George Ure and Gaye Levy, Contributors
It is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle who sets the tone for this week’s report: “Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.” He’s also credited with saying “There is nothing as deceptive as an obvious fact.”
And so we begin our investigation, as an attempt to help us decide what to “bet on” in the future.
As long-term readers of George’s UrbanSurvival.com site are aware, he bought a gold coin in September of 2001 and has been amazed at how it has increased in value. This past week, however, he admitted to his premium subscribers to www.peoplenomics.com, that while gold did not suffer a major decline during the mini-crash of 1987, and while it held relatively steady going into the 2008-2010 market declines, it has not done as well as many averages (and hot stocks like Apple) ever since.
So what are the right questions to ask?
A number of Gaye’s readers on Backdoor Survival site have raised concerns about our future, too, so it is not like we are alone in this quest. This is especially true of the over-50 crowd. Not that things are bad right now (well, maybe they are), but most assuredly things are primed to get worse over the next decade. The question at hand is this: What can we look forward to beyond the collapse?
With that is mind, Gaye decided to “turn the tables” on George this week and put some questions to him for a change.
Gaye: What are your thoughts on Social Security? Will Social Security survive attempts to reduce, eliminate or privatize? How big will the gap be between our personal social security payments and our expenses?
George: As long as the federal government can continue with the make-believe story about the economy, and as long as too many people don’t “get it” (like the misconception that TARP made money when the truth revealed this week that it cost taxpayers at least $200 billion), Social Security could continue making payments to perhaps 2037.
That may sound like a long ways off, but it’s already 2012, so that is just 25 years. If you’re 63 (like someone I see in the mirror every day) this means I had better plan on funding my last years on earth some other way than Social Security.
50 years of news watching (and 20+ reporting) had taught me that politicians do things slowly, over time, so people won’t notice. That’s a pretty safe bet to make on Social Security.
The reason comes down to basic demographics. Social Security was always set up as a “pay-as-you-go” system. The theory (now known to be demonstrably false) was that the cost of people leaving the workforce could be paid by people entering the workforce. Bad call.
A terrible conspiracy of factors – unaddressed by Congress despite all the blue ribbon soft-shoe panels – is that we have structural deficiencies which ought to kill Social Security within 10 years. Among the big ones which don’t get addressed:
America is no longer a manufacturing country. Since the days of Social Security’s invention, we have gone from a country which makes virtually everything we need to a country which is only beyond self-sufficiency in food – and even that wouldn’t be possible without huge energy imports from Mexico and Venezuela.
Which gets me to the second factor: Since we don’t make what we used to, and because we have allowed wholesale jobjacking to least-cost labor centers (third world crap-holes I call them) we have had to borrow huge amounts of money just to remain in operation as a country. Anyone can find the total US DEBT on the US Treasury Public Debt to the Penny page here.
What most people don’t take into account, when they look at the public debt numbers (about $15.63 trillion) is that the intergovernmental debt holdings include money for the Social Security Trust Fund. In other words, money which came into the federal government for a designated trust was hijacked by a disreputable Congress (emphasis on the “con” part) and spent on entitlements and social programs which the country could not afford on a cash basis.
So, in reality, the Trust Fund was raided to come up with current expense money. What happens, when that money is needed, is that the intergovernmental loans will have to be paid back, and since there is not enough money around to do that, the government will have to “make up” money (by printing it). The result is sure to be (once we get through the deflationary phase of the Second Depression we’re now in, and experiencing slow-motion since the market peak in 2000), inflation which could be on the order of 25 to 75%.
Of course, such a scheme will do several things: First, it will send the price of real goods screaming skyward. Second, anything that’s a tangible commodity with value will go through the roof – things like farmland, gold, silver, and energy. Third, as government already understates the true costs of inflation, Social Security recipients have the deck stacked against them. Yes, the nominal (count them) piece of paper may go up, but they will never be allowed to go up faster than the actual rate of paper printing.
There are other issues, too, of course. Like the Higher Education Hoax, which colleges and universities have been unwitting conspirators in. Not only is America lacking jobs for people coming out of college, but they are forcing millions of young people to remain in school – often training for jobs that never materialize. And then – this is the clever Three Card Monte of it – the student loans become part of intergovernmental lending, which then get bundled and sold off to investors.
