FREEDOM OR ANARCHY,Campaign of Conscience.

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This blog does not promote, support, condone, encourage, advocate, nor in any way endorse any racist (or "racialist") ideologies, nor any armed and/or violent revolutionary, seditionist and/or terrorist activities. Any racial separatist or militant groups listed here are solely for reference and Opinions of multiple authors including Freedom or Anarchy Campaign of conscience.

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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Americans Concerned About Declining Influence of Religion

Americans Concerned About Declining Influence of Religion


A new Pew Research Center survey of opinion about the importance of religion in American life shows an interesting picture.

Over the last 12 years, the percentage of Americans that think religion is losing influence in American life has increased dramatically. In 2002, 52 percent of those surveyed said religion is losing influence. In 2014, 72 percent of Americans said religion is losing influence.

However, while increasing numbers of Americans feel religion is losing influence, most feel this is a bad thing.

Fifty-six percent say that the waning influence of religion is a bad thing compared to 12 percent that say it is a good thing.

In a survey done by Pew in 2012, 58 percent of Americans said religion is “very important” and only 18 percent said it is not “too important” or “not important at all.”

This raises some interesting questions.

One clear one is why, when Americans think religion is very important, has the percentage of Americans who think religion is losing influence in American life increased almost 40 percent over the last 14 years?

Another one is what are the political implications? Certainly, in the Republican Party, there is an increasingly vocal libertarian leaning faction that sees religion as costly political baggage.

I attribute why almost three fourths of Americans feel that religion is losing influence in American life, while most feel this is a bad thing, to the law of unintended consequences.

Many Americans have been unwittingly supporting policies for more than a half-century that they thought were good ideas and consistent with their values which have been neither. Now more Americans are beginning to appreciate the damage that has been done and how far the nation has strayed from their own sense of right and wrong.

Take the example of welfare.

When Aid to Families with Dependent Children program was dramatically expanded in the 1960s, it seemed morally correct for government to get more aggressive in the lives of the poor, particularly poor black women.

Who appreciated that the program would undermine the very religious, traditional values that keep families intact, essential for the work ethic that leads people out poverty? Massive increases of government in the lives of low-income black families were accompanied by a tripling of single parent households and out-of wedlock births, laying the groundwork for intergenerational poverty.

Now it’s happening in the whole country. As we’ve gotten more government telling Americans how to save for retirement, how to deal with their health care, how to educate their children – American families have been damaged and out-of-wedlock births have increased six-fold from 1960 to 42 percent today. Government has displaced family.

Some say today we have competing views about the role of government.

I would say we have competing views about what life is about.

One view – a decidedly secular, materialistic view – sees no mystery in life. The left wing version, which dominates the Democratic Party, says government can solve all of life’s problems. The hard-core libertarian version, found among some Republicans – says just leave everybody alone – you don’t bother me and I won’t bother you – and everything will work out for the best.

The other view maintains that you can’t have a free society that is not also a virtuous society. It was what George Washington meant when he said in his farewell address that “of all the dispensations and habits that lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.”

It is my sense that more Americans are beginning to wake up to the unintended, damaging consequences of the often well-intended government policies they have been supporting for many years.

More Americans are beginning to appreciate that we can’t separate our fiscal and economic problems from our moral problems and that if we want to recapture our freedom and prosperity, we must recapture our virtue.



By Star Parker Americans Concerned About Declining Influence of Religion


A new Pew Research Center survey of opinion about the importance of religion in American life shows an interesting picture.

Over the last 12 years, the percentage of Americans that think religion is losing influence in American life has increased dramatically. In 2002, 52 percent of those surveyed said religion is losing influence. In 2014, 72 percent of Americans said religion is losing influence.

However, while increasing numbers of Americans feel religion is losing influence, most feel this is a bad thing.

Fifty-six percent say that the waning influence of religion is a bad thing compared to 12 percent that say it is a good thing.

In a survey done by Pew in 2012, 58 percent of Americans said religion is “very important” and only 18 percent said it is not “too important” or “not important at all.”

This raises some interesting questions.

One clear one is why, when Americans think religion is very important, has the percentage of Americans who think religion is losing influence in American life increased almost 40 percent over the last 14 years?

Another one is what are the political implications? Certainly, in the Republican Party, there is an increasingly vocal libertarian leaning faction that sees religion as costly political baggage.

I attribute why almost three fourths of Americans feel that religion is losing influence in American life, while most feel this is a bad thing, to the law of unintended consequences.

Many Americans have been unwittingly supporting policies for more than a half-century that they thought were good ideas and consistent with their values which have been neither. Now more Americans are beginning to appreciate the damage that has been done and how far the nation has strayed from their own sense of right and wrong.

Take the example of welfare.

When Aid to Families with Dependent Children program was dramatically expanded in the 1960s, it seemed morally correct for government to get more aggressive in the lives of the poor, particularly poor black women.

Who appreciated that the program would undermine the very religious, traditional values that keep families intact, essential for the work ethic that leads people out poverty? Massive increases of government in the lives of low-income black families were accompanied by a tripling of single parent households and out-of wedlock births, laying the groundwork for intergenerational poverty.

Now it’s happening in the whole country. As we’ve gotten more government telling Americans how to save for retirement, how to deal with their health care, how to educate their children – American families have been damaged and out-of-wedlock births have increased six-fold from 1960 to 42 percent today. Government has displaced family.

Some say today we have competing views about the role of government.

I would say we have competing views about what life is about.

One view – a decidedly secular, materialistic view – sees no mystery in life. The left wing version, which dominates the Democratic Party, says government can solve all of life’s problems. The hard-core libertarian version, found among some Republicans – says just leave everybody alone – you don’t bother me and I won’t bother you – and everything will work out for the best.

The other view maintains that you can’t have a free society that is not also a virtuous society. It was what George Washington meant when he said in his farewell address that “of all the dispensations and habits that lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.”

It is my sense that more Americans are beginning to wake up to the unintended, damaging consequences of the often well-intended government policies they have been supporting for many years.

More Americans are beginning to appreciate that we can’t separate our fiscal and economic problems from our moral problems and that if we want to recapture our freedom and prosperity, we must recapture our virtue.



By Star Parker

Random Thoughts

Random Thoughts

Random thoughts on the passing scene:

What a non-judgmental society amounts to is that common decency is optional – which means that decency is likely to become less common.

The biggest issue in this fall’s election is whether the Obama administration will end when Barack Obama leaves the White House or whether it will continue on, by appointing federal judges with lifetime appointments who share President Obama’s contempt for the Constitution. Whether such judges will be confirmed by the Senate depends on whether the Senate continues to be controlled by Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Why in the world would any sane American go to North Korea and put themselves at the mercy of a crackpot dictator?

Since Illinois enacted a law permitting more people to carry concealed firearms, more than 65,000 people got permits to do so. Rates of robbery, burglary and motor vehicle thefts have dropped significantly, and the murder rate has fallen to a level not seen in more than half a century. If only the gun control fanatics would pay some attention to facts, a lot of lives could be saved.

If you took all the mumbo-jumbo out of our educational institutions, how much would be left? Students could finish their education years earlier and end up knowing a lot more than they know now.

Why are Americans – and the Western world in general – falling all over ourselves stifling our own self-expression to appease people who chose to immigrate here, and are now demanding the suppression of anything they don’t like, such as public expressions of Christianity or displays of the American flag?

Someone should write a history of political rhetoric, if only to put us on our guard against being deceived into disasters. The First World War, for example, was said to be a war “to make the world safe for democracy.” What it actually led to was the replacement of despotic dynasties by totalitarian dictatorships that were far worse, including far more murderous.

Professor Sterling Brown remains as much a hero to me in my old age as he was when I was a freshman at Howard University. He wrote bitterly eloquent attacks on racism – and yet, when I was preparing to go off to Harvard, he said to me, “Don’t come back here and tell me you didn’t make it ‘cause white folks were mean.”

The fatal weakness of most clever people is that they don’t know when to stop being clever. The past cleverness of President Obama is finally starting to catch up with him.

Why Republicans would bring up the subject of immigration during an election year is beyond me. Yet Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner seems drawn to the subject like a moth to a flame.

Who says the Obama administration is not transparent? They are constantly telling our enemies overseas when it will pull out our troops and where we will not put boots on the ground.

Heartening as it has been to see Derek Jeter get farewell honors during his last season, as with Mariano Rivera last season, it is also a melancholy thought that we may not see their like again – in their personal dignity and class, as well as their performance on the field. They are throwbacks to an earlier time, in a sports world of spoiled brat showoffs today.

I must have heard the word “diversity” proclaimed in ringing tones as a great benefit to society at least a thousand times – and probably closer to a million – without even once hearing a speck of evidence provided, or even suggested as a way to test whether that is true or false.

Attorney General Eric Holder has picked the perfect time to resign, in terms of his own self-interest. He will have two years in which to cash in with lucrative fees on the lecture circuit and to make a big-bucks book deal. If he waited until the end of the Obama administration, a former Attorney General would be eclipsed in both respects by a former President of the United States, thereby reducing the demand for Holder.

With the momentous consequences of control of the Senate at stake in this fall’s election, anyone who risks the outcome by running as a third party candidate should not only be voted against this year but remembered for such irresponsibility in future years.

By Thomas Sowell

Random Thoughts

Random thoughts on the passing scene:

What a non-judgmental society amounts to is that common decency is optional – which means that decency is likely to become less common.

The biggest issue in this fall’s election is whether the Obama administration will end when Barack Obama leaves the White House or whether it will continue on, by appointing federal judges with lifetime appointments who share President Obama’s contempt for the Constitution. Whether such judges will be confirmed by the Senate depends on whether the Senate continues to be controlled by Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Why in the world would any sane American go to North Korea and put themselves at the mercy of a crackpot dictator?

Since Illinois enacted a law permitting more people to carry concealed firearms, more than 65,000 people got permits to do so. Rates of robbery, burglary and motor vehicle thefts have dropped significantly, and the murder rate has fallen to a level not seen in more than half a century. If only the gun control fanatics would pay some attention to facts, a lot of lives could be saved.

If you took all the mumbo-jumbo out of our educational institutions, how much would be left? Students could finish their education years earlier and end up knowing a lot more than they know now.

Why are Americans – and the Western world in general – falling all over ourselves stifling our own self-expression to appease people who chose to immigrate here, and are now demanding the suppression of anything they don’t like, such as public expressions of Christianity or displays of the American flag?

Someone should write a history of political rhetoric, if only to put us on our guard against being deceived into disasters. The First World War, for example, was said to be a war “to make the world safe for democracy.” What it actually led to was the replacement of despotic dynasties by totalitarian dictatorships that were far worse, including far more murderous.

Professor Sterling Brown remains as much a hero to me in my old age as he was when I was a freshman at Howard University. He wrote bitterly eloquent attacks on racism – and yet, when I was preparing to go off to Harvard, he said to me, “Don’t come back here and tell me you didn’t make it ‘cause white folks were mean.”

The fatal weakness of most clever people is that they don’t know when to stop being clever. The past cleverness of President Obama is finally starting to catch up with him.

Why Republicans would bring up the subject of immigration during an election year is beyond me. Yet Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner seems drawn to the subject like a moth to a flame.

Who says the Obama administration is not transparent? They are constantly telling our enemies overseas when it will pull out our troops and where we will not put boots on the ground.

Heartening as it has been to see Derek Jeter get farewell honors during his last season, as with Mariano Rivera last season, it is also a melancholy thought that we may not see their like again – in their personal dignity and class, as well as their performance on the field. They are throwbacks to an earlier time, in a sports world of spoiled brat showoffs today.

I must have heard the word “diversity” proclaimed in ringing tones as a great benefit to society at least a thousand times – and probably closer to a million – without even once hearing a speck of evidence provided, or even suggested as a way to test whether that is true or false.

Attorney General Eric Holder has picked the perfect time to resign, in terms of his own self-interest. He will have two years in which to cash in with lucrative fees on the lecture circuit and to make a big-bucks book deal. If he waited until the end of the Obama administration, a former Attorney General would be eclipsed in both respects by a former President of the United States, thereby reducing the demand for Holder.

With the momentous consequences of control of the Senate at stake in this fall’s election, anyone who risks the outcome by running as a third party candidate should not only be voted against this year but remembered for such irresponsibility in future years.

By Thomas Sowell



Who Are You Calling the Party of the Rich?

Who Are You Calling the Party of the Rich?


The median American household saw its net worth decline by 36 percent during the Great Recession. That is a hard reality. A Republican held the White House when the crash hit, and voters, in no mood to be charitable, blamed the GOP. Besides, Democrats were ready with an explanation that slid right into an existing groove of American thinking: The financial crisis was caused by Republicans going easy on their big banker friends.

By 2012, the recession had been over for three-plus years, and yet the average American saw little improvement. Average net worth continued to drift downward. Long-term unemployment had reached record levels, and labor force participation declined. More Americans had joined the disability rolls than gotten work. Poverty was higher than at any time since the 1960s. Republicans expected the election to be a referendum on President Obama’s leadership. It wasn’t. The president, with an assist from Mitt Romney’s “47 percent” gaffe, was able to argue that as bad as things were, at least Democrats were on the side of the “middle class.”

This year, Republicans are again banking that the election will be a referendum on Obama. Maybe it will. One in four working-age Americans is out of a job. Wages have stagnated. Debt is off the charts. Obamacare has increased the cost of health insurance. Immigration reform is no longer popular. Inequality, supposedly the holy grail of Democrats, has increased on Obama’s watch. World disorder is intensifying, while threats are multiplying. Obama’s approval ratings, at 41.3 percent, are low.

But the approval ratings for Congress are at 12.6 percent. Sure, Democrats control the Senate, so perhaps they must take some of the burden of that number, and voters despise partisanship, which they perceive (wrongly) as “bickering.” Even taking all of that on board, does the Republican Party have reason to rest easy this cycle? Have they given the ordinary voter any reason to think his life will improve if he votes Republican?

Byron York of the Washington Examiner reminds us that in 1998, the party had an intense internal debate about whether to run against the sinning Bill Clinton or on its accomplishments as majority party in Congress (welfare reform, balanced budget, economic growth). The party chose the Clinton strategy and achieved the near impossible: In the sixth year of a presidential term, they lost five seats.

In 1998, John Boehner was among those who preferred a substantive agenda. This year, he has offered little beyond platitudes.

Every Republican candidate should make it his constant goal to upend the image of the party as favoring the rich.

Sens. Mike Lee and Marco Rubio have proposed a tax reform that would offer real relief to parents. Parents in effect pay twice for Social Security and Medicare: once when taxes are withheld, and again when they bear the cost of raising the next generation of taxpayers. The senators' proposal would provide an additional $2,500 credit for each child applicable against income and payroll taxes. Their reform would also eliminate the marriage penalty and reduce the corporate tax rate, spurring economic growth.

Republicans owe it to the nation to be honest about entitlement spending. Unreformed, it will transform the U.S. from a vibrant world leader into a wobbly Europeanized geezer. But Republicans should also seize upon cronyism and corporatism. What are those “risk corridors” embedded in Obamacare but payoffs to large insurance companies?

Democrats sing hymns to government “services,” but that usually means writing checks to big companies (often contributors). That’s the case with Obamacare. Republicans should champion market reform of the health insurance system that will bring down prices and expand choice.

Why are taxpayers being asked to foot the $4.9 billion bill for a high-speed rail link between Las Vegas, Nev., and Victorville, Calif.? Someone should ask Sen. Harry “I believe high-speed rail is an important aspect of Nevada and the country’s future” Reid.

The U.S. government sends nice round checks to cable providers ($7.2 billion as of 2012) for “rural broadband” service. As the CATO Institute notes, the majority of those served already have broadband.

“Occupy” pin-up Sen. Elizabeth Warren, among other leading Democrats, is in favor of reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank over Republican objections. Nicknamed “Boeing’s Bank,” Ex-Im is a textbook example of corporate welfare.

Republicans could highlight these issues. Or they can coast on their reputation.


By Mona Charen  Who Are You Calling the Party of the Rich?


The median American household saw its net worth decline by 36 percent during the Great Recession. That is a hard reality. A Republican held the White House when the crash hit, and voters, in no mood to be charitable, blamed the GOP. Besides, Democrats were ready with an explanation that slid right into an existing groove of American thinking: The financial crisis was caused by Republicans going easy on their big banker friends.

By 2012, the recession had been over for three-plus years, and yet the average American saw little improvement. Average net worth continued to drift downward. Long-term unemployment had reached record levels, and labor force participation declined. More Americans had joined the disability rolls than gotten work. Poverty was higher than at any time since the 1960s. Republicans expected the election to be a referendum on President Obama’s leadership. It wasn’t. The president, with an assist from Mitt Romney’s “47 percent” gaffe, was able to argue that as bad as things were, at least Democrats were on the side of the “middle class.”

This year, Republicans are again banking that the election will be a referendum on Obama. Maybe it will. One in four working-age Americans is out of a job. Wages have stagnated. Debt is off the charts. Obamacare has increased the cost of health insurance. Immigration reform is no longer popular. Inequality, supposedly the holy grail of Democrats, has increased on Obama’s watch. World disorder is intensifying, while threats are multiplying. Obama’s approval ratings, at 41.3 percent, are low.

But the approval ratings for Congress are at 12.6 percent. Sure, Democrats control the Senate, so perhaps they must take some of the burden of that number, and voters despise partisanship, which they perceive (wrongly) as “bickering.” Even taking all of that on board, does the Republican Party have reason to rest easy this cycle? Have they given the ordinary voter any reason to think his life will improve if he votes Republican?

