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Meanwhile, back in Kiev, (and elsewhere in Ukraine) – Economics

The puppet government in Ukraine continues to wipe out civilian populations in East Ukraine while a silent western media plays along in the charade. Other hidden truths are starting to surface in Kiev including the specter of IMF austerity and economic collapse that will arrive once winter hits the country.

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As the Kiev putsch government continues to bombard civilian targets in East Ukraine, approaching what many fear to be an ethnic cleansing campaign that is largely ignored by main stream media channels, Ukraine is facing another war, this time economic in nature.

As the winter months close in and the IMF begins to implement its punishing austerity program, pillaging whatever is left of the nation’s wealth and industry, Ukrainian citizens will be left wondering how they ended up letting western powers, and their banker masters, lead them to complete and utter self destruction.

We are posting, in its entirety, this first hand account and analysis of the economic despair that is about to hit Ukraine, by NoBC4U from No Bread And Circuses For You.

This post first caught our eye on Martin Bochnig’s blog Opensxce. Currently in East-Berlin, Martin is writing and reporting extensively on the Ukraine conflict, the EU and the implications of what is transpiring in the region. Follow Martin on G+ .


CC Photo Google Image Search.  Source is fbcdn-sphotos-e-a.akamaihd.net  Subject is damn putin toon

Reports from various sources along with “man on the street” observations.

Sadly, in the last few weeks, there has been numerous stories about death and destruction in the east of Ukraine by the Ukrainian Army. Let’s face it, death and destruction are compelling narratives. It has often been said about mainstream media, “If it bleeds, it leads”.

In the face of the much more compelling narratives, there are other stories occurring behind the scenes. While these are certainly not nearly as compelling, this slow trickle of behind the scenes stories may in the long run be the decisive factor in the future of Ukraine.

So, let’s take a look at some of these hidden stories.

Economic stories.

Utilities…

The highly touted rising gas prices I was supposed to take effect on May 1, did not occur on May 1. It instead happened on June 1. No surprise there. May 1 was before the presidential election. June 1 was after. You always hold off bad news until after an election. But the price hike was not the 50% that was often touted in the media. Instead, the price between May and June went up almost 63%. Being summertime, this only covers natural gas used in cooking. So for most people, this is not a big hit. But just wait till October when charges for heating start to appear on the bills. Of course, I’m certain that the junta hopes that the six-month period when no heat appears on the bills will not be noticed in October when the charge for heat returns. By then, I would not be surprised if the increase is even greater than 63%.

So then, why was the increase 63% instead of the 50% mentioned previously? Well, a 50% increase was based on an exchange rate of approximately 8.5 grivnas per dollar. Since the grivna has lost value, with our new exchange rate of 11.52 a dollar, this led to an even higher increase than stated. This is because gas is bought on the international market and must go through currency conversions. I guess the big question would be since Ukraine is not paying their gas bills, why do we have to pay anything? Oh yeah, that’s right, there’s this little genocidal war going on.

The cold water rates have just risen, and man, is it a biggie. That’s up 133%! Electric is up too, but only 10%… so far. Bigger users of electricity might find their increase to be even larger.

Banking…

There have been some reports now that if you deposit money in a bank, you can expect to pay the Kiev authorities 15% up front, unless you can prove that the deposit did not come from under the table employment, or that taxes had already been paid. Somehow, I believe this will backfire and people who stash their cash in a mattress or a safe. I do remember in the past, when transferring money into the country for a purchase, that I had to declare that it did not come from employment. Now, they just take the money. Presumably there’s a way to get that money back if you’ve already paid your taxes.

Corporate Restructures…

In addition, certain companies are “restructuring” their operations here in Kiev. I have only come across a few examples so far, but that likely means that for every example I found, there were four or five or 20 others that I am not aware of.

First up is the company 4A Games. They recently announced they are moving their headquarters from Kiev to Cyprus. They did go out of their way to mention that programming and development teams will remain in Kiev. Yet, moving one’s headquarters is not a sign of confidence in the local economy. And they stated the move was to be in closer proximity to their EU client base. I assume they’re not speaking about physical proximity, though.

EPAM systems are choosing to expand operations in Poland to mitigate the risks associated with Ukraine. And Luxoft holdings plans to move 500 programming staff out of both Ukraine and Russia because of the ongoing conflicts.

And GlobalLogic is setting up operations in Kosice Slovakia, 50 miles (80 km) from the Ukraine border. Close enough to numerous locations in Ukraine for a visit home once a month. An ideal location for a homesick Ukrainian programmer.

These companies are all software related. Programming and development positions represent some of the best paying positions for talented college graduates in all of Ukraine. Their immediate loss of some jobs and the loss of future jobs that might have been Ukraine-based will be a big hit for the future of the Ukraine economy. These current and future jobs are gone and will not be returning for a long time. Consequently, some of the best and the brightest, the future of Ukraine, will leave the country for opportunities elsewhere.

