Tuesday, September 26, 2017

#Take the Knee



There’s a lot to complain about in this deranged republic - if it even still is one - but the burdens of being a multimillionaire football player would not be at the top of my list. 
Personally, I find it a little peculiar that we have to play the national anthem before any sporting event. All it really shows is how insecure we are as a nation that we have to display our love of country in this obsessive manner.
Same with congressmen and their stupid flag lapel pins, or the flag in front of Denny’s chain restaurants. Are eaters of the “lumberjack slam” so disoriented when they leave the place that they need to be reminded what country they’re in? “Oh, look hon, were in the USA after all….”
What burns my ass is seeing baseball players in camo uniforms, as if they were an extension of the US military. What’s up with that? Is San Diego suddenly a theater of war? And why do US soldiers need to wear camo uniforms when shopping for eyeglasses? There used to be a distinction between battle dress and what you wore the rest of the time, even during a world war. And why on earth is it necessary to fly Air Force fighter jets over the stadium before the Super Bowl? Who authorizes the spend for that? Who are we trying to scare?
Of course, this new gale of ill-feeling stirred up by our intemperate president, the Golden Golem of Greatness, is driven by the oceanic currents of racial animus that are drowning the country more ruinously than the recent spate of hurricanes. The #Take the Knee campaign was already there, and getting hotter, even before Mr. Trump chimed in. At least he didn’t issue the usual sort of vapid nostrum about “diversity” and all of us getting along. In his blunt, blundering way, he may force the nation to clarify exactly what the beef is.
Surely it’s not about the woes of professional athletes. They are representing the grievances of a different realm in black America, perhaps the places they came from, the city ghettos or the rural backwaters of Dixieland, or maybe even boring black suburbs like Prince George County, Maryland. And the lingering question, to be equally blunt, is: how much is non-black America keeping black America down?
I say non-black because there are plenty of other ethnic groups in the mix besides the dwindling majority of “white folks.” I daresay there is as much, perhaps more real animus between Asian-Americans and black Americans than between white and black. But Asian-Americans did not enslave black Africans, so they’re off-the-hook for that original sin.
Mostly what Asian newcomers do is demonstrate that it’s possible to succeed economically and educationally in this country even if you start out with a culture and language completely alien to American ways. This is especially noticeable in places of exacting achievement like Silicon Valley. If anything, Asians complain that they do so well in school that the universities have to tamp down their admission numbers to give other ethnic groups a chance.
There seems to be so much psychological displacement in the feelings between black and white America that it is next to impossible to sort out what to do next. 
White Dem-Progs (formerly “liberals”) appear to be so consumed with anxious consternation over the outcome of the long civil rights struggle that they are ready to commit a sort of hara-kiri to atone for their unforgivable cis-whiteness. To some extent, they have attempted to compensate by campaigning for an ever-growing list of other “marginalized” groups in the hopes of showing some positive results for social change — it’s just easier to get significant numbers of homosexuals into the corporate executive suites than to get blacks in there — but the Dem-Progs are still left with the grinding reality of a large, dysfunctional black underclass. They certainly can’t admit that their own contrived “remedies,” such as subsidizing out-of-wedlock births, has anything to do with it, or the devastating effect of “Multiculturalism” on some sort of unifying common culture based on values that everybody can agree on.
Similarly, black America displaces their oppositionality to whatever remains of a national common culture into the memes of “systemic racism and injustice.” 
It has evolved insidiously in their own culture since the 1960s, probably (I believe) as a reaction to the anxiety provoked by the civil rights legislation of 1964-65. It’s really about behavior, especially in school. Are you interested in speaking English? Believe me, that would help a lot in this society. Consider this: Ella Fitzgerald was not singing black or white back in the day. She was just singing.

