Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Stockton Job Fair

Stockton, California is the national epicenter of home foreclosures. Situated in the heart of the fertile "Big Valley," Stockton was traditionally an agricultural center.

In the 1990's, Stockton was promoted as a bedroom community for high-tech workers in the San Francisco Bay Area and home construction boomed. Despite the nightmarish two hour commute (each way,) lower echelon workers jumped at the chance of owning a part of the American dream at half the price of Bay Area homes.

But the slowing economy of 2007, escalating gasoline prices and stagnant wages killed the dreams of many of Stockton homeowners by 2008. By the time the economy collapsed in September, one in ten Stockton homes would be in foreclosure. To add insult to injury, Stocktonites would be blamed for igniting the national economic crises via sub-prime loans.

A victim of my own stupidity as much as the economy, I moved to Stockton in August 2008 and have been looking for a job ever since. I've learned the hard way that low real estate prices are the result of few (and low-paying) jobs. Lack of jobs is what creates ghost towns.

Sacramento television station KRCA advertised an upcoming Job Fair in Stockton for more than a month. (Oddly, or not, there is no television station in Stockton.) When the big day finally came, I printed up a dozen or so resumes and headed down to the Stockton Grand Hotel along with my son and his girlfriend. None of us hoped for much and we weren't disappointed.

The activity was scheduled for noon to five and we arrived mid-day on the dot to take our place in a line already one thousand strong. Another thousand lined up behind us before we took our first step forward about fifteen minutes later. We were still a block from the door after half an hour. More people were lining up behind us.

After more than an hour, as we neared the entrance to the hotel, a KCRA cameraman started filming the queue. Just then, a young lady behind us walked toward the camera and then collapsed. Hotel security called an ambulance and the whole scene was taped. It looked like the TV station was going to get a bigger story than planned.

At the front door, we were allowed inside as part of a group of about 15 people. Our objective turned out to be a tiny conference room upstairs crowded by 21 employer tables. Nine employers were government agencies, probably convinced to show up just to fill space. The City of Stockton and San Joaquin County were there, but I knew from their websites they had nothing of value to offer.

With the State of California $42 billion in debt and the comptroller pondering IOU's instead of tax return checks, the Highway Patrol was just blocking navigational space.

Of course, the Army and Air Force reserves were there and the Federal Bureau of Prisons along with the Border Patrol. There is still a bright future for head knockers! I looked around for FEMA or Homeland Security but couldn't find them. Maybe that's a good thing.

Had we merely been interested in pick-pocketing, the California Franchise Tax Board was represented but I doubt they really had any jobs available.

Afflac, the insurance company with the annoying duck mascot, was there but only recruiting independent salespeople. Apparently, you have to pay them to train you to sell their products.

Speaking of paying, Kaplan College (not really a college) would train you to be a dental assistant for the right price. Artistically gifted folks could even pay to learn advertising from some outfit calling themselves the International Academy of Design.

There were a couple of medical associations I had never heard of who offered a few jobs in the highly-regulated and licensed "careers" of low-paid medical flunkies.

The concession contractor for Yosemite National Park (Delaware North Companies Parks and Resorts) offered only seasonal, minimum wage jobs. Yosemite is two hours away.

F&M Bank ("California's Strongest Bank") claimed to have several positions from teller to loan assistant. But a later check of their website says there are no positions available. Hell, they're probably broke, anyway.

McDonald's, Burger King and Rite-Aide were there claiming to be looking for "managers."

By this point I was pretty disgusted with the whole affair which I considered a sham and a facade erected for evening news propaganda. Nine tables were government, two wanted money and nine more had nothing substantial on offer (a radio station co-hosted the event and offered a single part-time job handing out bumper stickers.)

There was one table left. The Wine Group claimed to have electrical and mechanical jobs that might fit my experience, but the ladies at the booth had no technical expertise to answer my questions. I dropped off a resume which they duly stamped and placed in a small pile.

An hour and a half in line followed by half an hour milling about the tables netted me one resume drop. My son and his girlfriend each dropped three. As we left we noted the line now stretched down the block, around the corner, down the block again, around another corner and down the block yet again! I estimate around five thousand people attended on the day. Stockton population is about 300,000 -- you do the math.

