If you tried to put up a large cross in a public park in New York City there would be lawsuits flying all over the place, but apparently an ancient pagan arch that served as a gateway to the Temple of Baal is no problem at all. On Monday, September 19th, a reconstructed version of Palmyra’s Arch Of Triumph (also known as the Monumental Arch) will be erected in New York City. Specifically, it will be located in City Hall Park in Manhattan. The organization behind this project is known as the Institute for Digital Archaeology, and they have confirmed the location and the date on their official website…
This arch was originally constructed in Palmyra, Syria by the Roman Emperor Septimius Severus in the 3rd century A.D., and it stood there until it was destroyed by ISIS in 2015. The following comes from the Wikipedia article about this arch…
The Monumental Arch, also called the Arch of Triumph (Arabic: قوس النصر) or the Arch of Septimius Severus, was a Roman ornamental archway in Palmyra, Syria. It was built in the 3rd century during the reign of emperor Septimius Severus. Its ruins later became one of the main attractions of Palmyra, until it was destroyed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in October 2015. Most of its stonework still survives and there are plans to rebuild it using anastylosis.
On this map you can see how Palmyra was laid out. The Arch of Triumph (identified on the map as the “monumental arch”) connected the main street of the Colonnade with the Temple of Bel. If you wanted to go to the Temple of Bel, there was essentially one way in and one way out, and everyone coming and going would pass through this arch.
Those that are familiar with ancient Middle Eastern deities already know that “Bel” and the “Baal” that we find in the Bible were one and the same. Here is more from Wikipedia…
Back in April, the arch that stood directly in front of the Temple of Baal was supposed to be put up in Times Square, but fortunately that project was ultimately canceled. A reproduction of the Arch of Triumph (the arch discussed in this article) was put up in Trafalgar Square in London at that time, and there were rumblings that a reproduction of the Arch of Triumph would also come to New York at a later date.
Unfortunately, that has now become a reality.
So why are people getting so upset about some ancient arch that may be connected to an ancient god that nobody seems to worship anymore?
Well, the truth is that “Baal” is mentioned in the Bible more than 100 times. A very high percentage of current world religions can be traced directly back to this ancient deity and to ancient Babylon, and the practices involved in ancient Baal worship are “eerily similar” to things that go on in society today. The following comes from an excellent article by Matt Barber…
Ritualistic Baal worship, in sum, looked a little like this: Adults would gather around the altar of Baal. Infants would then be burned alive as a sacrificial offering to the deity. Amid horrific screams and the stench of charred human flesh, congregants – men and women alike – would engage in bisexual orgies. The ritual of convenience was intended to produce economic prosperity by prompting Baal to bring rain for the fertility of “mother earth.”
The natural consequences of such behavior – pregnancy and childbirth – and the associated financial burdens of “unplanned parenthood” were easily offset. One could either choose to engage in homosexual conduct or – with child sacrifice available on demand – could simply take part in another fertility ceremony to “terminate” the unwanted child.
Modern liberalism deviates little from its ancient predecessor. While its macabre rituals have been sanitized with flowery and euphemistic terms of art, its core tenets and practices remain eerily similar.
We tend to think that we are vastly more “advanced” than the pagan idol worshippers of the ancient world, but is that really the case?
They killed their babies by the thousands, but we have killed our babies by the millions.
They had “free love” around the altars of Baal, but we have turned it into a permanent lifestyle.
Multitudes would gather around the altars of Baal to watch the bisexual orgies, but we have turned watching others having sex into a multi-billion dollar industry.
Just like ancient Israel, our society has turned away from following the God that created all things, and instead we are embracing the ways of the ancient pagan world. Unfortunately, there are very serious consequences for doing this. Just consider what Jonathan Cahn recently told George Noory during an interview on Coast to Coast…
“Western Civilization was once totally pagan and then in a sense it got cleaned up,” Cahn said. “But what [one of these mysteries is] saying is, if it turns back away from God and turns to evil and immorality, it’s going to be seven times worse than it does before. And how that translates is, before you had the Gospel you had Nero, you had Caligula. But when you have a post-Christian civilization, it’s much more dangerous than a pre-Christian one. But that’s when you produce Hitlers, you produce Stalins, you produce ultimately the Antichrist. That’s end-time prophecy. We are witnessing that as well.”
I believe that it is quite appropriate that an arch that once served as a gateway to the Temple of Baal is going up in New York City on Monday, because we are going down the exact same path that ancient Israel once did.
Sadly, if we keep doing the same things that they once did, our ultimate fate will end up being very similar as well.
UPDATE: The arch has now been unveiled, and you can see video of the unveiling right here…
Michael Moore is a radical leftist that is trying to destroy everything that America once stood for, but for once he is making sense. In his recent article entitled “5 Reasons Why Trump Will Win“, he makes a compelling case for why Donald Trump could win the election in November. I can’t remember the last time I actually agreed with Michael Moore about something, but in this instance I do. The American people are very angry and very frustrated, and they want someone that is going to shake things up in Washington. Needless to say, that is not going to be Hillary Clinton. According to Real Clear Politics, Trump has won five of the last six major national polls, and top Democrats are starting to understand that they could actually lose to the New York billionaire.
As Michael Moore has pointed out, the key to the election may be the upper Midwest. That is why it may turn out to be very wise that Trump has picked a running mate from the region. Residents of the upper Midwest have watched NAFTA and other “free trade deals” turn their formerly booming economy into an area now known as “the rust belt”. Now that there is a major presidential candidate that is openly speaking out against these “free trade deals”, they will finally have a real opportunity to let their voices be heard. The following is from the Michael Moore article that I mentioned above…
I believe Trump is going to focus much of his attention on the four blue states in the rustbelt of the upper Great Lakes – Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Four traditionally Democratic states – but each of them have elected a Republican governor since 2010 (only Pennsylvania has now finally elected a Democrat). In the Michigan primary in March, more Michiganders came out to vote for the Republicans (1.32 million) that the Democrats (1.19 million). Trump is ahead of Hillary in the latest polls in Pennsylvania and tied with her in Ohio. Tied? How can the race be this close after everything Trump has said and done? Well maybe it’s because he’s said (correctly) that the Clintons’ support of NAFTA helped to destroy the industrial states of the Upper Midwest.
Since NAFTA went into effect on January 1, 1994, the United States has lost tens of thousands of manufacturing facilities and millions of good paying jobs. Once upon a time, the city of Detroit had the highest per capita income in the entire country, but now it is a rotting, decaying, crime-infested disaster zone that the rest of the world makes jokes about.
It was under Bill Clinton that NAFTA was implemented, and Bill and Hillary have long been supportive of NAFTA and other “free trade deals” that have been responsible for systematically dismantling America’s economic infrastructure. Trump has already made this a major theme of his campaign, and the voters in the rust belt states could potentially make the difference in who wins in November. Here is some additional analysis from Michael Moore…
And this is where the math comes in. In 2012, Mitt Romney lost by 64 electoral votes. Add up the electoral votes cast by Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. It’s 64. All Trump needs to do to win is to carry, as he’s expected to do, the swath of traditional red states from Idaho to Georgia (states that’ll never vote for Hillary Clinton), and then he just needs these four rust belt states. He doesn’t need Florida. He doesn’t need Colorado or Virginia. Just Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. And that will put him over the top. This is how it will happen in November.
