GM Stock Buybacks, NAFTA, Trade War and Trade Deficit

The Word Politics

Bill Clinton passes NAFTA and it decimates American manufacturing over the next 25 years…

Up until present day when GM spent 10 billion on stock buybacks and now wants to cut 14,000 jobs and close 5 plants for a savings of 4.5 billion… This is after the tax payers bailed them out for 11 billion in 2016. 

but Trump is blamed by GM and the media, for trying to claw back the trade deficit from decades of Democrat and Republican sabotage.

 

Unlike 2008, GM cutting jobs, plants proactively

Restructuring plan met with anger, except on Wall Street

Michael Wayland December 03, 2018

…The most recent actions included plans to cut 15 percent of its 54,000 North American salaried jobs, including a quarter of its global executives, and to end production at five North American plants in 2019, when it will discontinue the Chevrolet Cruze and five other cars. GM said it also would close two unidentified plants elsewhere in the world by the end of next year….

Read More: http://www.autonews.com/article/20181203/OEM/181209962/gm-plans-future-workforce-makeup

GM bought back $10 billion in stock since 2015, double what job cuts will save

When General Motors announced it was cutting up to 14,000 jobs and idling five automotive plants, it justified the massive cuts by citing long-term savings. The cuts would free up $6 billion in cash, for a net savings of $4.5 billion in cash by 2020.

The move will “make General Motors more agile, resilient and profitable” while the economy’s still revving, CEO Mary Barra told investors Monday. Wall Street seemed to believe her, with GM’s stock rising nearly 5 percent and one analyst on the call congratulating her “on getting in front of the curve here.”

But GM hasn’t exactly been tightfisted in recent years. The company has spent $10.6 billion since 2015 buying back its own shares, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Stock buybacks do nothing for a company’s productive capacity. But because buybacks reduce the number of shares on the market and thus make a stock more valuable, they can be popular with many investors as well as senior executives who are paid largely in stock.

GM is far from the only company to spend money goosing its stock price. This year alone, corporations have announced some $955.6 billion in buybacks, according to TrimTabs Investment Research, and the figure for the whole year could exceed $1 trillion.

But GM started its stock repurchasing program back in 2015, less than six years after a bankruptcy process that cost U.S. taxpayers $11 billion. (The United Auto Workers and a number of politicians have pointed to the bailout in a vow to fight GM’s planned cuts, though it’s unclear politicians can do anything to change them.)

Read More: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/gm-bought-back-10-billion-in-stock-since-2015-double-what-job-cuts-will-save/

Globalist, Predatory Capitalism BS vs. Socialism BS

Why be afraid of socialism

How Faux Capitalism Works In America

Authored by EconomicPrism’s MN Gordonannotated by Acting-Man’s Pater Tenebrarum,

Stars in the Night Sky

The U.S. stock market’s recent zigs and zags have provoked much squawking and screeching.  Wall Street pros, private money managers, and Millennial index fund enthusiasts all find themselves on the wrong side of the market’s swift movements.  Even the best and brightest can’t escape President Trump’s tweet precipitated short squeezes.

The Donald mercilessly hits the shorts with a well-timed tweet. But as it turns out, this market is in a really bad mood at the moment. [PT]

The short-term significance of the DJIA’s 8 percent decline since early-October is uncertain.  For all we know, stocks could run up through the end of the year.  Stranger things have happened.

What is also uncertain is the nature of this purge: Is this another soft decline like that of mid-2015 to early-2016, when the DJIA fell 12 percent before quickly resuming its uptrend?  Or is this the start of a brutal bear market – the kind that wipes out portfolios and blows up investment funds?

The stars in the night sky tell us this is the latter.  For example, when peering out into the night sky even the most untrained eye can identify the three ominous stars that are lining up with mechanical precision.

These stars include a stock market top, followed by a monster corporate debt buildup, and a fading economy.  In short, the stock market’s latest break is presaging a corporate credit crisis and global recession.

BofA/Merrill Lynch US high yield Master II Index yield – this looks like a quite convincing breakout, impossible to tweet down. In other words, the corporate debt build-up is beginning to bite back – and rather bigly, if we may say so (ed note, in case you’re wondering: the little poems are from a Spectator competition in which people used phrases from actual tweets to put together Donald haikus and poems). [PT]

The last time these three stars aligned in this sequence was roughly a decade ago.  If you recall, that was when the DJIA crashed 50 percent coincident with a mega credit crisis and recession.  We suspect that the disaster that’s approaching will be much larger, and much more destructive than the disaster of a decade ago.

Bad Habit

Astute readers will be quick to point out that government debt was not identified as one of the three ominous stars lining up in the night sky.  This is not an oversight.  Rather, it is an insight.

Without question, government debt has burgeoned way beyond what even the most doom and gloom pessimists could have envisioned just a decade ago.  In fact, November marked the widest one month budget deficit in U.S. history.

Over a one month period – a month with just 30 days, not 31 – the U.S. government spent $411 billion while it only received $206 billion.  By our rough back of the napkin calculation, the U.S. government spent nearly double what it took in.  That difference, of course, was made up with debt.  Roughly, $6.83 billion of new debt was added each and every day.

At best, spending more than one makes, like smoking or swearing, is a bad habit.  However, spending more than one makes with no intention to pay it back is a moral failing.  What’s more, running up untenable levels of government debt with the implied intent of inflating it away at the expense of the citizenry is downright evil.