The family gathered around the TV for the six-o'clock news, (link is video prior to event) hoping to see ourselves. KCRA congratulated the success of their Job Fair featuring "more than twenty" employers. They expressed surprise at the size of the turnout of "thousands of job seekers."

We didn't see ourselves or the unfortunate young lady who collapsed during the long wait.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Raspberry Rulers

The clever gentlemen pictured is Rahm Emanuel, incoming White House Chief of Staff.

Emanuel, known for his tempestuous anger and foul language, is now President Barak Obama's closest adviser. If Obama can be faulted as being too laid back, perhaps "Rahm-bo" offers some balance. He is Mr. Hyde to Obama's Dr. Jekyll.

Born into a wealthy Jewish family, Rahm made millions as a Wall Street investment banker before being appointed by Bill Clinton to head Freddie Mac in 2000. Yes, that Freddie Mac.

Rahm-bo spent the last six years as a congressman from Chicago, but resigned to serve on Obama's staff. He appears to be a social liberal, a chicken hawk, a friend of Israel and a fiscal abomination.

But I didn't start out to write about Mr. Emanuel -- his ilk is too common in government to be very remarkable. I set out to write about the inauguration, but got lost trying to explain how this picture epitomizes the government's attitude toward its people.

The sight of nearly two million people shivering for hours just to say they "were there" at the beginning of America's first black Presidency did not give me hope. When the television commentators explained how proud I should be that our country had marched down the road of freedom and equality, I nearly cried. My swelling tears were not of patriotism, but shame that so many people still sheepwalk through their lives.

After eight long years of unending disasters under Bush, it's hard to fault people for swallowing the empty promises of "Hope" and "Change." The ghost of Carroll Quigley must be having a good chuckle at our expense. The only thing that changed were the names of the actors -- and as far as I know, we still can't eat hope.

Our rulers thumb their noses, stick out their tongues and wriggle their fingers in our general direction. We just got fooled, again. Now Obama can take up the "hard work" of Presidential signings -- signing our checks over to Rahm's bankster buddies.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Financial Tsunami

Bubble, bubble. Toil and trouble. What's the next bubble to burst?

The great Ponzi scheme that was America is coming to an end. Read between the lines of the Cleveland Dispatch to see where the next shoe will drop.

The home real estate crises is not over and the commercial real estate crises has just begun.

When bad times hit, trouble runs uphill. Economic tsunamis take the path of least resistance. People with few resources are bowled over first. You can't live paycheck to paycheck without a paycheck.

If the wave is of sufficient magnitude, and this one is a quadrillion dollars high, it will rush right up the hill and drown even those standing on huge piles of gold.

People lose jobs and stores close. Stores close so malls close. Malls close so real estate investment trusts (REITs) fail. REITs fail and the stock market plunges. Stocks plunge so people lose jobs.

People who lose their jobs can't pay taxes. No taxes, no government.

While the federal government can print money to pay bills, the local governments can't. Expect them to drown as their resources allow – city followed by county followed by state. All this year, I think.

If there is one thing that's clear, capitalism's backbone is the worker – and the poorer the better so he'll stay motivated to work. Capitalism doesn't work in a nation of millionaires (the false hope of 401Ks.)

Usury is designed to make debt slaves of working people and eventually bankrupts them. If the rich folks running this scam want it to continue in this generation, they are going to have to forgive the indebtedness and start over. The alternative is a complete collapse and that is what we are experiencing.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Sheeple and Social Hierarchy

No doubt you've heard of the Sheeple. Sometimes they're called the goyim, or the unwashed masses, or the useless eaters. All are derogatory terms for people who go through life without paying attention to external forces shaping their existence. You might say they are sheepwalking through life.

A few years ago, I humorously expanded the idea of Sheeple to encompass more levels of awareness. The Sheeple were in the middle of a bell curve, representing the vast majority of people. To the left were those with more awareness of their situation and opposed to it, and to the right were those with more awareness but inclined toward the status quo.