Monday, September 25, 2017

The Danger Of Patriotism

By Bob Livingston and originally published at personalliberty.com
My friends, it is frightening how simple we are and how easily we are manipulated simply because we are intellectually lazy.
The U.S. establishment has confused cause and effect by and through a flag-waving mania in America. "Patriotism" throughout history has covered a multitude of mischief. We are seeing it now!
Phony patriotism is strong leverage against a population ignorant of the ways of treason by its own government. I also have no doubt that U.S. history is full of wars "for democracy" killing millions under the propaganda of patriotism with the majority support of the people and the full support of all but a small cadre of "elected representatives" — who are paid by the federal government, incidentally. In addition the millions of foreign dead, these wars have left hundreds of thousands of American military members dead or maimed physically and/or emotionally.
The whole world knows about the U.S. military industrial complex war machine and its pursuit of profits. But Americans tend to turn a blind eye.
When George Washington said "government is force," he meant that government is force against its own people.
Since by definition government is force, then it follows that government will use any ruse imaginable to increase its power. Increased use of government force or power could backfire unless skillfully handled and justified in the public mind. Therefore governments rarely take action unless accompanied by skillful propaganda.
The brouhaha over certain NFL players' refusal to stand for the playing of the Star Spangled Banner has erupted anew. The reaction of most Americans — who claim to believe in the Constitution and Bill of Rights — is that this expression cannot be tolerated... it is un-American... it is "unpatriotic."
But is it? Or is it not the most American of all things to resist and rebel against what we perceive as tyranny and its symbols?
If we deny one — whether through intimidation and threats, monetary sanctions or government force — his rights, are we not creating a situation where rights are just privileges that can be denied on a whim? If we support police power to invade our homes and wallets and steal our property just because government has made it "legal," are we not again conceding that rights are merely privileges?
You cannot say, "I believe in the 1st Amendment, but...; I believe in the 2nd Amendment, but...; I believe in the 4th Amendment, but..." There is no but.
And if that government making "legal" the assaults on our liberty is represented by a symbol, shouldn't we conclude that that symbol is a symbol of tyranny? I wrote about the phony patriotism of flag worship when the Colin Kaepernick stir occurred last year.
In light of the new kerfuffle over NFL players refusing to stand, and comments to some of our columns on preserving liberty of late, I felt it was time to run it again. Here it is:

