Since the New Year on my desktop the number of ads, and the sheer stupidity of what's being advertised on Facebook has gone exponential. I now am "treated" to an ad every single time on the first page of the timeline, typically in the second slot and then another on every single page, instead of just on the right hand sidebar and sometimes in the timeline here and there. Marking one inappropriate, offensive or irrelevant simply guarantees another will be spun just below the page line to immediately appear. In other words the density of ads has gone from "mildly annoying" to full-on, "****-you-in-the-face" offensive.
These ads are also now full of investment claims and health quackery -- ads such as "things that always happen before you get prostate cancer", scam-filled "dating sites" and "alternative investments" of various sorts. Interspersed with this are a few ads for something useful -- like a car -- although there is a zero possibility I will want to buy a new car during the next several years.
Perhaps one ad in ten is in that latter "useful" category, in that it is for an actual useful consumer product or service. The other nine are spam -- and I do mean spam, in that in my email anything of that sort gets flagged and in nearly all cases my Bayes filter catches it before it gets to my inbox -- throwing it in the trash. Why? Because these are not ads for CocaCola or a Buick -- they're ads "selling" you some "herbal" nonsense, a subscription to some fairytale garbage site or a quackery-based health scam.
Twitter has gotten equally bad in its "mobile" app to the point of near-uselessness. Tweetdeck on the desktop browser is, so far, mercifully free of this.
But it won't be for long, I suspect.
Why am I on Facesucker at all? Only because some of my friends do things during the week that are published there, and thus I can find them easily.
Well, my friends, you're about to have to spend $5/month if you run some group or make 10 seconds worth of personal effort if you'd like to see me at some event you're interested in -- that is, you're about to have set up a web site or email list server using something like Digital Ocean (cost of $5/month or less) and keep a calendar that way.
Or you're going to have to resort to an old-fashioned phone call, text message, or Groupme message.
Because not long after I post this, if this doesn't almost-immediately stop (and I fully expect it not to) I'm going to either delete my Facesucker account entirely or just quit using it, and probably will also delete the mobile Twitter app. If Tweetdeck gets invaded I'd stop using that too. I've already removed 2 years worth of my timeline posts on Zuckerpig's monstrosity; the rest will be gone in days.
There's a point of annoyance with spammers advertising "products" and "services" which I consider to be outright frauds and scams that reaches my limit of tolerance, and it's rather much lower than my tolerance level when Ford tries to sell me a truck. There's also a density problem; yes, I understand sites run ads, but they cannot become the focus of the content or I'm done with you.
Your limit of tolerance may be in a different place than mine, but even if I never buy anything from these assclowns Facesucker claims I saw it, the advertiser pays for it, and thus my mere presence has value to that rat bastard pig in Palo Alto that deserves to have an asteroid fall on his house and leave a smoking hole where he, and everyone related to him, resides today.
Yeah, that's how I feel about Zuckerpig. He's pushed it too far for me, and he's about be treated as if he doesn't exist -- along with everything he does.
I get it -- some people make money using his site (especially those scamvertisers, I suspect), some people "find friends" (who really aren't their friends; they're just ghosts in a digital machine) and some people -- most, in fact who are on there -- use it as a means to push their dopamine button. That is, they're addicted and deriving pleasure from it and that is why the scamvertisers have an audience at all.
Those who are actually my friends know how to find me, and if they really want me to show up for some event or express some thought with or to me they can take the 10 seconds to send a text, make a phone call or in some other way make it known what's going on.
If not? Well, I guess I've learned whether you're really a friend -- or just a ghost in a machine -- haven't I?
That 10 seconds of effort is too much for you?
That's a useful piece of information and I thank you for providing it to me.
Historically speaking The Market Ticker used to publish an "annual review" including a set of predictions. Some years worked out pretty good, others not so much. But even the "bad" years weren't too bad in retrospect; if you make a dozen predictions and get half right over a year's time that really is quite a bit better than you might first think -- although nowhere near good enough to dub yourself Nostradamus.
As I intended in my ticker entitled In Closing from February of 2014 I've wound things back around here quite a bit. Not completely, but materially. The software here was at version 41.4 when I penned that piece; it is currently 45.5. That's more than four revisions greater, since there have been a bunch of "point" changes since -- mostly bug fixes but a few enhancements too.