Byron York of the Washington Examiner reminds us that in 1998, the party had an intense internal debate about whether to run against the sinning Bill Clinton or on its accomplishments as majority party in Congress (welfare reform, balanced budget, economic growth). The party chose the Clinton strategy and achieved the near impossible: In the sixth year of a presidential term, they lost five seats.

In 1998, John Boehner was among those who preferred a substantive agenda. This year, he has offered little beyond platitudes.

Every Republican candidate should make it his constant goal to upend the image of the party as favoring the rich.

Sens. Mike Lee and Marco Rubio have proposed a tax reform that would offer real relief to parents. Parents in effect pay twice for Social Security and Medicare: once when taxes are withheld, and again when they bear the cost of raising the next generation of taxpayers. The senators' proposal would provide an additional $2,500 credit for each child applicable against income and payroll taxes. Their reform would also eliminate the marriage penalty and reduce the corporate tax rate, spurring economic growth.

Republicans owe it to the nation to be honest about entitlement spending. Unreformed, it will transform the U.S. from a vibrant world leader into a wobbly Europeanized geezer. But Republicans should also seize upon cronyism and corporatism. What are those “risk corridors” embedded in Obamacare but payoffs to large insurance companies?

Democrats sing hymns to government “services,” but that usually means writing checks to big companies (often contributors). That’s the case with Obamacare. Republicans should champion market reform of the health insurance system that will bring down prices and expand choice.

Why are taxpayers being asked to foot the $4.9 billion bill for a high-speed rail link between Las Vegas, Nev., and Victorville, Calif.? Someone should ask Sen. Harry “I believe high-speed rail is an important aspect of Nevada and the country’s future” Reid.

The U.S. government sends nice round checks to cable providers ($7.2 billion as of 2012) for “rural broadband” service. As the CATO Institute notes, the majority of those served already have broadband.

“Occupy” pin-up Sen. Elizabeth Warren, among other leading Democrats, is in favor of reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank over Republican objections. Nicknamed “Boeing’s Bank,” Ex-Im is a textbook example of corporate welfare.

Republicans could highlight these issues. Or they can coast on their reputation.


By Mona Charen 

Opinions

Opinions


Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius (121-180 AD): “The opinion of ten thousand men is of no value if none of them know anything about the subject.” Opinions are a dime a dozen. Care enough to find out the facts and form your own convictions instead of parroting what is tossed out like slop in the information trough, gobbled up by our culture.
Think about the broad brush strokes used to win arguments and knock down opponents. Can anyone tell me – who is the religious right that I hear quoted and mocked so often? Who are those crazy left-leaners who are trounced by those who lean right with glee?

Red state, blue state, can we get a TRUTH state?

Before you trot out your brilliant opinion, take a moment to consider and insure that your contribution is of value or even desired. Ferret out the facts before you opine.

You are unique and equipped to be a gift to those around you.

Give yourself permission to know who you are and may your opinion be based on truth and wisdom.

1 Corinthians 2:6-13, The Message (MSG): “We, of course, have plenty of wisdom to pass on to you once you get your feet on firm spiritual ground, but it’s not popular wisdom, the fashionable wisdom of high-priced experts that will be out-of-date in a year or so. God’s wisdom is something mysterious that goes deep into the interior of his purposes. You don’t find it lying around on the surface. It’s not the latest message, but more like the oldest – what God determined as the way to bring out his best in us, long before we ever arrived on the scene. The experts of our day haven’t a clue about what this eternal plan is. If they had, they wouldn’t have killed the Master of the God-designed life on a cross. That’s why we have this Scripture text: No one’s ever seen or heard anything like this,
Never so much as imagined anything quite like it – 
What God has arranged for those who love him. But you’ve seen and heard it because God by his Spirit has brought it all out into the open before you. The Spirit, not content to flit around on the surface, dives into the depths of God, and brings out what God planned all along. Who ever knows what you’re thinking and planning except you yourself? The same with God – except that he not only knows what he’s thinking, but he lets us in on it. God offers a full report on the gifts of life and salvation that he is giving us. We don’t have to rely on the world’s guesses and opinions. We didn’t learn this by reading books or going to school; we learned it from God, who taught us person-to-person through Jesus, and we’re passing it on to you in the same firsthand, personal way.”


By Rona Swanson Opinions


Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius (121-180 AD): “The opinion of ten thousand men is of no value if none of them know anything about the subject.” Opinions are a dime a dozen. Care enough to find out the facts and form your own convictions instead of parroting what is tossed out like slop in the information trough, gobbled up by our culture.
Think about the broad brush strokes used to win arguments and knock down opponents. Can anyone tell me – who is the religious right that I hear quoted and mocked so often? Who are those crazy left-leaners who are trounced by those who lean right with glee?

Red state, blue state, can we get a TRUTH state?

Before you trot out your brilliant opinion, take a moment to consider and insure that your contribution is of value or even desired. Ferret out the facts before you opine.

You are unique and equipped to be a gift to those around you.

Give yourself permission to know who you are and may your opinion be based on truth and wisdom.

1 Corinthians 2:6-13, The Message (MSG): “We, of course, have plenty of wisdom to pass on to you once you get your feet on firm spiritual ground, but it’s not popular wisdom, the fashionable wisdom of high-priced experts that will be out-of-date in a year or so. God’s wisdom is something mysterious that goes deep into the interior of his purposes. You don’t find it lying around on the surface. It’s not the latest message, but more like the oldest – what God determined as the way to bring out his best in us, long before we ever arrived on the scene. The experts of our day haven’t a clue about what this eternal plan is. If they had, they wouldn’t have killed the Master of the God-designed life on a cross. That’s why we have this Scripture text: No one’s ever seen or heard anything like this,
Never so much as imagined anything quite like it – 
What God has arranged for those who love him. But you’ve seen and heard it because God by his Spirit has brought it all out into the open before you. The Spirit, not content to flit around on the surface, dives into the depths of God, and brings out what God planned all along. Who ever knows what you’re thinking and planning except you yourself? The same with God – except that he not only knows what he’s thinking, but he lets us in on it. God offers a full report on the gifts of life and salvation that he is giving us. We don’t have to rely on the world’s guesses and opinions. We didn’t learn this by reading books or going to school; we learned it from God, who taught us person-to-person through Jesus, and we’re passing it on to you in the same firsthand, personal way.”


By Rona Swanson

Homeland the Beautiful

Homeland the Beautiful



“God bless you, and God bless the Homeland.”

It won’t surprise me if that’s how a future President closes one of his “State of the Union ” addresses.

The un-American term “the homeland” is taking over America.

Everywhere I turn it’s being used to replace the words “country” or “nation” or “the United States.”

All the media have accepted the phrase. It’s all over CNN, FOX, MSNBC. I hear it on NPR.

It’s in the news pages and headlines of the Washington Examiner, the Washington Post and the Weekly Standard.

“The homeland” is a bipartisan insult to America.

It’s being used by liberals, conservatives, politicians, pundits, the White House, government mouthpieces and Middle East military experts who otherwise wouldn’t agree on what direction the sun sets.

President Obama and Republican hawk Peter King both throw around “the homeland.”

Democrat Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado recently said he didn’t think ISIS was “an immediate threat to the homeland.”

Dan Senor, a Bush II neocon, dropped the H-word on “Morning Joe” Wednesday morning during his pitch for putting boots on the ground to defeat ISIS.

How did defending against additional terrorist attacks after 9/11 change from defending “the United States of America” to defending “the homeland”?

“The Homeland” — it’ll soon be capitalized — sounds like one of those phony words George Orwell invented for his novel “1984.”

The Merriam Webster dictionary gives away its foreign origins, defining it as:

“Homeland: 1. native land: FATHERLAND. 2. a state or area set aside to be a state for a people of a particular national, cultural, or racial origin.”

The great wordsmith Peggy Noonan tried to warn us off using “homeland” back in 2002.

In her Wall Street Journal column urging the Bush administration to come up with a different name for the Department of Homeland Security, she nailed it:

“‘Homeland’ isn’t really an American word, it’s not something we used to say or say now. It has a vaguely Teutonic ring – Ve must help ze Fuehrer protect ze Homeland! – and Republicans must always be on guard against sounding Teutonic.”

That must explain why every time I hear the words “the homeland” I have the strange urge to give a Hitler salute.

“Homeland” — as well as its Soviet cousin, “The Motherland” – is not a word fit for use by truly patriotic Americans.

As Noonan wrote, “the essence of American patriotism is a felt and spoken love for and fidelity to the ideas and ideals our country represents and was invented to advance – freedom, equality, pluralism. ‘We hold these truths…’

"The word ‘homeland’ suggests another kind of patriotism – a vaguely European sort. ‘We have the best Alps, the most elegant language; we make the best cheese, had the bravest generals.’ ”

Noonan knew immediately the USA was headed down the wrong road with the word “homeland.”

So did a few others, including the lefty Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo.

In 2002 he said the phrase “the homeland” had “a deep blood and soil tinge to it which is distinctly Germanic, more than a touch un-American, and a little creepy.”

“The homeland” has always had a totalitarian ring.

It’s why FDR didn’t use it during World War II. And why no president used it during the Cold War.

It’s why in the 1984 election my father’s political advisers didn’t build an ad campaign around “It’s morning again in the Homeland.”

Excuse me, we’re Americans, not Homelanders. This is our country, not our “homeland.” In the United States of America we love our freedoms more than our mountains and spacious skies.

But if we don’t watch out, one of these days the opening lyrics of “America” are going to be changed to “My Homeland, ‘tis of thee, Sweet land of Germany, of thee I sing.

By Michael Reagan Homeland the Beautiful



“God bless you, and God bless the Homeland.”

It won’t surprise me if that’s how a future President closes one of his “State of the Union ” addresses.

The un-American term “the homeland” is taking over America.

Everywhere I turn it’s being used to replace the words “country” or “nation” or “the United States.”

All the media have accepted the phrase. It’s all over CNN, FOX, MSNBC. I hear it on NPR.

It’s in the news pages and headlines of the Washington Examiner, the Washington Post and the Weekly Standard.

“The homeland” is a bipartisan insult to America.

It’s being used by liberals, conservatives, politicians, pundits, the White House, government mouthpieces and Middle East military experts who otherwise wouldn’t agree on what direction the sun sets.

President Obama and Republican hawk Peter King both throw around “the homeland.”

Democrat Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado recently said he didn’t think ISIS was “an immediate threat to the homeland.”

Dan Senor, a Bush II neocon, dropped the H-word on “Morning Joe” Wednesday morning during his pitch for putting boots on the ground to defeat ISIS.

How did defending against additional terrorist attacks after 9/11 change from defending “the United States of America” to defending “the homeland”?

“The Homeland” — it’ll soon be capitalized — sounds like one of those phony words George Orwell invented for his novel “1984.”

The Merriam Webster dictionary gives away its foreign origins, defining it as:

“Homeland: 1. native land: FATHERLAND. 2. a state or area set aside to be a state for a people of a particular national, cultural, or racial origin.”

The great wordsmith Peggy Noonan tried to warn us off using “homeland” back in 2002.

In her Wall Street Journal column urging the Bush administration to come up with a different name for the Department of Homeland Security, she nailed it:

“‘Homeland’ isn’t really an American word, it’s not something we used to say or say now. It has a vaguely Teutonic ring – Ve must help ze Fuehrer protect ze Homeland! – and Republicans must always be on guard against sounding Teutonic.”

That must explain why every time I hear the words “the homeland” I have the strange urge to give a Hitler salute.

“Homeland” — as well as its Soviet cousin, “The Motherland” – is not a word fit for use by truly patriotic Americans.

As Noonan wrote, “the essence of American patriotism is a felt and spoken love for and fidelity to the ideas and ideals our country represents and was invented to advance – freedom, equality, pluralism. ‘We hold these truths…’

"The word ‘homeland’ suggests another kind of patriotism – a vaguely European sort. ‘We have the best Alps, the most elegant language; we make the best cheese, had the bravest generals.’ ”

Noonan knew immediately the USA was headed down the wrong road with the word “homeland.”

So did a few others, including the lefty Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo.

In 2002 he said the phrase “the homeland” had “a deep blood and soil tinge to it which is distinctly Germanic, more than a touch un-American, and a little creepy.”

“The homeland” has always had a totalitarian ring.

It’s why FDR didn’t use it during World War II. And why no president used it during the Cold War.

It’s why in the 1984 election my father’s political advisers didn’t build an ad campaign around “It’s morning again in the Homeland.”

Excuse me, we’re Americans, not Homelanders. This is our country, not our “homeland.” In the United States of America we love our freedoms more than our mountains and spacious skies.

But if we don’t watch out, one of these days the opening lyrics of “America” are going to be changed to “My Homeland, ‘tis of thee, Sweet land of Germany, of thee I sing.

By Michael Reagan

Confronting PC: Some Will Financially and Politically Die

Confronting evil, pushing back against political correctness operatives is serious business. Our Nemesis are extremely vicious and relentless

Confronting PC: Some Will Financially and Politically Die






I caught a bit of an interview with conservative actor Kevin Sorbo promoting his movie, “God’s Not Dead” on the Sean Hannity radio show. Sorbo lamented that political correctness operatives continue to bully Americans with little push back. He cited a recent incident in which a little girl was kicked out of school for saying “God bless you” when a classmate sneezed, punished for religious talk in school.

My wife Mary told me about a U.S. soldier who was told by a school never to walk his child to school in uniform again. I am sure all of you could share horror stories of political correctness operatives overruling common sense and bullying people into submission.

Admittedly, I continuously rant about this topic. Folks, while I have evolved into somewhat of a sophisticated responsible adult, my roots are in the hood, the projects of east Baltimore. Living in that extremely tough environment, I knew if you did not deal with (confront) bullies, you would forever be their chump. As a 9 or 10 year old, I detested watching bullies push people around. I still detest seeing snooty intellectual liberal wimps with their big microphones and big stages get away with terrorizing people into submission.

When we were kids, though he was a little wild and crazy, my cousin Jimmy taught me the value of a strong military and how to deal with bullies. Two kids were taking my lunch money. Jimmy got in their grills and threatened to kick their butts. That was the end of that nonsense.

Six-foot-something high school varsity football star Broadus ordered me out of my seat beside pretty Barbara Jean on the school bus. Had he asked, I would have given him my seat. Even as a four-foot-something tall seventh grader, I instinctively knew I would lose something inside if I allowed Broadus to order me around. I told him no, I was not moving.

Once off the bus, Broadus began pounding my head into the gravel road. My mom saw the attack from a block away. She began running, but said it felt like she was running in place, unable to get to us fast enough. Incredibly, Broadus and I later became friends.

So, yes, I have this thing about bullies.

Liberals, Democrats and the complicit MSM have hijacked the word “bully” to exclusively refer to anyone who dares to push back against their aggressive attempts to force their socialist/progressive agenda down our throats. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black, Leftists call us bullies when we reject allowing them to bully us. Very clever, insidious and evil.

I worked at a major ABC affiliate TV station in Baltimore for 15 years. Thus, I have witnessed from the inside the MSM arrogant superior mindset which dominated the TV station and their intention to force their agenda on the public. The general consensus at the TV station was that the public was a bunch of yahoos and we were the sophisticated smart guys.

The TV station launched a campaign titled, “Family First”. On the cover of the brochure, I used a silhouette of a traditional family holding hands; father, mother, a girl and a boy. Public Relations axed my cover design claiming it was insensitive and offensive because families come in all configurations, two men, two women and so on. There was no agenda behind me selecting the image other than it worked for the theme of the campaign. I seriously doubted that the image of a traditional family on the cover of the station’s brochure would have sparked mass outrage from the public.

And yet, the PR representative acted as though I was attempting to push my Christian values on the public. She used her authority to bully me into changing the cover design. I later learned that she was a lesbian.

Folks, I realize that I sound like a broken record continuing to write about the Left bullying us into submission. It just sticks in my craw. Allowing them to get away with it is an anathema to my spirit; like allowing Broadus to order me out of my seat. We must push back. We must say no.

In the Clint Eastwood movie, “Pale Rider”, the locals were terrorized by bullies. They asked a mysterious stranger portrayed by Eastwood to lead them into battle against the bad guys. Eastwood consented, but also informed the locals that some of them were going to die tomorrow.

Make no mistake about it, folks, confronting evil, pushing back against political correctness operatives is serious business. Our Nemesis are extremely vicious and relentless. They take no prisoners. Just as Eastwood warned the locals, I warn you. In the battle to take back our freedom, some will sacrifice themselves for freedom. They will financially and politically die.

Brave U.S. troops who have made the ultimate sacrifice have shown us that freedom “ain’t” free. Are the fruits of freedom, self-respect and dignity, worth it? Absolutely.

Political Correctness is a horrible destructive cancer eating away at the core of our American culture. The miracle cure is courage.

Lloyd Marcus, The Unhyphenated American Confronting evil, pushing back against political correctness operatives is serious business. Our Nemesis are extremely vicious and relentless

Confronting PC: Some Will Financially and Politically Die






I caught a bit of an interview with conservative actor Kevin Sorbo promoting his movie, “God’s Not Dead” on the Sean Hannity radio show. Sorbo lamented that political correctness operatives continue to bully Americans with little push back. He cited a recent incident in which a little girl was kicked out of school for saying “God bless you” when a classmate sneezed, punished for religious talk in school.

My wife Mary told me about a U.S. soldier who was told by a school never to walk his child to school in uniform again. I am sure all of you could share horror stories of political correctness operatives overruling common sense and bullying people into submission.

