As an experiment, Bloomberg Businessweek typed the names of the 50 states into Google to see what people most frequently ask about them. The questions range from dumb (well, mostly dumb) to revealing, both about the states and about the people doing the searching. Lots of questions about carrying a gun, buying alcohol, getting divorced, and fighting union organizers. Whether a state is in the Midwest or South seems to be a particular obsession. But the most common question about the states is even more basic: Is it a state? or Is it racist?
Congress Backs Terrorists In Syria … Then Says We Need NSA Spying Because There are Terrorists In SyriaSubmitted by George Washington on 12/03/2013 16:08 -0500
Desperate people do desperate things, and it appears that Americans are rapidly becoming a lot more desperate. An epidemic of thievery is sweeping across America, and authorities are not quite sure what to make of it. So why is all of this happening? Well, as we have written about previously, crime is on the rise in the United States, and poverty is absolutely exploding. In fact, according to the latest numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau, 49.2 percent of all Americans are receiving benefits from at least one government program each month. Over the past five years, we have seen an unprecedented rise in the number of people that cannot take care of themselves without help from the government. Millions upon millions of Americans that have been forced into poverty are becoming increasingly angry, frustrated and desperate. And what we are watching right now is only just the beginning - all of this is going to get a whole lot worse.
Did you know that the number of Americans on welfare is higher than the number of Americans that have full-time jobs? Did you know that 1.2 million public school students in the U.S. are currently homeless? Anyone that uses the term "economic recovery" to describe what is happening in the United States today is being deeply insulting to the nearly 150 million Americans that are considered to be either "poor" or "low income" at this point. Yes, things are great in New York City, Washington D.C. and San Francisco, but almost everywhere else economic conditions continue to steadily get worse. The gap between the wealthy and the poor is at a level that America has never seen before, and this is beginning to create a "Robin Hood mentality" that could cause a tremendous amount of social chaos in the years ahead. Despite unprecedented borrowing by the federal government in recent years, and despite unprecedented money printing by the Federal Reserve, poverty in the United States keeps getting worse with each passing year. The following are 29 incredible facts which prove that poverty in America is absolutely exploding
As RealtyTrac observes in its latest flipping report, while home-flipping among high-end homes, or those reserved exclusively for the New Normal aristocracy which buys and sells with reckless abandon almost exclusively on an all cash basis, is up 34% over the prior year with flipping on houses priced between $2 and $5 million was up a ridiculous 350%, overall flipping activity is finally starting to subside and in the third quarter was down by a third from Q3 and over 10% down from the the prior year. Not surprisingly, the bulk of the ultra-luxury flips were limited to New York and the four core California bubble markets. "More than three-fourths of all high-end flips were in five markets: the New York metro area and four coastal California markets — Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose and San Diego. Flips on homes priced between $1 million and $2 million increased 42 percent year over year, while flips on homes priced between $2 million and $5 million increased 350 percent year over year."
Yesterday millions of "shoppers" living on the government dole left their shopping carts in droves in checkout counters, exited countless foodstamp-accepting stores, and made Wal-Marts and other general merchandise stores into veritable ghost towns, after a power outage at Xerox Corp, made EBT usage in 17 states for most of Saturday impossible, and left tens of millions of poverty-level Americans unable to engage in one of their favorite pastimes: shop with other people's money. In short: the Walfare States of America were probably closer to a state of outright revolution than at any time before in history. And had the EBT stoppage continues into today, things would have certainly spilled out from the shopping aisle to main streets where the people's anger may have culminated in an violent expression of disgust at a state which gives with one hand and a xerox company that takes with the other.
In the past five years it has become apparent that America can survive a near-fatal financial system collapse, an economy teetering on the edge and kept ticking only thanks to the Fed's now perpetual QE, a collapsing standard of living for everyone but the wealthiest 0.1%, declining wages, zero interest rates, surging food, energy, rent, tuition and welfare costs, and pretty much everything else, as long as the welfare state keeps humming along. Any be welfare state we mostly mean providing the daily bread to the nearly 50 million Americans living in poverty and surviving only thanks to the only thing to have exploded to epic record highs under Obama (in addition to the Fed's balance sheet of course): foodstamp usage. However, the true stability of the US may be tested very soon following reports that due to a "possible computer glitch" the Electronic Benefits Transfer System, aka EBT, ala Foodstamps, is offline. Cue mass panic among the best-weaponized population in the world. Naturally, this latest fiasco involving a country that has grown accustomed to sucking on the government's teat was immediately blamed on a "glitch" - just like everything else that is slowly but surely breaking in the New Normal.
"If the American public knew what was going on in our system, half would be outraged and the other half would apply for benefits."
- Marilyn Zahm, one of the 1,500 disability judges operating in the U.S.
