Econ/Invest Archive

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Krugman: The Dense Dunce

h/t to D. Stockman and J. Quinn

Some stellar quotes from the supreme Keynesian being known as Paul Krugman:

From 2006:

American health care is desperately in need of reform. But what form should change take? Are there any useful examples we can turn to for guidance?

Well, I know about a health care system that has been highly successful in containing costs, yet provides excellent care. And the story of this system’s success provides a helpful corrective to anti-government ideology. For the government doesn’t just pay the bills in this system — it runs the hospitals and clinics.

No, I’m not talking about some faraway country. The system in question is our very own Veterans Health Administration, whose success story is one of the best-kept secrets in the American policy debate.

From 2011:

What Mr. Romney and everyone else should know is that the [Veterans Health Administration] is a huge policy success story, which offers important lessons for future health reform. And yes, this is “socialized medicine” — although some private systems, like Kaiser Permanente, share many of the V.H.A.’s virtues. But it works — and suggests what it will take to solve the troubles of U.S. health care more broadly.

This argument has been fairly popular in liberal circles for years. Phillip Longman has written extensively about how great the VA healthcare system is and why it should serve as a model for broader healthcare reform.

krugman the dense dunce

What a stupid douche…

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The New Cold War

It is said that “war is the health of the state.”  Because government’s goal is always to grow in size, influence and power there is a need for constant war to justify its continuous and infectous propagation.

war is the health of the state

A Cold War that has been going on for years, became clearly visible to me yesterday (while describing the events in Nevada to a few friends that were new to the developments there).  The Cold War I am referring to is not the one with Putin’s Russia over issues such as Syria or Crimea or between the US government and all the brown skinned terrorists hiding under our beds hating us for our freedom.  It is between the US Government and the American people who seek true freedom, sovereignty along with a constitutional and restrained government.

Arms Buildup:

The US government has been stockpiling ammo for years.  The Military Industrial Complex that Eisenhower warned us about is one of the most powerful groups in the US.  The alternate media has been calling them on it but the captured mainstream media rarely mention it.  These ammo purchases would not seem ludicrous at face value because practice ammo is constantly needed for training and qualification but the fact that they are buying hollow points and the quantity is in the billions (HERE) is what is problematic.  Either they are wasting money by shooting paper with HP’s, they are driving the price of ammo up to keep it out of our hands, or they don’t intend to be shooting paper.

The truth is likely (d) all of the above; the paper targets purchased by some departments that depict children, elderly and even pregnant mothers as the “threats” tell us a lot.  No More Hesitation targets pictured below (story HERE).

government targets

Small arms is only the tip of the iceberg.  It his becoming commonplace for towns of only a few thousand residents to have thier police department receive a free MRAP from the Federal Government.  These rolling mine resistant armored cars will be used to pacify the disorderly conduct of an uppity citizenry.  Seeing something like this just makes you feel safe, doesn’t it?

police mraps

On the other side, Obama can officially depict himself as firearms salesman of the decade (HERE).

obama gun salesman of hte year

Since he was elected, nearly every year there has been a new record for the number of background checks and firearms purchases only to be exceeded and a new record set the following year.  Even when prices skyrocketed after the Aurora Theater Shooting and Sandy Hook Tragedy, sales of AR-15′s, P-Mags, 5.56, AK-47′s, 7.62 have been very strong.  People who aren’t even fans of firearms are recognizing the need for them.  It is common for people I know aren’t gun enthusiasts asking me for recommendations.  People are stockpiling ammo and learning to reload their own.  The BLM fiasco at the Bundy Ranch was a stark reminder that there are militia in this country that are very serious about preparation and their convictions.

militia man in nevada

Espionage:

With the various despicable alphabet agencies like the CIA, DHS and NSA we all knew the government was spying on us and violating the law/rules set forth by the 4th ammendment.  Illegal searches, warrantless home entries, porno body scanners have all become acceptable because of the War on Terror and the War on (some)Drugs.  Our emails are scanned, our phone conversations and texts are catalogued and stored.  But we are told not to worry because it is just the metadata and its for our own good.  The scale and structure was not fully understood by many non-red-pill taking Americans until Edward Snowden courageously released this information in detail.  There are many sheeple who are opening their eyes a little bit more each day.

Edward Snowden work for the beast only to realize the US government isn’t fighting evil empires, they are the evil empire.  Then there are those like Aaron Schwartz who help provide the spread of free information.  Former servicemen like Bradley Manning who take the information our owners have collected and hand it over to someone like Assange who will see to it that it is available for the world to see.  The life of a spy is often short and painful; the inevitable end willl probably include jail, torture and even execution after years of running, hiding and looking over ones shoulder.

My understanding is that espionage means giving secret or classified information to the enemy. Since Snowden shared information with the American people, his indictment for espionage could reveal (or confirm) that the US Government views you and me as the enemy.      
~Ron Paul~

Sanctions:

People are having a rough go at it, inflation adjusted income for the average person is the lowest in decades and the credit orgy isn’t as appealing to many as it was prior to 2007.  The issue isn’t that the US government isn’t doing enough to help, it’s that it is doing so much to hinder the people who want to be free.  Websites like The Burning Platform and Eric Peter’s Autos are bullied out of existence by the Google arm of the Feds for telling the truth and opening the minds of readers.  They literally create regulations and rules to simply act as cement loafers so that those treading water expend so much energy just trying to stay afloat.  People are so exhausted from this that they don’t have time to read and think critically; this is not an accident.

Soon the most profitable US business will be the company that mass produces Closed and Out Of Business signs.

out of business

Unlike during the first half of the 20th century, new automotive companies sprouting up are a rarity; except when they tout the “green energy/electric car” line that includes subsidies from big government.  Decades ago there was innovation because smart people of average means figured out better ways to do things and went at it on their own to create wealth.  Now those same people need billions of dollars (or the connections with politicians) just to get started.  Legitimate loans are often hard to acquire for these people.    The emissions and safety standards just to enter the market are motivation killers.  The road blocks are literally so tall these people end up working for the monster corporations like GM who knowlingly continue to produce crappy products that cause deaths.

A perfect example of another affected industry is Healthcare.  Obama-care is like a cluster timebomb going off every few seconds until the foreseeable future.  Dictating the rules that affect your life by a group sackless bureaucrats.

government created problems

This lack of innovation and over-regulation occurs in nearly all markets that actually produce a good.  The agriculture industry is being destroyed while corporations like Monsanto grow exponentially.  Somehow the merger between Time Warner and Comcast will go through and the service provided by this cable monster will actually get worse (one should just cancel their cable anyway) while the price increases.  We should not wonder why jobs creating and producing useful products have been steadily run out of America while the few remaining products are produced by the largest possible corporations with tendrils in the government.

Border Disputes:

The recent Clive Bundy vs BLM incident is a perfect example of a border dispute.  Private property rights, rule of law and respect of contracts are necessary for legitimate borders and peace.  None of those things exist anymore.  The BLM claims the land around Bundy’s ranch and demands grazing fees while not maintaining the land themselves and regulating the number of cattle he is allowed to have down to unprofitable quantities.  But it is totally legal because a Federal Court ruled that the Federal Government is the rightful owner of the land; sounds legit to me (sic).  Their goal is to regulate him out of business so they can either confiscate or outright buy it up from him just as they have done to the other 50 ranchers that are no longer in that area.  This is literally a recreation of Ayn Rand’s Atlast Shrugged.

Bundy didn’t play ball and wouldn’t pay the fees so the feds stole his cattle and tried to fence it over in Utah.  They ended up SOL when Utah refused to deal with stolen property.  The people literally marched on the Feds position under threat of murder until the BLM backed down.

I don’t want to romanticize and hollywood-up this incident but it reminded me of the crowd of protestors marching past the blockades in V for Vendetta.

All taxes are theft but school/property taxes are one of the more despicable taxes, they essentially turn every (supposed) homeowner/landowner into a renter.  Regardless of any good they might do they are evil for the sheer fact that they have destroyed the idea of true property rights and ownership.  Even if you have paid off your mortgage you are not a land owner, try not paying your school/property taxes for a while; you will find out who really owns the land.

west is owned by the feds

84% of Nevada is owned by the Federal Government.  How does Mordor on the Potomac own more of Nevada that Nevadans and the state of Nevada combined?  With a $17 trillion deficit, I think it is prudent for them to start selling off some of their assets.

Aggression Masked As Diplomacy:

Negotiations are a constant in our world.  If terms are negotiated between mindful adults/parties then there can be peace but often dealings and negotiations with the US government involve coercion and the threat of violence.  The use of aggressive violence and threat of its use has no place in a free society.  The fact that it is part of the normal standard operating procedure of the US should not be a surprise because we are far from being a free society.

People are getting fed up with these tactics.  Whether it is people refusing to stand down to police after a shooting, filming the police actions even when threatened with arrest, vocalizing their disapproval at town hall meetings or simply a rancher who has essentially says to the feds ”I don’t recognise your authority regarding this, now fuck off!”

Propaganda/Ad Hominem Attacks:

One of the first steps in winning any war is the dehumanization of the enemy.  Once that is successful those who sign the legislation and pull the triggers won’t see themselves as thieves and murderers because their victims are sub-human.  These people are the enemy of freedom and the enemy of America.

Libertarians, Tea Party, 2nd Ammendment supporters, etc… are constantly labeled as extremists and one step away from being re-categorized as terrorists.

2nd american revolution

That picture says it all, hundreds of government agents were up against hundreds of protestors backed by armed militia men not afraid to exercise their 2nd ammendment and point their rifles downrange at a group that might decide to aggressively stand against freedom.

The writing is on the wall, war could break out between the US and America, preparations have been made and the tension is there for it to go from cold to a hot war at a moments notice.  This is what characterizes a Cold War to me.

