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US names six drone research sites – Americas – Al Jazeera English

US names six drone research sites – Americas – Al Jazeera English.

FAA does not currently allow commercial use of drones, but it is working to develop guidelines by 2015 [AFP]
The US has named six states that will develop test sites for drones, a critical next step for the move of the unmanned aircraft into domestic skies.The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) does not currently allow commercial use of drones, but it is working to develop operational guidelines by the end of 2015, although officials concede the project may take longer than expected.Drones have been mainly used by the military, but governments, businesses, farmers and others are making plans to join the market.

Many universities are starting or expanding drone programmes.

Alaska, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Texas and Virginia will host the research sites, providing diverse climates, geography and air-traffic environments, Michael Huerta, the FAA administrator, said on Monday.

At least one of the six sites will be up and running within 180 days, while the others are expected to come online in quick succession, Huerta said.

The growing US drone industry has critics among both conservatives and liberals.

Giving drones greater access to US skies moves the nation closer to “a surveillance society in which our every move is monitored, tracked, recorded and scrutinised by the authorities”, the American Civil Liberties Union declared in a report last December.

Huerta said his agency is sensitive to privacy concerns involving drones. Test sites must have a written plan for data use and retention and will be required to conduct an annual review of privacy practices that involves public comment.

While selecting the sites, the FAA considered geography, climate, ground infrastructure, research needs, airspace use, aviation experience and risk. New York’s site will look into integrating drones into the congested northeast US airspace.

Nevada offered proximity to military aircraft from several bases.

In choosing Alaska, the FAA cited a diverse set of locations in seven climatic zones.

“These test sites will give us valuable information about how best to ensure the safe introduction of this advanced technology into our nation’s skies,” Anthony Foxx, US transportation secretary, said in a statement.

 

US names six drone research sites – Americas – Al Jazeera English

US names six drone research sites – Americas – Al Jazeera English.

FAA does not currently allow commercial use of drones, but it is working to develop guidelines by 2015 [AFP]
The US has named six states that will develop test sites for drones, a critical next step for the move of the unmanned aircraft into domestic skies.The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) does not currently allow commercial use of drones, but it is working to develop operational guidelines by the end of 2015, although officials concede the project may take longer than expected.

Drones have been mainly used by the military, but governments, businesses, farmers and others are making plans to join the market.

Many universities are starting or expanding drone programmes.

Alaska, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Texas and Virginia will host the research sites, providing diverse climates, geography and air-traffic environments, Michael Huerta, the FAA administrator, said on Monday.

At least one of the six sites will be up and running within 180 days, while the others are expected to come online in quick succession, Huerta said.

The growing US drone industry has critics among both conservatives and liberals.

Giving drones greater access to US skies moves the nation closer to “a surveillance society in which our every move is monitored, tracked, recorded and scrutinised by the authorities”, the American Civil Liberties Union declared in a report last December.

Huerta said his agency is sensitive to privacy concerns involving drones. Test sites must have a written plan for data use and retention and will be required to conduct an annual review of privacy practices that involves public comment.

While selecting the sites, the FAA considered geography, climate, ground infrastructure, research needs, airspace use, aviation experience and risk. New York’s site will look into integrating drones into the congested northeast US airspace.

Nevada offered proximity to military aircraft from several bases.

In choosing Alaska, the FAA cited a diverse set of locations in seven climatic zones.

“These test sites will give us valuable information about how best to ensure the safe introduction of this advanced technology into our nation’s skies,” Anthony Foxx, US transportation secretary, said in a statement.

 

Is Las Vegas The Next Detroit? | Zero Hedge

Is Las Vegas The Next Detroit? | Zero Hedge.

With still more than half the homeowners with a mortgage in the state of Nevada underwater on their mortage and a hoped for recovery in prices now petering out as ‘investors’ realize banks have completed foreclosures and are set to unload their huge inventories, fear is growing that Las Vegas (and for that matter Atlantic City) could be the next Detroit. However, as FoxNY reports, the nascent dreams of the good old days face an even bigger headwind – that of gambling regulation easements (online gambling for instance) and globalization which are impacting their biggest industries. Time will tell if these two cities will end up like Detroit.