The post (thread) count was 228,802 when I penned that piece. It currently stands at 231,735. The Bar (for user-generated threads and comments, open to anyone who used to be a donor at any time in the system's history) has been reopened this fall, and for the time being I intend to leave it accessible into 2017. You can find it from the "top" menu here if you're signed in and once had donor-level access -- or just go directly to our companion domain at tickerforum.org.
There were 7,950 Tickers posted from the inception of the site to February 2014. Since there have been 2,777 more. There were 650 posted this year. However, the volume has dropped quite materially, especially in the back half; the count has been about one a day, on average since July, including a "burst" of them for the election season.
The donation system went away quite some time ago and this year the advertising system was almost-completely shut down as well, leaving it just active enough to remain "alive" from the adsense syndication system's point of view.
Here's the issue I have when it comes to continuing what I've been doing, when you get down to it: Nothing has really changed at all in terms of either outcomes or even interest among readers here. Not one of the pinned threads more-recent than my In Closing missive has managed to reach materially over 50,000 views. The only pieces to get any sort of "real attention" were those related to the election and of those none had a thing to do with policy.
A detonation, I remind you, that I've been raising hell about since the 1990s; it has been visible for that long on the horizon, and has been a focus here since The Market Ticker began publication.
Ever watch "Gran Torino"? When you go into the bathroom with a hacking cough and blood comes up you got a big ****ing problem. This nation has been hacking up blood for decades and we're still, as a population and nearly to an individual, looking for the "investment" that will make more money as our "response" to that. What are you going to do with it all when overcome by events? You can't eat your stawks, you know.
So here's the deal as I see it: Trump is not going to save the world -- or America. He's not even going to save you. Hell, you just watched Obama, according to the media, Trump, the Republicans and a bunch of others "stab Israel in the back" by refusing to veto a UN resolution stating theft of land is illegal.
Look, I get it -- the UN sucks (I agree with that, by the way) and to the victors go the spoils when it comes to war. Go ask those displaced in Aleppo and elsewhere through the world how private property rights have worked out for them when it comes to owning a home or business. Expropriation is part and parcel of what governments do, but why pussy-foot around with it and exactly how does doing so make you anything more than a sniveling pack of fraudsters?
If Israel is going to consider a 50 year past war justification for seizing land then seize the land, all at once, re-draw the border to encompass same and be done with it. The idea that they can keep dicking around with this and by stealing a little bit here and there, one house or "settlement" at a time it is ok but if they did it all at once it wouldn't be is outrageous, it has been outrageous for 50 ****ing years and it doesn't change in character based on who's doing it or why. War sucks although it is sometimes necessary but this load of crap is nothing more than finding a way to turn a short war into one that has now spanned generations and shows no sign of ever ending -- why don't we just admit that too many people like this war for any serious effort to sue for peace to be accepted?
More to the point given who's involved, since when is intentionally extending a war for five decades by jacking around instead of being decisive in your actions "noble", "honorable" or appropriate, say much less justified if you're "God's chosen people"? I seem to remember a bunch of folks got a 40 year sentence of wandering in the desert for jacking around when it came to doing the right thing at a time in the distant past -- or so says a tale some consider to be divinely written. Have you ever bothered reading your professed Holy Book, Bibi?
I'm tired of that crap being a "cornerstone" of US foreign policy and by the way, it appears from his tweets Trump has every intention of making it worse.
Or maybe - just maybe - he'll tell Bibi to either **** or get off the pot. Take it all, invade and kill all who resist. At least that would be consistent. Pile up the bodies and pay the price, politically and otherwise.
Speaking of Trump, many continue to harp on Trump having business interests all over the world and the "horrifying possibility" that some nut job with a suicide vest (or a big truck) might penetrate one of those places somewhere in the world and "damage his brand", leading to unspecified bad things. How about a bit of critical thought on that point eh? Let's consider the fact that (1) you can't (at any rational cost) buy insurance against terrorism or acts of war and thus (2) Trump is the first President in a very long time, perhaps the first President ever since people went to war on horseback with the King on the field of battle who has a personal pecuniary interest in avoiding armed conflict of all types -- and when it cannot be avoided he has an interest in making any such conflict short with a decisive victory for our side. You see any armed conflict, terrorist or otherwise, might cost him something (like a smoking crater where there once was a hotel!)
