like the walkers. The seismic shift occurs when Rick, seeing his son being sexually assaulted, goes full zombie and bites the jugular of his captor and relentlessly stabs his son’s attacker. Daryl kills one of the bad guys by crushing his skull with his boot. Many of the characters have made a choice to shed their humanity in order to protect their family and friends. As the series completes its fourth season we are left with a question. Are the zombies really the “walking dead” or are the living really the “walking dead”?

Life is complicated and those seeking simplicity and consistency will be terribly disappointed. The future is not going to be bright for our empire of debt and delusions. Times that will try men’s souls are on the horizon. The choices we make as individuals and communities will matter. Every human being has the capacity for good or evil. We will be alone in deciding whether we gravitate toward the dark side of our character or whether we make a stand for all that is noble and decent. Retaining our humanity during the trials and tribulations that await us will be crucial to creating a community that is sustainable and a future worth living and fighting for. It is clear that Terminus is not a true sanctuary for all. It permeates evil. As all of the “good” people are herded into a single boxcar I couldn’t help but see the parallels of the Nazis herding the Jews into boxcars for their final destination. Passive submission to an evil authority never ends well.

As the door is slammed shut and the protagonists are reunited, Rick declares “they’re gonna feel pretty stupid when they find out.” Abraham then asks “find out what?” Rick’s “they’re screwing with the wrong people” response confirms his transformation from an ambivalent reluctant leader into a powerful figure who will do anything necessary to protect his family, friends and community. This Fourth Turning has yet to reach its bloody, violent, chaotic zenith. The popularity of shows like the Walking Dead is a sign of the darkening mood change in this country. With our fragile fraudulent finance driven eco-system teetering on the edge, the threat of collapse is ever present. Within one week of a financial system collapse we would enter a Walking Dead like scenario. Each American who hasn’t already been infected with the zombie virus needs to prepare now and decide what kind of person they will become as the collapse engulfs our society. We all exit this world as we entered it – alone. But we have the wherewithal to positively impact the rebuilding of our culture from the rubble of this one. Are you ready to meet the deadly trials ahead? The choices we make over the next decade will determine if this is the end of the line for our civilization or a new beginning..

 

“We live together, we act on, and react to, one another; but always and in all circumstances we are by ourselves. The martyrs go hand in hand into the arena; they are crucified alone. By its very nature every embodied spirit is doomed to suffer and enjoy in solitude. Sensations, feelings, insights, fancies—all these are private and, except through symbols and at second hand, incommunicable. We can pool information about experiences, but never the experiences themselves. From family to nation, every human group is a society of island universes.” Aldous Huxley – Doors of Perception

Fourth Turning: The People versus Big Brother

Off the keyboard of Jim Quinn

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Published on The Burning Platform on March 13, 2014

Discuss this article at the Geopolitics Table inside the Diner

“The risk of catastrophe will be very high. The nation could erupt into insurrection or civil violence, crack up geographically, or succumb to authoritarian rule. If there is a war, it is likely to be one of maximum risk and effort – in other words, a total war. Every Fourth Turning has registered an upward ratchet in the technology of destruction, and in mankind’s willingness to use it.” 

– Strauss & Howe – The Fourth Turning

“In the need to develop a capacity to know what potential enemies are doing, the United States government has perfected a technological capability that enables us to monitor the messages that go through the air. Now, that is necessary and important to the United States as we look abroad at enemies or potential enemies. We must know, at the same time, that capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left such is the capability to monitor everything—telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter. There would be no place to hide.

If this government ever became a tyrant, if a dictator ever took charge in this country, the technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back because the most careful effort to combine together in resistance to the government, no matter how privately it was done, is within the reach of the government to know. Such is the capability of this technology.

I don’t want to see this country ever go across the bridge. I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return.”Frank Church on Meet the Press regarding the NSA – 1975

Ever since Edward Snowden burst onto the worldwide stage in June 2013, I’ve been wondering how he fits into the fabric of this ongoing Fourth Turning. This period of Crisis that arrives like clockwork, 60 to 70 years after the end of the previous Fourth Turning (Civil War – 66 years after American Revolution, Great Depression/World War II – 64 years after Civil War, Global Financial Crisis – 62 years after World War II), arrived in September 2008 with the Federal Reserve created collapse of the global financial system. We are now five and a half years into this Fourth Turning, with its climax not likely until the late-2020’s. At this point in previous Fourth Turnings a regeneracy had unified sides in their cause and a grey champion or champions (Ben Franklin/Samuel Adams, Lincoln/Davis, FDR) had stepped forward to lead. Thus far, no one from the Prophet generation has been able to unify the nation and create a sense of common civic purpose. Societal trust continues to implode, as faith in political, financial, corporate, and religious institutions spirals downward. There is no sign of a unifying regeneracy on the horizon.

The core elements of this Fourth Turning continue to propel this Crisis: debt, civic decay, global disorder. Central bankers, politicians, and government bureaucrats have been able to fashion the illusion of recovery and return to normalcy, but their “solutions” are nothing more than smoke and mirrors exacerbating the next bloodier violent stage of this Fourth Turning. The emergencies will become increasingly dire, triggering unforeseen reactions and unintended consequences. The civic fabric of our society will be torn asunder.

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

Debt

The core crisis element of debt is far worse than it was at the outset of this Crisis in September 2008. The National Debt has risen from $9.7 trillion to $17.5 trillion, an 80% increase in five and half years. It took 215 years for the country to accumulate as much debt as it has accumulated since the start of this Crisis. We continue to add $2.8 billion a day to the National debt, and the president declares it is time for this austerity to end. The total unfunded liabilities of the Federal government for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, government pensions and now Obamacare exceeds $200 trillion and is mathematically impossible to honor. Corporate debt stands at an all-time high. Margin debt is at record levels, as faith in the Federal Reserve’s ability to levitate the stock market borders on delusional. Consumer debt has reached new heights, as the government doles out subprime auto loans to deadbeats and subprime student loans to future University of Phoenix Einsteins. Global debt has surged by 40% since 2008 to over $100 trillion, as central bankers have attempted to cure a disease caused by debt with more debt.

All of this debt accumulation is compliments of Bernanke/Yellen and the Federal Reserve, who have produced this new debt bubble with their zero interest rate policy and quantitative easing that has driven their balance sheet from $935 billion of mostly Treasury bonds in September 2008 to $4.2 trillion of toxic mortgage garbage acquired from their owners – the insolvent Too Big To Trust Wall Street banks. This entire house of cards is reliant upon permanently low interest rates, the faith of foreigners in our lies, and trust in Ivy League educated economists captured by Wall Street. This debt laden house of cards sits atop hundreds of trillions of derivatives of mass destruction used by the Wall Street casinos to generate “riskless” profits. When, not if, a trigger ignites this explosive concoction of debt, the collapse will be epic and the violent phase of this Fourth Turning will commence.

Civic Decay

The core crisis element of civic decay is evident everywhere you turn. Our failed public educational system is responsible for much of the civic decay, as a highly educated critical thinking populace is our only defense against a small cabal of bankers and billionaires acquiring unwarranted influence and control over our country. Our children have been taught how to feel and to believe government propaganda. The atrocious educational system is not a mistake. It has been designed and manipulated by your owners to produce the results they desire, as explained bluntly by George Carlin.

“There’s a reason that education sucks, and it’s the same reason it will never ever ever be fixed. It’s never going to get any better, don’t look for it. Be happy with what you’ve got. Because the owners of this country don’t want that. I’m talking about the real owners now, the big, wealthy, business interests that control all things and make the big decisions. They spend billions of dollars every year lobbying to get what they want. Well, we know what they want; they want more for themselves and less for everybody else. But I’ll tell you what they don’t want—they don’t want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don’t want well informed, well educated people capable of critical thinking. They’re not interested in that. That doesn’t help them. That’s against their interest.”

The urban ghettos become more dangerous and uninhabitable by the day. The inner cities are crumbling under the weight of welfare spending and declining tax revenues. The very welfare policies begun fifty years ago to alleviate poverty have hopelessly enslaved the poor and ignorant in permanent squalor and destitution. The four decade old drug war has done nothing to reduce the use of drugs. It has benefited the corporate prison industry, as millions have been thrown into prison for minor drug offenses. Meanwhile, millions more have been legally addicted to drugs peddled by the corporate healthcare complex. The culture warriors and advocates of new rights for every special interest group continue their never ending battles which receive an inordinate amount of publicity from the corporate media. Class warfare is simmering and being inflamed by politicians pushing their particular agendas. Violence provoked by race and religion is growing by the day. The fault lines are visible and the imminent financial earthquake will push distress levels beyond the breaking point. Once the EBT cards stop working, all hell will break loose. Three days of panic will empty grocery store shelves and the National Guard will be called out to try and restore control.

Global Disorder

The core crisis element of global disorder is evident everywhere you turn. The false flag revolution in the Ukraine, initiated by the U.S. and EU in order to blunt Russia’s control of natural gas to Europe, has the potential to erupt into a full blown shooting war at any moment. The attempt by Saudi Arabia, Israel and the U.S. to overthrow the Syrian dictator in order to run a natural gas pipeline across their land into Europe was blunted by Russia. Iraq is roiled in a civil war, after the U.S. invaded, occupied and destabilized the country. After 12 years of occupation, Afghanistan is more dysfunctional and dangerous than it was before the U.S. saved them from the evil Taliban. Unrest, violent protests, and brutal measures by rulers continue in Egypt, Turkey, Thailand, Venezuela, Bahrain, Brazil, and throughout Africa. American predator drones roam the skies of the world murdering suspected terrorists. The European Union is insolvent, with Greece, Spain, Italy and Portugal propped up with newly created debt. Austerity for the people and prosperity for the bankers is creating tremendous distress and tension across the continent. A global volcanic eruption is in the offing.

It is clear to me the American Empire is in terminal decline. Hubris, delusion, corruption, foolish disregard for future generations and endless foreign follies have set in motion a chain of events that will lead to a cascading sequence of debt defaults, mass poverty, collapsing financial markets, and hyperinflation or deflation, depending on the actions of feckless bankers and politicians. There is no avoiding the tragic outcome brought on by decades of bad choices and a century of allowing private banking interests to control our currency. The “emergency” QE and ZIRP responses by the Federal Reserve to the Federal Reserve created 2008 financial collapse continue, even though the propaganda peddled by the Deep State tries to convince the public we have fully recovered. This grand fraud cannot go on forever. Ponzi schemes no longer work once you run out of dupes. With societal trust levels approaching all-time lows and foreign countries beginning to understand they are the dupes, another global financial crisis is a lock.

The Snowden Factor

With ten to fifteen years likely remaining in this Fourth Turning Crisis, people familiar with generational turnings can’t help but ponder what will happen next. Linear thinkers, who constitute the majority, mistakenly believe things will magically return to normal and we’ll continue our never ending forward human progress. Their ignorance of history and generational turnings that recur like the four seasons will bite them in the ass. We are being flung forward across the vast chaos of time and our existing social order will be transformed beyond recognition into something far better or far worse. The actual events over the coming decade are unknowable in advance, but the mood and reactions of the generational archetypes to these events are predictable. The actions of individuals will matter during this Fourth Turning. The majority are trapped in their propaganda induced, techno distracted stupor of willful ignorance. It will take a minority of liberty minded individuals, who honor the principles of the U.S. Constitution and are willing to sacrifice their lives, to prevail in the coming struggle.

Despite fog engulfing the path of future events, we know they will be propelled by debt, civic decay, and global disorder. Finding a unifying grey champion figure seems unlikely at this point. I believe the revelations by Edward Snowden have set the course for future events during this Fourth Turning. The choices of private citizens, like Snowden, Assange, and Manning, have made a difference. The choices we all make over the next ten years will make a difference. A battle for the soul of this country is underway. The Deep State is firmly ingrained, controlling the financial, political and educational systems, while using their vast wealth to perpetuate endless war, and domination of the media to manipulate the masses with propaganda and triviality. They are powerful and malevolent. They will not relinquish their supremacy and wealth willingly.

Snowden has revealed the evil intent of the ruling class and their willingness to trash the Constitution in their psychopathic pursuit of mammon. The mass surveillance of the entire population, locking down of an entire city in pursuit of two teenagers, military training exercises in major metropolitan areas, militarization of local police forces by DHS, crushing peaceful demonstrations with brute force, attempting to restrict and confiscate guns, molesting innocent airline passengers, executive orders utilized on a regular basis by the president, and treating all citizens like suspects has set the stage for the coming conflict. Strauss & Howe warned that history has shown armed conflict is always a major ingredient during a Fourth Turning.

“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

It appears to me the Deep State is preparing for armed conflict with the people. Why else would they be utilizing Big Brother methods of surveillance, militarization of police forces  and Gestapo like tactics of intimidation to control the masses? This doesn’t happen in a democratic republic where private individuals are supposed to know everything done by public government servants, not vice versa. They know the cheap, easy to access energy resources are essentially depleted. They know the system they have built upon a foundation of cheap energy and cheap debt is unsustainable and will crash in the near future. They know their fiat currency scheme is failing.They know it is going to come crashing down.  

They know America and the world will plunge into an era of depression, violence, and war. They also know they want to retain their wealth, power and control. There is no possibility the existing establishment can be purged through the ballot box. It’s a one party Big Brother system that provides the illusion of choice to the Proles. Like it or not, the only way this country can cast off the shackles of the banking, corporate, fascist elites, and the government surveillance state is through an armed revolution. The alternative is to allow an authoritarian regime, on par with Hitler, Stalin and Mao, to rise from the ashes of our financial collapse. This is a distinct possibility, given the ignorance and helplessness of most Americans after decades of government education and propaganda.       

The average mentally asleep American cannot conceive of armed conflict within the borders of the U.S. War, violence and dead bodies are something they see on their 52 inch HDTVs while gobbling chicken wings and cheetos in their Barcalounger. We’ve allowed a banking cartel and their central bank puppets to warp and deform our financial system into a hideous façade, sold to the masses as free market capitalism. We’ve allowed corporate interests to capture our political system through bribery and corruption.

We’ve allowed the rise of a surveillance state that has stripped us of our privacy, freedom, liberty and individuality in a futile pursuit of safety and security. We’ve allowed a military industrial complex to exercise undue influence in Washington DC, leading to endless undeclared wars designed to enrich the arms makers. We’ve allowed the corporate media and the government education complex to use propaganda, misinformation and social engineering techniques to dumb down the masses and make them compliant consumers. These delusions will be shattered when our financial and economic system no longer functions. The end is approaching rapidly and very few see it coming.

Glory or Ruin?

