Tag Archives: unemployment

SUICIDES UP IN US, DOWN GLOBALLY

“The suicide rate in America is up by 18% since 2000.  This is not merely a tragedy; it matters politically, too.   The rise is largely among white, middle-aged, poorly educated men in areas that were left behind by booms and crushed by busts.   Their deaths are a symptom of troubles to which some see President Trump as the answer. Those troubles should not be ignored.”   (“Staying alive,” The Economist,11/24)

Suicide is declining pretty much all over the world, thanks to greater freedom and some helpful policies.” (“Defeating despair,” The Economist, 11/24).

“Globally, the rate has fallen by 38% from its peak in 1994.”

LIFE EXPECTANCY DOWN IN US

“Suicide and drug overdose rates continued to rise in 2017, helping drive the number of U.S. deaths to the highest level in more than 100 years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a series of reports on mortality released Thursday.

“Tragically, this troubling trend is largely driven by deaths from drug overdose and suicide,” CDC Director Robert Redfield said in a statement.  “These sobering statistics are a wake-up call that we are losing too many Americans, too early and too often, to conditions that are preventable.”

“Life expectancy in 2017 fell to an average of 78.6 years for the total population, down from 78.7 years in 2016.

“Overall, more than 2.8 million Americans died in 2017, about 70,000 more than in 2016.”

(“Suicides, overdoses rise in US,” John Bacon, USA Today, 11/30)

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CONTINUING BREXIT CRISIS

“The only rule of British politics for the coming weeks is that nobody knows anything.   The prime minister doesn’t know who will resign next.   The factions don’t know their relative strengths.   Nobody knows what is bluff and what is in deadly earnest.

“But one thing that is increasingly clear in the fog of Brexit is that this is the most serious domestic crisis Britain has faced in the modern democratic era.   In the statement that accompanied his resignation as transport minister earlier this month, Jo Johnson accused his own government of “a failure of British statecraft on a scale unseen since the Suez crisis.”   Others have compared the current debacle to the IMF’s bail-out of Britain in 1976 or the gold-standard crisis of 1931.   In fact it is worse than anything else Britain has endured in peacetime. The political system is all but paralysed, the country is divided into warring ideological tribes, the civil service in overwhelmed and, in the event of no deal, Britain would be staring into the abyss.” (“Crisis? What crisis?”  Bagehot, The Economist, 11/24).

The Economist has a new layout, that prompted an anti-Brexit  reader to suggest they move the British news section to the end of the magazine, after the Obituary column!   

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IS THE GLOBAL ECONOMY TAKING A DOWNTURN?

The stock market has been rather jumpy lately.   At the same time, gas has been going down (except in France, where an increase in fuel taxes has resulted in three consecutive weekends of riots); of course, a fall in gas prices may not be such a good thing, as it’s often the harbinger of a slowing economy.

Here’s some other indicators the economy may be headed south:

  • The Federal Reserve has been ratcheting up interest rates.
  • Corporations have loaded up on debt.
  • Unemployment is so low that employers are finally raising wages.
  • The housing market shows signs of softening.

. . . But there are plenty of upbeat signs today, too.

Auto sales are still running strong, if not quite at the peak levels of a couple of years ago.   Then, too, the labor markets still have some slack . . .”    (“Warning signs of recession abound,” John Gallagher, Lansing State Journal, 11/26).

“NEW YORK 30% OFF”

“Some homeowners are selling at bargain-basement prices from what they paid, as the city faces an end to a decade-long boom. Oversupply, rising interest rates and tax-code changes are only partly to blame.” (WSJ, Mansion, 11/30).

“Real estate, oil and employment figures are sending similar messages, and that is that economic activity is starting to slow significantly, just like in 2007 before the Great Recession wiped out trillions of dollars from the markets.

