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The Western War on Truth

by Paul Craig Roberts

http://www.paulcraigroberts.org (November 27 2016)

The “war on terror” has simultaneously been a war on truth. For fifteen years – from 9/11 to Saddam Hussein’s “weapons of mass destruction” and “al Qaeda connections”, “Iranian nukes”, “Assad’s use of chemical weapons”, endless lies about Gadaffi, “Russian invasion of Ukraine” – the governments of the so-called Western democracies have found it essential to align themselves firmly with lies in order to pursue their agendas. Now these Western governments are attempting to discredit the truthtellers who challenge their lies.

Russian news services are under attack from the EU and Western presstitutes as purveyors of “fake news” {1}. Abiding by its Washington master’s orders, the EU actually passed a resolution against Russian media for not following Washington’s line. Russian President Putin said that the resolution is a “visible sign of degradation of Western society’s idea of democracy”.

As George Orwell predicted, telling the truth is now regarded by Western “democratic” governments as a hostile act. A brand new website, propornot.com, has just made its appearance condemning a list of 200 Internet websites that provide news and views at variance with the presstitute media that serves the governments’ agendas {2}. Does propornot.com’s funding come from the CIA, the National Endowment for Democracy, George Soros?

I am proud to say that paulcraigroberts.org is on the list.

What we see here is the West adopting Zionist Israel’s way of dealing with critics. Anyone who objects to Israel’s cruel and inhuman treatment of Palestinians is demonized as “anti-semitic”. In the West those who disagree with the murderous and reckless policies of public officials are demonized as “Russian agents”. The president-elect of the United States himself has been designated a “Russian agent”.

This scheme to redefine truthtellers as propagandists has backfired. The effort to discredit truthtellers has instead produced a catalogue of websites where reliable information can be found, and readers are flocking to the sites on the list. Moreover, the effort to discredit truthtellers shows that Western governments and their presstitutes are intolerant of truth and diverse opinion and are committed to forcing people to accept self-serving government lies as truth.

Clearly, Western governments and Western media have no respect for truth, so how can the West possibly be democratic?

The presstitute Washington Post played its assigned role in the claim promoted by Washington that the alternative media consists of Russian agents. Craig Timberg, who appears devoid of integrity or intelligence, and perhaps both, is the Washington Post stooge who reported the fake news that “two teams of independent researchers” – none of whom are identified – found that the Russians exploited my gullibility, that of CounterPunch, Professor Michel Chossudosky of Global Researh, Ron Paul, Lew Rockwell, Justin Raimondo and that of 194 other websites to help “an insurgent candidate” (Trump) “claim the White House”.

Note the term applied to Trump – “insurgent candidate”. That tells you all you need to know.

You can read what passes as “reliable reporting” in the presstitute Washington Post at {3}.

See also {4}.

Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept, which somehow escaped inclusion in The 200, unloads on Timberg and the Washington Post at {5}.

Western governments are running out of excuses. Since the Clinton regime, the accumulation of war crimes committed by Western governments exceed those of Nazi Germany. Millions of Muslims have been slaughtered, dislocated, and dispossessed in seven countries. Not a single Western war criminal has been held accountable.

The despicable Washington Post is a prime apologist for these war criminals. The entire Western print and TV media is so heavily implicated in the worst war crimes in human history that, if justice ever happens, the presstitutes will stand in the dock with the Clintons, George W Bush and Dick Cheney, Obama and their neocon operatives or handlers as the case may be.

 

Links:

[1] http://www.globalresearch.ca/moscow-accused-of-propagating-fake-news-eu-resolution-on-russian-propaganda/5558835

[2] http://www.propornot.com/p/the-list.html

[3] https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/russian-propaganda-effort-helped-spread-fake-news-during-election-experts-say/2016/11/24/793903b6-8a40-4ca9-b712-716af66098fe_story.html

[4] http://www.alternet.org/media/washington-post-promotes-shadowy-website-accuses-200-publications-russian-propaganda-plants

[5] https://theintercept.com/2016/11/26/washington-post-disgracefully-promotes-a-mccarthyite-blacklist-from-a-new-hidden-and-very-shady-group/

Copyright (c) 2016 PaulCraigRoberts.org. All rights reserved.

http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2016/11/27/the-western-war-on-truth-paul-craig-roberts/

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Civil War Two (Part Two)

Fourth Turning Intensifying

by Jim Quinn

The Burning Platform (November 04 2016)

In Part One of this article I laid out the case against the criminal establishment and how the regeneracy is being driven by the anti-establishment sentiment sweeping across the land. This atonement Fourth Turning will de-establish decade’s worth of delusional decisions. This election has destroyed the last vestiges of trust in this fraudulent system.

This dysfunctional rigged presidential election reflects the tearing of the civic fabric at points of maximum susceptibility. As a country we have neglected, denied, or delayed necessary action on a plethora of vital issues threatening our long term viability as a nation. The deferral of difficult painful decisions has been a ploy of the ruling class, allowing them to further siphon the wealth of a dying empire, while maintaining control over the masses through laws, regulations, taxes, surveillance, intimidation, technology bread and circuses, and mainstream media propaganda.

This is a country truly divided, much along the lines of the first Civil War. The divisions aren’t just along political party lines, but race, education, geography, gender, age, class, religion and ability to think critically. The presidential polls (IBD) reveal many of these divisions clearly:

 

Race:

Whites – 52% Trump; 37% Clinton

Blacks/Hispanics – 14% Trump; 74% Clinton

Education:

High School/Some College – 54% Trump; 35% Clinton

College Degree or More – 37% Trump; 51% Clinton

Geography:

Urban – 31% Trump; 60% Clinton

Suburban – 43% Trump; 43% Clinton

Rural – 55% Trump; 35% Clinton

Gender:

Male – 50% Trump; 38% Clinton

Female – 39% Trump; 50% Clinton

Age:

Young – 37% Trump; 46% Clinton

Middle Aged – 47% Trump; 45% Clinton

Old – 48% Trump; 43% Clinton

Class:

Upper – 40% Trump; 52% Clinton

Middle – 44% Trump, 43% Clinton

Working – 50% Trump; 41% Clinton

Lower – 20% Trump; 57% Clinton

Religion:

Religious – 49% Trump; 41% Clinton

Non- Religious – 25% Trump; 63% Clinton

The narrative used against Trump is women won’t vote for him. The IBD data proves that unequivocally false. White women favor Trump 46% to 41% over Clinton. It’s the racial divide in this country which is borne out by the data above. Uneducated blacks and Hispanics living in urban ghettos with household income under $30,000 are overwhelmingly the primary constituent of Clinton and the Democratic Party.

They subsist on entitlements doled out to them by Democrat benefactors who have successfully enslaved them in welfare dependency, while keeping them uninformed through government run indoctrination centers. They continue to vote for their continued enslavement because they have lost their self-respect and hope for a better life. These are the people demanding more as compensation for their skin color, while being egged on by our first black president. The rural and suburban whites are content watching from afar as blacks murder each other in the Democrat controlled “gun free” urban ghettos, but if they try to bring their social justice demands into white gun owning America, shit will get ugly real fast.

