Google Groups
Join To Get Blog Update Notices
Visit the Hickory Hound Group

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

As Nightly News becomes irrelevant, Alternative Media and News Expand

You can't seem to get much relevant news on the tube any more, maybe that is the reason why the nightly news on the the original major three networks lost a million viewers last year alone. (Audience).

I get the news I want to see through the computer. You can look at the conservative take and the liberal take, you can look at international, national, state, and local stories, and you can get breadth and depth. And you aren't being spoon fed pablum to people talking down to you, because they think you're an idiot. I don't need slick presentations. I need cold, hard facts.

I found the presentation above at the Trend sand Forecast Blog, which is Gerald Celente's video blog. Mr. Celente is recognized as the foremost trends forecaster in the world. He is the head of the Trends Research Institute. So if you would like a quick spot to go to to see the relevant issues of the day, then this is a site I suggest is worth taking a look at.

The Detroit Presentation itself is from PJTV. Pajamas Media is an American-based media company that uses the Internet to present and comment on the news. The site is said to have a Libertarian-Conservative slant.

Look at the expansion of Youtube, written about in this article from PC World entitled As YouTube Grows, Will it Go Premium?. "A new report from ComScore details just how far YouTube has come. For the first time, the average visitor to Google video sites -- mainly YouTube -- watched more than 100 clips per month. More importantly, almost 145 million people visited Google's video sites per month, accounting for 43.1 percent of all online video served." Youtube was started in February 2005 and bought by Google in November 2006. Look at the growth that has taken place in just five short years.

In my opinion, if these trends continue, you could see the end of the network news as we know it over the next decade. At the least, you will see the evening news become more stylized like morning news shows, which probably would be a good thing, because at least it would be entertaining.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Hickory City Pools -- Told You So! --- 8)

They huffed and they puffed. They Ballyhooed and Blustered,
but no matter how they try, the City of Hickory can't make this go away.
and that really has them flustered.

You see folks, everyone knows it's a con. If City Officials wanted to find money to open the pools in Ridgeview and West Hickory they could. They thought they were going to slide this under the radar -- per usual. Those of us who balked at how this issue has been handled have been ignored and all we asked for was to see where this $850,000 number comes from, because maybe we could help solve this problem, if we are made privy to the facts.

Not until those 50+ members of the African-American community showed up at the last City Council meeting did we see City officials awaken to the issue they have created. I admittedly was a little torn by that evening, because I have wondered where these people have been. Where were they last Summer and Fall when Harry and I were talking about this issue. Do you know that only 70-some people voted from the Ridgeview precinct in the City Council election last November. That is the reason why your community has been taken for granted. But now you are here and I say welcome. Better late than never.

What we see here with the pools is the story of the Mick Berry City Management Era in Hickory. Government by decree and it is to be adhered to; no input, no roundtable, no debate... just do as he says. What seems to not be understood is that you can't have a city without people and without people, there would be no jobs for city staff. We have a city administration that is constantly hamstringing the functionality of the city, because they pigeonhole issues based upon personal desires.

And the City Council has given Manager Berry the authority to act in this manner. "Staff recommends" no debate. He has been given Carte Blanche to operate this city in whatever manner he sees fit. It is clear that he is in charge of the City's fortunes. Oh, the Council has a wishlist of tasks they want accomplished (directed at "Council Retreats"), but in the end if Manager Berry says something isn't feasible there is no further discussion. It reminds me of the parent driving to the beach telling the kids to sit in the back seat and keep their mouths shut. Or when the family goes to a social function and the children are told that they are to be seen, but not to be heard. You, the average people of Hickory, are those children.

And folks, that ain't the way that government in the United States is supposed to work! Let's get down to the brass tacks of this pool situation and of course my opinion of the issue:

Today's story in the Hickory Daily Record - Protesters want pools opened -

Karen Hoyle stated "The city promised us they'd re-open the pool this year, and it's time to deliver," she said. "This summer has been pretty miserable for our kids."

City manager Berry stated,"Berry said the City Council has not decided if the pools will be repaired and opened in the future. The city's recreation department is studying pool repairs or alternatives like entering into partnerships with organizations that have their own pools or building splash parks."

In reading many of the comments on the HDR website , it was easy to see that many of the people have no depth of knowledge when it comes to this issue and it surely seems that in the nearly two years that this blog has been in existence that City officials have fostered this type of "Keep it in the dark" mindset. Maybe if the local citizenry would get a little bit more involved in the local Gubment scene, then they wouldn't throw out these ignorant black versus white comments and other stuff that is frankly bigotted on many levels. And folks, you who read this blog know that I am no bleeding heart.

At the last city council meeting Reverend David Roberts showed some research and documents, pertaining to the Ridgeview Redevelopment plan established in 1999. In his readings, he discovered that in 1992 documents were signed by former City Manager Gary McGee, that detailed extensive plans to renovate and refurbish the pool. That was revisited again in 1995 and 1999. Those plans and promises were never followed through on. Since 1995, that is 15 years of promises that the city have not kept.

In my book that is being dishonest and it doesn't matter whether you are black or white. Promises made should be promises kept. Not only that, but this shows that there were no lines of communication pertaining to this issue and probably other issues involving that area. No wonder that the Ridgeview area has had problems in the past. It has basically been ignored when it comes to city investments. The truth of the matter is that the real investment dollars in Ridgeview are mainly attributable to Federal Grants.

I have talked with several people that have stated that the city has cooked up the $850k number to justify them closing these pools. Remember this comment in reply to my June Rant about the Hickory Budget:

I wonder if the best solution is to pick the better of the two old pools and do a temporary fix. A friend with pool knowledge suggests that a back-up filter/pump unit that runs at night only and through temporary and movable pipes might allow a pool to open. The additional pipes might, or might not, be moved out of the way when the pool is in operation for the public. The change to the pump inlet cages should not be such a big thing.

Then, start planning for a single new, really good, pool or aquatic center to replace the two old ones. With a good plan in place, there might be federal or other outside money to help build something modern and appropriately sized.

Did you look at what it costs, per visit, to swim in the Kool Park private pool. Pretty expensive.

One or two un-necessary teen-age pregnancies, a few extra teen-age arrests, a father drowning a decade from now because he never learned to swim: then the money to get a pool open is pretty small in total social cost comparison. I remember how important the first pool in Morganton was to me back in the 1950's.

Let's look at the real facts. Right now the city has $10,087,675 in undesignated fund balance budgeted for the next fiscal year. That means that the city has over $10 million dollars set aside in the bank that is going towards nothing.

Let's say that they fix one of these two pools and the actual cost is $200k. They would be able to finance that over 5 years at a cost of around $50k per year and with some guarantees from public and private interests they would be able to defray those costs through increased attendance at the pools by church and civic groups who would guarantee attendance and monitoring of the pools through the public-private partnership.

If you consolidate the numbers of attendees into the use of this one fixed pool, then you can easily achieve these numbers. Then you don't stop there as this city has shown itself to be so apt to do -- put a band-aid on it and wait until the band-aid falls off and put another band-aid on it, repeat process until infinity or collapse, whichever comes first. Show some brains and integrity and invest in a new city pool with the slip and slide splash park to be finished within 10 years or foster the ability (through the public-private partnership) of an entrepreneur to make this happen.

This should not be looked at as a handout. These pools are for everyone and the use of them is not free. The Mayor has stated that pools are "Passe." Passe as in the French word meaning no longer fashionable, in wide use, etc.; out-of-date; outmoded. Has the Mayor been to the Y during a weekday? Has he seen Kool-Park's attendance?

Maybe the problem is that these pools were allowed over time to fall below standard. People have paid to go to these pools for years, while they were not being kept up to standard. City officials would not understand this because no one associated with them attends these pools. The city has run these pools with the bare minimum of maintenance. The one at Ridgeview doesn't look very inviting. It looks like an armed encampment with all of the barbed wire that surrounds it.

As I have stated before, when I was a kid I attended First Baptist Summer camp. We used to go to the pool in West Hickory twice a week. There were well over 100 kids attending that pool every day during the hours I was there -- maybe even 200. Let's say you charge $3 a head, that is a minimum of $600 per day, $4200 per week, $50,400 for a 12 week pool season.

I know that I used to be a member of the Y from 1999 to 2003. My fee for an individual (myself) per month was $30 to start (in '99) and went to $42 four years later. Heck, at night you couldn't find a parking space and with all of the activity you could hardly find a time where you could dip a toe in the pool. I was spending $500 a year and was having to work around their schedule to utilize the facility. Does that make sense? I can only imagine what the overcrowding is like now and y'all are saying send'em some more.

If you partner with Churches, civic groups, and others, then you can easily achieve the numbers I detailed above. What about concession stands to sell food and drinks? That could easily double the take. And, if done right, this facility could double those conservative projections. A facility that could generate $200k in 3 months is easily feasible.