And, according to a blog on The Economic Collapse, those in charge don’t want to admit the reality of what is happening, just like in 2008.” (“Money and markets,” JT Crowe, 11/30)

GM ANNOUNCES 15,000 JOB CUTS   (Monday)

‘In the wake of massive layoffs announced by U.S. carmaker General Motors, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau lashed out at President Donald Trump’s recent steel and aluminum tariffs.

At Friday’s ceremony to sign a new version of NAFTA, the free trade agreement between the United States, Canada and Mexico, Trudeau urged Trump to reassess levies imposed on Canadian imports in June.

“Donald, it’s all the more reason why we need to keep working to remove the tariffs on steel and aluminum between our countries,” Trudeau said Friday, The Hill reported.   According to a tweet from Toronto Star journalist Daniel Dale, the prime minister was referring to the GM cuts, which Trudeau called a “heavy blow.”

(Justin Trudeau blasts Donald Trump’s trade tariffs to his face after General Motors announced huge lay-offs,” Katherine Hignett, Newsweek, 11/30)

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AN ARMY OF THE EUROPEANS

Military Union in the Making

“At this year’s Berlin Security Conference, which ended yesterday, German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen promoted new steps toward creating an “army of the Europeans.”  According to von der Leyen, “the question is no longer if, but how to reach strategic autonomy” of the EU with its own armed forces. “The European defense union is in the making. “[1] Delicate questions will be raised in the near future, such as that of establishing “independent command capabilities,” alongside those of NATO, for future EU missions and streamlining decision-making structures. German parliamentary reservations should not be abolished, but rather reframed.   Brussels could establish a “committee of legislators from national parliaments specializing in defense,” which could rapidly prepare decisions – in questions of war and peace.   In addition, compulsory EU consensus in foreign policy should be abandoned. “European foreign policy decisions on the basis of large majority support must be made possible.”   This would mean that individual member countries could be compelled to support a foreign policy against  their interests.

Strategic Autonomy

The German foreign policy establishment is already discussing the outline for the further development of the “army of the Europeans.” To actually achieve “strategic autonomy, Europe, more than ever must provide for its own security – perhaps even completely,” according to Jan Techau, Director of the European Program of the German Marshall Fund of the United States  .[2] This would mean that, not only conventional, but “nuclear deterrence,” as well, must be “independently organized in Europe.”   [3] This, in turn, must be accompanied “by a significantly enhanced independent intelligence competence and activity.”   Furthermore, with the “shift of acts of aggression to the sector of information technology (IT), and the hybrid warfare in the sectors of media and public opinion influence,” the guarantee of European security will be extended to fields, where Europe … is not among the world leaders,” concluded Techau.   In the future, “the Europeans, and above all, Germany, must accomplish in these fields things that, by far, surpass what the United States has been able to achieve until now.”   The “scope of the task” also demands that in the future “strategy be taught at German universities . . . and strategic education be required as a career-obligation for all civil servants from the B-6 salary level upwards.” And ultimately, “a federal security council” should “be the hub connecting the various strands of ministerial activities on all central questions” so that “the chancellor may have access to thorough strategic advice.” “German foreign policy, 11/29

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‘THE DAY OF THE DICTATOR IS OVER!”

Those were the words of President George H.W. Bush, who has now died, aged 94.   They were spoken at a time of great optimism, with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the US intervention against President Noriega of Panama.   Almost thirty years later, democracy isn’t doing so good.  A report last week showed that, in Africa, nations are becoming more dictatorial as leaders refuse to hold elections, amending their constitutions to enable them to stay in power indefinitely.

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TWO CHUMMY MURDERERS

Without any sense of shame or embarrassment, President Vladimir Putin and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, greeted each other warmly at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina.   Both men think nothing of ordering the murders of people who disagree with them.   Unfortunately, western nations still have to do business with them!