The result was more fascinating than funny.

On a standard bell curve, 68% of whatever is represented is in the middle. So, we can assume that 68% of human beings are actually Sheeple. Sheeple go along with the system they're born into without much argument. They may question the status quo, be it capitalism, communism, fascism, Catholicism, or any other “ism,” but they rarely act on their doubts. They just try to get along as best they can.

One standard deviation away from the Sheeple center, you have left and right “radicals.” This represents 27% of the population, with 13.5% on the left and 13.5% on the right.

The folks on the left I call Seeple. They “see” what is wrong with society and tend to report on it. Here you'll find artists and bloggers like me. Seeple see what is going on, but they feel powerless to stop it.

The folks on the right I call Meeple. They might see that society is screwed up, but they don't care as long as they can capitalize on it. They are likely to be your boss at work. They are cops and lawyers and judges. They pretend that society's rules are in everyone's best interest and work to enforce them when they aren't breaking them. These Meeple are hypocrites that are often exposed by Seeple.

We have accounted to 95% of people with just Sheeple, Seeple and Meeple – but there is another 5% equally distributed left and right of the bell...

On the left, 2.5% of the population are Freeple. These folks have severed contact with society as we know it. They are either self-sufficient, living in cabins in Idaho or they have given up and are homeless living under bridges. Homeless people don't give a shit and they don't vote. Despite the fact that they live on the edge of existence, they are free. Truly self-sufficient people, with no taxable income are rare. I imagine there are a few truly Freeple, but most are free via abdication.

On the right are the 2.5% or so of sociopaths who set up the entire system. I call these assholes Creeple. They don't give a shit about anyone else, but they are glad to have the help of the idiot 13.5% Meeple and the compliance of the 68% Sheeple. No wonder they promote Democracy, eh?

Freeple. Seeple. Sheeple. Meeple. Creeple. Humanity in a nutshell.

The Freeple and the Creeple are pretty much nuts, but in different ways. Very few Freeple are capable of coping with their lives while the Creeple not only cope with their own lives, they seek to control other people's lives.

There's not much to be done for this 5% of society. It is the dregs and the elite, both are incorrigible.

If nothing can be done for what we tend to call the top and bottom of society, what of the middle and the first deviation? Are we forever stuck with people who don't care to learn (Sheeple) and people who do wrong despite knowing better (Meeple?) Can Seeple help the others see?

I think a difference can be made by education. Not government (Creeple) education, but popular education. Talking. Arguing. Writing crap like this. Get the Sheeple and Meeple to think a little.

The Sheeple don't want to think and the Meeple don't want to think how fucked up they are. But if we keep repeating the lessons, like propaganda, they will hear it and some of it will sink in. It is really hard to stay in denial while confronting truth. The Meeple will resist, but the Sheeple will absorb.

If we can shift the bell curve to the left (and by left I don't mean left-political or communist) we can reduce the percentage of Sheeples and Meeples. I don't think we can ever reduce the Creeple percentage as they are inbred psychopaths without empathy. Ultimately, only incarceration or annihilation will rid the world of the Creeple scourge.

A perfect society of self-sustaining individuals have the integrity to not need police, lawyers, judges, politicians, bankers or soldiers. Once we learn to respect ourselves, respect for others follows. It is possible to create a world where anyone can do what they want to do without hurting others.

We can start with some simple rules and build on them.

Presently, the single biggest gain for society would be to outlaw any unearned income. No interest payments and no jobs that don't create value. This would outlaw private banks and many worthless government jobs. Banks and government are where the Meeple and Creeple feed.

If we can see fit to outlaw usury and uselessness, then we are well on our way to living in a world that maximizes human potential.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Pyramid Building

I think it safe to say that no one knows exactly how the pyramids at Giza were built. How did ancient architects cut stone so precisely and move it into place? Could modern engineering, with huge cranes and laser positioning duplicate a world wonder? Everything I've read says no.

Still, if there's one thing that's agreed upon it is that the pyramids were built from the ground up.

After all, how can you start with a capstone and work your way down? What supports the crown?

