The Beginning Of The End
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Collecting Donations For Wal-Mart Employees That Cannot Afford Thanksgiving Dinner?

Wal-Mart Collecting Donations For Their Employees - Photo Courtesy Of OUR Wal-MartYou may find what is happening at one Wal-Mart in Ohio very hard to believe.  At the Wal-mart on Atlantic Boulevard in Canton, Ohio employees are being asked to donate food items so that other employees that cannot afford to buy Thanksgiving dinner will be able to enjoy one too.  You can see a photo of the donation bins that has been posted on Twitter right here.  On the one hand, it is commendable that someone at that Wal-Mart is deeply concerned about the employees that are so poor that they cannot afford to buy the food that they need for Thanksgiving.  On the other hand, this is a perfect example that shows how the quality of the jobs in this country has gone down the toilet.  Wal-Mart is the largest employer in the United States and it had operating income of 26.5 billion dollars last year.  Wal-Mart is not required to pay their employees a decent wage, and it is very unlikely that anyone will force them to.  But they should.  Because Wal-Mart does not pay decent wages to their employees, the rest of us end up with the bill.  As you will see below, huge numbers of Wal-Mart employees end up on Medicaid and other government assistance programs.  Meanwhile, those that control Wal-Mart continue to enjoy absolutely massive profits.

The following is a short excerpt from a local news story about the donation bins that have been set out at the Wal-Mart in Canton, Ohio.  As the story notes, this does not appear to be a nationwide program, and the donation bins are only available in an employee-only area…

The storage containers are attractively displayed at the Walmart on Atlantic Boulevard in Canton. The bins are lined up in alternating colors of purple and orange. Some sit on tables covered with golden yellow tablecloths. Others peer out from under the tables.

This isn’t a merchandise display. It’s a food drive – not for the community, but for needy workers.

“Please Donate Food Items Here, so Associates in Need Can Enjoy Thanksgiving Dinner,” read signs affixed to the tablecloths.

It just seems really crazy that the largest employer in the country pays so little that some of their employees cannot even afford to eat Thanksgiving dinner.

Is this what the future of America is going to look like?

According to official Wal-Mart numbers, more than half of their hourly workers make less than $25,000 a year.

That breaks down to about $2,000 a month before taxes.

Could you survive on that?

Could you afford to support a family on that?

It turns out that a lot of Wal-Mart employees simply cannot get by without financial help from the government, and the numbers are staggering.  A recent Businessweek article discussed one study that found that 300 employees at just one Wal-Mart in Wisconsin actually receive a combined total of nearly a million dollars a year in public assistance…

“A decent wage is their demand—a livable wage, of all things,” said Representative George Miller (D-Calif.). The problem with companies like Wal-Mart is their “unwillingness, not their inability, to pay that wage,” he said. “They hand off the difference to taxpayers.” Miller was referring to a congressional report (PDF) released in May that calculated how much Walmart workers rely on public assistance. The study found that the 300 employees at one Supercenter in Wisconsin required some $900,000 worth of public assistance a year.

And according to Politifact, in many states Wal-Mart employees represent the largest single group of people enrolled in the Medicaid program…

In Florida, Wal-Mart topped all companies operating in Florida with the largest number of employees and family members (12,300) eligible for Medicaid, according to a 2005 Tampa Bay Times story. Wal-Mart also ranked highly (No. 2) for dependents enrolled in Florida Healthy Kids or KidCare, trailing Miami-Dade County employees.

In Missouri, where Wal-Mart is the largest employer behind state government, the state’s social services department determined Walmart employees outnumbered all others with employees and family members enrolled in MO HealthNet, the state’s Medicaid plan, in the first quarter of 2011. However, at almost 14 percent, it did not represent the highest percentage of workers enrolled or responsible for an enrollee (Dollar General, for instance, was much higher at 42 percent).

And in Pennsylvania, a 2006 Philadelphia Inquirer investigation revealed the company had the highest percentage of employees enrolled in Medicaid. One in six of Walmart’s 48,000 Pennsylvania employees were enrolled in Medicaid, costing the state about $15 million a year (it’s likely higher because the Inquirer’s story did not cover employees’ dependents on Medicaid, or any other public assistance such as food stamps).

This is a disgrace.

Your taxes and my taxes are going to subsidize Wal-Mart.

The government has to take more money from all the rest of us because Wal-Mart will not pay their workers a decent wage.  Because Wal-Mart will not support them, we end up supporting them.

Meanwhile, the six heirs of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton have as much wealth as the bottom one-third of all Americans combined.

So why do people still work there?

Well, because there is a huge shortage of jobs in this country.  As I noted yesterday, the total number of working age Americans without a job has increased by 27 million since the year 2000.

Right now we have a growing unemployment crisis in this country that is being seriously downplayed by the mainstream media.

According to John Williams of shadowstats.com, if long-term discouraged workers were still included in the official government employment figures like they were back in 1994, then the broadest measure of unemployment would now be approaching 25 percent.  In fact, according to his charts unemployment in the U.S. is now worse than it was at any point during the last recession.

And even the New York Times is admitting that long-term unemployment in America is up by 213 percent since 2007.

At this point, there are millions upon millions of desperate Americans that will take just about any job that they can get.

Meanwhile, the quality of the jobs in this country continues to go downhill very rapidly.

For example, did you know that about 40 percent of all U.S. workers actually make less than what a full-time minimum wage worker made back in 1968?

And did you know that 65 percent of all American workers make less than $40,000 a year before taxes?

For much more on this, please see my previous article entitled “15 Signs That The Quality Of Jobs In America Is Going Downhill Really Fast“.

At the same time, the good paying high tech jobs that our politicians have been promising us continue to disappear.  For instance, 19,507 biopharma jobs were eliminated between January 1, 2013 and October 31, 2013.  That is a 68 percent increase over the pace of biopharma job losses during the same period last year.

So are there any areas of the country that are actually doing well right now?

Well, yes there is.  In fact, the Washington D.C. region has added more “1 percent households” over the past decade than anyone else has…

The winners in the new Washington are not just the former senators, party consiglieri and four-star generals who have always profited from their connections. Now they are also the former bureaucrats, accountants and staff officers for whom unimagined riches are suddenly possible. They are the entrepreneurs attracted to the capital by its aura of prosperity and its super-educated workforce. They are the lawyers, lobbyists and executives who work for companies that barely had a presence in Washington before the boom.

