Casey Anthony Juror Says "My Decision Haunts Me" 10 Years After Acquittal
Jury duty may be over, but the memories are still in session.
In the summer of 2011, millions of Americans were glued to their TVs as seven women and five men were sworn in as jurors and...
Published:5/21/2021 6:43:56 PM
JPMorgan Already Has 30 To 40 Investment Bankers Traveling Daily Again
JPMorgan Already Has 30 To 40 Investment Bankers Traveling Daily Again
Sat, 05/15/2021 - 09:55
Published:5/15/2021 8:56:30 AM
Investment bankers at J.P. Morgan are back to flying the friendly skies.
Amid debate as to whether or not business travel would eventually pick back up to pre-Covid levels, it appears as though the largest lender in the U.S. is doing its part to help steady the air travel industry. The company already has about 30 to 40 investment bankers traveling daily, according to a new report from Bloomberg.
In-person meetings help banks win lucrative mandates and show their interest to potential clients.
Jim Casey, J.P. Morgan's co-head of global investment banking, said: “Business travel has picked up as people become more comfortable. You’re not winning new business without in-person connectivity.”
CEO Jamie Dimon said last week: “There are a bunch of clients who gave business to somebody else because the bankers from the other guys visited and ours didn’t. OK, well, that’s a lesson. It’s got to work for the clients -- it’s not about whether it works for me. And I have to compete.”
Recall, about a week ago we noted that business travel likely wouldn't improve back to pre-Covid levels as investment banks mulled the idea of more dealingmaking via video chat for convenience and in order to save money.
Nordea Bank Chief Executive Officer Frank Vang-Jensen said last week that there "will definitely be much less traveling."
His sentiments were echoed by the likes of other major investment banks HSBC and Standard Chartered. Andy Halford of Standard Chartered said: "We see a step change down in the level of travel once we normalize out of this."
HSBC Holdings Chief Financial Officer Ewen Stevenson also said the same this week, noting that the bank will increase reliance on "video technology and having people go on fewer, longer trips when they do travel."
And for banks, less travel is actually a good thing. HSBC saw its travel costs down $300 million in 2020, which could amount to annual savings of $150 million if the bank keeps reining in travel.
But, recall, J.P. Morgan's Jamie Dimon said at the time that he hadn't quite given up on air travel: "If I'm the gung-ho person, I want to get the business, taking that trip may be much different than saying I'll meet you in a Zoom. I think people like me will travel as much and Zoom more."
Sat, 05/01/2021 - 17:35
Published:5/1/2021 4:51:38 PM
Authored by Jeff Thomas via InternationalMan.com,
The concept of government is that the people grant to a small group of individuals the ability to establish and maintain controls over them. The inherent flaw in such a concept is that any government will invariably and continually expand upon its controls, resulting in the ever-diminishing freedom of those who granted them the power.
When I was a schoolboy, I was taught that the feudal system of the Middle Ages consisted of serfs tilling small plots of land that belonged to a king or lord.
The serfs lived a meagre life of bare subsistence and were subject to the tyranny of the king or lord whose men would ride into their village periodically and take most of the few coins the serfs had earned by their toil.
The lesson I was meant to learn from this was that I should be grateful that, in the modern world, I live in a state of freedom from tyranny, and as an adult, I would pay only that level of tax that could be described as “fair”.
Later in life, I was to learn that, in the actual feudal system, some land was owned by noblemen, some by common men. The commoners typically farmed their own land, whilst the noblemen parcelled out their land to farmers, in trade for a portion of the product of their labours.
As a part of that bargain, the nobleman would pay for an army of professional soldiers to protect both the farms and the farmers. Significantly, unlike today, no farmer was required to defend the land himself, as it was not his.
There was no exact standard as to what the noblemen would charge a farmer under this agreement, but the general standard was “one day’s labour in ten”.
This was not an amount imposed or regulated by any government. The nobleman could charge as much as he wished; however, if he raised his rate significantly, he would find that the farmers would leave and move to another nobleman’s farm. The 10% was, in essence, a rate that evolved over time through a free market.
Today, of course, if most countries levied an income tax of a mere 10%, there would be dancing in the streets. And the days of one simple straightforward tax are long gone.
Today, the average person may expect to pay property tax (even if he is a renter), sales tax, capital gains tax, value added tax, inheritance tax, and so on. The laundry list of taxes is so long and complex that it is no longer possible to compute what the total tax level actually is for anyone.
And to this, we add the hidden tax of inflation. In the US, for example, the Federal Reserve has, over the last hundred years, devalued the dollar by 98%, a hefty tax indeed. And the US is not alone in this.
Only 50 years ago, the average man might work a 40-hour week to support a wife who remained at home raising the children. He often had a mortgage on his home but might have it paid off in ten years. He paid cash for nearly everything else that he and his family owned or consumed.
Today, both husband and wife generally must be employed full time. In spite of this, they can’t afford as many children as their parents could, and they generally remain in debt their entire lives, even after retirement. This is significant inflation by any measure.
In contrast, in the Middle Ages, the cost of goods might remain the same throughout the entire lifetime of an individual.
In light of the above, the 10% that was paid by the serfs is beginning to look very good indeed.
However, the great majority of people in the First World are likely to say, “What can you do; it’s the same all over the world. You might as well get used to it.”
Well, no, actually, it’s not.
There are many governmental and economic systems out there and many are quite a bit more “serf friendly” than those in the major countries.
Countries such as the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Bermuda and the Bahamas have no income tax. Further, some have no property tax, sales tax, capital gains tax, value added tax, inheritance tax, and so on.
So how is this possible?
The OECD countries state that it is largely accomplished through money laundering, but this is not the case. In fact, low-tax jurisdictions are known to have some of the most stringent banking laws in the world.
The success of these jurisdictions is actually quite simple. Most of them are small. They have small populations and therefore need only a small government. Yet each jurisdiction can accommodate large numbers of investors from overseas. This results in a very high level of income per capita.
But unlike large countries, the money that is deposited or invested there is overseas money, so it is not captive. Investors can transfer it out overnight if need be.
So, even if the politicians are no better than those in larger countries (generally, they are of the same ilk), they’re aware that, like the noblemen of old, if they attempt to impose taxation, the business will dry up quickly.
