SNAP

Let them Eat Twinkies

gc2smFrom the keyboard of Thomas Lewis

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Published on The Daily Impact on August 29, 2016

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let them eat twinkies

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

So you see the problem.  

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

So now we know the solution.

SNAP Card Gourmet Gumbo

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on November 8, 2015

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What is a Gumbo?

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

That's the official definition anyhow.

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

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

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

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

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

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These are the models I use for SNAP Card Gourmet Cooking

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Homeless Thanksgiving

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on November 27, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To close this Thanksgiving Food Extravaganza, a few thoughts.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RE

The SNAP Card Gourmet 004 – Chicken SNAP Alaska RE

Off the keyboard of RE

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on November 23, 2014

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Week 4, the BONUS Week in the SNAP Card Budget has finally ARRIVEDAT LAST I will be able to start varying my meals and doing some more creative cooking!

As opposed to my roughly $25 Budget in the first 3 Weeks of this Adventure, this week I have about $65 to spend on FOOD left on my SNAP Card!  I am feeling positively WEALTHY as I head over to the Food Emporiums with this hefty load of Digital FRNs still left on the Card!

I start by cruising for BARGAINS on items I could not afford earlier while I made sure I had enough calories and basics in the larder to make it through the first 3 weeks.  I am in better shape now with a decent amount of basics, plus leftovers from the first 3 weeks.  I’m not gonna go hungry here in the next 10 days no matter what I buy.  However, I am still not going to be stupid and buy super expensive meat cuts quite yet for full on gourmet.  I’m looking for bargain fixin’s to make quality meals with.

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Even though they are not Prime, these steaks are well marbled with FAT and will cook up well on the Grill.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESIn the Meat Dept, I find On Sale Organic Chicken Breasts, thin cut for $6.  That is a BUY!  Also an odd cut of beef ribs that sold at $2.50/lb, also a BUY for another Stew.  Finally in the Meat Dept, I found a Twin Pack of New York Strip Steaks for around $6, a little thinner than I usually like for BBQ, but with a high flame and quick cook, should be OK.  These steaks are small enough I will not have leftovers and they just are single meal jobs.  They will both be Grilled, because given the choice, I ALWAYS grill steaks rather than do pan or broiler cooking with them.  However, the rest of the prep will differ some so not exactly the same meal.  I am thinking I will have one or two Premium Steak & Eggs Breakfasts, and another Steak Dinner with Onions, Peppers, Tomatoes and Mushrooms.

Altogether here on the Meat End, I am around $15, now I need to fill out the meals here with the remaining $50.

I head first to the Fresh Veggies produce dept of the Food Emporium, as so far I have not had any fresh veggies in my meals and I MISS them.  Besides, they are healthy for you to eat.

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Some of this week’s Veggies! Note the colorful Organic Carrots! Mostly I Steam Veggies if they are not cooked in a stew. Zucchini I like sauteed in butter or bacon fat with some garlic.

I get a Crown of Broccoli for $3, 1 Pt Mushrooms for $2.50, 1/2 lb of Brussel Sprouts for a bit over $1, Spinach for $3, Zucchini $2 and an Avocado for $2.50.  I also still have carrots and onions and potatoes leftover from earlier purchases.  Total on the Fresh Veggies here, around $14.  So now up to $29 Spent, around $35 left.

Given the stuff I have just purchased, plus what is left from before, I now plan in my head my meals, and have to buy some premium stuff I do not have.

I need some spice, Tarragon for $3.  I need cooking sherry and marsala cooking wine, ON SALE for $4.59 each.  Two cans of Seasoned Black Beans, $2.  The Beans are to go with Rice in the larder as one of the Carb choices of the week besides the Spaghetti and the Potatoes. I have plenty of dried beans in my Preps, but canned beans are WAY easier to prepare and they aren’t very expensive. Unlike many other veggies also, canned beans don’t have much different texture than if you prepare them from dried beans.  I absolutely cannot stand anything like Canned Asparagus or Green Beans though.  Yuck Mush and tasteless, never buy them on ANY budget!. Total here another $15 or so, down to $20 left.

With the remaining, I buy some Staples, Sour Cream to go with my Baked Potatoes, $2.50, Hot Sauce $3 , 1 lb Ground Beef, $5, Spaghetti Sauce $3, Peanut Butter $2, Loaf Oatbread  ON SALE $3.