Via FoxNY,

With the closure of the recent Atlantic Club Casino Hotel, rumors of the bankrupt Revel being sold to Hard Rock, more than half of the mortgages in Las Vegas under water, casinos opening up all around the country and online gambling legislation underway in various states, it seems as if the reasons for the very existence of Atlantic City and Las Vegas are in serious jeopardy.

However in the late 1980s, a landmark ruling considered Native-American reservations to be sovereign entities not bound by state law. It was the first potential threat to the iron grip Atlantic City and Vegas had on the gambling and entertainment industry.

Then Macau, formally a colony of Portugal, was handed back to the Chinese in 1999. The gambling industry there had been operated under a government-issued monopoly license by Stanley Ho’s Sociedade de Turismo e Diversões de Macau. The monopoly was ended in 2002 and several casino owners from Las Vegas attempted to enter the market.

Under the one country, two systems policy, the territory remained virtually unchanged aside from mega casinos popping up everywhere. All the rich ‘whales’ from the far east had no reason anymore to go to Las Vegas to spend their money.

Then came their biggest threat.

As revenue from dog and horse racing tracks around the United States dried up, government officials needed a way to bring back jobs and revitalize the surrounding communities. Slot machines in race tracks started in Iowa in 1994 but took off in 2004 when Pennsylvania introduced ‘Racinos’ in an effort to reduce property taxes for the state and to help depressed areas bounce back.

As of 2013, racinos are legal in ten states: Delaware, Louisiana, Maine, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and West Virginia

From June 2012 to June 2013, Aqueduct matched a quarter of Atlantic City’s total gaming revenue from its dozen casinos: $729.2 million compared with A.C.’s $2.9 billion. It has taken an estimated 15 percent hit on New Jersey casino revenue and climbing.

The situation in Vegas isn’t much better. The Great Recession of the late 2000s hit Las Vegas hard. As the recession wore on, and as gambling received approval in various jurisdictions throughout the United States, folks realized they didn’t need to travel thousands of miles just to gamble.

More than half of all home owners with a mortgage in the entire state of Nevada owe more than their homes are worth.

But according to Bloomberg.com this so-called bubble is simply from banks completing their foreclosures and holding onto inventory.  The increased value of properties has been attracting various investors and speculators, which is helping fuel this latest rise in real estate prices.

Experts say once banks start releasing the foreclosed homes into the market to start selling them, the prices may begin to get depressed again.

One local said “The reality is, people just won’t fly to the middle of a desert to play some slots, watch shows and sit down for some blackjack when they can drive right near their town or city, or play legally online.”

And now it looks like the feds may soon allow online gambling across the United States.

With this in mind, it seems the niche that Las Vegas and Atlantic City once offered as a gambling and entertainment hub is heading toward the dustbin of history.

Time will tell if these two cities will end up like Detroit. However, the fact that they are losing their biggest industries to major competition, much like Detroit did, with depressed housing, casinos bankrupting/closing and businesses fleeing, makes their fate seem eerily similar.

 

Could You Stay Alive In The Frigid Wilderness With Only The Supplies In Your Vehicle?

Could You Stay Alive In The Frigid Wilderness With Only The Supplies In Your Vehicle?.

This article was written by Daisy Luther and originally published at The Organic Prepper

How prepared are you to survive a few days in the frozen wilderness with only the supplies you have in your vehicle?

A family of 6 discovered that they have what it takes when their Jeep flipped over in the middle of the Seven Troughs mountain range in north-central Nevada last week.

Miraculously, the two adults and four children managed to escape the ordeal relatively unscathed, without even suffering frostbite. The family members included James Glanton, 34, Christina McIntee, 25, Shelby Schlag-Fitzpatrick, 10, Tate McIntee, 4, Evan Glanton, 5, and Chloe Glanton, 3.