The scenario I envision is a collapse of our debt saturated financial system, with a domino effect of corporate, personal, and governmental defaults, exacerbated by the trillions of currency, interest rate, and stock derivatives. Global stock markets will crash. Trillions in paper wealth will evaporate into thin air. The Greater Depression will gain a choke-hold around the world. Mass bankruptcies, unemployment and poverty will sweep across the land. The social safety net will tear under the weight of un-payable entitlements. Riots and unrest will breakout in urban areas. Armed citizens in rural areas will begin to assemble in small units. The police and National Guard will be unable to regain control. The military will be called on to suppress any and all resistance to the Federal government. This act of war will spur further resistance from liberty minded armed patriots. The new American Revolution will have begun. Leaders will arise in the name of freedom. Regional and local bands of fighters will use guerilla tactics to defeat a slow top heavy military dependent upon technology and vast quantities of oil. A dictatorial regime may assume power on a Federal level. A breakup of the nation into regional states is a distinct possibility.

With the American Empire crumbling from within, our international influence will wane. With China also in the midst of a Fourth Turning, their debt bubble will burst and social unrest will explode into civil war. Global disorder, wars, terrorism, and financial collapse will lead to a dramatic decrease in oil production, further sinking the world into depression. The tensions caused by worldwide recession will lead to the rise of authoritarian regimes and global warfare. With “advances” in technological warfare and the proliferation of nuclear warheads, this scenario has the potential to end life on earth as we know it. The modern world could be set back into the stone-age with the push of a button. There are no guarantees of a happy ending for humanity.

The outcome of this Fourth Turning is dependent upon the actions of a minority of critical thinking Americans who decide to act. No one can avoid the trials and tribulations that lie ahead. We will be faced with immense challenges. Courage and sacrifice will be required in large doses. Elders will need to lead and millennials will need to carry a heavy load, doing most of the dying. The very survival of our society hangs in the balance. Edward Snowden has provided an example of the sacrifice required during this Fourth Turning. How we respond and the choices we make over the next decade will determine whether this Fourth Turning will result in glory or ruin for our nation.

 

“Eventually, all of America’s lesser problems will combine into one giant problem. The very survival of the society will feel at stake, as leaders lead and people follow. The emergent society may be something better, a nation that sustains its Framers’ visions with a robust new pride. Or it may be something unspeakably worse. The Fourth Turning will be a time of glory or ruin.” – Strauss & Howe – The Fourth Turning

Click these links to read the first two parts of this three part series:

Do No Evil Google – Censor & Snitch for the State

Google, China, the NSA and the Fourth Turning

Do No Evil Google…

Off the keyboard of Jim Quinn

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Published on The Burning Platform on February 24, 2013

Discuss this article at the Kitchen Sink inside the Diner

…Censor and Snitch for the State

“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of.

This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society. In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.” – Edward Bernays – Propaganda

 

I find the quote above by Edward Bernays to be a perfect synopsis for everything that has come to pass over the last century. The world has become increasingly controlled by an invisible government of greedy Wall Street bankers, shadowy billionaires, immoral big business, crooked politicians, and the military industrial complex, with mammoth media conglomerates, purposefully using propaganda to manipulate and mold the minds of the masses in order to exert power and control over our lives. He wrote those words in 1928, when the only available forms of manipulation were newspapers and radio. Bernays would be ecstatic and delighted with the implements available today used by our corporate fascist state controllers as they deliver the electronic messaging guiding the public mind.

He never dreamed of television, the internet, social media, and the ability of corporations like Google, in full cooperation with the government, to censor the truth, while feeding misinformation and state sanctioned propaganda to the masses in such an efficient and effective mode. Compelling the masses to worship at the altar of technology, while idolizing the evil men running our largest banks and corporations, has been a prodigious success for the shadowy ruling power and their mass media propaganda agents. Mike Lofgren, former congressional insider and author of The Party Is Over: How Republicans Went Crazy, Democrats Became Useless and the Middle Class Got Shafted, describes these mysterious perfidious men as the Deep State:

Yes, there is another government concealed behind the one that is visible at either end of Pennsylvania Avenue, a hybrid entity of public and private institutions ruling the country according to consistent patterns in season and out, connected to, but only intermittently controlled by, the visible state whose leaders we choose.

My analysis of this phenomenon is not an exposé of a secret, conspiratorial cabal; the state within a state is hiding mostly in plain sight, and its operators mainly act in the light of day. Nor can this other government be accurately termed an “establishment.”

 All complex societies have an establishment, a social network committed to its own enrichment and perpetuation. In terms of its scope, financial resources and sheer global reach, the American hybrid state, the Deep State, is in a class by itself. That said, it is neither omniscient nor invincible. The institution is not so much sinister (although it has highly sinister aspects) as it is relentlessly well entrenched.

Far from being invincible, its failures, such as those in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, are routine enough that it is only the Deep State’s protectiveness towards its higher-ranking personnel that allows them to escape the consequences of their frequent ineptitude. – Mike Lofgren, Anatomy of the Deep State

The techno-narcissistic American public has been manipulated into falsely believing their iGadgets, Facebook, Twitter, and thousands of Apps have made them smarter, freer and safer. As Goethe proclaimed, the majority of willfully ignorant Americans are hopelessly enslaved, while falsely believing they are free. Our controllers, through relentless propaganda and misinformation pounded into our brains by the government controlled education system and unrelenting messaging by their mass media co-conspirators, have molded the minds and opinions of the vast majority into believing government and mega-corporations are beneficial and indispensable to their well-being.

The overwhelming majority have been conditioned like rats to believe anything their keepers feed them. In order to keep society running smoothly, with little dissent, thought, opposition or questioning, the Deep State utilizes all the tools at its disposal to manipulate, influence, coerce, bully and bribe the populace into passive submission. They’ve trained us to love our servitude. The Inner Party sees this as essential to their continued control, power and enrichment, while keeping the Proles impoverished, ignorant, fearful and distracted with bread and circuses.

 http://www.netcharles.com/orwell/pics/1984/1984-social-classes.gif

The key weapon in their arsenal of obedience is technology and the mega-corporations that control the flow of information disseminated to the hypnotized mindless masses. The United States has devolved into a society where a few powerful unelected unaccountable men, controlling the levers of government, education, finance, and media are able to formulate the opinions, tastes, beliefs, and fears of the masses through the effective and subtle use of technology. They have tenaciously and unflinchingly fashioned a technology addiction among the masses in order to keep them distracted, entertained and uninterested in thinking, gaining knowledge, or comprehending their roles and responsibilities as citizens in a purportedly democratic republic.

The mass media, along with their corporate compatriots – Microsoft, Apple, Verizon, AT&T, Comcast, Yahoo, Facebook and Google, gather vast amounts of data, emails, phone calls, texts, internet searches, spending habits, credit information, passwords, videos and private personal information from an agreeable, gullible and trusting populace. Americans have a seemingly infinite capacity for blindly counting on the government and the corporatocracy to use this data in an honorable and ethical manner. But, as Edward Snowden has revealed, the corporate fascist state is collecting every shred of data on every American in a systematic and thorough way. We have voluntarily surrendered our privacy, liberties, and freedoms to mega-corporations like Google and their techno-brethren, who then willingly collaborate with Big Brother NSA and allow unfettered access to this private information.

The U.S. Constitution along with the First and Fourth Amendments are meaningless to these deceitful entities. Our freedoms have dissipated at the same rate we have adopted the technological “innovations” of Facebook, Twitter, and Google. We are being monitored, scrutinized, tracked and controlled by the technology we have exuberantly purchased from the mega-corporations stripping us of our freedom. Technological “progress” has actually resulted in a colossal regression in freedom, liberty, independence, choice, and intelligent questioning of authority. We having willingly submitted to the google shackles of tyranny in exchange for being entertained and amused by Angry Birds, Words with Friends, facebooking, texting, tweeting, posting selfies and statuses, and linking in.

“Technological progress has merely provided us with more efficient means for going backwards.” Aldous Huxley – Ends and Means

 google big brother-2

David versus the Nameless, Faceless Goliath Robot

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” – Upton Sinclair – I, Candidate for Governor: And How I Got Licked

 

 

My enlightening encounter with the nameless, faceless $52 billion “non-evil doing” behemoth entity known as Google, over the last month, has clarified my understanding of how the invisible governing body of the Deep State uses the power of the all-mighty dollar to suppress dissent and obscure the truth. My inconsequential libertarian minded blog that attracts 15,000 visitors per day has been up and running for the last five years. I started my own blog because I didn’t want to deal with ongoing censorship of my articles by Wall Street sellout blogs such as Seeking Alpha, Minyanville, and Financial Sense.

Their salary/living depended upon them not publishing articles critical of Wall Street and the government. My intention has never been to make a living from my blog. Any donations or incidental advertising revenue allowed me to upgrade my server capacity to handle more visitors. I’m certainly not averse to making money, but the sole purpose of my blog has been to try and open people’s eyes to Wall Street criminality, political corruption, media propaganda, and the perilous financial state of our country. Therefore, I was pleasantly surprised when Google approved my website for ads in December.

I will admit my site has been essentially an un-moderated free for all going back to the very beginning in 2009. I do not believe in censorship or false civility. I attempt to induce anger and outrage with every article and post. These are desperate times and anger is the appropriate reaction. The country is on a burning platform of unsustainable policies and practices which threaten the future of our society. I’m pissed off and I want others to be just as pissed off. The regular commenters are intelligent, critical, opinionated, and not afraid to unload with both barrels on fellow regulars or newbies. The language is often strong and the posting of pictures and images adds to the frat house like atmosphere. Regular contributors include doctors, farmers, engineers, business owners, accountants, teachers, waitresses, students, homemakers, soldiers, spies, and retirees. The wild-west nature of the site is not a secret to anyone who has ventured a peek. I assume Google did a review of the site before approving it for their Adsense program.

I started running Google ads on my site in early December. My site operated as it always had. The $30 per day in ad revenue was welcome, as it helped defray my server and security expenses. I experience a surge in visitors whenever I publish an article that gets picked up by fellow truth telling alternative media websites like Zero Hedge, 321 Gold, Washington’s Blog, Jesse’s Cafe Americain, Steve Quayle, Monty Pelerin, Doug Ross, Market Oracle, Dollar Collapse, TF Metals and several others. I published an article called The Retail Death Rattle on January 20 which obliterated the false government and mainstream media recovery storyline and skewered the delusional incompetent CEOs of mega-retailers. It struck a nerve as it generated the highest visitor count in history for my site. It was even picked up by Wall Street Journal owned Marketwatch. My articles are highly critical of Wall Street, the Federal Reserve, corrupt Washington politicians and the feckless captured legacy media, but they usually fly under the radar of the ruling class. On January 22 Google disabled my ads for “policy violations”. This is the vague non-specific description provided by the non-human policing bot:

Scraped content

It’s important for a site displaying AdSense to offer significant value to the user by providing unique and relevant content, and not to place ads on auto-generated pages or pages with little to no original content. This may include, but is not limited to:

  • copying portions of text content from other sources
  • websites dedicated to embedded videos from other hosts
  • websites with gibberish content that makes no sense or seems auto-generated
  • templated or pre-generated websites that provide duplicate content to users.

Sexual content

Google ads may not be placed on pages with adult or mature content. This includes, but is not limited to, pages with images or videos containing:

  • Strategically covered nudity
  • Sheer or see-through clothing
  • Lewd or provocative poses
  • Close-ups of breasts, buttocks, or crotches

Over the last five years I have received exactly ZERO complaints from other websites or authors about re-posting their articles, with full attribution and links, on my website. No one can accuse my site of not having unique and relevant content. I have permission to post articles from Zero Hedge, Charles Hugh Smith, Michael Snyder, Jim Kunstler, David Stockman, John Mauldin, Doug Casey, Paul Rosenberg, Fred Reed and dozens of other brilliant truthful journalists detailing our societal decay. Was there some Kate Upton bikini Gifs and provocative Salma Hayak pictures scattered within the 200,000 comments made on the site in the last five years? Guilty as charged. It seems Google reviewers can’t see the hypocrisy of running ads to meet young bikini clad Asian girls, while disabling ads because there are a few bikini pictures on the website. I suspected my article had drawn the Eye of Sauron in my direction and this was the response.

 http://tolkiengateway.net/w/images/f/fc/The_Lord_of_the_Rings_Online_Shadows_of_Angmar_-_Eye_of_Sauron.png

Speaking truth to power during these perilous times has repercussions. But I decided to make a good faith effort to follow their rules.

I had made almost 15,000 posts over the last five years. Over the next week I scanned the site and archived posts that included articles from mainstream media websites, along with a hundred or so bikini pictures. You never deal with a human being when attempting to satisfy the Google Gestapo. Identical canned appeal denial responses are issued from Google Central with no clarification or effort to help you understand their reasoning.

Hello,

Thank you for providing us with additional information about your site. However, after thoroughly reviewing theburningplatform.com and taking your feedback into consideration, we’re unable to re-enable ad serving to your site at this time, as your site appears to still be in violation.

When making changes, please note that the URL mentioned in your policy notification may be just one example and that the same violations may exist on other pages of your website. Appropriate changes must be made across your entire website before ad serving can be enabled on your site again.

If you’d like to have your site reconsidered for participation in the AdSense program, please review our program policies and make any necessary changes to your webpages.

We appreciate your cooperation.

Sincerely,

The Google AdSense Team

There must have been some miscommunication within the Google Gestapo, as the ads were re-enabled after one week and my third appeal. A newbie, who didn’t get the memo, must have mistakenly activated my ads. Regular commenters and contributors were confused by what they could and couldn’t post on the site, as was I. The iron fist of the Google Stasi came down once again within a week, with the identical policy violation notice. I made the assumption that since the site was declared in compliance as of January 29, I only had to address anything posted since that date.

I had purged the site of any and all risqué pictures, so I knew that wasn’t a real issue. I thoroughly reviewed every post made since January 29 and archived or edited them to leave no doubt I was meeting Google’s vague guidelines. I continued to have my appeals rejected. I then went back a year and archived hundreds of other posts. By the fourth appeal rejection, I realized I would never meet their standard because it wasn’t really about violating Google content policies. It was my libertarian, anti-government, anti-Wall Street, anti-Mega-Corporation, anti-Surveillance State views that were the real issue. They were attempting to make me “not understand” or write about the creeping corporate fascist paradigm overtaking the country by making my Google salary dependent on “not understanding”.

Once I understood this truth, I was set free to provoke and prod the nameless, faceless Google entity and prove beyond a shadow of a doubt their true purpose. Their appeal form allows 1,000 characters for your response. Along with the actions I had taken, I began to question the integrity of the Google apparatchik “reviewer”, as it was clear the site was not in violation. I had archived over a thousand posts and tens of thousands of comments. I challenged the man behind the Google curtain to provide me with proof the site was still in violation. I must have struck a nerve, as out of the blue I received a new violation notice.

