November 30, 2013

50 Interesting Facts About The Great Depression

Randon Facts
April 12, 2009
  1. Herbert Hoover (1874-1964), a Republican, was president when the Great Depression began. He infamously declared in March 1930 that the U.S. had “passed the worst” and argued that the economy would sort itself out. The worst, however, had just begun and would last until the outbreak of WWII (1939).
  2. People who lost their homes often lived in what were called “Hoovervilles,” or shanty towns, that were named after President Herbert Hoover. There was also “Hoover Stew” (food dished out in soup kitchens), “Hoover Blankets” (newspapers that served as blankets), “Hoover Hogs” (jack rabbits used as food), and “Hoover Wagons” (broken cars that were pulled by mules).
  3. Chicago gangster Al Capone (1899-1947), in one of his sporadic attempts at public relations, opened a soup kitchen during the Great Depression. For millions, soup kitchens provided the only food they would see all day.
  4. The Wall Street Crash of 1929 was one of the main causes of the Great Depression. “Black Thursday,” “Black Monday,” and “Black Tuesday” are all correct terms to describe the Crash because the initial crash occurred over several days, with Tuesday being the most devastating.
  5. market downturn
    The stock market crash of 1929 was the most devastating crash in the history of the United States
  6. On “Black Tuesday,” October 29, 1929, the market lost $14 billion, making the loss for that week an astounding $30 billion. This was ten times more than the annual federal budget and far more than the U.S. had spent in WWI. Thirty billion dollars would be equivalent to $377,587,032,770.41 today.
  7. After the initial crash, there was a wave of suicides in the New York’s financial district. It is said that the clerks of one hotel even started asking new guests if they needed a room for sleeping or jumping.
  8. The Dow Jones market peaked at 381 on September 3, 1929, and bottomed out at 42 in 1932, which is an amazing 89% decline. It did not reach 381 again until 23 years later in 1955 (that doesn’t include inflation losses).
  9. Causes of the Great Depression are widely debated but typically include a weak banking system, overproduction, bursting credit bubble, the fact that farmers and industrial workers had not shared in the prosperity of the 1920s, and a government-held laissez faire policy.
  10. One American sheep farmer found that he would not make money off of his sheep during the depression. Rather than watch his 3,000 sheep starve to death, he cut their throats and threw them in a canyon.
  11. Dorothea Lange’s (1895-1965) famous photographs of migrant workers in California during the 1930s remain a moving pictorial record of the Great Depression.
  12. A new look in women’s fashion emerged in the 1930s. In response to the economic crisis, designers created more affordable fashions with longer hemlines, slim waistlines, lower heels, and less makeup. Accessories became more important as they created the impression of a “new” look without having to buy a new dress.
  13. During the worst years of the Depression (1933-1934) the overall jobless rate was 25% (1 out of 4 people) with another 25% taking wage cuts or working part time. The gross national product fell by almost 50%. It was not until 1941, when WWII was underway, that unemployment officially fell back below 10%.
  14. Today the typical household has two wage earners, so even a 25% unemployment rate such as occurred during the Great Depression may not mean the same thing as it did in the 1930s.
  15. Scholars estimate that nearly 50% of children during the Great Depression did not have adequate food, shelter, or medical care. Many suffered rickets.
  16. Some people who became homeless would ride on railroad cars because they didn’t have money to travel. Some famous men who rode the rails were William O. Douglas (1898-1980), U.S. Supreme Court Justice from 1939-1975; novelist Louis L’Amour (1908-1988); and folk singer Woody Guthrie (1912-1967). Some scholars claim that more than 50,000 people were injured or killed while jumping trains.
  17. monopoly
    The board game Monopoly became immensely popular during the Great Depression
  18. The board game Monopoly, which first became available in 1935, became immensely popular perhaps because players could become rich—at least in their imagination.
  19. The “Three Little Pigs“—released May 27, 1933, and produced by Walt Disney—was seen as symbolic of the Great Depression, with the wolf representing the Depression and the three little pigs representing average citizens who eventually succeeded by working together.
  20. During the Great Depression, a record 60-80 million Americans went to the movies every week. One of the biggest blockbusters was Merian C. Cooper’s 1933 King Kong. Other popular movies included The Wizard of Oz (1939) and Gone with the Wind (1939).
  21. Chain letters seemed to have first begun in 1935 as a get-rich-quick scheme. The source of the letters is unknown, but the letters became so popular that post offices around the nation had to hire extra help.
  22. African-Americans were the hardest hit during the Great Depression, and they were often the first to get laid off.
  23. Between 1930 and 1935, nearly 750,000 farms were lost through bankruptcy or sheriff sales.
  24. During the Depression, distressed farms were sometimes sold at “Penny Auction” (forced auctions) in which farmers would assure that a distressed neighbor would be able to buy back his own farm by holding bids down to pennies, nickels, and quarters. They would dissuade those who wanted to make higher bids, sometimes symbolically with dangling nooses at the auction scene.
  25. The Hawley-Smoot Tariff Act of 1930 increased U.S. tariffs which, in turn, decreased international trade (especially in the farming sector) and helped spread the Great Depression worldwide. As it spread, it became partly responsible for Nazism in Germany and for WWII (1939-1945).
  26. As businesses and farms closed during the Great Depression, an alarming number of Americans began turning to crime—such as Bruno Hauptmann, who kidnapped and murdered aviation hero Charles Lindbergh’s 20-month-old son; John Dillinger, a kind of Robin Hood hero; Lester M. Gillis (“Baby Face” Nelson); Machine Gun Kelly; Pretty Boy Floyd; Ma Barker and her Boys; and the famous Bonnie and Clyde, who were actually despised by other Midwestern bandits who felt they lowered the standard of the profession.
  27. golden gate bridge
    The Golden Gate Bridge was constructed during the Great Depression
  28. A number of great structures, including the Empire State Building and the Golden Gate Bridge, were completed during the Great Depression, providing many jobs to the unemployed.
  29. As news of the stock market crash spread, customers rushed to their banks to withdraw their money, sparking disastrous “bank runs.” Nobel prize-winning economist Milton Friedman argues that the 1930s market crash itself did not cause the depression, but rather it was the collapse of the banking system during waves of public panic during 1930-1933.
  30. The most famous demonstration during the Great Depression was held by the “Bonus Army.” It consisted largely of WWI veterans who requested financial bonuses that were scheduled to be given in 1945 to be paid instead in 1932. The U.S. Army was called in to disperse them.
  31. Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) became president in March 1933 and promised a “New Deal for the American people.” During his first hundred days, he attempted to create jobs by establishing federal organizations that were nicknamed “Alphabet Agencies,” such as the TVA, NRA, CCC, and WPA. Economists and historians continue to debate whether Roosevelt’s actions actually deepened and lengthened the Depression.
  32. Economist John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946) gained popularity during and after the Great Depression for consistently arguing for government intervention in the economy and for his suspicion of laissez faire policies.
  33. In the mountain communities of Appalachia, whole families were reduced to dandelions and blackberries for their basic diet. Some children were so hungry, they chewed on their own hands.
  34. An early form of Social Security began Aug 14, 1935, to implement social insurance for the elderly who did not have enough money to support themselves.
  35. By the 1930s, thousands of schools were operating on reduced hours or were closed down entirely. Some three million children had left school, and at least 200,000 took to riding the rails.
  36. During the Great Depression, many people tried apple selling to avoid the shame of panhandling. In New York City alone, there were as many as 6,000 apple sellers.
  37. When the Depression struck, Mexican-Americans were accused of taking jobs away from “real” Americans and of unfairly burdening local relief efforts. Some were “encouraged” to return to Mexico.
  38. On May 6, 1929, Joseph Stalin predicted to a small group of American communists that America would experience a revolutionary crisis and that the American communist party should be ready to assume the leadership of the “impending class struggle in America.”
  39. In spite of the New Deal and the “Indian New Deal” of 1934, most Native Americans remained bitterly poor during the Great Depression. The “Indian New Deal” (which was also called the Indian Reorganization Act) was a complex and multi-faceted legislation which reversed the Dawes Severalty Act of 1887 and granted tribes more autonomy.
  40. Discrimination during the Great Depression against women was common, both officially and unofficially, because they were seen as taking away jobs from men.
  41. While the Great Depression affected most of the country, up to 40% of the country never faced real hardship during those years.
  42. abandoned mother
    During the Great Depression, nearly 1.5 million women were abandoned by their husbands
  43. The Great Depression changed the family in several ways. Many couples delayed marriage, and divorce rates and birth rates dropped. Some men also abandoned their families; a 1940 poll revealed that 1.5 million married women were abandoned by their husbands.
  44. In 1936, main economic indicators (except unemployment) regained the levels of the late 1920s...but after the federal government cut spending with the expectation that the private sector would step in, the economy took another sharp downturn until WWII.
  45. Californians tried to stop migrants from moving into their state by creating checkpoints on main highways called “bum blockades.” California even instated an “anti-Okie” law which punished anyone bringing in “indigents” with jail time.
  46. During the Great Depression, hundreds of thousands of families traveled west on Route 66 to California, following what John Steinbeck in his famous novel The Grapes of Wrath called “The Mother Road.”
  47. While John Steinbeck highlights the plight of migrant farm families in The Grapes of Wrath, in reality, less than half (43%) of the migrants were farmers. Most migrants came from east of the Dust Bowl and did not work on farms.
  48. Severe drought and dust storms exacerbated the Great Depression because it dried out farmlands and forced families to leave their farms. On May 9, 1934, a dust storm carried an estimated 350 million tons of dirt 2,000 miles east ward and dumped four million tons of prairie dirt in Chicago. The drought and dust killed tens of thousands of animals.
  49. In 1932, half of all workers in Cleveland, Ohio, were jobless. And in Toledo, Ohio, four out of five were jobless.
  50. Every major country, including the United States, abandoned the gold standard during the Great Depression. In fact, leaving the gold standard was a predictor of a country’s economic severity and the length of time for its recovery. However, Herbert Hoover argued that abandoning the gold standard was the first step toward “communism, fascism, socialism, statism, and a planned economy.”
  51. As he did during WWII, Joseph P. Kennedy (JFK’s father) amassed an enormous amount of wealth through real estate (among other ventures) during the Great Depression. Without this money, he could not have financed his son’s successful run for the presidency [John F. Kennedy even toured Europe by car with a friend during the depression].
  52. Though the United States has only been in a recession for less than a year, some scholars state that there is no comparison between the current economic condition in 2009 and that of the 1930s. For example, in the 1930s, unemployment reached 25% and the GDP dropped 25%. In 2009, unemployment is currently at 8.1% and the GDP has so far dropped 2%. Additionally, the situation today is very different because the U.S. didn’t have the “social safety net” in the 1930s that it has today.
  53. Some scholars speculate that a “Great Depression” in 2009 would lead to more T.V. watching as an escape, longer lines at the ER, laid-off office workers migrating to the country, and even online banking runs. Overall, it would be less visible and more isolating than the 1930s' Depression.
  54. Some scholars find the 2009 economic condition more troubling than that of the 1930s' Great Depression because debt in 2009 includes not only stocks but also millions of homes, property, local governments, and entire nations. Also, in contrast to the 1930s, the U.S. is now a debtor nation and more households in the U.S. are in far greater debt.