But there is another factor that Michael Moore has pointed out that I think we should consider as well. While most American voters take their votes very seriously, there is a small minority that will let some of the most frivolous reasons imaginable decide their votes.
Some Americans just want a good story. Others want to stick it to the establishment. Yet others just “want to see what will happen” if a certain person gets into the White House. And it seems quite likely that Donald Trump will win the “curiosity vote”, the “anger vote”, and “the twisted sense of humor vote”. Everyone pretty much knows what we will get with Hillary Clinton in the White House (and it would be horrible), but there is a great mystery as far as what Donald Trump would do as president. I happen to agree with Michael Moore that this is a factor that greatly favors Trump…
You can take as long as you need in there and no one can make you do anything. You can push the button and vote a straight party line, or you can write in Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. There are no rules. And because of that, and the anger that so many have toward a broken political system, millions are going to vote for Trump not because they agree with him, not because they like his bigotry or ego, but just because they can. Just because it will upset the apple cart and make mommy and daddy mad. And in the same way like when you’re standing on the edge of Niagara Falls and your mind wonders for a moment what would that feel like to go over that thing, a lot of people are going to love being in the position of puppetmaster and plunking down for Trump just to see what that might look like.
But before you get too excited about a Trump presidency, let us not forget that the electoral map tends to greatly favor Democrats. All Hillary has to do is to win all of the states that she is expected to win and add one battleground state…
Perhaps you enjoy talk of battleground states. Well, there’s a scenario for you, too. First, pick the six “closest” swing states (VA, NH, IA, OH, FL, NC). Got it? Now understand that New Hampshire excepted, Clinton only has to win one of them in order to reach the requisite 270 electoral votes to win.
It remains my contention that the establishment will do whatever they have to do to keep Donald Trump out of the White House. And now that the general election looks like it will be much closer than anticipated, we may get to see what lengths the establishment is willing to go to in order to get rid of a “problem candidate”.
The gigantic wildfire that has forced the evacuation of the entire city of Fort McMurray in northern Alberta has been nicknamed “the Beast“, and mainstream news reports are telling us that it is now approximately 25 percent larger than New York City. 88,000 people have already been forced out of their homes, at least 1,600 buildings have been destroyed, and smoke from the fire has been spotted as far away as Iowa. To say that this is a “disaster” is a massive understatement. Northern Alberta is “tinder dry” right now, and authorities say that high winds could result in the size of the fire doubling by the end of the weekend. One-fourth of Canada’s oil output has already been shut down, and the edge of the fire is now getting very close to the neighboring province of Saskatchewan. This is already the most expensive natural disaster in the history of Canada, and officials fully expect to be fighting this blaze for months to come.
At this point, only rain is going to stop this fire. Canadian authorities insist that they are not going to be able to defeat this raging inferno no matter how many resources they throw at it. The best that they can hope for is to try to steer it away from heavily populated areas until the rain comes.
Nobody knows precisely how this tragedy is going to end, but everyone agrees that it is going to last for quite some time. According to the Washington Post, this fire has the potential to keep on burning “for months”…
The images are ones of devastation — scorched homes, virtually whole neighborhoods burned to the ground. And Canadian officials say they expect to fight the massive wildfire that has destroyed large parts of Alberta’s oil sands town for months.
There’s fear the growing wildfire could double in size and reach a major oil sands mine and even the neighboring province of Saskatchewan.
I have relatives that live up in Alberta, and this is the biggest thing to hit that part of the world in many, many years.
This massive fire is making headlines all over the planet, and some of the video footage that is emerging is so shocking that it can be hard to believe. Some of the terms being used to describe the devastation are “hell”, “the end of the world” and “Armageddon”…
“It was something like Armageddon,” said Morgan Elliott, who traveled with his fiancee, Cara Kennedy, and their baby, Abigail. “Everything was burnt, houses gone. Leaving the city, it was like a scene out of a movie. It reminded me of the TV show ‘The Walking Dead’ where you’re going on the highway, and there’s just abandoned vehicles everywhere; hundreds of cars, just abandoned vehicles.”
In this YouTube video, you can watch vehicles attempt to escape Fort McMurray as hot embers from towering flames just a few feet away rain down on them. What would you do in this kind of situation?…
The amount of resources that has been committed to fighting this fire has been unprecedented, and yet it just continues to rage wildly out of control. The following comes from CNN…
The blaze is moving in a northeast direction and could reach the border with Saskatchewan by the end of Saturday, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said.
The response has been massive. Notley said more than 500 firefighters are battling the blaze around Fort McMurray, with the help of 15 helicopters and 14 air tankers. More than 1,400 firefighters and 133 helicopters are fighting blazes across the province.
Unfortunately, a lot of Americans simply are not going to care what is happening up in Alberta because it is in Canada.
I just checked the U.S. Drought Monitor, and much of the western third of the country is still extremely dry. Conditions are certainly ripe for another horrible wildfire season, and so let us pray for lots of rain between right now and the end of the summer.
Because all we have to do to see what a worst case scenario looks like is to watch what is going on in Fort McMurray right now.
To me, this is the closest thing that we have seen to “hell on Earth” in a very long time…
Last month, a “secret meeting” that involved more than 100 executives from some of the biggest financial institutions in the United States was held in New York City. During this “secret meeting“, a company known as “Chain” unveiled a technology that transforms U.S. dollars into “pure digital assets”. Reportedly, there were representatives from Nasdaq, Citigroup, Visa, Fidelity, Fiserv and Pfizer in the room, and Chain also claims to be partnering with Capital One, State Street, and First Data. This “revolutionary” technology is intended to completely change the way that we use money, and it would represent a major step toward a cashless society. But if this new digital cash system is going to be so good for society, why was it unveiled during a secret meeting for Wall Street bankers? Is there something more going on here than we are being told?
On a recent Monday in April, more than 100 executives from some of the world’s largest financial institutions gathered for a private meeting at the Times Square office of Nasdaq Inc. They weren’t there to just talk about blockchain, the new technology some predict will transform finance, but to build and experiment with the software.
By the end of the day, they had seen something revolutionary: U.S. dollars transformed into pure digital assets, able to be used to execute and settle a trade instantly. That’s the promise of a blockchain, where the cumbersome and error-prone system that takes days to move money across town or around the world is replaced with almost instant certainty.
So it is not just Michael Snyder from The Economic Collapse Blog that is referring to this gathering as a “secret meeting”. This is actually how it was described by Bloomberg. And I think that there is a very good reason why this meeting was held in secret, because many in the general public would definitely be alarmed by this giant step toward a cashless society. Here is more on this new system from Bloomberg…
While cash in a bank account moves electronically all the time today, there’s a distinction between that system and what it means to say money is digital. Electronic payments are really just messages that cash needs to move from one account to another, and this reconciliation is what adds time to the payments process. For customers, moving money between accounts can take days as banks wait for confirmations. Digital dollars, however, are pre-loaded into a system like a blockchain. From there, they can be swapped immediately for an asset.
“Instead of a record or message being moved, it’s the actual asset,” Ludwin said. “The payment and the settlement become the same thing.”