It’s definitely a tremendous pile of debt… and the slope of the mountain has steepened quite dramatically in recent years…  [PT]

Day after day, month after month, year after year, decade after decade, the U.S. government has racked up close to $22 trillion in debt.  Throw in unfunded liabilities of social security, Medicare (Parts A, B, and D), federal debt held by the public, and federal employee and veteran benefits, and the U.S. government’s on the hook for over $115.8 trillion in debt – or nearly $1 million per taxpayer.  How about that?

Of course, as the population ages, and the ratio of workers to retirees balances, these debt figures will go vertical.  As you can see, government debt is more than just an ominous star.  It’s the essential star.  Moreover, it is a dying star on the verge of collapse.  Quite frankly, it may not have enough energy to backstop the financial system during the next downturn.  Here’s why…

How Faux Capitalism Works in America

Our guess is that the real squawking from investors won’t begin until mid-2019.  That’s about the time corporate America becomes acutely aware that pumping gobs of borrowed money into grossly overvalued stocks was an act of financial suicide.

Just look to General Electric, IBM, and Citigroup for an early indication of the forthcoming catastrophe.  For instance, over the last decade GE spent $46 billion buying back its shares.  In 2016 and 2017 alone, at a time of mushrooming debt, GE pumped $24 billion into share buybacks.

GE wasted $46 billion on buying back its shares – with nothing to show for it except a collapsing share price. This was an astonishing misallocation of capital – very likely the company will eventually have issue new shares  to prop up its equity, at prices far below the prices it paid for buying them back. [PT]

Over this time, the price of these shares dropped from about $30 to $16.  And even with Thursday’s 7.3 percent boost, on word of a surprise JPMorgan upgrade, GE shares trade at $7.20.  In other words, shares GE bought back during the early part of 2016 have lost 75 percent of their value.  What to make of it?

The 2008 financial crisis helped clarify how faux capitalism works in America.  That when the big corporations and the big banks get in trouble, the people on top quickly absolve culpability while appropriating public funds from their friends at the Treasury for the purpose of private bailouts. This, in effect, socializes the losses across bottom rungs of society and concentrates profits across the top.

No doubt, the aftermath of the great corporate stock buyback craze of 2009 to 2017 will be a text book example of faux capitalism in action.  First, massive financial bailouts will be disseminated to crony banks and corporations with purpose and intent.  Then, a colossal river of monetary liquidity from the Fed will be diverted into credit markets, and into direct stock purchases of government preferred corporations.

Bailout progression – it continues until it cannot continue anymore, i.e., until the “running out of other people’s money” moment arrives. [PT]

The size and scope of these fiscal and monetary bailouts will utterly dwarf the TARP, ZIRP, and QE policies of the last crisis.  Assuming this doesn’t blow up the Treasury’s balance sheet, or vaporize what’s left of the dollar’s value, a certain end effect will take shape.  The middle class will be reduced to a notch or two above poverty, and wealth will be further concentrated into fewer and fewer hands.

We don’t like it.  We don’t agree with it.  But we can’t stop it.  This is the world we live in.  A world where justice has been debased and rectitude has been sullied.

Read More: https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-12-15/how-faux-capitalism-works-america

Socialism Always Ends in Destruction

Every attempt at socialism has failed miserably. Venezuela is only the latest country that has tried to implement a socialist paradise, only to inevitably crumble and crash before our eyes. Socialism, and its natural progression, communism, has caused the deaths of 100 million people since its inception 100 years ago.

Just a few decades ago, Venezuela had massive oil reserves and an abundance of other resources. It enjoyed wealth and an excellent standard of living. Today, Venezuelans have no food, no medicine, and the country is driven by corruption and fear. While a starving population is in despair, many are desperately trying to flee paradise. The army, supported by President Madero, is in the street, ready to brutalize any dissenters. Madero and the military are not starving.

Socialism can only survive through corruption and intimidation. It’s a system tailor-made for corruption. And corruption may be Venezuela’s largest industry.

Despite that fact that every socialist paradise on earth has turned into hell, many American politicians, and their supporters are calling for socialism for America. Senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Kamala Harris are self-declared proud socialist, loudly singing its praises. Younger newcomers such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Andrew Gillum are joining the chorus.

Read More: http://www.goldtelegraph.com/socialism-always-ends-in-destruction/

Hitler’s Economics

10/27/2018Llewellyn H. Rockwell Jr.

[Originally published August 02, 2003.]

For today’s generation, Hitler is the most hated man in history, and his regime the archetype of political evil. This view does not extend to his economic policies, however. Far from it. They are embraced by governments all around the world. The Glenview State Bank of Chicago, for example, recently praised Hitler’s economics in its monthly newsletter. In doing so, the bank discovered the hazards of praising Keynesian policies in the wrong context.

The issue of the newsletter (July 2003) is not online, but the content can be discerned via the letter of protest from the Anti-Defamation League. “Regardless of the economic arguments” the letter said, “Hitler’s economic policies cannot be divorced from his great policies of virulent anti-Semitism, racism and genocide.… Analyzing his actions through any other lens severely misses the point.”

The same could be said about all forms of central planning. It is wrong to attempt to examine the economic policies of any leviathan state apart from the political violence that characterizes all central planning, whether in Germany, the Soviet Union, or the United States. The controversy highlights the ways in which the connection between violence and central planning is still not understood, not even by the ADL. The tendency of economists to admire Hitler’s economic program is a case in point.

In the 1930s, Hitler was widely viewed as just another protectionist central planner who recognized the supposed failure of the free market and the need for nationally guided economic development. Proto-Keynesian socialist economist Joan Robinson wrote that “Hitler found a cure against unemployment before Keynes was finished explaining it.”

