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Capitalism And Common Sense Will End Vaccine Mandates In 2022

Capitalism And Common Sense Will End Vaccine Mandates In 2022 Submitted by QTR's Fringe Finance I’ve already predicted that 2022 is going to exemplify how powerful of a force both capitalism and common sense can be. I started out the year by predicting that these two forces would catalyze a massive pivot in how the mainstream media reports on Covid. Only days later, we are already starting to see shades of the pivot that I spoke about. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky appears to have turned her focus to people with comorbidities and “reporters” like Jake Tapper are finally admitting that not everybody hospitalized with Covid has been hospitalized for Covid. As we look forward to what pivots could be next, I want to discuss how capitalism has helped implement current vaccine (and mask) mandates and how I believe it will also help to end them in 2022. There’s no need to argue the main point: we all know that vaccine mandates are likely unlawful and are, at the very least, a massive infringement onto the civil rights and private health decisions of citizens. But as vaccine mandates first started to make their way around as an idea, last year, many businesses, both small and large, willingly adopted them for one of several reasons: Many small businesses desperately wanted to keep their places of business open after being forcefully shut down through most of 2020 and suffering the loss of key revenue streams for them and their families. Re-opening back up meant obeying either local, state, or federal mandates about vaccination and/or masks Some businesses may have believed that requiring mandatory vaccines made their business more attractive and safer-looking to patrons - yet another attempt at bringing business back in the front door Some businesses just believe in “the science” and genuinely think that they’re doing the right thing by requiring such mandates Amidst the hustle and bustle of living in an American city (Philadelphia), what I’ve noticed is that many local restaurant, corner-store owners, neighborhood bodegas, hair salons, smoke shops and delis couldn’t care less about vaccine or mask mandates. Most of these shops, many run by immigrants, posted signs indicating they were abiding by the city’s mandates while privately confiding to me to that the mandates are destructive to their business, that they never turn away a customer and that they never ask for proof of vaccination. Many immigrants, like my Tunisian barber, tell me that they came to the United States to hustle, and that hustling simply means delivering a good service while getting as many customers in and out of the door as possible in a single day. But the fact is there’s also certain group of business owners who are going to require vaccines and masks forever. As private businesses, this is their prerogative. Most of them probably believe, in their hearts, that they’re doing the right thing and I don’t have any gripes with that. I’m just not going to spend money at their businesses when given the choice to do it elsewhere. And that leads me to my next point:  that capitalism and common sense are eventually going to end vaccine mandates. Today’s blog post has been published without a paywall because I believe the content to be far too important. However, if you have the means and would like to support my work by subscribing, I’d be happy to offer you 22% off for 2022: Get 22% off forever As I alluded to earlier, I believe that a mass pivot is happening not only in the mainstream media, but among government entities tasked with overseeing the Covid response. In short, the powers that be understand that the citizens of this country have lost our patience with their bullshit and, with mid-terms coming up, it’s probably the only time over the last 2 years that anyone in government is putting the people’s concerns over their own priorities. This narrative shift will do a couple of things. First, after this omicron wave passes, it should hopefully stir up a discussion about natural immunity that’s about 18 months overdue. Putting vaccine mandates aside, Omicron, given its extremely infectious nature and mild effects, may wind up acting like nature’s vaccine for almost everybody anyway. People will start to understand this concept and push harder on “the science” as to why it has conveniently ignore the topic of natural immunity - which has been proven to be more robust than vaccination - thus far. The second thing this narrative shift is going to do is allow for momentum and media support of the idea to relax some mandates and begin returning some locations that have strict Covid protocols back towards normal. Such a relaxation of Covid protocols will then empower local business owners (the ones who haven’t been completely ground into dust by Target, Wal-Mart or Amazon over the last 18 months) to relax restrictions they may have in place. This is where capitalism and common sense will take over. As I noted earlier, you’re always going to have some business owners that are going to mandate vaccines and masks forever. That’s fine; the free market will assign them success or failure commensurate with how customers perceive those requirements in the weeks, months and years from now. Most other businesses, in my opinion, will be anxious to “open the floodgates” to new customers in any way possible. In fact, most business owners that find themselves at the center of the vaccine debate - your average, vaccinated, masked business owner that isn’t a far right or far left wing conspiracy theorist - will find middle ground that’s practical for them and for their customers. And practicality for many people in 2022 is going to be making as much money as possible. Ergo, many businesses are going to voluntarily remove vaccine and mask mandates, in my opinion. From this point, I suspect that businesses who do not enforce mandates actively are going to see an uptick in business from consumers who are tired of 18 months of government lies and want to express their distaste for “the science” with their capital. This will serve as positive reinforcement and a behavioral incentive for business owners to push back against any future mandates and to continue running a business that empowers the consumer. Of course, my predictions here are nothing more than a product of my personal experiences living in Philadelphia. I can only speak for myself, but I can’t tell you how many business owners I chat up on the daily that are genuinely sorry - literally apologizing to their regular customers - that they have to enforce citywide mandates. When the same business owners aren’t being told what to do by the government, and when they realize that opening up their total addressable market and providing freedom of choice for the consumer is a successful combination, I think the trend of dropping mandates in favor of letting customers take whatever precautions they feel are personally necessary, becomes the norm. And who can blame these business owners? They have been through hell and back over the last two years at the hands of the same people who said they were there to help them. My dry cleaner told me yesterday she doesn’t think she’s ever going to recover from what happened in 2020. She isn’t generating positive cash flow and is behind on her lease, which still has 5 years on it, due to the massive interruption of business that occurred in 2020. Many business owners - like my dry cleaner - only enforce mandates, reluctantly, because they are afraid the same governments that forcibly shut down their businesses in 2020 in favor of allowing their customers to instead shop at places like Wal-Mart and Target will again shut them down for failing to obey their spurious mandates - and the owners simply can’t risk another financial catastrophe like the one they just lived through. "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I'm from the Government, and I'm here to help.” - Ronald Regan -- For the next 48 hours, readers of Zero Hedge can get 22.20% off FOR LIFE as subscribers by using this New Year’s link to help usher in 2022: Get 22% off forever Tyler Durden Thu, 01/13/2022 - 16:21.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytJan 13th, 2022

The Mainstream Media Is Losing The Fight Of Its Life...All Thanks To Joe Rogan

The Mainstream Media Is Losing The Fight Of Its Life...All Thanks To Joe Rogan Via QTR's Fringe Finance substack, I'm expecting one of the largest mainstream media pivots in history in 2022, catalyzed by capitalism and common sense... A couple of things all happened together over the last 48 hours. First, I came up with the idea of writing 100 predictions for the year 2022 – a blog post that I might still wind up finishing at some point. And second, I listened to the Joe Rogan Experience podcast interview of mRNA inventor Dr. Robert Malone, M.D., hours after the doctor was banned from Twitter for having opinions on Covid that stood at odds with the mainstream narrative. The opinions that Malone echoed during his Rogan appearance included, but were not limited to: Calling the government “out of control” and “lawless” in their Covid response Stating mandates of “experimental” vaccines are “explicitly illegal” Noting that India had success in treating Covid early with drugs like ivermectin Saying “half a million” excess deaths have occurred due to government actions Arguing those with natural immunity have higher risk of vaccine adverse events Alleging that people are living through a mass formation psychosis I’m not going to rehash all of the doctor’s points about Covid, but instead will say that I believe he made an extraordinary amount of thoughtful points that the mainstream media and “big tech” are too scared (and/or too stupid) to touch on themselves. You can watch clips and read a full writeup of Malone’s interview here and read a detailed thread of the interview here. Among the 100 predictions I was going to make in my blog post was going to be calling for a drastic shift in the mainstream media in the coming year. Instead of 100 predictions, I decided to instead write this piece. Here’s how it came to be. *  *  * When the last hour of the podcast was coming to its conclusion as I was finishing an 8 mile run, a thought dawned on me: this interview with Malone is now officially out there and, no matter how much anyone tries to censor it, it can’t be taken back. As we all know, nowadays when you make it on JRE, you’ve officially “made it”. Putting aside the obvious irony of Twitter attempting to ban somebody and the person in question going viral as a result, I also thought about how, despite the fact that Malone’s opinions put him at odds with the mainstream media (who would never dare to have him on), Joe Rogan launched him past the usual media suspects and into the real “mainstream”. I then thought to myself that in 2022, the mainstream media as we know it today (CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, etc.) is going to be forced to change its narrative on Covid. “It’ll never happen,” you’re thinking to yourself, right? Let me explain. *  *  * The idea of the media being forced to change its tune on Covid is something I touched upon a couple of days ago when I wrote about the Omicron variant and how the media is creating a mass hysteria mountain out of a mole hill. But after listening to Dr. Robert Malone‘s well reasoned arguments, delivered for three straight hours, concisely and calmly, it became clear to me that the entire mainstream media machine could wind up falling at the hands of content creators like Joe Rogan. It’s an interesting little piece of game theory, when you think about it. Rogan generates so many views and has grown so quickly - strictly because he allows open dialogue, civil discourse and approaches things with honest intent – that there is no financial incentive to de-platform him. Ever notice how YouTube apparently had no problem taking down Rogan’s interview with Malone, but hasn’t banned Rogan’s channel from the site yet? One issue for media and political elites to consider is the fact that Rogan has supporters on both sides of the aisle. These supporters watch him because he routinely touches on topics that are considered faux pas or irreverent. The question of whether or not Rogan’s legacy and impact are here, and are going to remain here, can be answered with a resounding “yes”. Rogan has thrived, whether intentionally (bringing on people specifically because they are being censored) or unintentionally (shooting the shit with people he finds interesting), from the start, by shining light in the dark areas that the mainstream media refuses to discuss. In the same way that bitcoin unintentionally became a global phenomenon as a result of the negative consequences of central banking, Joe Rogan has become a global phenomenon at the hands of the negative consequences of how the mainstream media and “big tech” does business. It reminds of me the scene in the 1989 version of Batman where Batman tells the Joker, “I’m going to kill you”, to which the Joker retorts: “You IDIOT! You made me. Remember? You dropped me into that vat of chemicals! That wasn't easy to get over, and don't think that I didn't try!” And so now, as it stands, knob-heads like Brian Stelter and his merry band of buffoons over at CNN - who spent 2021 attacking Rogan - have little choice but to fall in line behind him. You see, one of the great things about being the leader in an industry (in this case, media), is that you set the pace, you dictate the tone and you become the bar of expectation for integrity, honesty, open-mindedness, truthful dialogue and creating discussion that benefits the greater good, and not just those who you serve. Joe Rogan has raised the bar, whether people on the left, on the right, in the media or in politics care, or not.  Not only has Rogan taken the lead by several lengths like Smarty Jones breaking loose around the final turn at the Preakness, he has also inspired and created a whole new crop of content creators that are following his model. In other words, it isn’t just Joe Rogan that the mainstream media is up against, it’s the hundreds, if not thousands, of content creators that are either looking to build media empires themselves, or are simply just inspired by open dialogue, like myself. In the words of Grace Wheelberg: “He's very popular, Ed. The sportos, the motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, wastoids, dweebies, dickheads - they all adore him. They think he's a righteous dude.”   I think the result of the seismic shift is going to be several-fold, but the most important revelation I’ve come to is that the mainstream media is losing the fight of its life over the Covid narrative.   If there’s one thing we can agree one, it’s that Covid is a tie that binds all 7 billion people on Planet Earth right now: everybody knows about it, everybody is concerned about it and everybody, to some degree, wants to stay informed about it.  In fact, health officials and the media have made it this way. What they may not have known they were inadvertently doing, however, was opening up communication veins for people with integrity and honesty like Joe Rogan to dose them with a them with a look at reason and honest inquiry. This, in turn, created a benchmark for the world to compare the mainstream media to, revealing them to be the hysterical, sensational maniacs that they’ve become. The media has already taken a couple of serious L’s during the Trump Administration. When it came to Donald Trump, they manufactured most of the Russiagate story, they pushed the now-debunked Steele dossier, they covered up the Hunter Biden laptop story leading up to the election and routinely mangled Trump’s words to make it look as though he was an open supporter of white supremacy, despite him actually saying just the opposite. The media got away with it and always had an audience because half the country hated Donald Trump to begin with. But now, on a global scale, everybody is interested in developments pertaining to Covid and whether we know it or not - and no matter how different our opinions are on Covid - we’re all still unified by the same desires: we all want health, we all want security, we all want to love our families, we all want to be productive members of our community and we all want to live a life with purpose and meaning. Covid has unified us more than we know. These tenets usurp our political biases, whether we know it or not. They also become vessels for earnest discussion about finding objective truths about Covid that will collectively benefit mankind. And if you think the numbskulls in the mainstream media had the four dimensional chess skills necessary to see this coming, you’ve obviously never watched Don Lemon’s analysis of…well, anything. And don’t try to tell me change isn’t being affected already. Have you seen recent reports about CNN essentially changing its entire programming lineup, likely due to a major ratings collapse? As reported by Zerohedge in November, citing former Mediaite and IJR managing editor (and former breaking news editor at the DC Examiner) Jon Nicosia: “CNN is going to revert to a 100% news channel, and a ‘good number’ of CNN's' ‘talent/staff’ will be fired as part of a major shakeup. Have you seen the rise of sites like Substack, which you are reading this article on right now, because of the censorship that the mainstream media’s narrative has forced onto the populace? Have you seen the customers and the subscribers willing to pay for content because even if you’re not always right, they know that you have a vested interest in finding the truth and trying to speak about it honestly? I have. When I started this blog in August, 2021, I didn’t expect anybody would sign up. Much like my podcast, my goal was only to speak openly and honestly about the issues that I thought were important and were not being covered extensively enough. Four years after starting my podcast, I have over more than 5 million listens. Six months after the launch of my blog, I have about 10,000 people on my email list - more than I thought I’d have in 10 years of writing. Is it because I’m some great thought leader? Hell no. It’s because people are desperate for truth and honesty, and its a perfect example of how powerful the new wave of media is that’s on its way. Again, I don’t want to harp on the details of Robert Malone’s interview. I encourage you to watch it here. But what I do want to say is that I’m predicting for 2022 that the media is going to make one of the biggest pivots on any topic it has ever made, on Covid. “Shouldn’t be a problem,” you’ll think to yourself. “After all, the media follows the truth, so what’s so tough about making a pivot on a story?” Let’s get real. We all know that the media - both sides of the aisle - hates to correct itself, hates to pivot and hates to do anything but double down on narratives that it is being fed regardless of whether or not they are objectively true. For 2022, I’m gonna make a bold prediction. The media, and maybe even politicians, are going to start to realize that the narratives that they have been pushing with regard to Covid, lockdowns, vaccinations and our economy are no longer being accepted at face value by their viewers. The same capitalistic engine keeping Joe Rogan on the air is going to force the change in legacy media. While they may not correct themselves totally or do a full 180°turn, they will fall in line behind those breaking new ground in the space - content creators like Rogan - and they will start to commit more to reason and less to political narratives. I feel confident in making this prediction because I’m confident that the survival of many media empires depends on it. I know a lot of my readers are going to tell me that this is nonsense and that I’ll be eating crow in a year. That’s fine. I won’t be surprised if a major change doesn’t happen, either. But I felt strongly enough about it that I wanted to put it down and timestamp it today. If not for any other reason, than to start the year with an optimistic outlook that positive change could be on its way. *  *  * Today’s blog post was free, because I believe the content to be important enough to not place behind a paywall. If you’d like to support my work and subscribe, however, I’d be happy to offer you 22.20% off a subscription to welcome you to 2022: Tyler Durden Mon, 01/03/2022 - 11:31.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJan 3rd, 2022

The Battle For Control Of Your Mind

The Battle For Control Of Your Mind Authored by Aaron Kheriaty via The Brownstone Institute In his classic dystopian novel 1984, George Orwell famously wrote, “If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—for ever.” This striking image served as a potent symbol for totalitarianism in the 20th Century. But as Caylan Ford recently observed, with the advent of digital health passports in the emerging biomedical security state, the new symbol of totalitarian repression is “not a boot, but an algorithm in the cloud: emotionless, impervious to appeal, silently shaping the biomass.” These new digital surveillance and control mechanisms will be no less oppressive for being virtual rather than physical. Contact tracing apps, for example, have proliferated with at least 120 different apps in used in 71 different states, and 60 other digital contact-tracing measures have been used across 38 countries. There is currently no evidence that contact tracing apps or other methods of digital surveillance have helped to slow the spread of covid; but as with so many of our pandemic policies, this does not seem to have deterred their use. Other advanced technologies were deployed in what one writer has called, with a nod to Orwell, “the stomp reflex,” to describe governments’ propensity to abuse emergency powers. Twenty-two countries used surveillance drones to monitor their populations for covid rule-breakers, others deployed facial recognition technologies, twenty-eight countries used internet censorship and thirteen countries resorted to internet shutdowns to manage populations during covid. A total of thirty-two countries have used militaries or military ordnances to enforce rules, which has included casualties. In Angola, for example, police shot and killed several citizens while imposing a lockdown. Orwell explored the power of language to shape our thinking, including the power of sloppy or degraded language to distort thought. He articulated these concerns not only in his novels Animal Farm and 1984 but in his classic essay, “Politics and the English Language,” where he argues that “if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.” The totalitarian regime depicted in 1984 requires citizens to communicate in Newspeak, a carefully controlled language of simplified grammar and restricted vocabulary designed to limit the individual’s ability to think or articulate subversive concepts such as personal identity, self-expression, and free will. With this bastardization of language, complete thoughts are reduced to simple terms conveying only simplistic meaning.   Newspeak eliminates the possibility of nuance, rendering impossible consideration and communication of shades of meaning. The Party also intends with Newspeak’s short words to make speech physically automatic and thereby make speech largely unconscious, which further diminishes the possibility of genuinely critical thought. In the novel, character Syme discusses his editorial work on the latest edition of the Newspeak Dictionary: By 2050—earlier, probably—all real knowledge of Oldspeak [standard English] will have disappeared. The whole literature of the past will have been destroyed. Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Byron—they’ll exist only in Newspeak versions, not merely changed into something different, but actually contradictory of what they used to be. Even the literature of The Party will change. Even the slogans will change. How could you have a slogan like Freedom is Slavery when the concept of freedom has been abolished? The whole climate of thought will be different. In fact, there will be no thought, as we understand it now. Orthodoxy means not thinking—not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness. Several terms of disparagement were repeatedly deployed during the pandemic, phrases whose only function was to halt the possibility of critical thought. These included, among others, ‘covid denier,’ ‘anti-vax,’ and ‘conspiracy theorist’. Some commentators will doubtless mischaracterize this book, and particularly this chapter, using these and similar terms—ready-made shortcuts that save critics the trouble of reading the book or critically engaging my evidence or arguments. A brief comment on each of these may be helpful in illustrating how they function. The first term, ‘covid denier,’ requires little attention. Those who sling this charge at any critic of our pandemic response recklessly equate covid with the Holocaust, which suggests that antisemitism continues to infect discourse on both the right and the left. We need not detain ourselves with more commentary on this phrase. The epithet ‘anti-vax,’ deployed to characterize anyone who raises questions about the mass vaccination campaign or the safety and efficacy of covid vaccines, functions similarly as a conversation stopper rather than an accurately descriptive label. When people ask me whether I am anti-vax for challenging vaccine mandates I can only respond that the question makes about as much sense to me as the question, “Dr. Kheriaty, are you ‘pro-medication’ or ‘anti-medication’?” The answer is obviously contingent and nuanced: which medication, for which patient or patient population, under what circumstances, and for what indications? There is clearly no such thing as a medication, or a vaccine for that matter, that’s always good for everyone in every circumstance and all the time. Regarding the term “conspiracy theorist,” Agamben notes that its indiscriminate deployment “demonstrates a surprising historical ignorance.” For anyone familiar with history knows that the stories historians recount retrace and reconstruct the actions of individuals, groups, and factions working in common purpose to achieve their goals using all available means. He mentions three examples from among thousands in the historical record. In 415 B.C. Alcibiades deployed his influence and money to convince the Athenians to embark on an expedition to Sicily, a venture that turned out disastrously and marked the end of Athenian supremacy. In retaliation, Alcibiades enemies hired false witnesses and conspired against him to condemn him to death. In 1799 Napoleon Bonaparte violated his oath of fidelity to the Republic’s Constitution, overthrowing the directory in a coup, assumed full powers, and ending the Revolution. Days prior, he had met with co-conspirators to fine-tune their strategy against the anticipated opposition of the Council of Five Hundred. Closer to our own day, he mentions the March on Rome by 25,000 Italian fascists in October 1922. Leading up to this even, Mussolini prepared the march with three collaborators, initiated contacts with the Prime Minister and powerful figures from the business world (some even maintain that Mussolini secretly met with the King to explore possible allegiances). The fascists rehearsed their occupation of Rome by a military occupation of Ancona two months prior. Countless other examples, from the murder of Julius Caesar to the Bolshevik revolution, will occur to any student of history. In all these cases, individuals gathering in groups or parties to strategize goals and tactics, anticipate obstacles, then act resolutely to achieve their aims. Agamben acknowledges that this does not mean it is always necessary to aver to ‘conspiracies’ to explain historical events. “But anyone who labelled a historical who tried to reconstruct in detail the plots that triggered such events as a ‘conspiracy theorist’ would most definitely be demonstrating their own ignorance, if not idiocy.” Anyone who mentioned “The Great Reset” in 2019 was accused of buying into a conspiracy theory—that is, until World Economic Forum founder and executive chairman Klaus Schwab published a book in 2020 laying out the WEF agenda with the helpful title,Covid-19: The Great Reset. Following new revelations about the lab leak hypothesis, U.S. funding of gain-of-function research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, vaccine safety issues willfully suppressed, and coordinated media censorship and government smear campaigns against dissident voices, it seems the only difference between a conspiracy theory and credible news was about six months. *  *  * Originally posted at 'Human Flourishing' Substack. Tyler Durden Mon, 05/16/2022 - 23:45.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeMay 17th, 2022

Media’s Collusion With Executive Branch Destroyed Trust In Public Health: Dr. Ben Carson

Media’s Collusion With Executive Branch Destroyed Trust In Public Health: Dr. Ben Carson Authored by Masooma Haq and Roman Balmakov via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours), In the wake of a court decision to end federal mask mandates, Dr. Ben Carson, former U.S. secretary of the Housing and Urban Development and chief of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital, said he is glad there are checks and balances in our system of government but in order to truly restore trust in public health agencies, the mainstream media needs to be held accountable for colluding with the executive branch. “What we’ve done is we’ve gotten into a system where we have the media in cahoots with the executive branch, sort of overlooking all the other safeguards that we have in our system,” Carson told The Epoch Times. “And as a result of that, what we’ve done has completely destroyed the trust of the people in the CDC, the NIH, the government health system. It’s going to take a very long time to get that trust back.” Dr. Ben Carson, former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, in Virginia on Dec. 7, 2021. (York Du/The Epoch Times) A Trump-appointed district judge struck down federal mask mandates in a ruling on Monday, saying that the CDC exceeded its authority with the mask mandate and inappropriately did not seek public comment before imposing the order. In addition, Carson said the Biden administration’s decision to end the CDC health rule, Title 42—which limits the entry of illegal immigrants into the country during the pandemic—but at the same time having its health agency heads calling to keep mask mandates for U.S. citizens doesn’t make sense and is divergent thinking. “There is no justification for getting rid of Title 42 on the one hand, and telling us we need to extend the mask mandates,” said Carson, adding that the public has to push back for agencies to actually follow the science, instead of ideology. “If you have an executive branch that just begins to dictate, without any pushback, we’ve got to a very bad place. It’s too bad that a federal court system had to come in and bring some common sense into the discussion,” said Carson. “But the fact of the matter is, we all know, from multitudinous data, that the masks aren’t doing very much, particularly in things like airplanes that already have HEPA filters.” The neurosurgeon said common sense and scientific data should drive public health policies, including a broad range of treatments for COVID-19 and not just vaccinations. “[Hydroxychloroquine] was roundly criticized by our government officials. So was ivermectin and some other therapeutics that work perfectly fine in other parts of the world. Why would they work in other parts of the world and not work here?” said Carson. “Why is it, in Western Africa, there’s almost no COVID? Because they take hydroxychloroquine as an anti-malarial. Why in southern India is there almost no COVID? Because they take ivermectin. Maybe they’re not taking it specifically for COVID, but look at the results.” Carson said he would have liked to see therapeutics developed alongside vaccination for adults who wanted to voluntarily get them, but said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had a rule that prevented the rushed development of vaccines if early treatment was available. Ivermectin pills on top of an instruction label. (Callista Images/Getty Images) “We also had an FDA rule that said, we cannot issue an emergency use authorization for the vaccine if you have another effective therapy,” said Carson. “Well, of course, you have to say those [therapeutics] aren’t effective so you can do it. You know, that doesn’t make any sense. Why not be able to travel down several avenues simultaneously to find the most effective means of taking care of our population?” Carson said that the FDA law must be abolished so treatments at all stages of a disease can be used and for transparency to be brought back to the public health agencies. He wants citizens to be allowed to make informed decisions about their health. Tyler Durden Mon, 04/25/2022 - 21:40.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytApr 25th, 2022

Sunday Collum: 2021 Year In Review, Part 3 - From "Insurrection" To Authoritarianism