Gee, that never crossed your mind, did it? Why not? Maybe you can explain exactly how that sort of view toward hostility in all its forms in the Executive, as a first in our nation's history, is a bad thing?
But put all the international stuff aside because it really is a sideshow. The 900lb Gorilla in the China Shop is the medical scamjob and if we don't start locking people up and dismantle it wholesale, beginning right ****ing now, the rest literally doesn't matter. Maybe the people of this country will get angry enough to start dropping medical and pharmaceutical executives in the streets with whatever they have, whether it's an SUV, a brick off the top of a building or something more thuggish -- or maybe they'll just wither and die as their feet, hands, legs and arms are chopped off while their vision fades to black from diabetes consuming them. Let's not forget that you can only die (or be put to death) once, so exactly what sort of disincentive does a medically-condemned person have against playing not-nice in the social order of things? In short we either cut the crap when it comes to both medical "care" and stop pushing "foods" that are literal poisons or it's going to end in massive amounts of pain and death and the day when it comes is visible in the near future. The only question is whether it comes slowly and painfully through disease, violently through the people being dispossessed of everything via "medical businesses" and taxes extracted to "give" to those people and firms leading the people to ultimately revolt -- or both at once.
The timeline on this was decades, we ignored it, it was then fifteen years (roughly, when the Ticker began publication) and we ignored it again, choosing to focus on the "joy" of electing a "black President" who the people believed would "pay my gas and mortgage" while bailing out all the scam artists in the banking sector. For good measure we gave Obama free license to top it all off with frauds like Solyndra and "forced" medical insurance via Obamacare. In response the pundits and markets cheered, the latter tripling since 2009.
Having squandered the time we had instead of addressing the issue we now have four to five years remaining before it all goes to Hell and we, in America, have front-row seats that are well within the blast radius.
So no, I'm not going to give you a bullet-point rundown this year. Instead I'm going to point out that since the bond market has decisively broken on both a monthly and annual basis its 30 year bull market trendlines, meaning that turning the leverage crank to "goose" earnings in the markets is no longer possible, nor is doing the same possible for governments whether here or elsewhere and thus that game is in fact over.
Let me remind you how this crank-turning has worked for the last 30 years, since people have short memories and I've only written a dozen or more Tickers on this, say much less the chapter in Leverage on same.
30 years ago you borrowed $1 million. The interest rate was 10%. You needed $100,000 a year in income to pay the interest coupon. Governments and businesses never, ever, pay off those bonds -- they roll them over endlessly when they mature. If you doubt this then go look at both corporate and government debt on the Fed Z1; neither has ever decreased by one dime, even during the 2007-2009 crash.
Ok, so then rates drop over time to 5%. You could take that windfall of $50,000 in interest payments saved every year when your bonds are rolled and spend it somewhere. But $50,000 is small ball because it will take 20 years for that savings to amount to a million bucks. The alternative is that you can choose to keep paying $100,000 a year in interest but borrow another million and spend it right now. Guess what business and government did? Now you have another million to "spread around", whether it makes your P/E better, is handed out in social spending or whatever.
Rates continued to fall. Over time they fell until just recently good credits in the corporate and government space could borrow for several years at rates of 1%! So they did. Now it's not $1 or $2 million that's out and has been spent it's $10 million, with the same $100,000 interest payment due.
But what happens if the rate goes up just 1% from there -- to 2%?
Now you have a big problem. You either need to come up with $5 million in cash to retire half the bonds when they roll, since you only have $100,000 for interest payments or you're ****ed. In the corporate sphere you can no longer "turn the crank" of leverage to goose "earnings", fund buybacks of shares and similar -- you now not only have rapidly increasing interest expense you can't borrow any more money because you can't pay the coupon on it given your current level of indebtedness.
Look at the stock market, size of government and government debt at all levels. The cost of borrowing fell by more than 90% during this 30 year time period and that means ten times as much leverage became available. Only about half of the market and government's gains over that time can be attributed to technological progress -- that is, productivity improvement. The rest is a mathematical function that came from the increase in leverage. But leverage is a two-edged sword and the laws of mathematics are not suggestions; it multiplies "earnings", "profits" and similar but it also multiplies losses by an equal amount. It is why banks blew up in 2008. It is why companies blew up in 2000.
And that is why it will all blow up if we don't cut the crap right here, right now. Housing. Stocks. Bonds. Government at all levels; local, state and federal.
And you, especially if you have debt.