Let's look at other spending that has become a staple of the Hickory City Budget. The City has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to fix awnings and facades downtown. The City just put $25,000 into a slush fund for graffiti and is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars for wayfinding, new logos, and signage all pointing the way downtown. The City is also paying $50,000 to contribute to the salary of the administrator of the Downtown Development Association. It seems clear to me where the priorities lie.

You know, my preference is for this to be done privately, but this area has proven that that won't work. Local private investors are unwilling to invest in anything that does not provide an instantaneous bang for the buck.

Look at the south side of the tracks from 127 to Hildebran on Hwy 70. Besides Steve Ikerd investing in that area, no one has stepped forward and frankly it has gone to pot. Drive down 70 and look at all of the vacant buildings. Look at Main avenue from 4th street SW to Longview. It is kind to say it is a nasty place. Cheap begets Cheap!!!

No! we are going to have to start investing some public money to pull those areas back up. These monies and all other monies in this city need to be administered with guideposts and strings of accountability attached. You give some money and if the investors don't follow through, then you rebuke them and make sure that they never see a penny of public funds again. That should be the way that the system works at every level of government -- the carrot and the stick.

The Oldsters in this community don't want to invest in the kids. Most of the young middle aged folks like myself understand that you must invest in your future or there will be none. You know that I am not saying that we should throw money at this issue. I am saying that we can utilize seed money to make this happen and through public-private partnerships we can recoup and move on to other projects that will make the quality of life in this community better for EVERYONE in this community!!!

It is time for average citizens to start barging their way into the governmental decision making process or the World of Austerity will justify encroaching upon even the most meager pleasures you have taken for granted until eventually they justify leaving you with nothing at all.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Sobering Messages by Eric King of King World News

Widening US Deficit To Collapse the Dollar

Looking at the year 2010 on the chart you can see a huge chasm between spending and revenue. Keep in mind that like most countries the US has two sets of books, so the situation is much more dire than the illustration. Let’s go with what the graph states for now and look past 2010 where we see the fantasy of increased revenue. Revenues will not increase, and when the economy has its next leg down there is a high likelihood of further decreases in revenue.

The above chart is a graphic image of the problem with the government forecasts. Spending increases dramatically and there is the underlying assumption that revenues will increase as well. This projection does not take into account the fact that we are in a depressionary cycle which is ready to have another leg down.

An already weak economy will become even weaker. This means less tax revenue, which flies in the face of government forecasts which call for an increase in revenue. As the chasm increases in size between spending and revenue, faith in the US dollar will evaporate. This will lead to a significant devaluation of the dollar, or an outright collapse.

Many developed countries face similar problems today and this is one of the major pillars of this secular bull market in gold. Make sure you have gold as your insurance policy. This means owning physical bullion, not paper promises.

Eric King

The Fed, Debt and Systemic Collapse of the US

Higher Taxes Guarantees A Depression

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Meaning of “Austerity” - by James Corbett of the Corbett Report

Austerity (Austere)
1. severe in manner or appearance; uncompromising; strict; forbidding: an austere teacher.
2. rigorously self-disciplined and severely moral; ascetic; abstinent: the austere quality of life in the convent.
3. grave; sober; solemn; serious: an austere manner.
4. without excess, luxury, or ease; simple; limited; severe: an austere life.
5. severely simple; without ornament: austere writing.
6. lacking softness; hard: an austere bed of straw.
7. rough to the taste; sour or harsh in flavor.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Is this the United States of America?

What does United States of America mean? It means that Individual States of Government have come together in common interest to form a Union that allows Interstate Commerce and Common Defense amongst the citizens of those states. The individual States are meant to empower the Union.

Instead, we see a Federal Government that has neutered the States and their rights and at the same time the Executive Branch of the Federal government of the United States has neutered the legislative branches of the House of Representatives and the Senate. So in essence, we are moving full speed towards government by decree, not representative democracy. And this is all being done because our representatives at every level have willingly gone along with this corrupted system.

Government is gaining way too much control over the people and power is being consolidated and centralized and it rolls down hill. In the long run this type of tyrannical system will not last, but in the meantime we will be subjected to the whims and fancies of an arbitrary system controlled by very few people and their will be a lot of angst and pain in the process of this system being implemented.

Why is this happening? It is simple really. The system is corrupted at every level and it is rotten to the core. I am going to come out and let you know who I follow. People like Gerald Celente, Bob Chapman, and Catherine Austin Fitts have had what is going on pegged. There are others, but these three individuals are the people who have awakened me.

The corporatocracy has infiltrated the bureaucracy and they have become one and the same. Look at the only sector of the United States economy that has continued to grow over the last twenty years. It is the government sector.

We have seen the productive capacity of this country decimated, because the citizens of this country picked sides in the Republican-Democrat competition and gave blind faith to the leadership of the parties to implement philosophy. This adherence to the left-right paradigm sanctioned the lack of accountability and usurpation of our freedoms in the name of a false and temporary fix of security. In the end, none of the real issues that we as a nation face have been dealt with. Instead the bountiful treasure, once held by the country, has been pilfered.

When we had a productive capacity, the service sector was fruitful, because there was a growing economy with full employment. That meant individuals and the enterprises they represented could invent, create, and manufacture products that created value. And that expanded value created wealth for all who were involved in the process. Full employment meant higher wages, because there was more competition for labor. The service sector was filled and growing with people who specialized in their field, because wealth demanded services that supported a higher quality of life and standard of living. People wanted the finer things life had to offer.

The service sector has now become the servant sector. We have seen a service sector filled with people who don't have the credentials of the specialists. This has meant that the specialists have had their professional status, and therefore earnings, slashed because of the influx of people who would normally be working in factories manufacturing merchandise, equpiment, and supplies. Now the people in the newly formed servant sector are forced into a free for all competition for a dwindling job market as real wealth continues to be sucked out of our nation. Subtract 2-2 and you might figure out that these servant sector jobs won't last forever either. The death of these industries is next.

Our State and local leaders have gone along with all of this because of the reasoning of personal status. Their leadership is impotent, because they aren't willing to take a real stand. Oh, they'll send some meaningless resolution to Raleigh or they will go to Raleigh or Washington and plead for representatives at those levels to do something. Has this been effective?

These leaders are more than willing to follow the path of least resistance, because it isn't personally affecting them. Effective leadership is hard work. It's a lot easier (and in many cases more lucrative) to go along to get along. I can't tell you how many times that I have been told, "Thom needs to look out for Thom." That fosters the mindset of -- "As long as I've got mine, Screw You."

That is the crux of the problem. The selfishness of society has enabled the tolerance and endorsement of corruption. The average person that turns a blind eye towards what they consider "fudging the rules" has enabled the Society of Sociopaths that are at the top of the Economic and Political Food Chain. These Sociopaths are the people who have destroyed our economy. These Sociopaths are the people who are consolidating power in their own interests.

So essentially our leaders are (by inaction) sanctioning a sociopathic society. They are endorsing the Financial Derivative Bubble, they are endorsing the British Petroleum oil spill, they are endorsing the usurpation of States Rights that would allow States to solve issues that personally affect their States, they are endorsing the takeover of our government by the world banking cartel (Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan as the main players), they are endorsing the actions of Rahm "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste" Emanuel, they are endorsing the actions of radicals like Cass Sunstein, Janet Napolitano, and the others that are attempting to bury the Constitution...

I am not the weirdo here folks. I have my priorities straight. Do you think George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, and John Adams were weirdos?

I am not saying that I am one of these great men. What I am saying is that I follow their principles. I revere these men who were willing to take a most courageous stand against the English throne. Are you so separated from reality and history that you do not realize that they put their lives on the line to create the great experiment that is this country -- that people seem so willing to throw away. You cower in fear towards the great swindle that has taken place and the tyranny that is being installed to cover up all of the illegality that has happened.

It is time that the States take back power. Bobby Jindal, the Louisiana Governor, came to power because of Katrina and yet, much like his predecessor, he has shown incompetence in the face of a Federal Government that has completely bungled this British Petroleum situation. It sure makes it look like an inside job. Look at our own Governor Perdue who has sidled up to the Federal Government and thwarted any attempts to mandate accountability in dealing with the Financial or Health Care legislation that has been inacted against the will of the People.

We have a Federal government that demands privacy for corporate interests, such as the Federal Reserve System, Goldman Sachs, and British Petroleum; yet they look at the citizens of this country as potential terrorists who deserve no right to privacy and who deserve no right to freely speak, have their interests represented, or demand accountabilty. Look at the new internet and broadband communications regulations that the FCC and FTC want to administer. They want to come into your home with a box and be able to monitor the sites you visit and the channels you watch. If you are truly clueless, please go read the articles below and the Book 1984 by George Orwell. We are headed that way and it is full speed ahead.