Admittedly, I continuously rant about this topic. Folks, while I have evolved into somewhat of a sophisticated responsible adult, my roots are in the hood, the projects of east Baltimore. Living in that extremely tough environment, I knew if you did not deal with (confront) bullies, you would forever be their chump. As a 9 or 10 year old, I detested watching bullies push people around. I still detest seeing snooty intellectual liberal wimps with their big microphones and big stages get away with terrorizing people into submission.

When we were kids, though he was a little wild and crazy, my cousin Jimmy taught me the value of a strong military and how to deal with bullies. Two kids were taking my lunch money. Jimmy got in their grills and threatened to kick their butts. That was the end of that nonsense.

Six-foot-something high school varsity football star Broadus ordered me out of my seat beside pretty Barbara Jean on the school bus. Had he asked, I would have given him my seat. Even as a four-foot-something tall seventh grader, I instinctively knew I would lose something inside if I allowed Broadus to order me around. I told him no, I was not moving.

Once off the bus, Broadus began pounding my head into the gravel road. My mom saw the attack from a block away. She began running, but said it felt like she was running in place, unable to get to us fast enough. Incredibly, Broadus and I later became friends.

So, yes, I have this thing about bullies.

Liberals, Democrats and the complicit MSM have hijacked the word “bully” to exclusively refer to anyone who dares to push back against their aggressive attempts to force their socialist/progressive agenda down our throats. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black, Leftists call us bullies when we reject allowing them to bully us. Very clever, insidious and evil.

I worked at a major ABC affiliate TV station in Baltimore for 15 years. Thus, I have witnessed from the inside the MSM arrogant superior mindset which dominated the TV station and their intention to force their agenda on the public. The general consensus at the TV station was that the public was a bunch of yahoos and we were the sophisticated smart guys.

The TV station launched a campaign titled, “Family First”. On the cover of the brochure, I used a silhouette of a traditional family holding hands; father, mother, a girl and a boy. Public Relations axed my cover design claiming it was insensitive and offensive because families come in all configurations, two men, two women and so on. There was no agenda behind me selecting the image other than it worked for the theme of the campaign. I seriously doubted that the image of a traditional family on the cover of the station’s brochure would have sparked mass outrage from the public.

And yet, the PR representative acted as though I was attempting to push my Christian values on the public. She used her authority to bully me into changing the cover design. I later learned that she was a lesbian.

Folks, I realize that I sound like a broken record continuing to write about the Left bullying us into submission. It just sticks in my craw. Allowing them to get away with it is an anathema to my spirit; like allowing Broadus to order me out of my seat. We must push back. We must say no.

In the Clint Eastwood movie, “Pale Rider”, the locals were terrorized by bullies. They asked a mysterious stranger portrayed by Eastwood to lead them into battle against the bad guys. Eastwood consented, but also informed the locals that some of them were going to die tomorrow.

Make no mistake about it, folks, confronting evil, pushing back against political correctness operatives is serious business. Our Nemesis are extremely vicious and relentless. They take no prisoners. Just as Eastwood warned the locals, I warn you. In the battle to take back our freedom, some will sacrifice themselves for freedom. They will financially and politically die.

Brave U.S. troops who have made the ultimate sacrifice have shown us that freedom “ain’t” free. Are the fruits of freedom, self-respect and dignity, worth it? Absolutely.

Political Correctness is a horrible destructive cancer eating away at the core of our American culture. The miracle cure is courage.

Lloyd Marcus, The Unhyphenated American

US Global Power in the 21st Century: Military or Economic Imperialism?


US Global Power in the 21st Century: Military or Economic Imperialism?


Despite vast amounts of imperial data to the contrary, the great majority of writers on imperialism continue to describe and analyze US imperialism strictly in economic terms, as an expansion of “capital accumulation”, “accumulation on a world scale”.

In fact the major and minor US imperial wars have more to do with “capital dis-accumulation”, in the sense that trillion dollar flows have gone out from the US, hundreds of billions of dollars in profits from resource sites have been undermined, markets for exports have been severely weakened and exploitable productive labor has been uprooted.  At the same time US imperialist state ‘dis-accumulates capital’, multi-national corporations, especially in the extractive sector are expanding, “accumulating capital” throughout Latin America.

This new configuration of power, the conflicting and complementary nature of 21st century US imperialism, requires that we anchor our analysis in the real, existing behavior of imperial state and extractive capitalist policymakers.  The basic premise informing this essay is that there are two increasingly divergent forms of imperialism:  military driven intervention, occupation and domination; and economic expansion and exploitation of resources, markets and labor by invitation of the ‘host country’.

We will proceed by examining the choices of imperial strategy, in a historical – comparative framework and the alternatives which were selected or rejected.  Through an analysis of the practical decisions taken regarding ‘imperial expansion’ we can obtain insights into the real nature of US imperialism.  The study of imperial strategic choices, past and present, state and corporate, requires three levels of analysis: global, national and sectoral.

Global Strategies:  US Imperial State and the MNC

US imperial state invested trillions of dollars in military expenditures, hundreds of thousands of military personnel into wars in theMiddle East (Iraq, Yemen, and Syria), North and East Africa (Libya, Somalia), South Asia (Afghanistan) and imposed sanctions on Iran costing the US hundreds of billions in “capital dis-accumulation”.

The US corporate elite, driven out of Iraq, Syria, Libya and elsewhere where US military imperialism was engaged, chose to invest in manufacturing in China and extractive sectors throughout Latin America.

In other words the US imperial state strategists either chose to expand in relatively backward areas (Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen) or imposed under-development by  destroying or sanctioning lucrative extractive economies (Iraq, Libya, Iran).

In contrast the MNC chose the most dynamic expanding zones where militarist imperialism was least engaged – China and Latin America.  In other words “capital did not follow the flag” – it avoided it.

Moreover, the zones where extractive capital was most successful in terms of access, profits and stability were those where their penetration was based on negotiated contracts between sovereign nations and CEO’s – economic imperialism by invitation.

In contrast in the priority areas of expansion chosen by imperial state strategists, entry and domination was by force, leading to the destruction of the means of production and the loss of access to the principle sites of extractive exploitation.  US military driven imperialism undermined  energy companies’ agreements in Iraq and Libya.  Imperial state sanctions in Iran designed to weaken its nuclear and defense capabilities undercut US corporate extractive, public-private contracts with the Iranian state oil corporations. The drop in production and supply in oil in Iraq, Iran and Libya raised energy prices and had a negative impact on the “accumulation of capital on a world scale”.

If imperial state decision-makers had followed the direction of economic rather than military driven policymakers they would have pivoted to Asia and Latin America rather than the Middle East, South Asia and North Africa. They would have channeled funds into economic imperialist strategies, including joint ventures, high and medium tech trade agreements, and expanded exports by the high-end manufacturing sector, instead of financing 700 military bases, destabilization campaigns and costly military exercises.

Twentieth century military imperialism stands in stark contrast to late twentieth century economic imperialism.  In the mid 1960’s the US announced a vast new economic program in Latin America – the Alliance for Progress which was designed to finance economic opportunities in Latin America via joint ventures, agrarian reform and investments in the extractive sector.  The imperial state’s military policies and interventionist policies were designed to secure US business control over mines, banks, factories and agro-business. US backing for the coups in Chile, Bolivia, Brazil, Uruguay and Peru led to the privatization of key resource sectors and the imposition of the neo-liberal economic model.

US policy in Asia under Nixon was directed first and foremost to opening economic relations with China, expanding trade agreements with Japan, Taiwan and South Korea.  The ‘pivot from war’ to free trade led to a boom in US exports as well as imports, in private investments and lucrative profits.  Military expenditures declined even as the US engaged in covert operations in Afghanistan, Angola, Nicaragua and El Salvador.

Imperial intervention combined military and economic expansion with the latter dictating policy priorities and the allocation of resources.

The reversal set in with the US military backing of the jihadist extremists in Afghanistan and the demise of the USSR.  The former set the stage for the rise of the Taliban to power and the emergence of the Al Qaeda terrorist organization. The latter led US imperial strategists to pursue wars of conquest with impunity – Yugoslavia and Iraq during the 1990’s.

Easy military conquests and visions of a ‘unipolar’ world dominated by US military supremacy, encouraged and fostered the emergence of a new breed of imperial strategists – the neo-conservative militarists with closer ties to Israel and its military priorities than to the US   extractive petrol capitalists in the Middle East.

Military versus Economic Imperialist at the ‘National Level

In the
post-Cold War period, the competition between the two variants of imperialism was played out in all the nation subject  to US intervention.

During the first Iraq war the balance between militarists and economic imperialists was in play.  The US defeated Iraq but did not shred the state, nor bomb the oil fields.  Sanctions were imposed but did not paralyze oil deals.  The US did not occupy Iraq; it partioned the north –so-called“Kurdish” Iraq but left the secular state intact.  Extractive capital was actively in competition with the militarist neo-conservatives over the future direction of imperial policy.

The launch of the second Iraq war and the invasion of Afghanistan marked a decisive shift toward military imperialism:  the US ignored all economic considerations.  Iraq’s secular state was destroyed; civil society was pulverized; ethno-religious, tribal and clan warfare was encouraged.  US colonial officials ruled by military fiat; top policymakers with links to Israel replaced oil-connected officials. The militarist “war on terror” ideology replaced free market, free trade imperialism. Afghanistan killing fields replaced the China market as the center of US imperial policy.  Billions were spent, chasing evasive guerrillas in the mountains of a backward economy while US lost competitive advantages in the most dynamic Asian markets.

Imperial policymakers chose to align with sectarian warlords in Iraq over extractive technocrats. In Afghanistan they chose loyal ex-pat puppets over influential Taliban leaders capable of pacifying the country.

Extractive versus Military Imperialism in Latin America

Latin American neo-liberalism went from boom to bust in the 1990’s.  By the early 2000’s  crisis enveloped the region.  By the turn of the century US backed rulers were being replaced by popular nationalist leaders.  US policymakers stuck by their neoliberal clients in decline and failed to adapt to the new rulers who pursued modified socially inclusive extractivism.  The US military imperialists longed for a return of the neo-liberal backers of the “war on terrorism”.  In contrast, international multinational extractive corporations were realists – and adapted to the new regimes.

On a global scale, at the beginning of the new millennium, two divergent tendencies emerged.  US military imperialism expandedthroughout the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia and the Caucuses, while Latin American regimes turned in the opposite direction – toward moderate nationalism, and populism with a strong emphasis on poverty reduction via economic development in association with imperial extractive capital

In the face of these divergent and conflicting trends, the major US extractive multi-national corporations chose to adapt to the new political realities in Latin America.  While Washington, the imperial state, expressed hostility and dismay toward the new regimes refusal to back the “war on terror” (military imperialism) the major MNCs, robust embrace of economic imperialism, took advantage of the investment opportunities opened by the new regimes’ adoption of a new extractivist model, to pour billions into the mining, energy and agricultural sectors.

The Specificities of Extractive Imperialism in the Era of “Post Neo-Liberalism

Extractive imperialism in Latin America has several specific characteristics that sharply demark it from earlier forms agro-mineral imperialism.

(1)   Extractive capital is not dominated by a single imperial country-like the Spanish in the 18t century, the British in the 19thcentury or the US in the 20th century. Imperial extractive capital is very diverse:  Canadian, US, Chinese, Brazilian, Australian, Spanish, Indian and other MNCs are deeply involved.

(2)   The imperial states of the diverse MNC do not engage in “gun boat diplomacy” (with the exception of the US). The imperial states provide economic financing and diplomatic support but are not actively involved in subverting Latin American regimes.

(3)   The relative weight of US MNCs, in the new imperial extractivism is much less than it was a half century earlier.  The rise of diverse extractive MNC and dynamism of China’s commodity market and deep financial pockets have displaced the US, the IMF and WB and established new terms of trade with Latin America.

(4)   Probably the most significant aspect of the new imperial extractivism is that its entry and expansion is by invitation. The Latin American regimes and the extractive MNCs negotiate contracts – MNC entry is not unilaterally imposed by an imperial state.  Yet the ‘contracts’ may result in unequal returns; they  provide substantial revenues and profits to the MNC; they grant large multi –million acre tracts of land for mining or agriculture exploitation; they  obligate the national state to dispossess local communities and police/repress the displaced. But they also have allowed the post-neo-liberal state to expand their social spending, to increase their foreign reserves, to eschew relations with the IMF, and to diversify their markets and trading partners.

In regional terms extractive imperialism in Latin America has “accumulated capital” by diverging from the military imperialism practiced by the US in other regions of the world political- economy.  Over the past decade and a half, extractive capital has been alliedwith and relyies both on post-neoliberal and neoliberal regimes against petty commodity producers, indigenous communities and other anti-extractive resistance movements. Extractive imperialists do not rely on ‘their’ imperial state to quell resistance- they turn to theirnational political partners.

Extractive imperialism by invitation also diverges from the military imperial state in its view toward regional organizations.  US military imperialism placed all its bets on US centered economic integration which Washington could leverage to political, military and economic advantage.  Extractive capital, in the great diversity of its ‘national identity’, welcomed Latin American centered integration which did not privilege US markets and investors.

The predominance of economic imperialism, in particular the extractive version, however, needs to be qualified by several caveats.

US military imperialism has been present in several forms. The US backed the military coup in Honduras overthrowing the post neo-liberal Zelaya government; likewise it supported an “institutional coup” in Paraguay.

Secondly, even as MNC corporations poured capital into Bolivian mining and energy sectors, the US imperial state fomented destabilization activity to undermine the MAS government. And was defeated and the agencies and operatives were expelled.  The crucial issue in this, as well as other, instances is the unwillingness of the MNC’s to join forces with the military imperialists, via boycotts, trade embargoes or disinvestment. Clearly the stability, profitability and long-term contracts between the Bolivian regime and the extractive MNC counted for more than their ties to the US imperial state.

US military imperialism has expanded its military bases and increased joint military exercises with most Latin American armed forces. Indoctrinated military officials can still become formidable potential allies in any future ‘coup’, if and when the US “pivots” from the Middle East to Latin America.

US military imperialism in its manifest multiple forms, from bankrolling NGO’s engaged in destabilization and street riots in Venezuela, to its political support of financial speculators in Argentina and rightwing parties and personalities in Brazil, has a continuous presence alongside extractive imperialism. The success of the latter and the eclipse of the former are based in part on two contingentcircumstances. The US serial wars in the Middle East divert attention away from Latin America; and the commodity boom fuels the growth of extractive capital.  The economic slowdown in China and the decline of commodity prices may weaken the regimes in opposition to US military imperialism.

Paradoxically the weakening of the ties between the post-neo-liberal regimes and extractive imperialism resulting from the decline of commodity prices is strengthening the  neo-liberal socio-political forces allied with US military imperialism.

Latin America’s Right Turn:  The Co-Habitation of Extractive and Military imperialism?

Throughout Latin America the post-neoliberal regimes which ruled for the better part of a decade and a half face serious challenges – from consequential social opposition at the micro-level and from aggressive political-economic elites at the macro-level.  It is worthwhile to survey the prospects for a return to power of neo-liberal regimes allied with military imperialism in several key countries.

Several factors are working in favor of a return to power of political parties and leaders who seek to reverse the independent and inclusive policies of the post neoliberal power bloc.

First the post-neo-liberal regimes development strategy of depending on foreign extractive capital, perpetuated and strengthened the economic basis of imperialism:  the ‘colonial style’ trade relation, exporting primary commodities and importing finished goods, allowed the agro-mineral elites to occupy key positions in the politico-social structure.  With the decline in commodity prices, some post-neoliberal regimes are experiencing fiscal and balance of payments shortfalls.  Inflation and cuts in social expenditures adversely affect the capacity of the post-neo-liberal regimes to retain popular and middle class electoral support.

The divergences between post-neoliberals and economic imperialism are accentuating with return of the neoliberal right.  The agro-mineral sectors perceive an opportunity to rid themselves of their power and revenue sharing agreements with the state and to secure even more lucrative arrangements with the advance of the neo-liberal right which promises tax and royalty reductions, deregulation and lower wage and pension payments.

Secondly, the post-neo-liberal regimes’ alliances with the building , construction, and other bourgeois sectors, was accompanied by corruption involving  pay-offs, bribes and other illicit financial transactions designed to finance their mass media based electoral campaigns and  patronage system which ensured electoral majorities.  The neo-liberal right is exploiting these corruption scandals to erode the middle class electoral base of the post -neo-liberal regimes.

Thirdly, the post-neo-liberal regimes increased the quantity of social services, but ignored their quality – provoking widespread discontent with the inadequate public educational, transport, and health services.

Fourthly, inflation is eroding the decade long advance of wage, pension and family allowances.  The post-neo-liberal regimes are caught between the pressures to “adjust” –to devalueand impose fiscal ‘austerity’ as proposed by the international bankers and lose mass support, or to engage in deeper structural changes which require among other things, changes in the extractive dependence model and greater public ownership.  The crises of the post-neo-liberal regimes is leading to irresolution and opening political space for the neo-liberal right which is allied to military and economic imperialism.

Military imperialism, which was weakened by the popular uprisings at the turn of 20th century is never absent.  US military imperialism is first and foremost powerfully entrenched in two major countries:  Mexico and Colombia.  In both countries neo-liberal regimes bought into the militarization of their societies, including the comprehensive and deep presence of US military-police officials in the structures of the state.

In both states, US military and economic imperialism operates in alliance with paramilitary death squads, even as they proclaimed “a war on drugs”.  The ideology of free market imperialism was put into practice with the elimination of trade barriers, widespread privatization of resources and multi-million acre land grants to MNC.

Through its regional clients, US imperialism has a springboard to extend its influence.  Mexican style ‘militarized imperialism’ has spread to Central America; Colombia serves as a launch-pad to subvert Venezuela and Ecuador.