60 Percent of Americans Faced Real Hardship During the Great Depression

Relations of Class in the Great Depression

Despite the fact that nearly everyone in the country was hurt to some degree by onset of the Depression, the 1930's was a period of exacerbted class conflict. One possible reason for this was the divergent responses which upper and lower class individuals had to the crisis. While many of the richest people in America lost money when the stock market crashed, the upper classes as a whole still retained much of the wealth which they had held before the Depression and in most cases did not suffer from unemployment. 

Perhaps as a way of displaying their continued prosperity in the face of nationwide suffering (or of trying to show up their social equals who may have been hit harder by the crash) many among the upper classes began to flaunt their wealth more than ever. Working class Americans, many of whom were thrown out of work by the Depression (which they often correctly blamed upon the reckless financial dealings of the upper classes) were shocked and angered by this ostentatious display of wealth.

The upper classes, on the other hand, began to resent their social inferiors (as they saw the lower classes) even more than ever, particularly after the institution of the a number of New Deal programs which were paid for out of taxes on those who still had an income. They often viewed such programs as hand outs, which, as can be seen in this cover, were not somethign which the upper classes felt was their responsibility to provide. They were further angered by the actions of President Roosevelt, who catered to the mass of Americans while largely ignoring the interests of the upper classes. These factors served to heigten class tensions during a period when many Americans (both rich and poor) were already tense over their financial futures.

Amid this tension, class conflicts often became very visible and even violent, especially in cases of worker strikes. New Deal regulations helped foster significant unionization and these unions would often run into conflict with company hired police forces. Such conflicts, like the Memorial Day Massacre in Chicago, often left people dead on both sides.

Upper class Americans, sensitized by the Russian Revolution not two decades before, feared that a class war might be on the horizon as a number of workers joined the Communist party. While these violent conflicts never reached such a boiling point (thanks largely to the New Deal programs which many among the upper classes opposed) fears of this sort helped contribute to a general suspicion on both sides for the entire decade of the thirties.

Can Local and State Governments Scale Back Pensions of Public Servants?; Detroit's Bankruptcy Could Involve Pension Cuts for Current and Future Retirees

Big day looms for Illinois, Detroit pensions

November 29, 2013

MarketWatch - For anybody who wonders whether state and local government pensions have a sustainable future, Dec. 3 will be a day to stay glued to the news. That’s the day when a state legislators’ vote in Illinois and a federal bankruptcy court ruling in Detroit could help determine whether those respective governments can scale back pension benefits in an attempt to get their financial affairs in order.

Illinois has the worst-funded pension system of any U.S. state, with only about 45% of the assets needed to cover the obligations of its pension funds, according to a study by the Pew Center on the States. That shortfall has jacked up the state’s borrowing costs (Illinois now has the lowest credit rating of any state).

But a bipartisan group of legislative leaders and Gov. Pat Quinn, a Democrat, reached a tentative pension-reform agreement earlier this week that’s designed to cut pension costs by $160 billion over 30 years. Mark Peters and Al Yoon report in The Wall Street Journal that the deal would involve “reducing cost-of-living increases for retirees, raising the retirement age for younger workers and capping the salary amount used to calculate pension payments.” Votes on the plan are expected when the legislature reconvenes Tuesday.

In Detroit, meanwhile, federal bankruptcy court Judge Steven Rhodes is expected to rule Dec. 3 on whether that city is legally eligible for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection. As MarketWatch’s Ben Eisen has noted, public pension obligations account for as much as $3.5 billion of the city’s $18 billion in debts, and most of the parties involved anticipate that any post-bankruptcy plan would involve pension cuts for current and future retirees.

Public-sector unions and retirees, not surprisingly, oppose any proposed cuts to benefits — and whatever takes place next week in Illinois and Detroit is unlikely to represent the final word. Most notably, both the Illinois and Michigan state constitutions protect public workers’ pension rights, giving retiree groups more ammunition for court fights to come.