10 Day Plan as it evolves during the Shopping Expedition is this:

2 Nights Steak Dinners with Carb & Veggie Side Dishes

3 Nights Chicken Dinners with Carb & Veggie Side Dishes

2 Nights Stew Dinners

1 Night Gourmet Hamburger Dinner

1 Night Leftover Chili Dinner

1 Night ALL LEFTOVERS Dinner.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESFor the Stew this week, besides the riblets, it gets potatoes, carrots, onions, and garlic, some onion soup mix for broth and a little BBQ sauce.  Main difference from normal stew is that prior to dropping the meat into the Slow Cooker, I seared it on the Grill, which adds some nice smokey flavor.  You could just eat these off the grill, but this meat is a little tough even though there is plenty of fat.  Added benefit of doing a quick grilling first is that you render off some of the copious fat in this cut, which would be way too much in your stew.  Even so, I will probably have to cool it and skim some fat off after the slow cook, although in a real starvation scenario you would never do this.  In terms of calories, the more fat the better in your meal.  You have to balance this against having so much fat in there you clog up your arteries and die from Cardiac Arrest instead of starvation.  Overall though, on a Paleo type diet you can leave most fat in as long as you don’t overdo total consumption.

For the Chicken Dishes, my plan was to make two from the package of thin sliced organic chicken breasts, my own recipe of Chicken Alaska SNAP RE, and a typical Chicken Marsala.  However, I ended up just making the one Chicken Alaska since I didn’t have time and just did all 4 Chicken Breasts the same way. The Preps are not too much different for Marsala, and mostly the cooking is the same although you do have to bake Chicken RE a little in the oven to melt the cheese, which you do not have to do for Chicken Marsala.  For Chicken Marsala, you can go to Emeril or the Food Network for a recipe and cooking method, I won’t do that one here.

Now, I have to make an admission here, the recipes I am including do NOT include some spices that I have in my Preps that I could add to flavor these meals up a bit more.  They are still pretty tasty without the additional spices, and equally nutritious either way.  If you have some available spices, don’t hesitate to add them to make the recipe even BETTER!    For the Chicken Alaska SNAP RE, I suggest Tarragon and Sage in the saute phase.  Tarragon is a real good spice to use with Chicken, and the Sage accentuates the aroma.

Chicken SNAP Alaska RE Recipe

Ingredients

1 lb thin sliced Chicken Breasts

2 Tomatoes

1 Avocado

Cheddar Cheese

6 cloves Garlic

1/4 cup Flour

Cooking Oil

Directions

Pound chicken breasts thin, flour both sides.  Add chopped garlic to hot cooking oil, sear the breasts 2-3 minutes each side, remove from flame.  Add Sliced Tomatoes to the Hot Oil/Garlic, fry each side about 1-2 minutes.  Lay Tomato slices over chicken on skillet or baking dish.  Lay cheese slices over chicken & tomatoes.  Bake in Oven @ 350 F for around 10 minutes until the cheese melts nicely.  Lay Avocado Slices over the cheese and Serve.  Serves 4 people, or four meals for one person.  Approximate cost: $3-4 per serving.

This brings us to another issue, Cooking after TSHTF, or Cooking from just what you can Grow or Raise on your Doomstead.

Tons of things you drop into a Recipe are only available while JIT Shipping is still up and running to some extent.   Who grows Peppercorns on their Doomstead?  Can you get Avocados?  Paprika?  Cooking Sherry?  Lemons?  Probably not on many things, so your meals will not have such flavorings in them, even if you have access to Fish, Chicken, Moose, Potatoes, Carrots etc.

http://gallagher-photo.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/Mongolia_Homeless_07.JPGYour actual ability to “cook” also gets limited down, while I can pound chicken breasts and flour them, you can’t do this if you are homeless, or at least it is real difficult.  Once you are homeless, your either boiling stuff or roasting it over a flame if you are working with anything fresh, but mostly you are not and just heating up canned food or microwaving in a convenience store. Homeless people do not have lots of cooking utensils, cast iron pans which are heavy to carry around etc.  Cooking with NO Utensils at all is just either open flame roasting or burying the food wrapped in leaves with hot rocks for a slow cook.

In fact “cooking” as we know it today really did not begin until Metallurgy was pretty well developed to make Pots, Pans, Griddles, Dutch Ovens etc.  Cookware in the old days was very valuable and handed down from generation to generation, along with things like Silverware and Fine China dishware.  With the Industrial Era though, mass produced cooking and eating utensils got very cheap and everyone takes these things for granted now.  Once out on the street though as a Homeless person, most of these things are baggage you just can’t carry around with you.  Most of what you eat off of and with is disposable paper and plasticware.  I have a couple of Stoneware sets, but I almost never use them.  Paper Plates!  Yes, I know it is wasteful.  However, I save on the energy used to wash the dishes!

http://bellpub.com/images/ugcoverphotos/UG_201107_CoverPhoto.jpgThis ends the first month, and what it does demonstrate is that you most certainly can survive on a SNAP card allotment, at least as long as you are not yet Homeless.  In fact you can do way better than I did this month by accessing Food Pantries if you qualify, and next month I will figure into the equation what is possible with food issued out to low income people and the elderly at a Food Pantry like the one I Volunteer at.  If you add in this stuff, at least twice a week you can eat premium foods if you watch the total budget and your consumption and food type distribution.