Where dissident regimes emerged in regions claimed by militarized imperialism, Honduras and Paraguay, military and civilian coups were engineered. However because of the regional concentration of US military imperialism in the Middle East it relies heavily on local collaborators, political, military and economic elites as vehicles for “regime change”.

Extractive imperialism is under siege from popular movements in many countries in Latin America.  In some cases, the political elites have increasingly militarized the contested terrain.  Where this is the case, the regimes invite and accept an increased imperial military presence, as advisers, and embrace their militarist ideology, thus fostering a “marriage” between extractive and military imperialism.  This is the case in Peru under President Humala and Santos in Colombia.

In Argentina and Brazil, the moderate reformist policies of the Kirchner and Lula/Rousseff regimes are under siege.  Faltering export earnings, rising deficits, inflationary pressures have fueled a neo-liberal offensive, which takes a new form:  populism at the service of neo-liberal collaboration with military imperialism.  Extractive capital has divided -some sectors retain ties with the regime, others, the majority are allied with rising power of the right.

In Brazil, the Right has promoted a former environmentalist (Silva) to front for the hardline neo-liberal financial sector – which has received full support from local and imperial mass media.  In Argentina, the imperial state and mass media have backed hedge fund speculators and have launched a full scale economic war, claiming default, in order to damage  Buenos Aires’ access to capital markets in order  to increase its investments in the extractive sector.

In contrast Bolivia, the extractive model par excellence, has moved successfully to oust and weaken the military arm of imperialism, ending the presence of US military advisers and DEA officials, while deepening and strengthening its ties with diverse extractive MNCs on the one hand, and on the other consolidating support among the trade unions and peasant-Indian movements.

In Ecuador the extractive regime of Correa has diversified the sources of imperial capital from the US to China, and consolidated his power via effective patronage machinery and socio-economic reforms.

The US-Colombian military threat to Venezuela and Ecuador has diminished, peace negotiations with the FARC are advancing and the regime now faces trade union and Indian-peasant opposition with regard to its extractive strategy and corporatist labor reforms.

In both Ecuador and Bolivia, imperial militarism appears to lack the vital strategic military-civilian allies capable of engineering a regime change.

The case of Venezuela highlights the continuing  importance of imperial militarism in shaping US policy in Latin America.  The  pivot to a military policy, was taken by Washington prior to any basic social reforms or economic nationalist measures.  The coup of 2001 and lockout of 2002 were backed by the US in response to President Chavez forceful rejection of the “War on Terrorism”.  Washington jeopardized its important economic stake, petrol investments,  in order to put in place a regime in conforming to its global military strategy.

And for the next decade and a half, the US imperial strategy totally ignored investment, trade and resource opportunities in this wealthy petrol state; it chose to spend hundreds of millions in financing opposition NGO, terrorists, electoral parties, mass media and military officials to effect a regime change.  The extractive sector in the US simply became a transmission belt for the agencies of the militarized imperial state.  In its place, Russia and China, interested especially extractive sector signed multi-billion dollar  contracts with the Venezuelan state: a case of extractive imperialism by invitation – for economic and security reasons.

Apart from the ideological conflict over US militarist expansion, Venezuela’s promotion of Latin American centered regional integration, weakened US leverage and control in the region.  In its struggle against Latin American centered regional organizations  and  to regain its dominance,  US imperialism has upgraded its economic profile via the Trans-Pacific Alliance, which includes its most loyal neo-liberal allies – Chile, Peru, Colombia and Mexico.  The global eclipse of  economic – driven imperial expansion in favor of the military has not totally displaced several key economic advances in strategic countries and sectors in Mexico, Colombia and Peru.

The privatization and denationalization of the biggest and most lucrative public petrol company in Latin America, PEMEX, the Mexican giant, opens up enormous profitable opportunities for US MNC.  The rapid appropriation of oil fields by US MNC will enhance and compliment the militarization of Mexico undertaken by the US military-security apparatus.

The Mexican example highlights several features of US imperialism in Latin America.

Imperial militarization does not necessarily preclude economic imperialism if it takes place within an existing stable state structure.  Unlike the imperial wars in Iraq and Libya, the military imperialist policies in Mexico advanced via powerful local political clients willing and able to engage in bloody civil wars costing over 100,000 civilian deaths in over a decade.  Under the aegus and guidance of US imperial rulers, the US and Mexican military devastated civil society, but safeguarded and expanded the huge mining and manufacturing enclaves open to economic imperialist exploitation.  Militarization contributed to weakening the bargaining rights of labor – wages have declined in real terms over the decades and the minimum wage is the lowest in the hemisphere.

Mexico highlights the crucial role that collaborator elites play in imperial capital accumulation. Mexico is an excellent example of ‘imperialism by invitation’ – the political agreements at the top impose ‘acquiescence’ below.  The extraordinary levels of corruptionwhich permeates the entire political class, solidifies the longstanding links between Mexican political-business elite, the MNC and the security apparatus of the imperial state.  Extractive imperialism is the principal beneficiary of this “triple alliance”.

In the case of Mexico, militarized imperialism laid the groundwork for the expansion of economic imperialism.

A similar process, involving ‘triple alliances’ is operative in Colombia.  For the past decade and a half, militarized-imperialism poured over $6 billion in military aid(Plan Colombia) to finance the dispossession, assassination, arrest and torture and of over 4 million Colombians, including the killing of thousands of trade union and social movement leaders.

The scorched earth policy, backed by a substantial US military mission operated through the existing state apparatus and with the active support of the agro-mineral and banking elite ,aided by nearly 40,000 member paramilitary death squads and drug traffickers laid the groundwork for the large scale entry of extractive capital – particularly mining capital.

Military imperialism preceded the long-term, large scale ‘invasion’ by economic imperialism in the form of a free trade agreement and multi-million acre land grants to mining MNC.

This general pattern was repeated in Peru.  The ‘war on terror” under Fujimori and the subsequent liberalization of the economy, under three subsequent Presidents, culminated in the massive primarization of the economy under President Humala – who deepened and extended the expansion of imperial extractive capital.

The economic downturn in some of the post-neo-liberal economies, namely Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela, and the rightward moving political spectrum, has opened a window of opportunity for US economic imperialism to work in tandem with the rising neo-liberal political opposition.  The military option, a military coup or US military intervention is not on the horizon for the present time.  The central focus of imperial state decision makers regarding regime change is a combination of overt electoral and covert ‘street intervention’:  adopting ‘populist’, moralist and technocratic rhetoric to highlight  corruption in high offices, inefficiency in the delivery of social services with claims of bureaucratic interference in the operations of the market.  Business disinvestment, financial speculation on the currency and negative mass media propaganda has coincided strikes and protests against shortages and lag between wage and price increases.

Despite costly and failed imperial wars in the Middle East, despite a decade of military retreat in Latin America, economic imperialism is advancing via the electoral route; it already has established a formidable array of allies among the political regimes in Mexico, Colombia and Peru and is posed to re-establish neo-liberal allies in Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela.

Conclusion

Imperialism as it has evolved over the past quarter of a century cannot be understood as a ‘unified whole’ in which the two basic components, military and economic are always complimentary.  Divergences have been graphically illustrated by the imperial wars in the Middle East, South Asia and North Africa.  Convergences are more obvious in Latin America, especially in Mexico, Colombia and Peru, where ‘militarization’ facilitated the expansion of extractive capital.

The theoretical point is that the nature of the political leadership of the imperial state has a high degree of autonomy in shaping the predominance of one or another strand of the imperial expansion.  The capacity for imperial capital to expand is highly contingent on the strength and structure of the collaborator state: militarized imperialism that invades and destroys states and the fabric of civil society has led to disinvestment; in contrast economic imperialism by invitation in neo-liberal collaborator states has been at the center of successful imperial expansion.

The ambiguities and contradictions intrinsic to the post-neo-liberal extractivist based development model have both constrainedthe military component of imperialism while expanding opportunities for economic imperial accumulation.  Accumulation by invitation, and accumulation by dispossession are simply ‘moments’ in a complex process in which political regime changes intervene and establish the locations and timing for refluxes and influxes of capital.

The rise of new economic imperialist powers like China competing with established imperial powers like the US, has led to alternative markets and sources of financing, which erodes the effectiveness political, military and diplomatic instruments of imperial coercion.

Regional variations in political configurations, imperial priorities and choice of instruments of power, have deeply influenced the nature and structure of imperialism.  And as the world historic record seems to argue, military driven empire building in the Middle East has been a disaster while economic driven imperialism shows signs of rapid recovery and successes in Latin America.

James Petras is a retired Bartle Professor (Emeritus) of Sociology at Binghamton University in Binghamton, New York and adjunct professor at Saint Mary's University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who has published prolifically on Latin American and Middle Eastern political issues. http://petras.lahaine.org/?p=2004
US Global Power in the 21st Century: Military or Economic Imperialism?


Despite vast amounts of imperial data to the contrary, the great majority of writers on imperialism continue to describe and analyze US imperialism strictly in economic terms, as an expansion of “capital accumulation”, “accumulation on a world scale”.

In fact the major and minor US imperial wars have more to do with “capital dis-accumulation”, in the sense that trillion dollar flows have gone out from the US, hundreds of billions of dollars in profits from resource sites have been undermined, markets for exports have been severely weakened and exploitable productive labor has been uprooted.  At the same time US imperialist state ‘dis-accumulates capital’, multi-national corporations, especially in the extractive sector are expanding, “accumulating capital” throughout Latin America.

This new configuration of power, the conflicting and complementary nature of 21st century US imperialism, requires that we anchor our analysis in the real, existing behavior of imperial state and extractive capitalist policymakers.  The basic premise informing this essay is that there are two increasingly divergent forms of imperialism:  military driven intervention, occupation and domination; and economic expansion and exploitation of resources, markets and labor by invitation of the ‘host country’.

We will proceed by examining the choices of imperial strategy, in a historical – comparative framework and the alternatives which were selected or rejected.  Through an analysis of the practical decisions taken regarding ‘imperial expansion’ we can obtain insights into the real nature of US imperialism.  The study of imperial strategic choices, past and present, state and corporate, requires three levels of analysis: global, national and sectoral.

Global Strategies:  US Imperial State and the MNC

US imperial state invested trillions of dollars in military expenditures, hundreds of thousands of military personnel into wars in theMiddle East (Iraq, Yemen, and Syria), North and East Africa (Libya, Somalia), South Asia (Afghanistan) and imposed sanctions on Iran costing the US hundreds of billions in “capital dis-accumulation”.

The US corporate elite, driven out of Iraq, Syria, Libya and elsewhere where US military imperialism was engaged, chose to invest in manufacturing in China and extractive sectors throughout Latin America.

In other words the US imperial state strategists either chose to expand in relatively backward areas (Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen) or imposed under-development by  destroying or sanctioning lucrative extractive economies (Iraq, Libya, Iran).

In contrast the MNC chose the most dynamic expanding zones where militarist imperialism was least engaged – China and Latin America.  In other words “capital did not follow the flag” – it avoided it.

Moreover, the zones where extractive capital was most successful in terms of access, profits and stability were those where their penetration was based on negotiated contracts between sovereign nations and CEO’s – economic imperialism by invitation.

In contrast in the priority areas of expansion chosen by imperial state strategists, entry and domination was by force, leading to the destruction of the means of production and the loss of access to the principle sites of extractive exploitation.  US military driven imperialism undermined  energy companies’ agreements in Iraq and Libya.  Imperial state sanctions in Iran designed to weaken its nuclear and defense capabilities undercut US corporate extractive, public-private contracts with the Iranian state oil corporations. The drop in production and supply in oil in Iraq, Iran and Libya raised energy prices and had a negative impact on the “accumulation of capital on a world scale”.

If imperial state decision-makers had followed the direction of economic rather than military driven policymakers they would have pivoted to Asia and Latin America rather than the Middle East, South Asia and North Africa. They would have channeled funds into economic imperialist strategies, including joint ventures, high and medium tech trade agreements, and expanded exports by the high-end manufacturing sector, instead of financing 700 military bases, destabilization campaigns and costly military exercises.

Twentieth century military imperialism stands in stark contrast to late twentieth century economic imperialism.  In the mid 1960’s the US announced a vast new economic program in Latin America – the Alliance for Progress which was designed to finance economic opportunities in Latin America via joint ventures, agrarian reform and investments in the extractive sector.  The imperial state’s military policies and interventionist policies were designed to secure US business control over mines, banks, factories and agro-business. US backing for the coups in Chile, Bolivia, Brazil, Uruguay and Peru led to the privatization of key resource sectors and the imposition of the neo-liberal economic model.

US policy in Asia under Nixon was directed first and foremost to opening economic relations with China, expanding trade agreements with Japan, Taiwan and South Korea.  The ‘pivot from war’ to free trade led to a boom in US exports as well as imports, in private investments and lucrative profits.  Military expenditures declined even as the US engaged in covert operations in Afghanistan, Angola, Nicaragua and El Salvador.

Imperial intervention combined military and economic expansion with the latter dictating policy priorities and the allocation of resources.

The reversal set in with the US military backing of the jihadist extremists in Afghanistan and the demise of the USSR.  The former set the stage for the rise of the Taliban to power and the emergence of the Al Qaeda terrorist organization. The latter led US imperial strategists to pursue wars of conquest with impunity – Yugoslavia and Iraq during the 1990’s.

Easy military conquests and visions of a ‘unipolar’ world dominated by US military supremacy, encouraged and fostered the emergence of a new breed of imperial strategists – the neo-conservative militarists with closer ties to Israel and its military priorities than to the US   extractive petrol capitalists in the Middle East.

Military versus Economic Imperialist at the ‘National Level

In the
post-Cold War period, the competition between the two variants of imperialism was played out in all the nation subject  to US intervention.

During the first Iraq war the balance between militarists and economic imperialists was in play.  The US defeated Iraq but did not shred the state, nor bomb the oil fields.  Sanctions were imposed but did not paralyze oil deals.  The US did not occupy Iraq; it partioned the north –so-called“Kurdish” Iraq but left the secular state intact.  Extractive capital was actively in competition with the militarist neo-conservatives over the future direction of imperial policy.

The launch of the second Iraq war and the invasion of Afghanistan marked a decisive shift toward military imperialism:  the US ignored all economic considerations.  Iraq’s secular state was destroyed; civil society was pulverized; ethno-religious, tribal and clan warfare was encouraged.  US colonial officials ruled by military fiat; top policymakers with links to Israel replaced oil-connected officials. The militarist “war on terror” ideology replaced free market, free trade imperialism. Afghanistan killing fields replaced the China market as the center of US imperial policy.  Billions were spent, chasing evasive guerrillas in the mountains of a backward economy while US lost competitive advantages in the most dynamic Asian markets.

Imperial policymakers chose to align with sectarian warlords in Iraq over extractive technocrats. In Afghanistan they chose loyal ex-pat puppets over influential Taliban leaders capable of pacifying the country.

Extractive versus Military Imperialism in Latin America

Latin American neo-liberalism went from boom to bust in the 1990’s.  By the early 2000’s  crisis enveloped the region.  By the turn of the century US backed rulers were being replaced by popular nationalist leaders.  US policymakers stuck by their neoliberal clients in decline and failed to adapt to the new rulers who pursued modified socially inclusive extractivism.  The US military imperialists longed for a return of the neo-liberal backers of the “war on terrorism”.  In contrast, international multinational extractive corporations were realists – and adapted to the new regimes.

On a global scale, at the beginning of the new millennium, two divergent tendencies emerged.  US military imperialism expandedthroughout the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia and the Caucuses, while Latin American regimes turned in the opposite direction – toward moderate nationalism, and populism with a strong emphasis on poverty reduction via economic development in association with imperial extractive capital

In the face of these divergent and conflicting trends, the major US extractive multi-national corporations chose to adapt to the new political realities in Latin America.  While Washington, the imperial state, expressed hostility and dismay toward the new regimes refusal to back the “war on terror” (military imperialism) the major MNCs, robust embrace of economic imperialism, took advantage of the investment opportunities opened by the new regimes’ adoption of a new extractivist model, to pour billions into the mining, energy and agricultural sectors.

The Specificities of Extractive Imperialism in the Era of “Post Neo-Liberalism

Extractive imperialism in Latin America has several specific characteristics that sharply demark it from earlier forms agro-mineral imperialism.

(1)   Extractive capital is not dominated by a single imperial country-like the Spanish in the 18t century, the British in the 19thcentury or the US in the 20th century. Imperial extractive capital is very diverse:  Canadian, US, Chinese, Brazilian, Australian, Spanish, Indian and other MNCs are deeply involved.

(2)   The imperial states of the diverse MNC do not engage in “gun boat diplomacy” (with the exception of the US). The imperial states provide economic financing and diplomatic support but are not actively involved in subverting Latin American regimes.

(3)   The relative weight of US MNCs, in the new imperial extractivism is much less than it was a half century earlier.  The rise of diverse extractive MNC and dynamism of China’s commodity market and deep financial pockets have displaced the US, the IMF and WB and established new terms of trade with Latin America.

(4)   Probably the most significant aspect of the new imperial extractivism is that its entry and expansion is by invitation. The Latin American regimes and the extractive MNCs negotiate contracts – MNC entry is not unilaterally imposed by an imperial state.  Yet the ‘contracts’ may result in unequal returns; they  provide substantial revenues and profits to the MNC; they grant large multi –million acre tracts of land for mining or agriculture exploitation; they  obligate the national state to dispossess local communities and police/repress the displaced. But they also have allowed the post-neo-liberal state to expand their social spending, to increase their foreign reserves, to eschew relations with the IMF, and to diversify their markets and trading partners.

