Archive for the ‘Have the courage to live your own life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living the result of other people’s thinking’ Category

The War on Cash: A Country by Country Guide

Wednesday, August 16th, 2017

with kind permission to republish from James Corbett corbettreport.com

Corbett Reporteers will be no stranger to the war on cash. I’ve made videos discussing it, conducted interviews about it, written articles examining it and dissected it on the radio.

The war has been waged through mainstream propaganda outlets, TV advertisements and even children’s games.

We’ve heard cash is dirtied by drug dealing, tarnished by terrorism, tainted by tax evasion (heaven forbid!) and just plain dirty. Not to mention sooooo outdated.

Just this week Norway has jumped aboard the cashless society agenda with DNB, the country’s largest bank, calling for a total end to cash. The story only sounds shocking only to people who haven’t heard the similar stories from Sweden or Denmark or India or Israel or any of the dozens of other countries whose banksters and (bankster-controlled) governments have openly lusted after a world of completely trackable, completely bank-controlled transactions.

But all of these stories, reported piecemeal here and there over the years, don’t give the full story about how this “war on cash” is being waged on every continent and in every country by the same banksters that stand to benefit from a cashless world. Let’s fix that by compiling a list of examples from around the world of how cash payments are being regulated, restricted and phased out. The list below will be updated as new stories come in.

If you have a link to relevant news from your own country or know of such news from another country, please let us know. Corbett Report members are invited to contribute to the list by logging in and leaving links to the relevant info in the comments below.

The Cashless Society List

ARGENTINA – Argentina’s currency crisis has been known for some time. In short, Argentinians don’t trust the peso and are willing to pay premium for any currency they perceive as “more stable,” especially US dollars which are traded on the black market as “blue dollars” at prices far exceeding the official exchange rate. That’s why Argentina has been tipped for some time as a country that is likely to go cashless sooner than later, with a 2014 report from the Bitcoin Market Opportunity Index ranking Argentina as the most likely jurisdiction to replace sovereign currency with bitcoin. Argentinians have reason to be wary about this New Monetary Order, however; in a move described as “an eerie glimpse of what a cashless society enables” the Argentinian government mandated that banks report every credit card purchase made in the country directly to the tax authorities and added a 15 percent tax surcharge every time a purchase is made outside the country using a credit card issued by an Argentine bank.

AUSTRALIA – Late last year the Westpac banking group issued a “Cash Free Report” touting the highly self-serving finding that “Over half (53 per cent) of payments currently made in Australia are cashless” (using Westpac online banking services like their cardless ATMs, no doubt). The report goes on to predict that Australia will be cash free by 2022. Meanwhile, the government is readying a cashless welfare system that will allow the government to control what the money is spent on. What could possibly go wrong?

BELGIUM – In 2014 the Belgian government passed new restrictions on cash payments: cash can no longer be used to pay for real estate, and there is a 3000 euro limit on cash payments for other assets (unless purchase second hand).

CANADA – In 2007 the Canadian government stopped allowing payment of taxes in cash at government service centers. In 2010 Passport Canada followed suit. In 2011 56% of Canadians polled said they were happy to live in a bankster-controlled cashless society so the country killed the penny in 2012 and the Royal Canadian Mint started pimping the “MintChip” as a new form of electronic payment that will be “better than cash.” The Mint ended the program in 2014 but the Great White North is still on track to be a cashless society in the coming years.

CHINA – The People’s Bank of China, citing the need to “reduce costs, curb crimes and money laundry, facilitate transactions and boost central bank’s control on money supply and circulation” set up a research team in 2014 “to study application scenarios for digital currency and strive for an early rollout.”

DENMARK – In the 1990s about 80% of Danish retail purchases were made with cash, but these days it’s more like 25%. But if the Danish government has its way, that number will be 0% by 2030. That’s the year the Danish government has set for the complete elimination of paper money in Denmark.

ECUADOR – Last year Ecuador became the first government to launch a digital currency completely administered and controlled by a central bank. Called the Dinero Electronico, the currency can be purchased with cash, stored in electronic wallets on a phone, and can be exchanged by text message.

EU – The head of the EU Anti-Fraud Office Giovanni Kessler, came out earlier this year to call for abolishing the 500 euro note because they “can make the life of fraudsters much easier.” He also noted that a more widespread adoption of electronic payment systems would be better for his office because “Traceability is paramount in fighting corruption and fraud.”

FRANCE – In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attacks last year, the French government stepped up its war on cash. In March of last year, French Finance Minister Michel Sapin declared it necessary to “fight against the use of cash and anonymity in the French economy” in order to combat “low-cost terrorism.” As of September 2015 it is illegal for French citizens to make purchases exceeding 1000 euros in cash.

GERMANY – In a rather abrupt turnaround from a 2014 Bundesbank paper on “The Irreplaceability of Cash,” the German Finance Ministry (perhaps egged on by the country’s leading Keynesian economist) is looking into a 5000 euro cap on all cash payments. And although Germany is still a cash-based society, things are changing; a 2014 survey found that 34% of the population makes purchases electronically already and 20% can envision making all their purchases via smartphone payment systems in the future.

HONG KONG – When it launched in 1997, the Hong Kong Mass Transit Railway’s Octopus Card was just the second contactless smart card system in the world (after South Korea’s UPass). Although originally used to pay for journeys on public transit, it can now be used at convenience stores, vending machines, supermarkets, photo booths and other retail outlets. In 2004 all metered parking spaces in Hong Kong were converted to cashless meters that required Octopus Cards for payment.

INDIA – India is one of the most cash-dependent economies in the world with a cash-to-GDP ratio of 12%, almost four times that of fellow BRICS nations Brazil and South Africa.  But it won’t be for long if the Indian government has its way. Last June the Indian Ministry of Finance posted a draft proposal to its website for facilitating the rise of cashless payments in the country. In his 2015 budget speech the Finance Minister declared: “One way to curb the flow of black money is to discourage transactions in cash. Now that a majority of Indians has or can have, a RUPAY debit card. I therefore, proposes to introduce soon several measure that will incentivize credit or debit card transactions and disincentivize cash transaction.”

IRELAND – A 2013 paper from the Central Bank of Ireland lamented Ireland’s slow adoption of electronic payments and over-reliance on cheques, noting “Ireland could save up to €1bn per year by migrating to more efficient [i.e. electronic] payment instruments.” Later that year, the Central Bank launched a National Payments plan to help facilitate the transition and kicked off a €1m national marketing campaign to encourage the migration to electronic payments. The scale of the campaign surprised many, with the Irish Independent pointing out that “It’s a major advertising spend in the current climate, where a big-promotion budget spend is considered to be in the region of €500,000 outside of the big global blue-chips.” Late last year the Cork City Centre Forum attempted to take the lead in the cashless transition by launching the “Cork Cash Out” campaign aiming “to encourage consumers to ween off cash and opt-in for electronic-only transactions instead.”