Clinton has an odd coalition of supporters, as college educated, upper class, high income Americans support her over Trump. This is where her status quo establishment credentials are revealed. She is a big business, Wall Street bank, military industrial complex candidate for no change. Neo-cons, bankers, globalists, academics, and others sucking off the government teat, support any candidate who will sustain their rackets. The Wikileaks revelations and FBI disclosures exposed the sordid underbelly of liberal politicians and a fawning discredited media.

It seems conspiracy theorists were right all along. Politicians collude with the media, rig elections, lie to the public, smear their opponents, and break laws without remorse or shame. The American public’s view of career politicians and the smarmy media talking heads is now at an all-time low. The regeneracy is being driven by this warranted mistrust for all things establishment.

Next week we will know whether a regime change has taken place. A Trump presidency would surely mark a drastic transformation from the existing decrepit social order. But the Deep State is not going to relinquish their power, wealth and control without a fight to the finish. They will activate all of their remaining allies on Wall Street, in the media, running government bureaucracies, and running the military industrial complex to stonewall and defeat Trump’s agenda. If that fails, they will attempt to assassinate him.

A Clinton win would aggravate the building societal pressures, as the Trump supporters and most of the young Sanders supporters would refuse to recognize her as their president. She would assume power while under investigation by the FBI and Congress. The poisoned atmosphere in Washington DC would lead to a Constitutional crisis. Would her sociopathic nature lead her to start a war with Russia to distract attention from her criminality? The election of either candidate is likely to trigger events leading to Civil War Two.

 

 

This new regime will enthrone itself for the duration of the Crisis. Regardless of its ideology, that new leadership will assert public authority and demand private sacrifice. Regardless of its ideology, that new leadership will assert public authority and demand private sacrifice. Where leaders had once been inclined to alleviate societal pressures, they will now aggravate them to command the nation’s attention. The regeneracy will be solidly under way.

– Strauss & Howe, The Fourth Turning (1997)

 

 

No matter who wins the election, they will not have anything approaching a mandate. There are 219 million eligible voters in the US. Only 125 million or so will actually vote on November 8. The winner will likely chalk up about 58 million votes. Therefore, almost 75% of eligible voters in the country will not have voted for the next president. The country is as fractured as it was in 1860. The polling data reveals the major fractures.

The upper class is perfectly fine with things as they are because they own most of the financial assets, work directly or indirectly for the Deep State, or depend upon the government and/or Wall Street for their bloated salaries and bonuses. If you’re winning the class war, why would you want to change anything? It’s hard not to win when the game is rigged in your favor by your fellow .1% cronies. As Buffett noted, it is a class war and his class is winning. The lower classes are too ignorant and dependent upon the state for their survival to seek any change – other than protesting or rioting for more free shit.

It’s the demoralized, disillusioned, angry working middle class who have been pillaged by the ruling class through taxes, outsourcing their jobs, and Federal Reserve created inflation. With real median household income languishing at 1989 levels, it’s those in the middle who have lost the most. The zero percent interest rates have punished senior citizens and middle class savers, while $3 trillion of Quantitative Easing (“QE”) benefited financial industry millionaires. The next financial collapse, which is baked into the cake, initiated by the policies designed to benefit the .1%, will push class warfare into the streets.

The revelation in the polling data which is likely to drive the next chapter of this Crisis is the huge disparity in voting preference between white, married, rural, religious households and the urban, black, fatherless households, along with the white single non-religious households. The Black Lives Matter movement represents the first cohort, while the social justice warriors represent the second cohort.

It was white middle aged married couples with children who were the backbone of this country from its founding until the 1970s. The husband went to work at the factory or office, the wife raised the children, and they went to church as a family on Sundays to give thanks for their blessings. They worked hard, helped their neighbors, volunteered, saved for a rainy day, disliked debt, required little if anything from the government, and lived peaceful moral lives. Until the 1960’s most black families lived similar existences.

The traditional family unit has been under assault for decades by liberals. The media bombardment about personal fulfillment, egocentric glorification, materialism, and status has been aimed at undermining the family, keeping the masses in debt, and making more people dependent upon the state. The welfare state, initiated in the 1960s, has led to the ghettofication and enslavement of blacks.

The warped welfare system encourages fatherless homes, dependency rather than self-reliance, loss of self respect, and learned ignorance. The traditional family unit is scorned and ridiculed, despite centuries of proof it is the best method for economic advancement and cultural stability. This continued attack from liberal politicians, soulless corporations, elitist academics, and depraved media has pushed the white working middle class to the maximum limit of their tolerance.

With the Soros backed Black Lives Matter terrorist organization creating havoc across America and spurring black men to slaughter police officers, they have pushed their Obama inspired reparations agenda too far. If they venture far from their Democrat created and run urban ghettos into white rural America they would encounter legal gun owners who can shoot straight.

The race war would be over quickly with no doubt regarding the winners. Conservative and moderate whites are sick and tired of the liberal agenda of black victimhood. Their response to the black community is: stop having 75% of your children out of wedlock, open a book, get educated, and get a job. Life is hard. Get used to it. No one is owed anything.

Whites are also tired of the left wing politically correct phraseology which changes an illegal immigrant into an undocumented immigrant. If you came here illegally, you broke the law, and you’re a criminal. Deportation is the consequence of your crime. Opening our borders to an influx of illegal South American immigrants, potential Syrian terrorists, and others who don’t believe in our values is a recipe for disaster.

They don’t learn our language, integrate into our communities, and increase the stress on our already fraying social safety net. When you already have $200 trillion of unfunded welfare obligations, why would you willingly add to that unpayable debt? Conservative whites believe in living within our means, the rule of law, and the Constitution.

The other flashpoint likely to ignite is the pushback against the belligerent social justice warrior class. White working class families watch as delicate academic sensibilities are triggered by the use of words they don’t like. Hate speech becomes any speech liberals disagree with. Watching spineless university administrators cower at the approach of vitriolic screeching social justice bullies is met with disgust and bemusement by white normal Americans.

Bending over backwards to meet the demands of degenerates, freaks, feminazis and psychopaths for new rights is seen as repugnant by average working class Americans. Their perverted agenda doesn’t matter to people trying to raise kids and pay their bills. Average Americans are tired of this shit. The pushback will be sudden and violent, when it comes.

It is clearly apparent to me this Fourth Turning’s primary driving force will be the domestic conflict between the Deep State establishment, the deplorables, and irreconcilable factions within the country. To linear thinkers, self-proclaimed progressives, corrupt politicians, subservient government workers, myopic media and those reliant upon the government for their sustenance, the thought of civil war in the United States is inconceivable.

Civil disorder would likely occur after a financial collapse of epic proportions. With stocks, bonds, and real estate at bubble proportions, interest rates already at zero, the country already in recession, inflation rising, deficits poised to breach $1 trillion per year over the next decade, Obamacare imploding, and real incomes stagnant, the coming economic implosion will make 2008 look like a walk in the park.

Once a chaotic financial collapse gets underway, it will be near impossible to stem the tide. Think back to the chaotic days of September 2008. Our $60 trillion of total credit market debt won’t matter until it matters. The cascade of bad debts will evaporate the remaining trust in our financial system.