In regional terms extractive imperialism in Latin America has “accumulated capital” by diverging from the military imperialism practiced by the US in other regions of the world political- economy.  Over the past decade and a half, extractive capital has been alliedwith and relyies both on post-neoliberal and neoliberal regimes against petty commodity producers, indigenous communities and other anti-extractive resistance movements. Extractive imperialists do not rely on ‘their’ imperial state to quell resistance- they turn to theirnational political partners.

Extractive imperialism by invitation also diverges from the military imperial state in its view toward regional organizations.  US military imperialism placed all its bets on US centered economic integration which Washington could leverage to political, military and economic advantage.  Extractive capital, in the great diversity of its ‘national identity’, welcomed Latin American centered integration which did not privilege US markets and investors.

The predominance of economic imperialism, in particular the extractive version, however, needs to be qualified by several caveats.

US military imperialism has been present in several forms. The US backed the military coup in Honduras overthrowing the post neo-liberal Zelaya government; likewise it supported an “institutional coup” in Paraguay.

Secondly, even as MNC corporations poured capital into Bolivian mining and energy sectors, the US imperial state fomented destabilization activity to undermine the MAS government. And was defeated and the agencies and operatives were expelled.  The crucial issue in this, as well as other, instances is the unwillingness of the MNC’s to join forces with the military imperialists, via boycotts, trade embargoes or disinvestment. Clearly the stability, profitability and long-term contracts between the Bolivian regime and the extractive MNC counted for more than their ties to the US imperial state.

US military imperialism has expanded its military bases and increased joint military exercises with most Latin American armed forces. Indoctrinated military officials can still become formidable potential allies in any future ‘coup’, if and when the US “pivots” from the Middle East to Latin America.

US military imperialism in its manifest multiple forms, from bankrolling NGO’s engaged in destabilization and street riots in Venezuela, to its political support of financial speculators in Argentina and rightwing parties and personalities in Brazil, has a continuous presence alongside extractive imperialism. The success of the latter and the eclipse of the former are based in part on two contingentcircumstances. The US serial wars in the Middle East divert attention away from Latin America; and the commodity boom fuels the growth of extractive capital.  The economic slowdown in China and the decline of commodity prices may weaken the regimes in opposition to US military imperialism.

Paradoxically the weakening of the ties between the post-neo-liberal regimes and extractive imperialism resulting from the decline of commodity prices is strengthening the  neo-liberal socio-political forces allied with US military imperialism.

Latin America’s Right Turn:  The Co-Habitation of Extractive and Military imperialism?

Throughout Latin America the post-neoliberal regimes which ruled for the better part of a decade and a half face serious challenges – from consequential social opposition at the micro-level and from aggressive political-economic elites at the macro-level.  It is worthwhile to survey the prospects for a return to power of neo-liberal regimes allied with military imperialism in several key countries.

Several factors are working in favor of a return to power of political parties and leaders who seek to reverse the independent and inclusive policies of the post neoliberal power bloc.

First the post-neo-liberal regimes development strategy of depending on foreign extractive capital, perpetuated and strengthened the economic basis of imperialism:  the ‘colonial style’ trade relation, exporting primary commodities and importing finished goods, allowed the agro-mineral elites to occupy key positions in the politico-social structure.  With the decline in commodity prices, some post-neoliberal regimes are experiencing fiscal and balance of payments shortfalls.  Inflation and cuts in social expenditures adversely affect the capacity of the post-neo-liberal regimes to retain popular and middle class electoral support.

The divergences between post-neoliberals and economic imperialism are accentuating with return of the neoliberal right.  The agro-mineral sectors perceive an opportunity to rid themselves of their power and revenue sharing agreements with the state and to secure even more lucrative arrangements with the advance of the neo-liberal right which promises tax and royalty reductions, deregulation and lower wage and pension payments.

Secondly, the post-neo-liberal regimes’ alliances with the building , construction, and other bourgeois sectors, was accompanied by corruption involving  pay-offs, bribes and other illicit financial transactions designed to finance their mass media based electoral campaigns and  patronage system which ensured electoral majorities.  The neo-liberal right is exploiting these corruption scandals to erode the middle class electoral base of the post -neo-liberal regimes.

Thirdly, the post-neo-liberal regimes increased the quantity of social services, but ignored their quality – provoking widespread discontent with the inadequate public educational, transport, and health services.

Fourthly, inflation is eroding the decade long advance of wage, pension and family allowances.  The post-neo-liberal regimes are caught between the pressures to “adjust” –to devalueand impose fiscal ‘austerity’ as proposed by the international bankers and lose mass support, or to engage in deeper structural changes which require among other things, changes in the extractive dependence model and greater public ownership.  The crises of the post-neo-liberal regimes is leading to irresolution and opening political space for the neo-liberal right which is allied to military and economic imperialism.

Military imperialism, which was weakened by the popular uprisings at the turn of 20th century is never absent.  US military imperialism is first and foremost powerfully entrenched in two major countries:  Mexico and Colombia.  In both countries neo-liberal regimes bought into the militarization of their societies, including the comprehensive and deep presence of US military-police officials in the structures of the state.

In both states, US military and economic imperialism operates in alliance with paramilitary death squads, even as they proclaimed “a war on drugs”.  The ideology of free market imperialism was put into practice with the elimination of trade barriers, widespread privatization of resources and multi-million acre land grants to MNC.

Through its regional clients, US imperialism has a springboard to extend its influence.  Mexican style ‘militarized imperialism’ has spread to Central America; Colombia serves as a launch-pad to subvert Venezuela and Ecuador.

Where dissident regimes emerged in regions claimed by militarized imperialism, Honduras and Paraguay, military and civilian coups were engineered. However because of the regional concentration of US military imperialism in the Middle East it relies heavily on local collaborators, political, military and economic elites as vehicles for “regime change”.

Extractive imperialism is under siege from popular movements in many countries in Latin America.  In some cases, the political elites have increasingly militarized the contested terrain.  Where this is the case, the regimes invite and accept an increased imperial military presence, as advisers, and embrace their militarist ideology, thus fostering a “marriage” between extractive and military imperialism.  This is the case in Peru under President Humala and Santos in Colombia.

In Argentina and Brazil, the moderate reformist policies of the Kirchner and Lula/Rousseff regimes are under siege.  Faltering export earnings, rising deficits, inflationary pressures have fueled a neo-liberal offensive, which takes a new form:  populism at the service of neo-liberal collaboration with military imperialism.  Extractive capital has divided -some sectors retain ties with the regime, others, the majority are allied with rising power of the right.

In Brazil, the Right has promoted a former environmentalist (Silva) to front for the hardline neo-liberal financial sector – which has received full support from local and imperial mass media.  In Argentina, the imperial state and mass media have backed hedge fund speculators and have launched a full scale economic war, claiming default, in order to damage  Buenos Aires’ access to capital markets in order  to increase its investments in the extractive sector.

In contrast Bolivia, the extractive model par excellence, has moved successfully to oust and weaken the military arm of imperialism, ending the presence of US military advisers and DEA officials, while deepening and strengthening its ties with diverse extractive MNCs on the one hand, and on the other consolidating support among the trade unions and peasant-Indian movements.

In Ecuador the extractive regime of Correa has diversified the sources of imperial capital from the US to China, and consolidated his power via effective patronage machinery and socio-economic reforms.

The US-Colombian military threat to Venezuela and Ecuador has diminished, peace negotiations with the FARC are advancing and the regime now faces trade union and Indian-peasant opposition with regard to its extractive strategy and corporatist labor reforms.

In both Ecuador and Bolivia, imperial militarism appears to lack the vital strategic military-civilian allies capable of engineering a regime change.

The case of Venezuela highlights the continuing  importance of imperial militarism in shaping US policy in Latin America.  The  pivot to a military policy, was taken by Washington prior to any basic social reforms or economic nationalist measures.  The coup of 2001 and lockout of 2002 were backed by the US in response to President Chavez forceful rejection of the “War on Terrorism”.  Washington jeopardized its important economic stake, petrol investments,  in order to put in place a regime in conforming to its global military strategy.

And for the next decade and a half, the US imperial strategy totally ignored investment, trade and resource opportunities in this wealthy petrol state; it chose to spend hundreds of millions in financing opposition NGO, terrorists, electoral parties, mass media and military officials to effect a regime change.  The extractive sector in the US simply became a transmission belt for the agencies of the militarized imperial state.  In its place, Russia and China, interested especially extractive sector signed multi-billion dollar  contracts with the Venezuelan state: a case of extractive imperialism by invitation – for economic and security reasons.

Apart from the ideological conflict over US militarist expansion, Venezuela’s promotion of Latin American centered regional integration, weakened US leverage and control in the region.  In its struggle against Latin American centered regional organizations  and  to regain its dominance,  US imperialism has upgraded its economic profile via the Trans-Pacific Alliance, which includes its most loyal neo-liberal allies – Chile, Peru, Colombia and Mexico.  The global eclipse of  economic – driven imperial expansion in favor of the military has not totally displaced several key economic advances in strategic countries and sectors in Mexico, Colombia and Peru.

The privatization and denationalization of the biggest and most lucrative public petrol company in Latin America, PEMEX, the Mexican giant, opens up enormous profitable opportunities for US MNC.  The rapid appropriation of oil fields by US MNC will enhance and compliment the militarization of Mexico undertaken by the US military-security apparatus.

The Mexican example highlights several features of US imperialism in Latin America.

Imperial militarization does not necessarily preclude economic imperialism if it takes place within an existing stable state structure.  Unlike the imperial wars in Iraq and Libya, the military imperialist policies in Mexico advanced via powerful local political clients willing and able to engage in bloody civil wars costing over 100,000 civilian deaths in over a decade.  Under the aegus and guidance of US imperial rulers, the US and Mexican military devastated civil society, but safeguarded and expanded the huge mining and manufacturing enclaves open to economic imperialist exploitation.  Militarization contributed to weakening the bargaining rights of labor – wages have declined in real terms over the decades and the minimum wage is the lowest in the hemisphere.

Mexico highlights the crucial role that collaborator elites play in imperial capital accumulation. Mexico is an excellent example of ‘imperialism by invitation’ – the political agreements at the top impose ‘acquiescence’ below.  The extraordinary levels of corruptionwhich permeates the entire political class, solidifies the longstanding links between Mexican political-business elite, the MNC and the security apparatus of the imperial state.  Extractive imperialism is the principal beneficiary of this “triple alliance”.

In the case of Mexico, militarized imperialism laid the groundwork for the expansion of economic imperialism.

A similar process, involving ‘triple alliances’ is operative in Colombia.  For the past decade and a half, militarized-imperialism poured over $6 billion in military aid(Plan Colombia) to finance the dispossession, assassination, arrest and torture and of over 4 million Colombians, including the killing of thousands of trade union and social movement leaders.

The scorched earth policy, backed by a substantial US military mission operated through the existing state apparatus and with the active support of the agro-mineral and banking elite ,aided by nearly 40,000 member paramilitary death squads and drug traffickers laid the groundwork for the large scale entry of extractive capital – particularly mining capital.

Military imperialism preceded the long-term, large scale ‘invasion’ by economic imperialism in the form of a free trade agreement and multi-million acre land grants to mining MNC.

This general pattern was repeated in Peru.  The ‘war on terror” under Fujimori and the subsequent liberalization of the economy, under three subsequent Presidents, culminated in the massive primarization of the economy under President Humala – who deepened and extended the expansion of imperial extractive capital.

The economic downturn in some of the post-neo-liberal economies, namely Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela, and the rightward moving political spectrum, has opened a window of opportunity for US economic imperialism to work in tandem with the rising neo-liberal political opposition.  The military option, a military coup or US military intervention is not on the horizon for the present time.  The central focus of imperial state decision makers regarding regime change is a combination of overt electoral and covert ‘street intervention’:  adopting ‘populist’, moralist and technocratic rhetoric to highlight  corruption in high offices, inefficiency in the delivery of social services with claims of bureaucratic interference in the operations of the market.  Business disinvestment, financial speculation on the currency and negative mass media propaganda has coincided strikes and protests against shortages and lag between wage and price increases.

Despite costly and failed imperial wars in the Middle East, despite a decade of military retreat in Latin America, economic imperialism is advancing via the electoral route; it already has established a formidable array of allies among the political regimes in Mexico, Colombia and Peru and is posed to re-establish neo-liberal allies in Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela.

Conclusion

Imperialism as it has evolved over the past quarter of a century cannot be understood as a ‘unified whole’ in which the two basic components, military and economic are always complimentary.  Divergences have been graphically illustrated by the imperial wars in the Middle East, South Asia and North Africa.  Convergences are more obvious in Latin America, especially in Mexico, Colombia and Peru, where ‘militarization’ facilitated the expansion of extractive capital.

The theoretical point is that the nature of the political leadership of the imperial state has a high degree of autonomy in shaping the predominance of one or another strand of the imperial expansion.  The capacity for imperial capital to expand is highly contingent on the strength and structure of the collaborator state: militarized imperialism that invades and destroys states and the fabric of civil society has led to disinvestment; in contrast economic imperialism by invitation in neo-liberal collaborator states has been at the center of successful imperial expansion.

The ambiguities and contradictions intrinsic to the post-neo-liberal extractivist based development model have both constrainedthe military component of imperialism while expanding opportunities for economic imperial accumulation.  Accumulation by invitation, and accumulation by dispossession are simply ‘moments’ in a complex process in which political regime changes intervene and establish the locations and timing for refluxes and influxes of capital.

The rise of new economic imperialist powers like China competing with established imperial powers like the US, has led to alternative markets and sources of financing, which erodes the effectiveness political, military and diplomatic instruments of imperial coercion.

Regional variations in political configurations, imperial priorities and choice of instruments of power, have deeply influenced the nature and structure of imperialism.  And as the world historic record seems to argue, military driven empire building in the Middle East has been a disaster while economic driven imperialism shows signs of rapid recovery and successes in Latin America.

James Petras is a retired Bartle Professor (Emeritus) of Sociology at Binghamton University in Binghamton, New York and adjunct professor at Saint Mary's University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who has published prolifically on Latin American and Middle Eastern political issues. http://petras.lahaine.org/?p=2004

( Bad ) Karma Amerikana

( Bad ) Karma Amerikana

Here are a couple of definitions of karma: A) the total effect of actions and conduct during successive phases of existence, regarded as determining destiny; B) the principle of retributive justice determining one's state of life. So, there you have it, as the man who hundreds of millions worship as Lord had put it: " As ye sow so shall ye reap." One need not be too deep in the study of American history to realize that we , as a nation, sure as hell sowed a lot of evil and selfish deeds.

Let us simply look at the 20th and early 21st centuries to browse a bit. To really study in more depth the scope of what our country has done to others, please get William Blum's book Rogue Nation. This writer, for this commentary, will focus on a few tidbits of the Karma we have created, and , as Chalmers Johnson so aptly phrased it: Blowback. Perhaps we should sit down with those angry white males and females who wish to close our Southwestern borders to the ' hordes ' of illegals. All those areas of our country, Arizona, Texas, New Mexico ( aptly named ) and southern California were once... parts of Mexico! Using the false flag propaganda of Manifest Destiny and a strong military we robbed those regions from Mexico. Now, they are all coming back to live in what was there's to begin with! Of course, most of those who are able to make it here are not the gun toting drug cartel thugs that our media plays up. No! The overwhelming majority of these people are the ones who mow the lawns, wash the dishes, clean the hotel rooms and do the shit jobs that most Americans refuse to work.

When you visit one of the countless Indian casinos to roll the dice and pull the levers, it is the American Indian tribes that have ownership ( though a corporate paleface machine is behind the scenes operating and profiting from these places ).Will all the centuries of massacres and brutalities thrown at these people be washed away because they now make a buck from us? No, but for some Indians ( and not enough ) it softens the anger a bit. If only the tribes who profit from this arrangement would do more for their fellow Indians who don't... but that's what makes capitalism so great: faulty moral compasses.

When the Reagan gang funded and supported the Mujahedeen to push the Soviets out of Afghanistan, we accomplished two things: A) We helped give strength to what later became Al Qaeda and B) we allowed the Afghan drug lords to send more and more poison to the veins of our kids here at home. What a blowback that still reverberates some 30+ years later!

The ' piece de resistance ' was the illegal and immoral invasions and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq. Boy, did the Bush/Cheney gang do some job! They fermented such anti Amerikan rage in that region , which became the greatest recruiting tool for morons like the current Isis nuts. While destroying perhaps one million Afghans and Iraqis combined, not to mention their infrastructures ( which of course cronies of the Bush/ Cheney gang made billions repairing), our economy has been devastated. When over half of our federal tax revenue goes to the Military Industrial Empire... our cities wither. With the current stooge in the White House, we all can only hope there is some change left to spend on we working stiffs!

So, my fellow suckers, saps and lollipops, keep focusing on those sneaky Mexicans who are here to bleed us dry. Keep focusing on the gays who are subverting our morality or the minorities who are getting over on us all with those entitlements. Don't realize the fact that one Boeing Apache Helicopter costs you taxpayers ... are you ready for this... 52 million dollars! How many welfare cheats does that equal? Focus on the fact that those who run things here have hijacked both our flag and our patriotism. They love to honor our troops by what... keep sending them to invade, occupy and kill in places we have no business being in! Of course, if you work for Halliburton, General Dynamics , KBR and the other cronies, then , like the Robert Duval character in Apocalypse Now, you " love the smell of Napalm in the morning!"