ISRAEL – In 2014 a special committee headed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Chief of Staff Harel Locker released a report examining how to reduce the use of cash in the country. The report advocates reforms (including restrictions and limits on cash transactions) as part of a strategy whose aim is “reduced use of cash, reduced use of endorsed checks, and increased use of electronic means of payment.”

ITALY – In 2011 newly appointed Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti made cash payments over 1000 euro illegal. “What we need is a revolution in Italians’ thinking” Monti told reporters as he announced the emergency decree which was put into law before it was even formally voted on in parliament.

KENYA – Last year the Kenyan government awarded a contract to MasterCard to administer a smart card that can be used to pay for government services and receive welfare payments. Anne Waiguru of the Ministry of Devolution and Planning explained: “Uwezo Fund beneficiaries, Youth and Women Funds disbursements, National Youth Service, Social welfare government cash transfers to families, government food subsidies, hunger safety net cash transfers and cash transfers to orphaned children will be disbursed through the cards,” neglecting to add that the card also gives MasterCard access to the biometric details of 170 million potential customers.

MEXICO – In 2013 the Mexican government banned cash payments of more than 500,000 pesos for real estate and more than 200,000 pesos for cars, jewelry or lottery tickets.

NETHERLANDS – In 2013 the mayors of Almere, Rotterdam and Maastricht engaged in a publicity stunt to promote a campaign encouraging the public to abandon cash. They spent a week without spending any cash, relying solely on debit cards for purchases. The campaign is part of a long term trend away from cash and toward debit payments in many supermakets and other businesses around the country.

NORWAY – Late last week Trond Bentestuen, a senior executive at Norway’s largest bank, complained to the VG Newspaper that the Norwegian central bank “can only account for 40 percent” of the Norwegian kroner in circulation, meaning “that 60 percent of money usage is outside of any control.” There’s only one conclusion, according to Bentestuen: “There are so many dangers and disadvantages associated with cash, we have concluded that it should be phased out.” Don’t worry, though, the nation’s Finance Ministry says it has “no plans to change the law in this area”…for now.

PHILIPPINES – In the Phillippines, the government has launched an “E-Peso” project with the explicit aim of “transforming communities into cashless societies.” Touted as “a digital/virtual currency based on the Philippine Peso” its main selling point (according to the E-Peso’s own website) is that: “Since E-Peso transactions are completely digital, everything will automatically be recorded onto the customer’s account activity log.” The initiative is funded by infamous CIA front USAID, which “has awarded a US$25-million, five-year project to a company called Chemonics to support the Philippine government in the promotion and adoption of e-payments in the Philippines.”

SAUDI ARABIA – A MasterCard report on “The Cashless Journey” noted that by increasing the share of debit card transactions in the economy between 2006 and 2011, Saudi Arabia was moving at a faster than average pace toward a cashless society. Commenting on the report, Khalid Hariry of MasterCard noted: “Saudi Arabia is indeed moving at a better than average pace on its cashless journey, which has been significantly spurred along by government leadership. Regulation mandating wages assignment of employees’ to bank accounts has vastly increased access to electronic payment methods for the Saudi population over a short period of time. These changes, coming alongside initiatives to spur acceptance, and a push to migrate payments made during the Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages, can be expected to shift substantial share of consumer payments away from cash in the coming years.”

SPAIN – Citing budgetary austerity and the need to clamp down on tax fraud the Spanish government banned cash payments of more than 2,500 euros in 2012.

SWEDEN – Last year Stockholm’s KTH Royal Institute of Technology released a report stating that the country is on track to completely eliminating cash transactions in the foreseeable future. Noting that there are now only 80 billion Swedish crowns in circulation in the economy (down from 106 just six years ago), the report highlights how digital person-to-person payment technology “Swish” (developed in collaboration with Danish banks) is already transforming the country’s banking sector, where there are now entire banks that do not accept cash. Meanwhile, the Swedish public is being urged to stop using cash by no less a cultural icon than ABBA’s Björn Ulveaus, who brags that the ABBA museum is now a cashless institution.

URUGUAY – Under the “Financial Inclusion Law” which took effect in May 2015 the Uruguayan government has banned all cash payments over $5,000, thus requiring all property and vehicle purchases to go through the banking system. This is part of a wave of such legislation throughout Latin America hailed as a way of “giving the people what they need” (i.e. access to banking) even when (as the very same report notes) “those on the edges of the financial system are distrustful of banks” especially in Uruguay.

UK – In 2014 cashless payments surpassed cash payments for the first time in the UK, with research (from cashless payment provider Kalixo Pro) suggesting that the average Brit only carries £17.79 in cash at any time and 1 in 4 will walk away if a business doesn’t accept card payment. London buses went cashless in 2014 and just last year the Bank of England’s chief economist made the case for negative interest rates and abolishing cash.

 

 

The Israel Lobby: Time for a Second Edition

Wednesday, August 16th, 2017

this article originally was written by Paul Craig Roberts – www.paulcraigroberts.org

A decade ago in 2007 John J. Mearsheimer, the R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science and codirector of the Program on International Security Policy at the University of Chicago, and Stephen M. Walt, the Robert and Renee Belfer Professor of International Affairs at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and Academic Dean of the Kennedy School from 2002-2006, published The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy. The publisher was the prestigious publishing house, Farrar, Straus and Giroux. The authors made a convincing case that Israel operating through its American lobbies, which are not registered as foreign agents, succeeds in using US foreign policy in Israel’s interests. The authors conclude that the use of US foreign policy in Israel’s interests is damaging to both America’s national interests and to Israel’s long-term security.

Many were pleased that two distinguished experts had breached a taboo issue. But the Israel Lobby was not among them. Instantly, the authors and the book were denounced as anti-semitic. The demonstration that Israel had influence was misrepresented as the claim that Israel controlled the US government. The authors were denounced for their “extremism” which some alleged could result in a new holocaust.

Other critics took a different approach and claimed that there was no difference between Israeli and US interests and that anything that served Israel also served America. Some evangelicals added: “and also serves God.”

The authors remained dispassionate throughout the long controversy and stuck to their point that Israel’s influence on US foreign policy was not in the interest of either country.

If we think of a spectrum with influence at one end shading into control at the other, in the decade since The Israel Lobby was published Israel has moved closer to the control end of the spectrum. For example, we learn from the Israeli newspaper Haaretz that a bill in the US House of Representatives “would require U.S. to consult with Israel before selling arms in Mideast” http://www.haaretz.com/us-news/.premium-1.794835 .

Last month the House of Representatives unanimously passed HR 672 titled “Combating European Anti-Semitism Act of 2017.” Former CIA official Philip Giraldi reports that “the bill requires the State Department to monitor what European nations and their police forces are doing about anti-Semitism.” In other words, the bill makes Washington an enforcer over Europe for Israel. There is a companion bill in the US Senate http://www.globalresearch.ca/israels-dirty-little-secret/5595437 .

And then there is S. 722 backed by AIPAC, titled “An act to provide congressional review and to counter Iranian and Russian aggression.” Iranian and Russian “aggression” exist by assertion, not by fact. The bill more or less makes it impossible for President Trump to remove the sanctions and normalize relations.