The American golden calf

As a young boy, I enjoyed my family's bantam chickens that laid very small eggs and hatched very small chicks. Theirs was a small and miniature world.
One day one of my bantams started sitting on eggs to hatch its chicks. Something happened to her eggs but she continued to sit, so I decided to put a duck egg under her. Duck eggs are at least three times bigger than bantam eggs and take a few days longer to hatch, but she dutifully sat on the egg several days longer. She hatched the duckling and, as you can imagine, it thought that his world was normal and that the bantam hen was his mother.
The duckling eventually grew into a full sized mallard duck, probably five or six times the size of its bantam mother. The full-grown duck would follow its hen mother around as would normal chicks. It was a funny sight to watch.
But I remember thinking, even as a small boy, that the duck's entire reality was that the bantam hen was his mother and that was the way the world worked. He had no need to consider anything else.
This is the world of the American people today. Their perceptions of reality control them and they who control their perceptions control the American people.
Our perception of America has always been that she is the mother country and ordained by God, good and just and a beacon of freedom. This is hammered into our psyches from our early days.
From pre-school up, we are taught to worship the state. I don't know if it is still done, but in the public (non)education system, for many years, schoolchildren across the South — and elsewhere, I suppose — recited the Pledge of Allegiance each morning. Political rallies and government meetings are still often begun with a recitation of the pledge.
People say it with patriotic fervor, with their hands placed dutifully on their hearts.
Sporting events, political rallies and other public venues are often kicked off with the playing and/or singing of the Star Spangled Banner. Before the song begins, people are instructed to rise, men to remove their hats,and people place their hands over their hearts. They don't realize its value as a propaganda tool.
We have come to equate the flag, the pledge and the national anthem with patriotism, and patriotism with government, country and support for government, support for foreign wars and veterans. Anything less is "un-American."
Beyond its patriot fervor is the almost religious fervor and religious symbolism of the American people's actions when the pledge and the national anthem begin: the ritual standing, removal of hats, placing of hands and rote recitation. In the book of Daniel, Israelites Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah (Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego) refused to worship the golden image of Nebuchadnezzar contrary to the king's decree. The king ordered them to be thrown into the furnace after it was turned up to seven times its normal temperature.
NFL player Colin Kaepernick created a stir last week when he refused to stand for the national anthem. He was not subsequently ordered into the furnace by the king, but he was burned symbolically by many football fans who torched their jerseys. Americans fumed that he should "leave" America if he can't support the flag and that he had disrespected the flag, the nation and veterans.
What are we saying when we say that someone "disrespected the flag,"  "disrespected the country," "disrespected the veterans" if he chooses to not stand for the national anthem? What is the flag but a piece of cloth? By the reaction to Kaepernick, it seems it has become more of a golden calf to represent mother country or the god of government.
Our mother has become a witch. Yes, same symbols, same flag, same pledge of allegiance, but a decadent spirit controlling the perceptions of the American people, keeping them on the animal farm (controlling their perceptions) long enough to impoverish and enslave them.
Time and gradualism can change a system all the way from human liberty to slavery (the animal farm) over a few generations without anyone being aware except a very few, those who ask questions.
"America, love it or leave it," is a tired canard. One cannot leave it except at great cost. Recall that in 1860-1861 11 states attempted to "leave it" in order to preserve their liberty and rights as sovereign states. They were branded as "insurrectionists" and attacked by the War Party and the result was their economic and social destruction, subjugation and the deaths of some 850,000 people (the equivalent of about 8.5 million people today). When one talks of secession today he's branded as a racist, crazy or a radical and told secession is "illegal."
One can love his country but hate his government and its actions. I love America but not the people who control America and its government. I love America, but its rulers are alien to individual freedom, its government now anathema to liberty.
If the flag is symbolic of government and that government lies at every turn, enslaves its people, steals from their labor, passes laws that are an execration to their Christian faith, takes from them their liberty, mandates the murder of 1 million babies a year, imports tens of thousands of immigrants to replace American workers and drive down wages, and that makes war on other countries that have not threatened us, why should any acknowledge its presence with more than a sneer?
Wars are not for patriotism and "democracy," as we are propagandized. And our freedom has not been threatened by outside forces in 200 years. Wars are to kill; i.e., mass ritual murder. Additionally, big business and globalist banksters in league with Satan reap massive profits for the killing and sacrifice of young men (lambs) on all sides of combat.
If the flag is symbolic of the Constitution, that Constitution died long ago — destroyed by a crony railroad lawyer and mercantilist who made war on a sovereign people to benefit monied interests.
If the flag is symbolic of freedom, that freedom no longer exists — stolen long ago by crony corporations and globalist banksters and unaccountable oligarchical black-robed satanists and idol worshippers who usurped their authority created laws out of thin air under the guise of "interpreting the Constitution" a dictate not granted them under the original document.
The phony form of patriotism instilled within the population is strong leverage against independent thinking, keeping people ignorant of the treason by our own government.
America today is a more advanced state of fascism than World War II Germany and Italy. Fascism never identifies itself as totalitarianism. It always calls itself democracy.
Democracy is the politically correct word and cover term for modern American fascism.
American fascism has all the attributes and trappings of benevolent totalitarianism. No, benevolent totalitarianism is not an oxymoron.
The word benevolent in this instance means that the general perception of the population of the American system is that it is benevolent. This is only to say that modern America is full-blown fascism with a pretty face. It is every bit as deadly to human liberty as any tyranny in history and I would add far more sinister because of its propaganda sophistication.
Any regime that can spin tons of fiat paper money with printing presses or electronically is a slave system regardless of what it calls itself or regardless of the general population's perception of it.
Our mother has been transformed into a witch no matter how much we love her.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