Why this is so alarming is because we are seeing other major moves toward a cashless system all over the planet. In Sweden, 95 percent of all retail transactions are already cashless, and ATM machines are being removed by the hundreds. In Denmark, government officials actually have a stated goal of “eradicating cash” by the year 2030. And in Norway, the biggest bank in the country has publicly called for the complete elimination of all cash.
As I have written about previously, cash transactions of more than 2,500 euros have already been banned in Spain, and France and Italy have both banned all cash transactions of more than 1,000 euros.
Little by little, cash is being eradicated, and what we have seen so far is just the beginning. 417 billion cashless transactions were conducted in 2014, and the final number for 2015 is projected to be much higher.
The global push toward a cashless society is only going to intensify, because banks and governments both tend to really like the idea of such a system.
Banks really like the concept of a cashless society because it would force everyone to be their customers. There would be no more hiding cash in a mattress at home or trying to pay all of your bills with paper money. Under a cashless system, we would all be dependent on the banks, and they would make lots of money whenever we swiped our cards or our “chips” were scanned.
Governments see a lot of advantages in a cashless society as well. They tell us that they would be able to crack down on drug dealers, tax evaders, terrorists and money launderers, but the truth is that it would enable them to watch, track, monitor and control virtually all of our financial transactions. Our lives would become open books to the government, and financial privacy would be a thing of the past.
In addition, the potential for tyranny would be absolutely off the charts.
Just imagine a world where the government could serve as the gatekeeper for who is allowed to use the cashless system and who is not. They could require that we all submit to some sort of government-issued form of identification before being permitted to operate within the system, or it is even conceivable that a loyalty oath would be required.
Of course if you did not submit to their demands, you could not buy, sell, open a bank account or get a job without access to the cashless system.
Hopefully people can understand where this is going. Paper money is a very important component of our freedom, and if it is taken away from us that will open the door for all sorts of abuse.
Even now, cash is slowly being “criminalized” in America. For example, if cash is used to pay for a hotel room that is considered by federal authorities to be “suspicious activity” that should be reported to the government. Of course it isn’t against the law to pay your hotel bill in cash just yet, but according to the government it is something that “terrorists” do so it needs to be closely watched.
It doesn’t take a whole lot of imagination to see where all of this is going. And for those of us that understand what time it is, this is a clear indication that it is getting late in the game.
*About the author: Michael Snyder is the founder and publisher of The Economic Collapse Blog. Michael’s controversial new book about Bible prophecy entitled “The Rapture Verdict” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.*
What do you say to people that have completely lost all hope that things will ever get any better? The mountains of Appalachia stretch all the way from southern New York to northern Mississippi, and nestled within those mountains are dozens upon dozens of little towns that are so impoverished that they look like they have been through a war. Thanks to Barack Obama’s relentless assault on the coal industry and the ongoing collapse of our industrial infrastructure, Appalachia has lost millions of good paying jobs over the past several decades. Today, more than 40 percent of the population is living in poverty in some areas of eastern Kentucky, and addiction to “hillbilly heroin” (Oxycontin) is absolutely out of control throughout the region. Yes, poverty is on the rise all over America, but it has especially been cruel to those that make the mountains of Appalachia their home.
An article that was published in the Guardian on Thursday profiled the deeply impoverished town of Beattyville in eastern Kentucky. Life is very hard in Beattyville today, and it seems to be getting harder all the time…
The town’s poverty rate is 44% above the national average. Half of its families live below the poverty line. That includes three-quarters of those with children, with the attendant consequences. More than one-third of teenagers drop out of high school or leave without graduating. Just 5% of residents have college degrees.
Surrounding communities are little better. Beattyville is the capital of Lee County, named after the commander of the Confederate army of Northern Virginia in the civil war, General Robert E Lee.
Five of the 10 poorest counties in the US run in a line through eastern Kentucky and they include Lee County. Life expectancy in the county is among the worst in the US, which is not unconnected to the fact that more than half the population is obese. Men lived an average of just 68.3 years in 2013, a little more than eight years short of the national average. Women lived 76.4 years on average, about five years short of national life expectancy.
Because life can be so bitter in little towns like Beattyville, many have chosen to turn to alcohol and drugs in an attempt to escape reality. The following description of what life is like in the region today comes from Kevin D. Williamson…
Thinking about the future here and its bleak prospects is not much fun at all, so instead of too much black-minded introspection you have the pills and the dope, the morning beers, the endless scratch-off lotto cards, healing meetings up on the hill, the federally funded ritual of trading cases of food-stamp Pepsi for packs of Kentucky’s Best cigarettes and good old hard currency, tall piles of gas-station nachos, the occasional blast of meth, Narcotics Anonymous meetings, petty crime, the draw, the recreational making and surgical unmaking of teenaged mothers, and death: Life expectancies are short — the typical man here dies well over a decade earlier than does a man in Fairfax County, Va. — and they are getting shorter, women’s life expectancy having declined by nearly 1.1 percent from 1987 to 2007.
Many of you that are reading this article know exactly what Williamson is talking about, because you are living in one of those communities. It can be absolutely soul crushing to look into the hollow eyes of those that have long since given up on life day after day. There are some communities in America where you can feel the bitterness the moment that you drive into them. It is almost as if all of the life has been sucked out of the entire town. If you have ever experienced this, you know what I mean.
If there is hope, most people can endure just about anything. But when there is no hope, that is when deep depression sets in. And for many of those living in Appalachia, hope has long since departed. Just consider the words of long-time Beattyville resident Ed Courier…
“It’s bad. I don’t think rural America has a future,” said Courier. “The advantage rural areas had in the past of cheap labour is gone. We used to have a lot of little factories in this area but they’ve gone to Mexico or China. In rural areas housing is cheap but everything else costs more. Utility rates are higher. Food and transport are higher. Management doesn’t want to live in rural areas. Education is horrible here. This is a third-world county. My kids grew up here until they were eight or nine, then they went to school in Louisville [a 145-mile drive away]. I wouldn’t send them to school here.”
As economic conditions continue to deteriorate, people are starting to become more desperate. In many large cities, crime rates are already up by double digit percentages in 2015, and the thin veneer of civilization that we all take for granted is beginning to disappear. For example, down in Tampa it is being reported that there is an epidemic of house squatting going on right now…
Crooks find empty houses all over Tampa Bay and make themselves at home. And now, 8 On Your Side uncovered training manuals on the internet. They teach how to get away with squatting.
The handbooks are brazen. A pamphlet for sale on Amazon for $61.20. An entry on Wiki-How entices tells squatters how to “take a whole house from someone if you’re willing to take the risk.”
It points out the best areas to squat and even advises to spruce up the home to throw off suspicious neighbors.
And a tragic incident that just happened in Indianapolis really touched my heart. The following comes from ABC News…
A family in Indianapolis was torn apart when Amanda Blackburn, 28, died after being shot in the head by a mystery gunman.
Her husband, Pastor Davey Blackburn, returned to their home from the gym Tuesday and found his home broken into and his wife on the ground, officials said.
She died Wednesday, 12 weeks pregnant.