Whether by accident or due to cyber-attack, a breakdown in our electronic based economic system in which store shelves go empty, fuel becomes scarce, and the electronic transfer of welfare benefits ceases, would create mass chaos in the streets. The 300 million guns in this country would get some use. Revenge, retribution and settling scores would be the order of the day.

With our just in time supply chain, a grid failure or breakdown of electronic ordering, payment and communication would bring the nation to its knees within one week. Millions would perish within a few weeks. Our civilized society would become uncivilized overnight. The downside of a society that stresses individualism over community would be borne out.

Cooperation, teamwork and shared sacrifice would be required to survive. The government would attempt to utilize the military and national guard to maintain order. A large portion of the country would rightfully blame the government and the corrupt establishment for causing the collapse. With their families also starving and no means of getting paid, will police, national guardsmen and the military continue obeying the orders of government leaders who caused the collapse?

Either due to the financial collapse or more overreach by the Federal government, the possibility of secession is real. It’s been attempted before and the conflict was bloody and earth shattering. There really are two Americas. The east and west coasts are dominated by the liberal elites who look down their noses upon the flyover country of ignorant deplorables. The .1% mostly resides in gated enclaves, penthouse suites, and luxury beachfront mansions.

They show nothing but contempt and disdain for the average American, living in Middle America or the South. The feeling is mutual amongst the working class towards the liberal elites who rule the country. Most of the 300 million guns are concentrated in the Midwest and South. With this amount of firepower and millions of Americans with nothing left to lose, those attempting to retain power will be at a distinct disadvantage. I believe armed vigilantes will hunt down those responsible for the destruction of the American economy and invoke their own justice.

As trust in government and institutions wanes and economic hardship deepens, the issue of states’ rights is likely to gain traction amongst a large swath of the critical thinking citizenry. The animosity between factions in this country is at historic levels. Large swaths of the country feel no kinship to the elitists on the coasts.

Civil war, secession, and the nation breaking into sectional regions of common benefits are unlikely to occur until the existing social order collapses under the weight of un-payable obligations. That time is approaching rapidly. The existing social order will be replaced by something new, but not necessarily better. That will depend on the choices we make and the leaders we follow.

 

 

The risk of catastrophe will be very high. The nation could erupt into insurrection or civil violence, crack up geographically, or succumb to authoritarian rule. If there is a war, it is likely to be one of maximum risk and effort – in other words, a total war. Every Fourth Turning has registered an upward ratchet in the technology of destruction, and in mankind’s willingness to use it.

– Strauss & Howe, The Fourth Turning (1997)

 

 

No matter who wins the election next week, turmoil and trouble will befall our crumbling empire of debt. The three drivers of this Fourth Turning – debt, civic decay, global disorder – will continue to provide the impetus for change, conflict and the sweeping away of the morally bankrupt establishment. The empire builders planted the seeds of their own destruction. Their arrogance and hubris led them to abscond with too much, promise far more goodies than they could possibly deliver, execute military overreach – bankrupting the country and creating enemies across the globe.

The zombie economy is moribund, the productive people have been pillaged, and the bread and circus act is running on fumes. The American welfare/warfare state is crumbling. The ruling elite are desperate. They don’t want their Ponzi scheme to end, but they always fail. It’s a confidence game, and the game is over. The economic crisis is foreseeable to anyone with their eyes open. This empire will crumble and fall, just as others before throughout history.

Darkness has descended upon our land. Storm clouds gather on the horizon. All generations have played a part in the catastrophe that lies before us. This is what happens during Fourth Turnings. Everyone in our crumbling empire will need to atone for its sins, whether they deserve to or not. Life isn’t fair.

Each individual needs to get their shit together now. Each generation’s rendezvous with destiny awaits. There are no guarantees. The myth of American Exceptionalism will not protect us from the choices we’ve made. We are not the shining city on the hill. God will not shield us from the consequences of our actions. The fall of the American empire will be painful, but it doesn’t have to be fatal. Our choices will matter.

 

 

But Empire building also bears the seeds of its own destruction. The closer a state comes to the ultimate goal of world domination and one-world government, the less reason is there to maintain its internal liberalism and do instead what all states are inclined to do anyway, that is, to crack down and increase their exploitation of whatever productive people are still left.

Consequently, with no additional tributaries available and domestic productivity stagnating or falling, the Empire’s internal policies of bread and circuses can no longer be maintained. Economic crisis hits, and an impending economic meltdown will stimulate decentralizing tendencies, separatist and secessionist movements, and lead to the break-up of Empire. We have seen this happen with Great Britain, and we are seeing it now, with the US and its Empire apparently on its last leg.

– Hans-Hermann Hoppe

https://www.theburningplatform.com/2016/11/04/civil-war-ii-fourth-turning-intensifying-part-2/

Categories: Uncategorized

Civil War Two (Part One)

Fourth Turning Intensifying

by Jim Quinn

The Burning Platform (November 03 2016)

 

 

History offers even more sobering warnings: Armed confrontation usually occurs around the climax of Crisis. If there is confrontation, it is likely to lead to war. This could be any kind of war – class war, sectional war, war against global anarchists or terrorists, or superpower war. If there is war, it is likely to culminate in total war, fought until the losing side has been rendered nil – its will broken, territory taken, and leaders captured.

The Fourth Turning, Strauss & Howe (1997)

 

 

As we enter the final stretch of this vitriolic, deplorable, venomous, propaganda saturated, deceitful, rigged presidential election spectacle, it becomes painfully obvious this Fourth Turning is careening toward bloodshed, bedlam, confrontation, and civil war. The linear fixated establishment, who fancy themselves intellectually superior to the irredemables, are too blinded by their sociopathic, increasingly audacious subversion of the Constitution, to grasp the level of rage and disillusionment of a white working class that has been screwed over for decades.

As the Wall Street shysters frantically accelerate their embezzlement of what remains of middle class wealth, with the Fed and the corporate media propagandists as their wing-men, the country devolves into a corporate fascist state. The disposition of the nation grows dark like the sky before an approaching deadly blizzard. As passions boil over and violence portends, this Fourth Turning hastens towards a bloody decade ahead with an uncertain climax.

If you think this is just hyperbole, you either haven’t studied history or your cognitive dissonance and normalcy bias prevent you from seeing the unavoidable societal altering clashes, which occur like clockwork on an eighty year cycle, when the portents are right in front of your eyes. Historian Arnold Toynbee’s great war cycle that arise every eighty years or so, aligns perfectly with the Fourth Turning generational theory. Great wars occur when the generation that doesn’t remember the last catastrophic war ascends to leadership of the country.

We are eight years into a Crisis period which won’t end until the mid-2020s. As this bitterly vicious presidential campaign accelerates towards a finale which will leave the country divided and irate, the hostile opposing forces will be seeking revenge, retribution, and retaliation no matter the outcome. There is no doubt the regeneracy is well under way.