The Good Gift of Prayer

By Margaret Manning Shull and originally published at rzim.org
Even a casual reader of the Bible cannot help but notice many bold and staggering promises made concerning prayer. Perhaps none is more direct than Jesus’s statement in Mark’s Gospel: All things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you. Matthew and Luke record similar promises. Those who seek after God knock and God will open the door. All things that are asked for in prayer, with belief, will be received. So strong are these promises about prayer that the Greek language in which they were originally translated indicates that what is asked for is already accomplished. The one praying simply needs to believe the answer has already been received.(1)
It was reading bold promises like these found in the Bible that troubled English author Somerset Maugham. In his novel, Of Human Bondage, he tells a fictionalized account of an incident with prayer from which his faith never recovered. The central character in the novel, Philip, is a young boy, full of faith, who has a clubfoot. When Philip reads this verse from Mark about prayer, he is overjoyed. Now he would be able to play football with the other boys. The relentless teasing would cease and he wouldn’t have to hide his foot any longer when swimming with other children. Philip immediately “prayed with all the power in his soul. No doubts assailed him. He was confident in the Word of God. And the night before he was to go back to school he went up to bed tremulous with excitement… He remembered at once that this was the morning of the miracle. His heart was filled with joy and gratitude. His first instinct was to put down his hand and feel the foot which was whole now, but to do this seemed to doubt the goodness of God. He knew that his foot was well. But at last, he made up his mind, and with the toes of his right foot he just touched his left. Then he passed his hand over it. He limped downstairs just as Mary Ann was going into the dining room for prayers, and then he sat down to breakfast.”(2) His foot was not healed and his faith was destroyed.
Unanswered prayers prayed with utter conviction are particularly difficult to understand. Maugham, who had a stutter, prayed fervently for healing, but like his character Philip, his prayer was answered with a resounding “no” and his faith was never the same. Jesus implies in his teaching on prayer that like our earthly fathers, God longs to give us what is good in response to the asking, seeking, and knocking of prayer. “What father, if asked by his son for a fish will give him a snake? Or if his daughter asked for an egg, he would not give her a scorpion, would he?” Yet for Maugham, or his alter-ego Philip, how could he see his stuttering or that clubfoot as a good gift, when all it brought him was merciless teasing, rejection, and misery?
Egon Schiele, Agony, oil on canvas, 1912.
Most people—religious or non-religious—have experienced the pain of unanswered prayer. Whether in the simple prayers of childhood, or in the fervent prayers of the deeply faithful, it is an all too common human experience that prayers are answered with a resounding “no” or with what can feel like indifferent silence. Prayers for God’s protection, God’s healing, and God’s intervention are answered for some, but others suffer accidents, injuries, illnesses, or death despite fervent prayer. Sometimes when we are most desperate to hear God’s voice, there is only a vast silence in return. Perhaps, we are tempted to give up praying all together. Emily Dickinson wrote of this temptation to despair over unanswered prayer:
There comes an hour when begging stops,
When the long interceding lips
Perceive their prayer is vain.(3)
Even if the divine answer is “wait,” the months and years of waiting can stretch on interminably making the most patient intercessor wonder what “good” gift could come in the endless waiting. So what is the good gift promised by Jesus?
Matthew and Luke present parallel teachings on this promise of prayer except that what Matthew implies, Luke makes explicit. In Matthew’s account Jesus tells his disciples that the Father will give what is good to those who ask Him. In Luke’s account, Jesus defines what is good and tells us that God will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask. How might one understand the Holy Spirit as God’s abundant answer to prayer—even those prayers that go unanswered or receive an unwanted answer?
First, Christians believe that the promise of the Holy Spirit is the promise of God’s presence through all the circumstances of life. The Bible speaks of the Holy Spirit as the comforter, the one who comes alongside.(4) The promise of God’s presence is meant to sustain, even in the mystery of “no” to our specific requests. Moreover, prayer is more than simply receiving answers to requests. Prayer is about joining in with the Spirit who groans on behalf of the creation. Indeed, as theologian John Calvin claimed about the prayers of lament in the Psalms, they are “among the unutterable groanings of which Paul makes mention in Romans 8:26, ‘For the spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.’”(5)
In this way, Christians understand God’s good gift as the hope that God is present no matter what life brings. Hope that God is with us, and that God’s Spirit is groaning with us in our suffering offers reassurance that we too can rise from the ashes of the most crushing events and circumstances glimpsing what beauty remains and how God redeems.
Unanswered prayer will always be a mystery. For every person who prays, there will be times when it seems the gift is a scorpion instead of an egg, or a snake instead of a fish. The recent and untimely death of my colleague Nabeel Qureshi from cancer is a fresh and painful example. Thousands prayed for his healing around the world. Yet perhaps as we wrestle with prayer, God’s bold promise to send the Holy Spirit is in fact the answer we hope for: the good gift of the Father’s abiding presence, the power of redemption in the Son, and the promise of God’s creative, ongoing work to make something beautiful from the chaos of our lives.

Margaret Manning Shull is a member of the speaking and writing team at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Bellingham, Washington. 