As long as both the SNAP Cards are issued out AND the Food Pantries continue to operate, any real “Food Riots” here in the FSoA such as you see already in MENA are unlikely.  If you are starving here in the FSoA right now, it’s either because you are already Homeless or do not have knowledge enough to be able to access the Food Assistance that is available in most neighborhoods, or you simply do not know how to Budget and spend your SNAP allotment on stupid things.  Like a Bag of Potato Chips that runs $4! Soda and high fructose corn syrup “Juices”!  Drink WATER from the Tap on a SNAP Budget!  For many people though, they simply don’t think about this and spend the whole $140 on junk which is gone in a week or two,  which is sad.

At the moment, the problem Economically for most of the population is not a Food Problem, there is plenty and it is getting distributed out for the most part, although you definitely have instances of people being poorly nourished due to their own ignorance and the poor choices in food available they make.  That food plenty will probably not last in perpetuity of course, but neither do I think it will drop off the map here in the FSoA that rapidly either.

Finally for today, in the next month I am not going to delineate the weekly purchases from here on in, but rather do an Estimated Cost Per Meal, since the accumulation of stuff over time means you do not always buy new stuff every month.  For instance, one quart of cooking oil lasts me at least 2 months.  Same with a pound of butter.  There are always leftovers to every meal, so you cannot make an absolute on exactly what you need to buy in any given month once you get going on this.

Generally speaking, most meals will come in between $2-$5.  Daily expenditures will mostly stay under $5, but after a few days of CHEAP EATING, a Gourmet Meal that might run $10 or even $20 might be cooked up here on the Diner Stove.  You cannot do many of those though and stay under a total monthly budget of $140.  However, I will do one SUPER PREMIUM meal each month and still stay under Budget.

Besides looking at what you get in a monthly box from the food pantry, I’ll also look more at how a Homeless person might use his SNAP Card and try to stay under budget with just Canned and Microwaveable foods in the next month.  Then we’ll examine the total economics of living on Poverty level income.

Until next week then, Eat Well and Stay Healthy!

RE

 

The SNAP Card Gourmet: 002

Off the keyboard & camera of RE

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on November 9, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

http://rt.com/files/news/31/38/f0/00/crash.jpg

My Future Job with Virgin Galactic

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

5 Dozen Eggs- $10

5 lbs Alaska Potatoes- $6

2  Green Peppers- $2

2 lbs Onions- $2

4 Heads Garlic- $2

2 lbs Spaghetti- $4

2 lbs Rice- $3

1 pckg Breakfast Sausages (14)- $2.25

2 Jars Spaghetti Sauce: $2.50

1 pckg Hot Sausage: $6

1 lb Ground Beef $5

1 Container Italian breadcrumbs- $2

2 Pkgs Bear Creek Chili- $6

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just one Word here…PLASTICS!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RE

SNAP to RIOT IN #ferguson

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Aired on the Doomstead Diner on August 16, 2014

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http://freedomoutpost.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/police-militarized1.jpg

Snippet:

…Today I am going to move away from the international geopolitical clusterfuck going on in Ukraine, MENA et al to return home to the FSoA, where the latest local Clusterfuck is ongoing in Ferguson, MO, which actually is part of the St Louis metro area. Ongoing as I write the script for this rant is some amount of undetermined rioting, but a very determined amount of large scale Gestapo crackdown.

The ostensible reason for the excitement there was the shooting of a young black male by a cop, for unknown reasons in any detail. This followed by numerous other young black males taking to the streets in protest, then taking the opportunity to do some Looting, again of how big a part of this looting is or was is open to conjecture.

All you need far as Newz Propaganda is concerned are one or two good shots of a black male exiting through the broken window with a Big Screen TV on his shoulder, and you get the immediate knee jerk reaction that the whole biz is about stealing merchandise, which happens of course but is hardly the underlying cause of the whole thing. It’s also not even clear how much of that really is going on, and frankly everybody knows the Newz Corps will pull out Stock Photos from some OTHER event in the past (Katrina for instance) with some unidentified Black Male running out of a store with a Big Screen TV. HTF do you know as reader of the story where and when a picture was taken? You don’t. You are just sold the spin with this about Looting being the big deal here, and it takes your eye off the ball of the underlying causes, and reactions by TPTB with their Proxy SWAT Team forces….

For the rest, LISTEN TO THE RANT!!

FOOD RANT!

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Aired on the Doomstead Diner on June 13, 2014

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Snippet:

…For today, I figured I should get off the topic of Monetary Madness and Geopolitical Jousting percolating through the daily Newz Reports in the MSM and Blogosphere Punditry to look at another facinating topic of collapse, FOOD. What you eat, how much you eat, where it comes from, how much it costs, who produces it, how far it travels to get to your dinner plate…Food is a fucking Cornucopia of topics to cover for the Doomer!