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That DUM Bitch Has Made School Lunch Worse

mooshell bambam

Moo-shell is an unbelivable tw-unt, it is easy to tell when she has entered a room because one can “smell the sulfur coming off her cloven hooves.”  She has done the impossible, her initiatives have gotten school lunches to look even more like dogshit than they did when I went to school.  At least the school’s policies are also making it difficult for kids to bring your own lunch.  I thought she would be Pro-Choice.  The reasoning behind not allowing lunches from home, to ensure the eating of healthy food.  HAHAHA, take a look at the meals these kids are eating and tell me with a straight face they are healthy.

calvin and hobbes laughing

Ok, now pick yourself up off the floor.

When the government school system isn’t poisoning the minds of our children, destroying their free will & creativity and teaching (sic) them via the lunacy that is Common Core, they are literally poisoning their bodies with this shit they call “food.”

Bottom line: Sending kids to public/government school is child abuse.

Mac Slavo’s post below.

Michelle Obama’s School Lunches In Pictures: “Is That Photo Taken From Death Row?”

Mac Slavo
April 8th, 2014
SHTFplan.com
One of the purported successes of Michelle Obama’s tenure as First Lady of the United States has been to help Americans get fit and eat right.

She’s launched a wide array of initiatives targeting Americans receiving government nutritional benefits, as well as school lunch programs across the nation. Nowhere have the First Lady’s efforts been more visible than in the cafeteria’s of America’s schools.

Within days of Obama’s new USDA regulations taking hold parents and schoolchildren launched complaints surrounding the rationing of meals, a move that left kids hungry and school districts frustrated with all of the additional paperwork and program expenses. The USDA subsequently upped the rations to assuage frustration.

But according to America’s kids Michelle Obama has been “out to lunch” when it comes to satisfying hunger. It’s so bad, in fact, that black markets for food have popped up in schools and kids are taking to their social media pages to share their outrage.

Do you want to see what Michelle Obama considers eating right? Check out these pictures and comments – sourced directly from government run cafeterias around the country.

As you see what passes for health food these days keep in mind that school’s are increasingly restricting children from bringing their own lunches from home, often citing nutritional requirements as the reason.

An appetizing ham and cheese tortilla wrap:

moo1

Chili cheese dog with a side of veggies:

moo2

Can I get another scoop of brown with a sprinkle of yellow? Oh, and don’t forget my biscuit!

moo3

Seconds anyone?

moo4

Students weigh in:

moo5

moo6

When mom joined her daughter for lunch, here’s the wonderful meal prepared by the caring cafeteria staff:

moo7

On the flip side, here is what Michelle Obama’s children enjoy for lunch at the Sidwell Friends school attended by her daughters Sasha and Malia. In this particular case the school was paying a tribute to Pearl Harbor Day and the kids feasted on Asian Mushroom Soup, Oriental Noodle Salad, Teriyaki Marinated Chicken Strips, Garlic Roasted Edamame, Vegetable Fried Rice and Fortune Cookies for dessert:

sidwell friends - lunch

And of course, how can we talk about healthy eating, school lunches, and Michelle Obama without mentioning the White House organic vegetable garden? The First Lady shows of her green thumb in the picture below. It turns out, however, that because of her busy schedule she didn’t actually grow any of her food. The White House gardeners did, and they did a heck of a job.

michelle-obama-gardener

Straight from America’s organic gardens to school lunch tables coast to coast.

Original HERE.

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Who Are The Monsters?

zombie plan

I have been a fan of the zombie genre, NOTLD, Res Evil games etc… for quite a while.  The majority of recent history they were a niche.  They are less of a niche now, partly because what has been deemed “nerd” in the past is “cool” now.  But a great deal of it is the sorrowful, doom filled mood and general malaise that has taken over our lives.  Nothing occurs in a vacuum; 25 years ago, this show might not have lasted a single season because the audience couldn’t identify with it and the characters; today it is a juggernaut because so many people do identify with it.

The one “loner” i see in the show (I have only seen thru S3) that has survived is Morgan Jones.  He and his son helped Rick in the first episode.  he didn’t put down his wife when he needed to and ended up losing his son as well.  Once he lost the last thing keeping him human and giving him purpose he went insane and views his existence as a punishment/limbo/sentence that he must serve out.

The questions I am left with when watching this show is, (1) how can we retain our humanity, (2) identify and appropriately deal with the real monsters when confronted by them and (3) not live the remainders of our lives under the weight of agonizing regret?

One of the amazing things about a show like this is that these people were “normal” people and almost everyone can watch this show and see themselves as one of the characters.  Then they are thrown into an extraordinary situation; we see their responses and actions and end up amazed and/or horrified because we think of what we might do or allow happen.

Thanks to Jim Quinn for writing on the various topics that he does, he is definitely doing his part by being a loudspeaker and beacon (albeit a doom beacon) and providing a forum at The Burning Platform for discussion and enlightenment.

hardest part of zombie apocalyps

All joking aside, no one should be actively looking forward to a zombie apocalypse but recognizing an event of that magnitude is possible and preparing as best you can by being strong mentally and physically, being proficient with firearms and other weapons, learning truly useful skills and forging relationships with other like-minded people is a worthy goal that won’t guarantee survival but should allow humanity to continue after the world has been destroyed by the consequences of our rulers.

the zombie apocalypse

WELCOME TO TERMINUS

Posted on 6th April 2014 by Jim Quinn

“Life improves slowly and goes wrong fast, and only catastrophe is clearly visible.” Edward Teller

I was a late arrival to the Walking Dead television program. I don’t watch much of the mindless drivel passing for entertainment on the 600 worthless channels available 24/7 on cable TV. I assumed it was another superficial zombie horror show on par with the teenage vampire crap polluting the airwaves. Last year a friend told me I had to watch the show. I was hooked immediately and after some marathon watching of seasons one and two, I understood the various storylines and back stories. What the show doesn’t openly reveal is the deeper meanings, symbolism, and lessons we can learn from viewing human beings trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic world. In my opinion, the horror and gore is secondary to the human responses to horrific circumstances and the consequences of individual and group decisions to their survival.

As the end of season four approached, the disbursed characters were descending upon a place called Terminus. They were drawn by the intriguing and hopeful signs posted at various railroad junctions promising sanctuary, community and survival. Of course the name Terminus does not sound very inviting or hopeful. There are multiple possible meanings regarding Terminus. The Roman god Terminus protected boundary markers and sacrifices were performed to sanctify each boundary stone. The bones, ashes, and blood of a sacrificial victim, along with crops, honeycombs, and wine, were placed into a hole at a point where estates converged, and the stone was driven in on top. Maintaining boundaries and sacrifice are major themes throughout the series.

The show is set in the metropolitan Atlanta area of Georgia and the surrounding countryside. It just so happens that during the 1830s Terminus was the name of a settlement at the end of the Western and Atlantic railroad line. That settlement is now Atlanta. Terminus is also the title of the final poem ever composed by Ralph Waldo Emerson. The poem focuses on a conversation between the author and the god Terminus, discussing the author’s forthcoming death. The message of the poem is to resist fear and prepare for death. The destination is worth the journey.

“As the bird trims her to the gale,

I trim myself to the storm of time,

I man the rudder, reef the sail,

Obey the voice at eve obeyed at prime:

“Lowly faithful, banish fear,

Right onward drive unharmed;

The port, well worth the cruise, is near,

And every wave is charmed.”

We are only given a short time on this earth and the end of the line will be the same for everyone. What matters is how we conduct ourselves during our own journey towards our personal Terminus. Have we served as a virtuous example for our children, sacrificed for others, and benefited humanity or have we displayed greed, avarice and selfishness during our trek through life? As we approach our own meeting with destiny, the actions and morality of individuals will matter. I don’t know the motivations of the writers creating the themes for the Walking Dead, but the show connects with me on a number of levels. I look around and see hordes of zombies everywhere.

Zombification of America

“The real hopeless victims of mental illness are to be found among those who appear to be most normal. Many of them are normal because they are so well adjusted to our mode of existence, because their human voice has been silenced so early in their lives that they do not even struggle or suffer or develop symptoms as the neurotic does. They are normal not in what may be called the absolute sense of the word; they are normal only in relation to a profoundly abnormal society. Their perfect adjustment to that abnormal society is a measure of their mental sickness. These millions of abnormally normal people, living without fuss in a society to which, if they were fully human beings, they ought not to be adjusted.” – Aldous Huxley – Brave New World Revisited

The vast majority of the population in the post-apocalyptic world of the Walking Dead is mindless zombies driven by only their need to feed upon human flesh. They are infected with a disease that disables the cognitive portion of their brains and leaves them as slobbering predatory zombies seeking to satisfy their vile needs. They are referred to as “walkers” or “biters” as they aimlessly roam the countryside seeking human flesh. Everyone bitten or killed by a zombie is infected and turned into a zombie. The only way to stop them is by destroying their brain. The relentless violence and gore is not for the squeamish, but is probably a realistic portrayal of the brutishness and harsh conditions that will overwhelm this country once the electrical grid goes down, fuel becomes scarce and the global supply chain fails. Our just in time society is about one week from chaos, lawlessness, starvation and death on a grand scale.

As I watch the hordes of hideous brain dead zombies shuffling across the apocalyptic landscape seeking to satiate their basest cravings I can’t help but see the parallels with the millions of mindless tattooed obese slobs waddling across mall parking lots past vacant store fronts staring zombielike at their iGadgets as they seek to satisfy their basest desires at Macy’s and Chipotle. A virus has overspread our country causing a vast swath of the population to gratuitously assuage their every want without thinking of the consequences. The sickness is caused by being imprisoned for twelve years in government run public schools, watching thousands of hours of propaganda emitted by the corporate media, viewing hundreds of brain cell destroying reality TV shows, reading and sending thousands of texts and tweets, and being overwhelmed by the delusional belief spending more than they make, saving nothing, and piling up mountains of debt is the path to success in our contaminated society.