I guess it’s actually justice in a way. Some companies that outsource IT work to Ukraine are PepsiCo, IBM, Ford, Chrysler, and Dell. While the US government will certainly not sanction the Nazi government here in Ukraine (preferring to sanction Russia instead), these major corporate outsourcers would prefer stability, and that is unlikely to return to Ukraine for very long time. So in effect, these companies are implementing the sanctions that the US government should, but will never do.

It is still too early to tell the effects this will have on my wife’s business. She supplies medical services that, while provided by the government for free, are much more appealing and convenient for those who have the means. But it’s likely that quite a few that have the means today will not have the means a couple of months from now. The business really slow down in the months of April and May, but have recently picked back up again, probably because enough people believe the election of a new president means a return to normalcy. But normalcy is a relative thing these days…

Refugees from the East.

I have heard several reports about refugees arriving in Kiev from the East. Some are no doubt professionals, competing for positions in an already depressed job market. Numerous others are at the lower end of the scale, looking for jobs as drivers and household help. Those who know some English will likely be better off; those that don’t likely to end up very disappointed and unemployed for the long term. And government austerity is likely to hit those that are not employed immensely.

Weather related economic hits…

With cooler and wetter than normal weather in the central region this summer, a number of crops are likely to take major hits, even if the weather quickly returns to normal. A long-term area resident (70 years) doesn’t remember any summer quite like this one. Potatoes, one of the major staple foods, is likely to show a major decline. It’s important to remember that even with the loss of Crimea, Ukraine remains larger than the state of Texas, so in normal years this could be overcome. But with war out east, agricultural output in the east is down too.

Agricultural output in Crimea took a hit too because Ukraine cut off a major water supply route to Crimea. And it’s also likely that agricultural output of Crimea that in the past would have benefitted Ukraine will be used for Crimean and Russian needs first, including the 500,000 estimated refugees from the war in east Ukraine now living in Russia. Ukraine should probably not expect too much help on that front.

Other economic activity depressed.

During the so-called “revolution,” the overall economy if Ukraine didn’t seem to be hit all that badly. But the month of April showed numerous large decreases in numerous sections of the economy. In the month of April alone, certain sectors showed drops in the range of 10 to 25% in one month! So it looks like Ukraine is going down, and it’s going down hard.

Timothy Ash, writing in the Kyiv Post, says this about economic activity in Ukraine so far in 2014.

  • “Herein, the overall production index dropped by 6.2 percent year-on-year in April, from the 3.4 percent drop in March, and within this chemical production dropped by 23.3 percent, engineering by 18.9 percent and metallurgy by 12.8 percent.
  • This fits in with anecdotal reports of strikes/disruptions to various production facilities in Donetsk and Luhansk and also to transport services, particularly rail transport.
  • Plants across Ukraine may now be struggling to receive parts from operations in Luhansk, Donetsk and even Crimea. A Kyiv Post report yesterday suggested significant problems emerging in the auto sector.
  • All the above would tend to suggest a more precipitous fall in economic activity is under way – perhaps more in line with recent European Bank of Reconstruction and Development/Moody’s forecasts for a 7-7.4 percent real GDP decline this year.
  • The latter, if delivered, would make adherence to IMF targets that much more difficult, and “recalibration” of the IMF programme that much more likely later this year.”

Kiev Post Article

Needless to say, this is an enormous economic hit to the economy of Ukraine. And it is not one that Ukraine will soon recover from.

Stores closing.

So far, there have been a number of store closings on Khreschatyk, the main street of Kiev, and indeed, all of Ukraine. I’ve counted around 20 so far, but I have not visited a number of the side streets. First, a good portion of Khreschatyk is still closed to vehicular traffic and remains a tent city, mixed with a large dollop of circus freak show and hawkers of souvenirs weird and strange. So it’s quite possible that it’s no longer profitable to have a store on “Main Street”. My guess is that retailers who have leases coming up for renewal are not renewing at this time and as time goes by, more retailers will join the act, either because of lack of faith in the economy or the hope that in a year or two or three, they may be able to return to a much lower lease and a much better economy. But most of these retailers have other locations throughout Kiev, so it’s not a mad dash for the exits yet. But the continued presence of the Maidan does not help; the Globus Mall, built under Independence Square had foot traffic, a few days ago, 70% less then I’ve ever seen it before, plus a number of empty storefronts, something I’ve never seen at this location.

Shortages:

While the price of a whole lot of items have increased, largely because of currency devaluation, most items are still available, at a price. Remember that currency devaluation mostly impacts imported goods. The major exception is a number of Russian made items, some because of trade sanctions, and some because the demand just isn’t there anymore. Others are a bit more worrying.

Salt (except for sea salt) basically disappeared from store shelves in Kiev for a few weeks. The reason? At least some of the salt in this part of the world comes from Slavyansk, until recently under control of the anti-fascist forces. And even more comes from Crimea.

Some medicines, especially those that are imported, can be in short supply. I’ve told my wife to always have at least a month’s supply of important medicines, which might have not been enough, since one of her medicines disappeared from shelves for a few weeks. It is now back, and we currently have a 3 month supply. But medicines, especially imported ones, will likely be in short supply because of the logistics of shipping into a dysfunctional country, along with price increases putting these medicines out of the reach of a good number of people.