During the past decade, the region added 21,000 households in the nation’s top 1 percent. No other metro area came close.

I used to live in the D.C. area, and I can tell you that the folks out there are living the high life at your expense.

In one recent article, I noted that the average federal employee living in the Washington D.C. area received total compensation worth more than $126,000 in one recent year.

Of course you and I are paying the bill for this too.  The U.S. national debt is on pace to more than double during the eight years of the Obama administration, and our politicians seem to have no trouble continuing to steal about 100 million dollars from our children and our grandchildren every single hour of every single day.

Meanwhile, thousands of other communities all over the nation are slowly being transformed into rotting, festering hellholes.  The following is an excerpt from a recent CNBC article that discussed what is happening to Trenton, New Jersey…

When a city is badly broken, it can be very tough to fix.

Just ask Darren Green, president of a coalition of community groups in Trenton, N.J., where deep budget cuts in 2011 forced the city to lay off a third of its police force.

“We’re at a place now where it’s very dangerous to walk the streets,” he said, his thoughts periodically interrupted by the distant sound of passing sirens. “The school system is dysfunctional and not working. You have young people who are robbing elders. Young people who are destroying communities. With no leadership and the community in disarray, there’s a lot of bad here.”

So what is happening in your neck of the woods?

And what do you think of the fact that donations are being collected for Wal-Mart employees that cannot afford Thanksgiving dinner?

Please feel free to share your opinion by posting a comment below…

10 Amazing Charts That Demonstrate The Slow, Agonizing Death Of The American Worker

10 Amazing Charts That Demonstrate The Slow, Agonizing Death Of The American WorkerThe middle class American worker is in danger of becoming an endangered species.  The politicians are not telling you the truth, and the mainstream media is certainly not telling you the truth, but the reality is that there is nothing but bad news on the horizon for workers in the United States.  In the old days, when the big corporations that dominate our society did well, that also meant good things for American workers since those corporations would need more of us to work for them.  But in the emerging one world economic system that our economy is being merged into, those corporations have other choices now.  For instance, the big corporations can now choose to limit the number of “expensive” American workers that they employ by shipping millions of jobs to the other side of the world.  And from their perspective, it makes perfect sense.  They can make much bigger profits by hiring people on the other side of the planet to work for them for less than a dollar an hour.  If they can get good production out of those people, then why should they hire Americans for ten to twenty times as much, plus have to give those Americans health insurance and other benefits?  Another major factor in the slow, agonizing death of the American worker is technology.  We live during a period when technology is advancing at a pace that is almost unimaginable at the same time that it is steadily becoming cheaper and cheaper.  That means that it is going to become easier and easier for companies to replace workers with robots and computers.  As I have written about previously, it is being projected that our economy will lose millions of jobs to technology in the coming years.  Yes, some of us will still be needed to help build the robots and the computers, but not all of us will.  And of course the overall general weakness of the economy is not helping matters either.  The American people inherited the greatest economic machine in the history of the world, and we have wrecked it.  Decades of very foolish decisions have resulted in the period of steady economic decline that we are experiencing now.

America is simply not the economic powerhouse that it once was.  Back in 2001, the U.S. economy accounted for 31.8 percent of global GDP.  By 2011, the U.S. economy only accounted for 21.6 percent of global GDP.  That is a collapse any way that you want to look at it.

Today, American workers are living in an economy that is rapidly declining, and their jobs are steadily being stolen by robots, computers and foreign workers that live in countries where it is legal to pay slave labor wages.  Politicians from both political parties refuse to do anything to stop the bleeding because they think that the status quo is working just great.

So don’t expect things to get better any time soon.

The following are 10 amazing charts that demonstrate the slow, agonizing death of the American worker…

#1 Wages And Salaries As A Percentage Of GDP

Wages And Salaries As A Percentage Of GDP

As you can see, wages as a percentage of GDP are hovering near an all-time record low.  That means that American workers are bringing home a smaller share of the economic pie than ever before.

#2 Average Annual Hours Worked Per Employed Person In The United States

Average Annual Hours Worked per Employed Person in the United States

We are an economy that is rapidly trading good paying full-time jobs for low paying part-time jobs.  The decline in average annual hours worked that we have witnessed represents the equivalent of losing millions of jobs.  There has been an explosion of “the working poor” in the United States, and this trend is probably only going to accelerate in the years to come.

#3 Manufacturing Employment

Manufacturing Employment

As you can see, there are less Americans working in manufacturing today than there was in 1950 even though the population of the country has more than doubled since then.  The United States has lost more than 56,000 manufacturing facilities since 2001, and yet our politicians stand around and do nothing about it.

#4 Employment-Population Ratio

Employment-Population Ratio 2013

This is one of my favorite charts.  It shows that there has been absolutely no employment recovery at all since the end of the last recession.  The percentage of working age Americans that have a job has stayed under 59 percent for 44 months in a row.  How much worse will things get when the next major economic downturn strikes?

#5 Labor Force Participation Rate

Labor Force Participation Rate

This is how the Obama administration is getting the “unemployment rate” to magically go down.  They are pretending that millions upon millions of Americans simply do not want to work anymore.  As you will notice, the decline of the labor force participation rate has accelerated greatly since Barack Obama entered the White House.

#6 Duration Of Unemployment

Duration Of Unemployment

The average amount of time that it takes an unemployed worker to find a new job has declined slightly, but it is still far above normal historical levels.  It is a crying shame that it takes the average unemployed worker two-thirds of a year to find a new job, but this is the new economic reality that we are all living in.

#7 Delinquency Rate On Residential Mortgages

Delinquency Rate On Residential Mortgages

Since there are not enough jobs for all of us, and since our wages are not rising as rapidly as the cost of living is, a whole bunch of us are falling behind on our mortgages.  As you can see, the mortgage delinquency rate has only dropped slightly and is still way, way above typical levels.

#8 New Homes Sold

New Homes Sold

American workers also don’t have enough money to go out and buy new homes either.  Yes, new home sales have rebounded slightly this year, but we are nowhere near where we used to be.

#9 Consumer Credit

Consumer Credit

Millions of American families continue to resort to going into debt in a desperate attempt to make ends meet.  After a slight interruption during the last recession, consumer credit once again is growing at a frightening pace.