What were those economic policies? He suspended the gold standard, embarked on huge public-works programs like autobahns, protected industry from foreign competition, expanded credit, instituted jobs programs, bullied the private sector on prices and production decisions, vastly expanded the military, enforced capital controls, instituted family planning, penalized smoking, brought about national healthcare and unemployment insurance, imposed education standards, and eventually ran huge deficits. The Nazi interventionist program was essential to the regime’s rejection of the market economy and its embrace of socialism in one country.

Such programs remain widely praised today, even given their failures. They are features of every “capitalist” democracy. Keynes himself admired the Nazi economic program, writing in the foreword to the German edition to the General Theory: “[T]he theory of output as a whole, which is what the following book purports to provide, is much more easily adapted to the conditions of a totalitarian state, than is the theory of production and distribution of a given output produced under the conditions of free competition and a large measure of laissez-faire.”

Keynes’s comment, which may shock many, did not come out of the blue. Hitler’s economists rejected laissez-faire, and admired Keynes, even foreshadowing him in many ways. Similarly, the Keynesians admired Hitler (see George Garvy, “Keynes and the Economic Activists of Pre-Hitler Germany,” The Journal of Political Economy, Volume 83, Issue 2, April 1975, pp. 391–405).

Even as late as 1962, in a report written for President Kennedy, Paul Samuelson had implicit praise for Hitler: “History reminds us that even in the worst days of the great depression there was never a shortage of experts to warn against all curative public actions.… Had this counsel prevailed here, as it did in the pre-Hitler Germany, the existence of our form of government could be at stake. No modern government will make that mistake again.”

On one level, this is not surprising. Hitler instituted a New Deal for Germany, different from FDR and Mussolini only in the details. And it worked only on paper in the sense that the GDP figures from the era reflect a growth path. Unemployment stayed low because Hitler, though he intervened in labor markets, never attempted to boost wages beyond their market level. But underneath it all, grave distortions were taking place, just as they occur in any non-market economy. They may boost GDP in the short run (see how government spending boosted the US Q2 2003 growth rate from 0.7 to 2.4 percent), but they do not work in the long run.

“To write of Hitler without the context of the millions of innocents brutally murdered and the tens of millions who died fighting against him is an insult to all of their memories,” wrote the ADL in protest of the analysis published by the Glenview State Bank. Indeed it is.

But being cavalier about the moral implications of economic policies is the stock-in-trade of the profession. When economists call for boosting “aggregate demand,” they do not spell out what this really means. It means forcibly overriding the voluntary decisions of consumers and savers, violating their property rights and their freedom of association in order to realize the national government’s economic ambitions. Even if such programs worked in some technical economic sense, they should be rejected on grounds that they are incompatible with liberty.

Read More: https://mises.org/library/hitlers-economics

The Costs of Open Borders, Catch and Release, Illegal Immigration and Undocumented Residents

every 30 seconds another person becomes a victim of human trafficking

Member of Mexican sex trafficking ring sentenced to 8 years’ imprisonment

www.ice.gov 12/03/2018

NEW YORK — Raul Granados-Rendon, a member of the Granados family sex trafficking ring based in Tenancingo, Tlaxcala, Mexico, was sentenced Monday in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York (EDNY) to eight years’ imprisonment.  Pursuant to an investigation by  U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in New York, Granados-Rendon pled guilty in December 2017 to trafficking young Mexican women into the United States and forcing them into prostitution. As part of his sentence, the defendant was ordered to pay $1,305,393.80 in restitution to Jane Doe.

“The victims of this man were forced into prostitution after being lured to the U.S. with false promises then threatened, beaten and sexually assaulted,” stated Angel M. Melendez, special agent in charge of HSI New York. “This man was on our agency’s top 10 fugitive list before being extradited and taken into custody early last year. It has been a long road, but now he will face the consequences of his reprehensible actions.”

“With today’s sentence, Raul Granados-Rendon is the latest member of his family’s Mexican sex trafficking operation to be held responsible for preying upon countless women, and profiting from their exploitation and dehumanization,” stated Richard P. Donoghue, U.S. Attorney for EDNY. “This prosecution and sentence mark another important outcome in a nearly decade-long commitment by this Office and our law enforcement partners to obtain justice for the victims,”

From October 1998 to December 2011, Raul Granados-Rendon, 31, participated in a sex trafficking conspiracy with other members of the Granados family, to smuggle numerous young women from Mexico to New York and force them to work as prostitutes in New York City and elsewhere. The male members of the conspiracy used false promises of romance and marriage to lure the victims into relationships and convince them to travel to the United States to make money so that they could build homes for themselves in Mexico. Once in the United States, the victims were subjected to violence, threats and sexual assaults by the defendants. Raul Granados-Rendon directed one of his victims to teach another victim “Jane Doe” how to prostitute. When Jane Doe did not produce as much income as other Granados family victims, the defendant physically abused her, dragging her by her hair into a bathroom and forcing her head into a sink. The defendant also helped transport another victim back to Mexico after his brother impregnated her and failed at his efforts to induce an abortion.

The investigation, prosecution, bilateral enforcement action and extraditions of the defendants apprehended in Mexico were coordinated through the U.S.-Mexico Bilateral Human Trafficking Enforcement Initiative. Since 2009, the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security have collaborated with Mexican law enforcement counterparts in the Initiative to more effectively dismantle human trafficking networks operating across the U.S.-Mexico border.

