Social Question

CaptainHarley's avatar

How to stop "The End of America?"?

Asked by CaptainHarley (22414points) March 4th, 2011

I just got this in the mail and I need some input on what others think about it. Perhaps I’m too close to the issue to see it clearly, but I can’t fault it in any important aspect.

It is a quirk of human nature that most people don’t want to learn anything new and react negatively to anyone who challenges their deeply held views (even when they’re obviously wrong). You’ll know I’m truly a glutton for punishment when you realize the subject of this week’s Friday Digest: Our country’s severe financial crisis.

Writing about this topic has led to far greater problems than cancellations. I’ve gotten threatening letters and angry e-mails from folks who seem to believe that pointing out these dangers is tantamount to causing them.

More than two years ago (December 2008), I first warned in my newsletter that America would eventually lose its world reserve currency status and our debt crisis would lead to a massive inflation. I call this complex series of issues the “End of America.” Not because I believe it will lead to the end of our political union (though it might), but because I believe we’re heading into a crisis that will be far worse than anyone has yet realized. The crisis will result in a significant decline in our standard of living. These are deadly serious issues and I meant every word I wrote.

Even so, two years ago, lots of folks actually laughed at me – including a few in my own office. Not anymore. If you saw the Wall Street Journal headline yesterday (the “Why the Dollar’s Reign is Near an End”) or if you saw Sam Zell (the most successful real estate investor of all time) yesterday on CNBC, you know many of the smartest folks in our country take my warning seriously. Said Zell:

My single biggest financial concern is the loss of the dollar as the reserve currency. I can’t imagine anything more disastrous to our country… you’re already seeing things in the markets that are suggesting that confidence in the dollar is waning… I think you could see a 25% reduction in the standard of living in this country if the U.S. dollar was no longer the world’s reserve currency. That’s how valuable it is.

So today, I want to update some key figures of my End of America report. I want you to know where we stand. This is important enough to risk the inevitable criticisms (and refunds). But I want to take one criticism out of play right now. Don’t bother writing to complain about my “politics.”

This has absolutely nothing to do with politics. This matter is purely about economics. The facts, as you’ll see, are completely clear to anyone who bothers to learn them. We are spending way beyond our means – both publicly and privately. Worse, this spending has warped the incentives in our economy, resulting in not only debts we can’t afford, but outcomes we don’t seek. At the heart of this crisis, there’s a knowledge problem. Most Americans don’t understand even the most basic facts about our country’s financial position, nor do they take the time to consider the likely outcome of poorly structured government programs.

So please, don’t write to me about politics. I don’t care about the Democrats, Republicans, or even the Tea Partiers. I don’t care whose “fault” it is, because these debts belong to all of us. I care about the people who live in America… people who are going to be wiped out because of feckless leadership and genuine ignorance. I can’t do anything about our leadership – that’s up to you. I can try to do something about the ignorance.

In our search for facts and solid financial thinking, let’s start with Warren Buffett, who is neither feckless nor stupid. Buffett is the world’s best investor. He got that way primarily by figuring out how to correctly value equities and allocate assets… and because he learned one of the most valuable financial secrets in modern finance: why insurance companies are so valuable. (Hint: It’s the float. But that’s a discussion for another day.)

Buffett has become a sort of “rich uncle” to America, giving helpful advice about financial matters. And he recently said something that struck me as profound – something I’d wager almost everyone else ignored. Buffett explained why the buyers of his mobile homes (Clayton Homes) default at rates (1.86%) much lower than the national average for homebuilders (more than 25%). That’s true, even though the buyers of his mobile homes typically have low incomes, less job stability, and lower credit scores than the buyers of conventional housing. If you read nothing else in today’s Digest, please pay attention to what Buffett says here:

Our borrowers get in trouble when they lose their jobs, have health problems, get divorced, etc. The recession has hit them hard. But they want to stay in their homes, and generally they borrowed sensible amounts in relation to their income.

In addition, we were keeping the originated mortgages for our own account, which means we were not securitizing or otherwise reselling them. If we were stupid in our lending, we were going to pay the price. That concentrates the mind. If homebuyers throughout the country had behaved like our buyers, America would not have had the crisis that it did. Our approach was simply to get a meaningful down payment and gear fixed monthly payments to a sensible percentage of income. This policy kept Clayton solvent and also kept buyers in their homes…

… A house can be a nightmare if the buyer’s eyes are bigger than his wallet and if a lender – often protected by a government guarantee – facilitates his fantasy. Our country’s social goal should not be to put families into the house of their dreams, but rather to put them into a house they can afford.