I have to admit that I am thoroughly disgusted by what I see. When I have addressed the issues of Goldman Sachs links to cronysim, conflicts of interest with the Government, and corruption; I have been told that it is about regulation. No, it is about investigation and enforcement of laws. You can pass all of the laws in the world and if people continue to turn a blind eye, and regulations aren't administered and enforced, then they are meaningless, and the corruption will continue on unfettered. If we allow this corruption to continue, then it's over folks, our country is done, and along with that will go your liberty as written in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. I hope that God will grant you the courage to wake up!

Stories of Relevance:
Obama oil spill commission picked for their politics, not engineering skill...
BIG SIS: Internet Monitoring Needed to Fight Homegrown Terrorism...
Napolitano Advocates Government Surveillance of Internet to Fight Homegrown Terrorism
States Need To Launch Criminal Investigation Into BP, Federal Government’s Role In Oil Spill

Friday, June 18, 2010

Excellent Article - Federal Reserve Manipulations in the Crosshairs by Alex Newman

The comments of this Reporter are spot on in my opinion. The link will take you to the full article at The New American website. I have been addressing these issues. I hope that seeing that others have the same thought will reinforce the importance of getting our financial house in order by reigningh in the Federal Reserve.

We keep worrying about the government, as though they answer to We the People. Wake Up!!! The governing interests in our country are answering to the Federal Reserve banking system, which is a private corporation. Look at a Dollar bill or any other paper money. It says at the top "Federal Reserve Note." The Federal Reserve is not a department of the government and therefore they do not have to answer to the people and they control the money, which is the lifeblood of our existence as a people and as a nation. It is time to regain control of our money!

Fed Manipulations in the Crosshairs - Written by Alex Newman - Wednesday, 09 June 2010

Cronyism, Insider Trading, and Market manipulation hurting Average People

...It turns out that under the guise of “stabilizing” the economy, the Federal Reserve banking cartel had set in motion a series of actions that would eventually transfer trillions to the bankers at taxpayers’ expense, all while decimating the investments of countless average Americans like Pitts. The Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP) estimated the potential total cost of the combined crisis bailouts at $23.7 trillion, or more than $75,000 per person in the United States...the central banks were loaning these large financial institutions huge sums of money at virtually zero percent interest.... So they’re taking this huge amount of money that’s being borrowed from the Fed, and really making money doing two things: one is all of the banks buying each others’ stock and running up the value of it to increase their net worth on the books … and then they’re also borrowing huge amounts of money from the Federal Reserve and buying U.S. Treasuries … which means guaranteed returns from the U.S. taxpayer.” When the Fed gives new money to the banks and they buy Treasury Securities, they are basically earning free profits in the form of interest on those securities courtesy of American taxpayers, since the government will have to tax citizens to pay back the bonds plus the interest. Wealth redistribution, government style!....
...Another stunning example of the Fed’s blatant market manipulation came to light in April. Even before the congressionally approved “bankster bailouts” of 2008, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (FRBNY) — owned by private banks and led at the time by tax dodger and current Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner — “extended credit” to three limited liability companies it created...
...The fake firms then began to intervene openly in the market to help certain favored firms. Incorporated in Delaware, the fake companies — Maiden Lane LLC, Maiden Lane II LLC, and Maiden Lane III LLC — used the Fed loans to purchase a variety of toxic assets from AIG and Bear Stearns, helping JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs, among others...
...Through its front companies, the FRBNY now owns a vast portfolio of hotels, houses, and much more. In April of last year, news of this started to leak out when Reuters reported that the Fed was forced to foreclose on a practically vacant shopping mall it had acquired in Oklahoma City. Democratic Representative Alan Grayson of Florida also drew attention to the problem more recently with a detailed explanation to Congress on how the Fed ended up owning the liabilities of a debt-ridden national hotel chain called the Red Roof Inn... Grayson explained, using displays with pictures of — appropriately enough — the board game Monopoly: “The Federal Reserve became the sucker of last resort [as the banks sought to unload their bad real-estate loans and other bad debt], and in doing so, the Federal Reserve made you — you America — the sucker of last resort.”...
...Despite the hardships imposed on everyday Americans and the economy by the Fed’s activities, its banking cohorts are doing great. In fact, most of the big financial institutions are reporting staggering profits. Goldman Sachs, for example, posted a profit every single day in the first quarter of 2010. Big banks reported over $15 billion in profits during the same period, according to the FDIC...The blatant cronyism on the part of the Fed with elitist bankers has made knowledgeable Americans upset and desirous to take action. Pitts is taking actions of his own: He recently filed three felony criminal complaints with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Securities and Exchange Commission against the Fed, the Treasury, and various banks. “How can investors compete in the market against a company that can just create money — set up companies with unlimited money — and just start buying?” Pitts wondered, adding that he “absolutely” would have invested differently if the Fed’s actions had been disclosed. “Investors who had short positions or purchased ‘put options’ were defrauded of billions. I purchased short positions and was defrauded. I want to prosecute,” he wrote in the criminal complaint lodged with the SEC. “Those guilty by their own admission should be arrested. Those who lost because of this fraud should be compensated for their loss.” Indeed, many of the accusations made in the complaints have already been admitted by the Fed itself in some form or another...
...He is also looking into possible insider trading involved in the TARP program, where certain bankers may have been tipped off about which institutions would be bailed out. “There was a time when, if you got that word the stock price would go up, and if you were to trade on that information prior to the public announcement, that would be classic insider trading,” he said...
...The disclosure of the Fed’s inner workings would shed needed light on the extent of Fed-induced distortions in real-estate, stocks, and bonds. But the manipulation doesn’t end there. Available data indicates that the Fed is involved in another critical market, with actions just as serious, and equally secretive...

Manipulating Precious Metal markets

... An ex-Goldman Sachs employee and veteran metals trader in London shocked the world in April when he went public with startling allegations. “JPMorgan acts as an agent for the Federal Reserve; they act to halt the rise of gold and silver against the US dollar. JPMorgan is insulated from potential losses [on their short positions] by the Fed and/or the US taxpayer,” Andrew Maguire told the New York Post. After sharing information with government investigators and accurately predicting events in the metals market, Maguire was supposed to testify before the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). However, a few days after his identity was revealed, Maguire and his wife were struck and injured by a car in a hit-and-run accident. Details about any investigations into the event have not been made public yet, sparking a tornado of conspiracy theories...

...Murphy said his organization wants to find out exactly what the Fed and the Treasury have done with America’s gold. “It’s the people’s gold, not their gold,” he said. The manipulation of gold prices is very serious and is part of the U.S. “strong dollar policy,” Murphy explained, pointing to the relationship between gold and interest rates... “By suppressing the gold price, they can keep the dollar stronger than it would be and keep interest rates less than they would have been,” he said, noting that this manipulation played a pivotal role in the current economic meltdown. “What happens is every time gold prices soar, what do you hear? Too much inflation? Crisis? It’s always bad for the Wall Street crowd and the incumbent politicians.… If the gold price had been allowed to trade freely, interest rates wouldn’t have been kept too low for too long,” and the natural warning system would have kicked in...
...The scheme involves a number of other players too. “It’s not only bullion banks like Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase and HSBC, but also — we call it a gold cartel — it’s also the Fed, the Treasury, the U.S. government, and the [central] Bank of England,” Murphy explained, adding that some of the conspirators had likely broken laws and probably belonged in jail. The suspicions have also been recently confirmed by whistleblowers within the system...
Manipulating Money Markets

The Fed can artificially boost segments of the economy, such as housing, for a period of time (even many years) by creating lots of money and flooding the market with it by offering it at very low interest rates — prompting lots of people to take out low-interest loans to build houses (and causing a market bubble). In a free market, on the other hand, the price of money would be determined by the amount of savings (supply) and the amount of currency sought by borrowers (demand). Interest rates would be set where the supply and demand curves meet, with the relative risk of a loan raising or lowering the interest rate demanded by a bank — higher risk earns banks higher rates. But instead, a shadowy, unelected cabal at the Fed arbitrarily sets interest rate “targets” and creates or destroys money to achieve its aims. The problems that result from this central economic planning cannot be overstated and include malinvestment, inflation, destruction and redistribution of wealth (from the poor and middle class to the super rich), and much more... It also creates the “boom and bust” cycle and enables the “Welfare-warfare State” to function by loaning government amounts of money that it could likely not convince citizens to give up through direct taxation. Again, flooding a country with new money means everything just costs more, and the government essentially pays its bills through inflation — rather than through direct taxes.
Fighting Back

...It is to be hoped that as investors, legislators, and taxpayers continue to demand answers, the truth will finally come out and, if warranted, the prosecutions can begin. The issue of Fed transparency transcends politics — the American people are growing tired of an unaccountable, unconstitutional institution impoverishing them and enriching the banks without even so much as an audit. But with the economy in shambles and inflation rapidly destroying the dollar, the time for action to rein in these abuses is rapidly dwindling. Politicians who side with the banking cartel should be booted out of office at the next possible opportunity, and solutions must be found soon to avert a tragedy of historical proportions.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Newsletter about the City Council meeting of June 15, 2010

This newsletter is about the Hickory City Council meeting that I attended this past week. City council meetings are held on the first and third Tuesdays of each Month in the Council Chambers of the Julian Whitener building.

