Trickle Down Trumpsters and the Debasement of Language

By Timothy Egan

Contributing Opinion Writer

June 22, 2018

On Father’s Day last week, the highest-paid employee of Washington State University tweeted out a video of a 2014 speech by Barack Obama that was altered to make him sound like a one-world-government tyrant.

When called on the fraud, Mike Leach, the head football coach and $3.5 million a year representative of the same school that gave us the legendary newsman Edward R. Murrow, said, “Prove it.”

It was easily proven as doctored. But instead of apologizing, and owning up to his dissemination of a fake conspiracy video, he then wrote, “What is a fact?” Of all the things President Trump has done to destroy civil norms, his debasement of language is the most chilling and poisonous. For it has now reached down to every level, allowing people who are supposed to be societal pillars, or even role models, to act as if reality has no foundation.

Trump’s frightful legacy is not just the epidemic of everyday incivility in daily life. Nor is it his practice of using dehumanizing language to justify cruelty. The worst of the trickle-down Trump effects is the way he’s opened the door for other public figures to get away with making things up. When a president is applauded for lying, why should a head football coach, or a cabinet secretary, feel any shame for doing the same thing?

To authoritarians, language is a weapon, usually deployed in the service of an emotional half-truth: something you believe to be true even if it isn’t. Truth has to become meaningless — “What is a fact?” — in order for this strategy to work and morality to become a shapeless thing.

We saw it when Vice President Mike Pence called the former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio a champion of “the rule of law.” Arpaio is a convicted criminal later pardoned by Trump. You can say he’s a hero to the political right, or a fighter, but by no standard is a sheriff who was repeatedly called out for violating the law a champion of the rule of law.

And we saw it in graphic detail over the last week with the Trump administration policy of ripping migrant children from their parents. The cages holding weeping kids are “essentially summer camps,” in the words of the Fox News host Laura Ingraham.

Worse, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said the administration’s zero tolerance policy that led to 2,300 children being taken from their parents doesn’t exist — “period.” A day after saying this, she defended the policy that doesn’t exist. And on Wednesday, Trump signed an order trying to resolve a crisis that he created, after saying earlier he couldn’t stop it because it was the fault of others, even if it did exist.

After a while, people come to “believe everything and nothing, think that everything was possible and that nothing was true,” wrote Hannah Arendt, the German-born philosopher, in describing how truth lost its way in her native land.

Everyone laughed when the North Korean news agency reported that the late Dear Leader, Kim Jong-il, scored five holes-in-one while playing a round of golf. But how is this any different from Trump saying this week that crime is “way up” in Germany when it just recorded the lowest year for crime in nearly three decades? Who is left to call him on this? The press, which he’s labeled the “enemy of the American people”?

In North Korea, the masses are forced to believe the lies, something Trump clearly envies. “He speaks and his people sit up in attention,” he said of Kim Jong-un. “I want my people to do the same.”

The constant repetition of the lie is the way to make truth meaningless. You say a falsehood over and over and it takes on the shape of reality. This is the case for many of the 3,200 lies or misleading claims that Trump has uttered since taking office.

My larger concern today is this: How is a fact-based democracy supposed to function when the Trump toxins have gotten deep into the national bloodstream?

When Mike Leach was caught in his video lie, his university did not set the record straight. Washington State issued a meaningless statement backing its coach’s right to his “personal opinions.” And Leach himself said the actual words spoken by Obama are “irrelevant anyway” because “we are discussing ideas.” All of this from an institution of higher learning.

And where did Coach Leach get this mush, an excuse that would be laughed off the field if one of his players tried it with him?

From the top. Remember when Trump retweeted a video purporting to show a Muslim migrant beating up a Dutch boy on crutches? After authorities in the Netherlands said the assailant was neither migrant nor Muslim, the White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the truth didn’t matter.

“Whether it’s a real video, the threat is real,” she said. In other words, “What is a fact?”

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The Bikini Contest Is Over, but We Are Living Inside the Beauty Pageant

By Bari Weiss
Ms. Weiss is a staff editor and writer for the Opinion section.
June 5, 2018

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Miss America contestants in 2017.CreditTom Gralish/The Philadelphia Inquirer, via Associated Press

On Tuesday morning came the news that the oldest beauty pageant in America is no longer a beauty pageant.

Nearly 100 years after the first Miss America contest took place in Atlantic City — back then, the ladies wore one-pieces closer to burkinis than bikinis — the organization has said so long to the bathing suit competition. “We are not going to judge you on your outward appearance,” said Gretchen Carlson, the chairwoman of the Miss America Organization.

Ms. Carlson is the perfect person to lead Miss America through this transformation. She won the crown herself in 1988 and went on to a career at Fox News, where she laid the groundwork for the #MeToo movement, blowing the whistle on Roger Ailes long before there were headlines about Harvey Weinstein.

Miss America 2.0, as the event has been branded, will be “a competition” — not a pageant, Ms. Carlson said on “Good Morning America.”

“We’re experiencing a cultural revolution in our country, with women finding the courage to stand up and have their voices heard on many issues,” she added.

Only the likes of Piers Morgan would be opposed to a Miss America contest that promises to be more “empowering” and “inclusive.” But saying that women won’t be judged for the way they look is a bit like a Miss Oklahoma or Miss Oregon saying she wishes for world peace.

Getting rid of the bikini contest won’t stop judges — and the rest of the world — from critiquing contestants’ outer beauty. As all women know, that happens even if we are shuffling down the block in old sweats.

The real reason the bikini contest was done away with is that it’s simply too explicit for our euphemistic era, where “strong” is the code word for skinny, and “healthy” for beautiful. Our culture hasn’t stopped objectifying women. We — men and women both — are just getting better at pretending it’s not happening. Ours is the age of Pilates and athleisure, of detoxifying and “wellness,” of organic and biodynamic, of game-ifying weight loss by calling calories points.

Standing up on a stage in stilettos and tiny squares of nylon held up by string is just too gauche for 2018.

Of course, President Trump is the crude outlier here, as he is for so many civilized norms. But far too often when I hear a man describe a woman as “super fit,” my brain substitutes some variation of Mr. Trump’s locker-room talk.

The game is now all about discretion — of insisting you aren’t working hard while you are absolutely gritting your teeth, of telling your date that you just don’t like bread. While men pretend not to judge women for the way they look, we go to great lengths to pretend we don’t care, either.

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Contestants in the first Miss America pageant in 1921 lining up in their swimsuits.CreditAssociated Press

And so we blend leaves together and call it “delicious” and “juice” instead of a mealy sludge.

We wear stilts to hike around concrete jungles and lie about how they are anything other than medieval torture devices.

We get the tiny horns on the tips of our fingers and toes painted in shades so subtle that heterosexual men don’t even realize we got them painted at all.

We shell out hundreds of dollars for magic elixirs and oils the size of Theranos Nanotainers that don’t even promise youth but boast that they are “clean.”