So when push comes to shove, you’ve got: Lack of manufacturing, lack of trust funds which were spent on social programs which will have to be paid back while we have a higher debt to equity ratio that Greece. Force the incoming kids cohort to go to school and load them up with additional debt, and can you please tell me how that leads to a peaceful, happy ending?
George: Most of the dynamics of institutional rot that are killing Social Security are already well underway killing off humans in the USA. The United States is ranked the 38th country in the world in terms of longevity. Countries ahead of us include Japan, which was #1, but that was prior to Fukushima, then Hong Kong, Switzerland, Israel, Iceland, Australia, Singapore, France, Sweden and Macau to round out the top 10.
A conspiracy-minded individual – just looking at the data – could see in a heartbeat that one way for the US to get out of (or dramatically reduce Social Security) would be to kill off a lot of Americans over, say, the age of 65. And, as “evidence” of how this is playing out elsewhere, we note that Japan is likely to lose its grip on #1 in longevity as the inevitable increases in cancers and such result from Fukushima.
This is not to say such a conspiracy really “exists” but it does make the point that the DATA supports such a view. Don’t like it? Don’t meltdown Japan.
A second reason for future healthcare to deteriorate – besides the economic incentive to kill old people because they take up job slots and they eat food – is that they also vote conservatively. While that used to be a bonus point for the Republican party, it is becoming less so as more and more people hit the 70s and up and see both parties as crooked and become latter day “Independents.”
George: First, since government has essentially been purchased by Washington law firms which shovel corporate money into government persuasion programs day and night, the Food and Drug administration has been death on affordable health care.
As one example, a drug called colchicine, used to treat gout, which had previously been costing consumers 9¢ a pill was ruled “proprietary” under highly suspicious circumstances and now costs people like me, who aren’t broke and don’t have medical coverage for small prescriptions, $5.28 per pill. Even the medical community was outraged, but when the FDA doesn’t have any rules preventing its members from taking fat jobs in the Big Pharma world upon leaving government, what would you expect?
Similarly, studies on the value of statin drugs, which have in many cases terrible side-effects, have been plastered over with statistical studies that are often incomprehensible event to experts in statistics. If you want to read the “other side” of the cholesterol case, Dr. Ufffe Ravnskov’s “Ignore the Awkward.: How the Cholesterol Myths Are Kept Alive” does a fine job of tearing the bad data apart, but such shining example of good medical scholarship are simply overwhelmed by what? Big Pharma industry advertising.
Whose doctor is going to risk a patient who is told “Be sure and ask your doctor…”?
Last, but not least, we have the government seizing everything in sight that has good results, even if it’s from the natural foods sector – which at least in theory, the FDA shouldn’t be messing with. I’m sure you recall the “guns drawn” bust of the whole milk sellers. But where’s the FDA when it comes to keeping unnatural strands of DNA from junk crop breeding programs?
Answer: Out to lunch with industry experts and no doubt for dessert there will be some talk about what opportunities lie ahead for good little regulators.
If people have to pay more taxes and die, well, that’s just tough, ain’t it? Take generic drugs off the market, make a power grab for control of vitamins and natural foods under the false law of the UN-backed Codex Alimentarius scam (which corporations are pushing, since it will give Big Pharma even more control) and you’ve got a recipe for a national healthcare disaster.
Whether the US Supreme Court has sufficient remaining integrity, or whether they deserve my honorary label of the Supreme Corpse, ought to be revealed here shortly on the Obamacare challenges. But hate to say it, betting on being reasonable with so much money blowing through the streets of Washington is a fool’s bet.
George: Isn’t it a little early for Mojitos? Seriously, if you read that report I reference earlier, the one from the Special Inspector General of the Troubled Asset Relief Program, you’ll see it clearly spelled out as the “moral hazards” of such bailouts. But moral, or not, that’s how fascism works.
Few people have the mental acuity to differentiate between Nazi Germany and Mussolini of Italy in World War Two, but there’s a terribly important reason to look it up: “An authoritarian and nationalistic right-wing system of government and social organization.” It’s only a fine point of interpretation whether the words “right-wing” could be substituted for “corporate.”
That’s what a lot of Constitution-loving Americans are scared daylights of: That we’ve passed that point already; and to borrow a phrase from Mussolini’s promises, to make the “trains run on time” we’re rolling over as a citizenry as corporations replace elective government.
