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LEE CAMP: The Secret Reason Billionaires Love a Pandemic

LEE CAMP: The Secret Reason Billionaires Love a Pandemic

You see, there has been a class war going on for years – perpetrated by the rich (who aren’t smarter or better) against everyone else.

We live in a time when there are more billionaires walking around than ever before. (They don’t actually walk. They have someone do that for them.) And one can’t deny billionaires are billionaires because they’ve worked harder than anyone else—roughly 300 times harder than an average worker. They are smarter, cleverer, more intuitive and show more initiative than anyone else, too. That’s why they’re billionaires and we’re not. That’s why they will always be billionaires and we will never be. That’s why we can all see ourselves in the reflection on Jeff Bezos’ bald head and yet can never touch it.

‘Deportmental ditties : and other verses;’ Graham, Harry, 1874-1936. London : Mills & Boon 1900. (University of Toronto)

Now, I must say—everything stated in the first paragraph is utterly false. No part of it is true (except the part about the walking). Most billionaires don’t work harder, don’t think harder, and don’t know more. They have nothing over your average person except: a) luck b) sometimes inheriting a fortune and c) being more sociopathic. So I guess you could say they’re extraordinary on the sociopathy front. They are more willing to crush other humans to get what they want and thereby they are more able to get what they want.

All of this might slightly explain why a vein bulges in my forehead when I read that billionaires are doing better than ever during this global viral outbreak that has killed hundreds of thousands.

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

The Social Contract Between Government and People Is Unraveling – Quicktake

The Social Contract Between Government and People Is Unraveling – Quicktake

Numbers, budgets, charts and graphs about government finances. That’s what we do here. We try to understand where public money should be spent and what it accomplishes.

Through that lens, it’s difficult to know where to begin on what has befallen the Chicago area and most of the country.

For now, this simple observation seems paramount: The most fundamental element of the social contract between government and the people is cracking. That’s the obligation of government to keep its citizens safe. For that, we surrender a portion of of our freedom and wealth to government for the collective good.

Thomas Hobbes

That arrangement has been recognized as a foundational philosophy of civil society since Thomas Hobbes articulated it over 300 years ago.

Citizens expect government to protect them from rioting and looting just as they expect it to protect their lives and adhere to to a civil process when being arrested. Both expectations are now broken.

“The sight of looters and arsonists pillaging stores at will has shaken the confidence of many that law enforcement is capable of maintaining the peace. It has also tainted the very real grief felt over the tragic loss of life.” That’s not from a source that’s unsympathetic to George Floyd or protesters. It’s from an editorial in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

What will be the consequences breaking the social contract? Speculate if you want, but know that it may extend far beyond George Floyd’s murder and the resulting violence.

How to Prepare For the Coming Wealth Grab

How to Prepare For the Coming Wealth Grab

And here comes the next round of stimulus.

As long as large portions of the economy remain on lockdown, the government will be forced to perform massive stimulus programs/ social spending. As I write this Friday morning, the House is preparing to vote on a $3 trillion stimulus bill later today. 

While the particular bill in question is chock full of Democrats’ legislation (more abortion funding, banning voter IDs, etc.), and likely won’t make it through the Senate in this particular form, the White House and the GOP are both in favor of providing additional stimulus checks to Americans in the near future.

Put simply, regardless of specific political affiliations, the political class is currently in favor of spending vast amounts of money right now.

All of this money has to come from somewhere. Currently, it’s the debt markets (the Treasury will borrow $3 trillion between April and June alone). But at some point, the Powers That Be will begin looking for new sources of capital.

Indeed, if history has taught us anything it’s that once the government/ elites use a crisis to make a massive power grab, rarely if ever is that power given back to the people.

We saw this with the Patriot Act in 2001, the policy response to the 2008 crisis. And it’s happening again today with the economic shutdown. While individual states will all eventually reopen, the fact is that the US just took a massive jump towards outright socialism/ central planning. And the political class LOVES it.

This will result in a collapsing economy, which in turn will mean lower tax revenues, which in turn will mean a greater need for capital to finance social spending programs/ unemployment/ stimulus checks.

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

Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic, America’s Billionaires Thrive and Prosper

Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic, America’s Billionaires Thrive and Prosper

Although most Americans currently face hard times, with unemployment surging to the levels of the Great Depression and enormous numbers of people sick or dying from the coronavirus pandemic, the nation’s super-rich remain a notable exception.