(1) See Matthew 7:7-11; Luke 11:9-13.
(2) Cited in Philip Yancey, Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2006), 216-217.
(3) Ibid., 213.
(4) John 14:16, 26.
(5) Cited in J. Todd Billings, Rejoicing in Lament: Wrestling with Incurable Cancer and Life in Christ(Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2015), 156.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Bad & Good News on North Korea, Obama Wiretapped Trump, Economic Update


By Greg Hunter’s USAWatchdog.com 
There is bad news and good news about the tensions between North Korea and the U.S. First, the bad news.  President Trump threatened to “destroy North Korea” if the country continues on its nuclear path and tests more ballistic missiles.  North Korea says they will deal with President Trump “with fire.”  Now, the good news.  China has agreed to enforce stricter sanctions on North Korea (NK) through its banking system.  The U.S. has called on China to cut off North Korea from doing business with China’s biggest banks.  That doesn’t mean the problem is solved, but it is a huge step by China to curtail NK’s missile testing by cutting down on the flow of cash going into North Korea.
Remember when President Trump said that the Obama Administration “wiretapped” him in Trump Tower? CNN called Trump a “liar” and said his accusations were “baseless.”  This week, CNN, among other mainstream media outlets, had to eat their words and admit that Donald Trump and Trump Tower in New York City were, in fact, wiretapped before and after the election.  The so-called Russian collusion story falls apart a little more every day, and that is also good news.
The Federal Reserve Head Janet Yellen spoke this week and told the world that low inflation numbers were a “mystery.” Gregory Mannarino of TradersChoice.net says there is no “mystery,” and the Fed knows it.  Mannarino contends, “The economy is dead in the water, and the Fed cannot admit it.”  That’s why there is low inflation at the moment.
Join Greg Hunter as he talks about these stories and more in the Weekly News Wrap-Up.
(To donate to USAWatchdog.com Click Here)

