Downsize the Federal Government
The size of the federal government has exploded over the last century. The legislative and judicial branches of government have grown to serve the increased number of states and its growing population. The size and scope of the executive branch has grown to reflect an expanded role of the federal government over the last 100 years. Apparently the staffing of fourteen separate cabinet departments were not enough to manage the current executive branch, so Barack Obama felt the need to appoint a number of “czars” to focus on special emphasis areas. Recent studies have found that economic growth rates decline when relative government spending exceeds 26% of GDP, and the United States government current spending is close to 40% of GDP. The Republican Party claims the core principle of limited government, but has actively participated in this growth in both size and scope of the federal government. There is still the question of constitutionality why the federal government has expanded into areas not explicitly called out for in the 10th Amendment. Ronald Reagan diagnosed this problem with “government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem”
The executive branch of government has grown over time with it greatest growth period last century. George Washington appointed a cabinet of four departments: State, Treasury, War (now Defense), and Attorney General (now Justice). Departments of Interior (1849) and Agriculture (1862) were added in the 19th century. In the first half of the 20th century, Commerce (1913) and Labor (1913) were added. In the second half of the 20th century, the executive branch exploded well beyond the original enumerated powers with Health and Human Services (1953), Housing and Human Development (1965), Transportation (1966), Energy (1974), Education (1979), and Veterans Affairs (1989). Homeland Security was created in 2002. The role of these departments has also increased from overseeing industry, to participating in select niches of industry, and even virtual nationalization of select industry segments. Government monopolies are notoriously inefficient. Revenues are collected not just to pay for government services, but now departments redistribute funds between people, between states, and even between countries. The problem is that government execution gets worse the bigger it gets. The federal budget deficits have caused the national debt to skyrocket over $18 trillion, with no end in sight.
Much more to read found HERE.
Why are assholes like the person above still walking this planet? Why is our government not over assholes like this?
The Hidden Effects of Cheap Oil
From Russia to your local gas station, the consequences of low fuel prices are clear. But the consequences of those consequences are less apparent.
What do Russia, Exxon Mobil, and ISIS have in common? Not much, except that they’re all grappling with an inconvenient but incontrovertible truth: a sudden, significant, and prolonged shift in the price of oil changes the world.
That truth was on display in 1974, and it’s on display again now. Over the course of just a few months in 1973-1974, the price of oil surged from $3 to $12 per barrel. The new price created new global economic powers: oil-producing countries primarily in the Middle East and North Africa. It also dealt a severe blow to the economies of the United States, Europe, Japan, and other oil importers. The oil shock altered power relations between the world’s main geopolitical players and created new ones. Higher oil prices had many unexpected consequences—from breeding oil wars to fueling the
international spread of Islamic fundamentalism thanks to funding from newly super-rich countries like Saudi Arabia. Today’s drop in crude-oil prices, which began in the summer of 2014, may be as disruptive as the quadrupling of oil prices that created the oil shock of 1974.
Some of the effects of this decline in oil prices have been clear and immediate; picture happy Americans at gas stations and frantic government officials in oil-exporting countries forced to cut public budgets and consequently risk social and political turmoil.
In Russia, for instance, the ruble has suffered a steep devaluation, stock-market prices have fallen, the Central Bank’s reserves are shrinking, capital is fleeing the country, export revenues are down, and foreign investment has practically dried up. Russia’s sovereign bonds have been downgraded to junk status by credit-rating agencies. All of this largely stems from contracting oil and gas revenues(which account for 68 percent of Russia’s total export revenues and 50 percent of its federal-budget revenues) and economic sanctions imposed by the United States and Europe as a result of the Kremlin’s behavior toward Ukraine. Some fear that a belligerent Vladimir Putin could stir trouble abroad to distract from the deteriorating economic situation at home.