And there is much more since 2007. In 2010 the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported Netanyahu’s boast that America was a country easy for him to manipulate http://www.haaretz.com/tricky-bibi-1.302053. In 2015 Congress without consulting President Obama invited Netanyahu to address Congress on the appropriate US foreign policy toward Iran. Congress is accustomed to grovelling at Israeli feet. Every year Congress attends AIPAC’s meeting and pays homage to its liege lord. One would think that the sight of the legislative body affirming its allegiance to Israel would raise questions about what country Congress represents.

If Mearsheimer and Walt have the strength, the time is ripe for a second edition of The Israel Lobby.

 

 

The Link Between Brexit And The US Election, MI6, Fake News And Dark Money

Wednesday, August 16th, 2017

(with kind permission from www.truepublica.org.uk )

By Graham Vanbergen

Propaganda is described as “information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote a political cause or point of view.” Black propaganda is “false information and material that purports to be from a source on one side of a conflict, but is actually from the opposing side, typically used to vilify, embarrass, or misrepresent the enemy.”

When these individual principles of communication clash to manipulate the discourse in democracy what you get is an underlying confusion by the population – in other words, people are not sure what to believe any more. This was evident in both Britain’s EU referendum and the US election.

A prime example for this moment: Google ‘Syria False Flag’ and the fight between mainstream and alternative media has never been hotter. For the rest of us though – confusion.

Propaganda being used on Britain’s citizens is not knew by any means. It is used incessantly today by the government simply to change public opinion in order to get an ideology such as austerity to be at least palatable by the electorate. But are darker forces now at work? Dark Money and Black propaganda are terms that have moved to the mainstream narrative of late with technology its facilitator. In the meantime, MI6 known for meddling with public information continues with its psychological information battle to distort the truth adding ever greater complexity to the headlines.

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In 2013 the Royal Statistical Society and King’s College London showed that public opinion was repeatedly off the mark on issues including crime, benefit fraud and immigration. Hetan Shah, the executive director of the Royal Statistical Society, said at the time: “Our data poses real challenges for policymakers. How can you develop good policy when public perceptions can be so out of kilter with the evidence?” In fact, Shah ended up being off the mark himself. Good policy was not what misconceived public opinion was about. Public opinion was made that way deliberately by a controlling government and a subservient media.

For instance, the report noted that some 31 per cent of the population is thought to consist of immigrants, when the figure is actually 13 per cent. On the issue of ethnicity, black and Asian people are thought to make up 30 per cent of the population, when the figure is closer to 11 per cent. All of this information was driven by the mainstream media to distort public opinion. The result – Britain’s EU referendum.

The government was complicit in distorting the truth, which it tried to capitalise upon purely for political reasons, which it subsequently mis-judged that has profound consequences for everyone.

Tony Blair’s misinformation, disinformation, propaganda and fake news campaign to attack Iraq has been a huge blot on Britain’s foreign policy choices. But it was supported by a mainstream media who did not question the legitimacy of the counterfeit information fed to parliament and disseminated to the public. To keep the destructive nature of the US/UK led coalition going when it was getting bogged down The Bureau of Investigative Journalism reported that the British PR firm, Bell Pottinger, worked alongside top US military officials at Camp Victory in Baghdad at the height of the Iraq War and was paid more than half a billion dollars for the production and distribution of fake Al-Qaeda videos – all with the sanction of the government of the day. Do you really think that such strategies and tactics have stopped?

In another example, to get the public and more importantly, parliament on side at the time that David Cameron was attempting to drag Britain into the quagmire that is Syria, the BBC reported on a chemical attack by Syrian forces on its people that was proven to be fake news. This was the event that pushed British politicians into backing the US attack of a sovereign country who had threatened no-one, especially not Britain. The truth had nothing to do with it.

There are stories too numerous to mention of government collusion with the mainstream press to push their political causes, but it has been a fact for some years that Journalists are routinely being fed false information by MI6 and MI5, and worse, the journalists themselves are in some instances operatives of the government – either MI5 or MI6. Think this is the arena of conspiracy theories? Think again!

Back in June 2000 the Guardian newspaper was so concerned at the scale of the problem, they wrote a piece entitled “Tinker, Taylor, Soldier, Journalist” where they accused British government spies for working as full-time journalists. The Guardian complained that spooks were writing tendentious articles under false names or that the intelligence agency was planting propaganda stories on willing journalists who disguised their sources from readers.

The Guardian article went on to say that “a very active programme by the secret agencies to colour what appears in the British press, called, information operations, or “I/Ops” (Read Directorate of Targeting and Information Operations) was very active, whose primary role is too “contribute towards influence and persuasion.” The Independent also ran a story that confirmed MI6 operatives in a special unit “cultivated`friendly’ journalists and editors” and it blew the lid on MI6 working at the heart of The Spectator magazine, amongst others.

These operations are very much in action to this day. At the time they started they were pushing anti-Soviet stories through the Information Research Dept. Its task was ostensibly to plant anti-communist stories in the world press. Clearly, not much has changed here.

Since September 11 2001, pretty much all of the mainstream media has been flooded in warnings by anonymous intelligence sources of terrorist threats (and we’ve just had one stating attacks could take place every 6 months on British soil). The former UN arms inspector, Scott Ritter, revealed in his book, ‘Iraq Confidential’, the realities of an MI6 psychological warfare effort, known as Operation Mass Appeal. According to Ritter: “Mass Appeal served as a focal point for passing MI6 intelligence on Iraq to the media, both in the UK and around the world. The goal was to help shape public opinion about Iraq and the threat posed by WMD.” MI6 propaganda specialists, at the time, claimed they could spread the misinformation through “editors and writers who work with us from time to time“.

In another example readers of the Sunday Telegraph were fed a dramatic story of the son of Libya’s Colonel Gaddafi and his alleged connection to a currency counterfeiting plan some years ago. As it turned out the story was written by Con Coughlin, the paper’s chief foreign correspondent and it was falsely attributed to a “British banking official”. In fact, it had been given to him by officers of MI6, who, it transpired, had been supplying Coughlin with material for years.

The Guardian also make mention that the government has a lot of influence over the media by saying “But the truth is that they are very deliberately seeking to control us.”

The Spectator also got caught up in another MI6 story designed to change public opinion over the Bosnia/Serbia conflicts.

Roy Greenslade, editor of the Mirror during the Gulf war in 1991, commented:  “Most tabloid newspapers  — or even newspapers in general  — are playthings of MI5“. Spy novelist John le Carre, who worked for MI6 between 1960 and 1964, has even claimed that the British secret service then “controlled large parts of the press”  — just as they do today.

David Leigh, investigations editor of The Guardian up to 2013 spoke a series of examples where secret services manipulated prominent journalists. He says “reporters are routinely approached by intelligence agents.”