James Glanton, a mine worker and hunter, showed true resourcefulness, and as one rescuer stated, “did one heck of job keeping those kids safe.” He immediately took charge of the situation and used his survival mentality to prevent his family from becoming victims. Headapted to the situation at hand by using what was available, and because of his decisive actions, succeeded in surviving in an event during which many would have perished.

All of the rescue workers were volunteers, who searched relentlessly for days for the family, with no state emergency funds forthcoming.  Some volunteers covered more than 700 miles looking for the missing family.

This real-life story is a perfect example of how disaster can strike when you least expect it.  As preppers and survivalists, what can we learn from James Glanton?  There were several items that I felt it necessary to add to my own vehicle kit after reading this story.

Identify your priorities

During any winter survival scenario, your priorities are:

  1. Shelter (including a means of staying warm)
  2. Water
  3. Food

Glanton said that immediately after the accident occurred, his first concern was to keep the family from freezing to death in the negative temperatures. He told reporters that he ”knew that they had to stay warm, and the first thing he did was build a fire and he was able to keep that fire going the entire time while they were out.”

Glanton then put large stones into the fire and heated them up.  He brought them into the vehicle and allowed the radiant heat to keep the family warm. (You can learn more about this techniqueHERE.)

Fortunately they had a supply of food and water in the vehicle because they had intended on spending a full day playing in the snow.

Decide whether to go for help or stay put and wait for rescue

Rescuers agreed that in this particular situation, the family’s survival hinged upon their decision to hunker down in the vehicle instead of setting off on foot to search for help.   With small children in tow, a storm brewing, and the remoteness of their location, a trek would have very likely been ill-fated.  They were 25 miles from the nearest town, so walking for help was really out of the question.

They were fortunate on several counts:

  1. People knew where they were going and when they were expected home.  When they did not arrive home as planned, search and rescue was alerted that they were missing.
  2. Rescuers were able to triangulate an approximate location from cellphone signals, even though the family was out of range at the accident site. This helped to narrow down the search area.

The take-away from this? Always make sure someone knows where to look for you. Also, invest in some signalling devices to help searchers locate you. (This is something that Glanton did not have.)  Consider adding flares to your survival kit, or make something large out of found objects to place on top of the snow to catch the attention of planes searching the area.

The family was located when a sharp-eyed searcher saw their Jeep upside down in the snow.

The right supplies are vital

Without the supplies that the family had on hand, their chances of survival would have diminished greatly.

  1. Glanton had a magnesium fire-starter and hacksaw in the vehicle – this allowed him to make a fire with the damp wood they found in the area.
  2. They had food and water, which they carefully rationed.
  3. The family was clothed for a day playing outside in freezing temperatures, so they had the right clothing for the environment.

The ingenuity of how they survived

Making the best of a terrifying situation, James Glanton used resourcefulness and ingenuity to keep his family safe and warm. Because the accident took place in a canyon housing an old mining site and they were able to use some items from the site to help them survive.

The artifacts left behind Wednesday — a burned tire, rocks and snow-packed footprints — told the great Nevada survival story.

The small canyon houses ghosts of an old mining camp with bedspring wiring, a rusty stove, pipes and what appeared to be steel roofing. A bent piece of steel was used to reflect heat for the fire where the vehicle flipped, said Charles Sparke, Pershing County emergency management director.

Officials say the family was prepared for a day in the snow. Glanton even brought a magnesium fire starter, which can turn wet twigs into ready-to-light kindling, Sparke said Wednesday.

He also had a hacksaw, which he used to cut kindling, and a spare tire to burn.

The Jeep was removed from the scene Wednesday. Inside the vehicle remained an old lighter and burned doors. Officials said Glanton burned rocks and put them inside the Jeep to keep the family warm. (source)

Are you ready?

If such an accident occurred, how would you and your family survive?  Do you have all of the necessary supplies to hunker down for a few days in frigid temperatures?

Here are the minimum supplies you should have in your vehicle at all times:

Bug-out Bags

Fully loaded backpacks with the basics of survival should always be handy in the even that you do have to hike away from the scene of an accident.  Additionally, have cash in small denominations for other types of emergencies.