If you live in the FsoA, or in fact most countries in Europe these days, the first topic that comes to mind when you think of Food is…FAT PEOPLE! Fat People everywhere! Sitting next to you on the bus, train or plane with their flab spilling over into the seat YOU paid for is a real pet peeve of mine. Man, if you can’t fit your bulk into one seat, you should have to buy two! Somebody who weighs 300 lbs takes twice as much fuel to jack up into the air as I do, why is this person paying the same price as me? If Airline tickets were sold like Air Freight, you would pay by the pound, or kilo for you Euro listeners out there. This would encourage regular airline passengers to STAY SKINNY! It might have a downside of encouraging Anorexia Nervosa or Bulimia in the flyers as well, but I think the downside risk there is pretty small…

For the rest, LISTEN TO THE RANT!!!!

RE

[amazon text=www.amazon.com&template=carousel&asin=B00A323CPU,B00KSR2Z6M,B004ZGZBCW,B001JEPKY2,B00J39MTF8,B00JSZMC5E,B005Y27K7U,B00CGNQVIY,B00CNKRHRE]

 

 

Dense Fog Turns into Toxic Smog

Off the keyboard of Jim Quinn

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Published on The Burning Platform on December 31, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Debt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

negative earnings

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

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

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

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

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

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

Civic Decay

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Global Disorder 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Culture of Ignorance: Part I

Off the keyboard of Jim Quinn

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Published on The Burning Platform on October 27, 2013

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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.

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

Off the keyboard of Jim Quinn

Published on The Burning Platform on September 10, 2013

Cuckoos_Nest

Discuss this article at the Geopolitics Table inside the Diner

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

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

 

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

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

 

Increase in Real GDP per Dollar of Incremental Debt

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

Five Stages of Collapse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monetary Base (billions of USD)

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

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

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

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

In Whom Do You Trust?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 IT’S OUR CHOICE.

The Starvin’ Diner Cookbook

Off the keyboard of RE

Published on the Doomstead Diner on June 2013

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http://yesteryearremembered.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/jiffy-pop.jpgWhile the Diner appears to have some of the most EXPERT Growers of Food and Green Thumbs around anywhere in the Collapse Blogosphere, taking said food and making it Tasty for Consumption is it’s own art form, and this is not a skill everyone has cultivated over the last couple of decades. Going way back to when I was a kid before Microwave Ovens even, you had your Swanson TV Dinners and Jiffy Pop Popcorn, not to mention of course the horrendous soggy Canned Vegetables many a Mom (including my own) popped out of the Can. It was in fact a Revelation to me just how good FROZEN asparagus was compared to the Canned Version, since my mom never bought or cooked a Fresh Vegetable in her LIFE far as I remember anyhow. LOL. Loved my Mom to the end a little while back, but man she was one really BAD cook. LOL.

Mom got distracted easily, and so even EZ to cook stuff like throwing a Steak under the Broiler got overcooked and ruined on a regular basis. Forget Eggs Over EZ, if mom tried to flip an egg in the pan, the Yolk was BUSTED and the whole thing came out with the consistency of a Rubber Tire well worn over the Eisenhower Interstate. The Bacon was either close to RAW or Black and Burnt, or a combination of both (Bacon tends to wrinkle up as it cooks so if you don’t flip it regular or press it while sizzling, you get raw spots and burnt spots). Home fries from Mom were Smush Fries, no crispiness, might as well eat Mashed Potatoes for Breakfast. Mom’s Pancakes even from Aunt Jemima Mix were not thoroughly mixed, so you always had Lumps of Uncooked batter floating around in them.

She had a couple of meals she generally could do OK with, her Fried Chicken wasn’t too bad, but still Kentucky Fried Chicken was way Better. As a matter of PURE SURVIVAL and wanting to eat decently as a kid, I learned to Cook at a very young age. I was not much more than 10 years old when we first returned from Brasil and my parents got divorced that I began cooking for myself. Over the years I got pretty good at it. My main deal was BBQ, and I still like MEAT cooked over an Open Flame best, but in many if not most Industrial Living Situations, BBQing is not Practical. Best example here I can give is my College Years at Columbia, when I went on the Food Plan for my First Semester of On Campus living (which was actually my second semester since I did Commuter from Fabulous Flushing Queens the first semester).

http://usdailyreview.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/barbecue.jpgThis food was actually WORSE than anything my Mom ever cooked up, which is hard to believe but true. LOL. Anyhow, Columbia is an Urban Campus, and they were not too cool with you setting up a Hibachi on the Quad Lawns, so in my Sophomore year I brought in a Flip Over Oven/Broiler, a Hot Plate and a small fridge as my main cooking/food storage tools, and for the rest of my years at Columbia did my own Meal Plan. This actually is how I met my Illuminati Spawn Girlfriend of those years, my cooking smells wafted around several floors and she came looking to see where it came from. 🙂 The saying goes that a way to a Man’s Heart is through his stomach, but it works EQUALLY well in the other direction! Serve up a good dinner, even Illuminati Spawn are PUTTY in your hands! LOL. OK, the Ganga didn’t hurt here either. 😉

Anyhow, overall my Food Budget was pretty Limited at the time, so making good meals out of Cheap raw foods was my priority. Combined with stuff I picked up from a few relatives over the years, our Cooks in Brasil who came from the Favelas and just generally experimenting around I came up with a whole bunch of very tasty dishes you can cook up on a Shoestring Budget with only the most rudimentary of Cooking Tools. Most of this stuff was done on Hot Plates and other Electric Cooking devices that preceeded Microwaves, but you can also cook most of the stuff similarly over a small fire with just a grate over it to drop a Saute Pan, Dutch oven etc.