The HSI New York’s Trafficking in Persons Unit (TIPU) is comprised of senior criminal investigators, intelligence officers and victim assistance specialists who aid in the rescue of trafficking victims and prosecution of traffickers and trafficking organizations. TIPU investigators focus on the exploitation of victims by force, fraud or coercion regardless of the person’s manor or entry into the United States. All TIPU investigations are victim-centered, seeking to rescue and protect the victims of trafficking.

Read More: https://www.ice.gov/news/releases/member-mexican-sex-trafficking-ring-sentenced-8-years-imprisonment


Nearly Two Thirds Of Non-Citizen Households On Welfare

Another day, another revelation as the great fleecing of the U.S. taxpayer continues unabated. A Center for Immigration Studies review of U.S. Census Bureau data reveals a stunning 63% of households in the U.S. headed by non-citizens are on some form of welfare. That’s just shy of two out of every three proving to be a burden to the American people. So much for the lie that massive immigration enriches our nation.

Dead Weight

The information CIS uncovered is infuriating in a number of ways. The 63% figure is almost twice the rate of native-headed American households that use welfare, which is a disturbingly high 35% as it is. But non-citizen households (45%) also utilize food programs at a much higher rate than natives (21%), and disproportionately tap into Medicaid programs as well (50% vs. 23%).

The most telling statistic in the review, however, is that welfare use rises among non-citizens the longer they are in our country. “Of households headed by non-citizens in the United States for fewer than 10 years, 50 percent use one or more welfare programs; for those here more than 10 years, the rate is 70 percent,” CIS discovered.

Rather than serving as a temporary safety net, our welfare programs are proving to be a lifestyle staple for non-citizens sponging off the American taxpayer. Of course, many of these non-citizens do work, but they are low-skilled Hispanics from Central America laboring at poverty-level jobs. A 2015 CIS report found that 67% of households headed by immigrant farm workers are on public assistance of some form. Swollen-eyed Big Ag industrial farmers crying out about the need to find workers willing to do “the jobs Americans won’t do” are in fact having their cheap payrolls subsidized by the welfare programs of this nation.

Bitter Factors

At a time when native-born Americans are working long hours with less vacation time and fewer benefits, we are being forced to carry the millstone of foreign squatters on our backs. Massive immigration has led to overcrowded cities and towns, aggravating traffic congestion that leads to an even more draining daily commute for Americans just so we can we have the privilege of having our wages heavily taxed to financially support the very same invaders who are making our work day more exhausting. This is madness.

Read More: https://www.libertynation.com/nearly-two-thirds-of-non-citizen-households-on-welfare/


Compared to 35% of native households
By Steven A. Camarota and Karen Zeigler on December 2, 2018

Download a PDF of this Backgrounder.

New “public charge” rules issued by the Trump administration expand the list of programs that are considered welfare, receipt of which may prevent a prospective immigrant from receiving lawful permanent residence (a green card). Analysis by the Center for Immigration Studies of the Census Bureau’s Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) shows welfare use by households headed by non-citizens is very high. The desire to reduce these rates among future immigrants is the primary justification for the rule change. Immigrant advocacy groups are right to worry that the high welfare use of non-citizens may impact the ability of some to receive green cards, though the actual impacts of the rules are unclear because they do not include all the benefits non-citizens receive on behalf of their children and many welfare programs are not included in the new rules. As welfare participation varies dramatically by education level, significantly reducing future welfare use rates would require public charge rules that take into consideration education levels and resulting income and likely welfare use.

Of non-citizens in Census Bureau data, roughly half are in the country illegally. Non-citizens also include long-term temporary visitors (e.g. guestworkers and foreign students) and permanent residents who have not naturalized (green card holders). Despite the fact that there are barriers designed to prevent welfare use for all of these non-citizen populations, the data shows that, overall, non-citizen households access the welfare system at high rates, often receiving benefits on behalf of U.S.-born children.

Among the findings:

  • In 2014, 63 percent of households headed by a non-citizen reported that they used at least one welfare program, compared to 35 percent of native-headed households.
  • Welfare use drops to 58 percent for non-citizen households and 30 percent for native households if cash payments from the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) are not counted as welfare. EITC recipients pay no federal income tax. Like other welfare, the EITC is a means-tested, anti-poverty program, but unlike other programs one has to work to receive it.
  • Compared to native households, non-citizen households have much higher use of food programs (45 percent vs. 21 percent for natives) and Medicaid (50 percent vs. 23 percent for natives).
  • Including the EITC, 31 percent of non-citizen-headed households receive cash welfare, compared to 19 percent of native households. If the EITC is not included, then cash receipt by non-citizen households is slightly lower than natives (6 percent vs. 8 percent).
  • While most new legal immigrants (green card holders) are barred from most welfare programs, as are illegal immigrants and temporary visitors, these provisions have only a modest impact on non-citizen household use rates because: 1) most legal immigrants have been in the country long enough to qualify; 2) the bar does not apply to all programs, nor does it always apply to non-citizen children; 3) some states provide welfare to new immigrants on their own; and, most importantly, 4) non-citizens (including illegal immigrants) can receive benefits on behalf of their U.S.-born children who are awarded U.S. citizenship and full welfare eligibility at birth.