Friday, September 22, 2017

Freedom Is a Myth: We Are All Prisoners of the Police State’s Panopticon Village


"We're run by the Pentagon, we're run by Madison Avenue, we're run by television, and as long as we accept those things and don't revolt we'll have to go along with the stream to the eventual avalanche.... As long as we go out and buy stuff, we're at their mercy… We all live in a little Village. Your Village may be different from other people's Villages, but we are all prisoners.— Patrick McGoohan
By John W. Whitehead and originally published at rutherford.org
First broadcast in Great Britain 50 years ago, The Prisoner—a dystopian television series described as “James Bond meets George Orwell filtered through Franz Kafka”—confronted societal themes that are still relevant today: the rise of a police state, the freedom of the individual, round-the-clock surveillance, the corruption of government, totalitarianism, weaponization, group think, mass marketing, and the tendency of humankind to meekly accept their lot in life as a prisoner in a prison of their own making.
Perhaps the best visual debate ever on individuality and freedom, The Prisoner (17 episodes in all) centers around a British secret agent who abruptly resigns only to find himself imprisoned, monitored by militarized drones, and interrogated in a mysterious, self-contained, cosmopolitan, seemingly tranquil retirement community known only as the Village.
The Village is a virtual prison disguised as a seaside paradise: its inhabitants have no true freedom, they cannot leave the Village, they are under constant surveillance, their movements are tracked by surveillance drones, and they are stripped of their individuality and identified only by numbers.
The series’ protagonist, played by Patrick McGoohan, is Number Six.
“I am not a number. I am a free man,” was the mantra chanted on each episode of The Prisoner, which was largely written and directed by McGoohan.
In the opening episode (“The Arrival”), Number Six is told that he is in The Village because information stored “inside” his head has made him too valuable to be allowed to roam free “outside.”
Throughout the series, Number Six is subjected to interrogation tactics, torture, hallucinogenic drugs, identity theft, mind control, dream manipulation, and various forms of social indoctrination and physical coercion in order to “persuade” him to comply, give up, give in and subjugate himself to the will of the powers-that-be.
Number Six refuses to comply.
In every episode, Number Six resists the Village’s indoctrination methods, struggles to maintain his own identity, and attempts to escape his captors. “I will not make any deals with you,” he pointedly remarks. “I’ve resigned. I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, debriefed or numbered. My life is my own.”
Yet no matter how far Number Six manages to get in his efforts to escape, it’s never far enough.
Watched by surveillance cameras and other devices, Number Six’s getaways are continuously thwarted by ominous white balloon-like spheres known as “rovers.” Still, he refuses to give up. “Unlike me,” he says to his fellow prisoners, “many of you have accepted the situation of your imprisonment, and will die here like rotten cabbages.”
Number Six’s escapes become a surreal exercise in futility, each episode an unfunny, unsettling Groundhog’s Day that builds to the same frustrating denouement: there is no escape.
The series is a chilling lesson about how difficult it is to gain one’s freedom in a society in which prison walls are disguised within the trappings of technological and scientific progress, national security and so-called democracy.
As Thill noted when McGoohan died in 2009, “The Prisoner was an allegory of the individual, aiming to find peace and freedom in a dystopia masquerading as a utopia.”
The Prisoner’s Village is also an apt allegory for the American Police State: it gives the illusion of freedom while functioning all the while like a prison: controlled, watchful, inflexible, punitive, deadly and inescapable.
The American Police State, much like The Prisoner’s Village, is a metaphorical panopticon, a circular prison in which the inmates are monitored by a single watchman situated in a central tower. Because the inmates cannot see the watchman, they are unable to tell whether or not they are being watched at any given time and must proceed under the assumption that they are always being watched.
Eighteenth century social theorist Jeremy Bentham’s panopticon has become a model for the modern surveillance state in which the populace is constantly being watched, controlled and managed by the powers-that-be and funding its existence.
Nowhere to run and nowhere to hide: this is the new mantra of the architects of the police state and their corporate collaborators (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google, Instagram, etc.).
We now find ourselves in the unenviable position of being monitored, managed and controlled by our technology, which answers not to us but to our government and corporate rulers.
Consider that on any given day, the average American going about his daily business will be monitored, surveilled, spied on and tracked in more than 20 different ways, by both government and corporate eyes and ears.
This is the electronic concentration camp—the panopticon prison—the Village—in which we are now caged.
It is a prison from which there will be no escape if the government gets it way.
Even now, the Trump Administration is working to make some of the National Security Agency’s vast spying powers permanent.
In fact, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is pushing for Congress to permanently renew Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which allows government snoops to warrantlessly comb through and harvest vast quantities of our communications.
And just like that, we’re back in the Village, our escape plans foiled, our future bleak.
Except this is no surprise ending, as I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People: for those who haven’t been taking the escapist blue pill, who haven’t fallen for the Deep State’s phony rhetoric, who haven’t been lured in by the promise of a political savior, we never stopped being prisoners.
So how do we break out?
For starters, wake up. Resist the urge to comply.
Think for yourself. Be an individual. As McGoohan commented in 1968, “At this moment individuals are being drained of their personalities and being brainwashed into slaves… As long as people feel something, that's the great thing. It's when they are walking around not thinking and not feeling, that's tough. When you get a mob like that, you can turn them into the sort of gang that Hitler had.”
We have come full circle from Bentham’s Panopticon to McGoohan’s Village to Huxley’s Brave New World.
You want to be free? Break out of the circle.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Federal Reserve Will Continue Cutting Economic Life Support