Pretty simple, eh? Don’t sell houses to folks who can’t afford them. And make sure both the lender (who kept the note) and the borrower (who made a down payment – equity) have plenty of “skin in the game.”

You don’t want to create any incentive for the deal to go bad. You want both parties to have a powerful incentive to do what they’ve promised. After ignorance, almost all our country’s core problems come back to these same issues: a lack of equity and poorly designed incentives. Remember these concepts. You’ll see them again: skin in the game (equity) and properly designed incentives.

Let me take on the toughest problem first: Medicare/Medicaid. Since the government established this program in 1965, it has amassed a $5.6 trillion deficit. This program alone accounts for 40% of our government’s total debt. If you could erase these debts, our most recent two foreign wars (Iraq/Afghanistan), and the losses associated with the recent financial crisis, you could eliminate more than half our entire federal debt – a debt threatening to destroy our way of life.

Whether you’d choose to eliminate these debts by eliminating these programs is a political question. I’m not going to discuss politics here. The point I’m trying to make is, regardless of what you’d choose, we have to make a choice. We can’t afford to do all of these things.

Like the subprime buyers in the housing bubble, we’ve bought a government we cannot afford. That’s a simple fact. It should be obvious to any thinking person that when government spending makes up 45% of GDP (as it does today) and there’s one government employee for every six households, something has gone terribly wrong with America.

When my parents were born, America was still the land of the free. The incentives people faced were different. Before World War II, the federal government made up only 3% of GDP. It didn’t provide health care. People had to maintain their health, as best they could. People didn’t depend on Ponzi finance (Social Security) for their old age – they had to save. They had to take care of their families and help take care of the unfortunate in their communities.

We didn’t spend a lot on the military, either… which gave us an incentive to mind our own business. In fact, back then, our presidents promised to keep us out of foreign wars. Both Wilson and Roosevelt came to power promising to keep us out of the war in Europe. They lied. Almost every other president since has sent our boys to die for others wherever they could. War is good for business… and good for the government.

Lots of people reading this e-mail will say, “I don’t want to live in a country like that, where the government doesn’t provide a social safety net.” Other readers might say, “I don’t want America to be ‘isolationist.’ We need more troops overseas to fight terrorism.” OK… So maybe 3% of GDP is not enough for the government we will choose. But 45% of GDP is much too large – again that’s not a political choice; we simply cannot afford it.

So how then will we decide? My suggestion: Pay more attention to incentives. And demand much more equity from the voters.

Here are some interesting facts:

In 1965 – when Congress created Medicare/Medicaid and greatly expanded the federal government’s role in health care – about 13% of Americans were obese. Today, 32% of Americans are obese.

Before the government enacted Social Security, Americans typically saved between 15% and 20% of their incomes. Today? Almost nothing. In fact, for many years, the savings rate in America was actually negative.

Before the Great Depression, there wasn’t any government unemployment insurance. Not surprisingly, there was almost zero long-term unemployment.

One more interesting fact… the U.S. didn’t experience a Great Depression until the Federal Reserve was created. The main purpose of the Federal Reserve is to ensure that banks don’t fail. Sounds good. But it provides a perverse incentive for banks to act recklessly, which causes bigger booms and busts – just like the one we’re experiencing right now.

I’m not arguing government spending is the primary cause of any of these problems. But I am saying you’d have to be a fool to believe incentives don’t play a big role in human action. Think about why all politicians try to spend more than they collect in taxes. They have a huge incentive to promise more than they can deliver – and to make up the difference by borrowing against future taxes or printing more money.

The problems created by the perverse incentives of collectivist actions are well known. They are as old as the ideas themselves. They explain why socialism and communism always lead to failure. And yet… we seem eager to pursue these policies in an almost mindless pursuit of bankruptcy. Why? That’s not hard to figure out either.

What’s the No. 1 reason people make bad decisions? They don’t have to suffer the consequences. Which investors made worse decisions during the mortgage bubble? Was it the private hedge-fund managers, whose entire net worth was made up of the assets in their own funds and whose friends and families had invested alongside them? Or was it the senior managers of publicly owned banks, whose creditors were protected by the federal government and who owned little of their own company’s equity?