The following figures include EITC:

  • No single program explains non-citizens’ higher overall welfare use. For example, not counting school lunch and breakfast, welfare use is still 61 percent for non-citizen households compared to 33 percent for natives. Not counting Medicaid, welfare use is 55 percent for immigrants compared to 30 percent for natives.
  • Welfare use tends to be high for both newer arrivals and long-time residents. Of households headed by non-citizens in the United States for fewer than 10 years, 50 percent use one or more welfare programs; for those here more than 10 years, the rate is 70 percent.
  • Welfare receipt by working households is very common. Of non-citizen households receiving welfare, 93 percent have at least one worker, as do 76 percent of native households receiving welfare. In fact, non-citizen households are more likely overall to have a worker than are native households.1
  • The primary reason welfare use is so high among non-citizens is that a much larger share of non-citizens have modest levels of education and, as a result, they often earn low wages and qualify for welfare at higher rates than natives.
  • Of all non-citizen households, 58 percent are headed by immigrants who have no more than a high school education, compared to 36 percent of native households.
  • Of households headed by non-citizens with no more than a high school education, 81 percent access one or more welfare programs. In contrast, 28 percent of non-citizen households headed by a college graduate use one or more welfare programs.
  • Like non-citizens, welfare use also varies significantly for natives by educational attainment, with the least educated having much higher welfare use than the most educated.
  • Using education levels and likely future income to determine the probability of welfare use among new green card applicants — and denying permanent residency to those likely to utilize such programs — would almost certainly reduce welfare use among future permanent residents.
  • Of households headed by naturalized immigrants (U.S. citizens), 50 percent used one or more welfare programs. Naturalized-citizen households tend to have lower welfare use than non-citizen households for most types of programs, but higher use rates than native households for virtually every major program.
  • Welfare use is significantly higher for non-citizens than for natives in all four top immigrant-receiving states. In California, 72 percent of non-citizen-headed households use one or more welfare programs, compared to 35 percent for native-headed households. In Texas, the figures are 69 percent vs. 35 percent; in New York they are 53 percent vs. 38 percent; and in Florida, 56 percent of non-citizen-headed households use at least welfare program, compared to 35 percent of native households.

Read More: https://www.cis.org/Report/63-NonCitizen-Households-Access-Welfare-Programs

China and the EU/UK: Big Brother’s Playground

 

Red Flags for Detainment in Xinjiang
foreignpolicy.com

The Elite Are Creating An Authoritarian ‘Beast System’, And Those That Dissent Could Lose EVERYTHING

Michael Snyder via The Economic Collapse blog

12/03/2018

They are transforming the Internet into the greatest tool of surveillance that humanity has ever seen, and if we stay on the road that we are currently on it is only a matter of time until our society becomes a hellish dystopian nightmare.  I wish that this was an exaggeration, but it isn’t.  Over the past couple of decades, the Internet has completely changed the way that we all communicate with one another.  At one time, all forms of mass communication were tightly controlled by the elite, but the Internet suddenly allowed us to communicate with one another on a massive scale without having to go through their gatekeepers.  This radically altered the landscape, and at first the elite were unsure of how to respond to this growing threat.  There was no way that they could roll back time to an era before the Internet was invented, and so they have decided to use it for their own insidious purposes instead.

Today, the Internet has become the centerpiece of their “Big Brother surveillance grid”, and they are gathering information on all of us on a scale that has never been seen before in all of human history.  But of course it was never going to stop there.  Over the past couple of years we have started to watch the elite use all of this information to punish those that are doing or saying things that they do not like.

Perhaps the most extreme example of this phenomenon is what is going on in China.  The following comes from BuzzFeed

Chinese journalist Liu Hu always knew he’d have trouble with the authorities; he had been exposing corruption and wrongdoing for years. He was used to being hassled with regular fines and forced apologies imposed by his authoritarian government. He nevertheless persisted in truth-telling.

One day in 2017, Hu logged onto a travel site, but couldn’t book a flight because the site said he was “not qualified.” Soon he discovered he was blocked from buying property, using the high-speed train network, or getting a loan. And there was nothing he could do about it. His rights to essential goods and services were now circumscribed through an algorithm designed to discriminate against the 7.5 million people on China’s “Dishonest Persons Subject to Enforcement” list.

In China they call it a “social credit score”, but in reality it is nightmarish authoritarianism at its worst.

They are monitoring all that their citizens do and think – their political opinions, their shopping patterns, their travel history, their Internet behavior, etc. – and if they upset “the Beast system” then they could ultimately lose access to everything.

Put yourself in their shoes for a moment.

Just imagine a world in which you will no longer be able to buy, sell, open a bank account, get a loan, use public transportation or get a job.

Chinese authorities are even putting up surveillance cameras in the schools so that they can constantly monitor students

Here, the surveillance cameras took the data on individual facial expressions and used that information to create a running “score” on each student and class. If a score reached a predetermined point, the system triggered an alert. Teachers were expected to take action: to talk to a student perceived to be disengaged, for example, or overly moody.

You would think that the Chinese would rebel against such a system, but most are already too fearful to say anything about it.

Read More: http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/archives/the-elite-are-creating-an-authoritarian-beast-system-and-those-that-dissent-could-lose-everything

48 Ways to Get Sent to a Chinese Concentration Camp

BY TANNER GREER September 13th, 2018
here is a crisis in Xinjiang. The details are murky. The Communist Party of China has little incentive to reveal the inner workings of the vast system of surveillance and terror it has built to control the 12 million Uighur and Kazakh citizens of China’s westernmost region. From the party’s perspective, the further away the global spotlight is from its activities the better.