Violent or disturbing content

AdSense publishers are not permitted to place Google ads on pages with violent or disturbing content, including sites with gory text or images.

Now this was funny. My site focuses on the financial, political, and social decay of our country. It in no way advocates or promotes violence. It has no graphic images or gory videos. If Google is attempting to suppress videos of revolutions occurring in Venezuela, Ukraine, and Syria from being seen by citizens of the world, their credibility is zero. If Google is attempting to suppress videos of police brutality against citizens or the police state locking down an entire city while violating the Fourth Amendment, they prove themselves to be nothing more than a fascist propaganda tool of the State. This violation notice was laughable, but I decided to call their bluff one last time. I spent three days and archived 14,000 out of the 15,000 posts ever made on my site. All that remained were my main articles, published on dozens of other sites with Google ads active, and original content produced by myself or other approved contributors. There was no violent content, scraped content, or sexual content on my website.

My ninth and final appeal was denied. I then proceeded to write an FU Google post on my website and inform my readers and contributors they were unshackled from the Google Evil Empire of Censorship. I’m in the process of restoring all of the posts I had archived. Some might argue that Google is just exercising their rights under our free market capitalism system. I would argue free market capitalism does not exist today. The unholy alliance of big banks, big corporations, big military and big media has created a state run by the few for the benefit of the few. They use their control of the purse strings to manipulate minds, crush dissent, and censor through bullying and bribery.

Once I mentally liberated myself from their financial control, I was able to see their game. They essentially wanted me to purge the site of every anti-establishment example of free speech and First Amendment rights I had ever written, in order to kneel before the altar of $$$ in the Church of Google. Google would be perfectly fine if I converted my website into a chat-fest where I discussed the details of the upcoming Kim and Kanye wedding, pondered deep issues regarding the benefits of gay marriage, conducted polls on who The Bachelor will choose to be his betrothed this season,  mused about what Hollywood stars will wear at the Academy Awards, and debated who will win the fourteenth season of American Idol. The Google money would flow freely as I contributed to the dumbing down and sedation of the masses. I have chosen not be a Judas that sells out my readers and the American public for 30 pieces of fiat to the Google Pharisees and the American corporate fascist surveillance empire.

This was not the first time the Deep State attempted to silence my anarchistic viewpoint. On June 5 Edward Snowden, American hero and patriot, released the first of thousands of documents detailing the traitorous actions of the NSA, Obama, Congress, the Judicial branch, and the corporate media. Snowden revealed the government, in cooperation with Google, Verizon, Facebook and a myriad of other technology/media companies, was collecting metadata and conducting mass surveillance of every American in violation of the Fourth Amendment, a clearly illegal form of search and seizure.

On June 19 I penned an article titled Who Are the Real Traitors? In the article I declared Obama, James Clapper, Dick Cheney, Diane Feinstein, Peter King and a plethora of other politicians, faux journalists, and talking media heads as the real traitors of the American people. The article achieved wide distribution through my usual channels and must have again drawn attention in Mordor on the Potomac. Two days later anyone with McAfee or Norton security were receiving false warnings about a malicious virus on my site. Long time readers in the military informed me the site was now blocked by the Department of Defense as a dangerous website. Other long-time readers informed me their corporations were now blocking access to the site. The site was inundated by denial of service attacks. It slowed to a crawl and was virtually inaccessible. I’m sure it was just a coincidence.

I was forced to switch server companies and hire an anti-hacking company to protect the site, thereby increasing my cost to run the site by a factor of 10. Even though the companies I hired confirmed there were no malicious viruses on the site, Norton continued to scare Internet Explorer users from reading my site for the next eight months. How the $8 billion Symantec (owns Norton) entity could rationalize this false warning on only $80 billion Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, seems suspicious to me. The warning would not appear if you accessed the site with Mozilla Firefox, even if you employed Norton security. Norton makes it virtually impossible to appeal their false danger rating. I’m sure thousands of people were scared away from my website by these unaccountable corporate entities, working on behalf of the all-powerful state. Lofgren’s Deep State or Bernays’ Invisible Government hate the truth. They despise anyone who attempts to open the eyes of the public to their deception, criminality, and propaganda.

Google has become a tool and partner of the Deep State. Enrichment of the state within the state is their sole purpose. Google’s Don’t Be Evil motto, originated when they were a fledgling company in 2000, has become a farce as they have descended into the netherworld as the information police for the ruling despots. They are now a humungous corporation with near monopoly control over the flow of information, searches, emails, and internet advertising. They know more about you and your habits than you do. They attempt to control freedom of speech at the point of a wire transfer. Fall into line or no advertising blood money for you. Not only do they suppress viewpoints through advertising revenue bullying, they manipulate their search engine results to hide the truth from the masses.  Google search engines filter, block and bury blog posts that contain content or information it deems incompatible with the message of its corporate fascist co-conspirators. Its oppressive corporate practices on behalf of its evil partners are an abridgment of the freedom of speech, perversion of the truth, and active attempt to mold the minds of the masses.

 

One of the most intelligent and cleverest contributors to my website, Nick (aka Stucky), summed up the evil entity known as Google in this pointed comment on my website:

There is an Entity out there who knows every search you ever made.

The Entity knows all about your emails, the content and address.

The Entity knows what you buy online and how often.

The Entity is developing software to predict what you will buy next.

The Entity can now even watch you, and know where you are, and what you are doing.

The Entity even knows your habits.

The Entity has enormous resources and stacks of cash.

The Entity shares your information with Lesser Entities … and also The Big Evil Entity that rules us all.

The Entity makes the NSA, CIA, FBI, DHS, and their ilk look like Lightweight Chumps.

The Entity hates you. You are just a means to an end.

The Entity is building a Profile all about you.

The Entity will soon know you better than you know yourself.

Welcome to Google, the most evil Entity on the planet.

As a society we have fallen asleep at the wheel. We’ve allowed ourselves to be lulled into complacency, distracted by minutia, mesmerized by technology, turned into consumers by corporations, pacified by financial gurus and Ivy League economists, and fearful of our own shadows. Surveillance, censorship and propaganda are the tools of the oppressive state. Free speech and truthful revelations about the Deep State are a danger in the eyes of our oppressors. Words retain power and can change the hearts and minds of a tyrannized citizenry willing to listen. V’s speech to London in the movie V for Vendetta, with slight modification, captures the essence of how Google fits into the evil matrix we inhabit today.

Because while the truncheon may be used in lieu of conversation, words will always retain their power. Words offer the means to meaning and for those who will listen, the enunciation of truth. And the truth is, there is something terribly wrong with this country, isn’t there?

Cruelty and injustice…intolerance and oppression. And where once you had the freedom to object, to think and speak as you saw fit, you now have censors and systems of surveillance, coercing your conformity and soliciting your submission. How did this happen? Who’s to blame? Well certainly there are those who are more responsible than others, and they will be held accountable. But again, truth be told…if you’re looking for the guilty, you need only look into a mirror.

I know why you did it. I know you were afraid. Who wouldn’t be? War. Terror. Disease. There were a myriad of problems which conspired to corrupt your reason and rob you of your common sense. Fear got the best of you and in your panic you turned to the government and their banking/corporate patrons. They promised you order. They promised you peace. And all they demanded in return was your silent, obedient consent.

I choose not to silently and obediently consent to the will of the Deep State. Google will not silence me. We are in the midst of a Fourth Turning and I will try to do my small part in sweeping away the existing social order and trying to replace it with a system that honors and follows the U.S. Constitution. In Part 2 of this expose of evil, I’ll provide further proof of Google’s hypocrisy, censorship, and willing participation in spying on the American people. I’m beginning to understand the major conflict which will drive this Fourth Turning – The People vs The Corporate Fascist State.

 

WARNING: The National Security Agency is recording and storing this communication as part of its unlawful spying program on all Americans … and people worldwide. The people who created the NSA spying program say this communication – and any responses – can and will be used against the American people at any time in the future should unelected bureaucrats within the government decide to persecute us for political reasons. Private information in digital communications is being shared between Google, Facebook, Verizon and the government. It will be used against you when it suits their purposes.

Culture of Ignorance: Part I

Off the keyboard of Jim Quinn

Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666
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Published on The Burning Platform on October 27, 2013

http://www.schoolofunlearning.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/ignorant.jpg

Discuss this article at the Kitchen Sink inside the Diner

“Five percent of the people think;
ten percent of the people think they think;
and the other eighty-five percent would rather die than think.”

– Thomas Edison

The kabuki theater that passes for governance in Washington D.C. reveals the profound level of ignorance shrouding this Empire of Debt in its prolonged death throes. Ignorance of facts; ignorance of math; ignorance of history; ignorance of reality; and ignorance of how ignorant we’ve become as a nation, have set us up for an epic fall. It’s almost as if we relish wallowing in our ignorance like a fat lazy sow in a mud hole. The lords of the manor are able to retain their power, control and huge ill-gotten riches because the government educated serfs are too ignorant to recognize the self-evident contradictions in the propaganda they are inundated with by state controlled media on a daily basis.

 

“Any formal attack on ignorance is bound to fail because the masses are always ready to defend their most precious possession – their ignorance.” Hendrik Willem van Loon

The levels of ignorance are multi-dimensional and diverse, crossing all educational, income, and professional ranks. The stench of ignorance has settled like Chinese toxic smog over our country, as various constituents have chosen comforting ignorance over disconcerting knowledge. The highly educated members, who constitute the ruling class in this country, purposefully ignore facts and truth because the retention and enhancement of their wealth and power are dependent upon them not understanding what they clearly have the knowledge to understand. The underclass wallow in their ignorance as their life choices, absence of concern for marriage or parenting, lack of interest in educating themselves, and hiding behind the cross of victimhood and blaming others for their own failings. Everyone is born ignorant and the path to awareness and knowledge is found in reading books. Rich and poor alike are free to read and educate themselves. The government, union teachers, and a village are not necessary to attain knowledge. It requires hard work and clinging to your willful ignorance to remain stupid.

The youth of the country consume themselves in techno-narcissistic triviality, barely looking up from their iGadgets long enough to make eye contact with other human beings. The toxic combination of government delivered public education, dumbed down socially engineered curriculum, taught by uninspired intellectually average union controlled teachers, to distracted, unmotivated, latchkey kids, has produced a generation of young people ignorant about history, basic mathematical concepts, and the ability or interest to read and write. They have been taught to feel rather than think critically. They have been programmed to believe rather than question and explore. Slogans and memes have replaced knowledge and understanding. They have been lured into inescapable student loan debt serfdom by the very same government that is handing them a $200 trillion entitlement bill and an economy built upon low paying service jobs that don’t require a college education, because the most highly educated members of society realized that outsourcing the higher paying production jobs to slave labor factories in Asia was great for the bottom line, their stock options and bonus pools.

Instead of being outraged and lashing out against this injustice, the medicated, daycare reared youth passively lose themselves in the inconsequentiality and shallowness of social media, reality TV, and the internet, while living in their parents’ basement. They have chosen the ignorance inflicted upon their brains by thousands of hours spent twittering, texting, facebooking, seeking out adorable cat videos on the internet, viewing racist rap singer imbeciles rent out sports stadiums to propose to vacuous big breasted sluts on reality cable TV shows, and sitting zombie-like for days with a controller in hand blowing up cities, killing whores, and murdering policemen using their new PS4 on their 65 inch HDTV, rather than gaining a true understanding of the world by reading Steinbeck, Huxley, and Orwell. Technology has reduced our ability to think and increased our ignorance.

“During my eighty-seven years, I have witnessed a whole succession of technological revolutions. But none of them has done away with the need for character in the individual or the ability to think.” – Bernard M. Baruch

The youth have one thing going for them. They are still young and can awaken from their self-imposed stupor of ignorance. There are over 80 million millenials between the ages of 8 and 30 years old who need to start questioning the paradigm they are inheriting and critically examining the mendacious actions of their elders. The future of the country is in their hands, so I hope they put down those iGadgets and open their eyes before it is too late. We need many more patriots like Edward Snowden and far fewer twerking sluts like Miley Cyrus if we are to overcome the smog of apathy and ignorance blanketing our once sentient nation.

The ignorance of youth can be chalked up to inexperience, lack of wisdom, and immaturity. There is no excuse for the epic level of ignorance displayed by older generations over the last thirty years. Boomers and Generation X have charted the course of this ship of state for decades. Ship of fools is a more fitting description, as they have stimulated the entitlement mentality that has overwhelmed the fiscal resources of the country. Our welfare/warfare empire, built upon a Himalayan mountain of debt, enabled by a central bank owned by Wall Street, and perpetuated by swarms of corrupt bought off spineless politicians, is the ultimate testament to the seemingly limitless level of ignorance engulfing our civilization. The entitlement mindset permeates our culture from the richest to the poorest. Mega-corporations use their undue influence (bribes disguised as campaign contributions) to elect pliable candidates to office, hire lobbyists to write the laws and tax regulations governing their industries, and collude with the bankers and other titans of industry to harvest maximum profits from the increasingly barren fields of a formerly thriving land of milk and honey. By unleashing a torrent of unbridled greed, ransacking the countryside, and burning down the villages, the ruling class has planted the seeds of their own destruction.

When the underclass observes Wall Street bankers committing the crime of the century with no consequences for their actions, they learn a lesson. When billionaire banker/politicians like Jon Corzine can steal $1.2 billion directly from the accounts of farmers and ranchers and continue to live a life of luxury in one of his six mansions, they get the message. Wall Street bankers are allowed to commit fraud, reaping profits of $25 billion, and when they are caught red handed pay a $5 billion fine while admitting no guilt. No connected bankers have gone to jail for crashing the worldwide financial system, but teenage marijuana dealers are incarcerated for ten years in our corporate prison system. The message has been received loud and clear by the unwashed masses. Committing fraud and gaming the system is OK. Only suckers play by the rules anymore. A culture of lawlessness, greed, fraud, deceit, swindles and scams was fashioned by those in power. Reckless disregard for honesty, truthfulness, fair dealing, and treating others as you would like to be treated, has permeated the beliefs and behavior of our society.