We lie under fluorescent lights and hold our thighs open for strips of burning hot wax while we chat about the new season of “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

We read about the beauty routines and morning routines and nighttime routines and midday routines of women infinitely more wealthy than we are and then study their social media accounts to see how we might approximate their lives.

We spend hundreds of dollars on makeup that makes it look as if we aren’t wearing any makeup at all.

We muss our hair and pout our lips and Google “best angles” and hold our cameras ever so slightly above our faces.

We practice for future careers in STEM: If I burn 450 calories at Soul Cycle I can totally get away with a little sushi at lunch. Or maybe better go for the sashimi and hold out for a second glass of rosé at dinner?

We give ourselves shots in the stomach that make us want to murder everyone at the office so that one day we can become the boss of that office and have a kid alone at 50 with our frozen eggs.

In the meantime, we brutally assess the facial symmetry of potential mates on dating apps without enough vowels and post pictures of ourselves that our friends have approved via group chat.

We are so much more than this. But we can’t help but get distracted by the whole charade. And we are the women who have the luxury of even thinking about having it all! This is what having it all looks like.

I won’t miss the bikini contest a lick. I haven’t watched Miss America since I was in middle school, and I was incredulous even then. The thought of growing up to be like the women on the screen never crossed my mind. It’s not because I wasn’t ambitious: It’s that I looked at them and felt confident I was a different species. I’m sure the bikinis had something to do with it.

But there was also something strangely honest about it. We are being watched and scrutinized and judged. We are watching and scrutinizing and judging. It is, as Ms. Carlson said, a competition.

Bari Weiss (@bariweiss) is a staff editor and writer for the Opinion section.

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Donald Trump’s Magical Fantasy World

By David Brooks

Opinion Columnist

 

 

President Trump at a rally in Indiana this month.CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

Americans have always had a tremendous capacity for fantasy. Jay Gatsby is a classic American hero because he constructed a fantasy version of himself and then attempted to live it. John Wayne constructed a fantasy version of the American West, which a lot of people still try to imitate.

As Kurt Andersen writes in his book “Fantasyland,” for roughly three centuries America’s fantasist and realist impulses existed in rough balance. But now fantasy seems to be sweeping the field.

I’d say the crucial pivot was in the early 1960s. Hugh Hefner created a fantasy version of masculinity. Ken Kesey created a fantasy image of an acid-dripping New Age.

The two great writers who died this month tracked the explosion of fantastical thinking. In 1961 Philip Roth wrote an essay for Commentary called “Writing American Fiction,” in which he endorsed Benjamin DeMott’s observation that America was then experiencing a “universal descent into unreality.” Roth would go on to make the most of it. “Making fake biography, false history, concocting a half imaginary existence out of the actual drama of my life is my life,” he told The Paris Review.

Tom Wolfe blasted the American berserk into the stratosphere. He tagged along with the Pump House Gang. He chronicled the ESP believers and the Upper East Side aristocrats who imagined they were radical Black Panthers.

Recently we’ve let the fantasy dog out for a romp. “Donald Trump is a pure fantasyland being, its apotheosis,” Andersen writes. Trump is celebrity subsuming governance. Every day he produces great geysers of fantasy — some of which rip the cultural fabric (Mexican rapists), some of which merely tug it (“Obama had my ‘wires tapped’”).

Trump’s fantasies regularly collide with reality, and so far reality has a perfect winning percentage. That’s what happened with North Korea on Thursday. I sympathized with Trump’s efforts to give North Korea an opportunity to change, but his bluster, flattery and commemorative coins amounted to nothing more than pseudo-policy — a verbal meringue buttressed by no analytic substance, no institutional leverage, no real power force.

The dangerous thing about Trump’s fantasy world is not when it dissolves into nothing; it’s when he seduces the rest of us to move into it. It’s not when he ignores the facts; it’s when he replaces them by building an alternate virtual reality and suckering us into co-creating it.

That’s what he’s done with the Mueller investigation. My instinct is that the Trump campaign never really colluded with the Russians because there never was an actual Trump campaign — at least not in any organized sense of that word. It was a bunch of relatives and hangers-on having random meetings with some vague hope of personal and professional enrichment.

But whatever you think of the underlying crime, it’s clear that Trump has flipped the Mueller investigation into the central “me versus the swamp” soap opera of his presidency. There are a bunch of familiar characters in the cast: the “witch hunters,” Michael Cohen, Paul Manafort, the media. Trump’s tweets drive the daily plot twists. And sure enough, the American people are addicted. If you want cable ratings or page views, you have to cover it, play your role and pump up the hype.

The first problem is you can’t beat Trump at his own fantasy game. As Daniel Boorstin understood back in 1962, you can’t refute an image with a fact. Every pseudo-event “becomes all the more interesting with our every effort to debunk it.” Trump gets to monopolize attention ever more comprehensively and deepen his credibility as anti-establishment hero.

The second problem is that when you agree to operate within his fantasy, even if you are motivated by the attraction of repulsion, you’ve given the man your brain. Sometimes my Trump-bashing friends and I seem like puppets on his string.

There was a fascinating essay in Literary Hub by the book agent Erik Hane. Hane reads through the slush piles of new novel submissions. These days they are often about Trump. The novelists, he writes, have lost control of their own consciousness: “These authors are not writing the political moment so much as the moment is writing them.”

Hane, who writes at the top of his voice, continues, “It is one of fascism’s goals to monopolize our attention. It would like to shrink our imagination. … Fascism welcomes our attempts to play logical ‘gotcha’ with its inconsistencies because it knows we will lose — not because we won’t find a fallacy but because the fallacy won’t matter.”

Hane says he misses novels that are about someone else’s actual lived experience. I miss people thinking about the world outside the gravity field of Trumpian unreality, and about the world after Trump — the world we should be building.

We’re in the middle of some vast historical transition, and it’s very hard to know what to believe in. The more time we spend on the Trumpian soap opera, the less likely we are to know where we are or what we should do.

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The Coming Collapse

It is impossible for any doomed population to grasp how fragile the decayed financial, social and political system is on the eve of implosion.

"Trump, like all despots, has no ethical core." (Photo: coolloud/flickr/cc)

“Trump, like all despots, has no ethical core.” (Photo: coolloud/flickr/cc)

The Trump administration did not rise, prima facie, like Venus on a half shell from the sea. Donald Trump is the result of a long process of political, cultural and social decay. He is a product of our failed democracy. The longer we perpetuate the fiction that we live in a functioning democracy, that Trump and the political mutations around him are somehow an aberrant deviation that can be vanquished in the next election, the more we will hurtle toward tyranny. The problem is not Trump. It is a political system, dominated by corporate power and the mandarins of the two major political parties, in which we don’t count. We will wrest back political control by dismantling the corporate state, and this means massive and sustained civil disobedience, like that demonstrated by teachers around the country this year. If we do not stand up we will enter a new dark age.