But we now have a rough outline of what is happening to the people of the region. In response to growing tensions between Han Chinese and the Uighur population of Xinjiang itself, the recruitment of Uighurs to fight in the Syrian civil war, and several terrorist attacks orchestrated by Uighur separatists, the party launched what it called the Strike Hard Campaign Against Violent Terrorism. Despite its name, the campaign’s targets are not limited to terrorists. No Uighur living in Xinjiang can escape the shadow of the party nor can members of other ethnic minorities, especially Kazakhs.

Some of the methods used to surveil and coerce the population of Xinjiang are straight from the dystopian imagination: The party has collected the DNA, iris scans, and voice samples of the province’s Uighur population, regularly scans the contents of their digital devices, uses digitally coded ID cards to track their movements, and trains CCTV cameras on their homes, streets, and marketplaces.

To students of Chinese history, other elements of the system are depressingly familiar. Cultural Revolution-style struggle sessions have been resurrected: Uighurs now gather in public meetings to denounce their relatives and publicly admit their personal political sins. Most worrisome of all is the vast network of political education camps that have been created to hold and “re-educate” Uighurs who are too attached to their mother culture. Somewhere between 600,000 and 1.2 million Uighurs—that is, approximately one out of 12—are being held in these camps.

What must a Uighur or Kazakh do to warrant detention in one of these camps? This month, Human Rights Watch (HRW) published a 125-page report on the crisis in Xinjiang that helps answer this question. It is titled “‘Eradicating Ideological Viruses’: China’s Campaign of Repression Against Xinjiang’s Muslims.”

Read More: https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/09/13/48-ways-to-get-sent-to-a-chinese-concentration-camp/

Is China Really More “Dystopian” Than The UK?

RT reported that the UK’s so-called “National Data Analytics Solution” will see an algorithm process whichever of 30 separate data points have been recorded about a person in local and national police databases in order to predict which members of the population are most likely to commit a crime or be victimized by one, after which the state will dispatch local health and social workers to offer “counseling” to them in an attempt to prevent the computer’s envisioned scenario from transpiring. This program is being likened to the 2002 film “Minority Report” and carries with it a vibe of China’s controversial “social credit” system, albeit without any “rewards” being offered for law-abiding behavior. In fact, one can actually make the claim that instead of the UK copying China to a degree, it was actually China that learned from the UK seeing as how the island nation’s mass surveillance system used to be far ahead of the communist nation’s one.

The problem with “pre-crime” technology, however, is that it straddles the fine line between security and liberty in what is supposed to be a “democracy”, therefore making it uncomfortably out of place in the UK while being much more natural to implement in centrally controlled societies like China’s. While the European country insincerely pretends to be a “democracy” in the Western sense of how this system is commonly assumed to function, the East Asian one makes no such pretenses and is proud of having a different organizational model, which should be doubly disturbing for any British citizen because it means that their “democratically elected government” is actually less forthcoming about its nationwide surveillance strategy than comparatively more centralized China’s is. No value judgement is being made about either country’s governing system, but the purpose of this comparison is to point out the surprising similarities between the two that are usually lost on most observers.

For as much as China is demonized for taking proactive security measuresagainst Uighurs who the state fears are at risk of succumbing to terrorist ideologies, the UK will essentially be channeling the same spirit of this strategy through its “National Data Analytics Solution” with what can only be assumed are the ethno-socio minority groups in the country that are statistically more at risk of committing crimes or being victimized by them. The difference, however, is that drawing attention to this doesn’t serve the US’ geopolitical interests because it has nothing to gain by destabilizing the UK and possibly imposing sanctions against it for supposedly violating these subjects’ “human rights”, unlike its stance towards China in this respect. While many are fretting that “East Asia” is pioneering the way for Orwell’s 1984 to come to life, they’d do well to consider just how much “Oceania” has already done to make this a reality too.

Read More: https://orientalreview.org/2018/12/05/is-china-really-more-dystopian-than-the-uk/

 

The Truth About America’s Crony-Capitalism: It’s Controlled by Less Than a Dozen Companies

People act like massive inequalities are the fault of capitalism, a system of buying and trading goods and services that goes back to the beginning of human history.

In fact, none of us would be alive today if our ancestors did not partake in trading, buying and selling.

It has been evident through the centuries, that humans flourish the most when allowed to partake in trade, and they flourish even more depending on how free the trade is from central authorities’ taxation and arbitrary regulation.

The problem with blaming our current inequalities on today’s system of capitalism is that it’s not really a free system, but tightly controlled by corporate and government-created cartels. It’s crony capitalism. It’s corporatism. It’s not allowing people to freely trade with one another.

It would be a mistake to claim that we need to replace today’s system of centrally controlled trade with another system of central control, like socialism. You can’t cure an ill by doubling up on the poison that caused the illness in the first place.

No system that allows for human freedom and happiness can ever create perfect equality of outcomes for everyone.

Humans are messy creatures, we don’t appreciate any centrally-forced solution that reduces our freedoms.

The best we can hope from a system is to provide an equal playing field for freedom of trade… which is exactly the opposite of what we have going on today in the United States, where eleven companies control every consumer good, while five companies control all mainstream media, and a central bank, owned privately by global conglomerates controls our money policy.

11 companies control everything you buy

11 companies control everything you buy – wikibuy.com

The Myth Of American Capitalism Exposed: Competition Is Dying As The Biggest Corporations Gobble Up Everything

Vibrant competition is absolutely essential in order for a capitalist economic system to function effectively.  Unfortunately, in the United States today we are witnessing the death of competition in industry after industry as the biggest corporations increasingly gobble up all of their competitors.  John D. Rockefeller famously once said that “competition is a sin”, and he was one of America’s very first oligopolists.  According to Google, an oligopoly is “a state of limited competition, in which a market is shared by a small number of producers or sellers”, and that is a perfect description of the current state of affairs in many major industries.  In early America, corporations were greatly limited in scope, and in most instances they were only supposed to exist temporarily.  But today the largest corporations have become so huge that they literally dominate our entire society, and that is not good for any of us.