In fact, such a free market dictates that the jurisdictions keep on their toes and keep trying to outdo their competitors by being more investment friendly.
Therefore, the politicians in these countries, who might be only too happy to promise entitlements to their constituents, then tax them to the hilt in order to pay for the entitlements, are kept restrained by their own system.
Are there downsides to living in a low-tax jurisdiction? Yes.
As most of them are small but require a very high standard of living in order to attract investors, they must import virtually all goods needed by residents. This means a higher cost of all goods, as compared to the cost in a country that produces such goods. However, the wage level is also higher, which tends to balance out the equation.
But there are also upsides.
Those who move to such a jurisdiction find that after the first year there (when the basics such as cars, televisions, etc., have been paid for), all further income that has been saved from taxation is beginning to get deposited in the bank.
At some point, the deposit level becomes great enough that investment becomes advisable. And as low-tax jurisdictions tend to be naturally prosperous, there is generally no limit to the opportunities for investment within the jurisdiction.
There is a further benefit to living in a low-tax jurisdiction that tends to become apparent over time. Any government that depends on major investments from overseas parties must, of necessity, be non-intrusive and non-invasive. Such a government stays out of people’s business, eschews electronic monitoring and most certainly is not given to SWAT teams crashing down doors for imagined wrongdoing.
Benjamin Franklin famously said, “Nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”
He was correct, but the level of tax can vary greatly from one country to the next. And just as important, the level of government intervention into the affairs of its citizenry varies considerably. In a country where the level of tax is low, the quality of life is generally correspondingly high.
A thousand years ago, noblemen, from time to time, became overly confident in their ability to keep the serfs on the farmland and demanded taxes beyond the customary “one day’s labour in ten”. When they did, the serfs of old often voted with their feet and simply moved. Today, this is still possible.
If the reader presently contributes more than one day’s labour in ten to his government, he may wish to consider voting with his feet.
* * *
The political and economic climate is constantly changing… and not always for the better. Obtaining the political diversification benefits of a second passport is crucial to ensuring you won’t fall victim to a desperate government. That’s why Doug Casey and his team just released a new complementary report, “The Easiest Way to a Second Passport.” It contains all the details about one of the easiest countries to obtain a second passport from. Click here to download it now.
One-Third Of Basecamp Employees Quit After Ban On Political Discussions At Work
One-Third Of Basecamp Employees Quit After Ban On Political Discussions At Work
Sat, 05/01/2021 - 14:40
Published:5/1/2021 1:50:57 PM
Roughly one-third of employees at Basecamp are quitting after the company instituted a 'controversial' ban on wokeness in the workplace, according to TechCrunch.
After CEO Jason Fried announced in a Monday blog post that employees would no longer be able to openly share their "societal and political discussions" at work, around 20 of the company's 60 employees simply couldn't handle minding their own business and focusing on what they were hired to do.
"Every discussion remotely related to politics, advocacy or society at large quickly spins away from pleasant," Fried wrote in the blog post. "You shouldn’t have to wonder if staying out of it means you’re complicit, or wading into it means you’re a target."
As TechCrunch notes, several employees took to trigger to signal their virtue over the decision.
More via TechCrunch:
The no-politics rule at Basecamp follows a similar stance that Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong staked out late last year. Armstrong also denounced debates around “causes or political candidates” arguing that such discussions distracted from the company’s core work. About 60 members of Coinbase’s 1,200 person staff took buyouts in light of the internal policy change — a ratio that makes the exodus at Basecamp look even more dramatic.
“If you’re in doubt as to whether your choice of forum or topic for a discussion is appropriate, please ask before posting,” Basecamp CTO David Heinemeier Hansson wrote in his own blog post, echoing Fried.
According to Platformer, Fried’s missive didn’t tell the whole story. Basecamp employees instead said the tension arose from internal conversations about the company itself and its commitment to DEI work, not free-floating arguments about political candidates. Fried’s blog post does mention one particular source of tension in a roundabout way, referencing an employee-led DEI initiative that would be disbanded.
“We make project management, team communication, and email software,” Fried wrote. “We are not a social impact company.”
Armie Hammer's Aunt Casey Hammer plans to share family secrets in upcoming docuseries
Armie Hammer's aunt, Casey Hammer, is set to provide secrets about the high-profile family in an upcoming docuseries produced by Talos Films.
Published:4/29/2021 7:10:09 AM
How Empires End
How Empires End
Thu, 04/22/2021 - 21:45
Published:4/22/2021 9:07:32 PM
Authored by Jeff Thomas via InternationalMan.com,
“Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.”
– Thomas Jefferson
Histories are generally written by academics. They, quite naturally, tend to focus on the main events: the wars and the struggles between leaders and their opponents (both external and internal). Whilst these are interesting stories to read, academics, by their very nature, often overlook the underlying causes for an empire’s decline.
Today, as in any era, most people are primarily interested in the “news”—the daily information regarding the world’s political leaders and their struggles with one another to obtain, retain, and expand their power. When the history is written about the era we are passing through, it will reflect, in large measure, a rehash of the news. As the media of the day tend to overlook the fact that present events are merely symptoms of an overall decline, so historians tend to focus on major events, rather than the “slow operations” that have been the underlying causes.
The Persian Empire
When, as a boy, I was “educated” about the decline and fall of the Persian Empire, I learned of the final takeover by Alexander the Great but was never told that, in its decline, Persian taxes became heavier and more oppressive, leading to economic depression and revolts, which, in turn led to even heavier taxes and increased repression. Increasingly, kings hoarded gold and silver, keeping it out of circulation from the community. This hamstrung the market, as monetary circulation was insufficient to conduct business. By the time Alexander came along, Persia, weakened by warfare and internal economic strife, was a shell of an empire and was relatively easy to defeat.
The Tang Dynasty
Back then, I also learned that the Tang Dynasty ended as a result of the increased power amongst the eunuchs, battles with fanzhen separatists, and finally, peasants’ revolts. True enough, but I was not taught that the dynasty’s expansion-based warfare demanded increases in taxation, which led to the revolts. Continued warfare necessitated increasing monetary and land extortion by the eunuchs, resulting in an abrupt decrease in food output and further taxes. Finally, as economic deterioration and oppression of the citizenry worsened, citizens left the area entirely for more promise elsewhere.