The Democratic Party, which helped build our system of inverted totalitarianism, is once again held up by many on the left as the savior. Yet the party steadfastly refuses to address the social inequality that led to the election of Trump and the insurgency by Bernie Sanders. It is deaf, dumb and blind to the very real economic suffering that plagues over half the country. It will not fight to pay workers a living wage. It will not defy the pharmaceutical and insurance industries to provide Medicare for all. It will not curb the voracious appetite of the military that is disemboweling the country and promoting the prosecution of futile and costly foreign wars. It will not restore our lost civil liberties, including the right to privacy, freedom from government surveillance, and due process. It will not get corporate and dark money out of politics. It will not demilitarize our police and reform a prison system that has 25 percent of the world’s prisoners although the United States has only 5 percent of the world’s population. It plays to the margins, especially in election seasons, refusing to address substantive political and social problems and instead focusing on narrow cultural issues like gay rights, abortion and gun control in our peculiar species of anti-politics.

In an open and democratic political process, one not dominated by party elites and corporate money, these people would not hold political power. They know this. They would rather implode the entire system than give up their positions of privilege.

This is a doomed tactic, but one that is understandable. The leadership of the party, the Clintons, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Tom Perez, are creations of corporate America. In an open and democratic political process, one not dominated by party elites and corporate money, these people would not hold political power. They know this. They would rather implode the entire system than give up their positions of privilege. And that, I fear, is what will happen. The idea that the Democratic Party is in any way a bulwark against despotism defies the last three decades of its political activity. It is the guarantor of despotism.

Trump has tapped into the hatred that huge segments of the American public have for a political and economic system that has betrayed them. He may be inept, degenerate, dishonest and a narcissist, but he adeptly ridicules the system they despise. His cruel and demeaning taunts directed at government agencies, laws and the established elites resonate with people for whom these agencies, laws and elites have become hostile forces. And for many who see no shift in the political landscape to alleviate their suffering, Trump’s cruelty and invective are at least cathartic.

Trump, like all despots, has no ethical core. He chooses his allies and appointees based on their personal loyalty and fawning obsequiousness to him. He will sell anyone out. He is corrupt, amassing money for himself—he made $40 million from his Washington, D.C., hotel alone last year—and his corporate allies. He is dismantling government institutions that once provided some regulation and oversight. He is an enemy of the open society. This makes him dangerous. His turbocharged assault on the last vestiges of democratic institutions and norms means there will soon be nothing, even in name, to protect us from corporate totalitarianism.

But the warnings from the architects of our failed democracy against creeping fascism, Madeleine Albright among them, are risible. They show how disconnected the elites have become from the zeitgeist. None of these elites have credibility. They built the edifice of lies, deceit and corporate pillage that made Trump possible. And the more Trump demeans these elites, and the more they cry out like Cassandras, the more he salvages his disastrous presidency and enables the kleptocrats pillaging the country as it swiftly disintegrates.

It refuses to critique or investigate the abuses by corporate power, which has destroyed our democracy and economy and orchestrated the largest transfer of wealth upward in American history.

The press is one of the principal pillars of Trump’s despotism. It chatters endlessly like 17th-century courtiers at the court of Versailles about the foibles of the monarch while the peasants lack bread. It drones on and on and on about empty topics such as Russian meddling and a payoff to a porn actress that have nothing to do with the daily hell that, for many, defines life in America. It refuses to critique or investigate the abuses by corporate power, which has destroyed our democracy and economy and orchestrated the largest transfer of wealth upward in American history. The corporate press is a decayed relic that, in exchange for money and access, committed cultural suicide. And when Trump attacks it over “fake news,” he expresses, once again, the deep hatred of all those the press ignores. The press worships the idol of Mammon as slavishly as Trump does. It loves the reality-show presidency. The press, especially the cable news shows, keeps the lights on and the cameras rolling so viewers will be glued to a 21st-century version of “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.” It is good for ratings. It is good for profits. But it accelerates the decline.

All this will soon be compounded by financial collapse. Wall Street banks have been handed $16 trillion in bailouts and other subsidies by the Federal Reserve and Congress at nearly zero percent interest since the 2008 financial collapse. They have used this money, as well as the money saved through the huge tax cuts imposed last year, to buy back their own stock, raising the compensation and bonuses of their managers and thrusting the society deeper into untenable debt peonage. Sheldon Adelson’s casino operations alone got a $670 million tax break under the 2017 legislation. The ratio of CEO to worker pay now averages 339 to 1, with the highest gap approaching 5,000 to 1. This circular use of money to make and hoard money is what Karl Marx called “fictitious capital.” The steady increase in public debt, corporate debt, credit card debt and student loan debt will ultimately lead, as Nomi Prins writes, to “a tipping point—when money coming in to furnish that debt, or available to borrow, simply won’t cover the interest payments. Then debt bubbles will pop, beginning with higher yielding bonds.”

An economy reliant on debt for its growth causes our interest rate to jump to 28 percent when we are late on a credit card payment. It is why our wages are stagnant or have declined in real terms—if we earned a sustainable income we would not have to borrow money to survive. It is why a university education, houses, medical bills and utilities cost so much. The system is designed so we can never free ourselves from debt.

However, the next financial crash, as Prins points out in her book “Collusion: How Central Bankers Rigged the World,” won’t be like the last one. This is because, as she says, “there is no Plan B.” Interest rates can’t go any lower. There has been no growth in the real economy. The next time, there will be no way out. Once the economy crashes and the rage across the country explodes into a firestorm, the political freaks will appear, ones that will make Trump look sagacious and benign.

And so, to quote Vladimir Lenin, what must be done?

We must invest our energy in building parallel, popular institutions to protect ourselves and to pit power against power. These parallel institutions, including unions, community development organizations, local currencies, alternative political parties and food cooperatives, will have to be constructed town by town. The elites in a time of distress will retreat to their gated compounds and leave us to fend for ourselves. Basic services, from garbage collection to public transportation, food distribution and health care, will collapse. Massive unemployment and underemployment, triggering social unrest, will be dealt with not through government job creation but the brutality of militarized police and a complete suspension of civil liberties. Critics of the system, already pushed to the margins, will be silenced and attacked as enemies of the state. The last vestiges of labor unions will be targeted for abolition, a process that will soon be accelerated given the expected ruling in a case before the Supreme Court that will cripple the ability of public-sector unions to represent workers. The dollar will stop being the world’s reserve currency, causing a steep devaluation. Banks will close. Global warming will extract heavier and heavier costs, especially on the coastal populations, farming and the infrastructure, costs that the depleted state will be unable to address. The corporate press, like the ruling elites, will go from burlesque to absurdism, its rhetoric so patently fictitious it will, as in all totalitarian states, be unmoored from reality. The media outlets will all sound as fatuous as Trump. And, to quote W.H. Auden, “the little children will die in the streets.”