Commentary:

Yet with all this, I’m still surprised at how little has changed. So far. Grass is still being cut, (some) road maintenance is still being done, the water fountains are dancing merrily as if it was still 2013. So, what might be the reason for this?

Since I’m reporting from a decent enough neighborhood, I first attributed it to city leadership keeping up a façade so that they could extract higher taxes later. But, it actually seems a bit more basic than this. And also a bit more obvious. It’s so basic and so obvious I’m surprised it took me so long to see it, and am surprised it’s taking other commentators so long to see it. Here’s how I see it playing out.

First let’s take a quick look at what the IMF actually does. What it does is it works with a government and together they declare war on the people of the target country. In simple terms, that’s really what the IMF does. When the IMF rolls into a country, whether South Korea, Argentina, Russia, or any number of others, it sets up targets for economic reform that are most likely going to be difficult or impossible to achieve. Once compliance does not happen, they rape and pillage the economy, in line with the negotiated terms. Their stolen loot is then given away at a fire sale to those who can “better manage it”. It’s “steal from the 99%” and “give to the one percent”. It’s a class war where the 1% comes out on top, as they normally do.

Now in most IMF interventions, the IMF is the primary intervener., many times the only one. While there may be other social and political goals, the economic goals of the IMF reigns supreme. But is this the case in Ukraine? Looking more closely, it’s clear that there are several other major players involved in the Ukraine fiasco. And these players have goals of their own. In the case of Ukraine, the primary intervener is not the IMF. That “honor” goes to the State Department and the CIA. From what we have seen so far in 2014, the goals of the State Department and the CIA will take priority over the goals of the IMF. So then, exactly what does this mean going forward for Ukraine?

The goals of the State Department and the CIA so far all clearly pointing to trying to provoke Russia to invade Ukraine. So far, they have not had a lot of success meeting this goal. But should they be able to provoke Russia to protect Russian people in the east of Ukraine, it will provoke a larger war, Russia on one hand, versus Ukraine and NATO on the other hand. A war of country versus country and its allies. Now, remember back a few paragraphs where we discussed the modus operandi of the IMF. With IMF’s help, a government declares war on its people. The State Department and the CIA are attempting to provoke an international hot war involving Ukraine and Russia. Now, while it might be possible for a government to have both a war with a neighboring country and with its own people at the same time, I really don’t believe you’re going to see that here. The war that will be given priority will be the war with Russia, should that occur. Consequently, when support for the international war, the war with Russia, you will see programs implemented to build support for that war. Austerity will lead to a major lack of support for said international war, and will therefore be against the goals of the State Department and the CIA. So, will the IMF be left out in the cold, with the bill to be paid by NATO, EU, and USA tax payers? The IMF will no doubt still push through what it can, but if some action leads to major pushback by the citizenry, the IMF may possibly let Ukraine slide on a few. I say possibly because the government still has their means of enforcement, Right Sector.

So for Ukraine, it’s the ultimate lose-lose situation. Should the state Department and CIA get their way, Ukraine will be ground zero for a major land war. If Russia should manage to tie their hands, and war is prevented, Ukraine will be socked by a major IMF austerity plan, made worse by the loss of Crimea and possibly other areas of Ukraine, and made even worse by the debts incurred trying to provoke said war, which will be thrown on the backs of those Ukrainians who stick around for the punishment.

Am I being a bit too optimistic here? Possible, but only time will tell. My guess is that the State Department and CIA goals will get first priority and if that means suspending some IMF goals to garner public support, that will happen. Anyway, that’s the way I see it now.

References:

http://bread-circuses-today.blogspot.ca/2014/07/meanwhile-back-in-kiev-and-elsewhere-in.html

http://opensxce.blogspot.com/2014/07/sunday-july-13-2014-meanwhile-back-in.html

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Hell Hath No Fury Like a Liberal Scorned: The Media Turns on Facebook and Google

Facebook and Google are profit-maximizing quasi-monopolies who will do anything to protect their monopolies.

The Duran

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Authored by Charles Hugh Smith via OfTwoMinds blog:


Here’s the ugly truth: Facebook and Google are profit-maximizing quasi-monopolies who will do anything to protect their monopolies.

Of the many remarkable trend changes of the past year, few are more striking than the fawning embrace of Facebook et al. by Big Media turning to an enraged sense of betrayal. Facebook and Google–by their own self-definitions, shining beacons of liberalism and goodness (we’re not evil, we’re fantabulous!)– were viewed by the famously liberal Big Media as allies in the fight against Trump, illiberalism, populism, deglobalization, etc.

Now, to their horror, Big Media has discovered that not only did their Big Tech sweethearts betray their affection and trust, they’re just another bunch of predatory profit-maximizing monopolies who will stab anyone and everyone in the back who gets in their way to higher profits and more power.

It would be sad if it wasn’t so pathetic. Poor Big Media, so anxious to be hip and with it, so anxious to impress social media while trying to exploit its reach to prop up their own dying business model. Big Media, so easily seduced by Big Tech: we’re liberal, too, and together we’ll lead the world out of darkness into light, blah blah blah.