#10 Self-Employment At A Record Low

Self-Employed As A Share Of Non-Farm Employment

Since there aren’t enough jobs for everyone, why aren’t more Americans trying to start their own businesses?  Well, the reality of the matter is that the government has made it exceedingly difficult to start your own business today.  Taxes, rules, regulations and red tape are choking the life out of millions of small businesses in the United States.  As a result, the percentage of self-employed Americans is at a record low.

As all of these long-term trends continue, the middle class will continue to shrink, poverty in America will continue to explode and government dependence will continue to rise.

The numbers don’t lie.  Today, the number of Americans on Social Security Disability now exceeds the entire population of Greece, and the number of Americans on food stamps now exceeds the entire population of Spain.

We are in the midst of a horrifying economic collapse, and the next major wave of that collapse is rapidly approaching.

Are you ready?

Abolish The Income Tax: You Won’t Believe Who Is Getting Away With Paying Zero Taxes While The Middle Class Gets Hammered

Abolish The Income Tax - You Won't Believe Who Is Getting Away With Paying Zero Taxes While The Middle Class Gets Hammered - Photo by TravisThe federal income tax is a bad joke and it needs to be abolished.  All over the nation, hard working American families are being absolutely crushed by oppressive levels of taxation, and our politicians are constantly coming up with new ways to extract money from all of us every single year.  Meanwhile, many ultra-wealthy Americans and many of the most profitable corporations in the country pay little to nothing in taxes.  In fact, as you will see below, there are dozens of very prominent corporations that make billions of dollars in profits and yet don’t pay a dime in taxes.  Tax avoidance has become a multi-billion dollar industry in the United States.  Those that have the resources to “play the game” use shell companies, offshore tax havens and the thousands of loopholes in our tax code to minimize their tax burdens as much as possible.  Meanwhile, the rest of us get absolutely hammered.  This is fundamentally unfair.  The federal income tax system is irreversibly broken at this point, and it is time to abolish it.  If you think that the federal income tax system can be “fixed”, then you probably have never studied it.  Our tax code is nearly 4 million words long and it is absolutely riddled with thousands of loopholes that favor big corporations and the ultra-wealthy.  We should come up with a better, fairer way to fund the government.  The United States once prospered greatly without a federal income tax, and it could do so again.

Many people simply do not believe that it is possible for corporations inside the United States to make billions of dollars in profits each year and not pay a dime in income taxes.

Well, according to a report put out by Public Campaign, that is exactly what is happening.  Posted below are numbers that come directly from their report.  30 large corporations are listed, and 29 of them had a tax burden for 2008 through 2010 that was less than zero even though they all made enormous profits.  And all 30 of them spent more on lobbying than they did on taxes.

The numbers that you are about to see are for 2008, 2009 and 2010 combined.  For “taxes paid”, please note that for 29 of the corporations a negative number is given.  That means that the net tax liability for 2008 through 2010 was actually less than zero.

After seeing these numbers, is there anyone out there that is still willing to claim that our tax system is “fair”?…

General Electric
U.S. Profits: $10,460,000,000
Taxes Paid: ‐$4,737,000,000

PG&E Corp.
U.S. Profits: $4,855,000,000
Taxes Paid: ‐$1,027,000,000

Verizon Communications
U.S. Profits: $32,518,000,000
­Taxes Paid: ‐$951,000,000

Wells Fargo
U.S. Profits: $49,370,000,000
­Taxes Paid: ‐$681,000,000

American Electric Power
U.S. Profits: $5,899,000,000
­Taxes Paid: ‐$545,000,000

Pepco Holdings
U.S. Profits: $882,000,000
­Taxes Paid: ‐$508,000,000

Computer Sciences
U.S. Profits: $1,666,000,000
Taxes Paid: ‐$305,000,000

CenterPoint Energy
U.S. Profits: $1,931,000,000
Taxes Paid: ‐$284,000,000

NiSource
U.S. Profits: $1,385,000,000
­Taxes Paid: ‐$227,000,000

Duke Energy
U.S. Profits: $5,475,000,000
­Taxes Paid: ‐$216,000,000

Boeing
U.S. Profits: $9,735,000,000
Taxes Paid: ‐$178,000,000

NextEra Energy
U.S. Profits: $6,403,000,000
­Taxes Paid: ‐$139,000,000

Consolidated Edison
U.S. Profits: $4,263,000,000
­Taxes Paid: ‐$127,000,000

Paccar
U.S. Profits: $365,000,000
­Taxes Paid: ‐$112,000,000

Integrys Energy Group
U.S. Profits: $818,000,000
Taxes Paid: ‐$92,000,000

Wisconsin Energy
U.S. Profits: $1,725,000,000
Taxes Paid: ‐$85,000,000

DuPont
U.S. Profits: $2,124,000,000
Taxes Paid: ‐$72,000,000

Baxter International
U.S. Profits: $926,000,000
­Taxes Paid: ‐$66,000,000

Tenet Healthcare
U.S. Profits: $415,000,000
Taxes Paid: ‐$48,000,000

Ryder System
U.S. Profits: $627,000,000
­Taxes Paid: ‐$46,000,000

El Paso
U.S. Profits: $4,105,000,000
­Taxes Paid: ‐$41,000,000

Honeywell International
U.S. Profits: $4,903,000,000
­Taxes Paid: ‐$34,000,000

CMS Energy
U.S. Profits: $1,292,000,000
­Taxes Paid: ‐$29,000,000

Con-­way
U.S. Profits: $286,000,000
Taxes Paid: ‐$26,000,000

Navistar International
U.S. Profits: $896,000,000
­Taxes Paid: ‐$18,000,000

DTE Energy
U.S. Profits: $2,551,000,000
­Taxes Paid: ‐$17,000,000

Interpublic Group
U.S. Profits: $571,000,000
­Taxes Paid: ‐$15,000,000

Mattel
U.S. Profits: $1,020,000,000
­Taxes Paid: ‐$9,000,000

Corning
U.S. Profits: $1,977,000,000
­Taxes Paid: ‐$4,000,000

FedEx
U.S. Profits: $4,247,000,000
Taxes Paid: $37,000,000 (a rate of less than 1%)

Total
U.S. Profits: $163,691,000,000
­Taxes Paid: ‐$10,602,000,000

Just look at that combined total again.