Not one person under the age of 50 has any business or political memory of the world before the declining bond market rate paradigm established itself in the 1980s. Not one person folks -- because they were all either children or not yet born at that time. None have ever run a business, invested a nickel or made public policy during that time. Since executives tend not to actually become executives before they're in their 40s and 50s, and the same is generally true for politicians, this means that essentially nobody with either political or business power has ever lived through or made policy in an environment where rates were not generally declining over time.
All the people who have done it and thus know how said environment constrains your actions are dead.
We can't hide the impact of our idiocy in the medical system and "free trade" through machinations from money and fiscal policy, whether in government or private business, any more. We're going to take it long and hard, or we're going to stop it before it consumes us. Those are the only two choices because we can't finance our way out of it, we can't cost-shift it to other nations and we can't do a damned thing about the laws of mathematics either.
And with that I will leave you with the fact that this coming year I intend to spend more time outside, more time writing a novel I've been working on for quite a while (the first of a trilogy) which I may choose to publish if we get our act together and thus I have some possibility of keeping some of the profits thereof and more time seeing and doing the things I enjoy, along with taking the steps to further reduce my economic footprint.
Let me make a few observations.
First, eight years ago, and again four years ago, America elected a President. Fully half, give or take a couple of percent, disagreed with the outcome.
There were exactly zero riots, fires, "mass protests" and similar following that outcome despite the fact that half the population vehemently disagreed with it.
This time around, not so much.
Now I want you think very carefully about the following.
Most of the land mass of this nation is owned and resided upon by people who are in "red" (that is, the winner this time) areas of the country. With the exception of certain urban centers and right along the Mexican/Texas border there are very few "solid" blue areas.
Those urban centers consume roughly 90% of the energy and food in this country yet they comprise 5-10% of the land mass. The "red" areas produce 95% of the food and energy this nation consumes and occupies 90-95% of the land mass.
Do you really think that doing something like eliminating the last pieces of the structure our founding fathers put in place to prevent tyranny of the majority from being able to take hold is a good idea?
A little history lesson: Prior to the 17th Amendment ratified in 1913 it was impossible for the Federal Government to shove any program down the throats of the 50 states. That's because the state legislatures had effective control of the Senate and could recall their Senators.
The House was elected by the people, the Senate was elected by The State Legislatures (and could be recalled by same) and The President was elected by the Electors, which were voted for in the popular vote.
The latter provides a modest but real increase in the representation of "flyover" states; that is, those with lower population counts. In other words it is a check and balance in the ultimate tyranny of democracy.
Yes, I said democracy is ultimately tyrannical -- because it is.
America is not a Democracy. It is a Constitutional Republic. This is very important; in a democracy 50%+1 can render the 50%-1 slaves by mere vote. Those who are in the minority in a democracy have no rights at all. Democracy is best represented by two wolves and a sheep voting on what's for dinner.
We are all minorities in some form or fashion. If you're gay, black, yellow, male, female, whatever -- all it takes is some other set of groups to get together and decide to oppress you, and in a democracy you're ****ed.
America's founding fathers put in place two systems to prevent this. The first was the bicameral legislature; a House elected by the people at large and a Senate elected by the State Legislators. This structure guaranteed that a landmass that amassed 50%+1 of the population (not even in the same state or states!) could not band together and shove down the throat of the States any policy measure because you needed the concurrence of more than half the state legislatures, where each were delegated but two votes to their Senators who were accountable to said legislature, to pass anything at all.
This evaporated with the passage of the 17th Amendment. Now you only needed 50%+1 of the people in a given state to pass anything you wanted and they could all live in a tiny percentage of the land mass -- such as is the case with Illinois where more than half the population lives in the immediate area of Chicago.
What came right after that? Prohibition, shoved down the throat of the States, less than 7 years later!
What also came after it was an unbridled expansion of the Federal Government into state affairs. Indeed, virtually everything became a "legitimate" federal matter. Why? Because it was impossible for the States to prevent it.
Do you think the founders were wrong to do what they did, and the 17th Amendment corrected that?
If you believe so then please consider this.
Ever drive through small town America?
Hell, how about "not-so-small-town" America?