So for today, to begin the Starvin’Diner Cookbook here on the Diner, I will begin with RE’s Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs Recipe for making fabulous Spaghetti sauce to spoon over the Pasta of Choice, which usually lasts a good week or so for one person. You can vary ingredients quite a bit to get differing flavor sauces, so week to week it is never the same and does not get BORING on the palate.

RE’s Doomer Cloudy Meatballs & Spaghetti

Ingredients

1 lb Ground Beef
2-3 Eggs
1/2 Cup Seasoned Bread Crumbs
1 head of Garlic (10 cloves or so)
1 Medium Size Onion
2 Large Green Peppers

Optional Ingredients

1 cup sliced Mushrooms
Hot Peppers (amount varies by type and how hot you want your sauce)
Sliced Black Olives
Spices as Available and Affordable (Oregano, Parsley, Marjoram, Thyme, Bay Leaf most recommended)

First you carve out the pound or so of ground beef you will use to make up the batch, and drop it in a bowl. Then you crack 2-3 eggs into it, depending on their size. Jumbos, 2 eggs, anything less probably 3. Then you shake in the bread crumbs, and start mushing it together with your hands, until you get a nice consistency which takes some practice to know how it feels. If you want to add fresh herbs from the garden as you mush it up, this will make it tastier still.

Once you have your mixture nice and uniform, you form your Meatballs, I generally go for smaller Meatballs in the 1-2″ Diameter size, they tend to hold together better. Pitch said Meatballs into a saute pan, flame on medium-high, and push them around a lot to Brown evenly. The Fat in the Meatballs will start to render out, 80% Ground Beef which has plenty-o-fat in it works well, so you don’t need any cooking oil or butter.

http://lh6.ggpht.com/username.taken/SMzf2sPLf8I/AAAAAAAAEfc/C5TaMFkQ7t0/s400/DSC04123.JPGOnce nice and evenly Browned, you take the meatballs out of the pan, and drop them in a bowl to wait. You use the Fat in the pan then to saute up Garlic, Onions, Peppers and Mushrooms, none of which were on this Grocery List but you can buy or grow at some point. After all your veggies in the Sauce are nicely softened and slightly Browned or Burnt, throw the Meatballs back in, then pour the Spaghetti Sauce over the whole batch, cover and simmer on low flame for an hour or two. You can pitch some Basil Leaves and Oregano in here during the simmering also.

Cooking the Pasta is also an art form of its own, seems simple enough to Boil Spaghetti, but this also Mom fucked up regularly. She often did not stir it well or add a bit of Oil or Fat to the water, so the spaghetti often came out cooked together in Clumps. Middle of the clump, uncooked spaghetti, outside of Clump, overcooked flabby Noodles. You need to sprinkle the spaghetti into the boiling water separating it with your fingers as you go. Also a good idea to break the spaghetti bunches in half before you drop them in the water, they fit better in a typical size pot this way. Only if you are cooking up HUGE batches of Spaghetti in a really BIG pot should you drop in full foot-long Noodles.

Besides adding a bit of Cooking Oil, Butter or FAT to the water to coat the noodles and keep them from sticking, you also want to add a teaspoon or two of Salt. This makes the water Boil Hotter which is better for cooking “Al Dente” pasta. Al Dente Pasta still has some texture left to it for chewing. Pasta cooked too long or at too low a temperature ends up with the consistency of Pablum, which is good if you have no TEETH anymore, but overall is not the best eating for the typical Tooth Filled mouth. LOL.

You will get enough AWESOME Spaghetti Meatball Sauce out of this from 1 LB of Ground Beef for about a week eating it every other day. Alternate with Rice and Beans or a Chili, its pretty decent variety, with maybe a day or two where you eat Premium, make Chicken Parmigiana from the Breast Fillets etc. I can easily make a $100 SNAP card pull enough off the shelves of Safeway to feed myself, and probably a second person also.

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Next Weeks Recipe, RE’s SMOKIN’ NAPALM COSTCO CHILE.

Tunnel People

Off the keyboard of Michael Snyder

Published on Economic Collapse on April 9, 2013

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The Tunnel People That Live Under The Streets Of America

The Tunnel People That Live Under The Streets Of America - Photo by Claude Le BerreDid you know that there are thousands upon thousands of homeless people that are living underground beneath the streets of major U.S. cities?  It is happening in Las Vegas, it is happening in New York City and it is even happening in Kansas City.  As the economy crumbles, poverty in the United States is absolutely exploding and so is homelessness.  In addition to the thousands of “tunnel people” living under the streets of America, there are also thousands that are living in tent cities, there are tens of thousands that are living in their vehicles and there are more than a million public school children that do not have a home to go back to at night.  The federal government tells us that the recession “is over” and that “things are getting better”, and yet poverty and homelessness in this country continue to rise with no end in sight.  So what in the world are things going to look like when the next economic crisis hits?