Is there a pattern here? Let’s have a more detailed look—at another empire.
The Spanish Empire
In 1556, Philip II of Spain inherited what was regarded as Europe’s most wealthy nation, with no apparent economic problems. Yet, by 1598, Spain was bankrupt. How was this possible?
Spain was doing well but sought to become a major power. To achieve this, Philip needed more tax dollars. Beginning in 1561, the existing servicio tax was regularised, and the crusada tax, the excusado tax, and the millones tax were all added by 1590.
Over a period of 39 years (between 1559 and 1598) taxes increased by 430%. Although the elite of the day were exempt from taxation (the elite of today are not officially exempt), the average citizen was taxed to the point that both business expansion and public purchasing diminished dramatically. Wages did not keep pace with the resultant inflation. The price of goods rose 400%, causing a price revolution and a tax revolution.
Although Spain enjoyed a flood of gold and silver from the Americas at this time, the increased wealth went straight into Philip’s war efforts. However, the 100,000 troops were soon failing to return sufficient spoils to Philip to pay for their forays abroad.
In a final effort to float the doomed empire, Philip issued government bonds, which provided immediate cash but created tremendous debt that, presumably, would need to be repaid one day. (The debt grew to 8.8 times GDP.)
Spain declared bankruptcy. Trade slipped to other countries. The military, fighting on three fronts, went unpaid, and military aspirations collapsed.
It is important to note that, even as the empire was collapsing, Philip did not suspend warfare. He did not back off on taxation. Like leaders before and since, he instead stubbornly increased his autocracy as the empire slid into collapse.
Again, the events above are not taught to schoolchildren as being of key importance in the decline of empires, even though they are remarkably consistent with the decline of other empires and what we are seeing today. The very same events occur, falling like dominoes, more or less in order, in any empire, in any age:
The reach of government leaders habitually exceeds their grasp.
Dramatic expansion (generally through warfare) is undertaken without a clear plan as to how that expansion is to be financed.
The population is overtaxed as the bills for expansion become due, without consideration as to whether the population can afford increased taxation.
Heavy taxation causes investment by the private sector to diminish, and the economy begins to decline.
Costs of goods rise, without wages keeping pace.
Tax revenue declines as the economy declines (due to excessive taxation). Taxes are increased again, in order to top up government revenues.
In spite of all the above, government leaders personally hoard as much as they can, further limiting the circulation of wealth in the business community.
Governments issue bonds and otherwise borrow to continue expansion, with no plan as to repayment.
Dramatic authoritarian control is instituted to assure that the public continues to comply with demands, even if those demands cannot be met by the public.
Economic and social collapse occurs, often marked by unrest and riots, the collapse of the economy, and the exit of those who are productive.
In this final period, the empire turns on itself, treating its people as the enemy.
The above review suggests that if our schoolbooks stressed the underlying causes of empire collapse, rather than the names of famous generals and the dates of famous battles, we might be better educated and be less likely to repeat the same mistakes.
Unfortunately, this is unlikely. Chances are, future leaders will be just as uninterested in learning from history as past leaders. They will create empires, then destroy them.
Even the most informative histories of empire decline, such as The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, by Edward Gibbon, will not be of interest to the leaders of empires. They will believe that they are above history and that they, uniquely, will succeed.
If there is any value in learning from the above, it is the understanding that leaders will not be dissuaded from their aspirations. They will continue to charge ahead, both literally and figuratively, regardless of objections and revolts from the citizenry.
Once an empire has reached stage eight above, it never reverses. It is a “dead empire walking” and only awaits the painful playing-out of the final three stages. At that point, it is foolhardy in the extreme to remain and “wait it out” in the hope that the decline will somehow reverse. At that point, the wiser choice might be to follow the cue of the Chinese, the Romans, and others, who instead chose to quietly exit for greener pastures elsewhere.
* * *
The US government is overextending itself by interfering in every corner of the globe. It’s all financed by massive amounts of money printing. However, the next financial crisis could end the whole charade soon. The truth is, we’re on the cusp of a global economic crisis that could eclipse anything we’ve seen before. That’s exactly why New York Times best-selling author Doug Casey and his team just released a guide that explains what could come next and what you can do about it.. Click here to download the PDF now.
[Josh Blackman] Today in Supreme Court History: April 22, 1992
4/22/1992: Planned Parenthood v. Casey argued.
Published:4/22/2021 6:33:46 AM
A Battle For Monetary Supremacy... Gold, Bitcoin, And Fiat
A Battle For Monetary Supremacy... Gold, Bitcoin, And Fiat
Sun, 04/18/2021 - 12:55
Published:4/18/2021 12:10:42 PM
Authored by Nick Giambruno via InternationalMan.com,
International Man: For over 2,500 years, gold has been mankind’s most enduring money.
With the emergence of Bitcoin - which has piqued the interest of many - there is a new hard money option.
How do you see the two as governments worldwide are engaged in the most extreme money printing experiment in history?
Nick Giambruno: Let me first say that I am all for free-market competition in money. I say let the best money win.
To really understand what is going on here, it’s imperative to have a handle on the basics.
Money is a good, just like any other in an economy. And it isn’t a complex notion to grasp.
It doesn’t require you to understand convoluted math formulas and complicated theories—as the gatekeepers in academia, media, and government mislead a lot of folks into believing.
Understanding money is intuitive and straightforward. Money is simply something useful for storing and exchanging value. That’s it.
The way I see it, three primary monetary goods are competing against each other today: Bitcoin, gold, and fiat currency.
Fiat currency is currently the dominant form of money in the world. But that status is rapidly fleeting as central banks are inflating their currencies at unprecedented and exponential rates.
That’s why many millions—soon billions—of people are turning to sound monetary alternatives like gold and Bitcoin.
Fiat currency is a fraud of historic proportions that causes incomprehensible damage. So I am rooting for both gold and Bitcoin.
International Man: Many proponents of gold have taken aim at Bitcoin and have called it a speculative bubble. Can you explain Bitcoin’s monetary qualities?