That’s easy to answer, even if you knew nothing about the financial crisis. Unless people have a stake in the outcome of an event, they are very likely to choose poorly or recklessly.

The most difficult problem we face today is, far too few Americans have any equity in our government. Less than half of all Americans pay any federal taxes. Don’t listen to the nonsense about how almost everyone pays payroll taxes. It’s true, but it’s irrelevant. Payroll taxes don’t come close to covering the costs of the entitlement programs they support.

Cutting government spending will be easy compared to trying to increase the average citizen’s equity in government. But we must. People will always demand more from the government until they realize how expensive government solutions really are. And the only way to show them is to share the burdens of government more equally.

Now, I know what you’re thinking… I’m making a political argument to reduce the progressive nature of our tax system. I’m not. I’m pointing out a simple fact: When half the voters don’t pay for any of the true costs of the government, your society is going to suffer terrible governance.

A democracy that concentrates the overwhelming burden of government on a tiny minority of the population is no different than an investment bank making bad loans and then selling them to someone else. You can’t separate the people making the decisions from the costs and the risks of those decisions. And yet, that’s what we’ve done.

We’ve reached a point where we can longer continue on our current path. America spends 800% more than its nearest rival on its military. We spend 200%-300% more per capita on health care than any other similarly wealthy country. Are we safer? Are we healthier? I honestly don’t think so.

And even if you believe we are, can we afford it? Here are the simple numbers. Americans now owe $56 trillion in total debt, much of it held by foreign investors. We must spend $3.5 trillion each year on interest. That is already more than the federal government spends, in total. I do not exaggerate when I tell you we cannot afford these debts. We will never be able to repay these debts – already equal to roughly four times our country’s GDP. The largest components of the debts we owe are government debts… and they are growing rapidly and show no signs of stopping.

The only way to stop the debt crisis we face is to reduce the total level of government spending – immediately and permanently. We have to stop giving our citizens improper incentives. We have to increase the “skin” voters have in the game by spreading the burden of government more equally. And most important, we must take away the politicians’ ability to debase our currency.

You see… politicians believe, as Dick Cheney famously said, deficits don’t matter. They believe these debts can be safely printed away – which is what the Federal Reserve is doing right now.

How can we accomplish these goals? I believe we need three simple amendments to our Constitution. First, we should have a balanced budget amendment. It’s hard to imagine why anyone would object to this, regardless of his politics. Politicians ought not have the right to burden future Americans with debt. It’s disgusting that we would leave a burden like this for our children and grandchildren.

Next, we need a constitutional amendment that ensures sound money. If you tell the politicians they’re not allowed to borrow, they’ll inflate instead. There is no reason Americans shouldn’t enjoy the stability and safety of sound money.

Every argument you’ll hear against backing our currency with gold comes from bankers and swindlers who need the ability to be bailed out so they can make risky bets with enormous amounts of borrowed money. Let’s put a stop to this, once and for all.

The American government is the world’s largest holder of gold. Let’s put it to work for us, right away, in the form of sound money.

Finally… we need a logical way to put a stop to the narrowing of the tax base. Everyone who votes should share in the burdens of government – otherwise the incentive will always exist to vote for more government spending.

I suggest a constitutional amendment limiting tax rates and abolishing all taxes except for income tax. Tax every adult over the age of 65 20% of his income – whatever the source. Give everyone a $24,000 annual personal exemption. Above that, everyone pays. No other deductions. We could get rid of the IRS. You could do your taxes on a post card. How much did you make? Send the government 20% of it.

Why do I think 20% is the right rate? The church has always asked for 10%. Surely the government can survive on twice what God needs. And… we should word the constitutional amendment to make clear our intentions: Every U.S. citizen has the right to keep 80% of his income. Let the feds and the states fight over your tax dollars. Remember, your assets and income are part and parcel of your freedom. A man cannot have his liberty without his property and the right to his wages.

By the way, the U.S. Constitution already decrees all citizens should be equal under the law. Making the tax code truly equal will merely be living up to the obligations our Constitution is already placing on the government. Likewise, the Constitution says Congress shall have the right to coin money. It says nothing about printing or the Federal Reserve.

And finally… the founding fathers of our country once rebelled over a 2% tax on sugar, and they expressly forbid income taxes in their Constitution. Can you imagine what they would think of marginal income tax rates in excess of 50% on people in certain states? These new amendments I’m suggesting aren’t really new at all: They’re simply a return, a restoration, of the real America – the greatest country in history.