Food and Water

You should always have some non-perishable foods in the vehicle, and water filtration equipment as well as water, in the event that your emergency lasts for an extended period of time.

  • Crackers
  • Peanut butter
  • Canned stew or chili
  • Canned baked beans
  • Canned fruit
  • Cookies
  • Granola Bars
  • 10 gallons of water
  • Berkey-to-go for each family member (or other portable filtration device)

Vehicle Emergency Kit

This should always remain in the vehicle:

  • Sleeping bags
  • Tent
  • Lighter, flint, waterproof matches
  • Lighter fluid (this can help start a fire even in damp conditions)
  • Candles
  • Hunting Knife
  • Compass
  • Pocket Survival book
  • Signal flares
  • Space blankets
  • Atlas
  • Flashlight
  • Extra batteries
  • Lantern
  • Mirrors for signalling
  • Whistles for making noise to help rescuers find you

First Aid Kit

Your kit should contain all of the basic items:

  • Bandages
  • Gauze
  • Pain relief pills
  • Antibiotic cream
  • Allergy medication and an Epi-pen (My daughter has a food allergy)
  • Alcohol wipes
  • Anti-diarrheal medication

Tools

A variety of tools should be on hand in the vehicle:

  • Basic automotive repair tools
  • Hammer
  • Prybar
  • Assorted screwdrivers
  • Pliers
  • Hacksaw
  • Hunting Knife

Extra clothing and footwear

Always keep spare clothing and footwear in the vehicle. Particularly in cold temperatures, dampness is the enemy. If your clothing or socks get wet, this greatly increases the risk of succumbing to exposure.

  • Snow pants
  • Coats
  • Long underwear
  • Socks
  • Gloves
  • Hats
  • Sturdy, comfortable walking boots

If you were in the same situation as the family who survived in the Nevada wilderness, how would you fare?  What items do you keep in your vehicle that would help you to survive?

 

CULTURE OF IGNORANCE – PART ONE « The Burning Platform

CULTURE OF IGNORANCE – PART ONE « The Burning Platform. (source)

“Five percent of the people think;
ten percent of the people think they think;
and the other eighty-five percent would rather die than think.”

– Thomas Edison

The kabuki theater that passes for governance in Washington D.C. reveals the profound level of ignorance shrouding this Empire of Debt in its prolonged death throes. Ignorance of facts; ignorance of math; ignorance of history; ignorance of reality; and ignorance of how ignorant we’ve become as a nation, have set us up for an epic fall. It’s almost as if we relish wallowing in our ignorance like a fat lazy sow in a mud hole. The lords of the manor are able to retain their power, control and huge ill-gotten riches because the government educated serfs are too ignorant to recognize the self-evident contradictions in the propaganda they are inundated with by state controlled media on a daily basis.

 

“Any formal attack on ignorance is bound to fail because the masses are always ready to defend their most precious possession – their ignorance.” – Hendrik Willem van Loon

The levels of ignorance are multi-dimensional and diverse, crossing all educational, income, and professional ranks. The stench of ignorance has settled like Chinese toxic smog over our country, as various constituents have chosen comforting ignorance over disconcerting knowledge. The highly educated members, who constitute the ruling class in this country, purposefully ignore facts and truth because the retention and enhancement of their wealth and power are dependent upon them not understanding what they clearly have the knowledge to understand. The underclass wallow in their ignorance as their life choices, absence of concern for marriage or parenting, lack of interest in educating themselves, and hiding behind the cross of victimhood and blaming others for their own failings. Everyone is born ignorant and the path to awareness and knowledge is found in reading books. Rich and poor alike are free to read and educate themselves. The government, union teachers, and a village are not necessary to attain knowledge. It requires hard work and clinging to your willful ignorance to remain stupid.