Nick Giambruno: Sure, but first let me say that I’d encourage the Bitcoin people and the gold people to have a temporary truce. It’s far wiser not to divide the people who want sound money and instead focus on defeating the bigger problem today, which is the government’s monopoly power over money, fiat currency, and central banking.
The sound money people are already a tiny fraction of the population, a rounding error, really. If they are divided and fighting among themselves, it will be far easier for the government to “tag and bag” them and prevail over both gold and Bitcoin.
So I suggest they team up and take on the bigger problem—and then fight it out later. It’s the basic strategy in any three-way competition where the two weaker sides team up to take on the more powerful side.
Now, back to Bitcoin’s monetary properties.
Bitcoin shares many of gold’s monetary characteristics. They’re both durable, divisible, consistent, convenient, scarce, and most importantly, they’re “hard assets.”
“Hardness” does not mean something that is necessarily tangible or physically hard, like metal. It means “hard to produce.” By contrast, “easy money” is easy to produce. The best way to think of hardness is “resistance to inflation,” which helps make it a good store of value—an essential function of money.
Like gold, Bitcoin does not have counterparty risk. Bitcoin and gold are the only primarily monetary assets that aren’t simultaneously someone else’s liabilities.
A lot more can be said on this topic, but this sums up the essential points.
It’s also important to clarify that none of the other 4,000 or so other cryptocurrencies are genuinely scarce like Bitcoin. They all have key players, insiders, and development teams that can act like central banks and inflate the supply if they choose to. In short, all other cryptos have artificial scarcity. Bitcoin has real scarcity.
With Bitcoin, the current and future supply is finite and known to all. There will never be more than 21 million Bitcoins, and there is nothing anyone can do to change that.
In short, Bitcoin is the only crypto in the same league as gold.
International Man: What do you say to critics who claim that Bitcoin is just a bunch of digits on a computer with no intrinsic value?
Nick Giambruno: One of the first—and most important—lessons that free-market Austrian economics teaches is that all value is subjective.
There is no such thing as inherent or intrinsic value.
Something only has value because individuals subjectively determine it does.
For example, when people didn’t understand what crude oil was, they’d find it in their backyards and think it was waste. They’d pay to have it removed from their property.
Later, once people understood the economic potential of crude oil, it was transformed from unwanted waste into “black gold.”
The oil didn’t change; it was still the same oil. What changed was how people valued it.
Marxists differ in that they falsely believe that labor has inherent or intrinsic value.
But this ridiculous notion is easily debunked.
The great economist Murray Rothbard explains this by asking people to try to make and sell mud pies—not the chocolate desserts, but pies literally made of dirt.
According to the Marxists, the pies have objective and intrinsic value because of the labor someone put into making them. But good luck getting someone to pay for them voluntarily.
The concept that all value is subjective applies to all goods, including monetary goods like gold and Bitcoin.
International Man: The Bitcoin price has reached breathtaking levels. It has also garnered the attention of institutional investors and corporations. Where do you see it going?
Nick Giambruno: What we have with Bitcoin is an entirely new asset that millions of people all around the world are adopting as money because of its superior monetary properties.
The monetization of the new monetary good is genuinely unlike anything anyone alive has ever seen before.
It took gold centuries to achieve monetization. Bitcoin has a good chance of undergoing monetization in a much shorter period.
The market cap for Bitcoin today is around $1.1 trillion, up over 8x in the last year alone.
The market cap for all the mined gold in the world, which took thousands of years to accumulate, is about $11 trillion.
That means Bitcoin has a market cap roughly equal to 10% of gold’s and is already well on its way to monetization.
Assuming gold stays flat and Bitcoin goes up 10x, it would then have a market cap roughly equal to gold. At that point, a single Bitcoin would be worth over $500,000. That is a real possibility. Bitcoin has gone up 10x several times in the past, and it can do it again, especially as corporations and institutional investors start buying Bitcoin for the first time.
Bitcoin is not an established money but an emerging one. It’s growing rapidly but doesn’t have the reliable history that gold does. I like to think of Bitcoin like hard money with a call option attached to it.
International Man: What about Bitcoin’s political risks? Can governments stop it?
Nick Giambruno: Bitcoin threatens a major source of the government’s power—the power to create money out of thin air and force everyone to use it. There’s no question they’ll try to protect this racket from Bitcoin. The question is whether they’ll be successful.
Remember, the Chinese government has banned bitcoin several times with little to no long-term effects.
That’s because it’s entirely impractical for governments to ban Bitcoin. They’re no match for the economic incentives that attract millions—soon billions—of people, and increasingly, corporations, to a harder and superior form of money. Further, all aspects of Bitcoin are genuinely decentralized and robust. The best that governments can do is play an endless game of global whack-a-mole.
Governments in Argentina and Venezuela have laws restricting their citizens from accessing US dollars. However, these laws have little effect on their citizens’ desire and ability to use them. These actions just create a thriving black market, or, more accurately termed, a free market.
Similarly, governments have tried to ban cannabis for decades, which hasn’t worked out very well for them.
Bitcoin would be infinitely more challenging for governments to ban than US dollars or a plant.
I would like to see governments try to ban Bitcoin. They’ll fall flat on their faces. This will reinforce the value proposition of Bitcoin as a superior form of money that nobody controls.
For example, the government of Nigeria recently banned Bitcoin. It’s an interesting case because the ban caused the Bitcoin price to increase, not decrease. After the ban, Bitcoins started selling at up to a 60% premium.
As we clearly saw with the war on (some) Drugs, government prohibitions caused prices of otherwise cheap plants, like cannabis, to rise far higher than they would otherwise in a free market. The same dynamic would be at work with Bitcoin. As counterintuitive as it may seem at first, government bans would be bullish for the price.
I’d also add that it’s a terrible, totalitarian notion to think that governments would throw peaceful people in cages for voluntarily exchanging value with Bitcoin. If your government goes down this path, I’d recommend immediately leaving the country as it would portend much worse things to come.
International Man: Is it too late for people to get involved or own some Bitcoin?
Nick Giambruno: Absolutely not. As I described above, Bitcoin has a real chance of reaching parity with gold’s market cap. That would imply a 10x move from current prices.