- U.S. Government Shut Down With No Quick Resolution Seen (BBG)
- 12 House Republicans now say they’d back a ‘clean’ CR (WaPo)
- Republicans’ 2014 Senate Edge Muddied by Shutdown Message (BBG)
- Obama Shortens Asia Trip Due to Government Shutdown (WSJ)
- Fed Said to Review Commodities at Goldman, Morgan Stanley (BBG)
- Foreign Firms Tap U.S. Gas Bonanza (WSJ)
- Behind Standoff, a Broken Process in Need of a Broker (WSJ)
- Japan Awaits Abe’s Third Arrow as Companies Urged to Invest (BBG)
- Microsoft investors push for chairman Gates to step down (Reuters)
Private prisons are antithetical to a free people. Of all the functions a civilized society should relegate to the public sector, it’s abundantly clear incarceration should be at the very top of the list. Jailing individuals is a public cost that a society takes on in order to ensure there are consequences to breaking certain rules that have been deemed dangerous to the happiness and quality of life within a given population. However, the end goal of any civilized culture must be to try to keep these costs as low possible. This should be achieved by having as few people as possible incarcerated, which is most optimally achieved by reducing incidents of criminality within the population. Given incarceration is an undesirable (albeit necessary) part of any society, the idea is certainly not to incentivize increased incarceration by making it extremely profitable. This is a perverse incentive, and one that is strongly encouraged by the private prison industry to the detriment of society.
With WTI crude oil prices hovering at record levels for this time of year, the spread to Brent crude has bounced from zero as Syria started up to around $4.50. At the time time we noted the plunge in the spread was as much related to US infrastructure and technical issues as the war premium and now Pierre Andurand, manager of one of this year's most successful commodity hedge funds, believes US crude will trade at a premium to the Brent benchmark within weeks, counter to the expectations of many in the market. As The FT reports, the ex-Goldman trader is known for taking bold positions, and while not commenting in specific trades, he noted "In order for Cushing inventories to stop drawing and start building, I think WTI [the US benchmark] should be at a premium to Brent [the global benchmark]," within weeks.
We have discussed RINs a number of times in the past year - pointing out the surge in the price of these ethanol credit-related derivatives and how they are the gas-market's four-letter word. As we explain below, the NY Times notes that the recent surge in the price of this little-known financial instrument - which was in large part responsible for the rise in the price of gas at the pump - could have been manipulated by JPMorgan's alleged stockpiling. As they note, the market in ethanol credits is exactly the kind Wall Street loves: opaque, lightly regulated and potentially very lucrative; and the ability for a major player to build a stockpile of these credits (effectively cornering the market) is relatively straightforward given the lack of detailed regulation. As Senator Thomas A. Coburn, Republican of Oklahoma, notes "When you see something change as rapidly as this, somebody’s hoarding them, somebody’s buying them, somebody’s making big bucks."
Here’s another depressing list to ruin your day. You can tell a lot about a society by what they value, what they build and what they do. The only new buildings we see being built are banks and medical facilities. That tells us a lot. We look around and see that we value fancy new leased or financed cars, financed McMansions, fastfood, and lots of shopping outlets. And now this list tells us a lot about where this country is headed. Among the ten fastest growing jobs in America, only one can be considered well paying. Only two of the jobs are in industries that produce something. Only one requires a non-liberal arts college degree. Most of the jobs barely pay a living wage. Most of these jobs are non-essential service jobs that add absolutely nothing to society. A society that does not produce is destined to decline. We’re doomed. Based on the list below, we would describe the United States as a service based nation of aging, vain, obese, shallow, financially illiterate boobs with bad skin and muscle aches, who love sports and entertainment, but can’t understand each other, and are addicted to their oil based suburban sprawl debt financed lifestyles.
The percentage of Americans that are economically independent has dropped to a stunningly low level. What we have in America today is a situation where economic independence is being systematically eradicated and the government is increasingly being expected to provide our daily bread and to take care of all of us from the cradle to the grave. And once you become a serf of the state, it is very hard to resist anything the government is doing in a meaningful way. After all, the money that you are getting from the government is enabling you to survive. In essence, your allegiance has been at least partially purchased and you may not even realize it. At this point, the number of Americans that are financially dependent on the government is absolutely staggering, and it gets worse with each passing year. Just consider the following statistics...
"No passion so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear."
- Edmund Burke
Some analysts and Congressional officials suggested Friday that emphasizing a terrorist threat now was a good way to divert attention from the uproar over the N.S.A.’s data-collection programs, and that if it showed the intercepts had uncovered a possible plot, even better.
- NY Times article from August 2, 2013: Qaeda Messages Prompt U.S. Terror Warning