The ever increasing number of people in the SNAP program along with abuses committed by retailers and recipients, the skyrocketing number of people faking their way into the SSDI program, billions of taxpayer dollars lost to Medicare fraud, billions more lost paying out earned income tax credit refunds based on non-existent children, public schools falsifying test scores, students cheating on SAT tests, credit card fraud on a grand scale, failure to report income and falsifying tax returns, and a myriad of other dodges and scams are just a reflection of a moral and cultural collapse. The dog eat dog mentality glorified by the media, with such despicable men as Dimon, Greenspan, Corzine, Clinton, Trump, Rubin, Bernanke and Bloomberg honored as pillars of society, has displaced honesty, compassion, humanity, shared sacrifice, and caring about our descendants. Self-interest, self-indulgence, and a narcissistic focus on what is in it for me today has led to an implosion of trust and an attitude of “who cares” about our fellow man, morality, right or wrong, and the fate of future generations. We ignored the warnings of our last President who displayed courageousness and truthfulness when speaking to the American people.

“As we peer into society’s future, we — you and I, and our government — must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering for our own ease and convenience the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow.” Dwight D. Eisenhower

The Me Generation has devolved into the Me Culture. While the masses have been mesmerized by their iGadgets, zombified by the boob tube, programmed to consume by the Madison Avenue propaganda machines, enslaved in chains of debt by the Wall Street plantation owners, and convinced by their fascist government keepers that phantom terrorists are hiding behind every bush, they surrendered their freedoms, liberties and sense of self-responsibility. There will always be evil men seeking to control and manipulate the ignorant and oblivious. A citizenry armed with knowledge, critical thinking skills, and moral integrity would not passively submit to the will of a corporate fascist oligarchy. Well educated, well informed citizens, capable of critical thinking are dangerous to rich men of evil intent. Obedient, universally ignorant, distracted, fearful, morally depraved slaves are what the owners of this country want. As the light of knowledge flickers and dies, we sink into the darkness of ignorance.

 

“No people will tamely surrender their Liberties, nor can any be easily subdued, when knowledge is diffused and virtue is preserved. On the Contrary, when People are universally ignorant, and debauched in their Manners, they will sink under their own weight without the Aid of foreign Invaders.”Samuel Adams

Cult of Ignorance

“There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that “my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”Isaac Asimov

  

“While every group has certain economic interests identical with those of all groups, every group has also, as we shall see, interests antagonistic to those of all other groups. While certain public policies would in the long run benefit everybody, other policies would benefit one group only at the expense of all other groups. The group that would benefit by such policies, having such a direct interest in them, will argue for them plausibly and persistently. It will hire the best buyable minds to devote their whole time to presenting its case. And it will finally either convince the general public that its case is sound, or so befuddle it that clear thinking on the subject becomes next to impossible.

In addition to these endless pleadings of self-interest, there is a second main factor that spawns new economic fallacies every day. This is the persistent tendency of man to see only the immediate effects of a given policy, or its effects only on a special group, and to neglect to inquire what the long-run effects of that policy will be not only on that special group but on all groups. It is the fallacy of overlooking secondary consequences.”Henry Hazlitt

America’s cult of ignorance, combined with the selfish interests of various constituencies, the character weakness of the people elected to office, a lack of understanding or interest in basic mathematical concepts, and inability to comprehend the long term and unintended consequences of every piece of legislation, have brought the country to the brink of fiscal disaster. But still, the vast majority of Americans, including the supposed intellectuals and economic “experts”, are basking in their ignorance, as the stock market reaches a new high, the local GM dealer just gave them a 7 year $40,000 auto loan at 0% on that brand new Cadillac Escalade, Bank of America still hasn’t foreclosed on their McMansion two years after making their last mortgage payment, and they just received three pre-approved credit card notices from Capital One, American Express and Citicorp. As long as Bennie has our back printing $1 trillion new greenbacks per year, nothing can possibly go wrong. Our best and brightest economic minds are always right:

“Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau.” – Irving Fisher, Professor of Economics, Yale University, 1929

“Many of the new financial products that have been created, with financial derivatives being the most notable, contribute economic value by unbundling risks and shifting them in a highly calibrated manner. Although these instruments cannot reduce the risk inherent in real assets, they can redistribute it in a way that induces more investment in real assets and, hence, engenders higher productivity and standards of living.” – Alan Greenspan – March 6, 2000

“We’ve never had a decline in house prices on a nationwide basis. So, what I think what is more likely is that house prices will slow, maybe stabilize, might slow consumption spending a bit. I don’t think it’s gonna drive the economy too far from its full employment path, though.” Ben Bernanke – July 2005

The profound level of ignorance displayed by economists, politicians, business leaders, media personalities, and the average American, regarding the mathematically unsustainable path of our fiscal ship is perplexing to me on so many levels. If the Federal government was a family, the budget ceiling debate would be put into the following terms. Our household earns $28,000 per year, but we spend $38,000 per year and add $10,000 to our credit card balance, which stands at the limit of $170,000. In addition, we owe our neighbors $2 million we don’t have because we promised to pay if they voted for us as Treasurer of our homeowners association. We celebrate our good fortune of getting approved for another credit card with a $30,000 limit by increasing our spending to $39,000 per year. Intellectuals scorn such simplistic analogies by glibly pointing out that the family has a crazy uncle with a printing press in the basement and can pay-off the debt with his freshly printed dollars. And this is where the deliberate and calculated ignorance by the highly educated Ivy Leaguers regarding long term and unintended consequences is revealed. They ignore, manipulate, cover-up and obscure the facts because their wealth, power and influence depend upon them doing so. But ignorance doesn’t change the facts.

“Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.” Aldous Huxley

Nothing exposes the ignorance of various factions within our society better than a debate about budgets, spending, and unfunded liabilities. This is where every party, group, special interest, and voting bloc ignore any and all facts that are contrary to their selfish interest. They only see what they want to see. The fallacies, errors, omissions and mistruths of their positions are inconsequential to people who only care about their short-term self-seeking interests. When I question the out of control spending on entitlements and our impossible to honor level of unfunded liabilities, those of a liberal persuasion lash out with accusations of hating the poor, starving children and throwing granny under the bus. Anyone suggesting we should slow our spending is branded a terrorist by the overwhelmingly liberal legacy media.

When I accuse Wall Street bankers of criminal fraud and ongoing manipulation of the financial markets, the CNBC loving apologists for these felons bellow about the market always being right. When I rail about the military industrial complex and our un-Constitutional invasions of other countries, the neo-cons come out in force blathering about the war on terror and imminent threats. When I point out the horrific results of our government run educational system and how mediocre union teachers are bankrupting our states and municipalities with their gold plated health and pension plans, I’m met with howls of outrage about the poor children. The common thread is that facts are ignored because each of their agendas requires ignorance on the part of their team’s fans.

The following chart of truth portrays an unsustainable path. Ignoring the facts will not change them. This isn’t a Republican problem or a Democrat problem. It’s an American problem.

 

“There are men regarded today as brilliant economists, who deprecate saving and recommend squandering on a national scale as the way of economic salvation; and when anyone points to what the consequences of these policies will be in the long run, they reply flippantly, as might the prodigal son of a warning father: “In the long run we are all dead.” And such shallow wisecracks pass as devastating epigrams and the ripest wisdom.” Henry Hazlitt

Henry Hazlitt may have written these words six decades ago, but they aptly describe Paul Krugman and the legions of Keynesian apostles whose bastardized interpretation of Keynes’ theory has led us to this fiscal cliff. How anyone can truly believe that borrowing to consume foreign produced goods versus saving and making job creating capital investments is a rational and sustainable economic policy is the height of ignorance. One look at this chart exposes the political party system as a sham. When it comes to the fiscal train wreck, set in motion thirty years ago, the ignorant media pundits peddle a narrative about politicians failing to compromise as the culprit in this derailment. Nothing could be further from the truth. Compromise is what has gotten us to this point. The Republicans compromised and allowed the Democrats to create a welfare state. The Democrats compromised and allowed the Republicans to create a warfare state. The Federal Reserve compromised their mandate of stable prices and preventing financial calamities by inflating away 95% of the dollar’s purchasing power in 100 years, while creating bubbles every five or so years, like clockwork. There are a myriad of facts related to the chart above that cannot be ignored:

  • It took 192 years for the country to accumulate $1 trillion in debt. It has taken us 30 years to accumulate the next $16 trillion of debt. We now add $1 trillion of debt per year.
  • If the Federal government was required to use GAAP accounting, the annual deficit would amount to $6.7 trillion per year.
  • The fiscal gap of unfunded future liabilities for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and government pensions is $200 trillion.
  • Using realistic growth assumptions adds another $6 trillion of state and local government unfunded pension benefits to the equation.
  • The Federal government has increased their annual spending from $1.8 trillion during Bill Clinton’s last year in office to $3.8 trillion today, a 110% increase. The population has increased by 12% over that same time frame, and real GDP has advanced by 25% since 2000.
  • Defense spending has increased from $358 billion in 2000 to $831 billion today, despite the fact that no country on earth can challenge us militarily.
  • The average Baby Boomer will receive $300,000 more than they contributed to Social Security and Medicare over their lifetime. Over 10,000 Boomers per day will turn 65 for the next 17 years.
  • The Social Security lockbox is filled with IOUs. The funds collected from paychecks over the last 80 years were spent by Congress on wars of choice, bridges to nowhere, and thousands of other vote buying ventures.
  • A normalization of interest rates to long-term averages would double or triple the interest on the national debt and increase our annual deficits by at least 30%.
  • Obamacare and the unintended consequences of Obamacare will add tens of trillions to our national debt. The initial budget projections for Medicare and Medicaid showed only a modest financial impact on the financial situation of the country. How did that work out?
  • Entitlement spending in 2003 was $1.3 trillion. Entitlement spending in 2008 was $1.7 trillion. Entitlement spending in 2013 was $2.2 trillion. Entitlement spending in 2018 will be $2.8 trillion, as these programs are on automatic pilot.

When you consider the facts in a rational manner, without vitriolic denials, bitter accusations, acrimonious blame, and rejection of the entire premise, you come to the conclusion that we’ve passed the point of no return. Decades of bad choices, bad leadership, bad men in important positions, bad education, bad governance, and bad citizenship have led to bad times. But very few people, across all socio-economic classes, have any interest in understanding the facts or making the tough choices required to save future generations from a life of squalor. We willfully choose to ignore the facts.

“Most ignorance is vincible ignorance. We don’t know because we don’t want to know.” Aldous Huxley

Our degraded and ignorant society is incapable of comprehending their dire circumstances or acting for the common good of the country. We are a nation on the take. Greed really is good. Everyone needs to play the game. From the top floor corporate CEO suite to the decaying urban wastelands, we have chosen comforting ignorance to uncomfortable knowledge. Our warped form of democracy enriches the few at the top, while dispensing enough subsistence payments to the lower classes to keep them from revolting, while enslaving the middle class in debt and convincing them it’s really wealth. Mencken understood the pathetic impulses of the American populace decades before we reached our point of no return.

“Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance.” – H.L. Mencken

The only way a democracy can survive is if the population is knowledgeable, vigilant, skeptical, educated, individually responsible, self-reliant, moral, capable of critical thinking and willing to accept the consequences of their actions. A nation of takers, fakers and blamers will not last long. We’ve degenerated into a nation of knowledge hating book burners. Our culture of ignorance will lead to the destruction of our culture and the ignorant masses will wonder what happened.

 

“But you can’t make people listen. They have to come round in their own time, wondering what happened and why the world blew up around them. It can’t last.”Ray Bradbury – Fahrenheit 451

In Part Two of this examination about our culture of ignorance I’ll explore the roles of technology, family breakdown, government, and propaganda in creating the ignorance that is consuming our system like a mutant parasite. If you are seeking a happy ending, I suggest looking elsewhere.

Abnormalcy Bias

Off the keyboard of Jim Quinn

Published on The Burning Platform on April 23, 2013

Discuss this article at the Epicurean Delights Smorgasbord inside the Diner

“The real hopeless victims of mental illness are to be found among those who appear to be most normal. Many of them are normal because they are so well adjusted to our mode of existence, because their human voice has been silenced so early in their lives that they do not even struggle or suffer or develop symptoms as the neurotic does. They are normal not in what may be called the absolute sense of the word; they are normal only in relation to a profoundly abnormal society. Their perfect adjustment to that abnormal society is a measure of their mental sickness. These millions of abnormally normal people, living without fuss in a society to which, if they were fully human beings, they ought not to be adjusted.” Aldous Huxley – Brave New World Revisited

The political class set in motion the eventual obliteration of our economic system with the creation of the Federal Reserve in 1913. Placing the fate of the American people in the hands of a powerful cabal of unaccountable greedy wealthy elitist bankers was destined to lead to poverty for the many, riches for the connected crony capitalists, debasement of the currency, endless war, and ultimately the decline and fall of an empire. Ernest Hemingway’s quote from The Sun Also Rises captures the path of our country perfectly:

“How did you go bankrupt?”
Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly.”

The 100 year downward spiral began gradually but has picked up steam in the last sixteen years, as the exponential growth model, built upon ever increasing levels of debt and an ever increasing supply of cheap oil, has proven to be unsustainable and unstable. Those in power are frantically using every tool at their disposal to convince Boobus Americanus they have everything under control and the system is operating normally. The psychotic central bankers, “bought and sold” political class, mega-corporation soulless chief executives and corporate controlled media use propaganda techniques, paid “experts”, talking head “personalities”, captured think tanks, and the willful ignorance of the majority to spin an increasingly dire economic descent as if we are recovering and getting back to normal. Nothing could be further from the truth.

There is nothing normal about what Ben Bernanke and the Federal government have done over the last five years and continue to do today. Truthfully, nothing has been normal since the mid-1990s when Alan Greenspan spoke the last truthful words of his lifetime:

“Clearly, sustained low inflation implies less uncertainty about the future, and lower risk premiums imply higher prices of stocks and other earning assets. We can see that in the inverse relationship exhibited by price/earnings ratios and the rate of inflation in the past. But how do we know when irrational exuberance has unduly escalated asset values, which then become subject to unexpected and prolonged contractions as they have in Japan over the past decade?”

The Greenspan led Federal Reserve created two epic bubbles in the space of six years which burst and have done irreparable harm to the net worth of the middle class. Rather than learn the lesson of how much damage to the lives of average Americans has been caused by creating cheap easy money out of thin air, our Ivy League self-proclaimed expert on the Great Depression, Ben Bernanke, has ramped up the cheap easy money machine to hyper-speed. There is nothing normal about the path this man has chosen. His strategy has revealed the true nature of the Federal Reserve and their purpose – to protect and enrich the financial elites that manipulate this country for their own purposes.