As a foreign correspondent I covered collapsed societies, including the former Yugoslavia. It is impossible for any doomed population to grasp how fragile the decayed financial, social and political system is on the eve of implosion. All the harbingers of collapse are visible: crumbling infrastructure; chronic underemployment and unemployment; the indiscriminate use of lethal force by police; political paralysis and stagnation; an economy built on the scaffolding of debt; nihilistic mass shootings in schools, universities, workplaces, malls, concert venues and movie theaters; opioid overdoses that kill some 64,000 people a year; an epidemic of suicides; unsustainable military expansion; gambling as a desperate tool of economic development and government revenue; the capture of power by a tiny, corrupt clique; censorship; the physical diminishing of public institutions ranging from schools and libraries to courts and medical facilities; the incessant bombardment by electronic hallucinations to divert us from the depressing sight that has become America and keep us trapped in illusions. We suffer the usual pathologies of impending death. I would be happy to be wrong. But I have seen this before. I know the warning signs. All I can say is get ready.

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Almost half of US families can’t afford basics like rent and food

http://money.cnn.com/2018/05/17/news/economy/us-middle-class-basics-study/index.html

The economy may be chugging along, but many Americans are still struggling to afford a basic middle class life.

Nearly 51 million households don’t earn enough to afford a monthly budget that includes housing, food, child care, health care, transportation and a cell phone, according to a studyreleased Thursday by the United Way ALICE Project. That’s 43% of households in the United States.

 The figure includes the 16.1 million households living in poverty, as well as the 34.7 million families that the United Way has dubbed ALICE — Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. This group makes less than what’s needed “to survive in the modern economy.”

“Despite seemingly positive economic signs, the ALICE data shows that financial hardship is still a pervasive problem,” said Stephanie Hoopes, the project’s director.

California, New Mexico and Hawaii have the largest share of struggling families, at 49% each. North Dakota has the lowest at 32%.

Many of these folks are the nation’s child care workers, home health aides, office assistants and store clerks, who work low-paying jobs and have little savings, the study noted. Some 66% of jobs in the US pay less than $20 an hour.

The study also drilled down to the county level.

For instance, in Seattle’s King County, the annual household survival budget for a family of four (including one infant and one preschooler) in 2016 was nearly $85,000. This would require an hourly wage of $42.46. But in Washington State, only 14% of jobs pay more than $40 an hour.

Related: Seattle passes a smaller version of the ‘Amazon tax’

Seattle’s City Council just passed a controversial tax on big businesses to help alleviate the city’s growing homelessness and affordable housing problems.

 

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The Pentagon Can’t Account for $21 Trillion (That’s Not a Typo)

Lee Camp-Truth Dig  May 17, 2018

Twenty-one trillion dollars.

The Pentagon’s own numbers show that it can’t account for $21 trillion. Yes, I mean trillion with a “T.” And this could change everything.

But I’ll get back to that in a moment.

There are certain things the human mind is not meant to do. Our complex brains cannot view the world in infrared, cannot spell words backward during orgasm and cannot really grasp numbers over a few thousand. A few thousand, we can feel and conceptualize. We’ve all been in stadiums with several thousand people. We have an idea of what that looks like (and how sticky the floor gets).

But when we get into the millions, we lose it. It becomes a fog of nonsense. Visualizing it feels like trying to hug a memory. We may know what $1 million can buy (and we may want that thing), but you probably don’t know how tall a stack of a million $1 bills is. You probably don’t know how long it takes a minimum-wage employee to make $1 million.

That’s why trying to understand—truly understand—that the Pentagon spent 21 trillion unaccounted-for dollars between 1998 and 2015 washes over us like your mother telling you that your third cousin you met twice is getting divorced. It seems vaguely upsetting, but you forget about it 15 seconds later because … what else is there to do?

Twenty-one trillion.

But let’s get back to the beginning. A couple of years ago, Mark Skidmore, an economics professor, heard Catherine Austin Fitts, former assistant secretary in the Department of Housing and Urban Development, say that the Department of Defense Office of Inspector General had found $6.5 trillion worth of unaccounted-for spending in 2015. Skidmore, being an economics professor, thought something like, “She means $6.5 billion. Not trillion. Because trillion would mean the Pentagon couldn’t account for more money than the gross domestic product of the whole United Kingdom. But still, $6.5 billion of unaccounted-for money is a crazy amount.”

So he went and looked at the inspector general’s report, and he found something interesting: It was trillion! It was fucking $6.5 trillion in 2015 of unaccounted-for spending! And I’m sorry for the cursing, but the word “trillion” is legally obligated to be prefaced with “fucking.” It is indeed way more than the U.K.’s GDP.

Skidmore did a little more digging. As Forbes reported in December 2017, “[He] and Catherine Austin Fitts … conducted a search of government websites and found similar reports dating back to 1998. While the documents are incomplete, original government sources indicate $21 trillion in unsupported adjustments have been reported for the Department of Defense and the Department of Housing and Urban Development for the years 1998-2015.”

Let’s stop and take a second to conceive how much $21 trillion is (which you can’t because our brains short-circuit, but we’ll try anyway).

1. The amount of money supposedly in the stock market is $30 trillion.

2. The GDP of the United States is $18.6 trillion.

3. Picture a stack of money. Now imagine that that stack of dollars is all $1,000 bills. Each bill says “$1,000” on it. How high do you imagine that stack of dollars would be if it were $1 trillion. It would be 63 miles high.

4. Imagine you make $40,000 a year. How long would it take you to make $1 trillion? Well, don’t sign up for this task, because it would take you 25 million years (which sounds like a long time, but I hear that the last 10 million really fly by because you already know your way around the office, where the coffee machine is, etc.).

The human brain is not meant to think about a trillion dollars.

And it’s definitely not meant to think about the $21 trillion our Department of Defense can’t account for. These numbers sound bananas. They sound like something Alex Jones found tattooed on his backside by extraterrestrials.

But the 21 trillion number comes from the Department of Defense Office of Inspector General—the OIG. Although, as Forbes pointed out, “after Mark Skidmore began inquiring about OIG-reported unsubstantiated adjustments, the OIG’s webpage, which documented, albeit in a highly incomplete manner, these unsupported “accounting adjustments,” was mysteriously taken down.”

Luckily, people had already grabbed copies of the report, which—for now—you can view here.

Here’s something else important from that Forbes article—which is one of the only mainstream media articles you can find on the largest theft in American history:

Given that the entire Army budget in fiscal year 2015 was $120 billion, unsupported adjustments were 54 times the level of spending authorized by Congress.

That’s right. The expenses with no explanation were 54 times the actual budget allotted by Congress. Well, it’s good to see Congress is doing 1/54th of its job of overseeing military spending (that’s actually more than I thought Congress was doing). This would seem to mean that 98 percent of every dollar spent by the Army in 2015 was unconstitutional.