But it’s not just Bitcoin’s upside that makes it appealing. It’s the fact that nobody can inflate the supply, which makes it attractive as a store of value and a savings vehicle even if the price doesn’t go up. In a world of government-imposed taxes on savings—otherwise known as negative interest rates—just keeping what you have is a challenge. Fortunately, with Bitcoin, you can put your savings into something that nobody can dilute or inflate.
It’s also important to clarify that you don’t need to buy an entire Bitcoin. You can own tiny fractions of up to 1/100,000,000 of a Bitcoin. These are “satoshis”, and they are the smallest unit of a Bitcoin.
As of writing, you can buy 1,710 satoshis for $1.
In other words, if you have one penny, you can get 17 satoshis.
* * *
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'Real Housewife' alum Kara Keough pregnant one year after newborn son's death
McCoy Casey died on April 6, 2020, due to complications endured during the course of his birth.
Published:4/5/2021 11:34:06 AM
Stockman: Free Lunches For All?
Stockman: Free Lunches For All?
Sun, 03/14/2021 - 17:20
Published:3/14/2021 4:39:01 PM
Authored by David Stockman via InternationalMan.com,
In light of Sleepy Joe’s new $1.9 trillion package of free stuff, it’s time to get out our magnifying glasses. The purpose is to compute the size of the hole in America’s collective paycheck that purportedly requires such continued, beneficence from our not-so-rich Uncle Sam.
There is no reason in the world why the February (pre-Covid) level of wage and salary disbursements is not an appropriate benchmark for measuring the pocketbook hit from the Covid-lockdowns that have wreaked havoc on the US economy since March. This happened after Dr. Fauci convinced President Donald to pull the plug on MAGA and his own tenure in office, too. (Of course, 80-year-old Dr. Fauci is still there, preparing to bamboozle yet another “elected” president.)
Last February, The Donald was boasting that he had delivered the greatest economy the world had ever seen, and Wall Street agreed, pushing stocks high into the nosebleed section of history.
As it happened, the February run rate (annualized) of wage and salary disbursements was $9.659 trillion, which comes to about $805 billion per month. So we would suggest that if $805 billion in monthly wages was enough to justify celebration of the Greatest Economy Ever, then the shortfall from that benchmark is a solid measure of the hit to US worker earnings that has occurred since February.
The Covid wage and salary loss is as follows:
December est: $0b;
10-month total: –$276b
The total of $276 billion in lost paychecks compares to $8.05 trillion in wages and salaries that would have been earned during that period at the February rate ($805 billion). Therefore, the cumulative shortfall through year-end amounted to just 3.4%.
More importantly, the $0-$6 billion monthly shortfall since September has been so small as to constitute a rounding error in the scheme of things, as suggested by the fact that American households spend far more—about $8 billion per month—on pet food and pet care alone.
Yet Sleepy Joe has teed up another $850 billion of direct aid to households, which, in the aggregate, are no longer suffering any material paycheck shortfall. And what is especially egregious about filling a nonexistent income hole in this manner is that 53% of this amount goes to “stimmy” checks and child tax credits, which are not means-tested except at the top of the income scale ($200,000 for a married couple):
Sleepy Joe’s $850 Billion of Direct Handouts to Households:
Stimmy checks and child tax credits: $450b;
Unemployment benefits: $200b;
Health insurance aid: $100b;
Rental assistance: $35b;
Child care aid: $40b
Safety net: $20b
Still, to paraphrase Walter Mondale’s famous campaign slogan from 1984: Another $850 billion for income replacement but “Where’s the Hole?”
Of course, there are other ways to measure the hit to the national economy from the Covid lockdown, which we will amplify below. But first, it would be well to summarize the “solution” that Washington’s fiscally incontinent politicians have thrown at the “problem” during the last 12 months—a “problem” that they have never bothered to quantify.
With the new Biden package, new spending authorized by the five major Covid relief measures can be summarized as follows (IN billions):
Families First act: $192b;
CARES act: $2,200b;
Paycheck Protection program: $733b;
Response and Relief Act: $935b;
Biden Jan. 14th plan: $1,900b;
Five-package total: $5,960b.
The Washington politicians are preparing to throw nigh onto $6 trillion at a $274 billion hole in the nation’s wage bucket. That’s a solution 22X bigger than the putative problem!
The overwhelming share of the economic harm occurring since March is due to the misguided (and unconstitutional) lockdown policies of the government and the public hysteria fanned by Dr. Fauci, and not the disease itself. But if the state gets into the business of fully compensating the public for the endless harm wrought by its policies, insolvency will be guaranteed.
Why does Washington have the right to burden future taxpayers with permanent debt service payments in order to make whole a $276 billion loss of income and 3.4% inconvenience among taxpayers today?
The simple fact is that the overwhelming share of this $276 billion of wage losses has fallen on low-wage and part-time workers in the social–congregation sectors of the economy (bars, restaurants, gyms, hotels, cinemas, ballparks, etc.) that the Virus Patrol has shut down. The right solution is to send the Virus Patrol packing and let these unfairly penalized employees go back to work.
Even if you think that the total wage and salary loss above understates the economic damage caused by the lockdowns, the massive fiscal overkill by way of bailouts cannot be denied.
For instance, GDP is the most comprehensive measure of economic activity that we have (despite its flaws), but the loss of GDP after February has also been only about 3.6%. In fact, based on the Atlanta Fed’s GDPNow forecast, we project that nominal GDP during Q4 will post at about $21.650 trillion, a figure only 0.46% below the Greatest Economy Ever level of Q4 2019.
If we assume that Q4 2019 is a reasonable pre-Covid benchmark for the level of total economic activity in the USA, we get the following shortfall, including an estimate for Q4 based on the Atlanta Fed’s latest outlook.
Quarterly GDP Change From Q42019 Benchmark:
Q1 2020: -$47b;
Q2 2020: -$557b;
Q3 2020: -$144b;
Q4 2020E: -$25b;
4-quarter total: -$775b
Even if you want to count everything, including losses from the $2.5 trillion of imputed activity in the GDP, the pending $6 trillion of Everything Bailouts is 7.7X the size of the problem!
By contrast, it is well worth looking at the other side of the coin: namely, the surge in transfer payments since last February stemming from a combination of the built-in safety net (principally unemployment insurance, food stamps and Medicaid) and disbursements of stimmy checks, enhanced Federal UI benefits as authorized by the Everything Bailouts.