November 29, 2013

British Banks Put Brakes on Latest Housing Bubble Created by Government Policies

Bank of England cuts mortgage support to avoid housing bubble

November 28, 2013

Reuters - The Bank of England moved to head off the risk of a housing bubble in Britain on Thursday, making a surprise announcement that it would put the brakes on a scheme launched last year to help boost mortgage lending.

The central bank said the Funding for Lending Scheme (FLS) would cease to offer banks incentives for mortgage lending and instead be refocused on helping small firms to borrow. The news caused shares in house-building firms to tumble.

Britain's economy and its housing market have staged an unexpectedly strong turnaround since the FLS was launched by the Bank and finance ministry in July 2012 in an effort to spur the long-delayed recovery by unblocking credit markets.
"Given the access to credit for households now ... it would no longer be appropriate or necessary for us to have our foot on the accelerator. It's better to shift into neutral," BoE Governor Mark Carney said.
Another - much-criticised - government programme to aid the housing market, Help to Buy, remains in place.

British house prices have risen by almost 7 percent over the past 12 months - their fastest growth in more than three years - sparking concern about the risk of a future bubble as well as rising living costs at a time of stagnant wages.

London prices have surged even more, partly on the back of foreign demand, and Chancellor George Osborne is widely expected to introduce a capital gains tax on foreign-owned property in a half-yearly budget update next week.
"We did not see an immediate threat coming from the housing market but we are concerned about the prospective evolution of the housing market," Carney said, adding that the Bank could take further steps to rein in house prices if needed.
Osborne, who has made a revival of Britain's housing market a key part of his economic plans, endorsed the decision.


Sterling hit a 14-month high as currency traders bet the news moved the Bank closer to raising interest rates from a record low of 0.5 percent, where they have been since 2009.

Economists disagreed, saying tighter regulation could reduce the need for the Bank to raise rates to tame house prices. 
"By taking such action it can actually limit the need for direct monetary policy tightening," said James Knightley at ING.
House-building firms at one point lost more than 1 billion pounds in market value as their shares - which have more than doubled in two years, helped by efforts to kick-start the property market - fell heavily on the news.

Carney said he did not expect a big economic impact because market funding conditions had improved over the past year and banks were already making limited use of the FLS.
"Although the changes to the FLS may be a surprise, they are not a shock," said Paul Smee, who heads the Council of Mortgage Lenders, an industry group. "Lenders are well equipped to meet their funding needs, as wholesale funding market conditions have improved and retail deposits are robust."
Banking analysts at Bernstein Research warned that over the longer run the change could push up mortgage rates, as the FLS had boosted competition in Britain's mortgage market.


The news raised questions about how the Bank will judge another, more controversial housing scheme. Help to Buy, which was expanded last month by the government, aids home-buyers who lack the large deposits sought by mortgage lenders since the financial crisis.

That plan has been widely criticised by economists and the opposition Labour Party for doing too little to boost house-building and for risking a surge in prices.

The Bank is due to review Help to Buy in September, and Carney said on Thursday it could make recommendations sooner if it felt the scheme threatened financial stability.

Under the FLS, banks and building societies get cheap credit from the Bank in proportion to how much they raise their lending.

Thursday's changes mean banks will be unable to claim the cheap funding for new lending to households from January 1, 2014. Fees charged to banks for business finance would be reduced to the lowest point on the existing scale, 0.25 percent.

Favourable capital treatment for new home loans made under the FLS will end on December 31. Five, mainly small, lenders benefit from this at present.

Carney said the Bank would take more action to cool housing if needed, including a possible cap on how big mortgages can be relative to property values and borrowers' salaries. The Bank lacks powers to force banks to follow such recommendations, but it can require banks to hold more capital against risky lending.

Away from housing, the Bank said a stronger economic outlook meant that risks to financial stability appeared lower.

Risks remained, however, as many countries, firms and individuals were highly indebted and vulnerable if a sharp rise in interest rates outpaced any increase in their incomes.

November 28, 2013

Is California in Another Real-Estate Bubble?

Is California in Another Real-Estate Bubble?

Motley Fool - Home prices across the country are rising, but most of the country still looks cheap historically. California, however, has several cities looking very expensive at the moment, and California housing trends can often be a bellwether for what's to come across the rest of the country. Do these sky-high prices in cities such as San Francisco and San Diego show that the U.S. is moving toward another housing bubble? In this video, Motley Fool analyst Austin Smith talks with Chris Hill to weigh the evidence for and against, and he tells us what he thinks home prices in California mean for the nation.

With the American markets reaching new highs, investors and pundits alike are skeptical about future growth. They shouldn't be. Many global regions are still stuck in neutral, and their resurgence could result in windfall profits for select companies. A recent Motley Fool report, "3 Strong Buys for a Global Economic Recovery," outlines three companies that could take off when the global economy gains steam. Click here to read the full report!

November 27, 2013

‘Militarized,’ Possibly Federalized, Police Force Being Applied to Domestic Policing of Local Communities and Peaceful Protests

Why Police are Treating Americans Like Military Threats

November 27, 2011

William Hogeland, Colonel6's Blog - Why is the armed might of the state, (necessary in waging war against foreign enemies) being applied to domestic policing of local communities and peaceful protests?
“Is this still my country?”

In the past few days, those and similarly poignant Twitter posts have appealed to fundamental American values in objecting to the notorious U.C. Davis event, where police pepper-sprayed seated protesters, and to cities generally cracking down on the Occupy movement. The crackdowns have brought a military level of combativeness to what many Americans — even those not in sympathy with the protesters — would normally see as a police, not a military matter.

Police, not military. The distinction may seem academic, even absurd, when police are bringing rifles, helmets, armor, and helicopters to evict unarmed protesters.

But it’s an old and critical distinction in American law and ideology and in republican thought as a whole.
The 17th-century English liberty writers, on whose ideas much of America’s founding ethos was based, believed that turning the armed might of the state, (necessary in waging war against foreign enemies), to domestic policing of local communities tends to concentrate power in top-down executive action and vitiate treasured things like judiciary process, individual liberty, representative government, and free speech.

Constabulary and judiciary matters, high Whigs came to think, should never be handled by what they condemned as “standing armies.” It’s true, on the other hand, that keeping public order, not just aiding in prosecutions, is a duty of local police. When concerted crowd violence occurs against people and property, policing may be expected to be pretty violent too, and distinctions between combat and policing sometimes naturally blur.

But where protest is peaceful — maybe loud, maybe deliberately annoying, combative in its rhetoric, even possibly illegal, yet not actually violent or dangerous — treating it the way a state normally treats an outside military threat will give many Americans, across a broad political spectrum, a gut problem.

We’ve seen military hardware and tactics used in the Occupy crackdowns. We’ve seen them in post-9/11 federal funding in the states and municipalities for homeland security. We’ve seen them in the aptly named “war on drugs.” And anyone who has watched shows like “Cops” has seen — and may by now take for granted — techniques and technologies of military-style police raids on homes, raids that in more upscale neighborhoods might amount to nothing more than knocking on a door and serving a warrant. A Twitter post from Joy Reid, of the blog the Reid Report, put it this way last week:
“Disconnect: liberals see a suddenly ‘militarized,’ possibly federalized police force. Black people see ‘the usual.’”
The police behavior at U.C. Davis — manifestly not “rogue-cop,” a trained, planned exercise — reveals the cool military thinking behind the operation. Pepper-spraying looked surgical, preemptive, even robotic. The strategic directive must have been to conserve police effort and maintain police maneuverability at virtually any cost. Such efficiencies and capabilities would be important in a riot; they’re not important when hoping to evict unarmed, seated protesters.