Philip A Farruggio is son and grandson of Brooklyn, NYC longshoremen. He is a free lance columnist. Philip works as an environmental products sales rep and has been an activist leader since 2000. In 2010 he became a local spokesperson for the 25% Solution Movement to Save Our Cities by cutting military spending 25%. Philip can be reached at PAF1222@bellsouth.net




A Citizen Against Hunger

Dear young people of every language and culture, a high and exhilarating task awaits you: that of becoming men and women capable of solidarity, peace and love of life, with respect for everyone. Become craftsmen of a new humanity, where brothers and sisters — members all of the same family — are able at last to live in peace. ~Blessed John Paul II

https://www.booster.com/acitizenagainsthunger02

https://www.booster.com/freedomoranarchycampaignofconscience

https://www.booster.com/acitizenagainsthunger ( Bad ) Karma Amerikana

Here are a couple of definitions of karma: A) the total effect of actions and conduct during successive phases of existence, regarded as determining destiny; B) the principle of retributive justice determining one's state of life. So, there you have it, as the man who hundreds of millions worship as Lord had put it: " As ye sow so shall ye reap." One need not be too deep in the study of American history to realize that we , as a nation, sure as hell sowed a lot of evil and selfish deeds.

Let us simply look at the 20th and early 21st centuries to browse a bit. To really study in more depth the scope of what our country has done to others, please get William Blum's book Rogue Nation. This writer, for this commentary, will focus on a few tidbits of the Karma we have created, and , as Chalmers Johnson so aptly phrased it: Blowback. Perhaps we should sit down with those angry white males and females who wish to close our Southwestern borders to the ' hordes ' of illegals. All those areas of our country, Arizona, Texas, New Mexico ( aptly named ) and southern California were once... parts of Mexico! Using the false flag propaganda of Manifest Destiny and a strong military we robbed those regions from Mexico. Now, they are all coming back to live in what was there's to begin with! Of course, most of those who are able to make it here are not the gun toting drug cartel thugs that our media plays up. No! The overwhelming majority of these people are the ones who mow the lawns, wash the dishes, clean the hotel rooms and do the shit jobs that most Americans refuse to work.

When you visit one of the countless Indian casinos to roll the dice and pull the levers, it is the American Indian tribes that have ownership ( though a corporate paleface machine is behind the scenes operating and profiting from these places ).Will all the centuries of massacres and brutalities thrown at these people be washed away because they now make a buck from us? No, but for some Indians ( and not enough ) it softens the anger a bit. If only the tribes who profit from this arrangement would do more for their fellow Indians who don't... but that's what makes capitalism so great: faulty moral compasses.

When the Reagan gang funded and supported the Mujahedeen to push the Soviets out of Afghanistan, we accomplished two things: A) We helped give strength to what later became Al Qaeda and B) we allowed the Afghan drug lords to send more and more poison to the veins of our kids here at home. What a blowback that still reverberates some 30+ years later!

The ' piece de resistance ' was the illegal and immoral invasions and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq. Boy, did the Bush/Cheney gang do some job! They fermented such anti Amerikan rage in that region , which became the greatest recruiting tool for morons like the current Isis nuts. While destroying perhaps one million Afghans and Iraqis combined, not to mention their infrastructures ( which of course cronies of the Bush/ Cheney gang made billions repairing), our economy has been devastated. When over half of our federal tax revenue goes to the Military Industrial Empire... our cities wither. With the current stooge in the White House, we all can only hope there is some change left to spend on we working stiffs!

So, my fellow suckers, saps and lollipops, keep focusing on those sneaky Mexicans who are here to bleed us dry. Keep focusing on the gays who are subverting our morality or the minorities who are getting over on us all with those entitlements. Don't realize the fact that one Boeing Apache Helicopter costs you taxpayers ... are you ready for this... 52 million dollars! How many welfare cheats does that equal? Focus on the fact that those who run things here have hijacked both our flag and our patriotism. They love to honor our troops by what... keep sending them to invade, occupy and kill in places we have no business being in! Of course, if you work for Halliburton, General Dynamics , KBR and the other cronies, then , like the Robert Duval character in Apocalypse Now, you " love the smell of Napalm in the morning!"

Philip A Farruggio is son and grandson of Brooklyn, NYC longshoremen. He is a free lance columnist. Philip works as an environmental products sales rep and has been an activist leader since 2000. In 2010 he became a local spokesperson for the 25% Solution Movement to Save Our Cities by cutting military spending 25%. Philip can be reached at PAF1222@bellsouth.net




A Citizen Against Hunger

Dear young people of every language and culture, a high and exhilarating task awaits you: that of becoming men and women capable of solidarity, peace and love of life, with respect for everyone. Become craftsmen of a new humanity, where brothers and sisters — members all of the same family — are able at last to live in peace. ~Blessed John Paul II

https://www.booster.com/acitizenagainsthunger02

https://www.booster.com/freedomoranarchycampaignofconscience

https://www.booster.com/acitizenagainsthunger

Mass Hardship and Disaster Affect Unborn's DNA, Immunity

Mass Hardship and Disaster Affect Unborn's DNA, Immunity
 File:MigrantMotherColorized.jpg
A distinct genetic signature has been detected in Canadian "ice storm babies." Children who were born in the aftermath of the massive Quebec ice storm of 1998. Millions were left without power for days, weeks and even months.

The number of days an expectant mother was deprived of electricity during Quebec's Ice Storm predicts the epigenetic profile of her child, a new study finds.

Scientists from the Douglas Mental Health University Institute and McGill University think they've cracked the code on exactly how disasters like the storm can affect the unborn.

Five months after the event, researchers recruited women who had been pregnant during the disaster and assessed their degrees of hardship and distress in a study called Project Ice Storm.

Thirteen years later, the researchers found that DNA within the T cells - a type of immune system cell - of 36 children showed distinctive patterns in DNA methylation.
http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-09/dmhu-dsf092914.php

The researchers concluded for the first time that maternal hardship, predicted the degree of methylation of DNA in the T cells. The "epigenetic" signature plays a role in the way the genes express themselves. This study is also the first to show that it is the objective stress exposure (such as days without electricity) and not the degree of emotional distress in pregnant women that causes long lasting changes in the epigenome of their babies.

The health impacts on these children is less clear, but changes in the family of genes related to immunity and sugar metabolism detected in these babies, now teenagers, may put them at a greater risk to develop asthma, diabetes or obesity, they conclude.

 While it's notable that there are diagnostics to detect body impacts from disaster and hardship, it isn't anything that traditional medicine practitioners and nutritionists have missed throughout the centuries. For instance, in a study of Cherokee skulls in the aftermath of the Trail of Tears, changes in body structure could be seen as a direct result from genocide, trauma and hunger. However, there were people during that time and after who were warning of nutritional and physical degeneration as a result of those very hardships.http://www.naturalblaze.com/2014/04/inherited-trauma-and-nutritional.html

https://www.booster.com/acitizenagainsthunger02

If you read enough of these studies, you'll see a distinct pattern that comes scarily close to outright blaming mothers (and fathers) for the 'epigenetic' profile of posterity. Such as the one I refer to in: " Junk Food Encoded in Children's DNA and Beyond ."
http://www.activistpost.com/2014/07/junk-food-encoded-in-childrens-dna-and.html

I believe, in those instances, it is a twisted way to use epigenetics (impact from environmental factors
 https://www.booster.com/acitizenagainsthunger
, nutrition and even stress) to turn a gun on parents who aren't even aware of the harmful impact of products supposedly tested and originally found safe.

Maybe epigenetics is gaining too much headway in lieu of blaming 'inherent genetics' for everything - which would cause so much scrutiny toward things approved as safe in our food supply and environment. The epigenetics outlook causes people to say, "Wait a second, what have I been exposed to? Why aren't I getting enough nutrition?" instead of "Oh, I must have bad genes."

But, as the above study notes, the children's health didn't have much to do with the stress of Mom, but the impact of the outage itself.

Heather Callaghan is a natural health blogger and food freedom activist. You can see her work at NaturalBlaze.com and ActivistPost.com. Like at Facebook. Mass Hardship and Disaster Affect Unborn's DNA, Immunity
 File:MigrantMotherColorized.jpg
A distinct genetic signature has been detected in Canadian "ice storm babies." Children who were born in the aftermath of the massive Quebec ice storm of 1998. Millions were left without power for days, weeks and even months.

The number of days an expectant mother was deprived of electricity during Quebec's Ice Storm predicts the epigenetic profile of her child, a new study finds.

Scientists from the Douglas Mental Health University Institute and McGill University think they've cracked the code on exactly how disasters like the storm can affect the unborn.

Five months after the event, researchers recruited women who had been pregnant during the disaster and assessed their degrees of hardship and distress in a study called Project Ice Storm.

Thirteen years later, the researchers found that DNA within the T cells - a type of immune system cell - of 36 children showed distinctive patterns in DNA methylation.
http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-09/dmhu-dsf092914.php

The researchers concluded for the first time that maternal hardship, predicted the degree of methylation of DNA in the T cells. The "epigenetic" signature plays a role in the way the genes express themselves. This study is also the first to show that it is the objective stress exposure (such as days without electricity) and not the degree of emotional distress in pregnant women that causes long lasting changes in the epigenome of their babies.

The health impacts on these children is less clear, but changes in the family of genes related to immunity and sugar metabolism detected in these babies, now teenagers, may put them at a greater risk to develop asthma, diabetes or obesity, they conclude.

 While it's notable that there are diagnostics to detect body impacts from disaster and hardship, it isn't anything that traditional medicine practitioners and nutritionists have missed throughout the centuries. For instance, in a study of Cherokee skulls in the aftermath of the Trail of Tears, changes in body structure could be seen as a direct result from genocide, trauma and hunger. However, there were people during that time and after who were warning of nutritional and physical degeneration as a result of those very hardships.http://www.naturalblaze.com/2014/04/inherited-trauma-and-nutritional.html

https://www.booster.com/acitizenagainsthunger02

If you read enough of these studies, you'll see a distinct pattern that comes scarily close to outright blaming mothers (and fathers) for the 'epigenetic' profile of posterity. Such as the one I refer to in: " Junk Food Encoded in Children's DNA and Beyond ."
http://www.activistpost.com/2014/07/junk-food-encoded-in-childrens-dna-and.html

I believe, in those instances, it is a twisted way to use epigenetics (impact from environmental factors
 https://www.booster.com/acitizenagainsthunger
, nutrition and even stress) to turn a gun on parents who aren't even aware of the harmful impact of products supposedly tested and originally found safe.

Maybe epigenetics is gaining too much headway in lieu of blaming 'inherent genetics' for everything - which would cause so much scrutiny toward things approved as safe in our food supply and environment. The epigenetics outlook causes people to say, "Wait a second, what have I been exposed to? Why aren't I getting enough nutrition?" instead of "Oh, I must have bad genes."

But, as the above study notes, the children's health didn't have much to do with the stress of Mom, but the impact of the outage itself.

Heather Callaghan is a natural health blogger and food freedom activist. You can see her work at NaturalBlaze.com and ActivistPost.com. Like at Facebook.

Goin’ Against the Flow

Goin’ Against the Flow


This article expresses some of my notions on investing–especially in relation to the “buy low, sell high” mantra.


MarketWatch.com reported in “Opinion: Almost no one believes the stock market will fall” that,



“Everyone believes the U.S. stock market has reached a permanently high plateau. . . . A recent Investors Intelligence survey showed bearish sentiment is at its lowest since 1987 (13.3%). . . . short-sellers have nearly disappeared along with the few remaining bears. . . . the VIX (“fear index”) is at historic lows (near 12), which reflects investor complacency.

“Put another way, almost no one believes this market will go down.”



As I’ve repeatedly observed, the fundamental strategy for profiting from any investment is “buy low and sell high”. You buy an investment for $100 (when its price is low); you later sell it for $200 (when its price is high); you make a $100 profit.

Conversely, if you buy an investment for $100 (when you mistakenly believe its price is low) and later sell it for $50 (when the price is even lower), you’ll lose $50.

The theory behind the “buy low and sell high” investment strategy is obvious and simple.

In practice, however, “buy low and sell high” is complicated and hard to apply because it compels investors to:



1) it diligently and independently research the current and historical price of whatever stock they’re attracted to; and

2) act contrary to the “conventional wisdom” of mass of investors precisely whenever that “wisdom” seems strongest.



Because most of us tend to be lazy, we don’t want to “diligently and independently research” whatever investment attracts us.

Because most of us are social creatures, we’re most comfortable doing what everyone else is doing. When most everyone else is buying, we naturally tend to buy. When most everyone else is selling, we naturally tend to sell. Most of us aren’t emotionally wired to strike off on our own in violation of the strongest “wisdom” of the majority.

Because most of us are lazy and inclined to “follow the herd,” it’s actually hard for most investors to “buy low and sell high”.

However, a minority of investors are intellectually and emotionally equipped to “buy low and sell high”. They’re called “contrarians” because they often act contrary to the majority’s “conventional wisdom”.



 “Diligent research” into an investment is required in order to discern whether that investment’s current price is high, low or somewhere in-between. You can’t “buy low” if you don’t know a particular investment’s price history and prospects.

Most investments rise and fall in price somewhat like a sine wave. Their prices go up for a while, then they go down, and later they go up again. In order to decide if a particular investment should be purchased, “contrarians” must first accurately discern whether its current price is unreasonably high (and therefore unlikely to go much higher) or unreasonably low (and therefore likely to go higher). If the price is already high and unlikely to go much higher, there’s not much hope of applying the “buy low, sell high” strategy to make a profit.   On the other hand, if an investment’s price is at unreasonably low levels, unlikely to go much lower, and probably headed for a significant price rise—that’s a candidate for applying the “buy low, sell high” strategy to making a profit.

All of which is easily said, but hard to do.

In practice, lots of factors come into play: the world economy, the national economy, the market for whatever product or service is provided for the particular investment, and even whether the Federal Reserve will continue to hold down interest rates or actually stop QE.

The first step in “buy low, sell high” is to discern for yourself whether today’s price for a particular investment is unreasonably high, unreasonably low or reasonably in-between. You’ll have to figure it out for yourself because the essence of the buy low, sell high strategy is to be a “contrarian” and dismiss majority opinions as almost certainly mistaken. That means you can’t rely on other peoples’ judgment. You have to be able to think for yourself. If you’re going to do what the vast majority does and believe what the vast majority believes, you will almost certainly lose your assets.

Of course, if you can find one or more good contrarian gurus to follow, you might not have to do all of your own research. But, in the end, the great investors, the most profitable investors, tend to heed their own counsel and distance themselves not only from the majority, but also even from rank-and-file contrarian gurus.



 “Buy low, sell high” is a perfect strategy for unemotional computers, but it’s a terrible strategy for people with dependent personalities who are scared to death of acting in opposition to the herd. Most investors would rather lose their investment than risk being seen to defy the herd’s sentiment. They’d rather lose with the “herd” than profit on their own.

If we’re going to “buy low,” we must buy at a time when majority agrees that our particular investment is not merely low-priced, but virtually worthless and unlikely to rise in the foreseeable future. We “buy low” when the majority is unreasonably convinced the particular investment can’t rise.

Thus, to “buy low” we must be a contrarian who habitually bets against the majority’s sentiment.  The more people who agree that an investment is going up (or down) the more likely they are to be wrong. I.e., when 55% agree that a particular investment is going up (or down) they might be right, they might be wrong. Hard to say. But when 90% agrees that a particular investment is worthless and should be shunned, that investment is probably at or near its lowest price and (assuming other fundamentals are present to make that investment worthwhile) should be purchased. The higher the percentage of people who believe that an investment is going up (or down), the more likely they are to be mistaken.



 After you’ve done your due diligence and determined for yourself that a particular investment’s price is unreasonably low, you buy. You’ve completed the first requirement for making a profit: you bought low.

Then you must exercise the second (unspoken) element of making a profit: you wait. You wait patiently until the price on your investment begins to rise and, ideally, reaches its ultimately unreasonable “high”. That’s when you “sell high” and take your profit.

But there’s a problem with patience. Most of us don’t have much. We want what we want and we want it now. We have trouble waiting patiently because we don’t know for sure when our “sell high” profit opportunity will take place. Patience instills doubt. While we wait, we can lose confidence in our original “buy low, sell high” research. We lose our nerve and are tempted to sell low rather than wait for the “sell high” moment. Our mathematically undeniable formula (buy low, sell high) succumbs to our fears.

But if we have patience and confidence in our original decision to “buy low,” we can wait until the price of our investment rises and we can (finally!) sell high.

Of course, if we truly “sell high,” we’ll be selling at a moment when 90% or more of investors agree that the price can only rise higher. The price is high because the vast majority of investors believe that the price can only go higher. To “sell high” means that, once again, we act as contrarians and go against the flow (which makes most of us uncomfortable). We sell when virtually everyone else is convinced that a particular investment can only go higher and can’t possibly fall. We defy the majority’s “wisdom”.   Doing so makes us nervous.



 Today, when stock market indices are generally at record highs, studies indicate that 87% of investors are convinced that the markets can only go higher. That majority sentiment gives investors great confidence and comfort in their stock buying decisions.

However, that 87% figure is also exactly the sort of exaggerated, unreasonably sentiment that normally precedes a significant decline. When 87% believe a record-high price is going higher, you are almost certainly at or near a “sell high” moment.



 Conversely, when 51% of investors believe an investment will go higher and 49% believe that investment’s price will fall (or vice versa), we actually have a fairly accurate price for that investment. So long as investor sentiment is about 50/50—half bet long, half bet short—you may not know if the market is going up or down, but you can be confident that there will be no drastic change in price, either way. It might go up a little. It might go down a little. But the price set by a 50/50 split in investor sentiment will be roughly correct at that time.

That’s the purpose of the Free Market: to “discover” a fair price—one agreed to by both buyers and sellers—by finding a price point that half think is a good buy and half think is a good sell.