When I heard that there were homeless people living in a network of underground tunnels beneath the streets of Kansas City, I was absolutely stunned.  I have relatives that live in that area.  I never thought of Kansas City as one of the more troubled cities in the United States.

But according to the Daily Mail, police recently discovered a network of tunnels under the city that people had been living in…

Below the streets of Kansas City, there are deep underground tunnels where a group of vagrant homeless people lived in camps.

These so-called homeless camps have now been uncovered by the Kansas City Police, who then evicted the residents because of the unsafe environment.

Authorities said these people were living in squalor, with piles of garbage and dirty diapers left around wooded areas.

The saddest part is the fact that authorities found dirty diapers in the areas near these tunnels.  That must mean that babies were being raised in that kind of an environment.

Unfortunately, this kind of thing is happening all over the nation.  In recent years, the tunnel people of Las Vegas have received quite a bit of publicity all over the world.  It has been estimated that more than 1,000 people live in the massive network of flood tunnels under the city…

Deep beneath Vegas’s glittering lights lies a sinister labyrinth inhabited by poisonous spiders and a man nicknamed The Troll who wields an iron bar.

But astonishingly, the 200 miles of flood tunnels are also home to 1,000 people who eke out a living in the strip’s dark underbelly.

Some, like Steven and his girlfriend Kathryn, have furnished their home with considerable care – their 400sq ft ‘bungalow’ boasts a double bed, a wardrobe and even a bookshelf.

Could you imagine living like that?  Sadly, for an increasing number of Americans a “normal lifestyle” is no longer an option.  Either they have to go to the homeless shelters or they have to try to eke out an existence on their own any way that they can.

In New York City, authorities are constantly trying to root out the people that live in the tunnels under the city and yet they never seem to be able to find them all.  The following is from a New York Post article about the “Mole People” that live underneath New York City…

The homeless people who live down here are called Mole People. They do not, as many believe, exist in a separate, organized underground society. It’s more of a solitary existence and loose-knit community of secretive, hard-luck individuals.

The New York Post followed one homeless man known as “John Travolta” on a tour through the underground world.  What they discovered was a world that is very much different from what most New Yorkers experience…

In the tunnels, their world is one of malt liquor, tight spaces, schizophrenic neighbors, hunger and spells of heat and cold. Travolta and the others eat fairly well, living on a regimented schedule of restaurant leftovers, dumped each night at different times around the neighborhood above his foreboding home.

Even as the Dow hits record high after record high, poverty in New York City continues to rise at a very frightening pace.  Incredibly, the number of homeless people sleeping in the homeless shelters of New York City has increased by a whopping 19 percent over the past year.

In many of our major cities, the homeless shelters are already at maximum capacity and are absolutely packed night after night.  Large numbers of homeless people are often left to fend for themselves.

That is one reason why we have seen the rise of so many tent cities.

Yes, the tent cities are still there, they just aren’t getting as much attention these days because they do not fit in with the “economic recovery” narrative that the mainstream media is currently pushing.

In fact, many of the tent cities are larger than ever.  For example, you can check out a Reuters video about a growing tent city in New Jersey that was posted on YouTube at the end of March right here.  A lot of these tent cities have now become permanent fixtures, and unfortunately they will probably become much larger when the next major economic crisis strikes.

But perhaps the saddest part of all of this is the massive number of children that are suffering night after night.

For the first time ever, more than a million public school children in the United States are homeless.  That number has risen by 57 percent since the 2006-2007 school year.

So if things are really “getting better”, then why in the world do we have more than a million public school children without homes?

These days a lot of families that have lost their homes have ended up living in their vehicles.  The following is an excerpt from a 60 Minutes interview with one family that is living in their truck…

This is the home of the Metzger family. Arielle,15. Her brother Austin, 13. Their mother died when they were very young. Their dad, Tom, is a carpenter. And, he’s been looking for work ever since Florida’s construction industry collapsed. When foreclosure took their house, he bought the truck on Craigslist with his last thousand dollars. Tom’s a little camera shy – thought we ought to talk to the kids – and it didn’t take long to see why.

Pelley: How long have you been living in this truck?

Arielle Metzger: About five months.

Pelley: What’s that like?

Arielle Metzger: It’s an adventure.

Austin Metzger: That’s how we see it.

Pelley: When kids at school ask you where you live, what do you tell ’em?

Austin Metzger: When they see the truck they ask me if I live in it, and when I hesitate they kinda realize. And they say they won’t tell anybody.

Arielle Metzger: Yeah it’s not really that much an embarrassment. I mean, it’s only life. You do what you need to do, right?