 

 

The next Fourth Turning is due to begin shortly after the new millennium, midway through the Oh-Oh decade. Around the year 2005, a sudden spark will catalyze a Crisis mood. Remnants of the old social order will disintegrate. Political and economic trust will implode. Real hardship will beset the land, with severe distress that could involve questions of class, race, nation and empire. The very survival of the nation will feel at stake. Sometime before the year 2025, America will pass through a great gate in history, commensurate with the American Revolution, Civil War, and twin emergencies of the Great Depression and World War Two.

– Strauss & Howe, The Fourth Turning

 

 

It was five years ago I spent a couple fascinating hours with Neil Howe, co-author of The Fourth Turning, during the Occupy Wall Street (“OWS”) protests. He thought the protests were all passion and no depth, engineered by anarchist Boomers. He was right. I thought OWS might be the start of the regeneracy, but it flamed out quickly. It was only a foreshadowing of what was to come. Whatever event or movement created the regeneracy, it would be driven by the toxic combination of debt, civic decay, and global disorder.

Neil was particularly worried about the Federal Reserve (“Fed”) zero interest rate policy and how it was ruining our economic system, creating disincentives to saving and encouraging warped, debt driven speculation. And that was in 2011. The Fed keeping interest rates near zero on behalf of a corrupt establishment for the last eight years has been the primary factor in creating the anger, disillusionment and revolutionary spirit driving the regeneracy.

No critical thinking human being can deny this tumultuous presidential election and its equally turbulent primaries have been fueled by the dreadful self-serving response of the establishment to the 2008 Wall Street created financial collapse; the geopolitical anarchy created by US interventionism in the Middle East; the civic decay created by a failing government educational system; rampant debt financed materialism enabled and encouraged by the financial/media complex; and racial division facilitated by the president and his social justice warrior brethren.

The rescue of Wall Street and destruction of Main Street by the Fed, Wall Street and the captured politicians of both parties in Washington DC has created the angry, acrimonious, throw the bums out mood boiling over in flyover America. The widening Grand Canyon gap in wealth between the haves and the have nots, produced by solutions from sociopaths in suits has reached the pitchfork and torch level.

The linear thinking ruling class has been in denial since this Crisis catalyzed in September 2008. Their looting, pillaging and ransacking campaign, designed to enrich and empower a small cadre of shadowy, powerful, wealthy men, had been successful for decades. When you control the currency and interest rates; rig the financial markets; buy the politicians; write the laws and regulations; own the corporate propaganda machines known as the mainstream media; operate a high tech surveillance state; create a dumbed down populace through government school indoctrination; and distract the masses with iGadgets, reality TV, hero worship, professional sports, social media, irrelevant cultural issues, and literally thousands of other modern day bread and circuses; you become arrogant and careless.

These sociopaths are so consumed with their ravenous fleecing of the middle class, waging wars for profit, and shredding the Constitution, they failed to recognize 2008 for the seismic earth shattering event that will change everything. The mood of the country shifted like tectonic plates beneath the nation. The mood continues to grow dimmer, as the peasants grow poorer and the modern day aristocracy (Wall Street bankers, corporate executives, corrupt politicians, shadowy billionaires) accumulate obscene ill-gotten wealth through their complete capture of the system. This perverted, degenerative, criminal degradation of our society is powerfully summed up by Jesse from Jesse’s Cafe Americain:

 

 

Not all sociopaths wield knives and knotted cords. Some wear suits, and are exceptionally intelligent and articulate, obsessively driven, and are able to use and undermine the law and the rules for their advantage, like weapons. It is never about the win, never about the money. It is about the kill, the expression of their hatred, about elevating themselves with the suffering of others. Bind, torture, kill. Not only with ropes and knives, but also with power and money, and the subversion of law. Lawlessness is their addiction, their will to power.

When societies become lax and complacent, these sociopaths can possess great political power through great amounts of unprincipled money. And over time they become almost anti-human, destroyers of all that is good, all that is life, all that offends their insatiable sickness with its goodness. They twist the public against itself, and turn a broad sweep of society into their killing grounds. This is the undeniable lesson of the last century. There are monsters, and they walk among us.

 

 

Neil Howe has noted in previous articles the catalyst, climax and resolution of Fourth Turnings can be specifically dated. But the regeneracy is more of an era than a date. With only three previous American Fourth Turnings, I imagined the regeneracy to be a specific event where the American people, faced with growing peril and danger, put aside their differences and rallied around a strong leader to build something new. Boy was I wrong.

In retrospect, the American people were numbed by the Great Depression and the bloody initial battles of the Civil War. They just let FDR and Lincoln do whatever they needed to do. The regeneracy marks a growth in centralized authority and resolute governance at a time of great risk and urgency. I believe this era of regeneracy began at the outset of the presidential primaries early in 2016.

Based upon the reaction of the citizens in the last ten months, the dire problem facing the nation, perceived as the largest threat to our future, happens to be the Deep State establishment currently ruling the country. The captured mainstream media and grey beards running both political parties were completely stunned, horrified, and irate at the unprecedented success achieved by the two anti-establishment candidates, Trump and Sanders.

This election was supposed to follow the script as planned and coordinated by the establishment, with Hillary Clinton defeating Jeb Bush and continuing the corrupt status quo policies agreed to by the bought off leaders of both parties. They badly miscalculated the mood of the country and the whirlwind of change seeking to sweep away the stubborn remnants of a crooked, decrepit, putrid, existing social order. This collective middle finger to the establishment could only happen during a Fourth Turning.

This regeneracy is well under way and is poised to transform and replace the very foundation of this crumbling empire of debt, delusions, and denial. The unanswered question is what happens next. I posed that question to Neil Howe five years ago and he said the specific events of a Fourth Turning are unknowable, but the reaction to those events by the generational cohorts is consistent over time.

We are seeing the reaction of critical thinking Americans as they come to the realization the system is rigged against them. A revolutionary spirit is once again rising among the deplorables. I also asked Neil about the theory Fourth Turnings alternate between external conflicts and internal conflicts. He found the subject fascinating, but didn’t think there were enough data points to make a determination.

Based on the current path of this Fourth Turning, I’m now convinced of this alternating sequence between advancement cycles and atonement cycles. The advancement cycles can be seen as establishing, whereas atonement cycles are disestablishing. It is apparent each Fourth Turning alternates between an external struggle and an internal struggle. The American Revolution was a struggle against an external oppressor – Great Britain.

The Civil War was an internal struggle between the industrial North and the agrarian South. The Depression/World War Two struggle was mainly against an external threat – Germany, Japan, and Italy. The American Revolution established our country. There was optimism and elation as a new republic, forged under an enlightened Constitution and led by judicious intelligent men, was born. It was clearly an advancement cycle.

The Civil War disestablished states’ rights, slavery, agrarian society and Constitutional rights. It was an atonement cycle for our actual and implicit sins. There was no glorious high. The resolution felt more like defeat, with the country exhausted, bitter and angry. The country had exhausted itself, spilling the blood of over one million men. The new High after an atonement cycle is like a cold miserable rainy dark Spring.

The Great Depression/World War Two Fourth Turning established a new world order led by the United States. As the only major country left unscathed by the ravages of global war, the US became the producer for the world, whose dollar was unquestioned as the currency of global trade. The new High was unleashed with fanfare and adulation. It was like a delightfully warm Spring, with flowers blooming and children frolicking.

