In 1962, the historian Barbara Tuchman published a book about the start of World War I and called it The Guns of August. It went on to win a Pulitzer Prize. She was, of course, looking back at events that had occurred almost 50 years earlier and had at her disposal documents and information not available to participants. They were acting, as Vietnam-era Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara put it, in the fog of war.
So where are we this August of 2010, with guns blazing in one war in Afghanistan even as we try to extricate ourselves from another in Iraq? Where are we, as we impose sanctions on Iran and North Korea (and threaten worse), while sending our latest wonder weapons, pilotless drones armed with bombs and missiles, into Pakistan’s tribal borderlands, Yemen, and who knows where else, tasked with endless “targeted killings” which, in blunter times, used to be called assassinations? Where exactly are we, as we continue to garrison much of the globe even as our country finds itself incapable of paying for basic services?
“From now on, depressions will be scientifically created.” — Congressman Charles A. Lindbergh Sr. , 1913
Everyone loves money. Even people like myself who abhor the abuse of money and commerce, who understand the fraudulent nature of the system we live in, still work hard and save so that we might attain a sense of stability within that system. Many people see money as a focal point to their existence. But is it really money that they are after, or is it something else entirely? In truth, money represents ‘security’ in the minds of the masses. Money affords us the ability to survive, and the more of it we have, the safer we all feel. Because we subconsciously associate the extension of our very life with the variable health of the economic structure in which we live, we tend to become unwitting devotees to its continued existence, even if it is corrupt and condemned to failure. We gullibly deny the system or the currency that supports it is doomed to the contrary of all evidence because, even though it has beaten us bloody, we have never known anything else.
In light of this entrenched way of perceiving things, especially in the U.S., it is difficult enough to convince some people that the economy is in fact not providing the security they desire, but is actually destroying their future completely. To explain to them that this is deliberate, that the economy is designed to self-destruct, that is another prospect altogether.
Last week the monthly first time unemployment claims number rose “unexpectedly” to a seasonally adjusted 484,000 new recipients. There are many things wrong with this number other than the fact that establishment economists can never seem to anticipate what is obvious. The first problem with the 484,000 new claims number is that it was seasonally adjusted, the real number is higher. Seasonal adjustments came into being as a means to show stable employment figures around holidays such as Christmas and the vacation season. In the summer months the government has historically used the seasonal adjustment to account for periods in the production cycle of the auto industry where American manufacturers have shut down and not produced any vehicles and laid off huge numbers of workers. To adjust, the government takes out a certain number of people counted among the unemployed to account for the typical seasonal fluctuations. There is a major problem in using a seasonal adjustment this year, the car companies have not shut down this summer and there is no typical fluctuation. It is a knowing manipulation of the headline labor statistics (since the BLS did this as well for the U-3 statistic). This is nothing new of course. When including discouraged workers the broadest U-6 employment metric has unemployment figures north of 16% for some time now. When actually looking at people who never fall into an employment category, independent contractors, the unemployment number is around 22% (John William’s Shadow Statistics). Since contractors such as independent real estate agents, stock brokers, carpenters, etcetera, do not lose a job, they just lose income, they are not employed in the first place to BLS statisticians and are not counted in the ranks of the jobless when they stop getting contracts. Not getting paid and being unemployed is the same thing of course to real people who live outside the calculators of government pencil pushers.
The United States is running out of time to get its budget and trade deficits under control. Despite the urgency of the situation, 2010 has been wasted in hype about a non-existent recovery. As recently as August 2 Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner penned a New York Times column, “Welcome to the Recovery.”
As John Williams (shadowstats.com) has made clear on many occasions, an appearance of recovery was created by over-counting employment and undercounting inflation. Warnings by Williams, Gerald Celente, and myself have gone unheeded, but our warnings recently had echoes from Boston University professor Laurence Kotlikoff and from David Stockman, who excoriated the Republican Party for becoming big-spending Democrats.
Dr David Kelly was on a hitlist, says UN weapons expert as calls grow for full inquestBy Miles Goslett and Arthur Martin
A leading UN weapons inspector last night added his voice to the growing clamour for a full inquest into the death of Dr David Kelly.
Dr Richard Spertzel claimed Dr Kelly was on a ‘hitlist’ in the final years of his life.
The former head of the UN Biological Section, who worked closely with Dr Kelly in Iraq in the 1990s, has written to Attorney General Dominic Grieve about the ‘mysterious circumstances’ surrounding the death.
The weapons inspector’s body was found after he was unmasked as the source of a damaging BBC news report questioning the grounds for the Iraq war.
Officially, he took his own life.
S 510, the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2010, may be the most dangerous bill in the history of the US. It is to our food what the bailout was to our economy, only we can live without money.
“If accepted [S 510] would preclude the public’s right to grow, own, trade, transport, share, feed and eat each and every food that nature makes. It will become the most offensive authority against the cultivation, trade and consumption of food and agricultural products of one’s choice. It will be unconstitutional and contrary to natural law or, if you like, the will of God.” ~Dr. Shiv Chopra, Canada Health whistleblower
President Obama has abolished the position in his White House dedicated to transparency and shunted those duties into the portfolio of a partisan ex-lobbyist who is openly antagonistic to the notion of disclosure by government and politicians.
Obama transferred “ethics czar” Norm Eisen to the Czech Republic to serve as U.S. ambassador. Some of Eisen’s duties will be handed to Domestic Policy Council member Steven Croley, but most of them, it appears, will shift over to the already-full docket of White House Counsel Bob Bauer.
Bauer is renowned as a “lawyer’s lawyer” and a legal expert. His resume, however, reads more “partisan advocate” than “good-government crusader.” Bauer came to the White House from the law firm Perkins Coie, where he represented John Kerry in 2004 and Obama during his campaign.
The Federal Reserve is undertaking a “dangerous gamble” by keeping rates at near zero for so long, and must start raising rates or risk damaging the nascent U.S. recovery, a top Federal Reserve official said on Friday.
“To be clear, I am not advocating a tight monetary policy,” Kansas City Reserve Bank President Thomas Hoenig said in the text of a speech to the Lincoln, Nebraska, Chamber of Commerce. “I am advocating a policy that remains accommodative but slowly firms as the economy itself expands and moves toward more balance.”
Hoenig has been the lone dissenter on the Fed’s policy-setting panel, which on Tuesday repeated the U.S. central bank’s pledge to keep interest rates extraordinarily low for an “extended period.”
The $700 billion U.S. bailout program launched in response to the global economic meltdown had a far greater impact overseas than other countries’ financial rescue plans did on the U.S., according to a new report from a congressional watchdog.
Billions of dollars in U.S. rescue funds wound up in big banks in France, Germany and other nations. That was probably inevitable because of the structure of the Treasury Department’s program, the Congressional Oversight Panel says in a new report issued Thursday.
The U.S. program aimed to stabilize the financial system by injecting money into as many banks as possible, including those with substantial operations overseas. Most other countries, by contrast, focused their efforts more narrowly on banks in their nations that usually lacked major U.S. operations.
The economy is looking bleaker as new applications for jobless benefits rose last week to the highest level in almost six months.
It’s a sign that hiring remains weak and employers may be going back to cutting their staffs. Analysts say the increase suggests companies won’t be adding enough workers in August to lower 9.5 percent unemployement rate.
First-time claims for jobless benefits edged up by 2,000 to a seasonally adjusted 484,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. That’s the highest total since February. Analysts had expected claims to fall.