At the bottom right of this page under main information links is a Hickory's Local Government link. If you click on that link, it takes you to our city’s website, at the bottom of the page you will see the future dates for meetings scheduled for this year.

At the top of the page, if you click on the “Documents” link, you will find historic Agenda and Minutes links. Agendas show what is on the docket for the meeting of that date. The Minutes is an actual summary of the proceedings of the meeting of that date.

Here is a summary of the agenda of the 6/15/2010 meeting. There were a couple of important items that were discussed at this meeting and the details are listed further below

Invocation by Chaplain Larry Bolick of Abernethy Laurels

Special Presentation
Presentation of Proclamation to Rick Patton Declaring Monday, June 21, 2010 as “Ride to Work Day” Encouraging the Use of Scooters and Motorcycles - Whereas the price of fossil fuels is growing and supplies are diminishing. Whereas the use of fossil fuels continue to damage our health through pollution and future through global warming. Whereas our infrastructure repairs fail to keep pace with its degradation. Whereas scooters and motorcycles use less fuel, cause less pollution, and have little impact on our infrastructure. Whereas scooters and motorcycles require only a fraction of space required by other vehicles to park, thereby addressing another an ongoing problem in our city. Scooters and Motorcycles offer a form of daily transportation to be encouraged.

Mayor Wright spoke of a group called the Retreads that is having their convention here this week. It is also Mayor Wright's hope that the Harley Owners Group will Have their anual meeting here in the upcoming year.

Consent Agenda:
A. Proclamation Declaring June 25, 2010 as “Dr. Jeffrey Kuch Day” in the City of Hickory

B. Approval of Award a Community Appearance Landscape Grant to Catawba Valley Behavioral Health for Non-Residential Property Located at 20 4th Street, SW in the Amount of $1,149.50 - The subject property is owned by The Mental Health Fund, Inc. and is occupied by Catawba Valley Behavioral Health. Catawba Valley Behavioral Health desires to improve the visual appearance of the property by installing and improving landscaping on the property. The cost of the improvements are estimated to be $2,299. On May 24, 2010 the Community Appearance Commission unanimously voted to recommend funding in the amount of $1,149.50.

C. Approve Resolution for Grant Application Authorization Through the Governor’s Highway Safety Program to Purchase Equipment for the Hickory Police Department - The City’s grant application proposal has been approved for consideration through the Governor’s Highway Safety Program (GHSP) for the purchase of five in-car digital cameras and five radars at a cost of $42,500. Approval of the Resolution guarantees the City of Hickory’s commitment to the City’s portion in the amount of $18,125. These funds are budgeted.

D. Approve Future Annexation Agreement From Jerry and Sue Carroll for Property Located at 2253 19th Avenue, NE - Jerry and Sue Carroll have requested to be connected to the City of Hickory’s water and sewer system without being annexed into the City limits and agree to be annexed in the future when the City finds it economically feasible. The Carroll property is located at 2253 19th Avenue, NE, which is identified on the Catawba County tax maps by PIN 3723- 09-07-0352. Said property abuts the Parkview Subdivision and is immediately adjacent to the existing city boundary. No other properties along the street are within city limits, which would make availability of services impractical.

E. Approve Amendment to 2009 Urgent Repair Program Grant Income Limits - The City of Hickory was awarded $37,500 through the NC Housing Finance Agency’s Urgent Repair Program to assist a minimum of eighteen eligible homes with urgently needed repairs and the City will provide matching funds available from the Rental Rehabilitation program income. Staff is requesting a change in income limits for the Assistance Policy, which will enable us to assist more families. Upon City Council’s approval, the Assistance Policy will be submitted to the NC Housing Finance Agency for approval.

F. Citizens’ Advisory Committee Recommendations for Assistance Through the City of Hickory’s Housing Programs:
Applicant Larry G. Pope is being recommended for approval for assistance under the City of Hickory’s First-Time Homebuyer’s Program for property located at 604 1st Street, SE in the amount of $6,500.

Applicant Carlos E. Emmett is being recommended for approval for assistance under the City of Hickory’s Housing Rehabilitation Loan Program for property located at 1528 Main Avenue Drive, NW in an amount not to exceed $10,000 for repairs to his home.

Funds are budgeted for the above items through the City of Hickory’s former Rental Rehabilitation Program income received in FY 2009 and/or income received through the Community Development Block Grant Program. The following applicants are being recommended for approval for assistance under the City of Hickory’s 2009 Urgent Repair Program for emergency-related repairs not to exceed $5,000. Funds are budgeted through Hickory’s Community Development Department funding received in FY 2009-10.
Dorothy M. Adams; 235 10th Avenue, SE

Shirley A. Gray, 744 7th Avenue, SE
Linda H. Shade, 236 8th Avenue Drive, SW

G. Approval of Funding Agreement With Western Piedmont Regional Transit Authority (WPRTA) for Transit Facility Located at Old S&W Chemical Site - Hickory City Council on June 1, 2010 approved a contribution of $150,000 to the WPRTA for their new transit facility to be located at the old S&W Chemical site in West Hickory. Entering into the Funding Agreement will protect the City’s $150,000 contribution and insure if the facility is not built that the City will recoup its contribution with interest. The tentative date for entering into the construction phase and having all project funding in place is December 2014. Said agreement stipulates failure to begin construction or have an approved project funding plan in place by December 31, 2014, the WPRTA will return all funds in full, including accumulated interest to the City by June 30, 2015. The project is a $3 to $4 million redevelopment project of a six acre site. The WPRTA will secure funding through the Federal Transit Authority.

H. Approve Construction of Bus Shelter on City-Owned Property Located Along the South Side of 7th Avenue, SW To Be Used by Greenway Public Transportation - The City of Hickory received a grant for the purchase of five covered bus shelters to be located at various sites in the City. City Staff and Greenway Transit, formerly Western Piedmont Regional Transit Authority have worked together to select locations for the shelters within City limits. The intersection of 7th Avenue, SW and 4th Street, SW meets the requirements of having an existing high-usage bus stop. No easements are required for installation since it is City-owned property. No budgetary action is required.

Budget Ordinance Amendments
1. To budget a $823 insurance claim check from Nationwide Insurance Company in the Solid Waste Maintenance and Repair of Vehicles line item. This claim is for damage to a sanitation truck on 04-14-10.
2. To budget a $9,901 insurance claim check from Trident Insurance Company in the Fire Department Maintenance and Repair of Vehicles line item. This claim is for damage sustained to Fire Department vehicle on 05-13-10.
3. To budget $66,740 of intergovernmental revenue from Catawba County in the Fire Department Overtime line item. Funds are to pay for the 1st Technical Rescue class that was completed in May, 2010.
4. To appropriate $122,995 of General Fund Balance and budget in the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Services (SAFER) Grant project. This represents year 2 local match for the multi year grant. This Grant was awarded by the Department of Homeland Security to fully staff the City of Hickory 2nd Ladder Company. The grant performance period runs from 04/30/09 - 04/29/14. The City of Hickory began the project July 1, 2009.

New Business - Public Hearings:
1. Land Development Code Text Amendment 10-01, Electronic Gaming Operations This public hearing was continued from the May 18, 2010 Council Meeting in order to gather additional information.
This text amendment of the Land Development Code is to establish zoning regulations for Electronic Gaming Operations or what are commonly known as “Internet Sweepstakes Businesses”. Upon the Hickory Planning and Development Department’s research of these businesses, it was discovered there is an increasing number of other North Carolina municipalities and counties whom were also adopting zoning type regulations. There are currently six to seven electronic gaming operations within Hickory’s planning area. The proposed amendment would effectively grandfather the existing operations, since they existed prior to the enactment of this amendment. On April 28, 2010 the Hickory Planning Commission voted unanimously to recommend approval of the proposed text amendments to Section 7.1, Section 7.2 and to Section 16.1.

Cal Overby made the presentation by giving a brief synopis of the above and mentioning a few of the general locations of the Internet Sweepstakes businesses and introduced and addressed the following text amendment.

Staff attorney John Crone next addressed the Council by stating that in the prior meeting he had asked that this issue be continued to this meeting. He and staff attorney Arnita Dula have studied this issue and he went over some of what has been going on pertaining to this issue.

The legislature has several bills related to this issue. Some versions ban this all together, he stated that there is a question in his mind as well as others as to whether this is really gambling and whether this type of activity should be regulated anyway. Could this not be akin to going to Hickory Dickory Dock and playing games of chance. Some theory espouses that if we're not sure it's gambling and adults are doing it, then let's get something out of it. There are bills that will not tax them, but the state would get profits out of it.