But after watching a news report or reading something on the Internet about these people we rapidly forget about them because they are not a part of “our world”.

Another place where a lot of poor people end up is in prison.  In a previous article, I detailed how the prison population in the United States has been booming in recent years.  If you can believe it, the United States now has approximately 25 percent of the entire global prison population even though it only has about 5 percent of the total global population.

And these days it is not just violent criminals that get thrown into prison.  If you lose your job and get behind on your bills, you could be thrown into prison as well.  The following is from a recent CBS News article

Roughly a third of U.S. states today jail people for not paying off their debts, from court-related fines and fees to credit card and car loans, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. Such practices contravene a 1983 United States Supreme Court ruling that they violate the Constitutions’s Equal Protection Clause.

Some states apply “poverty penalties,” such as late fees, payment plan fees and interest, when people are unable to pay all their debts at once. Alabama charges a 30 percent collection fee, for instance, while Florida allows private debt collectors to add a 40 percent surcharge on the original debt. Some Florida counties also use so-called collection courts, where debtors can be jailed but have no right to a public defender. In North Carolina, people are charged for using a public defender, so poor defendants who can’t afford such costs may be forced to forgo legal counsel.

The high rates of unemployment and government fiscal shortfalls that followed the housing crash have increased the use of debtors’ prisons, as states look for ways to replenish their coffers. Said Chettiar, “It’s like drawing blood from a stone. States are trying to increase their revenue on the backs of the poor.”

If you are poor, the United States can be an incredibly cold and cruel place.  Mercy and compassion are in very short supply.

The middle class continues to shrink and poverty continues to grow with each passing year.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately one out of every six Americans is now living in poverty.  And if you throw in those that are considered to be “near poverty”, that number becomes much larger.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 146 million Americans are either “poor” or “low income”.

For many more facts about the rapid increase of poverty in this country, please see my previous article entitled “21 Statistics About The Explosive Growth Of Poverty In America That Everyone Should Know“.

But even as poverty grows, it seems like the hearts of those that still do have money are getting colder.  Just check out what happened recently at a grocery store that was in the process of closing down in Augusta, Georgia

Residents filled the parking lot with bags and baskets hoping to get some of the baby food, canned goods, noodles and other non-perishables. But a local church never came to pick up the food, as the storeowner prior to the eviction said they had arranged. By the time the people showed up for the food, what was left inside the premises—as with any eviction—came into the ownership of the property holder, SunTrust Bank.

The bank ordered the food to be loaded into dumpsters and hauled to a landfill instead of distributed. The people that gathered had to be restrained by police as they saw perfectly good food destroyed. Local Sheriff Richard Roundtree told the news “a potential for a riot was extremely high.”

Can you imagine watching that happen?

But of course handouts and charity are only temporary solutions.  What the poor in this country really need are jobs, and unfortunately there has not been a jobs recovery in the United States since the recession ended.

In fact, the employment crisis looks like it is starting to take another turn for the worse.  The number of layoffs in the month of March was 30 percent higher than the same time a year ago.

Meanwhile, small businesses are indicating that hiring is about to slow down significantly.  According to a recent survey by the National Federation of Independent Businesses, small businesses in the United States are extremely pessimistic right now.  The following is what Goldman Sachs had to say about this survey…

Components of the survey were consistent with the decline in headline optimism, as the net percent of respondents planning to hire fell to 0% (from +4%), those expecting higher sales fell to -4% (from +1%), and those reporting that it is a good time to expand ticked down to +4% (from +5%). The net percent of respondents expecting the economy to improve was unchanged at -28%, a very depressed level. However, on the positive side, +25% of respondents plan increased capital spending [ZH: With Alcoa CapEx spending at a 2 year low]. Small business owners continue to place poor sales, taxes, and red tape at the top of their list of business problems, as they have for the past several years.

So why aren’t our politicians doing anything to fix this?

For example, why in the world don’t they stop millions of our jobs from being sent out of the country?

Well, the truth is that they don’t think we have a problem.  In fact, U.S. Senator Ron Johnson recently said that U.S. trade deficits “don’t matter”.

He apparently does not seem alarmed that more than 56,000 manufacturing facilities have been shut down in the United States since 2001.

And since the last election, the White House has seemed to have gone into permanent party mode.

On Tuesday, another extravagant party will be held at the White House.  It is being called “In Performance at the White House: Memphis Soul”, and it is going to include some of the biggest names in the music industry…

As the White House has previously announced, Justin Timberlake (who will be making his White House debut), Al Green, Ben Harper, Queen Latifah, Cyndi Lauper, Joshua Ledet, Sam Moore, Charlie Musselwhite, Mavis Staples, and others will be performing at the exclusive event.

Living Underground - Photo by Patrick Cashin

And so who will be paying for all of this?

You and I will be.  Even as the Obamas cry about all of the other “spending cuts” that are happening, they continue to blow millions of taxpayer dollars on wildly extravagant parties and vacations.

Overall, U.S. taxpayers will spend well over a billion dollars on the Obamas this year.

