Poor Cities and Poorer Economics

The newest cover story in The Economist deplores the situation of cities in developed countries that are left behind in terms of economic development by the digitized, globalized economy. One such is Scranton, Pennsylvania, where, since 2007, the local government has spent over $6bn on corporate subsidies in an effort to encourage redevelopment and boost local infrastructure. Such places and their disengaged, disgruntled workers are also fueling the rise in anti-globalization rhetoric which has propelled several new faces into the political arena in the US, France, and Britain, and produced unexpected election results.
The Economist suggests three new avenues for reviving these economically laggard cities, all of which involve heavy-handed government policies: (1) spreading know-how to better help local firms, (2) help colleges train local firms in mastering new technologies, and (3) using tax incentives and subsidies to encourage local investment.
But the premise on which these suggestions are based is entirely flawed: it is not sweeping globalization that has kept these cities behind, but government policies.

This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on Oct 23, 2017.

In Bizarre Feud, Trump Denies Disrespecting Army Widow As Mother Says President Lies

For the second time in 24 hours, President Trump again pushed back against reports that he crassly told the widow of one of the US Green Berets killed in an Al Qaeda ambush in Niger two weeks ago that her husband ‘must have known what he signed up for’. In response to a reporter’s question following a press conference with Republican senators that was intended to focus on tax reform, Trump again accused Democratic Rep. Frederica Wilson of lying after she spoke to CNN and the Washington Post about Trump’s comments
‘I didn’t say what that congresswoman said – didn’t say it at all – she knows it,’ Trump told reporters. ‘I would like her to make the statement again because I did not say what she said.”
The comments followed an early tweet by Trump in which the president claimed Wilson ‘totally fabricated’ her account of the call.


This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 18, 2017.

Trump To Scrap Crucial Obamacare Insurer Subsidy

Update: Late Thursday, the administration said it would immediately stop paying what are known as cost-sharing reduction subsidies. The payments go to health insurers in the Affordable Care Act to help lower-income people with co-pays and other cost sharing. Without them, insurers have said they’ll dramatically raise premiums or pull out of the law’s state-based markets.
According to Bloomberg, the White House said the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services both concluded that there is no appropriation for cost-sharing reduction payments to insurance companies under Obamacare. ‘The bailout of insurance companies through these unlawful payments is yet another example of how the previous administration abused taxpayer dollars and skirted the law to prop up a broken system,’ the White House said in the statement.
The payments will stop immediately, with no transition period, Acting HHS Secretary Eric Hargan and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma said in a statement. They next payments were due next week.
‘Congress has not appropriated money for CSRs, and we will discontinue these payments immediately,’ the department said.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 13, 2017.

Trump Doubles Down On Threat To Revoke Network News Licenses

Network news has become so partisan, distorted and fake that licenses must be challenged and, if appropriate, revoked. Not fair to public!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 12, 2017

Update (8:20 pm ET): Fresh off a rally in Pennsylvania where the president talked up the administration’s tax reform plans, Trump has returned to twitter to round out a day of roasting NBC News by doubling down on his earlier assertion that the FCC should consider revoking the network’s license(s).
Of course, as one FCC commissioner pointed out earlier, the FCC can’t revoke a license for an entire network, only its regional affiliates.
Update (2:40 pm ET): Defense Secretary James Mattis has come forward to vouche for his boss, telling the press that NBC’s report is “absolutely false.”
In an unusual move, he published his denial in a terse statement.
Update (2:30 pm ET): Echoing a statement from the White House communications released earlier Wednesday, President Donald Trump clarified during a press conference with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that he never said anything about increasing the nuclear arsenal by “tenfold” – like NBC reported early today, citing anonymous sources that reportedly were in the room with Trump at the time.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 11, 2017.

