I like Bitcoin because it decentralizes money. I like it because it is a great experiment in free banking, in free market money. I like it because it directly challenges the central banks.
That last reason is why the government is doing all that it can to kill Bitcoin in the crib.
Would I put my life’s savings into Bitcoin? Nope. But some money, enough to make it interesting? Sure. Many other people feel the same as I do. And the Feds do not like that one bit.
View full post on AgainstCronyCapitalism.org
Last Friday, a spokeswoman for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) admitted the agency had targeted various Tea Party and related groups during the 2010 election cycle. Later in the week, an Inspector General’s report will offer an initial look at the facts of this matter. At least two congressional committees also plan investigations.
Many people recall that the Nixon administration used the IRS to harass political opponents. Surely the IG’s report and subsequent investigations will show whether the IRS has gotten back into the business of protecting an incumbent administration from its critics.
It is not too soon, however, to recall the the campaign finance reform lobby has been calling for a crackdown on political groups since the Citizens United decision. One possibility would be that the IRS gave in pressure from the reform lobby and went after the Tea Party groups.
Was there an intention to chill speech? The timing provokes doubts: the targeting began in the spring of 2010 just as the mid-term campaign season started and ended after the election when the harassment no longer has any rationale. The long delays of approving tax status certainly slowed down the wave coming toward Congress in 2010. 66 House members lost their seats in that election. Do any sitting members owe their offices to the IRS?
Even now, leading reform groups are calling for renewed crackdown on these groups. We are also told by more sober reformers that this whole matter shows the need for more disclosure and greater clarity in the rules. But the major argument against such disclosure has been that government officials will use the information to punish political opponents. Given what we know about this case, does it make sense to give the IRS more information about, and more power over groups that oppose the administration?
Some will note the irony here. Most of campaign finance law was enacted in 1974 just after the end of the Watergate scandal. The campaign finance reform lobby dates its life to that scandal which, as noted, included using the IRS for political ends. Now the reformers are defending the IRS and its apparent political harassment. Things do seem to have come full circle.
View full post on Cato @ Liberty
Saudi official: Kingdom ‘warned the United States IN WRITING about Boston Bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev in 2012 and rejected his application for an entry visa to visit Mecca in 2011′
Saudis developed intelligence separately from Russia, which also warned the U.S. about the accused Boston bomber
A letter to the Department of Homeland Security allegedly named Tsarnaev and three Pakistanis as potential jihadis worthy of U.S. investigation
Red flags from Saudi Arabia to have included Tsarnaev’s name and information about a planned explosive attack on a major U.S. city
Saudi foreign minister, national security chief both met with Obama in the oval office in early 2013
By DAVID MARTOSKO and THE AMERICAN MEDIA INSTITUTE
PUBLISHED: 03:46 GMT, 1 May 2013 | UPDATED: 06:18 GMT, 1 May 2013
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia sent a written warning about accused Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in 2012, long before pressure-cooker blasts killed three and injured hundreds, according to a senior Saudi government official with direct knowledge of the document.
The Saudi warning, the official told MailOnline, was separate from the multiple red flags raised by Russian intelligence in 2011, and was based on human intelligence developed independently in Yemen.
Citing security concerns, the Saudi government also denied an entry visa to the elder Tsarnaev brother in December 2011, when he hoped to make a pilgrimage to Mecca, the source said. Tsarnaev’s plans to visit Saudi Arabia have not been previously disclosed.
Was it preventable? A senior Saudi official says his country warned the U.S. about Tamerlane Tsarnaev in 2012, advising the federal government that he planned an attack on a major U.S. city
Did she know? Janet Napolitano sits atop the Department of Homeland Security, the agency that allegedly received a detailed letter from the Saudi kingdom about Tsarnaev and three Pakistani jihadis
The Saudis’ warning to the U.S. government was also shared with the British government. ‘It was very specific’ and warned that ‘something was going to happen in a major U.S. city,’ the Saudi official said during an extensive interview.