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HERALDING THE SOCIALIST PARADISE

“Senator Bernie Sanders knows what he wants.  In a Washington Post op-ed last week, the democratic socialist from Vermont laid out a legislative agenda for the 116th Congress’s first 100 days.  Among the dizzying array of proposals Mr. Sanders pushed were his “Medicare for All” bill, tuition-free college, student-debt relief, tax increases requiring “wealthy people and large corporations to begin paying their fair share” and a $15 minimum wage indexed to “median wage growth,” not inflation.

“Others in the Democratic Party’s increasingly influential democratic-socialist wing are pressing for their own major legislation to pass the House, even if it will get nowhere in the Republican Senate.   Rep.-elect Alexandria Occasion-Cortez, for example, wants a “Green New Deal.”   Sounding too much like a Maoist functionary, she describes it as a “national, industrial, economic mobilization plan” to make America carbon neutral.”   (“Stopping the Socialist Resurgence,” Karl Rove, WSJ, November 29th)

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“Then Moses went up into the mountain and a cloud covered
 the mountain. — and the cloud covered it six days.
And on the seventh day He (the LORD) called to Moses out of
the midst of the cloud.”  (Ex 24: 15-16)

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ANGLO-SAXON DELUSIONS

UK and eu

According to the British Daily Express on Friday, 92% of the British people are now against remaining in the European Union.

This means that Prime Minister David Cameron’s gamble has not paid off. Mr. Cameron hoped that by gaining some concessions from his EU partners, the British people would vote to remain in the 28-nation bloc.

What’s defeated him is the migrant crisis.

“Shock poll result as asylum claims rocket yet again,” is the remainder of the front-page headline. The British people feel like they are being invaded and that the British way of life is seriously threatened. One of my brothers put it well when he said you don’t hear English spoken any more at the local “precinct” (mall).

This is not a recent phenomenon sparked by the mass exodus of people fleeing Syria. It’s been going on for some time. Migrants take advantage of Britain’s generous welfare system. They will cross a dozen countries in Europe to get to the United Kingdom, when international rules on asylum say you should apply for asylum status at the first country you go to.

The British only have themselves to blame.   Firstly, in joining the EU in the first place; secondly, in having such generous welfare benefits; thirdly, by, unbelievably, distributing leaflets on claiming benefits in British Council offices around the world.   This was the way it was when we lived in Ghana.   The British Council was a British taxpayer funded library and information center in the Ghanaian capital and in the second biggest city of Kumasi.   Leaflets on their information table promoted all the freebies available once an individual arrived in London.   Britons should remember St. Paul’s admonition: “If a man doesn’t work, neither should he eat.” (II Thessalonians 3:10)

Under EU rules, anybody moving from country to country within the EU is entitled to receive benefits from his/her new country upon arrival. All people have to do is get to the EU, from where they can easily move to Britain. This is causing serious financial problems in the UK and is widely resented.

Question:  if Britain leaves the EU, where will she go? What will she do?

The Norwegian Foreign Minister, visiting Britain last week, cautioned the UK on leaving. Norway is NOT a member but often pays a heavy price for not being allowed to make decisions on European trading policies, dictated from Brussels.

Prior to entering the European Economic Community, the predecessor of the EU, Britain had close trading ties with its former colonies, the four Dominions of Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.   These countries now have different priorities.

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The term “dominions” is not used any more, except in Canada, whose official name is “Dominion of Canada.” Australia is the “Commonwealth of Australia.” Collectively, the four nations mentioned were termed the “Dominions.” When I was growing up, the British government had a special minister to handle relations with these nations, they were so important. He was the Secretary for the Dominions. The dominions each had the Westminster system of parliamentary government with the British monarch as Head of State.

“New Brunswick premier Sir Samuel Leonard Tilley suggested the term ‘Dominion,’ inspired by Psalm 72:8 (from the King James Bible): “He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth.” This is also echoed in Canada’s motto:  A Mari Usque Ad Mare (Latin for “from sea to sea”). The term had been used for centuries to refer to the lands held by a monarch, and had previously been adopted as titles for the Dominion of New England and the Dominion and Colony of Virginia. (Wikipedia: “Name of Canada”)”

These dominions, together with Britain itself, were the number one military and economic power in the world prior to the United States.   They were the only nations that fought against fascism in World War II from beginning to end. In World War I, they led the fight against German militarism.