An economy is much like a pyramid--it must have a solid base. When an economy collapses, as ours has, it must be rebuilt from the bottom not from the top. This is common sense.

Today, the US government gave Bank of America $20 billion and guaranteed another $118 billion of their bad loans. A few months ago, the government gave BoA $25 billion. $168 billion of taxpayer dollars in just three months. We used to run the entire country on $168 billion.

What has Bank of America done in return? Well, it has lost money. It has also reduced credit lines on credit cards, increased fees and generally refused to cut its customers any slack at all.

Then there's Citibank, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and all the rest who have taken taxpayer money and provided no relief whatsoever, not even lower rates to loan taxpayers their own money. Meanwhile, there have been buyouts to consolidate power, golden parachutes for executives and hedonistic retreats to celebrate good fortune.

Altogether, 8.5 trillion dollars has been earmarked to rebuild the capstone of the American Economy (the banking system) while virtually nothing has been spent on the base (Main Street.) Homes are being foreclosed, jobs lost, unemployment claims curtailed or denied and pensions squandered.

The government thus far tried to rebuild the economic pyramid from the top down. Where is the help for the bottom, for the people that churn the dollars that make the economy work?

Circuit City was in the news today, too. They didn't get a bailout. They must file for bankruptcy and liquidate their holdings. Thirty thousand people will lose their jobs. Sure, their jobs sucked and I shed no tears for the assholes that ran Circuit City into the ground, but they weren't a bank so they must die.

Banks do nothing but increase debt. Debt is our problem. Banks, as they now exist, are our biggest problem. No real work is done shuffling money around. A real economy produces things that people want and will pay for. Nobody really wants a loan. A loan means surrendering future earnings for today's sustenance. Loans are bad for everybody except bankers. Bankers are bad for everybody.

You may argue that occasionally credit is good for business and this is true where the business does not have the money to stay in business. Credit can stimulate the economy, but not when interest is attached to the loan. Borrowing without interest is a shaky proposition, borrowing at interest is financial suicide.

Obama's bailout has some small relief for Main Street, but when calculated into the entire picture will represent about 5% of bailout costs. There's one for you nineteen for me.

While the government tries to bail out the economy by pouring 95% of (future) taxpayer dollars into the capstone, the base gets dribbles (and not yet – we still “hope” for dribbles.) How do you repair a pyramid like that? Are they trying to say all the problems are at the top? The top has eroded the bottom since Ronald Reagan, at least. The bottom is long gone – outsourced and downsized – years ago.

All of the bailout money doesn't exist. It's funny money. The government is broke – it has been for a long time. The bailout money is “borrowed” by printing more money, owed with interest to rich bankers – the same fellows we're bailing out. How can we borrow money from whom we are loaning money and then pay them back at interest? The bailouts make no sense at all. If the banksters are so rich they can loan us money, why do they need our loans?

Here's the answer, here's the bottom line as I see it. The government is a fraud. The banksters are frauds. Most corporations are frauds. The only way we can pay any of these frauds anything is by agreeing to do their work for them. Clean their houses. Wash their cars. Cook their food. Protect their asses. All of their debt only works to enslave us.

I say fuck it. Fuck them. Let them wallow in their own shit. Let them fix their own damned cars, clean their own damned houses, fight to save their own worthless asses. We've paid all our lives, we don't owe any more to human cysts like them.

You want a revolution? Sit on your ass. Don't work. Your pension is gone already.

Psychopaths and Sycophants

A world full of killing and hatred and greed,
isn't a world that most of need.
But it's run by some nuts,
with their heads up the butts

Of conscienceless sociopath seed.

If you are normal, and I use the term loosely, you have probably wondered how in God's name the world became so fucked up. You wonder how good-meaning people could have invented a system so diabolical that half the world is starving and the other half is wondering if they'll eat next week.

When you step back and look at the world at large, you may see as I do that so-called civilization is run by psychopaths aided by sycophants. The lowest estimate I have found of psychopathic occurrence in a population is 1%, the highest 4%. At just one percent, there are some three million of these mental cases in the United States alone and only about half of them are institutionalized (prison or mental.)

