It is the job of the Fourth Estate to act as a check and a restraint on the others, to illumine the dark corners of Ministries, to debunk the bureaucrat, to throw often unwelcome light on the measures and motives of our rulers. ‘News’, as Hearst once remarked, ‘is something which somebody wants suppressed: all the rest is advertising’. That job is an essential one and it is bound to be unpopular; indeed, in a democracy, it may be argued that the more unpopular the newspapers are with the politicians the better they are performing their most vital task.
– Brian R. Roberts from a October 29, 1955 article in the London periodical “Time & Tide”
A newspaper is a device for making the ignorant more ignorant and the crazy crazier.
– H.L. Mencken
If you really want to know how weak Hillary Clinton is as a candidate, you merely have to appreciate that the U.S. media essentially acts as her own personal PR firm, yet the public still recognizes her as a dishonest crook. Brace yourself for the following story, it’s huge.
Earlier this week, we learned from Gawker that at least one U.S. reporter traded content in his article for information from Hillary Clinton’s staff while she was Secretary of State. In what is an almost hard to believe exchange, Marc Ambinder of The Atlantic, agreed to insert specific words and imagery into his article in return for a copy of Hillary’s upcoming speech at the Council on Foreign Relations. ⇒ Keep Reading
One truism of investing is to follow the lead of those who are building wealth.This chart reveals the foundation of the wealth of the top 1% and the next 9%; business equity, i.e. ownership of enterprises. Compare the assets boxed in red:
The wealthiest households’ primary wealth is businesses and shares in businesses. The bottom 90% depend on the family residence as a store of wealth, and on debt as a means of funding asset purchases and consumption.
Primary residences were once a reliable store of wealth–a store that was accessible to working families who were willing to pinch pennies and save up a down payment.
But now that housing has been financialized and globalized, it is prone to boom and bust cycles like every other risk-on financialized asset. Unfortunately, recent history shows that many middle-class households bought homes at the top and rode the post-bubble burst down.
Those fortunate enough to own homes in bubble-prone regions may benefit from speculating in housing, but playing this speculative game requires cashing out at the top of the bubble–something few have the knack for.
Building a profitable business isn’t easy. That’s why many of the wealthy let entrepreneurs take the risk of starting businesses and then buy the business for a premium once it has proven to be profitable. ⇒ Keep Reading
likely treason for lying to US military, ordering unlawful attack and invasions of foreign lands, and causing thousands of US military deaths.
Crimes Against Humanity for ongoing intentional policy of poverty that’s killed over 400 million human beings just since 1995 (~75% children; more deaths than from all wars in Earth’s recorded history).
The new book This Is An Uprising: How Nonviolent Revolt Is Shaping the Twenty-FirstCentury by Mark Engler and Paul Engler is a terrific survey of direct action strategies, bringing out many of the strengths and weaknesses of activist efforts to effect major change in the United States and around the world since well before the twenty-first century. It should be taught in every level of our schools.
This book makes the case that disruptive mass movements are responsible for more positive social change than is the ordinary legislative “endgame” that follows. The authors examine the problem of well-meaning activist institutions becoming too well established and shying away from the most effective tools available. Picking apart an ideological dispute between institution-building campaigns of slow progress and unpredictable, immeasurable mass protest, the Englers find value in both and advocate for a hybrid approach exemplified by Otpor, the movement that overthrew Milosevic.
When I worked for ACORN, I saw our members achieve numerous substantive victories, but I also saw the tide moving against them. City legislation was overturned at the state level. Federal legislation was blocked by war madness, financial corruption, and a broken communications system. Leaving ACORN, as I did, to work for the doomed presidential campaign of Dennis Kucinich might look like a reckless, non-strategic choice — and maybe it was. But bringing prominence to one of the very few voices in Congress saying what was needed on numerous issues has a value that may be impossible to measure with precision, yet some have been able to quantify. ⇒ Keep Reading
First, let’s look at the improved fundamentals. Gold bugs will exasperatingly proclaim that fundamentals have been great for the past four years yet the price plunged anyway, so who cares about fundamentals? To this I would respond with two observations. First, large institutional investors and sovereign wealth funds have been anticipating a rate hike cycle for a very long time now. They didn’t know when, but they expected it. The fact that the gold bugs never believed this is irrelevant; what matters is that big money believed it, and it was perceived to be very gold negative. In their minds, this anticipated rate hike cycle would confirm that things were getting back to normal, and if things are normal you don’t need to own gold, right?
The problem is that this assumption is quickly being called into question. Sure the Fed hiked rates once, but it is starting to look more and more like a policy error. Meanwhile, other major central banks around the world are going in the opposite direction, toward negative rates. I am a huge believer in market psychology, and the psychology dominating the minds of most institutional investors over the past few years has been that things were slowly getting back to normal. This has weighed on institutional demand for gold in a big way, and been a meaningful factor in the bear market (manipulation aside). If this psychology shifts, the shift back into gold could be very meaningful. ⇒ Keep Reading
Pass the popcorn! Wait till I tweet this! Did you see the look on his face?
Ain’t elections exciting? We just can’t get enough of them, which could be why we’ve stretched them out to a couple of years each, even though a small crowd of Super Delegates and a couple of state officials with computer skills could quite conceivably decide the whole thing anyway.
Through the course of this marvelous election thus far I’ve been trying to get any human being to ask any candidate to provide just the most very basic outline of the sort of budget they would propose if president, or at least some hint at the single item in the budget that takes up more than half of it. Do they think military spending should go up, go down, or stay right where it is?
Who knows! Aren’t elections wonderful?
I’d even settle for the stupid “gotcha” question in which we find out if any of the candidates knows, even roughly, what percentage of the budget military spending is now.
Why is this topic, although seemingly central, scrupulously avoided?
Since the top 10% takes home 50% of all household income, it follows that this top slice has most of the discretionary cash, i.e. net income left after taxes, servicing debt and paying for essentials such as food, utilities and housing.
It also follows that the discretionary spending of the top 10% is supporting much of the economy that is dependent on discretionary spending: tourism, eating out, personal trainers, etc.
The top 10% includes the thin slice of Financial Oligarchy (top .01%) and the top 1%. This skews the income and wealth of the top 10%. But if we set aside the top 1%, the next 10% still earns the lion’s share of household income.
The top .1% can prop up Maserati sales and buy $5 million vacation homes, but there simply aren’t enough super-wealthy to support the U.S. economy. As for the top 1%, they can prop up the local Porsche dealership and pay dock fees at the yacht club, but there aren’t enough of them to support the entire economy, either: around 1.5 million qualify as top 1%.
So that leaves the upper-middle class, the roughly 12 million households that earn a disproportionate share of household income, with the task of spending enough discretionary cash to prop up an economy that depends heavily on consumer spending. ⇒ Keep Reading
FAIR USE NOTICE: This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of political, economic, scientific, and educational issues. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: