Death By Injection

A good friend of mines son named Jacob died recently. He was only 20.

heroin

He injected heroin into his veins and died a few hours later.

He was a good kid. I liked him. I had not seen him in a years but I had met when he was a boy. He was a sweet person. He was one of those adorable kids you remember because of the goodness that oozes out of them.

He went to school, had a job and a girlfriend. And like most of us he was trying to better his lot in life. From what I understand he did not have a drug problem but did use drugs recreationally.

On this one instance, his occasional drug use cost him his life. His parents and friends will forever be saddened by this needless loss of life.

When I was in my teens, the recreational drugs that circulated were marijuana and some times cocaine. That was about it, because that was about the only thing that was accessible.

But as I have gotten older, it seems the amount of drugs available have skyrocketed. I would argue that it all changed in the late 1990’s with a change in the law.

If you are a regular reader of this blog you know that I write quite a bit about politics, because  even the slightest changes in the law affect us all. Even though you might think changes in laws don’t affect you, they inevitably do.

I believe the genesis of the heroin boom began in the late 1990’s when drug companies were given the green light to start making new pain medication drugs. At the time, there were no real alternatives for patients who suffered from chronic pain. That is not to say there was no pain medications available, but there was not enough variety for the many ailments people suffered from. Some long time pain sufferers had no real recourse to alleviate their suffering and had lived it with it for years.

Lawmakers had been reluctant to open up the markets for new pain killing medicines as they were worried about the real possibility of an increase in drug addiction. But given the pressure by their constituents and the drug companies, a new industry was created.

One of the drugs that hit the markets in the mid 90’s was Oxycontin an opioid type medication similar to heroin. Both drugs are chemically similar, they are equally addictive, and both drugs are considered very difficult to withdraw from. Yet one was legal.

Drug companies and doctors benefited immensely by prescribing OxyContin as there was lots of money to be made. But there was a nasty side effect to the business, the patients got addicted. Doctors were happy to prescribe them to a point but once they started noticing that there patients were now addicts they had to cut them off. Doctors liked the money but were smart enough to know that they could lose their license if they started prescribing too much of it.

Desperate for their fix, the patients started buying the drugs in the black market and in Florida, pill mills started popping up to fill the need. A  pill mill is an operation in which a doctor, clinic or pharmacy pre- scribes and/or dispenses narcotics without a legitimate medical purpose. These doctors used their pre-scription pads to flood their communities with illegal narcotics.

These mills started booming all over Florida and became the epi-center for the drug trade. Patients, now cut off from their doctors found ample supplies through these pill mills. And when the addicts could no longer afford them they turned to heroin for their fix. Given the similar nature between these two drugs, the heroin market took off.

Clearly taking a pill is preferable to the alternative of heroin which is injected by a needle into the vein, but given that heroin is cheaper, people flocked to heroin. For example an 80 mg OxyContin can cost $60 to $100 a pill. In contrast, heroin costs about $45 to $60 for a multiple-dose supply. So many normal people” would never would have thought of injecting something onto their veins began to do so regularly did so because of their addiction and the cheapness of heroin.

Unlike Oxytocin where the doses and amounts are closely monitored, heroin is unregulated and manufactured in the black market. So when someone injects heroin into their veins, that person is literally in the hands of the drug dealer who made that batch. Growing up it was unheard of anybody who did heroin. It was the stuff of the hard drug users. But not anymore. Heroin has come to middle America. This is how a sweet kid, from a solid family with good economic prospects ends up killing himself. He used heroin because it is cheap and available and widely used as a drug of choice for many now. The stigma of heroin now longer exists.

This is how a change in law from 20 years ago can have major consequences many year later It was widely reported that during Donald Trumps campaign, he was  astonished by the amount of people that came up to him asking for help to solve the scourge of heroin. Drug use was not one of his main policy points but given the amount of sad stories he heard, he actually began to address this issues at many of his stops.

Now with marijuana being made legal in many states, who knows what future awaits us twenty years down the line. Living in Texas I have meet many recent Colorado transplants who have told me the main reason for leaving the state was the widespread use of marijuana. So we have already begun to see people take action due to this new law.

Right now, 3,999 American children die every month from an accidental overdose of heroin. That’s right, 129 people a day die from an overdose. This is the impact of laws. This is the impact of politics and this is how one change in law can affect us all.

Rest in peace Jacob. You will be missed.

Steve Clark

sleeclark@gmail.com

 

Hate To The Left and Right of Us

I’ve never before re-posted a blog. But what follows is my post prior to the election of Donald Trump. It pains me to say it is more relevant since his election than before it. (Originally posted September 23, 2016).

My co-blogger, Steve Clark, texted me a link earlier today with the following comment: “This is what passes for journalism!” So, naturally, I had to click through.

love-and-hate

Where I landed was at GQ online and an article by, correspondent and author, Drew Magary titled, “If You Vote For Trump, Then Screw You.”  Creative and engrossing title, don’t you think?  Yeah, me neither. Not so much. But, in all fairness, and since I respect Steve, I read the article. So I fully understand Steve’s incredulity.

It’s an adolescent, vulgar, profanity-laced rant by…well, an adolescent. I’d say more about the “correspondent” but that sentence pretty much sums up space occupied by nine paragraphs of filth and unrestrained emotional immaturity. I’d much rather write about how Magary’s rant is symptomatic of something much larger.

We are a nation divided and that’s not a bad thing. From true diversity of thought comes new ideas. When it comes to problem solving, difference is the petri dish of creativity. The catch is that each side of the divide has to honor the differences of the other so that they can communicate and, hopefully, zero in on the merits of each others’ arguments. Name calling, accusation, disrespect, hyperbole…these are impediments to problem solving. All they do is cause the object of their slings and arrows to defend positions rather than remain open and receptive to possible solutions.

The real harm of the verbal filth spewed by Magary in his self-indulgent tirade is not done to Donald Trump. To give him credit for his honesty (evidenced by the article’s title) Magary makes his intention pretty clear. His hatred is directed at anyone who sees merit in the candidate or who would vote for him. So, Magary hates his fellow Americans who disagree with his particular political preference.

Where does such intolerance and narrowness of thought leave us?

If we take the Magary approach, close to half the country needs to hate the other half. To me, this is a bit like using your left arm to beat up your right arm if you have an irritation. While it may, in the moment, address a superficial and temporary annoyance, in the long run (and we need to think about the long run) you will have done serious damage to a part of you that needs to be functional and cooperative.

You see, there is only one of us. Yes, you read that correctly, There is only one of us. We are all branches on that one tree called humanity. It serves no one, and nothing, for us to treat one another as if harming someone else never comes back to harm us.  Hatred, whether its the fuel for Islamic terror or fuel for a so-called “correspondent”… is still hatred.  Hatred is a cancer of the soul and does as much damage,  perhaps more, to the host than it does to its intended object.

After all, there are only two emotions. Love and fear. Every negative emotion, including hate, is a derivative of fear. So in the end, the Drew Magarys of the world are afraid. Of what, I don’t know. But so much hate is really so much fear.

So, I would recommend that Drew Magary re-think what’s eating at him ( literally I might add) and perhaps understand that there are people out here who seriously disagree with him but who love him all the same.

The Answer To Suffering

A farmer and a blue collar worker were in line to vote last Tuesday. Someone overheard their conversation in which both were sharing that they had not had a good year financially since 2000. That’s 16 years. They were suffering and they were voting for Trump.

hope

I know a lot about suffering. It’s the same whether it’s an individual or the collective consciousness of a nation.  My knowledge and understanding comes from years of suffering depression which culminated in an attempted suicide at age 24. Individuals, like nations, who misplace hope and choose suicide as an option, don’t really want to die. Notice I said, “misplace” hope. Hope is never gone…but when suffering is prolonged enough and there seems no cure for its cause and no end in sight, hope gets obscured by the pain. And when the pain is bad enough, rational thought is cast aside for any solution, regardless of how irrational or self-destructive.

A person may choose suicide as a seemingly rational end to their suffering. But what does a nation filled with people who have misplaced hope do?

The seeds of national suicide were sprouting in 2008. Barack Obama, and the Democrats recognized this and so, knowing the nation was suffering, offered “Hope and Change”. They ignited the flame of hope that the nation was in need of and with that held out the promise of an end to the early stages of suffering. But the promise was empty and as time passed, the pain and suffering grew more intense.  With that increased pain, came a decreased optimism…hope…that there was a “cure” or light at the end of the tunnel. In fact, from 2008 until now, that light has been progressively (no pun intended) harder and harder to see.

Pain and suffering increased over the past eight years to the point that hope was obscured and with it rational thought.  What resulted was a populace who would, in its desperation, settle for giving the most powerful position in its nation to either a greedy thief or an egomaniacal illusionist. We chose the illusionist.

That is how a nation commits suicide.

My experience of attempted suicide taught me an invaluable lesson. It’s the certainty that hope always exists; it’s just up to us to have the patience and determination find it. Donald Trump will not save us for he was chosen in a period of national darkness. Whether he is well intentioned or not, there are those around him who recognized our perilous time of suffering and glammed on for the ride and for their own agendas, not for the national best interest.

When I was in the emergency room, I had an out of body experience. As they were pumping the drugs out of me, I was up in the corner of the room, looking down at what they were doing, and thinking, “Why don’t they let that body go?” At which point I “felt” a distant voice say, “You have to go back, Carole, you have work to do.”

Our nation is on that table. We are looking at it and wanting the suffering to stop and for the pain to go away. There are no guarantees. But this I know.

Hope exists if we are patient and determined to be the best we can be. No one will save us but for ourselves. Giving it over to someone else is an act of suicide. Its up to us to demand of ourselves personal accountability. Its up to us to demand of our government accountability to the founding principles. So, fellow citizens, we have to go back. There is work to do.

Carole Gold

 

Theft in The Financial Markets

Many people in positions of  power tend to think of themselves as being God-like.

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No where is this more apparent than among the financial and government planners who beset the West. Educated at the best schools and responsible for the finances of the rich and powerful, it is understandable that they think of themselves way. They have come to believe, due to their education and responsibilities, that they know better than mere mortals. This hubris and arrogance was given credence in part by a British economist named John Keynes.

Keynes developed an economic model of thought which asserted that the government had a rightful role to play in the financial markets. Central to Keynes’s theory was the premise that the economy was just a matter of inputs and outputs that could be tinkered with to effect greater efficiency. The main thrust of Keynes’s argument was that whenever the economy stalled the government had an obligation to inject money into the economy to get it moving again.  Keynes’s theory is known as “Keynesian economics” and his disciples now act as the main policy makers in the West.

Today, it is standard practice for government officials to start meddling in the private sector whenever there is a slowdown. They cite Keynesian economics for their actions. During recessionary times, government officials will increase public spending, create more public works projects and inject money into the banking system. President Franklin Roosevelt and Barack Obama, both presidents during recessionary periods,  resorted to massive government spending to aid the economy.

Keynesian economics has become the dominant form of monetary policy today in government circles. The way policy makers inject money into the economy is by lowering the cost of money. They do this by manipulating the financial markets. The idea behind it is that cheaper money will stimulate the economy and create new jobs.

For example, during the last eight years, most major central banks have been buying their own debt to lower the yields. But these lower yields have not spurred any economic activity. Rather, it has caused actual investors to earn less interest income. If government bonds actually yielded something tangible, private investors would be earning a return on their money and putting that money to productive use. But since that money is not going to individual investors, the economy is continuing to stall.

The slower growth that we have seen over the last few years has pushed the government to enact more and more policies for even cheaper money. The end result is that, in many countries, we now see negative interest rates.

Figuring out what interest rates should be is not hard.  Take GDP growth (currently 2%) and add  2.5% for inflation and you get your money which should be 4.5%.  However, currently bond yields are only 2.15%. The difference between 4.5% and 2.15% rates is the money that is being stolen by these bad policies. Given the size of the market, we are talking billions of dollars that are not flowing into the private sector.

For some reason, this theft by the government is never reported as such. Instead, we use the terms “quantitative easing”, “buy backs” and stimulus packages to mask the central planners’ actions.  Call it what you will, its theft.

Pension funds, IRA’s, and retirement plans all use the rates on the bond market to plan their investments. However, because the bond markets have been so distorted by government interference, the yields that investors were expecting are no longer there. Investors have been forced to speculate and invest more heavily in the market to recoup this “stolen” money.

The scope of this government manipulation of global stock and bonds markets is enormous —larger than the U.S. government’s manipulation of housing prices when they kept rates low and used Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to back housing loans. Most economist believe central banks around the world have created more than $11 trillion in new money, all of which has been invested in financial securities, real estate and commodities. The amount of government investment and intervention has never before been done on such a massive scale.

There is simply no way for this to end well.

Eventually, markets  always correct themselves. The U.S. stock market is trading at record highs and at record-high valuations; but, earnings have fallen for five straight quarters. This simple observation is obvious to many but somehow not to our elected leaders. The world’s major economies are groaning with inflated securities prices and a debt burden they can not afford.

Who knows what will happen when investors realize that the party has ended? When investors scramble for the exits, there will be nowhere to go. By law (The Volcker Rule and others) banks will not be able to act as as intermediary for the majority of these trades.

We have forgotten the seed of all growth is capital. Capital is essentially the surplus from our economic activity which is then used to fund future growth. With rates being what they are, investors are being forced to risk and speculate in the markets and not save that all  important seed —  capital. Our government policies are discouraging capital formation.

When the market implodes, and it will, there will be no capital stored up to start over. It will all have been destroyed. So while we’re distracted by demonstrations and the illusory insanity of politics, the very foundation of our thriving nation has been eroded right before our eyes by the very people we trust to use good judgment in protecting it.

 

Steve

sleeclark@gmail.com

 

New York State & Airbnb

Did you ever see the 2002 movie Minority Report with Tom Cruise? It is a great film with a brilliant premise which is that  it is better to stop a crime before it ever happens. Tom Cruise plays a police officer in a unit called “The Pre-Crime Task Force.”  With the aid of super psychics, they use their abilities to stop crimes just prior to their commission.

precrime

Once notified by the psychics, the police officers arrest the perpetrators before the crime is committed and incarcerate the “criminals”  before they can take action. So, even though they’ve committed no actual crimes, they are still sent to prison.

The “intent” was all that mattered.

Although it’s a science fiction movie and takes place in the “future” you’re left with the impression that the idea is far fetched and could never happen. That is….until now.

Just last week Andrew Cuomo, Governor of New York State, signed a bill making it illegal to advertise your home for short-term rentals on websites like Airbnb. So, even though you might not ever rent your space, the sheer fact of publicizing your intent to rent will run you afoul of the law. Like pre-crime, you don’t even have to rent out your unit to get into trouble.  You just need the intent. No it’s not science fiction…its New York State.

As it stands, New York already has a law on the books making it illegal to rent out your home, or rooms, to short term tenants. The state also has heavy handed condo Boards that rule and restrict New York real estate associations. Most of them have stringent measures that forbid short term rentals.

The penalties to advertise carry up to a $7500 fine. Seem egregious? Yes…when D.W.I fines in N.Y range from $500 to $5,000 dollars and reckless driving fines are only $300 dollars! These are fine for actual crimes not an intent to commit one.

The fact is, Airbnb solved a huge issue for visitors to N.Y.  New York, especially New York City, has some of the highest hotel rates in the world along with some of the highest hotel occupancy rates. It is hard to find a hotel room that rents for less than $200 a night in New York City, so cheaper alternatives were needed.

Companies such as Airbnb filled a need. It’s not like New York City isn’t benefiting. Airbnb generated over $400 million dollars for New York City property owners last year.  So, at face value, it would seem everybody would be better off by having Airbnb in New York.  Hotels still have high occupancy rates that are not being negatively effected and property owners can generate additional income while having visitors enjoy a better experience. Finally, even the politicians get their tax slice of the $400 million.

Now those benefits are gone.

The reason why Airbnb was barred was alleged to be “safety reasons.” This seems always to be the justification of every action the government takes.  The statement read, “The government must ensure that all buildings comply with fire, building and other safety codes relative to their class.”

Give me a break!

I lived in New York City. You can barely walk down the street without obtaining a multitude of permits. Now, all of a sudden, those rental properties built over the years somehow slipped through licensing and zoning agency purview and were built without the government’s oversight in the first place? Please.
 
State Senator Liz Krueger issued a statement in favor of the law, calling it “a huge victory for regular New Yorkers over the interests of a thirty-billion dollar corporation.” Really?  The majority of Airbnb’s profits flow to individuals. In fact, the company Airbnb has lost billions of dollars since it was founded. It has never generated a profit. The platform was designed for individual parties to benefit, not corporations. Senate Liz Kruger is a liar for saying something so blatantly false and misleading!

So this “victory” is actually one for the power brokers and against regular New Yorkers…ordinary people who use the site to generate extra income and help make ends meet. These people will now lose that needed extra income.

With stupidity like this so pervasive in government, especially in N.Y., it’s no wonder why people are leaving the state. Since the 2010 census  653,071 people have left the state. This was the largest decrease of any state, both in absolute terms and as a percentage of estimated population since the start of the decade.

The Empire State doesn’t say why residents are leaving, but we can think of several possible reasons: high taxes, high unemployment upstate, high housing costs in the city, and a large (and corrupt) bureaucracy—for starters.

Ironically, New York City already has the infrastructure within the surveillance state to “detect” pre-crime…not unlike the world which “Minority Report” portrayed.  So it should not come as a shock that in real life, and in real time, the bureaucrats and administrators are already writing laws that will allow them to impose upon New Yorkers what they obviously thought was a darn good plot.

Truly scary stuff.

Steve

sleeclark@gmail.com

Boredom and the Digital Age

When I was a young kid I spent my summer months by myself in Ecuador.

boredom

Well that is not entirely true.  I stayed with my grandparents. But, since my grandmother was bedridden and my grandfather spent all day at work, I was left on my own.

My day began at 7am and from that point on I was on my own. I had no friends and nobody to play with. All of my cousins were at school so I only saw them on Sundays.  Being away from home,  I had none of my usual toys to entertain me.

Those years were pre-internet. TV was out of the question because there were only three channels anyway and the TV was in my grandmother’s room. I was really left up to my own devices so I learned how to deal with silence and boredom and how to entertain myself.

I grew up in boredom and know how to use it. That experience taught me how to work independently and without much guidance.  Its fair to say that the seeds of my independence were born during those years..

Now, I look at my children and see that they have no periods of boredom. They are continually connected through their phones, computers, video games and streaming companies such as Hulu and Netflix. I do limit their use but its an ongoing battle.

My oldest child is really a fan of pop culture and will “binge watch” shows for hours on end. I know this is bad for her and have implemented ways to budget her time; yet, she still finds a way to watch her shows. I am not alone on this. Many of my friends’ parents have expressed their dismay at the amount of time their children spend on electronic devices.

Admittedly, all of these mediums have some benefits to them if used in the proper context. However, I personally fell that, in the end, these new tools can become vices that seductively lure us away from a meaningful life. Boredom never enters into the minds of children today simply because they are forever being entertained. That quiet space where self-direction and creativity are born is disappearing.

Boredom trained me to become patient and to allow things to unfold naturally.

When I was in the Marine Corps, we had to do one particular training on how to plot ambushes.  An ambush is a tactic where the attacker hides him/herself and waits for the enemy to walk into its trap. One emphasis of the exercise was to stay in position, motionless, for hours on end. Regardless of the weather conditions, bodily needs and mental state, we had to learn to stay quiet and still without moving. Even the Marine Corps, which prides itself on its aggressiveness, understood the need to be silent and still for long periods of time in order to be successful in war…even if t iss maddeningly boring!

My tenure as a professional bond trader also required immense patience. One of the main skills needed was the ability to watch computer screens for hours on end in order to identify subtle price movements  It was not uncommon for me to spend eight hours a day glued to my screen, unable to leave my desk, because of the demands of the job. Many times, the days were tedious and the work grueling; but, I was self-trained in knowing I could sit there and do the work. Part of the job was to sit, watch and pounce like a tiger when price aberrations appeared on the screen. The success only came to the traders who had the ability to watch and wait for long periods of time, the ones who could handle boredom, and be there in the moment to seize the opportunity when it arose.

I am not so sure that our devices and our culture are forming the types of people who can sit down and do the grueling  work that is needed to accomplish so many necessary aspects of productivity.

Take the classic song Hallelujah written and performed by Leonard Cohen which was released in 1984 and never found an audience. The reason was that the first iteration of the song was not very good and Cohen knew it. But he also he knew the song contained seeds of greatness.  Cohen would not relent. He went over and over the song. He picked at it and picked at it n an effort to refine it. For him it never became a hit. And yet other artists saw the beauty and power within the song and, for years fiddled, with it for years. For years. It wasn’t until an artist named Jeff Buckley shortened the song and edited the lyrics that it became a hit. That was 15 years after Leonard Cohen wrote it.

“Hallelujah” is now considered one of the greatest songs of all time. Some songwriters call it one of the top ten songs of all time. One of the reasons that the song is considered great is because of the sheer amount of effort by various artists over the years who took the time, and exhibited the patience, to do the work. They studied, played and tinkered until a masterpiece was emerged.

Think about it. A five minute song took 13 years to create.

Admittedly, I too have been affected by this digital age. I’ve wasted plenty of time on my phone knowing the time was being misused. But at least I have a point of reference.  I have something against which to measure myself..all those years when I learned the value of downtime.

All of these terrific companies that have been created over the last few years such as Facebook, Instagram and Snap Chat are a testament to the genius of their creators; yet, there was a “method to their madness.”  They were designing systems and processes to grab your attention so you’d waste your time on their platforms and to their economic gain.

Slavery comes in many forms.

Steve

sleeclark@gmail.com

 

 

The Trumps and The Clintons Have a Sex Problem

Even Huma Abedin knows when its time to leave a pervert.

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I find it inconceivable that there is so much indignation, righteous and otherwise, over the latest tapes released of Donald Trump’s bravado in trash talking about women. Its who he is. He has made no efforts to present himself otherwise.  In fact, when asked early in the campaign if he, as a Christian, had ever asked God for forgiveness his reply was ,”No because I’ve never done anything I needed to be forgiven for.” Not even ceremoniously groping a woman’s crotch and breasts, without permission, rates as an act Trump feels is in need of his seeking forgiveness from God… or from the woman for that matter.

I find his discussions and references to his daughter’s body particularly disturbing. I watched Trump’s acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention. What I found incredible and deeply disturbing was how, at its conclusion, when Ivanka walked out on stage to congratulate him, he grabbed her by the hips and pulled her into him as a man does with a woman with whom his is being, or intends to be, intimate. It was such an inappropriate way for a father to touch a daughter; yet, it was automatic and seemingly natural to them both.

But let’s not cast too shallow a net.

Bill Clinton is a rapist at worst and a sex addict at best.  I believe Juanita Broderick, Kathleen Willey, Jennifer Flowers, Paula Jones and whoever else says they were accosted and or assaulted or raped by him. I believe them the same way I believe all those women who came out against Bill Cosby. The numbers are too great and the stories too similar. Besides, I met Bill Clinton when he was running for President at an “invitation only” fundraiser. I spoke with him for about two minutes as we shook hands. He held onto mine the entire time. In that two minute conversation I felt undressed in public. I even returned to our table and said to my then husband, “I feel as if I have just been seduced and undressed with someone’s eyes.” I wasn’t reading anything into it at the time other than my personal experience. All the stories of his sleazy behavior were not yet in the public domain.

I also remember the Clinton Presidency when, driving our then grammar school age daughter to and from school, I had to monitor the car radio in case news came on and words like “oral sex” and “semen stains” became everyday vocabulary.

Then there are the “stand by your man” women. Hillary and Melania ought to have gotten out of Dodge a long time ago. But each is in their game for higher stakes than they can find elsewhere. For Hillary, its the Presidency. For Melania, its a lifestyle that is the stuff only dreams are made of back in Slovenia. So they endure public humiliation by supporting men who have no boundaries, no ethics, no morals and no respect for women…regardless of what they say when they are caught.

On occasion, I have been around such men in my life.

Men who think a woman’s body is theirs for the touching or taking, without the need for permission and certainly absent conscience. These are men who feel powerless and only force, or crossing boundaries, gives them a false sense of power. But its fleeting because its an illusion…and so they must do it again and again. Its like a drug that makes them, for themselves, feel more important than they actually believe they are. When the effect of the high wears off, they need to act out again. And so they do.

Even Huma Adedin has a lower humiliation threshold than either Hillary or Melania. Even she knew when to leave a pervert who has no regard for how he dishonors himself or her.

So, let’s not get all bent out of shape at these recent tape revelations about Donald Trump.  Donald, Melania, Hillary and Bill are all sick and they all need to go. Then, at least, we can choose between Mike Pence and Tim Kaine.  After all, when you’re in the gutter, anything is up.

Carole

contact@carolegold.com

Government Regulation: Socialism On The Move

Death by a thousand cuts shares much in common with the end of home ownership through excessive regulation.

jefferson

In the previous post by Steve Clark, Real Estate Ownership, mortgages and taxing authorities are identified as the culprits in constraining private home ownership. The post sees the trend by Millennials as a possible change of direction, if not a solution.

I think the move towards ending private ownership of property has less to do with financing government than it has to do implementing Socialism, which eschews private property ownership. The entire redistribution of wealth scheme that is at the heart of Socialism is really a means by which an elite few can take what rightfully belongs to some and give it to others without cause. Well, without cause other than if you have too much under Socialism you’re a greedy, bad human being lacking compassion. And so, the government will cure you of those shortcomings by taking away what has otherwise been rightfully earned by the sweat of your own brow.

This is what should concern everyone about Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton and the rest of the Socialist crowd. Be assured, they will retain their wealth and their possessions. It is your property that will be redistributed. No, they will not suddenly get into office and come with the military to take what is yours. They won’t have to . They’ve been laying the ground work and the means for almost one hundred years.

Its called regulation.

The EPA, the IRS, Homeland Security, the Department of Education…regulatory agencies are death by a thousand cuts to a liberty loving people and, certain death, to our Republic as it was created and intended to be. Just as no one is going to knock on your door in a Clinton Administration and demand that you turn over your guns so, too, no one is going to physically remove you from your home and declare it the property of the Federal government.

At least not at first.

In the gun example, first they will  ban certain types of guns. Then they will prohibit anyone who is on a no-fly list (rightfully or wrongfully as was the late Senator Ted Kennedy) from purchasing or owning a gun. Then they will pass legislation that says anyone who is mentally ill cannot buy a gun. Then anyone who has ever been treated for a mental illness. Then anyone who has ever shown mental illness tendencies. Then anyone who has inappropriately exhibited anger. Then anyone who is on anti-depressants.  The anyone who is on pain medication …well, those last two cover about half the adult population in this country.

Its a slow, slippery slope.

In the home ownership example, first the government will hold 95 percent of the mortgages in the country (√).  Then if you default, your mortgage holder can foreclose and take/sell your property (√).  Then if you’re delinquent on your property taxes the tax lien can be sold to a third party and that party has first priority on any foreclosure (√). Then they will say that certain neighborhoods are discriminating because they are not enough minorities living in that neighborhood and so they will force sales to minorities whether they can afford it or not (√) and if those default, well, more economic downturn for the area and more government owned property.  In fact, Obama plans on addressing “geospatial discrimination’ of minorities by ‘mapping’ every neighborhood in America in regards to it’s racial make-up and financial strength.  Then, HUD will impose new rules that will go out to suburbs that are not racially diverse and demand “affirmatively further fair housing” in the suburbs for minorities. Grantees who fail to comply will be denied federal funding.

Then….oh, and lets not just worry about Hilary Clinton. Donald Trump, proponent of the Kelo decision and Eminent Domain thinks the government (or a private individual as Trump did) should be able to take private property for the benefit of another or even social experimentation, as Obama is doing in addressing “geospatial discrimination.”

Yes its a slow, slippery slope.

Its also why each of us has to take a stand someplace along that slide or we’re all going to wind up in quicksand. It may be something small…like an overreaching Homeowner’s Association Board in your community. Or Common Core in your school system. Or an out of control taxing authority in your county. Or, it may be something big, such as your conviction that a Convention of States under Article 5 of the U .S. Constitution is the only way to save the Republic.

Whatever raises your ire, whether large or small, take a stand. Socialism sounds good in theory but it sucks in practice. In fact, its fatal to a free society.. of which we still have enough to do something about politicians who want to use the “free stuff and common ownership for all” lie to make themselves rich and powerful by taking what is yours and…well…taking what is yours.

Carole

contact@carolegold.com

Real Estate Ownership

For years, the financial industry and media pundits have told us that the way to wealth is through real estate. So what do we really own when we buy a house?

Many people feel that once they buy a house they own it; but, if you have a mortgage, its the bank that owns the house not you. Forget to pay your property taxes? The tax man will take your house regardless of who “owns it.”

real-estate-businessThe real estate industry has an entire machine that promulgates the benefits of home ownership. From the ads on TV to radio commercials… the average consumer is inundated with messages assuring that real estate is the way to achieve financial success. Yet, when the real estate market crashed in 2008, many people were wiped out.

What happened?

Real estate prices had become so over-inflated that it was no longer economical to buy.  Without any more buyers entering the market, prices collapsed. It got so bad in some cities such as Detroit that houses could be bought for one hundred dollars!

In fact, business colleagues of mine started a company to capitalize on the rock bottom prices in Detroit.  Because of the huge downturn, the city was literally giving houses away. The municipality was going so far as to raze certain neighborhoods because there was just too many vacant houses. In fact, wilderness began reclaiming parts of the city with deer actually showing up in Detroit!

It wasn’t only houses that were on sale. Skyscrapers in parts of downtown Detroit were selling for under five million dollars. This was crazy when you realize that prime apartments in major cities such as Miami were being valued at the same amount as skyscrapers in Detroit.

The funny thing was that even at rock bottom prices, Detroit had a hard time finding buyers.  If you think about it, it makes no sense that a house could sell for so little.  But, if you truly understand how housing works and the role government plays in that equation, it makes perfect sense.

The $100 price was an only an illusion of the true price of the home. If you bought the home, there were bills that had to be paid; mainly the ongoing tax bill levied by the government that ran north of $5,000 dollars per year. So what my colleagues were really buying was a $5,000 annual liability that they would have to pay.  In addition, in order to buy the house, the old tax bills (tax liens) had to be paid off to make the house current.

This is why Detroit had such a hard time selling its houses for rock bottom prices. Nobody likes to buy a liability, particularly one that would likely increase if more people continued to leave Detroit.  The people who remained would have to pick up the shortfall in property tax revenue created by everybody else who moved.

Detroit became the epicenter of the lie of real estate. There is no such thing as home ownership in the U.S.  We are all tenants. Our landlord? The government. And their claim on your land has first priority as a lien over all other creditors.

Tax liens are all the proof you need to know to prove that the real owner of your house is the government. If you fall behind on your mortgage, the taxes on your property don’t get paid. When that happens, the local tax office will auction off the unpaid taxes that you owe to investors for double digit returns. If your tax bill remains unpaid for a long enough period of time, the tax lien holder owns your house. In terms of debt structure, tax lien holders are senior to mortgage debt.

So for example, if you fall behind on a $300,000 mortgage and a tax lien holder buys a $3,000 tax lien on your property, that tax lien holder now has a lien senior to the mortgage holder. If, by chance, you default and the bank cannot/will not pay off the lien holder, the tax lien holder can be awarded the house. So, even though the mortgage company took the biggest risk and lent most of the money, by law, they are junior to the tax man.

I give credit to the millennials. They see first hand the dangers of owning too much real estate and the stresses it can cause. They have shunned home ownership and seem less concerned about material goods. Out of the crisis in 2008 came the movement to own your own home; but, without having the government as your landlord.

Tiny houses are the solution to owning your house free and clear. The way that that they get around this law is by building small houses and placing them on a trailer. Because the house can be moved by vehicle and house never touches the ground, the government can not tax it. Although the houses are small, they are fully functional and can be bought for as little as $35,000 dollars.

tinyliving

Life in the U.S over the last fifty years has revolved around living in a communities. Home ownership has been a way for politicians (and municipalities) to tax homeowners to achieve their objectives. Public education has been the main selling point for living in these communities and the means by which politicians sold their plans. But look at what happened in Detroit. Citizens rejected the notion that it was worthwhile to stick around for a public education…one that was sub-par at best. Having lived in New Jersey for many years, I know first hand how run down many of these public schools have become.

The tiny house movement, home schooling and the move to online education courses have all become threats to the notion that we need to live in one community and have our tax dollars used for public education.

Man’s natural inclination is to be free… especially from the tyranny of government. Because government uses tax payer monies to pay for local, state and federal employees its fair to conclude that government employees’ lives and their income are more important than us non-government employed citizens. The fact that the government can take away our houses because of a tax bill,in order to keep funding its own sustenance and growth,  just goes to show you what governments’ and politicians’ priorities are.

The tiny house movement might just be the first step toward a nation of true home ownership. Bravo to the millennials on this one! They looked around and saw that more is never enough so they’ve concluded that…less is more.

Steve

sleeclark@gmail.com

 

An Open Letter To Senator Ted Cruz

NOTE: Last week I posted an Open Letter to radio talk show host and author Mark Levin. Ironically, I am re-posting it here with one minor change. Its now an Open Letter to Senator Ted Cruz.

I was a Cruz supporter early and to the bitter end. I defended my support of him to my many friends and colleagues who could not comprehend why standing on principles was more important than winning. Now, sadly with Senator Cruz’s endorsement of Donald Trump, it seems the Senator doesn’t understand the distinction either.

In response to Senator Cruz’s justification, articulated this morning on the The Glenn Beck radio program, that its a “binary election” and therefore the reason he has decided to back Trump, I direct the Senator to my post to Mark Levin (re-posted below) who also perceives this to be a “binary election.” 