In the show there is no clear explanation as to why the majority of the population have been infected and turned into zombies, while a tiny minority is unaffected and able to think critically and act rationally. It is revealed that all living people are infected with the zombie virus, but it remains dormant in a minority of the survivors. Death by any means triggers the virus and turns the corpse into a mindless flesh eating zombie. There are 318 million Americans and a majority of them fall into the category of zombies in my estimation. Every American has the zombie virus within them. It has been incubated by corrupt vote seeking politicians, control hungry government sociopaths, mind numbingly worthless public education, and the relentless dumbing down through corporate media propaganda and vacuous reality TV entertainment. Once cogent thinking aware citizens have been zombiefied into mindless impulsive consumers.

How can you not see the parallels between American society and the zombies in the Walking Dead? Walk down any city street in America and you see hordes shuffling along staring with blank faces and glazed over eyes at their iGadgets. Black Friday is identical to flinging a freshly slaughtered hog in front of the flesh eating zombies. Americans flock to malls across our apocalyptic suburban sprawl landscape and proceed to stampede, gouge, and punch their way to an fantastic bargain on a Chinese slave labor produced microwave they must have to cook their toxic frankenfood created by one of our corporate food conglomerates. The Black Friday crowds actually make the zombies from the Walking Dead seem well behaved. While the American zombies are shambling through superficial lives of pleasure seeking, mass consumption, and a delusional faith in debt based wealth, there is still a minority of rational thinking people who can control their impulses and resist the disease devouring our culture.

“Our economy is based on spending billions to persuade people that happiness is buying things, and then insisting that the only way to have a viable economy is to make things for people to buy so they’ll have jobs and get enough money to buy things.” ― Philip Slater        

Collapse Will Be Sudden

“That’s the thing about the collapse of civilization. It never happens according to plan – there’s no slavering horde of zombies. No actinic flash of thermonuclear war. No Earth-shuddering asteroid. The end comes in unforeseen ways; the stock market collapses, and then the banks, and then there is no food in the supermarkets, or the communications system goes down completely and inevitably, and previously amiable co-workers find themselves wrestling over the last remaining cookie that someone brought in before all the madness began.” ― Mark A. Rayner – The Fridgularity

What you note after watching a few episodes of the Walking Dead is that collapse happened suddenly. Cities, towns, houses and highways remained relatively intact. The decay and deterioration caused by neglect and abandonment are the only visible signs that modern civilization has ceased. The show highlights the life-threatening difficulty of enduring on a day to day basis without the certainty of shelter, food, water, and fuel. The average asleep American isn’t prepared to last one week without the basics of modern life. They haven’t stocked any food, water or fuel in case of an emergency. Their normalcy bias keeps them from even considering the high likelihood of even a natural disaster caused by a hurricane, snowstorm, or earthquake. Recent examples of most people’s complete helplessness were the snow and ice storms that struck this past winter and hurricanes Sandy and Katrina. Without power and access to food and water, modern society breaks down quickly, with chaos, looting and anarchy only days away.

It is unlikely that collapse of civilization as we know it will happen due to some extreme event such as nuclear war, super volcano, or asteroid. When our central banker masters of the universe trigger the next financial system collapse, with no monetary bullets of debasement left in their pop gun, the resulting chaos when ATMs stop spitting out $20 bills and EBT cards for 47 million people stop functioning at Wally World will be epic. We got a glimpse into the future this past October when the EBT system went down in several states for a few hours on a Saturday afternoon. Zombies began to ransack Wal-Mart stores attempting to steal as much as they could get away with. Chaos, anger and criminal behavior was virtually instantaneous. A vast swath of EBT dependent zombies live in our numerous urban ghettos and when the EBT system goes down permanently violence will quickly erupt. Police will be vastly out-numbered, hungry mobs will become armed gangs of violent looters burning down their ghettos, ransacking and plundering businesses, stores and homes, and stealing everything that isn’t nailed down. Visualize the L.A. riots after the Rodney King verdict in every urban area in the country.

The fragility of our debt financed oil dependent just in time global supply chain system is beyond the comprehension of the average zombie American. They are too distracted by mass consuming the products dependent on that very same fragile scheme. They are clueless zombie-like dupes who believe $20 bills magically appear in ATMs, Funyuns and Cheetos miraculously materialize on Wal-Mart shelves, gasoline endlessly bubbles up from the ground into the hose they stick in their $40,000 monster SUVs “bought” with a 0% seven year loan from Ally Financial, and that enchanted plastic card with a magnetic strip empowers them to fulfill every craving like a zombie feeding on a dead carcass.

There is a worldwide currency and petroleum war being waged today as too much fiat currency is chasing a dwindling amount of cheap petroleum supplies. The developed world has experienced a century of relative illusory prosperity as cheap easy to access fuel and cheap easy to print fiat currency have led zombies to believe progress and prosperity are their god given right. The most highly educated zombies will be the most shocked when they realize the reality they believed was all an illusion. The Starbucks “Triple, Venti, Half Sweet, Non-Fat, Caramel Macchiato” crowd who isolate themselves in their 100% financed 5,000 square foot luxury cookie cutter brick McMansions amidst 200 other identical McMansions occupied by reclusive strangers in enclaves pretentiously named The Preserve at Meadow Lakes, and driving multiple leased BMWs, are about as prepared for a collapse of modern society as a helpless child. The suburban wasteland of strip malls, office parks, and fast food joints is completely dependent upon an endless supply of cheap oil and cheap credit.

The cracks in this delusionary foundation are visible for all to see as Space Available signs outnumber actual businesses, pothole dotted highways deteriorate, sewer lines crack, and houses in disrepair outnumber those being kept up. It takes money to keep a home from deteriorating and it happens to be in short supply for 90% of the population. Despite the non-stop money printing operation at the Fed and the mainstream media fantasy stories of shale oil energy independence, the suburban dream is turning into a nightmare. When the inevitable financial implosion strikes in the next few years, the illusion of progress will come to an end. The inner cities will explode in violence and will burn. The police will be helpless and scared. There will be death on a large scale.

Suburbia will turn into a lawless landscape where neighbors turn on each other, as they have failed to create real communities. The isolation and seclusion which have marked suburban existence for the last thirty years will contribute to the creation of criminal gangs looting and pillaging stores, businesses and unprotected homes. After the collapse the only people likely to survive relatively unscathed are rural folk. Farmers, ranchers and those capable of living off the land have the abilities to endure a breakdown in our modern society. These people are prepared, know how to use firearms and create communities of self-sufficiency. No one will thrive in the world coming our way, but those not dependent upon or tied to our modern societal paradigm have a better chance to survive.

“If people feel lost and alone and helpless and broken and hopeless today, what will it be like if the world really begins to come apart at the hinges?” Brandon Andress – And Then the End Will Come!

Individualism vs Community

“The values to which people cling most stubbornly under inappropriate conditions are those values that were previously the source of their greatest triumphs.” Jared Diamond – Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed

Our society has always glorified rugged individualism. We celebrate individual accomplishments and make heroes of those who have gone it alone and triumphed either in business, politics, sports, or the arts. Overcoming tremendous obstacles and going it alone in the face of adversity has been the narrative Americans admire and seek to emulate. Even the reality TV shows about preppers focus on individuals who plan on going it alone when civilization enters collapse mode. These rugged loners take pride in individualism, build bunkers, amass small arsenals and stockpile food and supplies. They will likely survive the initial onslaught of collapse and first wave of violence. But how long can an individual expect to survive alone in a Walking Dead environment? The traits which were appropriate and rewarded in modern society will be inappropriate and fatal in a post-modern society. A lesson from the show is clearly that a community of like-minded individuals working together has a better chance at long-term survival than a loner. Just make sure you join the right community.

With hordes of flesh eating automatons roaming the countryside it was essential for the living to form communities in order to fend off the zombies, protect each other, provide shelter, and forage for food. An individual alone had no chance at survival as falling asleep would ultimately prove fatal if a zombie stumbled upon your camp. The group led by Sheriff Rick Grimes eventually creates a community within the gates of an abandoned prison. The irony of seeing mindless throngs of soulless killers attempting to breakdown the fences to get “into” the prison is not lost on the audience. At first, the occupants of the prison would leave on foraging/pillaging missions to nearby cities and towns attempting to find food, medical supplies, gasoline and any other essential necessities of life. Eventually Hershel, the wise old man of the community, convinced Rick that cultivating the soil, sowing seeds and growing their own food was the only chance for their community to thrive over the long haul. Working with your hands is refreshing to the soul. Jesus’ Parable of the Sower immediately comes to mind.

Hearken; Behold, there went out a sower to sow: And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the birds of the air came and devoured it up. And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth: But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. And some fell among thorns, the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit. And other fell on good ground, did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, some an hundred. He said unto them, He that has ears to hear, let him hear. Mark 4:3-9

Some communities are evil at their core and will commit malevolent atrocities. Some communities will appear ethical, but when hardship strikes they will fall back to their wicked ways. Communities of those addicted to riches and wealth will ignore the pleas of the downtrodden and wail and gnash their teeth when their worldly wealth evaporates. A fruitful community that chooses decent honorable leaders, adopts a moral code, treats all members with respect, encourages hard work and accountability, and plans for the future, will reap the benefits of sustainability and stability. Cultivating a good community is difficult, requiring sacrifice, compromise, hard work, difficult choices, and depends upon the goodwill of all members. Rick tried to become a farmer, but Carol saw the future clearly telling him, “you can be a farmer, you can’t just be a farmer”. A peaceful happy ending was not to be.

The community of Woodbury, led by a despicably evil man referred to as the governor, gave outward appearances of stability and health. But it was ruled through fear, intimidation, vindictiveness and evil. Leaders like the governor arise during desperate times when the weak seek someone who promises to save them and keep them safe. Leaders like the governor are far more savage, ruthless and dangerous than the flesh eating zombie hordes because they kill with malicious intent, fully knowledgeable of the consequences of their actions. Eventually good communities led by good people must stand up and fight bad communities led by evil men, no matter the consequences. Under dire circumstances and an uncertain future we will need to decide what kind of community we will be. What kind of people we will be. Will we fight for a better future for our children? Can we retain our humanity or will we become no better than the walking dead?