All signs point toward this Fourth Turning being a life or death struggle between the ruling class of sociopathic bankers, corporate elites, and sleazy politicians versus the oppressed and infuriated middle class. The lying, deceit, rigging, deception, theft and other crimes perpetrated by the ruling elites will be atoned for. The heroic patriotic revelations from Edward Snowden, Julian Assange, and Bradley (Chelsea) Manning proving the government and politicians to be lying, corrupt, immoral, sociopathic traitors to the Constitution have undermined the last vestiges of trust in the system and the establishment. The alignment of generational dynamics will provoke the responses to events moving forward. We have been badly led. A silent coup by Deep State perpetrators has led to the complete capture of our economic, financial, judicial and political systems.

A vast swath of the populace has been lured into living beyond their means. The existing system is unsustainable. The Boomer generation does not want to yield on their perceived entitlements. The Millennial generation is saddled with un-payable debts, living in their parents’ basements, working the night shift at Ruby Tuesday. Generation X is trapped in the middle of this generational struggle. The huge economic imbalances, created by politicians buying votes and engineering wealth inequality to benefit the few, have built up over decades like flood waters behind a weakening levee. When the levee breaks the morally bankrupt criminal social order will be swept away in the raging torrent to follow.

Winter will eventually turn into Spring, but it might be a bitter, gloomy, austere Spring. Every Fourth Turning brings on forecasts of imminent doom, but that is also a trait of Prophet (Trump, Clinton) Generations. It’s how they feel about the prospects of their imminent die off; they expect the entire world to go with them. The 2008 financial crisis was horrific, scary and an eye opener for those who blindly believed what they were told by their establishment zoo keepers. The regeneracy has begun; trust in the system has further disintegrated; this presidential election has further deepened this distrust of the entrenched establishment; and the coming bust for stocks, bonds, and real estate will knock out the supports for the dwindling remaining trust in this crooked system.

 

 

This might result in a Great Devaluation, a severe drop in the market price of most financial and real assets. This devaluation could be a short but horrific panic, a free-falling price in a market with no buyers. Or it could be a series of downward ratchets linked to political events that sequentially knock the supports out from under the residual popular trust in the system. As assets devalue, trust will further disintegrate, which will cause assets to devalue further, and so on.

Eventually, all of America’s lesser problems will combine into one giant problem. The very survival of the society will feel at stake, as leaders lead and people follow. The emergent society may be something better, a nation that sustains its Framers’ visions with a robust new pride. Or it may be something unspeakably worse. The Fourth Turning will be a time of glory or ruin.

– Strauss & Howe – The Fourth Turning

 

 

The next ten or so years will be atonement for decades of bad choices, corrupt leadership, living beyond our means, waging wars of choice across the globe, believing blatant falsehoods, exhibiting willful ignorance, ignoring facts, and failing to uphold the Constitution. Don’t think you can escape the consequences of this Fourth Turning. It doesn’t matter whether you lived according to a moral code, avoided debt, worked hard, paid taxes, and generally lived an upstanding honorable life.

The death and destruction headed our way will engulf the innocent as well as the guilty. I’m reminded of the penultimate scene in Clint Eastwood’s dark, brooding, vengeful western Unforgiven (1992) when Little Bill Daggett laments to “killer of women and children” William Munny that he doesn’t deserve to die this way. Munny responds, “deserves got nothin’ to do with it”. Then he pulls the trigger. This is the kind of future we will be dealing with, whether we like it or not.

In Part Two of this article I will use recent polling data to assess where the most likely sparks will arise to start the civil war conflagration which will accelerate the crumbling of the American Empire. To reinforce the obvious, Fourth Turnings NEVER de-intensify. They end after the spilling of much blood, incomprehensible destruction and the total defeat of the vanquished.

https://www.theburningplatform.com/2016/11/03/civil-war-ii-fourth-turning-intensifying-part-i/

Categories: Uncategorized

Boo Hoo

by James Howard Kunstler

Clusterfuck Nation – Blog (November 21 2016)

Support this blog by visiting https://www.patreon.com/JamesHowardKunstler?ty=h

America didn’t get what it expected, but perhaps it got what it deserved, good and hard. Daddy’s in the house and he busted straight into the nursery and now the little ones are squalling in horror. Mommy was discovered to be a grifting old jade who ran the household into a slum and she’s been turned out to solemnly await the judgment of the courts, nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. The kids on campus have gone temporarily insane over this domestic situation and some wonder if they’ll ever get over it.

Trump as The USA’s Daddy? Well, yeah. Might he turn out to be a good daddy? A lot of people worry that he can’t be. Look how he behaved on the campaign trail: no behavioral boundaries … uccchhh. He even lurches as he walks, like Frankenstein. Not very reassuring – though it appears that somehow he raised up a litter of high-functioning kids of his own. Not a tattoo or an earplug among them. No apparent gender confusion. All holding rather responsible positions in the family business. Go figure …

Judging from the internal recriminations among Democratic Party partisans playing out in the newspapers, it’s as if they all woke up simultaneously from a hypnotic trance realizing what an absolute dud they put up for election in Hillary Clinton – and even beyond that obvious matter, how deeply absurd Democratic ideology had become with its annoying victimology narrative, the incessant yammer about “diversity” and “inclusion”, as if pixie dust were the sovereign remedy for a national nervous breakdown. But can they move on from there? I’m not so sure.

For all practical purposes, both traditional parties have blown themselves up. The Democratic Party morphed from the party of thinking people to the party of the thought police, and for that alone they deserve to be flushed down the soil pipe of history where the feckless Whigs went before them. The Republicans have floundered in their own Special Olympics of the Mind for decades, too, so it’s understandable that they have fallen hostage to such a rank outsider as Trump, so cavalier with the party’s dumb-ass shibboleths. It remains to be seen whether the party becomes a vengeful, hybrid monster with an orange head, or a bridge back to reality. I give the latter outcome a low percentage chance.

Mommy is all about feelings and Daddy’s role is action and that is another reason that Hillary lost and Trump won. We’ve heard enough about people’s feelings and it just doesn’t matter anymore. You’re offended? Suck an egg. Someone appropriated your culture? Go shit in your sombrero. What matters is how we’re going to contend with the winding down of Modernity – the techno-industrial orgy that is losing its resource and money mojo. The politics of sacred victimhood has got to yield to the politics of staying alive.

President-elect Trump may not know it yet, but events are now in charge, not personalities, not even his super-sized persona. Global trade and economic activity have been winding down all year and it’s finally affecting financial markets kept aloft on borrowed money, sending a strong signal through bonds that the borrowed money may never be paid down, and that additional borrowing will cost a whole lot more – so much more that it will bankrupt the nations that issue it.

That alone will make it difficult for a President Trump to scare up the ready cash for the infrastructure-rebuilding fiesta so many expect. And if he does manage to flush the funding out of the banking thickets, it is liable to carry an inflationary bird flu that will end up killing money all around the world. We won’t be worrying about Trans Pacific Partnerships anymore because letters-of-credit will be unavailable to move large shipments of anything from Point A to Point B. How long after that will it be before the supermarket shelves empty down? And in the event, what will the dollar buy?