Just look at what is happening in the airline industry.  When I was growing up, there were literally dozens of airlines, but now four major corporations control everything and they have been making gigantic profits

AMERICA’S airlines used to be famous for two things: terrible service and worse finances. Today flyers still endure hidden fees, late flights, bruised knees, clapped-out fittings and sub-par food. Yet airlines now make juicy profits. Scheduled passenger airlines reported an after-tax net profit of $15.5bn in 2017, up from $14bn in 2016.

What is true of the airline industry is increasingly true of America’s economy. Profits have risen in most rich countries over the past ten years but the increase has been biggest for American firms. Coupled with an increasing concentration of ownership, this means the fruits of economic growth are being monopolised.

If you don’t like how an airline is treating you, in some cases you can choose to fly with someone else next time.

But as a recent Bloomberg article pointed out, that is becoming increasingly difficult to do…

United, for example, dominates many of the country’s largest airports. In Houston, United has around a 60 percent market share, in Newark 51 percent, in Washington Dulles 43 percent, in San Francisco 38 percent and in Chicago 31 percent. This situation is even more skewed for other airlines. For example, Delta has an 80 percent market share in Atlanta. For many routes, you simply have no choice.

And of course the airline industry is far from alone.  In sector after sector, economic power is becoming concentrated in just a few hands.

For a moment, I would like you to consider these numbers

  • Two corporations control 90 percent of the beer Americans drink.
  • Five banks control about half of the nation’s banking assets.
  • Many states have health insurance markets where the top two insurers have an 80 percent to 90 percent market share. For example, in Alabama one company, Blue Cross Blue Shield, has an 84 percent market share and in Hawaii it has 65 percent market share.
  • When it comes to high-speed Internet access, almost all markets are local monopolies; over 75 percent of households have no choice with only one provider.
  • Four players control the entire U.S. beef market and have carved up the country.
  • After two mergers this year, three companies will control 70 percent of the world’s pesticide market and 80 percent of the U.S. corn-seed market.

I knew that things were bad, but I didn’t know that they were that bad.

Capitalism works best when competition is maximized.  In socialist systems, the government itself becomes a major player in the game, and that is never a desirable outcome.  Instead, what we want is for the government to serve as a “referee” that enforces rules that encourage free and fair competition.  Jonathan Tepper, the author of “The Myth of Capitalism: Monopolies and the Death of Competition”, made this point very well in an excerpt from his new book

Capitalism is a game where competitors play by rules on which everyone agrees. The government is the referee, and just as you need a referee and a set of agreed rules for a good basketball game, you need rules to promote competition in the economy.

Left to their own devices, firms will use any available means to crush their rivals. Today, the state, as referee, has not enforced rules that would increase competition, and through regulatory capture has created rules that limit competition.

Our founders were very suspicious of large concentrations of power.  That is why they wanted a very limited federal government, and that is also why they put substantial restrictions on corporate entities.

When power is greatly concentrated, most of the rewards tend to flow to the very top of the pyramid, and that is precisely what we have been witnessing.  The following comes from the New York Times

Even when economic growth has been decent, as it is now, most of the bounty has flowed to the top. Median weekly earnings have grown a miserly 0.1 percent a year since 1979. The typical American family today has a lower net worththan the typical family did 20 years ago. Life expectancy, shockingly, has fallen this decade.

So what is the solution?

Read More: http://endoftheamericandream.com/archives/the-myth-of-american-capitalism-exposed-competition-is-dying-as-the-biggest-corporations-gobble-up-everything

These 11 Companies Control Everything You Buy

wikibuy.com

Is freedom of choice an illusion?

The rapid rise of variation in everyday goods and services, from which cereal we eat in the morning to which toothpaste we brush our teeth with at night, gives the perception of unlimited choice. For example, if you’re deciding which bottled water to buy, the possibilities range from budget brands, like Deer Park or Ozarka, to higher-end options, like Perrier or S. Pellegrino. But this appearance of choice is actually manufactured. All of the aforementioned brands are owned by one company: Nestle.

Despite the amount of choices in the consumer market, several big companies own a large majority of major brands, effectively controlling everything you buy.

So, how much of “choice” is really controlled by big business, and how well do Americans understand which corporations have a stake in the goods and services they rely on every day? To find out, we took an in-depth look at the major companies that own a majority of America’s food and consumer goods. Then, we surveyed 3,000 Americans about their understanding of which big businesses own which major brands. Check out our full visual below, or skip ahead to see our survey findings.

Read More: https://wikibuy.com/blog/b8b9

 

Why Not Allow a Foreign Multi-billionaire to Socially Engineer Your Country and Civil Society?

Soros Serves the Common Interests

Have We Reached Peak Soros?

George Soros is losing.  He still thinks he’s winning.  But, in reality, he’s losing.

All around you, if you look closely enough, you will see the spectre of George Soros lurking behind the headlines.  The caravan, net neutrality, regulating Facebook, the de-platforming of independent media, color revolutions and election meddling, refugee creation and manipulation, the trolls on Twitter, your blog and YouTube, etc.

All of these things we see in the headlines today are a product of George Soros’ money and his singular obsession with re-creating the world in his image.