It’s not as if officers have been resorting to battle gear under otherwise unmanageable pressure or initiating violence only as a last resort. They’ve been arriving in battle gear. They’ve been construing noncompliance as potential attack. They’ve moved preemptively to disable attack where none existed, not just trying to evict but seemingly hoping to inspire fear, to punish and defeat.

The mood these operations convey is that failure to achieve police objectives must result in something awful for the body politic. In reality, leaving citizens sitting around a park or campus a few more days, even possibly illegally, might be frustrating for police and others; it’s hardly the end of the world. Sometimes taking a few deep breaths is the only thing to do. But military training, tactics, and weaponry seem to inspire the idea in civic strategists that failure to achieve an objective is tantamount to fatal defeat by a hostile enemy. Intolerable. Not an option.

That mentality tends to place American governments at enmity with their dissident citizens — and vice versa. The fact that much militarizing of police, over the past twenty years, has federal sources raises endlessly complicated questions that reflect strangely on the histories of American federalism and government suppression.

A horrific theme of the Civil Rights Movement was police violence, and many Americans have branded on their brains the watercannons, clubs, dogs, fists, and boots used against nonviolent protesters in the 1950s; police involved were generally state and local.

Then in 1957 federal troops — the 101st Airborne Paratroopers — entered Little Rock, Arkansas, with fixed bayonets, to enforce federal law by ensuring the entry of African American students to state school there; states-rights advocates talked about federal overreaching and police state, the end of liberty.

Then again, in the 1960s and ’70s the federal government, via its law-enforcement arm the FBI, carried out a covert war — involving assassination, it’s fairly uncontroversial to say — on the militant activist group the Black Panthers, who it’s fairly uncontroversial to say were not always peaceful protesters.

Responding now to police efforts against demonstrators, liberals and leftists have begun raising anew the issue of inappropriate police militarization and violence. Yet it’s the libertarian right that has done much of the reporting and research on the issue in recent decades (Democracy Now! is among left-liberal institutions that have also covered the issue for many years).

The current state of heightened awareness means there’s a possibly interesting opportunity for people of varying backgrounds and politics to begin a new conversation. That conversation would involve some very strange bedfellows — and might spark new enmities. The Salon columnist Joan Walsh’s suggestion last weekend on Twitter that if police violence has federal sources, then President Obama bears some responsibility set off a torrent of invective violent even by Twitter standards.

James Madison may offer some long-range perspective. During the 1787 Constitutional Convention, arguing for forming a nation instead of retaining the confederation of states, he said that force applied to citizens collectively rather than individually ceases to be law enforcement and becomes war; groups so treated will seize the opportunity to dissolve all compacts by which they might otherwise have been bound. Madison’s argued against militarism in favor not of anarchy but of a higher kind of law and order.

And in 1794, Secretary of State Edmund Randolph, advising President Washington (to no avail) to eschew military adventure against the so-called Whiskey Rebels, and to use prosecutions instead, argued passionately that the real strength of government always lies not in coercion but in the affection of the people. Randolph was facing an actual insurrection, with threat of secession, not a peaceful protest; there were federal crimes involved. Still he advised against a military operation. The loathing of military suppression as a substitute for due process of law, going back to our first administration, runs deep in the American psyche.
But it’s worth remembering that equally strong feelings have always run the other way.

Long before events known as the Whiskey Rebellion had risen to any kind of crisis, Alexander Hamilton, Secretary of the Treasury, was urging Washington to bring military force against citizens somewhere in the country; otherwise, Hamilton believed, authority would always be in question. When Washington did so, he ignored habeas corpus and nearly every individual right set out in the new Bill of Rights, federalizing militias to bring overwhelming force to shock and awe innocent citizens of an entire region of the country. In his book Crisis and Command, John Yoo, author of the notorious “torture memo,” has defended the George W. Bush administration’s tactics in dealing with suspected terrorists by citing precedent — not wrongly — in Washington’s behavior in the 1790s.

“Is this still my country?” That’s been a question from day one, asked by Americans of widely diverging views in response to government crackdowns on protest. Objecting to military violence against protesting citizens may be inherently American. The urge to crack down can look inherently American too.

A Smart Card Will Monitor and Control Every Aspect of Your Life

Korea's High-Tech Utopia, Where Everything Is Observed

November 24, 2013

Students Encouraged to Use Smart Cards for Public Transit

Taiwan's Smart Ticketing Transit System Set for 2010 Launch

August 23, 2010

sQuid - The new integrated transit card system in Taiwan could be fully operational by the end of the year, it has been reported.

The Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) confirmed that the residents may be able to use the contactless smart cards shortly if there are no technical issues, reports

Passengers will be able to seamlessly travel across the country's bus and rail network using a single card.

The MOTC will provide NT$550 million (£11 million) in grants to subsidise the cost of installing card readers.

Transport operators will receive between 30 and 49 per cent of the cost of the devices, depending on the number of readers which are required and the amount of time it takes to install them.

Around 22 million smart cards have been issued in Taiwan, including 18 million Easycards, a contactless transit card, in the city of Tapei.

South African Bus Operator Rolls Out Contactless Ticketing System

August 20, 2010

Engineering News - Bus operator Buscor says that its new ticketing system, developed by business process and information technology services company Affiliated Computer Services (ACS), aims to improve passenger and operational efficiency.

ACS has been commissioned by Buscor to install its Atlas contactless ticketing system on about 400 buses in Mpumalanga province, which services almost 160 000 passengers daily. Contactless ticketing is convenient for passengers, who can board buses with the wave of a fare card, and it is efficient for Buscor, which receives fare transaction information from buses in real time. Further, ACS will deploy South Africa’s first touch-screen driver consoles in Buscor’s buses.

The 14-month project includes system design, customisation, training and the installation of the system. ACS will work closely with Buscor to ensure a seamless transition to the new technology.

Buscor information technology manager Johann Bester says that the ACS contactless ticketing system has proven to be successful and the hardware and software are well supported.
“The technology will assist us in decreasing costs and the improved tracking of activities on the system will also help to control fraud,” he adds.
The implementation makes it possible for the growth of the ACS system, including interoperability with other local bus operators.

ACS transportation solutions key account manager Mathias Serre says that this state-of-the-art solution was designed to improve secure cash collections and better reporting, and create future opportunities.

Jamaican Students Travel Smart with Cashless Bus Fare

The Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) is pushing for more student commuters to use its smart card system for paying fares on buses, according to the Jamaica Information Service. The system enables parents to deposit an allowance on the card to cover bus fares, and reports back the child’s usage. An official from the JUTC notes, the card allows parents to better manage their children’s finances and monitor their location, as they are able to receive details from the JUTC.

August 23, 2010

Jamaica Information Service - With the start of the new academic year less than three weeks away, the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) is encouraging commuters, especially students, to use the Smart Card to make their travel easier.

In an interview with JIS News, Corporate Communications Manager at the JUTC, Mr. Reginald Allen, says that the card provides a safe way of paying fares on the buses.
"It offers security and convenience both for the parents and students," he says.
He notes that the card also allows parents to better manage their children's finances and monitor their whereabouts, as they are able to receive a report from the JUTC, indicating usage of the card by the child.
"Essentially, a parent can put a monthly amount on a card to cover transportation and be reassured that the child will not only be going where they should be going but also, you have a means of monitoring that," he says.
He notes further that parents "can be assured that the level of service that the JUTC offers would be in sync with what you consider to be appropriate for your children so that you will not be there wondering which bus they are in and under what condition and what kind of environment."

Parent and user of the Smart Card, Ms. Althea Plummer, says that the card makes it easier to pay fares.
"Sometimes, you give them (bus conductor) like a $500 or so and they don't have any change, so if you have the card, you just take it out and give (it to) them," she says.
Ms. Plummer tells JIS News that she also allows her daughter, Marsha, to use the JUTC Smart Card.