By Brandon Smith and originally published at alt-market.com
I remember back in mid-2013 when the Federal Reserve fielded the notion of a "taper" of quantitative easing measures. More specifically, I remember the response of mainstream economic analysts as well as the alternative economic community. I argued fervently in multiple articles that the Fed would indeed follow through with the taper, and that it made perfect sense for them to do so given that the mission of the central bank is not to protect the U.S. financial system, but to sabotage it carefully and deliberately. The general consensus was that a taper of QE was impossible and that the Fed would "never dare." Not long after, the Fed launched its taper program.
Two years later, in 2015, I argued once again that the Fed would begin raising interest rates even though multiple mainstream and alternative sources believed that this was also impossible. Without low interest rates, stock buybacks would slowly but surely die out, and the last pillar holding together equities and the general economy (besides blind faith) would be removed. The idea that the Fed would knowingly take such an action seemed to be against their "best self interest;" and yet, not long after, they initiated the beginning of the end for artificially low interest rates.
The process that the Federal Reserve has undertaken has been a long and arduous one cloaked in disinformation. It is a process of dismantlement. Through unprecedented stimulus measures, the central bank has conjured perhaps the largest stock and bond bubbles in history, not to mention a bubble to end all bubbles in the U.S. dollar.
Stocks in particular are irrelevant in the grand scheme of our economy, but this does not stop the populace from using them as a reference point for the health of our system. This creates an environment rife with delusion, just as the open flood of cheap credit created considerable delusion before the crash of 2008.
Today, we find our economic fundamentals in complete disarray, but the overwhelming fantasy within stocks still remains. Why? Because yet again, for some reason, no one is ready to accept the reality that the Fed is pulling the plug on America's fiscal life support. Nary a handful of economists in the world think that the Fed will raise interest rates one more time this year if ever again, and the threat of a balance sheet reduction is the furthest thing from everyone's mind. Daytrading investors are utterly convinced they have the Fed by the short hairs. I say, the situation is actually in reverse.
The minutes from the Fed's July Open Market Committee Meeting indicate that while the central bank has been the savior of stock investors for several years, the party is about to end. Comments on the risks a bull market might pose to "financial stability" have been more frequent the past couple of months
Only a few weeks ago, former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan commented that bond markets could collapse and bring stocks down with them do to overvaluations and increasing interest rates.
Recent spikes in markets despite a steady stream of natural disasters, threats of war with North Korea, as well as "increased inflation" (according to Fed models) due to the damage wrought by Hurricane Harvey suggest that the Fed will indeed continue hiking rates into our ongoing financial collapse.
The next FOMC meeting will conclude on the 20th of this month, and the question is, will the Fed surprise with a rate hike and/or balance sheet reduction program? I believe the odds are much higher than many people seem to think.
First, let's be clear, historically the Fed's predictable behavior has been to skip major policy actions in September and then startle markets with renewed and aggressive actions in December. People placing bets on a Fed rate hike in September would look at this pattern and say "no way." However, the narrative I see building in Fed rhetoric and in the mainstream media is that stock markets have become "unruly children" and that the Fed must become a "stern parent," reigning them in before they are crushed under the weight of their own naive enthusiasm.
In my view, the Fed will continue to do what it says it is going to do — raise interest rates and reduce and remove stimulus, and that the mainstream narrative will soon be adjusted to suggest that this is "necessary;" that stock markets need a bit of tough love.
If the Fed means to follow through with its stated plans for "financial stability" in markets, then the only measure that would be effective in shell-shocking stocks back to reality would be a surprise hike, a surprise announcement of balance sheet reduction or both at the same time.
If the Fed intends to continue cutting off life support to equities and bonds in preparation for a controlled demolition of the U.S. economy, then there is a high probability at the very least of a balance sheet reduction announcement this week with strong language indicating another rate hike in December. I also would not completely rule out a surprise rate hike even though September is usually a no-action month for central banks.
This would fit the trend of central banks around the globe strategically distancing themselves from artificial support for the financial structure. Last week, the Bank of England surprised investors with an open indication that they may begin raising interest rates "in the coming months." The Bank Of Canada surprised some economists with yet another rate hike this month and mentions of "more to come." The European Central Bank has paved the way for a tapering of stimulus measures according to comments made during its latest meeting early this month. And, the Bank of Japan initiated taper measures in July.
Even Forbes is admitting that there appears to be a "coordinated tightening of monetary policy" coming far sooner than the mainstream expects. If you understand how the Bank for International Settlements controls policy initiatives of national central bank members, then you should not be surprised that central banks all over the world are pursuing the same actions and the same rhetoric. The only difference between any of them is the pace they have chosen in taking the punch bowl away from the party.
The point is, when it comes to the fiat peddlers, there are indeed a few sure things, but continued stimulus is not one of them. One thing that is certain is that they will act in concert as they are clearly doing now in terms of policy tightening. Another thing that is certain is that if they plant a notion in the mainstream media — such as the notion that they are "worried about overvaluations in stocks" and that interest rates must rise, then they will follow through as they always have. Perhaps not at the pace the mainstream expects, or the pace I expect, but certainly somewhere in-between.
Finally, it behooves me to mention again that the Fed has done all of this before. In the lead up to the stock market crash of 1929, the central bank bloated stocks with easy credit measures and low interest rates, only to hike rates in the name of "quelling inflation." This hacked the legs out from under markets with a machete, and the rest is history. The hidden purpose behind this tactic is extraordinary centralization on a global scale. The Fed is not interested in the health of the U.S. economy, it is interested in total globalization of all economies under one totalitarian umbrella. To make an omelet, you have to break a few eggs.
Of course, the Fed will not engineer a market crash in a vacuum. It is my suspicion that the next Fed meeting will be followed by a geopolitical distraction — the most likely candidate being increasing conflict with North Korea. Do not be fooled by the magic show. The real threat to us all is the central banking and international banking apparatus, including the BIS and the IMF. From now until the end of this year, remain vigilant.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