Sunday Collum: 2021 Year In Review, Part 3 - From 'Insurrection' To Authoritarianism Authored by David B. Collum, Betty R. Miller Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology - Cornell University (Email: dbc6@cornell.edu, Twitter: @DavidBCollum), I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness. The dumbing down of America is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media, the 30 second sound bites (now down to 10 seconds or less), lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience and superstition, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance. ~  Carl Sagan, 1995, apparently having invented a time machine Every year, David Collum writes a detailed “Year in Review” synopsis full of keen perspective and plenty of wit. This year’s is no exception. Read Part 1 - Crisis Of Authority & The Age Of Narratives here... Read Part 2 - Heart Of Darkness & The Rise Of Centralized Healthcare here... So, here we are at the third and final part of the 2021 Year in Review and it’s no longer 2021. Sorry about that pfuck-up. Think of it as not in 2021 but from 2021. You may have noticed that the first 200 pages (parts 1 and 2) were laced with a recurring catchphrase, “WTF is happening?” It was a literary device for noting that the events ceased to make sense within a conventional worldview, suggesting it is time to torch the old model and start anew. Our response to a disease that was killing a very small slice of the population was to sequester and vaccinate the entire population with an experimental drug of real but unquantified fatality rate. The apparent scientific illiteracy was not some mass psychosis. Y’all just got suckered by America’s Most Trusted Psychopathic Mass Murderer assisted by an epic media blitz sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry that had a distinct authoritarian quality. Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth. ~ Albert Einstein During the brief period after uploading part 2 while grinding on this last portion, the Supreme Court took on the vaccine mandate issue, ruling that the only people forfeiting control of their own healthcare are the healthcare workersref 2 The court also illustrated their profound ignorance of the pandemic and what they were even charged to assess—the Constitutionality of mandates, not the efficacy.ref 3 The CEO of a major insurer reported a 40% spike in fatalities within the 18–65 age bracket that was not from Covid.ref 4 He said 10% would be a 3-sigma, once-every-200-year event: 40% is unheard of. Although he refrained from identifying a cause—deaths of despair, neglected healthcare, or a toxic vaccine—he knows precisely what did them in. They have been studying this stuff for centuries. I suspect his real message was that the insurance industry is about to contribute to inflation with rising premiums. Meanwhile, the pathological liars running the covid grift decided after two years the masks you’ve been wearing served no medical purpose and that the vaccines don’t work either. Wait: who said the masks and vaccines don’t work? We have known for many months that COVID-19 is airborne and therefore, a simple cloth mask is not going to cut it…Cloth masks are little more than facial decorations. ~ Leana Wen, MD, CNN medical expert with no admitted ties to the CCPref 5 Two doses of the vaccine offers very limited protection, if any. Three doses with a booster offer reasonable protection against hospitalization and deaths. Less protection against infection. ~ Albert Bourla, Pfizer CEOref 6 Here is my most heartfelt response to them: You psychopathic lying sacks of shit. You had us wear rags across our faces and put rags across the kids’ faces when clinical studies that could be read by people with half your IQs showed they were worthless. Suicide rates and other deaths of despair soared while you petty tyrants played your little games and generated billions of dollars of profits while destroying the middle class. You have maimed or killed an unknown number of gullible victims with your lockdowns, vaccines, remdesivir, and oppression of Ivermectin. You jammed a vaccine that bypassed animal trials into the fetuses of pregnant women, assuring them it was safe. If we spoke up, we got muzzled. If we refused the vaccine, we got fired. You should all hang from your necks until dead. I will piss on your graves. I feel better already. Very refreshing. Meanwhile, many of my friends and colleagues look at the same data and say, “Oh. I guess I better get the booster and a KN95 mask.” You have got to unfuck yourselves. You’ve been duped. It will get worse. The tactics used to oppress us would have made Stalin smirk. Australia was a beta test for what is to come in the rest of the west if we don’t wake up soon. They are gonna keep coming for one simple reason: we accepted it. We got bent over and squealed like pigs. What normalization does is transform the morally extraordinary into the ordinary. It makes us able to tolerate what was once intolerable by making it seem as if this is the way things have always been. ~ Jason Stanley, How Fascism Works A person is considered ‘ordinary’ or ‘normal’ by the community simply because he accepts most of its social standards and behavioral patterns; which means, in fact, that he is susceptible to suggestion and has been persuaded to go with the majority on most ordinary or extraordinary occasions. ~ William Sargant, in Battle of the Mind Meanwhile, the financial world became even more dominated by central bankers who haven’t the slightest understanding of free-market capitalism. These twits or criminals—maybe both—have blown the most colossal bubble in history if you account for both price and breadth across the spectrum of asset classes. For the layperson, that means they have set us up for a colossal failure. Go back and re-read Valuations if you cannot picture the epic financial carnage lying dead ahead. The gap between the Fed funds rate and headline inflation has never been this large. These pinheads believe that if the markets do not coincide with their world views, the markets must be wrong. I am not an economist, but it appears that none of them are either. The notion that a dozen nitwits should set the most important price of them all—the price of capital—rather than letting the markets set it through price discovery is financial authoritarianism or what some call State Capitalism. I am angry in case it doesn’t show. Meanwhile, in 2020–21 the Fed contributed to destroying upwards of a half-million mom ’n’ pop businesses—they gutted the middle class—while giving BlackRock credit at 0.15% interest rates to buy up all their houses. Here is my advice to those day trading criminals: look both ways as you enter crosswalks. What I believe the response of society to a severe downturn given the current political climate will be epic. Big downturns come after euphorias. We have never entered a downturn with society at large this grumpy. We are in the early stages of The Fourth Turning.ref 7 The deterioration of every government begins with the decay of the principles on which it was founded. ~ Charles-Louis De Secondat When a State has mortgaged all of its future revenues the State, by necessity, lapses into tranquility, langor, and impotence. ~ David Hume, 1752 So, WTF is going on here? In this final part, I address geopolitics. It begins with a relatively benign analysis of Biden’s first year in office, culminating with what I think Afghanistan is really about. The second section addresses my view of what may prove to be the most important day in US History—January 6, 2021. Although it is my best shot—Dave’s Narrative—I will not attempt to nor will I inadvertently spread the love to both sides of the political spectrum. It is a right-wing view that most right-wing politicians and pundits are too cowardly to state in polite company. The final section addresses the Rise of Global Authoritarianism. For a topic covered by thousands of treatises to call my knowledge skeletal is a reach. I have merely created an intellectual foundation—a chalk outline—to ponder why authoritarianism is here and what could stop it. (Plot spoiler: I do not believe it can be stopped.) They know where we are, they know our names, they know from our iPhones if we’re on our way to the grocery store or not. But they haven’t acted on that to put people in camps yet. They could do it. We could be East Germany in weeks, in a month. Huge concentration camps and so forth. ~ Daniel Ellsberg (@DanielEllsberg), author of The Pentagon Papers and Secrets Before moving on, let me give a plug for a book.ref 8 I have not even finished it yet, but it will change your worldview. Look at those ratings! I can guarantee none of those readers enjoyed it. Kennedy will curdle your bone marrow describing 35 years of atrocities commited by America’s Most Trusted Madman. It is emblematic of a much larger problem. Evil is powerless if good men are unafraid – Americans don’t realize what they have to lose. ~ Ronald Reagan The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary. ~ H. L. Mencken Biden – Freshman Year Scorecard Let’s go, Brandon! ~ Cheers across America Most presidents begin their reign with a calling. Reagan raised our national self-esteem after a period of economic and political malaise. Bush Sr. took on the Gulf War, for better or worse. Clinton oversaw the economic boom and bank deregulation, again for better or worse. Bush Jr. was handed 9/11 and, in my opinion, boned it badly. Obama had to wrestle with the Great Financial Crisis. Trump was charged with disturbing the peace—drain the swamp if you will. Biden undeniably needed to begin healing the social discord that, regardless of its source, left the country wounded and divided. Maybe that was not Biden’s calling, but I wanted to see him become the president of all the people. This is not revisionist history of my failing memory: Biden’s the last of the Old Guard, which is probably why he was slipped into the office by the DNC old guard. I am guessing there will be no Supreme Court stacking; that was just rhetoric (I hope). There will be wars just like every president (except Trump, who brought troops home.) Congress is more balanced again and, at the time of this writing, the Senate is still in Republican hands. Hopefully, the gridlock will usher in some garden-variety dysfunction. I have subtle concerns about a Harris presidency. Admittedly, my opinion is based on precious few facts, but Harris displays a concerning shallowness of character, a lack of a moral compass, and the potential to slide to the left of Bernie. (I sometimes reflect on what it must have been like raising the teenaged Kamala.) I am trying to reserve judgment because first impressions scavenged from the digital world are sketchy if not worthless. ~ 2020 Year in Review By this description, Biden tanked his GPA. He ushered in a Crusade to erase the Trump era and its supporters. The weaponizing of social media and censorship against one’s opponents was probably unavoidable, but the downside will be revealed when the wind changes. Team Biden took banishing of political opponents on social media to new levels by, as noted by Jen Psaki, flagging “problematic posts” and the “spread of disinformation” for censorship. NY Timeslapdog Kevin Roose called for a “reality Czar,” not noticing the Russian metaphor problem. The War on Domestic Terror may prove to be a turning point in American history, one that risks extinguishing the flame of the Great American Experiment. Significant erosions of Constitutionally granted civil liberties discussed throughout the rest of this document may not have been Biden’s fault, but they occurred on his watch. If you see an injustice and remain silent, you own it. I can’t remain silent. Biden is the epitome of the empty, amoral creature produced by our system of legalized bribery. His long political career in Congress was defined by representing the interests of big business, especially the credit card companies based in Delaware. He was nicknamed Senator Credit Card. He has always glibly told the public what it wants to hear and then sold them out. ~ Chris Hedges, right-wing hatchet man Team Biden. Books have been written about Trump’s fumbles in the first months (or four years) of his presidency. See Josh Rogin’s Chaos Under Heaven in Books or Michael Lewis’ less balanced The Fifth Risk reviewed in last year’s YIR. The Cracker Jack team assembled for Joe reveals a glob of feisty alt-left activists and omnipresent neocons. According to Rickards, two dozen players on Biden’s roster were recruited from the consulting firm WestExec Advisors (including Psaki and Blinken.)ref 1 That’s power and groupthink. David Axelrod: You must ask yourself, ‘Why are we allowing him to roll around in the hallways doing impromptu interviews?’ Jen Psaki: That is not something we recommend. In fact, a lot of times we say ‘don’t take questions.’ Young black entrepreneurs are just as capable of succeeding given the chance as white entrepreneurs are, but they don’t have lawyers; they don’t have accountants. ~ Joe Biden Joe Biden, President – Joe is the Big Guy. In an odd sense, he is immunized from criticism because he is visibly losing his marbles. His cognitive decline is on full display; this 52 seconds of gibberish about inflation is emblematic.ref 2 He’s 80 years old, for Cripes sake. I read a book this year entitled, When the Air Hits Your Brain, which derives from a neurosurgical aphorism that finishes with “you ain’t never the same.” Wanna guess who had two brain aneurysms (one rupturing) years ago leading to a miraculous recovery?ref 3 You’re the most famous African-American baseball player. ~ Joe Biden to the Pope, context unknown (possibly even a deep fake)ref 4 I am neither reveling in Joe’s problems nor do I believe he is calling the shots. Claims that the puppet master is Harris are, no offense, on the low side of clueless. Obama seems like a better guess but Barrack was a front man too. Having an impaired leader of a superpower, however, is disquieting and potentially destabilizing, especially with Taiwan in play. Biden’s energy policy that clamped down on fossil fuel production only to ask OPEC to open the spigots is one for the ages. The covid policies bridging both administrations were catastrophic, but throwing workers out of jobs into the teeth of unprecedented labor shortages makes zero sense. The nouveau inflation—Bidenflation—may stick to him like it stuck to Jimmy Carter, but that is unfair to both presidents. Look to the Fed in both cases for blame. Troubles at the southern border and the Afghanistan pullout are a couple of serious logs for a raging inferno that represents Biden’s first year in office. As discussed in a later section, demonizing “white supremacists”—not just political opponents but opponents labeled by their race—will not be viewed well by historians unless history is at a serious fork and Joe is ultimately protrayed as the founder of some new Fatherland. Kamala Harris, Vice President – Whenever situations heat up, Harris is off like a prom dress. During the crisis at the border that she was charged with overseeing, she took off to Europe, cackling about never even visiting the border. Kamala endorsed and claimed credit for the Kabul evacuation.ref 5,6 Realizing she had pulled yet another boner she pulled out before they renamed it Kamalabad. (Hey: At least I had the decency to pass on the Kamalatoe joke.) In a moment of surreal comedy, Harris hosted a public chat with Bill Clinton on “empowering women.”ref 7 She can even serve up semi-reasonable ideas with dollops of cringe. If the Democrats nominate her in 2024, may God have mercy on their souls—she is unelectable—or maybe on our souls—I could be wrong. Jen Psaki, Press Secretary – The role of any press secretary is to calm the press down with nuggets of insight—to feed the birds. When that fails, lie your ass off, all with a cold, calculating sociopathy. I would say she did the best job imaginable given the hand she was dealt. Disagree? I’ll just have to circle back with you on that. Ron Klain, Whitehouse Chief of Staff – This guy might be the rainmaker, but I haven’t quite figured him out. He has the durability of Andrei Gromyko, maintaining a central role through three democratic administrations. Keep an eye on him. Janet Yellen, Secretary of the Treasury – We have yet to find out Yellen’s role because she has not been pressed into service by a crisis. To resolve the minor “meme stock” bruhaha, which did not call for a resolution, she needed an ethics waiver owing to the soft corruption of her bank-sponsored million-dollar speaking tour. My expectations of her are quite low, and I imagine she will meet them. Antony Blinken, Secretary of State – He has a good resume. Like Psaki, he is forced to play a weak hand. He lacks Psaki’s skills. Jennifer Mulhern Granholm, US Energy Secretary – In a press conference she was asked how many barrels of oil a day the US consumes and said, “I do not have those numbers in front of me.” ‘Nuff said. Get her out of there. Merrick Garland, Attorney General – The press will tear anybody a new one so snippets with bad optics are always dangerous. I would say, however, ordering the FBI to investigate parents who get irate at school boards—even those who seem rather threatening—is over the top. Leave that to the local and state police. His role in the January 6th event and push into domestic terrorism is potentially sinister and moves him onto my shitlist. Saule Omarova, nominee for Comptroller of the Currency – This one blows my circuits. She is what in the vernacular is called “a commie” straight from Kazakhstan with a thesis on Marxism—a devout believer that the State should run the show. She also hails from Cornell Law School. (Yeah. I know. STFU.) Matthew Continetti of the National Review noted she is, “an activist intellectual who is—and I say this in the kindest way possible—a nut.”ref 8 There will be no more private bank deposit accounts and all of the deposit accounts will be held directly at the Fed. ~ Saule Omarova, Cornell Law Professor   We want them to go bankrupt if we want to tackle climate change. ~ Saule Omarova, on oil and gas companies For those who have seen the horror movie The Ring, Cornell tried to exorcise the demon by sending “the VHS tape” to Washington, D.C., but it came back stamped “Return to Sender.” She withdrew. Hey Team Biden: you could want to snatch up MIT’s Venezuelan-derived president who is already on the board of the World Economic Forum and was instrumental in pushing Aaron Swartz to off himself.ref 9 John Kerry, Climate Czar – Don’t we have enough Czars? John is charged with flying around the world in his private jet, setting the stage for a 30-year $150 trillion push to make many bank accounts much My disdain for the climate movement catches Kerry in the splash zone. Pete Buttegieg, Transportation Secretary – I must confess to liking Mayor Pete and would have been happier if he had gotten the crash course in the oval office rather than Joe. The one criticism I would make is that taking two months of paternity leave during the nation’s greatest transportation crisis seemed odd. I think when you are in such an important position you find a way. Get a nanny. Bring the twins to your office. Leave them with your spouse. For Pete’s sake (sorry), stay at your post. For the record, after my youngest son was born my wife had health problems. I used to bring him to work and lecture with him in a Snugly and changed a shitload of diapers. You could have done it too, Pete. Samantha Power, Head of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) – Sam is a garden-variety neocon, having served as ambassador to the UN and on the National Security Council, both under Obama. She was central to the planning behind destabilizing Libya,ref 10 which sure looks like a bad idea unless destabilizing the Middle East is our foreign policy. Please just don’t fuck up too much. Cass Sunstein, Homeland Security employee. This is not really an appointment, per se. Cass is the Harvard-employed husband of neocon Samantha Powers. In his 2008 book, Conspiracy Theories, Cass declared “the existence of both domestic and foreign conspiracy theories” to be our greatest threat, outlining five possible solutions, and I quote, “(1) Government might ban conspiracy theorizing. (2) Government might impose some kind of tax, financial or otherwise, on those who disseminate such theories. (3) Government might engage in counter-speech, marshaling arguments to discredit conspiracy theories. (4) Government might formally hire credible private parties to engage in counter-speech. (5) Government might engage in informal communication with such parties, encouraging them to help.” Guys like Cass who come out of Harvard’s CIA training camps are menaces to society. Marvelous hire, Joe. Victoria Nuland, Undersecretary for Political Affairs – She is famous for her hot mic “Fuck the EU” comment and for engineering the coup in Ukraine—a Wonder Bread neocon. William J. Burns, Head of the CIA – I’ve got nothing on Bill, not even a fingerprint. It would be difficult for me to grade him poorly on a curve with the likes of John Brennan, William Casey, and Alan Dulles. (I once had dinner with a former CIA head John Deutch. What a dick.) Christopher Wray, Head of the FBI – As the FBI increasingly looks like the Praetorian Guard for the power elite (both in and out of public office), Wray has followed in the footsteps of his predecessors like J. Edgar Hoover and James Comie to be both top cop and dubious scoundrel. Wray’s fate might be dictated by the ongoing Durham investigation, but I have not seen any heads roll inside the Beltway since Watergate a half-century ago. Tony Fauci, Director of NIAID – That bipartisan, power-hungry authoritarian—The Most Trusted Madman in America—is a recurring theme. He doesn’t know any science. He is a political hack—a chameleon—who survived 35 years multiple administrations by being able slither out of anybody’s claws and regrow his tail. Rochelle Walensky, Director of the CDC – She got serious attention in part 2. I am horrified by her sociopathy. I think she is evil. Amy Gutmann, Ambassador to Germany – Guttman was given the job after giving the Big Guy more than $900,000 in speaking fees and an honorary degree from UPenn when she was the University’s president. I am sure every ambassador pays market rates for the job.  Cathy Russell, Biden’s Director of Presidential Personnel–She is married to Tom Donlin, Chairman of the gargantuan multinational investment firm, BlackRock. Their daughter made it into the Whitehouse National Security Council. A talented family enjoying the political respect accorded to billionaires. Asmeret Asefaw Berhe, Head of the Office of Science – Despite scientific chops as a climate-change-supporting agronomist, she has no administrative experience and is inexperienced in the scientific programs that she is overseeing. Of course, everything is now about the $150 trillion climate grift, so she’s our girl. Jared Bernstein, Whitehouse Economic Advisor – He is highly educated, with a bachelor’s degree in music, master’s degrees in social work and philosophy, and a Ph.D. in social welfare. His greatest strength may be his complete lack of training in economics. Shalanda Baker, Deputy Director for Energy Justice in the Office of Economic Impact and Diversity at the Department of Energy – Is that a salaried position? ‘Nuff said. General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – Mark transitioned from the Trump administration. It caused a stir when he went more “woke” than Chelsea Manning. We will no longer defeat our enemy but assign them pronouns and include them. This was followed by a scandal outlined in Bob Woodward’s book in which he instructed military leaders in a secret meeting to bypass Trump on important military decisions.ref 11 He then unilaterally told his peer in the Chinese military that he would drop a dime if there was an impending military conflict. He tried to hang it on the Secretary of Defense, but the Secretary spit the bit fast.ref 12 My theory is that the sudden wokeness was to commandeer allies on the far left knowing that scandal was coming. It worked. He looks like he is right out of Dr. Strangelove without the lip gloss and eye shadow. Xavier Becerra, Secretary of Health and Human Services. He refuses to acknowledge the merits of natural Covid-19 immunity. That puts him near the top of my shitlist. Becerra has no medical or scientific training. He’s a lawyer, but at least he is from an underrepresented group. Rachel Levine, Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services – I know little about her. She might be the most qualified candidate, certainly more so than her boss Becerra. Call me skeptical of a purely merit-based appointment. Hunter Biden. I was going to place Hunter in the bullets and call him Head of the DEA and National Association of the Arts, but I had reservations. There are sad, heartwarming, and troubling roles played by Hunter Biden. His addiction is a highly personal problem that is difficult for the first family to deal with, especially given other tragedies in their lives. Joe Rogan succinctly explained Hunter’s remarkably odd behavior: “he is a crackhead.” They are part and parcel of being dopesick. Leaked emails from the laptop show Dad to be a compassionate and loving father struggling to save his son. Ironically, old footage surfaced of Joe ranting about how we have to deal with crackheads severely no matter whom they know.ref 13 It did not age well. It is clear that Hunter Biden was selling access and influence. It appears that Joe Biden was aware of that effort. That is very serious. If these emails are false, this is a major story. If they are true, this is a major scandal. ~ Jonathan Turley Before you start blubbering, however, recall that Hunter’s laptop revealed that he was playing critical roles in Russian and Chinese dealings for the Biden family. The Kleenex gets tossed and the gloves now come off. Hunter’s business partner stepped forward admitting nefarious deals were made with Joe involved. Joe denied knowing the clown, but a then photo of the two surfaced.ref 14 This year Hunter also began selling his artwork for up to $500,000 a pop behind a “Chinese Wall”—a veil that ensures we cannot find out who bought the art.ref 15,16,17 The money might literally be from behind a Chinese wall. That buys a lot of crack even after the Big Guy’s 10% cut. Figure 1 shows two paintings, one by a Hunter and the other by two elephants. (No joke, elephants have been painting brilliant pictures free-trunk for decades.) Figure 1. Biden art (left) brought $500,000. The elephant painting (shown being painted) brought $39,000. We are a democracy…there are things you can’t do by executive order unless you are a dictator. ~ Joe Biden, several years ago Executive Orders. Before the first week of his presidency was over, Biden had signed 37 of those beauties. Some, such as the order extending rent moratoria, were overtly unconstitutional. Some merely unwound Trump’s orders that had unwound Obama’s orders. This is dodge ball. While Yale was battling a civil rights case for discriminatory admissions practices, the Biden DOJ dismissed it without comment.ref 18 Yale is said to have promptly destroyed the evidence, which shows they have good lawyers. Transgender athletes were reinstated in women’s sports, ensuring that longstanding records will be shattered.ref 19 It got surreal when UPenn’s transgender swimmer was beaten by Yale’s transgender swimmer.ref 19a An executive order giving the IRS direct access to our bank accounts seems both sinister and inevitable…death and taxes as they say.ref 20 There are a lot of Republicans out there giving speeches about how outraged they are about the situation at the border. Not many who are putting forward solutions. ~ Jen Psaki, forgetting about the wall idea Crisis at the Border. The mainstream press covered this one exhaustively. There are parallels here with the North Africans crossing into Europe several years back. It looks intentional, but why? Don’t tell me about building a democratic base. That is too far in the future and too simplistic. It is far easier to control the elections at the server level. Baffling details include the administration’s suggestion that border agents should be empowered to authorize the immigration of “climate migrants.”ref 21 That could boost a few agents salaries. Rumors of US military planes transporting illegals into the US suggests somebody could punk the elite: load up a boat and drop a couple hundred on Martha’s Vineyard. On further thought, rather than offering Vineyardians more gardeners, drop off some Afghans.ref 22Whoever is calling the shots, this is neither about civil rights nor climate change. Attorney General Merrick Garland clarified the immigration challenge: Today marks a step forward in our effort to make the asylum process fairer and more expeditious. This rule will both reduce the caseload in our immigration courts and protect the rights of those fleeing persecution and violence. If you do that, that will set off a mass migration that’s like nothing that we have ever seen in this country because the entire world will then come on through to get their asylum, essentially legalizing illegal immigration, in a very clever way. ~ Attorney General Merrick Garland WTF did Garland just say? Both his meaning and intent are unclear. The immigrants, of course, were all unvaccinated, which would have been OK by me had the administration not gone Third Reich to vaccinate US citizens. The administration also wanted to offer $450,000 to every immigrant family separated from their loved ones: why?ref 23They seemed to walk that third-trimester idea back and then walked it forward again. A half-billion-dollar, no-bid contract to manage the immigrants went to friends of the administration.ref 24 Your tax dollars at work. At least we are back to business as usual. By the way, where is Border Czar Kamala Harris while all this is going on? Making creepy videos.ref 25,26 People who like quotes love meaningless generalizations. ~ Graham Greene Miscellaneous issues surfaced that either went away or are still festering quietly. On the positive side, stacking the Supreme Court—increasing the number of justices to get a left-leaning majority—seems to have been only a political football. Granting Washington DC statehood, while to a plebe like me doesn’t seem nuts, has the trappings of a massive powershift to the left in national elections. Joe invaded the legal process by declaring Chauvin guilty and Kyle Rittenhouse a white supremacist. Would Obama have done this? I don’t think so. Rittenhouse may get his “10% for the Young Guy” in defamation suits against Joe and every media outlet on the planet. Joe checking his watch five times at the funeral of dead marines didn’t play well,ref 27 but if you put a camera on me I wouldn’t make it to lunchtime without serving up Jim Acosta fresh meat. The main drama of Biden’s first year, however, played out in a distant land.   Afghanistan—where empires go to die. ~ Mike Malloy Afghanistan. I’ve been groping for nomenclature — Afghazi, Afghazistan, Benghanistan, Benghazistan, Saigonistan, Clusterfuckistan, and Bidenistan—to describe this odd moment in history. That 20-year skirmish cost an estimated $2.3 trillion.ref 28 The idea that it was only a few thousand troops with no fatalities in the last year or two makes me question my wisdom, but I can’t start revising history. Whether for right or wrong, I was glad we were getting out. The ensuing Crisis in Kabul looked like the graveyard of a presidency—a combination of the Bay of Pigs and the Iran Hostage Crisis that would dog us for years. They are chanting “Death to America”, but they seemed friendly at the same time. ~ CNN reporter wearing a burka looking for a husband Even before the evacuation started we were hearing about huge caches of weapons that would be abandoned.ref 29 In an eat-and-dash that would make an IHOP waiter wince, we bugged out at 2:00 AM without telling anybody.ref 30Jalalabad Joe had assured us repeatedly the 300,000-strong Afghan army would hang tough. They were defeated in time to chow down on some goat stew for dinner. Images of desperate Afghan’s clinging to transport planes brought up images of the Saigon Embassy rooftop. We left service dogs in cages.ref 31 Marines would never do that. Stranded Americans and Afghan collaborators were begging for help to get to the airport and even to get into the airport.ref 32The administration used a drone to strike on some kids and their dads loading water into a truck to change the news cycle briefly.ref 33 The Afghan who is credited with saving Joe Biden and John Kerry in a disastrous excursion to Afghanistan years earlier got left behind pleading for help:ref 34 Hello Mr. President: Save me and my family. Don’t forget me here. Mercenaries like Blackwater’s Erik Prince tried to prevent Americans from taking The Final Exit,ref 35 only to get stonewalled by the Whitehouse. Meanwhile, the top commander and four-star Wokie, Mark Milley, was too mired in scandal.ref 36 Retired generals were calling for the active-duty generals to resign.ref 37 The withdrawal could not be botched worse if you tried. The populace are now facing a winter of profound famine.ref 38 Rural Afghanistan has been rocked by climate change. The past three decades have brought floods and drought that have destroyed crops and left people hungry. And the Taliban — likely without knowing climate change was the cause — has taken advantage of that pain. ~ CBS News, sticking it like a Russian gymnast This vexing story was from the Theater of the Absurd. Starting with the caches of military equipment left behind, I have two simple solutions that a group of teenagers could have concocted: Announce Blow Shit Up Friday (BSUF). Provide the military personnel with some grenade launchers and a few kegs of beer, grill up some goat burgers, and start blowing shit up. That would be a blast. If that is too unprofessional, you gather all armaments and anything of else of value into an open space. Once the wheels go up on the last troop transport, drop a MOAB—Mother of All Bombs.ref 39 Tough luck for those who were trying to hotwire the stuff when the MOAB arrives. It will take a year to get them out…If you use those billions of dollars of weapons behind I promise they’ll be using them against your grandchildren and mine someday. ~ Joe Biden, Presidential Candidate, 2007ref 40 The collapse of the Afghan Army also couldn’t have come as a surprise. The military and CIA certainly knew that those troops wouldn’t withstand a West Side Story-level brawl.ref 41 The soldiers were paid by the US for their service COD, and there was no C left. Shockingly, most of the payroll booty had long-since been snarfed up by the politicians and top military brass from the only swamp in Afghanistan.ref 42 Whocouldanode? Taliban can murder as many people as they want. But if they keep trolling Biden like this they’re gonna get kicked off of social media. ~ Jesse Kelley, noting the Taliban has an active Twitter feed Here is a script playing out in my noggin. The Crisis in Kabul was an arms deal—Fast and Furious 2.0. One of our top diplomats called the Taliban and said, “We are pulling out in a month. We’ll leave the keys in the ignition and pallets of $100 billsref 43 to help pay for upkeep. If you guys let us sneak out unmolested, you can party like it’s 999—an authentic Taliban-themed fraternity party. We will leave you guns, money, nice facilities, and even a few wives. If you fuck this up, however, we will be right back here.” The Whitehouse also lent a legitimizing tone to the regime when speaking about “working with the Taliban” as part of the deal. In return, the State Department called on the Taliban to form an “inclusive and representative government,”ref 44 so there’s that bit of risible nonsense. Neville Chamberlain couldn’t have done any better. The bottom line: 90% of Americans who wanted to leave Afghanistan were able to leave Afghanistan. ~ Jalalabad Joe Biden That might be a great poll number or inflated final exam grade at a college Joe erroneously claimed to attend, but I am not sure “90%” is impressive in this context. The actual evacuation was ineptly executed from the get-go. Mr. Rogers, with the help of his viewing audience of toddlers, could have Kabuled together a better plan based on the simple precept, “pull out the civilians then the military.” Baffling claims the Whitehouse was obstructing evacuations of charter flights containing Americans was not right-wing propaganda: Where are they going to land? A number of these planes have a handful of Americans, but they may have several hundred individuals who do not have proper documentation of identity….we don’t have manifests for them, we don’t know what the security protocols are for them, we don’t know what their documentation is…hard choices you face in government. ~ Jen Psaki, press conference WTF actually happened? When nothing makes sense your model is wrong. Glenn Greenwald got the scent that withdrawal was intentionally mishandled, suggesting this is “fully within the character of the deep-state operatives.”ref 45We also forgot to destroy our sophisticated FBI-derived software and a complete database containing the biometrics of Friends of the USA,ref 46,47,48 enabling the Taliban to find potential detractors for an attitude correction. Think of it as Afghanistan’s high-tech War on Domestic Terror. The stonewalling of help from other countries also makes no sense using a conventional model.ref 49 Biden’s CIA Director met with Taliban leadership covertly—so covertly we all knew about it—to concoct a “deal”, but what kind of deal?ref 50 During the evacuation, we gave the Taliban names of American citizens, green card holders, and Afghan allies supposedly to let them pass through the militant-controlled perimeter of the city’s airport.ref 51 They would never abuse this list, right? A large number of Afghan refugees—possibly as many as 100,000 according to Tucker Carlson—entering the US are consistent with our open border policy along the Mexican border, but what is that all about? Afghans, by the way, are reputed to be always recalcitrant to assimilate in Europe just in case you’re thinking of renting out your basement as an Airbnb.ref 52 What happened in Afghanistan is not incompetence. We are not that incompetent. ~ General George Flynn The goal is to use Afghanistan to wash money out of the tax bases of the US and Europe through Afghanistan and back into the hands of a transnational security elite. The goal is an endless war, not a successful war. ~ Julian Assange, 2011ref y I have no doubt that blood was shed after we left. More than a few US sympathizers surely lost their heads. As to the stranded Americans, why were they still there? China had evacuated their citizens months earlier.ref 53(Hmmm…Chinese citizens were there?) Two dozen students from the Cajon Valley Union School District and 16 parents there for an enriching summer trip were stranded.ref 54 How did they get visas? That field trip will generate a few college essays that will beat any written about dead grandparents, although Kabul State College may be their only option. This is now on-track, Peter, to be the largest airlift in U.S. history. I would not say that is anything but a success. ~ Jen Psaki to Peter Doucy The media can create, steer, or smother narratives at will. I have a question: Where are all the dead Americans—thousands of them—said to be left behind? Horror stories should be surfacing daily, but they’re not. We shit a mudbrick when One Dead Kashoggi (ODK) got fed to the camels in Saudi Arabia. Three thousand fatalities on 9/11 got us into Afghanistan in the first place. We supposedly left behind “thousands of Americans” but without generating a single headline? So much for that Bay of Pigs­–Iran Hostage Crisis analogy. So here are my next questions and I am deadly serious: Did we get duped? Was the whole thing more sham than farce? There is no such thing as a true account of anything. ~ Gore Vidal Here is Dave’s Narrative. We installed the Taliban as the rulers of Afghanistan as the best of many bad options. The winners are the Taliban and China. The two are inking deals for mineral rights as I type. The chaos was intentional. But why accept such a profound humiliation and dashed hopes of future alliances in global hotspots? I think that the Taliban winning the war in Afghanistan, and then the way our exit happened, has absolutely inspired jihadists all over the world. The Taliban is saying, we just didn’t defeat the United States, we defeated NATO. We defeated the world’s greatest military power, ever. I think, not only will the jihadists be inspired, but a lot of them are going to come to Afghanistan to be part of the celebration, to be part of jihadist central. We are more at risk, without a doubt. ~ Michael Morell, former CIA Director under Obama Maybe China has way more than just Hunter’s laptop to blackmail us and is about to take possession of Taiwan soon. While we await the next Kyle Rittenhouse trial to preoccupy ourselves, take a peek at this video. Skip over the election stuff since we all have rock-hard opinions on that and go to minute 55:30. Xi Jinping’s right-hand man, Di Dongsheng, publicly explained the extent Beijing controls US politics:ref 55 There is nothing in the world that money can’t fix, right? If one wad of cash can’t handle it, then I’ll have two wads. (laughter) Of course this is how I do things. In fact, to be a bit blunt, in the past 30 years or past 40 years, we manipulated the core power circle in the United States, right? I mentioned earlier that Wall Street started to have a very strong influence on U.S. domestic and foreign affairs in the 1970s. So we figured out our path and those we could be dependent on. But the problem is that Wall Street’s status has declined after 2008. More importantly, starting in 2016 Wall Street has no influence on Trump. Why? It is awkward. Trump had a soft breach of contract on Wall Street once, so the two sides had conflicts. They tried to help during the Sino-US trade war. As far as I know, friends from the U.S. told me that they tried to help, but they were too weak. But now we see that Biden has come to power. (crowd laughs) The traditional elites, political elites, and the establishment have a very close relationship with Wall Street. You all see it: Trump talked about Biden’s son, “You have investment funds around the world.” Who helped him build the funds? You understand? There are transactions involved. (laughter) So at this point in time, we use an appropriate way to express a certain kind of goodwill. (applause) ~Di Dongsheng, Vice Director and Secretary of the Center for Foreign Strategic Studies of Chinaref 55 January 6th Capitol Insurrection Alec Baldwin killed more people in 2021 than did the January 6th insurrectionists. Anybody reading this far knows that the January 6th riots stemmed from the right-wing voters who doubted the veracity of the 2020 election. Twitter polls show that view is not as partisan or as rare as the media would lead you to believe. I happen to doubt U.S. election integrity but have for quite a few election cycles. ref 1 Hacked Stratfor emails show the democrats rigged the vote in ’08 ref 2 and Republicans rigged it in ’04.ref 3 It is bipartisan Capture the Flag with red and blue pinnies.ref 4 In any event, Trump’s Green Goblin strategy was to beckon the MAGA faithful to the Capitol to protest the Electoral College signing off on the results. It was not so different than the mobs outside the courthouses trying to subvert the Rittenhouse and Chauvin trials, but the scale of January 6th was much larger and the optics were Biblical. It got out of hand and, at times, even a little Helter Skelter. Mob psychology elicits dramatic changes in brain chemistry and has been the topic of many laboratory studies.”ref 5 Temporary insanity is not a crazy defense. My Tweet got some hysterically hateful responses from the Right who missed the sarcasm and the Left who did not. I think I squandered more of my valuable time left on this planet burrowing through the January 6th story than on the Covid-Vaccine combo platter. I should preface this section by noting that I was praised by a thoughtful long-time reader for being “balanced and measured and carefully worded, even on edgy topics.” I may be on the cusp of disappointing him. It’s impossible to peer at the The Great Insurrection through a non-partisan lens. Both sides may find common ground in the belief that January 6th is a profound fork in the road of the American Experiment. The sock-starching Left will celebrate it as a national holiday every year while the bed-wetting Right will try to ignore it. Both are wrong. Look at that photo and pause to ponder its implications. Put a funny caption to it. Let’s hear from some Republicans first: We must also know what happened every minute of that day in the White House — every phone call, every conversation, every meeting leading up to, during, and after the attack. ~ Liz Cheney I think Lizard nailed it. We’re on the same page. Let’s keep going… January 6 was worse than 9/11, because it’s continued to rip our country apart and get permission for people to pursue autocratic means, and so I think we’re in a much worse place than we’ve been. I think we’re in the most perilous point in time since 1861 in the advent of the Civil War. ~ Michael Dowd, former Bush strategist I would like to see January 6th burned into the American mind as firmly as 9/11 because it was that scale of a shock to the system. ~ George Will, syndicated columnist Mike and George are as unhinged as I am but on different hinges. I think they are delusional and offensive. Edging forward… The 1/6 attack for the future of the country was a profoundly more dangerous event than the 9/11 attacks. And in the end, the 1/6 attacks are likely to kill a lot more Americans than were killed in the 9/11 attacks, which will include the casualties of the wars that lasted 20 years following. ~ Steve Smith, Lincoln Project co-founder Now I’m getting the heebie-jeebies if for no other reason than the Lincoln Project is filled with Democratic operatives (or at least neocons) pretending to be Republicans—as authentic as the Indians at the Boston Tea Party or stepmoms on PornHub. We have seen growing evidence that the dangers to our country can come not only across borders but from violence that gathers within…There is little cultural overlap between violent extremists abroad and violent extremists at home… But in their disdain for pluralism, in their disregard for human life, in their determination to defile national symbols, they are children of the same foul spirit. ~ George W. Bush, a thinly veiled allusion to January 6 George got some serious guff from more than a few of the 80 million Fox-watching extremists including the Grand Wizard: So interesting to watch former President Bush, who is responsible for getting us into the quicksand of the Middle East (and then not winning!), as he lectures us that terrorists on the ‘right’ are a bigger problem than those from foreign countries that hate America. ~ Donald Trump He nailed it. I have stated previously that Bush committed war crimes. Of course, the National Security Machine chimed in… The No. 1 national security threat I’ve ever seen in my life to this country’s democracy is the party that I’m in — the Republican Party. It is the No. 1 national security threat to the United States of America. ~ Miles Taylor, a former Department of Homeland Security (DHS) official Dude! You just tarred about 80 million asses with that brushstroke. Let’s move further left to find some middle ground: They swooned for him on 9/11 because he gave them what they most crave: the view that Al Qaeda is comparable to those who protested at the Capitol on 1/6. ~ Glenn Greenwald, on George Bush’s comments Glenn is part of a growing cadre of liberals including Matt Taibbi, Tim Pool, Bill Maher, The Weinstein Brothers, and Joe Rogan who are unafraid to extend olive branches across The Great Partisan Divide at risk of being labled white supremacists and Nazis, but they are hardly emblematic of the Left. From the elite Left… I think we also had very real security concerns. We still don’t yet feel safe around other members of Congress.  ~ AOC AOC’s comment prompted one pundit to tell her to “get a therapist”, which seems correct given her moment of maximum drama was when a security guard was screaming outside her door, “Are you OK, Ma’am?” #AlexandriaOcasioSmollett began trending on social media when it was disclosed that she was not even in the building when Ragnar and his buddies showed up.ref 6 They will have to decide if Donald J. Trump incited the erection…the insurrection. ~ Chuck Schumerref 7 What ya thinking about Chuckie? We are facing the most significant test of our democracy since the Civil War. That’s not hyperbole. Since the Civil War. The Confederates back then never breached the Capitol as insurrectionists did on Jan. 6. ~ Joe Biden Joe may be on the A-Team, but he hasn’t found his way out of the locker room. The blue-check-marked liberals did not mince words… The 9/11 terrorists and Osama bin Laden never threatened the heart of the American experiment. The 1/6 terrorists and Donald Trump absolutely did exactly that. Trump continues that effort today. ~ S.V. Dáte, Huffington Post’s senior White House correspondent The only effective way for the government to respond to an act of war by domestic terrorists is to be prepared to meet them with machine guns and flamethrowers and mow them down. Not one of those terrorists who broke through police lines should have escaped alive. ~ a Washington Post commenter Moving as far left as you can by tuning into the most cunning commie who can outfox any Western leader… Do you know that 450 individuals were arrested after entering the Congress? They came there with political demands. ~ Vladimir Putin The Cast of this Drama. This Kafkaesque narrative will be scrutinized by historians and democratic operatives for years to come. The Left will cast this event as a truly unique moment in US history, but it was precedented. I see parallels with the 1920’s Bonus Army in which World War I veterans were pissed off about unpaid post-war benefits.ref 8 In the saddest of ironies, many were killed by Army regulars. Some authorities, including a young Dwight Eisenhower, thought it was a benign protest while others thought it was an assault on America. Grumpy crowds appear at the Capitol only on days of the week that end in “y.” Recently, f.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeFeb 6th, 2022

The Double Helix Of Entwined Pandemic And Economic Strategy

The Double Helix Of Entwined Pandemic And Economic Strategy Authored by Alastair Crooke via The Strategic Culture Foundation, Three years ago, I said to an American Professor from the US Army War College in Washington, in respect to the campaign to return American lost Blue Collar jobs to Asia, that these jobs would never return.  They were gone for good. He retorted that that was precisely so, but I was missing the point, he said. America did not expect, or want, the majority of those humdrum manufacturing jobs back. They should stay in Asia. The Élites, he said, wanted only the commanding heights of Tech. They wanted the intellectual property, the protocols, the metrics, the regulatory framework that would allow America to define and expand across the next two decades of global technological evolution. The real dilemma however, he said was: “What is to be done with the 20% of the American workforce that would be no longer needed: that was no longer necessary to the functioning of a tech-led US economy?” In fact, what the Professor said was but one facet of a fundamental economic dilemma. From the seventies and eighties onwards, US corporations were busy offshoring their labour costs to Asia. Partly, this was to cut costs and increase profitability (which it did) — but it also represented something deeper.  From the outset, the US has been an expansionary empire ever digesting new lands, new peoples, and their human and material resources. Forward motion, the continuous military, commercial, and cultural expansion became the lifeblood of Wall Street and of its foreign polity. For, absent this relentless expansion, the civic bonds of American unity fall into question.  An America not in motion is not America.  This forms the very essence of US leitkultur. Yet it only added further to the dilemma highlighted by my friend above. The expansion was accompanied by a flood of Wall Street credit expansion across the globe.  The debt burden exploded, and has become top heavy, balancing unsteadily on a pinhead of genuine underlying collateral. It is only now – for the first time since WW2 – that this relentless US strategic expansionary impulse has been challenged by the Russia-China axis.  They have declared ‘enough’. Yet, there was always another side to this dynamic of western structural transition. Its foundations, as the Professor suggested, no longer lay with the socially necessary labour contained in manufacturing drab products such as cars, telephones, or toothpaste. But rather, the core of it largely has come to reside in highly flammable debt-leveraged speculations on financial assets like stocks, bonds, futures, and especially derivatives, whose value is securitised indefinitely.  In this context, the 20% (or more likely 40%) of the workforce, simply becomes redundant to this highly complex, hyper-financialised, networked economy. So, here we have the second dilemma: Whilst the structural shrinking of the work-based economy inflates the financial sector, the latter’s complex volatility can only be contained through a logic of perpetual monetary doping (perpetual liquidity injections), justified by global emergencies, requiring ever greater stimulus. How to face this dilemma?  Well, there’s no going back.  That’s not an option. In this context, the Pandemic regimen becomes symptom of a world so far removed from any real economic self-sufficiency – adequate to sustain its existing workforce – that the dilemma may only be resolved (in the view of the élites) through facilitating the continuing attenuation of the old economy, whilst financial assets must be replenished with regular additions of liquidity. How to manage it? With the gradual abolishing of the traditional labour content to commodities (either from automation, or off-shoring), corporations have used the woke ideology to reinvent themselves. No longer do they produce just ‘things’ – they manufacture social output. They are stakeholders in society, ‘manufacturing’ socially desirable outcomes: diversity, social inclusivity, gender balance and climate responsible governance. Already, this transition has produced a cornucopia of new ESG liquidity flowing through calcified economic arteries. And the Pandemic, of course, justifies the monetary stimulus, whilst the follow-on climate ‘health’ emergency is prepared in order to legitimise further debt expansion, for the future. Financial analyst Mauro Bottarelli summarised the logic of this as follows: “A state of semi-permanent health emergency is preferable to a vertical market crash that would turn the memory of 2008 into a walk in the park.”  Professor of Critical Theory and Italian at Cardiff University, Fabio Vighi, has noted too the “Incurability” of what he calls “the Central Banker’s Long-Covid” condition” — that the injection of such a huge monetary stimulus as we have seen, was only possible by turning the engine of Main Street ‘off’, as such a cascade of liquidity ($6 Trillion) could not be allowed to flow willy-nilly into the Main Street economy (in the view of the Central Bankers), as this would cause an inflationary tsunami à la Weimar Republic. Rather, its’ main thrust has served to further inflate the virtual world of ever more complex financial instruments. Inevitably however, coupled with supply-chain bottlenecks, the gush of liquidity has caused Main Street inflation to rise, and hence imposed further hurt on the ground.  The aim of managing the manufacturing attenuation on the one hand (small business ‘lockdown’), whilst liquidity flowed freely to the financialised sphere (to postpone a market crash) has failed.  Inflation is accelerating, interest rates will rise, and this will bring adverse social and political consequences in its wake: i.e. anger, rather than compliance. At the heart of the predicament for those who run the system is that, should they to lose control of liquidity creation – either as a result of interest rate rises, or from increasing political dissent – the ensuing recession would take-down the entire socio-economic fabric below. And any severe recession would likely wreak havoc on the western political leadership, too. They have opted therefore instead, to sacrifice the democratic framework, in order to roll out a monetary regime rooted in a cult of corporate-owned science & technology, media propaganda, and disaster narratives – as the means to progress towards a technocratic ‘aristocratic’ takeover over the heads of the people. (Yes, in certain ‘circles’, it is thought of as a newly rising aristocracy of money). Professor Vighi again: “The consequences of emergency capitalism are emphatically biopolitical. They concern the administration of a human surplus that is growing superfluous for a largely automated, highly financialised, and implosive reproductive model. This is why Virus, Vaccine and Covid Pass are the Holy Trinity of social engineering. ‘Virus passports’ are meant to train the multitudes in the use of electronic wallets controlling access to public services and personal livelihood. The dispossessed and redundant masses, together with the non-compliant, are the first in line to be disciplined by digitalised poverty management systems directly overseen by monopoly capital. The plan is to tokenise human behaviour and place it on blockchain ledgers run by algorithms. And the spreading of global fear is the perfect ideological stick to herd us toward this outcome”. Professor Vighi’s point is clear. The vaccine campaign and the Green Pass system are no stand-alone health disciplines.  They are not about ‘the Science’, nor are they intended to make sense.  They are primordially connected to the élites’ economic dilemma, and serve as a political tool too, by which a new monetary dispensation can displace democracy.  President Macron spoke the unstated out loud, when he said: “As for the non-vaccinated, I really want to piss them off. And we will continue to do this, to the end. This is the strategy”. Italian PM Draghi similarly has escalated attacks on the unvaxxed, making vaccines mandatory for all the over 50s, and imposing significant restrictions on anyone over 12. Again, though ‘following the science’ is the mantra, these measures make no sense: the Omicron variant predominantly infects the double vaxxed, not the unvaxxed.  Two days ago, a leading Nobel Prize winning Virologist, Dr Montagnier and a colleague, confirmed this “obsolete” aspect of vaccine mandates. Writing in the Wall Street Journal, they write:  ” … mandating a vaccine to stop the spread of a disease requires evidence that the vaccines will prevent infection or transmission (rather than efficacy against severe outcomes like hospitalization or death). As the World Health Organization puts it, “if mandatory vaccination is considered necessary to interrupt transmission chains and prevent harm to others, there should be sufficient evidence that the vaccine is efficacious in preventing serious infection and/or transmission.” For Omicron, there is as yet no such evidence.  The little data we have suggest the opposite. One preprint study found that after 30 days the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines no longer had any statistically significant positive effect against Omicron infection, and after 90 days, their effect went negative—i.e., vaccinated people were more susceptible to Omicron infection. Confirming this negative efficacy finding, data from Denmark and the Canadian province of Ontario indicate that vaccinated people have higher rates of Omicron infection than unvaccinated people”. This is rarely, if ever, admitted. Both Macron and Draghi are desperate: They need to ‘liquify’ their economies – and soon. Indeed, Dr Malone, the father of the mRNA vaccines, wrote of those who point out such inconsistencies and illogicalities – just two months before his Twitter account was suspended – in a rather prophetic Twitter post: “I am going to speak bluntly,” he wrote. “Physicians who speak out are being actively hunted via medical boards and the press. They are trying to delegitimize us and pick us off, one by one.” He finished by warning that this is “not a conspiracy theory” but “a fact.” He urged us all to “wake up.” As the Telegraph has noted, British Scientists on a committee that encouraged the use of fear to control people’s behaviour during the Covid pandemic have admitted its work was “unethical” and “totalitarian”. The scientists warned in March 2021 that ministers in the UK needed to increase “the perceived level of personal threat” from Covid-19, because “a substantial number of people still do not feel sufficiently personally threatened”. Gavin Morgan, a psychologist on the team, said: “Clearly, using fear as a means of control is not ethical. Using fear smacks of totalitarianism”. Another SPI-B member said: “You could call [it] psychology ‘mind control’. That’s what we do … clearly we try and go about it in a positive way, but it has been used nefariously in the past”. Another colleague cautioned that “people use the pandemic to grab power, and drive through things that wouldn’t happen otherwise … We have to be very careful about the authoritarianism that is creeping in”. The problem goes deeper than a little ‘nudge psychology’ however. In 2019, the BBC established the Trusted News Initiative (TNI), a partnership that now includes many main-stream media. TNI was ostensibly designed to counter foreign narrative influence during election times, but it has expanded to synchronise all elements of messaging, and to eliminate deviation across the broad realm of media and tech platforms. These synchronised ‘talking-points’ are more powerful (and insidious) than any ideology, as it functions not as a belief system or ethos, but rather, as objective ‘science’. You cannot argue with, or oppose, Science (with a capital ‘S’). Science has no political opponents. Those who challenge it are labelled “conspiracy theorists,” “anti-vaxxers,” “Covid deniers,” “extremists,” etc. And, thus the pathologized New Normal narrative also pathologizes its political opponents: stripping them of all political legitimacy. The aim obviously, is their forced compliance. Macron made that plain. Separating the population on the basis of vaccination status is an epoch-making event. If resistance is quashed, a compulsory digital ID can be introduced to record the ‘correctness’ of our behaviour and regulate access to society. Covid was the ideal Trojan horse for this breakthrough. A global system of digital identification based on blockchain technology has long been planned by the ID2020 Alliance, backed by such giants as Accenture, Microsoft, the Rockefeller Foundation, MasterCard, IBM, Facebook, and Bill Gates’ ubiquitous GAVI. From here, the transition to monetary control is likely to be relatively smooth. CBDCs would allow central bankers not only to track every transaction, but especially to turn off access to liquidity, for any reason deemed legitimate. The Achilles’ heel to all this however, is the evidence of genuine popular resistance to the suppression by the tech platforms of all dissenting opinion (however well-qualified its source); by the refusal to allow people informed choice about their medical treatment; and by arbitrary restrictions that may involve loss of livelihood being imposed by decree, and underpinned by emergency laws, restricting popular protest. But more significantly and paradoxically, the Omricon variant may cut the legs from under those political leaders intent on doubling-down.  It is quite possible that this mild (barely lethal), yet highly contagious variant, may prove to be Nature’s ‘vaccine’, giving us a wide measure of immunity – ostensibly better than that offered by the ‘vaccines’ from Science!  Already, we observe European states are confused and at odds with each other – taking diametrically opposed policy lines: some ending restrictions, and some decreeing more and more. Other countries, like Israel, are reducing restrictions and shifting to a herd immunity policy. Of course, the corollary to the collapse of the technocratic initiative to liquify the over-leveraged economy might well be recession.  That unfortunately, is the logic of the situation. Tyler Durden Fri, 01/14/2022 - 19:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJan 14th, 2022

How Long Can Lies & Control Supplant Reality & Free Markets?