Marsha says that one of the most important aspects of the card is that it serves as an anti-theft device, as, instead of persons having to go into purses or wallets on a crowed bus to retrieve cash, which makes them vulnerable to criminals, they can simply use the card.
"You can just put on money that you know will last for like the whole month and you don't have to think of bus fare or anything cause it's on the smart card," she notes further.
Since December 2002, passengers of the state-run bus company have had the option of paying their fares with the electronic Smart Card, which is economical and makes travel efficient, and more convenient.

JUTC Marketing and Sales Manager, JUTC, Lenworth Simms, tells JIS News that upon purchasing a Smart Card, it will be personalised, so that it can be easily replaced in the event that it gets lost or is damaged.
"We personalise the card free of charge to each card holder, which means that we link the name and telephone number of the cardholder to the card. If the card is damaged or gets lost, what will happen is that we can replace the card with the balance that was on the card at the point that the card was lost," he explains.
Persons wishing to obtain cards for the new school year can do so at any of the more than 40 Smart Card dealers located in Corporate Area, and St. Catherine. Among the locations are Portmore Mall and the Spanish Town Lay-By in St. Catherine; and the Half-Way-Tree-Transport Centre, in Kingston.

The bus company offers a 10 per cent bonus to persons, who top up their cards with $500 or more, at any of the centres controlled by the bus company.
"If you put on $500, we give you $550 worth of travel time, if you put on $1,000 we give you $1, that is something that we are pushing for students," Mr. Simms says.

November 23, 2013

Kennedy Warned Us About Secret Societies; Eisenhower Warned Us About the Military Industrial Complex

$8.5 trillion in taxpayer money doled out by Congress to the Pentagon since 1996, the first year it was supposed to be audited, has never been accounted for. Read the full story:

$8.5 Trillion in Taxpayer Money Doled Out to the Pentagon Since 1996 Has Never Been Accounted For

November 21, 2013

Only Government Employees, U.S. Military and a Few Others Can Retire

Why Millennials May Never Retire

November 19, 2013

Daily Ticker - It seems that, every few weeks, a new study or article comes out citing a rise in the average age of retirement. Hard economic times and longer lifespans make the idea of full retirement seem like wishful thinking for people across generations.

For millennials, those born between 1980 and 2000, retirement may never be a viable option. The generation that came of age in the tech boom of the 1990s but graduated from college into one of the worst recessions our nation has ever seen is behind financially.

The median debt for a student upon graduation is now $23,000, and more than 7 million college grads are currently estimated to be in default. Eighteen percent of college students are unable to find jobs after graduation. These are crucial setbacks at the beginning of a career and may be impossible to recover from. The National Bureau of Economic Research reports that those who graduate into a recession earn 10% less over a decade of work. Research also shows that 70% of overall wage growth occurs in the first 10 years of a career.

A study by Nerd Wallet finds that college-educated millennials won’t be able to retire until 73, 12 years later than the current average retirement age of 61. According to Personal Capital, millennials will need to save $1.6 million to retire by 65.
“The economy has changed everything at its greatest level,” says Dan Schawbel, author of Promote Yourself: The New Rules for Career Success. “A lot of the jobs that exist today won’t even exist in five to ten years. People now have to be self-sufficient and accountable for their careers and have multiple streams of income or career-diversification. They can no longer rely on employers.”
Millennials don't necessarily have the option of climbing the corporate ladder until they reach a traditional retirement age. Fifty percent of them don’t even expect to receive Social Security checks in their old age.
“The big trend is that the economy has changed the typical career path,” says Schawbel. “People no longer expect Social Security, or even to retire.”
According to Intuit, more than 40% of the American workforce will be freelancers, contractors or temp workers by 2020.
“It’s becoming easier to start a business or do consulting work because of opportunities online,” says Schawbel. “With this comes custom career paths with part-time work, multiple clients and jobs.”
Millennials also seek passion and meaning in the workplace, and they may not see a career as something they even want to retire from.
“This is a generation that’s thinking about all the basic tenets of work, their career and leadership, in such different ways,” says Anne Hubert, senior vice president at Scratch Media, a division of Viacom focused on understanding the millennial mindset.
“They’re thinking about finding their life’s work, their calling," she says. "Eighty-four percent of them believe they’re going to get where they want to in life. So when you’ve organized your career around finding your life’s work, I think the idea of retirement is a totally different thing.

"The whole idea of retirement as this light at the end of the tunnel, well, if you haven’t thought of your career as a tunnel, where are you really heading?”
Hubert claims that millennials will change the paradigm of retirement altogether.

Whether it's because of passion, the economy or a combination of the two, the idea of a typical retirement may soon be extinct.

November 18, 2013

Nearly 400 Children Rescued and 348 Adults Arrested in Canadian Child Pornography Bust

November 14, 2013

[NBC NEWS] - Nearly 400 children have been rescued and 348 adults arrested following an expansive and “extraordinary” international child pornography investigation, Canadian police announced Thursday.

The three-year project, named Project Spade, began when undercover officers with the Toronto Police Service Child Exploitation service made contact with a Toronto man allegedly sharing “very graphic images” of child sexual abuse in Oct. 2010, Toronto Police Service Chief William Blair said at a press conference on Thursday.

Police said their investigation revealed an entire child movie production and distribution company in Toronto operating via the web site

The site was run by 42-year old Brian Way, according to police, and sold and distributed images of child exploitation to people across the world.

Inspector Joanna Beaven-Desjardins, head of Toronto’s Sex Crimes Unit, said they enlisted the help of the United States Postal Inspection Service since many of the videos were being exported to the U.S. and began a joint investigation.

After a seven-month long investigation, officers executed search warrants across the city of Toronto including at the business, located in the city’s West End.

Investigators catalogued hundreds of thousands of images and videos of “horrific sexual acts against very young children, some of the worst they have ever viewed,” Inspector Beaven-Desjardins said at the press conference.

Police seized over 45 terabytes of data from the $4-million business that distributed to over 50 counties including Australia, Spain, Mexico, Sweden and Greece.

As a result of the investigation thus far, 50 people were arrested in Ontario, 58 in the rest of Canada, 76 in the United States, and 164 internationally.

What was most alarming, Inspector Beaven-Desjardins said, was that many of the arrests were of people who worked with or closely interacted with children.

Among those arrested were 40 school teachers, nine doctors and nurses, six law enforcement personnel, nine pastors and priests and three foster parents, she said.

Citing a particularly egregious example, she said police found over 350,000 images and over 9,000 videos of child sexual abuse in the home of a retired Canadian school teacher. Some of the images were of children known to the man and he was also charged with sexually abusing a child relative.

The inspector said an indispensable aspect to the success of the operation and the rescue of 386 children from child exploitation was the expansive cooperation between Toronto police and organizations worldwide.

“[This] confirms that when we work together regardless of the borders that divide us we can successfully take down those who not only prey on our most vulnerable but also profit from it,” she said.

Police said the children were "rescued from child exploitation" but did not give more details.

Way was charged with 24 counts, including possession of, distribution of, and importing and exporting child pornography.