Then Big Media discovered its virtue-signaling liberal sweetheart, Big Tech, is just as threatened by liberals as by conservatives, and it turns its firepower on liberals with the same savage abandon as it does on independent and conservative media.

The bitter rage of the previously besotted and now betrayed suitor is evident in these recent articles in The Atlantic, New York Times and Washington Post, all bastions of virtue-signaling self-righteous defense of the state-cartel Empire, a.k.a. liberalism.

When the Tech Mythology Collapses (The Atlantic)
Delay, Deny and Deflect: How Facebook’s Leaders Fought Through Crisis (NY Times)
How Google Protected Andy Rubin, the ‘Father of Android’ (NY Times)
It’s time to start regulating Facebook (Washington Post)

The high dudgeon of WaPo is especially amusing to those us blacklisted by the faux-liberal Washington Post’s witch-hunting promotion of a bogus list of “Russian propaganda” sites in 2016. As I noted recently, some observers suspect Facebook is using this same baseless, fact-free libelous list in its shadow banning of independent journalists and commentators.

That Facebook would stick a knife in neoliberal globalist George Soros (gasp!) to mask its calumny might have been an eye-opener for the enamored liberals who foolishly believed the facile PR of Facebook, Google et al. Nobody’s more offended that the chump who falls for the obvious scam, a scam that any streetwise person would have spotted a mile away.

Big Media so desperately wanted a partner in its faux-liberal virtue-signaling that it overlooked the abundant evidence that Facebook and Google are only interested in reaping billions of dollars in ever greater concentrations of wealth and power. These are corporations, after all, and just like the corporations that own Big Media, maximizing profits is their sole raison d’etre, self-congratulatory preening claims of public service wonderfulness aside.

Here’s the ugly truth: Facebook and Google are profit-maximizing quasi-monopolies who will do anything to protect their monopolies. Just like all the other monopolies that had to be busted up to protect the public from their predatory power.

I just received this email from the Wall Street Journal: the Big media war on Facebook just opened a new front, and it looks like a take-no-prisoners conflict now:

With Facebook Under Siege, Zuckerberg Adopts More Aggressive Style

Mark Zuckerberg gathered roughly 50 of his top lieutenants earlier this year and told them that Facebook was at war and he planned to lead the company accordingly.

Mr. Zuckerberg’s new approach is causing unprecedented turmoil atop Facebook, driving several key executives from the company, according to people familiar with the matter.

I’ve written a lot about these issues: here’s a selection of recent essays:

Are Facebook and Google the New Colonial Powers? September 18, 2017
The Demise of Dissent: Why the Web Is Becoming Homogenized November 17, 2017
Addictions: Social Media & Mobile Phones Fall From Grace November 24, 2017
Should Facebook, Google and Twitter Be Public Utilities? March 5, 2018
Is Profit-Maximizing Data-Mining Undermining Democracy? March 19, 2018
The Blowback Against Facebook, Google and Amazon Is Just Beginning April 27, 2018
Shadow Banning Is Just the Tip of the Iceberg: We’re All Digital Ghosts Now October 27, 2018


My new mystery The Adventures of the Consulting Philosopher: The Disappearance of Drake is a ridiculously affordable $1.29 (Kindle) or $8.95 (print); read the first chapters for free (PDF)

My book Money and Work Unchained is now $6.95 for the Kindle ebook and $15 for the print edition.

Read the first section for free in PDF format.

If you found value in this content, please join me in seeking solutions by becoming a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com.

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Politics: The Cancer that must be Eradicated once and for all

In the United States two political parties have now divided the nation with the kind of violent partisan rhetoric that erupted just before the Civil War.

Paul Kindlon

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The 2016 election of Donald Trump as president set off a tidal wave of anger and resentment that has divided America into two bitterly opposed camps. Those on the left consider Trump to be the embodiment of evil whereas many on the right see him as a “disrupter” and champion of the common man. The recent mid-term elections revealed that this conflict between pro-Trump and anti-Trump forces continues unabated. The political divide in America now is characterized by revenge-minded Democrats who are determined to remove Trump from office and those who will fight to prevent this from happening. As a result, the country will be mired in a lengthy political power struggle while important issues affecting the lives of millions will be neglected. America – sad to say – is currently a nation in crisis.

If a team of scientific crisis management experts were assembled to assess the cause of this problem they would surely arrive at the conclusion that it is “politics” pure and simple. The solution, therefore, would be the abolition of all political parties.

This is actually not a new idea. The French philosopher Simone Weil made this suggestion more than seventy years ago. This seemingly radical proposal has been resurrected and supported by the award-winning Canadian journalist Andrew Nikiforuk. As he pointed out this past summer:

“In the United States two political parties have now divided the nation with the kind of violent partisan rhetoric that erupted just before the Civil War. Across the Western world, political parties have turned parliaments into digital circuses, provoking waves of contempt among ordinary people…by actively preventing party members from speaking for truth or justice, modern political parties cultivate mendacity the way cell phones archive selfies. Party politics demand that politicians must, on a daily basis, lie to the party, lie to the public and lie to themselves.”