I’m sure it would be difficult to get these amendments passed. But if things in America get as bad as I think they’re going to, maybe people would be willing to rethink our government’s structure.

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31 Answers

coffeenut's avatar

I think that is the longest details I’ve ever seen…

incendiary_dan's avatar


Anyway, I can’t wait for America to be a distant memory. Call me a commie-hippie-pinko-whatever. It’s an empire, and all empires fall eventually.

Response moderated (Personal Attack)
incendiary_dan's avatar

@mrrich724 Pssst, @CaptainHarley said at the top that he got it in an email.

jerv's avatar

First off, I concur with @coffeenut. I mean, damn!

I only skimmed it, and I think that while it raises some valid points, there are places where it appears to confuse causation, correlation, and coincidence. However, I am currently not in the mood to go through it with a fine-toothed comb either. It does provide some great food for thought.

As for how to stop it, I think that we need to do something dramatically different than eitehr of our current political parties are willing to do. On one side we have excessive social programs that drive up spending, and on teh other we have a party that will spend, spend, spend and bill our great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandchildren and won’t even touch the rich or especially the corporations since it’s easier to tax the fuck out of the middle-class.

mrrich724's avatar

@incendiary_dan thanks for the reminder, I forgot about that part b/c I got so into the article.

I have to say, I agree with a lot of what the article mentions. One idea that kept coming to mind was the idea of a sense of entitlement. My stepfather is a refugee from another country. One thing he has always bickered about was the “sense of entitlement” that so many people in America have. And it was/is obvious to him b/c of the surroundings he grew up in, with practically nothing.

Obama promises better healthcare for all. Why? Like the article stated, these government programs are socialist, if not communist in their goals, and it is not good for the Union. “FREE” is not free. As of 1/½011, my cost for health insurance has nearly doubled as a full time employee of a corporation. I received a document stating that the reason for the increase is directly related to changes that Obama has created through healthcare reform. I do not believe that just because you are in America, you are entitled to free healthcare. I can not get past seeing it as a redistribution of wealth: charge me more money, and give others the benefit. One less incentive for people to work hard at getting a job.

I know it’s a hard economy, and there are a lack of jobs. But I have a good friend, college educated (I only mention that to show that she is not completely ignorant). She has been unemployed for almost a year. She does not have an incentive to look for work. Why should she when she collects a check to sit on her fat ass? I told her that a restaurant by my gym has a sign out front “Looking for a full time server.” You know what her response to me was?! “Sounds like fun,” (complete with eyeroll). I’m sorry, I don’t think I should be putting in my 40+ hours and lose a portion of that for her and her attitude. Sadly, she is not the only person I’ve met with this mindset. The US Constitution mentions “The Pursuit of Happiness” it doesn’t say “guaranteed happiness.” Give people a reason to pursue the things they want and need! Stop giving things away for free. My biological father is a drug addicted alcoholic. His rent is paid, his bills are paid, and he has a check waiting for him in the mailbox the first of every month (that he complains is not enough)! WHY??? Why are the working citizens in this country paying for THAT!?

Ignorance is another word that kept popping into my mind as I read this article. I remember during the last presidential elections, I saw interviews with citizens waiting in line to cast their votes. One person didn’t even know who Obama was! Can you believe that?! Then the cameraman mentions that Obama was the black person running for president. The response from the voter was “Oh, he’s black. That’s cool . . . I’ll vote for HIM.” Are you KIDDING ME?! That is NOT how you choose who will run any country. My same friend who doesn’t want to get a job. . . back in college she said she hated Bush and he was doing a horrible job. She said it with fervor. I asked why. My intention was not to start a debate, because in college I wasn’t very passionate about politics. However I didn’t think she was either, and I became curious as to why she sounded so passionate. Her response was, “because he’s fucking everything up.” I said, “How, I’m just curious about how he’s fucking everything up.” She was completely silent. She gave me a mad face. She had no reason for her feelings. She was just spouting out the song of her band wagon.

The changes that need to be made require a collective change from everyone in our country. How can that happen when (I fear) too many people in our country are just like the person I mentioned above.