Brutal: Hershel awaits his fate at the hands of The Governor on last night's The Walking Dead

“What fascinates me is not so much humanity’s engulfment in darkness, but what kind of culture we will construct from the rubble of this one.” Carolyn Baker – Collapsing Consciously: Transformative Truths for Turbulent Times

Who Are the Real Walking Dead?

The central question permeating the Walking Dead is whether the living can maintain their humanity amidst so much horror, brutality, death, and desolation. Can the living continue to show compassion, kindness, mercy and love in a world torn apart by disarray, violence, viciousness and despair? Throughout the series those who haven’t “turned” still have the capacity to empathize, comfort one another, offer succor, and show mercy and kindness. But after enduring unending horrors, cruelty, death and sorrow, it appears some of the characters are “turning” into the very monsters pursuing them.

Every human being has their breaking point. The main characters must commit increasingly heinous acts in order to survive. The walkers have no choice. Their humanity was stripped from them by the virus. The living have a choice. The mental anguish pushes some (Lizzy) over the edge into insanity. Others (Michonne and Carl) are torn by guilt that they have become monsters. Carol justifies her ruthlessness as the only choice for survival – just like the walkers. The seismic shift occurs when Rick, seeing his son being sexually assaulted, goes full zombie and bites the jugular of his captor and relentlessly stabs his son’s attacker. Daryl kills one of the bad guys by crushing his skull with his boot. Many of the characters have made a choice to shed their humanity in order to protect their family and friends. As the series completes its fourth season we are left with a question. Are the zombies really the “walking dead” or are the living really the “walking dead”?

Life is complicated and those seeking simplicity and consistency will be terribly disappointed. The future is not going to be bright for our empire of debt and delusions. Times that will try men’s souls are on the horizon. The choices we make as individuals and communities will matter. Every human being has the capacity for good or evil. We will be alone in deciding whether we gravitate toward the dark side of our character or whether we make a stand for all that is noble and decent. Retaining our humanity during the trials and tribulations that await us will be crucial to creating a community that is sustainable and a future worth living and fighting for. It is clear that Terminus is not a true sanctuary for all. It permeates evil. As all of the “good” people are herded into a single boxcar I couldn’t help but see the parallels of the Nazis herding the Jews into boxcars for their final destination. Passive submission to an evil authority never ends well.

As the door is slammed shut and the protagonists are reunited, Rick declares “they’re gonna feel pretty stupid when they find out.” Abraham then asks “find out what?” Rick’s “they’re screwing with the wrong people” response confirms his transformation from an ambivalent reluctant leader into a powerful figure who will do anything necessary to protect his family, friends and community. This Fourth Turning has yet to reach its bloody, violent, chaotic zenith. The popularity of shows like the Walking Dead is a sign of the darkening mood change in this country. With our fragile fraudulent finance driven eco-system teetering on the edge, the threat of collapse is ever present. Within one week of a financial system collapse we would enter a Walking Dead like scenario. Each American who hasn’t already been infected with the zombie virus needs to prepare now and decide what kind of person they will become as the collapse engulfs our society. We all exit this world as we entered it – alone. But we have the wherewithal to positively impact the rebuilding of our culture from the rubble of this one. Are you ready to meet the deadly trials ahead? The choices we make over the next decade will determine if this is the end of the line for our civilization or a new beginning..

“We live together, we act on, and react to, one another; but always and in all circumstances we are by ourselves. The martyrs go hand in hand into the arena; they are crucified alone. By its very nature every embodied spirit is doomed to suffer and enjoy in solitude. Sensations, feelings, insights, fancies—all these are private and, except through symbols and at second hand, incommunicable. We can pool information about experiences, but never the experiences themselves. From family to nation, every human group is a society of island universes.” Aldous Huxley – Doors of Perception

Original HERE.

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Some College Truth

Another outstanding article from The Art of Manliness.

One of the best lines from the article:

Students have come to expect their education to be tailored to their own personal pace, likes, and abilities. This most definitely is not how it works in the business world, where your supervisors are catering to the market and to their customers, not to you. Students graduate as consummate consumers who are wholly unprepared to switch roles and take on the mantle of producers.

 That excerpt is so incredibly true, many people (delusional) think that it is the job of everyone else and the rest of the world to bend to and provide their needs and wants.  Everyone is becoming a consumer instead of a provider or producer developing ways to meet others needs & wants or their own needs & wants.  This country is morphing into an entire nation of people too old to be kids but too immature or skilled to ever become adults.

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Is College for Everyone? Part II: The Pros and Cons of Attending a 4-Year College

by Jeremy Anderberg on March 24, 2014

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Welcome to Part II of our series that asks the question of whether or not college is necessary. In Part I, we took a look at the history of higher education in America. What started as a place for a small, elite group of students began turning into an American rite of passage in the early 1900s. Enrollment boomed, endowments skyrocketed, and the idea of college became imbued with a romantic haze that has endured until the present day.

This last decade, however, has started to show that four years of college immediately after high school may not be the best option for every student out there. Today, we’re going to look at the pros and cons a young man should consider before deciding to enroll in a four-year university.

While some of these pros and cons apply equally to both four-year and two-year schools, in general, they are specific to four-year schools. For example, while tuition costs are skyrocketing at four-year institutions (especially private ones), community college remains pretty affordable at an average of just over $2,000/year. And while it’s possible to form close relationships at a community college (even if those friendships aren’t quite as wacky as depicted on the eponymous television show), it’s harder to do because students don’t live on campus.

The reason we’ll be concentrating on the pros and cons of enrolling in a four-year school, particularly right after graduating high school, is because of the weight those particular institutions carry in the minds of Americans. The cultural pressure to go on to college after high school almost completely centers on enrolling in a four-year college. While plenty of students attend community and technical colleges, the majority of 18-year-olds that have graduated high school will attend four-year schools. In total, you see about twice the number of four-year students (~11 million) than two-year (~6.5 million).

There is still a certain stigma attached to two-year schools – that they’re only for those who don’t get in or can’t afford “normal” college. Without a doubt the cultural perception is that two-year schools are a step down from four-year institutions. It’s an unfortunate side effect of the blanket prestige given to four-year schools.

But is that level of prestige truly deserved? Should attending a four-year college be the aim of every high school senior in the country? In this post we will examine the positives and negatives of attending a four-year institution with the goal of receiving your bachelor’s degree.

The Cons of Attending a Four-Year College

Tuition Costs Are Skyrocketing

Given the fact that we are still experiencing the aftershocks of the 2008 recession, it’s inevitable that many of these cons are related to money. I’ll try to address a few specific concerns within the broader category of college economics.

The first is that the cost of tuition is growing at a rate far higher than the general inflation of the economy. What this means is that more and more students (and their families) aren’t actually able to afford college, but enroll anyway, because it’s still just what you do.

Since 1990, just 24 years ago, the price of a four-year institution has soared 300%. That’s an eye-popping number to be sure, but you can say that about a lot of products. You have to factor in general inflation numbers in order to figure out the real significance. When we do that, we see that in those 24 years, tuition has risen at a rate that is 2.5-4 times that of the national inflation, depending on who you ask. Theoretically, when disproportional inflation occurs, that product becomes a luxury good. That has not been the case with college, however, as enrollments only continue to go up. (Minor caveat: enrollments dropped among all college types slightly in 2013 — by 2.3% from the year prior — but the majority of that number was in fewer adult learners enrolling at either for-profit schools or public community colleges.)

Ultimately this means that families are spending money they don’t have for a luxury product they can no longer reasonably afford. At an average cost of around $20,000/year for college, families are looking at an expense that is 38% of their entire household income. That’s a rate at which most families would be denied a mortgage.

Unfortunately, there’s no real end in sight. In 2011 alone, the cost of public schools rose 5.4 percent and private schools rose an astounding 8.3 percent, both of which significantly outpaced the 3 percent inflation for the economy. Wages simply aren’t keeping up with college costs, and Americans have not yet been able to cut back on this particular expense.

A Degree Isn’t Yielding the ROI That It Used To

Tuition may be going up, but a college degree is still thought to be a good investment. But it could be argued that while the cost of college has been rising, its actual value – on many different fronts – has been declining.

The popular statistic thrown around in regards to the long-term, monetary value of a college degree is that graduates earn, on average, $1 million more over the course of their lifetime than non-degree holders. To a high schooler, or even a parent of a student, that’s a number that cannot be ignored.

Unfortunately, it’s a little bit misleading, and also simply not as accurate post-recession. That $1 million number is quite top-heavy. If you make it into a top university and graduate with honors, your earnings are likely to be much higher than if you scrape by at Podunk U. Those at the very top are well above that $1 million figure, and skew the results for the rest of us. A recent study by PayScale.com found that there are only 72 schools (out of 2,700 4-year schools in America) at which earning a degree can get you a $1 million return on investment over high school grads. The median is closer to $500,000 according to that report, which while still being a lofty number, is half of what prospective college goers are often promised.

That $1 million number may have been true 12 years ago when it was released in a report by the US Census Bureau, but with the recession, and wage inflation being lower than general inflation, to continue to throw that number around today is irresponsible.

At one time, college certainly was a reasonable investment. Tuition was low ($1,200/year in the 1970s at public schools, including room and board!) and therefore affordable, and you’d be rewarded with a well-paying job. Forty years ago, over a third of the labor force didn’t even have four years of high school education, while only 10 percent of the population had a degree. That made college graduates more of a hot commodity, and in the mid-nineties, at the height of America’s economic success, the unemployment rate for college graduates was around 2%.

That time is long gone. Tuition has become damn-near unaffordable for most, and well-paying jobs (heck, jobs period) are nowhere near the guarantee they once were after you graduate. In fact, recent grads (ages 20-24) have an unemployment rate that is now at about 7.8%. That’s higher than the national unemployment, and close to three times higher than it was about 20 years ago. This means you’re accumulating mountains of debt (which was not the case even a decade ago, when less than one-third of graduates used student loans – more on that below) that will strap your financial decisions for decades after graduating, and you may not even have a means of paying it off. Does that sound like a good investment?