The youth of the country consume themselves in techno-narcissistic triviality, barely looking up from their iGadgets long enough to make eye contact with other human beings. The toxic combination of government delivered public education, dumbed down socially engineered curriculum, taught by uninspired intellectually average union controlled teachers, to distracted, unmotivated, latchkey kids, has produced a generation of young people ignorant about history, basic mathematical concepts, and the ability or interest to read and write. They have been taught to feel rather than think critically. They have been programmed to believe rather than question and explore. Slogans and memes have replaced knowledge and understanding. They have been lured into inescapable student loan debt serfdom by the very same government that is handing them a $200 trillion entitlement bill and an economy built upon low paying service jobs that don’t require a college education, because the most highly educated members of society realized that outsourcing the higher paying production jobs to slave labor factories in Asia was great for the bottom line, their stock options and bonus pools.

Instead of being outraged and lashing out against this injustice, the medicated, daycare reared youth passively lose themselves in the inconsequentiality and shallowness of social media, reality TV, and the internet, while living in their parents’ basement. They have chosen the ignorance inflicted upon their brains by thousands of hours spent twittering, texting, facebooking, seeking out adorable cat videos on the internet, viewing racist rap singer imbeciles rent out sports stadiums to propose to vacuous big breasted sluts on reality cable TV shows, and sitting zombie-like for days with a controller in hand blowing up cities, killing whores, and murdering policemen using their new PS4 on their 65 inch HDTV, rather than gaining a true understanding of the world by reading Steinbeck, Huxley, and Orwell. Technology has reduced our ability to think and increased our ignorance.

“During my eighty-seven years, I have witnessed a whole succession of technological revolutions. But none of them has done away with the need for character in the individual or the ability to think.” –Bernard M. Baruch

The youth have one thing going for them. They are still young and can awaken from their self-imposed stupor of ignorance. There are over 80 million millenials between the ages of 8 and 30 years old who need to start questioning the paradigm they are inheriting and critically examining the mendacious actions of their elders. The future of the country is in their hands, so I hope they put down those iGadgets and open their eyes before it is too late. We need many more patriots like Edward Snowden and far fewer twerking sluts like Miley Cyrus if we are to overcome the smog of apathy and ignorance blanketing our once sentient nation.

The ignorance of youth can be chalked up to inexperience, lack of wisdom, and immaturity. There is no excuse for the epic level of ignorance displayed by older generations over the last thirty years. Boomers and Generation X have charted the course of this ship of state for decades. Ship of fools is a more fitting description, as they have stimulated the entitlement mentality that has overwhelmed the fiscal resources of the country. Our welfare/warfare empire, built upon a Himalayan mountain of debt, enabled by a central bank owned by Wall Street, and perpetuated by swarms of corrupt bought off spineless politicians, is the ultimate testament to the seemingly limitless level of ignorance engulfing our civilization. The entitlement mindset permeates our culture from the richest to the poorest. Mega-corporations use their undue influence (bribes disguised as campaign contributions) to elect pliable candidates to office, hire lobbyists to write the laws and tax regulations governing their industries, and collude with the bankers and other titans of industry to harvest maximum profits from the increasingly barren fields of a formerly thriving land of milk and honey. By unleashing a torrent of unbridled greed, ransacking the countryside, and burning down the villages, the ruling class has planted the seeds of their own destruction.

When the underclass observes Wall Street bankers committing the crime of the century with no consequences for their actions, they learn a lesson. When billionaire banker/politicians like Jon Corzine can steal $1.2 billion directly from the accounts of farmers and ranchers and continue to live a life of luxury in one of his six mansions, they get the message. Wall Street bankers are allowed to commit fraud, reaping profits of $25 billion, and when they are caught red handed pay a $5 billion fine while admitting no guilt. No connected bankers have gone to jail for crashing the worldwide financial system, but teenage marijuana dealers are incarcerated for ten years in our corporate prison system. The message has been received loud and clear by the unwashed masses. Committing fraud and gaming the system is OK. Only suckers play by the rules anymore. A culture of lawlessness, greed, fraud, deceit, swindles and scams was fashioned by those in power. Reckless disregard for honesty, truthfulness, fair dealing, and treating others as you would like to be treated, has permeated the beliefs and behavior of our society.