Many of these towns look like something out of a WWI or WWII European war movie. There was one factory or maybe two, but now it sits empty, weeds growing out of the parking lot as high as your head, all the windows are broken out and the roof has caved in. Over on the outskirts there's a Walmart that pays $9/hour, but only offers 20 hours/week. The factory paid $30/hour, full-time, plus benefits and food, power, medicine and beer cost half of what it does now. 90% of what formerly were little diners and shops in the "center" of the town, which might have one actual traffic light, are gone -- boarded up and often literally falling apart. There might be one bank left, a branch of a big national chain, and maybe an antique store. Maybe. All the factory jobs left for China and Mexico and everything else died when the middle-class incomes to support them disappeared. We did that as a nation with our "progressive" and "global" agenda driven by the 50%+1 that live in the closest big city 200 miles away.
The locals who used to work in the fields within 10 or 20 miles from that town are all unemployed too. Why? Because the illegal Mexicans came and we refused to throw them out. They work for a few bucks a day in cash, no taxes, no unemployment, no nothing. No American can live on that; the embedded cost of just trying to stay alive would leave you with zero. But the Mexicans work hard and then sleep 10 to a single-room apartment, which incidentally is a total ****hole as you'd expect given that density of occupation. They don't care; it's better than what they had in Mexico, you see, and they can Western Union home some of the money. This is the face of "immigration", mostly illegal, that really exists in this country. They brought their third-world ****hole here and while it's a little bit better than what they had in the process of doing it they dragged us into the gutter with them.
The people who lived in that town did and most who are still there do go to church every weekend, and some go again during the week, usually on Wednesday. There's usually one, sometimes two churches. Every one of them has the word "God" or "Christ" in the name on the front. They mean it when it comes to their faith and in addition that's where all the local people shake hands, exchange chit-chat on the last week and, for younger people, it's where they meet one another. You know, girls and boys. Yeah. Faith is real there, you see, and it's Christian. But from your point of view that's deplorable and that "those people" don't like the idea of making a wedding cake for a gay marriage is deserving of a federal lawsuit and loss of the bakery (which is, as a result, now closed -- putting yet more people out of work.) The people who live in these towns don't see your point of view as a civil rights matter but rather as attacking God.
What was left after the factory was displaced isn't enough to run a "service economy", which is why it never showed up there and the old business buildings are all boarded up. Nobody can afford $8 lattes on a $9/hour wage for 20 hours a week and nobody would want them if they could. There's probably a McDonalds on the outskirts, and a couple of self-serve gas stations with a convenience store. It sells cheap beer and lots of it to the locals who have nothing to do but drink and then go to church and pray for forgiveness for last night's 12 pack. None of the jobs at any of these places, except maybe the store manager, makes more than $9/hour and Obamacare has forced all the regular workers down to 20 hours a week on top of it. Try living on $180/week gross sometime -- before FICA and Medicare is taken out, never mind gas for the car and the rapidly-escalating car insurance bill -- and you might understand. Yes, I know the car is 15 years old and runs like crap. What do you expect on under $1,000/month of income?
This is what 40 years of sending jobs overseas with "trade deals" did. It's what Amazon did. It's what Walmart and its Chinese supply line did. It's what "progressive America" did, and then to add insult to injury the teachers in the public schools tell all the kids that Mommy and Daddy are bad people and hate both the planet and their own kids because they don't drive a $30,000 Prius or a $60,000 Tesla.
This is everywhere in rural America. Get in your car and out of your comfort zone some time and you'll see it. It's not far from wherever you are. I've driven through dozens of these formerly-alive places in the last six months -- every one of them dead today, but full of real people. I never met one such person that was a racist, xenophobic *******, but they're not very happy, and the people they're unhappy with are those very same folks you wanted to keep in office in Washington DC.
If you think the destruction of small town America is confined to farms you forget the other half -- energy. Would you like your lights to work? Many of those small towns are dead because of the insanity of our energy policy -- or lack thereof, tied to left-wing whackjob nonsense.
Now you want to add insult to injury when they show up to vote, exactly as civics tells them we have a right to do, and a large number of you in the cities did not show up.
They bought into the message of bringing American jobs back to America and ejecting those who have no right to be here. You call them xenophobic, racist and small-minded -- they call it a shot at decent employment for the first time in 30 years.
They believe in the Henry Ford model of American business, and they're not wrong to do so. Make the product here, pay the people well enough to be able to afford it, and you'll do just fine.
They win the election, in short, and you lose.