I wonder what the tunnel people that live under the streets of America think about that.

 

Hungry For The Holidays

Off the keyboard of Michael Snyder

Published on Economic Collapse on November 26, 2012

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20 Facts About Hunger In America That Will Blow Your Mind

All over America there are millions of people that will be missing meals and going hungry this holiday season. Even as much of the country indulges in the yearly ritual of unbridled consumerism that we refer to as “the holiday season”, more families in the United States than ever before will be dealing with not having enough food to eat. Food stamp use is at an all-time high. Demand at food banks is at an all-time high. They keep telling us that we are in an “economic recovery” and yet the middle class continues to shrink and the number of Americans living in poverty just continues to grow. We are witnessing unprecedented hunger in America, and this especially seems tragic during the holidays. Much of the country is partying as if the good times will never stop, but families that are living from one meal to the next are facing a completely different reality. How do you tell your children that there isn’t going to be any food to eat for dinner? How do you explain to them that other families have plenty to eat but you don’t? Sadly, many food banks are overstretched at this point. All over the nation, food pantries have actually had to turn people away because of the overwhelming demand. And more Americans used food stamps to buy their Thanksgiving dinners this year than ever before. This is a problem that is not going away any time soon, and when the next major economic downturn strikes the problem of hunger in America is going to get even worse.

For many Americans, hunger has become a way of life. Families that don’t have enough money are often faced with some absolutely heartbreaking choices. Just check out what one Maine official that works with the Emergency Food Assistance Program recently had to say

“One in six people in Maine don’t know where their next meal is coming from, or skip a meal so their kids can eat, or have to choose between paying for prescriptions and food, or fuel for your car and food,” Hall said. “What’s amazing is that food is always the first thing to go from your budget. It’s staggering, the choices people have to make.”

Food banks all over the country try their best to do what they can, especially during the holidays, but it is often not enough. In fact, some food banks ran out of turkeys well in advance of Thanksgiving this year

Three days in advance of Thanksgiving, the Pear Street Cupboard and Café in Framingham, Massachusetts, is out of turkeys. According to organizers, “requests for help are up 400 percent over last year.”

But it isn’t just during the holidays that food banks are having problems keeping up with demand. The truth is that many food banks find themselves out of food and having to turn away hungry families all throughout the year. The following is from a recent Reuters article

Overall, food pantries and soup kitchens reported a 5 percent spike in demand in 2012, according to the survey. More than half of providers said they were forced to turn away clients, reduce portion sizes, or limit their hours.

In Staten Island, all of the agencies that respond to hunger reported not having enough food to meet demand, while in the Bronx that was true for 80 percent of agencies. In Queens and Brooklyn, more than 60 percent of agencies did not have enough food to meet the needs of the populations they serve.

If you are able, please support your local food bank. The needs are great and they are only going to get greater.

The following are 20 facts about hunger in America that will blow your mind…

#1 According to one calculation, the number of Americans on food stamps now exceeds the combined populations of “Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming.”

#2 In October 2008, 30.8 million Americans were on food stamps. By August 2012 that number had risen to 47.1 million Americans.

#3 Right now, one out of every seven Americans is on food stamps and one out of every four American children is on food stamps.

#4 It is projected that half of all American children will be on food stamps at least once before they turn 18 years of age.

#5 According to new numbers that were just released by the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of Americans living in poverty increased to a new all-time record high of 49.7 million last year.

#6 The number of Americans living in poverty has increased by about 6 million over the past four years.

#7 Today, about one out of every four workers in the United States brings home wages that are at or below the federal poverty level.

#8 According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the poverty rate for children living in the United States is about 22 percent.

#9 Overall, approximately 57 percent of all children in the United States are living in homes that are either considered to be either “low income” or impoverished.

#10 In the United States today, close to 100 million Americans are considered to be either “poor” or “near poor”.

#11 One university study estimates that child poverty costs the U.S. economy 500 billion dollars each year.

#12 Households that are led by a single mother have a 31.6 percent poverty rate.

#13 In 2010, 42 percent of all single mothers in the United States were on food stamps.

#14 According to the National Center for Children in Poverty, 36.4 percent of all children in Philadelphia are living in poverty, 40.1 percent of all children in Atlanta are living in poverty, 52.6 percent of all children in Cleveland are living in poverty and 53.6 percent of all children in Detroit are living in poverty.

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

#16 Family homelessness in the Washington D.C. region (one of the wealthiest regions in the entire country) has risen 23 percent since the last recession began.

#17 There are 314 counties in the United States where at least 30 percent of the children are facing food insecurity.

#18 More than 20 million U.S. children rely on school meal programs to keep from going hungry.

#19 Right now, more than 100 million Americans are enrolled in at least one welfare program run by the federal government. And that does not even count Social Security or Medicare.

#20 According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, approximately 40 percent of all food in America “is routinely thrown away by consumers at home, discarded or unserved at restaurants or left unharvested on farms.”

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