Financially, they are doing remarkably well. According to the Institute for Policy Studies, between March 18 and April 28, as nearly 30 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits, the wealth of America’s 630 billionaires grew by nearly 14 percent. During April 2020 alone, their wealth increased by over $406 billion, bringing it to $3.4 trillion. According to estimates by Forbes, the 400 richest Americans now possess as much wealth as held by nearly two-thirds of American households combined.

Some of the super-rich have fared particularly well. Jeff Bezos (the wealthiest man in the world) saw his wealth soar between January 1 and early May 2020 to $142 billion―an increase of $27.5 billion. During that same period, Elon Musk’s wealth grew by $11.4 billion to $39 billion and the wealth of Steve Ballmer (ranking sixth in wealth) increased by $8 billion to $66.1 billion. The gains of Mark Zuckerberg (ranking third) were more modest, but his wealth did rise to $79.3 billion.

Although some billionaires lost money, this was not likely to put them out on the streets. The wealth of Bill Gates (ranking second) dropped from about $113 billion to $106 billion, while the wealth of Larry Ellison (ranking ninth) slipped from $58.8 billion to $58.7 billion.

During this time of economic crisis, two features of the U.S. government’s economic bailout legislation facilitated the burgeoning of billionaire fortunes: first, the provision of direct subsidies to the wealthy and their corporations, and, second, the gift of huge tax breaks to rich Americans and their businesses. Consequently, although the U.S. economy continues to deteriorate, stock prices, helped along by this infusion of cash, are once again soaring.

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

Let’s Be Less Productive

HAS the pursuit of labor productivity reached its limit?

Productivity — the amount of output delivered per hour of work in the economy — is often viewed as the engine of progress in modern capitalist economies. Output is everything. Time is money. The quest for increased productivity occupies reams of academic literature and haunts the waking hours of C.E.O.’s and finance ministers. Perhaps forgivably so: our ability to generate more output with fewer people has lifted our lives out of drudgery and delivered us a cornucopia of material wealth.

But the relentless drive for productivity may also have some natural limits. Ever-increasing productivity means that if our economies don’t continue to expand, we risk putting people out of work. If more is possible each passing year with each working hour, then either output has to increase or else there is less work to go around. Like it or not, we find ourselves hooked on growth.

What, then, should happen when, for one reason or another, growth just isn’t to be had anymore? Maybe it’s a financial crisis. Or rising prices for resources like oil. Or the need to rein in growth for the damage it’s inflicting on the planet: climate change, deforestation, the loss of biodiversity. Maybe it’s any of the reasons growth can no longer be safely and easily assumed in any of today’s economies. The result is the same. Increasing productivity threatens full employment.

One solution would be to accept the productivity increases, shorten the workweek and share the available work. Such proposals — familiar since the 1930s — are now enjoying something of a revival in the face of continuing recession. The New Economics Foundation, a British think tank, proposes a 21-hour workweek. It may not be the workaholic’s choice. But it’s certainly a strategy worth thinking about.

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

Freaky-Deaky

Freaky-Deaky


I never subscribed to the nostrums of Marxism, but old Karl sure had a point when he said, “All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind.” Is that exactly where we’re at, or what?

The hologram of capital that was not really there dissolves before our eyes. That capital, you understand, was our notion of how wealthy we used to be, like, five minutes ago. And now the capital, the money, the mojo of modern life is going-going-gone. The hologram was projected by a fantastically hypercomplex hologram machine jerry-rigged with frauds, swindles, and false promises to pay tomorrow for that proverbial hamburger today. The people running it left the robots in charge and went off to frolic with the likes of Jeffrey Epstein, speaking of the profane. Then, the hologram machine broke and the iridescent image just plumb flickered out.

Now, under the shadow of the corona virus, everybody has been sent home to wait and see what happens next, hostages to the flat-screen, where the cable networks show little besides a non-stop real-time horror movie called The End of Your Future. It’s hard to keep morale up when you realize that all the usual conveyer belts of stuff you need to keep going are breaking down. It’s not hard to imagine fights, sure to come, over that dwindling stuff, which we will struggle heroically to allocate because we are really not all bad. Goodness abides, even in that America we managed to so deeply profane. Let’s hope there’s enough of it.