Despite the mistruths spoken by Bernanke and his cadre of banker coconspirators, he can never reverse what he has done. The country will not return to normalcy in our lifetimes. Bernanke is conducting a mad experiment and we are the rats in his maze. His only hope is to retire before it blows up in his face. Just as Greenspan inflated the housing bubble and exited stage left, Bernanke is inflating a debt bubble, stock bubble, bond bubble and attempting to re-inflate the housing bubble just in time for another Ivy League Keynesian academic, Janet Yellen, to step into the banker’s box. This genius thinks Bernanke has been too tight with monetary policy. It seems inflated egos are common among Ivy League economist central bankers who think they can pull levers and push buttons to control the economy. Results may vary.

The gradual slide towards our national bankruptcy of wealth, spirit, freedom, self-respect, morality, personal responsibility, and common sense began in 1913 with the secretive creation of the Federal Reserve and the imposition of a personal income tax. Pandora’s Box was opened in this fateful year and the horrors of currency debasement and ever increasing taxation were thrust upon the American people by a small but powerful cadre of unscrupulous financial elite and the corrupt politicians that do their bidding in Washington D.C. The powerful men who thrust these evils upon our country set in motion a chain of events and actions that will undoubtedly result in the fall of the great American Empire, just as previous empires have fallen due to the corruption of its leaders and depravity of its people. Creating a private central bank, controlled by the Wall Street cabal, and allowing the government to syphon the earnings of workers through increased taxation has allowed politicians the ability to spend, borrow, and print money at an ever increasing rate in order to get themselves re-elected and benefit the cronies, hucksters and bankers that pay the biggest bribes. None of this benefit the average American, who sees their purchasing power systematically inflated and taxed away. This is not capitalism and it is not a coincidence that war and inflation have been the hallmarks of the last century.

“A system of capitalism presumes sound money, not fiat money manipulated by a central bank. Capitalism cherishes voluntary contracts and interest rates that are determined by savings, not credit creation by a central bank. It is no coincidence that the century of total war coincided with the century of central banking.” Ron Paul

As you can see, the bankruptcy of our country and our culture began gradually, accelerated after Nixon closed the gold window in 1971, really picked up steam in 1980 when the debt happy Baby Boom generation came of age, and has “suddenly” reached maximum velocity as we approach the true fiscal cliff. There were many checkpoints along the way where fatefully bad choices were made. They include the New Deal, Cold War, Great Society, Morning in America, Dotcom New Paradigm, Housing Wealth Retirement Plan, Obamacare, and present belief that creating more debt will solve a problem created by too much debt. The Federal Reserve allowed interventionist politicians to fight two declared wars (World War I, World War II), fight five undeclared wars (Korea, Vietnam, Gulf, Afghanistan, Iraq), conduct hundreds of military engagements around the globe, occupy foreign countries, begin a war on poverty that increased poverty, begin a war on drugs that increased the amount of available drugs, and finally start a war on terror that has increased the number of terrorists and pushed us closer to national bankruptcy. The terrorists have already won, as the explosion of stupidity and irrational fear has allowed those in power to acquire more power and dominion over our lives.

Abnormality Reigns

“We live surrounded by a systematic appeal to a dream world which all mature, scientific reality would reject. We, quite literally, advertise our commitment to immaturity, mendacity and profound gullibility. It is as the hallmark of the culture. And it is justified as being economically indispensable.” John Kenneth Galbraith

When I critically scrutinize the economic, political, financial, and social landscape at this point in history, I come to the inescapable conclusion that our country and world are headed into the abyss. This is most certainly a minority viewpoint. The majority of people in this country are oblivious to the disaster that will arrive over the next decade. Some would attribute this willful ignorance to the normalcy bias that infects the psyches of millions of ostrich like iGadget distracted, Facebook addicted, government educated, financially illiterate, mass media manipulated zombies. Normalcy bias refers to a mental state people enter when facing a disaster. It causes people to underestimate both the possibility of a disaster occurring and its possible effects. This often results in situations where people fail to adequately prepare for a disaster, and on a larger scale, the failure of governments to inform the populace about the impending disaster. The assumption that is made in the case of the normalcy bias is that since a disaster hasn’t occurred yet, then it will never occur. It also results in the inability of people to cope with the disaster once it occurs. People tend to interpret warnings in the most optimistic way possible, seizing on any ambiguities to infer a less serious situation.

The unsustainability of our economic system built upon assumptions of exponential growth, ever expanding debt, increasing consumer spending, unlimited supplies of cheap easy to access oil, impossible to honor entitlement promises, and a dash of mass delusion should be apparent to even the dullest of government public school educated drones inhabiting this country. I don’t attribute this willful ignorance to normalcy bias. I attribute it to abnormalcy bias. In a profoundly abnormal society, adjusting your thinking to fit in appears normal, but is just a symptom of the disease that has infected our culture. There is nothing normal about anything in our society today. If you were magically transported back to 1996 and described to someone the economic, political, financial and social landscape in 2013, they would have you committed to a mental institution and given shock therapy.

Even though we’ve been in a 100 year spiral downwards, things still appeared relatively normal in 1996 when Greenspan uttered his “Irrational Exuberance” faux pas that so upset his Wall Street puppet masters. The ruling class had not yet repealed Glass-Steagall (pre-requisite for pillaging the muppets), created the internet bubble, fashioned the greatest control fraud in world history (housing bubble unrecognized by Ben Bernanke), or taken advantage of mass hysteria over 9/11 to begin the never ending war on terror and expansion of the Orwellian state. The citizens, and I use that term loosely, of this country have allowed those in control of the government and media to convince them the situation confronting us is just a normal cyclical variation that will be alleviated by tweaking existing economic policies and trusting that Ben Bernanke will pull the right monetary levers to get us back on course. The stress inflicted on their brains in the last thirteen years of bubbles and wars has made the average person incapable of distinguishing between normality and abnormality. What they need is slap upside of their head. Is there anything normal about these facts?

  • The Federal Reserve’s balance sheet in 1996 consisted of $422 billion, of which 91% were Treasury securities. Today it consists of $3.25 trillion, of which only 56% are Treasury securities, and the rest is toxic home mortgages, toxic commercial mortgages, and whatever other crap the Wall Street banks have dumped on their books. Their balance sheet is leveraged 57 to 1 and Bernanke has promised his Wall Street bosses he will add another $750 billion before the year is out. Is there anything normal about a central bank adding twice as much debt to its balance sheet in less than twelve months than existed on its entire balance sheet in 1996?
  • The National Debt at the end of fiscal 1996 was $5.25 trillion. It increased by $250 billion that year. The GDP of the country was $7.8 trillion. Our national debt as a percentage of GDP was only 67% and our annual deficit was only 3% of GDP. At the time, the country was worried about these outrageous levels of debt. Today the National Debt stands at a towering $16.8 trillion. It has increased by a staggering $1.12 trillion in the last twelve months. The GDP of the country today is $15.7 trillion. Our national debt as a percentage GDP has soared to 107%. Our annual deficits now exceed 7% of GDP on a consistent basis. Our budgets are on automatic pilot, with the $20 trillion level to be breached by 2016. Is it a normal state of affairs when the GDP of your country rises by 100% over seventeen years, while your debt rises by 320%?

  •  Total government spending (Federal, State, Local) in 1996 totaled $2.7 trillion, or 35% of GDP. Today total government spending is $6.3 trillion, or 40% of GDP. In 1979, before the belief in government became a religion, total government spending was only 31.5% of GDP (27% in 1965). Are you receiving twice the service from government than you received in 1996? Are you safer from terrorists due to the massive expansion of the police state? Are your kids getting a much better education than they did in 1996? Have the undeclared wars benefitted you in any way, other than tripling the price of gas? Are the higher wage taxes, real estate taxes, school taxes, sewer fees, utility fees, phone fees, gasoline taxes, permit fees, and myriad of other government charges worth it? Is it normal for government to account for almost half of our economy?

  • In 1996 personal consumption expenditures accounted for 67% of GDP, while private domestic investment accounted for 16% of GDP and we ran small trade deficits of 1% of GDP. Today, consumer spending accounts for 71% of GDP (despite the storyline about consumer retrenchment), while domestic investment has contracted to 13% of GDP and our trade deficits have surged to almost 4% of GDP. The Federal government has expanded their piece of the GDP pie by 130% since 1996, with the Department of War accounting for the bulk of the increase. Saving and capital investment is now penalized in this country. Is it normal for a country to borrow, consume and bleed itself to death?
  • Consumer credit outstanding totaled $1.2 trillion in 1996, or $4,500 per every man, woman and child in the country. Today, the austere balance is now $2.8 trillion, or $8,800 per every man, woman and child inhabiting our debt saturated paradise. The more than doubling of consumer debt would be acceptable if wages were rising at a similar rate. But that hasn’t been the case, as wages have only advanced from $3.6 trillion in 1996 to $7.0 trillion today. With even the massively understated CPI showing 50% inflation since 1996 and 23% more Americans in the working age population (45 million), real wages have advanced by 30%. Using a true measure of inflation, real wages have fallen. Total credit market debt in 1996 was $19 trillion, or 243% of GDP. Today total credit market debt sits at an all-time high of $56.2 trillion, or 358% of GDP. Is it normal for credit market debt to increase at three times the rate of GDP?

total debt market owed

  • In 1996, personal income totaled $6.6 trillion, with wages accounting for 55% of the total, interest income on savings accounting for 12% and government entitlement transfers accounting for 14%. Today personal income totals $13.6 trillion, with wages accounting for 51% of the total, interest income on savings plunging to 7% due to Bernanke’s “Screw a Senior Zero Interest Policy”, and Big Brother entitlement transfers skyrocketing to 18%. In what Orwellian dystopian society is taking money from wage earners and redistributing it to non-wage earners considered personal income? Is it normal for a government to punish savers and makers in order to benefit the borrowers and takers?
  • Prior to the financial collapse and during the mid-1990s prudent risk-averse savers could get a 4% to 5% return on money market accounts. Since the Wall Street created worldwide financial collapse, Ben Bernanke, at the behest of these very same Wall Street banks, has reduced short term interest rates to 0%. The result has been to transfer $400 billion per year from the pockets of savers and senior citizens into the grubby hands of bankers that have destroyed our economy. The prudent are left earning .02% on their savings, while the profligate bankers can borrow for 0% and earn billions by re-depositing those funds at the Federal Reserve. In what bizarro world this be a normal state of affairs?

  • Total mortgage debt outstanding in 1996, before the epic Wall Street produced housing bubble, was $4.7 billion. Today, even after the transfer of almost $1 trillion of bad debt to the balance sheet of the American taxpayer, the amount of mortgage debt is an astounding $13.1 trillion. Despite home values rising since 1996, there are 20% of all households still in a negative equity position. Total household real estate equity was 60% in 1996, plunged below 40% in 2009, and has only slightly rebounded to 47% today because Wall Street dumped the bad mortgages on the backs of the American taxpayer. Is it normal for mortgage debt to triple and home equity to plunge in a rationally functioning world? Is it normal when 25% of all existing home sales are distressed sales and another 30% are sales to Wall Street hedge funds like Blackrock?

  • In 1996 there were 200 million working age Americans, with 134 million (67%) in the labor force, 127 million (63.5%) employed, and 66 million (33%) not in the labor force. Today there are 245 million working age Americans, with 155 million (63%) in the labor force, 143 million (58%) employed, and 90 million (37%) supposedly not in the labor force. The number of working age Americans has increased by 22.5%, while the number of those employed has advanced by only 12.5%. The population to employment ratio has reached a three decade low as millions have given up, been lured into college by cheap plentiful government debt, or developed a mysterious ailment that has gotten them into the SSDI program. Is it normal for millions of Americans to leave the labor force when the economy is supposedly recovering?

  • In 1996 there were 25.5 million Americans on food stamps, or 9.6% of the population, costing $24 billion per year. Today there are 47.8 million Americans on food stamps, or 15% of the population, costing $75 billion per year. Historically, the number of people in this program would rise during recessions and recede when the economy recovered, just as a safety net program should function. According to our government keepers the economy has been in recovery since late 2009. The number of people entering the food stamp program has gone up by 7 million since the recession officially ended. This is not normal. Either the government is lying about the recession or they are screwing the taxpayer by encouraging constituents to enter the program in an effort to gain votes. Which is it?

  • The price of oil averaged $20 per barrel in 1996 and it cost you $1.20 per gallon to fill your tank. Oil averaged $85 per barrel in 2012 and currently hovers around $90 per barrel. Most Americans are now paying between $3.50 and $4.00 per gallon to fill their tanks. This result seems abnormal considering the propaganda machine is proclaiming we are on the verge of energy independence. After two Middle East wars, 6,700 dead American soldiers, 50,000 wounded American soldiers, and $1.5 trillion of national wealth wasted, this is all we get – a tripling in gas prices and creation of thousands of new terrorists?

You have to have a really bad case of normalcy bias to be able to convince yourself that everything that has happened since 1996 is normal. Every fact supports the reality that we’ve entered a period of extreme abnormality and our response as a nation thus far has insured that a disaster of even far greater magnitude is just over the horizon. Anyone with an ounce of common sense realizes the social mood is deteriorating rapidly. We are in the midst of a Crisis period that will result in earth shattering change, but the masses want things to go back to normal and don’t want to face the facts. The cognitive dissonance created by reality versus their wishes will resolve itself when the next financial collapse makes 2008 look like a walk in the park. But, until then most will just stick their heads in the sand and hope for the best.

Loving Your Servitude

“Liberty is lost through complacency and a subservient mindset. When we accept or even welcome automobile checkpoints, random searches, mandatory identification cards, and paramilitary police in our streets, we have lost a vital part of our American heritage. America was born of protest, revolution, and mistrust of government. Subservient societies neither maintain nor deserve freedom for long.”Ron Paul

The most disgraceful example of abnormality that has infected our culture has been the cowardice and docile acquiescence of the citizenry in allowing an ever expanding police state to shred the U.S. Constitution, strip us of our freedoms, and restrict our liberties. Our keepers have not let any crisis go to waste in the last seventeen years. They have also taken advantage of the willful ignorance, childish immaturity, extreme gullibility, historical cluelessness, financial illiteracy and techno-narcissism of the populace to reverse practical legislation and prey upon irrational fears to strip the people of their constitutionally guaranteed liberties and freedoms. If you had told someone in 1996 the security measures, laws, and police agencies that would exist in 2013, they would have laughed you out of the room. Every crisis, whether government created or just convenient to their agenda, has been utilized by the oligarchs to expand the police state and benefit the crony capitalists that profit from its expansion. The character of the American people has been found wanting as they obediently cower and beg for protection from unseen evil doers. The propagandist corporate media reinforces their fears and instructs them to submissively tremble and implore the government to do more. The cosmic obliviousness and limitless sense of complacency of the general population with regards to a blatantly obvious coup by a small cadre of sociopathic financial elite and their army of bureaucrats, lackeys and jackboots is a wonder to behold.