There are a lot of municipalities that are taking a wait and see approach to see what the legislature will do. there are several cases in North Carolina where an injunction has been issued statewide. One such case, which has been applied to Burke County, it enjoins law enforcement officers from seizing these type machines. There are other cases pending throughout the state that attack various aspects of the procedure involved and the ordinances. The good thing is that Hickory's ordinance does not say though shall not have these types of machines, you can only have them in certain areas, and the ones operating now will be grandfathered. He stated that unless there is a burning desire to attack this issue this evening, then it may be more prudent... to keep abreast of the legislation... and come back to this issue.

Alderman Meisner asked, "we would not be keeping new ones from coming in?" Atty Crone stated that is correct. Mayor Wright stated we are already to the point of grandfathering 6 or 7. The mayor continued, "Tomorrow is town hall day in Raleigh... he will be asking representatives to please find a way to eliminate these gambling establishments that are sucker bets and take money used to feed, entertain, and nurture children. We ought to just call there bluff and say just close Chuck E. Cheese... We are comparing a compulsion that has griped some people, and its being promoted out there to Chuck E. Cheese and I just think that is absurd. I personally say, let's wait and see what the legislature does."

The Council followed Atty Crones recommended procedure of opening and closing the hearing. The Council voted the ordinance down, tabled it, and will come back to the issue at a later date.

The Hound believes the Council should have pulled the trigger on this one and passed this amendment. Mayor Wright said it best when he stated that,"If we sit back and say we will never pass a law because we are worried that it may be unconstitutional, then we may never pass anything."

This has been done out in the open and we all know that these sweepstakes negatively affect the poorest and least educated of our citizens. At the City Council meeting of December 15, 2009 I wrote:

It is obvious that these are gambling establishments and this state has since its inception regulated gambling. I was given a tip by many of my mentors over the years, "Follow the Money." Who are the people that own these businesses and where are they from and what are their associations in this state?

Next, I would like to see the city look into collecting sales tax from these sales of "Sweepstakes Fees" or see if that isn't permissible, then our do nothing representatives from this area need to introduce and support legislation that will allow us to create a special tax to collect revenue off of these operations. And if those legislators aren't willing to do so, then it is time to start looking for someone who will represent our ideals.

The City and County get revenue when McDonald's sells a sandwich or the grocery
store has a giveaway, and the Education Lottery is supposed to operate under the
guise of a Public Service (sort of non-profit), but these little hole in the wall gambling centers are all about easy money for the for profit vendors. Look
where these things are sprouting up. They prey upon the poor. It's just like the
"cash for gold" stores. In the end they lead to crime and perpetrate needless
anxieties and broken dreams.
I would just love to know how Attorney Crone can state that he questions whether this is gambling. What I have seen is that these games directly involve playing for cash. The people who play these games are looking to obtain easy money. It isn't regulated, which means there are no guaranteed payouts. This isn't an enterprise of entertainment like going to Las Vegas, which is fully regulated with governmental, mandated payouts. If this is going to be legal, then why not go ahead and allow all gambling. Heck, let's have horse tracks and dog tracks. They are certainly more lucrative.

2. Petition 10-03 – Rezoning of the Property Located at 2040 25th Street Drive, NE From R-3 Residential to OI-1 Office and Institutional - This 0.39 acre property is located at 2040 25th Street Drive, NE and is owned by Hildebran Investment Properties, LLC. The property owners petitioned to have the property rezoned from R-3 Residential to OI-1 Office and Institutional. The Hickory Future Land Use and Transportation Plan classifies the property as Primary Residential. The Land Development Code states that rezonings to OI-1 are inconsistent with the Primary Residential future land use classification unless the properties are within ¼ mile of an existing NC-1, NC-2, C-1 or C-2 zoning district or the property has frontage on a major thoroughfare. The rezoning is consistent with Hickory by Choice due to the property being adjacent to a NC-1 zoning district. The Hickory Regional Planning Commission on May 26, 2010 voted unanimously to recommend approval of this rezoning.approval. Dave Leonetti addressed the Council on this issue and the council unanimously approved the petition.

3. Resolution and Order for Petition of the City of Hickory to Close Three Portions of Right-Of-Way Adjacent to City-Owned Property Located at 740 5th Avenue, SW - On April 30, 2010 Staff Attorney, Arnita Dula on behalf of the City of Hickory submitted a petition to close three portions of right-of-way adjacent to City owned property located at 740 5th Avenue, SW in order to proceed with an 11-lot subdivision to be constructed on the property. The portions of right-of-way are no longer necessary for public use and appear would not be contrary to public interest. It is recommended that the City retain a 25’ easement for all existing public utilities in the areas to be closed. Due to the cancellation of the July 6 Council Meeting and the need to move forward a second reading is requested to be held on June 15, 2010. Todd Hefner addressed the Council on this issue and the council unanimously approved the resolution and approved on second reading.

Person(s) requesting to be heard: Several people came to this council meeting related to the Hickory swimming pool issue (closing of). Three people signed up to address the issue. The Mayor stated that after speaking with a significant number of Council members today, without taking a vote, is that we want to get some additional information on the usage of the pools, so that everyone can understand the cost/benefit analysis that the city has gone through on this issue. Although the budget has been approved, in extraordinary circumstances we can deal with issues that arise -- or changed information. What I am saying to you is when we hear you speak tonight, it will be without closed minds and with the understanding that we want to convey to you our understanding as well so that we have a mutual dialogue. You express your side and we express the staff and city side and we get to where we need to be.

Reverend David Roberts addressed the council - He stated that he is new to the area and is the pastor of the largest African-American church in the area, which is located in the Ridgeview community. The active attendance is 350 to 400 members. They are very much attuned to what goes on in the community. We rise and say that it has been brought to our attention that there were plans, which you just eloquently illustrated that you do plan to revisit the closing of the pools in West Hickory and Ridgeview.

Being somewhat of a Historian myself, I did some research and talked to some of the key people in this city. I came across this document, which I am sure that you are aware of called the Ridgeview Redevelopment plan established in 1999. In his readings, in 1992 signed by City Manager Gary McGee, that there were extensive plans renovate and refurbish the pool. That was revisited again in 1995 and 1999.

Upon coming to this community, I was at a meeting of the Ridgeview Concerned Citizens where in 2009 there was a promise made that by the year 2010 the renovations would have been done and the pool would have been opened. A letter was sent from Miles Champion to Mac McLeod on May 20, 2009 stating that the George Ivey Pool association had done some research and come up with some documents and some data on how to fix and repair the pool.

Catawba County, Mr. Jim Wilson received a letter on May 27, 2009 stated that they needed to fix it so that they could have a whole time turnover within 24 hours and that until that was done that the pool was recommended to be closed for 2009 and be reopened. Another letter on June 5, 2009 showed estimated costs detailed by the George Ivey Pool association and a reminder of the Virginia Grimes Baker act of 2007 detailing what needed to be done for the pool to be operable.

Pastor Roberts continued with further detailed requests and recommendations. He stated that when he came here that he went to the Citizen Class (College) and he was impressed that this was an All-American City and being an All-American Citizen says that you are concerned about every citizen in an All-American City. The citizens of the Ridgeview Community want their pool and they have that right. Angela Forrest runs a camp and her kids use the pool extensively and Morningstar (Church) has a camp and our kids use the pool.

Another lady spoke but I didn't catch her name. She stated that she came on behalf of the citizens of Ridgeview and as a citizen of Ridgeview. She was a part of the strategy in 1999 and they put things in and took things out. She remembers a promise made for the athletic complex and on of them was a pool. The only thing the citizens of Ridgeview ask is that you stand on the promise you made in 1999, 2005, 2008, and 2009. Here we are in 2010 and the pool is closed. We ask you again to revisit it and stand on your promises for the citizens of Hickory.

Ralph Connelly spoke next by stating that he has concerns. The purpose of this letter is to inform Council to honor the proposed maintenance and upgrades of Ridgeview and Westmont swimming pools. When he was a young person, Ridgeview Recreation Center was a field before it became a swimming pool or a center. It was promised by parents and officials with the city that they would have recreation and a pool. Can you imagine the joy that they felt, when they knew that this was going to take place. When others, from other cities around us, visited us, it made us proud of our city. It gave us a feeling of metropolitan. It was a very positive atmosphere and image. His daughter took swimming lessons at West Hickory and when his grandchildren visited from Florida, they took them to the Rigeview facility, which they very much enjoyed. He was pleased to read in the paper in 2009 that the city was going to repair and update the pool. This showed concern, responsibility, and stewardship on the city's part for them, but they have decided not to reopen the pools. This news was very disappointing. The pools are a beacon for the youth and keep them occupied during the summer months. As a city taxpayer, he hopes that they will reconsider the decision to reopen the pools as soon as possible.

