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Days of reckoning

Days of reckoning

Here’s something which will likely be universally unpopular:  The government shouldn’t do anything to subsidise energy prices.  I say this in the face of a £700 or so increase on annual bills announced today.  And this is just the beginning, because, as Nils Pratley at the Guardian points out, when the price cap is raised again in October, it will add a further £300 to bills – just in time for next winter.

To be clear, I am not arguing that millions of households should be left to choose between heat and food; I am merely pointing out that there are better and more effective ways of alleviating poverty than bailing out a private energy industry which is the victim of its own past follies.  Rather, I agree with Torsten Bell from the Resolution Foundation, who told this morning’s Today programme that the best way of addressing poverty is through increases in the benefits system.  Restoring and adding to the £20 a week cut from Universal Credit and the triple lock on pensions would be by far the most effective way of alleviating fuel poverty.

The energy side of the crisis, however, requires sweeping restructuring which goes well beyond anything the government or the opposition are currently prepared to countenance – not least because the economic models they operate on are so out of step with the real world that they fail even to understand the problem, still less offer a workable solution.

Why the energy cap failed

The state-imposed energy cap, which is the focus of establishment media attention today, was always the wrong solution to the wrong problem.  As I explained four and a half years ago:

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

What Will You Do When Inflation Forces U.S. Households To Spend 40 Percent Of Their Incomes On Food?

What Will You Do When Inflation Forces U.S. Households To Spend 40 Percent Of Their Incomes On Food?

Did you know that the price of corn has risen 142 percent in the last 12 months?  Of course corn is used in hundreds of different products we buy at the grocery store, and so everyone is going to feel the pain of this price increase.  But it isn’t just the price of corn that is going crazy.  We are seeing food prices shoot up dramatically all across the industry, and experts are warning that this is just the very beginning.  So if you think that food prices are bad now, just wait, because they are going to get a whole lot worse.

Typically, Americans spend approximately 10 percent of their disposable personal incomes on food.  The following comes directly from the USDA website

In 2019, Americans spent an average of 9.5 percent of their disposable personal incomes on food—divided between food at home (4.9 percent) and food away from home (4.6 percent). Between 1960 and 1998, the average share of disposable personal income spent on total food by Americans, on average, fell from 17.0 to 10.1 percent, driven by a declining share of income spent on food at home.

Needless to say, the poorest Americans spend more of their incomes on food than the richest Americans.

According to the USDA, the poorest households spent an average of 36 percent of their disposable personal incomes on food in 2019…

As their incomes rise, households spend more money on food, but it represents a smaller overall budget share. In 2019, households in the lowest income quintile spent an average of $4,400 on food (representing 36.0 percent of income), while households in the highest income quintile spent an average of $13,987 on food (representing 8.0 percent of income).

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

We Can’t Grow Our Way Out of Poverty

WE CAN’T GROW OUR WAY OUT OF POVERTY

For more than half a century, economists and policymakers have focused fanatically on growth as the only feasible way to end global poverty and improve people’s lives. But in an era of planet-wide ecological breakdown, that comfortable conventional wisdom is crashing to an end. Jason Hickel lays it on the line.


Illustration by Pete Reynolds

Everything is about to change in the field of international development.

In 2018, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) grabbed the world’s attention with its report stating that to avert dangerous climate breakdown we need to cut global emissions in half by 2030 and reach zero by 2050. It would be difficult to overstate how dramatic this trajectory is; the challenge is staggering in its scale.

We know it’s possible to accomplish rapid emissions reductions with co-ordinated government policy action, ratcheting down fossil fuels and rolling out renewable energy infrastructure. But there’s a problem. IPCC scientists have made it clear that it’s not feasible to transition quickly enough to stay within the carbon budget if we continue to grow the global economy at existing rates.

More growth means more energy demand, and more energy demand makes it all the more difficult to create enough renewable capacity to meet it.