It looks like the shit sandwich President Obama has carefully prepared and left in the White House pantry for his successor will take the form of inflation, the dying of your money – or, at least, paper currency. Or, if it doesn’t die outright, prepare for the possibility that you might not be able to get your hands on it, as money markets gate their exits and banks restrict cash withdrawals.

Though it’s clearly a loser strategy now, I suspect that the ragged remains of the Democratic Party will persist in amping up their sacred identity grievances to the point of civil strife without ever understanding the economic dynamics in motion. They don’t know what else to do. Plus, they are captives of the poverty policy racketeers. I also suspect that neither Mr Obama or Mr Trump will get around to pardoning Hillary Clinton for the racketeering operation of her foundation, of which the private email server was the least issue – rather, the arrant sale of influence and access to the State Department is the heart of the matter, and anyone paying attention knows it, including the incoming Attorney General. If that circus comes to town, Trump could benefit from the distraction it offers the public.

There’s a lot of talk on the Net about Strauss and Howe’s “Fourth Turning” taking stage now. That excellent book, published twenty years ago, posits the turbulent end of eighty-year generational cycles in history. (Blogger Jim Quinn lays it out nicely this week at The Burning Platform). Previous Fourth Turning presidents Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt took the nation through epic bloodbaths and economic dislocation. Donald Trump in terms of demeanor is no Lincoln and no FDR. But he did raise up those children of his somehow, and that’s all we’ve got to go on for the moment.

 

 

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Note: The blog is sponsored this month by David McAlvany’s firm, ICA. Find out why investors have used them since 1972 to acquire physical gold and silver, and request free information, by visiting: http://mcalvanyica.com/investorkit/

Support this website by visiting Jim’s Patreon Page!

http://kunstler.com/clusterfuck-nation/boo-hoo/

Categories: Uncategorized

Of Dunces, Fools, Drones and Heroes

by Dmitry Orlov

Club Orlov (November 22 2016)

Some time ago I posted three T-shirt designs, with no explanation as to why. “Here are some shirts”, I wrote, “reasonably priced, in all styles and colors, free shipping on orders over 100 US Dollars, yadda-yadda”. Just as I expected, a few people got it, and a few of those ordered some shirts. The rest had no idea; some even confessed to that in the comments.

That was a test. It was a success. Now that all eight of the planned designs are available {1}, I offer the full explanation and rationale behind this, my latest humanitarian intervention/fundraising effort.

Beyond attempting to mitigate against the erroneous notion, held by many of those who regularly read this blog, that high-quality web content grows on a magical content tree, and that therefore there is no need for them to pay for it, this new initiative is designed to solve a specific societal problem. Week after week hundreds of thousands of readers come to ClubOrlov and find out about some important aspect of reality, of which they would have remained unaware had they continued to just pay attention to mainstream media, to which some choose to refer as “presstitutes”, but I do not, out of respect for sex workers.

This leaves many of my readers feeling like they are stranded within a tiny minority of clueful people. That, unfortunately, is very much the case: most of the population remains clueless. Some of the readers would like to clue some people in, but where do they start? Broaching difficult subjects with family and friends often results in alienated family members and fewer friends. How do we determine whether any given person is worth trying to talk to?

Are people worth talking to at all? Some are. And you will need some of them as your allies. The lone individual is weak, but even a small group of dedicated individuals can often persevere against all odds. It is a bad idea to try to tackle the future alone. Family and friends might help – if you are lucky. And if you are not – better start looking! But you need to know how to look – for people you can not only talk to, but trust and respect. At this point in human history, you would be sneaking into a stable at night looking to steal a horse to ride bareback through enemy territory. It better not be lame, skittish or a rodeo horse.

In all my travels and conversations, I have proven to myself beyond all doubt that the decision on who to talk to should have nothing to do with race, age, class, gender, ethnicity, nationality, IQ, profession/trade, educational level, criminal record, party affiliation, gang/militia membership, religious persuasion, military training/rank, drinking/drug habits and whatever else you might try to use to categorize people. Categorizing people based on their public attributes just doesn’t work. So, in determining who is worth talking to, all we have to go on is gut feeling, first impressions and happy accidents. But is this, I ask you, in any way optimal? No, it is not!

That is why I decided to step in and help. The eight designs may have some artistic merit, but they are not exactly art; in fact, they should be regarded as precision mental calibration instruments. Each design features a simple nautical motif consisting of a circle and the sixteen compass points. Around the circle is a tag line. Inside the circle is a fish. The tag line is a pun about the fish. Confused? Read on!

Each of the designs is a cognitive test. As you walk around wearing one of these shirts, looking for people worth talking to, you can apply specific methods, explained below, to interpret the way they react to your shirt. You can then make an objective determination as to whether a particular person is worth talking to. The determination is based on that staple of business consultants, Four-Quadrant Analysis. In this case, the two dimensions being mapped are:

x-axis: Did the person get it? (No | Yes)
y-axis: Did the person laugh? (No | Yes)

The only people worth talking to are the ones in the upper-right quadrant (Yes, Yes); the ones who both got it and laughed. For the sake of the Four-Quadrant Analysis, we shall call them “heroes”.

This technique will produce some number of false negatives: some people will fall into the “dunce” category simply because they aren’t paying attention, don’t want to talk to you, or both. Be that as it may; since you are looking for people who are paying attention and do want to talk to you, this source of systematic error is of little consequence. But keep in mind that “Hey, whaddaya thinkamah shirt?” is a perfectly acceptable gambit to try on those who look promising but aren’t paying attention no matter how intoxicated you are pretending to be. To avoid false positives, your tone of voice and body language should indicate that you are earnest and are posing a serious question. This is easiest done if you are in fact extremely drunk, but that is likely to generate false positives as well. It is a fine line.

The technique for determining to which of the upper two quadrants – “fool” or “hero” – a person should be assigned is somewhat involved. When a person laughs, the reason is not always clear. Some people laugh for the same reason that pigs oink: none at all. Luckily, these shirts are specifically designed to avoid this type of ambiguity. Each of the shirts contains not just any joke, but a pun (paranomasia) and not just any pun but a gratuitous one: a pun for pun’s sake. Gratuitous puns are a subtle form of audience abuse, and the chuckles they elicit are more often than not accompanied by groans, snorts and eye-rolls. These subtle cues allow you to distinguish a person who gets it – a “hero” – from just a plain old chucklehead – a “fool”.

There is also some amount of technique involved in determining why a person who “got it” didn’t laugh. Having a sense of humor is essential to preserving one’s sanity when being clued into things that may cause severe mental discomfort (which are legion) and so humorless people pose a danger both to themselves and to society, and are best avoided. If a person says something like “I see, a wrasse is that fish, and ‘your wrasse’ sounds like ‘your … ass’ … on a plate … Oh, I get it now! Is that a veiled threat?” and then, instead of laughing, gazes upon you like a cow at a barn door, that would be a humorless person – a “drone”. Steer clear.