‘Draining the Swamp’ – Trump Admin Blows $11 Billion in the Last Week of Fiscal Year

If you need further evidence regarding how wasteful and irresponsible Washington D. C. is when it comes to our tax dollars, look no further than the behavior of agencies under Donald ‘drain the swamp’ Trump.
This year’s spending binge amounted to $11 billion in the last fiscal year week of 2017, and many of the excesses were detailed by Open the Books Founder and CEO, Adam Andrzejewski, in a recent Forbesarticle.
Here are some of the highlights from the piece, Use It Or Lose It – Trump’s Agencies Spent $11 Billion Last Week In Year-End Spending Spree:
Every September, the end of the fiscal year sparks a ‘use it or lose it’ spending frenzy as federal agencies race to use up what’s left in their annual budgets. It’s a phenomenon that should drive taxpayers crazy. Agencies are afraid that if they spend less than their budget allows, Congress might send them less money in the next year. Agencies often try to spend everything that’s left instead of admitting they can operate on less.
Here are the top ten ways the government wasted taxpayer money in the last week of FY2017:

This post was published at Liberty Blitzkrieg on Oct 5, 2017.

SWAT This!

Someone needs to think outside the box.
$1,500 will buy a drone with a material (~5lb) payload capacity.
Someone breaks out a window and starts shooting? Fit that drone with a teargas grenade and drive it right through the window into the room.
Non-lethal and unless he has a gas mask that guy’s done shooting pretty much right now.
Cheap, effective and fast to deploy.
But it doesn’t look like a tank or all sort of military-scary, nor is it expensive (thus doesn’t soak the taxpayer) so you know the cops didn’t think of it and have one handy. How come I did come up with this idea with just a bit of thought and yet nobody has that in their kit — when a shooter with the high ground has been a “nightmare scenario” for decades, ever since the Texas Clock Tower incident?

This post was published at Market-Ticker on 2017-10-04.

Multiple shooters in Vegas: the standard progression in staged attacks

– In case anyone doesn’t get the point, multiple shooters in Las Vegas would imply much planning and coordination for a given political purpose. Not a crazy lone act of a crazy man. The whole scene would change in an instant. Everything the public knows would be wrong.
In a minute, I’ll get to an expert report about the now-famous taxi cab video, which contains much audio of shots fired at the Mandalay Hotel. The driver was parked at the hotel when the shooting began and stayed there for several minutes. But first, I want to describe the standard progression in false flags.
In several articles (archive here), I’ve established enough probability of multiple shooters, in the Vegas-concert attack, to warrant a serious and honest investigation by law-enforcement.
But of course, that’s not happening.
There is a standard sequence that is usually followed in these events.
As soon as the attacks occur, reports begin coming in from the press. There is conflicting information. There were multiple shooters – no, there was just one shooter. The purported Sandy Hook shooter, Adam Lanza? His father was killed in New Jersey – no, his mother was killed in Connecticut.
These discrepancies and bizarre contradictions are pruned away and discarded by the press as quickly as possible, as the official line is brought front and center. The contradictions are buried as if they never existed.

This post was published at Jon Rappoport on October 4, 2017.

The Catalan Question and the Future of Europe

It is 5 AM in Lisbon, and I am sitting in an airport lounge with wifi, writing this week’s OTB on my iPad, clumsily. GaveKal has written a very candid analysis of the Catalonia vote/debacle, which was a hot topic at the conference where I was speaking – Spain is right next door. There were numerous past and current foreign ministers and other parliamentary leaders here, all very pro-EU, and they were aghast at Rajoy’s heavy-handed response.
Howewver, they all agreed that Catalonia could never be recognized as a new country in the EU, as this week’s OTB notes. Allowing Catalonian independence would fuel the flames of the numerous separatist movements all over Europe and disintegrate the movement to a closer EU – something that all here agreed would be a bad thing. Remember, Catalonia is much bigger than Greece – it’s 20% of the Spanish economy and Spain’s strongest region. Not a small deal. But I think the outcome will be a deal like the Basques got – more independence, and they get to keep more of their tax revenue. But the referendum was a great negotiating tactic. And Rajoy, with his clumsy police action, actually gave the separatists the upper hand.
I may at some point write a full letter on what I heard at this confernce. There were some very different viewpoints than you hear in the US (even from my close friend George Friedman). When you spend a great deal of time with Jean-Claude Trichet, former president of the ECB (who was extraordinarily polite and gracious) and hear him advocate for a stronger European NATO, and hear as well from far-left German Politician Joschka Fischer, who also espoused a hard line against Russia and China and a stronger NATO – almost sounding like Trump – you wonder what rabbit hole you have fallen down. Herr Minister Fischer was however not amused when I pointed out the similarity between his views and Trump’s. He swears he has no interest in ever being a politician again. But his talk, which I oddly found myself agreeing with much of, certainly sounded like a stump speech. My new friend may have protested his reluctance too vigorously. Oddly, the greatest disagreement I stumbled into was with a fellow American who is a friend of Hillary. Which made for a couple very lively dinner debates – which I hoped amused our hosts.