How Long Can Lies & Control Supplant Reality & Free Markets? Authored by Matthew Piepenburg via GoldSwitzerland.com, The facts of surreal yet broken (and hence increasingly controlled and desperate) financial markets are becoming harder to deny and ignore. Below, we look at the blunt evidence of control rather than the fork-tongued words of policy makers and ask a simple question: How long can lies & control supplant reality? The Great Disconnect: Tanking Growth vs. Supported Markets It’s becoming harder to keep up with the increasingly downgraded GDP growth estimations from the Atlanta Fed. As recently as August, its GDPNow 3q21 estimates for the quarterly percentage change was as high as 6%. But within a matter of weeks, this otherwise optimistic figure was cut embarrassingly in half. Last month their GDP forecast sank much further to 0.5%, and as of this writing, it has been downgraded yet again to 0.2%. Needless to say, 6% estimated growth falling to effectively 0% growth is hardly a bullish indicator for the kind of strengthening economic conditions which one might otherwise associate with risk asset prices reaching all-time highs for the same period. The current ratio of corporate equities to GDP in the U.S. (>200%) is the highest in history. This growing yet shameful disconnect between market highs and economic lows is getting harder to explain, ignore or deny by the architects of the most artificial, rigged and dishonest market cycle in modern history. In short, it is no longer even worth pretending that stock markets are correlated to such natural measurements as natural supply & demand or a nation’s economic productivity. After all, who needs GDP in the New Abnormal? By now, even Fed doublespeak can’t hide the fact that the only market force which the post-08 markets require is an accommodative central bank—i.e., a firehose of multi-trillion liquidity on demand. But as for this most recent GDP downgrade, it is being blamed on tanking US export data. More Fantasy: Bogus Taper? In the meantime, the much-anticipated taper has been announced. As predicted, it’s as bogus as a 42nd Street Rolex. Taking $15B off a $120B/month QE rate and sending the Fed’s balance sheet to over $9T by year end while keeping rates at zero is hardly the kind of “tightening” that signifies a “healthy” market.  Add to that the liquidity provided by Standing Repo Facility and the FIMA swap lines and you quickly see that the bond market will see more, not less, “support.” In short: This was a bogus taper and nothing has changed. Even if central banks allow rates to rise one day, it will only be when inflation is rising faster. And as discussed in prior reports, gold markets can and will rise if rates rise, so long as inflation rises faster, which for all the reasons we’ve addressed elsewhere, convinces us that a future of negative real rates is the only future these duplicitous central banks can allow. More Inflationary Tricks (i.e., Fantasy) Why? Because short of default, the only and time-tested trick left up the sleeves of debt-soaked policy makers to dig their way out of a nightmarish and historically unprecedented debt hole (which they alone created) is by pursuing policies of deeply negative real rates. This twisted inflationary playbook, so familiar to rigged insiders yet unknown to the vast majority of retail investors, boils down to a policy play by which our “experts” solve debt with more debt and hide truth behind more complex policy adjectives (i.e., lies.). Specifically, this means the “experts” will:  1) deliberately seek more inflation while 2) lying about true inflation levels and then 3) repress interest rates in order to partially inflate their way out of debt with 4) increasingly debased currencies. Take the U.S. Dollar’s purchasing power, for example… Keeping the Serfs Down—The Policy of the New Feudalism Needless to say, more inflation is a direct tax on the increasingly poorer middleclass. Sadly, too many are too busy trying to make sense of months of lockdowns, illegal vaccine mandates, movement restrictions, crime waves and inflating rent payments to notice that they have been made into serfs in a Brave New World where greater than 80% of the stock market wealth is held by the top 10% of the population. Let’s be clear: I’m a screaming capitalist, but a pandemic world in which Bezos, Musk and other billionaire wealth has increased by 70% while 89 million Americans have lost their jobs is NOT capitalism, but a symptom of a rigged system in which the anti-trust rules I learned in law school, or the social and economic principles I learned in economics are simply gone. Then again, when I was in school, we were once taught how to think, not what to think. With each passing day, we see increased evidence of what I wrote (and described) elsewhere as a new feudalism marked by grotesquely distorted notions of truth, reporting, data, natural market forces and political/financial accountability. In order to keep this report objective rather than an op-ed, let’s just consider the facts and case studies right before us. Yellen & Dimon—Two Classic Lords Spinning Familiar Yarns Take, for example, the aforementioned tanking of GDP, now being attributed to openly tanking export data out of the U.S. and the undeniable supply chain disruptions impacting the global economy. To address this, none other than two of the most media prolific “lords” of the new feudalism, Fed Chairwoman-turned-Treasury-Secretary Janet Yellen and current JP Morgan CEO and 2008 bailout-beneficiary-turned-Fed-Crony, Jamie Dimon, assure us not to worry. How nice. Yellen, for her part, has recently said: “I don’t think we’re about to lose control of inflation.” “As we make further progress on the pandemic, I expect these bottlenecks to subside. Americans will return to the labor force as conditions improve.” Again: How nice. But let’s not let warm words get in the way of cold facts. Yellen, like every Fed Chair since Greenspan, has a long history of buying time with comforting words that have nothing to do with hard reality: “You will never see another financial crisis in your lifetime.” -Janet Yellen, spring 2018 “I do worry that we could have another financial crisis. ″ -Janet Yellen, fall 2018 Despite a long and well-documented history of outright dishonesty spewing from the mouths of financial media darlings and policymakers like Yellen and Dimon, both are now pushing a bullish “be calm and carry on while we profit and control” meme. They recently seized upon Biden’s move to run the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach on a 24/7 schedule to alleviate bottlenecks, which increased throughput by roughly 15% (3,500 containers/week v. 950,000 containers per month.) That’s nice, and sure, it helps. But despite such band-aid measures, supply chains won’t normalize until early 2023, at the earliest…and that assumes no further disruptions, which frankly, is a naive assumption. Folks, it’s not up to Yellen or Dimon to give us honest guidance as to whether supply chains will normalize in 2021. It is up to China and Biden’s entirely Orwellian vaccine mandate. Speaking of Yellen, Dimon et al, aren’t we all a bit curious about the now undeniable marriage of the Federal Reserve (an illegal private bank) and the U.S. Treasury Department? And as for bank CEO’s like Dimon, have we not forgotten other bank CEOs like Goldman’s Hank Paulson, who made a similar “marriage” to the Treasury Department just in time to bail his former bank out of the Great Financial Crisis that it helped create? Are these the honest brokers we want deciding our economic fates or signaling/controlling our economic future? Vaccine Passes and Mandates—The Great Smokescreen And as to the mandate… Note Yellen’s careful yet semantic magic of hiding autocracy behind humanitarian lingo. Her comment above regarding bottlenecks “subsiding” once “we make further progress on the pandemic” is very comforting, no? But it’s just another veiled way (i.e., smokescreen) of pushing a vaccine mandate which defies every principle of the social contract our founding fathers achieved in that silly document I revered as a 1L and known otherwise as the U.S. Constitution. As I’ve said many times before, I’m no source for medical advice, and my circle includes many who are vaccinated and un-vaccinated alike—with equal respect for the choices we’ve made and equal disgust for the notion that such choices should be imposed rather than voluntary. Simple Questions, Cold Math, Global Control But should we not at least be asking ourselves if the pandemic discussion is less about global health and more about global control? Without seeking to offend anyone’s COVID stance, can we nevertheless agree that C.J. Hopkins makes an undeniably clear and common-sensical point by simply asking a few basic questions. For example, why has so much political, social and economic power been given to a minority of policy makers to scare/distract the world into ignoring a now obvious global power-shift justified by a virus which causes mild-to-moderate symptoms in 95% of the infected and whose case fatality rate is quantifiably somewhere in the range of 0.1% to 0.5%? Yet despite such simple math, tens of thousands of firemen, police officers, nurses and military personnel—the very heroes who have placed themselves on the front lines of our increasingly criminalized, sick and psychologically damaged population– are now being forced out of work for not agreeing to a forced jab imposed by anti-heroes? One has to at least wonder why so much effort has been made by a government-influenced/co-conspired media to spend its time criminalizing the unvaccinated rather than making front-page noise pointing out the obvious criminalization of our global financial system? The Real Criminals By that, I’m thinking of the years of recently revealed insider trading at the Fed and in Congress, the anti-trust violations of the non-tax-paying Amazon robber-baron (whose warehouse employees are on food stamps) or the open media-censorship and just plain shady that occurs daily at Facebook—an entity so blatantly shameful that it thinks a name-change can hide its dark “face”? Or how about years of open price manipulation by bullion banks, the BIS and other dark corners of the OTC to deliberately force the natural price of gold and silver to the floor in order to illegally price-fix and protect globally debased currencies from the embarrassment of what a natural gold price would otherwise confirm, namely: Your currency has died, thanks to the white-collar criminals otherwise touted as experts. In case you think this is mere sensationalism or speculation, I’ve written hundreds of pages and countless reports of graphical/mathematical/objective evidence of the same, and even an entire book on the rigged-to-fail system otherwise passing as normal to make this clear distortion of economic rules and political laws objective rather pejorative. Nor am I/we alone in pointing out the objective truth. From the honest minority in controlled markets to an honest minority in politics, plain-spoken facts are fighting for free expression. More Honest Voices Take, for example, the recent press-conference (ignored, of course, by the main/muddy stream media) held by key members of the European Parliament to openly defy the insanely autocratic notion of a health pass to distinguish the compliant from the free or the “safe” from the “unsafe”. As one brave parliamentary member from Germany, Christine Anderson, candidly observed, if you think the vaccine pass was made because the government cares about you, you are clearly ignoring its real motive—which is to control you. And this straight from the European Parliament. Control, of course, only works if enough people are scared, tired or uninformed enough to be controlled. As for the financial system, signs of its increasingly obvious attempt at more controls to mask increasingly shameful policies are literally everywhere. And yet… and yet…the media, the masses and the majority of investors continue to follow their murky and shady “guidance.” Again, just keep it simple and factual rather than partisan or medically-controversial. Criminal Evidence In the last 20 years, for example, policy makers have tripled the global debt levels yet made no commensurate progress with global GDP, which is literally 1/3 of this embarrassing debt pile. That is shameful. Debt like this always destroys economies. Always. Instead, those same “experts” have mouse-clicked more instant money out of thin air in the last decade than all the money ever created by all the combined central banks since their inception. They actually want you to believe that a debt crisis can be solved with alas…more debt. Such staggering money creation has led unequivocally and directly to the greatest and most inflated risk asset bubble in the history of capital markets. Yet rather than admit to the open failure of such monetary expansion, which has simply crushed the natural purchasing power of fiat currencies… …the architects of this failed experiment will now try to blame such excessive debt and currency destruction on a severe flu pandemic rather than years of their own pre-COVID policy crimes. Today, politico’s and their central bank masters are literally comparing the Pandemic’s death toll to the unthinkable disaster which was the +75M killed in World War 2. They then employ this pandemic narrative to justify another Bretton Woods-like reset. To any who have studied, or far worse, experienced the second world war, do you think it’s even remotely fair to compare it to the “war on Covid”? The Carefully Telegraphed “Reset” And what is this “needed” reset? In a nutshell, it’s more fake money in the form of CBDC or even digital SDR’s from that shameless control center of failed monetarism otherwise known as the IMF and a central bank near you. Those Who Control Money & Information In an open and free system, rather than criminalizing police officers, nurses, or even athletes who refuse a jab, should we not be pointing our headlines, adjectives and subpoenas at the bankers, experts and policy makers who put the global financial system at this horrific, debt-soaked and socially destructive turning point? Are you waiting for Mark Zuckerberg, Don Lemon, Wolf Blitzer or the censorship boards at YouTube, FaceBook or Google to guide you? Sadly, those who control money as well as information have immense and undeniable power. Thus, a media that controls deliberate COVID distraction, supported by the lords who created this financial serfdom, continues. That is, the feudalists responsible for such grossly mismanaged financial markets are all too aware (and nervous) that they have equally created the greatest wealth transfer and wealth disparity ever witnessed, akin to the pre-revolutionary era of Marie Antoinette France, Romanov Russia, Batista Cuba or Weimar Germany—none of which ended well… Such otherwise immoral and corrupt wealth disparity, wealth transfer and wealth creation explains why the very architects of the same would rather have the masses fighting about jabs, schoolboards, and “woke” SJW’s gone wild rather than at themselves–the root cause of the fracturing we see all around us. Why? Because controlling serfs with lies, fear and division is better than letting those serfs replace you with truths and/or pitch-forks. Truth Still Matters—Fundamentals Too For that select yet blunt and independent-thinking minority who thankfully prefer candor over propaganda, reality over fantasy and genuine rather than hyped solutions to the problems and problem-makers all around us, all l/we can do is trust history, facts, natural market forces and each other. As for us, our candid solution to the foregoing string cite of distortions, controls and historical tipping points remains the same. Regardless of the tricks, re-sets, and digital new bluffs of the new feudalism, enough free-thinkers, nations, informed investors and wealth managers understand that they hold a better (and golden) hand to combat the dirty hands and dirty currencies unraveling all around us. If there’s one thing history and free market forces have taught us it’s this: In the end, broken systems die and real money returns. Tyler Durden Tue, 11/09/2021 - 06:30.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytNov 9th, 2021

In 2022, "Things Aren"t Gonna Get Done" On An Absolutely Massive Scale

In 2022, "Things Aren't Gonna Get Done" On An Absolutely Massive Scale Authored by Michael Snyder via TheMostImportantNews.com, Are we about to witness one of the greatest self-inflicted economic wounds in history?  Vaccine mandate deadlines are starting to arrive, and large numbers of very qualified people are losing their jobs as a result.  Of course this comes at a very bad time, because we are already in the midst of the most epic worker shortage in U.S. history.  Despite the biggest hiring push that I have ever seen in my entire lifetime, businesses all over America are still desperate for workers.  The funny thing is that lots of available workers should theoretically be out there somewhere.  The number of Americans that are currently working is still about five million less than the peak that was hit just before the pandemic arrived.  So where did all of those missing workers go?  That is a question that we desperately need an answer for, because millions of workers seem to have evaporated from the system.  Now the vaccine mandates are going to make things far worse, because millions of Americans that are actually good at their jobs are going to be ruthlessly terminated, and finding replacements for them is going to be exceedingly difficult. For instance, you can’t just pull guys off the street and have them fly planes.  Very soon, large numbers of pilots will be sent packing on a permanent basis, and pilots for American Airlines gave us a taste of what is coming by engaging in a “sick out” over the weekend… American Airlines canceled another 634 flights on Sunday, more than 12% of its total operations for the day, the company said Sunday. The airline has now canceled more than 1,500 flights since Friday, as it deals with weather issues and staffing shortages that started last week. Of course American Airlines is trying to blame “the weather” for these canceled flights, but everyone knows what is really going on. And I greatly applaud the pilots for taking a stand. If these airlines don’t reverse their mandates, pretty soon we will have widespread air travel headaches on a permanent basis in this nation. In New York City, Friday was the deadline for municipal workers to get vaccinated, and more than 26,000 of them have refused to comply… Twenty-six percent of municipal employees in New York City were still unvaccinated following a Friday deadline that mandated workers get the COVID-19 vaccine. A significant jump in vaccinations occurred among city employees due to the deadline, the city said, according to The Associated Press, but more than 26,000 workers have not uploaded proof of their vaccination status and face unpaid leave as a result. Moving forward, all of the work that those 26,000 workers used to do simply will not get done. Already, a total of 26 fire companies have had to be completely shut down… The FDNY shuttered 26 fire companies citywide on Saturday due to staff shortages caused by the COVID-19 vaccination mandate, according to furious elected officials, who ripped the move as “unconscionable” — and warned it could have catastrophic consequences. So will this cost lives? Of course it will. In fact, a seven-year-old boy just died in an apartment fire… A seven-year-old boy died and his grandmother was seriously injured in an apartment fire in New York City as the FDNY deals with staff shortages in response to a vaccine mandate. Firefighters responded to a 1:30 a.m. call Saturday at a building in Washington Heights, where fire broke out in the building superintendent’s basement apartment. First responders quickly contained and extinguished the fire. Meanwhile, trash is starting to pile up around the city at a very alarming rate… Trash bags can be spotted all over the Midwood neighborhood of Brooklyn, where some residents said that it has been days since their trash was last picked up. A few said they realized something was off earlier in the week, as one missed pickup happens, but they started to think there was a problem after the second missed time. On both residential streets and commercial areas, the trash bags on the sidewalk are piled several feet high in some instances. One resident who has lived in the area for about 40 years said she has never seen the area as dirty as has been the past few days. So what is the city going to look and smell like in a few months once we get into the early portion of 2022? The sad thing is that none of this had to happen. The vaccine mandates are absurd, and they are going to cause enormous problems all over the country. Countless supply chain workers are going to be pulled out of our supply chains in the coming months, and we are already facing painful shortages from coast to coast… Supermarket chains are revamping their operations to navigate persistent product shortages, expanding storage space and curbing discounts to make sure they don’t run out. Companies are planning for shortages of popular brands of food and staples to continue for months and managers are trying to keep up as different products run short from week to week, industry executives said. A lot of Americans are still expecting these shortages to go away eventually, but Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is now admitting that there will be supply chain problems “as long as the pandemic continues”… Transport Secretary Pete Buttigieg says the supply chain crisis will continue at least until the COVID-19 pandemic ends amid fears of shortages ahead of the winter holidays. ‘There are definitely going to continue to be issues, especially as long as the pandemic continues,’ Buttigieg told Fox News Sunday. ‘If you have, for example, the third-largest container port in the world in China shutting down because of a COVID outbreak in late summer you’ll feel that in the fall here on the West coast.’ Of course there is no end in sight for the pandemic.  The virus is constantly mutating, and any immunity to it is very temporary. So just like the common cold and the flu, COVID will be with us indefinitely. If Biden administration officials want to reverse recent polling trends, they better find a way to address our supply chain issues, because right now their numbers are really dismal.  Here is just one example… “Americans have lost their confidence in President Joe Biden and their optimism for the country.” That, according to Chuck Todd, is the top takeaway from a just-released NBC News poll out Sunday. Breaking down the numbers on Meet the Press, Todd pointed to data from the survey that he deemed “shocking.” “Just 22 percent of adults say [the U.S. is] headed in the right direction,” Todd reported. “A shocking 71 percent say we’re on the wrong track.” The only surprise from that survey is that there are 22 percent of Americans that are still gullible enough to have a positive outlook. The Democrats have cooked up a recipe for national suicide, and they are setting the stage for so many of the things that I warned about in my latest book. If Joe Biden had any sense, he would rescind all nationwide vaccine mandates immediately. But he isn’t going to do that. And major cities like New York and Los Angeles are not going to rescind their mandates either. So “things are not gonna get done” on an absolutely massive scale in 2022, and we will all suffer deeply as a result. *  *  * It is finally here! Michael’s new book entitled “7 Year Apocalypse” is now available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon. Tyler Durden Mon, 11/01/2021 - 17:00.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytNov 1st, 2021

Will The China Cold War Unstick America"s Glue?

Will The China Cold War Unstick America's Glue? Authored by Alastair Crooke via The Strategic Culture Foundation, Can an America that off-shored much of its manufacturing capacity to China, for short-term profit, afford the de-coupling? Washington isn’t quite sure what to do after the chaotic end to America’s ‘forever’ war. Some in Washington bitterly regret exiting from Afghanistan at all, and advocate for an immediate return; some just want to move on – to the China ‘Cold War’, that is. The cries from the initial Establishment ‘melt down’ and its articulation of pain over the Kabul withdrawal débacle, however, indicates the extent to which the almost obsessive focus on ‘Hobbling China’ nevertheless seems like an humiliating retreat to U.S. hawks, habituated to more global, and unlimited interventions. It is a retreat. ‘Rome’ is relegating its ‘distant provinces’ to their own devices, and even its abutting loyalist inner circle is being downgraded to ‘benign’ indifference. It is a drawing-in towards the ‘hub’, a ‘circling of wagons’ – the better to muster energies for a lunge out at China. There are the acquiescent regions that Americans occupied after WW II (the psychologically-seared Japan and Germany), and then there is the American world empire, which exists chimerically wherever U.S. commercial and cultural power reaches, and more practically in its patchwork of client states and military installations. This third empire is regarded by many Americans as its most remarkable achievement – a triumph of the ‘City of Light’. The post 9/11 era’s final ‘Mad Hatter’s Tea Party’ dénouement scene at Kabul Airport did however, clearly convey a strong end-of-the-Roman Empire feel. Yes, failure in Afghanistan may have taken place far from Rome itself, yet something more profound today hangs in the air: a Change of Era. And defeats on distant frontiers, can entail profound consequences – closer to the imperial core – as a sense of accelerating imperial decline bleeds into domestic arguments, widening already yawning ideological rifts. An embedded national consensus can change very slowly, and then, under the right pressure, all at once. And in many subtle and sometimes chaotic ways, that trigger for change came from Trump. No dove or systematiser, he nonetheless made realism and anti-interventionism, quasi-respectable again. Elbridge Colby, who was in Trump’s Pentagon helping devise its national defence strategy, has a new book, The Strategy of Denial: American Defense in an Age of Great Power Conflict, making the case for a foreign policy that leaves the post-9/11 era clearly and decisively behind. The outer circle of the ‘periphery’ reduces to over-horizon, necro-tech management, and the ‘near provinces of empire’, such as Europe are dismissed as ‘sideshows’ to the main event – China. To focus on Iran or North Korea, he says, is simply misguided. It is “a realist’s book, laser-focused on China’s bid for mastery in Asia as the 21st century’s most important threat”, Ross Douthat writes in the NY Times. “All other challenges are secondary: Only China threatens American interests in a profound way, through a consolidation of economic power in Asia that imperils our prosperity and a military defeat that could shatter our alliance system. Therefore, American policy should be organized to deny Beijing regional hegemony and deter any military adventurism — first and foremost, through a stronger commitment to defending the island of Taiwan”. The Strategy of Denial presents a particularly unsentimental version of a rapidly consolidating Washington consensus. Biden’s speech justifying withdrawal from Afghanistan, in terms of an end to nation-building and focus on counter-terrorism – albeit more softly spoken – said the same as Colby. The contradictions implicit within the 9/11 era’s War on Terror, and coercive westification, may have become only too plain today with 20th anniversary hindsight, but other contradictions within the ‘Hobble China’ pivot are potentially just as fatal to its success – as were the flawed assumptions underlying the 9/11 era zeitgeist. Its’ most basic contradiction is that far from providing the balm around which Americans can gather and unify, the China pivot is likely only to loosen the glue binding a heterogeneous ‘nation’ increasingly turning in upon itself. Firstly, the ‘new consensus’ has it that the best way for America to weaken China is to make it ‘the world versus China’ – confronting it with a broad, transnational coalition, based on the value-struggle between democracy and authoritarianism. Yes, but this repeats the error underlying the 9/11 policy – namely by assuming that the rest of the world still admires and aspires to emulate American liberal democracy. Look what occurred in Afghanistan. The world has changed – deference to western values per se has evaporated. There once was a time when ‘pro-Europeans’ too, were confident that the world would almost inevitably be remade in the image of the West, as it endlessly expanded its rules, and exported its model. Since then, even the Europeans have lost confidence in a world vision, and have become psychotically more defensive (imagining looming ‘threats’ from everywhere and everything). And as the European model has hollowed out, becoming less credible, so too, Europe has and leant into raw mercantilism. The logic of the European situation is clear. It needs China, more than China needs Europe. It would be a huge ‘stretch’ therefore, for Washington to imagine that ‘the world’ might side with its democratic values against China’s ‘authoritarianism’. Just to remind, U.S. democracy was tarnished in the eyes of the world in light of the 2020 Election. And some 70–80 million Americans share that view too. We saw it nightly on our screens. Secondly, it assumes that America’s ‘corporate’, capitalist economic system is a tremendous asset in the Cold War against China. Well, it isn’t. China has its economic problems, certainly; but unlike most western states, it is trying to move away from raw neo-liberalism and endless liquidity – as the hammer set to every ‘nail’. China is deliberately turning away from this model’s distortions, sky-high housing and living-costs, huge inequalities, and collateral social damage. It would be an error to underestimate ‘the pull’ of this alt-vision (even for Europeans). China is, itself, a civilisational pole. Then thirdly, there is the basic contradiction in having a laser-like single focus on ‘Hobble China’, which is brought about only at the expense of feeding Americans’ sense of accelerating imperial decline, bleeding into domestic tensions. This is Pat Buchanan’s argument in a piece entitled, Who and What Is Tearing the U.S. Apart? He answers: “After 9/11, Bush invaded Afghanistan and Iraq. President Barack Obama attacked Libya and plunged us into the Syrian and Yemeni civil wars. Thus, over 20 years, we have been responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands and driven hundreds of thousands more from their homes and their countries. Are Americans really as oblivious? … Many of these peoples want us out of their countries for the same reason that 18th and 19th-century Americans wanted the French, British and Spanish out of our country and out of our hemisphere”. “Unlike previous generations, our 21st-century divisions are far broader — not just economic and political, but social, moral, cultural and racial. Abortion, same-sex marriage and transgender rights divide us. Socialism and capitalism divide us. Affirmative action, Black Lives Matter, urban crime, gun violence and critical race theory divide us. Allegations of white privilege and white supremacy, and demands that equality of opportunity give way to equity of rewards, divide us. In the COVID-19 pandemic, the wearing of masks and vaccine mandates divide us”. “The debate over American national identity is cursed seven times over”, Darel Paul, Professor of Political Science at Williams College, writes: “Does the United States even constitute a ‘nation’? In the sense of common descent (the root of “nation” is the Latin nasci, to be born) – clearly not. Widespread fear of such an ethnic sense of American identity drives considerable hostility to the very idea of nationalism. Most American elites prefer words like ‘patriotism’ … The problem with this conception of patriotism is that it is a weak glue. The recent history of the United States offers ample evidence. Rather than objects of agreement – liberty, equality, individual rights, and self-government are instead [today] the objects of discord. “Here we come to the real glue of America: From the founding of the country in the fires of war, the United States has been an expansionary republican empire ever incorporating new lands, new peoples, new goods, new resources, new ideas. This “empire of liberty,” as Thomas Jefferson called it, knew no limits … Continuous military, commercial, and cultural expansion since Jamestown and Plymouth cultivated the restlessness, vigour, optimism, self-confidence, and love of glory for which Americans have long been known. The glue of America has thus ever been what Niccolò Machiavelli called virtù in service of “a commonwealth for expansion.” Such a republic is always in tumult, yet a tumult that, if well-ordered, finds glory … “Forward motion thus becomes the lifeblood of such a polity. Without it, the purpose of the civic bonds of unity inevitably come into question. An America that is not a glorious republican empire in motion is not America, full stop. This part of the American mythos Lincoln left unsaid at Gettysburg. “Since the 1960s, the glory of the American empire of liberty has tarnished. Since the mid-2010s it has fallen under sustained internal attack. The failures of national purpose in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan are amplified by the failure of globalization to generate common wealth for the commonwealth. If Americans are not united for expansionary republican greatness, what then are all these fissiparous races, creeds, and cultures bound together for? While belief that self-government may perish from the earth without American unity may have been plausible in 1863 or 1941, it is a hard sell in 2021”. Does this struggle against China make sense? Can America, whose economic and financial system today is highly precarious, afford to bludgeon China into adverse economic straits also? Can an America that off-shored much of its manufacturing capacity to China, for short-term profit, afford the de-coupling? Do American corporate leaders truly share the view that the (inevitable) consolidation of economic power in Asia imperils American prosperity, and that its consolidation would shatter their imperial outreach, dollar-based order? Possibly they do. They do fear it. Tyler Durden Mon, 10/04/2021 - 23:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeOct 4th, 2021

Rabo: Sorry, Boy And Girl Geniuses, But How Does Inflation Go Down If Commodity Prices Keep Going Up

Rabo: Sorry, Boy And Girl Geniuses, But How Does Inflation Go Down If Commodity Prices Keep Going Up By Michael Every of Rabobank Fed 50 vs. Fedoggy#4292 The Fed went 50bp. I will come back to this in a moment, but I need to set the scene properly. Back in 2020, I was expounding that “-isms” were soon going to be back in vogue. Our conflating structural problems --caused by global neoliberalism-- were going to see clashes over what our system should be, which would involve ideology, and understanding liberalism, capitalism, socialism, communism, and fascism. That was before common prosperity, and today we can add imperialism. Indeed, from “-isms” we have moved to a related clash of “-cies” – democracy vs. autocracy. Markets do not yet fully understand this implies not just war in Ukraine but economic war, from commodities to supply chains to technology to finance to FX. Now to the Fed. As Philip Marey summarises here, “As widely expected, the FOMC decided to raise the target range for the federal funds rate by 50bps. The Fed also decided to start balance sheet reduction. More interesting was the press conference, where Powell said that there is broad consensus in the Committee that 50bps are on the table in the next couple of meetings, but 75bps is not something the Committee is actively considering.” The fact that the 75bp weapon last seen in 1994 is off the table was enough to smash the dollar (DXY down from 103.5 to 102.5), see stocks soar the most on a Fed day in decades (S&P +3.0%), and bond yields plunge, and the yield-curve steepen (US Treasuries -14bp in 2s and -4bp in 10s). In short, the Fed not being as hawkish as some had feared is being taken as super-dovish. Sorry, boy and girl geniuses, but COMMODITIES WENT UP SHARPLY. Tell me how inflation goes down if commodity prices keep going up? And, in the clash between democracy and autocracy, Russia wants higher commodity prices and the US lower: do you think a dovish Fed is a good thing to be cheer-leading in a Balkanizing world economy that is about SUPPLY not DEMAND? You can celebrate your belief that the Fed is going to pumping assets again imminently just like you did in 2020-21 – right before inflation ripped markets to pieces. Watch India threaten to curb wheat exports after a surprise RBI inter-meeting 40bp rate hike; see Brazil hike rates 100bp to 12.75%, as expected; and observe if China indeed launches another huge infrastructure push today. Listen to Maersk say they see structural global stagflation. And consider the impact if the EU pushes ahead with its proposed end-year Russian oil embargo (here is ours), which is likely to include banning EU vessels and insurance, and some commentators say uses language that could lead to secondary sanctions on *anyone* trading Russian oil. That, as OPEC underlines there is no spare capacity anywhere globally, and the US finally realises that there might not be an Iran deal after all due to Tehran ('US says it is now preparing for a world both with and without an Iran nuclear deal’) with serious geopolitical implications; and as Hamas representatives go to Moscow just as Russia-Israel diplomatic relations tank over very undiplomatic Russian statements. If stocks *and commodities* won’t go down, and autocracy won’t back down, then rates may keep going up and *stay* up. The Fed were not dovish – just not super-hawkish. Yes, they didn’t go 75bps because they know who will pay them $250,000 for an after-dinner speech when they retire. But if they had they might not now have to make as many 50bps hikes as they will be forced to both by markets and geopolitics. (As the US today launches its revised Indo-Pacific Strategy aimed at China.) Don’t think that yesterday’s weak ADP employment data mean rate hikes will slow either. Philip adds that while overall employment growth dipped to 247K, it showed a sharp contrast between large and small firms: in large firms it was up to 321K, but at small firms it fell by 120K. Small firms seem to be losing the competition for workers against large firms, who have more pricing power, higher profits, and more scope for higher wages. So, we do have a wage-price spiral – at larger firms, and small businesses are going to be decimated in trying to compete. Yes, yes, ‘Buy the rumor, sell the fact’. But The Street sees these facts and thinks it’s time for a huge ‘new normal’ market rally, and that democracy, meritocracy, and capitalism win: I am thinking kleptocracy, idiocracy, and aneurism. It ironically thinks of itself as an ‘apolitical’ technocracy and diverse meritocracy – yet it champions paying small money to people with big common-sense talent stacks, and big money to people with some of the lowest functional intelligence. Look at the reaction to the Fed: and look at how we got into this mess in the first place. And if you want another example from an endless list, the Wall Street Journal just bewailed that: ‘The NFT Market is Collapsing’, as issuance is down 92% from its peak of last September, and many NFTs are now worth less than they were bought for. The truly classic quote was: “An NFT of the first tweet from Twitter Inc. co-founder Jack Dorsey sold in March 2021 for $2.9m to Sina Estavi, the chief executive of Malaysia-based blockchain company Bridge Oracle. Earlier this year, Mr. Estavi put the NFT up for auction. He didn’t receive any bids above $14,000, which he didn’t accept. Mr. Estavi said failure of the auction wasn’t a sign that the market is deteriorating, but was just a normal fluctuation that could occur in any market. The NFT market is one that is still developing, he said, and it is impossible to predict how it will look in a few years. “I will never regret buying it because this NFT is my capital,” he said. Another NFT buyer purchased a Snoop Dog curated NFT, titled “Doggy #4292,” in early April for about $32,000 worth of the cryptocurrency ether. The NFT, an image of a green-skinned astronaut standing on what looks like a Hollywood Walk of Fame star, is now up for auction, with an asking price of $25.5m. The highest current bid is for 0.0743 ether—about $210.” Who on Wall Street peddling these things could possibly have known that a new asset class of ‘unique’ objects with an INFINITE cost-free flow of supply might not be the best foundation for one’s savings, or the global financial system? I am shocked --shocked!-- that the “-ism” and “-cy” we were all looking for was not Doggy #4292! (Nor Fedoggy#4292.) Yet Fortune magazine is still running a counter-story saying, ‘‘Revolutionize Wall Street’—$85 Billion Giant Pushes Into NFTs As Price Of Ethereum, Bitcoin, BNB, XRP, Solana, Cardano, And Dogecoin Soar’ and asset-managers are going *deeper* into NFT-ville. Oh, there is a revolution brewing alright. Just not the one they are thinking of. Rising commodities and national security concerns forcing the Fed into new ideological thinking for one. The Fed entering into Joe Public’s ideological thinking for another. Tyler Durden Thu, 05/05/2022 - 10:40.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeMay 5th, 2022