Another factor that has to be considered in this topic of ROI is your lost potential income during your college years. Let’s consider even the lowest wage scenario. If you make minimum wage, with zero raises over the course of four years, you’ll have made $56,000. That’s not chump change, and it’s likely you’d make much more than that. I had jobs in high school that were well above minimum wage, and you’re almost guaranteed raises if you’re competent. Then factor in the out-of-pocket expenses as well as the debt for someone in four years of school (which is generous in itself – the average these days for graduation is closer to 5 and even 6 years). You’re looking at anywhere from $25,000 to $100,000 for the average student. Then you consider interest on those student loans, and the fact that you’ll take an average of 16-18 years paying them off (during which that high school graduate likely moved up the ranks and is now earning a decent wage), and all of a sudden the difference is not as great as it once appeared in terms of total earnings. While there is still a difference in the earnings of college grads vs high school grads (I’ll cover that below in the “Pros” section), it’s not as great as what it used to be, and it’s not as great as what is often promised by college admissions offices.

Loans and Debt are Crippling College Grads (and the Economy)

In 2010, the total amount of student debt overtook the total amount of credit card debt in America. As of 2013, there is $1.2 trillion in outstanding student loans – that’s over $3,700 for every man, woman, and child in America. As our nation recovers from the recession, we’ve actually managed to cut down our credit card and mortgage debt. The one area that’s still growing? Student debt.

The major issue, economically, is that about $1 trillion of that is backed by the federal government. This puts the American taxpayer at risk as the creditor, which means we the people carry the burden of unpaid student loans. And that burden is only increasing. Recent reports show that 10% (and the number is increasing) of student loans are in default. On government loans, this means they haven’t been paid in 9 months. Furthermore, only 4 in 10 student loan borrowers are paying back their loans at any given time. Graduates are not able to pay back their debt, and that hurts their credit tremendously, which impacts all future financial (and life) decisions, including car purchases, home purchases, even marriage.

For this reason, many economic experts are calling this student loan crisis “the next housing bubble.” In the mid-1990s, banks were giving out mortgages to anyone and everyone who applied. There wasn’t much due diligence in terms of the borrowers’ ability to pay back their loans. Eventually, that came to bite banks in the rear, and they needed a hefty (to say the least) government bailout in order to survive. The same thing is happening with student loans. Schools give out tens of thousands of dollars to students (and families) who may not have any realistic ability to pay back those loans. Eventually, as many experts are warning, this will create the same effect as what happened to our economy in 2008.

Another crippling factor of student loan debt is that it’s not eligible to be discharged by declaring bankruptcy. While not affecting a great number of people, you never know when something catastrophic could come along and you need the fresh start that bankruptcy sometimes provides for those in dire straits. If you’re not able to discharge student loans, it could hamper your ability to ever recover financially. It’s worth noting that private student debt is far more dangerous than government student debt. While both are non-dischargeable, government loans have low, fixed rates (for the most part – depending on the mood of congress), and repayment can be adjusted based on income (although doing so increases the length of the loan and the interest).

Two-thirds of all students are graduating with debt, and the average amount owed is over $26,000 (a 43% increase from just 7 years ago – right before the recession). With interest, that puts your average monthly bill at $320. When you get married that bill can double, and you’re looking at a lot of money each month that isn’t going into savings, isn’t going towards other debt (credit, car loans, mortgages), isn’t going towards helping the American economy recover.

College Doesn’t Necessarily Grow Your Mind

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The two reasons for attending college that are foremost in people’s minds are increasing one’s earning potential and sharpening one’s mind. As just discussed, the value college offers on that first front has been falling. And unfortunately, the benefits of higher education on one’s mind have been shriveling as well.

Attending college isn’t necessarily the mind-expanding endeavor it’s always been made out to be. While it’s assumed you’ll be a better critical thinker, problem solver, philosopher, etc., those benefits don’t automatically accrue simply by sending in your tuition check. One study from 2011 found that about half of college students see no improvement in their problem solving, reasoning, or writing skills in their first two years, and over a third see no improvement during the entirety of their college experience. Sure, the environment can lend itself to growth, but attending college without vigorously applying yourself won’t magically sharpen your cognitive powers.

At the heart of the problem is a shift in attitude amongst colleges and students alike towards viewing education as just another consumer commodity. Colleges see their students as customers, and the customer is always right.

Take the practice of students evaluating their professors. Gaining popularity in the 60s and 70s when universities started to become more student-driven, evaluation forms are now a top metric in professor reviews. Even if subconscious, this means professors are now catering more towards making the students like them in the short-term rather than providing the kind of challenging, mind-expanding coursework that will benefit them in the long-term. Profs don’t want bad marks from students for being boring or too hard, so they water down their requirements in order to earn a thumbs up.

Closely related to this is the softening of grading standards. At Harvard, for example, the most common mark given is a straight A. The pattern is repeated at other Ivy League schools as well, where upwards of 60% of all grades given are in the A range. Rising to the very top of the class no longer requires the maxing out of one’s cognitive abilities. Some schools are doing something about this rampant grade inflation by instituting limits on the number of A’s awarded, but it’s certainly not widespread practice.

College Doesn’t Necessarily Prepare You for the Real World

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Let’s go over how I spent my four years of college:

  • I spent four years in a dorm room, two of those years with roommates, two by myself as an RA. I had no kitchen in my room. I had no bathroom in my room. I had a bed, a desk, and a TV.
  • I had a meal plan for four years. I got two meals a day from a variety of cafeterias, and often just skipped a meal out of sheer laziness.
  • I spent hours each day playing video games with friends.
  • Related to the above, I was awake until well past midnight most evenings, and woke up around 7:30am for early classes.
  • I skipped class fairly regularly, with no real punishment. Sure, a grade may have slipped a notch or two, but that didn’t have any impact on my life.
  • My bills amounted to gas, car insurance, and my cell phone – totaling probably around $150/month.

Does that sound like real-world experience? Another of the benefits that college supposedly imparts is that it prepares you for the real world and helps you develop into a mature adult. I can’t say I really received that. Quite to the contrary – when one places the responsibilities and expectations of a college student up against those required outside the corridors of higher ed, yawning gaps appear.

Once you’re out on your own, if you skip or roll in late to work like you did for class, you’ll get canned. If you wait for a magical elf to come in and clean your bathroom, it will quickly turn into a cesspool. If you haven’t learned to budget, there can be serious consequences.

College has in many ways become a womb of relatively carefree living. It’s sure fun while it lasts, but once you have to step into the light, it can be pretty blinding. The adjustment to living in the real world can be difficult – practically and emotionally. Young men often graduate without the life skills and decision-making abilities they need to navigate the next part of their lives. They may find themselves floundering in new responsibilities they have no experience in shouldering. Acute nostalgia for their undergrad days can set in, leading them to attempt to recreate those conditions to increasingly diminishing returns.

Ideally, one’s teenage and early twentysomething years should be like a gradual on-ramp to adulthood, where you slowly accumulate the life skills and mindset you need to thrive as a grown man. Instead, moving from college to the real world now more often feels like getting shoved off a cliff.

College Isn’t Preparing Students for the Job Market

Many employers have said that the problem with the economy in this country is not necessarily a lack of jobs, but a lack of qualified people to fill those jobs. In fact, a survey by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools revealed that less than 10 percent of employers believe that colleges do an excellent job preparing students for the working world (whereas well over 90% of provosts believe their graduates are prepared – boosterism at its finest). And 50% of employers noted that it is difficult to find qualified prospects for the positions they’re trying to fill. Rep. Virginia Foxx, the chairwoman of the U.S. House of Representatives higher-education subcommittee, says, “Colleges and universities are pandering to the students and giving them what they want, instead of what the employers want. I don’t think you have to make a distinction between getting skills and getting an education. We need to do both.”

Our colleges are simply no longer qualifying our students for gainful employment. The loosening of academic standards mentioned above not only negatively impacts the quality of the critical thinking and reasoning skills acquired in college in a general sense, but in a more tangible way, it makes students ill prepared for the job market.

For instance, in our tech-obsessed world, many students want to be trained in using social media or developing their technology skills. But only 5% of business executives (the ones making the decisions) believe that to be a top-three skill for entering the business world. Those top three skills? Problem solving, collaboration, and critical thinking.

Another major deficiency is writing and oral communication; a hefty 80% of employers wish schools would put more emphasis on those skills. Not all students are required to take basic writing classes, but absolutely should be, based on the needs of the marketplace. I can say without a doubt that the single best class I ever took – the one that helped my professional career the most — was PR Writing, and letter grades were docked for each grammatical mistake. (Thanks, Professor Bodensteiner!)

Again we circle back to the insidious effects that placing education in a consumer/customer framework has wrought. Students have come to expect their education to be tailored to their own personal pace, likes, and abilities. This most definitely is not how it works in the business world, where your supervisors are catering to the market and to their customers, not to you. Students graduate as consummate consumers who are wholly unprepared to switch roles and take on the mantle of producers.

Not All 18-Year-Olds Are Ready for College

People mature at different ages and different rates. Some students are ready for college at 16 and 17 and go on to do very well. Some, however, are thrown out the door at 18 into a totally new world, and just aren’t ready for it. Even Brett details that experience in the introduction to Heading Out On Your Own; after floundering in his first semester at the University of Oklahoma, he had to move back in with mom and pop. Transitioning from the cocoon of home to all of a sudden living on your own and being entirely responsible for your life can be a bewildering experience.

There is actually quite a high dropout rate for college freshmen that doesn’t get enough attention in the media. One in four college freshmen drop out in that first year, and half of all college freshmen won’t ever earn a degree. Reasons cited do include academic skills, but the greatest factors are social and emotional – self-esteem, self-care, anxiety, depression, etc.

The company that administers the ACT test has found that students aren’t actually academically ready for college, either. They hold certain benchmarks to be “college ready” in the four subjects of the ACT test. Students deemed college ready in a particular subject have a 75% chance of passing a college course in that subject. In 2012, they found that more than 25% of students fell short in all four subjects, and over 60% fell short in two subjects. While this is a problem more related, perhaps, to our elementary and secondary school systems than the students themselves, the fact remains that many 18-year-olds simply aren’t ready for the rigors of college, either academically or socially/emotionally.