It ‘did name Tamerlan specifically,’ he added. The ‘government-to-government’ letter, which he said was sent to the Department of Homeland Security at the highest level, did not name Boston or suggest a date for his planned attack.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev was placed on a U.S. terrorist ‘watch’ list after ‘multiple’ warnings from Russian authorities to the FBI
The radicalization of Tamerlan Tsarnaev: Older ‘bomber’ studied Koran for days at a time and witnessed ‘bombings and shootings’ in Islamic Dagestan capital
‘I’m willing to die for Islam’: Boston Marathon bomber’s chilling texts to his mother reveal he was prepared to sacrifice his life for jihad
Boston bomber was caught discussing jihad with mother: Russia ‘recorded call between Tamerlan Tsarnaev and parent but failed to tell FBI’
If true, the account will produce added pressure on the Homeland Security department and the White House to explain their collective inaction after similar warnings were offered about Tsarnaev by the Russian government.
A DHS official denied, however, that the agency received any such warning from Saudi intelligence about Tamerlan Tsarnaev.
‘DHS has no knowledge of any communication from the Saudi government regarding information on the suspects in the Boston Marathon Bombing prior to the attack,’ MailOnline learned from one Homeland Security official who declined to be named in this report.
The White House took a similar view. ‘We and other relevant U.S. government agencies have no record of such a letter being received,’ said Caitlin Hayden, a spokesperson for the president’s National Security Council.
While U.S. intelligence agencies are exploring the possibility that Tsarnaev learned to make pressure-cooker bombs while visiting Dagestan in 2012, Saudi Arabia was his first choice for a travel destination until the kingdom turned down his visa request
As many as 4 million Muslims make pilgrimages annually to the Grand mosque in the city of Mecca. Tsarnaev sought to join them for an ‘Umrah’ journey, a trip that happens outside of the month reserved for the annual Hajj
The letter likely came to DHS via the Saudi Ministry of Interior, the agency tasked with protecting the Saudi kingdom’s homeland.
A Homeland Security official confirmed Tuesday evening on the condition of anonymity that the 2012 letter exists, saying he had heard of the Saudi communication before MailOnline inquired about it.
An aide to a Republican member of the House Homeland Security Committee speculated Tuesday about why the Obama administration contradicted the knowledgeable Saudi official.
‘It is possible the Department of Homeland Security received the information from the Saudi government but never passed it on to the White House,’ the GOP staffer said. ‘Communication between DHS and the White House’s national security apparatus isn’t always what it should be.’
‘I can easily see it happening where one hand didn’t know what the other was doing because of a turf war.’
‘Just like the different agencies in the Boston JTTF [Joint Terrorism Task Force] want credit for breaking the Tsarnaev case,’ the aide added, ‘they sometimes jealously guard the very intel they should be sharing the most freely. Sometimes it makes no sense at all.’
Obama said Tuesday that an inter-agency review would leave no stone unturned in an effort to learn whether government agencies could have done more to prevent the Boston bombings
Two backpacks were left in shreds after the bombs they contained were detonated in the midst of dense crowds on Boston’s Boylston Street. The Department of Homeland Security has been left to explain why
House Homeland Security Committee chairman Mike McCaul plans to announce on Wednesday an investigative hearing to probe what U.S. intelligence knew prior to the Boston attacks, two senior Republican sources told MailOnline.
Separately, President Obama announced Tuesday that the U.S. government will launch a wide-ranging inquiry into the sharing of information among the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Homeland Security and other intelligence and law-enforcement agencies of the federal government.
‘We want to leave no stone unturned,’ the president said in a rare White House press conference.
The internal review will be led by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and several inspectors general.
‘This is not an investigation,’ Clapper’s spokesman Shawn Turner said in a prepared statement. ‘This is an independent review of information-sharing procedures. It is limited to the handling of information related to the suspects prior to the attack.’
It is not yet clear whether information from Saudi Arabia will be involved in Clapper’s inter-agency review.