When The Government Plays God: The Slippery Slope From Abortions To Executions

When The Government Plays God: The Slippery Slope From Abortions To Executions Authored by John W. Whitehead & Nisha Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute, “Abortion on demand is the ultimate State tyranny; the State simply declares that certain classes of human beings are not persons, and therefore not entitled to the protection of the law. The State protects the ‘right’ of some people to kill others, just as the courts protected the ‘property rights’ of slave masters in their slaves.” - Ron Paul The government wants to play god. It wants the power to decide who lives or dies and whose rights are worthy of protection. Delve beneath the rhetoric and spin that have turned abortion into a politicized, polarized and propagandized frontline in the culture wars, and you will find a greater menace at work. Abortion may be front and center in the power struggle between the Left and the Right over who has the right to decide—the government or the individual—when it comes to bodily autonomy, the right to privacy, sexual freedom, the rights of the unborn, and property interests in one’s body, but there’s so much more going on here. The Left would suggest that unborn babies do not have constitutional rights and the only right that matters is a woman’s right to privacy in choosing whether or not to abort a pregnancy. The Right, while fixated on saving the lives of unborn babies, seems less concerned about what happens to those lives from birth to death. What few seem willing to address is that in the 30 years since the U.S. Supreme Court issued its landmark ruling in Roe v. Wade, the government has come to believe that it not only has the power to determine who is deserving of constitutional rights in the eyes of the law but it also has the authority to deny those rights to an American citizen. This is how the abortion debate—a politicized tug-of-war over when an unborn child is considered a human being with rights—plays into the police state’s hands by laying the groundwork for discussions about who else may or may not be deserving of rights. Even if (as a leaked draft opinion in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization suggests) the Supreme Court overturns its earlier rulings recognizing abortion as a constitutional right under the Fourteenth Amendment, that will not resolve the larger problem that plagues us today: namely, that all along the spectrum of life—from the unborn child to the aged—the government continues to play fast and loose with the lives of the citizenry. Take a good, hard look at the many ways in which Americans are being denied their rights under the Constitution. American families who have their dogs shot, their homes trashed and their children terrorized or, worse, killed by errant SWAT team raids in the middle of the night are being denied their rights under the Constitution. Disabled individuals who are being strip searched, handcuffed, arrested and “diagnosed” by police as dangerous or mentally unstable merely because they stutter and walk unevenly are being denied their rights under the Constitution. School-aged children as young as 4-years-old who are leg shackled, handcuffed and strip searched for violating school zero tolerance policies by chewing a Pop Tart into the shape of a gun and playing an imaginary game of cops and robbers, or engaging in childish behavior such as crying or jumping are being denied their rights under the Constitution. Unarmed citizens who are tasered or shot by police for daring to hesitate, stutter, move a muscle, flee or disagree in any way with a police order are being denied their rights under the Constitution. Likewise, Americans—young and old alike—who are shot by police because they pointed a garden hose at a police officer, reached for their registration in their glove box, relied upon a cane to steady themselves, or were seen playing with air rifles or BB guns are being denied their rights under the Constitution. Female motorists who are unlucky enough to be pulled over for a questionable traffic infraction only to be subjected by police to cavity searches by the side of the road are being denied their rights under the Constitution. Male pedestrians and motorists alike who are being subjected to roadside strip searches and rectal probes by police based largely on the color of their skin are being denied their rights under the Constitution. American citizens subjected to government surveillance whereby their phone calls are being listened in on, their mail and text messages read, their movements tracked and their transactions monitored are being denied their rights under the Constitution. Homeowners who are being fined and arrested for raising chickens in their backyard, allowing the grass in their front yards to grow too long, and holding Bible studies in their homes are being denied their rights under the Constitution. Decorated military veterans who are being arrested for criticizing the government on social media such as Facebook are being denied their rights under the Constitution. Homeless individuals who are being harassed, arrested and run out of towns by laws that criminalize homelessness are being denied their rights under the Constitution. Individuals whose DNA has been forcibly collected and entered into federal and state law enforcement databases whether or not they have been convicted of any crime are being denied their rights under the Constitution. Drivers whose license plates are being scanned, uploaded to a police database and used to map their movements, whether or not they are suspected of any crime, are being denied their rights under the Constitution. The same goes for drivers who are being ticketed for running afoul of red light cameras without any real opportunity to defend themselves against such a charge are being denied their rights under the Constitution. Protesters and activists who are being labeled domestic terrorists and extremists and accused of hate crimes for speaking freely are being denied their rights under the Constitution. Likewise, American citizens who being targeted for assassination by drone strikes abroad without having been charged, tried and convicted of treason are being denied their rights under the Constitution. Hard-working Americans whose bank accounts, homes, cars electronics and cash are seized by police (operating according to asset forfeiture schemes that provide profit incentives for highway robbery) are being denied their rights under the Constitution. So, what is the common denominator here? These are all American citizens—endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, rights that no person or government can take away from them, among these the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness—and they are all being oppressed in one way or another by a government that has grown drunk on power, money and its own authority. If the government—be it the President, Congress, the courts or any federal, state or local agent or agency—can decide that any person has no rights, then that person becomes less than a citizen, less than human, less than deserving of respect, dignity, civility and bodily integrity. He or she becomes an “it,” a faceless number that can be tallied and tracked, a quantifiable mass of cells that can be discarded without conscience, an expendable cost that can be written off without a second thought, or an animal that can be bought, sold, branded, chained, caged, bred, neutered and euthanized at will. It’s a slippery slope that justifies all manner of violations in the name of national security, the interest of the state and the so-called greater good. Yet those who founded this country believed that what we conceive of as our rights were given to us by God—we are created equal, according to the nation’s founding document, the Declaration of Independence—and that government cannot create, nor can it extinguish our God-given rights. To do so would be to anoint the government with god-like powers and elevate it above the citizenry. Unfortunately, we have been dancing with this particular devil for quite some time now. If we continue to wait for the government to restore our freedoms, respect our rights, rein in its abuses and restrain its agents from riding roughshod over our lives, our liberty and our happiness, then we will be waiting forever. Already, the politicos are beating the war drums to herald the next phase of the abortion wars. President Biden wants voters to elect more pro-abortion rights officials to ensure that “a woman’s right to choose is fundamental.” The Senate plans to vote to codify the right to an abortion into federal law. Chief Justice John G. Roberts is opening an investigation into how the Supreme Court’s draft abortion ruling was leaked. And polling indicates that the majority of the American people want abortion to remain legal. Like clockwork, we find ourselves smack dab in the middle of yet another political circus that could get scary, ugly and overwhelming really fast. Before you get too distracted by this conveniently timed diversion that has everyone forgetting about spiking gas prices, inflation, housing shortages, and warring empires, remind yourself that no matter how the Supreme Court rules in Dobbs, it will not resolve the problem of a culture that values life based on a sliding scale.  Nor will it help us navigate the moral, ethical and scientific minefields that await us as technology and humanity move ever closer to a point of singularity. Humanity is being propelled at warp speed into a whole new frontier when it comes to privacy, bodily autonomy, and what it means to be a human being. As such, we haven’t even begun to wrap our heads around how present-day legal debates over bodily autonomy, privacy, vaccine mandates, the death penalty, and abortion play into future discussions about singularity, artificial intelligence, cloning, and the privacy rights of the individual in the face of increasingly invasive, intrusive and unavoidable government technologies. Yet here is what I know. Life is an inalienable right. By allowing the government to decide who or what is deserving of rights, it shifts the entire discussion from one in which we are “endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights” (that of life, liberty property and the pursuit of happiness) to one in which only those favored by the government get to enjoy such rights. If all people are created equal, then all lives should be equally worthy of protection. There’s an idea embraced by both the Right and the Left according to their biases that there is a hierarchy to life, with some lives worthier of protection than others, but there is no hierarchy of freedoms. All freedoms hang together. As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People and in its fictional counterpart The Erik Blair Diaries, we must never stop working to protect life, preserve our freedoms and maintain some semblance of our humanity. Freedom cannot be a piece-meal venture. Tyler Durden Wed, 05/04/2022 - 23:40.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeMay 4th, 2022

The Quick And Dirty On Inflation

The Quick And Dirty On Inflation Via SchiffGold.com, The inflation freight train continues to barrel ahead. Not only are consumer prices at historically high levels; producer prices continue to run ahead of CPI, casting some doubt on the “peak inflation” narrative in the mainstream. Despite the fact that inflation has been running hot for over a year, the mainstream pundits, government officials and central bankers can’t seem to nail down what’s going on. First, they said printing trillions wouldn’t cause inflation. Then they called inflation transitory. They said it was the pandemic. They pointed their fingers at supply chains and “excess demand.” Now they’re blaming Putin. The problem is the mainstream won’t come to terms with the real underlying cause of rising prices. Mises Institute President Jeff Deist gives a quick and dirty breakdown of the inflation problem. The following article was originally published by the Mises Institute. The views expressed are the author’s and don’t necessarily reflect those of Peter Schiff or SchiffGold. All of a sudden everyone is an expert on inflation. Your brother-in-law, your local paper, and even dilettantes at dubious outlets like the Washington Post or The Atlantic feel compelled to explain our current predicament. With the admitted rate of consumer inflation running somewhere around 8 percent, and the real rate much higher, even central bankers can’t hide the reality from us. So the commentariat has to explain to us why this is happening and make sure we blame the mysterious workings of capitalism for our troubles. In other words, economics is back. Covid was a nice diversion, and Ukraine took up all the media’s oxygen for a few months. But now we must deal with the economic devastation caused both by lockdowns and two years of crazed fiscal and monetary policy. Every day Americans, stubborn as they are, care more about rising gas and food prices than the political class would like. So they trot out Nancy Pelosi to explain how government spending actually reduces inflation and push pseudoeconomic ideas like modern monetary theory to explain why more federal spending is always the cure. But what is really happening? First, consider the two covid stimulus bills passed by Congress in 2020 and 2021. These pumped more than $5 trillion directly into the economy in the form of payments to government, payments to households, unemployment benefits, employer payroll loans, cash subsides to airlines and countless other industries, and a host of grab-bag earmarks which had nothing to do with covid. This new money injected itself straight into the veins of the daily economy. Second, supply chains remain degraded because politicians around the world didn’t think through their lockdown policies. The deeply interconnected global economy does not have an ON/OFF switch. Idle resources and idle workers don’t simply spring to life and produce goods and services on command. But our policy makers have no conception of a structure of production, its temporal elements, or the ravages of malinvestment created by their political decision to shutter businesses. Third, covid allowed the Fed to justify yet another spasm of “extraordinary” monetary policies beginning in March 2020. This gave central bankers an easy out, in a sense, because real trouble was already on the horizon back in September 2019. The repo market, which commercial banks use for short-term (overnight) financing of their operations, suddenly seized up and sent rates spiking. These paroxysms embarrassingly forced the Fed to inject billions of dollars into its “standing” (i.e., permanent) repurchase facility and to consider yet another round of QE (asset buying) even after it had promised to shrink its balance sheet, still bloated with the detritus of the 2007 crisis. All of this happened before any of us had heard of covid. But the obvious question last fall, screaming to be asked, was this: How on earth, after more than a decade of aggressive asset purchases by the Fed (swelling the central bank’s balance sheet from less than $1 trillion in 2007 to more than $4 trillion by 2019), did commercial banks still experience a liquidity crunch? What the hell was the point of all that money? But covid washed away any question about repo and silenced any critics of the Fed’s largesse. Covid had to be defeated, by God, and monetary policy would lead the way. So the Fed went into hyperdrive, buying trillions in additional assets to send its balance sheet soaring to nearly $9 trillion today—adding nearly 20 percent of all dollars ever created to the M2 money supply measure in 2020 alone. That same year, with lockdowns firmly in place and a crisis mindset whipped up by both parties, Congress managed to spend almost twice what the Treasury collected in taxes ($3.4 trillion in revenue versus $6.5 trillion in outlays). How is such an arrangement possible? Given historically low rates of return on Treasury debt—well below real inflation—and given the almost unbelievable and irreversible profligacy of the spendthrift US government, why would any sentient being continue to loan money to Uncle Sam? Why would anyone help Congress continue its debt-financed orgy? Why lend America money? The answer is complex, ranging from the dollar’s status as the world’s reserve currency to pension and sovereign wealth funds around the globe that hold US Treasurys by charter and even the relative strength of America’s military forces. The question is thus as much geopolitical as economic. But in short, the world knows the Fed will always be there as a ready backstop, to buy US debt when appetites for such debt waver. Propping up congressional deficit spending, juicing equity markets, and constantly recapitalizing commercial banks are the Fed’s true mandates. How does inflation end? Only with pain in the form of a necessary corrective recession or depression. Congress must slash spending, the Fed must stop buying assets and stop tampering with interest rates, and existing US debt must be allowed to mature and roll off the Fed’s balance sheet. We should force the US federal government to sell assets, especially land, to pay off Treasury obligations and fund future Social Security and Medicare entitlements. And if necessary, the federal government should be forced to default or apply a haircut to Treasury investors, who, after all, took a risk like any investor. If all of this sounds politically impossible, you understand the deep unseriousness of today’s politics. Tyler Durden Mon, 04/25/2022 - 11:00.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytApr 25th, 2022

Rogers Communications Reports First Quarter 2022 Results

 Focus on execution and economic growth delivers solid operational improvements in Wireless, Cable, and Media Wireless service revenue and adjusted EBITDA growth of 7% Postpaid mobile phone net adds of 66,000, up 44,000 from last year; improved Q1 postpaid mobile phone churn by 12 basis points to 0.71% Mobile phone ARPU1 of $57.25 up 3% Strong Cable financial results driven by improved execution; revenue up 2% and adjusted EBITDA up 13% Media revenue growth of 10% reflects continued recovery of sports Increasing full-year 2022 total service revenue, adjusted EBITDA, and free cash flow guidance2 pre-Shaw transaction, driven by better execution and economic growth Total service revenue growth range now expected at 6% to 8%, compared to previous 4% to 6% Adjusted EBITDA growth range now expected at 8% to 10%, compared to previous 6% to 8% Free cash flow between $1.9 and $2.1 billion expected, compared to previous $1.8 to $2.0 billion Shaw transaction remains on track to close in Q2 2022; completed long-term financing in March TORONTO, April 20, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Rogers Communications Inc. today announced its unaudited financial and operating results for the first quarter ended March 31, 2022. Consolidated Financial Highlights   Three months ended March 31   (In millions of Canadian dollars, except per share amounts, unaudited)   2022     2021   % Chg             Total revenue           3,619             3,488           4   Total service revenue           3,196             3,021           6   Adjusted EBITDA 1           1,539             1,391           11   Net income           392             361           9   Adjusted net income 1           462             394           17             Diluted earnings per share           $0.77             $0.70           10   Adjusted diluted earnings per share 1           $0.91             $0.77           18             Cash provided by operating activities           813             679           20   Free cash flow 1           515             394           31   "Rogers delivered strong first quarter results across all our businesses, driven by better execution and the continued improvement in Canada's economy," said Tony Staffieri, President and CEO. "We are very confident about the opportunities ahead, driven by the exceptional quality of our assets and the dedicated efforts of the Rogers team. As a result, we are increasing Rogers' 2022 service revenue, adjusted EBITDA, and free cash flow guidance to reflect our improved outlook, ahead of further growth associated with the Shaw transaction." "In March, the CRTC approved the transfer of the broadcast distribution undertaking licences held by Shaw to Rogers. This approval is an important milestone and brings us one step closer to completing our transformational transaction, which we expect to close in Q2. Teams from both Rogers and Shaw continue to work constructively with the Competition Bureau and ISED Canada to ensure they have the information they need to assess the significant benefits the combined company will bring to Canadians and the Canadian economy." ______________________________ 1 Mobile phone ARPU is a supplementary financial measure. Adjusted EBITDA is a total of segments measure. Free cash flow is a capital management measure. Adjusted diluted earnings per share is a non-GAAP ratio. Adjusted net income is a non-GAAP financial measure and is a component of adjusted diluted earnings per share. See "Non-GAAP and Other Financial Measures" in our Q1 2022 Management's Discussion and Analysis (MD&A), available at www.sedar.com, and this earnings release for more information about each of these measures. These are not standardized financial measures under International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) and might not be comparable to similar financial measures disclosed by other companies.2 See "Financial Guidance". Operating Environment and Strategic Highlights The Canadian economy is recovering and beginning to grow as immigration levels increase and COVID-19 restrictions have increasingly been relaxed or removed, including travel and capacity restrictions, masking mandates, and vaccine mandates. Travel volumes have increased in recent months, resulting in higher roaming revenue, and sporting events can now be filled to venue capacity, which will result in greater attendance and game day revenue as we welcome fans back to Rogers Centre. While the general recovery is encouraging, COVID-19 remains a risk and we will continue to stay focused on keeping our employees safe and our customers connected. We remain confident we have the right team, a strong balance sheet, and the world-class networks that will allow us to get through the pandemic having maintained our long-term focus on growth and doing the right thing for our customers. Our four focus areas guide our work and decision-making as we further improve our operational execution and make well-timed investments to grow our core businesses and deliver increased shareholder value. Below are some highlights for the quarter. Successfully complete the Shaw acquisition and integration Received approval from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) for the transfer of Shaw Communications Inc.'s (Shaw) broadcasting services, achieving a significant regulatory milestone on the journey to closing the transformational transaction with Shaw (Transaction). Issued a combined $13.3 billion of Cdn$-equivalent senior notes at a weighted average cost of borrowing of 4.21% and a weighted average term to maturity of 13.9 years for net proceeds of $13.1 billion, successfully refinancing the committed credit facility we arranged to support the Transaction in March 2021. Issued US$750 million of subordinated notes due 2082 with an initial coupon of 5.25% for the first five years in February 2022. Invest in our networks to deliver world-class connectivity to Canadian consumers and businesses Awarded Best In Test in umlaut's first Canadian fixed broadband report in January, winning fastest upload and download speeds and scoring more than 60% higher than our nearest competitor in average download speeds amongst national Internet service providers. Recognized in January as Canada's most consistent national wireless and broadband provider, with the fastest Internet in Ontario, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland and Labrador, by Ookla, the global leader in fixed broadband and mobile network testing applications. Launched the first commercial 5G standalone network in Canada, bringing network slicing capabilities and lower latency, expanding Rogers 5G footprint, and supporting future enterprise and consumer applications. Successfully completed 8 gigabits per second symmetrical upload and download tests in both lab and customer trials on our fibre-powered network, the fastest published Internet speed in Canada among major Internet service providers. Announced six new cellular towers, and upgrades of two existing towers, bringing critical connectivity along Highway 4 in British Columbia and helping to bridge the digital divide. Announced we will invest almost $200 million to upgrade our network in New Brunswick with 100% pure fibre, delivering the latest Internet technology and an ultimate entertainment experience. Expanded Canada's largest and most reliable 5G network to 18 new communities as part of the partnership with the Eastern Ontario Regional Network, alongside the Government of Canada and the Province of Ontario. Announced Canada's first 5G Wireless Private Network in a mining operation at Detour Lake Mine. Invest in our customer experience to deliver timely, high-quality customer service consistently to our customers Announced a five-year strategic alliance with Microsoft that will leverage Azure's public cloud capabilities to enhance customers' digital experiences, power hybrid work, and drive 5G innovation across the country. Announced a suite of Smart Cities and Smart Buildings Internet of Things solutions to deliver on the growing needs of businesses and municipalities for sustainable, secure, and operationally efficient infrastructure. Partnered with Corus Entertainment to bring STACKTV to Ignite TV™ and Ignite™ SmartStream™ customers, a first for a Canadian telecommunications provider. Expanded Rogers Pro On-the-Go™ to Kelowna and Montreal. Pro On-the-Go is now available to Rogers customers in communities in British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, and Nova Scotia. Improve execution and deliver strong financial performance across all lines of business Generated total service revenue of $3,196 million, up 6%, and adjusted EBITDA of $1,539 million, up 11%, and net income of $392 million, up 9%, reflecting improvements across our business. Attracted 66,000 net postpaid mobile phone subscribers, up from 22,000 last year, with churn of 0.71%. Generated free cash flow of $515 million, up 31%, and cash provided by operating activities of $813 million, up 20%. Financial Guidance We are adjusting our consolidated guidance ranges for full-year 2022 total service revenue, adjusted EBITDA, and free cash flow from the original ranges provided on January 27, 2022. The revised guidance ranges are presented below. The upward adjustments primarily reflect improved execution and the continued Canadian economic growth.   2021   2022 Original   2022 Revised (In millions of dollars, except percentages) Actual   Guidance Ranges 1   Guidance Ranges 1                     Total service revenue         12,533   Increase of 4% to increase of 6%   Increase of 6% to increase of 8% Adjusted EBITDA         5,887   Increase of 6% to increase of 8%   Increase of 8% to increase of 10% Capital expenditures 2         2,788           2,800 to 3,000           2,800 to 3,000 Free cash flow         1,671           1,800 to 2,000           1,900 to 2,100 1 Guidance ranges presented as percentages reflect percentage increases over full-year 2021 results.2 Includes additions to property, plant and equipment net of proceeds on disposition, but does not include expenditures for spectrum licences or additions to right-of-use assets. The above table outlines guidance ranges for selected full-year 2022 consolidated financial metrics without giving effect to the Transaction (see "Shaw Transaction"), the associated financing, or any other associated transactions or expenses. Guidance ranges will be reassessed once the Transaction has closed. Our guidance, including the various assumptions underlying it, is forward-looking and should be read in conjunction with "About Forward-Looking Information" in this earnings release, including the material assumptions underlying it, and in our 2021 Annual MD&A and the related disclosure and information about various economic, competitive, legal, and regulatory assumptions, factors, and risks that may cause our actual future financial and operating results to differ from what we currently expect. Quarterly Financial Highlights RevenueTotal revenue and total service revenue increased by 4% and 6%, respectively, this quarter, driven by revenue growth in our Wireless and Media businesses. Wireless service revenue increased by 7% this quarter, mainly as a result of higher roaming revenue associated with significantly increased travel as COVID-19-related global travel restrictions were less strict than last year, and a larger postpaid mobile phone subscriber base. Wireless equipment revenue decreased by 10%, as a result of fewer device upgrades by existing subscribers and fewer of our new subscribers purchasing devices. Cable service revenue increased by 1% this quarter, primarily as a result of service pricing changes this quarter and the increases in our Internet and Video subscriber bases, partially offset by declines in our Home Phone and Smart Home Monitoring subscriber bases. Media revenue increased by 10% this quarter, primarily as a result of higher sports-related revenue, partially offset by lower Today's Shopping Choice™ revenue. Adjusted EBITDA and marginsConsolidated adjusted EBITDA increased 11% this quarter and our adjusted EBITDA margin increased by 260 basis points primarily due to increases in Wireless and Cable adjusted EBITDA. Wireless adjusted EBITDA increased by 7%, primarily as a result of the flow-through of revenue growth. This gave rise to an adjusted EBITDA service margin of 63.0%. Cable adjusted EBITDA increased by 13%, primarily as a result of cost efficiencies, including lower content and people related costs. This gave rise to an adjusted EBITDA margin of 53.2%. Media adjusted EBITDA decreased by $7 million this quarter, primarily due to higher programming, production, and other operating costs as a result of increased activities as COVID-19 restrictions eased, and the timing of player salaries pertaining to Toronto Blue Jays™ player trades, partially offset by higher revenue as discussed above. Net income and adjusted net incomeNet income and adjusted net income increased this quarter by 9% and 17%, respectively, primarily as a result of higher adjusted EBITDA. Cash flow and available liquidityThis quarter, we generated cash flow from operating activities of $813 million, up 20%, as a result of higher adjusted EBITDA with the impact of lower income taxes paid largely offset by a higher investment in net operating assets. We also generated free cash flow of $515 million, up 31%, primarily as a result of higher adjusted EBITDA and lower cash income taxes. This quarter, we issued $13.3 billion senior notes (US$7.05 billion and $4.25 billion) with a weighted average interest rate and term to maturity of 4.21% and 13.9 years, respectively. We also issued US$750 million subordinated notes due 2082 with a coupon of 5.25% for the first five years. See "Managing our Liquidity and Financial Resources" in our Q1 2022 MD&A for more information. Our debt leverage ratio3 was 3.3 as at March 31, 2022, down from 3.4 as at December 31, 2021. As at March 31, 2022, we had $3.9 billion of available liquidity3 (December 31, 2021 - $4.2 billion), including $0.8 billion in cash and cash equivalents and a combined $3.1 billion available under our bank credit facilities. We also held $13.1 billion in restricted cash and cash equivalents that will be used to partially fund the cash consideration of the Transaction (see "Managing our Liquidity and Financial Resources" in our Q1 2022 MD&A). We also returned $252 million in dividends to shareholders this quarter and we declared a $0.50 per share dividend on April 19, 2022. ______________________________ 3 Debt leverage ratio and available liquidity are capital management measures. See "Non-GAAP and Other Financial Measures" and "Financial Condition" in our Q1 2022 MD&A for more information about these measures, available at www.sedar.com. Shaw Transaction On March 15, 2021, we announced an agreement with Shaw to acquire all of Shaw's issued and outstanding Class A Participating Shares and Class B Non-Voting Participating Shares for a price of $40.50 per share in cash, with the exception of the shares held by the Shaw Family Living Trust, the controlling shareholder of Shaw, and related persons (Shaw Family Shareholders). The Shaw Family Shareholders will receive 60% of the consideration for their shares in the form of RCI Class B Non-Voting common shares on the basis of the volume-weighted average trading price for such shares for the ten trading days ended March 12, 2021, and the balance in cash. The Transaction is valued at approximately $26 billion, including the assumption of approximately $6 billion of Shaw debt. The Transaction will be implemented through a court-approved plan of arrangement under the Business Corporations Act (Alberta). The Transaction is subject to other customary closing conditions, including receipt of applicable approvals and expiry of certain waiting periods under the Competition Act (Canada) and the Radiocommunication Act (Canada) (collectively, Key Regulatory Approvals). Subject to receipt of all required approvals and satisfaction of other conditions prior to closing, the Transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of 2022. Rogers has extended the outside date for closing the Transaction from March 15, 2022 to June 13, 2022 in accordance with the terms of the arrangement agreement. In connection with the Transaction, we entered into a binding commitment letter for a committed credit facility with a syndicate of banks in an original amount up to $19 billion. During the second quarter of 2021, we entered into a $6 billion non-revolving credit facility (Shaw term loan facility), which reduced the amount available under the committed credit facility to $13 billion. This quarter, we issued US$7.05 billion and $4.25 billion senior notes, which reduced the amount available under the committed credit facility to nil and the facility was terminated. The arrangement agreement between Rogers and Shaw requires us to maintain sufficient liquidity to ensure we are able to fund the Transaction upon closing and, as a result of the termination of the committed credit facility, we have restricted $13,131 million in funds, which are recognized as "restricted cash and cash equivalents" on our first quarter interim condensed consolidated statement of financial position. These funds have been invested in short-term, highly liquid investments such as bank term deposits and Canadian federal and provincial government bonds and are readily convertible to cash. These notes (except the $1.25 billion senior notes due 2025) also contain a "special mandatory redemption" clause, which requires them to be redeemed at 101% of face value if the Transaction cannot be consummated by December 31, 2022. See "Managing our Liquidity and Financial Resources" in our Q1 2022 MD&A for more information on the committed facility and our restricted cash and cash equivalents balance. We also expect that RCI will either assume Shaw's senior notes or provide a guarantee of Shaw's payment obligations under those senior notes upon closing the Transaction and, in either case, Rogers Communications Canada Inc. (RCCI) will guarantee Shaw's payment obligations under those senior notes. On March 24, 2022, the CRTC approved our acquisition of Shaw's broadcasting services, subject to a number of conditions and modifications that are detailed in "Regulatory Developments". The CRTC approval only relates to the broadcasting elements of the Transaction. The Transaction continues to be reviewed by the Competition Bureau and Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED Canada). About Rogers Rogers is a leading Canadian technology and media company that provides world-class communications services and entertainment to consumers and businesses on our award-winning networks. Our founder, Ted Rogers, purchased his first radio station, CHFI, in 1960. Today, we are dedicated to providing industry-leading wireless, cable, sports, and media to millions of customers across Canada. Our shares are publicly traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX:RCI) and on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE:RCI). Investment community contact Media contact     Paul Carpino Chloe Luciani-Girouard 647.435.6470 647.241.3946 paul.carpino@rci.rogers.com chloe.luciani@rci.rogers.com Quarterly Investment Community Teleconference Our first quarter 2022 results teleconference with the investment community will be held on: April 20, 2022 8:00 a.m. Eastern Time webcast available at investors.rogers.com media are welcome to participate on a listen-only basis A rebroadcast will be available at investors.rogers.com for at least two weeks following the teleconference. Additionally, investors should note that from time to time, Rogers' management presents at brokerage-sponsored investor conferences. Most often, but not always, these conferences are webcast by the hosting brokerage firm, and when they are webcast, links are made available on Rogers' website at investors.rogers.com. For More Information You can find more information relating to us on our website (investors.rogers.com), on SEDAR (sedar.com), and on EDGAR (sec.gov), or you can e-mail us at investor.relations@rci.rogers.com. Information on or connected to these and any other websites referenced in this earnings release is not part of, or incorporated into, this earnings release. You can also go to investors.rogers.com for information about our governance practices, environmental, social, and governance (ESG) reporting, a glossary of communications and media industry terms, and additional information about our business. About this Earnings Release This earnings release contains important information about our business and our performance for the three months ended March 31, 2022, as well as forward-looking information about future periods. This earnings release should be read in conjunction with our First Quarter 2022 Interim Condensed Consolidated Financial Statements (First Quarter 2022 Interim Financial Statements) and notes thereto, which have been prepared in accordance with International Accounting Standard 34, Interim Financial Reporting, as issued by the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB); our 2021 Annual MD&A; our 2021 Annual Audited Consolidated Financial Statements and notes thereto, which have been prepared in accordance with IFRS as issued by the IASB; and our other recent filings with Canadian and US securities regulatory authorities, including our Annual Information Form, which are available on SEDAR at sedar.com or EDGAR at sec.gov, respectively. Effective January 1, 2022, we have changed the way in which we report certain subscriber metrics in both our Wireless and Cable segments. Commencing this quarter, we will begin presenting postpaid mobile phone subscribers, prepaid mobile phone subscribers, and mobile phone ARPU in our Wireless segment. We will also no longer report blended average billings per unit (ABPU). In Cable, we will begin presenting retail Internet, Video (formerly Television), Smart Home Monitoring, and Home Phone subscribers. These changes are a result of shifts in the ways in which we manage our business, including the significant adoption of our wireless device financing program, and to better align with industry practices. See "Results of our Reportable Segments" and "Key Performance Indicators" for more information. We have retrospectively amended our 2021 comparative segment results to account for this redefinition. For more information about Rogers, including product and service offerings, competitive market and industry trends, our overarching strategy, key performance drivers, and objectives, see "Understanding Our Business", "Our Strategy, Key Performance Drivers, and Strategic Highlights", and "Capability to Deliver Results" in our 2021 Annual MD&A. We, us, our, Rogers, Rogers Communications, and the Company refer to Rogers Communications Inc. and its subsidiaries. RCI refers to the legal entity Rogers Communications Inc., not including its subsidiaries. Rogers also holds interests in various investments and ventures. All dollar amounts in this earnings release are in Canadian dollars unless otherwise stated and are unaudited. All percentage changes are calculated using the rounded numbers as they appear in the tables. This earnings release is current as at April 19, 2022 and was approved by RCI's Board of Directors (the Board) on that date. This earnings release includes forward-looking statements and assumptions. See "About Forward-Looking Information" for more information. We are publicly traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX:RCI) and on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE:RCI). In this earnings release, this quarter, the quarter, or first quarter refer to the three months ended March 31, 2022, unless the context indicates otherwise. All results commentary is compared to the equivalent period in 2021 or as at December 31, 2021, as applicable, unless otherwise indicated. References to COVID-19 are to the pandemic from the outbreak of this virus and to its associated impacts in the jurisdictions in which we operate and globally, as applicable. ™Rogers and related marks are trademarks of Rogers Communications Inc. or an affiliate, used under licence. All other brand names, logos, and marks are trademarks and/or copyright of their respective owners. ©2022 Rogers Communications Reportable segmentsWe report our results of operations in three reportable segments. Each segment and the nature of its business is as follows: Segment Principal activities Wireless Wireless telecommunications operations for Canadian consumers and businesses. Cable Cable telecommunications operations, including Internet, television and other video (Video), telephony (Home Phone), and smart home monitoring services for Canadian consumers and businesses, and network connectivity through our fibre network and data centre assets to support a range of voice, data, networking, hosting, and cloud-based services for the business, public sector, and carrier wholesale markets. Media A diversified portfolio of media properties, including sports media and entertainment, television and radio broadcasting, specialty channels, multi-platform shopping, and digital media. Wireless and Cable are operated by our wholly owned subsidiary, RCCI, and certain of our other wholly owned subsidiaries. Media is operated by our wholly owned subsidiary, Rogers Media Inc., and its subsidiaries. Summary of Consolidated Financial Results   Three months ended March 31     (In millions of dollars, except margins and per share amounts)   2022       2021       % Chg                               Revenue                         Wireless           2,140               2,074               3     Cable           1,036               1,020               2     Media           482               440               10     Corporate items and intercompany eliminations           (39 )             (46 )             (15 )   Revenue           3,619               3,488               4     Total service revenue 1           3,196               3,021               6             Adjusted EBITDA       Wireless           1,085               1,013               7     Cable           551               487               13     Media           (66 )             (59 )             12     Corporate items and intercompany eliminations           (31 )             (50 )             (38 )   Adjusted EBITDA           1,539               1,391               11     Adjusted EBITDA margin 2   42.5   %   39.9   %   2.6   pts         Net income           392               361               9     Basic earnings per share           $0.78               $0.71               10     Diluted earnings per share           $0.77               $0.70               10             Adjusted net income           462               394               17     Adjusted basic earnings per share 2           $0.91               $0.78               17     Adjusted diluted earnings per share           $0.91               $0.77      .....»»