This post was published at Mauldin Economics on OCTOBER 4, 2017.

Were Americans ever fit for stateless government?

Jacob Hornberger recently posted an article discussing his reasons why he considers the advent of the US national security state to be the worst thing the government has ever done. Bad as they are, the income tax, the federal reserve act, and government schooling don’t come close. His reason: The US national security state has ‘the power to kill Americans (and others) without risk of any criminal or civil liability. . . . All that US officials have to do is relate the killing to ‘national security’ and that’s the end of the matter.’
He’s correct. According to a Department of Justice white paper, any ‘informed, high government official,’ not necessarily the president, can kill anyone, without any due process. As Glenn Greenwald wrote in 2013, during the Obama administration,
The president’s underlings compile their proposed lists of who should be executed, and the president – at a charming weekly event dubbed by White House aides as “Terror Tuesday” – then chooses from “baseball cards” and decrees in total secrecy who should die. The power of accuser, prosecutor, judge, jury, and executioner are all consolidated in this one man, and those powers are exercised in the dark.
According to the New York Times the government asserts that the ‘Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of due process [is] satisfied by internal deliberations in the executive branch.’
Do you suppose that’s a little-known footnote in the Constitution? Possibly it’s an outgrowth of the unratified Living Constitution, possessing ‘properties of an animate being in the sense that it changes.’ Somehow it always changes in favor of the state.

This post was published at GoldSeek on Wednesday, 4 October 2017.

16 Unanswered Questions About The Las Vegas Shooting That The Mainstream Media Doesn’t Want To Talk About

The public is not being told the truth about what really went down in Las Vegas. As you will see below, the evidence is mounting that there were multiple shooters and that this was an operation that was planned well in advance. But according to the mainstream media, a 64-year-old retired accountant with a flabby physique that had no military training whatsoever and that wasn’t very experienced with guns was able to pull the whole thing off all by himself. We are being told that Paddock was a ‘lone wolf’ that didn’t have any ties to terror groups, and since he is now dead nobody is ever going to be able to interrogate him. But the American people definitely deserve some answers about what took place, and that means that all of us should keep digging.
The following are 16 unanswered questions about the Las Vegas shooting that the mainstream media does not want to talk about…
#1 Photos of Stephen Paddock’s hotel room have been leaked, and one of those photos appears to show a suicide note. Why hasn’t the public been told what is in that note?
#2 Were there additional shooters? A taxi driver clearly captured video of an automatic weapon being fired out of a lower level window. A video from another angle and brief footage captured by Dan Bilzerian also seem to confirm that automatic gunfire was coming from a floor much lower than the 32nd floor room that Stephen Paddock was located on. And if you weren’t convinced by the first three videos, this fourth video should definitely do it.

This post was published at The Economic Collapse Blog on October 3rd, 2017.