So, pray tell, what did the OIG say caused all this unaccounted-for spending that makes Jeff Bezos’ net worth look like that of a guy jingling a tin can on the street corner?

“[The July 2016 inspector general] report indicates that unsupported adjustments are the result of the Defense Department’s ‘failure to correct system deficiencies.’

They blame trillions of dollars of mysterious spending on a “failure to correct system deficiencies”? That’s like me saying I had sex with 100,000 wild hairless aardvarks because I wasn’t looking where I was walking.

Twenty-one trillion.

Say it slowly to yourself.

At the end of the day, there are no justifiable explanations for this amount of unaccounted-for, unconstitutional spending. Right now, the Pentagon is being audited for the first time ever, and it’s taking 2,400 auditors to do it. I’m not holding my breath that they’ll actually be allowed to get to the bottom of this.

But if the American people truly understood this number, it would change both the country and the world. It means that the dollar is sprinting down a path toward worthless. If the Pentagon is hiding spending that dwarfs the amount of tax dollars coming in to the federal government, then it’s clear the government is printing however much it wants and thinking there are no consequences. Once these trillions are considered, our fiat currency has even less meaning than it already does, and it’s only a matter of time before inflation runs wild.

It also means that any time our government says it “doesn’t have money” for a project, it’s laughable. It can clearly “create” as much as it wants for bombing and death. This would explain how Donald Trump’s military can drop well over 100 bombs a day that cost well north of $1 million each.

So why can’t our government also “create” endless money for health care, education, the homeless, veterans benefits and the elderly, to make all parking free and to pay the Rolling Stones to play stoop-front shows in my neighborhood? (I’m sure the Rolling Stones are expensive, but surely a trillion dollars could cover a couple of songs.)

Obviously, our government could do those things, but it chooses not to. Earlier this month, Louisiana sent eviction notices to 30,000 elderly people on Medicaid to kick them out of their nursing homes. Yes, a country that can vomit trillions of dollars down a black hole marked “Military” can’t find the money to take care of our poor elderly. It’s a repulsive joke.

Twenty-one trillion.

Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates spoke about how no one knows where the money is flying in the Pentagon. In a barely reported speech in 2011, he said, “My staff and I learned that it was nearly impossible to get accurate information and answers to questions such as, ‘How much money did you spend?’ and ‘How many people do you have?’

They can’t even find out how many people work for a specific department?

Note for anyone looking for a job: Just show up at the Pentagon and tell them you work there. It doesn’t seem like they’d have much luck proving you don’t.

For more on this story, check out David DeGraw’s excellent reporting at ChangeMaker.media, because the mainstream corporate media are mouthpieces for the weapons industry. They are friends with benefits of the military-industrial complex. I have seen basically nothing from the mainstream corporate media concerning this mysterious $21 trillion. I missed the time when CNN’s Wolf Blitzer said that the money we dump into war and death—either the accounted-for money or the secretive trillions—could end world hunger and poverty many times over. There’s no reason anybody needs to be starving or hungry or unsheltered on this planet, but our government seems hellbent on proving that it stands for nothing but profiting off death and misery. And our media desperately want to show they stand for nothing but propping up our morally bankrupt empire.

When the media aren’t actively promoting war, they’re filling the airwaves with shit, so the entire country can’t even hear itself think. Our whole mindscape is filled to the brim with nonsense and vacant celebrity idiocy. Then, while no one is looking, the largest theft humankind has ever seen is going on behind our backs—covered up under the guise of “national security.”

Twenty-one trillion.

Don’t forget.

If you think this column is important, please share it. And check out Lee Camp’s weekly TV show, “Redacted Tonight.”

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The Real Villain Behind Our New Gilded Age

The comedian Chris Rock once said, “If poor people knew how rich rich people are, there would be riots in the streets.” Populist revolts throughout the world may not count as street riots, but they do reflect disenchantment with not just our government but also liberal democracy itself.

In the past two decades, growth rates in the United States have fallen to half of what they were in the middle of the 20th century. The share of income accruing to the top 1 percent has nearly doubled since the 1970s, while the share of income going to all workers has fallen by nearly 10 percent.

These are the marks of our new Gilded Age. It’s tempting to blame impersonal market forces such as globalization and automation for widening inequality. But the true villain would be familiar to anyone who lived through the previous one: market (that is, monopoly) power.

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An 1880 political cartoon from a New York paper depicting Standard Oil — one of the great monopolies of the 19th century — as a “horrible monster, whose tentacles spread poverty, disease and death.”CreditBettmann Archive, via Getty Images

The great monopolies of that period — Rockefeller’s Standard Oil, the sugar trust, the financial and railroad interests — used their power to corrupt the economy and politics. Market power both reduces growth and increases inequality. Recognizing this, leaders put into place antitrust and worker protection laws.

Today, market power takes new forms, but the solution is the same: antimonopoly laws and laws protecting workers, but updated for the problems of the 21st century.

The era of “supply-side economics” championed by Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher — which called for tax cuts, deregulation and narrow antitrust enforcement — explains a lot of our current predicament. The key assumption of that era was that markets work best when the government focuses exclusively on enforcing contract and property rights.

This theory turned out to be wrong — not because it celebrates the market but because it misunderstands it. Two centuries earlier, Adam Smith pointed out that the easiest way for businesses to earn profits is not by slashing costs and innovating but by agreeing among themselves not to compete — to exert market power to raise prices or lower wages.

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A John Deere dealership in Taylor, Texas, in 2017.CreditMohammad Khursheed/Reuters

This sort of agreement is now illegal, but businesses have nevertheless found new and creative ways to achieve monopoly profits, while antitrust enforcers have fallen behind.

First, in the 1970s people began trusting their money with institutional investors, like BlackRock and Vanguard, which operate mutual funds that buy shares of all the major corporations. Because the institutional investors bought corporate shares incrementally over a long period of time, hardly anyone noticed when they obtained the biggest stakes of competing firms. For example, BlackRock and Vanguard are among the biggest owners of all the airlines, which means they benefit when the airlines raise prices. An important new series of economic studies suggest that as the institutional investors obtain greater market share, consumers pay higher prices and companies invest less.

Second, a growing body of research indicates that corporations have increased their profits by obtaining power over labor markets. Larger employers can underpay workers simply because workers can find few other employers that are willing to hire them. Faced with reduced wages, some workers quit or go on welfare, fueling the increasingly low labor force participation and rising deficits we see today. One example: Several years ago, many farm equipment manufacturers merged, creating a handful of giant companies like John Deere. This in turn led to a smaller number of farm equipment dealerships in many places. With fewer places to work, farm equipment mechanics had to either accept lower wages or find work in other fields.

Businesses have found other ways to extend their market power. The sandwich maker Jimmy John’s notoriously used covenants not to compete to block its workers from quitting to work for a competitor — which most likely held down wages. Antitrust authorities have focused on mergers and what they might mean for consumer prices but have ignored the possibility that they might push down the wages of workers.