The couple, who have a child, appeared to be madly in love, posting YouTube videos on the way to a “romantic getaway” in Chicago and Amanda even offering marriage advice: “You can lead your wife best, by just being a really, really good Godly example to her.”
Please pray for Pastor Davey.
I can’t even imagine the pain that he must be going through right now.
Meanwhile, there are more signs that this new economic downturn that we are experiencing is about to get even worse…
-Unfortunately for all energy companies, the price of oil is not likely to go up significantly any time soon. The amount of oil being stored offshore has approximately doubled from earlier this year, and more supertankers full of unsold oil are joining the party almost every day…
While the crude oil tanker backlog in Houston reaches an almost unprecedented 39 (with combined capacity of 28.4 million barrels), as The FT reports that from China to the Gulf of Mexico, the growing flotilla of stationary supertankers is evidence that the oil price crash may still have further to run, as more than 100m barrels of crude oil and heavy fuels are being held on ships at sea (as the year-long supply glut fills up available storage on land).
-The amount of goods being shipped by rail, freight and air inside the United States continues to decline. For the month of October, the Cass Shipping Index was down 5.3 percent on a year over year basis.
-And it also looks like a new housing crisis is beginning to emerge. From September to October, the number of newly initiated foreclosures in the United States rose by 12 percent.
-Of course the elite understand what is happening, and they are working hard to get prepared. According to Bloomberg, global central banks are buying up gold “at a near-record pace”…
Central banks and other institutions boosted gold purchases to the second-highest level on record in the quarter to September as countries including China and Russia sought to diversify their foreign-exchange reserves.
Net purchases were 175 metric tons, nearing the record 179.5 tons in the same quarter a year earlier, and up from 127.9 tons in the preceding three-month period, the World Gold Council said in a report on Thursday. Still, over the first nine months central banks’ net purchases dropped 6.7 percent to 425.8 tons, according to the council.
Can you hear that sound? It is the sound of the air being let out of the economy. Since the election, there has been a massive tsunami of layoffs and business failures. Of course the company that is making the biggest headlines right now is Hostess. On Monday, Hostess will be in a New York bankruptcy courtroom as it begins the process of liquidating itself. Needless to say, Twinkie lovers all over America are horrified. Many are running out to grocery stores and hoarding as many as they can find, and some online sellers are already listing boxes of 10 Twinkies for as much as $10,000 on auction websites such as eBay. Well, there is really no reason to panic. It is very likely that another company will purchase the Twinkie brand and continue to produce them. In fact, it is already being rumored that a Mexican company may have the inside track. But even though the Twinkie may survive, the failure of Hostess is yet another sign of how weak the U.S. economy has become. Approximately 18,500 Hostess workers will be losing their jobs, and even if some of them are rehired by the company that takes over the Twinkie brand, the truth is that those workers will almost certainly be looking at greatly reduced pay and benefits. Sadly, we are seeing this kind of thing happen all over America. Large numbers of once thriving businesses are either shutting down or laying off workers. Overall, the failure of Hostess is not that big of a deal for the U.S. economy. But we may look back someday and remember Hostess as a symbol of the economic problems that were unleashed by the election of 2012. Since November 6th, a wave of pessimism has swept over the economy and we are now seeing some of the worst economic numbers that we have seen in more than a year. Many fear that we may have reached a tipping point and that things are only going to get worse from here.
Sadly, the reality is that Hostess is not the only iconic American company that is in a huge amount of trouble right now. Sears just announced a loss of nearly 500 million dollars in the third quarter. Sears has been bleeding money like this for a couple of years, and if they continue to do so it will just be a matter of time before Sears is headed for liquidation as well.
Can you imagine trying to explain the Sears catalog and Twinkies to future generations in a world where those things no longer exist?
Our world is changing at mind blowing speed, and the pace of change is only going to keep accelerating.
A few days after the election, I wrote an article about the huge number of layoff announcements that we saw after Barack Obama won.
Well, it has gotten even worse since then. The following is a partial list of the layoffs and job losses that have been announced since November 6th…
Abbott Labs 700
Adventist Health 48
Airlines SAS 6000
American Cotton Growers 110
American Independence Museum 4
American Airlines 4400 + 800 leaving voluntarily
American Coal 54
Atlantic Lottery Corporation 16
Assc Milk Producers 130
Aveo Oncology 45
Bechtel Power Corp 277
Bigpoint Games 47
Boston Scientific 1200
Brake Parts LLC 75
Brattleboro Retreat 31
Bristol Myers 500
Career Education 900 + Closing 23 Campuses
Consol Energy in W.V. 145
Crouse Hospital Syracuse NY 70
DEP in Tallahassee FL 15
DuPont, Co. 64
Eagle-Tribune, Andover 21
Emanuel Medical Cente 24
Energizer Holdings 1500
Exide Tech, Laureldale 150
City of Findlay, OH 39
First Energy 400
Gameforge Berlin 20
Gamesa Energy 92
GenOn Energy Inc 33
Glen Falls Hospital 29
GT Advanced Tech 165
Harris’ Broadcast 17
Hawker Beechcraft 400 + Facilities closing
Hill Rom 200
Hills Holdings 300
HMX Group 567
Iberia Airlines 4500
ICM of Colwich 25
Judson University 21
Juniper Networks 500
Kaiser Permanente 84
Kinetic Concepts 427
Kratos Defense Security 125
Lackawanna County PA 11
Lightyear Network Solutions 12+
Majestic Star Casino/hotel 80
Major Wind Company 3000
Martha Stewart Living 70
Mills Manufacturing NC 68
Momentive, Inc. 150
Monitor Group 235
Montco Behavioral Health/Dev 58
Nebraska Medical Center 38
Neovia Logistics Services 52
New Energy 40
Penn Refrigeration 40
Penske Logistics 50
Philips Electronics 218
Pierce Mfg 325
Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne 100
Research in Motion 200
Rheem Manufacturing 50
Sentry Foods 70
Shaw’s Supermarket 700
Shawano foundry WI 90
Smith & Nephew 770
Smithfield Packing Co. 125
Solel Solar Systems 140
Southeastern Container 15
SRA Intl Inc 222
St. Jude Medical 300
Sun Media 500
TE Connectivity 620
TECO Coal Corporation 90
Texas Instruments 1700
The Providence Journal Co 23
TMX Group Ltd. 100
Turkey Point Nuclear Plant 277
Oce North America, Inc. 135
Turbocare OCE 220
US Cellular 980
UtahAmerican Energy Inc 102
Volvo Trucks Pulaski County 300
Wake Forest Baptist Medical 950
Welch Allyn 275
West Ridge Mine 102
World Media Enterprises Inc 105
WPS Health Insurance 600
Wright Patterson AFB 115
Wyodak Coal Mine 11
Sadly, the list actually keeps going. You can view the remainder of the list right here.
Even companies owned by Obama supporters are laying people off. Just check out this excerpt from a report by CitizenLink…
A corporation whose part owner gave $2 million to a group committed to re-electing President Obama announced this week that it will be forced to lay off more than 1,000 employees in lieu of the financial hardship imposed by the president’s signature health care law.
Overall, more than 100,000 job losses have been announced since the election. It is almost as if the election was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Everyone in the business community that had been hoping for something different now realizes that no change is coming.