Periodically, we hear talk of legislation in Washington to propose a “Constitutional Convention” – something I would be very afraid of, since corporate interests can now effectively buy anything they want through misleading advertising — and I can point to about 535 examples that come to mind.
George: Buckminster Fuller once explained that “wealth” is not more, or less, than the number of days, months, or even years, you can go without working. In other words, what you have saved for the future.
Now when it comes to money, if I put a duplexing (double-sided printing) laser printer, a couple of reams of high-quality paper, maybe some stick-on gold seals, and some official serial numbers to put on them, would you consider that wealth? Not really.
Now, it gets even more absurd when the person writing up the money has already spent everything they had in savings and has gone in debt to the tune of everything made in the whole country in the past year.
And if we managed to borrow some different paper from, oh, say China, to trade behind the scenes? Does this make paper any more worthwhile?
Still, government-backed money is one of the choices.
Gold, silver, and stored food – which can only be confiscated by government decree might seem safer, but remember both gold and silver were made illegal in the 1930s by the government.
Which…and this is really why I still haven’t sold the ranch in East Texas and we live out here in spider and snake land…is why we will ultimately have to fall back on our ability to produce things. For me, my big agenda in the coming year is really simple: Get good at growing our own food. Since, if paper depreciates (which is what inflation really is…printing up more money than the goods and services justify…so that it takes more paper to buy the same things) that leaves food and water from the land as one of the last hedges.
And even this is becoming suspicious since government has gone slightly wonky in the area of eminent domain.
George: Yes, but likely we will get a second decline in the economy – back to 2008-2009 levels first. The reason is simple: People will need to be sold “the same old answers” the “new way” which will be a replay of the 1930s.
Seize gold and silver, raise taxes (ostensibly for the common good) cut government services to the bone and next thing you know people will clamor for inflation as it’s the same old free lunch deal – repackaged.
George: This is a really difficult point. People ask me all the time: how can we have government printing up money at 10% a year (that’s an accurate number based on the Fed’s M2, by the way) and still not see inflation. Where’s everything going?
The answer: dead pools of capital. Money is going back to its owners. Back to the rich. Which is why we see the tremendous concentration of wealth we have today. Print like hell, but it’s not driving up groceries and gold…so what gives, right? The rich ARE getting richer. Though they hate to talk about it.
George: Yes. Government in the 1930s got serious about fixing things (resetting the game if you will) but only when socialists marched, the Bonus Army marched and so on.
My expectation is this time around, since the dynamics are different, the broken promises which will bring people out to the streets will be different: Social Security failing to deliver to expectations and the threat of class action fraud suits against government – which could be won, I believe in front of a jury.
Another is student loan debt. That’s because so many people got snookered into taking on unserviceable debt on the government promise encapsulated in the “feel-good” reports like the Labor Department’s Occupational Outlook which didn’t get honest with the public up front. Instead of saying “Y’all need to downscale your lifestyle expectations because we’re helping jobjack America’s future through tax-advantaged deals for corporations (to allow them to use least labor cost countries and screw America – no charge, thanks).”
Instead, in the last issue of the OL I looked at, there were still expectations that there’s be plentiful jobs for new graduates in computer science (while big companies are throwing money into Indian research centers) and construction managers while construction is in a state of collapse.
Crime? You bet. Show people violence on television 24-7 and promote the whole Nanny-State do-over mentality, then fire everyone in sight and cut off their government support. Who’s gonna take that sitting on their ass? I’m not promoting it, but what was the slogan at the democratic convention in 1968? “You don’t need to be a weatherman to know which way the wind blows…” There was an outbreak of home invasions in Bergen County New Jersey this week – 12 in one night according to a TV report up there.
I’m not a gun nut by any stretch, but I can sure as hell read numbers. 12 home invasions in an upscale area with only 10% gun ownership? Sounds like an open invitation to criminals to me.
Isn’t it true that SurvivalWoman herself and SurvivalHubby have gotten to be pretty decent markspersons here lately? “You don’t need to be a weatherman….”
George: No, I’m afraid not.
There are a few exceptions. I hold the professionals in law enforcement in high regard and I am honored that America’s men and women in uniform serve selflessly, as they do. But professional bureaucrats, and in particular the fuzzy-logic of who’s a threat to America – of the sort that comes out from Fusion Centers? Sorry, wrong end of the problem.