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A Jimmy Johns Gourmet Sandwiches franchise in Metairie Louisiana.CreditJulie Dermansky/Corbis, via Getty Images

Third, the rise of the internet has bestowed enormous market power on the tech titans — Google, Facebook — that rely on networks to connect users. Yet again, antitrust enforcers have not stopped these new robber barons from buying up their nascent competitors. Facebook swallowed Instagram and WhatsApp; Google swallowed DoubleClick and Waze. This has allowed these firms to achieve near-monopolies over new services based on user data, such as training machine learning and artificial intelligence systems. As a result, antitrust authorities allowed the creation of the world’s most powerful oligopoly and the rampant exploitation of user data.

According to one study, the power of firms to raise prices above the competitive level or cut wages below it increased more than threefold from 1980 to 2014.

To revive economic growth and restore equality, we need to update the solutions first developed a century ago. Then, the focus was on breaking up monopolies, prohibiting cartels and blocking mergers. These laws helped advance broadly shared prosperity, but owners of capital devised strategies to evade them. These strategies must be addressed with new regulatory approaches.

Institutional investors need to be blocked from further expansion and forced to restructure. They should be allowed to own shares of no more than one company per industry, or to own no more than a small portion of every company — say, 1 percent — if they want to remain fully diversified.

Antitrust authorities should target firms that use mergers to seize control of labor markets. Farm equipment dealers in a town should be allowed to merge only if mechanics and other employees will have a range of employment options after the merger. It is possible that some of the country’s biggest employers, like Amazon, the Compass Group food service company and Walmart, need to be broken up.

And regulators need to get more aggressive with tech monopolies and stop them from absorbing innovative rivals. Facebook’s market power is what makes scandals like Cambridge Analytica possible. Senator Lindsey Graham nailed it with a question that Mark Zuckerberg could not answer: “If I buy a Ford, and it doesn’t work well, and I don’t like it, I can buy a Chevy. If I’m upset with Facebook, what’s the equivalent product that I can go sign up for?”

We also need a renewed public awareness of the dangers of monopolies to ensure that in the future antitrust enforcers feel the pressure to keep up with the ever-changing faces of monopoly power.

While Democrats have recently tried to revive the spirit of the antimonopoly movements of the Gilded Age, this is an issue on which both parties might find common ground today — just as they did in the era of the trustbusting Republican President Teddy Roosevelt. No one should defend monopoly power.

Eric Posner, a professor at the University of Chicago Law School, and Glen Weyl, a visiting scholar in economics and law at Yale and a researcher at Microsoft (for which he does not speak), are the authors of the forthcoming “Radical Markets: Uprooting Capitalism and Democracy for a Just Society.”

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Bush 41, Trump, and American Decline

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President George H.W. Bush in 1991.CreditDiana Walker//Time Life Pictures/Getty Images

George H.W. Bush once vomited on the prime minister of Japan. It was a mortifying but innocent incident, the result of a nasty stomach bug. Donald Trump has spent the last couple of days effectively doing likewise on France’s Emmanuel Macron.

What’s Trump’s excuse?

The contrast between the 41st and 45th presidents comes to mind this week as millions of Americans mourn the passing of Barbara Bush and pray for the health of her bereaved husband. It’s a study in American decline.

Bush did his duty in World War II as the Navy’s youngest pilot and was shot down over the Pacific. Donald Trump shirked his duty in Vietnam, and we already know he doesn’t like guys who were shot down.

Bush zipped through Yale in two and a half years and was elected Phi Beta Kappa. Trump is “like, really smart.”

Bush married his teenage sweetheart at 20 and stayed married to her for 73 years. Trump stayed married to his first wife for 13 years, his second for five, and his current one (if you can call it a marriage) for 13, with all the assorted lecheries and abuses during and in between.

Bush voted for the Fair Housing Act of 1968 as a Republican congressman. Trump and his father were charged with violating it in 1973.

Bush was the only G.O.P. congressman to see off Lyndon Johnson as the 36th president departed Washington in January 1969, a humane gesture for a broken man from the opposing party. Trump couldn’t bring himself to invite a single congressional Democrat to his state dinner with Macron.

Bush presided adroitly over a high-water mark of American power and influence, a remarkable four-year stretch that included the collapse of the Soviet Union, the creation of Nafta, lightning victory in the Gulf War and the rescue of the Kurds. Trump is all that in reverse: the looming collapse of Nafta, the resurgence of Russia, an incoherent policy in the Middle East and prospective abandonment of the Kurds.

Bush believes in the virtues of bipartisanship in substance. Trump believes in it only for show. Bush husbanded and enhanced American credibility on the world stage. Trump squanders it. Bush is a respecter of civic institutions. Trump is a destroyer of them.

“Bushes were to win, but not brag; succeed, but not preen,” Jon Meacham writes in his recent biography of the 41st president. Trump brags and preens through successes and failures alike. Bush had a capacity to laugh at himself. Trump does not. Bush had some money, and a lot of class. Trump has lots of money and no class.

Bush is profoundly decent. Trump is profoundly not.

These contrasts don’t mean that Bush was without blemish: As Meacham notes, there were political misjudgments and calculated concessions to ambition on the long path to power. Nor does it mean that Trump doesn’t lack his own kind of strengths, not the least of which is his loudly declared indifference to elite opinion.

Yet the fact that personal virtue does not always guarantee political success — or that private vice may often facilitate public achievement — does not mean countries can afford to remain indifferent to questions of virtue and vice. That’s what some of Bill Clinton’s liberal defenders argued during the impeachment debates in the 1990s, and what Trump’s defenders believe today.

They’re wrong. In an age of radical transparency, who the president is inevitably spills over into how he’s seen. Jack Kennedy might have been all class in public and a complete cad in private, but he lived in an era when he could get away with it.

Not anymore. Today’s presidents will be judged on their behavior, which is why the Trump brand is proving so damaging to the G.O.P.’s midterm prospects, despite the strength of the economy. Today’s presidents also model behavior, and tell every presidential aspirant what will or won’t work for them politically.

The Bush model was about proving one’s worth and paying one’s dues. The Trump model is about the vain boast and the savage put-down. It’s either Hadrian or Caligula: Whose regime would you rather live under?

The intense interest in Barbara Bush’s funeral, as well as the concern for President Bush’s health, no doubt reflects the ordinary human sympathy for a couple that has been such an enduring part of our common political landscape. But it reflects something else, too: They — that — was what we once were, too, at least at our striving best. In the age of Trump it’s a reason for mourning and nostalgia, along with a prayer for resurrection.

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What Does it Take to Create Living Wage Jobs?