This is a damning indictment of politics not just political parties. And it should be clear to any clear-thinking citizen that the time has come to abandon this morally bankrupt system that has mismanaged our affairs through influence peddling and legal bribery innocuously labeled “campaign contributions”.

Weil and Nikiforuk are not anarchists and they are not proposing some form of extreme libertarianism requiring the dismantlement of government. Governing should be left to capable administrators and professional managers who are not beholden to wealthy donors or special interest groups. Rather than being “elected” they should be hired, paid a decent salary and evaluated for performance by a non-partisan committee of informed citizens.

If we fail to take this step then we are doomed to repeat the same mistakes of the past – suffering from a deeply flawed system that only produces corruption, conflict and economic woe.

We must declare total independence from the tyranny of politics before we are crushed under its weight. To borrow the immortal words of Thomas Paine: “The blood of the slain, the weeping voice of nature cries: ‘tis time to part”.

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The America I Once Knew

Butterflies and fenceless backyards…

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The vast majority of baby boomers believe that they grew up in a free country. Was it free? Is it free? It has been said: “America is a free country… until you read the fine print!”

To be fair, freedom in every country is conditional, with the conditions stipulated in footnotes that can take up most of the page. The 1960s generation in the USSR, had little doubt that the USSR was a free country, outside of obvious restrictions like those imposed on travel abroad, restrictions that were easily explained by way of Uncle Sam’s imperialism and related connivances.

In America, the limits to one’s freedom are defined by conditions such as whether one is rocking the economic boat of a competitor or whether one has chosen to
enter the public eye as a politician, an athlete, or as an actor. It is also understood that, “Your liberty to swing your fist ends where my nose begins.” Obama-Clinton’s liberty to support “rainbow fascism” and terrorism, abroad, ended at the noses of millions of voters, as Clinton harshly discovered on election day.

Since asterisks didn’t weigh down the definition of freedom for children in the 50s, baby boomers cherish memories of an era when bicycles were left on front lawns unlocked – overnight, or longer – and back porch doors were always welcomingly ajar. A sense of community, civility, and mutual respect was palpable. Sunday was a day of rest and most stores closed. A significantly greater number of families attended church services than those that didn’t.

Some 65 years later, America is a different planet.

A casual drive through suburban side streets will be quiet enough to hear birds chirping. Not many children, if any, will be playing kickball or chasing butterflies through fenceless backyards. Boy’s won’t be seen throwing dirt bomb grenades in the retaking of the empty lot named Guam and cowboys won’t be roping Indians to an oak, which also nests a treehouse. Dogs won’t be on the loose and no girl on a Schwinn with a dual-toned seat will be seen cruising over to a neighbor’s house to
dress up as mom or to play with Tiny Tears. Girls and boys won’t be seen in a beehive of activity building a clubhouse for reenactments of the latest Mickey Mouse Club episode or in anticipation of grown-up life.

The planet will be drained of life.

It was during a stopover at the grandparents that I roused the kids on a lip-locking freeze of a January morning: “Get up! Perfect sledding conditions!” Indeed, ice had solidly, candy-coated a few inches of snow. Before anyone could ruin perfection with a footprint, I was determined to show a new generation where we used to blaze through frost and tears on Flexible Flyers. The vintage sleds, minus a little shine, were as ready to carve up the slopes as I was.

Approaching a venerable golf course on foot, a closed gate glared, menacingly. It was double, chain-locked. I eventually learned that a lawsuit had been filed against
the club by parents of a child who had recklessly tattooed his face riding into a shrub. All good will on the part of club owners subsequently evaporated. Forever. Not to be daunted, we trekked to another golf course. Considering the time lost and that it was almost noon, I was taken aback by the absence of revelers on the wide
expanses. A few phone calls proved to be transfiguring. The white canvas of the hills became a mural with splashes of color and blurred hues conveying action.

Accompanying laughter echoed throughout and squeals of fright broadcast from speakers doubling as hills. Curiously, we remained the sole pleasure seekers, until several hours later when a limousine neared a side fence, at some distance. Bird-like cautious, a woman could be spotted, exiting the vehicle, apparently, trying to make sense of the ruckus. A boy and a sled appeared near her, both waiting for her verdict. Mother hen apparently nodded the go-ahead, but playtime timed out at 20 minutes. The boy and his sled never reached the real slopes where we had pinned our flag. Just as unobtrusively as the mother-son apparition had materialized, it was gone.

My mind played to comprehend the curt visit and the maternal oversight. “What was it that instigated such protective cluckery? Was it us? Were we violating some written or unwritten law? Were we trespassing? Sure, it’s private property but it’s not fenced in. By merely circling behind the Lutheran church on the West side you’re at the best hill. A cinch. Besides, sledding has always been a tradition, here.”

As we parted the fun into the amber sunset, it sunk in that if I hadn’t taken the initiative, despite ideal conditions, Mt. Suburbia would have remained as virginal
as the peaks of Tibet. Adding two plus two, I began to suspect that in the decades of my absence a new reality had settled over these parts. And, that I had imposed the free-spirited reality of my youth on them. Might it be that in the structured play of today’s youth, playing outside of the box isn’t apropos? It’s no longer in – not cool?