The investigation is ongoing and more arrests could be made, police said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report

November 13, 2013

Public-Private Employee Retirement Parity Act Would Eliminate Pension Portion of the Federal Employees Retirement System

The Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) requires federal employees to contribute only  0.8 percent of their paychecks toward their pensions; it requires taxpayers to cover the rest of the cost to avoid the accumulation of unfunded liabilities. That is why the government in fiscal 2011 hiked the amount taxpayers contributes to FERS pensions from 11.2 percent to 11.7 percent, and in October increased it further to 11.9 percent. [Source]

 The average public sector worker spends about 30 years in the workforce and 30 years retired, and the average private sector worker spends about 40 years in the workforce and 20 years retired. California public sector retirees, on average, receive a retirement pension equal to 66% of their average base pay after working 30 years while private sector retirees receive retirement benefits equal to 33% of their base pay after working 40 years (in California the average base pay of public servants is $68,000 while the average base pay of private workers is $41,500). Extrapolated to the United States as a whole, it is clear that the California model would mean that public sector retirees would cost taxpayers $862 billion per year, which is only 6% less than the entire bill for Ssocial Security for more than six times as many people. In other words, local and state public sector workers (16% of the workforce in California) retire 10 years earlier with retirement benefits 33% greater than private sector workers (84% of the workforce) — all at the expense of the taxpayers. - The Cost of Retirement Security in America, Free Republic, January 1, 2011

The average government worker’s retirement pension is equivalent to the average private sector worker’s base wages while still working! And government workers typically work from ages 25 to 55, then retire for 30 years, while private sector workers typically work from ages 25 to 65, then retire for 20 years. - How Much Do Pensions Really Cost?,, March 11, 2011

The public sector employees in a pension plan get a total benefit some 25% better than the private sector employee. That is a pretty good incentive to work in the public sector. - Defined-benefit Public Sector Pensions: A Bad Habit Continues, The Economist, February 21, 2011

GOP Senators Reintroduce Public-Private Employee Retirement Parity Act S.1678

November 13, 2013

Postal Reporter – Today, U.S. Senators Richard Burr (R-NC), Tom Coburn (R-OK), and Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) reintroduced the Public-Private Employee Retirement Parity Act to address long-term liabilities facing the federal government. The legislation would end the defined benefit pension portion of the Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS) for new federal government hires starting six months after enactment, leaving fully in place the Thrift Savings Plan with the current match (up to 5%) for both current and future federal workers. The bill would also apply to Members of Congress.
“Right now, federal government workers receive far more generous retirement benefits than private sector employees. The cost to taxpayers of these benefits is unsustainable and we simply cannot afford it,” said Sen. Burr. “We cannot ask taxpayers to continue to foot the bill for public employee benefits that are far more generous than their own.”

“Generous pension plans for members of Congress have helped turn congressional service into a career rather than a calling,” said Dr. Coburn. “At the same time, federal workers enjoy a better benefits package and higher overall pay than most taxpayers – even at a time when many Americans are still simply looking for a job. This status quo is unsustainable and needs to be reformed.”

“With America now $17 trillion in debt, we simply cannot continue to commit to future government spending,” said Sen. Chambliss. “Americans have demanded their leaders make the necessary changes to our fiscal policies to put our nation on a track to sustain economic growth and real job creation. The Public-Private Employee Retirement Parity Act is a small change that will have a big impact on our debt and deficit.”
Currently, federal workers enjoy both a defined benefit pension and a Thrift Savings Plan (equivalent to a 401(k)) with up to a 5% match, paid for by the taxpayers. The average private sector employee gets a 401(k) with a 3% employer match and no pension. Federal workers also continue to enjoy federal health care benefits (FEHBP) after they retire, a benefit that is becoming increasingly rare in the private sector.

The legislation will require the Administration to make the annual report on the on the actuarial status of the federal retirement system publicaly available online by January 31st each year. According to the most recent Office of Personnel Management’s Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund annual report, the FERS system is currently underfunded by $20.1 billion for fiscal year 2012. In the coming years, as more of the retirement burden falls on the FERS system, the required federal government contributions to FERS will skyrocket, especially in comparison to what federal workers will put into the system.

In 2012, the Federal government contributed about $22.2 billion to FERS. By 2065, those required contributions will rise to $239.5 billion, with the government paying out $415.3 billion in benefits.

Current federal government employees and retirees would not be impacted by the changes in the Burr-Coburn-Chambliss bill.

Senator Proposes Cuts to Federal Annuity Benefits

S.644, Public-Private Employee Retirement Parity Act, is a bill to amend subchapter II of chapter 84 of title 5, United States Code, to prohibit coverage for annuity purposes for any individual hired as a Federal employee after 2012. - New legislation aims to cut federal pensions for all new employees hired after 2012, citing a need to bring benefits in line with those in the private sector.

Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., on Thursday introduced a bill (S. 644) that would eliminate the pension portion of the Federal Employees Retirement System for all new government hires beginning in 2013. The legislation would not affect Thrift Savings Plan benefits and agency-matching contributions. Nor would it affect FERS pensions for current federal employees and retirees. It would, however, apply to members of Congress.
"Right now, federal government workers receive far more generous retirement benefits than private sector employees," Burr said. "The cost to taxpayers of these benefits is unsustainable, and we simply cannot afford it. We cannot ask taxpayers to continue to foot the bill for public employee benefits that are far more generous than their own."
Federal employees are eligible for pensions, retirement savings plans with up to 5 percent in matching contribution. and retiree health care benefits above and beyond those available to private sector workers, according to Burr.  

He also asserted that FERS is underfunded by almost $1 billion and the Civil Service Retirement System by $673 billion.

According to Tom Trabucco, director of external affairs for the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board, the agency match for FERS participants is dollar for dollar on the first 3 percent of pay contributed to the TSP, and 50 cents on the fourth and fifth percentage points contributed. Agencies [taxpayers] automatically put in 1 percent of basic pay for all new FERS enrollees regardless of the employee contribution. He noted, however, that the arrangement is not equal to a 5 percent total match.

The assertion that federal pension programs are underfunded is rejected by John Gage, national president of the American Federation of Government Employees, who called the bill "cruel and useless."
"Sen. Burr is wrong on the facts and wrong on morals," Gage said. "Eliminating pensions for future employees would do absolutely nothing for the fictional unfunded liabilities that the fact-challenged senator imagines he is resolving. Worse, Sen. Burr's bill is a mean-spirited attempt to deprive future employees of any hope of a dignified retirement after they have spent a lifetime in public service."

Bill Takes Aim at Retirement Benefits

Defined-benefit portion of FERS is at stake

March 22, 2011

Federal Computer Week - Two Republican senators introduced a bill that would end the defined-benefit portion of the Federal Employees Retirement System for new federal hires, starting in 2013. The bill would not affect benefits for current feds.

Sens. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) introduced the Public-Private Employee Retirement Parity Act March 17. The bill would apply to future federal employees, including members of Congress. FERS employees now receive a defined-benefit pension and also may participate in the Thrift Savings Plan, which is equivalent to a private-sector 401(k) retirement plan.

In a joint statement, the senators said FERS is underfunded by nearly a billion dollars already, and as FERS accounts for more of the retirement burden in the future, required federal contributions to the FERS annuity will skyrocket.

The bill would not affect the TSP portion of the FERS retirement benefit. Like a 401(k), TSP is a defined-contribution plan that depends on employee and employer contributions. TSP participants receive matching contributions from agencies [taxpayers] on as much as 5 percent of the pay that an employee contributes. Employees receive a dollar-for-dollar agency match for the first 3 percent of pay contributed, and a 50 percent match for the next 2 percent of pay contributed. Employee contributions above 5 percent are not matched.

Defusing the Pension Bomb: How to Curb Public Retirement Costs in New York State

November 2003

The Manhattan Institute for Policy Research - Skyrocketing state and local employee pension costs have been a major factor in the fiscal crisis affecting every level of government in New York State. Taxpayer financed public pension contributions have soared by more than $2.3 billion dollars over the past two years—and are projected to rise even more in 2004. In New York City alone, the rise in pension costs will consume every dollar raised by Mayor Bloomberg’s record property tax increase.