What Does it Take to Create Living Wage Jobs? | living-wage | Economy & Business Special Interests

For those with the practical experience of being an employer, it is well established that in order for an enterprise to survive, profitability is a primary objective. Employing labor is a function of fulfilling a needed task and matching the skills of the worker with the ability of making or running equipment in order to produce the end product for sale. These conditions are the basics when applicants are hired. Putting aside cultural values of work itself, the methods for training the expertise to become productive are often overlooked by managers in the fast paced and changing work environment. Resolving this problem is the practical path on how to build a viable workforce, which in turn would go a long way to be able to pay a living wage.

Harry J. Holzer from The Brookings Institution outlines a proven process for Creating skilled workers and higher-wage jobs.

“Many US employers now choose “low road” human resource models, where they seek to profit only by minimizing labor costs, rather than investing in skilled employees who would be more productive and committed to their businesses (the “higher road” to competitiveness and profitability).  But they could make other choices. Interestingly, when German manufacturers open plants in the US (where they enjoy lower energy costs and greater access to our consumer markets), they create more apprenticeships and other worker training programs than their American counterparts.”

What Does it Take to Create Living Wage Jobs? | apprenticeships-and-workforce-training560 | Economy & Business Special Interests

Such manufacturing companies have usually set their own employment standards and paid for the training required to teach the prospective employee. The public financing of higher education was adopted post WWII, in such programs as the GI Bill. Rebuilding Europe and Japan put into motion the retraining education where one objective was to transfer the knowledge for practical job careers.

The education explosion of degree mills in disciplines that have little to do with the real world has left a glut of untrained and underachievers. The Hechinger Report asks, Are apprenticeships the new on-ramp to good jobs?

“The traditional high school-to-college-to-employment route has hit a number of potholes recently, among them cripplingly high college tuition and growing concern that higher education is disconnected from emerging work opportunities. Although demand for jobs requiring bachelor’s degrees is rising at twice the rate of those requiring only high school diplomas, there’s a growing sense among some companies, including Zurich, that baccalaureates aren’t necessarily the best way for students to gather meaningful job skills and experience.”

This is an obvious conclusion. Those beholden to the government dependency society will view with alarm that public spending for workforce training is relatively low when compared to the European socialist states. However, who still believes that a college degree is so desirable when the burden of paying for such highly overrated matriculation is so poorly rewarded in the job market?

Companies who want to build a sound organization understand that developing the proficiency of their employees is one of their greatest assets. Since the benefit of apprenticeship programs mostly are reaped by corporations, the primary responsibility for funding should fall on their organizations. Nonetheless, the coordination and support for such endeavors can be advanced through the United States Department of Labor, as defined by How does apprenticeship fit into career pathways?

“Apprenticeship programs are a key asset for state and local workforce systems’ career pathway strategies. Apprenticeship can be a partner in the K-12 educational system and an integral part of career and technical programs in high schools. School or community-sponsored pre-apprenticeship programs can be valuable training approaches and serve as the start of a career pathway, which leads to Registered Apprenticeship opportunities for youth or low-skilled adult workers.

Apprenticeship programs pave the way for career-building and life-long learning through the attainment of stackable credentials. The foundation of the apprenticeship model is the continual building of skills and the ability for workers to obtain higher levels of employment in an occupation or industry. As a result, use of the apprenticeship model can provide communities with a competitive advantage by establishing a continual pipeline of qualified workers for local employers.”

Workers want to earn a living wage. Employers want stable, competent and efficient employees. When the formal academic institutions fail in the crucial mission of preparing their pupils for the hardened circumstances of the work environment, they cheat not only their students, but also companies. Snowflakes do not last long when the heat turns up to engender results on the job.

Most everyone knows that America needs to rebuild its infrastructure. 10 Fast-Growing Jobs That Offer Apprenticeships needed to attain that renovation are:

  • Elevator Installers and Repairers
  • Pile-Driver Operators
  • Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters
  • Electricians
  • Structural Iron and Steel Workers
  • Mechanical Insulation Workers
  • Brickmasons, Blockmasons, and Stonemasons
  • Carpenters
  • Solar Photovoltaic Installers
  • Cement Masons and Concrete Finishers

What all these trades have in common is that apprentices are required to work hard. In an economy this attribute is seldom discussed much less taught in school. Learning this know-how will gain a living wage pay check. Nevertheless teaching such common sense in classes that emphasize computer encoding avoids the economic consequences of artificial intelligence which is designed to replace the programmer with an autonomous system of unconstrained code generating machines.

As the collectivist economy stamps down gainful employment options, succeeding generations will struggle even harder to eke out a marginal living. Few people have the courage and dedication to become proprietors of their self-owned businesses. Most entrepreneurs do not succeed. Workers with meaningful skills; however, have a marketable future. If society revamped their delusion about what it takes to actually earn a living, introducing extensive apprenticeship schooling would be a profound improvement over the wasted subjects taught within the education system.

When interest rates rise to their historic levels, finding a decent job may well become even more difficult. Skill-less is an unimpressive qualification on a resume. Learning a useful craft does not mean basket weaving. No one will pay you a living wage when you cannot produce a meaningful benefit.

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The Real Reason Why Stock Markets Will Continue To Crumble This Year

Posted by Brandon Smith
Date: March 30, 2018

(Alt-Market) Public sentiment on the economy is generally influenced by to two false indicators — the national unemployment rate and stock markets. This is not to say the average person tracks either of these numbers very vigorously; they don’t. What they do is hear these numbers on the morning news, the radio news on their way to work (if they are employed) or they hear them on the evening news just before bed. If the jobless rate is low and the Dow is high, then all is right with the world, at least financially.

When it comes to the economy, most people are lost.

The average American, in particular, is not as oblivious to the world of political and social discourse as they are on economics. Whether on the left or the right of the political spectrum, most citizens know that lines are being drawn and ideological battles are accelerating into realms of the extreme.  Conservatives and the liberty activists that stand at the front line of the culture war understand quite well the threat of globalism and the “philosopher king” elitism of international financiers. They know that these criminals must eventually be dealt with if freedom and stability are to return to the world.

There is a rather common disinformation tactic used to manipulate people within conservative circles that has made a resurgence lately in the wake of the Trump election win. It is the idea that Americans within the “working class” aren’t interested in “high-minded” debates over philosophical conflicts, such as the conflicts between individualism versus collectivism and globalism. There is also the notion that “real” Americans could not care less about the elitist culprits behind the political theater of the false left/right paradigm.

This attitude is presented as a superior one. That is to say, disinformation agents play to people’s egos, suggesting that the working class should be focused on putting food on the table and money in their wallets and that the rest of this “intellectual nonsense” should be ignored as frivolous.

I have seen this working-class cultism before. When I lived in Pittsburgh for a time, there were many people who adopted the image of the steel mining working man, even though steel mining was almost non-existent in the region. People were extremely proud of the idea that they came from a tradition of industrial production, and technical and intellectual pursuits were predominantly ignored in the hopes of perpetuating the mining town mystic. The problem was, all of these folks were wage slaves now in the midst of Pittsburgh’s garbage economy. There were too many people scrambling for too few low wage jobs and production was a thing of the distant past.