•  However, as investor sentiment becomes increasingly polarized (say, to a 90% versus 10%), you can bet that the majority sentiment is wrong, and that the investment’s price is due for a major “correction”.

More, you can bet that any significant investor sentiment polarization is due to some extreme and artificial stimulus that’s affecting the investment or market. That “stimulation” could be “hype” promoted by one investment firm or another. That “stimulation” could also be the result of some distortion in the supply of currency or interest rates being caused by the Federal Reserve or national government.

Today’s 87% confidence in the stock market almost certainly signals that the record-high market prices are irrational, unjustified and about to fall. It appears to be a “sell high” signal.



 The MarketWatch.com article continued:



“No one believes the bears’ Chicken Little doom-and-gloom warnings. . . . The market has shrugged off multiple geopolitical problems, low market volume, trillions of dollars of debt, sky-high sentiment, extreme P/E ratios for many high-flying stocks, and dozens of other red flags. Yawn. The only gorilla in the room that matters is the Fed.”



To say that the “market has shrugged off multiple geopolitical problems, low market volume, etc. is like saying a meth-amphetamine addict has “shrugged off” the need to sleep.   What we see in today’s markets can’t be ignored as mere evidence of anything as casual as “shrugging”. As with the meth-addict, today’s markets’ extraordinary “shrugging” can only result from some gross distortion of reality.

As for the Fed being the only remaining “gorilla,” that’s true. The Federal Reserve is the Great Manipulator, the Manipulator of Last Resort, the economy’s 800-pound “gorilla”.   The Fed has become the primary “reality” in our markets. But is the Fed’s manipulation “real” in the sense that it can be sustained—or is the Fed’s manipulation only temporary, illusory and unsustainable?

 Nearly 90% of American investors currently believe the stock market can only rise. They’ve held that belief because they also presume that the Federal Reserve’s “life support” for the stock markets can’t and won’t be significantly curtailed.

But is that presumption true, false or even irrational?

The Fed’s stock market life support system has worked something like this:

1)  The Fed printed trillions of dollars to give to banks as Quantitative Easing (QE) under the pretext that the money would be loaned to ordinary Americans who’d spend the borrowed money to purchase new cars, new homes and flat-screen TVs and thereby stimulate the economy.

2)  The Fed also suppressed the interest rate to irrationally low levels under the pretext that the low interest rates would entice ordinary Americans to borrow money from the banks and spend it on cars, homes, and TVs to stimulate the economy. However,

3)  In the midst of the “Great Recession” ordinary Americans refused to go deeper into debt and stopped borrowing money from banks.

4)  More, banks weren’t genuinely interested in lending money to ordinary Americans at irrationally low interest rates because: a) the banks couldn’t make much profit off the loans and, b) during the “Great Recession,”ordinary Americans were more likely to default on their loans. If the ordinary American defaulted on their loans, banks not only couldn’t make a profit, they’d lose their principal. Therefore banks didn’t really want to lend to Joe Sixpack.

5)  But, banks were eager to lend money to major corporations because major corporations were less likely to go bankrupt and default on their loans

6)  Plus, irrationally low interest rates made it profitable for major corporations to borrow money.

7)  The problem was that major corporations had little interest in buying cars, homes and flat-screen TVs in order to stimulate the economy. Instead, those corporations borrowed “cheap money” (low interest rates) from the banks to buy back stocks in their own corporations. These major corporations knew if their own stock had a high probability of generating a profit that would exceed the inflation rate. A significant portion of the QE trillions of dollars (that were supposedly intended to be loaned to ordinary Americans to buy products that would stimulate the economy) were actually loaned to major corporations that invested in the stock markets.

8)  Result? The Fed’s QE policies did relatively little to directly stimulate the economy, but did a great deal to stimulate the stock markets. Based on QE, corporations borrowed, corporations bought stocks, and stock market indices therefore rose to record highs. This rise was “artificial” and “unreasonable” since it was primarily fueled by the artificial stimulus provided by QE.

9)  Prognosis? As the Fed stops printing additional billions of dollars each month, the supply of QE dollars available to lend to major corporations will wither. That’s already happened with “tapering”. More importantly, when the Fed finally raises interest rates, corporations will no longer have access to “cheap money” and will slow or stop borrowing to buy stocks. When corporations stop buying stocks, there should be a major stock market “correction”. Some guru’s predict that this correction could cause markets to lose 30% or more of their currently-perceived value.

10)  When will we see the correction? Who can say? But, insofar as this correction: a) could be triggered by rising interest rates; and b) this is an election year; then, c) you can bet that the Fed will not begin to raise interest rates until sometime after this November’s election. Interest rates might begin to rise as early as December or, more likely, first quarter of next year. Once it’s clear that interest rates are rising and will continue to do so, corporations will stop borrowing “cheap money” to buy stocks, demand for stocks will decline and stock market indices should fall.

Most of the 87% who currently believe that the bull markets for stocks will never end don’t know it, but they’re basing that belief on the underlying presumption that the Federal Reserve will never stop or reduce QE.

It’s no surprise that this 87% doesn’t understand the Fed’s role in stimulating stock market prices. Because this 87% are not “contrarians,” they don’t recognize a need to study the fundamentals underlying their investment decisions. All they need to do is “follow the herd”. Because they don’t study to discover the intrinsic value of whatever investment they’re purchasing, their only economic indicator is other peoples’ actions. They view investing as a popularity contest wherein the best investments are deciding by simply voting and without regard to intrinsic value.

If most people are buying, the 87% will follow and cause stock prices to rise to unreasonable highs. If people begin to sell, the 87% will not only follow but also cause a panic that will cause stock prices to plummet to an unreasonable “low”.

“Contrarians,” on the other hand, will wait patiently, knowing that the “herd” will be every bit as over-emotional, ignorant and unreasonable when the price of stocks plunge as they were when those same stock prices soared. When the “herd” pushes stock prices to an unreasonable high, that’s the contrarians’ “sell high” moment when they can capture profits. When the 87% pushes stock prices to an unreasonable low, that’ll be the contrarians’ “buy low” point where they begin another investment cycle.

Contrarians are neither bulls nor bears. They aren’t optimists or pessimists. They are objectivists who study particular investments and public sentiment and invest accordingly. They’re also people who regularly profit from their investments. They know that the majority’s sentiment—especially a large majority like 87%—will be wrong almost every time. Therefore, the contrarians always seem to “go against the flow”—especially when that “flow” is strongly up or down.

Contrarians understand that whenever an investment’s price is far from a 50/50 split between bulls and bears, that price is due for a correction. The stronger the majority’s sentiment, the stronger the polarization between bulls and bears (say, 90% versus 10%)—the more likely that the majority is wrong and the coming correction will be dramatic.

Today’s contrarians understand that QE has stimulated the stock markets rather than the economy. Today’s contrarians believe that the Fed can’t hold interest rates down indefinitely. Contrarians know that once interest rates begin to rise, the stock indices should fall dramatically. They also know that once the fall begins, the “herd” will not merely sell, but also panic and probably push prices down to levels that are breathtakingly low.

If you accept the idea that only contrarians (those who go against the flow) tend to profit from the markets, and if you can see that majority sentiment is polarized in favor stocks and against gold, then you should recognize that stocks are near a “sell high” moment while gold is near a “buy low” moment.

It takes some intelligence to understand the “buy low, sell high” strategy. But it also takes courage.

If you have sufficient intellect and courage to be a contrarian, you could profit in today’s markets by “goin’ against the flow”.   On the other hand, if you lack either the intellect or courage required to be a contrarian, you may soon lose much of your investments.


A Citizen Against Hunger

Dear young people of every language and culture, a high and exhilarating task awaits you: that of becoming men and women capable of solidarity, peace and love of life, with respect for everyone. Become craftsmen of a new humanity, where brothers and sisters — members all of the same family — are able at last to live in peace. ~Blessed John Paul II

https://www.booster.com/acitizenagainsthunger02 Goin’ Against the Flow


This article expresses some of my notions on investing–especially in relation to the “buy low, sell high” mantra.


MarketWatch.com reported in “Opinion: Almost no one believes the stock market will fall” that,



“Everyone believes the U.S. stock market has reached a permanently high plateau. . . . A recent Investors Intelligence survey showed bearish sentiment is at its lowest since 1987 (13.3%). . . . short-sellers have nearly disappeared along with the few remaining bears. . . . the VIX (“fear index”) is at historic lows (near 12), which reflects investor complacency.

“Put another way, almost no one believes this market will go down.”



As I’ve repeatedly observed, the fundamental strategy for profiting from any investment is “buy low and sell high”. You buy an investment for $100 (when its price is low); you later sell it for $200 (when its price is high); you make a $100 profit.

Conversely, if you buy an investment for $100 (when you mistakenly believe its price is low) and later sell it for $50 (when the price is even lower), you’ll lose $50.

The theory behind the “buy low and sell high” investment strategy is obvious and simple.

In practice, however, “buy low and sell high” is complicated and hard to apply because it compels investors to:



1) it diligently and independently research the current and historical price of whatever stock they’re attracted to; and

2) act contrary to the “conventional wisdom” of mass of investors precisely whenever that “wisdom” seems strongest.



Because most of us tend to be lazy, we don’t want to “diligently and independently research” whatever investment attracts us.

Because most of us are social creatures, we’re most comfortable doing what everyone else is doing. When most everyone else is buying, we naturally tend to buy. When most everyone else is selling, we naturally tend to sell. Most of us aren’t emotionally wired to strike off on our own in violation of the strongest “wisdom” of the majority.

Because most of us are lazy and inclined to “follow the herd,” it’s actually hard for most investors to “buy low and sell high”.

However, a minority of investors are intellectually and emotionally equipped to “buy low and sell high”. They’re called “contrarians” because they often act contrary to the majority’s “conventional wisdom”.



 “Diligent research” into an investment is required in order to discern whether that investment’s current price is high, low or somewhere in-between. You can’t “buy low” if you don’t know a particular investment’s price history and prospects.

Most investments rise and fall in price somewhat like a sine wave. Their prices go up for a while, then they go down, and later they go up again. In order to decide if a particular investment should be purchased, “contrarians” must first accurately discern whether its current price is unreasonably high (and therefore unlikely to go much higher) or unreasonably low (and therefore likely to go higher). If the price is already high and unlikely to go much higher, there’s not much hope of applying the “buy low, sell high” strategy to make a profit.   On the other hand, if an investment’s price is at unreasonably low levels, unlikely to go much lower, and probably headed for a significant price rise—that’s a candidate for applying the “buy low, sell high” strategy to making a profit.

All of which is easily said, but hard to do.

In practice, lots of factors come into play: the world economy, the national economy, the market for whatever product or service is provided for the particular investment, and even whether the Federal Reserve will continue to hold down interest rates or actually stop QE.

The first step in “buy low, sell high” is to discern for yourself whether today’s price for a particular investment is unreasonably high, unreasonably low or reasonably in-between. You’ll have to figure it out for yourself because the essence of the buy low, sell high strategy is to be a “contrarian” and dismiss majority opinions as almost certainly mistaken. That means you can’t rely on other peoples’ judgment. You have to be able to think for yourself. If you’re going to do what the vast majority does and believe what the vast majority believes, you will almost certainly lose your assets.

Of course, if you can find one or more good contrarian gurus to follow, you might not have to do all of your own research. But, in the end, the great investors, the most profitable investors, tend to heed their own counsel and distance themselves not only from the majority, but also even from rank-and-file contrarian gurus.



 “Buy low, sell high” is a perfect strategy for unemotional computers, but it’s a terrible strategy for people with dependent personalities who are scared to death of acting in opposition to the herd. Most investors would rather lose their investment than risk being seen to defy the herd’s sentiment. They’d rather lose with the “herd” than profit on their own.

If we’re going to “buy low,” we must buy at a time when majority agrees that our particular investment is not merely low-priced, but virtually worthless and unlikely to rise in the foreseeable future. We “buy low” when the majority is unreasonably convinced the particular investment can’t rise.

Thus, to “buy low” we must be a contrarian who habitually bets against the majority’s sentiment.  The more people who agree that an investment is going up (or down) the more likely they are to be wrong. I.e., when 55% agree that a particular investment is going up (or down) they might be right, they might be wrong. Hard to say. But when 90% agrees that a particular investment is worthless and should be shunned, that investment is probably at or near its lowest price and (assuming other fundamentals are present to make that investment worthwhile) should be purchased. The higher the percentage of people who believe that an investment is going up (or down), the more likely they are to be mistaken.



 After you’ve done your due diligence and determined for yourself that a particular investment’s price is unreasonably low, you buy. You’ve completed the first requirement for making a profit: you bought low.

Then you must exercise the second (unspoken) element of making a profit: you wait. You wait patiently until the price on your investment begins to rise and, ideally, reaches its ultimately unreasonable “high”. That’s when you “sell high” and take your profit.

But there’s a problem with patience. Most of us don’t have much. We want what we want and we want it now. We have trouble waiting patiently because we don’t know for sure when our “sell high” profit opportunity will take place. Patience instills doubt. While we wait, we can lose confidence in our original “buy low, sell high” research. We lose our nerve and are tempted to sell low rather than wait for the “sell high” moment. Our mathematically undeniable formula (buy low, sell high) succumbs to our fears.

But if we have patience and confidence in our original decision to “buy low,” we can wait until the price of our investment rises and we can (finally!) sell high.

Of course, if we truly “sell high,” we’ll be selling at a moment when 90% or more of investors agree that the price can only rise higher. The price is high because the vast majority of investors believe that the price can only go higher. To “sell high” means that, once again, we act as contrarians and go against the flow (which makes most of us uncomfortable). We sell when virtually everyone else is convinced that a particular investment can only go higher and can’t possibly fall. We defy the majority’s “wisdom”.   Doing so makes us nervous.



 Today, when stock market indices are generally at record highs, studies indicate that 87% of investors are convinced that the markets can only go higher. That majority sentiment gives investors great confidence and comfort in their stock buying decisions.

However, that 87% figure is also exactly the sort of exaggerated, unreasonably sentiment that normally precedes a significant decline. When 87% believe a record-high price is going higher, you are almost certainly at or near a “sell high” moment.



 Conversely, when 51% of investors believe an investment will go higher and 49% believe that investment’s price will fall (or vice versa), we actually have a fairly accurate price for that investment. So long as investor sentiment is about 50/50—half bet long, half bet short—you may not know if the market is going up or down, but you can be confident that there will be no drastic change in price, either way. It might go up a little. It might go down a little. But the price set by a 50/50 split in investor sentiment will be roughly correct at that time.

That’s the purpose of the Free Market: to “discover” a fair price—one agreed to by both buyers and sellers—by finding a price point that half think is a good buy and half think is a good sell.



•  However, as investor sentiment becomes increasingly polarized (say, to a 90% versus 10%), you can bet that the majority sentiment is wrong, and that the investment’s price is due for a major “correction”.

More, you can bet that any significant investor sentiment polarization is due to some extreme and artificial stimulus that’s affecting the investment or market. That “stimulation” could be “hype” promoted by one investment firm or another. That “stimulation” could also be the result of some distortion in the supply of currency or interest rates being caused by the Federal Reserve or national government.

Today’s 87% confidence in the stock market almost certainly signals that the record-high market prices are irrational, unjustified and about to fall. It appears to be a “sell high” signal.



 The MarketWatch.com article continued:



“No one believes the bears’ Chicken Little doom-and-gloom warnings. . . . The market has shrugged off multiple geopolitical problems, low market volume, trillions of dollars of debt, sky-high sentiment, extreme P/E ratios for many high-flying stocks, and dozens of other red flags. Yawn. The only gorilla in the room that matters is the Fed.”



To say that the “market has shrugged off multiple geopolitical problems, low market volume, etc. is like saying a meth-amphetamine addict has “shrugged off” the need to sleep.   What we see in today’s markets can’t be ignored as mere evidence of anything as casual as “shrugging”. As with the meth-addict, today’s markets’ extraordinary “shrugging” can only result from some gross distortion of reality.

As for the Fed being the only remaining “gorilla,” that’s true. The Federal Reserve is the Great Manipulator, the Manipulator of Last Resort, the economy’s 800-pound “gorilla”.   The Fed has become the primary “reality” in our markets. But is the Fed’s manipulation “real” in the sense that it can be sustained—or is the Fed’s manipulation only temporary, illusory and unsustainable?

 Nearly 90% of American investors currently believe the stock market can only rise. They’ve held that belief because they also presume that the Federal Reserve’s “life support” for the stock markets can’t and won’t be significantly curtailed.

But is that presumption true, false or even irrational?

The Fed’s stock market life support system has worked something like this:

1)  The Fed printed trillions of dollars to give to banks as Quantitative Easing (QE) under the pretext that the money would be loaned to ordinary Americans who’d spend the borrowed money to purchase new cars, new homes and flat-screen TVs and thereby stimulate the economy.

2)  The Fed also suppressed the interest rate to irrationally low levels under the pretext that the low interest rates would entice ordinary Americans to borrow money from the banks and spend it on cars, homes, and TVs to stimulate the economy. However,

3)  In the midst of the “Great Recession” ordinary Americans refused to go deeper into debt and stopped borrowing money from banks.

4)  More, banks weren’t genuinely interested in lending money to ordinary Americans at irrationally low interest rates because: a) the banks couldn’t make much profit off the loans and, b) during the “Great Recession,”ordinary Americans were more likely to default on their loans. If the ordinary American defaulted on their loans, banks not only couldn’t make a profit, they’d lose their principal. Therefore banks didn’t really want to lend to Joe Sixpack.