The defined benefit (DB) pension plans used by state and local governments guarantee employees a fixed percentage of retirement income based on their peak salaries and career longevity. This requires those governments to invest money each year to cover future pension payments. But their contributions vary depending on complex actuarial assumptions and market fluctuations. As a result, the DB system is crisis prone because earnings during bull markets cover employer contributions, while losses during bear markets force governments to drastically increase contributions. Since bear markets usually coincide with recessions, DB pension plans force governments to spend more when they are least able to afford it.

This study shows how greater fairness for New York taxpayers and better retirement benefits for the majority of government employees can be achieved by switching from the current defined benefit (DB) pension plan to the defined contribution (DC) model used by the vast majority of private companies.

A DC plan differs from a DB plan by requiring employers to contribute the same amount in bear and bull markets and by giving employees ownership of, and investment responsibility for, their own pension funds. A DC plan offers increased retirement equity and flexibility for the majority of public employees while providing predictable costs for taxpayers and government employers.

Under the plan proposed here, employees would be required to contribute at least 3 percent of their salaries to a retirement account. The government [taxpayers] would match this with a minimum contribution of 5 percent, bringing the total minimum retirement savings to 8 percent of salary per year. Employers would match up to 2 percent of additional employee contributions, so that retirement savings of up to 12 percent of salary would consist of up to 7 percent from the employer and 5 percent from the employee. The recommended DC plan would effectively cap costs at 7 percent of pay, just over half the fiscal 2004-05 employer contributions for the New York State and Local Retirement System.

Taxpayers would no longer bear the risks associated with market downturns. Public pension costs for the first time would become both predictable and easily understandable, and the real costs of proposed benefit increases would be completely transparent, rather than obscured by complex actuarial calculations.

Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS)

Federal employees have stools with three legs made of solid mahogany. In the FERS, government employees contribute 0.8 percent of pay while their employing agencies [taxpayers] put in 11 percent of pay. On top of that, federal employees can contribute to a Thrift Savings Plan and get a 5 percent matching contribution from their employing agency [taxpayers]. This match is immediately vested to boot. According to the CRS report, "All participants in FERS are immediately vested in their own contributions and in government matching contributions to the TSP, as well as any investment earnings on these contributions." And the third leg for most federal employees is Social Security. If it gives you any comfort, they contribute to FICA to the same extent that everyone else does. - Going postal over federal pensions,, March 25, 2011

According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis for 2008, the average federal employee made $79,197 [the average private sector employee made $49,935]. The pension for the average employee can be calculated as follows:

$79,197 x 30 Years x 1% = $23,759
$79,197 x 40 Years x 1% = $31,678

Understanding the FERS Retirement

When we talk about your FERS Retirement, we're really talking about several different benefits. FERS (Federal Employees Retirement System) has three main components:

  1. Basic FERS Pension
  2. Social Security
  3. Thrift Savings Plan (TSP)
Your FERS pension and Social Security will be fixed dollar amounts. But the money you get from your TSP will depend on how much you contributed and how well you managed the money.

As a FERS, you have a chance to take a more active role in managing your own retirement than CSRS do. But, that means you need to stay up-to-date on your benefits.

Here are some important things you need to know about each part of your FERS retirement...

Reductions to Your FERS Pension

There are some choices you can make that will reduce the amount of your FERS pension:
Thrift Savings Plan for FERSThe Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) is a special account for Federal Employees. The TSP was created as part of the Federal Employees Retirement System in 1986. Most government employees (FERS and CSRS) are eligible for the TSP -- even those hired before it was created.

The TSP allows you to save pre-tax dollars in a special personal account. You can choose how to invest those dollars -- although your choices are limited.

With your FERS retirement pension and Social Security, you will receive fixed amounts. But with your TSP, the amount you receive depends on how much you put in and how well you managed the money.

Your TSP contributions are optional and separate from your FERS pension.

You may also be able to get your Federal Agency [taxpayers] to contribute money to your TSP.

Click here to learn more about the match the government gives FERS employees.

Social Security for FERSEmployees covered under the Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS) are typically eligible to receive Social Security benefits when they retire. Every pay period, the Federal Government takes out 6.2% of your basic pay to put towards Social Security. But just like your FERS pension, your Social Security benefit is not based on your contributions - it is based on other factors.

According to the U.S. Social Security Administration, the Social Security taxes you and other workers pay into the system are used to pay for Social Security benefits.

You pay Social Security taxes on your earnings up to a certain amount. That amount increases each year to keep pace with wages. In 2011, that amount is $106,800.

You pay Medicare taxes on all of your wages or net earnings from self-employment. These taxes are used for Medicare coverage.

You pay 4.2%* 1.45%
Your employer pays 6.2% 1.45%
You pay 10.4% 2.9%

Currently, U.S. citizens cannot collect Social Security benefits until age 62. The maximum Social Security benefit is $23,500 per individual.

* The employee contribution was temporary lowered from 6.2% to 4.2% on January 1, 2011.


Key WHO Pandemic Advisors had Financial Ties to Vaccine Makers: U.S. Contracted for the Manufacture of Over 170 Million Doses of Swine Flu Vaccine

Time to Get Your Flu Shot, But Just One This Year

August 31, 2010

AP – It's flu-shot season already, and for the first time health authorities are urging nearly everyone to get vaccinated. There is even a new high-dose version for people 65 or older.

What a difference a year makes: Crowds lined up for hours for scarce shots during last fall's swine flu pandemic, when infections peaked well before enough vaccine could be produced. This year, a record vaccine supply is expected — an all-in-one inoculation that now promises protection against that swine flu strain plus two other kinds of influenza.

Shipments began so early that drugstores are offering vaccinations amid their back-to-school sales.

But without last year's scare factor, the question is how many people will heed the new policy for near-universal vaccination. No more stopping to check if you're on a high-risk list: A yearly dose is recommended for virtually everyone except babies younger than 6 months — the shot isn't approved for tots that young — and people with severe allergies to the eggs used to brew it.
"Influenza is serious, and anyone, including healthy people, can get the flu and spread the flu," said Dr. Anne Schuchat of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Flu vaccines are the best way to protect yourself and those around you."
The CDC was moving toward that policy even before last year's pandemic brought home an inescapable fact: The flu virus doesn't just kill grandparents and babies and people with weak lungs or hearts, although they're particularly vulnerable. It also can kill healthy pregnant women and 30-somethings. And 5-year-olds.
"We were discussing how we were going to go get his Star Wars Halloween costume after he got out of the hospital ... and all of a sudden his eyes lost their focus," said Serese Marotta of Dayton, Ohio, describing for reporters how her son Joseph, 5, died of swine flu last October before vaccine was available in her community.
She urged families to make vaccination a priority.

Get Ready for More Government Flu Hysteria

August 23, 2010 - The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the swine flu pandemic officially over on August 9th. The swine flu, which we were warned would kill millions, if not tens of millions of people, turned out to be a complete “dud” as far as pandemics go, but health agencies and governments around the world still managed to create massive fear of this hybrid flu virus.
And, of course, vaccine makers made millions off their novel H1N1 vaccines.

For those in the southern hemisphere, like Australia, the flu season has already begun, and the health hazards of this year’s seasonal trivalent vaccine have already become evident.

For the rest of you, the flu season is nearing, and another round of advertisements for flu vaccines are about to hit the media.

Summary of a Failed Pandemic

Last year the United States contracted for the manufacture of over 170 million doses of swine flu vaccine. Probably the most significant accomplishment of this website was that we were able to contribute to the fact that only 90 million doses were used in the United States.

Armed with the facts, less than one-third of the US population fell for the fear mongering.