John Simpson of the BBC is a case in point. As world affairs editor, he described in his autobiography how he was approached by MI5. He said:  “At some point they might make me broadcast something favourable to them. Or they might just ask me to carry a message to someone. You never knew,” he said.

Perhaps one of the most interesting incidents was reported by Jonathan Bloch and Patrick Fitzgerald. During investigations of covert UK warfare, they report the editor of  “one of Britain’s most distinguished journals” as believing that “more than half its foreign correspondents were on the MI6 payroll.”

 

Today, more than ever we now live in a technocracy, not one run by technical experts such as economists but by so-called ‘dark money’ dominating new technologies like social media. The London School of Economics now warns that “new technology has disrupted British politics so much that current laws are visibly unable to ensure a free and fair election of any type or indeed control the influence of money in politics.”  They maintain that there are clear concerns that big money interests manipulate political debate – “There is a real danger we are heading down the US route where whoever spends the most money is most likely to win. That’s why we’ve always controlled spending in this country. But these controls are no longer working.”

 

One company, Cambridge Analytica (CA) is in the frame for influencing not just Brexit but the US election where personal data is used to target voters. Its parent company SCL Group  is known for involvement in military disinformation campaigns of social media and voter targeting and is used by the military and politicians to study and manipulate public opinion and political will.

 

When SCL formed Cambridge Analytica in 2013 it hired researchers from Cambridge University, a place well known as a recruitment centre and collaboration hub for MI5 and MI6. According to The Guardian, CA is “using psychological data derived from millions of Facebook users, largely without users’ permission or knowledge.” In the US elections it amassed 5,000 data points on 220 million Americans. Donald Trump spent $15million dollars with this one company alone, hugely outgunning a naive opposition in this one area of campaigning.

CA was also involved in the 2016 Brexit referendum supporting “persuadable” voters to vote for leaving the European Union, a vote won by 1.2 million of 46.5million potential voters.

Michal Kosinski, previously a researcher in the psychology department at the University of Cambridge and currently, an assistant professor of organisational behaviour at the business school of Stanford, is not a fan of CA. Referring to the company he said “there’s a thin line between convincing people and manipulating them.”

Mi6 and MI5 have a long history of manipulating the press, now they have obviously moved on to more technical means and lets be fair, technology has always been at the forefront of their capabilities – Edward Snowden let the cat out of that bag on that one. Mixing the activities of powerful unelected bodies such as the secret services with new socially based technologies and democracy will inevitably cause many problems and confusion.

In the meantime, it should be of no surprise that amongst all this, the British government have quietly made significant steps to silence the press on all sorts of related issues that uncover their activities and are now using legislation to cover their anti-democratic endeavours. Today, the publication of the MP’s expenses scandal would end with a 14 year prison sentence for journalists and leakers, the same as a foreign spies passing sensitive information to the enemy. That is how the government views real investigative journalism in our modern democracy and interpreted it in the new Espionage Act.

Damian Tambini, director of the media policy project at the LSE, who heads up a group of leading experts in the field, stated that new forms of online campaigning had not only fundamentally changed the ways that political parties target voters but, more crucially, had also dramatically altered the ability of big money interests to shape political debate and outcome.

Tambini continues – “There is a real danger that public trust in the democratic process will be lost. There is real potential for foreign influence. We have now the ability to manipulate public opinion on a level we have never seen before. And the current framework is weak and helpless.”

‘Dark Money” and the shadowy characters behind it come in all forms; corporations, governments and even foreign actors. It might be a bit far fetched to think that the tactics being deployed in todays democracies look more and more like military campaigns in some sort of Matrix style dystopian future but the reality is that is exactly the line of travel.

The government in Britain and America, far from stepping in to legislate against this type of voter manipulation have actively encouraged, indeed colluded with emerging forces that favour their own ideologies that will lead to the continual erosion of democratic principles and civil liberty.

Ten Years After The Financial Crash – “£7.4 trillion equivalent to the cost of a world war”

Monday, August 14th, 2017

 

(with kind permission from www.truepublica.org.uk )

By Civil Society Futures: Ten years after the financial crash, is civil society ready to take on big finance? Ten years ago the French bank BNP Paribas ceased activity in three hedge funds, announcing that it could no longer measure the value of instruments based on US subprime mortgages. The event is widely regarded as representing the beginning of the global financial crisis, as what had previously been regarded as minor turbulence in the US housing market became something far more serious. Banks stopped lending to each other and the financial system froze, sending shockwaves around the global financial system. The UK, with one of the biggest, most complex, and most interconnected banking systems in the developed world, was uniquely exposed.

 

A decade on, and the cost of the crisis – both human and financial – cannot be understated. The cost of bailing out the banks peaked at over £1 trillion, while the cost to the economy in terms of loss of income and output has been much greater. According to Andrew Haldane, the Bank of England’s Chief Economist, the cost may be as high as £7.4 trillion – similar in scale to a World War.

 

Since the crisis real wages in Britain have suffered a larger decline than in any other advanced country apart from Greece. Years of austerity has pushed public services towards breaking point, and falling living standards has seen families resort to desperate measures like using food banks. Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England, recently described the past ten years as the “first lost decade since the 1860s”.

 

As each ten-year milestone approaches – from the collapse of Lehman Brothers on September 2008 to the G20 London Summit held on 2 April 2009 – much will be written about the role of each of the major culprits: the reckless bankers, the weak regulators, the captured credit rating agencies and the blind economists. But what about civil society? What is there to learn from the experience of the financial crisis, and what does this mean for the future of civil society?

 

Civil society’s blind spot?

In 1960 UK banking sector assets totalled £8 billion, or 32% of the country’s annual economic output. By 2010 this had increased to £6,240 billion, or 450% of annual economic output. Relative to the size of the national economy, the UK banking system grew to be the largest among advanced economies, with most of the growth coming in the two decades prior to the crisis.

Despite this rapid increase in the size and influence of the banks and other financial institutions, civil society did not pay much attention to their activities. Of course, organisations such as credit unions have played a key role in local communities for many years. But in the run up to the crisis few organisations asked difficult questions about the financial sector as a whole, or asked whether it was serving the long-term interests of society.

 

Of course, civil society was not alone in failing to see the crisis coming. The vast majority of macroeconomists were caught entirely off guard, as were the regulators whose job it was to prevent such crises from happening. While the economy was hurtling towards catastrophe, central bankers were hailing the arrival of the ‘Great Moderation’ and Gordon Brown had declared the end of ‘boom and bust’.

 

Nonetheless, one of the roles of civil society is to ask difficult questions and to challenge power. While it would be unfair to pass blame for failing to foresee the crisis, elements within civil society could and should have acted more courageously to challenge the power of the City of London. But too often they found it easier to look the other way.

 

Too little, too late

Once the crisis hit, civil society organisations scrambled to come to terms with what happened, and what it meant for them. Few organisations were well placed to respond quickly. A longstanding perception that finance was a technocratic field best left to experts had left civil society woefully underequipped to intervene, despite the fact that civil society organisations are perfectly capable of getting their heads round other complex issues. Moreover, civil society’s capacity was reduced just as it was needed most, as funding sources started to dry up amid the economic fallout. Without a coherent analysis of what went wrong and what needed to happen, civil society struggled to make its voice heard in the process of reform that followed.