Think about it this way. With business-as-usual growth, the global economy is set to roughly triple in size by the middle of the century – that’s three times more extraction, production and consumption than at present, all of which will suck up nearly three times as much energy. It will be unimaginably difficult for us to decarbonize the existing global economy; impossible to do it three times over in the short time we have left.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

West Faces “Social Bomb” As Pandemic Sparks Unrest Among Poorest

West Faces “Social Bomb” As Pandemic Sparks Unrest Among Poorest

The next phase of the COVID-19 pandemic could be a flare-up of social unrest across major Western cities as millions have lost their jobs, economies have crashed into depressions, and the military is being called up to maintain order.

The Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) warned that riots could be imminent in low-income neighborhoods as extreme wealth inequality has left households unprepared and without a cash buffer to weather the economic downturn.

As we’ve noted before, many Western households were already stretched thin before the shutdowns began, with little savings, insurmountable debts, and the lack of access to proper healthcare. Now, these folks, which many have been laid off from gig-economy and service sector jobs, have zero income and could be emotionally motivated to hit the streets and protest.

IFRC president Francesco Rocca warned on Friday during a press conference that social unrest could be imminent in Italy, reported Reuters.

“We have a lot of people who are living very marginalized, in the so-called black hole of society… In the most difficult neighborhoods of the biggest cities, I am afraid that in a few weeks, we will have social problems,” Rocca said.

This is a social bomb that can explode at any moment, because they don’t have any way to have an income,” he said, whose agency deploys volunteers across Europe, including in Italy, Spain, and France.

He warned that the largest Western cities have only a ‘few weeks’ before social unrest is seen.

As for the US, President Trump has been deploying National Guard units across the country to fight the virus, or a perfect cover to prepare for Martial law-style shutdowns across some areas where the virus is hard-hitting.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Population wrapped up: a response to Jane O’Sullivan

Population wrapped up: a response to Jane O’Sullivan

And so we come to Small Farm Future’s final blog post of 2018. Time for some seasonal goodwill and an offer of peace to all? Nah, time to settle old scores – in this case my debate with Jane O’Sullivan about population and poverty that’s been rumbling along on this site over the latter part of the year. I was advised by one commenter to let the debate lie, which is probably wise, but this commentary from Dr O’Sullivan has been sitting unanswered for a while and I think a response is in order – if for no other reason than the underlying issues are of wider interest. But let me not neglect the seasonal spirit altogether. I’d like to have devoted more time to this issue, and perhaps to have reflected further on population issues more generally but with this fairly brief response only to a few of Dr O’Sullivan’s specific points I propose to wrap things up on the population front from the Small Farm Future end.

So in what follows, I’m going to highlight some of Dr O’Sullivan’s contentions from the comment linked above (her comments in italics and quotation marks), and then respond briefly to them.

  1. “Population growth in agrarian communities is a driver of impoverishment”

It’s hard to disagree that that’s sometimes so. But it’s worth noting that it’s a very different, and much milder claim, than Dr O’Sullivan’s earlier one that “population growth is the main driver of impoverishment in high-fertility countries”. Where we would probably continue to disagree is the extent to which population growth is an exogenous driver of poverty.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Breaking the Chains of Debt: Lessons from Babylonia for Today’s Student Crisis

Britain’s enemy is not Russia but its own ruling class, UN report confirms

Britain’s enemy is not Russia but its own ruling class, UN report confirms

Britain's enemy is not Russia but its own ruling class, UN report confirms
As the UK political establishment rips itself to pieces over Brexit, a far greater crisis continues to afflict millions of victims of Tory austerity.

A devastating UN report into poverty in the UK provides incontrovertible evidence that the enemy of the British people is the very ruling class that has gone out of its way these past few years to convince them it is Russia.

Professor Philip Alston, in his capacity as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, spent two weeks touring the United Kingdom. He did so investigating the impact of eight years of one of the most extreme austerity programs among advanced G20 economies in response to the 2008 financial crash and subsequent global recession.

What he found was evidence of a systematic, wilful, concerted and brutal economic war unleashed by the country’s right-wing Tory establishment against the poorest and most vulnerable section of British society – upending the lives of millions of people who were not responsible for the aforementioned financial crash and recession but who have been forced to pay the price.