At the pre-covid level in February, total government transfer payments (including state and local) were running at a $3.165 trillion annual rate or about $265 billion per month. As shown in the chart below, however, that monthly figure skyrocketed by 107% to $546 billion in the month of April alone.
And, no, that latter figure is not the annualized rate: In their infinite generosity, government programs pumped more than one-half trillion dollars into the household sector during April alone. That’s $18.2 billion per day!
Thereafter, the tsunami of transfer payments began to abate but was still running at a level of $400 billion monthly in July and $306 billion in November. Overall, the 10-month total of incremental transfer payments above the February level totaled $1.05 trillion.
You can’t make this up... Transfer payments to households during the past 10 months have exceeded the loss of household wages and salaries ($276 billion) by nearly four times.
So the question recurs: Why does Sleepy Joe think we need another $850 billion of transfer payments to households on top of the immense generosity already dispensed per the chart below?
Total Government Transfer Payments, Annualized
He’s doing it because he can—because the nation-wreckers in the Eccles Building have determined to purchase $120 billion of government debt and GSE securities per month for the indefinite future. As Fed Chair Powell rattled on recently, they are not even thinking about tapering this tsunami of fake money created from thin air by the Fed’s digital printing presses.
When it comes to the rampant fiscal incontinence in Washington DC enabled by the Fed, did the election outcome make any difference?
It did not. Sleepy Joe is about to give the once and former King of Debt a run for his money when it comes to the annals of fiscal infamy in America.
As we said, free lunches for one and all… except the debt is never going away, and future generations will surely rue the day.
* * *
The truth is, we’re on the cusp of a economic crisis that could eclipse anything we’ve seen before. And most people won’t be prepared for what’s coming. That’s exactly why bestselling author Doug Casey and his team just released a free report with all the details on how to survive an economic collapse. Click here to download the PDF now.
Biden's Defense Secretary Puts The Brakes On Trump's Germany Troop Draw Down
Biden's Defense Secretary Puts The Brakes On Trump's Germany Troop Draw Down
Fri, 01/29/2021 - 19:40
Published:1/29/2021 6:55:17 PM
Perhaps as expected, it didn't take long for the Biden administration to begin putting the brakes on Trump's previously ordered troop draw downs which occurred in the last two months of his presidency, particularly in Germany, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
The defense analysis and news site Military.com is reporting that new defense secretary under the Biden administration Lloyd Austin is reviewing the withdrawal of 12,000 US troops from Germany:
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has voiced his commitment to shoring up close ties with NATO ally Germany that were strained under the Trump administration, and suggested that the plan to withdraw 12,000 U.S. troops from the country is open to discussion.
The prior Trump plan for to cut nearly one-third of total American military personnel from the country was predictably fought from Congressional corners known for being hawkish on Russia, with even some American and European security officials having called the move a "gift to Putin".
Later in December the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act attempted to override the draw down order, and according to German officials early this year there's yet to be significant movement of troops from the country.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin this week held phone calls with NATO allied officials in Europe. The Military.com report continues:
In a phone call to his German counterpart, Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, Austin "expressed his gratitude to Germany for continuing to serve as a great host for U.S. forces, and expressed his desire for a continued dialogue on U.S. force posture in Germany," according to a Pentagon readout of the call released Wednesday.
He also sought "to reinforce the value the United States places on the bilateral defense relationship with one of our closest NATO Allies," the readout from Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby states.
By all appearances the some 36,000 total American troops in Germany have gone nowhere despite the plan initiated under Esper.
Recent polling of the German public also suggests half or more want to see US troops gone, after being there since World War II.
As the report concludes of Defense Secretary Austin's phone call, it is "the latest sign of the Biden administration's intent to reverse or water down the policies of former President Donald Trump, who repeatedly questioned NATO's worth to the U.S. and rattled allies with demands for more defense spending."
Casey Affleck Sets the Record Straight on Ben's Ana de Armas Cutout
Casey Affleck doesn't want any blame for discarding a certain cardboard cutout.
Not long after Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas' split was confirmed on Jan. 18, a cutout of the...
Published:1/22/2021 3:02:42 AM
The Coming New Order
The Coming New Order
Thu, 01/21/2021 - 20:40
Published:1/21/2021 8:00:58 PM
Authored by Jeff Thomas via InternationalMan.com,
For many years, a handful of people have postulated that those who control industry, finance and governments are essentially the same people – a cabal of sorts that have, over generations, solidified their relationships in order to gain greater wealth and power, whilst systematically making things ever more difficult for the free market to exist.
But why should this be? Surely, corporate leaders are more ardently capitalist than anyone else?
Well, on the surface, that might appear to make sense, but once a significant position of power has been achieved, those who have achieved it recognize that, since they’ve already reached the top, the primary concern changes. From then on, the primary concern becomes the assurance that no others are able to climb so high as they have.
At that point, they realise that their foremost effort needs to be a push toward corporatism – the merger of power between government and business.
This is a natural marriage. The political world is a parasitic one. It relies on a continual flow of funding. The world of big business is a study in exclusivity – the ability to make it impossible for pretenders to the throne to arise. So, big business provides the cash; government provides protective legislation that ensures preference for those at the top.
In most cases, this second half of the equation does not mean a monopoly for just one corporation, but a monopoly for a cabal – an elite group of corporations.
This corporatist relationship has deep roots in the US, going back over one hundred years. To this day, those elite families who took control of oil, steel, banking, motor vehicles and other industries a century ago, soon created a takeover of higher learning (universities), health (Big Pharma) and “Defense” (the military-industrial complex).
Through legislation, the US was then transformed to ensure that all these interests would be catered to, creating generations of both control and profit.
Of course, “profit” should not be an evil word, but under crony capitalism, it becomes an abomination – a distortion of the free market and the death of laissez faire economics.
Certainly, this sort of collectivism is not what Karl Marx had in mind when he daydreamed about a workers’ paradise in which business leaders retained all the risk and responsibility of creating and building businesses, whilst the workers had the final word as to how the revenue would be distributed to the workers themselves.