I recalled how family had asked me to pick up a nephew, a high school senior, after basketball practice. “But it’s a seven-minute walk to the house,” I demurred. Upon giving in and making what amounted to a four-minute drive to the school, I noted that my nephew wasn’t the only one. In fact, most of the team was waiting to get picked up, as well. I was flabbergasted. What happened to the coolness of being independent – of being grown-up and not hanging on to mother’s apron?

Anything was better, in my day, even a school bus ride home. A mama’s boy was a sissy who wouldn’t get even an eyebrow of interest from the girls. “What’s going on?”

Indeed, organized events have taken over the present age. That is, children rarely take the initiative to make playtime on their own. It’s precooked. The clock ticks
away at the timelines of youth without a child ever knocking on a neighbor’s door to ask: “Can Ted or Sally come out to play?”

The question molded more than one generation. When I used to peddle off, after breakfast, on my Ross bicycle I would only return to the sound of the dinner bell. Packed between two meals were a solid four or five hundred minutes of stickball, soccer, softball, touch football, kickball and, even, golf. Whoever, showed up in the school yard, boy or girl, participated. It made no difference. A right fielder was always in demand. There was no time for getting fat or even chubby despite plates being licked clean, when no one was looking, of course! There were no cell phones yet everyone knew, when and where, the action was, even if it meant a little extra peddling around the neighborhood. Quite the relic of a memory!

Children still participate in team sports but they’re mostly soccer-mom-structured. Today’s uniforms, which we would have loved to have had, lack home-spun
creativity. Isn’t necessity the mother of invention? What life lessons are there when children take everything for granted and when they’re shuttled like livestock, back and forth, between venues.

A metastasis of political correctness is the presentation of trophies to all participants so as to not discourage the 98 percent who are less than the best. In other words, a reward for outstanding merit and achievement has been merged into the collective, tolerant whole rendering it meaningless. I knew one fat kid in the neighborhood. He wasn’t fat by today’s standards, just a little on the chubby side, yet we called him “fatso” and he was none-the-worse for the honesty. In fact, truth proved to be a motivator because by the time that he entered 7 th Grade, he was as slim as the rest of us.

Mothers did what they had to do – they cooked complete meals, they oversaw homework and chores, they rarely complained about housework, and, if for any reason one breadwinner wasn’t earning enough, they took jobs. They sacrificed for the good of family. Do children need anything more than the demonstration of such dedication and love? Are children better off with so-called liberated mothers, indoctrinated with the propaganda line that their interests come first? How many of society’s ills are spawned by the absence of love from parents?

Without any doubt, baby boomers were leaps and bounds healthier than children, today. No one made sonogram wall posters of fetuses in shopping malls. We
weren’t injected with dozens of vaccines. The sugar cube containing the polio vaccine was about it. Food allergies were extremely rare until mothers were told that formula was healthier. Autism had yet to enter the dictionary. If a child had more than one cold per season, it was likely that the father was a physician.

How many grandparents, looking at the present-day child glued to a gadget, think: “What is to become of this generation?” Is it not a bold experiment? It might be a risky prognosis but the seeds of collectivization are being sown in America with a capital “C.” Followers are being reared, not leaders with initiative, creativity, and courage. Creature comforts make for soft minds to be sculpted by left-leaning professors.

Actually, creativity still has a place but it’s on a screen, which is not necessarily applicable to problem solving in the real world. The life lessons of fishing or camping under inspirational, starlit nights isn’t part of the touch screen algorithm for success. Today’s generation will learn the genetic sequence of a fish gene with the aid of the right app but will children be able to distinguish between a bluefish and a catfish without Google? Or know how to catch a fish, should doomsday hunger ever reshuffle priorities, overnight?

At one point, a little before Clinton & Clinton absconded with the White House furniture, I wanted my children to witness a real Christmas Eve with carols and with all of the stops pulled out. I decided on the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City, recalling warm impressions from youth. But I wasn’t prepared for what was served-up.

Instead of celebrating Christmas Eve, we found ourselves in something resembling a pagan Roman, Earth Day circus with overtones of a gay rights parade. When a blessing of the plants and caged animals began – including the blessing of the Devil in the spirit of tolerance, symbolized by a ten-foot-long python shouldered in by several, semi-clad lads in crepe and nylons – I stretched and tugged with haste for the exit. But we were blocked by an elephant, yes, an elephant that had just made its entrance into the cathedral. My mouth dropped as the beast swaggered up the aisle to the alter, a poop bag, at the ready! Thank God, the elephant wasn’t being wed to a giraffe or we might have never squeezed our way out of the cathedral-turned-zoo.

Honestly, I didn’t know what to say to the children. I’m not making this up. Again, the sham of a Christmas Eve occurred in the late 90s. One dares not contemplate what takes place, today, in the Temple of God in the name of poor St. John the Divine. It begins to sink in why the heavens will sing “Hallelujah!” upon the destruction of the great city Babylon.