From the report’s introduction:

“It…seems patently unjust and contrary to British values that so many people are living in poverty. This is obvious to anyone who opens their eyes to see the immense growth in foodbanks and the queues waiting outside them, the people sleeping rough in the streets, the growth of homelessness, the sense of deep despair that leads even the Government to appoint a Minister for Suicide Prevention and civil society to report in depth on unheard of levels of loneliness and isolation.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Debating population, poverty and development

Debating population, poverty and development

Last week, Small Farm Future chalked up yet another first – the first vehement critique of one of our posts by a working academic with apparent expertise in the matter at hand. The post was this one about global population and its entailments that I published in June, and the critique came from Dr Jane O’Sullivan of the University of Queensland in Australia (our exchange is linked below).

I’d precis the main substance of Dr O’Sullivan’s critique as follows: my post failed to consider the importance of top-down government or expert-led population control policies (broadly conceived) in reducing global fertility (ie. births per woman) over the last 50 years, and failed to consider the implications of the recent slowdown in the decline of the fertility rate and its causes. If that was all that Dr O’Sullivan had said, it would have been easy for me to concede these points (especially if she’d made them politely). I don’t think the concession greatly alters the main points I was making in that post, though perhaps it does a little. But in the course of our ill-tempered exchange (I’m sure the fault was partly mine…though not, I think, entirely) Dr O’Sullivan also unleashed quite a barrage of assertions that in my opinion varied from the somewhat questionable to the downright misleading, along I’ll admit with the occasional useful nugget. I should probably give myself more time to reflect on the issues, but some of them are highly relevant to the wider themes of this blog, and I think are less clear-cut than Dr O’Sullivan supposes. So I thought I’d write a quick, work-in-progress kind of response now to present the issues as I see them, in the hope that other commenters may bring some wider illumination.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

How Globalists Plan To Use Technology And Poverty To Enslave The Masses

How Globalists Plan To Use Technology And Poverty To Enslave The Masses

Tyranny is often seen as a sudden and inexplicable development in a society; the product of a singular despot that rockets to power for a limited window of time due to public fear or stupidity. This is one of the great lies of the modern era.

The truth is that for at least the past century almost every historically despised “tyrant” was merely a puppet of a larger managerial cabal, and the construction of each totalitarian state was accomplished slowly and quietly over the course of decades by those some financial elitists. From the Bolsheviks, to Hitler and the Third Reich, to Mao Zedong, to most tin-pot dictators across the Middle East and Africa, there has always been an organized group of money men and think tanks fueling the careers of the worst politicians and military juntas of the epoch.

The rise of a tyrannical system takes extensive time, planning and staging. Human beings do not simply jump right into the arms of a dystopian nightmare regime impulsively at a moment’s notice. We have been told by popular media that this is how it works; that during hard economic or social conditions men with charismatic personalities and evil intentions suddenly rise to the surface and take power by promising a better world in exchange for public fealty. But where did those economic and social crises come from to begin with? Were they a natural consequence of the era, or were they deliberately engineered?

The reality is that people must be psychologically conditioned to trade freedom for the illusion of safety. Sometimes this takes generations.  Every attempt at a totalitarian framework inevitably elicits a rebellion. Therefore, the most successful tyranny would be one that the public DEMANDS. They have to think it is their idea, otherwise they will eventually fight it.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Root of It All

The Root of It All

Steven Pinker wrote, “In almost every year from 1992 through 2015, an era in which the rate of violent crime plummeted, a majority of Americans told pollsters that crime was rising. In late 2015, large majorities in eleven developed countries said that “the world is getting worse.”

But crime isn’t rising, and the world is objectively getting better. And while life is improving at the macro level, at the micro level, people aren’t feeling so great. So what gives?

We tend to expect the worst as a way to insulate ourselves from disappointment. Life is not about good or bad, it’s about better or worse, so if things don’t turn out as bad as we imagine, we’re pleasantly surprised.