Meanwhile, Obama continues to pour on even more rules and regulations. According to CNSNews.com, the Obama administration has posted a total of 6,125 regulations on its reguations.gov website during the past 90 days. Our politicians are clueless and they simply don’t understand what they are doing to the business community.
But of course this goes for politicians from both sides. For decades we have been consuming far more than we produce and spending far more money then we bring in, and most of our politicians seem to be under the delusion that this can continue indefinitely.
The other night my wife had me watch a documentary entitled “The Queen of Versailles” that followed the lives of time share mogul David Siegel and his wife Jackie. I found it to be a perfect metaphor for what America is going through right now. David Siegel built the greatest time share empire the world has ever seen on a mountain of easy money and cheap credit. At the beginning of the movie, David and Jackie were living the high life and were constructing the largest house in America down in Florida.
Well, things dramatically changed when the financial crisis of 2008 struck. Suddenly nobody wanted to lend to David’s company and the house of cards started to crumble. But even though they were facing massive financial problems, Jackie found it incredibly difficult to adjust her lifestyle. She just kept spending and spending and spending.
It would be easy to pass judgment on David and Jackie, but the truth is that they are a perfect example of what this entire country is going through. Thousands of businesses are failing, our economic infrastructure is being gutted, millions of jobs are being shipped overseas, our financial system has become a gigantic casino and we keep piling even more mountains of debt on top of the mountains of debt that we already have. We have been living way above our means for so long that we don’t even have any concept of what “normal” is anymore.
If you have not seen “The Queen of Versailles” yet, I encourage you to do so. Don’t watch it to laugh at the downfall of David and Jackie Siegel. They are just trying to make their way in this world like all of us are. Rather, watch for parallels between their lives and what the United States is experiencing as a whole. As I mentioned earlier, I found their story to be a perfect metaphor for what is happening to this entire country. You can find the trailer for “The Queen of Versailles” right here.
As the economy falls apart, it is going to be really easy to point fingers at one another and blame one another. But what will really be needed is more love and compassion. A lot of workers at Hostess and a lot of other good companies just lost their jobs. The unemployment epidemic in this country is going to get a lot worse. These people are going to need our love and support.
In the end, we are all in this together. The coming economic storm is not going to be averted, but we can choose how we respond to it. Hopefully the crisis that is coming will bring out the best in many of us.
It is hard to put into words the absolute devastation that we are seeing along many areas of the east coast right now. Boats have been washed ashore, homes have been razed, some coastal roads have been essentially destroyed, and large numbers of people are still trapped in their homes by flood waters. It is being reported that more than 50 people are dead and more than 8 million people along the east coast have lost power. Those without power might not get it back for a week or more. In New York City, an all-time record storm surge of almost 14 feet caused incredible destruction. It is going to take months for New York City to recover, and along the Jersey coast things are even worse. Hurricane Sandy really did turn out to be “the worst case scenario” for much of the eastern seaboard. At this point more than 15,000 flights have been cancelled, and nobody knows when subway service in New York City is going to be restored. More than 4 million people a day use that subway system, and right now many of the most important tunnels are absolutely flooded with water. Sadly, this crisis is far from over. The storm formerly known as Hurricane Sandy has moved inland over Pennsylvania where it continues to do a tremendous amount of damage. The full extent of the destruction caused by this storm will probably not be known for weeks.
We have truly seen some unprecedented things during this storm. For example, a 168 foot long tanker was driven ashore on Staten Island. Right now the tanker is sitting on Front Street.
In the beachfront Queens neighborhood of Breezy Point, a massive fire broke out and burned just about everything that was not already flooded. The blaze destroyed close to 100 homes, and by the end of the fire more than 190 firefighters were battling it.
Some areas in the West Virginia mountains have already had up to 3 feet of snow, and yet it just continues to fall. When all of that snow starts to melt in a few days, tremendous flooding is anticipated.
The northeast has never seen a storm quite like this, and the ripple effects are going to be felt for years to come.
The following are 18 startling quotes about the incredible destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy…
“The New York City subway system is 108 years old, but it has never faced a disaster as devastating as what we experienced last night. Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on our entire transportation system, in every borough and county of the region. It has brought down trees, ripped out power and inundated tunnels, rail yards and bus depots. As of last night, seven subway tunnels under the East River flooded. Metro-North Railroad lost power from 59th Street to Croton-Harmon on the Hudson Line and to New Haven on the New Haven Line. The Long Island Rail Road evacuated its West Side Yards and suffered flooding in one East River tunnel. The Hugh L. Carey Tunnel is flooded from end to end and the Queens Midtown Tunnel also took on water and was closed. Six bus garages were disabled by high water. We are assessing the extent of the damage and beginning the process of recovery. Our employees have shown remarkable dedication over the past few days, and I thank them on behalf of every New Yorker. In 108 years, our employees have never faced a challenge like the one that confronts us now. All of us at the MTA are committed to restoring the system as quickly as we can to help bring New York back to normal.”
“I looked out and the next thing you know, the water just came up through the grates. It came up so quickly you couldn’t do anything about it. If you wanted to move your car to higher ground you didn’t have enough time”
“I, along with many other Breezy Point residents, lost our homes last night and I am grateful that my family and I are safe after this destructive storm. I hope you will join me in lending a hand to those who were less fortunate and keep everyone impacted by this storm in your thoughts and prayers.”
“It was an extremely devastating and destructive storm, hopefully one that people will only see once in their lifetime”
So what will this storm ultimately cost the U.S. economy? Well, Fox News is reporting that the total cost could reach 45 billion dollars. Others estimate that the economic toll may be even higher than that.
But one thing is for certain – at a time when layoffs are already surging, this is definitely not going to help. The U.S. economy is showing lots of signs of slowing down again, and this storm may have just nudged us even farther in that direction.
Hopefully we will have some time to recover before the next major crisis strikes, but with the election coming up early next week that does not seem too likely.
Do you want to see where this country is headed? If so, don’t focus on the few areas that are still very prosperous. New York City has Wall Street, Washington D.C. has the federal government and Silicon Valley has Google and Facebook. Those are the exceptions. The reality is that most of the country has been experiencing a slow decline for a very long time and once thriving cities such as Gary, Indiana and Flint, Michigan have become absolute hellholes. They are examples of what the rest of America will look like soon. 60 years ago, most Americans were decent, hard working people and there were always good jobs available for anyone that was willing to roll up his or her sleeves and put in an honest day of work. But now all of that has changed. Over the past decade, tens of thousands of manufacturing facilities have shut down and millions of jobs have left the country. Cities such as Cleveland, Baltimore and Detroit were once shining examples of everything that was right about America, but now they stand out like festering sores. The “blue collar cities” have been hit the hardest by the gutting of our economic infrastructure. There are many communities in America today where it seems like all of the hope and all of the life have been sucked right out of them. You can see it in the eyes of the people. The good times are gone permanently and they know it. Unfortunately, the remainder of the country will soon be experiencing the despair that those communities are feeling.
The following are 12 hellholes that are examples of what the rest of America will look like soon….
#1 Gary, Indiana
Gary, Indiana was once a great industrial city.