 

Despite this, there were a number of positive developments. The crisis triggered an awakening on issues of banking and finance, and gave birth to a dynamic new movement dedicated to the cause of financial reform. New organisations such as Positive Money, the Finance Innovation Lab and Move Your Money were established, and alongside older organisations like the New Economics Foundation set out explain the workings of the financial system and repurpose it for the common good. But despite some heroic efforts, these organisations inevitably faced an uphill struggle against the lobbying might of the sector and the ‘insider’ culture of the regulators.

 

It is difficult to know exactly how much the sector spends on lobbying, but an investigation by the Independent Bureau of Investigative Journalism revealed that City of London firms provided more than 50% of the Conservative party’s funding in 2010, the year of David Cameron’s general election victory. In 2012, a similar investigation revealed that the British financial services industry spent £92 million in one year lobbying politicians and regulators. Combined with the serial ‘revolving door’ culture between the industry and the regulators, it’s easy to see how civil society’s voice was drowned out.

 

While the limited reforms did rein in some of the worst excesses, it wasn’t long before intense lobbying from the sector led to them being watered down or rolled back. By 2015 this had paid off, as George Osborne announced a ‘new settlement’ between policymakers and the City and quietly passed a string of concessions to big banks in areas of tax and regulation. Then, in December 2015, Bank of England Governor Mark Carney declared that “the post-crisis period is over”. The message was clear: the financial system had been fixed, lessons had been learned, and it was time to move on. We could return to business as usual.

 

What next for the future?

As memories of the crisis fade, it is essential that civil society doesn’t roll over to the demands of bank lobbyists. Many experts outside the industry-regulator nexus warn that financial reforms went nowhere near far enough, and have predicted that another crash could be just around the corner. The Systemic Risk Council, a group of global experts on financial stability, recently warned G20 leaders that the global financial system is vulnerable to another crisis. This time round, they warn, central banks and governments will have far less ammunition available to respond. Similar warnings have come from the Bank for International Settlements, which recently said that another global financial crisis could soon hit “with a vengeance”.

 

Now, with Brexit on the horizon, the risk is even greater. As more banks start to shift operations abroad, the government has indicated that it may respond by slashing regulation in a bid to stem the outflow of business. Media outlets have reported that bank executives and lobbyists are already working hard behind the scenes to turn Brexit to their advantage.

 

To avoid history repeating itself, there is an urgent need to strengthen civil society’s voice on finance, and develop a credible and effective counterweight to the lobbying power of the banks. We must also work to transform our broken financial system to ensure that finance serves society, not the other way around.

 

What does this mean in practice? Firstly, it means establishing a credible and well resourced civil society voice on banking and finance. This isn’t a new idea – in 2011 the European Parliament established a new independent NGO called Finance Watch. This organisation receives public funding from the EU, and is tasked with acting as a public interest counterweight to the powerful financial lobby. While Finance Watch’s expert staff are still vastly outnumbered by industry representatives in the corridors of Brussels, the organisation has played a vital role educating lawmakers and the public about the financial system. As Britain starts to plan a future outside of the EU, plugging this gap with a new UK-focused organisation will be vital.

 

Secondly, civil society must begin the long hard task of transforming our banking sector. The UK has among the most concentrated banking sector in the developed world, and is uniquely dependent on commercial, profit maximising banks. The banking sector channels billions into the economy each year, however most of this flows into property and financial markets, inflating asset prices and destabilising the economy. In other countries, the banking sector plays a more positive role by investing sustainably in local communities, and these banks are often characterised by ‘stakeholder’ ownership and governance. In other words, the mission of the bank is not to maximise profits but to optimise returns to a range of stakeholders, including customers and the broader local economy. Empirical evidence shows that these institutions, such as co-operatives, mutuals and public savings banks, perform much better than their large competitors on measures of financial stability, local economic development, business lending, and financial inclusion.

 

Learning from best practice around the world, steps should be taken to increase the diversity of the banking sector and create new institutions which serve the interests of businesses and local communities. Initiatives like the Community Savings Banking Association are already doing this from the bottom-up, but much remains to be done before these models can achieve the scale required to make an impact.

 

But reforming the banking sector is merely the tip of the iceberg. The financial sector’s grip over of our politics and economy did not happen in a vacuum – it is the result of a set of deliberate political choices to rewrite the rules of our economy. The UK’s sprawling financial sector was, and still is, the pinnacle of neoliberalism – the economic system which has allowed privatisation, deregulation, and market logic to penetrate every area of society.

 

The financial crisis was one product of this system. But challenges such as poverty, inequality, alienation, climate change and homelessness cannot be separated from the economic system which breeds them. To overcome these issues, civil society must go beyond simply ameliorating symptoms, and start tackling root causes. This means challenging the tenets of neoliberalism itself, and working together to build a fairer and more sustainable alternative.

 

The Top 25 U.S. Banks Have 222 Trillion Dollars Of Exposure To Derivatives

Sunday, May 28th, 2017

by Michael Snyder, May 15th, 2017

The recklessness of the “too big to fail” banks almost doomed them the last time around, but apparently they still haven’t learned from their past mistakes.  Today, the top 25 U.S. banks have 222 trillion dollars of exposure to derivatives.  In other words, the exposure that these banks have to derivatives contracts is approximately equivalent to the gross domestic product of the United States times twelve.  As long as stock prices continue to rise and the U.S. economy stays fairly stable, these extremely risky weapons of mass destruction will probably not take down our entire financial system.  But someday another major crisis will inevitably happen, and when that day arrives the devastation that these financial instruments will cause will be absolutely unprecedented.