Category: earningsSource: benzingaApr 20th, 2022

COVID-19 Linked To Alzheimer"s-Like Brain Changes, Study Suggests

COVID-19 Linked To Alzheimer's-Like Brain Changes, Study Suggests Authored by Jennifer Margulis via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours), For some, it’s just a sniffle. But for others, COVID-19 can hit hard. Either way, some people who get COVID-19 will suffer from long-term effects. This is known as “long COVID,” and its sufferers are often referred to as “long haulers.” Chances are you already know about long COVID and you may even have been affected by it or have friends or family who are. What is less well known, however, is that neurological issues are common in long COVID. New research may explain one way COVID-19 may contribute to neurological ailments.(Photo_imagery/Shutterstock) Broken Brains Brain inflammation, stroke, chronic headache, disturbed consciousness, cognitive impairment, and “brain fog” (an all-encompassing phrase to describe a condition that usually manifests as slow thinking, memory lapses, and difficulty concentrating) can all result after infection with the virus known as SARS-CoV-2. Even the illness’s unusual hallmarks, hyposmia, and hypogeusia—better known to us non-scientists as loss of smell and taste—are thought to be due to changes in nervous system function. But while both clinicians and patients have noticed a myriad of brain issues post infection, scientists don’t know very much about how SARS-CoV-2 infections can lead to impaired brain function. That may be changing. A study published on Feb. 3 in Alzheimer’s & Dementia sheds light on a potential physiological mechanism behind the neurological problems COVID-19 survivors experience. While the deeper insight into what is going on is good news, unfortunately, there’s bad news, too. The new study, “Alzheimer’s-Like Signaling in Brains of COVID-19 Patients,” includes some disturbing findings. Attacking ACE2 Receptors The study, led by Andrew R. Marks, a cardiologist and chair of the Department of Physiology and Cellular Biophysics at the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University in Manhattan, consisted of analysis of brain tissue collected from 10 people who died from COVID-19. Marks’s team looked posthumously at the brains of four women who ranged in age from 38 to 80, and six men, ages 57 to 84. It’s already known that the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 binds to ACE2 receptors all over the body, including in the heart, lungs, kidneys, and epithelial cells that line the blood vessels. Scientists also believe that the multi-system failure that can result in death from COVID-19 is likely due to this invasion of heart and lung cells via these ACE2 receptors. Since the receptors have been invaded by the virus, the activity of the enzyme associated with the receptors (angiotensin-converting enzyme) is reduced, as scientists explained in a 2021 article published on The Conversation. The damage to the lungs and heart is usually uppermost in doctors’ minds when patients are experiencing severe illness. But, it turns out, there are also ACE2 receptors in the brain. Unless you’re a neuroscientist, this is pretty technical. Stay with me anyway. Decreased ACE2 activity is associated with increased activity in transforming growth factor-beta (“TGF-beta”). And high levels of TGF-beta in the brain are associated with irregularities in the “tau” proteins that stabilize nerve cells, specifically due to something called “hyperphosphorylation.” Phosphorylation, a normal biological process, is the addition of phosphate to an organic molecule, in this case, the tau protein. Hyperphosphorylation is the addition of too many phosphate groups at too many sites. Hyperphosphorylation can result in proteins with excess filaments that get tangled up. And these tau filament “tangles” are associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Leaky Brains Marks and his five colleagues at Columbia University investigated whether people who died of COVID-19 exhibited evidence of tau protein irregularities that are associated with Alzheimer’s. A significant body of recent research suggests that calcium ions “leaking” from certain ion channels in the brain, known as ryanodine receptors, may cause these tau irregularities. Ion channels enable the flow of ions through cell membranes, including brain cells (neurons). In a nutshell, ions enable the flow of electrical charges throughout the body and this flow is critical to the function of all cells. It’s, in one sense, the communication system of the body and one of the primary mechanisms of brain function. Healthy brain function relies on ion channels, such as the ryanodine receptors just mentioned, operating as they should. Just as there are dangers when an electrical wire is “leaking” electricity due to a short, there are risks when these ion channels leak ions. Oxidative stress may be responsible for depleting calbindin, a protein that helps keep these channels closed, preventing them from leaking. When the levels of calbindin are low, channels that should remain closed may start to leak calcium. Too many calcium ions floating around in the brain or anywhere else in the body can cause a number of health problems. Marks’s team examined the brain tissue of the 10 people who died from COVID to see if there was evidence of leaks. More specifically, they analyzed the contents of the brain tissue for markers of TGF-beta activity. They found evidence of increased TGF-beta activity in both the cortex and the cerebellum. They also found evidence of increased oxidative stress. Cerebellum Concerns People who suffer from Alzheimer’s show evidence of tau filament “tangles” only in the cortexes of their brains, not in the cerebellum. However, this Columbia University research indicated that, unlike with Alzheimer’s, COVID may cause disturbances in the cerebellum as well. The cerebellum is involved in balance, coordination of movement, language, and posture, according to the University of Texas Health Science Center. Other recent research has shown that 74 percent of hospitalized COVID patients have had coordination problems. If COVID is compromising the cerebellum as well as the cortex, this may help explain the coordination issues clinicians have observed. Interestingly, though this was a small study, all the people who died had evidence of brain pathology. The TGF-beta marker was found in all the brains, even those of the younger patients who had exhibited no sign of dementia prior to coming down with COVID-19. Most people have heard that the presence of beta-amyloid plaques in the brain is an indication of Alzheimer’s. Even though lowered ACE2 activity is also associated with an increase in beta-amyloid plaques, the Columbia team didn’t find any changes in the pathways that lead to the formation of amyloid beta in the brains of the patients who died from COVID (with the exception of one 84-year-old male who was previously suffering from dementia). This is one notable distinction between the pathology of COVID-19 and Alzheimer’s or dementia. Treating Neurological Symptoms Marks’s interest in the ryanodine ion channels is long-standing, and his recent COVID-related research may lead to financial benefits should other researchers affirm his findings. In 2011, a research team led by Marks demonstrated that a class of drugs, Rycals, may be effective in treating heart failure and muscle disorders by stabilizing the same ryanodine ion channels this new research indicates may be affected by COVID-19 infections. One drug from this class, ARM210, has been in the clinical-trial stage but has been officially classified as an orphan drug because the illness it was intended to treat was so rare. Marks told ScienceDaily that his study indicates a potential target for therapeutic interventions for the neurological symptoms of COVID. “My greatest hope is that other laboratories will look into our findings, and if they are validated, generate interest in a clinical trial for long COVID,” he said. Both Columbia University and Marks own stock in ARMGO Pharma, Inc., the company that has been developing drugs to target ryanodine channels. They also own patents on Rycals, according to a conflict of interest statement at the bottom of this study. Another of the study’s co-authors, Steven Reiken, has been consulting for ARMGO. While conflicts of interest like these are fairly typical for published scientific research, and they don’t invalidate the research, they are an important part of the overall picture that shouldn’t be ignored. It also isn’t unusual for a drug created for one purpose to find new life treating other conditions. In some cases, these new uses prove more important than the original intended use of the drug. In their paper, the Columbia team wrote that “ex vivo treatment of COVID-19 patient brain samples with the Rycal drug ARM210 … fixed the channel leak.” While that may suggest a promising avenue for further investigation, applying a drug to brain tissue in the lab is a long way from giving it to living patients. Vaccine-Linked Neurological Damage While COVID is linked to neurological issues, the same also appears to be true with the vaccine itself. My colleague Stephanie Seneff, a senior research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and author of the book “Toxic Legacy,” is concerned that COVID-19 vaccines also have the potential to cause brain damage. “Vaccines produce the spike protein, which is the part of the virus that binds to the ACE2 receptors,” said Seneff, who wasn’t involved in the Columbia research. “I suspect this means that the vaccine could also disable the receptors and cause the same neurological damage.” In fact, Seneff said, brain damage from the vaccine may be more common than brain damage from the naturally acquired infection. Vaccine-induced spike proteins “get into the brain more easily than the virus does,” she said. “The virus only gets into the brain when a person has a compromised immune system. But the vaccine is injected into the muscle, which means it bypasses natural barriers that would normally keep the virus out of the brain.” In May 2021, Seneff and her colleague Dr. Greg Nigh, an oncologist based in Portland, Oregon, published a paper in the peer-reviewed International Journal of Vaccine Theory, Practice, and Research explaining their hypothesis that the mRNA vaccines may be worse than the disease itself. Since then, she said, she has been studying the reports of vaccine adverse events that are collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In this new research, Seneff has found that 96 percent of all of the reported adverse outcomes in the year 2021 that have been related to neurological issues are connected to COVID vaccines. These adverse neurological events include memory disorders, mobility issues, difficulty swallowing, and loss of sense of smell. “All these things that are showing up in VAERS are striking,” Seneff said. “Overwhelmingly, the events that show neurological issues are following COVID-19 vaccines. I honestly don’t know why people aren’t absolutely shocked by these numbers. Compared to the other vaccines, these vaccines seem tremendously dangerous.” *  *  * Jennifer Margulis, Ph.D., is an award-winning journalist and author of “Your Baby, Your Way: Taking Charge of Your Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Parenting Decisions for a Happier, Healthier Family.” A Fulbright awardee and mother of four, she has worked on a child survival campaign in West Africa, advocated for an end to child slavery in Pakistan on prime-time TV in Paris, and taught post-colonial literature to non-traditional students in inner-city Atlanta. Learn more about her at JenniferMargulis.net. Tyler Durden Sat, 04/16/2022 - 21:30.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytApr 16th, 2022

The Failure Of Fiat Currencies & The Implications For Gold & Silver

The Failure Of Fiat Currencies & The Implications For Gold & Silver Authored by Alasdair Macleod via GoldMoney.com, This is the background text of my Keynote Speech given yesterday to European Gold Forum yesterday, 13 April. To explain why fiat currencies are failing I started by defining money. I then described the relationship between fiat money and its purchasing power, the role of bank credit, and the interests of central banks. Undoubtedly, the recent sanctions over Russia will have a catastrophic effect for financialised currencies, possibly leading to the end of fifty-one years of the dollar regime. Russia and China plan to escape this fate for the rouble and yuan by tying their currencies to commodities and production instead of collapsing financial assets. The only way for those of us in the West to protect ourselves is with physical gold, which over time is tied to commodity and energy prices. What is money? To understand why all fiat currency systems fail, we must start by understanding what money is, and how it differs from other forms of currency and credit. These are long-standing relationships which transcend our times and have their origin in Roman law and the practice of medieval merchants who evolved a lex mercatoria, which extended money’s legal status to instruments that evolved out of money, such as bills of exchange, cheques, and other securities for money. And while as circulating media, historically currencies have been almost indistinguishable from money proper, in the last century issuers of currencies split them off from money so that they have become pure fiat. At the end of the day, what constitutes money has always been determined by its users as the means of exchanging their production for consumption in an economy based on the division of labour. Money is the bridge between the two, and while over the millennia different media of exchange have come and gone, only metallic money has survived to be trusted. These are principally gold, silver, and copper. Today the term usually refers to gold, which is still in government reserves, as the only asset with no counterparty risk. Silver, which as a monetary asset declined in importance as money after Germany moved to a gold standard following the Franco-Prussian war, remains a monetary metal, though with a gold to silver ratio currently over 70 times, it is not priced as such. For historical reasons, the world’s monetary system evolved based on English law. Britain, or more accurately England and Wales, still respects Roman, or natural law with respect to money. To this day, gold sovereign coins are legal tender. Strictly speaking, metallic gold and silver are themselves credit, representing yet-to-be-spent production. But uniquely, they are no one’s liability, unlike banknotes and bank deposits. Metallic money therefore has this exceptional status, and that fact alone means that it tends not to circulate, in accordance with Gresham’s Law, so long as lesser forms of credit are available. Money shares with its currency and credit substitutes a unique position in criminal law. If a thief steals money, he can be apprehended and charged with theft along with any accomplices. But if he passes the money on to another party who receives it in good faith and is not aware that it is stolen, the original owner has no recourse against the innocent receiver, or against anyone else who subsequently comes into possession of the money. It is quite unlike any other form of property, which despite passing into innocent hands, remains the property of the original owner. In law, cryptocurrencies and the mooted central bank digital currencies are not money, money-substitutes, or currencies. Given that a previous owner of stolen bitcoin sold on to a buyer unaware it was criminally obtained can subsequently claim it, there is no clear title without full provenance. In accordance with property law, the United States has ruled that cryptocurrencies are property, reclaimable as stolen items, differentiating cryptocurrencies from money and currency proper. And we can expect similar rulings in other jurisdictions to exclude cryptocurrencies from the legal status as money, whereas the position of CBDCs in this regard has yet to be clarified. We can therefore nail to the floor any claims that bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency can possibly have the legal status required of money. Under a proper gold standard, currency in the form of banknotes in public circulation was freely exchangeable for gold coin. So long as they were freely exchangeable, banknotes took on the exchange value of gold, allowing for the credit standing of the issuer. One of the issues Sir Isaac Newton considered as Master of the Royal Mint was to what degree of backing a currency required to retain credibility as a gold substitute. He concluded that that level should be 40%, though Ludwig von Mises, the Austrian economist who was as sound a sound money economist as it was possible to be appeared to be less prescriptive on the subject. The effect of a working gold standard is to ensure that money of the people’s choice is properly represented in the monetary system. Both currency and credit become bound to its virtues. The general level of prices will fluctuate influenced by changes in the quantity of currency and credit in circulation, but the discipline of the limits of credit and currency creation brings prices back to a norm. This discipline is disliked by governments who believe that money is the responsibility of a government acting in the interests of the people, and not of the people themselves. This was expressed in Georg Knapp’s State Theory of Money, published in 1905 and became Germany’s justification for paying for armaments by inflationary means ahead of the First World War, and continuing to use currency debasement as the principal means of government finance until the paper mark collapsed in 1923. Through an evolutionary process, modern governments first eroded then took away from the public for itself the determination of what constitutes money. The removal of all discipline of the gold standard has allowed governments to inflate the quantities of currency and credit as a means of transferring the public wealth to itself. As a broad representation of this dilution, Figure 1 shows the growth of broad dollar currency since the last vestige of a gold standard under the Bretton Woods Agreement was suspended by President Nixon in August 1971. From that date, currency and bank credit have increased from $685 billion to $21.84 trillion, that is thirty-two times. And this excludes an unknown increase in the quantity of dollars not in the US financial system, commonly referred to as Eurodollars, which perhaps account for several trillion more. Gold priced in fiat dollars has risen from $35 when Bretton Woods was suspended, to $1970 currently. A better way of expressing this debasement of the dollar is to say that priced in gold, the dollar has lost 98.3% of its purchasing power (see Figure 4 later in this article). While it is a mistake to think of the relationship between the quantity of currency and credit in circulation and the purchasing power of the dollar as linear (as monetarists claim), not only has the rate of debasement accelerated in recent years, but it has become impossible for the destruction of purchasing power to be stopped. That would require governments reneging on mandated welfare commitments and for them to stand back from economic intervention. It would require them to accept that the economy is not the government’s business, but that of those who produce goods and services for the benefit of others. The state’s economic role would have to be minimised. This is not just a capitalistic plea. It has been confirmed as true countless times through history. Capitalistic nations always do better at creating personal wealth than socialistic ones. This is why the Berlin Wall was demolished by angry crowds, finally driven to do so by the failure of communism relative to capitalism just a stone’s throw away. The relative performance of Hong Kong compared with China when Mao Zedong was starving his masses on some sort of revolutionary whim, also showed how the same ethnicity performed under socialism compared with free markets. The relationship between fiat currency and its purchasing power One can see from the increase in the quantity of US dollar M3 currency and credit and the fall in the purchasing power measured against gold that the government’s monetary statistic does not square with the market. Part of the reason is that government statistics do not capture all the credit in an economy (only bank credit issued by licenced banks is recorded), dollars created outside the system such as Eurodollars are additional, and market prices fluctuate. Monetarists make little or no allowance for these factors, claiming that the purchasing power of a currency is inversely proportional to its quantity. While there is much truth in this statement, it is only suited for a proper gold-backed currency, when one community’s relative valuations between currency and goods are brought into line with the those of its neighbours through arbitrage, neutralising any subjectivity of valuation. The classical representation of the monetary theory of prices does not apply in conditions whereby faith in an unbacked currency is paramount in deciding its utility. A population which loses faith in its government’s currency can reject it entirely despite changes in its circulating quantity. This is what wipes out all fiat currencies eventually, ensuring that if a currency is to survive it must eventually return to a credible gold exchange standard. The weakness of a fiat currency was famously demonstrated in Europe in the 1920s when the Austrian crown and German paper mark were destroyed. Following the Second World War, the Japanese military yen suffered the same fate in Hong Kong, and Germany’s mark for a second time in the mid 1940s. More recently, the Zimbabwean dollar and Venezuelan bolivar have sunk to their value as wastepaper — and they are not the only ones. Ultimately it is the public which always determines the use value of a circulating medium. Figure 2 below, of the oil price measured in goldgrams, dollars, pounds, and euros shows that between 1950 and 1974 a gold standard even in the incomplete form that existed under the Bretton Woods Agreement coincided with price stability. It took just a few years from the ending of Bretton Woods for the consequences of the loss of a gold anchor to materialise. Until then, oil suppliers, principally Saudi Arabia and other OPEC members, had faith in the dollar and other currencies. It was only when they realised the implications of being paid in pure fiat that they insisted on compensation for currency debasement. That they were free to raise oil prices was the condition upon which the Saudis and the rest of OPEC accepted payment solely in US dollars. In the post-war years between 1950 and 1970, US broad money grew by 167%, yet the dollar price of oil was unchanged for all that time. Similar price stability was shown in other commodities, clearly demonstrating that the quantity of currency and credit in circulation was not the sole determinant of the dollar’s purchasing power. The role of bank credit While the relationship between bank credit and the sum of the quantity of currency and bank reserves varies, the larger quantity by far is the quantity of bank credit. The behaviour of the banking cohort therefore has the largest impact on the overall quantity of credit in the economy. Under the British gold standard of the nineteenth century, the fluctuations in the willingness of banks to lend resulted in periodic booms and slumps, so it is worthwhile examining this phenomenon, which has become the excuse for state intervention in financial markets and ultimately the abandonment of gold standards entirely. Banks are dealers in credit, lending at a higher rate of interest than they pay to depositors. They do not deploy their own money, except in a general balance sheet sense. A bank’s own capital is the basis upon which a bank can expand its credit. The process of credit creation is widely misunderstood but is essentially simple. If a bank agrees to lend money to a borrowing customer, the loan appears as an asset on the bank’s balance sheet. Through the process of double entry bookkeeping, this loan must immediately have a balancing entry, crediting the borrower’s current account. The customer is informed that the loan is agreed, and he can draw down the funds credited to his current account from that moment. No other bank, nor any other source of funding is involved. With merely two ledger entries the bank’s balance sheet has expanded by the amount of the loan. For a banker, the ability to create bank credit in this way is, so long as the lending is prudent, an extremely profitable business. The amount of credit outstanding can be many multiples of the bank’s own capital. So, if a bank’s ratio of balance sheet assets to equity is eight times, and the gross margin between lending and deposits is 3%, then that becomes a gross return of 24% on the bank’s own equity. The restriction on a bank’s balance sheet leverage comes from two considerations. There is lending risk itself, which will vary with economic conditions, and depositor risk, which is the depositors’ collective faith in the bank’s financial condition. Depositor risk, which can lead to depositors withdrawing their credit in the bank in favour of currency or a deposit with another bank, can in turn originate from a bank offering an interest rate below that of other banks, or alternatively depositors concerned about the soundness of the bank itself. It is the combination of lending and depositor risk that determines a banker’s view on the maximum level of profits that can be safely earned by dealing in credit. An expansion in the quantity of credit in an economy stimulates economic activity because businesses are tricked into thinking that the extra money available is due to improved trading conditions. Furthermore, the apparent improvement in trading conditions encourages bankers to increase lending even further. A virtuous cycle of lending and apparent economic improvement gets under way as the banking cohort takes its average balance sheet assets to equity ratio from, say, five to eight times, to perhaps ten or twelve. Competition for credit business then persuades banks to cut their margins to attract new business customers. Customers end up borrowing for borrowing’s sake, initiating investment projects which would not normally be profitable. Even under a gold standard lending exuberance begins to drive up prices. Businesses find that their costs begin to rise, eating into their profits. Keeping a close eye on lending risk, bankers are acutely aware of deteriorating profit prospects for their borrowers and therefore of an increasing lending risk. They then try to reduce their asset to equity ratios. As a cohort whose members are driven by the same considerations, banks begin to withdraw credit from the economy, reversing the earlier stimulus and the economy enters a slump. This is a simplistic description of a regular cycle of fluctuating bank credit, which historically varied approximately every ten years or so, but could fluctuate between seven and twelve. Figure 3 illustrates how these fluctuations were reflected in the inflation rate in nineteenth century Britain following the introduction of the sovereign gold coin until just before the First World War. Besides illustrating the regularity of the consequences of a cycle of bank credit expansion and contraction marked by the inflationary consequences, Figure 3 shows there is no correlation between the rate of price inflation and wholesale borrowing costs. In other words, modern central bank monetary policies which use interest rates to control inflation are misconstrued. The effect was known and named Gibson’s paradox by Keynes. But because there was no explanation for it in Keynesian economics, it has been ignored ever since. Believing that Gibson’s paradox could be ignored is central to central bank policies aimed at taming the cycle of price inflation. The interests of central banks Notionally, central banks’ primary interest is to intervene in the economy to promote maximum employment consistent with moderate price inflation, targeted at 2% measured by the consumer price index. It is a policy aimed at stimulating the economy but not overstimulating it. We shall return to the fallacies involved in a moment. In the second half of the nineteenth century, central bank intervention started with the Bank of England assuming for itself the role of lender of last resort in the interests of ensuring economically destabilising bank crises were prevented. Intervention in the form of buying commercial bank credit stopped there, with no further interest rate manipulation or economic intervention. The last true slump in America was in 1920-21. As it had always done in the past the government ignored it in the sense that no intervention or economic stimulus were provided, and the recovery was rapid. It was following that slump that the problems started in the form of a new federal banking system led by Benjamin Strong who firmly believed in monetary stimulation. The Roaring Twenties followed on a sea of expanding credit, which led to a stock market boom — a financial bubble. But it was little more than an exaggerated cycle of bank credit expansion, which when it ended collapsed Wall Street with stock prices falling 89% measured by the Dow Jones Industrial Index. Coupled with the boom in agricultural production exaggerated by mechanisation, the depression that followed was particularly hard on the large agricultural sector, undermining agriculture prices worldwide until the Second World War. It is a fact ignored by inflationists that first President Herbert Hoover, and then Franklin Roosevelt extended the depression to the longest on record by trying to stop it. They supported prices, which meant products went unsold. And at the very beginning, by enacting the Smoot Hawley Tariff Act they collapsed not only domestic demand but all domestic production that relied on imported raw materials and semi-manufactured products. These disastrous policies were supported by a new breed of economist epitomised by Keynes, who believed that capitalism was flawed and required government intervention. But proto-Keynesian attempts to stimulate the American economy out of the depression continually failed. As late as 1940, eleven years after the Wall Street Crash, US unemployment was still as high as 15%. What the economists in the Keynesian camp ignored was the true cause of the Wall Street crash and the subsequent depression, rooted in the credit inflation which drove the Roaring Twenties. As we saw in Figure 3, it was no more than the turning of the long-established repeating cycle of bank credit, this time fuelled additionally by Benjamin Strong’s inflationary credit expansion as Chairman of the new Fed. The cause of the depression was not private enterprise, but government intervention. It is still misread by the establishment to this day, with universities pushing Keynesianism to the exclusion of classic economics and common sense. Additionally, the statistics which have become a religion for policymakers and everyone else are corrupted by state interests. Soon after wages and pensions were indexed in 1980, government statisticians at the Bureau of Labor Statistics began working on how to reduce the impact on consumer prices. An independent estimate of US consumer inflation put it at well over 15% recently, when the official rate was 8%. Particularly egregious is the state’s insistence that a target of 2% inflation for consumer prices stimulates demand, when the transfer of wealth suffered by savers, the low paid and pensioners deprived of their inflation compensation at the hands of the BLS is glossed over. So is the benefit to the government, the banks, and their favoured borrowers from this wealth transfer. The problem we now face in this fiat money environment is not only that monetary policy has become corrupted by the state’s self-interest, but that no one in charge of it appears to understand money and credit. Technically, they may be very well qualified. But it is now over fifty years since money was suspended from the monetary system. Not only have policymakers ignored indicators such as Gibson’s paradox. Not only do they believe their own statistics. And not only do they think that debasing the currency is a good thing, but we find that monetary policy committees would have us believe that money has nothing to do with rising prices. All this is facilitated by presenting inflation as rising prices, when in fact it is declining purchasing power. Figure 4 shows how purchasing power of currencies should be read. Only now, it seems, we are aware that inflation of prices is not transient. Referring to Figure 1, the M3 broad money supply measure has almost tripled since Lehman failed, so there’s plenty of fuel driving a lower purchasing power for the dollar yet. And as discussed above, it is not just quantities of currency and credit we should be watching, but changes in consumer behaviour and whether consumers tend to dispose of currency liquidity in favour of goods. The indications are that this is likely to happen, accelerated by sanctions against Russia, and the threat that they will bring in a new currency era, undermining the dollar’s global status. Alerted to higher prices in the coming months, there is no doubt that there is an increased level of consumer stockpiling, which put another way is the disposal of personal liquidity before it buys less. So far, the phases of currency evolution have been marked by the end of the Bretton Woods Agreement in 1971. The start of the petrodollar era in 1973 led to a second phase, the financialisation of the global economy. And finally, from now the return to a commodity standard brought about by sanctions against Russia is driving prices in the Western alliance’s currencies higher, which means their purchasing power is falling anew. The faux pas over Russia With respect to the evolution of money and credit, this brings us up to date with current events. Before Russia invaded Ukraine and the Western alliance imposed sanctions on Russia, we were already seeing prices soaring, fuelled by the expansion of currency and credit in recent years. Monetary planners blamed supply chain problems and covid dislocations, both of which they believed would right themselves over time. But the extent of these price rises had already exceeded their expectations, and the sanctions against Russia have made the situation even worse. While America might feel some comfort that the security of its energy supplies is unaffected, that is not the case for Europe. In recent years Europe has been closing its fossil fuel production and Germany’s zeal to go green has even extended to decommissioning nuclear plants. It seems that going fossil-free is only within national borders, increasing reliance on imported oil, gas, and coal. In Europe’s case, the largest source of these imports by far is Russia. Russia has responded by the Russian central bank announcing that it is prepared to buy gold from domestic credit institutions, first at a fixed price or 5,000 roubles per gramme, and then when the rouble unexpectedly strengthened at a price to be agreed on a case-by-case basis. The signal is clear: the Russian central bank understands that gold plays an important role in price stability. At the same time, the Kremlin announced that it would only sell oil and gas to unfriendly nations (i.e. those imposing sanctions) in return for payments in roubles. The latter announcement was targeted primarily at EU nations and amounts to an offer at reasonable prices in roubles, or for them to bid up for supplies in euros or dollars from elsewhere. While the price of oil shot up and has since retreated by a third, natural gas prices are still close to their all-time highs. Despite the northern hemisphere emerging from spring the cost of energy seems set to continue to rise. The effect on the Eurozone economies is little short of catastrophic. While the rouble has now recovered all the fall following the sanctions announcement, the euro is becoming a disaster. The ECB still has a negative deposit rate and enormous losses on its extensive bond portfolio from rapidly rising yields. The national central banks, which are its shareholders also have losses which in nearly all cases wipes out their equity (balance sheet equity being defined as the difference between a bank’s assets and its liabilities — a difference which should always be positive). Furthermore, these central banks as the NCB’s shareholders make a recapitalisation of the whole euro system a complex event, likely to question faith in the euro system. As if that was not enough, the large commercial banks are extremely highly leveraged, averaging over 20 times with Credit Agricole about 30 times. The whole system is riddled with bad and doubtful debts, many of which are concealed within the TARGET2 cross-border settlement system. We cannot believe any banking statistics. Unlike the US, Eurozone banks have used the repo markets as a source of zero cost liquidity, driving the market size to over €10 trillion. The sheer size of this market, plus the reliance on bond investment for a significant proportion of commercial bank assets means that an increase in interest rates into positive territory risks destabilising the whole system. The ECB is sitting on interest rates to stop them rising and stands ready to buy yet more members’ government bonds to stop yields rising even more. But even Germany, which is the most conservative of the member states, faces enormous price pressures, with producer prices of industrial products officially increasing by 25.9% in the year to March, 68% for energy, and 21% for intermediate goods. There can be no doubt that markets will apply increasing pressure for substantial rises in Eurozone bond yields, made significantly worse by US sanctions policies against Russia. As an importer of commodities and raw materials Japan is similarly afflicted. Both currencies are illustrated in Figure 5. The yen appears to be in the most immediate danger with its collapse accelerating in recent weeks, but as both the Bank of Japan and the ECB continue to resist rising bond yields, their currencies will suffer even more. The Bank of Japan has been indulging in quantitative easing since 2000 and has accumulated substantial quantities of government and corporate bonds and even equities in ETFs. Already, the BOJ is in negative equity due to falling bond prices. To prevent its balance sheet from deteriorating even further, it has drawn a line in the sand: the yield on the 10-year JGB will not be permitted to rise above 0.25%. With commodity and energy prices soaring, it appears to be only a matter of time before the BOJ is forced to give way, triggering a banking crisis in its highly leveraged commercial banking sector which like the Eurozone has asset to equity ratios exceeding 20 times. It would appear therefore that the emerging order of events with respect to currency crises is the yen collapses followed in short order by the euro. The shock to the US banking system must be obvious. That the US banks are considerably less geared than their Japanese and euro system counterparts will not save them from global systemic risk contamination. Furthermore, with its large holdings of US Treasuries and agency debt, current plans to run them off simply exposes the Fed to losses, which will almost certainly require its recapitalisation. The yield on the US 10-year Treasury Bond is soaring and given the consequences of sanctions on global commodity prices, it has much further to go. The end of the financial regime for currencies From London’s big bang in the mid-eighties, the major currencies, particularly the US dollar and sterling became increasingly financialised. It occurred at a time when production of consumer goods migrated to Asia, particularly China. The entire focus of bank lending and loan collateral moved towards financial assets and away from production. And as interest rates declined, in general terms these assets improved in value, offering greater security to lenders, and reinforcing the trend. This is now changing, with interest rates set to rise significantly, bursting a financial bubble which has been inflating for decades. While bond yields have started to rise, there is further for them to go, undermining not just the collateral position, but government finances as well. And further rises in bond yields will turn equity markets into bear markets, potentially rivalling the 1929-1932 performance of the Dow Jones Industrial Index. That being the case, the collapse already underway in the yen and the euro will begin to undermine the dollar, not on the foreign exchanges, but in terms of its purchasing power. We can be reasonably certain that the Fed’s mandate will give preference to supporting asset prices over stabilising the currency, until it is too late. China and Russia appear to be deliberately isolating themselves from this fate for their own currencies by increasing the importance of commodities. It was noticeable how China began to aggressively accumulate commodities, including grain stocks, almost immediately after the Fed cut its funds rate to zero and instituted QE at $120 billion per month in March 2020. This sent a signal that the Chinese leadership were and still are fully aware of the inflationary implications of US monetary policy. Today China has stockpiled well over half the world’s maize, rice, wheat and soybean stocks, securing basics foodstuffs for 20% of the world’s population. As a subsequent development, the war in Ukraine has ensured that global grain supplies this year will be short, and sanctions against Russia have effectively cut off her exports from the unfriendly nations. Together with fertiliser shortages for the same reasons, not only will the world’s crop yields fall below last year’s, but grain prices are sure to be bid up against the poorer nations. Russia has effectively tied the rouble to energy prices by insisting roubles are used for payment, principally by the EU. Russia’s other two large markets are China and India, from which she is accepting yuan and rupees respectively. Putting sales to India to one side, Russia is not only commoditising the rouble, but her largest trading partner not just for energy but for all her other commodity exports is China. And China is following similar monetary policies. There are good reasons for it. The Western alliance is undermining their own currencies, of that there can be no question. Financial asset values will collapse as interest rates rise. Contrastingly, not only is Russia’s trade surplus increasing, but the central bank has begun to ease interest rates and exchange controls and will continue to liberate her economy against a background of a strong currency. The era of the commodity backed currency is arriving to replace the financialised. And lastly, we should refer to Figure 2, of the price of oil in goldgrams. The link to commodity prices is gold. It is time to abandon financial assets for their supposed investment returns and take a stake in the new commoditised currencies. Gold is the link. Business of all sorts, not just mining enterprises which accumulate cash surpluses, would be well advised to question whether they should retain deposits in the banks, or alternatively, gain the protection of possessing some gold bullion vaulted independently from the banking system. Tyler Durden Fri, 04/15/2022 - 15:00.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytApr 15th, 2022

Planet Earth’s Future Now Rests in the Hands of Big Business

On a brisk Monday in Houston in early March, dozens of protesters gathered across the street from the giant Hilton hotel hosting CERAWeek, the energy industry’s hallmark annual conference. Their signs accused the corporate executives inside of betraying humanity in pursuit of financial return. STOP EXTRACTING OUR FUTURE, read one. PEOPLE OVER PROFIT, read another.… On a brisk Monday in Houston in early March, dozens of protesters gathered across the street from the giant Hilton hotel hosting CERAWeek, the energy industry’s hallmark annual conference. Their signs accused the corporate executives inside of betraying humanity in pursuit of financial return. STOP EXTRACTING OUR FUTURE, read one. PEOPLE OVER PROFIT, read another. Two days later, inside a standing-room-only hotel ballroom, Jennifer Granholm, the U.S. secretary of energy, offered a different message to the executives: the Biden Administration needs your help to tackle climate change. The scene encapsulated this moment in the fight to address global warming: some of the most ardent activists say that companies can’t be trusted; governments are saying they must play a role. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] They already are. The U.S. Department of Energy has partnered with private companies to bolster the clean energy supply chain, expand electric-vehicle charging, and commercialize new green technologies, among a range of other initiatives. In total, the agency is gearing up to spend tens of billions of dollars on public-private partnerships to speed up the energy transition. “I’m here to extend a hand of partnership,” Granholm told the crowd. “We want you to power this country for the next 100 years with zero-carbon technologies.” Across the Biden Administration, and around the world, government officials have increasingly focused their attention on the private sector—treating companies not just as entities to regulate but also as core partners. We “need to accelerate our transition” off fossil fuels, says Brian Deese, director of President Biden’s National Economic Council. “And that is a process that will only happen if the American private sector, including the incumbent energy producers in the United States, utilities and otherwise, are an inextricable part of that process—that’s defined our approach from the get go.” Photo illustration by C.J. Burton for TIME For some, the emergence of the private sector as a key collaborator in efforts to tackle climate change is an indication of the power of capitalism to tackle societal challenges; for others it’s a sign of capitalism’s corruption of public institutions. In the three decades since the climate crisis became part of the global agenda, scientists, activists, and politicians have largely assumed that government would need to dictate the terms of the transition. But around the world, legislative attempts to tackle climate change have repeatedly failed. Meanwhile, investors and corporate executives have become more aware of the threat climate change poses to their business and open to working to address its causes. Those developments have laid the foundation for a new approach to climate action: government and nonprofits partnering with the private sector to do more—a new structure that carries both enormous opportunity and enormous risk. Read More: This Mining Executive Is Fighting Her Own Industry to Protect the Environment Just 100 global companies were responsible for 71% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions over the past three decades, according to data from CDP, a nonprofit that tracks climate disclosure, and pushing the private sector to step up is already showing dividends. Last fall, more than 1,000 companies collectively worth some $23 trillion set emissions-reduction goals that line up with the Paris Agreement. “We are in the early stages of a sustainability revolution that has the magnitude and scale of the Industrial Revolution,” says Al Gore, the former U.S. Vice President who won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work on climate change. “In every sector of the economy, companies are competing vigorously to eliminate unnecessary waste to become radically more energy efficient, and focus on the sharp reduction of their emissions.” Despite that momentum, risks abound. Companies have an incentive to make big commitments, but they need a credible system to set the rules of the road and ensure that those pledges can be scrutinized. Even then, corporate progress is unlikely to add up to enough without clear policy that incentivizes good behavior and/or punishes bad behavior. “To catalyze business, we need governments to lead and set strong policies,” says Lisa Jackson, vice president of environment, policy and social initiatives at Apple and a former head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. “That’s just what the science says.” Nor are companies built to address the array of social challenges—millions displaced, millions more with livelihoods destroyed, the escalating health ailments—that will arise from climate change and the transition needed to address it. “The private sector has been surprisingly aggressive on climate in the last 12 months,” says Michael Greenstone, former chief economist in Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers. “But that is a very misshapen approach: there’s no real substitute for a coherent climate policy.” It’s increasingly hard to imagine how we find such a policy in time. In February, the IPCC, the U.N.’s climate science body, warned of a “rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a livable and sustainable future.” Emissions need to peak by 2025 in order to have a decent chance of limiting warming to 1.5°C. In a landmark report outlining the possible levers to cut global emissions, the IPCC found that private sector initiatives, if followed through, could make a “significant” contribution to that goal. The group assessed the impact of 10 private sector initiatives, and found they could result in a total of 26 gigatonnes in reduced or avoided emissions by 2030—equivalent to more than five years of U.S. carbon pollution. How this partnership between government and industry plays out will shape not just the trajectory of emissions over the coming years and decades but also the future of democratic governance and how society will manage the now inevitable social disruption that will result from climate change. To understand how we got here, it’s helpful to look back to a remarkable coincidence of history. Climate change entered public consciousness at the same time that, in the U.S., the zeitgeist turned against government’s playing a robust role in society. In 1988, when then NASA scientist James Hansen offered his now famous warning that the planet was already warming as a result of human activity, and TIME soon after named the “Endangered Earth” as “Planet of the Year,” American voters had spent eight years hearing President Ronald Reagan tell them that government lay at the root of society’s problems. So it’s perhaps no wonder that in the decades that followed, government attempts to tackle a new problem, unprecedented in scope and scale, encountered roadblocks. That effort began in earnest in 1992 as heads of government from around the world gathered in Rio de Janeiro to inaugurate a new U.N. framework to address climate change. Every year since, with the pandemic-related exception of 2020, countries have met to hash out solutions to the problem. But, in the first two decades of talks, a comprehensive solution failed to break through. In the U.S., the lagging climate policy can in large part be attributed to the then pervasive free-market ideology, which dictated that businesses exist to make a profit. From the 1990s, and into the new century, fossil-fuel companies as well as heavy industry spent millions denying the existence of the problem and funding organizations that opposed climate rules. Other firms remained on the sidelines of an issue that seemed unrelated to their core business. The results in the political arena were clear. President Bill Clinton tried to pass an energy tax in Congress, but a concerted lobbying effort from manufacturers and the energy industry doomed the plan. George W. Bush publicly questioned the science of climate change and appointed executives from the oil and gas industry into senior positions in his Administration. Barack Obama pursued comprehensive climate legislation that would have capped companies’ emissions in 2009; the legislation failed to make it to the floor of the Senate after a prominent group of businesses condemned it. Christophe Archambault—Pool/ReutersThe launch of a key climate coalition for businesses in 2017 with Bill Gates, Michael Bloomberg, and others But around that time, many business leaders began to feel pressure to do something on climate for the first time. Prioritizing environmental, social, and corporate governance concerns in investing, or ESG for short, had risen from a niche idea in the early 1990s to a mainstream approach to investment two decades later. At that point, a growing flow of reports from financial institutions warned of the economic consequences of inaction. And key voices in the business community—from Michael Bloomberg to Bill Gates—took the message on the road, telling CEOs to take climate change seriously. From 2012 to 2014, the value of investment in the U.S. earmarked for sustainable funds that took into account ESG issues close to doubled, to nearly $7 trillion, according to data from the U.S. SIF Foundation, a nonprofit that advocates for sustainable investment strategies. To foster this momentum, government leaders sought to bring business into the policymaking conversation. Their goal was to create what is often referred to as a virtuous cycle: if they could get commitments from the private sector on climate issues, they argued, it would, theoretically, push government to do more, which in turn would push companies to double down. In 2015, that approach was put into practice as a group of business leaders showed up in Paris to talk with government officials. The result: CEOs declared their commitment to reducing emissions, and the final text of the Paris Agreement created a formalized framework for involving private companies in the official U.N. process. Just a year later, the U.S. elected Donald Trump as President and began to unravel the country’s environmental rules. Five months into office, he announced that he would take the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement. Within hours, 20 Fortune 500 companies declared that they were “still in” the global climate deal and would cut their emissions in hopes of keeping the U.S. on track. By the time Trump left office, more than 2,300 American companies had joined the coalition. For many pushing climate action, working with the private sector became the best path forward. “More and more power is distributed in societies,” Antonio Guterres, the U.N. Secretary-General, told me in 2019, explaining his extensive outreach to the business community on climate. “If you want to achieve results, you need to mobilize those that have an influence in the way decisions are made.” The most important private-sector push came from the institutional investors at the center of the global economy, who control trillions of dollars in assets and are invested in every sector and essentially every publicly traded firm. When you own a little bit of everything, the scenarios portending climate-driven economic decline are terrifying. “We’re too big to just take all of our hundreds of billions, and try to find a nice safe place for that money,” Anne Simpson, then-director of board governance and sustainability at CalPERS, California’s $500 billion state pension fund, told me in 2019. “We’re exposed to these systemic risks, so we have to fix things.” With the U.S. government on the sidelines, these investors joined together to send a signal. When French President Emmanuel Macron hosted a climate summit in Paris in December 2017, he brought together a group of investors controlling $68 trillion in assets to launch Climate Action 100+. In the beginning, this consortium used their status as high-profile investors to push emissions reductions in 100 publicly traded companies through one-on-one engagements with high-level executives. “All of this made for a reorganization of the politics of climate,” says Laurence Tubiana, a key framer of the Paris Agreement who now heads the European Climate Foundation. “It has now crystallized into something new: a strong coalition between business, financial institutions, investors, and governments.” All these threads came to a head last year in Glasgow at the U.N. climate conference. Walking around the Scottish Events Center last November, it would have been easy to forget that the conference was ostensibly for government officials. An attendee could easily spot, among the 40,000 attendees, high-profile business leaders mingling in the hallway. And by many accounts, the most significant news involved the private sector. Six major automakers joined with national governments to declare that they would produce 100% zero-emissions passenger vehicles no later than 2035. A group of financial institutions representing $130 trillion in assets committed to aligning its investments and operations with the Paris Agreement. What sort of emissions reduction does this all add up to? The truth is no one really knows. An analysis of more than 300 member companies of the Science Based Targets initiative, a leading voluntary program for corporations to set emissions reduction targets in line with the Paris Agreement, found that, on average, each company succeeded in reducing their direct emissions annually by more than 6% between 2015 and 2019. But the global framework for emissions reduction centers on country-level commitments, and in its most recent report, the IPCC noted the ability to track corporate progress separate from national-level commitments remains “limited.” The multilateral system for addressing climate change inaugurated in Rio, created by government for government, has evolved into something else. And, in the assessment of many activists, the result has left out concerns about justice in the transition. In Glasgow, activists and civil-society groups complained about being excluded from negotiating rooms while business leaders were ushered onstage. “It now looks more like a trade summit, rather than a climate convention,” says Asad Rehman, who organized for the COP26 Coalition, a climate-justice group. These activists worry about what the resulting government decisions look like when they’re made hand in hand with businesses. “The very people who created this crisis are now positioning themselves as the people who will solve it,” says Rehman. “The decisions being made seem very much to be locking us into a particular approach to solve the crisis—and, of course, that approach is not necessarily in the best interest of the people.” Last December, just a few weeks after returning to the U.S. from Glasgow, I caught a flight from Chicago to Washington, D.C., on what United Airlines billed as the first flight operated with an engine running on only a lower-carbon alternative to jet fuel. As we approached Reagan Airport, Scott Kirby, the airline’s CEO, told me about the coalition—including companies like Deloitte, HP, and Microsoft—he has formed to help bring the fuel to market. “This is not just about United Airlines; this is about building a new industry,” Kirby told me. “To do that, we’ve got to have a lot of airlines participate, we’ve got to have partners participate… and we’ve got to have government participate.” Kirby had chosen Washington as the destination for this flight for a reason: to truly deploy the technology would require some help from the U.S. government. The Biden Administration has been eager to serve as a partner, proposing a tax credit for sustainable aviation fuel and using the bully pulpit to tout United’s work—and aviation is just the tip of the iceberg. The administration has sought to partner on climate with companies across the country and across industries. It almost goes without saying that Biden has been the most aggressive U.S. president yet on the climate issue. His administration has introduced or tightened more than 100 environmental regulations; worked with activists to address the inequalities worsened by climate change; and put climate at the center of “Build Back Better,” its signature $2 trillion spending package that failed to pass Congress last year. He has worked with activists to address the inequalities worsened by climate change. But engagement with the private sector offers a different avenue to push for emissions reduction, and, administration officials say, it has been a key part of his climate strategy. “That’s him availing every tool he’s got,” says Ali Zaidi, Biden’s Deputy National Climate Advisor, of Biden’s private sector engagement. “One of those superpowers that he has is the ability to meet people where they are and bring them along.” Jeff J Mitchell—Getty ImagesGreenpeace activists protest corporate involvement at the COP26 U.N. climate talks, in November 2021 That approach is also based in a sense of realism: the technologies we need to cut emissions over the next decade exist today and any reasonable consideration of how the world can cut carbon emissions means deploying those technologies as quickly as possible—largely by getting companies to adopt them. We need “to take the technology that DOE has spent so many years working on and actually get it in the hands of consumers,” says Jigar Shah, who runs the department’s Loan Program Office. I met Shah, who previously ran a clean energy investment fund, in a small conference room in Houston where he had been taking meetings with a range of companies to convince them to do business with his agency—and more broadly the federal government. Shah has $40 billion at his disposal to invest in promising companies and projects. The idea, he says, is if business and government work together, they can move quickly to build a low-carbon economy by restoring the country’s ability to do big things. “We actually haven’t done these big things for 30 years,” he says. “America truly has sort of lost this general understanding of, like, how does an airport add a runway? How does a road get widened? Who makes the decision on upgrading our wastewater treatment plant?” The business-oriented approach to climate change permeates the Biden Administration. Last September, I watched in the back of the room in Geneva as John Kerry, Biden’s Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, pitched the Administration’s approach to CEOs of some of the world’s biggest companies, presenting more than 30 slides detailing a new government program to catalyze production of clean technologies, in sectors ranging from air travel to steel manufacturing. Instead of government mandates, Kerry proposed that companies themselves take the lead by making deals to purchase clean technology. “Because we’re behind, we have got to find ways to step up,” he told the gathered CEOs. Read More: Biden Wants an American Solar Industry. But It Could Come at an Emissions Cost Kerry’s approach echoes the realism of the Biden Administration’s. The truth is that in 2022 Big Business has the power to influence—and halt—much of what the government does. “I’m convinced, unless the private sector buys into this, there won’t be a sufficient public-sector path created, because the private sector has the power to prevent that,” Kerry told me in September. “The private sector has enormous power. And our tax code reflects that in this country. And what we need is our environmental policy to reflect the reality.” It makes sense then that from the outset the Biden Administration’s climate-spending plan has focused primarily on carrots rather than sticks. That is, it included a laundry list of rewards for companies doing positive things—namely tax credits for clean energy and subsidies for technologies like electric vehicles. Meanwhile, the two key policies that would have penalized businesses for their emissions—a fee for methane emissions and a tax when power companies failed to meet emissions-reductions targets—were abandoned after industry pushback. Despite those concessions, the most influential trade groups that lobby in Washington on behalf of big businesses still refused to back the overall legislation—because it required an increase in corporate taxes. It’s a reality that climate advocates readily decry as hypocrisy, and an indicator that business isn’t serious about climate change. In the coming weeks, as negotiations for a revamped climate-spending bill accelerate, businesses will have another chance to show they are serious about climate policy. It brings to mind a key moment in a panel I moderated in April last year with Granholm, and a handful of top corporate executives’ work to reduce their companies’ emissions. “You are visionaries and you are leading, and there’s so many thousands of other businesses that can learn from your example, and there are a lot of members of Congress that could learn from your words. And it’s not to get political, but sometimes folks just need to hear,” she told them. “To the extent you can, we’d be really grateful because we feel like our hair is on fire.” They can still help, but the clock is ticking. Even before Joe Biden took office, the American auto industry had begun to adopt the President-elect’s ambition of a rapid transition to electric vehicles. Within weeks of the election, GM dropped a lawsuit that sought to block more stringent fuel-economy standards. Two months later, it said it would go all electric by 2035. Meanwhile, Biden committed to a federal-government purchase of hundreds of thousands of electric vehicles. Since then, the U.S. auto industry has become an electric-vehicle arms race, with companies left and right announcing new capital expenditures to advance the national electric-vehicle fleet. GM says it will spend $35 billion in the effort over the next few years. Ford says it’s spending $50 billion. “The biggest thing that’s happening here is there’s a realization, on the part of both labor and business now, that this is the future,” Joe Biden said as he stood with auto industry executives, union leaders and administration officials on the White House lawn last August. Last year, I traveled to Ohio and Tennessee to see firsthand how the pressing questions about this transformation were playing out on the ground in the cities and towns that have relied on the auto industry for decades. In conversations with workers and local officials, I could sense excitement, but also consternation. Building an electric vehicle requires less labor than does its old-fashioned counterpart, and there’s no guarantee that new jobs created will be covered with a union. “There’s just going to be a lot less people building cars,” Dave Green, a GM assembly worker who previously led a local UAW branch in Ohio, told me at the time. The green transition will also displace oil, gas, and coal workers. Entire cities in flood and fire zones will be dislocated. Diseases will spread more quickly. How will society manage such problems, accounting for a diverse array of interests, without a comprehensive, government-led approach to the transition? Not well, if past transitions are any indicator. Inequality soared during the Industrial Revolution, and the U.S. is still dealing with the economic fallout of globalization in the 2000s, when many blue collar jobs were outsourced. To make up for the slow pace of government policy to guarantee an equitable transition, many activists have set their sights on influencing corporations directly. In 2019, for example, hundreds of Amazon employees walked out of work, insisting that the company do more to address climate change. Across a range of industries, corporate leaders now say that climate change is a top concern for recruits. Consumers, too, have begun to push companies to change, largely through the power of their dollars, by refusing to buy from companies with poor labor and environmental practices. “It’s not perfect,” says Michael Vandenbergh, a law professor at Vanderbilt University Law School who served as chief of staff at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under Clinton. But “it will buy us time until the public demands that government actually overcome some of the democracy deficits that we face.” As challenging as it may be in these polarizing times, overcoming that democracy deficit is necessary, not just to accelerate the transition away from fossil fuels but also to protect those most vulnerable to the effects of climate change and to the necessary changes ahead. It’s for that reason that the upswing in climate-activist movements—from the youth’s marching for a Green New Deal to the union members’ joining with climate activists to push for a just transition—matters beyond any policy platform. Climate change will reshape the lives of people everywhere. A truly just transition will require people to engage in the fight to fix it. —With reporting by Nik Popli and Julia Zorthian......»»