Those 30 companies had combined profits of more than 163 billion dollars during those three years, and yet the combined net tax liability of those companies was negative 10.6 billion dollars.

I wish I could make my taxes look like that.

Another company that is making headlines because of their taxes these days is Facebook.

It turns out that Facebook made more than a billion dollars in 2012 but did not pay a single dime in federal or state income taxes.  The following is from a report that was just released by Citizens for Tax Justice

Earlier this month, the Facebook Inc. released its first “10-K” annual financial report since going public last year. Hidden in the report’s footnotes is an amazing admission: despite $1.1 billion in U.S. profits in 2012, Facebook did not pay even a dime in federal and state income taxes.

Instead, Facebook says it will receive net tax refunds totaling $429 million.

According to Businessweek, Facebook has an additional 2 billion dollars in tax credits that it will be able to use in future years…

Facebook says that it anticipates reducing its tax liability in the future by an additional $2.17 billion by using further net operating loss carry-forwards that it has banked.

And of course when it comes to abusing the tax system, the big Wall Street banks are some of the worst offenders.  The following is an excerpt from a report put out by the office of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders

—–

Here are just a few examples of how the corporations and Wall Street banks these CEOs work for have significantly harmed our economy and the federal budget:

1. Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan

Number of Offshore Tax Havens in 2010? 371.

In 2010, Bank of America operated 371 subsidiaries incorporated in offshore tax havens. 204 of these subsidiaries are incorporated in the Cayman Islands, which has a corporate tax rate of 0%.

Amount of federal income taxes Bank of America would have owed if offshore tax havens were eliminated? $2.5 billion.

Bank of America has stashed $18.5 billion in offshore tax havens to avoid paying U.S. income taxes. Bank of America would owe an estimated $2.5 billion in federal income taxes if its use of offshore tax avoidance was eliminated.

Amount of federal income taxes paid in 2010? Zero. $1.9 billion tax refund.

Bank of America received a $1.9 billion tax refund from the IRS in 2010, even though it made $4.4 billion in profits.

Taxpayer Bailout from the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department? Over $1.3 trillion.

During the financial crisis, Bank of America received a total of more than $1.3 trillion in virtually zero interest loans from the Federal Reserve and a $45 billion bailout from the Treasury Department.

2. JP Morgan Chase CEO James Dimon

Number of Offshore Tax Havens in 2010? 83.

In 2010, JP Morgan Chase operated 83 subsidiaries incorporated in offshore tax havens.

Amount of federal income taxes JP Morgan Chase would have owed if offshore tax havens were eliminated? $4.9 billion

JP Morgan Chase has stashed $21.8 billion in offshore tax haven countries to avoid payng income taxes. If this practice was outlawed, it would have paid $4.9 billion in federal income taxes.

Taxpayer Bailout from the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department? $416 billion

During the financial crisis, JP Morgan Chase received a total of more than $391 billion in virtually zero interest loans from the Federal Reserve and a $25 billion bailout from the Treasury Department, while Jamie DImon served as a director of the New York Federal Reserve.

3. Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein

Amount of federal income taxes paid in 2008? Zero. $278 million tax refund.

In 2008, Goldman Sachs received a $278 million refund from the IRS, even though it earned a profit of $2.3 billion that year.

Number of offshore tax havens in 2010? 39.

In 2010, Goldman Sachs operated 39 subsidiaries in offshore tax haven countries.

Amount of federal income taxes Goldman Sachs would have owed if offshore tax havens were eliminated? $3.32 billion.

Goldman Sachs has stashed $20.63 billion in offshore tax haven countries to avoid paying income taxes. If this practice was outlawed, it would have paid $3.32 billion in federal income taxes.

Taxpayer Bailout from the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department? $824 billion.

During the financial crisis, Goldman Sachs received a total of $814 billion in virtually zero interest loans from the Federal Reserve and a $10 billion bailout from the Treasury Department.

—–

Are you starting to get the picture?

The big banks and the big corporations make billions, but they pay nothing or next to nothing.

The rest of us bust our rear ends to try to get ahead, and we get gouged by dozens of different taxes.

Over time, the percentage of the overall tax burden shouldered by corporations has gotten smaller and smaller.

Back in 1950, corporate taxes accounted for about 30 percent of all federal revenue.  In 2012, corporate taxes accounted for less than 7 percent of all federal revenue.

These days, large corporations have become absolute masters at avoiding taxes.  In fact, there are many international tax havens that are doing a booming business in setting up sham headquarters for U.S. corporations.  For example, the city of Zug, Switzerland only has a population of 26,000 people but it is the headquarters for 30,000 companies.

But corporations are not the only ones doing this kind of thing.

The ultra-wealthy have also mastered the art of legally not paying taxes.

As I mentioned in a previous article, it has been reported that the global elite have up to 32 TRILLION dollars stashed in offshore banks around the globe.

With that amount of money, you could pay off the entire U.S. national debt and still have enough money left over to buy every product and service produced in the United States during an entire year.

It is time to admit that our tax system is broken.

Congress has had decades to fix it, and yet the abuses just keep getting worse.

What we are doing is not working.

We need to abolish the income tax.

If you are still not convinced that the federal income tax is an abomination and that we need to abolish it, here are some more shocking facts about our tax system from one of my previous articles about taxes

1 – The U.S. tax code is now 3.8 million words long.  If you took all of William Shakespeare’s works and collected them together, the entire collection would only be about 900,000 words long.

2 – According to the National Taxpayers Union, U.S. taxpayers spend more than 7.6 billion hours complying with federal tax requirements.  Imagine what our society would look like if all that time was spent on more economically profitable activities.

3 – 75 years ago, the instructions for Form 1040 were two pages long.  Today, they are 189 pages long.

4 – There have been 4,428 changes to the tax code over the last decade.  It is incredibly costly to change tax software, tax manuals and tax instruction booklets for all of those changes.

5 – According to the National Taxpayers Union, the IRS currently has 1,999 different publications, forms, and instruction sheets that you can download from the IRS website.

6 – Our tax system has become so complicated that it is almost impossible to file your taxes correctly.  For example, back in 1998 Money Magazine had 46 different tax professionals complete a tax return for a hypothetical household.  All 46 of them came up with a different result.

7 – In 2009, PC World had five of the most popular tax preparation software websites prepare a tax return for a hypothetical household.  All five of them came up with a different result.