Mayor Wright thanked the people for addressing the Council so eloquently. Alderman Meisner stated that he had done some research and every council member needs to see what he sees. Once this is dissemenated and dialogued... the Reverend made reference to the Paddock proposal, which was $250,000 and Aquatic wanted $366,000. Some people might remember that there was a larger crowd there when they closed the St. Stephens pool. His daughter had been a ligeguard there back in the 1980s and it has had four times the use. The bill to repair that was $330,000. The Mayor stated that he would like them to put together the fact sheet. How much usage and per pool per day, Cost per usage and compare it with St. Stephens and West Hickory.

But, he doesn't want them to come back to this meeting and discuss it without the same information that we do (the Council). He challenged staff and encouraged them to put together the information and let the folks who are here tonight, who have shown interest, and let them see the things the city is wrestling with. Alder Patton stated that they need to also have the the information about why the costs are so high (the pipes underneath), so that we have those facts and figures to support the community. Why it is costing $300,000 to $400,000. Alderman Lail stated that what he is hearing is "Don't close the pool." But the larger message is that we need that water recreational opportunity for Summer and we need to fold that in there to. We are talking about repair bills of $250,000. There are ways that we could meet needs that wouldn't involve digging up concrete and building new drains. There are other water recreation oppotunities and we can see what those might be. Manager Berry stated that they would do that.

The Mayor said that he appreciated the people coming out and showing their commitment and for the presenters being professional, matter of fact, and letting the Council know what was on the line.

The Hound believes this is the way that government is supposed to work. If more people took this kind of interest in the operation, implementation, and administration of public policy, then I don't believe our society would not be facing the troubles we see today. Mayor Wright originally came to office 8 1/2 years ago because of a city government that had become insulated and was not reflective of the values of our community. This was reflected in a City Council that felt it was alright to go to Philadelphia and spend thousands of dollars on wine and food at local taxpayers expense.

I do feel that Mayor Wright does care about the welfare of our community, but over time he became part of the governmental process. But, in moments like these, when the situation comes back to reality, we see the Original Rudy that people put their faith in, in 2001.

I think that Pastor Roberts got to the heart of the matter when he stated that when he came to Hickory that he went to the Citizen College and he was impressed that this was an All-American City and being an All-American Citizen says that you are concerned about every citizen in an All-American City. That is what the Hound has been getting at. That is what Harry Hipps talked about in his City Council campaign.

It isn't about an agenda of the moment or playing politics by addressing one group one way and another group another. It isn't about enriching yourself at the expense of others who have no connected interests. The mentality of looking out for everyones interests is a way of life. As I have stated a million times, this community's viability will rest upon the backs of the average, ordinary citizens. As their health and welfare go, so will the quality of life in this community. Kids don't vote, but they are the future of this community. If we don't invest in that future, then there will be no hope of a positive future.

You can go back and look at this blog, the resolution made at this meeting is all that we asked for; to look at the viability of the pools and work towards tangible near term and long term solutions.

Below are links that delved into these matters:
Continuing the Rant - The City of Hickory's Budget
Newsletter about the City Council meeting of June 1, 2010
Newsletter about the City Council meeting of May 4, 2010
HDR Editorial - Hickory council needs a member with vision

Monday, June 14, 2010

U.S. Economic woes come from the Debasement of the Dollar

Currently, Currency is not created for the benefit of society, but instead it is created and controlled directly for the personal interests of banks. Banks are using money and credit as a tool to control individuals, corporations, and government at all levels by keeping them in perpetual debt through interest obligations.

Easy Credit led to speculative bubbles that help those associated with financial markets become rich through information schemes associated with conflicts of interest and insider trading. These bubbles eventually burst when investments associated with Fiat Money and Debt Based Currency are overwhelmed by service to interest costs.

Under the U.S. Constituton, the Congress and the Federal Treasury are supposed to be in charge of the money supply. Money should be based on the public's interest and interest earnings associated with borrowing should also serve the public good, because the currency is supposed to belong to the people.

If money were directed towards the public good, then high priorities such as Infrastructure and Health Care could see more investment. Instead money is being directed to the Derivatives Casino Economy that is tearing down the fabric of our society. The United States must get back to becoming a productive, value added society. Currently, we are an Imperial society that has become addicted to destruction through consumption. We are no longer have a "fix it" society. We have become a wasteful, throwaway society.

Money is supposed to be a means to exchange goods and services that have real value. Much of our economy has been stifled, because of the huge percentage of our currency (and thus our economy) that is focused towards markets that carry no intrinsic value. The United States Treasury has printed dollars in association with the U.S. Central Bank (the Federal Reserve) that has only benefitted those associated with the U.S. Financial system. This money has been siphoned from the real, productive economy where tangible goods are produced.

The current Debt Based Monetary requires the economy to continually grow exponentially in order to keep solvent. It also requires people to utilize credit to fast forward purchases. In a period where financial institutions are facilitating easy credit, people will tend to purchase many items that they could have waited to purchase or really don't need. This tends to stoke the hot economy, but also tends to exacerbate economic slowdowns, because people have overextended themselves on credit, while borrowing for future purchases. Look at the effect that takes place when sales fall drastically. Positive or negative economic momentum has a tendency to feed off of itself under this Debt Based system.

There are alternatives to the current Debt Based Monetary system. Look at bartering. Bartering allows the market facilitation of trade without currency being involved. Bartering is a legitimate system, but the government wants to curatil bartering, because it is nearly impossible to tax such exchanges.

The real economy is limited to available tangible resources and connected to actual needs, while the current debt based monetary system is based upon speculative expectations of future resources that may or may not ever come into existence. This speculative momentum tends to lead to wild swings of markets, where what appears to be unlimited growth eventually falls victim to the natural law of limited resources, and supply and demand. Eventually a crash that matched the rapid expansion occurs followed by the market eventually establishing an equilibrium. When an economy gets into an exponential growth phase of the currency, then one can see that the currency decouples from reality due to unrealistic expectations and worst of all the value of current real assets diminish. This is what happens during a hyperinflationary scenario.

The current monetary system is designed to help banks achieve profits and does not take into account what serves the public's interest or the natural law of resources. The public have become victims of the casino economy that is directly attributable to derivatives. Derivative investments are basically attached to nothing tangible, because market movements are not tangible resources.

If one invests in a professional football team, then they have a direct interest in the outcome of that team's success. If one invests in the final score of a football game, then they have no direct link to the resources invested or derived from that football team and thus all they are doing is gambling. That is essentially what a derivative investment is -- betting on movements in the market, be it commodities, stocks, or indices.

If one buys a stock in a company, then they have made a direct investment to become an owner in that company. Any other investment related to that stock is a derivative and many of those investments have negative effects on the health of that compant. That is the reason why gambling related to sports is discouraged, because it tends to lead to actions that can ruin the fairness, trust, and competiveness associated with the enterprise of the sport. These derivative markets must be regulated with common sense measures to ensure that they are not becoming impediments to the health of viable corporate and governmental entities and markets in general.

When a government is dependent upon bankers for money, they and not the leaders of the government control the situation, since the hand that gives is above the hand that takes. Money has no motherland; financiers are without patriotism and without decency; their sole object is gain. — Napoleon Bonaparte

The supply of money drives the business cycle. And control of the supply of money is necessary to ensure an orderly method of market exchange for goods and services. Too much money chasing constant or diminishing resources creates inflation, while constant or diminshing money chasing too many resources creates deflation. The monetary system must maintain balance and it is historically clear that the current system has not been a good system to achieve the balance we need and it has not benefitted the general populace.

Over time we have seen the debasement of our money. This has happened before historically. Debasement is the practice of lowering the value of currency (associated with inflation). It is particularly used in connection with commodity money such as gold or silver coins. A coin is said to be debased if the quantity of gold, silver, copper or nickel is reduced.

For example, the value of the denarius in Roman currency gradually decreased over time as the Roman government altered both the size and the silver content of the coin. Originally, the silver used was nearly pure, weighing about 4.5 grams. From time to time, this was reduced. During the Julio-Claudian dynasty, the denarius contained approximately 4 grams of silver, and then was reduced to 3.8 grams under Nero. The denarius continued to shrink in size and purity, until by the second half of the third century, it was only about 2% silver, and was replaced by the argenteus.

In the United States our money used to be physically attached to the precious metals Gold and Silver. The Eagle is a base-unit of denomination issued only for gold coinage by the United States Mint. It has been obsolete as a circulating denomination since 1933. The eagle was the largest of the four main decimal base-units of denomination used for circulating coinage in the United States prior to 1933, the year when gold was withdrawn from circulation. These four main base-units of denomination were the cent, the dime, the dollar, and the eagle, where a dime is 10 cents, a dollar is 10 dimes, and an eagle is 10 dollars. The eagle base-unit of denomination served as the basis of the gold quarter-eagle, the gold half-eagle, the eagle, and the double-eagle coins.