And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God: For true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his
servants at her hand. And again they said, Alleluia. And her smoke rose up for ever and ever. Rev. 19:1-3. Despite the non-denominational character of my elementary school, we learned the Lord’s Prayer and the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Matt. 7-12. The rest of our introduction to Christian teachings was reserved for Sunday School. No fanaticism – it was bread and butter straighforward.

In First and Second Grades we read Ted and Sally, Dick and Jane, as well as Tuffy and Boots – solid, family-oriented constructions that foster a genuine sense of security in young children. What is upbringing without structure and discipline? I had my mouth washed out by my first-grade teacher for saying, “Shut-up,” after hearing someone else say it. It was the last time that I repeated words that I didn’t understand. Besides, it didn’t look good in the eyes of my crush to be yanked out of class in such disgrace.

First Graders played the role of angels in the nativity scene of the Christmas pageant. And towns weren’t sued over Nativity scene displays. Up to two hours of black and white TV were allowed, weekly, with programming consisting of The Adventures of Rin-Tin-Tin, Heidi, Lassie, and the Mickey Mouse Club. Time limits on cartoons were waived for a sick day, making it quite the holiday. TV-free household were not oddities. Divorces were for Hollywood and when they did take place they, somehow, touched children less than they do, today.

Returning to NYC, for a moment, I witnessed a three-year-old-something toddler on 5 th Avenue bus strike a female passenger. His mother responded with reasoning. “How would you like it if someone did that to you?”

Before she finished asking, he struck another passenger. And it went, on and on. The more that she reasoned, the more he hit people. No one batted an eyelash of admonishment. I watched Carnegie upbringing, in awe. Tempted as I was to intervene, I convinced myself that this is not only not my battle but also one that can’t be won.

When I witnessed a few boys, roughly seven years of age, trampling sand castles diligently constructed by several, younger girls, I ignored it until the same boys returned throwing sand. Laughing through the motions, they stomped, again, on repaired sand castles. With enough of a degree of intent for it to be understood that I meant business, I took each one by the arm and herded them off to their parents, higher up on the beach. I made it clear with an even firmer grip what I would do if they harassed small girls or threw sand, again.

“Don’t test me. I’ll make mincemeat out of you hooligans,” I exclaimed, loud enough for parents to hear. Needless to say, peace and quiet was restored to the lives of a few girls that summer day. The parents didn’t thank me. In fact, their looks and open-mouthed astonishment were defensive, even threatening, as if I was in the wrong. I’m quite certain that never, before, and never, since, have their boys been publicly reprimanded. Herein, lies the problem.

If you’re a Clinton Snowflake, I know that you’re thinking, “Stone Age Dinosaur! How dare he physically handle children that aren’t even his.” “Physical handing doesn’t have to draw blood,” I laugh, when Snowflakes get ruffled. It’s enough for children to respect hierarchy and to understand who lays down the rules and that violating them could be problematic.

If a car is rolling off a cliff, do you run after the car, open the door, and reach for the hand brake or do you tolerate the outcome because it’s not your car, hoping for the best?

On a fishing expedition, I happened to be surfcasting on an interesting beach. To my right was a lifeguard flag delineating a bustling beach with no small number of young people. Equidistant to my left was a clothing optional beach with the greater part of beachgoers being my age. Without understanding what was happening, a hubbub developed to my left. Amidst the shouts and the commotion, an armada of swimmers, floats and rafts forged though waves and currents, stretching some 100 yards into the cold ocean straight out from the point where I had been surfcasting.

A passerby informed me that someone had drowned.

Within 20 minutes, a limp, young man was pulled out of the surf, greyer than death. An ambulance had crossed the dunes and CPR was being administrated. Suddenly, a torrent of water poured out of the victim’s mouth. He was alive.

Reflecting on what I had just witnessed, the contrast between the reactions of the two groupings of beachgoers carved deep into the senses. Not one, athletic, young man from the textile beach, not even a lifeguard, had budged after word had spread that a person was drowning. I had been focused on surfcasting and, somehow, missed the opportune moment to take action. Considering how many first responders dove in on my left, both men and women, made it quite evident that enough persons from millennial grouping also had heard that someone was drowning but they didn’t react. Could it be that they, simply, couldn’t be bothered?

With the advent of the millennium, tolerance became the buzzword in the US.

Author Ted Flynn notes:

“It’s in the press, our grade schools, our universities, our community centers, our corporate environment, and nearly anywhere else that two or more are gathered. It surrounds us, and woe to the person who is insensitive to another’s ethnic, cultural, or religious orientation. This is all well and good but it has gone too far. We have many terms for it such as politically correct, exclusivism, inclusivism, modernism, ethical theism, postmodernism, universalism, and the favorite over the last five years, multiculturalism. Everybody wants their rights and usually it is at the expense of another. Politically correct has become a synonym for lack of truth, candor, and integrity… English author, G.K. Chesterton once remarked, “Tolerance is the virtue of man without convictions.” Flynn adds, “There is neither
right nor wrong – only tolerance.” The danger of a society that isolates itself from competing truth, says Chuck Colson, “is the inevitable descent into oppression and tyranny.”