Then you decide to be a sore loser and loot, burn, beat people, issue threats, cry, whine on social media and try to obstruct everything by any means possible -- legal or not. You bus people in to "protest" and riot, you "petition", you raise hell in short -- oh, and all this after you implored the other side to "respect the outcome of the election" and lambasted them for suggesting they might want to merely count the ballots twice!
Note again, as I pointed out above, that eight years ago, and four years ago, these very same people were on the losing end of your stick exactly as they had been for the previous three decades yet they did none of the above. They understand duplicity and your double-standard quite well, seeing as they did the honorable thing and respected the outcome twice in a row despite getting screwed sequentially both times. The only thing your brand of government offered them in the end was Medicaid or worthless "health insurance" through the exchange; the former has no doctors that accept it within 20 miles and the latter has a $5,000 deductible before it pays anything, which is utterly laughable when you consider these folks have a gross wage of under $1,000 a month.
Now the question: Are you prepared for the possibility they might decide en-masse that they're done with this crap -- and with you? That they're not going to take it any more?
What if the people who live in the "red" areas, that is, those who produce the food and energy that are consumed to the 90th percentile in the "blue" areas, decide they're not going to do that for the blue areas any more? What if their middle finger goes up, in short?
Remember, we allegedly do not permit slavery in this country any more -- which means that which someone owns they have the right to sell - or not sell. They have the right to produce - or, more to the point, not produce.
What if the people who peacefully conceded the result of two elections over the last eight years despite vehemently opposing the outcome decide that if the "blue" folks can riot, loot, beat people who vote the "wrong way" and similar they will not accept any further election result that doesn't go their way, and instead of rioting or burning things they will simply shut off the flow of food and energy to said "blue" areas? After all, you don't value them at all -- you consider them subhuman, racist, xenophobic, deplorable and irredeemable -- all at once.
I'll tell you what happens if they take that decision: Every major city in the country would go feral within hours.
Within days those cities would not be blue, they'd be blackened and reduced to ash as those very same "protesters" you like so much loot, burn and shoot at each other trying to get the last scraps of food and fuel remaining. They would then probably try to come out of the cities and take by force what had been denied them, only to run into a major problem - the "red guys" have more guns, they know the land because they live there, and more importantly they actually hit what they aim at, having had plenty of practice feeding their families with deer, wild boar and similar. Mr. Gang Banger against Mr. Deer Hunter isn't a very fair fight, when you get down to it.
Oh by the way there's a phrase for what this would mean, if you haven't figured it out by now: Civil War.
Is that what you want?
It's where your actions are headed, if you keep doing what you're doing -- and nobody knows exactly where the tipping point is.
Better think long and hard, those of you in the "blue" places who are running this crap. You do not have a snowball's chance in Hell of being able to grow enough in the way of crops on the landmass you control to feed a tenth of your population and every squirrel in your trees would be shot dead and eaten within an hour after this began. Silent spring indeed. Never mind the fact that most of you "wonderful snowflakes" couldn't shoot, skin, butcher and cook a deer -- or even a squirrel -- if you had to. Never mind that a good 80% of you couldn't manage to run one mile if you were being chased by someone interested in eating you.
The day that cellophane-wrapped chicken stops showing up in the grocery store is literally the day 90% of Blue America starves.
Nobody in their right mind wants such an outcome. But where do you think this all goes if you keep it up, eh?
Every bit of it has been enabled by the 17th Amendment and tyranny of the majority -- a tyranny you wish to increase by doing things such as abolishing the Electoral College.
There's a very good reason our founding fathers designed a Constitutional Republic instead of a Democracy. They understand the problem with democracy: It doesn't work. Democracy always ends up leading to riots and civil war, because exactly what the blue folks are doing now escalates until everyone starts shooting everyone.
A Constitutional Republic avoids this outcome because even a very large majority cannot infringe the rights of everyone else -- even when the majority lives in big, concentrated places like cities.
That was the magic sauce of the original design in our legislature and Presidency. It's why we have an Electoral College -- to provide a bit of "overweighting" to those places that are utterly crucial to the cohesiveness and survival of the nation as a functional republic -- that is, a bit more balance against tyranny of the majority of 50%+1.
We got rid of the biggest check and balance with the 17th Amendment and I have, for decades, maintained that whenever America finally is declared dead and done, and the book is closed, that will be written in as the reason our nation's political system failed. It's the only Amendment we cannot reasonably repeal, because to do so would require the sitting Senate to vote itself out of a job. I'm sure you can figure out how likely that is.