In June 1953, the prime ministers of these countries, who then comprised the British Commonwealth, met in London to discuss security matters. They had been in the capital for the coronation of the queen. Sir Winston Churchill chaired the meeting. Sir Robert Menzies, the Australian prime minister and an ardent monarchist, was also present.

Two of the issues they discussed were the Korean War, in which the Commonwealth played a major role; and the new radical government in Egypt, which had overthrown the Egyptian monarchy. The new nationalist government wanted to seize the Anglo-French Suez Canal, an artery of the British Empire, giving Britain ready access to its territories in the east.

In 1956 the Egyptians seized the canal. The British and French, together with the Israelis, invaded Egypt to take the canal back.   Unexpectedly, US President Dwight D. Eisenhower told them to stop and threatened the UK with severe economic consequences if the country went ahead with its plans.

This spelled the end of the British Empire. It was clear that Britain could no longer continue as a global power.   Britain’s colonies were rapidly given independence, most of them joining the Commonwealth, which became meaningless. Today, 94% of the people in the Commonwealth are Asians or Africans. This has totally transformed the organization from what it was in 1953. Most member nations are republics, though they still recognize the Queen as the Head of the Commonwealth.

Now, it’s America’s turn to start pulling back from international commitments.

If Britain pulls out of the EU, it presents Australia with an opportunity. Instead of severing the last tie with Britain, the country could propose a reactivation of the alliance that existed right up until Bob Menzies was PM. The four nations that were founder members of the original Commonwealth (South Africa, Rhodesia and Newfoundland were the other three) could once again be a formidable force, with a global reach. Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom could have a major presence in the world again. Queen Elizabeth II is queen of all four countries, in herself a unifying symbol.   This does not mean Britain would be in the lead.   But all four, working together, would be a positive force in the world.   They have a great deal in common, including a commitment to the freedom of the individual and the rule of law. A formal, more meaningful relationship between the four could also bolster the US led western alliance, at a time of growing disillusionment and disinterest in the US.

It’s such a good idea, it’s unlikely to happen. Australia and New Zealand will more likely continue to pursue closer ties with Asia; the UK pursuing a differed European model. Further examples of Anglo-Saxon delusions.

The result is the continuing decline and fragmentation of the Anglo-Saxon-Celtic peoples who, a century ago, dominated the world.

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The US Administration is also delusional.

Amidst clear signs that the economy is slowing down, unemployment has dropped to below 5% for the first time in a few years. This is due to the way the unemployment figures are calculated and has little to do with reality.   The figure is based on how many people are receiving unemployment benefits and are actively looking for work. As benefits are for a limited time only, the numbers decline over time. Additionally, millions of people have simply given up looking for work.

Another sign of spreading delusion is the federal deficit. It passed $19 trillion last week and hardly got a mention. Nobody cares anymore. It appears that nobody in Washington has any concept of why the country should live within its means.   Of course, few people, mere mortals included, has any idea how to balance a budget, so it’s not surprising our leaders get away with it. Somebody once described credit cards as “45 days to reality” – it may take longer for the US to reach its “pay by” date, but it will come and when it does economic upheaval will follow.

Further delusion was shown when the President visited a mosque Thursday, as a guest of the Islamic Society of Baltimore.   Stressing how Muslims were involved in America from the beginning, he continued to build on the false idea that this country is based on Judeo-Christian-Islamic principles and that Islam, together with the other two religions, is a religion of peace.