The ever increasing number of people in the SNAP program along with abuses committed by retailers and recipients, the skyrocketing number of people faking their way into the SSDI program, billions of taxpayer dollars lost to Medicare fraud, billions more lost paying out earned income tax credit refunds based on non-existent children, public schools falsifying test scores, students cheating on SAT tests, credit card fraud on a grand scale, failure to report income and falsifying tax returns, and a myriad of other dodges and scams are just a reflection of a moral and cultural collapse. The dog eat dog mentality glorified by the media, with such despicable men as Dimon, Greenspan, Corzine, Clinton, Trump, Rubin, Bernanke and Bloomberg honored as pillars of society, has displaced honesty, compassion, humanity, shared sacrifice, and caring about our descendants. Self-interest, self-indulgence, and a narcissistic focus on what is in it for me today has led to an implosion of trust and an attitude of “who cares” about our fellow man, morality, right or wrong, and the fate of future generations. We ignored the warnings of our last President who displayed courageousness and truthfulness when speaking to the American people.

“As we peer into society’s future, we — you and I, and our government — must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering for our own ease and convenience the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower

The Me Generation has devolved into the Me Culture. While the masses have been mesmerized by their iGadgets, zombified by the boob tube, programmed to consume by the Madison Avenue propaganda machines, enslaved in chains of debt by the Wall Street plantation owners, and convinced by their fascist government keepers that phantom terrorists are hiding behind every bush, they surrendered their freedoms, liberties and sense of self-responsibility. There will always be evil men seeking to control and manipulate the ignorant and oblivious. A citizenry armed with knowledge, critical thinking skills, and moral integrity would not passively submit to the will of a corporate fascist oligarchy. Well educated, well informed citizens, capable of critical thinking are dangerous to rich men of evil intent. Obedient, universally ignorant, distracted, fearful, morally depraved slaves are what the owners of this country want. As the light of knowledge flickers and dies, we sink into the darkness of ignorance.

 

“No people will tamely surrender their Liberties, nor can any be easily subdued, when knowledge is diffused and virtue is preserved. On the Contrary, when People are universally ignorant, and debauched in their Manners, they will sink under their own weight without the Aid of foreign Invaders.” – Samuel Adams

Cult of Ignorance

“There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that “my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.” – Isaac Asimov

  

“While every group has certain economic interests identical with those of all groups, every group has also, as we shall see, interests antagonistic to those of all other groups. While certain public policies would in the long run benefit everybody, other policies would benefit one group only at the expense of all other groups. The group that would benefit by such policies, having such a direct interest in them, will argue for them plausibly and persistently. It will hire the best buyable minds to devote their whole time to presenting its case. And it will finally either convince the general public that its case is sound, or so befuddle it that clear thinking on the subject becomes next to impossible.

In addition to these endless pleadings of self-interest, there is a second main factor that spawns new economic fallacies every day. This is the persistent tendency of man to see only the immediate effects of a given policy, or its effects only on a special group, and to neglect to inquire what the long-run effects of that policy will be not only on that special group but on all groups. It is the fallacy of overlooking secondary consequences.” – Henry Hazlitt

America’s cult of ignorance, combined with the selfish interests of various constituencies, the character weakness of the people elected to office, a lack of understanding or interest in basic mathematical concepts, and inability to comprehend the long term and unintended consequences of every piece of legislation, have brought the country to the brink of fiscal disaster. But still, the vast majority of Americans, including the supposed intellectuals and economic “experts”, are basking in their ignorance, as the stock market reaches a new high, the local GM dealer just gave them a 7 year $40,000 auto loan at 0% on that brand new Cadillac Escalade, Bank of America still hasn’t foreclosed on their McMansion two years after making their last mortgage payment, and they just received three pre-approved credit card notices from Capital One, American Express and Citicorp. As long as Bennie has our back printing $1 trillion new greenbacks per year, nothing can possibly go wrong. Our best and brightest economic minds are always right:

“Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau.” – Irving Fisher, Professor of Economics, Yale University, 1929