But we can avoid doing more violence to our Constitution -- and we had better, or the outcome, given the annals of history available to anyone who cares to look, is quite certain. If you want to see how this turns out should you keep pressing the issue go have a look at the map of how many states Trump won .vs. Clinton, or how the county-by-county map looks. You'll see a lot more red of various shades than you will blue.
The bottom line? Go ahead and be a sore loser. Go ahead and whine. Go ahead and try to change what our representative process led to. Go ahead and decide to loot, burn and beat. Refuse to accept the result of the election, if you insist. Hell, go ahead and try to threaten or even bribe the electors! Make sure you tear down the last little bit of foundation and structure inherent in the design of the legislature and executive of the United States. Who needs it; it's all in the name of being "progressive", right -- even if when counted by landmass, counties or states the election was a landslide for Trump.
Just don't be surprised, if you keep it up, that at some point, given that you're utterly reliant on those you're abusing for the basics of life -- the loaf of bread, the gallon of gasoline, the electricity that powers your lights -- they decide they've had enough. That day your supply of cellophane-wrapped meat and plastic bag full of bread disappears like a fart in the wind. There comes a time when those who you've put the boot to for so long, and then try to deny the ability to change things peacefully through the representative process our founding fathers gave us, decide that despite their religious beliefs and good manners they're not going to service you on their knees any more.
Don't be dumb enough to think you can keep doing what you've been doing forever because you can't and if you go too far there will be no warning, no second chances and no saying you're sorry. It'll just happen starting with one final stupid act -- and then we all lose.
The budget deficit was in fact $1.4 trillion -- not the claimed $587 billion (which is bad enough, incidentally.)
Last year the Federal Government spent $1,417 billion dollars out of $3,854 billion, or 37% of every dollar it spent, on Medicare and Medicaid. This was a 9.3% increase over last year's expenditure of $1,296,731 (million), all-in.
But inside this figure are even-more damning numbers.
Payments to the health care trust funds were up 13.4% (!)
Spending on CHIP, the plan for poor kids, rose last year by an astounding 56%. While the total spent was only $14.3 billion that rate of rise is utterly astronomical by anyone's measure.
Don't believe for a second that administrative expenses are under control, which is a claim often made for Medicare and Medicaid: They were up 32% last year for the primary hospital insurance trust fund. No, that's not a misprint.
Hospital benefit payments for Medicare? Up 8.4% -- the bright spot, believe it or not.
Medicare Part "D" (drugs)? Sit down: Up 26.2% to a total of $95.2 billion.
Folks, at this rate of change within the next four years Medicare and Medicaid will consume just over $2,000 billion a year, or $2 trillion -- an increase of $600 billion a year in spending.
Let me remind you that last year taxes (receipts) rose by a paltry 0.55%, and at this rate of increase over the next four years government revenue will absorb only $72.9 billion of that $600 billion in additional spending -- and this assumes that absolutely nothing else in the budget increases in cost at the same time, an utterly fanciful notion.
In other words there will be at least another $500 billion of additional annual deficit, and likely far more than the $600 billion denoted here, bringing the total to more than $2 trillion in actual deficit being run per year.
If this pattern were to continue for 10 years then Medicare and Medicaid would rise to $3,448 billion, or for all intents and purposes all of the $3,854 billion the government spends now! Worse, increased tax revenue would absorb only $184 billion of that additional cost -- for all intents and purposes ZERO.
For those politicians and others who claim Social Security is going to blow at roughly the same time, no it won't. Social Security payments (for retirees and disability) rose 3.2% last year while for both retiree and disability tax receipts rose at a 5.2% rate. Yes, on a cash basis Social Security ran a deficit last year but the rate of increased tax revenue was higher than the rate of spending growth and Social Security has a $2.8 trillion dollar Treasury security cache it can redeem to cover the shortfall. At present rates Social Security may have issues in the future, but for right now it is stable.
MEDICARE AND MEDICAID ARE NOT AND THEY ARE WHERE THE ENTIRE PROBLEM RESIDES.