None of this is based on reality. Yes, some Muslims were brought to America as slaves, but they did not retain their religion. The book “Muslims in America” says the first recorded Muslim was an American who converted after his travels in the Middle East. This was after the Civil War. The first mosque was opened in Chicago in 1929. The mosque visited on Thursday is only 47 years old. As for Islam being a “religion of peace,” history shows otherwise.

Perhaps there’s no time to read history when you’re President of the United States!

There’s no time for geography, either, when you are running for president. Marco Rubio has upset both the Swedes and the Norwegians by suggesting that one of his rivals should run for president in one of the two Scandinavian countries. The two nations are quite upset with this suggestion – they have never had a president. Nor do they want one. Can you blame them after being exposed to all the debates on CNN?

Note the following comment from a Swedish magazine:

“The thing with some American politicians, such as Sarah Palin, is – I don’t want to use the word stupid, but I do. They are. They are so ignorant about the rest of the world. They think there are two monarchies in the world. And that’s the UK and Monaco, because of Grace Kelly.”

– Roger Lundgren editor of Sweden’s Kungliga (Royal) magazine

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The presidential candidates did not just sleep through history and geography classes, they dozed off during English classes as well. In one of the Republican debates, I was introduced to the following new words:   “vigorousness” (Ted Cruz) and “falseness” (Rand Paul, who has since dropped out, hopefully to take further English classes!)  Donald Trump also expanded my vocabulary.  Thankfully, those words were bleeped out!

The Democrats, meanwhile, argued over the meaning of the word “progressive.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UK ELECTION – SECOND TV DEBATE

Grimsby Dock Tower, Lincolnshire
     Grimsby Dock Tower, Lincs – Grimsby fishing port at the height of its glory

I first saw BBC World in Uganda back in 1993.   I remember then expressing the hope that we would soon have it in Michigan.   I did not expect it to take 22 years, but we do finally have it, thanks to AT&T.   However, I’m not sure it’s worth over $100 per month.   This includes a zillion other channels I have no desire to watch.   CNN International is also good and comes with the package.

However, thanks to BBC World I’ve been able to keep up on the British election, which takes place on May 7th.

The first live televised debate was between seven leaders of seven political parties, including Prime Minister David Cameron and his coalition partner, Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrats.   The debate was very interesting.

It was followed by a second debate last week, this time without the prime minister and his coalition ally.

Again, I found it very interesting but, at the same time, quite disturbing.

Each party leader was making promises.   The four left-of-center party leaders were all promising more and more, competing with each other on how they would improve this or that service, spending more millions (or was it billions?) on this, that or the other.   Only the leader of UKIP (the United Kingdom Independence Party) seemed to have any sense of the need to balance the nation’s accounts.

The Coalition has been trying to do that since austerity measures were introduced almost five years ago.   Their policies stabilized the country while some continental nations were in a rapid downward spiral.   Now, the other leaders feel it’s time to ditch austerity and throw a big, no-expense-spared party!

Two members of my family in England sent me a rather long article in the London Review of Books about the election in my hometown of Grimsby, on the east coast of England.   Once the world’s premiere fishing port, the town fell on hard times after the country joined the European Common Market (now the EU).   It’s revived somewhat, but is still way behind when it comes to economic development.   It has been a Labour Party stronghold since 1945. There is a connection!   No matter who wins, the next representative for Grimsby will be the first woman, as both leading candidates are women.

The Conservatives never stood a chance of winning the seat for parliament.   David Cameron’s posh accent did him in!   But a new party may actually take the electoral cup from Labour.   That party is UKIP.

Resentment against the EU is so great that working class voters seem just as inclined to vote UKIP as they are to vote Labour.

It’s not just the EU, which is the problem.   Immigration is another concern – and the perception that, in an area of 10% unemployment, jobs are being lost to immigrants, both legal and illegal.   UKIP is promising to pull Britain out of the EU and to do something about immigration.

Unlike the other left-of-center parties, UKIP does not look upon the English tax-payer as a cash cow, or a bottomless pit, whichever metaphor you prefer.   I think you get the picture.