Now that we covered the bad news, let’s move on to the positives of attending a 4-year college.

The Pros of Attending a 4-Year College

The Vast Majority of Students Don’t Pay Full Sticker Price

While the sticker prices for a year’s worth of tuition at college can be quite shocking (New York University takes the cake at a whopping $62,000/year!), over 80% of all students receive some sort of financial aid. Between government Pell Grants, school-specific grants, and scholarships, there’s a lot of free money to be had that doesn’t take the form of student loans (and therefore debt).

The average student (at private universities) receives about $17,000 in financial aid, with about half of that being student loans and half being grants/scholarships. This means that out-of-pocket costs are lowered to an average of just over $11,000 per year, per student. That makes college much more manageable for families and individuals.

Many will complain that hours of filling out scholarship forms for a “measly” thousand dollars isn’t worth it, but when you’re out of college and paying back loans and trying to figure out how to balance your budget, you can be sure that that thousand bucks means a world of difference. With over $3.5 billion in yearly scholarship money available, it’s worth your time to go for it.

It should also be mentioned that many colleges have scholarships based on merit. If you do well, you’re more likely to receive scholarships without having to fill out any forms at all. After a rough first year of college, my GPA went up each year, and much to my surprise, when I was junior I was given a scholarship that all students in my degree program received with a GPA above a certain level. The better you do in school, the more financial aid you’re likely to receive. (It should be noted this is true of high school, too. If you’re on the honor roll in high school, you’re much more likely to receive automatic scholarships and grants.)

All of this is to say that the sticker shock of college prices doesn’t have to be so shocking. With the right financial aid package, many schools (including elite private colleges) become affordable – relatively speaking, of course.

You Often Make Great, Lasting Personal Relationships

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What’s interesting in talking with people about the benefits of their college experience is that it’s often the intangibles that take center stage. Whereas with the negatives, you can point to stats and specific institutional problems, there’s just something about college that people really love.

One of those somethings is certainly the unique relationships you make. At a four-year school, you’re surrounded by friends in the dorms at nearly all times; you have classes together, you eat all your meals together, you hang out playing MarioKart every night until 3am (was that last one just me?). When you spend that much time with people, you’re going to form very tight bonds. And because of that – spending so much time with friends – you end up having about the most fun on a daily basis that you’ll ever have. You don’t have the responsibilities of a full-time job or of owning a home, so you’re free to just hang out pretty much all the time with the people you care about. That’s a recipe for having a good time.

The reality is that outside of close environs like that, it’s harder to make friends. If you’re working full-time, living by yourself or with just a roommate or two, you’ll have to put in more effort to create those lasting relationships.

This is especially true in the dating world. Why do you think online dating has become so popular? Because outside of college – where you are no longer surrounded by people of roughly the same demographic – it’s just hard to know where to look for that special someone. You have bars, your workplace, and…that’s about it. So, people turn to online sites just because they don’t know where else to meet people. Connecting with your future spouse at college may save you from spending years surfing Match.com.

You Often Make Great, Lasting Professional/Mentoring Relationships

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One of the great benefits of college, especially in regards to your professional career, is simply the astounding number of very smart, successful people you’re surrounded by, be they professors, advisors, deans, etc. Most colleges have internship programs, job boards, and entire staffs devoted to helping you land a job. Beyond that, professors often end up being the best connections and mentors you may ever have.

In talking with various people about their college experience, you often hear the fact that college “opened doors” for them. While not always articulated, this usually means they had some type of networking connection that got them in a door somewhere. My first internships related to my major came through professors who recommended me for those positions. Those internships gave me experience that led to full-time jobs. Doors opened.

Beyond just getting opportunities for jobs, you may also meet incredible mentors in college that serve as life advisors for decades, and will help you shape your own life philosophies (see below). Their benefit cannot be measured, and there are few opportunities outside of college for those types of relationships to be formed and fostered.

College Can Expand Your Mind and Your Horizons

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While as mentioned above, college won’t necessarily expand your mind, it certainly has ample potential to do so. I know college was definitely a time for me of expanding my horizons and learning to think on my own. While vague, that’s without a doubt one of the most important things college did for me. Had I stayed close to home, or just gone right into the working world, I’m not sure how much I would have grown intellectually or emotionally. My worldviews changed quite dramatically over four years in college, and I’m quite thankful for that.

I was able to have my religious and political and philosophical views that I’d carried from my parents and my hometown really torn down, and then built back up again by what I found in my independent thought processes. Brett and Kate, and subsequently this blog, were greatly influenced by Professor J. Rufus Fears at the University of Oklahoma, who taught them the importance of extracting life lessons from history.

While tapping into the mind-sharpening power of college requires a student to be self-motivated and leave the path of least resistance by intentionally seeking out talented professors, rigorous courses, honors classes, and small seminars, the rewards can be incredibly worthwhile and truly unmatched.

The honing of your mind is not always something that can be done completely on your own. We often need a gentle push to do so. College was that trigger for me, and for many other people. While it takes the individual being in the right mindset for growth, if that’s in place, there are few better places than college for shaping a perspective and philosophy you’ll carry throughout the rest of your life.

A Degree Still Provides a Better ROI Than Just a High School Diploma

Although a college degree is not necessarily the investment it once was, or is promised to be, it still provides a better opportunity for employment and higher income than not having a degree.

The national unemployment rate is at around 6.7% right now. For college graduates (all college graduates, not just the recent grads I mentioned above in “Cons”), that rate is just 3.4%. For those with just a high school diploma, the rate is more than double that at 7.3%.

I mentioned earlier that the ROI of college in terms of lifetime earnings over high school graduates, according to a PayScale.com report, was closer to about $500,000 than the $1 million often cited and touted. Their methodology is a bit complicated, though, and doesn’t include many small business owners, those who are self-employed, or freelancers/contractors. The real, tangible difference to me is in average yearly salaries. For college graduates, it’s $55,700. For high school grads, it’s $33,800. When doing the math over a 40-year career, that comes to a $876,000 difference over a lifetime.

While grit and hard work will go a long ways in the working world, the best bet for many people is to couple that determination with a college degree.

A Degree is Required for Many Jobs (Even Relatively Menial Ones These Days)

There are a huge number of jobs in this country that require a college degree. More likely than not, it’s actually just what will get you in the door for an interview rather than getting you the job itself. Is that chance for an interview worth up to $100,000 in debt? It certainly could be, if the job is well-paying and a great fit for your goals.

This is particularly true of “STEM” fields – science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. If you’re going into one of these fields, college is likely the right choice. Job postings in these categories outnumber all other job postings 3 to 1. Sure, you could become a master coder, drop out of school, and start Facebook. But that’s not likely. In these fields, a college degree is largely not only required, but crucial to understanding the work you’ll be doing on a daily basis. And these categories aren’t done growing – they’re expected to outpace normal job growth by about 10% in the next decade.

Aside from STEM fields, a degree is also a requirement for many mainstream jobs out there today. Be it non-profit, corporate, small business – owners and HR professionals will often throw out resumes that don’t list a college degree. Unfair? Certainly. Reality? Absolutely. A former supervisor of mine said it thusly:

“I have written job descriptions. I have written the hiring qualifications for various positions. There have been times that one of the jobs I was hiring for had the qualification of “Degree Required.” More often than not, this means a four-year degree required. Yes/No. Black/White. It’s a toggle switch. “Yes” means the candidate moves to the next pile of potential hires. “No” means… well, it means no. No, you don’t have an opportunity to interview for this job. No, you don’t get to talk to someone to show them how much experience you have. No, you don’t get to demonstrate that your actual experience in this exact field is possibly much more beneficial to the company than another person’s 4-year degree in General Studies or European History. Is it fair? Not always. Is it right? Not always. Is it in the company’s overall best interest? Maybe.

As an employer, here’s what a four-year college degree signifies to me, beyond subject knowledge:

1) You know how to set and achieve long-term goals (i.e. ‘graduate from college’).

2) You know how to prioritize and have the ability to put off the need for immediate gratification and see the bigger picture – at least sometimes.

3) You know how to be a part of a team – not necessarily sports related (there are few college graduates who have not had to work on at least one team project).

4) You are often self-motivating.

5) You probably know how to speak in front of a small group.

6) You probably know how to make a simple presentation.

7) You understand the concept of deadlines and consequences for missing those deadlines.

8) You know how to study and take notes.”

This is how employers think, and how they perceive college graduates. Will this change in the future? Perhaps. But for now, this is the reality of the business world. I can say without a doubt that my own college degree opened doors that would not have been present otherwise.

Conclusion

nextstop

There are more sides to this coin than expected, aren’t there? While many of these discussions surrounding college center on money, that’s not the whole story.

Even if it’s not “right,” the college experience is part of the American experience. Most people you encounter will have some amount of college under their belts, whether they earned a degree or not. Dorm life, cafeteria food, sporting events – these are all things we wax nostalgic about when thinking of the “good ole days.” There’s certainly something to be said about that. If there truly was no value to college, people wouldn’t do it. No matter how you look at it, the decision to go to college is a weighty one – one that 18-year-olds have a hard time processing.

It’s for this reason that we really advocate for taking a gap year. Have you ever wondered why it seems you have to go to college right after you graduate high school? Why must it be the automatic next step? More and more people are questioning this assumption and stepping off the education conveyer belt for a spell before deciding how they want to proceed.

Colleges are even starting to take notice of this fact. Amazingly, to me, they’ve started providing financial aid for students to first spend a year volunteering overseas or interning with a local company. The gap year is gaining steam, with a nearly 20% increase in students participating between 2006 and 2013. For good reason.