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

The Delicate Balancing Act To Protect Wealth Is Full On

The Delicate Balancing Act To Protect Wealth Is Full On

We Are Walking A Tightrope 

The delicate balancing act to protect wealth is now in full crisis mode. The key players are central banks across the world and the corrupt bankrupt governments they seek to protect. At risk is the global financial system that has served them so well over the decades. For years these so-called guardians of the economy have siphoned wealth away from the many and into the hands of a few. Now unless they can pull a few more rabbits out of their hats rubber may hit the road.

President Donald Trump announced in a White House news conference that he would seek payroll tax relief and other measures to help businesses deal with the coronavirus outbreak. The Associated Press reported Trump said they were discussing “a possible payroll tax cut or relief, substantial relief, very substantial relief, that’s big, that’s a big number,” Administration officials said the White House wasn’t ready to roll out specific economic proposals, CNBC reported. Trump also said he was seeking help for hourly-wage workers to ensure they’re “not going to miss a paycheck” and “don’t get penalized for something that’s not their fault.” These were in reaction to a large market drop as the covid-19 outbreak spread.

President Trump’s proposal to cut payroll taxes is targeted at reinforcing investor confidence in the hope it will give markets a reason to rebound. It ignores the fact America’s deficit spending is already out of control. An analogy would be for a near-bankrupt parent giving their irresponsible child a raise in their allowance after finding they had been wasting money on lottery tickets.

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

PRECIOUS METALS INVESTOR ALERT: Prices Are Heading Into An Entirely New Market

PRECIOUS METALS INVESTOR ALERT: Prices Are Heading Into An Entirely New Market

The Global Financial System is now under severe stress.  While there have been many factors leading to up to this point, the situation that is unfolding in China and abroad seems to be speeding up the process.  Yesterday, the market got a small WHIFF or WOKE up a TAD in regards to a global contagion and soon to be the rapid contraction of the JIT – Just In Time Inventory Supply Chain System.

Even though the Dow Jones Index lost 1,031 points on Monday and another 400+ points so far today, this is mere peanuts when we take into account what is coming in the following weeks and months ahead. Because China accounts for 21% of Global GDP and it supplies a lot of goods, parts, and consumables around the planet, a severe contraction will impact the rest of the world in short order.

But, what if this contagion spreads further to other countries as we see in Iran and Italy??  Then, we are talking about a much more severe systemic problem.  And according to my research these past 3-4 days, it’s much worse than I previously thought.  I don’t plan on doing any updates on this contagion, as many others are more qualified.  However, I will be posting some information as it pertains to the global economy and financial system.

The one thing that I will share is that if you want to wait to prepare for this until some local, state, or regional government comes in and locks down your town, city, or area… then you are behaving UNWISELY.  Of course, the situation may not get that bad, but there is nothing wrong with a little insurance, just in case.

The Precious Metals Will Do Did Exactly What They Were Designed To Do… PROTECT WEALTH

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

Understanding The Keys To Power

Understanding The Keys To Power

Will be a survival requirement for the coming decade

The past decade was undoubtedly shaped by the policy adopted by the global central banking cartel to flood the world with massive amounts of liquidity (over $15 trillion) to “rescue” markets following the Great Financial Crisis.

It’s becoming increasingly clear who benefitted most from this: the ultra-rich

US wealth gap

As $trillions flowed into financial assets pushing them higher every year throughout the twenty-teens, those who owned those assets — disproportionately the very rich — saw their wealth soar.

We’re now at the point where the richest 1% owns nearly half of the world’s assets, while the bottom 60% have (often much) less than $10,000 to their name:

Global Wealth Pyramid

How has the distribution of wealth become this distorted?

Distribution of family wealth

The harsh simple truth is that those who run the system manipulate it to their benefit.

This is true in both government and industry. Those in power do ‘whatever it takes’ to remain in power and enjoy the fruits of their advantage. Any sort of social ‘duty’ is secondary (at best), and will be sacrificed if necessary.

Perhaps one of the best analyses and explanations of this is put forth by the book The Dictator’s Handbook, by Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and Alastair Smith. For politicians and CEOs alike, maintaining control of the “keys to power” — those who support and enable your rule — is essential.

