"When you pay social security taxes, you are in no way making provision for your own retirement. You are paying the pensions of those who are already retired. Once you understand this, you see that whether you will get the benefits you are counting on when you retire depends on whether Congress will levy enough taxes, borrow enough, or print enough money...." ~ Allen Wallis
Exclusive to STR
April 21, 2008
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Why the Public Can't Think Straight
We all know that the government lies to us, that it uses propaganda to support the lies, and that, for the most part, the corporate media is an integral part of the government/power elite propaganda machine. These things are obvious to any American with even a room-temperature IQ. For that matter, it's hard to think of any nation that behaves otherwise.
Occasionally, the true nature of today's corporatist media leaks out in a way that shocks. Two recent examples:
First, Glenn Greenwald's Major revelation: U.S. media deceitfully disseminates government propaganda. Commenting on a recent NY Times article (registration required), Greenwald points out that as damning as the revelations in that article are, the bigger story is media complicity in ignoring and suppressing such material. He provides extensive and chilling details showing how the dishonesty and propaganda are routinely accomplished. Greenwald says plainly that "The single most significant factor in American political culture is the incestuous, extensive overlap between our media institutions and government officials."
After watching the Sunday news shows, Greenwald added an update, writing that "it is striking -- though unsurprising -- that not a single one saw fit to mention this NYT story demonstrating that these news programs all fed government propaganda to their viewers. That they refuse to comment on this story and will now black it out says as much about what they really are, and what they really do, as the NYT story itself does."
Anyone who still harbors the slightest thought that the corporate media is an honest and reliable source of information needs to read Greenwald's article.
The second item is a short, excellent YouTube video (7 min 33 sec) put together by television producer Jerry Day that documents the blatant manipulation and dishonesty of media political coverage so well, you'll be stunned. Ron Paul figures prominently in the discussion for obvious reasons: Paul (who is still in the GOP race) is the only pro-freedom, anti-war, anti-corporatist, anti-income tax, anti-Federal Reserve candidate in the race, and thus suppressing Paul's candidacy has been the corporate media's most important job these past several months.
This is a must-see video, and not only for Ron Paul supporters; the facts Mr. Day presents are important for anyone who wants to understand how the warfare-welfare police state is being pushed on the American public. I encourage you to send the link to everyone you know.
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For more than a year in these columns, I have occasionally detailed how and why the economic trend in the United States and in the West generally has been downward, and why that downtrend has a long way to go.
It isn't pleasant contemplating diminished wealth and living standards for the nation you call home, but living in a fantasy world is more expensive and dangerous than seeing things clearly.
I am sometimes asked if I see a turnaround in the near future; have the stock and housing markets hit bottom yet, have the many financial crises shown signs of easing, will prices for oil and food and metals and other commodities soon return to the drastically more affordable levels they were at only recently. My answer is "not likely."
Furthermore, the trend of government interference to "help" with such problems is reliably making them worse and creating new problems, including epic tragedies such as the worldwide rise in food prices (combined with outright shortages) caused in large part by government biofuel mandates. Why let the market decide what to do with that corn crop (uh, sell it as food?) when government can forcibly divert it into ethanol fuel, enriching various corporate pals in the process. Side effects include environmental degradation, food riots and starvation in the Third World (and soon, perhaps, for the poor here in America ), and a likely increase in both greenhouse gases and imported oil use. But, as our eloquent Vice President might put it: "So?" (link is to a 26 second video of Dick Cheney responding to the news that every single American citizen, including the unborn and the recently dead, want the country out of Iraq ).
Every major problem and downtrend from a year ago continues: the problems have not been solved but have indeed grown worse, as seemed inevitable last year (and the year before, and the year before that, and so on for longer than I care to remember). The created-from-thin-air US dollar continues eroding into nothingness and dramatic, Zimbabwe-style hyperinflation is no longer unthinkable (see also here, for an NPR audio interview with a Harvard economist discussing Zimbabwe and hyperinflation generally). Strongly bucking the trend of higher prices for most real goods, housing prices continue crashing and probably still have a long way down to go. Oil is at $116.67 per barrel as I write this and so many forces are pushing the price up that a serious downtrend in prices seems unlikely anytime soon. US job losses and overall unemployment are both on the rise. The list of such problems is long, and the fundamental underpinnings for the ongoing downtrend run deep.
Cheerful? No. Factual? I'm afraid so. I hope you'll keep the trends in mind as you live your life and plan your future; there are no guarantees in this world but sensible action grounded in the facts will more likely benefit you than will other approaches.