Category: topSource: timeApr 14th, 2022

Naming Names

Naming Names Authored by James Howard Kunstler via DailyReckoning.com, One reason American movies are so bad these days is they have forgotten how to tell a story. Stuff just happens to characters. Cause, effect and consequence no longer exist in the workshops of Hollywood. And one might sense that these imperatives are likewise missing from what used to be known as real life in the USA, with all its stories and narratives. Stuff just happens to the people in this country now. And then sometimes, stuff un-happens. With the Russian operation in Ukraine alarming the populace, you might have forgotten the late COVID-19 epidemic that provoked so much public hysteria and government policy overreach. Stuff happened during those two-plus years of COVID-19, and even with Ukraine blaring from the cable news channels, COVID-19 stuff is still happening. Vaccine mandates are still in force, in New York City, for instance — except for performers and ballplayers, who are exempted now, as announced this week by Mayor Eric Adams. If you detect any specious reasoning behind that diktat, at least you know who made it happen. “Safe and Effective” But so many other things just happened with COVID-19, rather serious things, and no one has had to answer for them, certainly not Dr. Anthony Fauci, who just days ago talked up another booster shot of his obviously defective mRNA “vaccines.” Dr. Fauci proposed that despite a raft of emerging statistics from the life insurance realm that indicate a shockingly high number of mysterious all-causes deaths for people in the prime of life. Several conditions appear to be killing them: 1) Blood clotting in the capillaries of various organs, apparently caused by the “vaccine’s” main active ingredient, spike proteins. 2) Heart inflammation (pericarditis and myocarditis). 3) A mystifying array of neurological afflictions. 4) Switched-off immune system toggles, including the cellular mechanism for preventing the growth of cancers. This developing picture of a public health catastrophe, growing more robustly detailed by the week, has somehow not alarmed the general public, not least because the entire public health officialdom does not want them to know about it. Names In fact, as averred to above, they are all still busy promoting the “vaccines” that are responsible. Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, is rather well-known — though her duties appear limited to the public impersonation of a “concerned mom” — but whoever heard of Rebecca Bunnell, Ph.D., director of the CDC’s Office of Science? Does science play any part in the emerging disaster of sharply rising all-causes deaths? It would be good to know, don’t you think? Anyone heard from Daniel Jernigan, MD, deputy CDC director for public health science and surveillance (DDPHSS)? You’d think he would be out there surveilling things. How about Brian C. Moyer, Ph.D., director of the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics. He would be in charge, presumably, of the VAERS system, which tabulates adverse vaccine events. That system evidently under-reports adverse events by a shocking amount — some say only 1% are ever recorded. Why is that? Because it is a website that is so notoriously ill designed and hard to use that the CDC pledged to fix it more than 10 years ago and never got around to it. Why is that, Dr. Moyer? Has anyone asked him? I don’t think so. More Names There is the appalling and still on-going campaign to suppress COVID early-treatment off-label drugs such as ivermectin, hydroxychloroquine, fluvoxamine, etc., though the protocols have been proven highly effective in clinical practice as well as scores of internationally peer-reviewed studies. Hundreds of thousands of Americans died because these drugs were maliciously outlawed. In many states, doctors can be punished with loss of medical licenses for using these safe and effective drugs, or even talking them up. Who exactly in public health was responsible for this suppression? Who gave the orders for it?  Or did it just happen? Was it Francis Collins, recently retired director of the National Institutes for Health (NIH)? He must have at least approved the policy. Stephen M. Hahn, MD, who was commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration from December 2019 to January 2021, the heart of the COVID event timeline? Janet Woodcock, who was acting commissioner from January 2021 to February 2022 — and was previously the longtime chief of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research? Or the current chief of that outfit, one Patrizia Cavazzoni, MD? Or Jacqueline A. O’Shaughnessy, Ph.D., the FDA’s acting chief scientist? Was outlawing early treatment in their purviews? Did they even know about it? How could they not? Even More Names Consider another killer on the scene: the drug remdesivir, a Dr. Fauci production, originally for hepatitis C, manufactured by Gilead Sciences. U.S. public health has anointed remdesivir the standard of practice for patients severely ill with Stage 2 inflammatory COVID in the ICUs all over America. It is well-known that remdesivir destroys kidney function in as little as five days. This supposed antiviral agent is being used after the high-viral-load Stage 1 phase of COVID is over. How many ICU patients have been killed by remdesivir? Why not ask Judith A McMeekin, Pharm.D, the FDA’s associate commissioner for regulatory affairs? Or Sam Posner, acting director for the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases? Or Rima F. Khabbaz, MD, director of the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases? Or Debra Houry, MD, acting principal deputy director of the CDC and, since 2014, director of the Center for Injury Prevention and Control? Or the CDC’s chief medical officer, Mitchell Wolfe, MD? Or Nathaniel Smith, MD, CDC’s deputy director of public health service and implementation?  Or maybe Jay C. Butler, deputy CDC director for infectious dseases? You see, there are real people in high places with exalted credentials who must in some way be responsible for the epic blunders committed during the COVID-19 saga. Or else they allowed these actions to happen on purpose. Will any actual persons answer for any of this? I’m Not Done Yet Oh, by the way, perhaps you noticed the ruckus over University of Pennsylvania transgender swimmer Lia Thomas (born William Thomas) recently winning the Women’s 500-yard freestyle race in the NCAA nationals. How did it happen that the 6’4” Thomas, oddly still in possession of normal male genitalia, got permission to compete against, shall we say, natural-born women? You can ask Mark Emmert, the NCAA president, or Wendell E. Pritchett, president of the University of Pennsylvania, or Alanna W. Shanahan, Penn director of athletics, or Lauren C. Procopio, assistant director for men’s/women’s Swimming. You see, there are real people behind all these disorders of our national life. Many more besides just the notorious Dr. Fauci… and many more work under all these directors of this and that. What have they done? Or did stuff just happen? Tyler Durden Mon, 04/11/2022 - 21:00.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytApr 11th, 2022

The Anatomy Of Big Pharma"s Political Reach

The Anatomy Of Big Pharma's Political Reach Authored by Rebecca Strong via Medium.com, They keep telling us to “trust the science.” But who paid for it? After graduating from Columbia University with a chemical engineering degree, my grandfather went on to work for Pfizer for almost two decades, culminating his career as the company’s Global Director of New Products. I was rather proud of this fact growing up — it felt as if this father figure, who raised me for several years during my childhood, had somehow played a role in saving lives. But in recent years, my perspective on Pfizer — and other companies in its class — has shifted. Blame it on the insidious big pharma corruption laid bare by whistleblowers in recent years. Blame it on the endless string of big pharma lawsuits revealing fraud, deception, and cover-ups. Blame it on the fact that I witnessed some of their most profitable drugs ruin the lives of those I love most. All I know is, that pride I once felt has been overshadowed by a sticky skepticism I just can’t seem to shake. In 1973, my grandpa and his colleagues celebrated as Pfizer crossed a milestone: the one-billion-dollar sales mark. These days, Pfizer rakes in $81 billion a year, making it the 28th most valuable company in the world. Johnson & Johnson ranks 15th, with $93.77 billion. To put things into perspective, that makes said companies wealthier than most countries in the world. And thanks to those astronomical profit margins, the Pharmaceuticals and Health Products industry is able to spend more on lobbying than any other industry in America. While big pharma lobbying can take several different forms, these companies tend to target their contributions to senior legislators in Congress — you know, the ones they need to keep in their corner, because they have the power to draft healthcare laws. Pfizer has outspent its peers in six of the last eight election cycles, coughing up almost $9.7 million. During the 2016 election, pharmaceutical companies gave more than $7 million to 97 senators at an average of $75,000 per member. They also contributed $6.3 million to president Joe Biden’s 2020 campaign. The question is: what did big pharma get in return? When you've got 1,500 Big Pharma lobbyists on Capitol Hill for 535 members of Congress, it's not too hard to figure out why prescription drug prices in this country are, on average, 256% HIGHER than in other major countries. — Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) February 3, 2022 ALEC’s Off-the-Record Sway To truly grasp big pharma’s power, you need to understand how The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) works. ALEC, which was founded in 1973 by conservative activists working on Ronald Reagan’s campaign, is a super secretive pay-to-play operation where corporate lobbyists — including in the pharma sector — hold confidential meetings about “model” bills. A large portion of these bills is eventually approved and become law. A rundown of ALEC’s greatest hits will tell you everything you need to know about the council’s motives and priorities. In 1995, ALEC promoted a bill that restricts consumers’ rights to sue for damages resulting from taking a particular medication. They also endorsed the Statute of Limitation Reduction Act, which put a time limit on when someone could sue after a medication-induced injury or death. Over the years, ALEC has promoted many other pharma-friendly bills that would: weaken FDA oversight of new drugs and therapies, limit FDA authority over drug advertising, and oppose regulations on financial incentives for doctors to prescribe specific drugs. But what makes these ALEC collaborations feel particularly problematic is that there’s little transparency — all of this happens behind closed doors. Congressional leaders and other committee members involved in ALEC aren’t required to publish any records of their meetings and other communications with pharma lobbyists, and the roster of ALEC members is completely confidential. All we know is that in 2020, more than two-thirds of Congress — 72 senators and 302 House of Representatives members — cashed a campaign check from a pharma company. Big Pharma Funding Research The public typically relies on an endorsement from government agencies to help them decide whether or not a new drug, vaccine, or medical device is safe and effective. And those agencies, like the FDA, count on clinical research. As already established, big pharma is notorious for getting its hooks into influential government officials. Here’s another sobering truth: The majority of scientific research is paid for by — wait for it — the pharmaceutical companies. When the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) published 73 studies of new drugs over the course of a single year, they found that a staggering 82% of them had been funded by the pharmaceutical company selling the product, 68% had authors who were employees of that company, and 50% had lead researchers who accepted money from a drug company. According to 2013 research conducted at the University of Arizona College of Law, even when pharma companies aren’t directly funding the research, company stockholders, consultants, directors, and officers are almost always involved in conducting them. A 2017 report by the peer-reviewed journal The BMJ also showed that about half of medical journal editors receive payments from drug companies, with the average payment per editor hovering around $28,000. But these statistics are only accurate if researchers and editors are transparent about payments from pharma. And a 2022 investigative analysis of two of the most influential medical journals found that 81% of study authors failed to disclose millions in payments from drug companies, as they’re required to do. Unfortunately, this trend shows no sign of slowing down. The number of clinical trials funded by the pharmaceutical industry has been climbing every year since 2006, according to a John Hopkins University report, while independent studies have been harder to find. And there are some serious consequences to these conflicts of interest. Take Avandia, for instance, a diabetes drug produced by GlaxoSmithCline (GSK). Avandia was eventually linked to a dramatically increased risk of heart attacks and heart failure. And a BMJ report revealed that almost 90% of scientists who initially wrote glowing articles about Avandia had financial ties to GSK. But here’s the unnerving part: if the pharmaceutical industry is successfully biasing the science, then that means the physicians who rely on the science are biased in their prescribing decisions. Photo credit: UN Women Europe & Central Asia Where the lines get really blurry is with “ghostwriting.” Big pharma execs know citizens are way more likely to trust a report written by a board-certified doctor than one of their representatives. That’s why they pay physicians to list their names as authors — even though the MDs had little to no involvement in the research, and the report was actually written by the drug company. This practice started in the ’50s and ’60s when tobacco execs were clamoring to prove that cigarettes didn’t cause cancer (spoiler alert: they do!), so they commissioned doctors to slap their name on papers undermining the risks of smoking. It’s still a pretty common tactic today: more than one in 10 articles published in the NEJM was co-written by a ghostwriter. While a very small percentage of medical journals have clear policies against ghostwriting, it’s still technically legal —despite the fact that the consequences can be deadly. Case in point: in the late ’90s and early 2000s, Merck paid for 73 ghostwritten articles to play up the benefits of its arthritis drug Vioxx. It was later revealed that Merck failed to report all of the heart attacks experienced by trial participants. In fact, a study published in the NEJM revealed that an estimated 160,000 Americans experienced heart attacks or strokes from taking Vioxx. That research was conducted by Dr. David Graham, Associate Director of the FDA’s Office of Drug Safety, who understandably concluded the drug was not safe. But the FDA’s Office of New Drugs, which not only was responsible for initially approving Vioxx but also regulating it, tried to sweep his findings under the rug. "I was pressured to change my conclusions and recommendations, and basically threatened that if I did not change them, I would not be permitted to present the paper at the conference," he wrote in his 2004 U.S. Senate testimony on Vioxx. "One Drug Safety manager recommended that I should be barred from presenting the poster at the meeting." Eventually, the FDA issued a public health advisory about Vioxx and Merck withdrew this product. But it was a little late for repercussions — 38,000 of those Vioxx-takers who suffered heart attacks had already died. Graham called this a “profound regulatory failure,” adding that scientific standards the FDA apply to drug safety “guarantee that unsafe and deadly drugs will remain on the U.S. market.” This should come as no surprise, but research has also repeatedly shown that a paper written by a pharmaceutical company is more likely to emphasize the benefits of a drug, vaccine, or device while downplaying the dangers. (If you want to understand more about this practice, a former ghostwriter outlines all the ethical reasons why she quit this job in a PLOS Medicine report.) While adverse drug effects appear in 95% of clinical research, only 46% of published reports disclose them. Of course, all of this often ends up misleading doctors into thinking a drug is safer than it actually is. Big Pharma Influence On Doctors Pharmaceutical companies aren’t just paying medical journal editors and authors to make their products look good, either. There’s a long, sordid history of pharmaceutical companies incentivizing doctors to prescribe their products through financial rewards. For instance, Pfizer and AstraZeneca doled out a combined $100 million to doctors in 2018, with some earning anywhere from $6 million to $29 million in a year. And research has shown this strategy works: when doctors accept these gifts and payments, they’re significantly more likely to prescribe those companies’ drugs. Novartis comes to mind — the company famously spent over $100 million paying for doctors’ extravagant meals, golf outings, and more, all while also providing a generous kickback program that made them richer every time they prescribed certain blood pressure and diabetes meds. Side note: the Open Payments portal contains a nifty little database where you can find out if any of your own doctors received money from drug companies. Knowing that my mother was put on a laundry list of meds after a near-fatal car accident, I was curious — so I did a quick search for her providers. While her PCP only banked a modest amount from Pfizer and AstraZeneca, her previous psychiatrist — who prescribed a cocktail of contraindicated medications without treating her in person — collected quadruple-digit payments from pharmaceutical companies. And her pain care specialist, who prescribed her jaw-dropping doses of opioid pain medication for more than 20 years (far longer than the 5-day safety guideline), was raking in thousands from Purdue Pharma, AKA the opioid crisis’ kingpin. Purdue is now infamous for its wildly aggressive OxyContin campaign in the ’90s. At the time, the company billed it as a non-addictive wonder drug for pain sufferers. Internal emails show Pursue sales representatives were instructed to “sell, sell, sell” OxyContin, and the more they were able to push, the more they were rewarded with promotions and bonuses. With the stakes so high, these reps stopped at nothing to get doctors on board — even going so far as to send boxes of doughnuts spelling out “OxyContin” to unconvinced physicians. Purdue had stumbled upon the perfect system for generating tons of profit — off of other people’s pain. Documentation later proved that not only was Purdue aware it was highly addictive and that many people were abusing it, but that they also encouraged doctors to continue prescribing increasingly higher doses of it (and sent them on lavish luxury vacations for some motivation). In testimony to Congress, Purdue exec Paul Goldenheim played dumb about OxyContin addiction and overdose rates, but emails that were later exposed showed that he requested his colleagues remove all mentions of addiction from their correspondence about the drug. Even after it was proven in court that Purdue fraudulently marketed OxyContin while concealing its addictive nature, no one from the company spent a single day behind bars. Instead, the company got a slap on the wrist and a $600 million fine for a misdemeanor, the equivalent of a speeding ticket compared to the $9 billion they made off OxyContin up until 2006. Meanwhile, thanks to Purdue’s recklessness, more than 247,000 people died from prescription opioid overdoses between 1999 and 2009. And that’s not even factoring in all the people who died of heroin overdoses once OxyContin was no longer attainable to them. The NIH reports that 80% of people who use heroin started by misusing prescription opioids. Former sales rep Carol Panara told me in an interview that when she looks back on her time at Purdue, it all feels like a “bad dream.” Panara started working for Purdue in 2008, one year after the company pled guilty to “misbranding” charges for OxyContin. At this point, Purdue was “regrouping and expanding,” says Panara, and to that end, had developed a clever new approach for making money off OxyContin: sales reps were now targeting general practitioners and family doctors, rather than just pain management specialists. On top of that, Purdue soon introduced three new strengths for OxyContin: 15, 30, and 60 milligrams, creating smaller increments Panara believes were aimed at making doctors feel more comfortable increasing their patients’ dosages. According to Panara, there were internal company rankings for sales reps based on the number of prescriptions for each OxyContin dosing strength in their territory. “They were sneaky about it,” she said. “Their plan was to go in and sell these doctors on the idea of starting with 10 milligrams, which is very low, knowing full well that once they get started down that path — that’s all they need. Because eventually, they’re going to build a tolerance and need a higher dose.” Occasionally, doctors expressed concerns about a patient becoming addicted, but Purdue had already developed a way around that. Sales reps like Panara were taught to reassure those doctors that someone in pain might experience addiction-like symptoms called “pseudoaddiction,” but that didn’t mean they were truly addicted. There is no scientific evidence whatsoever to support that this concept is legit, of course. But the most disturbing part? Reps were trained to tell doctors that “pseudoaddiction” signaled the patient’s pain wasn’t being managed well enough, and the solution was simply to prescribe a higher dose of OxyContin. Panara finally quit Purdue in 2013. One of the breaking points was when two pharmacies in her territory were robbed at gunpoint specifically for OxyContin. In 2020, Purdue pled guilty to three criminal charges in an $8.3 billion deal, but the company is now under court protection after filing for bankruptcy. Despite all the damage that’s been done, the FDA’s policies for approving opioids remain essentially unchanged. Photo credit: Jennifer Durban Purdue probably wouldn’t have been able to pull this off if it weren’t for an FDA examiner named Curtis Wright, and his assistant Douglas Kramer. While Purdue was pursuing Wright’s stamp of approval on OxyContin, Wright took an outright sketchy approach to their application, instructing the company to mail documents to his home office rather than the FDA, and enlisting Purdue employees to help him review trials about the safety of the drug. The Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act requires that the FDA have access to at least two randomized controlled trials before deeming a drug as safe and effective, but in the case of OxyContin, it got approved with data from just one measly two-week study — in osteoarthritis patients, no less. When both Wright and Kramer left the FDA, they went on to work for none other than (drumroll, please) Purdue, with Wright earning three times his FDA salary. By the way — this is just one example of the FDA’s notoriously incestuous relationship with big pharma, often referred to as “the revolving door”. In fact, a 2018 Science report revealed that 11 out of 16 FDA reviewers ended up at the same companies they had been regulating products for. While doing an independent investigation, “Empire of Pain” author and New Yorker columnist Patrick Radden Keefe tried to gain access to documentation of Wright’s communications with Purdue during the OxyContin approval process. “The FDA came back and said, ‘Oh, it’s the weirdest thing, but we don’t have anything. It’s all either been lost or destroyed,’” Keefe told Fortune in an interview. “But it’s not just the FDA. It’s Congress, it’s the Department of Justice, it’s big parts of the medical establishment … the sheer amount of money involved, I think, has meant that a lot of the checks that should be in place in society to not just achieve justice, but also to protect us as consumers, were not there because they had been co-opted.” Big pharma may be to blame for creating the opioids that caused this public health catastrophe, but the FDA deserves just as much scrutiny — because its countless failures also played a part in enabling it. And many of those more recent fails happened under the supervision of Dr. Janet Woodcock. Woodcock was named FDA’s acting commissioner mere hours after Joe Biden was inaugurated as president. She would have been a logical choice, being an FDA vet of 35 years, but then again it’s impossible to forget that she played a starring role in the FDA’s perpetuating the opioid epidemic. She’s also known for overruling her own scientific advisors when they vote against approving a drug. Not only did Woodcock approve OxyContin for children as young as 11 years old, but she also gave the green light to several other highly controversial extended-release opioid pain drugs without sufficient evidence of safety or efficacy. One of those was Zohydro: in 2011, the FDA’s advisory committee voted 11:2 against approving it due to safety concerns about inappropriate use, but Woodcock went ahead and pushed it through, anyway. Under Woodcock’s supervision, the FDA also approved Opana, which is twice as powerful as OxyContin — only to then beg the drug maker to take it off the market 10 years later due to “abuse and manipulation.” And then there was Dsuvia, a potent painkiller 1,000 times stronger than morphine and 10 times more powerful than fentanyl. According to a head of one of the FDA’s advisory committees, the U.S. military had helped to develop this particular drug, and Woodcock said there was “pressure from the Pentagon” to push it through approvals. The FBI, members of congress, public health advocates, and patient safety experts alike called this decision into question, pointing out that with hundreds of opioids already on the market there’s no need for another — particularly one that comes with such high risks. Most recently, Woodcock served as the therapeutics lead for Operation Warp Speed, overseeing COVID-19 vaccine development. Big Pharma Lawsuits, Scandals, and Cover-Ups While the OxyContin craze is undoubtedly one of the highest-profile examples of big pharma’s deception, there are dozens of other stories like this. Here are a few standouts: In the 1980s, Bayer continued selling blood clotting products to third-world countries even though they were fully aware those products had been contaminated with HIV. The reason? The “financial investment in the product was considered too high to destroy the inventory.” Predictably, about 20,000 of the hemophiliacs who were infused with these tainted products then tested positive for HIV and eventually developed AIDS, and many later died of it. In 2004, Johnson & Johnson was slapped with a series of lawsuits for illegally promoting off-label use of their heartburn drug Propulsid for children despite internal company emails confirming major safety concerns (as in, deaths during the drug trials). Documentation from the lawsuits showed that dozens of studies sponsored by Johnson & Johnson highlighting the risks of this drug were never published. The FDA estimates that GSK’s Avandia caused 83,000 heart attacks between 1999 and 2007. Internal documents from GSK prove that when they began studying the effects of the drug as early as 1999, they discovered it caused a higher risk of heart attacks than a similar drug it was meant to replace. Rather than publish these findings, they spent a decade illegally concealing them (and meanwhile, banking $3.2 billion annually for this drug by 2006). Finally, a 2007 New England Journal of Medicine study linked Avandia to a 43% increased risk of heart attacks, and a 64% increased risk of death from heart disease. Avandia is still FDA approved and available in the U.S. In 2009, Pfizer was forced to pay $2.3 billion, the largest healthcare fraud settlement in history at that time, for paying illegal kickbacks to doctors and promoting off-label uses of its drugs. Specifically, a former employee revealed that Pfizer reps were encouraged and incentivized to sell Bextra and 12 other drugs for conditions they were never FDA approved for, and at doses up to eight times what’s recommended. “I was expected to increase profits at all costs, even when sales meant endangering lives,” the whistleblower said. When it was discovered that AstraZeneca was promoting the antipsychotic medication Seroquel for uses that were not approved by the FDA as safe and effective, the company was hit with a $520 million fine in 2010. For years, AstraZeneca had been encouraging psychiatrists and other physicians to prescribe Seroquel for a vast range of seemingly unrelated off-label conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, anger management, ADHD, dementia, post-traumatic stress disorder, and sleeplessness. AstraZeneca also violated the federal Anti-Kickback Statute by paying doctors to spread the word about these unapproved uses of Seroquel via promotional lectures and while traveling to resort locations. In 2012, GSK paid a $3 billion fine for bribing doctors by flying them and their spouses to five-star resorts, and for illegally promoting drugs for off-label uses. What’s worse — GSK withheld clinical trial results that showed its antidepressant Paxil not only doesn’t work for adolescents and children but more alarmingly, that it can increase the likelihood of suicidal thoughts in this group. A 1998 GSK internal memo revealed that the company intentionally concealed this data to minimize any “potential negative commercial impact.” In 2021, an ex-AstraZeneca sales rep sued her former employer, claiming they fired her for refusing to promote drugs for uses that weren’t FDA-approved. The employee alleges that on multiple occasions, she expressed concerns to her boss about “misleading” information that didn’t have enough support from medical research, and off-label promotions of certain drugs. Her supervisor reportedly not only ignored these concerns but pressured her to approve statements she didn’t agree with and threatened to remove her from regional and national positions if she didn’t comply. According to the plaintiff, she missed out on a raise and a bonus because she refused to break the law. At the top of 2022, a panel of the D.C. Court of Appeals reinstated a lawsuit against Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Roche, and GE Healthcare, which claims they helped finance terrorist attacks against U.S. service members and other Americans in Iraq. The suit alleges that from 2005–2011, these companies regularly offered bribes (including free drugs and medical devices) totaling millions of dollars annually to Iraq’s Ministry of Health in order to secure drug contracts. These corrupt payments then allegedly funded weapons and training for the Mahdi Army, which until 2008, was largely considered one of the most dangerous groups in Iraq. Another especially worrisome factor is that pharmaceutical companies are conducting an ever-increasing number of clinical trials in third-world countries, where people may be less educated, and there are also far fewer safety regulations. Pfizer’s 1996 experimental trials with Trovan on Nigerian children with meningitis — without informed consent — is just one nauseating example. When a former medical director in Pfizer’s central research division warned the company both before and after the study that their methods in this trial were “improper and unsafe,” he was promptly fired. Families of the Nigerian children who died or were left blind, brain damaged, or paralyzed after the study sued Pfizer, and the company ultimately settled out of court. In 1998, the FDA approved Trovan only for adults. The drug was later banned from European markets due to reports of fatal liver disease and restricted to strictly emergency care in the U.S. Pfizer still denies any wrongdoing. “Nurse prepares to vaccinate children” by World Bank Photo Collection is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 But all that is just the tip of the iceberg. If you’d like to dive a little further down the rabbit hole — and I’ll warn you, it’s a deep one — a quick Google search for “big pharma lawsuits” will reveal the industry’s dark track record of bribery, dishonesty, and fraud. In fact, big pharma happens to be the biggest defrauder of the federal government when it comes to the False Claims Act, otherwise known as the “Lincoln Law.” During our interview, Panara told me she has friends still working for big pharma who would be willing to speak out about crooked activity they’ve observed, but are too afraid of being blacklisted by the industry. A newly proposed update to the False Claims Act would help to protect and support whistleblowers in their efforts to hold pharmaceutical companies liable, by helping to prevent that kind of retaliation and making it harder for the companies charged to dismiss these cases. It should come as no surprise that Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Merck, and a flock of other big pharma firms are currently lobbying to block the update. Naturally, they wouldn’t want to make it any easier for ex-employees to expose their wrongdoings, potentially costing them billions more in fines. Something to keep in mind: these are the same people who produced, marketed, and are profiting from the COVID-19 vaccines. The same people who manipulate research, pay off decision-makers to push their drugs, cover up negative research results to avoid financial losses, and knowingly put innocent citizens in harm’s way. The same people who told America: “Take as much OxyContin as you want around the clock! It’s very safe and not addictive!” (while laughing all the way to the bank). So, ask yourself this: if a partner, friend, or family member repeatedly lied to you — and not just little white lies, but big ones that put your health and safety at risk — would you continue to trust them? Backing the Big Four: Big Pharma and the FDA, WHO, NIH, CDC I know what you’re thinking. Big pharma is amoral and the FDA’s devastating slips are a dime a dozen — old news. But what about agencies and organizations like the National Institutes of Health (NIH), World Health Organization (WHO), and Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC)? Don’t they have an obligation to provide unbiased guidance to protect citizens? Don’t worry, I’m getting there. The WHO’s guidance is undeniably influential across the globe. For most of this organization’s history, dating back to 1948, it could not receive donations from pharmaceutical companies — only member states. But that changed in 2005 when the WHO updated its financial policy to permit private money into its system. Since then, the WHO has accepted many financial contributions from big pharma. In fact, it’s only 20% financed by member states today, with a whopping 80% of financing coming from private donors. For instance, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) is now one of its main contributors, providing up to 13% of its funds — about $250–300 million a year. Nowadays, the BMGF provides more donations to the WHO than the entire United States. Dr. Arata Kochi, former head of WHO’s malaria program, expressed concerns to director-general Dr. Margaret Chan in 2007 that taking the BMGF’s money could have “far-reaching, largely unintended consequences” including “stifling a diversity of views among scientists.” “The big concerns are that the Gates Foundation isn’t fully transparent and accountable,” Lawrence Gostin, director of WHO’s Collaborating Center on National and Global Health Law, told Devex in an interview. “By wielding such influence, it could steer WHO priorities … It would enable a single rich philanthropist to set the global health agenda.” Photo credit: National Institutes of Health Take a peek at the WHO’s list of donors and you’ll find a few other familiar names like AstraZeneca, Bayer, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and Merck. The NIH has the same problem, it seems. Science journalist Paul Thacker, who previously examined financial links between physicians and pharma companies as a lead investigator of the United States Senate Committee, wrote in The Washington Post that this agency “often ignored” very “obvious” conflicts of interest. He also claimed that “its industry ties go back decades.” In 2018, it was discovered that a $100 million alcohol consumption study run by NIH scientists was funded mostly by beer and liquor companies. Emails proved that NIH researchers were in frequent contact with those companies while designing the study — which, here’s a shocker — were aimed at highlighting the benefits and not the risks of moderate drinking. So, the NIH ultimately had to squash the trial. And then there’s the CDC. It used to be that this agency couldn’t take contributions from pharmaceutical companies, but in 1992 they found a loophole: new legislation passed by Congress allowed them to accept private funding through a nonprofit called the CDC Foundation. From 2014 through 2018 alone, the CDC Foundation received $79.6 million from corporations like Pfizer, Biogen, and Merck. Of course, if a pharmaceutical company wants to get a drug, vaccine, or other product approved, they really need to cozy up to the FDA. That explains why in 2017, pharma companies paid for a whopping 75% of the FDA’s scientific review budgets, up from 27% in 1993. It wasn’t always like this. But in 1992, an act of Congress changed the FDA’s funding stream, enlisting pharma companies to pay “user fees,” which help the FDA speed up the approval process for their drugs. A 2018 Science investigation found that 40 out of 107 physician advisors on the FDA’s committees received more than $10,000 from big pharma companies trying to get their drugs approved, with some banking up to $1 million or more. The FDA claims it has a well-functioning system to identify and prevent these possible conflicts of interest. Unfortunately, their system only works for spotting payments before advisory panels meet, and the Science investigation showed many FDA panel members get their payments after the fact. It’s a little like “you scratch my back now, and I’ll scratch your back once I get what I want” — drug companies promise FDA employees a future bonus contingent on whether things go their way. Here’s why this dynamic proves problematic: a 2000 investigation revealed that when the FDA approved the rotavirus vaccine in 1998, it didn’t exactly do its due diligence. That probably had something to do with the fact that committee members had financial ties to the manufacturer, Merck — many owned tens of thousands of dollars of stock in the company, or even held patents on the vaccine itself. Later, the Adverse Event Reporting System revealed that the vaccine was causing serious bowel obstructions in some children, and it was finally pulled from the U.S. market in October 1999. Then, in June of 2021, the FDA overruled concerns raised by its very own scientific advisory committee to approve Biogen’s Alzheimer’s drug Aduhelm — a move widely criticized by physicians. The drug not only showed very little efficacy but also potentially serious side effects like brain bleeding and swelling, in clinical trials. Dr. Aaron Kesselheim, a Harvard Medical School professor who was on the FDA’s scientific advisory committee, called it the “worst drug approval” in recent history, and noted that meetings between the FDA and Biogen had a “strange dynamic” suggesting an unusually close relationship. Dr. Michael Carome, director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group, told CNN that he believes the FDA started working in “inappropriately close collaboration with Biogen” back in 2019. “They were not objective, unbiased regulators,” he added in the CNN interview. “It seems as if the decision was preordained.” That brings me to perhaps the biggest conflict of interest yet: Dr. Anthony Fauci’s NIAID is just one of many institutes that comprises the NIH — and the NIH owns half the patent for the Moderna vaccine — as well as thousands more pharma patents to boot. The NIAID is poised to earn millions of dollars from Moderna’s vaccine revenue, with individual officials also receiving up to $150,000 annually. Operation Warp Speed In December of 2020, Pfizer became the first company to receive an emergency use authorization (EUA) from the FDA for a COVID-19 vaccine. EUAs — which allow the distribution of an unapproved drug or other product during a declared public health emergency — are actually a pretty new thing: the first one was issued in 2005 so military personnel could get an anthrax vaccine. To get a full FDA approval, there needs to be substantial evidence that the product is safe and effective. But for an EUA, the FDA just needs to determine that it may be effective. Since EUAs are granted so quickly, the FDA doesn’t have enough time to gather all the information they’d usually need to approve a drug or vaccine. “Operation Warp Speed Vaccine Event” by The White House is licensed under CC PDM 1.0 Pfizer CEO and chairman Albert Bourla has said his company was “operating at the speed of science” to bring a vaccine to market. However, a 2021 report in The BMJ revealed that this speed might have come at the expense of “data integrity and patient safety.” Brook Jackson, regional director for the Ventavia Research Group, which carried out these trials, told The BMJ that her former company “falsified data, unblinded patients, and employed inadequately trained vaccinators” in Pfizer’s pivotal phase 3 trial. Just some of the other concerning events witnessed included: adverse events not being reported correctly or at all, lack of reporting on protocol deviations, informed consent errors, and mislabeling of lab specimens. An audio recording of Ventavia employees from September 2020 revealed that they were so overwhelmed by issues arising during the study that they became unable to “quantify the types and number of errors” when assessing quality control. One Ventavia employee told The BMJ she’d never once seen a research environment as disorderly as Ventavia’s Pfizer vaccine trial, while another called it a “crazy mess.” Over the course of her two-decades-long career, Jackson has worked on hundreds of clinical trials, and two of her areas of expertise happen to be immunology and infectious diseases. She told me that from her first day on the Pfizer trial in September of 2020, she discovered “such egregious misconduct” that she recommended they stop enrolling participants into the study to do an internal audit. “To my complete shock and horror, Ventavia agreed to pause enrollment but then devised a plan to conceal what I found and to keep ICON and Pfizer in the dark,” Jackson said during our interview. “The site was in full clean-up mode. When missing data points were discovered the information was fabricated, including forged signatures on the informed consent forms.” A screenshot Jackson shared with me shows she was invited to a meeting titled “COVID 1001 Clean up Call” on Sept. 21, 2020. She refused to participate in the call. Jackson repeatedly warned her superiors about patient safety concerns and data integrity issues. “I knew that the entire world was counting on clinical researchers to develop a safe and effective vaccine and I did not want to be a part of that failure by not reporting what I saw,” she told me. When her employer failed to act, Jackson filed a complaint with the FDA on Sept. 25, and Ventavia fired her hours later that same day under the pretense that she was “not a good fit.” After reviewing her concerns over the phone, she claims the FDA never followed up or inspected the Ventavia site. Ten weeks later, the FDA authorized the EUA for the vaccine. Meanwhile, Pfizer hired Ventavia to handle the research for four more vaccine clinical trials, including one involving children and young adults, one for pregnant women, and another for the booster. Not only that, but Ventavia handled the clinical trials for Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, and Novavax. Jackson is currently pursuing a False Claims Act lawsuit against Pfizer and Ventavia Research Group. Last year, Pfizer banked nearly $37 billion from its COVID vaccine, making it one of the most lucrative products in global history. Its overall revenues doubled in 2021 to reach $81.3 billion, and it’s slated to reach a record-breaking $98-$102 billion this year. “Corporations like Pfizer should never have been put in charge of a global vaccination rollout, because it was inevitable they would make life-and-death decisions based on what’s in the short-term interest of their shareholders,” writes Nick Dearden, director of Global Justice Now. As previously mentioned, it’s super common for pharmaceutical companies to fund the research on their own products. Here’s why that’s scary. One 1999 meta-analysis showed that industry-funded research is eight times less likely to achieve unfavorable results compared to independent trials. In other words, if a pharmaceutical company wants to prove that a medication, supplement, vaccine, or device is safe and effective, they’ll find a way. With that in mind, I recently examined the 2020 study on Pfizer’s COVID vaccine to see if there were any conflicts of interest. Lo and behold, the lengthy attached disclosure form shows that of the 29 authors, 18 are employees of Pfizer and hold stock in the company, one received a research grant from Pfizer during the study, and two reported being paid “personal fees” by Pfizer. In another 2021 study on the Pfizer vaccine, seven of the 15 authors are employees of and hold stock in Pfizer. The other eight authors received financial support from Pfizer during the study. Photo credit: Prasesh Shiwakoti (Lomash) via Unsplash As of the day I’m writing this, about 64% of Americans are fully vaccinated, and 76% have gotten at least one dose. The FDA has repeatedly promised “full transparency” when it comes to these vaccines. Yet in December of 2021, the FDA asked for permission to wait 75 years before releasing information pertaining to Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, including safety data, effectiveness data, and adverse reaction reports. That means no one would see this information until the year 2096 — conveniently, after many of us have departed this crazy world. To recap: the FDA only needed 10 weeks to review the 329,000 pages worth of data before approving the EUA for the vaccine — but apparently, they need three-quarters of a century to publicize it. In response to the FDA’s ludicrous request, PHMPT — a group of over 200 medical and public health experts from Harvard, Yale, Brown, UCLA, and other institutions — filed a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act demanding that the FDA produce this data sooner. And their efforts paid off: U.S. District Judge Mark T. Pittman issued an order for the FDA to produce 12,000 pages by Jan. 31, and then at least 55,000 pages per month thereafter. In his statement to the FDA, Pittman quoted the late John F. Kennedy: “A nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.” As for why the FDA wanted to keep this data hidden, the first batch of documentation revealed that there were more than 1,200 vaccine-related deaths in just the first 90 days after the Pfizer vaccine was introduced. Of 32 pregnancies with a known outcome, 28 resulted in fetal death. The CDC also recently unveiled data showing a total of 1,088,560 reports of adverse events from COVID vaccines were submitted between Dec. 14, 2020, and Jan. 28, 2022. That data included 23,149 reports of deaths and 183,311 reports of serious injuries. There were 4,993 reported adverse events in pregnant women after getting vaccinated, including 1,597 reports of miscarriage or premature birth. A 2022 study published in JAMA, meanwhile, revealed that there have been more than 1,900 reported cases of myocarditis — or inflammation of the heart muscle — mostly in people 30 and under, within 7 days of getting the vaccine. In those cases, 96% of people were hospitalized. “It is understandable that the FDA does not want independent scientists to review the documents it relied upon to license Pfizer’s vaccine given that it is not as effective as the FDA originally claimed, does not prevent transmission, does not prevent against certain emerging variants, can cause serious heart inflammation in younger individuals, and has numerous other undisputed safety issues,” writes Aaron Siri, the attorney representing PHMPT in its lawsuit against the FDA. Siri told me in an email that his office phone has been ringing off the hook in recent months. “We are overwhelmed by inquiries from individuals calling about an injury from a COVID-19 vaccine,” he said. By the way — it’s worth noting that adverse effects caused by COVID-19 vaccinations are still not covered by the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. Companies like Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson are protected under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act, which grants them total immunity from liability with their vaccines. And no matter what happens to you, you can’t sue the FDA for authorizing the EUA, or your employer for requiring you to get it, either. Billions of taxpayer dollars went to fund the research and development of these vaccines, and in Moderna’s case, licensing its vaccine was made possible entirely by public funds. But apparently, that still warrants citizens no insurance. Should something go wrong, you’re basically on your own. Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccine business model: government gives them billions, gives them immunity for any injuries or if doesn't work, promotes their products for free, and mandates their products. Sounds crazy? Yes, but it is our current reality. — Aaron Siri (@AaronSiriSG) February 2, 2022 The Hypocrisy of “Misinformation” I find it interesting that “misinformation” has become such a pervasive term lately, but more alarmingly, that it’s become an excuse for blatant censorship on social media and in journalism. It’s impossible not to wonder what’s driving this movement to control the narrative. In a world where we still very clearly don’t have all the answers, why shouldn’t we be open to exploring all the possibilities? And while we’re on the subject, what about all of the COVID-related untruths that have been spread by our leaders and officials? Why should they get a free pass? Photo credit: @upgradeur_life, www.instagram.com/upgradeur_life Fauci, President Biden, and the CDC’s Rochelle Walensky all promised us with total confidence the vaccine would prevent us from getting or spreading COVID, something we now know is a myth. (In fact, the CDC recently had to change its very definition of “vaccine ” to promise “protection” from a disease rather than “immunity”— an important distinction). At one point, the New York State Department of Health (NYS DOH) and former Governor Andrew Cuomo prepared a social media campaign with misleading messaging that the vaccine was “approved by the FDA” and “went through the same rigorous approval process that all vaccines go through,” when in reality the FDA only authorized the vaccines under an EUA, and the vaccines were still undergoing clinical trials. While the NYS DOH eventually responded to pressures to remove these false claims, a few weeks later the Department posted on Facebook that “no serious side effects related to the vaccines have been reported,” when in actuality, roughly 16,000 reports of adverse events and over 3,000 reports of serious adverse events related to a COVID-19 vaccination had been reported in the first two months of use. One would think we’d hold the people in power to the same level of accountability — if not more — than an average citizen. So, in the interest of avoiding hypocrisy, should we “cancel” all these experts and leaders for their “misinformation,” too? Vaccine-hesitant people have been fired from their jobs, refused from restaurants, denied the right to travel and see their families, banned from social media channels, and blatantly shamed and villainized in the media. Some have even lost custody of their children. These people are frequently labeled “anti-vax,” which is misleading given that many (like the NBA’s Jonathan Isaac) have made it repeatedly clear they are not against all vaccines, but simply making a personal choice not to get this one. (As such, I’ll suggest switching to a more accurate label: “pro-choice.”) Fauci has repeatedly said federally mandating the vaccine would not be “appropriate” or “enforceable” and doing so would be “encroaching upon a person’s freedom to make their own choice.” So it’s remarkable that still, some individual employers and U.S. states, like my beloved Massachusetts, have taken it upon themselves to enforce some of these mandates, anyway. Meanwhile, a Feb. 7 bulletin posted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security indicates that if you spread information that undermines public trust in a government institution (like the CDC or FDA), you could be considered a terrorist. In case you were wondering about the current state of free speech. The definition of institutional oppression is “the systematic mistreatment of people within a social identity group, supported and enforced by the society and its institutions, solely based on the person’s membership in the social identity group.” It is defined as occurring when established laws and practices “systematically reflect and produce inequities based on one’s membership in targeted social identity groups.” Sound familiar? As you continue to watch the persecution of the unvaccinated unfold, remember this. Historically, when society has oppressed a particular group of people whether due to their gender, race, social class, religious beliefs, or sexuality, it’s always been because they pose some kind of threat to the status quo. The same is true for today’s unvaccinated. Since we know the vaccine doesn’t prevent the spread of COVID, however, this much is clear: the unvaccinated don’t pose a threat to the health and safety of their fellow citizens — but rather, to the bottom line of powerful pharmaceutical giants and the many global organizations they finance. And with more than $100 billion on the line in 2021 alone, I can understand the motivation to silence them. The unvaccinated have been called selfish. Stupid. Fauci has said it’s “almost inexplicable” that they are still resisting. But is it? What if these people aren’t crazy or uncaring, but rather have — unsurprisingly so — lost their faith in the agencies that are supposed to protect them? Can you blame them? Citizens are being bullied into getting a vaccine that was created, evaluated, and authorized in under a year, with no access to the bulk of the safety data for said vaccine, and no rights whatsoever to pursue legal action if they experience adverse effects from it. What these people need right now is to know they can depend on their fellow citizens to respect their choices, not fuel the segregation by launching a full-fledged witch hunt. Instead, for some inexplicable reason I imagine stems from fear, many continue rallying around big pharma rather than each other. A 2022 Heartland Institute and Rasmussen Reports survey of Democratic voters found that 59% of respondents support a government policy requiring unvaccinated individuals to remain confined in their home at all times, 55% support handing a fine to anyone who won’t get the vaccine, and 48% think the government should flat out imprison people who publicly question the efficacy of the vaccines on social media, TV, or online in digital publications. Even Orwell couldn’t make this stuff up. Photo credit: DJ Paine on Unsplash Let me be very clear. While there are a lot of bad actors out there — there are also a lot of well-meaning people in the science and medical industries, too. I’m lucky enough to know some of them. There are doctors who fend off pharma reps’ influence and take an extremely cautious approach to prescribing. Medical journal authors who fiercely pursue transparency and truth — as is evident in “The Influence of Money on Medical Science,” a report by the first female editor of JAMA. Pharmacists, like Dan Schneider, who refuse to fill prescriptions they deem risky or irresponsible. Whistleblowers, like Graham and Jackson, who tenaciously call attention to safety issues for pharma products in the approval pipeline. And I’m certain there are many people in the pharmaceutical industry, like Panara and my grandfather, who pursued this field with the goal of helping others, not just earning a six- or seven-figure salary. We need more of these people. Sadly, it seems they are outliers who exist in a corrupt, deep-rooted system of quid-pro-quo relationships. They can only do so much. I’m not here to tell you whether or not you should get the vaccine or booster doses. What you put in your body is not for me — or anyone else — to decide. It’s not a simple choice, but rather one that may depend on your physical condition, medical history, age, religious beliefs, and level of risk tolerance. My grandfather passed away in 2008, and lately, I find myself missing him more than ever, wishing I could talk to him about the pandemic and hear what he makes of all this madness. I don’t really know how he’d feel about the COVID vaccine, or whether he would have gotten it or encouraged me to. What I do know is that he’d listen to my concerns, and he’d carefully consider them. He would remind me my feelings are valid. His eyes would light up and he’d grin with amusement as I fervidly expressed my frustration. He’d tell me to keep pushing forward, digging deeper, asking questions. In his endearing Bronx accent, he used to always say: “go get ‘em, kid.” If I stop typing for a moment and listen hard enough, I can almost hear him saying it now. People keep saying “trust the science.” But when trust is broken, it must be earned back. And as long as our legislative system, public health agencies, physicians, and research journals keep accepting pharmaceutical money (with strings attached) — and our justice system keeps letting these companies off the hook when their negligence causes harm, there’s no reason for big pharma to change. They’re holding the bag, and money is power. I have a dream that one day, we’ll live in a world where we are armed with all the thorough, unbiased data necessary to make informed decisions about our health. Alas, we’re not even close. What that means is that it’s up to you to educate yourself as much as possible, and remain ever-vigilant in evaluating information before forming an opinion. You can start by reading clinical trials yourself, rather than relying on the media to translate them for you. Scroll to the bottom of every single study to the “conflicts of interest” section and find out who funded it. Look at how many subjects were involved. Confirm whether or not blinding was used to eliminate bias. You may also choose to follow Public Citizen’s Health Research Group’s rule whenever possible: that means avoiding a new drug until five years after an FDA approval (not an EUA, an actual approval) — when there’s enough data on the long-term safety and effectiveness to establish that the benefits outweigh the risks. When it comes to the news, you can seek out independent, nonprofit outlets, which are less likely to be biased due to pharma funding. And most importantly, when it appears an organization is making concerted efforts to conceal information from you — like the FDA recently did with the COVID vaccine — it’s time to ask yourself: why? What are they trying to hide? In the 2019 film “Dark Waters” — which is based on the true story of one of the greatest corporate cover-ups in American history — Mark Ruffalo as attorney Rob Bilott says: “The system is rigged. They want us to think it’ll protect us, but that’s a lie. We protect us. We do. Nobody else. Not the companies. Not the scientists. Not the government. Us.” Words to live by. Tyler Durden Sat, 04/09/2022 - 22:30.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytApr 9th, 2022