Chris Hedges On The End Of Empire: “The Death Spiral Appears Unstoppable”

The American empire is coming to an end. The U. S. economy is being drained by wars in the Middle East and vast military expansion around the globe. It is burdened by growing deficits, along with the devastating effects of deindustrialization and global trade agreements. Our democracy has been captured and destroyed by corporations that steadily demand more tax cuts, more deregulation and impunity from prosecution for massive acts of financial fraud, all the while looting trillions from the U. S. treasury in the form of bailouts. The nation has lost the power and respect needed to induce allies in Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa to do its bidding. Add to this the mounting destruction caused by climate change and you have a recipe for an emerging dystopia. Overseeing this descent at the highest levels of the federal and state governments is a motley collection of imbeciles, con artists, thieves, opportunists and warmongering generals. And to be clear, I am speaking about Democrats, too.
***
The empire will limp along, steadily losing influence until the dollar is dropped as the world’s reserve currency, plunging the United States into a crippling depression and instantly forcing a massive contraction of its military machine.
Short of a sudden and widespread popular revolt, which does not seem likely, the death spiral appears unstoppable, meaning the United States as we know it will no longer exist within a decade or, at most, two. The global vacuum we leave behind will be filled by China, already establishing itself as an economic and military juggernaut, or perhaps there will be a multipolar world carved up among Russia, China, India, Brazil, Turkey, South Africa and a few other states. Or maybe the void will be filled, as the historian Alfred W. McCoy writes in his book ‘In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of US Global Power,’ by ‘a coalition of transnational corporations, multilateral military forces like NATO, and an international financial leadership self-selected at Davos and Bilderberg’ that will ‘forge a supranational nexus to supersede any nation or empire.’

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 3, 2017.

Bernie Sanders’s “Medicare for All” is Good for None

Recently, Senator Bernie Sanders unveiled a single-payer healthcare plan called ‘Medicare for All.’ Sanders titled his approach for nationalizing one-sixth of the American economy as ‘Medicare for All’ in order to offer a template for his vision of the U. S. healthcare system. Unfortunately, using Medicare as the template for the nation’s healthcare system is a little like using the production model for the Lada, the ‘people’s car’ of the former Soviet Union, as the blue-print for the U. S. auto industry.
The ‘Medicare for All’ proposal would transition millions of Americans to a Medicare-style system over the course of four short years, all the while promising to expand benefits, eliminate deductibles, and cut costs. If that sounds too good to be true, it is. The assumption that Medicare can be a long-term, sustainable model capable of absorbing quadruple the number of current enrollees is flawed from the start.
Medicare covers approximately 57 million Americans and is projected to cost nearly $700 billion this year. Revenue for the Medicare trust fund is generated via beneficiary premiums, which Sanders wants to eliminate, and general tax revenue, which he wants to increase. According to the 2016 Medicare Trustees Report, the Medicare trust fund faces a ‘substantial financial shortfall.’ In fact, the report forecasts that within 12 years the trust fund will be depleted unless further legislation is enacted. Sanders’s proposal would place a significant burden on an already financially shaky system.

This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on October 30, 2017.

House Is Scheduled To Vote On Legislation Regarding The Sales Of Gun Silencers This Week

Although the mass shooting in Las Vegas won’t likely delay the vote scheduled for later this week on the regulation of gun silencers, it could alter the outcome.
A provision called the Hearing Protection Act, tucked into the bipartisan Sportsmen Heritage and Recreational Enhancement, or SHARE Act, would eliminate restrictions on silencers and instead treat them as ordinary firearms. Under the National Firearms Act of 1934, suppressors – along with ‘destructive devices’ such as grenades or rocket launchers, ‘sawed-off’ shotguns and machine guns – require federal registration and a special license to own, as well as a $200 tax stamp to purchase that would also be repealed under the proposed law. A vote on this law was delayed before….
Remember the last time that this law’s vote was delayed? SHTFPlan remembers. It was after the shooting of representative Steve Scalise while practicing baseball back in June. But that’s all just a coincidence, right?
The vote was postponed until early September. It passed out of House Committee on Natural Resources on a party-line vote of 22-13 on September 13 and it is expected to see a similar result when put up for a vote in the full House. Democrats in the Senate, however, are expected to block the measure; and they now have a crisis to exploit in order to do so.

This post was published at shtfplan on October 2nd, 2017.