When you’re 18 you probably don’t know what you want to do with your life, what you want to major in, if college is really the right choice for you, or whether you’re emotionally ready to succeed if it is. So why figure out the answers to those questions while the debt-o-meter is running? A gap year (or two) allows you to mature, learn some life skills, serve others, see the world, and not only avoid debt, but maybe actually make some money. When the gap period is over and you enroll in college, you’ll have a much greater chance of being able to hit the ground running — lowering the possibility of flunking classes, changing majors three times, and taking six years to graduate.

Or maybe after your gap year you’ll decide that college isn’t the right choice for you after all. What other pathways might you take?

That is where we’ll turn in the next article in this series when we explore the alternatives to the 4-year college.

What were some of the pros and cons of your own college experience?

Orignal HERE.

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Why Economists Are Almost Always Wrong.

I can calculate the motion of heavenly bodies but not the madness of people.

— Isaac Newton

 

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Stronger Than This Shitstorm?

Chris Christie, Governor of America’s Armpit, had Bridgegate last week and it looks like it is going to get worse this week.  They are investigating whether he used Sandy Relief Funds for tourism ads.

The Stronger than the Storm ads were a crock of shit, I don’t think I made it through an entire commercial because I would change the channel or turn the teevee off within the first 5 secs it was on.  In my opinion these were blatant tourism ads trying to build up how great Noo Joisee is (lol).  The ad even says “plan your trip today” at the end.  If Sandy Relief funds went to this ad then it is pretty cut and dry.  And if it didn’t, how the hell does NJ get money from the Feddies (stolen from people throughout the US) for beach house relief so the state can use their “regular funds” to put out this crap.

stronger than the storm

Funny how this wasn’t an issue until after the Fort Lee Scandal.  When it rains, it pours.
My question is, which higher up official did the Round Mound piss off to have this firestorm fall on him.

CNN exclusive: Feds investigating Christie’s use of Sandy relief funds

By Chris Frates, CNN Investigative Correspondent

UPDATED: 06:29 AM EST 01.13.14

Just days after dismissing two top advisers for their roles in the George Washington Bridge scandal, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is facing questions over the use of Superstorm Sandy relief funds.

CNN has learned that federal officials are investigating whether Christie improperly used those relief funds to produce tourism ads that starred him and his family.

The news couldn’t come at a worse time for the scandal-plagued Republican, who is facing two probes into whether his staff tied up traffic near the country’s busiest bridge to punish a Democratic mayor who refused to endorse his successful re-election bid.

N.J. Democratic legislator: ‘I do believe laws have been broken’

If the Sandy inquiry finds any wrongdoing, it could prove even more damaging to Christie’s national ambitions. His performance during and after the superstorm has been widely praised and is a fundamental part of his straight-shooting political brand.

In the new probe, federal auditors will examine New Jersey’s use of $25 million in Sandy relief funds for a marketing campaign to promote tourism at the Jersey Shore after Sandy decimated the state’s coastline in late 2012, New Jersey Democratic Rep. Frank Pallone told CNN

In an August letter, Pallone asked the Department of Housing and Urban Development inspector general to look into how Christie chose to spend the marketing money approved by the department.

Neither the governor’s office nor the inspector general’s office has replied to CNN’s request for comment on the investigation.

Documents” Christie aides stonewalled queries into lane closings

Pallone wrote that he was concerned about the bidding process for the firm awarded the marketing plan; the winning firm is charging the state about $2 million more than the next lowest bidder. The winning $4.7 million bid featured Christie and his family in the advertisements while the losing $2.5 million proposal did not feature the Christies.

On Sunday, Pallone told CNN that the inspector general conducted a preliminary review of the spending and concluded that there was enough evidence to launch a full-scale investigation into the state’s use of federal funds. The audit will take several months, and the findings will be issued in an official report, he said.

Pallone, a 27-year veteran of the House and vocal Christie critic, said this is not about politics.

“This was money that could have directly been used for Sandy recovery. And, as you know, many of my constituents still haven’t gotten the money that is owed them to rebuild their homes or raise their homes or to help,” he told CNN.

Legal woes lurk for Christie over bridge traffic jam

Democrats slammed Christie over the summer for starring in taxpayer-funded ads as he was running for re-election in November, arguing it gave him an unfair advantage. Christie aides said at the time that the winning bid provided more value.

Last week, Christie dismissed two top aides for their involvement in closing down access lanes to the George Washington Bridge last year, a move that tied up traffic for four days. A New Jersey State Assembly committee is investigating whether the aides ordered the lane closures as political retribution, and the U.S. Attorney in New Jersey has opened a probe into the matter.

For his part, Christie has said he didn’t know about the scheme and was “embarrassed and humiliated” by it. Democrats, both in New Jersey and nationally, have jumped on the scandal, saying it finally gives the nation an opportunity to see what they’ve known for years, that Christie is a bully who governs by fear.

But as bad as the bridge scandal is for Christie, if investigators find he improperly spent Sandy funds, it could get far worse, tarnishing the signature achievement that has made him a serious contender for the White House.

Original HERE.

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The Church And Economics

When I read Jim’s lead-in or Calamity’s interpretation of what the new Pope is saying I find myself agreeing with their opinions and nodding my head and like what I hear.  But then I read the source material coming from the pope, my interpretation does not match theirs.  I wouldn’t categorize him as a radical marxist or socialist, that would definitely be unfair but he is also not a libertarian by any stretch of the word.  From what I can tell he is trying to reform the Catholic Church, creating a positive inflection point for an organization that large and that crooked is no small task and he has my respect for attempting.  I only hope it is do genuine good and not so that the Catholic Church can regain the political power it once had as a “king-maker.”

When I hear him mention economics what I hear mimics what the Judge is hearing and me no like very much.  But I will admit that some good could definitely come from it.  That being said I think it is more likely for air to spontaneously become gold than for a high ranking Catholic Priest to embrace free markets (I mean real free markets, not the current corporatocracy) and quote Mises or Rothbard.

 

The Pope and Basic Economics

By

December 5, 2013

What is the worst problem in the world today? Might it be war, starvation, genocide, sectarian violence, murder, slaughter of babies in the womb? Any of these would be a rational answer. But when Pope Francis was asked this question recently, he replied, “Youth unemployment.”

To be sure, youth unemployment is a serious problem. In some parts of the United States, the richest country in the world, it has reached 25 percent. These are people who are no longer in school full time and are not yet 30 years of age. It is a problem for them and their families, for their communities, and for the welfare states that are supporting them. But is it the worst problem in the world? Is it a problem for the Roman Catholic Church? And is it something the Pope is competent to comment upon or to resolve?

The Pope’s youth unemployment comments recently were removed from the Vatican’s website. No sooner had that been done than the Holy Father issued his first encyclical: a formal papal teaching, as opposed to his now famous impromptu back-of-the-plane yet on-the-record comments.

His encyclical is about economics, and it reveals a disturbing ignorance. I say this with deference and respect. I also say this as a traditionalist Roman Catholic who laments the post-Vatican II watering down of sacred traditions, lessening of moral teaching and trivialization of liturgical practices. But I also say this as a firm believer that Pope Francis is the Vicar of Christ on Earth and, as such, personifies the teaching authority of the Church. He is morally and juridically capable of speaking ex cathedra — that is, infallibly — but only after surveying and distilling traditional Church teachings and only on matters affecting faith and morals.

Thank God, so to speak, that his teaching authority is limited to faith and morals, because in matters of economics, he is wide of the mark.

His encyclical, entitled “Joy of the Gospel,” attacks free market capitalism because it takes too long for the poor to get rich. “They are still waiting,” the Pope wrote. Well, without capitalism, which rewards hard work and sacrifice, they will wait forever. No economic system in history has alleviated more poverty, generated more opportunity and had more formerly poor people become rich than capitalism. And the essence of capitalism goes to the core of Catholic teaching: the personal freedom of every person. Capitalism is freedom to risk, freedom to work, freedom to save, freedom to retain the fruits of one’s labors, freedom to own property and freedom to give to charity.

The problem with modern capitalism — a problem that escaped the scrutiny of His Holiness — is not too much freedom, but too little. The regulation of free markets by governments, the control of the private means of production by government bureaucrats, and the unholy alliances between governments, banks and industry have raised production costs, stifled competition, established barriers to entry into markets, raised taxes, devalued savings and priced many poor out of the labor force. The Pope would do well to pray for those who have used government to steal freedom so as to satisfy their lust for power, and for those who have bowed to government so as to become rich from governmental benefits and not by the fruits of their own labors.

Traditional Catholic social teaching imposes on all of us a moral obligation to become our brothers’ keepers. But this is a personal moral obligation, enforced by conscience and Church teaching and the fires of Hell — not by the coercive powers of the government. Charity comes from the heart. It consists of freely giving away one’s wealth. It is impossible to be charitable with someone else’s money. That’s theft, not charity.

If you give until it hurts, freely and out of love, and seek nothing temporal in return, you have built up treasure in Heaven. But if the government takes from you and redistributes your wealth to those whom the government has decided to benefit — rich and poor alike — what merit is there in that for you? If you give a poor person a fish to eat, in a day, he’ll be hungry. If you show him how to catch fish and teach him how to acquire the tools needed to do so, he can become self-sufficient and perhaps one day rich enough to help others. If the government takes money from you to buy the person a fish, half of the money will be wasted.

The Pope seems to prefer common ownership of the means of production, which is Marxist, or private ownership and government control, which is fascist, or government ownership and government control, which is socialist. All of those failed systems lead to ashes, not wealth. Pope Francis must know this. He must also know that when Europe was in turmoil in 1931, his predecessor Pius XI wrote in one of his encyclicals: “(N)o one can be at the same time a sincere Catholic and a true Socialist.”

The Church does not teach just for today, but for the life of man on Earth. That’s why the essence of the Papacy is not contemporary problem solving, but preservation of truth and continuity of tradition. For this reason, Popes do not lightly contradict their predecessors. If it was sacred then, it is sacred now.