Isn’t it interesting that no one is more intolerant than those who advocate tolerance? Biden, for one, came out of some closet, recently, saying Bible- believing Christians violate LGBTq rights simply by existing. Even more recently, again before a LGBTq audience, he called Trump supporters, “The dregs of society!”

It’s getting ugly. Bimbos of the Biden type are dividing rather than uniting. And with financing from Clinton and Soros, leftist hate and intolerance are driving Antifa, which despite the name, are fascists – the radical left’s variant of Hitler’s brown shirts. LGBT is also dividing. The majority of Americans believe that sexual orientation should not be an in-your-face, political movement. “Do what you want behind closed doors. Don’t impose your choice on others.” Be queer or straight, understanding that you’ll be answering for your choice before God.

Americans are learning to distinguish between Christian tolerance and politically correct tolerance. The former is common sense natural, an extension of Christian love; the latter artificial and dangerous because it restricts freedom by impinging on free speech, a prerequisite for tyranny. George Soros, a sociopath and, in so many of his own words a Nazi collaborator, is seeking revenge for his losses tied to picking the wrong presidential candidate, which is one reason why he is behind Antifa.

Today, Antifa is committing terrorist acts against monuments and private property. Tomorrow, it’s not excluded that radical left agenda handlers will demand blood. If you happen to be a plain vanilla Deplorable or if you’re an independent or a libertarian, guided in life by a love of liberty, common sense, and service to country, family, and God, you probably know and appreciate from firsthand experience what life was like in a free America.

Restraints on freedom have been encroaching on Americans from the day that the Federal Reserve was established in 1913 and after a federal income tax was
introduced. When Clinton & Clinton took over the White House, they accelerated the loss of individual liberties faster than any predecessor. The transformation of America into a collectivist state was supposed to be completed with Queen Hillary’s coronation as president.

If founding fathers, Hamilton and Jefferson, didn’t trust the intellect of the people in electing a leader, with the former calling the people, “a great beast,” and the latter referring to fellow Americans with disdain as “rubbish,” (in his Notes on the State of Virginia), little has changed. Columnist Louis René Beres writes: “Upon even the most cursory examination, our foundational political history will reveal an utterly stark contempt for popular rule.”

Obama-Clinton & Clinton with their radical left agenda are the legacy of the hypocritical disdain of “ordinary” people by America’s ruling elite. Clinton’s Deplorables tag and Obama’s supremacist exceptionalism sum up the same. The Democratic Party purports to be the Party of minorities and of the underprivileged whose rights are often violated or ignored. Socialism is, supposedly, humanistic. But it’s a naïve, billboard view of the Democratic identity, starting with the fact that almost all major wars in the past 100 years were started by War Party presidents. Truman, a Democrat, is the only world leader who detonated nuclear weapons on civilian populations.

Are higher taxes humanistic for those who work? The day after liberals are elected, their telephone numbers change, à la NY Senator Chuck Schumer, who is on record for making the fastest telephone number switch. How he loves to escape addressing the needs of ordinary citizens! Good luck to the downtrodden in getting through to such defenders of democracy. The sober reality of the Democratic Party’s cynicism was exposed in a comment made by Bill Clinton:

“We can’t be fixated on our desire to preserve the rights of ordinary Americans,” (USA Today, 03/11/93). Bill Clinton said it less than two months after he was sworn in as president. Oh, how countenances change after power paints over personalities and money struts into bank accounts. Unfortunately, imperium upstart types are the rule in democracies, not the exception. What is to become of America if the agenda of the radical left becomes America’s
agenda? It won’t happen. That is, not unless the US becomes a dictatorship and a radical left junta takes over.

We have witnessed the Trump miracle and, with it, the logical end of US democracy. Trump is not responsible for its end. Instead, it’s democracy that has failed because of the intolerance of Obama and Clinton for any views but their own. The notion that majority rules doesn’t work when the majority exerts its will on the minority’s religious tenets or on traditional family values. As already underscored, compromise, the cornerstone of US democracy, becomes unworkable when the Godless impose their views on the sacred, making US institutions, largely, irrelevant.

Trump won the presidency by a hair of a few states. But demographics don’t bode well for conservative and traditional values because of migrants, who vote for the welfare state of the Democrats, and because of the radical left agenda that has monopolized the minds of university-educated youth, a success consistent with Hillary’s efforts to radicalize educational and cultural entities. Much talk exists about the polarization of America, increasingly hostile relations, and the risk of civil war. Despite heightened passions, youth are not willing to die for a cause called Clinton. At least, not yet.

A dictatorship can be a more effective form of government for business considering that the dictator is free to enact legislation without the restraints of Congress. If the economy is good, foreign wars aren’t needed. Finally, the dictator is above money, considering that, he or she, is in power for life, so it’s not necessary to steal from coffers or to stash away bribes for a rainy day.

The US is about to become either a benign dictatorship of the right or a radical dictatorship of the left. It’s up to Trump and his supporters to recognize the fact and to seize the opportunity while it’s still possible.

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