The 1929 stock market crash and ensuing Great Depression was primarily the result of excessively loose Federal Reserve monetary policy during the Roaring 20’s and the unrestrained fraud perpetrated by the Wall Street banks. The 1933 Glass-Steagall Act was a practical 38 page law which kept Wall Street from ravenously raping its customers and the American people for almost seven decades. The Wall Street elite and their bought off political hacks in both parties repealed this law in 1999, while simultaneously squashing any effort to regulate the financial derivatives market. The day trading American public didn’t even look up from their computer screens. Over the next nine years Wall Street went on a fraudulent feeding frenzy rampage which brought the country to its knees and then held the American taxpayer at gunpoint to bail them out. The Federal Reserve arranged rescue of LTCM in 1998 gave the all clear to Wall Street that any risk was acceptable, since the Fed would always bail them out. Just as they did in the 1920’s, the Federal Reserve set the table for financial disaster with excessively low interest rates and non-existent regulatory oversight.

The downward spiral of our empire towards an Orwellian/Huxley merged dystopian nightmare accelerated after the 9/11 attacks. Within one month those looking to exert hegemony over all domestic malcontents had passed the 366 page, 58,000 words Patriot Act. Did the terrified masses ask how such a comprehensive destruction of our liberties could be written in under one month? It is apparent to anyone with critical thinking skills that the enemy within had this bill written, waiting for the ideal opportunity to implement this unprecedented expansion of federal police power. Electronic surveillance of our emails, phone calls and voice mails, along with warrantless wiretaps, and general loss of civil liberties was passed without question under the guise of protecting us. Next was the invasion of a foreign country based upon lies, propaganda and misinformation without a declaration of war, as required by the Constitution. Our government began torturing suspects in secret foreign prisons. The shallow, self-centered, narcissistic, Facebook fanatic populace has barely looked up from texting on their iPhones to notice that we have been at war in the Middle East for eleven years, because it hasn’t interfered with their weekly viewing of Honey Boo Boo, Dancing With the Stars, or Jersey Shore. They occasionally leave their homes to wave a flag and chant “USA, USA, USA”, as directed by the media, when a terrorist like Bin Laden or Boston bomber is offed by our security services, but for the most part they can live their superficial vacuous lives of triviality unscathed by war.

The creation of the Orwellian Department of Homeland Security ushered in a further encroachment of our everyday freedoms. They attempted to keep the masses frightened through a ridiculous color coded fear index. Little old ladies, people in wheelchairs and little children are subject to molestation by lowlife TSA perverts. Military units conduct “training exercises” in cities across the country to desensitize the sheep-like masses, who fail to acknowledge that the U.S. military cannot constitutionally be used domestically. DHS considers military veterans, Ron Paul supporters, and Christians as potential enemies of the state. The use of predator drones to murder suspected adversaries in foreign countries, while killing innocent men, women and children (also known as collateral damage), has just been a prelude to the domestic surveillance and eventually extermination of dissidents and nonconformists here in the U.S. We are already becoming a 1984 CCTV controlled nation. DHS has been rapidly militarizing local police forces in cities and towns to supplement their jackbooted thugs. Obama’s executive orders have given him the ability to take control of industry. He can imprison citizens without charges for as long as he deems necessary. Attempts to control gun ownership and shutdown the internet is a prologue to further government domination and supremacy over our lives when the wheels come off this unsustainable bus.

The last week has provided a multitude of revelations about our government and the people of this country. The billions “invested” in our police state, along with warnings from a foreign government, and suspicious travel patterns were not enough for our beloved protectors to stop the Boston Marathon bombing. After stumbling upon these amateur terrorists by accident, the 2nd responders, with their Iraq war level firepower, managed to slaughter one of the perpetrators, but somehow allowed a wounded teenager to escape on foot and elude 10,000 donut eaters for almost 24 hours. The horde of heavily armed, testosterone fueled thugs proceeded to bully and intimidate the citizens of Watertown by illegal searches of homes and treating innocent people like criminals. The government completely shut down the 10th largest metropolitan area in the country for an entire day looking for a wounded 19 year old. The people of Boston obeyed their zoo keepers and obediently cowered in their cages.

The entire episode was an epic fail. The gang that couldn’t shoot straight needed an old man to find the bomber in his backyard boat. The people of Boston exhibited the passivity and subservience demanded by their government. Since the capture of the remaining terrorist, the shallow exhibitions of national pride at athletic events and smarmy displays of honoring the police state apparatchiks who screwed up – allowing the attack to occur and looking like the keystone cops during the pursuit of the suspects, has revealed a fatal defect in our civil character. We are living in a profoundly abnormal society, with millions of medicated mindless zombies controlled by a vast propaganda machine, who seemingly enjoy having their liberties taken away. Most have willingly learned to love their servitude. For those who haven’t learned, the boot of our vast security state will just stomp on their face forever. We’re realizing the worst dystopian nightmares of Orwell and Huxley simultaneously. This abnormalcy bias will dissipate over the next ten to fifteen years in torrent of financial collapse, war, bloodshed, and retribution. Sticking your head in the sand will not make reality go away. The existing social, political, and financial order will be swept away. What it is replaced by is up to us. Will this be the final chapter or new chapter in the history of this nation? The choice is ours.

“If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever.
– George Orwell

 antidepressant-facts-400x400

“There will be, in the next generation or so, a pharmacological method of making people love their servitude, and producing dictatorship without tears, so to speak, producing a kind of painless concentration camp for entire societies, so that people will in fact have their liberties taken away from them, but will rather enjoy it, because they will be distracted from any desire to rebel by propaganda or brainwashing, or brainwashing enhanced by pharmacological methods. And this seems to be the final revolution” –Aldous Huxley, 1961

 

Big Brother has ARRIVED!

Off the keyboard of Steve Lendman

Published on the Steven Lendman Blog on May 1, 2013

Discuss this article at the Epicurean Delights Smorgasbord inside the Diner

Institutionalized Spying on Americans

Big Brother no longer is fiction. It hasn’t been for some time. It’s official US policy. According to ACLU’s Technology and Liberty Program director Barry Steinhardt:

“Given the capabilities of today’s technology, the only thing protecting us from a full-fledged surveillance society are the legal and political institutions we have inherited as Americans.”

“Unfortunately, the September 11 attacks have led some to embrace the fallacy that weakening the Constitution will strengthen America.”

Manufactured national security threats matter more than fundamental freedoms. Domestic spying is institutionalized.

Anyone can be monitored for any reason or none at all. Privacy rights are lost. Patriot Act legislation authorized unchecked government surveillance powers.

Financial, medical and other personal information can be accessed freely. So-called “sneak and peak” searches may be conducted through “delayed notice” warrants, roving wiretaps, email tracking, and Internet and cell phone use.

The FBI, CIA, NSA, and Pentagon spy domestically. So do state and local agencies. Spies “R” us defines US policy. America is a total surveillance society. It’s unsafe to live in. Everyone is suspect unless proved otherwise.

The 2012 FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act renewed warrantless spying. It passed with little debate. On Sunday, December 30, 2012 Obama signed it into law. Doing so largely went unnoticed.

These type disturbing measures usually slip below the radar. Weekends and holiday period enactments conceal blows to freedom. Warrantless spying became law for another five years.

Phone calls, emails, and other communications may be monitored secretly without court authorization. Probable cause isn’t needed. So-called “foreign intelligence information” is sought. Virtually anything qualifies. Vague language is all-embracing.

Months after 9/11, Bush secretly authorized the NSA to eavesdrop on Americans lawlessly. Sweeping surveillance followed without court-approved warrants.

Doing so violates core constitutional protections. Major US telecommunications companies are involved. They have been since 9/11. Things now are worse than then.

On April 29, Russia Today (RT) headlined “Spy, or pay up: FBI-backed bill would fine US firms for refusing wiretaps.” A day earlier Washington Post article was cited.

It headlined “Panel seeks to fine tech companies for noncompliance with wiretap orders,” saying:

“A government task force is preparing legislation that would pressure companies such as Face­book and Google to enable law enforcement officials to intercept online communications as they occur, according to current and former US officials familiar with the effort.”

At issue is alleged FBI concerns about “Internet communications of terrorists and other criminals.”

FBI spying is longstanding. So are other lawless practices. Throughout its history, the agency operated within and outside the law.

J. Edgar Hoover ran it from 1924 – 1972. He waged war on communists, anti-war, human and civil rights activists, the American Indian Movement, Black Panther Party, and other groups challenging rogue state policies.

He ordered agents to infiltrate, disrupt, sabotage, and destroy them. Anyone advocating ethnic justice and racial emancipation, as well as economic, social, and political equality across gender and color lines became vulnerable.

Post-9/11, FBI abuses escalated. Intrusive surveillance tools now target ordinary Americans. Unchecked authority and other abusive practices are widespread. America’s war on terror matters most.

Disturbing tactics include greater physical surveillance, commercial database data retrieval, paid informants infiltrating groups (or targeting individuals) on false pretenses, and letting covert unidentified agents conduct “pretext” interviews for information.

Muslims are America’s target of choice. So are anti-war and social justice activists. A gloves off, no-holds barred approach is followed. Virtually anything is fair game. Innocent people are vulnerable.

The Patriot Act authorized so-called National Security Letters (NSLs). FBI agents take full advantage. They do so by demanding personal customer records from ISPs, financial institutions, credit companies, and other sources without prior court approval.

The FBI wants more. According to the Washington Post, it wants companies failing to heed wiretap orders penalized.

In February 2011, then FBI general counsel Valerie Caproni told House Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security Subcommittee members about a “Going Dark” problem.

She explained the agency’s inability to access comprehensive “communications and related data.” She claimed a “public safety” threat when critical information is missed.

In March 2013, current FBI general counsel Andrew Weissmann addressed an American Bar Association discussion. He did so on legal challenges new technologies pose, saying:

“We don’t have the ability to go to court and say, ‘We need a court order to effectuate the intercept.’ Other countries have that. Most people assume that’s what you’re getting when you go to a court.”

Under current law, Internet communications companies can refuse to comply with court-ordered wiretaps. They can claim no practical way to do so.

Proposed legislation would change things. It would force companies to rebuild their capability to allow government monitoring.

Weissmann calls doing so a “top priority.” Proposed legislation is being drafted. It’s an extension of the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA).

It grants federal authorities sweeping surveillance powers. Doing so lets them spy on Americans more intrusively.

CALEA originally applied only to digital telephone networks. It forced telephone companies to redesign their network architectures to make wiretapping easier.

In 2005, online communications were added. Broadband providers had to rebuild their networks accordingly.

At issue was permitting access to Internet “phone calls” through VOIP applications, as well as online “conversations” by instant messaging programs.

Law enforcement wiretapping is longstanding. Existing laws permit tapping phone or online communications regardless of what programs or protocols are used.

Industry largely cooperates. Digital age surveillance is easier than authorities claim. They want greater ease than currently permitted. Expanding CALEA is overkill. Doing so enhances police state powers.

The FBI cites its “tappability principle.” It does so to justify its demands. It claims whatever is legally searchable sometimes should be physically searchable all times.

Applied to phone and Internet communications, it would require designing phones and computers with built-in bugs. Doing so would elevate surveillance powers. Everyone could be spied on at all times. Private communications no longer would exist.

Expanding CALEA is the tip of the iceberg. Perhaps software companies are next. Enhanced legislative authority may force them to create surveillance-ready programs. Doing so may compromise innovation.

Applying phone system rules to software development and online communications assures trouble. What’s longstanding policy for one compromises innovation for the others. It also more greatly undermines freedom.

Police state powers are enhanced. Companies are forced to comply. Under draft legislation, courts could levy fines. Judicial inquiries could impose additional ones. After 90 days, unpaid amounts would double daily.

According to Center for Democracy and Technology senior counsel Greg Nojeim:

“This proposal is a non-starter that would drive innovators overseas and cost American jobs. They might as well call it the Cyber Insecurity and Anti-Employment Act.”

Former federal prosecutor Michael Sussman added:

“Today, if you’re a tech company that’s created a new and popular way to communicate, it’s only a matter of time before the FBI shows up with a court order to read or hear some conversation.”

“If the data can help solve crimes, the government will be interested.”

In 2010, after its networks were hacked, Google began emails and text messages end-to-end encryption. Facebook followed suit.

Doing so compromises FBI monitoring. Agency officials want enhanced CALEA authorization permitting it.

They claim doing so only extends current law to new technologies. It requires phone and online companies to allow wiretapping.

It’s much more than that. It elevates mass surveillance to a dangerously higher level. It’s another step toward full-blown tyranny.

On April 29, the Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) headlined “Feds Push for Backdoor Wiretap Capabilities.”

According to CDT Senior Staff Technologist Joe Hall:

“A wiretapping mandate is a vulnerability mandate. The unintended consequences of this proposal are profound.”

“At the very time when the nation is concerned about cybersecurity, the FBI proposal has the potential to make our communications less secure.”

“Once you build a wiretap capability into products and services, the bad guys will find a way to use it.”

CDT President Leslie Harris added:

“What the FBI is proposing sounds benign, but it comes with such onerous penalties that it would force developers to seek pre-approval from the FBI.”

“No one is going to want to face fines that double every day, so they will go to the FBI and work it out in advance, diverting resources, slowing innovation, and resulting in less secure products.”

“The sad irony,” said Hall, “is that this is likely to be ineffective. Building a communications tool today is a homework project for undergraduates.”

“So much is based on open source and can be readily customized. Criminals and other bad actors will simply use homemade communication services based offshore, making them even harder to monitor.”

Media scholar/critic/activist Robert McChesney told Progressive Radio News Hour listeners how Internet freedom has been compromised.

His important new book “Digital Disconnect: How Capitalism is Turning the Internet Against Democracy” explains what should concern everyone.

“The corporate media sector (did) everything in its immense power to limit (its) openness and egalitarianism…., he said.”

“….corporate and state surreptitious monitoring of Internet users” compromises fundamental freedoms.

Doing so is “inimical to much of the democratic potential of digital communication.”

Internet freedom depends on “arrest(ing) the forces that promote inequality, monopoly, hypercommercialism, corruption, depoliticization, and stagnation.”

It requires ending mass surveillance powers. It’s about restoring lost democratic principles. America’s heading the wrong way. It’s perilously close to ending freedom altogether.