5)  But, banks were eager to lend money to major corporations because major corporations were less likely to go bankrupt and default on their loans

6)  Plus, irrationally low interest rates made it profitable for major corporations to borrow money.

7)  The problem was that major corporations had little interest in buying cars, homes and flat-screen TVs in order to stimulate the economy. Instead, those corporations borrowed “cheap money” (low interest rates) from the banks to buy back stocks in their own corporations. These major corporations knew if their own stock had a high probability of generating a profit that would exceed the inflation rate. A significant portion of the QE trillions of dollars (that were supposedly intended to be loaned to ordinary Americans to buy products that would stimulate the economy) were actually loaned to major corporations that invested in the stock markets.

8)  Result? The Fed’s QE policies did relatively little to directly stimulate the economy, but did a great deal to stimulate the stock markets. Based on QE, corporations borrowed, corporations bought stocks, and stock market indices therefore rose to record highs. This rise was “artificial” and “unreasonable” since it was primarily fueled by the artificial stimulus provided by QE.

9)  Prognosis? As the Fed stops printing additional billions of dollars each month, the supply of QE dollars available to lend to major corporations will wither. That’s already happened with “tapering”. More importantly, when the Fed finally raises interest rates, corporations will no longer have access to “cheap money” and will slow or stop borrowing to buy stocks. When corporations stop buying stocks, there should be a major stock market “correction”. Some guru’s predict that this correction could cause markets to lose 30% or more of their currently-perceived value.

10)  When will we see the correction? Who can say? But, insofar as this correction: a) could be triggered by rising interest rates; and b) this is an election year; then, c) you can bet that the Fed will not begin to raise interest rates until sometime after this November’s election. Interest rates might begin to rise as early as December or, more likely, first quarter of next year. Once it’s clear that interest rates are rising and will continue to do so, corporations will stop borrowing “cheap money” to buy stocks, demand for stocks will decline and stock market indices should fall.

Most of the 87% who currently believe that the bull markets for stocks will never end don’t know it, but they’re basing that belief on the underlying presumption that the Federal Reserve will never stop or reduce QE.

It’s no surprise that this 87% doesn’t understand the Fed’s role in stimulating stock market prices. Because this 87% are not “contrarians,” they don’t recognize a need to study the fundamentals underlying their investment decisions. All they need to do is “follow the herd”. Because they don’t study to discover the intrinsic value of whatever investment they’re purchasing, their only economic indicator is other peoples’ actions. They view investing as a popularity contest wherein the best investments are deciding by simply voting and without regard to intrinsic value.

If most people are buying, the 87% will follow and cause stock prices to rise to unreasonable highs. If people begin to sell, the 87% will not only follow but also cause a panic that will cause stock prices to plummet to an unreasonable “low”.

“Contrarians,” on the other hand, will wait patiently, knowing that the “herd” will be every bit as over-emotional, ignorant and unreasonable when the price of stocks plunge as they were when those same stock prices soared. When the “herd” pushes stock prices to an unreasonable high, that’s the contrarians’ “sell high” moment when they can capture profits. When the 87% pushes stock prices to an unreasonable low, that’ll be the contrarians’ “buy low” point where they begin another investment cycle.

Contrarians are neither bulls nor bears. They aren’t optimists or pessimists. They are objectivists who study particular investments and public sentiment and invest accordingly. They’re also people who regularly profit from their investments. They know that the majority’s sentiment—especially a large majority like 87%—will be wrong almost every time. Therefore, the contrarians always seem to “go against the flow”—especially when that “flow” is strongly up or down.

Contrarians understand that whenever an investment’s price is far from a 50/50 split between bulls and bears, that price is due for a correction. The stronger the majority’s sentiment, the stronger the polarization between bulls and bears (say, 90% versus 10%)—the more likely that the majority is wrong and the coming correction will be dramatic.

Today’s contrarians understand that QE has stimulated the stock markets rather than the economy. Today’s contrarians believe that the Fed can’t hold interest rates down indefinitely. Contrarians know that once interest rates begin to rise, the stock indices should fall dramatically. They also know that once the fall begins, the “herd” will not merely sell, but also panic and probably push prices down to levels that are breathtakingly low.

If you accept the idea that only contrarians (those who go against the flow) tend to profit from the markets, and if you can see that majority sentiment is polarized in favor stocks and against gold, then you should recognize that stocks are near a “sell high” moment while gold is near a “buy low” moment.

It takes some intelligence to understand the “buy low, sell high” strategy. But it also takes courage.

If you have sufficient intellect and courage to be a contrarian, you could profit in today’s markets by “goin’ against the flow”.   On the other hand, if you lack either the intellect or courage required to be a contrarian, you may soon lose much of your investments.


A Citizen Against Hunger

Dear young people of every language and culture, a high and exhilarating task awaits you: that of becoming men and women capable of solidarity, peace and love of life, with respect for everyone. Become craftsmen of a new humanity, where brothers and sisters — members all of the same family — are able at last to live in peace. ~Blessed John Paul II

https://www.booster.com/acitizenagainsthunger02

Confidence vs Humility

Confidence vs Humility


I view the video below as evidence of a powerful and often self-destructive instinct in most people to follow anyone who speaks with great confidence.  People don’t much care about what’s being said.  They do care about the apparent confidence of the speaker.  Most people don’t care if the speaker speaks truth or lies, but they do care if he speaks with confidence.
If you speak without confidence–even if you’re telling a profound truth–most people won’t believe you.  Most people won’t follow you.

But if you speak with great confidence, people don’t care if you’re a pathological liar–they will follow you, they’ll obey you, they’ll give you lots of money.  Most salesmen, leaders, politicians, bankers and “men of power” understand this principle.  If you would win, if you would rule, you must speak with unbridled confidence.  Obama is a classic example of this phenomenon.

Adolph Hitler also understood this principle and called it the “big lie”.  If you told a lie big enough, no one would doubt it. Perhaps Hitler could’ve labeled the phenomenon the “confident lie”.  I.e., if you tell a lie with sufficient confidence, very few will doubt it.


I suspect that we respond to confidence because it’s easy to see.  Truth, is far more complex, debatable and even confusing.  Trying to evaluate the truth of an idea requires hard work, diligence and persistence.  Trying to evaluate a speaker’s confidence, on the other hand, is comparatively easy.  If he doesn’t speak with confidence, screw him.  If he speaks with humility, screw him.  He won’t attract a following or achieve much power.  Therefore, he–and the truth or falsity of whatever ideas he espouses–can therefore be ignored.

The subject of the following video claims to be the Anti-Christ. He makes his claims with great confidence and has attracted a following.  His followers contributed $1.4 million to him last year.  Confidence works.  Confidence sells.

But I’m reminded of the Messiah who reportedly spoke without great confidence but instead spoke with humility.*

I think I might understand the Messiah’s humility.  When you speak with humility, the only subject is the truth or falsity of the ideas you present.  When you speak with humility, you are not the issue.  The humble man is not the subject of interest.  The subject of interest is the idea he’s trying to express.  Speaking with humility, you become almost irrelevant.  The audience is not deceived into believing your ideas by your confidence, showmanship, or charisma.

Speaking with humility may not attract much of an audience (at least not at first), but it makes your ideas be the only subject for the people to consider.  Those ideas are not obscured or even hidden behind a cloak of the speaker’s confidence.


 In A.D. 1964, Marshal McLuhan wrote a book entitled Understanding Media;  The Extensions of Man.  In that book, McLuhan coined the phrase “the medium is the message.”  He argued that the objective content of the message (ultimately its truth, falsity or relevance) was less important than the “medium” (radio, tv, print) in which that message was communicated.  If advertisers could create a good “medium,” their message would be accepted and embraced by the consumers–regardless of the objective content of the message.

I’m reminded of the “Marlboro Man” as an application of McLuhan’s “medium is the message”.   Back in the 1960s and 70s, Marlboro cigarettes used the image of a rugged, masculine cowboy with movie-star good looks to sell millions of packages of cigarettes.

I remember the ads.  Full page.  Color photo.  A cowboy smoking while he rode a horse, saddled a horse, hauled a bale of hay, savored a sunset or did something else that was quintessentially “cowboyish”.   Virtually no text other than the word “Marlboro”.     The essential content of objective “message” of the Marlboro ads was “tobacco kills”.  But the “medium” used to convey or even conceal that “message” was the image of that rugged cowboy whose rugged, masculine confidence seemed enormous and irrefutable.

Result?   Millions of Americans bought Marlboro cigarettes based on the “medium” (confident cowboy) rather than the essential message (“tobacco kills”).

It occurs to me that McLuhan’s catchphrase (“The medium is the message”) may help illustrate the phenomenon of most people “buying” a particular “message” based on the “medium” (the speaker’s confidence) rather than on the truth or falsity of the underlying facts.  The “medium” often conceals the objective “message” and thereby becomes the “message”.

 Which brings me back to the Messiah.  It’s my understanding that he not only spoke with humility but also wasn’t a particularly handsome man.  If you saw the Messiah walking down the street, he didn’t “glow”.  He didn’t look like Clark Gable or George Clooney.  The Messiah’s appearance was unremarkable and might just as easily have been that of a street sweeper as of a savior.

For me, that unremarkable appearance is consistent with my notions about humility.  Because of the Messiah’s ordinary looks and humble presentations, most people would not be seduced by the “medium” (the Messiah) but instead could only hear and evaluate the truth or falsity of whatever actual “message” he conveyed.  In the case of the Messiah, the “medium” was not the “message”.  The objective “message” (the Gospel) was the “message”.

Result?  With an unremarkable, humble Messiah, the “message” of the Gospel might not have made as much immediate “market penetration” as would’ve been possible if Gable, Clooney or the Marlboro man had been fronting for the Gospel.  But, it may well be that the actual “message” (the Gospel) caught on and became powerful in large measure because it was not initially presented by some “golden boy” speaking with “great confidence” and charisma.   If “the medium is the message,” then if the Messiah had been a super-confident “medium” we might never have really considered and grasped the underlying “message”.

From this perspective, the New Testament is not about the Messiah so much as the Word.

In a sense, it might even be argued that the “medium” (the Messiah) might have to “disappear” before his underlying “message” could be fully understood.

Speculating along these lines, I’m reminded that Jews rejected the Messiah because they wanted a “king”.  They wanted a “golden boy” filled with confidence and charisma to lead them and fight their battles.  They didn’t want to “hear” whatever the Messiah had to say.  They wanted to follow wherever the Messiah would lead them.   It might be argued that Jews didn’t want the actual “message”–they wanted the “medium”.

In any case, here’s a short video of a man who speaks with sufficient confidence to convince people that he’s the Anti-Chist and attract enough followers to take in over $1 million a year in contributions.  He hasn’t attracted a lot of followers.  I’d bet the number is a few tens of thousands.  Still, he’s attracted enough to collect $1.4 million a year.  I doubt that he could’ve done that without great confidence.

There might be a lesson here.  If the real Anti-Christ appears, he will almost certainly speak with great confidence and no humility.

video   00:03:34

https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=452320554907675&set=vb.100003892040712&type=2&theater


A Citizen Against Hunger

Dear young people of every language and culture, a high and exhilarating task awaits you: that of becoming men and women capable of solidarity, peace and love of life, with respect for everyone. Become craftsmen of a new humanity, where brothers and sisters — members all of the same family — are able at last to live in peace. ~Blessed John Paul II

https://www.booster.com/acitizenagainsthunger02 Confidence vs Humility


I view the video below as evidence of a powerful and often self-destructive instinct in most people to follow anyone who speaks with great confidence.  People don’t much care about what’s being said.  They do care about the apparent confidence of the speaker.  Most people don’t care if the speaker speaks truth or lies, but they do care if he speaks with confidence.
If you speak without confidence–even if you’re telling a profound truth–most people won’t believe you.  Most people won’t follow you.

But if you speak with great confidence, people don’t care if you’re a pathological liar–they will follow you, they’ll obey you, they’ll give you lots of money.  Most salesmen, leaders, politicians, bankers and “men of power” understand this principle.  If you would win, if you would rule, you must speak with unbridled confidence.  Obama is a classic example of this phenomenon.

Adolph Hitler also understood this principle and called it the “big lie”.  If you told a lie big enough, no one would doubt it. Perhaps Hitler could’ve labeled the phenomenon the “confident lie”.  I.e., if you tell a lie with sufficient confidence, very few will doubt it.


I suspect that we respond to confidence because it’s easy to see.  Truth, is far more complex, debatable and even confusing.  Trying to evaluate the truth of an idea requires hard work, diligence and persistence.  Trying to evaluate a speaker’s confidence, on the other hand, is comparatively easy.  If he doesn’t speak with confidence, screw him.  If he speaks with humility, screw him.  He won’t attract a following or achieve much power.  Therefore, he–and the truth or falsity of whatever ideas he espouses–can therefore be ignored.

The subject of the following video claims to be the Anti-Christ. He makes his claims with great confidence and has attracted a following.  His followers contributed $1.4 million to him last year.  Confidence works.  Confidence sells.

But I’m reminded of the Messiah who reportedly spoke without great confidence but instead spoke with humility.*

I think I might understand the Messiah’s humility.  When you speak with humility, the only subject is the truth or falsity of the ideas you present.  When you speak with humility, you are not the issue.  The humble man is not the subject of interest.  The subject of interest is the idea he’s trying to express.  Speaking with humility, you become almost irrelevant.  The audience is not deceived into believing your ideas by your confidence, showmanship, or charisma.

Speaking with humility may not attract much of an audience (at least not at first), but it makes your ideas be the only subject for the people to consider.  Those ideas are not obscured or even hidden behind a cloak of the speaker’s confidence.


 In A.D. 1964, Marshal McLuhan wrote a book entitled Understanding Media;  The Extensions of Man.  In that book, McLuhan coined the phrase “the medium is the message.”  He argued that the objective content of the message (ultimately its truth, falsity or relevance) was less important than the “medium” (radio, tv, print) in which that message was communicated.  If advertisers could create a good “medium,” their message would be accepted and embraced by the consumers–regardless of the objective content of the message.

I’m reminded of the “Marlboro Man” as an application of McLuhan’s “medium is the message”.   Back in the 1960s and 70s, Marlboro cigarettes used the image of a rugged, masculine cowboy with movie-star good looks to sell millions of packages of cigarettes.

I remember the ads.  Full page.  Color photo.  A cowboy smoking while he rode a horse, saddled a horse, hauled a bale of hay, savored a sunset or did something else that was quintessentially “cowboyish”.   Virtually no text other than the word “Marlboro”.     The essential content of objective “message” of the Marlboro ads was “tobacco kills”.  But the “medium” used to convey or even conceal that “message” was the image of that rugged cowboy whose rugged, masculine confidence seemed enormous and irrefutable.

Result?   Millions of Americans bought Marlboro cigarettes based on the “medium” (confident cowboy) rather than the essential message (“tobacco kills”).

It occurs to me that McLuhan’s catchphrase (“The medium is the message”) may help illustrate the phenomenon of most people “buying” a particular “message” based on the “medium” (the speaker’s confidence) rather than on the truth or falsity of the underlying facts.  The “medium” often conceals the objective “message” and thereby becomes the “message”.

 Which brings me back to the Messiah.  It’s my understanding that he not only spoke with humility but also wasn’t a particularly handsome man.  If you saw the Messiah walking down the street, he didn’t “glow”.  He didn’t look like Clark Gable or George Clooney.  The Messiah’s appearance was unremarkable and might just as easily have been that of a street sweeper as of a savior.

For me, that unremarkable appearance is consistent with my notions about humility.  Because of the Messiah’s ordinary looks and humble presentations, most people would not be seduced by the “medium” (the Messiah) but instead could only hear and evaluate the truth or falsity of whatever actual “message” he conveyed.  In the case of the Messiah, the “medium” was not the “message”.  The objective “message” (the Gospel) was the “message”.

Result?  With an unremarkable, humble Messiah, the “message” of the Gospel might not have made as much immediate “market penetration” as would’ve been possible if Gable, Clooney or the Marlboro man had been fronting for the Gospel.  But, it may well be that the actual “message” (the Gospel) caught on and became powerful in large measure because it was not initially presented by some “golden boy” speaking with “great confidence” and charisma.   If “the medium is the message,” then if the Messiah had been a super-confident “medium” we might never have really considered and grasped the underlying “message”.

From this perspective, the New Testament is not about the Messiah so much as the Word.

In a sense, it might even be argued that the “medium” (the Messiah) might have to “disappear” before his underlying “message” could be fully understood.

Speculating along these lines, I’m reminded that Jews rejected the Messiah because they wanted a “king”.  They wanted a “golden boy” filled with confidence and charisma to lead them and fight their battles.  They didn’t want to “hear” whatever the Messiah had to say.  They wanted to follow wherever the Messiah would lead them.   It might be argued that Jews didn’t want the actual “message”–they wanted the “medium”.

In any case, here’s a short video of a man who speaks with sufficient confidence to convince people that he’s the Anti-Chist and attract enough followers to take in over $1 million a year in contributions.  He hasn’t attracted a lot of followers.  I’d bet the number is a few tens of thousands.  Still, he’s attracted enough to collect $1.4 million a year.  I doubt that he could’ve done that without great confidence.

There might be a lesson here.  If the real Anti-Christ appears, he will almost certainly speak with great confidence and no humility.

video   00:03:34

https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=452320554907675&set=vb.100003892040712&type=2&theater


A Citizen Against Hunger

Dear young people of every language and culture, a high and exhilarating task awaits you: that of becoming men and women capable of solidarity, peace and love of life, with respect for everyone. Become craftsmen of a new humanity, where brothers and sisters — members all of the same family — are able at last to live in peace. ~Blessed John Paul II

https://www.booster.com/acitizenagainsthunger02