Here is where I’ll contradict myself. I know that I preached agreement with the anti-communist sentiment of the article. But one thing I’d do with credit card reform and the economic turmoil in this country is . . . STOP LENDING. Another great point in this article. If people can’t even vote using logic and smarts, how can you expect them to remain within their budget when it’s SO easy to charge it for later payment? My wife’s friend bought a $2000 pair of earrings on a Macy’s credit card for her husband. You know what he said? Take that shit back to the store! The automotive industry started lending when they created a product that was beyond the means of most Americans. How were they to make money if people couldn’t afford the cars? Lend the money to them, and then charge them for that service too! Since then, it has been down hill. Too many people want to live like others, and like the media portrays what they should be living like, but it’s unreal, and everyone is charging up their cards to impress each other. I can’t say I don’t have a card with a balance on it . . . but there is a woman at my job who makes less than me. I can barely afford my Ford, and she drives a Porsche to work every day.

It is too hard for most people to see beyond this, and for many people they are so far in the red, there is no visible way out. And until we start focusing more on giving them an incentive to solve there issues and less on giving these people things for free, it is a poor ideal that will continue to run amuck in the US.

I can continue on and on and on. But I fear it will go from me sharing my comments on the article, to me ranting. In short, I think it’s a great article. I think America is an incredible country, and even the people in the world who don’t share that ideal have incentives to keep America going.

filmfann's avatar

I am more focused on The End of The Details and The End of @mrrich724‘s response.
It’s almost like dalepetrie was back

ETpro's avatar

@mrrich724 And here I though this wasn’t about politics. Let’s be honest. Obama didn’t run up the first $11.6 trillion of the debt, he inherited it from his predecessors given Bush’s closing budget. Granted he hasn’t fixed it. What Politician since Reagan began the don’t tax, just spend jamboree has. Oh, yeah. Bill Clinton, but he got a BJ so that doesn’t count.

I totally agree we need a more informed electorate, though. Not an easy fix to implement from capitol hill though. If you have ideas on how to accomplish that, please share them.

@CaptainHarley As much as you want to claim, or the blast email author wants to claim, that this is not about politics but economics, that’s pure horse manure. Our political leaders, hand in hand with global corporations and Wall Street set economic policy through our political choices. This is about nothing but politics. And the class warfare game in the politics glares through in @mrrich724‘s rant about “socialism” and “communism” being the root cause. That’s simply not true because we were paying down the debt of WWII steadily from the end of the war till 1980. Ronald Reagan cut the effective tax rate for the richest Americans by 70%, and the national debt started to skyrocket. Same social programs were in place that we had when we were paying the debt down. But with the new tax structure, we can’t any longer afford them. So in a spirit of shared sacrifice, we need to give millionaires and corporations even more tax breaks and slash all programs that support the middle class and poor. I am sure that makes sense to a guy like Zell. What I don’t understand is why so many working class people are willing to keep digging deeper into their pockets to donate to him and his poor, needy billionaire friends.

We can only pay down the deficit one of these ways. We can slash spending by draconian amounts that will plunge the country into a major depression, raise taxes massively and plunge the country into a major depression, do a mix of the two that still gives the same depression, or ramp spending down and taxes up gradually while investing in growth to grow the economy enough to finally match cash inflow and outflow. There are no other ways, and politically, any party that does nay of those will get killed for trying by the other party.

I don’t know how you fix that short of just letting the car roll on over the edge of the cliff. When the American people wake up and notice they are falling into the Grand Canyon—that just might wrest their attention away from American Idol long enough to make the hard decisions required. But make no mistake about who is at fault. It is all Santa Claus’ doing!

Some of us kids believed in bigger and better stuff from Santa. Other kids said just send money, Santa. I’ll buy what I want myself. Greedy voters thinking they can get something for nothing or just as much for way less created this problem. It is voters who will have to wake up to it and start voting for the tough choices needed to actually fix it.

jerv's avatar

Maybe this is an appropriate place to post a link to an article about the possibility of hyperinflation in the US.

ETpro's avatar

@jerv That’s a sales pitch for ya.

seazen's avatar

You had me at End of America.

mammal's avatar

Well firstly America is not the greatest country in History, secondly America is not the greatest country in History and thirdly America is not the greatest country in History. No other country i know says their country is the bestest in the whole wide universe no matter how much they love it, well maybe Israel, it’s offensive and babyish. The only country i know that even has the officially recognised title of Greatness tagged to its identity is Britain, which isn’t the greatest country in History either, quite the contrary in most regards.

