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Monday, December 01, 2008

The Real Terrorist Threats

Over the past few years the U.S. and many other nations have already been struck repeatedly by terrorist groups wielding terrible weapons of mass destruction. These weapons include structured investment vehicles (SIV), hedge fund short sales, variable rate mortgages, and usurious interest rates. Corporations, corrupt politicians, and immensely wealthy individuals appear hell-bent on fleecing the U.S. Treasury out of every last taxpayer or borrowed dollar.

New York City 036590

In return, Wall Street and Congress suggest that we simply print more money, pawn more debt off on China, and give executives more money to pay outrageous billion-dollar bonuses to the criminal managers that cooked up these massive debts. Men in black suits want more money to make payments on their private jets and tax havens while laborers are sent home to watch TV and drink.

Ordinary citizens are being laid-off by the hundreds of thousands, losing homes to foreclosure, and being asked to pay more and more interest on any debt they may have incurred.

The corporate-owned news media tells us to go after Lashkar-e-Taiba (aka LeT, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, Jama'at-ud-Da'wah), al Qaeda, Iran, and Hizbollah while U.S. and Europe's bankers and business leaders plunder government treasuries. Insurance giants like AIG demand bailouts but refuse to stop awarding huge bonuses to inept executives. Investors that did buy shares in once legitimate corporations wake up to find all their money has vanished in a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing.

There seems to be almost no way out of these circles of financial hell that make those in Dante Alighieri's The Divine Comedy look like paradise.

It will be next to impossible for the incoming U.S. leadership team to fix these problems during the 4 years they have in office. Hoovervilles, that is tent cities of unemployed and hungry people, grow larger every day in downtown Los Angeles and private campgrounds across the land. Older and older children are forced to move back in with elderly parents living on fixed incomes. Those fixed incomes are based on a rapidly disappearing Social Security program and vanishing pension funds. The elderly who planned to live on investments are now working at gas stations, discount stores, and fast food restaurants.

How can families work their way out of debt when blatant age discrimination and a failing health care system conspire to physically destroy them?

Educated older people with real skills are denied work in their specialties because firms cannot afford to pay for their mandated group health insurance policies. The few inexperienced younger workers that remain can no longer turn for advice to the trained people that built the businesses.

Now that the U.S. consumer has all but stopped spending the downward economic spiral will do nothing but accelerate. What people do not understand is that cash stuffed into a mattress or held in savings accounts paying almost no interest shrinks rapidly. Saving some money is a wise thing to do but 70% of the U.S. economy is based on consumer spending. If no money is going around no new jobs will come around. People who can afford to do so must be encouraged to invest somewhere or there will be no future economy.

Shortsighted corporate leaders blindly look to laid-off or debt-swamped consumers to increase spending. Japan's Minister of Economic and Fiscal Policy, Kaoru Yosano, put it quite bluntly in an interview with the Financial Times, "...if someone asks me, 'What do you want to buy?'...it would take me a week to think..I have a car, two refrigerators, three TVs..." Furthermore, these same corporate leaders are freezing salaries, lowering credit limits, and closing plants near and far.

Trickle down economics is no answer but the future of the planet does demand more immediate investment in renewable sources of energy, education, and public works infrastructure.

Nuclear Blast 1945

The real weapons of mass destruction are not nuclear or biological weapons, they are unemployment, high interest rates, lack of health insurance, corporate greed, and corruption. These WMDs will wipe out the hard work and lives of generations of people faster than any terrorist attack. Supposedly very intelligent people, including business executives, government officials, and university professors all worked together to develop and implement the policies that landed the world economy in this deadly trap. A socially responsible new generation of educated professionals must now step up to the plate to hit policy home runs to bring the world back to a winning streak.

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