During the great financial crisis of 2008, derivatives played a starring role, and U.S. taxpayers were forced to step in and bail out companies such as AIG that were on the verge of collapse because the risks that they took were just too great.
But now it is happening again, and nobody is really talking very much about it.  In a desperate for higher profits, all of the “too big to fail” banks are gambling like crazy, and at some point a lot of these bets are going to go really bad.  The following numbers regarding exposure to derivatives contracts come directly from the OCC’s most recent quarterly report (see Table 2), and as you can see the level of recklessness that we are currently witnessing is more than just a little bit alarming…
Citigroup
Total Assets: $1,792,077,000,000 (slightly less than 1.8 trillion dollars)
Total Exposure To Derivatives: $47,092,584,000,000 (more than 47 trillion dollars)
JPMorgan Chase
Total Assets: $2,490,972,000,000 (just under 2.5 trillion dollars)
Total Exposure To Derivatives: $46,992,293,000,000 (nearly 47 trillion dollars)
Goldman Sachs
Total Assets: $860,185,000,000 (less than a trillion dollars)
Total Exposure To Derivatives: $41,227,878,000,000 (more than 41 trillion dollars)
Bank Of America
Total Assets: $2,189,266,000,000 (a little bit more than 2.1 trillion dollars)
Total Exposure To Derivatives: $33,132,582,000,000 (more than 33 trillion dollars)
Morgan Stanley
Total Assets: $814,949,000,000 (less than a trillion dollars)
Total Exposure To Derivatives: $28,569,553,000,000 (more than 28 trillion dollars)
Wells Fargo
Total Assets: $1,930,115,000,000 (more than 1.9 trillion dollars)
Total Exposure To Derivatives: $7,098,952,000,000 (more than 7 trillion dollars)
Collectively, the top 25 banks have a total of 222 trillion dollars of exposure to derivatives.
If you are new to all of this, you might be wondering what a “derivative” actually is.
When you buy a stock you are purchasing an ownership interest in a company, and when you buy a bond you are purchasing the debt of a company.  But when you buy a derivative, you are not actually getting anything tangible.  Instead, you are simply making a side bet about whether something will or will not happen in the future.  These side bets can be extraordinarily complex, but at their core they are basically just wagers.  The following is a pretty good definition of derivatives that comes from Investopedia
A derivative is a security with a price that is dependent upon or derived from one or more underlying assets. The derivative itself is a contract between two or more parties based upon the asset or assets. Its value is determined by fluctuations in the underlying asset. The most common underlying assets include stocks, bonds, commodities, currencies, interest rates and market indexes.
Those that trade derivatives are essentially engaged in a form of legalized gambling, and some of the brightest names in the financial world have been warning about the potentially destructive nature of these financial instruments for a very long time.
In a letter that he wrote to shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway in 2003, Warren Buffett actually referred to derivatives as “financial weapons of mass destruction”…
The derivatives genie is now well out of the bottle, and these instruments will almost certainly multiply in variety and number until some event makes their toxicity clear. Central banks and governments have so far found no effective way to control, or even monitor, the risks posed by these contracts. In my view, derivatives are financial weapons of mass destruction, carrying dangers that, while now latent, are potentially lethal.
Warren Buffett was right on the money when he made that statement, and of course the derivatives bubble is far larger today than it was back then.
In fact, the total notional value of derivatives contracts globally is in excess of 500 trillion dollars.
This is a disaster that is just waiting to happen, and investors such as Buffett are quietly positioning themselves to take advantage of the giant crash that is inevitably coming.
According to financial expert Jim Rickards, Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. is hoarding 86 billion dollars in cash because he is likely anticipating a major stock market downturn…
Far from a bullish sign, Buffett’s cash hoard could mean he’s preparing for a market crash. When the crash comes, Buffett can walk through the wreckage with his checkbook open and buy great companies for a fraction of their current value.
That’s the real Buffett style, but you won’t hear that from your broker or wealth manager. If Buffett has a huge cash allocation, shouldn’t you?
He knows what’s coming. Now you do too.
Warren Buffett didn’t become one of the wealthiest men in the entire world by being stupid.  He knows that stocks are ridiculously overvalued at this point, and he is poised to make his move after the pendulum swings in the other direction.
And he might not have too long to wait.  In recent weeks I have been writing about many of the signs that the U.S. economy is slowing down substantially, and today we received even more bad news
Despite high levels of economic confidence expressed by business owners and consumers, one key indicator shows that it has not translated into much action yet.
Loan issuance declined in the first quarter from the previous three-month period, the first time that has happened in four years, according to an SNL Financial analysis of bank earnings reports filed for the period. The total of recorded loans and leases fell to $9.297 trillion from $9.305 trillion in the fourth quarter of 2016.
This is precisely what we would expect to see if a new economic downturn was beginning.  Our economy is very highly dependent on the flow of credit, and when that flow begins to diminish that is a very bad sign.
For the moment, financial markets continue to remain completely disconnected from the hard economic data, but as we saw in 2008 the markets can plunge very rapidly once they start catching up with the real economy.
Warren Buffett is clearly getting prepared for the crisis that is ahead.
Are you?

Will the US Dollar collapse become the catalyst for a Global Financial Disaster?

Sunday, February 23rd, 2014

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"We are at the crossroads of the most serious economic crisis in world history. The economic crisis has by no means reached its climax, as some economists have predicted. The crisis is deepening, with the risk of seriously disrupting the structures of international trade and investment."   —-  Prof. Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research October 31, 2013 —

It seems that western world leaders practicise a head-in-the-sand (ostrich) policy But this behaviour is extremely dangerous. It will drive the majority of world population in dependency of a very few big banks and their owners or shareholders.

World’s Dominant Currency – the US Dollar

Will it’s collapse become the catalyst for a Global Financial Disaster?

China Starts To Make A Power Move Against The U.S. Dollar

By Michael Snyder and his personal permission to publish his article on my site, on February 20th, 2014

In order for our current level of debt-fueled prosperity to continue, the rest of the world must continue to use our dollars to trade with one another and must continue to buy our debt at ridiculously low interest rates.  Of course the number one foreign nation that we depend on to participate in our system is China.  China accounts for more global trade than anyone else on the planet (including the United States), and most of that trade is conducted in U.S. dollars.  This keeps demand for our dollars very high, and it ensures that we can import massive quantities of goods from overseas at very low cost.  As a major exporting nation, China ends up with gigantic piles of our dollars.  They lend many of those dollars back to us at ridiculously low interest rates.  At this point, China owns more of our national debt than any other country does.  But if China was to decide to quit playing our game and started moving away from U.S. dollars and U.S. debt, our economic prosperity could disappear very rapidly.  Demand for the U.S. dollar would fall and prices would go up.  And interest rates on our debt and everything else in our financial system would go up to crippling levels.  So it is absolutely critical to our financial future that China continues to play our game.

Unfortunately, there are signs that China has now decided to start looking for a smooth exit from the game.  In November, I wrote about how the central bank of China has announced that it is "no longer in China’s favor to accumulate foreign-exchange reserves".  That means that the pile of U.S. dollars that China is sitting on is not going to get any higher.

In addition, China has signed a whole host of international currency agreements with other nations during the past couple of years which are going to result in less U.S. dollars being used in international trade.  You can read about many of these agreements in this article.

This week, we learned that China started to dump U.S. debt during the month of December.  Many have imagined that China would try to dump a flood of our debt on to the market all of a sudden once they decided to exit, but that simply does not make sense.  Instead, it makes sense for China to dump a bit of debt at a time so that the market will not panic and so that they can get close to full value for the paper that they are holding.

As Bloomberg reported the other day, China dumped nearly 50 billion dollars of U.S. debt during the month of December…

China, the largest foreign U.S. creditor, reduced holdings of U.S. Treasury debt in December by the most in two years as the Federal Reserve announced plans to slow asset purchases.

The nation pared its position in U.S. government bonds by $47.8 billion, or 3.6 percent, to $1.27 trillion, the largest decline since December 2011, according to U.S. Treasury Department data released yesterday.

This is how I would do it if I was China.  I would try to dump 30, 40 or 50 billion dollars a month.  I would try to make a smooth exit and try to get as much for my U.S. debt paper as I could.