From 1837 to 1932, the Gold Eagle carried a weight of 16.718 grams with a 90% gold/ 10% copper composition. This means that the coin carried a weight of .48375 troy ounces of gold, which was a $10 coin. The U.S. also issued a Double Eagle that carried a weight of .9675 troy ounces of silver, which was a $20 coin. That means that money was directly tied to a stable gold price of $20.67 per ounce during this time period.

90% Silver coins remained in circulation until 1965. The Silver Dollars that most of us have seen (the Morgan Dollar and the Peace Dollar) had a fineness of .900, giving a total silver content of 0.77344 troy ounces (24.057 grams) per coin. These coins were minted off and on for general circulation from 1878 until 1935.

By the early 1960s, the value of silver had risen to the point that it became worthwhile to melt down U.S. coins for their bullion content. U.S. silver coins (those of 10-cent value and above, which contained 90 percent silver through 1964) began to disappear from circulation, leading the U.S. (Coinage Act of 1965) to introduce layered composition coins made of a copper core laminated between two cupro-nickel outer faces for the 1965–present coinage years. The Kennedy half dollar design, however, continued to be minted silver-clad composition from 1965 to 1970, although the silver content was reduced to 40 percent. To find the value of the silver in a half-dollar, multiply the current market price for silver by 0.36169 for 1964 issues, and by 0.1479 for issues from 1965 to 1970 (This is the weight x 90% silver composition).

Here is a chart that shows the value of the coins based on $1200 per ounce Gold and $20 per ounce Silver (click spreadsheet to enlarge):

This should show you the loss of purchasing power that is associated with our present Legal Tender, Fiat Currency. I don't think we can ever go back to a standard associated with Gold or Silver, but we have to attach the currency to something in order to bring it back under control.

I think that most of us that understand the Federal Reserve System (created in 1913) believe that the central banking system does not work. It only works for those private interests that control it. The money in this country should be a tool of the government and that is the people. The great divide in this country has come from the separation of the currency from the people. In my opinion, the next great leaders of this country will be the people who bring the monetary system back to the people and represent the interests of the people over the interests of the fat cat financiers.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The beginning of the Second Phase of the World Economic Depression

U.S. retail sales unexpectedly fall in May

Plummeting Sales - (A sale is the pinnacle activity involved in selling products or services in return for money or other compensation). When sales fall it is generally due to a downturn in the business cycle and much of downswing we are currently seeing is directly attributable to the "debt-based" monetary system we currently live under, which requires an ever increasing and exponentially growing money supply in order to continue positive economic momentum.

The problem is that Newton's law of motion states, "For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction." The vast expansion of credit that we saw due to low interest rates and easy credit in the 2000s is being followed by tightening of the credit markets and thus a reduction of money available to the general public.

People are purchasing fewer goods and services as a result and the full dynamic circle makes them worry about the negative ramifications that are associated with an economic downturn and the lack of security fostered by such dynamics.

Fewer Jobs - (A job is a regular thing performed to create a value in society (and personality of individual) for meeting the needs of that individual)). As a result of customers purchasing fewer goods and services, businesses begin to see inventories rise. With rising inventories, businesses have no need for excess labor. The business must find ways to reduce these pysical goods inventories. Labor cost is the largest expense of most businesses and thus the most crucial element of reducing overhead costs.

Lower Wages - (A wage is a compensation, usually financial, received by workers in exchange for their labor). If the macro-economy sees people have their employment terminated in many sectors of the economy, then the supply of labor will increase drastically at the same time that demand for labor is decreasing (drastically). That means that for businesses it becomes a buyers market when purchasing labor and they can pretty much name their price when it comes to wages.

Lower Prices - (In ordinary usage, price is the quantity of payment or compensation given from one party to another in return for goods or services). Because of increasing inventories and terms of credit (net 30, 60, 90), businesses must lower prices and profit margins in order to sell the merchadise and meet their short term debt obligations.

All of the above can take a toll and lead to the following consequences for both business owners and labor:

Foreclosures - Foreclosure is the legal and professional proceeding in which a mortgagee, or other lien holder, usually a lender, obtains a court ordered termination of a mortgagor's equitable right of redemption.[clarification needed] Usually a lender obtains a security interest from a borrower who mortgages or pledges an asset like a house to secure the loan. If the borrower defaults and the lender tries to repossess the property, courts of equity can grant the borrower the equitable right of redemption if the borrower repays the debt. While this equitable right exists, the lender cannot be sure that it can successfully repossess the property, thus the lender seeks to foreclose the equitable right of redemption. Other lien holders can also foreclose the owner's right of redemption for other debts, such as for overdue taxes, unpaid contractors' bills or overdue homeowners' association dues or assessments.

Bankruptcies - Bankruptcy is a legally declared inability or impairment of ability of an individual or organization to pay its creditors. Creditors may file a bankruptcy petition against a business or corporate debtor ("involuntary bankruptcy") in an effort to recoup a portion of what they are owed or initiate a restructuring. In the majority of cases, however, bankruptcy is initiated by the debtor (a "voluntary bankruptcy" that is filed by the insolvent individual or organization). An involuntary bankruptcy petition may not be filed against an individual consumer debtor who is not engaged in business. (Bankruptcy in the United States)

Bank Failures - occurs when a bank is unable to meet its obligations to its depositors or other creditors because it has become insolvent or too illiquid to meet its liabilities. More specifically, a bank usually fails economically when the market value of its assets declines to a value that is less than the market value of its liabilities. As such, the bank is unable to fulfill the demands of all of its depositors on time. Also, a bank may be taken over by the regulating government agency if Shareholders Equity (i.e. capital ratios) are below the regulatory minimum.

The failure of a bank is generally considered to be of more importance than the failure of other types of business firms because of the interconnectedness of banking institutions. It is often feared that the effects of a failure of one bank can quickly spread throughout the economy and possibly result in the failure of other banks, whether or not those banks were solvent at the time. As a result, banking institutions are typically subjected to rigorous regulation, and bank failures are of major public policy concern in countries across the world.

Articles that lead to the conclusion that we are in the second phase of the Depression:

George Soros: Risk Of Double Dip Recession Can't Be Ruled Out - Wall Street Journal - 6/10/2010

1930's Redux - IBTimes - Global Forex Trading Portal - 6/12/2010
Doubts about sovereign credit are forcing reductions in budget deficits at a time that the banks and the economy may not be strong enough to permit the pursuit of fiscal rectitude-George Soros

In English, what Mr. Soros is saying is that (European) austerity programs are coming at the exact worst time, because governments which implement them are likely to double-dip into recessions.

Tax Hikes and the 2011 Economic Collapse - Wall Street Journal - Arthur Laffer - 6/6/2010
Consider corporate profits as a share of GDP. Today, corporate profits as a share of GDP are way too high given the state of the U.S. economy. These high profits reflect the shift in income into 2010 from 2011. These profits will tumble in 2011, preceded most likely by the stock market.

The result will be a crash in tax receipts once the surge is past. If you thought deficits and unemployment have been bad lately, you ain't seen nothing yet.

Why We’re Falling Into a Double-Dip Recession - Robert Reich - 6/4/2010
The Labor Department reports this morning that the private sector added a measly 41,000 net new jobs in May. (The vast bulk of new jobs in May were temporary government Census workers.) But at least 100,000 new jobs are needed every month just to keep up with population growth. In other words, the labor market continues to deteriorate.

Of the small number of jobs created by the private sector in May, many came from temporary help services. Which is one reason why the median wage continues to drop.

Why are we having such a hard time getting free of the Great Recession? Because consumers, who constitute 70 percent of the economy, don’t have the dough. They can’t any longer treat their homes as ATMs, as they did before the Great Recession. Businesses won’t rehire if there’s not enough demand for their goods and services.

The week ahead in telling the tale - Thursday's consumer price index, and Friday's release of the leading economic indicators. Although the numbers are cooked, it will be good to gage a reading of what top economists think.

Next up: Debasing the currency

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Continuing the Rant - The City of Hickory's Budget

This is a continuation of my commentary based on the Monthly Monday Morning Meeting with the Mayor on WHKY's First Talk show on June 7, 2010. This isn't about critiquing Hal, but as I stated I have some thoughts about what I heard on Monday morning and since I do have this forum, I am going to espouse them.

I think about what Mayor Wright said to Ray Hunt about a month ago during the second time that he approached the Council. Mr. Hunt initially addressed Council as a property owner in Southeast Downtown (across from Clark Tire). Initially, when Mr. Hunt addressed Council it was to address a grievance in which his tenant went to the city to report Mr. Hunt's building as untenable. The City sent officials to the building and issued code violations, but they never contacted Mr. Hunt, who is the owner of the building. Mr. Hunt was upset about the city never contacting him about the violations and how they could be remedied.

After I inquired, he told me about his tenant, who has not paid rent in a substantial period of time. Mr. Hunt had previously told this tenant that he was going to have to get his stuff off of the property, because he needed to have work done on the building so that he could find a new tenant, one that would pay their rent. Basically, the tenant used the city's processes as a vendetta against the property owner Mr. Hunt.