Today, it is one of the ten most dangerous cities in America, and the population has fallen by about 50 percent.
Frequently rated one of the ten most dangerous cities in the United States, Gary once boomed with jobs and opportunities but now faces the acute difficulties of America’s growing rust belt, with 22 percent of families in the once-great city now lying below the poverty line.
This modern American ghost town began life as home for workers at the United States Steel Corporation plant until economic competition from abroad forced a 90 percent job cut.
It is hard to describe what is happening to Gary without using the word “depressing”. You can watch a great video that shows what Gary, Indiana looks like these days right here.
This is what happens when industry leaves and there are no jobs. Gary has become a wasteland and there is essentially no hope for a turnaround.
The following is how James Kunstler described what he experienced when he traveled through Gary, Indiana recently….
Between the ghostly remnants of factories stood a score of small cities and neighborhoods where the immigrants settled five generations ago. A lot of it was foreclosed and shuttered. They were places of such stunning, relentless dreariness that you felt depressed just imagining how depressed the remaining denizens of these endless blocks of run-down shoebox houses must feel. Judging from the frequency of taquerias in the 1950s-vintage strip-malls, one inferred that the old Eastern European population had been lately supplanted by a new wave of Mexicans. They had inherited an infrastructure for daily life that was utterly devoid of conscious artistry when it was new, and now had the special patina of supernatural rot over it that only comes from materials not found in nature disintegrating in surprising and unexpected ways, sometimes even sublimely, like the sheen of an oil slick on water at a certain angle to the sun. There was a Chernobyl-like grandeur to it, as of the longed-for end of something enormous that hadn’t worked out well.
Sadly, Gary is far from alone. There are a whole host of other formerly great U.S. cities that are degenerating into hellholes as well.
#2 Chicago, Illinois
There is something truly special about Chicago. Most of America loved the Bears of the Walter Payton era, the Bulls of the Michael Jordan era and the Cubs of the Ernie Banks era. Chicago is also known for great architecture and great pizza.
But these days “the windy city” is becoming known for other things.
The murder rate in Chicago is up 38 percent so far this year, and the recent spike in violence in the city has made national headlines.
That means that those officers are outnumbered 500 to 1, and more gang members pour into the city every single day.
The escalating violence in Chicago was detailed in a recent article in the Telegraph….
“This is a block-to-block war here, a different dynasty on every street,” said a dreadlocked young man heavily inked in gang tattoos who calls himself “Killer”.
“All the black brothers just want to get rich, but we got no jobs and no hope. We want the violence to stop but you ain’t safe if you ain’t got your pistol with you. Too many friends, too many men are being killed. We don’t even cry at funerals no -more. Nobody expects to live past 21 here.”
The victims and killers are mainly black males aged between 15 and 35, often with gang affiliations – but not exclusively. A seven-year-old girl, Heaven Sutton, was buried this month after being gunned down at her mother’s street sweet store. And last week, two girls aged 12 and 13 were shot and badly-wounded as they walked home from a newly-opened community centre.
If you are thinking of moving to Chicago, you might want to think again.
#3 Detroit, Michigan
I have written repeatedly about Detroit because it is a perfect example of what the rest of America is going to look like soon.
Once upon a time it was regarded as one of the top manufacturing cities the world had ever seen, but today it has become a total hellhole.
There are very few decent jobs available, poverty has exploded and crime is everywhere.
If you can believe it, 53.6% of all children in Detroit are living in poverty, and only 25 percent of all students in Detroit graduate from high school at this point.
And as I wrote about recently, justifiable homicide in Detroit increased by a whopping 79 percent during 2011, and the rate of self-defense killings in Detroit is now approximately 2200% above the national average.
Is it any wonder that you can still buy a house for $100 in some areas of Detroit?
The truth is that many areas of Detroit now resemble a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Perhaps that is why one team of investors actually wants to turn some of the worst areas of Detroit into a zombie theme park….
Derelict areas of Detroit face being taken over by hordes of ‘flesh and brain-eating zombies’ if an ambitious business plan takes off.
Entrepreneur Mark Siwak wants to create live-action terror theme park ‘Z World’ on Motor City’s run-down and abandoned streets.
Customers would pay to be chased by professional actors and try to seek shelter in ghostly homes, factories and businesses.
You can see some great video of the “ruins of Detroit” right here.
#4 Stockton, California
Stockton is one of the ten most dangerous cities in America and it recently made national headlines when it declared bankruptcy.
Unfortunately, as spending on law enforcement has declined it has given the criminals a lot more room to operate in Stockton. The following is from a recent Business Insider article….
The city has cut more than $90 million in spending over the past few years, specifically in its police department. The city has cut over one quarter of its police jobs, which has led to a “surge in murders,” and has created an “emboldened criminal element” in the city. According to police spokesman Joe Silva, the city has had 87 murders since the start of 2011, 29 of which have already occurred this year. In contrast, there were 35 murders in 2009 and 48 in 2010. With six months left in the year, there have already been more murders in the city since the start of 2011 than the two-year stretch of 2009-2010.
A while back in Stockton a billboard was put up with the following message: “Welcome to the 2nd most dangerous city in California. Stop laying off cops.”
#5 Flint, Michigan
Flint, Michigan is a city that Michael Moore has made famous. Flint once supported hordes of middle class workers thanks to a thriving auto industry, but today it is a just a rotting shell. It looks like a war went through it and nobody bothered to clean up the mess.
At this point, the murder rate in Flint, Michigan is worse than the murder rate in Baghdad. That is how nightmarish things have become in Flint.
It’s not that the cops here are scared; it’s just that they’re outmanned, outgunned and flat broke.
Flint is the birthplace of General Motors and the home of the U.A.W.’s first big strike. In case you didn’t know this, the words “Vehicle City” are spelled out on the archway spanning the Flint River.
But the name is a lie. Flint isn’t Vehicle City anymore. The Buick City complex is gone. The spark-plug plant is gone. Fisher Body is gone.
What Flint is now is one of America’s murder capitals. Last year in Flint, population 102,000, there were 66 documented murders. The murder rate here is worse than those in Newark and St. Louis and New Orleans. It’s even worse than Baghdad’s.
Politicians love to go to Flint and make speeches, but things never get any better. The following are comments that Joe Biden made about Flint, Michigan during a recent speech he gave to promote a jobs bill….
“In 2008, when Flint had 265 sworn officers on their police force, there were 35 murders and 91 rapes in this city. In 2010, when Flint had only 144 police officers, the murder rate climbed to 65 and rapes–just to pick two categories–climbed to 229. In 2011, you now only have 125 shields. God only knows what the numbers will be this year for Flint if we don’t rectify it.”
But don’t look down on Flint – these kinds of conditions are coming to where you live soon enough.
#6 West Philly
Did you know that 36.4% of all children that live in Philadelphia are living in poverty?
There are some sections of Philadelphia that are actually very nice, but there are others that look like society has forgotten about them for decades.
A recent article by Jim Quinn entitled “More Than 30 Blocks Of Grey And Decay” described the depressing conditions in West Philadelphia. Quinn refers to his drive through this area as “the 30 Blocks of Squalor”….
The real unemployment rate exceeds 50%, murder is the number one industry, with drugs a close second.