Here’s How Much of Your Taxes Have Gone To Pay For Wars Since 9/11

Previously unreported Pentagon data shows how much the average U. S. taxpayer has paid for combat operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and now Syria. According to the two page report summary, the cumulative estimated cost of the 16 year war in the Middle East has cost each taxpayer $7,500.
According to Defense One, Americans paid the most for the wars in 2010, an average of $767 per taxpayer. Since the peak, the annual amount has declined to $289 this fiscal year and $281 projected for 2018. By October of 2018, the Pentagon’s share of the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and now Syria will have collectively cost taxpayers more than $1.5 trillion, according to the Department of Defense.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 1, 2017.

2009 – 2016: Was the Eight-Year Experiment in Maintaining the Status Quo a Success or a Failure?

Clearly, the core strategy of maintaining the status quo is to borrow and spend trillions of additional dollars every year.
The Obama presidency was a grand experiment to test this thesis: the status quo of the U. S. is a self-correcting mechanism. Left to its own devices, it will automatically correct any socio-economic-political imbalances, given enough time.
The Grand Strategy of the post-Global Financial Crisis era was simple: maintain the status quo as is. The Obama administration’s major policy initiative, ObamaCare, a.k.a. the Affordable Care Act, was nothing but the formalization of the existing status quo in healthcare, i.e. the taxpayers subsidize private-sector profiteering.
That is the Affordable Care Act in a nutshell. Costs have not declined, the health of Americans can hardly be said to have improved significantly, but garsh, did healthcare sector profits soar. Most importantly, the status quo was maintained: nothing actually changed in the insurance, pharmaceutical or hospital sectors.
The same can be said for every other sector of the economy: nothing really changed, just more of the same. Higher education: nothing changed, just more student loan debt was issued. The defense industry: more of the same. Global War on Terror, a.k.a. The National Security State–more billions sluiced into the shadows.
President Obama was a master of telling everyone what they wanted to hear while changing nothing in the basic structure of the Empire. The Imperial Imperative of destabilizing nations that didn’t meet with Imperial approval continued unchanged. The murder-by-drone campaign expanded, the support of a hopelessly corrupt regime in Afghanistan continued unchanged, and so on.

This post was published at Charles Hugh Smith on OCTOBER 01, 2017.

Episode #204 – SUNDAY WIRE: ‘International Norms’ with guests Annie Machon, Adam Garrie, Syrian Partisan Girl

Episode #204 of SUNDAY WIRE SHOW resumes on Oct 1st, 2017 as host Patrick Henningsen brings you this week’s LIVE broadcast on the Alternate Current Radio Network (ACR) – covering all the top news stories both at home and internationally…
LISTEN LIVE ON THIS PAGE AT THE FOLLOWING SCHEDULED SHOW TIMES:
5pm-8pm UK Time | 12pm-3pm ET (US) | 9am-12am PT (US)
This week the SUNDAY WIRE is broadcasting LIVE from the UK as host Patrick Henningsen joined is in-studio by special guest, Adam Garrie, editor of the The Duran, covering the biggest stories internationally. In the first hour, we’ll cover the fall-out from the recent Kurdish referendum, as well as London’s Uber taxi controversy. In the first hour we’ll also connect with former M15 whistleblower Annie Machon, to discuss the state and corporation’s tightening noose around civil liberties and the restriction free access of information, and we’ll look at how mainstream Russiaphobia and America’s Russiagate are pushing the West back into a New Cold War. In the second hour we’ll connect with Syrian and blogger and activist Mimi Al-Lahamaka Syrian Partisan Girl, to her 7 year battle to get the truth out about her home country and the Middle East, as well as discuss ISIS in retreat in Deir Ezzor, Syria, and also the Kurdish issue. Later, we’ll also connect with on of London’s premier street poets, artist Bryan ‘Beedy Man’ Wilson, for a live spit about poli-tricks and the wars in our name. Enjoy the show…

SUPPORT 21WIRE – SUBSCRIBE & BECOME A MEMBER @21WIRE. TV
Strap yourselves in and lower the blast shield – this is your brave new world…
*NOTE: THIS EPISODE MAY CONTAIN STRONG LANGUAGE AND MATURE THEMES*

This post was published at 21st Century Wire on OCTOBER 1, 2017.