We will not manage to get through the next 10 years at this rate and in fact will not get through the next President's term. If we do not put a stop to this right now the stock market will collapse and lose up to 90% of its value, all pensions will collapse and at best be able to pay 50% of what was promised (are you a teacher, firefighter or police officer? Bend over because law or no law you are screwed.) The bond market will collapse as the spiral of debt will be clear to everyone and nobody will be willing to buy a bond from anyone at any reasonable interest rate, which will instantly destroy the value of all outstanding long-term Treasury debt by as much as 50-70%, government entitlements will collapse (to put that in plain language they will go to zero or effectively so) and real estate values will collapse as demanded interest rates on mortgages will make the 1980s look like a Girl Scout Party.
And by the way it is not possible to tax our way out of this and certainly we cannot do so by "taxing the rich", as is often claimed. If you confiscated all of the money made by those who make more than $500,000 a year you would not even close the deficit gap for one year. Of course if you did that the amount of money those who make over $500,000 a year would choose to make next year, and thus be subject to said tax, would be no more than $499,999, and thus you'd get zero in tax from them via this approach in year #2. Anyone running a "pay your fair share" claim is lying and they know it; again, that's the math.
We must -- and can -- stop this crap with existing law. Specifically, by applying 15 USC Chapter 1 to all parts of the health care industry. This will collapse the cost of care for both the government and private parties by as much as 80% and permanently end and reverse the budget problems it is causing -- for the federal government, for state and local pensions, and for private firms and individuals.
I have been writing and speaking on this since I ran MCSNet in the 1990s. It has been a focus of this column since it was formed in 2007, including in this column written in 2012. We have willfully and intentionally, as a nation, ignored this issue for the last decade and we are now facing the destruction of our economy, our markets, our government, our society and our way of life if we do not put a stop to the pillaging of our economy and people NOW.
You didn't see this in the debate as it failed to garner enough votes.
Oh, and by the way, despite Trump's tape not having any votes (it was too late to be included) it got what was darn close to first billing. So much for democracy and the people's voice, which the commission claimed was going to be responsible for the order of questions and which questions got included at all.
You see, according to the media and Hillary Clinton the most-important thing to talk about is whether someone made lewd comments 10 years in the past. We cannot, of course, have the first question in the debate be about a 12 year old******victim that was sewed up after being violated, and yet Hillary Clinton, in defending the rapist, filed a motion in court alleging that she liked older men, had filed false allegations of sexual assault in the past and was taken to fantasies. I've read that motion (it's available at the above link) and it was filed without presenting any objective evidence for those assertions in Hillary's bid to argue for a psych evaluation of the victim -- despite knowing that the original report of the******came about as a result of a call from the hospital where the victim was sewn up after being physically injured from being violated (to an extent sufficient to preclude her from ever being able to have children!) and the presence of forensic evidence linking her client to the offense (which she managed to argue had been compromised.)
But leaving both sides of the "ethics when it comes to women" aside -- a topic that, if given full exposure, I believe Hillary would lose badly -- there is the fact that the media utterly refuses to talk about the issues that are actually before this nation and this goes all the way back to 2008 and the financial crisis!
In point of fact I believe a clean case can be made that my question is the top issue when it comes to both the economy and health care in this election, simply on the arithmetic.
As I pointed out in my post on the budget deficit we ran a $1.4 trillion dollar deficit last fiscal year. In a few days I will have the MTS and be able to break it down, but I already know what it's going to show me -- continued outrageous acceleration in spending on both Medicare and Medicaid, putting the lie to any claim that the spending acceleration is all about "people getting older."
No, it's not, and no, whether a candidate made lewd comments (even if there were lots of them) is immaterial to the inevitable outcome if we do not address this issue in the here and now.
The most-important issue in this campaign and in fact in our nation today is people getting screwed blind by the medical industry. It will shortly, if not stopped, become not just about the millions of Americans who are bankrupted by this outrage but will expand to include the destruction of our government's funding model, the economy, the markets, and our way of life that will happen, with mathematical certainty, in the next few years -- almost certainly during the next President's first term.
There is exactly one way to stop it, and that is to start prosecuting and thus break up all of the price-fixing and monopoly practice in said industry, which will cause medical costs to fall through the floor -- a reduction of as much as 80% or even more.
If we do not do this, and do it today, the rest literally does not matter. We cannot sustain $1.4 trillion deficits in a time of alleged economic expansion for long. The markets will not allow it and the screwing you take as an individual in your cost of living will not bear it.
We either stop this, here and now, or we lose our nation.
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