All I want for Christmas is the TRUTH

Off the keyboard of Jim Quinn

Published on The Burning Platform on December 3,2012

Discuss this article at the Epicurean Delights Smorgasbord inside the Diner

“Eyes blinded by the fog of things
cannot see truth.
Ears deafened by the din of things
cannot hear truth.
Brains bewildered by the whirl of things
cannot think truth.
Hearts deadened by the weight of things
cannot feel truth.
Throats choked by the dust of things
cannot speak truth.”
Harald Bell Wright – The Uncrowned King

I consider myself a seeker of truth. It isn’t easy finding it in todays’ world. In an alternate version of the famous scene from A Few Good Men, I picture myself telling Turbo Tax Timmy Geithner that I want the truth and his angry truthful response:

“Son, we live in a world that has Wall Street banks, and those banks have to be guarded by puppet politicians in Washington D.C. with lobbyist written laws and Madison Avenue PR maggots with media propaganda. Who’s gonna do it? You? You, Representative Paul? I have a greater responsibility than you could possibly fathom. You weep for the average middle class American family, and you curse the ruling oligarchs. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know. That the death of the American middle class, while tragic, probably saved the bonuses of thousands of Wall Street bankers. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, increases the wealth of these same bankers who destroyed the worldwide economic system in 2008. You don’t want the truth because deep down in places you don’t talk about in the food bank line, you want me on Wall Street, you need me on Wall Street. We use words like derivative, fiscal stimulus, quantitative easing. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent syphoning off the wealth of the nation. You use them as a punch line. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very debt that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said thank you, and went on your way, Otherwise, I suggest you pick up 1000 shares of Apple, and hope our high frequency trading supercomputers can ramp the market for a while longer. Either way, I don’t give a damn what you think you are entitled to.”

I find myself more amazed than ever at the ability of those in power to lie, misinform and obfuscate the truth, while millions of Americans willfully choose to be ignorant of the truth and yearn to be misled. It’s a match made in heaven. Acknowledging the truth of our society’s descent from a country of hard working, self-reliant, charitable, civic minded citizens into the abyss of entitled, dependent, greedy, materialistic consumers is unacceptable to the slave owners and the slaves. We can’t handle the truth because that would require critical thought, hard choices, sacrifice, and dealing with the reality of an unsustainable economic and societal model. It’s much easier to believe the big lies that allow us to sleep at night. The concept of lying to the masses and using propaganda techniques to manipulate and form public opinion really took hold in the 1920s and have been perfected by the powerful ruling elite that control the reins of finance, government and mass media.

Peddlers of Propaganda

“Great is truth, but still greater, from a practical point of view, is silence about truth.” Aldous Huxley – Brave New World

File:Edward Bernays.jpg

Adolf Hitler understood the power of the big lie over the ignorant masses who want to believe:

“All this was inspired by the principle–which is quite true within itself–that in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods. It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation. For the grossly impudent lie always leaves traces behind it, even after it has been nailed down, a fact which is known to all expert liars in this world and to all who conspire together in the art of lying.” – Adolf Hitler – Mein Kampf

We are all liars. We lie to friends, family and co-workers. We convince ourselves they are only small lies and just protect others from being hurt. We would rather be lied to than face the blunt truth about our deficiencies, shortcomings and failures. Willfully believing mistruths allows a person to become dependent upon those promulgating the mistruths. It relieves them of their responsibility to act upon the knowledge that something is wrong and must be fixed. It is a cowardly path to ultimate servitude and destruction. The German people chose this path in the 1930s and the American people have chosen a similar and ultimately destructive path today. The United States Office of Strategic Services prepared a psychological profile report during the war describing Adolf Hitler’s method for controlling the minds of the German masses:

“His primary rules were: never allow the public to cool off; never admit a fault or wrong; never concede that there may be some good in your enemy; never leave room for alternatives; never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong; people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it.”

America’s corruptible politicians, greedy corporate chieftains, criminal banking overlords, and despicable media manipulators all learned the sordid lessons of mass propaganda from the masters. Our willingness to lie and be lied to set us up to be manipulated by those who understood the mass psychology of a nation. Goebbels and Hitler were heavily influenced by the father of propaganda – Edward Bernays. He and his disciples are professional poisoners of the public mind, exploiters of public foolishness and ignorance, and never allow truth to interfere with a good story. What master manipulators realized is that it is easier to change the attitude of millions than the attitude of one man. By analyzing and understanding the process and motives of how the group mind works, the invisible government has been able to manipulate and regulate the masses according to their will without the masses knowing they are being managed. Bernays described this elitist view of the world in 1928:

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

The super-rich elite believe they are more intelligent, more capable of managing the affairs of state, masters of the financial world, and chosen to decide what is best for the masses. In reality, they are egocentric, psychotic, power hungry, myopic, self-serving ravenous vultures, feasting upon the carcass of a once great nation. Truth is inconsequential and irritating to their plans for world domination and control. Therefore, no truth will be forthcoming from any organization or person that is associated with the existing political, economic, financial or social order. Every bit of information that is permitted into the public realm has been vetted, manipulated and spun for public consumption. The public does not like bad news. They do not like hard facts. They do not like to think or do math. They want to be spoon fed mindless sound bites and happy talk. The oligarchs need to keep the masses sedated and subservient while they continue to plunder and pillage, so all data is massaged to provide a happy ending.

This is where I deviate from the ideologue one-trick ponies that refuse to see both sides of the issue. The ruling oligarchs are wealthy, influential, psychotic, amoral, and few. The masses are relatively poor, easily influenced, willfully ignorant, and many. The ruling oligarchs are most certainly evil, but the masses are not the hard working, stoic, downtrodden portrayed by liberal ideologues. One just needs to walk down the street in one of our urban enclaves, saunter through a suburban mall, or click on People of Wal-Mart to witness the tattooed, pierced, butt crack showing, slovenly, obese, and ignorant, attached to their electronic iGadgets, to understand how far our society has deteriorated. Every individual born into this world has the capability to become educated, think critically, not follow the herd, live beneath their means, and not be influenced by propaganda. Aldous Huxley understood in 1931 that those in power could use material goods to invoke passivity and egotism among the populace. He feared that truth would be obscured by an avalanche of irrelevance (500 Reality TV shows), cultural trivialities (Lady Gaga, Lindsey Lohan), distractions (Professional sports), and pharmaceutical enhanced escape (Prozac). He saw the possibility that we would grow to love our servitude as the pleasures of life provided by our controllers overwhelmed any desire to think or question authority.

“There will be in the next generation or so a pharmacological method of making people love their servitude and producing dictatorship without tears, so to speak, producing a kind of painless concentration camp for entire societies so that people will in fact have their liberties taken away from them but will rather enjoy it.” Aldous Huxley

By 1962 when Huxley wrote his last book, he was certain that his worst dystopian nightmares had been unleashed. His description of Western society fifty years ago could have been written today and accurately reflected our current economic paradigm. War, debt and consumption still make our world go round, but the end is nigh.

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

The pillars are crumbling. The $1.4 trillion wasted on two worthless wars of choice in the Middle East, the trillions wasted and liberties sacrificed for the never ending unwinnable War on Terror, the Keynesian spending frenzy that has driven the National Debt from $9 trillion to $16.3 trillion in the last five years, the looting of the American taxpayer by Wall Street and their co-conspirators at the Federal Reserve and in Congress, and the belief that ramping up the debt driven consumption that drives 71% of our GDP is our path to prosperity is absolutely freaking nuts. The pillars will not be abolished willingly. The ruling class depends upon their continued existence and expansion. There is the rub. The math doesn’t work. We’ve reached the point where continued expansion of debt and money printing no longer works. With a national debt to GDP ratio of 102% and a total credit market debt to GDP ratio of 350%, we have passed the Rogoff & Reinhart point of no return. This time is not different. A country cannot run trillion dollar deficits indefinitely and expect to not suffer the consequences. This is why those in power are increasingly resorting to propaganda, data manipulation, and outright lies to convince the masses of their omnipotence and brilliance in managing the fiscal affairs of the state.

“One believes things because one has been conditioned to believe them.” Aldous Huxley – Brave New World

Through decades of mass media messaging the masses have been conditioned to believe whatever those in power want them to believe. To our invisible government rulers we are nothing but rats to be manipulated through food pellets and shock therapy. Pleasure and fear of pain are the drivers of our warped society. The ruling oligarchs truly think they know what is best for the masses and believe any means is worthwhile as long as the ends support their agenda. This is blatantly obvious to anyone with their eyes open and their brain functioning. Sadly, the government run educational system produces mostly drones that are barely able to tie their own shoes, spell Cat, or make change from a one dollar bill. Only 20% of all high school seniors score high enough on the SAT test to get a B minus in college and most of these kids come from private and parochial schools. This is exactly what those in power prefer. They want non-critical thinking, mindless consumers, who don’t understand the criminal nature of Federal Reserve created inflation or their enslavement in the chains of debt at the hands of their Wall Street slave owners. They certainly don’t want the masses to understand that real median household net worth is lower today than it was in 1969. Luckily for the oligarchs, 95% of the public couldn’t define the terms: real, median or net worth. Math is hard.

The average person is inundated on a 24/7 basis with pabulum from liberal network media talking heads, CNBC Wall Street shills regurgitating whatever their sponsors desire, Fox News blonde bimbos and neo-con war mongers programmed to spew Rupert Murdoch talking points, MSNBC tingling leg faux journalists, NYT intellectually corrupt Nobel prize winners, NAR nitwits repeating “best time to buy” on a daily basis for the last 12 years, and government agencies whose sole purpose is to manipulate data in a way that supports the agenda of those in power. The intellectually lazy and willfully ignorant masses are no match for those who control the message and the media. How else can you explain their ability to convince millions of drones to line up for hours in front of a store and stampede like crazed hyenas to grab a $5 crockpot, the Chinese produced gadget of the moment or a designer top made by slave labor in safety conscious Bangladesh factories? How else can you explain a population willing to be molested by government TSA dregs in the name of security from phantom terrorists, the passive acceptance of military exercises in US cities, unquestioning submissiveness as Presidential Executive Orders allow the government dictatorial powers based on their judgment, the monitoring of internet and voice correspondence of all citizens, and believing that FBI agents luring clueless teenage Muslim dupes into fake terrorist plots, providing the fake explosives, and then announcing with great fanfare how they saved us from another 9/11?

But, the prize for boldest, most outrageous, blatant use of propaganda and misinformation to cover-up their criminal looting of America goes to Ben Bernanke, his cronies at the Federal Reserve, and the Wall Street banks that own and control our Central Bank. Having the gall to portray themselves as the stabilizer of our economic system over the last 100 years is a putrid joke on the dying and broke middle class. Their mandate has been stable prices, full employment, and avoiding financial crisis. It is a tribute to Bernays and the rest of the public relations swine that the average American actually believes inflation is a good thing and it is under control despite the FACT that 96.2% of their purchasing power has disappeared since 1900, with the most rapid decline occurring since Nixon closed the gold window in 1971.

inflation-currency

The average American actually believes Ben Bernanke saved us from a Great Depression when in actuality he saved the owners of the Federal Reserve from accepting the losses they generated through the greatest financial fraud in history. His “solutions” have zombified our economic system, just as the Japanese Central Bank did 20 years ago. He has destroyed the concept of saving, while rewarding the indebted and profligate with his QE to Infinity money printing policies. And the ignorant masses have been convinced by the corporate media and their corrupt government lackeys that Ben did this for them. Kyle Bass knows otherwise. He knows how the Fed and their backers have preyed upon the masses through their understanding of human psychology:

“Humans are optimistic by nature. People’s lives are driven by hopes and dreams which are all second derivatives of their innate optimism. Humans also suffer from optimistic biases driven by the first inalienable right of human nature which is self-preservation. It is this reflex mechanism in our cognitive pathways that makes difficult situations hard to reflect and opine on. These biases are extended to economic choices and events. The primary difficulty with this train of thought is the bias that most investors have for the baseline facts: they tend to believe that the central bankers, politicians, and other governmental agencies are omnipotent due to their success in averting a financial meltdown in 2009.

Central banks have become the great enablers of fiscal profligacy. The overarching belief is that there will always be someone or something there to act as the safety net. The safety nets worked so well recently that investors now trust they will be underneath them ad-infinitum. Markets and economists alike now believe that quantitative easing (“QE”) will always “work” by flooding the market with relatively costless capital. Unlimited QE and the zero lower bound (“ZLB”) are likely to bankrupt pension funds whose expected returns happen to be a good 600 basis points (or more) higher than the 10?year “risk-free” rate. The ZLB has many unintended consequences that are impossible to ignore.

Our belief is that markets will eventually take these matters out of the hands of the central bankers. These events will happen with such rapidity that policy makers won’t be able to react fast enough. The fallacy of the belief that countries that print their own currency are immune to sovereign crisis will be disproven in the coming months and years. Trillions of dollars of debts will be restructured and millions of financially prudent savers will lose large percentages of their real purchasing power at exactly the wrong time in their lives. Again, the world will not end, but the social fabric of the profligate nations will be stretched and in some cases torn. Sadly, looking back through economic history, all too often war is the manifestation of simple economic entropy played to its logical conclusion. We believe that war is an inevitable consequence of the current global economic situation.” Kyle Bass

What’s Normal in a Profoundly Abnormal Society?

“The real hopeless victims of mental illness are to be found among those who appear to be most normal. Many of them are normal because they are so well adjusted to our mode of existence, because their human voice has been silenced so early in their lives, that they do not even struggle or suffer or develop symptoms as the neurotic does.” They are normal not in what may be called the absolute sense of the word; they are normal only in relation to a profoundly abnormal society. Their perfect adjustment to that abnormal society is a measure of their mental sickness. These millions of abnormally normal people, living without fuss in a society to which, if they were fully human beings, they ought not to be adjusted.” Aldous Huxley – Brave New World Revisited

No sane person could honestly say that what has happened to our society over the last forty years, and particularly in the last five years, is normal. But somehow those in power have convinced the masses that $1.2 trillion deficits, 0% interest rates, declining real wages, the highest average gas prices in history, pre-emptive wars, policing the world and buying rubber dog shit produced in China with a credit card is normal and beneficial to our economy. It seems that I and a few million other people in this country are the abnormal ones. We choose not to be led to slaughter by our masters. The seekers of truth have turned to the alternative media and are able to connect with like-minded critical thinking individuals on websites like Zero Hedge, Jesse’s Americain Café, Of Two Minds, Mish, Financial Sense, among many other truth seeking blogs. This is dangerous to the powers that be and they are using their political clout and extreme wealth to try and lock down and control free speech on the internet. If this is accomplished all hope at disseminating truth will be lost.