Mister Marx failed in being objective enough to understand that if the business creator took all the risk and responsibility but gave up the ability to decide what happened to the revenue, he’d never bother to open a business. Even a shoeshine boy would reject such a notion and elect to go on the dole, rather than work.
Mister Marx sought more to bring down those who were successful than to raise up those who were not, yet he unwittingly created a new idea – corporate collectivism – in which the very people he sought to debase used the appeal of collectivist rhetoric to diminish both the freedoms and wealth of the average worker.
On the surface, this might appear to be a hard sell – to get the hoi polloi into the net – but in fact, it’s quite easy and has perennially been effective.
Hitler’s New Order was such a construct – the promise to return Germany to greatness and the German people to prosperity through increasingly draconian laws, warfare and an economic revolving door between government and industry.
Of course, a major influx of capital was required – billions of dollars – and this was eagerly provided by US industry and banks. Heads of New York banks not only funded Nazi industry; families such as the Fords, Rockefellers, Morgans, etc., sat on the boards of German corporations.
The Nazi effort failed, as they underestimated the Russian will to fight to the death. (Eighty percent of all German Army deaths were due to the Russian campaign.)
But those in New York were able to regroup and be first in the queue for the restructuring of German industry after the war and, ultimately, profited handsomely.
But most significantly, the idea of corporatist collectivism did not die. Even before the war, the same group of families and corporations had drawn up the plan for Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal.
Mister Roosevelt was a dyed-in-the-wool Wall Street man and a director of New York banks. In the 1930s and early 1940s, he created, as president, a revolving door that favoured large corporations, whilst the average American was consciously kept at the subsistence level through government entitlements.
The scam worked. Shortsighted Americans not only were grateful; they deified him for it.
Likewise, John Kennedy’s New Frontier sought to revitalize the concept, as did Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society: Give the little people entitlements that keep them little. Tax smaller businesses and create a flow of tax dollars to the elite industries, who, in turn, provide monetary favours to the political class.
The Green New Deal is merely the latest corporate collectivist scheme on the list.
Corporate collectivism can be defined as a system in which the few who hold the legal monopolies of finance and industry gain an overriding control over all others, and in so doing, systematically extract wealth from them.
Today, this system has become so refined that, although the average American has a flat screen TV and an expensive smartphone, he cannot raise $400 to cover an emergency that occurs in his life. He is, for all practical purposes, continually bankrupt, but still functioning in a zombie-like existence of continual dependency.
This, on the surface, may not seem all that dangerous, but those who cannot buy their way out of a small emergency are easily controlled. Just create an emergency such as an uber-virus and that fact will be illuminated quickly.
In order to maximise compliance in a population, maximise their dependence.
As stated above, this effort has been in play for generations. But it is now reaching a crescendo. It’s now up to speed in most of the former Free World and those who hold the strings are ready for a major step forward in corporate collectivism.
In the coming year, we shall see dramatic changes appearing at a dizzying rate. Capital controls, migration controls, internal movement controls, tax increases, confiscation of assets and the removal of “inalienable” rights will all be coming into effect – so quickly that before the populace can even grasp the latest restrictions, new ones will be heaped on.
As this unfolds, we shall witness the erosion of the nation-state. Controls will come from global authorities, such as the UN, the IMF and the WEF. Organisations that have no formal authority over nations will increasingly be calling the shots and people will wonder how this is possible. Elected officials will increasingly become mere bagmen, doing the bidding of an unelected ruling class.
The changes that take place will be not unlike a blanket that is thrown over humanity.
The question then will be whether to, a) give in to this force, b) to fight it and most likely fall victim to it, or c) seek a means to fall outside the perimeter of the blanket.
* * *
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The Deep State's Stealthy, Subversive, Silent Coup To Ensure Nothing Changes
The Deep State's Stealthy, Subversive, Silent Coup To Ensure Nothing Changes
Wed, 01/20/2021 - 23:05
Published:1/20/2021 10:21:38 PM
Authored by John Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute,
“You have such a fervent, passionate, evangelical faith in this country…why in the name of God don’t you have any faith in the system of government you’re so hell-bent to protect? You want to defend the United States of America, then defend it with the tools it supplies you with—its Constitution. You ask for a mandate, General, from a ballot box. You don’t steal it after midnight, when the country has its back turned.”
- Seven Days in May (1964)
No doubt about it: the coup d’etat was successful.
That January 6 attempt by so-called insurrectionists to overturn the election results was not the real coup, however. Those who answered President Trump’s call to march on the Capitol were merely the fall guys, manipulated into creating the perfect crisis for the Deep State—a.k.a. the Police State a.k.a. the Military Industrial Complex a.k.a. the Techno-Corporate State a.k.a. the Surveillance State—to swoop in and take control.
It took no time at all for the switch to be thrown and the nation’s capital to be placed under a military lockdown, online speech forums restricted, and individuals with subversive or controversial viewpoints ferreted out, investigated, shamed and/or shunned.
This new order didn’t emerge into being this week, or this month, or even this year, however.
Indeed, the real coup happened when our government “of the people, by the people, for the people” was overthrown by a profit-driven, militaristic, techno-corporate state that is in cahoots with a government “of the rich, by the elite, for the corporations.”
We’ve been mired in this swamp for decades now.
Every successive president starting with Franklin D. Roosevelt has been bought lock, stock and barrel and made to dance to the Deep State’s tune.
Enter Donald Trump, the candidate who swore to drain the swamp in Washington DC. Instead of putting an end to the corruption, however, Trump paved the way for lobbyists, corporations, the military industrial complex, and the Deep State to feast on the carcass of the dying American republic.
Joe Biden will be no different: his job is to keep the Deep State in power.
Step away from the cult of personality politics and you’ll find that beneath the power suits, they’re all alike.
Follow the money. It always points the way.
As Bertram Gross noted in Friendly Fascism: The New Face of Power in America, “evil now wears a friendlier face than ever before in American history.”
Writing in 1980, Gross predicted a future in which he saw:
…a new despotism creeping slowly across America. Faceless oligarchs sit at command posts of a corporate-government complex that has been slowly evolving over many decades. In efforts to enlarge their own powers and privileges, they are willing to have others suffer the intended or unintended consequences of their institutional or personal greed. For Americans, these consequences include chronic inflation, recurring recession, open and hidden unemployment, the poisoning of air, water, soil and bodies, and, more important, the subversion of our constitution. More broadly, consequences include widespread intervention in international politics through economic manipulation, covert action, or military invasion...