And as for lets not bring politics into the argument but i will anyway because we need to remind ourselves daily that communism is the devils spawn…and decent health care for all is Satan’s master plan to eviscerate America as a world superpower. Cos We give hurt, we don’t take it away, hell yeah! that’s just the old bogeyman, they like to wheel out, to scare their citizens half to death, so they ignore the cosmic sized discrepancy between the richest 1 percent and the rest of the schmucks. Many European countries have a communist party as part of the political democratic milieu. It really isn’t that scary.

Finally America could well be on the wane as a super power, and as an empire, that will be good for the world and good for America. i hope so, if the Tea Party get in that will be inevitable, America may find itself far too ideologically blatant for the international community. That kind of crass rhetoric will lose friends and alienate people.

optimisticpessimist's avatar

@CaptainHarley Thank you for posting. It was a very interesting read.

I have been in favor of a flat tax for years with no loopholes. I agree with the author. This is about economics, not politics. The problem is you cannot get everyone to agree to what is necessary spending and what is unnecessary spending; this is where politics comes into play.

ucme's avatar

Americ…..easy enough :¬)

CaptainHarley's avatar

Perhaps we, as a people, don’t deserve to survive. The only problem with that is, I have grandchildren.

kevbo's avatar

I think the article does a good job of misattributing effects to causes with the ultimate effect of encouraging average people Americans to voluntarily accept the blame and responsibility for problems they did not initiate or create beyond accepting propaganda that was foisted upon them and following the herd.

For example, I doubt that government health care contributes to obesity rates. I would imagine that the era of “better living through chemistry” (a byproduct of WWII), food subsidies and sprawl development are primary contributors to obesity rates. What does government health care have to do with the fact that nine calories of petroleum (and not our labor) are used to produce one calorie of food? Or that we can buy a day’s allotment of calories in a fast food meal for approximately 1 hour of labor at minimum wage? Perhaps I am reinforcing his principle argument, albeit from a different angle.

Regarding the “recklessness” of banking interests while it is true perhaps that those individuals aren’t risking their own nest eggs in the same way that they are risking everyone else’s, the perverse incentive toward that risk is that there is little risk of criminal or civil penalty, because either cronies will look the other way or because the financial industry holds that much clout.

He’s correct that not enough Americans have equity in our government, but it’s not for lack of taxpaying. It’s for the fact that corporations and other interests buy the lion’s share of the equity through lobbying and campaign contributions. The American people were against the first bank bailout by an overwhelming majority and completely jammed Washington’s lines of communication with their opinion. Yet the bailout passed in revised form. Who had the equity?

It’s a fallacy, I think, even to say that the politicians are the ones debasing our currency. They’re complicit, to be sure, and have been in a way since the creation of the Federal Reserve, but the dynamic is more accurately described as they are doing what they are told, which is selling a usury scam to the public. The Federal Reserve was create after the same banking interests crashed the market to coerce the US government into accepting fiat currency and central banking. So Dick Cheney “believes” deficits don’t matter because he knows what the agenda is and who’s setting it.

So here’s where we venture into fuzzy territory—Is this debt really ours or is it odious debt? I think it’s the latter, and I think the American people assume and are propagandized to assume it is theirs.

From here, the writer falls into absurd fallacies with his proposed solutions. If he is arguing for a “return to constitutional government,” then no additional amendments are needed. While this is not what is practiced, congress simply doesn’t have the authority to delegate it’s powers of currency to another entity, much less an anonymous cabal. As he says, income tax is expressly forbid in the constitution and that our income is our “liberty.” If he knows and believes this enough to write it, why is he in the same breath arguing for a 20% income tax? And does he believe that sales and other taxes paid by everyone not count as having “skin in the game”? The author fails to mention that popular application of the income tax (which has its origin in a 3% tax on the income of federal employees who have privileged status as such to pay Civil War debts) also coincides with the advent of the Federal Reserve. Much like we are led to believe this is “our” debt, I think (and not without having done some reading) we are led to believe and to declare through broad misapplication of the tax code that we too have priveliged status. The tax code is enforced by 3.5 million words and a fear machine. Does anyone really believe that the interests behind this bulwark would trade it in for something so transparent as a flat tax? Other than being tragically misinformed (like most of us are) or selling a line of bullshit how can the author justify a passionate argument for a flat tax that is forbidden by the constituition?