One week ago I was able to use Senator Cruz’s memorable speech at the Republican Convention to make my point to Mr Levin. I believe that the content of the speech still stands as truth. The only change is that Senator Cruz abandoned that truth.

I have a great deal of respect for talk show host Mark Levin.  As a lawyer, author of several outstanding books on the U.S. Constitution, cabinet advisor in the Reagan administration, chief of staff to Attorney General Ed Meese, secretary for elementary and secondary education for the U.S. Department of Education and deputy solicitor for the U.S. Department of the Interior, Mr. Levin can claim an impressive resume which garners him respect and credibility on matters of politics and policy.

Recently, on his syndicated radio show, Mr. Levin followed through with his promise to announce, post-Labor Day, for whom he would be voting in the upcoming Presidential election.  Early on, he had been a Ted Cruz supporter; but, once Cruz’s candidacy ended, Levin spent months railing against the weaknesses of both Clinton and Trump, so I was eagerly awaiting his announcement.

It came, as promised, earlier this week. Levin is voting for Donald Trump because this is a binary election. It is a rationale that, for me, is flawed.

We owe “binary thinking” to Aristotle. He was the progenitor of the concept of absolutes and dualistic thinking. Black or white…yes or no…up or down…summarized mathematically as “x” or “not “x.” (or think of it as X or Y).  It was, and still is the basis for decision making in Western cultures. In fact, its where we get the word dilemma, “di” meaning two and “lemma” meaning argument or choice.

It is in the West our method of thinking; but, it is not the only method of thinking. In fact, its a very limiting approach to problem solving. It is just such an approach that has caused Mr. Levin to think there are only two choices in November, making this the “binary” election he perceives.

Nagarjuna, Hindu turned Buddhist philosopher, lived about 500 years after Aristotle. He put forth the concept of a “tetralemma.”  Tetra means four and, as stated above, “lemma” means argument or choice. So in an Eastern approach to problem solving, there are four possible choices or resolutions:  (1) X;  (2) Y;  (3) both X and Y; (4) neither X nor Y.  Such an approach widens and opens up the possibilities and creative thought process for problem solving.

Back to Mr. Levin’s binary election. In the dilemma approach that Mr. Levin applied, he had two choices: X=Hilary Clinton or Y=Donald Trump. But in tetralemma problem solving we have (1) X=Hilary Clinton; (2) Y=Donald Trump; (3) =both Clinton and Trump; (4) = neither Clinton nor Trump.

Obviously number (3) is not an option. But number (4) is!  Mark Levin, and every other voter who thinks that neither Hilary Clinton nor Donald Trump is fit to hold the office of the Presidency, has other options. There are other candidates running. The Libertarian, Constitutional, and Green Parties all have candidates in this race. There is a write in option as well. I know the “dilemma” knee jerk reactions. People say either (1) a vote for any of those is a wasted vote or (2) it won’t matter anyway because the Electoral College elects the President not the popular vote. Again, thank you Aristotle!

I’d like to take a broader and longer view of the problem. I’d like to look at it as something other than an absolute and from a higher perspective as well.

When Ted Cruz spoke to the Republican Convention, he angered many Republicans by suggesting that people vote their conscience. He did not explicitly endorse Donald Trump and his suggestion was interpreted as having the effect of a vote for Hilary Clinton. But Cruz was doing what we say we want in our leaders. He was standing by his conviction. He was following his conscience and suggesting others do the same. He stood with his country, and his party, but would not overtly and in good conscience endorse a man he did not believe to be fit for the office. We would all do well to listen to our own internal guidance system, which some call intuition and others call “gut”, and act in accordance with its prompting.

Further, have we not learned by now that there are as many choices in or lives as we have the courage to make? Have we not yet come to understand that media and politicians and people who lust after power want us to believe we have only the choices they put before us? Have we not yet grasped the true blessing of free will… as well as the responsibility that accompanies it and the consequences of abdicating it?

I hear only one voice publicly espousing and living the broader option. Radio host Glenn Beck has held firm in that neither Clinton nor Trump is fit for office and so he is voting otherwise. Beck is more focused upon voting his conscience than on limiting himself to what externals tell him he must do. I get that. I didn’t vote for Barack Obama in 2008 because I had an intuitive feeling that he was not what he appeared to be.  Almost everyone I knew voted for him.  I look back knowing I did the right thing for myself and my country. In the end, that’s all we have. Our word and our conscience. I want to be able to live with both. I suspect so does Mr. Beck.

AI and technology are teaching us, at warp speed,  just how little we comprehend about reality and the limitless boundaries of human creativity and consciousness. We are on the cusp of experiencing just how literally we create our reality. And so, Mr. Levin, I already live in a world and have an understanding of the critical importance of my thoughts and my actions.

Therefore, Mr. Levin, this is not a binary election. To the contrary, it is much more than that. It is an opportunity to be the best we can be by refusing to settle for the least among us.  That is the future I and others are creating and we ask you to join us in that creation.

Carole Gold

comtact@carolegold.com