There is another, much rarer cause of failure to elicit a laugh. In this case, a person looks at you and simply says: “Yes, that’s quite funny”, sometimes following up with an even funnier joke or two, all without laughing or even cracking a smile. In this case, what you have before you is a professional comedian. Comedy is serious business, and you shouldn’t expect a comedian to laugh with you any more than you should expect your anesthesiologist to pass out when you do. You should always be nice to comedians, because otherwise they will make jokes about you. But it is up to you whether you should try to clue them in, since they are more likely than not to just go on making jokes, while what is happening to the world is no laughing matter.

Once you are convinced that you have before you a hero, there is an additional safety check for you to perform. You have to somehow determine whether this person is a know-it-all. Know-it-alls are dangerous, because they often have a certain character flaw that makes it difficult, or even impossible, for them to admit to ignorance. This flaw, under certain circumstances, can lead to dangerous, reckless behavior that is indistinguishable from Level Three Stupidity, which is explained below. Here, some of the designs are more helpful than others: some of the fish shown on them are quite obscure. Few people aside from those who are ichthyologically trained know what a wrasse, a plaice, a bream or a dace is. Here, you can use a simple ploy: pretend that you got the t-shirt from a second-hand or as a hand-me-down, and never wondered what it means, then innocently ask, “What’s a dace anyway?” and gauge the answer. If it starts with “Well I guess … ” then you have a winner. If it starts with “Well, obviously … ” then you may have before you the dreaded know-it-all. Be sure to follow up with “Are you by any chance an ichthyologist?” to avoid false positives.

One last point. There is very limited use to be made of drones and chuckleheads. Intelligence without humor is just as bad as humor without intelligence. Dunces, however, are not necessarily altogether useless. Humans are useful in any number of capacities. For example, some of them make good pack animals. To wit: your typical US Army grunt can carry forty kilograms – has to, in fact, since that’s the weight of their kit. Since we are headed into an age of scarce and expensive transportation fuels, such capabilities are not to be ignored. But only some dunces are actually useful. Roughly speaking, dunces can be teased apart into three categories of stupidity:

Level One Stupid: Potentially quite useful. Takes a long time for the penny to drop, but it does eventually, often after some embarrassingly large amount of time and effort. These dunces know that they are dunces and try to compensate for their meager mental abilities through honesty, hard work and physical endurance. As long as their heads are put to purposes other than thinking – such as holding up a bucket of water while walking uphill – their intellectual failings can remain inconsequential.

Level Two Stupid: Possibly useful, though not quite as good. The penny never drops, but the dunce knows this and makes no pretense of even trying. This is potentially dangerous, since the ability to comprehend and accurately execute simple orders is sometimes important. If the standard reaction to a simple enough order is to stand there, feet planted, chew cud and low mournfully, then that’s not a positive.

Level Three Stupid: Shouldn’t be used at all. These dunces are so stupid that they have no idea that they are stupid. They are often convinced that they alone are right, and will do the most absurd and counterproductive things, repeatedly, blaming their failure on anyone they can think of. What’s worse, because in these Level Threes the negative feedback loop between stupid thoughts and the results of the ensuing stupid deeds happens to be broken, they can be extremely unpredictable and capable of stunning, fantastic acts of stupidity that endanger those around them.

Here, then, are the tag lines from all eight shirt designs, in alphabetical order. Please order whichever shirts you like best, put them on, go out into the world and find people who are worth talking to and cluing in. Also, please spread the word and share the links: the success of this project depends on you.

Click on the links below to order a specific shirt, or visit the online store to see all of them.

1. Best shirt gar none! {2}
2. Please don’t be so koi! {3}
3. Happy dace are here again! {4}
4. I have a bream! {5}
5. In cod we trust {6}
6. I like to play the bass {7}
7. Your plaice or mine? {8}
8. Your wrasse on a plate {9}

Links:

{1} http://www.galloree.com/Shops/Club-Orlov-Shirts–6017/Shop-By-T-Shirts.php

{2} http://www.galloree.com/Artworks-BEST-SHIRT-GAR-NONE–103276.php?category=T-Shirts

{3} http://www.galloree.com/Artworks-PLEASE-DONT-BE-KOI–103281.php?category=T-Shirts

{4} http://www.galloree.com/Artworks-HAPPY-DACE-ARE-HERE-AGAIN–103277.php?category=T-Shirts

{5} http://www.galloree.com/Artworks-I-HAVE-A-BREAM–90872.php?category=T-Shirts

{6} http://www.galloree.com/Artworks-IN-COD-WE-TRUST–103278.php?category=T-Shirts

{7} http://www.galloree.com/Artworks-I-LIKE-TO-PLAY-THE-BASS–103280.php?category=T-Shirts

{8} http://www.galloree.com/Artworks-YOUR-PLAICE-OR-MINE–90871.php?category=T-Shirts

{9} http://www.galloree.com/Artworks-YOUR-WRASSE-ON-A-PLATE–90873.php?category=T-Shirts

http://cluborlov.blogspot.jp/2016/11/of-dunces-fools-drones-and-heroes.html

Categories: Uncategorized

America’s Wealth Gap …

… Between Middle-Income and Upper-Income Families is Widest on Record

by Richard Fry and Rakesh Kochhcar

http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank )December 17 2014)

The wealth gap between America’s high income group and everyone else has reached record high levels since the economic recovery from the Great Recession of 2007~2009, with a clear trajectory of increasing wealth for the upper-income families and no wealth growth for the middle- and lower-income families.

A new Pew Research Center analysis of wealth finds the gap between America’s upper-income and middle-income families has reached its highest level on record. In 2013, the median wealth of the nation’s upper-income families ($639,400) was nearly seven times the median wealth of middle-income families ($96,500), the widest wealth gap seen in thirty years when the Federal Reserve (“Fed”) began collecting these data.

In addition, America’s upper-income families have a median net worth that is nearly seventy times that of the country’s lower-income families, also the widest wealth gap between these families in thirty years.

Wealth is the difference between the value of a family’s assets (such as financial assets as well as home, car and businesses) and debts. It is an important dimension of household well-being because it’s a measure of a family’s “nest egg” and can be used to sustain consumption during emergencies (for example, job layoffs) as well as provide income during retirement. Wealth is different from household income, which measures the annual inflow of wages, interests, profits and other sources of earnings. The data have also shown a growing gap in wealth along racial and ethnic lines since the recession ended.

In our analysis, we categorized families by their household income, after we adjusted their incomes for family size. Middle-income families are families whose size-adjusted income is between two-thirds and twice the median size-adjusted income. Lower-income families have a size-adjusted household income less than two-thirds the median and upper-income families more than twice the median.

This methodology results in 46% of America’s families being classified as middle income in 2013. One-third of families were lower income and 21% were upper income. For a family of three in 2013, a household income of $38,100 qualifies as middle income and $114,300 or greater qualifies as upper income.

The tabulations from the Fed’s data indicate that the upper-income families have begun to regain some of the wealth they lost during the Great Recession, while middle-income families haven’t seen any gains. The median wealth among upper-income families increased from $595,300 in 2010 to $639,400 in 2013 (all dollar amounts in 2013 dollars). The typical wealth of middle-income families was basically unchanged in 2013 – it remained at about $96,500 over the same period.