From Wikipedia:

Common characteristics of those with psychopathy are:

  • Grandiose sense of self-worth

  • Superficial charm

  • Criminal versatility

  • Reckless disregard for the safety of self or others

  • Impulse control problems

  • Irresponsibility

  • Inability to tolerate boredom

  • Pathological narcissism

  • Pathological lying

  • Shallow affect

  • Deceitfulness/manipulativeness

  • Aggressive or violent tendencies, repeated physical fights or assaults on others

  • Lack of empathy

  • Lack of remorse, indifferent to or rationalizes having hurt or mistreated others

  • A sense of extreme entitlement

  • Lack of or diminished levels of anxiety/nervousness and other emotions

  • Promiscuous sexual behavior, sexually deviant lifestyle

  • Poor judgment, failure to learn from experience

  • Lack of personal insight

  • Failure to follow any life plan

  • Abuse of drugs including alcohol

  • Inability to distinguish right from wrong

So, at least 1.5 million sociopaths are at large in America at any given moment. They run the gamut of social class, but those from families with money tend to be well-protected from incarceration. If mental illness is inherited, and you know damned well it is, there must be many psychotic families with generations of inherited wealth. After all, a family with money but no conscience can easily multiply its wealth.

It is logical, therefore, to assume that most of the truly wealthy are either psychopathic or have psychopathic tendencies. A casual look at history proves my hypothesis that the world is run by those who deserve to be locked up by the other five-sixths of us! Instead, we bow to their money, their power and their superficial intelligence.

The world is an insane asylum and the nuts are in charge.

Politicians repeatedly promise “change” and “hope” but deliver only more oppression. Businessmen attract our investment into what are now clearly simple Ponzi schemes. The psychopaths lure sycophants into becoming judges, lawyers and policemen. Every sin against humanity is legalized and enforced by cooperation between fools and their anti-social masters.

Everything is controlled by money and the psychopaths control the money. We have the best government that money can buy! Those that don't play along with the system are made to comply through threats of violence. You work to eat, you eat to work. Who do you work for?

The nut jobs are outnumbered, but they have carefully cultivated the environment to stay

They control the media, education, voting and religion to name just a few things. Better you ask what is it they don't control? They have the army, the police and the hearts and minds of the brainwashed. Very few people today see through the ruse to control themselves. The control system is so complete that most people don't understand they are being controlled. The few that understand find it easier to acquiesce than to promote real change. Most people have just given up.

Take a good look around and I think you'll see, that most of what is, doesn't have to be.

There is no reason for the Federal Reserve or the Income tax. America existed for 150 years without either of those diabolical entities.

A real nation would have a small army to protect itself from foreign psychopaths and support itself by a small tax on commerce. It would have money unencumbered by usury and laws that protect the individual instead of corporations or religion.

A real nation would not export its ideals on the point of a bayonet.

A real nation would not need to rely on force to control its population.

A real nation would not allow a sixth of its citizens to live without health care.

A real nation would not have homeless and starving people.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Greenspan's flaw

Testifying before Congress on his role in the financial debacle we are now suffering, Alan Greenspan, longest-running chair of the Federal Reserve, admitted to a “flaw” in his world view that prohibited him from recommending more federal oversight on the banking industry:

"Well, remember that what an ideology is, is a conceptual framework with the way people deal with reality. Everyone has one. You have to -- to exist you need an ideology. The question is, whether it is accurate or not. And what I'm saying to you is, yes, I found a flaw, I don't know how significant or permanent it is, but I've been very distressed by that fact...A flaw, a flaw in the model that I perceived is the critical functioning structure that defines how the world works, so to speak...I was shocked because I had been going for forty years or more with very considerable evidence that it was working exceptionally well...

I made a mistake in presuming that the self-interests of organizations, specifically banks and others, were such as that they were best capable of protecting their own shareholders and their equity in the firms...

Free markets did break down. And I think that, as I said, shocked me...

I still do not fully understand why it happened. And obviously to the extent that I figure out where it happened, and why, I will change my views. And if the facts change, I will change." Alan Greenspan testifying before Congress 23 Oct 2008.