8 – The IRS spends $2.45 for every $100 that it collects in taxes.

9 – According to The Tax Foundation, the average American has to work until April 17th just to pay federal, state, and local taxes.  Back in 1900, “Tax Freedom Day” came on January 22nd.

10 – When the U.S. government first implemented a personal income tax back in 1913, the vast majority of the population paid a rate of just 1 percent, and the highest marginal tax rate was just 7 percent.

11 – Residents of New Jersey pay $1.64 in taxes for every $1.00 of federal spending that they get back.

12 – The United States is the only nation on the planet that tries to tax citizens on what they earn in foreign countries.

13 – According to Forbes, the 400 highest earning Americans pay an average federal income tax rate of just 18 percent.

14 – Warren Buffett had an effective tax rate of just 17.4 percent for 2010.

15 – The top 20 percent of all income earners in the United States pay approximately 86 percent of all federal income taxes.

16 – Sadly, as Bill Whittle has shown, you could take every single penny that every American earns above $250,000 and it would only fund about 38 percent of the federal budget.

Please share this article with as many people as you can.  We have now entered a time of the year when tens of millions of Americans will be filling out their tax returns, and the pain of going through that process will make people even more receptive than normal to the truth about how broken our system is.

So what do you think?

Do you think that it is fair for the ultra-wealthy and hugely profitable corporations to get away with paying zero taxes while you get hammered?

Do you believe that it is time to abolish the income tax?

Please feel free to post a comment with your thoughts below…

No Federal Income Tax

Federal Reserve Money Printing Is The Real Reason Why The Stock Market Is Soaring

Federal Reserve Money Printing Is The Real Reason Why The Stock Market Is SoaringYou can thank the reckless money printing that the Federal Reserve has been doing for the incredible bull market that we have seen in recent months.  When the Federal Reserve does more “quantitative easing”, it is the financial markets that benefit the most.  The Dow and the S&P 500 have both hit levels not seen since 2007 this month, and many analysts are projecting that 2013 will be a banner year for stocks.  But is a rising stock market really a sign that the overall economy is rapidly improving as many are suggesting?  Of course not.  Just because the Federal Reserve has inflated another false stock market bubble with a bunch of funny money does not mean that the U.S. economy is in great shape.  In fact, the truth is that things just keep getting worse for average Americans.  The percentage of working age Americans with a job has fallen from 60.6% to 58.6% while Barack Obama has been president, 40 percent of all American workers are making $20,000 a year or less, median household income has declined for four years in a row, and poverty in the United States is absolutely exploding.  So quantitative easing has definitely not made things better for the middle class.  But all of the money printing that the Fed has been doing has worked out wonderfully for Wall Street.  Profits are soaring at Goldman Sachs and luxury estates in the Hamptons are selling briskly.  Unfortunately, this is how things work in America these days.  Our “leaders” seem far more concerned with the welfare of Wall Street than they do about the welfare of the American people.  When things get rocky, their first priority always seems to be to do whatever it takes to pump up the financial markets.

When QE3 was announced, it was heralded as the grand solution to all of our economic problems.  But the truth is that those running things knew exactly what it would do.  Quantitative easing always pumps up the financial markets, and that overwhelmingly benefits those that are wealthy.  In fact, a while back a CNBC article discussed a very interesting study from the Bank of England which showed a clear correlation between quantitative easing and rising stock prices…

It said that the Bank of England’s policies of quantitative easing – similar to the Fed’s – had benefited mainly the wealthy.

Specifically, it said that its QE program had boosted the value of stocks and bonds by 26 percent, or about $970 billion. It said that about 40 percent of those gains went to the richest 5 percent of British households.

Many said the BOE’s easing added to social anger and unrest. Dhaval Joshi, of BCA Research wrote that  “QE cash ends up overwhelmingly in profits, thereby exacerbating already extreme income inequality and the consequent social tensions that arise from it.”

So should we be surprised that stocks are now the highest that they have been in more than 5 years?

Of course not.

And who benefits from this?

The wealthy do.  In fact, 82 percent of all individually held stocks are owned by the wealthiest 5 percent of all Americans.

Unfortunately, all of this reckless money printing has a very negative impact on all the rest of us.  When the Fed floods the financial system with money, that causes inflation.  That means that the cost of living has gone up even though your paycheck may not have.

If you go to the supermarket frequently, you know exactly what I am talking about.  The new “sale prices” are what the old “regular prices” used to be.  They keep shrinking many of the package sizes in order to try to hide the inflation, but I don’t think many people are fooled.  Our food dollars are not stretching nearly as far as they used to, and we can blame the Federal Reserve for that.

For much more on rising prices in America, please see this article: “Somebody Should Start The ‘Stuff Costs Too Much’ Party“.

Sadly, this is what the Federal Reserve does.  The system was designed to create inflation.  Before the Federal Reserve came into existence, the United States never had an ongoing problem with inflation.  But since the Fed was created, the United States has endured constant inflation.  In fact, we have come to accept it as “normal”.  Just check out the amazing chart in the video posted below

The chart in that video kind of reminds me of a chart that I shared in a previous article

Hyperinflation Weimar Republic

Not that I expect the United States to enter a period of hyperinflation in the near future.

Actually, despite all of the reckless money printing that the Fed has been doing, I expect that at some point we are going to see another wave of panic hit the financial markets like we saw back in 2008.  The false stock market bubble will burst, major banks will fail and the financial system will implode.  It could unfold something like this…

1 – A derivatives panic hits the “too big to fail” banks.

2 – Financial markets all over the globe crash.

3 – The credit markets freeze up.

4 – Economic activity in the United States starts to grind to a halt.

5 – Unemployment rises above 20 percent and mortgage defaults soar to unprecedented levels.

6 – Tax revenues fall dramatically and austerity measures are implemented by the federal government, state governments and local governments.

7 – The rest of the globe rapidly loses confidence in the U.S. financial system and begins to dump U.S. debt and U.S. dollars.

I write about derivatives a lot, because they are one of the greatest threats that the global financial system is facing.  In fact, right now a derivatives scandal is threatening to take down the oldest bank in the world

Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena, the world’s oldest bank, was making loans when Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci were young men and before Columbus sailed to the New World. The bank survived the Italian War, which saw Siena’s surrender to Spain in 1555, the Napoleonic campaign, the Second World War and assorted bouts of plague and poverty.