“Many of the new financial products that have been created, with financial derivatives being the most notable, contribute economic value by unbundling risks and shifting them in a highly calibrated manner. Although these instruments cannot reduce the risk inherent in real assets, they can redistribute it in a way that induces more investment in real assets and, hence, engenders higher productivity and standards of living.” – Alan Greenspan – March 6, 2000

“We’ve never had a decline in house prices on a nationwide basis. So, what I think what is more likely is that house prices will slow, maybe stabilize, might slow consumption spending a bit. I don’t think it’s gonna drive the economy too far from its full employment path, though.” – Ben Bernanke – July 2005

The profound level of ignorance displayed by economists, politicians, business leaders, media personalities, and the average American, regarding the mathematically unsustainable path of our fiscal ship is perplexing to me on so many levels. If the Federal government was a family, the budget ceiling debate would be put into the following terms. Our household earns $28,000 per year, but we spend $38,000 per year and add $10,000 to our credit card balance, which stands at the limit of $170,000. In addition, we owe our neighbors $2 million we don’t have because we promised to pay if they voted for us as Treasurer of our homeowners association. We celebrate our good fortune of getting approved for another credit card with a $30,000 limit by increasing our spending to $39,000 per year. Intellectuals scorn such simplistic analogies by glibly pointing out that the family has a crazy uncle with a printing press in the basement and can pay-off the debt with his freshly printed dollars. And this is where the deliberate and calculated ignorance by the highly educated Ivy Leaguers regarding long term and unintended consequences is revealed. They ignore, manipulate, cover-up and obscure the facts because their wealth, power and influence depend upon them doing so. But ignorance doesn’t change the facts.

“Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.” – Aldous Huxley

Nothing exposes the ignorance of various factions within our society better than a debate about budgets, spending, and unfunded liabilities. This is where every party, group, special interest, and voting bloc ignore any and all facts that are contrary to their selfish interest. They only see what they want to see. The fallacies, errors, omissions and mistruths of their positions are inconsequential to people who only care about their short-term self-seeking interests. When I question the out of control spending on entitlements and our impossible to honor level of unfunded liabilities, those of a liberal persuasion lash out with accusations of hating the poor, starving children and throwing granny under the bus. Anyone suggesting we should slow our spending is branded a terrorist by the overwhelmingly liberal legacy media.

When I accuse Wall Street bankers of criminal fraud and ongoing manipulation of the financial markets, the CNBC loving apologists for these felons bellow about the market always being right. When I rail about the military industrial complex and our un-Constitutional invasions of other countries, the neo-cons come out in force blathering about the war on terror and imminent threats. When I point out the horrific results of our government run educational system and how mediocre union teachers are bankrupting our states and municipalities with their gold plated health and pension plans, I’m met with howls of outrage about the poor children. The common thread is that facts are ignored because each of their agendas requires ignorance on the part of their team’s fans.

The following chart of truth portrays an unsustainable path. Ignoring the facts will not change them. This isn’t a Republican problem or a Democrat problem. It’s an American problem.

 

“There are men regarded today as brilliant economists, who deprecate saving and recommend squandering on a national scale as the way of economic salvation; and when anyone points to what the consequences of these policies will be in the long run, they reply flippantly, as might the prodigal son of a warning father: “In the long run we are all dead.” And such shallow wisecracks pass as devastating epigrams and the ripest wisdom.” – Henry Hazlitt

Henry Hazlitt may have written these words six decades ago, but they aptly describe Paul Krugman and the legions of Keynesian apostles whose bastardized interpretation of Keynes’ theory has led us to this fiscal cliff. How anyone can truly believe that borrowing to consume foreign produced goods versus saving and making job creating capital investments is a rational and sustainable economic policy is the height of ignorance. One look at this chart exposes the political party system as a sham. When it comes to the fiscal train wreck, set in motion thirty years ago, the ignorant media pundits peddle a narrative about politicians failing to compromise as the culprit in this derailment. Nothing could be further from the truth. Compromise is what has gotten us to this point. The Republicans compromised and allowed the Democrats to create a welfare state. The Democrats compromised and allowed the Republicans to create a warfare state. The Federal Reserve compromised their mandate of stable prices and preventing financial calamities by inflating away 95% of the dollar’s purchasing power in 100 years, while creating bubbles every five or so years, like clockwork. There are a myriad of facts related to the chart above that cannot be ignored:

  • It took 192 years for the country to accumulate $1 trillion in debt. It has taken us 30 years to accumulate the next $16 trillion of debt. We now add $1 trillion of debt per year.
  • If the Federal government was required to use GAAP accounting, the annual deficit would amount to $6.7 trillion per year.
  • The fiscal gap of unfunded future liabilities for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and government pensions is $200 trillion.
  • Using realistic growth assumptions adds another $6 trillion of state and local government unfunded pension benefits to the equation.
  • The Federal government has increased their annual spending from $1.8 trillion during Bill Clinton’s last year in office to $3.8 trillion today, a 110% increase. The population has increased by 12% over that same time frame, and real GDP has advanced by 25% since 2000.
  • Defense spending has increased from $358 billion in 2000 to $831 billion today, despite the fact that no country on earth can challenge us militarily.
  • The average Baby Boomer will receive $300,000 more than they contributed to Social Security and Medicare over their lifetime. Over 10,000 Boomers per day will turn 65 for the next 17 years.
  • The Social Security lockbox is filled with IOUs. The funds collected from paychecks over the last 80 years were spent by Congress on wars of choice, bridges to nowhere, and thousands of other vote buying ventures.
  • A normalization of interest rates to long-term averages would double or triple the interest on the national debt and increase our annual deficits by at least 30%.
  • Obamacare and the unintended consequences of Obamacare will add tens of trillions to our national debt. The initial budget projections for Medicare and Medicaid showed only a modest financial impact on the financial situation of the country. How did that work out?
  • Entitlement spending in 2003 was $1.3 trillion. Entitlement spending in 2008 was $1.7 trillion. Entitlement spending in 2013 was $2.2 trillion. Entitlement spending in 2018 will be $2.8 trillion, as these programs are on automatic pilot.

When you consider the facts in a rational manner, without vitriolic denials, bitter accusations, acrimonious blame, and rejection of the entire premise, you come to the conclusion that we’ve passed the point of no return. Decades of bad choices, bad leadership, bad men in important positions, bad education, bad governance, and bad citizenship have led to bad times. But very few people, across all socio-economic classes, have any interest in understanding the facts or making the tough choices required to save future generations from a life of squalor. We willfully choose to ignore the facts.

“Most ignorance is vincible ignorance. We don’t know because we don’t want to know.” – Aldous Huxley

Our degraded and ignorant society is incapable of comprehending their dire circumstances or acting for the common good of the country. We are a nation on the take. Greed really is good. Everyone needs to play the game. From the top floor corporate CEO suite to the decaying urban wastelands, we have chosen comforting ignorance to uncomfortable knowledge. Our warped form of democracy enriches the few at the top, while dispensing enough subsistence payments to the lower classes to keep them from revolting, while enslaving the middle class in debt and convincing them it’s really wealth. Mencken understood the pathetic impulses of the American populace decades before we reached our point of no return.

“Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance.” – H.L. Mencken

The only way a democracy can survive is if the population is knowledgeable, vigilant, skeptical, educated, individually responsible, self-reliant, moral, capable of critical thinking and willing to accept the consequences of their actions. A nation of takers, fakers and blamers will not last long. We’ve degenerated into a nation of knowledge hating book burners. Our culture of ignorance will lead to the destruction of our culture and the ignorant masses will wonder what happened.

 

“But you can’t make people listen. They have to come round in their own time, wondering what happened and why the world blew up around them. It can’t last.” – Ray Bradbury – Fahrenheit 451

In Part Two of this examination about our culture of ignorance I’ll explore the roles of technology, family breakdown, government, and propaganda in creating the ignorance that is consuming our system like a mutant parasite. If you are seeking a happy ending, I suggest looking elsewhere.

 

Area 51 exists, the CIA admits – World – CBC News

Area 51 exists, the CIA admits – World – CBC News.

 

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