Eight-year-old Martin Richard was among the three people killed in the explosions at the finish line of the Boston Marathon on April 15
Chaos: The bombing left thousands running for their lives and sent more than 200 to hospitals, including some whose limbs were torn off their bodies by the force of the blasts
Utah Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz appeared on CNN Tuesday afternoon, upbraiding the Obama administration for presuming that the federal government’s handling of intelligence prior to the Boston bombings was appropriate and effective.
‘As soon as the bombing happened we had officials, locally and from the feds, saying, "Oh, this was an isolated case, there was just one person involved." We didn’t know that,’ Chaffetz said.
The ‘starting point’ for a federal investigation, he said, must be, ‘This is unacceptable, we will not stand for it, we will get to the bottom of it, and we will not rest until we figure it out.’
‘Mr. President,’ he said, addressing Obama, ‘the starting point should be an intolerance that this thing happened.’
GOP momentum? House Homeland Security Committee chair Mike McCaul plans to convene a hearing to investigate the government’s failure to prevent the Boston bombings. Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz , who serves on that committee, said on CNN that an inquiry should not presume all is well
The high-ranking Saudi official whom MailOnlne interviewed at length provided a wealth of detail about the warning he says his government sent to the United States. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to talk publicly about foreign intelligence, or about Saudi Arabia’s diplomatic relationship with the United States.
He suggested that the Saudi Ministry of Interior sent the letter out of an abundance of caution in order to be helpful to the United States, even though its intelligence on Tsarnaev wasn’t yet fully developed.
‘With Saudi Arabia it’s always code red,’ he said. ‘There’s no code orange, or code yellow. Always red.’
The Saudi government, he added, alerted the U.S. in part because it believed American authorities should be inspecting packages that came to Tsarnaev in the mail in order to search for bomb-making components.
Saudi Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef bin Abdulaziz met with President Obama in January. His counterpart in the Saudi foreign ministry, Prince Saud bin al-Faisal , had an unscheduled meeting with Obama in the Oval Office just two days after the Boston bombings
The written warning also allegedly named three Pakistanis who may be of interest to British authorities. The official declined to provide more details about the warning to the UK, but said the two governments received the same information.
The Ministry of Interior, he said, sent the letters in 2012, likely after Tsarnaev returned from Russia to the United States in July.
President Barack Obama’s published schedule indicates that he met in the Oval Office with Prince Mohammed bin Naif bin Abdulaziz, the Saudi Interior minister, on January 14, 2013.
The Saudis denied Tsarnaev entry to the kingdom when he sought to travel to Mecca in December 2011 for a pilgrimage known as an Umrah – one that is undertaken during months that don’t fall within the regular Hajj period of the year.
That rejected application came one month before he traveled to Russia, where U.S. intelligence sources believe he acquired training enabling him to construct and detonate the bombs that he and his younger brother placed hear the Boston Marathon’s finish line.
The younger brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, is in federal custody at a prison medical facility.
Celebration turned to mourning on April 15 after Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his younger brother Dzhokhar allegedly detonated two powerful bombs near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing 3 and injuring more than 200
The Saudi official speculated that Tsarnaev’s residence in the United States might have made it more difficult for him to gain entry into the kingdom.
‘U.S.-based Muslims who become radicalized and want to visit Mecca create an unusual problem,’ he said, compelling the Saudi government ‘to carefully examine applications.’
In the wake of the April 15 Boston Marathon bombings, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal met with Secretary of State John Kerry on April 16, and then had an unscheduled meeting with President Obama on April 17.
‘This is the DNA of the Saudi government,’ said the Saudi official, referring to officials in the royal court in Riyadh. ‘This is how they work. They sent the letter, but that wasn’t enough. They then sent the top guy to meet personally with the president.’
He dismissed the idea that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was likely trained by al Qaeda while he was outside the United States last year.
The Saudis’ Yemen-based sources, he explained, said militants referred to Tamerlan dismissively as ‘the volunteer.’
‘He was a gung-ho, self motivated jihadi who wasn’t tasked by a larger group,’ he said.
‘There is no reason for anyone in Afghanistan to have in his thinking a scenario like this,’ the official added, referring to pressure-cooker bombs at the Boston Marathon. ‘He took the initiative. That’s why they call him "the volunteer."’