Abraham Lincoln once said that he believed in the people and that if you told them the truth and gave them the cold hard facts they would meet any crisis. That may have been true in 1860, but not today. The cold hard facts are available for all to see:

  • A $16.3 trillion National Debt
  • 47 million people on food stamps
  • Over $222 trillion of unfunded Federal entitlement liabilities
  • Over $5 trillion of unfunded State entitlement liabilities
  • True unemployment above 20%.
  • True inflation above 5%.
  • A stock market at the same level as 1999, with a 10 year expected annual return of less than 4% – Stocks for the really, really long run. 10 year bond returns of 0% will be a miracle.
  • A savings rate of 3.7% and with Bernanke’s ZIRP, no incentive to save. Real hourly earnings continue to fall.

  • Baby Boomers within 10 years of retirement have saved an average of only $78,000, and more than a third of them have less than $25,000. More than half of U.S. workers have no retirement plan at all.
  • A crumbling, decaying infrastructure, with 150,000 structurally deficient bridges, bursting water mains, and an overstressed electrical grid.
  • Horrific government public education producing millions of low functioning morons.
  • Rotting social fabric, with 40% of children born out of wedlock (72% of black children) and a 50% divorce rate.
  • An energy policy based upon unicorns farting rainbows and press releases about green energy and the miracle of shale fracking, as average gas prices in 2012 and 2011 were the highest in U.S. history.

As the pitiful excuses for statesmen in Washington D.C. pander and posture about the dreaded fiscal cliff which was purposely created by the oligarchs as a show for the masses, none of the true issues above are being addressed. The dramatic compromise that will ultimately be reached between the equally corrupt parties will be hailed by the corporate media and Wall Street shysters and an HFT supercomputer engineered stock market rally will ensue. The cowardice of these politicians is revolting. As Huxley knew in 1958, politicians and propagandists prefer nonsense and storylines to truth, knowledge and honesty.

“Human beings act in a great variety of irrational ways, but all of them seem to be capable, if given a fair chance, of making a reasonable choice in the light of available evidence. Democratic institutions can be made to work only if all concerned do their best to impart knowledge and to encourage rationality. But today, in the world’s most powerful democracy, the politicians and the propagandists prefer to make nonsense of democratic procedures by appealing almost exclusively to the ignorance and irrationality of the electors.”Aldous Huxley – Brave New World Revisited

We want to be lied to because the truth is too painful. Hope and denial with a dash of delusion is the recipe the mindless masses prefer. The average person doesn’t want to understand the chart below. They want to believe the U.S. will dominate economically and lead the world for decades to come. We are still the bright shining beacon of democracy on the mountaintop. Even though the facts unequivocally reveal a declining empire, the masses desperately grasp at straws in the wind. The United States share of world GDP will be vastly lower in 2021, as the hubris of declining empires never allows them to take the necessary steps to reverse the decline (Rome, Great Britain).

It is fitting that during this magical Christmas season of fantasy, delusion, debt fueled material over-consumption and fairy tales, we look at the biggest fairy tale of all – the great jobs recovery. I know from the two thousand Obama campaign commercials I was forced to watch in the last few months and 500 robo-calls at dinner every night that we’ve added 4 million jobs due to Obama’s wise economic policies. The magical journey from a 10.3% unemployment rate to a 7.9% rate is a humdinger. I stumbled across a myriad of charts on those truth-telling websites that I had previously mentioned.

“You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you mad.” Aldous Huxley

The first chart that grabbed my attention shows the historical relationship between the U3 unemployment rate reported to the masses versus the U6 truer picture of unemployment, along with the percentage of people unemployed for longer than 15 weeks. A funny thing happened shortly after the election of Barack Obama. From 1994 through 2008 the gap between the U3 and U6 rates consistently ranged between 3% and 4%. Suddenly, the gap surged to 7% and currently sits at almost 8%. The figure reported to the masses of 7.9% is so much easier to digest than the 15% to 17% that captures the truer level of unemployment. If the gap between these two figures had remained at the levels of the previous 14 years, the unemployment that should be reported to the masses would be 11%. That is unacceptable to those in power, so the data is massaged and the propaganda machine spins the storyline necessary to confuse and mislead the masses.

 

The next two charts from Mike Shedlock again reveal truths the existing social order doesn’t want you to know. Even though the working age population has grown by 10 million people since 2008, the BLS expects critical thinking people to believe the labor force has only grown by 1.3 million people. You see, the unemployment rate is calculated using the labor force. If your economic policies don’t create jobs, just adjust the labor force dramatically lower based on nothing. In desperate economic times, people do not voluntarily leave the workforce. Only a non-thinking drone would believe that 8.7 million Americans voluntarily left the workforce since 2008, when only 4 million left the workforce from 2003 through 2007. It is not a coincidence that student loan debt, which was taken over by the Obama administration in 2009 rose by $300 billion. Those in power have doled out these billions with no concern for credit risk or academic credentials in order to reduce the number of people in the labor force. Unemployed union Twinkie workers seeking a new career in lesbian studies can get a $20,000 loan from the American taxpayer to sit in their basement along with the 500,000 other University of Phoenix enrollees. The future $300 billion taxpayer bailout was worth it to keep the unemployment rate low enough to insure Obama’s re-election.

The Obama PR machine never fails to expound upon the fact that the economy added 4.9 million jobs since January 2009. In the same timeframe, uncovered employment rose by 6.6 million. Inquiring minds might want to know what an “uncovered” job entails. Selling your accumulated Chinese crap on Ebay is an uncovered job. Calling yourself a consultant while sleeping until noon is an uncovered job. Day trading Facebook and Apple stock is an uncovered job. Trash picking is an uncovered job. The truth is that real jobs are 1.7 million lower than they were at the depths of the recession, while bullshit jobs paying virtually nothing and offering no benefits have surged by 6.6 million. These facts don’t make a great campaign commercial. The number of employed Americans is at the same level as mid-2005, even though the working age population has grown by 18 million. Since 2008 there are 3 million less full-time jobs and 3 more part-time jobs. This trend is accelerating as small businesses react rationally to the oncoming Obamacare train, resulting in aggregate work hours declining and wage growth stagnating.

Zero Hedge reveals more truth about our glorious jobs recovery with the following two charts. They obliterate the false narrative spun by liberal ideologues that the reason for the increase of those not in the labor force is due to Baby Boomers retiring. The truth is that while those in the 55-69 age brackets have gained nearly 4 million jobs under President Obama, everyone else has lost just over 2.5 million jobs. Is this a positive development or a sign of extreme desperation among older Americans who have seen their interest income vaporized by Ben Bernanke and there food, energy, and healthcare expenses skyrocket?

Those in their prime earning years of 25 to 54 still have a net cumulative loss of 2.2 million jobs since 2009. Recent college graduates, with their billions of student loan debt, have nabbed 400,000 TGI Fridays jobs, singing happy birthday to 3 year olds, with their newly minted college degrees. This is the “normal” healthy jobs market sold to the American public by the propagandists and politicians.

The final jobs chart that portrays the truth of what has been a decades’ long spiral downward paints a picture of a country that once created wealth through producing goods from the 1940s through 1970. Since 1970 we’ve degenerated into a debt creating country that consumes foreign produced goods and makes entitlement promises it can never keep. Selling houses to each other, peddling crap on Ebay, and eating out three times a week has shockingly failed to propel our economy. The jobs picture has deteriorated rapidly since 2008 and is not improving, despite the best propaganda money can buy. There is absolutely no chance of any substantive improvement over the next four years based on the policies in place and refusal to acknowledge the economic realities that we face.

The accumulation of material possessions through the use of consumer debt, peddled by bankers and reinforced through relentless corporate marketing propaganda has left the country’s citizens weary, miserable, greedy, indebted and sick. Our obsession with technology has merely provided another means of distracting ourselves from confronting the dire challenges that must be addressed. We can ignore the facts but that doesn’t mean they do not exist. The abnormality that grips this nation is breathtaking to behold, as the status quo cheer on and encourage consumers to buy more things with money they don’t have in order to support an economic recovery that is dependent upon zero interest rates for Wall Street banks, QE to infinity, and the delusional desire for a miraculous return to the good old days when getting something for nothing was possible. We can no longer deny reality. If we want to add 30 million people to Medicaid, it must be paid for. If we want to wage never ending wars and police the world, it must be paid for. If we want a Federal government to spend $3.8 trillion per year, it must be paid for. Nothing is free in this world, but more than 50% of Americans seem to believe that to be true.

“Our economy is based on spending billions to persuade people that happiness is buying things, and then insisting that the only way to have a viable economy is to make things for people to buy so they’ll have jobs and get enough money to buy things.” Philip Elliot Slater

We are seen by those in control as nothing more than common house flies caught in their web of lies. Your owners don’t care about you. They only care about their own wealth and power. They want to control and manipulate you. They want to keep you enslaved in debt and running on the treadmill of consumption. They want passive, non-critical thinking drones to do the menial service jobs that remain in this country, while they use their control of our financial, political, tax, and legal systems to ransack and pillage the wealth of the dwindling middle class. The truth is the continuation of our current economic system is mathematically impossible. Your owners know this. This is why the use of propaganda, misinformation, fake data, and false storylines has taken on astronomical proportions. The time for passivity and accepting the deceitfulness of our leaders is coming to an end. While you’re waiting in line this Christmas season at Wal-Mart to purchase a fabulously priced shirt that only required the deaths of 112 Bangladesh slave laborers, try to figure out how we got here. Your owners think they have you by the balls.

“They spend billions of dollars every year lobbying to get what they want. Well, we know what they want; they want more for themselves and less for everybody else. But I’ll tell you what they don’t want—they don’t want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don’t want well informed, well educated people capable of critical thinking. They’re not interested in that. That doesn’t help them. That’s against their interest. You know something, they don’t want people that are smart enough to sit around their kitchen table and figure out how badly they’re getting fucked by a system that threw them overboard 30 fucking years ago. Because the owners of this country know the truth, it’s called the American Dream, because you have to be asleep to believe it.” George Carlin

How many Americans are awake enough to handle the truth?

All I want for Christmas is the truth.

Orwellian Nightmare or Technological Utopia

Off the keyboard of Anthony Cartalucci

Published on Land Destroyer on October 16th, 2012

Craig Venter discusses 3D DNA printers at Wired's Living by Number Health Conference in New York City. The technology, systems, and policies presented at the event are neither good nor evil - they are only what those who wield them make them out to be. Currently much of this technology is controlled by large corporations, institutions, and organizations. By getting better informed and involved in the development and use of this technology, we can ensure that this technology is used for the greater good of humanity, rather than leveraged against it for the benefit of a technocratic elite.

Discuss this article at the Epicurean Delights Smorgasboard inside the Diner

Wired’s “Living by Numbers” Health Conference.October 16, 2012 –  Wired Magazine has conducted a “Living by Numbers” health conference in New York City, drawing together experts and leaders involved in medicine, science, technology, and business to share their perspective on the progress and future of healthcare. The underlying theme of the “Living by Numbers” conference was the gathering and applying of information regarding our health to improve the prevention and treatment of injuries and sickness.

The implications of the conference were far reaching in both the profound positive impact the emerging technologies and systems presented could have, as well as the vast capacity for abuse that each possesses.The conference was sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, IBM, BASF, BodyMedia, iHealth, 2morrow Mobile, and the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Speakers included Craig Venter of the J. Craig Venter Institute and Synthetic Genomics, Stephen Wolfram of Wolfram Research, Sue Siegel of GE, and retired US Army Brigadier General Rhonda Cornum.

The term “tracking” was prevalent throughout the talks. Several presenters revealed that data collected from Google and Facebook were regularly used in research, specifically for predicting trends almost instantaneously. Of course, in the context of these talks, such methods were presented as being purely beneficial in regards to spotting pandemics and improving healthcare efficiency.

Smart products including phones and home appliances were presented that could record data, be used for health monitoring, and even replace or augment existing medical devices. There were implantable sensors that could log data and monitor vital signs, and GE and Google executives talking about taking a more active, not to mention Orwellian and intrusive role in employees’ habits and lifestyles, and how technology and information-gathering could make such efforts more effective.

There were also talks involving technology such as 3D DNA printers, presented by Craig Venter, that if widely disseminated into the hands of an informed, technically complement medical community, could vastly improve healthcare and regenerative medicine, as well as strip the monopolies, and all the dangers associated with them, from large biotech firms like Monsanto, Bayer, and Cargill.

Coupled with the concept of “self-tracking” presented by Tim Ferriss, and increasingly cheaper and more capable medical equipment making it into the hands of better informed patients as mentioned by Eric Topol of the Scripps Research Institute, we see a possible future quite the opposite of anything Orwellian. But it is also a future large corporations are already arraying their resources against to prevent from coming into fruition. 

Ultimately, the conference was about technology. Technology is a double edged sword. It can cut both ways, and how it is wielded depends mostly on the hands it is held with. Currently, this technology is in the hands of large corporations, institutions, and organizations. And while many of those involved in the development of these networks, technologies, and policies are well-intentioned, the danger exists that those at the very top, the same corporate-financier interests that fund policy think-tanks that engineer wars as well as economic and political manipulation on a global scale, have truly malevolent intentions.

This is a real problem. Perhaps the problem. Technology has reached a point where the very building blocks of what makes us human can be manipulated and controlled to such an extent, it can either liberate us from disease, injury, and even aging, or render us permanently and irrevocably inferior to those who control this technology. Likewise, the control and use of digital information can create either a tool of infinite benefit, or a vast, invasive, inescapable control grid. Coupled together, exists either a technological utopia, or an Orwellian nightmare, all depending on who controls the technology – a malevolent elite, or humanity as a whole.

The key to solving this problem is by simply getting informed and getting involved. The more informed, technically competent people that become involved in the development, use, and improvement of this technology, the more difficult it will be for any corporation or institution to monopolize and leverage the technology against others, ensuring that it is used for the collective benefit of humanity.

Technology, and more specifically biotechnology, is becoming increasingly accessible to the average person through online resources and community laboratories like New York City’s GenSpace and Boston’s BossLab. As technology in general continues to advance and costs continue to go down, the tools once used solely by large corporations, institutions, and organizations are now becoming available to local schools, community laboratories, and independent researchers and developers. While there are many fears of this technology getting into the hands of people intent on creating catastrophes, it must be remembered that the technology will also make it into the hands of many more people interested in defending against such catastrophes. 

The choice between an Orwellian nightmare or a technological utopia is entirely up to us. We can choose to be perpetually paralyzed by political ploys, crass, superficial distractions, and shallow consumerist endeavors, or we can choose to assert our own collective will above that of the corporate-financier interests who have for so long dominated humanity and seek to dominate it to an ever greater degree. We can assert our will by becoming informed and involved in the very disciplines that build a modern civilization – engineering, design, and sciences of all kinds. If we can do this individually, even in the smallest way, taking even but a single step forward in the right direction, collectively we can begin replacing the existing paradigm in great strides.

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