This is why we’ve ended up with the bastardized crony form of capitalism now in place. Those running the system work hard to reward/punish anyone who aids/threatens their power base.

Like it or not, this is the world in which we live. And it’s critical to understand its nature if we want to avoid becoming unwitting serfs to it.

The most important tenets to be aware of are laid out very effectively in this short video called The Rules For Rulers, created under the supervision of Bueno de Mesquita and Smith:

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

The Wealthy Are Hoarding Physical Gold

The Wealthy Are Hoarding Physical Gold

The world’s rich are hoarding gold – this according to data buried in a recent Goldman Sachs note to clients.

In the note published over the weekend, Goldman recommended diversifying long-term bond holdings with gold, citing “fear-driven demand” for the yellow metal.

Hedge funds and other large speculators boosted their bullish bets on gold by 8.9% through the week ended Dec. 3, according to government data released last Friday. That represents the biggest gain since the end of September.

The Goldman note cited political uncertainty and recession fears as the catalyst for the move toward gold. It also mentioned worries about a wealth tax, increasing interest in Modern Monetary Theory (essentially money-printing) and the current loose central bank monetary policy.

Data buried in the note also revealed that owning physical gold appears to be the preferred method to “hedge against tail events” by the rich.

Since the end of 2016 the implied build in non-transparent gold investment has been much larger than the build in visible gold ETFs.”

Goldman said the data is consistent with reports that vault demand is surging globally.

Trade data implies that gold in storage has increased far more rapidly than is reflected by financial market instruments, indicating a widespread preference for physical gold instead of gold-linked financial assets … Political risks, in our view, help explain this because if an individual is trying to minimize the risks of sanctions or wealth taxes, then buying physical gold bars and storing them in a vault, where it is more difficult for governments to reach them, makes sense.

“Finally, this build can also reflect hedges by global high net worth individuals against tail economic and political risk scenarios in which they do not want to have any financial entity intermediating their gold positions due to the counter-party credit risk involved.”

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

Every Bubble Eventually Finds its Pin

Every Bubble Eventually Finds its Pin

The transfer of wealth from workers and savers to governments and big banks continued this week with Swiss-like precision.  The process is both mechanical and subtle.  Here in the USA the automated elegance of this ongoing operation receives little attention.

NFL football.  EBT card acceptance at Del Taco.  Adam Schiff’s impeachment extravaganza.  You name it.  Bread and circuses like these – and many others – offer the American populace countless opportunities for chasing the wild goose.

All the while, and with little fanfare, debts pile up like deadwood in Sequoia National Forest.  These debts, both public and private, stand little chance of ever being honestly repaid.  According to the IMF, global debt –  both public and private – has reached an all-time high of $188 trillion.  That comes to about 230 percent of world output.

Certainly, some of the private debt will be defaulted on during the next credit crisis and depression.  But when it comes to the public debt, governments do everything they can to prevent an outright default.  Central banks crank up the printing press and attempt to inflate it away.

After Nixon temporarily suspended the Bretton Woods Agreement in 1971, the money supply could be expanded without technical limitations.  This includes issuing new debt to pay for government spending above and beyond tax receipts.  Hence, since 1971, government directed money supply inflation has been the standard operating procedure in the U.S. and much of the world.

Downright Disgraceful

Expanding the money supply has the effect of dissipating wealth from the currency.  The process allows governments, which are first in line to spend this newly created money, a back door into your bank account.  Without levying taxes, they get access to your wealth and future earnings and leave you with money of diminished value.

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

On Psychopathy And Power

On Psychopathy And Power

Due to a very painful and disturbing revelation in my personal life I have had the unfortunate occasion to spend the last several days thinking a lot about psychopaths and what makes them tick. I don’t want to get into the hairy details at this time, but I would like to share some of the more general thoughts that have been coming up here on the matter.

It is interesting that psychopathy should have reached a dark tentacle into my life in the way that it did, given that the three years I’ve been at this gig have been spent writing more and more about the way our world is run by calculating manipulators who are devoid of empathy. I often say that we have found ourselves ruled by psychopaths because we have a system wherein (A) those who are willing to do anything to anyone are rewarded with immense wealth, and (B) immense wealth translates directly to immense political power. Add in the fact that studies have shown that wealth itself kills off empathy and compassion, and you’ve got yourself a perfect recipe for a plutocratic dystopia dominated by antisocial personality disorder.