The leader of the Scottish National Party, Nicola Sturgeon, makes Ed Miliband, leader of the Labour Party, seem positively restrained, in her enthusiasm for spending other peoples’ money.   In her case, although she would never use the terms, all the money she is demanding for Scotland and Scottish development would come from the English taxpayer.   None of the others participating in the debate commented on this, perhaps because they all (except for UKIP) were looking to get more from the English taxpayer themselves.

The British (read, the English) are upset because they subsidize much of Europe through the EU.   How long is it going to be before there is a tax-payers revolt against all the subsidies to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, none of which pay their own way?

Ms. Sturgeon is also enthusiastic in her desire to see Britain scrap its nuclear weapons in order to partially pay for all this largesse.

Of greater concern is her insistence that, if David Cameron’s Conservative coalition is returned to power, and the promised referendum on EU membership is held, Scotland must have the right to remain in the EU, if England votes to depart.   This would automatically give Scotland independence, even though voters rejected independence in a referendum last September. Independence is what she and her party are committed to.

But how would they pay for it?   Scotland depends for roughly 10% of its expenditure on the English taxpayer.   This will only increase if the SNP joins the Labour Party in a left-wing coalition.

If Scotland remains within the EU and England withdraws, Scotland will need all the help it can get . . . from Germany, Europe’s other cash cow!

PS:  I thought you would all appreciate the following letter which appeared in the conservative Daily Telegraph of London. It’s a very astute observation on the British election campaign:

British election question

WHO’S RIGHT?

LongTermUnemployedWantWork

Obama has an economic track record that Republicans are going to be hard pressed to ignore.   Unemployment is down to 5.6%, the economy continues to grow at a healthy pace and deficits have plummeted.

Eugene Robinson, syndicated columnist, Lansing State Journal, 2/5/15

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If you, a family member or anyone is unemployed and has subsequently given up on finding a job, if you are so hopelessly out of work that you’ve stopped looking over the past four weeks, the Department of Labor doesn’t count you as unemployed.   That’s right.   While you are as unemployed as one can possibly be, and tragically may never find work again, you are not counted in the figure we see relentlessly in the news — currently 5.6%.   Right now, as many as 30 million Americans are either out of work or severely underemployed.   Trust me, the vast majority of them aren’t throwing parties to toast “falling” unemployment.

There’s another reason why the official rate is misleading.   Say you’re an out-of-work engineer or healthcare worker or construction worker or retail manager:   If you perform a minimum of one hour of work in a week and are paid at least $20 – maybe someone pays you to mow their lawn — you’re not officially counted as unemployed in the much-reported 5.6%.   Few Americans know this.

Yet another figure of importance that doesn’t get much press:   those working part time but wanting full-time work.   If you have a degree in chemistry or math and are working 10 hours part time because it is all you can find — in other words, you are severely underemployed — the government doesn’t count you in the 5.6%. Few Americans know this, either.

There’s no other way to say this.   The official unemployment rate, which cruelly overlooks the suffering of the long-term and often permanently unemployed as well as the depressingly underemployed, amounts to a Big Lie.

                                                                 Jim Clifton, CEO, Gallup

100,000 HAITIANS COMING TO AMERICA

hatians-to-usa

When Senator Edward Kennedy’s immigration bill passed into law almost fifty years ago, he assured Americans that they would not notice any changes in the social fabric of America. At the time, whites constituted almost 90% of the population.

Today, the percentage of whites is down to less than two thirds. If demographic trends continue, Americans with Caucasian ancestry will be a minority by 2034. This year, for the first time, non-whites outnumber whites in school. Former President Bill Clinton warned a predominantly white audience some time ago that this is their future “and you’d better get used to it.”

The Democrats just can’t wait. By executive decree thousands of school children from Guatemala have been granted permission to live in the United States.   And now, 100,000 Haitians are coming to America, again by executive decree.   Keep in mind that the constitution gives Congress the right to decide on naturalization, not the president.