But it was not always this way. Once upon a time, West Philly was actually a thriving area and was full of middle class families.
So what happened?
That is a very good question.
According to Quinn, the physical decay in West Philly is matched by the social decay….
The once proud homes are in shambles. Bags of garbage dot the landscape. Most of the people who live here are parasites on society. Personal responsibility, work ethic, education and marriage are unknown concepts in this community. Even though more than 50% of the students in West Philly drop out of high school and the SAT scores of West Philly High students are lower than whale ****, the bankrupt school district spent $70 million to build a new high school/prison to babysit derelicts and future prison inmates. The windows do not have steel bars yet, as the architect was smart to put all windows at least eight feet above street level.
These days there is a lot of despair in “the city of brotherly love”. It is so sad to see what is happening to what once was such a proud city.
#7 Cleveland, Ohio
Cleveland has always had a love/hate relationship with itself. Many who live there call it “the mistake by the lake”, but the truth is that it was once a truly great city.
Sadly, today it is symbol of what has gone wrong with America.
There has been a steady stream of businesses that have left Cleveland and today 52.6% of all children that live in Cleveland are living in poverty.
There are not enough good jobs in Cleveland anymore, and so there are not enough workers to buy the tens of thousands of homes that have been foreclosed or abandoned.
So what is being done with all of those empty homes?
Across America, recession-fueled foreclosures and plummeting home values have left countless properties abandoned and vulnerable to looting. As Scott Pelley reports, the problem has gotten so bad in Cleveland, Ohio, that county officials have demolished more than 1,000 homes this year – and plan to demolish 20,000 more – rather than let the blight spread and render nearby homes worthless.
Does that seem right to you?
Should Cleveland be destroying tens of thousands of homes that families could be using?
Something has gone very, very wrong in this country.
#8 Camden, New Jersey
If you want to see what a hellhole looks like just visit Camden, New Jersey.
Although you will probably want to take an armed escort with you.
As industry has abandoned Camden, the gangs have basically taken over. The “growth industries” in Camden these days are drug dealing and prostitution.
In an article entitled “City of Ruins“, reporter Chris Hedges described what life is like in Camden at this point….
There are perhaps a hundred open-air drug markets, most run by gangs like the Bloods, the Latin Kings, Los Nietos and MS-13. Knots of young men in black leather jackets and baggy sweatshirts sell weed and crack to clients, many of whom drive in from the suburbs. The drug trade is one of the city’s few thriving businesses. A weapon, police say, is never more than a few feet away, usually stashed behind a trash can, in the grass or on a porch.
Not that other cities in New Jersey are shining examples for the rest of the world either.
For example, if you want to get really depressed just drive through the bad parts of Newark some time.
…Lewis Reed is sounding the alarm. “I’ve witnessed packs of dogs, 10 and 15 dogs running together, and I’ve seen all these dogs I’m talking about they don’t have collars, they don’t have tags, these are truly wild dogs,” he said.
Reed says stray dogs are terrorizing the north side. “It’s obscene that parents have to walk their kids to school, in some parts of the city, with a golf club to fend off wild dogs.”
This kind of thing is actually happening in America?
#10 New Orleans, Louisiana
The problems that New Orleans has experienced have been well documented.
But unlike most of the cities listed above, at least New Orleans has an excuse. New Orleans permanently lost 29% of its population after Hurricane Katrina, and large sections of the city were essentially destroyed by that storm.
Even today, there are still some areas of New Orleans that look as if they have just been bombed.
It has been estimated that about 20 percent of the homes in New Orleans are still standing vacant, and poverty is rampant. New Orleans will probably never fully recover to the level it was at before Hurricane Katrina hit.
#11 Oakland, California
Oakland has always been in the shadow of San Francisco, and the contrast between the two cities continues to grow.
Oakland has always been considered one of the more dangerous cities in America, and this year crime rates in Oakland are rising rapidly. The following is from a recent article in the New York Times….
At the beginning of April, murders in Oakland were up 26 percent over a year ago, rapes were up 41 percent, and robberies were up 35 percent.
When Chief Batts arrived as a “change agent” in 2009, the police department employed 837 officers. It now has 635. The department no longer responds to burglaries that are not still in progress, and frequently does not respond to other calls for help.
So if your house has been robbed and the burglars are gone what are you supposed to do?
Due to a crippling lack of resources, the previous police chief decided that his department would no longer be able to respond to all crimes.
The following is a partial list of the crimes that police in Oakland are no longer likely to respond to….
grand theft: dog
false information to peace officer
required to register as sex or arson offender
dump waste or offensive matter
possess forged notes
pass fictitious check
obtain money by false voucher
fraudulent use of access cards
stolen license plate
embezzlement by an employee
false personification of other
injure telephone/power line
interfere with power line
unauthorized cable tv connection
So what do you do if you are a victim of one of those crimes in Oakland?
That is a very good question.
#12 Baltimore, Maryland
If you can believe it, Baltimore was actually once a great city.
But today it has become a crime-ridden, drug-infested hellhole.
I used to drive up to Baltimore all the time. It truly is a “blue collar” city. There are a lot of really hard working people there.
Unfortunately, there are not nearly enough jobs for everyone and a lot of people have turned to drugs and crime.
There are some areas of Baltimore that you really should never enter by yourself. If you do go into them, you might not make it back out.
There was one incident in Baltimore earlier this year that was particularly disturbing.
One poor young man had gotten drunk and was apparently wandering around all by himself. Some thugs approached him and they clearly sensed that he was vulnerable. So they knocked him to the ground, stripped him of his car keys, his watch, his money, his cell phone and his clothes.
A crowd gathered around to watch, and instead of helping the man, several of them got out their cell phones and laughed hysterically while they recorded the incident with their cell phone cameras for YouTube.
What made all of this even sadder is that this happened right in front of a Baltimore courthouse.
What in the world has happened to this nation?
All of us that still love this country should be deeply saddened by everything above.
America is rotting from the inside out, and if we are ever going to find any solutions we need to start admitting how bad things have really become.
The truth is that our problems are not limited to one political party, one special interest group or to one region of the country. The social decay that is plaguing America can literally be found everywhere.
For much more on this, please see the following four articles….
Would America be a better place without Goldman Sachs? Of course it would. The “vampire squid” of Wall Street does not care about the future of America. Sadly, Goldman Sachs apparently does not even care much about their own clients. What Goldman Sachs is all about is making as much money as humanly possible. In the end, there is nothing wrong with making money, but there are constructive ways to make money and there are destructive ways to make money. Unfortunately, Goldman Sachs seems to find the destructive path almost irresistible. Greg Smith, the head of the U.S. equity derivatives business for Goldman Sachs in Europe, the Middle East and Africa made headlines all over the world on Wednesday when he resigned publicly from Goldman Sachs in a scorching editorial in the New York Times. Smith said that he could “honestly say that the environment now is as toxic and destructive as I have ever seen it”. Considering what we know has gone on at Goldman over the past decade, that is very frightening to hear. So could this be the beginning of the end for Goldman Sachs? And if it is, will America be a better place when Goldman is gone?
You would think that at some point clients of Goldman would become so sick and tired of the stories of corruption coming out of the firm that they would simply walk away.