But MPS may not survive the twin threats of a gruesomely expensive takeover gone bad and a derivatives scandal that may result in legal action against the bank’s former executives. After five centuries of independence, MPS may have to be nationalized as its losses soar and its value sinks.

So when you hear the word “derivatives” in the news, pay close attention.  The bankers have turned our financial system into a giant casino, and at some point the entire house of cards is going to come crashing down.

In response to the coming financial crisis, I believe that our “leaders” will eventually resort to money printing unlike anything we have ever seen before in a desperate attempt to resuscitate the system.  When that happens, I believe that we will see the kind of rampant inflation that so many people have been warning about.

So what do you think about all of this?

Do you believe that Federal Reserve money printing is the real reason why the stock market is soaring?

Please feel free to post a comment with your thoughts below…

How Much Money Will They Print?

Goldman Sachs And The Big Hedge Funds Are Pushing Leverage To Ridiculous Extremes

Goldman Sachs And The Big Hedge Funds Are Pushing Leverage To Ridiculous Extremes - Photo by bfishadow on FlickrAs stocks have risen in recent years, the big hedge funds and the “too big to fail” banks have used borrowed money to make absolutely enormous profits.  But when you use debt to potentially multiply your profits, you also create the possibility that your losses will be multiplied if the markets turn against you.  When the next stock market crash happens, and the gigantic pyramid of risk, debt and leverage on Wall Street comes tumbling down, will highly leveraged banks such as Goldman Sachs ask the federal government to bail them out?  The use of leverage is one of the greatest threats to our financial system, and yet most Americans do not even really understand what it is.  The following is a basic definition of leverage from Investopedia: “The use of various financial instruments or borrowed capital, such as margin, to increase the potential return of an investment.”  Leverage allows firms to make much larger bets in the financial markets than they otherwise would be able to, and at this point Goldman Sachs and the big hedge funds are pushing leverage to ridiculous extremes.  When the financial markets go up and they win on those bets, they can win very big.  For example, revenues at Goldman Sachs increased by about 30 percent in 2012 and Goldman stock has soared by more than 40 percent over the past 12 months.  Those are eye-popping numbers.  But leverage is a double-edged sword.  When the markets turn, Goldman Sachs and many of these large hedge funds could be facing astronomical losses.

Sadly, it appears that Wall Street did not learn any lessons from the financial crisis of 2008.  Hedge funds have ramped up leverage to levels not seen since before the last stock market crash.  The following comes from a recent Bloomberg article entitled “Hedge-Fund Leverage Rises to Most Since 2004 in New Year“…

Hedge funds are borrowing more to buy equities just as loans by New York Stock Exchange brokers reach the highest in four years, signs of increasing confidence after professional investors trailed the market since 2008.

Leverage among managers who speculate on rising and falling shares climbed to the highest level to start any year since at least 2004, according to data compiled by Morgan Stanley. Margin debt at NYSE firms rose in November to the most since February 2008, data from NYSE Euronext show.

So why is this so important?

Well, as a recent Zero Hedge article explained, even a relatively small drop in stock prices could potentially absolutely devastate many hedge funds…

What near record leverage means is that hedge funds have absolutely zero tolerance for even the smallest drop in prices, which are priced to absolute and endless central bank-intervention perfection - sorry, fundamentals in a time when global GDP growth is declining, when Europe and Japan are in a double dip recession, when the US is expected to report its first sub 1% GDP quarter in years, when corporate revenues and EPS are declining just don’t lead to soaring stock prices.

It also means that with virtually all hedge funds in such hedge fund hotel names as AAPL (the stock held by more hedge funds – over 230 – than any other), any major drop in the price would likely lead to a wipe out of the equity tranche at the bulk of AAPL “investors”, sending them scrambling to beg for either more LP generosity, or to have their prime broker repo desk offer them even more debt. And while the former is a non-starter, the latter has so far worked, which means that most hedge funds have been masking losses with more debt, which then suffers even more losses, and so on.

By the way, Apple (AAPL) just fell to an 11-month low.  Apple stock has now declined by 26 percent since it hit a record high back in September.  That is a very bad sign for hedge funds.

But hedge funds are not the only ones flirting with disaster.  In a previous article about the derivatives bubble, I pointed out the ridiculous amount of derivatives exposure that some of these “too big to fail” banks have relative to their total assets…

According to the Comptroller of the Currency, four of the largest U.S. banks are walking a tightrope of risk, leverage and debt when it comes to derivatives.  Just check out how exposed they are…

JPMorgan Chase

Total Assets: $1,812,837,000,000 (just over 1.8 trillion dollars)

Total Exposure To Derivatives: $69,238,349,000,000 (more than 69 trillion dollars)

Citibank

Total Assets: $1,347,841,000,000 (a bit more than 1.3 trillion dollars)

Total Exposure To Derivatives: $52,150,970,000,000 (more than 52 trillion dollars)

Bank Of America

Total Assets: $1,445,093,000,000 (a bit more than 1.4 trillion dollars)

Total Exposure To Derivatives: $44,405,372,000,000 (more than 44 trillion dollars)

Goldman Sachs

Total Assets: $114,693,000,000 (a bit more than 114 billion dollars – yes, you read that correctly)

Total Exposure To Derivatives: $41,580,395,000,000 (more than 41 trillion dollars)

Take another look at those figures for Goldman Sachs.  If you do the math, Goldman Sachs has total exposure to derivatives contracts that is more than 362 times greater than their total assets.

That is utter insanity, but we haven’t had a derivatives crash yet so everyone just keeps pretending that the emperor actually has clothes on.

When the derivatives crisis happens, things in the financial markets are going to fall apart at lightning speed.  A recent article posted on goldsilverworlds.com explained what a derivatives crash may look like…

When one big bank faces some kind of trouble and fails, the banks with the largest exposure to derivates (think JP Morgan, Citygroup, Goldman Sachs) will realize that the bank on the other side of the derivatives trade (the counterparty) is no longer good for their obligation. All of a sudden the hedged position becomes a naked position. The net position becomes a gross position. The risk explodes instantaneously. Markets realize that their hedged positions are in reality not hedged anymore, and all market participants start bailing almost simultaneously. The whole banking and financial system freezes up. It might start in Asia or Europe, in which case Americans will wake up in the morning to find out that their markets are  not functioning anymore; stock markets remain closed, money at the banks become inaccessible, etc.

