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@dmblum We are exporting much of the dollar devaluation/inflation — if not setting up for another Wall Street bubble-and-bust cycle — thanks to loose monetary policy. Because the dollar is the world reserve currency, commodity/food price increases have ripple effects from Mexico to the Mideast. Remember the "tortilla riots" in Mexico? And perhaps you recall a few years back when the shelves of Costco and other grocers were running short on rice because a run on rice in the Third World? And let's not forget what happened during the credit crisis — American grocery costs went up too. To maintain the illusion of price stability, manufacturers reduced the content of cereal boxes, carved out the bottom of the peanut butter jars so that they looked the same on the shelf but held less product, etc. The cost of everything everywhere has been going up whether the GAO admits it or not. 

The formula for calculating domestic inflation underwent changes in the 1980s, just in time for the ramp up to "free trade" (NAFTA/GATT). Unemployment rate calculations have also been "adjusted", making the official rate less than they would be otherwise. Mrs. Yellen of the Fed Reserve, in a recent news story, indicates the current tabulation measures are inadequate. She has proposed a change in how unemployment rates are calculated, and acknowledges that the current rate of unemployment, at just over 6 percent, is derived mostly from labor participants dropping out of the market. Of working-age adults in the US, the article stated little more than HALF — just 63 percent of Americans participate in the labor market.  

Don't make the mistake of thinking inflation has failed and will fail to materialize. For we in the US inflation may be a "slow burn" — akin to a frog boiling to death in a pot — but the results of US monetary policy have been felt around the world. Do some study into the matter, and you will find that one of the precipitating yet under-reported factors in various protests and uprisings around the world share in common not only a desire for "freedom" but more basic things such as jobs and affordable food/living costs. Likewise, the migration away from the dollar as world reserve currency seems all but inevitable for much the same reason.

For now, much of the economic pain of inflation/dollar devaluation is exported. Closer to home, much of the pain is obscured by the formulas currently used to track inflation and employment data — they're misleading to put it mildly. Energy costs — recall the sky-high gasoline prices and the sky-high propane costs this Winter across the midwest? — are just one such example. Even though none of us can avoid paying it, the cost of energy is not included in today's inflationary stats. For those who doubt the US dollar has been undermined, a visit to the website Shadow Stats will blow off the blinders. Don't rely on the mainstream media to tell you whether inflation is a reality or not; calculators are readily available online that depict just how little a dollar stretches using today's devalued dollar compared to that of years past. Or hadn't you noticed with respect to your own finances?

4 weeks, 1 day ago on


Without a doubt there are historical differences between Democrats and Republicans. "Follow the money" is more reflective of the times, however. Until campaign finance is reformed and the revolving door between private-sector profiteering and legislative power is shut, the system will play both sides against the middle. (And guess who the middle are?) The dog-and-pony show that is modern politics is more act — for public consumption — than behind-the-door reality. To get elected and stay elected politicians from both sides of the isle can and do get in bed with special interests. Lobbyists, conversely, may run for office. 

Whether the subject is deregulation, blocking clear labeling of GM food products or the refusal to enforce anti-trust laws — ensuring the survival of "too big to fail" — both political parties have failed if not refused to make serious inroads on behalf of their constituents. The dictionary definition of fascism is the merger of public and private enterprise, and hence we have a self-reinforcing system of private-public partnerships. 

As I see it, the American political system would be better served by a "choose your team" approach. Rather than term limits, what if after a certain number of years in public office one were legally barred — for ethical reasons — from sitting on boards, consulting or otherwise being employed by an industry that heavily lobbied you during your years of "public service"? If you knew such laws existed going into office wouldn't that make you think twice about getting too cozy with your campaign donors vs. one's constituents? Well, a firewall of sorts would be the point!

If we were to move to public financing of campaigns, we might see less of the "pay to play" mindset. Whatever the means, if we could shut the revolving door that encourages politicians to scratch the backs of the vote buyers (campaign donors), political-hopefuls would be forced to either get in and move out of office — if they wish to return to the private sector — or stay in office with renewed focus on the public interest. The name of the game needs to be "choose your team" — not the musical chairs arrangement that currently muddies loyalties and drowns out the voice of the other 99 percent.

4 weeks, 1 day ago on