Unfortunately, corruption is so endemic on Wall Street that Goldman Sachs really does not seem out of place. The truth is that a lot of the things that are said about Goldman could also be said about JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup and Morgan Stanley.
But in recent years Goldman Sachs has truly become a national symbol of what is wrong with our financial system. As the American people become fed up with institutions such as Goldman, hopefully we will start to see some of them disappear.
The following are 11 reasons why America would be a better place without Goldman Sachs….
#1 Even after all of the negative publicity we have seen in recent years, Goldman Sachs appears to not have learned any lessons. The following is how Greg Smith described the three ways to get ahead at Goldman Sachs….
“What are three quick ways to become a leader? a) Execute on the firm’s “axes,” which is Goldman-speak for persuading your clients to invest in the stocks or other products that we are trying to get rid of because they are not seen as having a lot of potential profit. b) “Hunt Elephants.” In English: get your clients — some of whom are sophisticated, and some of whom aren’t — to trade whatever will bring the biggest profit to Goldman. Call me old-fashioned, but I don’t like selling my clients a product that is wrong for them. c) Find yourself sitting in a seat where your job is to trade any illiquid, opaque product with a three-letter acronym.”
#2 Goldman Sachs is one of the too big to fail banks and those banks just keeping getting bigger than ever. Back in 2002, the top 10 U.S. banks controlled 55 percent of all U.S. banking assets. Today, the top 10 U.S. banks control 77 percent of all U.S. banking assets. So if we couldn’t afford to let them fail back in 2008 because they were so big, why did we allow them to become even larger?
#3 The Federal Reserve shows great favoritism to big Wall Street banks such as Goldman Sachs. For example, between December 1, 2007 and July 21, 2010 the Federal Reserve made 814 billion dollars in secret loans to Goldman Sachs.
#4 Goldman Sachs is at the heart of the derivatives bubble that threatens to throw the entire global financial system into chaos. At this point, Goldman Sachs has over 53 trillion dollars of exposure to derivatives.
According to the New York Times, the big Wall Street banks completely control derivatives trading. In fact, the New York Times says that representatives from JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America and Citigroup hold a secretive meeting each month to coordinate their domination over the derivatives market….
On the third Wednesday of every month, the nine members of an elite Wall Street society gather in Midtown Manhattan.
The men share a common goal: to protect the interests of big banks in the vast market for derivatives, one of the most profitable — and controversial — fields in finance. They also share a common secret: The details of their meetings, even their identities, have been strictly confidential.
#5 Goldman Sachs was at the very heart of the financial crisis of 2008 which plunged the entire global economy into a very deep recession. In the years leading up to the financial crisis of 2008, Goldman Sachs was putting together mortgage-backed securities that they knew were garbage and they marketed them to investors as AAA-rated investments. On top of that, Goldman then often made huge bets against those exact same securities which turned out to be extremely profitable when those securities crashed and burned.
“Goldman was not the only firm that peddled these complex securities — known as synthetic collateralized debt obligations, or C.D.O.’s — and then made financial bets against them, called selling short in Wall Street parlance. Others that created similar securities and then bet they would fail, according to Wall Street traders, include Deutsche Bank and Morgan Stanley, as well as smaller firms like Tricadia Inc.”
Sylvain Raynes, an expert in structured finance at R & R Consulting in New York, said at the time that he was absolutely shocked by what Goldman was doing….
“The simultaneous selling of securities to customers and shorting them because they believed they were going to default is the most cynical use of credit information that I have ever seen”
#6 Goldman Sachs played a huge role in getting Greece, Italy and several other European nations into so much debt. The following is an excerpt from an article by Andrew Gavin Marshall….
In the same way that homeowners take out a second mortgage to pay off their credit card debt, Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase and other U.S. banks helped push government debt far into the future through the derivatives market. This was done in Greece, Italy, and likely several other euro-zone countries as well. In several dozen deals in Europe, “banks provided cash upfront in return for government payments in the future, with those liabilities then left off the books.” Because the deals are not listed as loans, they are not listed as debt (liabilities), and so the true debt of Greece and other euro-zone countries was and likely to a large degree remains hidden. Greece effectively mortgaged its airports and highways to the major banks in order to get cash up-front and keep the loans off the books, classifying them as transactions.
#7 Goldman Sachs is working very hard to help state and local governments sell off our highways, water treatment plants, libraries, parking meters, airports and power plants to the highest bidder. Much of the time foreigners are the highest bidders for these precious infrastructure assets.
On Wall Street, setting up and running “Infrastructure Funds” is big business, with over $140 billion run by such banks as Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and Australian infrastructure specialist Macquarie. Goldman’s 2010 SEC filing should give you some sense of the scope of the campaign. Goldman says it will be involved with “ownership and operation of public services, such as airports, toll roads and shipping ports, as well as power generation facilities, physical commodities and other commodities infrastructure components, both within and outside the United States.” While the bank sees increased opportunity in “distressed assets” (ie. Cities and states gone broke because of the financial crisis), the bank also recognizes “reputational concerns with the manner in which these assets are being operated or held.”
#8 At the same time that Goldman Sachs is causing all sorts of trouble for everyone else, their employees are making crazy amounts of money. During 2010, employees of Goldman Sachs brought in more than 15 billion dollars in total compensation.
#9 Goldman Sachs has way too much influence over the federal government. There is a reason why it is commonly referred to as “Government Sachs”. No matter who is the White House, people that used to work for Goldman and other big Wall Street banks always seem to be crawling around.
Last year, Michael Brenner wrote the following about the composition of the Obama administration….
Wall Street’s takeover of the Obama administration is now complete. The mega-banks and their corporate allies control every economic policy position of consequence. Mr. Obama has moved rapidly since the November debacle to install business people where it counts most. Mr.William Daley from JP Morgan Chase as White House Chief of Staff. Mr. Gene Sperling from the Goldman Sachs payroll to be director of the National Economic Council. Eileen Rominger from Goldman Sachs named director of the SEC’s Investment Management division. Even the National Security Advisor, Thomas Donilon, was executive vice president for law and policy at the disgraced Fannie Mae after serving as a corporate lobbyist with O’Melveny & Roberts. The keystone of the business friendly team was put in place on Friday. General Electric Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Immelt will serve as chair of the president’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.
#10 Employees from Goldman Sachs pour way too much money into our national elections. In 2008, donations from individuals and organizations affiliated with Goldman Sachs donated more than a million dollars to Barack Obama. This time around they are pouring huge amounts of cash into Mitt Romney’s campaign.
#11 Goldman Sachs is still a “vampire squid” as Matt Taibbi once so famously proclaimed in Rolling Stone….
“The first thing you need to know about Goldman Sachs is that it’s everywhere. The world’s most powerful investment bank is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money. In fact, the history of the recent financial crisis, which doubles as a history of the rapid decline and fall of the suddenly swindled dry American empire, reads like a Who’s Who of Goldman Sachs graduates.”
Once again, there is nothing wrong with making money.
And there is certainly nothing wrong with working in the financial system.
But there is a right way to do things and there is a wrong way to do things.
Goldman Sachs is doing things very much the wrong way, and America would be a better place without them.