Mr. Hunt didn't feel that the situation had been remedied when he addressed the Council for a second time. When he went before Council, he asked if there were any thoughts about what he had addressed the Council about. Mayor Wright summarily cut him off and stated that he would be heard, but this wasn't going to be a debate. Mr. Hunt then looked frustrated and stated that he guessed he didn't have anything else to say and went and sat down.

To me, it was an embarassing moment. Several times I have seen people not have their concerns addressed by the council. Yes, the public is allowed to speak before the council, but one gets the sense that many times they are not listening or lending any credence to the addressor. If the addressor is being respectful to the council, then they should show respect to their issue or grievance. That is the bond that we should expect between the people and their representatives. Instead, a mentality of "us versus them" has been fostered by the system that has been created and I don't believe that chasm was the intent of our forefathers.

That is the reason why I created a blog. With it, we have another way to bind the government of, by, and for the people together. This is our playground and we encourage debate, thought, and openness. It is our desire.

I have heard people say that you have to take whatever you see on the internet with a grain of salt. I agree and that goes doubly for any other media outlet, because they censor a lot more relevant information and choose to dissemenate what they want their audience to know. The Hound is a Battle Royal of information, in which we respect our audience's intelligence and choose not to dictate the conditioning of their mind, but instead program their brain with thought provoking correspondence. Our goal is to seek the truth, not dictate it.

The reason why I have established the pieces of the puzzle above is because of what Hal stated at the end of his show. He talked about it always being nice to hear about the good things that are happening in the City of Hickory. And how lots of times we focus on the negative and negative things that are happening. Then he went into his diatribe about people being employed, garbage being picked up, water is coming to our homes, the tax rate is staying the same... And how it is good to be reminded of that.

Let's be honest, what the Mayor said during this interview would not be considered positive by many folks. Have some of us reduced our expectations to such an extent that the basic services paid for by the people are supposed to be awe inspiring. It is as bad as when our mothers would chastise us about cleaning our plate, because their are starving children over in some Third World Country. For God sakes, we pay for that water, sewer, garbage, police protection, and other basic services. Are these people appreciative of the service at restaurants because the server brings them their water or the kitchen staff gets their food cooked and the server can bring that to their table? Do they show appreciation that the oil company can deliver the gas to the service station? Or the purveyors, truckers, and grocery store employees can follow the processes to get the store shelves stocked?

Let's look at Hickory's proposed budget for 2010-2011. Hal initiated the conversation by talking about the budget being award winning and we weren't in dire straits like other cities he has seen. The Mayor addressed the budget by talking about City of Hickory staff and lauding them about how efficient they are with the budget and they don't spend money unnecessarily and they don't have a bureaucratic mindset. He said that it was very much like they were running a business.

Secondly, he stated that the good tax payers, in spite of the bad economy were paying their taxes. The collection rate is very good. He stated that the Council sets realistic policies with the staff and the staff is in charge of execution. Council doesn't tell staff where and when to cut. He stated that you don't see a lot of politics involved in the budget, like in some nearby large cities.

What Choice do taxpayers have? They aren't turning over tax dollars out of the goodness of their heart. If they don't pay the taxes, then the city will put a lien on their property. This was silly rhetotic.

Politics are rife throughout the City of Hickory decision making process. It is all about connections. Just because their isn't an elephant or donkey involved doesn't mean that politics play no role in decision making. Look at the interests of downtown and Northwest Hickory as prime examples of special interests.

Mayor Wright stated that people know that we aren't going to get hit with any shock or huge tax bills at a time when people can least afford them. He then talked about the things that they would like to do that they can't do. Examples were Cloninger Mill Park and Splash Parks instead of Pools. The Mayor talked about how there hasn't been good attendance at the city pools and that pools are passe.

Could that be because the pools have not been kept up to standards? Could that be because the City did the bare minimum in running the pools and maintaining them? First the cost was initially stated in the $45,000 range to fix the pools, then the price drastically rose to $800,000, then $850,000, and now the Mayor is stating that the costs would be $865,000. Yet, no one has shown anything close to an itemized list of the exorbitant costs associated with these mid sized pools.

When I was a kid, I used to attend First Baptist daycare in the Summer (from 1974 to 1976). We went to the pool twice a week and I would estimate there were well over 100 people at the pool each time we were there. In this economic downturn, what makes you think that more people might not attend the pool. I can tell you that the people that Harry and I spoke with last year surely had issues with what was happening.

I think it is more than obvious that the city wants those pools closed and they are unwilling to even discuss the idea of them being open. My questions regarding these pools are two-fold. Would the city be willing to donate the pools to a non-profit or church to run? Is the city going to sell these properties and if so and a for-profit enterprise wanted to run the pools would the city move forward expeditiously with such a transaction?

Another thought on City Sponsored water activities, I would like you to know that I don't expect any "Splash Parks" any time soon and if they are established, I believe that they will be located in an area North of the Tracks. The Splash Parks were addressed by Derek Williams of Site Solutions at the City Council Meeting of May 4, 2010 and the Mayor's comments are a verbatim reflection on Mr. Williams statements.

The Mayor stated that we aren't going to lose libraries or parks. City Staff has been patient and they understand the economy and they have had to forgo pay raises. He thinks the day will come when this thing will turn around. He stated that there are increases in fees and that seems fairer to us (city officials), because there is an element of control by the property owner.

What they don't seem to understand is that fees are regressive, especially with flat fees (garbage) and minimum payment fees (water). There is alot less control afforded to residents than the Mayor admits to when there is a minimum fee or there are exceptions, such as filling your swimming pool. Wealthier residents generally create more garbage and utilize more water resources than poorer residents. These costs hit the poorest harder. Whereas, increases in property taxes are progressive, because the wealthy pay higher tax based on their house, car, etc., which is usually more valuable than poorer resident's possessions.

The next thing that was mentioned was that the tax rate had not increased. The Mayor then went into his spiel about the comparison and improvement of tax ranks of Hickory versus other city's in North Carolina (John Locke numbers - 2nd to 11th over the last 10 years). He stated that 98% of the world is imperfect and Hickory is in the 2% that are about as close to perfect as you can get.

That's all great rhetoric, but let's get real. If we were in the top 2% of communities in this country, would businesses and people not be knocking down our doors to get in here. The Milken Institute and Forbes numbers have ranked us in the bottom 10% over the last several years. Whose rankings and criteria do you trust?

I think that tax burden wise, Hickory isn't too bad, but as far as jobs and income levels there isn't much to offer. The real (U-6) unemployment rate here is over 20%. We have a terrible underemployment problem and much of this is attributable to the mindset of local leadership, who have set us up to take few losses in local government projections, but they have also limited our potential to grow.

Government officials want to obsess about the property tax rate and the fact that it hasn't been raised, because they worry about electability and job security (politics). The bottom line is that based on assessments, Hickory residents are overpaying taxes, because they could not currently sell their houses for the assessed value. If the houses are revalued to their proper, realistic values, then the local government is going to have to raise the tax rate. They will do this under the guise of being revenue neutral. You see, it is all semantics about the revenues they need and they don't want to upset the simple folks who can't comprehend the sliding scale. If your house is presently valued at $100,000 and they revalue it at $80,000, then they will raise the tax rate by 20% from 50-cents to 60-cents per thousand dollar valuation and next year Hal and the Mayor can sell you the fact that it is revenue neutral.

Hal and the Mayor kept inferring about Charlotte's troubles. Well, Charlotte hasn't limited its growth prospects the way I believe we have. Charlotte is a larger city with more public amenities. That is the reason why they are having to cut back on some services, but they are by no means worse off than we are. And anyway, Great leaders don't point to the inadequacies of others to tout their own accomplishments, but that seems to be commonplace for the mentality of this city.

Charlotte is adjusting to the transforming economy. Sure, they have difficulties, but their unemployment rate is still better than ours and their population is 10-times larger than ours. We have had the worst unemployment rate in the state for years and indications are that we are in the beginning of a process of losing population, especially if we discount the illegal immigrants that are living in the area.

And neither side of these discussions should be deemed as positive or negative. They should be deemed as different points of view. Those of us that choose to look at the glass half empty should not be forced to drink the Kool-Aid of those that swear the only way to look at the glass is half full -- because those little children in the Third World don't get to drink Kool-Aid.

We can do some really positive things around here. I sincerely believe that City Staff should be commended for the budget, because they have made it work. It isn't sort of like a business. It is a business. It is the business of the people of Hickory who are the shareholders. City staff are not employees of Mayor Wright, City Council, and/or Mick Berry. They work for the interests of the people of Hickory. And I believe that they have carried that task forward well.

But, I do believe that we are going to have to see investment dollars utilized more creatively to get more of a bang for the buck and return of capital, if we are to start growing this city again, especially in these trying times. I am going to address that in an article in the next couple of days.