Edging Towards A Gold Standard

Edging Towards A Gold Standard Authored by Alasdair Macleod via GoldMoney.com, Commentators are trying to make sense of Russian moves... However, there is a back story which differs from much of the speculation, which this article addresses. The Russians have not put the rouble on some sort of gold standard. Instead, they have repeated the Nixon/Kissinger strategy which created the petrodollar in 1973 by getting the Saudis to agree to accept only dollars for oil. This time, nations deemed by Russia to be unfriendly will be forced to buy roubles – roughly 2 trillion by the EU alone based on last year’s natural gas and oil imports from Russia — driving up the exchange rate. The rouble has now doubled against the dollar from its low point of RUB 150 to RUB 75 yesterday in just over three weeks. The Russian Central Bank will soon be able to normalise the domestic economy by reducing interest rates and removing exchange controls. The Russians and Chinese will be acutely aware that Western currencies, particularly the yen and euro, are likely to be undermined by recent developments. The financial war, which has always been in the background, is emerging into plain sight and becoming a battlefield between fiat currencies, and it is full on. The winner by default is almost certainly gold, now the only reliable reserve asset for those not aligned with Russia’s “unfriendlies”. But it is still a long way from backing any currency. Putin is losing the battle for Ukraine President Putin is embattled. His army as let him down — it turns out that his generals lack the necessary leadership qualities, the squaddies are suffering from lack of food, fuel, and are suffering from frostbite. It is reported that one brigade commander, Colonel Yuri Medvedev, was deliberately run down by one of his own men in a tank, a measure of the chaos at the front line. And Putin is not the first national leader to have misplaced his confidence in military forces. Conventional wisdom (from Carl von Clausewitz, no less) suggested Putin might win the battle for Ukraine but would be unable to hold the territory. That requires the willingness of the population to accept defeat, and a lesson the Soviets had learned in Afghanistan, with the same experience repeated by America and the UK. But Putin has not even won the battle and word from the Kremlin is of accepting a face-saving fall-back position, perhaps taking Donetsk and the coast of the Sea of Azov to join it up with Crimea. There was little doubt that if Putin came under pressure militarily, he would probably step up the commodity and financial war. This he has now done by insisting on payments in roubles. The mistake made in the West was to believe that Russia must sell commodities, and even though sanctions harm the West greatly, the strategy is to put maximum pressure on the Russian economy for a quick resolution. It is obviously flawed because Russia can still trade with China, India, and other significant economies. And thanks to rising commodity prices the Russian economy is not in the bad place the West believed either. Besides nations representing 84% of the world’s population standing aside from the Western alliance’s sanctions and with some like India sorely tempted to buy discounted Russian oil, we would profit from paying attention to some very basic factors. Russia can certainly afford to sell oil at significant discounts to market prices, and there are buyers willing to break the American-led embargoes. The non-Western world is no longer automatically on-side with American hegemony; that is a rotting hulk which the Americans are desperately trying to keep afloat. Observing this, the Kremlin seems relaxed and has said that it is willing to accept currencies from its friends, but Western enemies (the “unfriendlies”) would have to pay for oil in roubles or, it has also been suggested, in gold. On 23 March the Kremlin drew up a list of these unfriendly countries, which includes the 27 EU members, Switzerland, Norway, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and South Korea. Payment in roubles is easy to understand. We can assume that all oil and natural gas long-term supply contracts with the unfriendlies have force majeure clauses, because that is normal practice. In the light of sanctions, the Russians are entitled to claim different payment terms. And it is this that the Russians are relying upon for insisting on payment in roubles. Germany, for example, would have to buy roubles on the foreign exchanges to pay for her gas. Buying roubles supports the currency, and this was the tactic that created the petrodollar in 1973 when Nixon and Kissinger persuaded the Saudis to take nothing else but dollars for oil. It was that single move which more than anything confirmed the dollar as the world’s international and reserve currency in the aftermath of the temporary suspension of the Bretton Woods Agreement. That’s not quite the objective here; it is to not only underwrite the rouble, but to drive it higher relative to other currencies. The immediate effect has been clear, as the chart from Bloomberg below shows. Having halved in value against the dollar on 7 March, all the rouble’s fall has been recovered. And that’s even before Germany et al buy roubles on the foreign exchanges to pay for Russian energy. The gold issue is more complex. The West has banned not only Russian transactions settling in their currencies but also from settling in gold. The assumption is that gold is the only liquid asset Russia has left to trade with. But just as ahead of the end of the cold war Western intelligence completely misread the Soviet economy, it could be making a mistake again. This time, intel seems to be misled by full-on Keynesian macro analysis, suggesting the Russian economy is vulnerable when it is inherently stronger in a currency shoot-out than even the dollar. There is no need for Russia to sell any gold at all. The Russian economy has a broadly non-interventionist government, a flat rate of income tax of 13%, and a government debt of 20% of GDP. There are flaws in the Russian economy, particularly in the lack of respect for property rights and the pervasive problem of the Russian Mafia. But in many respects, Russia’s economy is like that of the US before 1916, when the highest income tax rate was 15%. An important difference is that the Russian government gets substantial revenues from energy and commodity exports, taking its income up to over 40% of GDP. While export volumes of energy and other commodities are being hit by sanctions, their prices have risen substantially. But it remains to be seen what form of money or currency for future payments will be used for over $550bn equivalent of exports, while $297bn of imports will be substantially reduced by sanctions, widening Russia’s trade surplus considerably. Euros, yen, dollars, and sterling are ruled out, worthless in the hands of the Central Bank. That leaves Chinese renminbi, Indian rupees, weakening Turkish lira and that’s about it. It’s hardly surprising that Russia is prepared to accept gold. Putin’s view on the subject is shown in Figure 1 of stills taken from a Tik Tok video released last weekend. Furthermore, Russia’s official reserves are only a small part of the story. Simon Hunt of Simon Hunt Strategic Services, who I have found to be consistently well informed in these matters, is convinced based on his information that Russia’s gold reserves are significantly higher than reported — he thinks 12,000 tonnes is closer to the mark. The payment choice for those on Russia’s unfriendly list, if we rule out gold, is effectively of only one — buy roubles to pay for Russian energy. By sanctioning the world’s largest energy exporter, the effect on energy prices in dollars is likely to drive them far higher yet. Additionally, market liquidity for roubles is likely to be restricted, and the likelihood of a bear squeeze on any shorts is therefore high. The question is how high? Last year, the EU imported 155 billion cubic meters of natural gas from Russia, valued at about $180bn at current volatile prices. Oil exports from Russia to the EU were about 2.3 million barrels per day, worth an additional $105bn for a combined total of $285bn, which at the current exchange rate of RUB 75.5 is RUB 2.15 trillion. EU Gas consumption is likely to fall as spring approaches, but payments in roubles will still drive the exchange rate significantly higher. And attempts to obtain alternative sources of LNG will take time, be insufficient, and serve to drive natural gas prices from other suppliers even higher. For now, we should dismiss ideas over payments to the Russians in gold. The Russian gold story, initially at least, is a domestic issue. Though it might spill over into international markets. On 25 March, Russia’s central bank announced it will buy gold from credit institutions at a fixed rate of 5,000 roubles per gramme starting this week and through to 30 June. The press release stated that it will enable “a stable supply of gold and smooth functioning of the gold mining industry.” In other words, it allows banks to continue to lend money to gold mining and related activities, particularly for financing new gold mining developments. Meanwhile, the state will continue to accumulate bullion which, as discussed above, it has no need to spend on imports. When the RCB’s announcement was made the rouble was considerably weaker and the price offered by the central bank was about 20% below the market price. But that has now changed. Based on last night’s exchange rate of 75.5 roubles to the dollar (30 March) and with gold at $1935, the price offered by the central bank is at a premium of 7.2% to the market. Whether this opens the situation up to arbitrage from overseas bullion markets is an intriguing question. And we can assume that Russian banks will find ways of acquiring and deploying the dollars to do so through their offshore facilities, until, under the cover of a strong rouble, the RCB removes exchange controls. There is nothing in the RCB’s statement to prevent a Russian bank sourcing gold from, say, Dubai, to sell to the central bank. Guidance notes to which we cannot be privy may address this issue but let us assume this arbitrage will be permitted, because it might be difficult to stop. And if Russia does have undeclared bullion reserves more than those allegedly held by the US Treasury, then given that the real war is essentially financial, it is in Russia’s interest to see the gold price rise in dollars. Not only would Eurozone banks be scrambling to obtain roubles, but the entire Western banking system, which takes the short side of derivative transactions in gold will find itself in increasing difficulties. Normally, bullion banks rely on central banks and the Bank for International Settlements to backstop the market with physical liquidity through leases and swaps. But the unfortunate message from the West to every central bank not on Russia’s unfriendly list is that London’s or New York’s respect for ownership rights to their nation’s gold cannot be relied upon. Not only will lease and swap liquidity dry up, but it is likely that requests will be made for earmarked gold in these centres to be repatriated. In short, Russia appears to be initiating a squeeze on gold derivatives in Western capital markets by exploiting diminishing faith in Western institutions and their cavalier treatment of foreign property rights. By forcing the unfriendlies into buying roubles, the RCB will shortly be able to reduce interest rates back to previous policy levels and remove exchange controls. At the same time, the inflation problems faced by the West will be ameliorated by a strong rouble. It ties in with the politics for Putin’s survival. Together with the economic benefits of an improving exchange rate for the rouble and the relatively minor inconvenience of not being able to buy imports from the West (alternatives from China and India will still be available) Putin can retreat from his disastrous Ukrainian campaign. Senior figures in the Russian army will be disciplined, imprisoned, or disappear accused of incompetence and misleading Putin into thinking his “special operation” would be quickly achieved. Putin will absolve himself of any blame and dissenters can expect even greater clampdowns on protests. Russia’s moves are likely to have been thought out in advance. The move to support the rouble is evidence it is so, giving the central bank the opportunity to reverse the interest rate hike to 20% to protect the rouble. Foreign exchange controls on Russians can shortly be lifted. Almost certainly the consequences for Western currencies were discussed. The conclusion would surely have been that higher energy and other Russian commodity prices would persist, driving Western price inflation higher and for longer than discounted in financial markets. Western economies face soaring interest rates and a slump. And depending on their central bank’s actions, Japan and the Eurozone with negative interest rates are almost certainly most vulnerable to a financial, currency, and economic crisis. The impact of Russia’s new policy of only accepting roubles was, perhaps, the inevitable consequence of the West’s policies of self-immolation. From Russia’s failure in Ukraine, Putin appears to have had little option but to go on the offensive and escalate the financial, or commodity-currency war to cover his retreat. We can only speculate about the effect of a strong rouble on the international gold price, but if Russian banks can indeed buy bullion from non-Russian sources to sell to the RCB, it would mark a very aggressive move in the ongoing financial war. China’s position China will be learning unpalatable lessens about its ambition to invade Taiwan, and Taiwan will be encouraged mightily by Ukraine’s success at repelling an unwelcome invader. A 100-mile channel is an enormous obstacle for a Chinese invasion that Russia didn’t have to navigate before Ukrainian locals exploited defensive tactics to repel the invader. There can now be little doubt of the outcome if China tried the same tactics against Taiwan. President Xi would be sensible not to make the same mistake as Putin and tone down the anti-Taiwan rhetoric and try the softer approach of friendly relations and economic integration to reunite Chinese interests. That has been a costless lesson for China, but another consideration is the continuing relationship with Russia. The earlier Chinese description of it made sense: “We are not allies, but we are partners”. What this means is that China would abstain rather than support Russia in the various supranational forums where the world’s leaders gather. But she would continue to trade with Russia as normal, even engaging in currency swaps to facilitate it. More recently, a small crack has appeared in this relationship, with China concerned that US and EU sanctions might be extended to Chinese entities in joint ventures with Russian businesses linked to sanctioned oligarchs and Putin supporters. The highest profile example has been the suspension of a joint project to build a petrochemical plant in Russia involving Sinopec, because of the involvement of Gennady Timchenko, a close ally of Putin. But according to a report from Nikkei Asia, Sinopec has confirmed it will continue to buy Russian crude oil and gas. As always with its geopolitics, we can expect China to play its hand with great care. China was prepared for the consequences of US monetary policy in March 2020 when the Fed reduced its funds rate to zero and instituted quantitative easing of $120bn every month. By its actions it judged these moves to be very inflationary, and began stockpiling commodities ahead of dollar price rises, including energy and grains to project its own people. The yuan has risen against the dollar by about 11%, which with moderate credit policies has kept annualised domestic price inflation subdued to about 1% currently, while consumer price inflation in the West is soaring out of control. China is not therefore in the weak financial position of Russia’s “unfriendlies”; the highly indebted governments whose finances and economies are likely to be destabilised by rising energy prices and interest rates. But it does have a potential economic crisis on its hands in the form of a collapsing property market. In February, its response was to ease the credit restrictions imposed following the initial pandemic recovery in 2021, which had included attempts to deleverage the property sector. Property aside, we can assume that China will not want to destabilise the West by her own actions. The West is doing that very effectively without China’s assistance. But having demonstrated an understanding of why the West is sliding into an inflation crisis of its own making China will be keen not to make the same mistakes. Her partnership with Russia, as joint leaders in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, is central to detaching herself from what its Maoist economists forecast as the inevitable collapse of imperial capitalism. Having set itself up in the image of that imperialism, it must now become independent from it to avoid the same fate. Gold’s wider role in China, Russia, and the SCO Gold has always been central to China’s fallback position. I estimated that before permitting its own people to buy gold in 2002, the state had acquired as much as 20,000 tonnes. Subsequently, through the Shanghai Gold Exchange the Chinese public has taken delivery of a further 20,000 tonnes, mainly through imports from outside China. No gold escapes China, and the Chinese government is likely to have added to its hoard over the last twenty years. The government maintains a monopoly on refining and has stimulated the mining industry to become the largest national producer. Together with its understanding of the West’s inflationary policies the evidence is clear: China is prepared for a world of sound money with gold replacing the dollar’s hegemony, and it now dominates the world’s physical market with that in mind. These plans are shared with Russia, and the members, dialog partners and associates of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation — almost all of which have been accumulating gold reserves. Mine output from these countries is estimated by the US Geological Survey at 830 tonnes, 27% of the global total. The move away from pure fiat was confirmed recently by some half-baked plans for the Eurasian Economic Union and China to escape from Western fiat by setting up a new currency for cross-border trade backed partly by commodities, including gold. The extent of “off balance sheet” bullion is a critical issue, because at some stage they are likely to be declared. In this context, the Russian position is important, because if Simon Hunt, quoted above, is correct Russia could have more gold than the US’s 8,130 tonnes, which it is widely thought to overstate the latter’s true position. Furthermore, Western central banks routinely lease and swap their gold reserves, leading to double counting, which almost certainly reduces their actual position in aggregate. And if fiat currencies continue to decline we could find that the two ringmasters for the SCO have more monetary gold than all the other central banks put together — something like 30,000-40,000 tonnes for Chinese and Russian governments, compared with perhaps less than 20,000 tonnes for Russia’s adversaries (officially ,the unfriendlies own about 24,000 tonnes, but we can assume that at least 5,000 of that is double counted or does not exist due to leasing and swaps). The endgame for the yen and the euro Without doubt, the terrible twins in the major fiat currencies are the yen and the euro. They share much in common: negative interest rates, major commercial banks highly leveraged with asset to equity ratios averaging over twenty times, and central bank balance sheets overloaded with bonds which are collapsing in value. They now face rising interest rates spiralling beyond their control, the consequences of the ECB and Bank of Japan being trapped under the zero bound and being in denial over falling purchasing power for their currencies. Consequently, we are seeing capital flight, which has accelerated dramatically this month for the yen, but in truth follows on from relative weakness for both currencies since the middle of 2021 when global bond yields began rising. Statistically, we can therefore link the collapse of both currencies on the foreign exchanges with rising bond yields. And given that rising interest rates and bond yields are in their early stages, there is considerable currency weakness yet to come. Japan and its yen The Bank of Japan has publicly stated it would buy an unlimited amount of 10-year Japanese Government Bonds at a 0.25% yield to contain the bond sell-off. A higher yield would be more than embarrassing for the BOJ, already requiring a recapitalisation, presumably with its heavily indebted government stumping up the money. Figure 2 shows that the 10-year JGB yield is already testing the 0.25% yield level (charts from Bloomberg). Fig 2. JGB yields hits BoJ Limit and Yen collapsing As avid Keynesians, the BOJ is following similar policies to that of John Law in 1720’s France. Law issued fresh livres which he used to prop up the Mississippi venture by buying shares in the market. The bubble popped, the venture survived, but the livre was destroyed. Today, the BOJ is issuing yen to prop up the Japanese government bond market. As the issuer of the currency, the BOJ is by any yardstick bankrupt and in desperate need of new capital. Since it commenced QE in 2000, it has accumulated so much government and corporate debt, and even equities bundled into ETFs, that the falling value of the BOJ’s holdings makes its liabilities significantly greater than its assets, currently to the tune of about ¥4 trillion ($3.3bn). Ignoring the cynic’s definition of madness, the BOJ is doubling down on its commitment, announcing on Monday further unlimited purchases of 10-year JGBs at a fixed yield of 0.25%. In other words, it is supporting bond prices from falling further, echoing Mario Draghi’s “whatever it takes” and confirming its John Law policy. Last Tuesday’s Summary of Opinions at the Monetary Policy Meeting on March 17 and 18 had this gem: “Heightened geopolitical risks due to the situation surrounding Ukraine have caused price rises of energy and other items, and this will push down domestic demand while raising the CPI. Under the circumstances, it is necessary to improve labour market conditions and provide stronger support for wage increases, and therefore it is increasingly important that the bank persistently continue with the current monetary easing.” No, this is not satire. In other words, the BOJ’s deposit rate will remain negative. And the following was added from Government Representatives at the same meeting: “The budget for fiscal 2022 aims to realise a new form of capitalism through a virtual circle of growth and distribution and the government has been making efforts to swiftly obtain the Diet’s approval.” A virtuous circle of growth? It seems like intensified intervention. Meanwhile, Japan’s major banks with asset to equity ratios of over twenty times are too highly geared to survive rising interest rates without a bank credit crisis threatening to take them down. It is hardly surprising that international capital is fleeing the yen, realising that it will be sacrificed by the BOJ in the vain hope that it can continue to maintain bond prices far above where they should be. The euro system and its euro The euro system and the euro share similar characteristics to the BOJ and the yen: interest rates trapped under the zero bound, Eurozone G-SIBs with asset to equity ratios of over 20 times and market realities forcing interest rates and bond yields higher, as Figure 3 shows. Furthermore, Eurozone banks are heavily exposed to Russian and Ukrainian debt due to their geographic proximity. Fig 3: Euro declining as bond yields soar There are two additional problems for the Eurosystem not faced by the BOJ and the yen. The ECB’s shareholders are the national central banks in the euro system, which in turn have balance sheet liabilities more than their assets. The structure of the euro system means that in recapitalising itself the ECB does not have a government to which it can issue credit and receive equity capital in return, the normal way in which a central bank would refinance its balance sheet by turning credit into equity. Instead, it will have to refinance itself through the national central banks which being insolvent themselves in turn would have to refinance themselves through their governments. The second problem is a further complication. The euro system’s TARGET2 settlement system reflects enormous imbalances which complicates resolving a funding crisis. For example, on the last figures (end-February), Germany’s Bundesbank was owed €1,150 billion through TARGET2, while Italy owed €568 billion. It would be in the interests of a recapitalisation for the Italian government to want its central bank to write off this amount, while the Bundesbank is already in negative equity without writing off TARGET2 balances. Germany’s politicians might demand the balances owed to the Bundesbank be secured. This problem is not insoluble perhaps, but one can see that political and public wrangling over these imbalances will only serve to draw attention to the fragility of the whole system and undermine public trust in the currency. With Germany’s CPI now rising at 7.6% and Spain’s at 9.8%, negative deposit rates are wildly inappropriate. When the system breaks it can be expected to be sudden, violent and a shock to those in thrall to the euro system. Conclusion For decades, a showdown between an Asian partnership and hegemonic America has been building. We can date this back to 1983, when China began to accumulate physical gold having appointed the Peoples’ Bank for the purpose. That act was the first indication that China felt the need to protect itself from others as it ventured into capitalism. China has navigated itself through increasing American assertion of its hegemony and attempts to destabilise Hong Kong. It has faced obstacles to its lucrative export trade through tariffs. It has been cut off from Western markets for its advanced technology. China has resented having to use the dollar. After Russia’s ill-advised invasion of Ukraine, it now appears that the invisible war over global financial resources and control is intensifying. The fuse has been lit and events are taking over. The destabilisation of the yen and the euro are now as certain as can be. While the yen is the victim of John Law-like market-rigging policies and likely to go the same way as France’s livre, perhaps the greater danger is for the euro. The contradictions in its set-up, and the destruction of Germany’s sound money principals in favour of the inflationism of the PIGS was always going to be finite. The ECB has got itself into a ridiculous position, and no amount of conjuring and cajoling of financial institutions can resolve the ECB’s own insolvency and that of all its shareholders. History shows that there are two groups involved in a currency collapse. International holders take fright and sell for other currencies and assets they believe to be more secure. They drive the exchange rate lower. The second group is the public in a nation, those who use the currency for transactions. If they lose confidence in it, the currency can rapidly descend into worthlessness as ordinary people accelerate its disposal for anything tangible in a final crack-up boom. In the past, an alternative currency was always the sounder one, one backed by and exchangeable for gold coin. That is so long ago that we in the West have mostly forgotten the difference between money, that is gold and silver, and unbacked fiat currencies. The great unknown has been how much abuse of money and credit it would take for the public to relearn the difference. Cryptocurrencies have alerted us, but they are not a widely accepted medium of exchange and don’t have the legal standing of gold and gold substitutes. War is to be our wake-up call — financial rather than physical in character. Western central banks and their governments have been fiddling the books, telling us that currency debasement is good for us. That debasement has accelerated in recent years. But by upping the anti against Russia with sanctions that end up undermining the purchasing power of all the West’s major currencies, our leaders have called an end to the reign of fiat. Tyler Durden Sat, 04/02/2022 - 14:30.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeApr 2nd, 2022