But for now, the party continues.  Goldman Sachs and many of the big hedge funds are making enormous piles of money.

In fact, according to the Wall Street Journal, Goldman Sachs recently gave some of their top executives 65 million dollars worth of restricted stock…

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. GS -0.76% handed insiders including Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein and his top lieutenants a total of $65 million in restricted stock just hours before this year’s higher tax rates took effect.

The New York securities firm gave 10 of its directors and executives early vesting on 508,104 shares previously awarded as part of prior years’ compensation, according to a series of filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission late Monday.

And the bonuses that employees at Goldman receive are absolutely obscene.  A recent Daily Mail article explained that Goldman employees in the UK are expected to receive record-setting bonuses this year…

Britain’s army of bankers will re-ignite public fury over lavish pay rewards as staff at Goldman Sachs are expected to reward themselves £8.3 billion in bonuses on Wednesday.

The American investment bank, which employs 5,500 staff in the UK, will be the first to unveil its telephone number-sized rewards – an average of £250,000 a person – as part of the latest round of bonus updates.

The increase, up from £230,000 last year, comes as British families are still struggling to make ends meet five years after banks brought the economy to the brink of meltdown.

Wouldn’t you like to get a “bonus” like that?

Life is good at these firms while the markets are going up.

But what happens when the party ends?

What happens if the markets crash in 2013?

When you bet big, you either win big or you lose big.

For now, the gigantic bets that Wall Street firms are making with borrowed money are paying off very nicely.

But a day of reckoning is coming.  The next stock market crash is going to rip through Wall Street like a chainsaw and the carnage is going to be unprecedented.

Are you sure that the people holding your money will be able to make it through what is ahead?  You might want to look into it while you still can.

Goldman Sachs New World Headquarters

There Will Never Be Enough Jobs In America Again

Well, we just had another bad jobs report.  The U.S. economy created just 80,000 new jobs during the month of June.  Normally, about 125,000 new jobs need to be created every month just to keep up with population growth.  So it is a bit odd that the official unemployment rate did not rise above 8.2%.  What is even more alarming is that the Social Security Administration is telling us that 85,000 U.S. workers “left the workforce” and enrolled in the Social Security Disability Insurance program during the month of June.  That means that the number of Americans enrolling in Social Security Disability actually exceeded the number of new jobs that was created.  That is definitely not a sign of recovery.  Unfortunately, this is about as good as things are going to get.  Right now corporate profits are at an all-time high and usually after a recession has ended the percentage of working age Americans that have jobs bounces back very strongly.  But that has not happened this time, and when the next economic crisis hits things are going to get a lot worse.

The headline to this article states that there will never be enough jobs in America again.

How could that possibly be true?

Well, the sad truth is that it is very hard to make a profit on an employee in the United States today.

Every year, the control freaks that run things just keep dumping more taxes, more laws, more regulations and more demands on employers.  Hiring even a low level employee today is very complicated and very expensive.

These days a lot of small business owners have decided that it is simply not worth the hassle to hire more employees.  If you can’t make a profit on them, what is the point?

If there was going to be a major rebound in hiring, we would have seen it by now.  Corporate profits are at an all-time high as I mentioned earlier.  How much more money do they need to make before they start hiring?

But I don’t blame them.  Our politicians have loaded the system with plenty of incentives NOT to hire workers.

Yesterday, I wrote about how Barack Obama has been a one man wrecking crew when it comes to killing jobs.  But he is not the only one to blame.  The truth is that politicians from both political parties have been making things more difficult for employers for decades.

Today, many employers are trying to replace as many employees as possible with computers, automation, robotics and other forms of technology.  Those are jobs that are not ever going to come back.

However, sometimes human labor is still actually needed.

But instead of hiring American workers, many big corporations are taking advantage of the emerging “one world economy” and are setting up shop in countries where it is legal to pay slave labor wages.

So how are American workers supposed to compete with that?

The truth is that they can’t.

Today, you aren’t just competing for jobs with your neighbors.  Your competition also includes millions upon millions of hard working people on the other side of the globe that will gladly work 12 hour shifts in nightmarish conditions for a dollar an hour.

The United States has been losing millions of jobs to lower wage countries, and the fierce competition for the jobs that remain is driving down wages in this country.

As a result, many of our greatest cities that were once the envy of the entire world have become cesspools of filth, decay and wretchedness.

We are going to continue to bleed jobs because both major political parties are fully convinced that merging our labor pool with the labor pool of the rest of the world is a grand idea.

Republicans have been brainwashed into believing that a one world economic system is actually “conservative”.  They have been told that it is “conservative” to merge our economy with countries ruled by third world dictators and brutal communist regimes that have no respect for human rights at all.

Democrats have been brainwashed into believing that merging our economy into a one world economic system is “good for American workers” and will bring more prosperity to this country.

Barack Obama is even negotiating a treaty right now that would reportedly ban all “Buy American” laws.

How stupid can we be?

If we merge our labor pool with the labor pool of the rest of the world with no protection, guess where our wages and our standard of living is going to go?

The answer is obvious.

The “giant sucking sound” that Ross Perot warned us about so many years ago has become a reality.

It is just basic economics.

If I go to the store and I see two similar products and one is priced at $10 and the other is priced at $100 I am going to go for the one priced $10.

Well, it is the same thing with employees.

U.S. workers can’t compare with low wage workers on the other side of the world.  It is simply no contest.

Meanwhile, our control freak politicians continue to shove more jobs out the door by piling on even more taxes, rules and regulations.

Unfortunately, these trends are not going to change.  It doesn’t matter who gets elected.  The bleeding of jobs is going to continue.

In fact, we should probably be celebrating that things are still as good as they are.

In the future they will be a whole lot worse.

The period we are in right now was supposed to be the recovery.  During the last recession the percentage of working age Americans with jobs fell dramatically.  Since the end of the recession, that number has stayed remarkably flat….

Now the next major downturn is rapidly approaching.

When it hits, the unemployment rate is going to go well up into the double digits.

At the moment, our failing economy is being propped up by unprecedented amounts of debt.

When our debt-fueled false prosperity ends, the true horror of the decay of our economic system will be revealed.

If you think it is hard to find a job now, you just wait.  What is coming is going to be a total nightmare.  As I have written about before, many years of pain are ahead.