Timothy Cardinal Dolan, the Archbishop of New York, recently discovered serious structural problems with St. Patrick’s Cathedral that will cost $200 million to repair. He will soon have that bill paid. Where did that money come from? It came from the disposable income of rich Catholic capitalists. Who will benefit from this? The blue-collar workers whom the restoration project is employing now have jobs, and everyone — rich and poor — who attends Mass at the refurbished St. Patrick’s will do so in comfort and beauty.

What shall we do about the Pope and economics? We should pray for his faith and understanding and for a return to orthodoxy. That means Holy Mother Church under the Vicar of Christ — saving souls, not pocketbooks.

Original HERE.

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Time For The Youth To Take A Bite

The younger generations are getting fleeced by the politicians the most at the moment.  This article does a good job of explaining how/why the ACA socializes the costs so young healthy peoples’ premiums go up so the geezers’ can come down in a simple manner.  People in their 20′s are going to be taking it on the chin.

But at the same time, many of the young people supported and voted in favor of this (other than the groups supporting RP) and supported Obozo.  They are going to learn the hard way what many of us knew all along; it’s now time for them to chomp down on the shit-sandwich they ordered with a side of chips.

turd sandwich

This is the same group paying for SS knowing they won’t receive any of the “benefits”, can’t find a good job, are saddled with student loan debt, possess a worthless degree and might still be living with their parents.  My question is whether or not this is what will push the youth into revolt and kickstart the truly violent portion of this 4th Turning?

 

How Obama is soaking the young

By Matt K. LewisNovember 11, 2013 7:05 AM
The rosy glow of 2008 may be fading — especially for the young people who helped elect Obama.
The rosy glow of 2008 may be fading — especially for the young people who helped elect Obama.
Boosted by starry-eyed young Americans who embraced his “hope and change” message, Barack Obama ascended to the presidency in 2008 — and was re-elected in 2012. This might have made the idealistic young people who clung to his lofty rhetoric feel good — and maybe Obama really did advance their progressive social agenda. But from an economic standpoint, their support was highly ironic. They have been largely rewarded with high unemployment rates — and long-term policies that transfer wealth from the young to the old.Consider, for instance, the Affordable Care Act. It is not exactly a win for the young and healthy.

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Contingencies, the magazine of the actuarial profession, recently looked at how the Affordable Care Act would affect various age cohorts. According to their study, premiums for younger, healthier individuals may well spike by more than 40 percent.

A little-known provision in the law, called the Adjusted Community Rating, all but guaranteed it would turn out this way.

SEE ALSO: He said he was leaving. She ignored him.

Here is an oversimplified — but fair — illustration of what this provision means: Let’s say a 70-year-old man pays $800 a month for health insurance, and his 25-year-old neighbor pays $100. Collectively, an insurance company gets $900 to insure them both.

But according to the Affordable Care Act, health insurance premiums must fall within a ratio of 3:1 for adults. So assuming the insurance company still seeks to collect $900 a month to cover both neighbors, the older man would now pay just $675, while his younger neighbor would be charged $225.

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If you’re 70, this is a much better deal. But if you’re the 25-year-old, you’re now saddled with paying $125 more a month. That is $125 a month less that a young person can invest in a home or education or… whatever.

(A caveat: Assuming someone can get through the enrollment process, ObamaCare does provide subsidies to help many younger, healthier consumers pay for coverage. But in many cases, the subsidies will not be big enough to offset ObamaCare’s cost increases — and many consumers will not be eligible for subsidies in the first place. For example, a family of four making around $80,000 would not be eligible for subsidies.)

SEE ALSO: 10 things you need to know today: November 11, 2013

Now, you might say this is simply what civilized societies do, and young people should just suck it up. That’s a completely coherent argument to make if you have a liberal worldview. But ask yourself this: Was it sold to young people that way? Is this fair to them?

Health care isn’t the only example of how the young are being fleeced. If being targeted by ObamaCare and enduring high unemployment rates aren’t enough of a challenge for young people just starting out in life, the debt burden should add an additional level of concern.

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It’s not just that young people will have to pay more — it’s that they are doing so to make up for the excesses of the baby boomers. As a Wall Street Journal column recently noted, “While today’s 65-year-olds will receive on average net lifetime benefits of $327,400, children born now will suffer net lifetime losses of $420,600 as they struggle to pay the bills of aging Americans.”

What we are witnessing today is a historic inter-generational transfer of wealth. Past generations could expect a better life, but today’s youth are picking up the tab for the baby boomers. What’s more, it is the policies of the man they held up as a hero that are inflaming the problem.

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Young people are easy marks. They don’t have big lobbies like the AARP. And despite being helpful to Obama, they are still generally taken for granted by politicians. Even worse, the assumption is that they are a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Democratic Party — a designation that means young people can be taken for granted (by Democrats) or written off (by Republicans).

Maybe young people still haven’t noticed, or don’t really care — at least not enough to change their voting habits. Maybe they are too interested in political issues like immigration reform or gay marriage to worry about their economic future. Or maybe as long as there’s bread and circuses (beer and pizza, as my college professor used to say), they’ll be fine. But I suspect some day in their 30s when they are trying to get ahead and raise a family, many of them will have buyer’s remorse.

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Of course, it may not take that long. There is one more irony to discuss. And that is, if healthy young people don’t sign up for ObamaCare — if they don’t “fall in line” — the whole system could come crashing down. The success of the Affordable Care Act is premised on healthy young people signing up. But what if they don’t? What if the glitchy websites prevent them? Or what if they just make a calculated decision to pay the fine (“tax” as John Roberts would have you believe)?

It may be that banking on young people really was fraught with danger. You live by the sword, you die by the sword. Now that would be ironic.

Original HERE.

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There Isn’t Any SS Lockbox

To tell oneself and others that you earned your Social Security payment is a lie.  And Walter Williams is here to to tell you why.

SS Ponzi Scheme

Found the following comments in an article that summed things up pretty well.

1) Former SSA Deputy Commissioner Andrew Biggs has stated SS and a Ponzi are basically the same.  (Except a Ponzi scheme is actually voluntary.)

2) The focus on fraud is a red herring.  The point is the way SS and a Ponzi are both financed. In both cases, early participants receive payments, not from interest on their own investments, but directly from inflows from later participants…meaning if you don’t get enough participants in the future (like having more people retiring than there are people working, for example) the system would collapse.

3) Also like a Ponzi scheme, Social Security paid early participants incredible returns on their money, because they contributed to the system for only a few years but received a full retirement’s worth of benefits.

4) Also just like a Ponzi scheme, there really isn’t any actual investment going on with Social Security. While the trust fund has a $2.5 trillion balance it can call on to pay benefits, this fund won’t be of any help to the taxpayer. When Social Security goes to redeem bonds in the trust fund, the Treasury must raise taxes, cut other programs, or borrow the money—exactly the same steps as if there weren’t a trust fund at all.

5) The biggest difference is only that Social Security can force you to participate.  If Madoff could have taken money right out of everyone’s paycheck (like SS does), his plan could have kept going much longer too.

 

Congressionally Duped Americans

By

November 5, 2013

Last week’s column, “Is There a Way Out?”, generated quite a few responses, some a bit angry. Some people were offended by my reference to Social Security and Medicare as entitlements or handouts. They said that they worked for 45 years and paid into Social Security and Medicare and how dare I refer to the money they now receive as an entitlement. These people have been duped by Congress and shouldn’t be held totally accountable for such a belief. Let’s examine the plethora of congressional Social Security lies. I’ll leave the Medicare lies for another column.

The Social Security pamphlet of 1936 read, “Beginning November 24, 1936, the United States Government will set up a Social Security account for you. … The checks will come to you as a right” (http://tinyurl.com/maskyul). Therefore, Americans have been led to believe that Social Security is like a retirement account and money placed in it is their property. The fact of the matter belies that belief.

A year after the Social Security Act’s passage, it was challenged in the U.S. Supreme Court, in Helvering v. Davis. The court held that Social Security is not an insurance program, saying, “The proceeds of both employee and employer taxes are to be paid into the Treasury like any other internal revenue generally, and are not earmarked in any way.” In a 1960 case, Flemming v. Nestor, the Supreme Court held, “To engraft upon the Social Security system a concept of ‘accrued property rights’ would deprive it of the flexibility and boldness in adjustment to ever-changing conditions which it demands.”

Decades after Americans had been duped into thinking that the money taken from them was theirs, the Social Security Administration belatedly — and very quietly — tried to clean up its history of deception. Its website explains, “Entitlement to Social Security benefits is not (a) contractual right.” It adds: “There has been a temptation throughout the program’s history for some people to suppose that their FICA payroll taxes entitle them to a benefit in a legal, contractual sense.

… Congress clearly had no such limitation in mind when crafting the law” (http://tinyurl.com/49p8fl2). The Social Security Administration failed to mention that it was the SSA itself, along with Congress, that created the lie that “the checks will come to you as a right.”

Here’s my question to those who protest that their Social Security checks are not an entitlement or handouts: Seeing as Congress has not “set up a Social Security account for you” containing your Social Security and Medicare “contributions,” where does the money you receive come from? I promise you it’s neither Santa Claus nor the tooth fairy. The only way Congress can send checks to Social Security and Medicare recipients is to take the earnings of a person currently in the workforce. The way Congress conceals its Ponzi scheme is to dupe Social Security and Medicare recipients into thinking that it’s their money that is put away and invested. Therefore, Social Security recipients want their monthly check and are oblivious about who has to pay and the pending economic calamity that awaits future generations because of the federal government’s $100 trillion-plus unfunded liability, of which Social Security and Medicare are the major parts.

Pointing to the congressional lies and future economic chaos is not the same as calling for a cessation of checks going out to recipients. Instead, it’s a call for the recognition that we’ve made a mistake that needs to be corrected while there’s time to avoid a calamity. It’s also a call for us to recognize that we all share in the blame and hence the burden to make it right. Politicians have little interest in doing something about an economic calamity that will happen in 2030 or 2040; they only care about the next election. Older Americans, who own most of the political clout, must lead the fight to get Congress to do something about entitlement programs. Of course, the alternative is continued belief in the Social Security and Medicare myth and the heck with future generations.

Original HERE.

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