So if China is not going to stockpile U.S. dollars or U.S. debt any longer, what is it going to stockpile?

It is going to stockpile gold of course.  In fact, China has been voraciously stockpiling gold for quite some time, and their hunger for gold appears to be growing.

According to Bloomberg, more than 80 percent of the gold that was exported from Switzerland last month went to Asia…

Switzerland sent more than 80 percent of its gold and silver bullion and coin exports to Asia last month, the Swiss Federal Customs Administration said today in an e-mailed report. It imported most from the U.K.

Hong Kong was the top destination at 44 percent on a value basis, with India at 14 percent, the Bern-based customs agency said in its first breakdown of the gold trade data since 1980. Singapore accounted for 8.6 percent of exports, the United Arab Emirates 7.9 percent and China 6.3 percent.

When China imports gold, most of it goes through Hong Kong.  We know that imports of gold from Hong Kong into China are at an all-time record high, but we don't know exactly how much gold China has accumulated at this point because they quit reporting that to the rest of the world a number of years ago.

When it comes to global finance, China is playing chess and the United States is playing checkers.  China knows that gold is a universal currency that will hold value over the long-term.  As the paper currencies of the world race toward collapse, China could end up holding most of the real money and that would be a huge game changer when they finally reveal that fact…

The announcement of China's new gold hoard will send shockwaves through the financial markets, and make China and the Chinese yuan (their national currency) even bigger players at the international table.

International banking expert James Rickards compared it to a game of Texas Hold 'Em poker:

"You want a big pile of chips. The U.S. has a big pile of chips, Europe has a big pile of chips. The U.S. has 8,000 tonnes [metric tons] of gold, 17 members of the euro system have 10,000 tonnes. China at 1,000 tonnes is not a player, but at 5,000 tonnes, they are a player."

There are some really good points made in the quote above, but I do take exception with a couple of things.  First of all, I believe that China now has far more than 5,000 tons of gold.  Secondly, I seriously doubt that the U.S. still actually has 8,000 tons of gold or that Europe still actually has 10,000 tons of gold.

As China (and eventually the rest of the world) moves away from a U.S.-based financial system, the consequences are going to be dramatic.

For instance, right now the average rate of interest that the U.S. government pays on debt is just 2.477 percent.  That is ridiculously low and it is way below the real rate of inflation.  It is simply not rational for anyone to lend the U.S. government money so cheaply, and at some point we are going to see a dramatic shift.

When that day arrives, interest rates are going to rise dramatically.  And if the average rate of interest on U.S. government debt rises to just 6 percent (and it has been much higher than that in the past), we will be paying out more than a trillion dollars a year just in interest on the national debt.

Even more frightening is what a rapidly changing interest rate environment would mean for our banking system.  There are four large U.S. banks that each have exposure to derivatives in excess of 40 trillion dollars.  You can find the identity of those banks right here.  Interest rate derivatives make up the biggest chunk of those derivatives contracts.  As John Embry told King World News just the other day, when that bubble bursts the carnage is going to be unprecedented…

"Stockman brought up a brilliant point, the fact that we have hundreds of trillions of dollars of interest rate swaps, which are polluting the world’s banking system. If we see growing volatility in interest rates, and I think that’s inevitable with what’s going on, that would cause spasms in the financial system. And if something goes wrong in the derivatives market, Heaven help us because the leverage that is imparted to the banking system through these derivatives is unholy."

Unfortunately, very few of the "experts" will ever see this crash coming.

Very few of them saw it coming in 2000.

Very few of them saw it coming in 2008.

And very few of them will see it coming this time.

I really like what Paul B. Farrell had to say about this…

Early warnings of a crash are dismissed over and over (“just a temporary correction”). They gradually numb us about the inevitable. Time after time we forget history’s lessons. Until finally a big surprise catches us totally off-guard. Financial historian Niall Ferguson put it this way: Before the crash, our world seems almost stationary, deceptively so, balanced, at a set point. So that when the crash finally hits — as inevitably it will — everyone seems surprised. And our brains keep telling us it’s not time for a crash.

Till then, life just goes along quietly, hypnotizing us, making us vulnerable, till a shocker like Lehman Brothers upsets the balance. Then, says Ferguson, the crash is “accelerating suddenly, like a sports car … like a thief in the night.” It hits. Shocks us wide awake.

Don't let the upcoming crash take you by surprise.

The warning signs are very clear.

Get ready while you still can.

 

 

 

 

Startupers Headache Pills

Saturday, February 22nd, 2014

getting_started

Hello sailor —

most probably you got here whilst you're trying to find solutions for a problem that cause you headaches.

That's why I decided to make a special site for Startups.

You might have seen on my profile, I am a management and marketing pro, multiple-awarded by multinational companies, banks or international management consultant groups for my achievements.

One of these awards was given for a startup that I had formed and whereby I had learned what problems a new entrepreneur might or will face, and how to clear the barriers. That is the reason why I decided to make this site. It shall help young entrepreneurs or newbies to achieve their goal: to set up an own enterprise.

Thus, from time to time I will release articles, ideas, tips, or notes that might give an inspiration or particular solution to make things easier.

Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” ― Albert Einstein

 

Start Up Funding

startupfunding-fundraisingv10-140218093825-phpapp02

Religion – men’s creation?

Saturday, January 18th, 2014

ark

"Scientists at the Institute of Historical Research have finally released their findings after five years of dedicated research". Result: All religions are man-made.

There are times in our lifes we may ask ourselves, if all the sententious words we have been taught by our family, teachers, and the many other sources of religious "wisdom" preachers that has got spread around our globe for hundreds or even thousands of centuries, are the "plain truth", as all major religions claim to possess. Indisputable.

About 4,000 years ago the ancestors of the Hebrews were wandering nomads. Biblical tradition says that Abraham, the founder of the line, came from Ur, but we cannot be sure that this was the Ur located in Mesopotamia. There are no records of these people except for the traditions laid down in the Bible many centuries later.

All major western religions, including Islam, justify their religious doctrine by this man and his life, Abraham (Hebrew:Avraham, Syriac: Oraham; Arabic: Ibrāhīm),

He is the key figure in the religious texts of Judaism, first patriarch of the Jews. Said to having lived around 2000 BCE. He is first mentioned in chapters 11:26-25:18 of the book of Genesis. His story is essentially the history of the establishment of the covenant between Abraham and God: God calls Abraham to leave his land, family and household in Mesopotamia in return for a new land, family and inheritance in Canaan, "the promised land".

Abraham and his story is the cornerstone for all later western religions, as an outgrowth of Abraham's life story.

“The Selfish Giant” – Will Our Western Politics Bring More Social Collapse

Wednesday, January 1st, 2014
theUS-eyesonyou
 
and with personal permission to publish this article
Global Research, December 30, 2013

 

For a person who graduated from Georgia Tech in 1961, a year in which the class ring showed the same date right side up or upside down, the 21st century was a science fiction concept associated with Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 film, “2001: A Space Odyssey.” To us George Orwell’s 1984 seemed so far in the future we would never get there. Now it is 30 years in the past.