But that doesn’t mean that you have to lose hope.

On my website, people often share how their lives have been absolutely devastated by this economy.  Some of them are even so down that they are considering giving up completely.

But that is the exact wrong response to all of this!

The reason why I try so hard to explain what is coming is so that it will not be a surprise to people.  If you make plans and preparations now, the times that are coming will not overwhelm you.  I believe that there will be people that will be greatly blessed even in the midst of what is coming.

However, millions of Americans that are not listening to the warnings now will have their lives totally destroyed by what is coming.

The world is changing.  Nothing is going to stop that.  The unprecedented prosperity that we have been rolling in is going to shrivel up and go away.

But that does not mean that your life is over.

In fact, if you get yourself physically and mentally prepared for what is ahead the times that are coming can be the greatest times of your life.

One of my goals is to give people hope.  There is hope in understanding what is coming.  There is hope in being prepared.  There is hope in being a light in the middle of the darkness.  There is hope in being willing to love people in the midst of a world that is going crazy.  The following is from a comment that one reader left on a recent article….

I wanted to thank you, the author of this article, whoever you are. I haven’t completely ruled out killing myself but you’ve certainly given me something to think about. And thank you for trying to give people like me a little hope. A little kindness, even if only through words, is at a premium these days especially in my life. I will think carefully about what you’ve said. Best wishes to you and your efforts. God bless.

Everyone out there that is in a similar position – please do not ever, ever, ever give up.

No matter how bad things look right now, there are people out there that care.

One thing I have learned in life is this – there is always a way that things can be turned around.

Sadly, in the future a lot of Americans are going to give in to despair and will completely give up on life.  We saw it happen during the Great Depression of the 1930s and we are seeing this in Greece and other European countries right now.

But the truth is that your life is not over no matter how bad things get out there.

You can let the times that are coming destroy you, or you can make them the greatest adventure of your life.

The choice is up to you.

I urge you to get ready, to get more independent of the system and to start focusing on the things that really matter in life.

You Call This An Economic Recovery? 44 Million Americans On Food Stamps and 10 Other Reasons Why The Economy Is Simply Not Getting Better

When Barack Obama, the Federal Reserve and the mainstream media tell us that we are in the middle of an economic recovery, is that supposed to be some kind of sick joke?  According to newly released numbers, over 44 million Americans are now on food stamps.  That is a new all-time record and that number is 13.1% higher than it was just one year ago.  So how many Americans have to go on food stamps before we can all finally agree that the U.S. economy is dying?  50 million?  60 million?  All of us?  The food stamp program is the modern equivalent of the old bread lines.  More than one out of every seven Americans now depends on the federal government for food.  Oh, but haven’t you heard?  The economy is showing dramatic improvement.  Corporate profits are up.  The stock market is soaring.  Happy days are here again.

It just seems inconceivable that anyone can claim that the economy is improving when the number of Americans on food stamps continues to set a brand new record every single month.  But the food stamp program is not the only indicator that the economy is still having massive problems.  The following are 10 more reasons why the U.S. economy is simply not getting any better….

#1 Some recent statistics actually indicate that the number of unemployed Americans is still going up.  According to Gallup, unemployment in the United States rose to 10.3% at the end of February.  That is the highest number Gallup has reported since early last year.

#2 The housing industry is still a complete and total disaster.  In fact, new home sales in the U.S. in January were 11.2% lower than they were in December.  Not only that, the number of new home sales in January was 18.6% lower than the number of new home sales in January 2010.  That is not a sign of improvement.

#3 There wouldn’t even be much of a housing industry at all at this point if it was not for the U.S. government.  Right now the U.S. government is either writing or guaranteeing well over 90 percent of all mortgages in the United States.  So what would the housing market look like in 2011 if the government was not in the picture?

#4 In 2010, more than a million U.S. families lost their homes to foreclosure for the first time ever, and that number is expected to go even higher in 2011.

#5 Due to rampant economic decay and record numbers of foreclosures there are areas in most of our major cities that now look like “war zones”.  For example, the Huffington Post is reporting that there are now approximately 15,000 vacant buildings in the city of Chicago and there are approximately 60,000 vacant houses and apartments in the city of Las Vegas.

#6 According to the Oil Price Information Service, U.S. drivers spent an average of $347 on gasoline during the month of February, which was 30 percent more than a year earlier.  This represented 8.5% of median monthly income.  So what is going to happen when gas prices go even higher?  Sadly, the average price of gasoline in the U.S. has risen another 4 cents since yesterday and it is likely to go much higher from here.

#7 The U.S. trade deficit continues to grow.  The trade deficit was about 33 percent larger in 2010 than it was in 2009, and the 2011 trade deficit is expected to be even bigger.

#8 The CredAbility Consumer Distress Index, which measures the average financial condition of U.S. households, declined in every single quarter in 2010.

#9 The number of Americans that have become so discouraged that they have given up searching for work completely now stands at an all-time high.

#10 The U.S. national debt is growing faster than ever.  The Obama administration is projecting that the federal budget deficit for this fiscal year will be a new all-time record 1.65 trillion dollars.  It is hard to even imagine how much money that is.  If you went out today and started spending one dollar every single second, it would take you over 31,000 years to spend one trillion dollars.  Long ago the U.S. government should have been getting these deficits under control, but instead they are just getting even larger.

So in light of the statistics above, can anyone really claim that we are in the middle of an economic recovery?

The truth is that there is no sign that any of the long-term trends that are destroying the U.S. economy are even slowing down.

Millions of jobs continue to be shipped overseas.

The U.S. dollar continues to be devalued.

The federal government continues to go into more debt.

State and local governments continue to go into more debt.

Our trade deficit continues to grow.

Our cities continue to be transformed into wastelands as they are being systematically deindustrialized.

The number of Americans that are dependent on the government continues to soar.

The U.S. middle class continues to shrink.

I know that I harp on these themes over and over, but it is vitally important that everyone understands that the mainstream media is lying to us.

The U.S. economy is dying a very painful death and there is no hope on the horizon.

Things are not going to be getting better.  Well, they may get a bit better for the boys down on Wall Street, but for the rest of us our standards of living are going to continue to decline.

The best days for the U.S. economy are already behind us.  What lies ahead is a whole lot of pain.

We are going to pay the price for decades of corruption and incompetence.

An economic collapse is coming and you had better get ready.

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