In light of the fact that the melting pot clearly isn’t working with some people, it seems risky to let 100, 000 in from the country that is the greatest failed state in the western hemisphere and where voodoo thrives.   But, putting that aside, one wonders why the Democrats haven’t said something.

They claim to be the party of the working man.   The working people they claim to represent have seen a serious reduction in their standard of living in the last few years. Many are not even working at all. The 5.9% unemployment figure is a farce – that’s the number of people who are actively looking for a job. Many more have given up looking so are no longer counted.

African-Americans are particularly hard hit. And now 100,000 Haitians will join them in the competition for low-paid jobs. In a few years, those children from Guatemala will also be competing for the same jobs.

So, why is President Obama so keen on bringing these people in?

Don’t think it’s humanitarian, because it’s not.

It comes down to two things.

First, the Democrats are looking ahead. By 2020, tens of thousands of the new residents will have citizenship which will enable them to vote – for the Democrats!

And secondly, Senator Kennedy’s 60’s generation and their ideological descendants hate the America they inherited and want to completely destroy it.   African-American writer Shelby Steele wrote about this self-loathing in his book “White Guilt”. Read it – it explains the liberal mindset.

Meanwhile, what we are heading towards is a country more like Brazil or South Africa.   South Africa’s white population lost control of their country twenty years ago. They are now a distinct minority, a minority that has to finance all the social programs successive governments impose upon them.   At the same time, they are faced with a constant struggle to survive rising crime and the breakdown of law and order.

This is America’s future.

Deuteronomy chapter 28 warned the ancient Israelites of the consequences of turning away from God. One of those consequences was that foreigners would rule over them.   When a nation turns away from God, people can’t think straight. Unfortunately, those very people now rule over us and we will have to adapt to the consequences, as President Clinton warned.

HOMELESSNESS & THE DECLINING ECONOMY

homeless-and-hungry

We live on the west side of Lansing, which is a part of Eaton County.  Two other counties serve Lansing – Ingham and Clinton counties.

Within the tri-county area there are more than 8,700 homeless people, according to the Michigan State Housing Development Authority.  Not all of these have been counted “through shelters or services used” (“Hoping for a Handout” by Belinda Thurston, City Pulse, September 17th).  That number is 7,800, which leaves a few hundred that don’t use city services, trying to take care of themselves in every respect.  There is always increased concern for the homeless as the winter approaches.

We see homeless people every day, especially at intersections where many hold up signs announcing their situation, asking for money.

Research in Michigan has shown that “of the single adult homeless in Michigan:

  • 66% had an identified disability
  • 72% were mentally ill
  • 33% had addiction issues
  • 33% had chronic health conditions
  • 66% reported more than one homeless event in their past; 33% reported more than two events.

“Homelessness is often a condition as a result of failed life skills, and it will take an inculcation across many skill sets to prepare the chronically homeless to be self-sufficient, reliable and accountable.”

Continuing:  “Common issues include long-term unemployment or unstable employment . . . ”

This brings us to the recovery or, rather, “The Recovery That Left Out Almost Everybody” (the title of an article in the Wall Street Journal by William A. Galston, 23rd September).

This article shows that only the top 10%, “with average annual incomes nearing $400,000,” have seen gains in their incomes since the Great Recession began six years ago. Median household income is 8% lower than it was in 2007, before the recession.

“About the same number of Americans were employed last month as in December 2007. But during that period, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of Americans working part time who wanted a full-time job jumped to 7.2 million from 4.6 million. Not only are hourly wages stagnating; America’s families want more hours of work than the economy is providing.”

Put simply, while 10% of the people are (slightly) better off, 90% are worse off. There’s clearly something fundamentally wrong. Not only is this issue likely to dominate the next two elections (this year and again in 2016), it’s also going to determine America’s future direction – a declining economy will inevitably mean a declining America.

