Social Security


This chapter of the new Crash Course series has not yet been made available to the public.

Each week over the rest of 2014, in sequential order, a new chapter will be made publicly available (we've currently published up to Chapter 2)

If you don't want to wait, you can:


This chapter of the new Crash Course series has not yet been made available to the public.

Each week over the rest of 2014, in sequential order, a new chapter will be made publicly available (we've currently published up to Chapter 12)

If you don't want to wait, you can:


Paul Fleet/Shutterstock

"The Government Comes Up With the Money"

A mindset that's killing our economy
Tuesday, January 28, 2014, 11:48 PM

I'm half-heartedly watching the State of the Union address right now. What a cynic I've become.

My younger self would be shocked and saddened to learn how I've come to view these annual addresses as little more than a game of charades. The President (not just Obama, but his predecessors, too) reads a carefully and expensively constructed script designed either to elicit self-congratulatory applause from the echo chamber side of the hall, or to lob political harpoons into the other.

But in the end, it's nothing more than a game of words. And the real issues that desperately need addressing get ignored, glossed over, or showered with pablum and over-promises that will never materialize. » Read more


The Real Story to Focus On

Given the macro trends, how do we "win"?
Sunday, August 18, 2013, 11:12 PM

Executive Summary

  • What Detroit tells us about continuing the status quo
  • The shocking true size of the real U.S. debt
  • Why time is our most valuable but scarcest asset
  • Where your efforts need to be placed to address the big picture

If you have not yet read Part I: Why We All Lose If the Fed Wins, available free to all readers, please click here to read it first.

If we can't even have an honest conversation six years into this failed experiment about its core aspects, then it is little wonder that there's virtually no appetite for the bigger burning questions of our time, such as where do we want to be in twenty years and what do we need to do to get there?

Instead, the focus is simply on preserving the status quo and doing everything possible to maintain it. Never mind that the status quo is obviously failing in many key regards and needs some serious adjustments.  All that the Fed and D.C. have in mind here is more of the same.

And this is why we will lose the war.

The Detroit Harbinger

If we want to know what happens when we ignore reality and just soldier on, we need look no further than Detroit to see how that works out. For years, that city mismanaged its finances, continually banking on the idea that eventually jobs and opportunity would return. They continued to offer yet failed to fund lavish pension promises to municipal employees, even though anybody with a pocket calculator could work out that the plans were not viable.

But the plans were offered, and the union reps on the other side of the table accepted the terms, even though at some point it would have made sense for someone to raise the obvious by noting that the plans were utterly insolvent and almost certain to stay that way.

Right now, the pensions in Detroit are underfunded by $3.5 billion, according to official figures.  But those same officials are assuming an 8% rate of return on current pension assets, a rate that nobody is actually achieving in the pension world thanks, in large part, to Bernanke's 0% interest rate policy.

Here's how they got to this point: » Read more

Daily Digest

Image by victor1558, Flickr Creative Commons

Daily Digest 6/11 - The Logic Of The Surveillance State, The Myth Of Executive Accountability

Tuesday, June 11, 2013, 9:43 AM
  • The Logic of the Surveillance State
  • Damage Control Time: National Intelligence Releases PRISM "Facts"
  • Social Security: The New Deal’s Fiscal Ponzi
  • France Prohibits Sending Currency, “Coins And Precious Metals” By Mail
  • Silver Cycles: What Next?
  • The myth of executive accountability
  • Driving Factors Behind Improvements in Water and Energy Production
  • Farm Equipment That Runs on Oats

Let's Stop Fooling Ourselves: Americans Can't Afford the Future

Unemployment, Taxes and Unfunded Retirement are Squeezing Ea
Tuesday, March 12, 2013, 10:24 AM

The truth is: The three adult generations in the U.S. are suffering, and their burdens are likely to increase with time. Each is experiencing a squeeze that is making it harder to create value, save capital, and pursue happiness than at any point since WWII. At that point, we were a creditor nation with an economy exploding into dominance on the world stage. Now, however, the U.S. is the largest debtor nation and our economic hegemony is increasingly at seige across a number of fronts.

A continuation of the status quo is a decision to sleepwalk face-first into the constraints hurtling towards us.

Instead, shouldn't we stop fooling ourselves and ask: What should we be doing differently? » Read more


The Structural Endgame of the Fiscal Cliff

It's not just a temporary political event
Wednesday, December 26, 2012, 1:51 PM

To understand this endgame, we need to start with the financial and political basics of wealth and power in the U.S.

1.  Wealth and thus political power are highly concentrated.  The dynamics of rising wealth disparity and the increasing concentration of wealth are debatable; the disparity is not.  Roughly 70% of all financial wealth is held by the top 5%; within this top layer of ownership, the top ½ of 1% hold an outsized share. » Read more

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What to Do When Every Market Is Manipulated

Hint: cut the strings
Wednesday, August 15, 2012, 9:34 AM

If you don't know who the sucker at the card table, is it's you.

~ old gambler's saying

What do the following have in common?

LIBOR, Bernie Madoff, MF Global, Peregrine Financial, zero-percent interest rates, the Social Security and Medicare entitlement funds, many state and municipal pension funds, mark-to-model asset values, quote stuffing and high frequency trading (HFT), and debt-based money?

The answer is that every single thing in that list is an example of market rigging, fraud, or both. » Read more


The Middle-Class Survival Guide

Learn how to fight back
Wednesday, July 11, 2012, 7:31 PM

Executive Summary

  • Recognize the signs of serfdom
  • Calculate your income's vulnerability to the system
  • Don't count on high inflation to inflate away your debt obligations
  • 10 strategies you can start implementing right now to defend against the forces trying to sap your quality of life

If you have not yet read Part I: Middle Class? Here's What's Destroying Your Future, available free to all readers, please click here to read it first.

In Part I, we surveyed the key dynamics that have eroded middle-class wealth and income over the past 30 years.  Some of these were conventional (higher energy costs) and some were unconventional/politically unacceptable (financialization; neofeudalism).

Regardless of what you identify as the primary cause, that the middle class (and labor in general) has lost ground since the early 1980s is undeniable, as is the ultimate failure of debt-dependent “growth.”

What can we do about it? It seems to me there are two responses:

  1. Avoid becoming a serf in the new financialized feudalism
  2. Avoid becoming dependent on the Status Quo and avoid collaborating/supporting those elements of the Status Quo that subsidize and protect the parasitic, inefficient, and unproductive sectors of the economy.

Getting Real About Serfdom

I am going to cut to the chase here, and I expect many of you to disagree. Debt is serfdom, period.

I often illustrate this point by asking two simple questions... » Read more