Universities Follow The Politics, Not The Science

Universities Follow The Politics, Not The Science Authored by Daniel Nuccio via The Brownstone Institute, At the start of 2022, both Rachel Fulton Brown, an associate professor of history at the University of Chicago, and Donald J. Boudreaux, an economics professor at George Mason University, fed up with the draconian dictats and bureaucratic overreach of their respective institutions, published letters openly calling out their universities for their intellectual and moral failures in how they responded to the Covid pandemic. Fulton Brown’s letter to UChicago president, Paul Alivisatos, and provost, Ka Yee C. Lee, lamented her school’s failure to lead the charge against fashionable Covid mitigation policies, while exhorting the institution to change course, celebrate those who exhibited the courage to “stand for SCIENTIFIC INQUIRY over POLITICAL GRANDSTANDING,” and acknowledge they have “students intelligent enough to see through the gaslighting and fear to the real questions we should be asking about what it means to be a great school.” Boudreaux’s memo to GMU president, Gregory Washington, highlighted the intellectual bankruptcy and logical inconsistencies of GMU’s then newly announced booster mandate, specifically addressing GMU’s failure to acknowledge natural immunity, the fact that Covid vaccination does not stop the spread of the virus, and that members of the GMU community still freely interacted with the unvaccinated and unboosted off-campus.  By the time Fulton Brown and Boudreaux released their respective letters, both the University of Chicago and George Mason University had been operating with the standard suite of online classes, social restrictions, mask mandates, and vaccine requirements for nearly two years. Both schools justified their policies as being guided by science. Teaching in the Pandemic Era: masked lectures under hot lights in empty auditoriums In separate phone interviews, Fulton Brown and Boudreaux related some of their personal experiences teaching under these policies, and how they sometimes found themselves butting heads with administrators at their respective institutions. At the University of Chicago, Fulton Brown, upon agreeing to teach in-person one semester, initially did so maskless. She was skeptical of the school’s mask policy to begin with. She found something cultish about the practice. She also found it difficult to effectively communicate in one when teaching in a “giant lecture hall” containing approximately eight people in an otherwise empty building.  Furthermore, students generally found it difficult to understand her when she lectured in a mask in that setting.  As one student, Declan Hurley, personally attested in an op-ed for one of UChicago’s student newspapers, The Chicago Thinker, this was especially true for those who were hearing-impaired. Fulton Brown saw nothing dangerous about what she was doing. For practical reasons, it also made sense. But, before long, Fulton Brown was reprimanded. “The University of Chicago has a policy that people could report infractions,” she explained. “Someone saw me from the hallway and reported me and I got emails from both the dean of my division and the college.”  Fulton Brown’s maskless attire got her called into the principal’s virtual office. At George Mason University, Boudreaux, who taught online from the start of the pandemic through the end of the 2020-2021 school year, returned to in-person teaching in the summer of 2021, at which time the school did not require him to wear a mask.  However, just before the start of the fall semester, GMU announced a mask mandate regardless of vaccination status.  Given that he teaches large auditorium classes at night under hot stage lights for three hours straight, Boudreaux said, “The thought of teaching with a mask on was just unbearable.” Given that he also has high blood pressure, Boudreaux’s physician also thought it would be ill-advised. Subsequently, Boudreax requested that GMU administrators let him take the risk as a fully vaccinated adult and teach without a mask. His request though was denied.  Once more, Boudreaux found himself teaching online. Navigating vaccine mandates and vaccine mandate backlash Like many universities, both UChicago and GMU issued vaccine mandates in 2021.  UChicago provost, Ka Yee C. Lee, and executive vice president, Katie Callow-Wright, claimed, “The University has determined based on expert guidance that widespread COVID-19 vaccination is the best way to contribute to greater immunity, reduce the likelihood of sudden clusters of COVID-19 on campus, minimize the risk imposed by new variants, and help protect members of our community who are at the highest risk of developing serious illness from the virus.” GMU president, Gregory Washington stated, “Because we will come together as COVID-19 continues to circulate, we have an obligation to maintain a safe environment in which to study, work, and live.” Both UChicago and GMU also weathered lawsuits over these decrees. The former was sued by Fulton Brown and another plaintiff with the help of the Health Freedom Defense Fund to secure religious exemptions.  As Jamie Green, a rep from the HFDF, explained in an email, “once we filed, the university was very open to discussions. The university backed down from enforcing the mandate on the plaintiffs.”  However, Green said, UChicago “required a signature to statements with which the plaintiffs did not agree. What was being required was, in essence, compelled speech in order to obtain a religious exemption.” Among other things, the statements pertained to the purported safety and effectiveness of the vaccines, and the dangers of Covid-19.  Ultimately though, Green stated, “[T]he university allowed the plaintiffs to edit the statement as they wished and sign that.” At the latter, GMU law professor Todd Zywicki and the New Civil Liberties Alliance successfully challenged GMU’s vaccine requirement, with the university settling before trial, granting him an exemption based on his personal medical history. The settlement, however, did not extend to anyone other than Todd Zywicki. Both universities also eventually came to issue booster mandates.  UChicago claimed, “[We] rely on consultation from experts from the University of Chicago Medicine, the City, and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC),” to justify their decision.  GMU assured, “Public health experts have advised that vaccines are still the most effective tools to combat COVID-19.”  Both ultimately incited even greater resistance. Before long, Fulton Brown and Boudreaux released their respective letters. The editorial team at The Chicago Thinker published a scathing op-ed which garnered national attention as it excoriated the university for forcing students to receive an “experimental vaccination” despite seemingly limited benefits and potential risks to students. Boudreaux at GMU found himself fed up, saying “I just basically lost it. I’m not boosted. I had no interest in getting boosted. I don’t want to get boosted as a condition for keeping my job.” Like Fulton Brown and his GMU colleague, Todd Zywicki, Boudreaux was ready to take his university to court. “I was all prepared to be a plaintiff to resist the booster mandate,” he said.  A lawyer with the NCLA had offered to represent him, Boudreaux stated.  However, before Boudreaux’s case could be brought to court, the issue became moot. A divergence in policy: GMU reluctantly inches closer to normal while UChicago stays the course The reason Boudreaux’s legal case became moot was because newly elected Virginia governor Glenn Youngkin signed an executive order prohibiting Covid vaccine requirements for state employees.  Shortly thereafter, Virginia attorney general, Jason S. Miyares, issued a non-binding opinion stating, “Public institutions of higher education in Virginia may not require vaccination against Covid-19 as a general condition of students’ enrollment or in-person attendance.”  Although nonbinding, it did effectively nullify the opinion of the previous attorney general, Mark R. Herring, which was supportive of such mandates. Hence it was sufficient to get several state universities in Virginia, including GMU, to rescind vaccine requirements for students. Whatever GMU officials actually believed about the science backing their mandates and vaccines being “the most effective tools to combat COVID-19”, it would appear the politics of state leadership superseded all else. UChicago, located in Illinois where Governor J. B. Pritzker issued an executive order in September 2021 requiring faculty and students at universities to be vaccinated for Covid or undergo weekly testing, still maintains its vaccine and booster mandates. Whether the continuation of the policy is on account of expert guidance or the executive order remains unknown. What UChicago will do if and when this order is dropped remains uncertain. In response to an email sent to President Paul Alivisatos of the University of Chicago regarding whether the school intended to maintain its vaccine and booster requirements into the Fall of 2022 and beyond, Gerald McSwiggan, the school’s associate director for public affairs, replied on March 8, “The University has made no announcements on COVID-19 policies for the 2022-23 academic year.” Whatever UChicago decides to do, its reputation as a university of contrarian free thinkers has definitely taken another hit.  As Hurley from The Chicago Thinker had previously declared with a headline, “In Ending Mandates, George Mason University Picks Up UChicago’s Forfeited Crown.” Universities follow the politics, not the science The imagery evoked by Hurley’s headline, although not without its appeal, may give too much credit to the administrators at GMU, however. The trajectories of Covid policies at the University of Chicago and George Mason University are more similar than they are different. Furthermore, the paths they followed seem all too representative of how most universities responded to Covid. They were quick to shut down. They imposed authoritarian policies on faculty and students when they reopened. They added additional restrictions when fashionable or mandated by local or state political leaders, with few exhibiting the courage to “stand for SCIENTIFIC INQUIRY over POLITICAL GRANDSTANDING,” or acknowledge they have “students intelligent enough to see through the gaslighting and fear to the real questions we should be asking.” When restrictions were lifted, it was often only because they were nudged (or required) to do so by politicians – or when said politicians lifted their own orders upon realizing their policies might be costing them politically, as was the case with masks at many schools, including UChicago and GMU. Throughout the pandemic, many universities claimed some moral or intellectual high ground as they wrapped their decrees and their actions in the language of science and safety. However, in reality, over the past two years many of these universities revealed themselves to be little more than political actors as intellectually bankrupt as they are morally corrupt. Tyler Durden Wed, 03/23/2022 - 22:20.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytMar 24th, 2022

Malthusianism, Prometheanism, & The Hyper-Bitcoinized World To Come

Malthusianism, Prometheanism, & The Hyper-Bitcoinized World To Come Via Cathedra.com, 2021 Letter to Shareholders Dear Fellow Shareholders of Cathedra Bitcoin Inc: In 1798, a British economist was concerned that the incessant increase in population would cause humanity to run out of food. As a solution, he supported a variety of measures aimed at curbing the rate of population growth (e.g., taxes on food) to improve the living standards for those humans who did survive. The economist in question, Thomas Malthus, was raised in a country house in Surrey, was educated at Jesus College Cambridge, became a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1818, and–in simple terms–championed policies designed to limit (or end) human life to prevent this population bomb. “Instead of recommending cleanliness to the poor, we should encourage contrary habits. In our towns we should make the streets narrower, crowd more people into the houses, and court the return of the plague.” – Thomas Malthus, “An Essay on the Principle of Population” (1798) Looking back, we can see that such predictions have (fortunately) not come to fruition. The human population has grown ninefold since Malthus penned his infamous piece, “An Essay on the Principle of Population.” Meanwhile, technology has given humanity the ability to channel energy in ways unimaginable to Malthus, allowing us to enjoy levels of prosperity that make the elitist Malthus look like a serf in comparison. Yet we are not without our troubles. In response to COVID-19, the last two years have seen an unprecedented degree of government intervention around the world, through mandates as well as record-breaking fiscal and monetary stimulus. Meanwhile, food shortages have visited the developed and developing worlds alike. Housing, asset, and commodity prices are soaring, with even the dubious Consumer Price Index reaching its highest level in four decades in the U.S. And around the world, civil unrest is on the rise. We believe the root causes of these issues are quite simple: unsound money and unsound energy infrastructure. In this first annual letter to Cathedra Bitcoin shareholders, we examine the current state of both and discuss how they inform our vision for the future of the company. Macro Update: Energy The European Energy Crisis For the last six months, headlines have been filled with a “European Energy Crisis.” As the global economy surged back to life after 18 months of lockdowns, a perfect storm of events unfolded: over the summer, China increased natural gas imports following a coal shortage, causing power prices to rise in Europe; in September, a wind shortage beset northern Europe, resulting in enormous sums being paid to dispatch other (“dirtier”) forms of generation; reduced natural gas imports from Russia left Europe with historically low natural gas reserves; in December, unusually cold temperatures hit the continent, sending shockwaves through energy markets (even serving as a catalyst for the civil unrest in Kazakhstan); and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in recent weeks has sent oil and gas prices surging, bringing calls for increased domestic energy production. These events have conspired to cause a sharp increase in energy prices around the continent. One is tempted to point to any one of the above as a “black swan event” driven by unforeseeable forces beyond our control (in hindsight, it will be even more tempting to blame this crisis on Putin’s invasion of Ukraine). But in reality, Europe has been systematically dismantling its stable energy infrastructure for over a decade. And unfortunately, they are not alone. Take California, for example: over the last decade, the state has seen energy prices rise 7x more than those in the rest of the U.S., and blackouts have become “almost daily events.” If one looks deeper, a far subtler cause reveals itself: misguided policies that subsidize intermittent renewables and shutter stable forms of generation, the net effects of which are energy insecurity and higher energy costs. The Real “Energy Transition” Beginning in the early 2000s, governments around the world began reorienting energy policy around climate change. These “net-zero” policies push for an “energy transition” away from CO2-emitting energy sources toward 100% “renewable” energy, primarily via subsidies to intermittent wind and solar generation. On the surface, these policies seem to have worked. EU power generation from renewables has increased 157% in the last ten years. As a result, in 2020, renewable generation in Europe surpassed that of fossil fuels for the first time, providing 38% of the region’s electricity (vs. fossil fuels’ 37%). And these policies are only accelerating: in July 2021, the EU announced its even more ambitious goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030, requiring an estimated tripling of wind and solar generation from 547 TWh in 2020 to ~1,500 TWh in 2030. These pro-renewables policies have been paired with the abandonment of more stable forms of generation. Coal continues to be pushed out of the generation stack due to its heavy carbon footprint and the rising cost of carbon credits. Additionally, despite the seemingly obvious importance of nuclear energy in a “net-zero” carbon future, regulators have been shutting down nuclear reactors around the world in response to environmentalist movements[1] (a trend that accelerated in the wake of the Fukushima disaster). Germany alone shut down 16 GW of nuclear power since 2011, and plans to retire its last three nuclear power plants this year. With hydro being geography-dependent and long-term energy storage unsolved, natural gas is left as the main  viable form of dispatchable generation. Given self-imposed fracking bans, Europe has no choice but to import natural gas via LNG or pipelines (largely from Russia). Returning to California, we see the same dangerous combination of policies. Despite the aforementioned rising electricity costs and grid fragility, the state is decommissioning its last nuclear power plant at Diablo Canyon–responsible for ~10% of the state’s electricity–while reasserting goals to achieve “net-zero” by 2045. Unfortunately, even if stable forms of generation are not discarded by mandates, renewables subsidies distort market signals. This auxiliary revenue stream of carbon or renewable energy credits allows wind and solar farms to sell power to the grid at negative prices, often driving unsubsidized, baseload generation out of business. The net result? The hollowing out of sound energy infrastructure, which increases both the costs and fragility of the energy system. In her book Shorting the Grid, Meredith Angwin warns of a “fatal trifecta” affecting grids around the world: (1) overreliance on renewables, (2) overreliance on natural gas, often used to load-follow renewables, and (3) overreliance on energy imports. When demand outpaces supply, either due to diminished output from renewables or heightened demand (e.g., during a cold snap), grid operators seek to dispatch additional generation. But natural gas and energy imports are both vulnerable to disruptions, as natural gas is typically delivered just-in-time via pipelines and neighboring regions are likely to experience correlated supply or demand shocks (read: weather). This results in more expensive energy (increased demand chasing limited supply) or enforced blackouts (e.g., Texas in February 2021). “Grid fragility” may sound like a highly abstract concept, but its real-world consequences are severe. It means industry halting, hospitals losing power, and even access to clean water being threatened. Such effects are so severe that energy-insecure countries tend to rely on more rudimentary forms of energy, including expensive backup diesel generators, to keep the lights on. Robert Bryce has termed this phenomenon the “Iron Law of Electricity”: people, businesses, and governments will do whatever they must to get the electricity they need[2]. We fear these confused policies are causing an energy transition of the wrong kind–one toward energy insecurity. Its effects are clear in the U.S., where “major electric disturbances and unusual occurrences” on the grid have increased 13x over the last 20 years. Meanwhile, Generac, a leading gas-powered backup generator company, saw 50% growth in sales in 2021 (it's worth highlighting the contradiction between the stated aims of these “net-zero” policies and their downstream effects). A Malthusian Approach to Energy Energy insecurity is also expensive. Dependence on intermittent renewables often results in paying top-dollar for energy when it’s needed most. During its September wind shortage, the UK paid GBP 4,000 per MWh to turn on a coal power plant–a clear demonstration that not all megawatt hours are created equal. The quality of energy matters. With renewables, humanity is once again at the mercy of the weather. This is the underlying logic of these “net-zero” policies: make energy more expensive so that we use less of it. In fact, economists advising the European Central Bank view rising energy costs (“greenflation”) as a feature, not a bug–a necessary consequence of the energy transition. Rising energy prices are a regressive tax on the least well-off in society. We all require energy to survive (heating/cooling, food, water, etc.), regardless of our wealth. These requirements are effectively a fixed cost; the lower one’s income, the greater the percentage of it one spends on energy. There is a point beyond which rising energy costs become unsustainable, sending people to the streets to fight for their survival–as we saw in Kazakhstan after the spike in LPG prices. Researchers estimate that each 1% increase in heating prices causes a 0.06% increase in winter-related deaths, with disproportionate effects in low-income areas. “If energy is life, then the lack of energy is death.” – Doomberg, “Shooting Oil in a Barrel” (2021) Energy is the key input for every other good and service in the economy, and over time accounts for all wealth in an economy. To the extent energy gets more expensive, so does everything else (including and especially food), making society poorer. This is the Malthusian approach to energy. Expensive “green” energy that the elites can afford, while the unwashed masses bear the brunt of those rising costs. Energy for me, but not for thee. We question the political and social sustainability of such an approach. Enter Entropy Energy’s role is even more fundamental to the economy and human well-being than most understand. As we’ve discussed elsewhere, what is commonly understood as “energy generation” is really just the conversion of energy into a more highly ordered form; it is the reduction of entropy locally by shedding even greater amounts of entropy elsewhere. Despite the universality of this entropy reduction, some energy resources are inherently lower-entropy than others (highly dense nuclear fission vs. low-density wind power). We depend on this entropy reduction to sustain us through the food and energy we need to maintain the order of civilization. This entropy reduction is cumulative; without sufficient entropy-reducing energy infrastructure, we cannot maintain our existing order. We cannot create entropy-reducing energy infrastructure without adequate pre-existing infrastructure. And we cannot advance further as a civilization (i.e., create more order) unless we develop even more entropy-reducing infrastructure. “We never escape from the need for energy. Whatever the short-term variations might look like, the trend over time is for greater energy use, to deliver and crucially to maintain and replace a human sphere that is progressively further away from thermodynamic equilibrium. There is no point at which you sit down and have a rest.” – John Constable, “Energy, Entropy and the Theory of Wealth” (2016) There is no free lunch when it comes to energy. If a country’s economy grows while reducing energy consumption, it is only through de-industrialization, exporting its energy footprint to other countries (the same often holds true for carbon emissions). The second law of thermodynamics is indeed a law, the best attested regularity in natural science, not a tentative suggestion: the entropy must go somewhere. Unfortunately, distortions caused by our current monetary system have convinced many otherwise, a deception that has had dire consequences. Macro Update: Money For the last 50 years the world has participated in an unprecedented experiment: a global fiat monetary standard. In 1974, a few years after “Tricky Dick” Nixon rug-pulled the other governments of the world by severing convertibility of the U.S. dollar into gold, the U.S. struck a deal with Saudi Arabia to cement the dollar’s status as the global reserve currency: the OPEC nations would agree to sell oil exclusively for U.S. dollars, and the Saudis would receive the protection of the U.S. military in return. This arrangement, which survives to this day, became known as the “Petrodollar system,” and it has had enduring economic, social, and political consequences: securing the dollar’s status as the reserve currency of the world; bidding up U.S. asset prices via petrodollar “recycling;” displacing U.S. manufacturing capabilities and increasing economic inequality between American wage-earners and asset-owners; and contributing to the secular decline in interest rates, causing an accumulation of public- and private-sector debts and distortions in the pricing mechanism for all other assets (typically viewed in relation to the “risk-free rate” of interest on Treasuries). In recent years, cracks in the foundation of this system have begun to show. A half-century of irresponsible fiscal and monetary policy has pushed sovereign and private sector debt to the brink of unsustainability and fragilized financial markets. The once steady foreign demand for Treasuries is evaporating, forcing the Fed to begin monetizing U.S. deficits at an increasing rate. The U.S.’s share of global GDP is waning, and the role of the dollar in key trading relationships is diminishing. Even the once-mighty U.S. military—on whose supremacy the entire Petrodollar system was predicated—shows signs of degeneration. The U.S. response to the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated many of these trends. Through a series of legislative and executive actions in 2020 and 2021, Congress and the Trump and Biden administrations approved nearly $7 trillion of spending on COVID relief, a large majority of which increased the federal deficit. Not to be outdone, the Fed authorized its own emergency measures to the tune of $7 trillion. In the nearly two years since these extraordinary actions, the U.S. and the global economy has been defined by record-low interest rates (which is part of the explanation for the interest in subsidized renewables); acute supply chain disruptions (read: shortages) across critical markets; a continuation of the asset price inflation of prior decades; and the highest levels of consumer price inflation in 40 years. This last development—“not-so-transitory” CPI inflation—is perhaps most significant given it represents a departure from economic conditions since the Great Financial Crisis. The Fed now faces a predicament. With mounting cries from the public and political officials over the runaway CPI, the pressure is on Jay Powell & Co. to arrest inflation by raising interest rates. But the current state of public and private sector balance sheets complicates matters. As the Fed increases rates, so too does it increase the federal government’s borrowing cost, not to mention that of a private sector which is also saddled with dollar-denominated debt. If corporates are unable to service or refinance their debt, they will be forced to reduce costs, resulting in higher unemployment. Rest assured; rates aren’t going higher for long. Global balance sheets will not allow it. This suggests to us that we may be entering a period of financial repression, whereby inflation is allowed to run hot while interest rates remain pinned near zero, producing negative real returns and deleveraging balance sheets over several years. We also find it likely that the Fed will be forced to implement some version of a yield curve control program. Under such a policy, the central bank commits to purchasing as many bonds as necessary to cap the yields of various maturities of Treasuries at certain predetermined levels. There is precedent for a maneuver of this sort: the Fed implemented a version of the policy throughout the 1940s to inflate away the national debt during and after WWII. At the end of the long-term debt cycle, the only option is to inflate away the debt and debase the currency. But unlike in the 1940s, citizens, businesses, and governments now have several monetary alternatives available to them. We therefore believe the coming period of structural inflation will hasten a transition to a new monetary standard. The Currency Wars Cometh The writing is on the wall; the post-Bretton Woods monetary system is in its death throes. The question is not if we will see a paradigm shift away from the present dollar-based monetary order, but when. And the far more interesting question, in our view, is: what will replace it? We believe the next global monetary system will be built atop Bitcoin—with bitcoin the asset and Bitcoin the network working together to offer final settlement in a digitally native, fixed-supply reserve currency on politically neutral rails. Bitcoin uniquely enables this value proposition, and game theory and economic incentives will compel nation-states to take notice amid the collapsing monetary order. But it is not without competition. Central Bank Digital Currencies Bitcoin is the ideological and economic foil to another candidate for heir to the petrodollar: the central bank digital currency (“CBDC”). The retail CBDC—which is the variety most often discussed in policy circles—is a natively digital form of fiat money that is issued, managed, and controlled by the central bank. Their proponents claim CBDCs would enable many of the same benefits as cryptocurrencies—near-instant final settlement, programmability, high availability, etc.—without many of the attendant “disadvantages”—decentralization, untraceability, etc. CBDCs open up a whole new design space for monetary authorities, empowering them to implement creative and fine-grained policies which heretofore have been confined to masturbatory thought-experiments in BIS papers (e.g., negative interest rates). They would also allow for all manner of fiscal policies which today are operationally or technically infeasible; one can imagine government-imposed parameters around how and when a given sum of CBDC money is spent, digitally programmed into one’s Fed wallet. A universal basic income program could be effected with a single keystroke. In many ways, the CBDC is the perfect Malthusian implement. Their inherent programmability allows for granular, top-down rationing of resources for whatever “greater good” suits the politically powerful. “I’m sorry, sir. Your card has been declined, as you have already exceeded your weekly beef quota. Might we suggest a more environmentally friendly alternative, such as a Bill Gates pea protein patty?” Such a system amounts to highly efficient regulatory capture; citizens are only permitted to spend money on those goods and services favored by The Powers That Be (or the corporate interests that fund them). Expect CBDCs to further distort the pricing mechanism, leading to a variety of market failures (such as the current energy crises). Skeptics of such claims need only be reminded of the U.S. government’s recent history of abusing its power to restrict politically undesirable financial activities. It should come as no surprise that the CBDC model is being pioneered by the Chinese Communist Party in the form of a “digital renminbi.” Make no mistake—wherever a CBDC is implemented, it will be weaponized by the State for political ends. In the West, such a system would be readily abused to create a Chinese-style social credit system—but one cloaked in the neo-liberal parlance of “financial inclusion,” “climate justice,” and “anti-money laundering.” CBDCs: Coming to A Country Near You? We remain cautiously optimistic that the U.S. will forgo implementing this dystopian technology. The U.S. remains among the freest nations in the world, both politically and culturally. A CBDC is wholly incompatible with American values, and we expect millions of Americans would resist the complete usurpation of their financial lives by the State. Additionally, a retail CBDC implemented by the Fed would transfer power from the commercial banks whose interests the Fed was conceived to protect to the federal bureaucracy[3]. And is there any doubt that the U.S. now lacks the state capacity to implement a CBDC, a feat which would require a high degree of technical and operational competence? Figure 1: Which Way, Western Man? BTC vs. CBDC Bitcoin for America So, how can the U.S. extend its financial leadership of the 20th century amid the decaying Petrodollar system? The U.S. is already the frontrunner in nearly all things Bitcoin—trading volumes, mining activity, number of hodlers, entrepreneurial and business activity, capital markets activity, etc. We submit that the path of least resistance would be for America to lean into its leadership in the Bitcoin industry and embrace the technology as a privacy-respecting, open-source, free-market, and fundamentally American alternative to the totalitarian CBDC. What does “adopting Bitcoin” look like for a country like the U.S.? It is likely some combination of: (i) authorizing bitcoin as legal tender, (ii) removing onerous capital gains tax treatment, (iii) subsidizing or sponsoring mining operations (which could support domestic energy infrastructure, in turn), (iv) purchasing bitcoin as a reserve asset by the Fed and/or Treasury, or (v) making the dollar convertible into bitcoin at a fixed exchange rate. We see early signs that such a move by the U.S. may not be so far-fetched. Notably, major American policymakers have already signaled support for bitcoin as an important monetary asset and nascent industry. The “crypto” sector has grown into an important lobby in D.C. and represents a highly engaged, motivated constituency—politicians are taking notice. In our estimation, Bitcoin’s economic incentives and congruence with American values make it the leading candidate for U.S. adoption as a successor to the present monetary order. As the current dollar-based system continues to deteriorate, we are excited by the potential for a U.S.-led coalition of freedom loving nations moving to a Bitcoin Standard. Money, Energy, and Entropy Energy is the fundamental means to reduce entropy in the human sphere, and money is our tool for the direction of energy towards this end. We use money to communicate information about economic production, resolving uncertainty about how scarce resources ought to be employed. And we seek out highly ordered sources of energy to resist the influence of entropy on our bodies and societies. In his lecture, “Energy, Entropy and the Theory of Wealth,” John Constable of the Renewable Energy Foundation observes that all goods and services—and indeed, civilizations—are alike in that they are thermodynamically improbable. All require energy as an input and necessarily create order (i.e., reduce entropy) in the human domain, shifting the local state further away from thermodynamic equilibrium. So then, wealth can be understood as a thermodynamically improbable state made possible through human entropy reduction. If material wealth is measured by the goods and services one has at one’s disposal, then wealth creation on a sound monetary standard is the reduction of entropy for others, and one’s wealth is a record of one’s ability to reduce entropy for fellow man. Unsound money (of the sort the Malthusians celebrate) increases uncertainty—and therefore, entropy—in economic systems. Active management of the money supply confuses the price signal, reducing the information contained therein and erecting an economic Tower of Babel. Fiat money therefore contributes to malinvestment—entrepreneurial miscalculations which produce the wrong goods and services and increase societal entropy. Nowhere is this more apparent than in our energy infrastructure: unsound money has caused malinvestment in unsound sources of generation. As noted above, a half-century of government subsidies and declining interest rates made possible by the Petrodollar system has steered capital towards unreliable renewables that invite greater entropy into the fragile human sphere, dragging us ever closer toward thermodynamic equilibrium (read: civilizational collapse). Cathedra Bitcoin Update Our macro views on energy and money inform everything we’re doing at Cathedra. Chief among them is the belief that sound money and cheap, abundant, highly ordered energy are the fundamental ingredients to human flourishing. Our company mission is to bring both to humanity, and so lead mankind into a new Renaissance—one led by Bitcoin and the energy revolution we believe it will galvanize. Accordingly, with Cathedra we’ve set out to build a category-defining company at the intersection of bitcoin mining and energy. One which is designed to thrive in the turbulent years of the present energy and monetary transition and in the hyperbitcoinized world we believe is to come. In December we announced a change of the company’s name from Fortress Technologies to Cathedra Bitcoin. Our new name reflects our aspirations for the company and for Bitcoin more broadly. The gothic cathedral is a symbol of bold, ambitious, long-term projects; indeed, any single contributor to the monument would likely die before its completion, but contributed nonetheless—because it was a project worth undertaking. So it is with Cathedra, and so it is with Bitcoin. The religious connotations of the name “Cathedra” are not lost on us. Rather, they’re an indication of the seriousness with which we regard this mission. Ours is a quest of civilizational importance. Our new name also hints at another distinguishing feature of our business: we focus our efforts on Bitcoin, and Bitcoin only. The difference between Bitcoin and other “crypto” networks is one of kind, not degree. Bitcoin is the only meaningfully decentralized network in the “crypto” space, which is why bitcoin the asset will continue to win adoption as the preferred form of digitally native money by the world’s eight billion inhabitants. Bitcoin seeks to destroy the institution of seigniorage once and for all. Your favorite shitcoin creator just wants to capture the seigniorage himself. We feel strongly that our long-term mission of delivering sound money and cheap, abundant energy to humanity can be best achieved through a vertically integrated model. In the long-term, Cathedra will develop and/or acquire a portfolio of energy generation assets that leverages the synergies between energy production and bitcoin mining to the advantage of both businesses. In a decade, Cathedra may be as much an energy company as a bitcoin miner. Vertical integration will allow us to control our supply chain and rate of expansion to a greater degree, in addition to giving us a cost advantage over our competitors. As a low-cost producer of bitcoin, we will also be positioned to deliver a suite of ancillary products and services to customers in the Bitcoin and energy sectors. And we’ve begun making strides toward this goal. Earlier this year, the Cathedra team expanded by three with the hires of Isaac Fithian (Chief Field Operations and Manufacturing Officer), Rete Browning (Chief Technology Officer), and Tom Masiero (Head of Business Development). Each of these gentlemen brings years of experience in developing and deploying mobile bitcoin mining infrastructure in off-grid environments. With this expanded team, we recently began production of proprietary modular datacenters to house the 5,100 bitcoin mining machines we have scheduled for delivery throughout 2022. We’re calling these datacenters “rovers,” a nod to their mobility, embedded automation, and capacity to operate under harsh environmental conditions in remote geographies. The modularity and modest footprint of our rovers will allow us to produce them at a rapid pace and deploy them wherever the cheapest power is found, in both on- and off-grid environments. We are proud to be manufacturing our fleet of rovers entirely in New Hampshire, working with the local business community to bring heavy industry back to the U.S. As bitcoin miners, we view ourselves as managers of a portfolio of hash rate. As in the traditional asset management business, diversification can be a powerful asset. Whereas most of the large, publicly traded bitcoin miners are pursuing a similar strategy to one another—developing and/or renting space at hyperscale, on-grid datacenters in which to operate their mining machines—we have optimized our approach to minimize regulatory, market, environmental, or other idiosyncratic risk within our portfolio of hash rate. If one has 90% of one’s hash rate portfolio concentrated in a single on-grid site, 90% of one’s revenue can be shut off by a grid failure or other catastrophic event—an occurrence which is sadly becoming more common, as highlighted in our Energy Update. To our knowledge, Cathedra is the only publicly traded bitcoin miner with both on- and off-grid operations today. We increasingly believe that the future of bitcoin mining is off-grid. On-grid deployments are already vulnerable to myriad unique risks today, and we believe their economic proposition will become less attractive over time. As power producers continue to integrate bitcoin mining at the site of generation themselves, large on-grid miners positioned “downstream” in the energy value chain will see their electricity rates rise. Today, “off-grid” describes any arrangement in which a bitcoin miner procures power directly from an energy producer. Popular implementations include stranded and flared natural gas and behind-the-meter hydro and nuclear. In the long-term, we believe the only way to remain competitive will be to vertically integrate down to the energy generation asset. Mining bitcoin is a capital-intensive business. To ensure we have access to the capital we’ll require to execute on our vision, we’ve embarked on several capital markets initiatives. In February, Cathedra commenced trading on the OTCQX Best Market under the symbol “CBTTF.” This milestone represents a significant upgrade from our prior listing on the OTC Pink Market and should enhance our stock’s accessibility and liquidity for U.S. investors. We intend to list on a U.S. stock exchange in 2022 to further increase the visibility, liquidity, and trading volume in our stock. We recently announced that Cathedra secured US$17m in debt financing from NYDIG, a loan secured by bitcoin mining equipment. When it comes to borrowing in fiat to finance assets that produce bitcoin—an asset which appreciates 150%+ per year on average—almost any cost of debt makes sense. We intend to continue using non-dilutive financing in a responsible manner where possible, with a sober appreciation for the risks debt service presents as an additional fixed cost. Accumulating a formidable war chest of bitcoin on our corporate balance sheet is a priority for us. If one believes, as we do, that the next global monetary order will be built with Bitcoin at its center, then those companies with the largest bitcoin treasuries will thrive. We will continue to hold as much of our mined bitcoin as possible and may even supplement our mining activities with opportunistic bitcoin purchases on occasion. At time of writing, Cathedra has 187 PH/s of hash rate active, and another 534 PH/s of hash rate contracted via purchases of mining machines we expect to be delivered from April through December of this year. Since we replaced the prior management team in September, we have grown Cathedra’s contracted hash rate by more than 300%. And we’re just getting started. Conclusion We stand today at a crossroads between two divergent movements defined by conflicting visions for the future: Malthusianism and Prometheanism. The Malthusians believe progress is zero (or even negative) sum; resources are finite and “degrowth” is the only viable path forward; we ought to judge human action first and foremost by whether it disturbs the natural world. This movement is characterized by totalitarian CBDCs and a desire to make energy more scarce and expensive, so that earth’s resources can be appropriately rationed. On the other hand, the Prometheans carry with them a more optimistic vision: progress is positive-sum; human creativity allows us to liberate and employ resources in novel ways, in turn preserving the natural world for our own benefit; and that human flourishing is the moral standard by which we should evaluate human action. These are social, cultural, and spiritual choices we are all called to confront. “The century will be fought between Malthusians (“resources are finite”; obsessed with overpopulation; scarcity mindset; zero-sum, finite games) and Prometheans (“human imagination is the most valuable natural resource”; abundance mindset; positive sum, infinite games).” – Alpha Barry (2020) The Malthusian camp wants top-down, centralized management of resources via CBDCs and energy rationing policies. They believe our energy resources are fixed; the only path forward is backward, farming for energy using huge swaths of land controlled by the privileged few. “Industrialization for me but not for thee.” “You’ll own nothing and be happy.” These are the slogans of the Malthusian movement. This is not the path that took us to space and lifted billions out of poverty. We, Cathedra, choose the other path. That of Prometheus, who stole fire from the gods to benefit humankind. We believe in a future of sound money that brings property rights to eight billion humans around the world. A world of beautiful, free cities powered by dense and highly ordered forms of energy generation. Small modular nuclear reactors with load-balancing bitcoin miners (and no seed oils). A future in which technology is employed to improve the human condition–not only for those who walk the earth today, but for generations to come. Bitcoin mining is a powerful ally to the Promethean cause. As the energy buyer of last resort, Bitcoin promotes sound money and sound energy infrastructure. No two forces are more fundamental to keeping disorder at bay and advancing human civilization. We at Cathedra are not alone; there are other Prometheans working tirelessly to further this vision of a freer, more prosperous tomorrow. Human flourishing is earned, not given. Together, we win. Drew Armstrong President & Chief Operating Officer AJ Scalia Chief Executive Officer Tyler Durden Mon, 03/14/2022 - 19:40.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytMar 14th, 2022