If you were asked to think about how your life could improve, a few things might come to mind. But imagine how your life could get worse, and a barrage of negative possibilities fills your brain. The risk and reward of every day life is asymmetrical. This is why being a pessimist feels safe and being an optimist feels reckless.

One of the reasons why it seems like the world is getting worse is due to the cacophony of noise coming from the news. Here’s Pinker again:

Whether or not the world is really getting worse, the nature of news will interact with the nature of cognition to make us think that it is. News is about things that happen, nothing things that don’t happen. We never see a journalist saying to the camera, “I’m reporting live from a country where a war has not broken out”- or a city that has not been bombed, or a school that has not been shot up…Bad things can happen quickly, but good things aren’t built in a day, and as they unfold, they will be out of sync with the news cycle.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Pool of Funding the Heart of Economic Growth

Most experts are of the view that massive monetary pumping by the US central bank, the Fed, during the 2008 financial crisis saved the US and the World from another Great Depression.

If increases in money supply is an important catalyst for economic growth then the World poverty should have been eliminated a long time ago! Most countries have central banks that know how to print money – why then the World poverty still exists?

We suggest that at no stage increases in money supply can be an important driving factor of economic growth.

Some experts do not agree with this. Following the logic that monetary spending by one individual becomes an income of another individual and the spending of another individual becomes an income of the first individual, they hold that this raises the economy’s overall income and in turn overall economic growth.

Note that in this way of thinking, money stimulates consumer outlays, which in turn strengthens overall income and overall economic activity i.e. demand creates supply.

In this way of thinking what funds i.e. provides support to economic growth is the increase in money supply.

We suggest that individuals, which are engaged in the various stages of production, in order to support their lives and wellbeing, require an access to final consumer goods and not money as such.

At any point in time, there is a finite pool of final consumer goods. Hence, the early recipients of a newly created money are going to benefit from the increase in money supply at the expense of the late recipients or no recipients at all of the newly created money.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

A World Hangs in the Balance

A WORLD HANGS IN THE BALANCE

The overwhelming number of well-funded groups “fighting for change” in this world are misdirected. Intentionally so.

These groups are designed to go off track, eliminate freedom, and produce answers that bring about more top-down control.

I can’t emphasize that strongly enough:

—The use of dupes and pawns, organized into groups, which cause more chaos and try to demoralize and box in THE INDEPENDENT INDIVIDUAL.

But the independent individual must survive, because he is where civilization begins.

The independent individual must understand this: his rational powers, and his imagination and creative impulse, are the foundation of anything that could be called civilization.

He can sacrifice these abilities on some altar of expediency or fear, but if he does, his light goes out.

Virtually ALL well-funded groups in the world who opt for change and betterment, under the banner of “greatest good for everyone,” are controlled.

They are paid for and run as fronts for global takeover. Their workers on the ground are clueless.

The elites we call the Globalists are basically promoting the following message: “If consent is withdrawn from our brilliant structure, life will go down the drain. We must have more groups who support our structure.”

Who basically withdraws consent? THE INDIVIDUAL.

Those individuals who sacrifice their own rational power and imagination are, in effect, consenting to the Globalist takeover.

That takeover is not civilization in any meaningful sense of the word.

It is tyranny.

Tyranny takes everything from the independent individual, and gives it to the permanently dependent individual.

And then, as the vortex spins deeper, more people become dependent, and the tyrants allow them just enough to survive on the margins.

Every sane person wants a better world, but most sane people don’t yet recognize how that impulse can be twisted against them. Do you believe power-elites would promote their vision under the banner of “a police state” or “dictatorship, poverty, and loss of hope for all”?