‘Russia Did It’ – The New Age of McCarthyism

Make no mistake about it: the United States has entered an era of a New McCarthyism that blames nearly every political problem on Russia and has begun targeting American citizens who don’t go along with this New Cold War propaganda.
A difference, however, from the McCarthyism of the 1950s is that this New McCarthyism has enlisted Democrats, liberals and even progressives in the cause because of their disgust with President Trump; the 1950s version was driven by Republicans and the Right with much of the Left on the receiving end, maligned by the likes of Sen. Joe McCarthy as ‘un-American’ and as Communism’s ‘fellow travelers.’
The real winners in this New McCarthyism appear to be the neoconservatives who have leveraged the Democratic/liberal hatred of Trump to draw much of the Left into the political hysteria that sees the controversy over alleged Russian political ‘meddling’ as an opportunity to ‘get Trump.’
Already, the neocons and their allies have exploited the anti-Russian frenzy to extract tens of millions of dollars more from the taxpayers for programs to ‘combat Russian propaganda,’ i.e., funding of non-governmental organizations and ‘scholars’ who target dissident Americans for challenging the justifications for this New Cold War.
The Washington Post, which for years has served as the flagship for neocon propaganda, is again charting the new course for America, much as it did in rallying U. S. public backing for the 2003 invasion of Iraq and in building sympathy for abortive ‘regime change’ projects aimed at Syria and Iran. The Post has begun blaming almost every unpleasant development in the world on Russia! Russia! Russia!

This post was published at 21st Century Wire on SEPTEMBER 29, 2017.

Don’t Become a Right-Wing Snowflake

But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg… Reason and free inquiry are the only effectual agents against error. Give a loose rein to them, they will support the true religion by bringing every false one to their tribunal, to the test of their investigation.
– Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia
Here’s a prediction. Right-wing snowflake culture will expand exponentially in the coming years, and its rise will be cynically and intentionally fueled by Donald Trump himself. Having proved himself a fake populist on most issues that actually matter, Trump has no choice but to move more enthusiastically into the culture war to deflect away from his obvious betrayal on economic populism and keep his diehard supporters in heat. In other words, he’ll do exactly what mainstream Democrats and Republicans have been doing for decades, which is distract the public and keep it fighting while oligarchs grab what little is left. This works out just fine for billionaire Trump and the Goldman Sachs guys running his administration.
If I’m correct, how should we respond? How do those of us who see a creeping right-wing snowflake culture emerging push back? Rule number one is don’t act like a snowflake in response. Exposing hypocrisy with incisive rational arguments and humor is the best way to push back against right-wing authoritarianism, just like it’s the best way to push back against left-wing authoritarianism. The authoritarian mindset is the enemy of freedom loving people everywhere irrespective of your specific views on health care, taxes, etc. There are far bigger things at risk to us as a people if we allow ourselves to be divided into two separate authoritarian gangs fighting for power.

This post was published at Liberty Blitzkrieg on Sep 27, 2017.

Can Republicans in Congress Get Anything Done?

Obamacare repeal 3.0 went down in flames Tuesday. According to Bloomberg, opposition from three Republican Senators derailed the latest attempt to dismantle the Affordable Care Act.
Leaders decided the Senate won’t vote before Saturday’s deadline to use a fast-track procedure to keep Democrats from blocking a GOP-only bill. On Monday, Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine added her opposition to that of GOP Senators John McCain of Arizona and Rand Paul of Kentucky, enough to sink the legislation in the 52-48 Senate.’
This raises broader questions: Can Republicans get anything done? Is there any chance of Trump pushing through his ambitious economic agenda?
Calling the so-called Graham-Cassidy bill a ‘repeal’ was a bit of a stretch. It would have turned Obamacare Medicaid funds into block grants to the states, and repealed the penalties that enforce the individual and employer mandates. Most of the ACA taxes and insurance regulations would have stayed in place. In fact, even the mandates would have technically remained on the books. The penalties would have simply been set at zero.

This post was published at Schiffgold on SEPTEMBER 27, 2017.