The good doctor had his Fed doublespeak in full gear, but the general interpretation of financial pundits was that Alan overlooked the third deadly sin – greed.

Considering that the entire capitalist system appears to be built on greed, who can blame him?

The last thing I want to do is enter into a theological argument, but where do you draw the line between self-interest and greed? Is greed alone a bad thing? Without the power to act on greed, greed is powerless. As greedy as I am (I am an ardent gambler on horses), my greed goes unfulfilled because I have very little power to act upon it.

It takes money to act on greed, and as Willie Sutton famously reminded us, banks are where the money is. Deregulating banks, or any large corporations for that matter, enables greed to act.

Greed, alone, is harmless. I'm sitting here greedily wishing for millions of dollars as I type this.

When fair profit becomes unfair is the line between earned income and unearned. In a free market, this point is crossed when the inferior bargainer (the one without lots of money) loses fair choice.

I think most people will agree that they have never had fair choice in the marketplace. The goods they desire seem overpriced and the pay they earn seems far too low. Is this illusion or reality?

The price you pay for things is based upon the cost to create them. Part of the creation cost is the accumulated debt of the company creating the goods. In order to stay in business, businesses must charge enough to make a profit against costs, and a great portion of cost today is taken up by interest payments on accumulated debts.

As debt accumulates, prices rise. Debt drives inflation, but what drives debt?

Debt is driven by interest, or what was once called usury. Usury is the demand of unearned interest on a loan. Why is it unearned? No work was performed to generate the additional money. Greed.

When money is loaned at interest, the money to repay the interest is never created even though the sum of the interest is often two or three times the original debt. Where does this money to pay the interest come from? It comes from more people agreeing to assume more debt.

As long as you have enough suckers borrowing more money, the pyramid scheme of usury money will work until there is so much money borrowed that it is impossible to pay even the interest on the debt. It's a Ponzi scheme with guaranteed failure.

So here is Greenspan's real flaw, one he refused to disclose. Greed in a fair, free market cannot destroy the market because real players, with real choices, will refuse to pay high prices. If you can limit the public's choices, then you can force them to play a fixed game.

Our governments, run by the central bankers (world-wide) have empowered greed by allowing usury to accumulate debt owed to the banksters. Debt, public and private, is refinanced to the point that interest can no longer be paid.

Growing indebtedness creates nations of slaves, toiling their lives to repay ever-growing sums of money that never actually existed in the first place.

This is where people get very confused about money. They think it's as hard for a bank to obtain money as it is for them. The people must sweat and haul rocks to earn their paychecks, but the banks simply create money “out of thin air” to loan to them. The idea of creating money from nothing pisses a lot of people off, once they understand how banking really works.

People get confused that creating money from virtually nothing is the problem. It sounds like it is, but it really isn't. That is the beauty of how the governments and the banks have gamed you! Even if you begin to understand how things work, you get sidetracked into thinking debt itself is bad.

Debt is good. Debt greases the wheels of commerce. This is the reason for the infamous bailouts, to "get credit moving again." Credit/debt is useful.

Interest on debt is very, very bad.

Remember, debt grows with interest and inflation grows with debt. The root evil is interest.

The bailouts don't end interest payments, they merely keep the present corrupt system on life support. The bailouts are bad. Very, very bad.

Greenspan identified the vice of avarice, but greed alone is powerless. Government legalizing interest is greed's empowerment. Without the power to act, greed is toothless. The US government is now feeding the greed by borrowing your (future) money, giving it to the banks and urging the banks to loan it back to you at interest! Such a scam!

Governments and the people who control them (banksters) understand everything I've outlined. They have done everything in their power to ensure that you do not understand. They have invented the “science” of “economics” to confuse and obscure our understanding of money.

Unless a economist admits that usury, not greed, faulty computer models, lack of liquidity or sub-prime mortgages caused our problem, he is either a liar or an idiot.

Until the government admits the problem of usury and outlaws all unearned income, there is absolutely no hope for any economic recovery.