I’m not really interested in getting into the specific clinical diagnoses of psychopathy and sociopathy for the purposes of this discussion. What I’m talking about here is a specific slice of humanity that is neurologically wired in such a way that they experience the world more as a series of puzzles which can be manipulated around to get them them whatever they want regardless of who it hurts, rather than experiencing a world full of fellow sentient beings with whom you can have deep, meaningful connections and interactions.

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

The Company Store

The Company Store

Leaves almost nothing to live on

In the song Sixteen Tons by Merle Travis (and made famous by Tennessee Ernie Ford), the idea of the ‘company store’ referred to a system of debt bondage that effectively trapped workers within an unfair system designed to harvest all of their labor at very low cost.

You load sixteen tons, what do you get?

Another day older and deeper in debt

Saint Peter don’t you call me ’cause I can’t go

I owe my soul to the company store

       Sixteen Tons – Merle Travis

How exactly did the company store system operate?

Under a scrip system, workers were not paid cash; rather they were paid with non-transferable credit vouchers that could be exchanged only for goods sold at the company store. This made it impossible for workers to store up cash savings.

Workers also usually lived in company-owned dormitories or houses, the rent for which was automatically deducted from their pay.

(Source – Wiki)

This model was simple enough to understand.  “Pay” your workers with scrip vouchers, then sell them your marked up goods at the company store, pocketing a nice profit. On top of that, force your employees to live in company housing, too,  also at terms very favorable to the company.

Add it all up and the workers found themselves in perpetual service to their employer. No matter how hard and long they toiled, there was nothing left for their own private benefit after all was said and done.  The company succeeded in skimming off any and all  ‘excess’ for itself.

This vast unfairness eventually led to the formation of unions as well as to regulations providing protection to the workers.

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

Italy Becoming Poor — Becoming Poor in Italy. The Effects of the Twilight of the Age of Oil

Italy Becoming Poor — Becoming Poor in Italy. The Effects of the Twilight of the Age of Oil

The living room of the house that my parents built in 1965. An American style suburban home, a true mansion in the hills. I lived there for more than 50 years but now I have to give up: I can’t afford it anymore. 

Let me start with a disclaimer: I am not poor. As a middle class, state employee in Italy, I am probably richer than some 90% of the people living on this planet. But wealth and poverty are mainly relative perceptions and the feeling I have is that I am becoming poorer every year, just like the majority of Italians, nowadays.

I know that the various economic indexes say that we are not becoming poorer and that, worldwide, the GDP keeps growing, even in Italy it sort of restarted growing after a period of decline. But something must be wrong with those indexes because we are becoming poorer. It is unmistakable, GDP or not. To explain that, let me tell you the story of the house that my father and my mother built in the 1960s and how I am now forced to leave it because I can’t just afford it anymore.

Back in the 1950s and 1960s, Italy was going through what was called the “Economic Miracle” at the time. After the disaster of the war, the age of cheap oil had created a booming economy everywhere in the world. In Italy, people enjoyed a wealth that never ever had been seen or even imagined before. Private cars, health care for everybody, vacations at the seaside, the real possibility for most Italians to own a house, and more.

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

Why Are American Communities Dying?

Why Are American Communities Dying?

Most Americans who have been around for a while know life is nothing like it used to be. When someone wanted a job one was found with a little bit of searching. Today jobs are difficult to find, especially in small communities. 

When I was growing up in the 70’s, there were several car dealers in my community. There were three tractor dealers and too many mom and pop stores to count. Today there are two used car dealers and the nearest tractor dealer is twenty miles away. So how is it that we now have more people, but fewer businesses to employ them?

A nations wealth is derived from having a product to sell. That wealth needs to circulate in towns and cities to compound the wealth effect and create jobs and businesses. When wealth is not created or it is siphoned off to other places, the wealth effect can not happen, and in many cases goes into reverse. A community needs a certain amount of service related jobs to function but it also needs some type of production jobs to bring in money from the outside. This can be mining , agriculture or manufacturing type jobs, but they must exist to insure a healthy economy.

America has two major problems today. A large amount of our production is done outside the country eliminating production jobs in local communities and many of the small local businesses that kept wealth within communities have been supplanted by large corporations that siphon wealth out of communities and send it to wall street. 

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

Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
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