In Venezuela, the economy was already in shambles when oil was at $120 per barrel, and it’s now spinning out of control as a result of rampant corruption, woeful management, and lower oil prices. President Nicolas Maduro has responded by blaming the dire situation on a U.S.-led international conspiracy and ramping up repression of critics and opposition politicians.
But these direct consequences are having consequences of their own, and these second-order effects are only beginning to become apparent. In December, Chevron canceled a $10billion shale-gas exploration project in Ukraine, which the Ukrainian government was counting on to help stimulate its troubled economy and, eventually, lower its dependence on Russian gas. It’s just one example of a broader, industry-wide trend: scrapping or postponing energy projects that have suddenly become too risky or not economically viable at a lower oil-price level. According to Goldman Sachs, $1 trillion worth of investments in energy projects could now be at risk. In the long run, this may mean less oil production and higher energy prices. But in the short run, the abrupt disappearance of this enormous investment flow is bound to hurt energy companies—and especially their equipment suppliers and the construction and engineering firms that were planning to execute these projects. It will also hurt the cities and regions, from Texas to Lagos, where these companies operate.
More to read HERE.
It’s Not Your Money – Feds Put Currency Control In Place
This story has been floating around for a few days, now, but I don’t see much coverage of it. According to The Sovereign Man blog by Simon Black, the DOJ has instituted cash controls that require banks to notify them if anyone withdraws as little as $5000 cash in one transaction.
Assistant attorney general Leslie Caldwell gave a speech in which he urged banks to “alert law enforcement authorities about the problem” so that police can “seize the funds” or at least “initiate an investigation”.
As Black highlights, according to the handbook for the Federal Financial Institution Examination Council, such suspicious activity includes, “Transactions conducted or attempted by, at, or through the bank (or an affiliate) and aggregating $5,000 or more…”
Imagine going to your local bank to get some cash; for a specific purchase or just because you want to have some cash on hand. You tell the teller that you’d like to withdraw $5,000 from your account. She hesitates nervously and wants to know why.
You try to politely let her know that that’s none of the bank’s business as it’s your money.
The teller disappears for a few minutes, leaving you waiting.
When she returns she tells you that you can collect your money in a few days as they don’t have it on hand at the moment.
Slightly irritated because of the inconvenience, you head home.
But as you pull into your driveway later there’s an unexpected surprise waiting for you: two police officers would like to have a word with you about your intended withdrawal earlier…
How do you know you live in a police state? That’s a pretty good working definition right there.
With today’s prices $5000 isn’t an extreme amount of cash. I’ve had plumbing damage to my house that cost more than that to repair (leak from a dishwasher in the kitchen that required stripping to bare concrete and rebuilding). Maybe you want to buy a used car, or pay your plumber for a major fix in cash. Sure, most people use a credit card or check for that, but shouldn’t that be your choice?
According to Black, federal regulations REQUIRE banks to file ‘suspicious activity reports’ or SARs on their customers. The thing is, it’s not optional. Banks have minimum quotas of SARs they need to fill out and submit to the federal government. If they don’t file enough SARs, they can be fined. They can lose their banking charter. And yes, bank executives and directors can even be imprisoned for noncompliance. So they have strong incentives to fill out SARs on anyone at any time.
SHTFPlan.com adds some more essential details. He ties it to the horror of civil forfeiture, which I’ve written about several times here (for example), Confessions of a Street Pharmacist has, The Daily Sheeple and a lot of other people as well. They conclude with:
It’s a sad state of affairs when law-abiding American citizens now have to worry about how to hide their money where the bankers and police can’t find it. When travelling or keeping money at home consider the Shovel and Maneuver for Hiding Gold, Guns and Other Assets:
With the central reserve banks causing all sorts of distortions in the market, there’s lots of talk about the negative interest rates spreading from bonds to banks – the ECB itself went to negative interest a year ago. People are understandably uneasy about leaving money in places where it can get stolen confiscated. The central banks need control of every bit of currency in the world and the governments want control of every person in the world, so they’re only too happy to comply.