The rising numbers of homeless people is not due solely to unemployment or under-employment as the study shows but it’s one factor that should be easy to resolve with the right policies.

NUMBERS SAY A LOT

Numbers

Numbers say a great deal.

I read a few days ago that there are 102 million adult Americans NOT working.

A few days ago, CBS announced that the percentage of American adults working is now 62.8%, the lowest figure in over four decades.

At least these two figures agree.

The figure that clearly doesn’t agree with the above is the monthly unemployment figure, currently 6.7%, down from 7% a month ago and 7.8% a year ago.

Let’s be clear here – government statistics say that the number of people out of work is clearly on a downward trend, at the same time as the number of people without a job is increasing!

I realize that doesn’t make any sense, but neither does the US economy.

Let’s put it another way – unemployment today is worse than it was in the 1930’s!

Of course, many of the 102 million who are not working are retired.   Many more, for some reason, choose not to work.  But many incalculable tens of thousands (or millions) who want to work have given up trying to work because things in their local area are really bad.

A case in point is North Carolina, arguably the most depressed state at this time.

The Guardian’s Paul Lewis wrote from Hertford, N Carolina, on January 15th, about people begging for food, soap and even toilet paper, as savage cuts in unemployment benefit have hit many people hard.   Help is not likely as many in government see the decreasing unemployment figures and really believe government policies are working!  (Article:  “As Congress wrangles with whether to restore long-term unemployment benefits, North Carolina is already experiencing the hardship likely to unfold unless the program is restored.”)  

Michigan’s Governor Rick Snyder delivered his “State of the State” address Thursday evening, declaring the state of Michigan “the Comeback State.”  Explaining in detail how bad things were a few years ago (under a different administration) and how much better they are now, the Governor then called for more immigrants to give a further boost to the economy.   More immigrants when 102 million American adults are not working!

I can understand that certain skills may be needed, but do we really need more people to work in fast food outlets, depriving the low-paid of jobs?

Google The Guardian article – it’s a really good read.   It’s the kind of reporting we rarely see.

Numbers say a lot about the Middle East, as well.

The number of al-Qaeda sponsored attacks in Iraq has increased dramatically in recent weeks, threatening an increase in sectarian violence.

Prior to western intervention in Iraq, al-Qaeda did not operate in the country.   The nominally Sunni Saddam Hussein ruled the country with an iron fist.  He was not a religious man and kept the fanatical Islamic element at bay.

Anglo-American intervention changed all that.

The majority Shias now dominate the country, boosting Iran’s influence and connecting Shias in Syria and Lebanon to their main source of support in Tehran.   Without intending to, the West created a Shi’ite arc of influence connecting all four countries.   With Iran’s nuclear potential, Shia Islam is now a major force, even though only 15% of Muslims are Shia.

This, of course, scares the Sunnis.  They may be a minority in Iraq, but they are the majority in Syria and just about everywhere else in the region.

As an expert on the BBC nightly news mentioned last week, sectarianism is a bigger problem in Iraq than in any other country.

Add to this quagmire, growing US disinterest in the area and there’s a great potential for increased conflict.

An article by David Lev on the Israelnationalnews.com website, posted January 16th, is titled:  “US Abandoning Middle East, Leaving Iran in Charge.”

Before the Iranian revolution in 1979, Iran was an American ally.   The United States was quite happy to have the Shah of Iran playing a major defense role in the Middle East, effectively saving the US money and manpower.

It’s unlikely that the US is deliberately planning on Iran taking up that responsibility again, but it can certainly be the end result of American negligence.

This would mean a Shi’ite superpower in the region.

A superpower that would spread fear throughout Sunni Islam.

Watch for Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Turkey and others to work together to present a united Sunni front against Shia Islam.

The Sunni-Shia divide is already a daily violent conflict in Iraq and Syria.   It could easily spread to engulf the whole region.