Did we get there in Orwell’s sense? In terms of surveillance technology, we are far beyond Orwell’s imagination. In terms of the unaccountability of government, we exceptional and indispensable people now live a 1984 existence. In his alternative to the Queen’s Christmas speech, Edward Snowden made the point that a person born in the 21st century will never experience privacy. For new generations the word privacy will refer to something mythical, like a unicorn.

Many Americans might never notice or care. I remember when telephone calls were considered to be private. In the 1940s and 1950s the telephone company could not always provide private lines. There were “party lines” in which two or more customers shared the same telephone line. It was considered extremely rude and inappropriate to listen in on someone’s calls and to monopolize the line with long duration conversations.

The privacy of telephone conversations was also epitomized by telephone booths, which stood on street corners, in a variety of public places, and in “filling stations” where an attendant would pump gasoline into your car’s fuel tank, check the water in the radiator, the oil in the engine, the air in the tires, and clean the windshield. A dollar’s worth would purchase 3 gallons, and $5 would fill the tank.

Even in the 1980s and for part of the 1990s there were lines of telephones on airport waiting room walls, each separated from the other by sound absorbing panels. Whether the panels absorbed the sounds of the conversation or not, they conveyed the idea that calls were private.

The notion that telephone calls are private left Americans’ consciousness prior to the NSA listening in. If memory serves, it was sometime in the 1990s when I entered the men’s room of an airport and observed a row of men speaking on their cell phones in the midst of the tinkling sound of urine hitting water and noises of flushing toilets. The thought hit hard that privacy had lost its value.

I remember when I arrived at Merton College, Oxford, for the first term of 1964. I was advised never to telephone anyone whom I had not met, as it would be an affront to invade the privacy of a person to whom I was unknown. The telephone was reserved for friends and acquaintances, a civility that contrasts with American telemarketing.

The efficiency of the Royal Mail service protected the privacy of the telephone. What one did in those days in England was to write a letter requesting a meeting or an appointment. It was possible to send a letter via the Royal Mail to London in the morning and to receive a reply in the afternoon. Previously it had been possible to send a letter in the morning and to receive a morning reply, and to send another in the afternoon and receive an afternoon reply.

When one flies today, unless one stops up one’s ears with something, one hears one’s seat mate’s conversations prior to takeoff and immediately upon landing. Literally, everyone is talking nonstop. One wonders how the economy functioned at such a high level of incomes and success prior to cell phones. I can remember being able to travel both domestically and internationally on important business without having to telephone anyone. What has happened to America that no one can any longer go anywhere without constant talking?

If you sit at an airport gate awaiting a flight, you might think you are listening to a porn film. The overhead visuals are usually Fox “News” going on about the need for a new war, but the cell phone audio might be young women describing their latest sexual affair.

Americans, or many of them, are such exhibitionists that they do not mind being spied upon or recorded. It gives them importance. According to Wikipedia, Paris Hilton, a multimillionaire heiress, posted her sexual escapades online, and Facebook had to block users from posting nude photos of themselves. Sometime between my time and now people ceased to read 1984. They have no conception that a loss of privacy is a loss of self. They don’t understand that a loss of privacy means that they can be intimidated, blackmailed, framed, and viewed in the buff. Little wonder they submitted to porno-scanners.

The loss of privacy is a serious matter. The privacy of the family used to be paramount. Today it is routinely invaded by neighbors, police, Child Protective Services (sic), school administrators, and just about anyone else.

Consider this: A mother of six and nine year old kids sat in a lawn chair next to her house watching her kids ride scooters in the driveway and cul-de-sac on which they live.

 

Normally, this would be an idyllic picture. But not in America. A neighbor, who apparently did not see the watching mother, called the police to report that two young children were outside playing without adult supervision. Note that the next door neighbor, a woman, did not bother to go next door to speak with the mother of the children and express her concern that they children were not being monitored while they played.

The neighbor called the police. http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/sideshow/mom-sues-polices-she-arrested-letting-her-kids-134628018.html

“We’re here for you,” the cops told the mother, who was carried off in handcuffs and spent the next 18 hours in a cell in prison clothes.

The news report doesn’t say what happened to the children, whether the father appeared and insisted on custody of his offspring or whether the cops turned the kids over to Child Protective Services.

This shows you what Americans are really like. Neither the neighbor nor the police had a lick of sense. The only idea that they had was to punish someone. This is why America has the highest incarceration rate and the highest total number of prison inmates in the entire world. Washington can go on and on about “authoritarian” regimes in Russia and China, but both countries have far lower prison populations than “freedom and democracy” America.

I was unaware that laws now exist requiring the supervision of children at play. Children vary in their need for supervision. In my day supervision was up to the mother’s judgment. Older children were often tasked with supervising the younger. It was one way that children were taught responsibility and developed their own judgment.

When I was five years old, I walked to the neighborhood school by myself. Today my mother would be arrested for child endangerment.

In America punishment falls more heavily on the innocent, the young, and the poor than it does on the banksters who are living on the Federal Reserve’s subsidy known as Quantitative Easing and who have escaped criminal liability for the fraudulent financial instruments that they sold to the world. Single mothers, depressed by the lack of commitment of the fathers of their children, are locked away for using drugs to block out their depression. Their children are seized by a Gestapo institution, Child Protective Services, and end up in foster care where many are abused.

According to numerous press reports, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 year-old children who play cowboys and indians or cops and robbers during recess and raise a pointed finger while saying “bang-bang” are arrested and carried off to jail in handcuffs as threats to their classmates. In my day every male child and the females who were “Tom boys” would have been taken to jail. Playground fights were normal, but no police were ever called. Handcuffing a child would not have been tolerated.

From the earliest age, boys were taught never to hit a girl. In those days there were no reports of police beating up teenage girls and women or body slamming the elderly. To comprehend the degeneration of the American police into psychopaths and sociopaths, go online and observe the video of Lee Oswald in police custody in 1963. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4FDDuRSgzFk

Oswald was believed to have assassinated President John F. Kennedy and murdered a Dallas police officer only a few hours previously to the film. Yet he had not been beaten, his nose wasn’t broken, and his lips were not a bloody mess. Now go online and pick from the vast number of police brutality videos from our present time and observe the swollen and bleeding faces of teenage girls accused of sassing overbearing police officers.

In America today people with power are no longer accountable. This means citizens have become subjects, an indication of social collapse.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How To Make Your Goals Become Reality

Monday, January 14th, 2013

Most people fail to achieve their goals and keep motivated due to a lack of stamina. Goals can boost performance but there is also a mental strenght that must be set free, s.a. to decide “how” you are going to accomplish your goals. Ask yourself: “How am I going to do it? What are the basic conditions that will help to achieve my goals? What strategies can I adopt that will help me to finish my goals successfully?”

This excellent video by John Assaraf from San Diego will help to achieve ANY Goal in Your Life:

Enjoy.