It’s a nice effort, but about as effective as the blind leading the blind. As long as the true sources of the problem remain obscured in the public’s imagination (which has mainly been the case for a very long time), then this is all just splashing around in the bathtub. I think the first step is not being so foolish to the accept responsibility, blame and cleanup for messes created by and for oligarchs.

jerv's avatar

@CaptainHarley A quick aside; in the Tarot deck, the “Death” card actually means “change” or “transformation”. Additionally, many who have a religious belief see the death of the body as just a way of moving on; the spirit goes elsewhere instead of ceasing to exist once the heart stops beating and the body gets eaten by worms.

What I am trying to say is that survival is relative. America can’t go on the way it is. One way or another, it will change into something completely different from the country you know, and those changes will probably be more dramatic than the changes that happened over the last 50 years. We are no longer the land of Leave it to Beaver, or robber barons, or pushing Indians across the country. Our nation has changed many times. It’s just that sometimes the change is gradual and sometimes abrupt.

We may be reaching the end of America as we know it, but if you believe that America won’t survive then, by that logic, America was already dead in 1861 and likely well before then.

mammal's avatar

@kevbo that was good.

jaytkay's avatar

The prices of gold and silver are very high right now. And someone shilling gold and silver is sending out email stoking hysterical fear of economic chaos.

Surprise, surprise surprise.

Pro tip: don’t buy at the peak of the market.

mammal's avatar

Why the Banksters Hate Islam
And everything Old World.
by Tony Cartalucci

Of course, all aspects of the Old World are slated for elimination, as ancient values, be they of Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, or even regional secular traditions, all pose a direct threat to the Anglo-American unipolar world government. Their world government is one of interdependence between the nation-states, who in turn are enslaved by servile dependence on “global institutions,” most notably those involving a world-wide monetary system. Any tradition or value system that promotes independence, sovereignty, knowledge, and self-reliance represents a brick wall standing in the way of the corroding effects of the globalist agenda.

Eastern traditions and Islam in particular, however, have proven themselves most resilient. Islamic communities from the Middle East to Southeast Asia still exist, their local markets still thrive even in the presence of nearby Western consumerist troughs like Tesco of England. As technology progresses, these communities augment their commerce to compete fiercer yet with the Ponzi-scheme economy of the West. Throughout Asia along side these traditional, tightly knit Islamic communities, coexist Asian black-markets or the “underground economy.” Together these form the closest model of real “free market” economics you can find. These are markets that not only progress at break-neck speed, but the amount of competition and the informed consumer base demanded by this otherwise unregulated economic activity, do the best job of “distributing” wealth and commodities at the lowest price possible.

While common sense drives the Asian black-markets, the Islamic communities are driven by something much deeper, derived from the Qu’ran. A particular lecturer on the Islamic world verses the international monetary system encapsulates these precepts best in a YouTube video series titled “Islam & the International Monetary System.” If you are able to move past superficial details, ideological differences, and labels, and focus on the underlining message of Imran Hosein, Muslim or not, you will walk away enlightened. You will not only be enlightened as to why the globalists fear and despise the Old World, and Islam in particular, but you will understand the possible solution to subverting the globalists’ depraved system with one that is as applicable for the American patriot as much as it is the for the Indonesian Muslim.

Imran Hosein’s ultimate solution to the problem of international monetary predation is the construction of Islamic villages that are self-reliant and maintain their monetary sovereignty through using sound money locally based on Islamic law. These could just as easily be “Liberty Villages” in the United States where farmers and tradesmen come together and conduct commerce with sound money with intrinsic value.

It has been said many times before, independence is freedom, freedom is independence. It appears that the message of Ron Paul and genuine Libertarians is more than just an American message, it is a universal message, shared not just by secular or Christian Westerners, but also described in the texts of Islam of which there are over a billion adherents worldwide.

It would be highly beneficial for those who seek true freedom and the undermining of the global world order, to exhibit mutual respect for their secular, Christian, Judeo, and Islamic brothers and sisters, and meet each other in the middle on these fundamental issues of sovereignty, because if there is anything the globalists fear and detest more than Old World tradition and faith, it is the prospect of all Old World traditions and faiths meeting together and joining battle against the globcratic elite.

Check out this Dude, bear with the first few seconds of Arabic

incendiary_dan's avatar

I originally intended just to not come back to this post, and not read it. Okay, so I still have only read the comments, and even then I skimmed a couple parts. But I have to add to what @jerv said about survival, particularly as a survivalist, wilderness skills instructor, and as someone Dmitri Orlov would describe as a “colapsnik”.