What Is Real Wealth?

As for acquiring capital--the most important types of capital don't require much money
By Charles Hugh Smith and originally published at charleshughsmith.blogspot.com
What is real wealth? Money, right? Currency, gold, quatloos, you name it. Money is real wealth because you can use it to buy whatever you want.
I would argue money in any form is only the means to acquire real wealth, which is the agency, opportunity and time to pursue your life's work.
The conventional view of wealth is money and leisure has it all wrong. Let's imagine the owner of a vault of conventional treasure: jewels, gold coins, etc.
If the "wealth" stays in the vault, what's the point of owning this "wealth"? The secret satisfaction of being "wealthy"?
If "wealth" is only an internal state, then let's measure friendship and being needed/wanted as the metrics of "wealth." You see the point; if "wealth" is merely an internal state of satisfaction, then a vault full of "money" is a poor metric.
What money buys that is real wealth is freedom and control of one's life. This control over one's life is called agency. Agency is defined as "the capacity of an actor to act in a given environment." This may not seem like a profound concept, but another way to describe agency is that agency is the opposite of powerlessness.
People with agency define themselves and their identity; they shape the world they inhabit rather than passively await whatever circumstances deliver up.
In the real world, people with agency move on when things no longer work for them in a particular situation. Agency is not just the opposite of feeling powerless; it's also the opposite of victimhood, i.e. the state of being in which others are held responsible for all of one's travails and difficulties.
Agency and responsibility are two sides of the same coin: each manifests the other.
Opportunity is a form of wealth--and so is the wherewithal to take opportunities that arise. Though there is a random element to opportunity--i.e. getting lucky--the wherewithal to take the opportunity is not a matter of luck. It requires a specific appetite for risk, perseverance, the ability to discern how best to use the opportunity, and access to the capital required to exploit the opportunity.
Capital is a type of wealth that isn't limited to "money": Character traits are capital, social networks are capital, experience is capital, knowledge is capital. All of these forms of capital are often more important than "money" capital.
As for "money" buying leisure--leisure in abundance is a disaster for the vast majority of people. Humans are designed to be needed by others, to be part of something greater than themselves, and to gain dignity and pride by doing useful work--whether they are paid "money" for this work or not.
This is why so many of those with the "money" to have endless leisure are miserable. Their lives are an endless treadmill of frivolous consumerism, neurotic pettiness, hypochondria, expressing their infinity of heartaches to counselors, and saddest of all, medications in abundance to relieve the ennui and the dead weight of their purposeless existence.
"Money" is only useful if it is a means to acquire real wealth, which is the agency, opportunity and time to pursue your life's work. There are many people who can spend $600,000 a year on various things (i.e. their "lifestyle") who don't feel "wealthy"--and if they don't have agency and time for work that's meaningful to them, they aren't wealthy: they're as impoverished as the person earning a fraction of their income.
Real wealth doesn't actually require a vast horde of "money." It requires some money, but how much depends on the cost of agency, opportunity and time. For those with few needs and the right priorities, the cost of agency, opportunity and time needn't be all that high.
As for acquiring capital--the most important types of capital don't require much money; determination, self-discipline, organization, a voracious appetite for knowledge and work, an insatiable curiosity, a generous heart, a knack for friendship, the purposeful pursuit of goals-- these are the tools to acquiring real wealth: agency, opportunity and time to fulfill one's life work.
I explain how to amass the most empowering forms of capital in my book Get a Job, Build a Real Career and Defy a Bewildering Economy.