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

58 Facts About The U.S. Economy From 2015 That Are Almost Too Crazy To Believe

58 Facts About The U.S. Economy From 2015 That Are Almost Too Crazy To Believe

58The world didn’t completely fall apart in 2015, but it is undeniable that an immense amount of damage was done to the U.S. economy.  This year the middle class continued to deteriorate, more Americans than ever found themselves living in poverty, and the debt bubble that we are living in expanded to absolutely ridiculous proportions.  Toward the end of the year, a new global financial crisis erupted, and it threatens to completely spiral out of control as we enter 2016.  Over the past six months, I have been repeatedly stressing to my readers that so many of the exact same patterns that immediately preceded the financial crisis of 2008 are happening once again, and trillions of dollars of stock market wealth has already been wiped out globally.  Some of the largest economies on the entire planet such as Brazil and Canada have already plunged into deep recessions, and just about every leading indicator that you can think of is screaming that the U.S. is heading into one.  So don’t be fooled by all the happy talk coming from Barack Obama and the mainstream media.  When you look at the cold, hard numbers, they tell a completely different story.  The following are 58 facts about the U.S. economy from 2015 that are almost too crazy to believe…

#1 These days, most Americans are living paycheck to paycheck.  At this point 62 percent of all Americans have less than 1,000 dollars in their savings accounts, and 21 percent of all Americans do not have a savings account at all.

#2 The lack of saving is especially dramatic when you look at Americans under the age of 55.  Incredibly, fewer than 10 percent of all Millennials and only about 16 percent of those that belong to Generation X have 10,000 dollars or more saved up.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

37 Facts About How Cruel This Economy Has Been To Millions Of Desperate American Families

37 Facts About How Cruel This Economy Has Been To Millions Of Desperate American Families

Have you ever laid in bed awake at night with a knot in your stomach because you didn’t know how your family was possibly going to make it through the next month financially?  Have you ever felt the desperation of not being able to provide the basic necessities for your family even though you tried as hard as you could?  All over America tonight, there are millions of desperate families that are being ripped apart by this economy.  There aren’t nearly enough jobs, and millions of Americans that actually do have jobs aren’t making enough to even provide the basics for their families. 

When you have tried everything that you can think of and nothing works, it can be absolutely soul crushing.  Today, one of my regular readers explained that he was not going to be online for a while because his power had been turned off.  He has been out of work for quite a while, and eventually the money runs out.  Have you ever been there?  If you have ever experienced that moment, you know that it stays with you for the rest of your life.  If you are single that is bad enough, but when you have to look into the eyes of your children and explain to them why there won’t be any dinner tonight or why they have to move into a homeless shelter it can feel like someone has driven a stake into your heart.  In this article you will find a lot of very shocking economic statistics.  But please remember that behind each statistic are the tragic stories of millions of desperately hurting American families.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Rumors of New Bank Bailouts in Spain

Rumors of New Bank Bailouts in Spain

Just when the government touts its miracle economy!

Spain will hold do-or-die general elections on December 20. The Rajoy government hopes that recent improvements in economic performance will be enough to cast its gargantuan political scandals to the back of voters’ minds.

The economy is firing on all cylinders, it claims. To paraphrase Finance Minister Cristobal Montoro, Spain’s economy should serve as a shining example to the world. It is expected to grow by 3% this year, no mean feat in a region plagued by sub-par growth.

However, not everybody’s buying the government’s version of reality: poverty is growing at a startling rate, unemployment continues to hover on the wrong side of the 20% mark, and public debt is almost three times what it was at the beginning of the crisis [read: Six Nagging Facts About Spain’s Recovery].

To make matters worse, the European Commission has just pointed out, albeit as quietly as possible, that despite all the untold billions spent over the last four years trying to save Spain’s rickety financial system, the risk exposure of Spanish banks remains inordinately high. Many banks have been caught engaging in “abusive” mortgage lending practices and could end up having to pay back customers billions of euros.

But not until after the elections!

For years now, Spanish banks have been featuring so-called “floor clauses” in their variable-rate home mortgages, often without informing homebuyers. The variable rate is usually based on Euribor plus a differential. But these clauses set a “floor” or minimum interest rate that clients have to pay the bank, even if Euribor drops far below that figure. And in today’s zero-interest-rate environment, with Euribor at 0.05%, that can make a big difference.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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