The end of America isn’t going to spontaneously kill every American. If anything, by collapsing the industrial economic machine we will lessen many potential threats and causes of death to us humans. It’ll mean a potential for less toxins in streams (every stream, river, pond, and lake in the country is contaminated with small amounts of lead from coal burning, and pharmeceuticals that aren’t digested from human waste). It’ll mean no more 40,000 plus humans killed from car culture each year, not to mention the ecosystem destruction halted, which could mean more space for hunting, foraging, gardening, livestock etc., or the sheer number of “roadkills” that could otherwise have fed a family. It’ll mean we can have the chance to take back our food supply from the six companies that control over 95% of it. And that food supply might not be so nutrient defficient and so tainted with toxic chemicals.

We’ve just got to stop being so fucking dumb and remember how humans used to live, if even just a little. We don’t need “America”, we just need our own intelligence and our own communities. I’m pretty sure at this point that I know enough about @CaptainHarley to know he can handle himself in a collapse situation. Me and mine will be alright.

P.S. Anyone compaining about “socialism” ever read Marx? Bonus points if you’ve also read Bakunin. Or anything by an actual socialist, for that matter.

jerv's avatar

@incendiary_dan Now I wish I was back in NH where forests and farmland were abundant. I mean, who needs supermarkets and electric heat when you have a big garden and a few cords of firewood, eh?

incendiary_dan's avatar

@jerv I’ll meet you there. That’s my idea of job security!

CaptainHarley's avatar

That’s what we’re working toward here in East Texas.

mammal's avatar

if America is entering a hiatus, which seems likely, One possible scenario that has been suggested is that Israel may well move swiftly to capitalise on Arab unrest and secure vital oil fields, well Ok, put it this way, if America pulls the plug on Israeli foreign aid, Israel will most likely initiate a preemptive strike on whoever is necessary in order to accomplish this objective. A population of 7 million on a tiny strip of land seems implausible but, Israel have the cojones, the efficiency and the fascist mentality to expand exponentially and hold the most strategically vital region on earth. They also resemble America in that the state of Israel came into being at the expense of the indigenous population, who were ruthlessly swept aside to cultivate an Israeli nation that seems to depend on endless expansion for it’s very survival.

Israel, the proto Empire, like America, are dominated by European stock, with historically imperialist tendencies and know how. they have a slick propaganda operation manipulated by lily white faces with flawless English, they are well equipped with a very secretive home grown military arsenal, and of course the decisive factor nuclear fucking weapons. if that doesn’t send a shiver down your spine, i have no idea what will.

What Israel currently isn’t doing, Israel isn’t watching dumbfounded as her Arab neighbours rip up the rule book, nor is she twiddling her thumbs, rather she is planning a little Merkava blitzkrieg to the East. However Israel may find that her former allies may turn, and anti Semitism reaches fever pitch, but the nuclear issue may ensure a painful stalemate and a weary allegiance with the West. But the Arab world will be dealt with genocidally. Whilst America dilly dallies with impossibly ludicrous and frivolous wars in Afghanistan and to some extent Iraq, because America can’t quite turn full Nazi, Israel haven’t the luxury to do anything other than go for the jugular.

CaptainHarley's avatar


Your logic is impeccible, although your choice of verbage could use some work.

Response moderated (Writing Standards)
CaptainHarley's avatar

God, I hope we’re BOTH wrong! : ((

jaytkay's avatar

lol this is getting ridiculous.

You don’t occupy anything with air power and nukes. Israel can’t occupy the oil-producing countries with its tiny army. Especially if the US stops its subsidy, which essentially funds the entire Israeli military budget. And besides, its oil needs are tiny, minute, infinitesimal compared to the US.

American power will wane simply due to the growth of Chinese power. I’m not talking about malevolent intent, I am just talking sheer size. We no longer have the luxury of China being an impoverished giant with no influence outside its borders.

Israel’s population is about 0.5% the size of China’s. It’s a flea.

jerv's avatar

@mammal America may not quite turn full Nazi, but it seems we can go full retard pretty easily.

One thing working against Israel is that they already have many Arabs on their turf. Guerilla warfare would become enough of an issue that even Israel would think twice about pissing off too many people.

I agree with @jaytkay that we are more likely to be crushed by China or our own decrepitude

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