Soros himself is a product of the times.  A multi-billionaire who could only exist in an era of unprecedented corruption of the basic foundations of society.  An age where the dangerous mix of Marxist ideology governs the somewhat unfettered free flow of capital has resulted in the mother of all bubbles in making money on money.

Read More: https://tomluongo.me/2018/11/27/have-we-reached-peak-soros/

Global Warming or Global Cooling? Further Evidence the Science Isn’t Settled

Fake News Polar Bears Global Warming Climate Change

Scientists acknowledge key errors in study of how fast the oceans are warming

A major study claimed the oceans were warming much faster than previously thought. But researchers now say they can’t necessarily make that claim.

November 13, 2018

Scientists behind a major study that claimed the Earth’s oceans are warming faster than previously thought now say their work contained inadvertent errors that made their conclusions seem more certain than they actually are.

Read More: https://www.washingtonpost.com/amphtml/energy-environment/2018/11/14/scientists-acknowledge-key-errors-study-how-fast-oceans-are-warming/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.f2af11c795b9&__twitter_impression=true&utm_source=reddit.com

HEADLINE-GRABBING GLOBAL WARMING STUDY SUFFERS FROM A MAJOR MATH ERROR

Michael Bastasch  11/07/2018

  • The media fawned over a recent global warming study that had a major math error, researchers found.
  • It turns out, the math error made it appear as if oceans warmed more than previously thought.
  • Major media outlets uncritically covered the study, sounding the alarm on global warming.

The recent headline-grabbing study that claimed global warming was heating the oceans up faster than expected suffers from a major math error, according to two researchers.

The study, which was published in a prestigious scientific journal at the end of October, put forward results suggesting global warming was much worse than previously believed. The media ate the results up.

Independent scientist Nic Lewis found the study had “apparently serious (but surely inadvertent) errors in the underlying calculations.” Lewis’ findings were quickly corroborated by another researcher.

Numerous media outlets uncritically highlighted the study’s findings. The Washington Post, for example, reported the work suggested “Earth could be set to warm even faster than predicted.”

The Post’s coverage of the “startling” climate study was echoed by The New York Times, which claimed the study suggested global warming “has been more closely in line with scientists’ worst-case scenarios.”

The BBC warned “[t]his could make it much more difficult to keep global warming within safe levels this century.”

However, Lewis found the new paper’s findings stemmed from a math error. Lewis said “a quick review of the first page of the paper was sufficient to raise doubts as to the accuracy of its results.”

“Just a few hours of analysis and calculations, based only on published information, was sufficient to uncover apparently serious (but surely inadvertent) errors in the underlying calculations,” Lewis wrote in a blog post published on climate scientist Judith Curry’s website.

Lewis found the study’s authors, led by Princeton University scientist Laure Resplandy, erred in calculating the linear trend of estimated ocean warming between 1991 and 2016. Lewis has also criticized climate model predictions, which generally over-predict warming.

Read More: https://dailycaller.com/2018/11/07/global-warming-study-oceans-error/

The sun is going to be really cool in 2050, scientists say 

FEB 09, 2018

By 2050, that big burning ball of gas is going to be unusually cool, according to a study from the University of California San Diego.

Based on 20 years of data collection and observations, a research team led by physicist Dan Lubin calculated that the sun will be 7% cooler — and dimmer — by the mid-century.

Scientists chalk that change up to what they call a “grand minimum,” which refers to a low point in the core of the sun’s regular 11-year pattern of revving up and resting. At the low point, the sun’s magnetism diminishes, the surface calms and less ultraviolet radiation makes it to the surface of Earth.

 

Obama Blames Slow Climate Change Progress On “Confused, Blind, Racist, Shrouded With Hate” Americans

 

During an hour-long discussion with author Dave Eggers at the Obama Foundation Summit in Chicago, former President Obama opined on ways to mobilize Americans toward creating social change.

While the entire session was a thinly-veiled attack on the current administration (and anyone who voted for it), as Grabien’s Tom Elliott notes, when the topic of global warming came up, Obama’s criticism was particularly pointed.

Obama begins his somewhat off-the-rails comments at around 29:00 in, proclaiming:

“…the reason we don’t [invest in climate change policies] is because we are still confused, blind, shrouded with hate, anger, racism – mommy issues…”

“I mean, we — we are we are fraught with stuff,” he continued,

“And — and so if that’s the case then the single most important thing that we have to invest in is not all — and look I’m a huge supporter of science and technological research and social science and, you know, evidence-based learning and all that good stuff.

I’m — I’m — people call me Spock for a reason, I believe in reason and logic and all these enlightenment values, but the thing that really we have to invest in is people. We got to get people to figure out how they work together — in a — you know, how do we get people to work together in a cooperative, thoughtful, constructive way.”

But  as Grabien’s Tom Elliott points out, the erstwhile commander-in-chief did not explain what meant by “mommy issues,” or how these related to countering climate change. But, the former President was far from done with his ramblings…

“I was having a conversation with a friend, who was depressed about the current course of our country — it’s a conversation that happens a lot,” Obama said later.

“I had to remind him that this is what happens. Societies are these incredibly complex, organic things that sometimes moves forward and sometimes takes a step back.

“This is a heavy burden,” he said.

“But what a joyous burden to have this grand adventure where you can literally remake the world right now because it badly needs remaking. If you could blindly choose when you wanted to be born, you’d choose now … Or — maybe two years ago.”

Read More: https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-11-20/obama-blames-slow-climate-change-progress-confused-blind-racist-shrouded-hate