The CFTC has had how long to get charges filed in the MF Global case? I can’t for the life of me understand how Jon Corzine is still at large, since he was in the ultimate position of responsibility for the firm. Might his role as a fundraiser for an incumbent be out there as a question on the Net? Of course it is.
But that’s why I’m working on a book about how the government will, at some point have to close down the free-wheeling discussions that go on over the Internet. Too much candor is bad for government. Can’t let this freedom stuff go “unmanaged” you know.
That said, there are two sides to this. One side is that dangerous radioactivity is being released and there is likely more to come with additional problems just over the headline horizon as we read up on how another fuel rod storage pond could go into meltdown.
But the other side of it is this: It takes a lot of discernment to really understand what’s going on with radiation levels because our ability to detect radiation has taken a quantum leap from where it was in the infancy of atomic energy.
Still, a reasonable approach would be to be concerned; and, strange as this may sound, I’m not overly concerned about radioactivity – yet. A friend – Shane Connor over at www.ki4u.com has some very good information on modern threats from radioactivity and there are some very accessible books, like Cresson Keaney’s classic which you can get on Amazon Nuclear War Survival Skills.
You’re old enough to remember back to the “Duck and Cover” says of the Cold War…we were both in school up in the Pacific Northwest back then. Yet here we are today. Even Elaine, who grew up in the “down winders area” of Arizona is doing fine. The point is that radiation is not going to reach out and grab you like some bogeyman.
If you eat well, get proper nutrition, shy away from plasticized foods with preservatives and all kinds of crap in them, get some sunshine, a little exercise, avoid stress, and stay out of unhealthy “dead buildings” where literally some HVAC systems suck life-energy out of the air, then your odds of being a victim of concern or any other premature death agent is going to be lower than people who ignore common sense.
Let me run off on a tangent here: I still run a negative ion generator in my office all the time – that’s the smell – ozone – that you can get a whiff of after a lightning storm sometimes…it’s a really crisp, clean smell. Why? Can’t tell you precisely, but there are people – like me – who are incredibly invigorated by showers and waterfalls – also massive generators of negative ions. On the flip side, I used to have an office part time on Sunset down in Hollywood way back in the day and I hated it.
The air was dead. I could sense it. I would get seriously ill-feeling after about five hours there and I could hardly wait to get back on a plane up in Burbank to get back to the Pacific Northwest. Why? No, not because of webbed feet, although that’s the joke about Northwest natives.
It’s because negative ions – to some people – are really important for clear-headed thinking. And it’s why the positive ions – associated with the Greek Meltemi winds, or the Siroccos of the Sahara and even the Santa Ana’s of SoCal are cited in journals as the cause for an increase in violence, crime, and injuries. People do best to avoid them.
Returning to where we went off on a tangent, the reason you want to be aware of ionized air is that the simple balance of alchemists of olde is still as important to humans today as it was when the Pyramids were being built. We’re a mix of earth, air, fire, and water – and these correspond to the cardinal direction in occult studies because balance is the key (or Chi, if you prefer).
Radioactivity is just another threat to be managed, like sodium nitrate, BHA and BHT, monosodium glutamate, propyl gallate, potassium bromate, artificial sweeteners, food colorings and driving without a seat belt.
We are all going to go…it’s only a matter of timing. But we can each manage that by reducing risks where we can and one of my major decisions in Life right now has been “Don’t move to Japan.”
Some might say our conversation is an exercise in futility. After all, we seem stuck and can not see far enough down the road to even fathom a recovery. The Boomer generation is doomed, economically speaking, and for the X’ers and those that follow, the prospect of bust due to the student debt burden seems inevitable.
So what do you think? Do you know something we don’t know? We are all ears.
Introducing Strategic-Living: a practical and useful online magazine providing inspiration and guidance as we make our way through the maze of changes that are coming our way. In collaboration with my friend and colleague, George Ure, Strategic-Living will offer a synthesis of Urban Survival and Backdoor Survival with much more detailed tips, tools and strategies for creating a vibrant and sustainable lifestyle wherever your path may take you. Think of Urban Survival and Backdoor Survival as your roadmap and Strategic-Living as your detailed guidebook. Here you will find articles and photos, diagrams and how-to’s, and a healthy dose get-out-there and do it with kick-in-the-ass inspiration.