And they were supposed to be proud of this?

The working class hero meme is nonsense. It is not a real thing; not anymore. It is something that appeals to many of us conservatives in particular, and it is a subject that politicians use to lure us with a pied piper song of reconstruction and reformation promises that they never intend to keep.

And, the idea that working Americans struggling to survive “do not care” about the bigger picture is a lie, perpetuated by disinformation peddlers trying to appeal to any misplaced sense of superiority. They want us all not only to remain ignorant, but to be prideful of that ignorance. They want us to look down our noses at anyone offering in-depth insight into why the world is becoming a harder place to live. In fact, they want us to revel in the struggle; to revel in self-flagellation and sing songs of how good we are at suffering and barely scraping by.

I mention this within an economic article because I do not see this disinformation tactic being successful, at least not yet. What I do see are millions upon millions of Americans who want answers, and many of them are well aware that the root of the problems they face today comes from globalism and globalists. All that is left is for them to understand the causes of the economic disasters they will soon face, so that they can prepare more effectively to counter them and change their own fates for the better.

The working man is smart enough to care about the bigger picture.  So, with that in mind…

If you have not been tracking economic activity for the past several years then the frenetic movements of markets recently might have you a bit confused. I’ll summarize the “great stock market recovery” that many people have grown accustomed to in a single quote from former president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas:

“What the Fed did — and I was part of that group — is we front-loaded a tremendous market rally, starting in 2009.

It’s sort of what I call the ‘reverse Whimpy factor’ — give me two hamburgers today for one tomorrow.”

Fisher went on to hint at his very reserved view of the impending danger:

“I was warning my colleagues, Don’t go wobbly if we have a 10 to 20 percent correction at some point… Everybody you talk to… has been warning that these markets are heavily priced.” [In reference to interest rate hikes]

I want to break down the situation in the clearest terms possible so that there are no misconceptions here. The bottom line is this — the Federal Reserve through monetary stimulus packages and near zero interest rates engineered an artificial economic recovery from thin air.  But, just as they print money from thin air, everything the central banks create has fleeting value and will eventually crumble.

The Fed not only pumped trillions of fiat dollars into banks and corporations, they also purchased over $4 trillion (officially) in various assets.  These purchases coincided with interest rates so low that loans through the Fed were essentially free for corporate borrowers. But what did corporations do with these loans?

Well, they poured that cash into their OWN stocks, of course. They did this through something called “stock buybacks” which is basically a legal form of stock market manipulation. Companies purchase their own stocks and reduce the number of stocks circulating on the market, thereby elevating the value of the remaining stocks and pushing the Dow to new highs every year… until this year, that is.

The Fed’s control of stock market prices is made perfectly clear in this chart, which shows the S&P 500 rising in exact tandem with the Fed’s balance sheet purchases:

The Real Reason Why Stock Markets Will Continue To Crumble This Year | Fed-Balance-Sheet-Stocks1 | Economy & Business Federal Reserve Bank Special Interests

As I continually warned before the Fed pushed forward with balance sheet reductions, if stocks rallied in close relation to the rising balance sheet, then it only follows that stocks will crash as the balance sheet falls.  It appears as though this is exactly what is now happening.

You see, there is a problem with this model of economic alchemy. It only lasts so long as the central banks perpetually increase the ability of nations and corporations to take on debt. Ultimately, even central banks do not have the power to facilitate debt forever. They have limitations. That said, they never intended to continue with this farce anyway.

Giving the Federal Reserve the power to dictate the terms of the economic “recovery” also gave them the power to dictate the terms of an economic collapse. And now with Donald Trump in office an economic collapse can be achieved without the central bankers even getting any blame.

Donald Trump’s trade war activities set in motion by numerous tariffs have now provided a convenient cover for the banking elites. I do not believe it is a coincidence that Trump announces new trade measures (or fires an economic adviser) every time the Federal Reserve raises interest rates and cuts its balance sheet.

I also do not believe it is a coincidence that the Dow suffers a 1,200 to 1,500 point loss every time the Fed dumps more assets from its balance sheet. Recognize that the mainstream media barely mentions the Federal Reserve’s rate hikes and balance sheet cuts as being the cause of the renewed instability in stock markets. They blame Trump’s trade war rhetoric as the cause.

Again, I want to make this clear — Trump’s tariffs have little or nothing to do with the falling stock market. What Trump’s tariff theater does do is act as a smokescreen to hide the Fed’s culpability in the crash to come.

I warned of this distraction dynamic in January of this year in my article ‘Party While You Can – Central Bank Ready To Pop The ‘Everything’ Bubble‘.

It is not just the Fed that is pulling the plug on stock market support. Central banks around the globe are tightening policy, raising interest rates and halting purchases of new assets. It is important to remember that the fiscal bull run that the central banks conjured up since the crash of 2008 cannot continue unless the central banks continue to expand debt through purchases and easy credit. They are now doing the reverse.

And if you think the central bankers are somehow ignorant of what they are triggering here, then I suggest you read the new Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell’s thoughts in 2012 on the matter. He states unequivocally what will happen if the fed raises interest rates and dumps the balance sheet.

Powell made these comments in 2012, yet in 2018 he is implementing the exact measures he warned about. The Fed is perfectly aware that it engineered a recovery and now it is perfectly aware that it is engineering a calamity, and Powell is as big a part of the banking cabal as Yellen or Bernanke ever were.

A pattern appears to have developed in the past few months in terms of the ongoing decline in stocks. Every time the Fed cuts the balance sheet or raises interest rates stocks plunge by around 1,200-1,500 points within a few days. Then, there is a smaller rebound about a week later, which then fizzles out going into the next month as stocks return to a slower grinding downward trajectory. Then the cycle starts all over again.

New monthly highs are being replaced with new monthly lows as stocks are being steam valved down with each fresh balance sheet cut.

While stocks in the grand scheme of things are generally irrelevant, they still represent a psychological marker for the public. As go stocks, so goes the economic sentiment of the masses. It is an unfortunate thing, but also a true thing.

I expect that as the balance sheet cuts increase in size, it will become more difficult for stock markets to produce meaningful rebounds. Which means the bankers will need even greater distractions from the Trump administration and other political assets to hide the true source of the economic breakdown. A trade war alone will probably not be enough. Some regional wars are likely in the making. As these events unfold, it is vital that as many people as possible are made aware of the real reason and the real criminals behind them. A time of reckoning is required, and a reckoning requires accountability.

The banking elites hope to cause so much confusion and catastrophe that the masses will forget who was truly behind it all. We might not be able to stop the greater crash from taking place, but we can prepare accordingly, and we can educate others so that we can stop the culprits from fading back into the fog.

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