It quickly became very clear that this was in fact a very mild disease that was not going to kill people in large numbers. Yet the projected number of casualties in the US alone was declared to be between 60,000 to 90,000! And the campaign to hype up the fear and force the untested, unproven pandemic vaccine on the masses through any means reached previously unheard of proportions.

Within a week of Australia reporting that the virus appeared to be 40 times less lethal than originally feared, the WHO instructed countries to simply stop lab confirming suspected H1N1 cases, which meant that any and all flu-like symptoms were reported as pandemic influenza, padding the statistics.
STILL, despite this misrepresentation of the facts, last year’s flu season turned out to be one of the mildest in recent years!

Since 2003, the official government statistic on flu deaths has been an average of 36,000 deaths per year (although as previously reported, this number is also far from the truth as it includes pneumonia deaths, which account for most of these deaths), but last year the CDC reported only 12,000 flu deaths – a mere one-third of the average!

These cases were also not serologically confirmed to be influenza, but included pneumonia and other flu-like illness, which means the actual number of people who died as a direct result of the flu – let alone H1N1 – was even lower than that.

See, whenever you see flu mortality statistics, you need to beware that the number includes secondary respiratory complications such as pneumonia, which may or may not have been preceded by a bout of flu. This is sort of a catchall category that has been conveniently ascribed to influenza when, oftentimes, that’s just the precipitating trigger.

Now, typically, one of the common mechanisms of death as you get older is respiratory infections. The influenza doesn’t actually kill the person, the secondary pneumonia does, and it does so because their immune system is too compromised, whether due to age or underlying poor health.
Either way, the fact that last season’s flu mortality statistic was a mere one-third of the average should serve as a valuable eye-opener to anyone who may still be panicking at the mere thought of the H1N1 swine flu.

Key WHO Pandemic Advisors had Financial Ties to Vaccine Makers

This was perhaps suspected, but when the World Health Organization finally released a list of its pandemic advisors, it finally confirmed that at least five of the key players who influenced the phase six pandemic declaration indeed had financial ties to vaccine makers.

As we now know, our tax dollars were completely wasted on these nonessential pandemic vaccines, and it appears as though financial conflicts of interest between WHO pandemic advisors and the industry may have had a great deal to do with it.

Is it really wise to take advice from people who have a financial stake in the outcome of the decision to declare a worldwide pandemic?

I think recent history tells us the answer is clearly NO!

On June 24th, the European Parliamentary Assembly criticized the lack of transparency and “grave shortcomings” in the decision-making processes relating to the pandemic, stating:
“The Parliamentary Assembly is alarmed about the way in which the H1N1 influenza pandemic has been handled, not only by the World Health Organization (WHO) but also by the competent health authorities at the level of the European Union and at national level.
It is particularly troubled by some of the consequences of decisions taken and advice given leading to distortion of priorities of public health services across Europe, waste of large sums of public money and also unjustified scares and fears about health risks faced by the European public at large.
The Assembly notes that grave shortcomings have been identified regarding the transparency of decision-making processes relating to the pandemic which have generated concerns about the possible influence of the pharmaceutical industry on some of the major decisions relating to the pandemic.”
They also remarked that:
“In Recommendation 1908 (2010) on lobbying in a democratic society (European Code of conduct on lobbying), the Assembly noted that unregulated or secret lobbying may be a danger and can undermine democratic principles and good governance.”
I believe the swine flu pandemic of 2009 was a perfect example of just how devastating such ‘secret lobbying’ can be.

Flu Vaccine Does Not Prevent Death in Elderly, CDC Director Admits

Clearly, what the pharmaceutical industry would love for you to believe is that the flu vaccine is going to somehow magically protect you from dying from the flu, when in fact the evidence couldn’t be more clear – It doesn’t work at all in the elderly! And the data is flimsy at best when it comes to children and adults.
In fact, in April, Michael Osterholm, director of the national Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP), publicly admitted that flu shots don’t work in the elderly.

We also know the flu vaccine is fraught with side effects and health complications, so many people are literally receiving zero benefit and all risk when getting this vaccine!

There is a massive attempt to defraud and deceive people to generate profits from flu vaccines. Fortunately, we are able to penetrate this veil of misinformation, as we did so effectively last year. And this year, we want to start early by warning people about the new plan…

WARNING: This Year’s Flu Plan

The news for this year is that the flu vaccine you’ll get this fall will be a combination vaccine that contains both the regular flu- and the swine flu vaccines – you will not be given the choice to take them individually.

Barbara Loe Fisher explains:
“In February of 2009, the CDC announced that every single American from the age of 6 months through the year of death should get an annual flu shot – every single one of us, whether we’re healthy or we’re sick.
In March of 2009, this mysterious H1N1 bird-pig-human hybrid influenza virus was discovered.
So here we are… Everyone is supposed to get a flu shot every year. We’re going into the flu season of 2010-2011…. [But] they have decided that in the annual influenza shot for this year, there will be three type A or type B viruses, and one will be H1N1.”
This is the same type of vaccine that Australia recently suspended for use in children under the age of five because it caused a surprisingly high number of reports of children suffering high fevers, vomiting and febrile convulsions.

But children aren’t the only group that seem to react more violently to the trivalent vaccine that contains the H1N1 component.

A special government committee has been created to investigate last year’s H1N1 monovalent vaccine for signs that it may be associated with a higher rate of certain kinds of reactions. What the committee found out provisionally is that there were three signs of trouble with the H1N1 swine flu vaccine used last year.
Fisher explains:
“One was Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS), which we know has been associated with influenza vaccine since 1976 when the first swine flu vaccine was used. There is [also] a sign of a blood disorder called thrombocytopenia. Thrombocytopenia is when your blood cannot produce enough platelets. It’s an autoimmune type reaction.
The other is Bell’s palsy. That’s a facial paralysis. It’s a neuroimmune reaction.
The government is saying they don’t know if these are true signals or not, but there were some red flags that were raised.”
So now we’re moving into the 2010-2011 flu season with a vaccine that may be very reactive.
“I am concerned,” Fisher says, “We have over 300 million people [in the US] which… are supposed to get this influenza vaccine. And we have a very aggressive push by the media and others who are following the lead of the government, so we could have a bad situation.”
Flu Vaccine Doesn’t Work for Seniors, So Their Dose is Quadrupled!

For seniors, the news may be even more dire.

When H1N1 first hit last year, the CDC explained that seniors weren’t included in the first round of shots because studies indicated the risk of infection in this age group was less than for younger groups.

But now that H1N1 is part of the seasonal shot, the CDC and WHO have some hefty plans for the same seniors who, last year, they said were less likely to get H1N1.

In the ACIP Provisional Recommendations for the Use of Influenza Vaccines, dated February 24, it states:
“A higher dose formulation of an inactivated seasonal influenza vaccine (Fluzone High-Dose, manufactured by Sanofi Pasteur, licensed by FDA on December 23, 2009) for use in people age 65 years and older will be available in the 2010–11 influenza season.
Fluzone High-Dose contains four times the amount of influenza antigen compared to other inactivated seasonal influenza vaccines. …
Studies are underway to assess the relative effectiveness of Fluzone High-Dose compared to standard dose inactivated influenza vaccine, but results from those studies will not be available before the 2010–11 influenza season.
Yes, you read that right: if you’re age 65 or older, the CDC wants you to take a flu vaccine this fall that not only contains an antigen they previously said you probably already have antibodies to (H1N1), but that is also four times as potent, with no safety evaluation whatsoever until AFTER the season is underway!

Again, the CDC is asking you to be a part of a large public health experiment.

This is why we’re warning you early, because for the most part, none of this is really known. It’s not been announced. It certainly has not received widespread publicity ...