This stealthy, creeping, silent coup that Gross prophesied is the same danger that writer Rod Serling envisioned in the 1964 political thriller Seven Days in May, a clear warning to beware of martial law packaged as a well-meaning and overriding concern for the nation’s security.
Incredibly enough, almost 60 years later, we find ourselves hostages to a government run more by military doctrine and corporate greed than by the rule of law established in the Constitution. Indeed, proving once again that fact and fiction are not dissimilar, today’s current events could well have been lifted straight out of Seven Days in May, which takes viewers into eerily familiar terrain.
The premise is straightforward.
With the Cold War at its height, an unpopular U.S. President signs a momentous nuclear disarmament treaty with the Soviet Union. Believing that the treaty constitutes an unacceptable threat to the security of the United States and certain that he knows what is best for the nation, General James Mattoon Scott (played by Burt Lancaster), the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and presidential hopeful, plans a military takeover of the national government. When Gen. Scott’s aide, Col. Casey (Kirk Douglas), discovers the planned military coup, he goes to the President with the information. The race for command of the U.S. government begins, with the clock ticking off the hours until the military plotters plan to overthrow the President.
Needless to say, while on the big screen, the military coup is foiled and the republic is saved in a matter of hours, in the real world, the plot thickens and spreads out over the past half century.
We’ve been losing our freedoms so incrementally for so long—sold to us in the name of national security and global peace, maintained by way of martial law disguised as law and order, and enforced by a standing army of militarized police and a political elite determined to maintain their powers at all costs—that it’s hard to pinpoint exactly when it all started going downhill, but we’ve been on that fast-moving, downward trajectory for some time now.
The question is no longer whether the U.S. government will be preyed upon and taken over by the military industrial complex. That’s a done deal, but martial law disguised as national security is only one small part of the greater deception we’ve been fooled into believing is for our own good.
How do you get a nation to docilely accept a police state? How do you persuade a populace to accept metal detectors and pat downs in their schools, bag searches in their train stations, tanks and military weaponry used by their small town police forces, surveillance cameras in their traffic lights, police strip searches on their public roads, unwarranted blood draws at drunk driving checkpoints, whole body scanners in their airports, and government agents monitoring their communications?
Try to ram such a state of affairs down the throats of the populace, and you might find yourself with a rebellion on your hands. Instead, you bombard them with constant color-coded alerts, terrorize them with shootings and bomb threats in malls, schools, and sports arenas, desensitize them with a steady diet of police violence, and sell the whole package to them as being for their best interests.
This present military occupation of the nation’s capital by 25,000 troops as part of the so-called “peaceful” transfer of power from one administration to the next is telling.
This is not the language of a free people. This is the language of force.
Still, you can’t say we weren’t warned.
Back in 2008, an Army War College report revealed that “widespread civil violence inside the United States would force the defense establishment to reorient priorities in extremis to defend basic domestic order and human security.” The 44-page report went on to warn that potential causes for such civil unrest could include another terrorist attack, “unforeseen economic collapse, loss of functioning political and legal order, purposeful domestic resistance or insurgency, pervasive public health emergencies, and catastrophic natural and human disasters.”
In 2009, reports by the Department of Homeland Security surfaced that labelled right-wing and left-wing activists and military veterans as extremists (a.k.a. terrorists) and called on the government to subject such targeted individuals to full-fledged pre-crime surveillance. Almost a decade later, after spending billions to fight terrorism, the DHS concluded that the greater threat is not ISIS but domestic right-wing extremism.
Meanwhile, the police have been transformed into extensions of the military while the nation itself has been transformed into a battlefield. This is what a state of undeclared martial law looks like, when you can be arrested, tasered, shot, brutalized and in some cases killed merely for not complying with a government agent’s order or not complying fast enough. This hasn’t just been happening in crime-ridden inner cities. It’s been happening all across the country.
And then you’ve got the government, which has been steadily amassing an arsenal of military weapons for use domestically and equipping and training their “troops” for war. Even government agencies with largely administrative functions such as the Food and Drug Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Smithsonian have been acquiring body armor, riot helmets and shields, cannon launchers and police firearms and ammunition. In fact, there are now at least 120,000 armed federal agents carrying such weapons who possess the power to arrest.
Rounding out this profit-driven campaign to turn American citizens into enemy combatants (and America into a battlefield) is a technology sector that has been colluding with the government to create a Big Brother that is all-knowing, all-seeing and inescapable. It’s not just the drones, fusion centers, license plate readers, stingray devices and the NSA that you have to worry about. You’re also being tracked by the black boxes in your cars, your cell phone, smart devices in your home, grocery loyalty cards, social media accounts, credit cards, streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon, and e-book reader accounts.
So you see, January 6 and its aftermath provided the government and its corporate technocrats the perfect excuse to show off all of the powers they’ve been amassing so assiduously over the years.
Mind you, by “government,” I’m not referring to the highly partisan, two-party bureaucracy of the Republicans and Democrats.
I’m referring to “government” with a capital “G,” the entrenched Deep State that is unaffected by elections, unaltered by populist movements, and has set itself beyond the reach of the law.
I’m referring to the corporatized, militarized, entrenched bureaucracy that is fully operational and staffed by unelected officials who are, in essence, running the country and calling the shots in Washington DC, no matter who sits in the White House.
This is the hidden face of a government that has no respect for the freedom of its citizenry.
There is something being concocted in the dens of power, far beyond the public eye, and it doesn’t bode well for the future of this country.
Anytime you have an entire nation so mesmerized by the antics of the political ruling class that they are oblivious to all else, you’d better beware.
Anytime you have a government that operates in the shadows, speaks in a language of force, and rules by fiat, you’d better beware.
And anytime you have a government so far removed from its people as to ensure that they are never seen, heard or heeded by those elected to represent them, you’d better beware.
As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, we are at our most vulnerable right now.
All of those dastardly seeds we have allowed the government to sow under the guise of national security are bearing demon fruit.
The gravest threat facing us as a nation is not extremism but despotism, exercised by a ruling class whose only allegiance is to power and money.