As a result, the estimated wealth gap between upper-income and middle-income families has increased during the recovery. In 2010, the median wealth of upper-income families was 6.2 times the median wealth of middle-income families. By 2013, that wealth ratio grew to 6.6.

To be sure, the wealth gap between upper-income and middle-income families also widened during the Great Recession. The median wealth of all three income groups declined from 2007 to 2010. But upper-income families were not hit nearly as hard as lower- and middle-income families. Median wealth declined by seventeen percent from 2007 ($718,000) to 2010 ($595,300) among upper-income families. In contrast, middle-income (-39%) and lower-income (-41%) families had larger declines in wealth. The larger losses among middle-income families resulted in the wealth gap between upper- and middle-income families rising from 2007 (4.5) to 2010 (6.2).

The latest data reinforce the larger story of America’s middle class household wealth stagnation over the past three decades. The Great Recession destroyed a significant amount of middle-income and lower-income families’ wealth, and the economic “recovery” has yet to be felt for them. Without any palpable increase in their wealth since 2010, middle- and lower-income families’ wealth levels in 2013 are comparable to where they were in the early 1990s.

It could help explain why, by other measures, the majority of Americans are not feeling the impact of the economic recovery, despite an improvement in the unemployment rate, stock market and housing prices. In October, just one-in-five Americans rated the country’s economic conditions as “excellent” or “good”, an improvement from the eight percent who said that four years ago, but far from a cheery assessment. And a new poll released this week found higher-income adults are hearing about better economic news than lower-income adults, with fifteen percentage point difference between the two groups on the “good news” they’re hearing about the job situation, for example.

While most American families remain financially stuck, upper-income families have seen their median wealth double from $318,100 in 1983 to $639,400 in 2013. The typical wealth level of these families increased each decade over the past thirty years. The Great Recession did set back the median wealth of upper-income families, but over the past three years these families have recouped some of their losses.

_____

Richard Fry is a senior researcher focusing on economics and education at Pew Research Center.

http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/12/17/wealth-gap-upper-middle-income/

Categories: Uncategorized

Why Don’t We Have Free Trade …

… for Highly Paid Professionals in the US?

by Dean Baker

CounterPunch (November 22 2016)

Most educated people like to think of themselves as supporters of free trade. After all, everyone who has been through Economics 101 knows that tariffs and other trade barriers slow growth and encourage waste and corruption. Therefore, we should all want to see as few barriers as possible obstructing trade.

While there are some issues that make the story a bit more complicated than the Economics 101 version, as a general rule we will benefit from having lower barriers to trade. This fact should cause all right-thinking people to be very upset about the protectionist barriers that artificially inflate the earnings of doctors in the United States.

Most people are probably not aware of the extraordinary level of protectionism that benefits doctors and, to a lesser extent, other highly paid professionals in our own country. A long list of trade agreements over the last sixty years has reduced or eliminated most of the tariffs and trade barriers on manufactured goods. This has led to a surge in imports, which has had major consequences for the US labor market. But there has been no comparable effort to reduce the barriers that keep foreign professionals from working in the United States.

Under the current regulatory structure, foreign-trained doctors generally have to complete a US residency program to practice medicine in the United States. This applies even to doctors with many years of experience, including those in countries that have high quality health care systems, such as Germany, France and the Netherlands.

This is not a question of whether we need regulations to ensure that the people who practice medicine in the United States are competent. Of course we do. The question is whether the only way a person can be a competent doctor is by passing a medical residency program in the United States. That requirement looks much more like old-fashioned protectionism than a rule ensuring the quality of the medical care we receive.

And we pay a huge price for this protectionism. Our doctors earn more than $250,000 a year on average, twice as much as their counterparts in other wealthy countries. (Pay for other workers is comparable to pay in the US, and sometimes higher in countries like Germany and Denmark.) Doctors in highly paid specialties, like cardiology, earn on average more than $400,000 a year.

This extra pay costs the country roughly $100 billion annually in higher medical expenses, a bit more than $700 per family. In addition, we get exactly the sort of abuses that would be expected when we allow a profession to restrict entry. We use specialists twice as frequently as people in other countries. This means that specialists in the United States are diagnosing and treating conditions handled by general practitioners in places like Germany and the Netherlands. And in most cases, the outcomes in these other countries are equally good.

Our doctors also try to prevent nurse practitioners and other less highly paid professionals from performing tasks for which they are perfectly competent, like prescribing drugs. The idea is to reserve as much business as possible for themselves. In addition, we get a bloated system of medical education which ends up being incredibly expensive. It makes sense for a student to incur large debt given what doctors earn, but it would be much better to have lower paid doctors and affordable medical school. The high cost of medical school can be a major barrier to students from working class or poor backgrounds who may be reluctant to take the risk associated with medical school debt, even if they are able to arrange the loans and financial aid to cover the cost.

If our trade deals were actually about free trade, we would have been working to reduce or eliminate the barriers that make it difficult for doctors and other foreign-trained professionals from practicing in the United States. While ensuring quality in these professions is important, there surely are ways to guarantee competence that don’t discriminate to the same extent as our current regulations.

The sort of issues posed by ensuring professional standards is not qualitatively different from the issues that arise in other areas. We want to benefit from being able to import cheaper fruit and vegetables or fish from other countries. But we also have to make sure that these products are safe for consumers in the United States. This requires inspection systems that guarantee these products will meet US standards. The same logic applies to the safety and quality standards we impose on imported cars and a wide range of other consumer products.

Developing professional standards that ensure competence without discriminating against foreign professionals should not be beyond the capabilities of our trade negotiators. And it would lead to enormous economic gains for the country, disproportionately benefiting people at the middle and the bottom rather than those at the top.

There are two other points worth making about removing restrictions on foreign professionals working in the United States. First, a greater inflow of foreign professionals would have little impact on overall immigration. The net immigration inflow to the United States is currently around 1.2 million a year. If over the next decade, we increased the inflow of foreign doctors by an amount equal to two normal months of net inflow, it would be sufficient to transform the market for doctors in the United States. It would take smaller inflows to have a major impact on pay in most other professions.

The other point is that we should want to make sure that developing countries didn’t suffer from a “brain drain” by having their professionals leave the country. It would be a relatively straightforward matter to design a system of compensation whereby the earnings of their expatriate professionals is taxed and then paid to their country of origin. For example, the income tax that a Nigerian doctor would otherwise pay to the US government could instead be sent to the Nigerian government. This could allow Nigeria to train two or three doctors for every doctor that went to the United States, thereby allowing Nigeria to benefit as well.

In short, we can have free trade in the highly paid professions. The potential benefits for the economy would be enormous. And unlike much of the gains from the current pattern of trade, these benefits would be broadly shared. We just have to overcome the protectionist inclinations of our politicians and trade negotiators.

This column originally appeared on the PBS Newshour.

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Dean Baker is a macroeconomist and co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, DC. He previously worked as a senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute and an assistant professor at Bucknell University.

http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/11/22/why-dont-we-have-free-trade-for-highly-paid-professionals-in-the-us/

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