‘The Boston thing is beneath them,’ he said of al Qaeda. ‘They don’t think like this. This is like a firecracker to them. They want something big.’
Richard Reid was apprehended after a failed attempt to blow up an airliner with bombs concealed in his shoes. The Saudi government provided specific intelligence about Reid to the U.S., and now it has been revealed that they wrote to the American government about Tamerlan Tsarnaev (R) in 2012
Tamerlan may have boasted about his plans online, the Saudi official said, offering an explanation for how Yemen-based sources first learned of him. Islamist militants have well-developed social networks that can enable news to migrate quickly across vast distances.
The Saudi government sometimes tracks such radicals by launching fake jihadi websites to attract extremists. The Ministry of Interior then tracks them electronically, often across the world, and shares information with governments it considers friendly, including the United States.
‘The Saudi Arabian government is doing everything it can to wipe out these people and treat America as a true friend,’ the official said.
The Saudi intelligence services have a long history of providing credible information to America and Great Britain about looming threats.
‘This is the fourth time the Saudi Arabian government has given the U.S. specific intel’ about a possible terror plot, the official said, citing prior warnings about Richard Reid, the so-called shoe bomber who repeatedly tried to light a fuse in his shoe to bring down American Airlines flight 63 bound for Miami in December 2001.
He also cited the 300-gram ‘ink-cartridge bombs’ planted on two cargo planes headed for the United States from Yemen in October 2010. Those explosives were intercepted in Dubai, and at an East Midlands airport in Great Britain.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s namesake was a 15-century Central Asian warlord who referred to himself as ‘the sword of Islam.’ Sometimes spelled ‘Tamerlane’ in English, he was known for his cruelty.
When he conquered Baghdad, he reportedly made a pyramid of human skulls from unfortunate residents of that city.
Although still revered in Chechnya and throughout Central Asia, the original Tamerlane is sometimes vilified in modern-day Saudi textbooks.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article … z2S1Gef9pI
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Statistics: Posted by yoda — Wed May 01, 2013 12:26 am
View full post on opinions.caduceusx.com
United States of Food Stamps: Food stamp usage has grown by 30,000,000 people since 2000. The economics of a food stamp recovery.
Posted by mybudget360 in dollar stores, food stamps
I was working through a few pages of Excel data regarding food stamp usage and a troubling milestone has now been breached. Since 2000, we have now added over 30,000,000 Americans to the food stamp program now labeled SNAP. What is even more difficult to understand is this number has moved up nearly unabated since 2000 even though if you believe the data, we were in full recovery from 2001 to 2007 until the financial crisis hit. In reality, what was happening was that the poor and working class were merely papering over their shrinking wealth by going into unsupportable debt. The fact that food stamp usage continues to move up is a very telling sign of our current economic situation. Over 47.77 million Americans are now on food stamps. In many parts of the country, Wal-Mart stores have adjusted store hours at the end of the month to coincide with food stamp debit cards (EBT) being reloaded allowing people to shop. I wanted to dive into the food stamp data a bit deeper.
Food stamp participation up by 30,000,000 people since 2000
I doubt anyone would ascribe growing food stamp usage with an actual economic recovery. That might be a bit of a stretch. When we chart this out, it becomes even more dramatic:
Keep in mind that for most of the 2000s, we’ve been in a “recovery” according to various sources. Yet food stamp usage soared dramatically over this period. Also, keep in mind that we’ve been in an economic recovery since the summer of 2009 yet food stamp usage continues to expand. In 2009 we had 33 million Americans on food stamps. Today it is over 47.77 million adding nearly 15 million people to the program during a time of economic recovery. At least that is what we are told.
Record number of families on food stamps
While we are off from the peak reached in December at least in a raw count of people, we are actually at a new peak when it comes to households on food stamps:
Over 23.08 million households are participating in the SNAP program. When we look at the stock market making record highs we have to keep in mind that most Americans do not have any sizable amount of money in bonds or stocks.
Food stamp costs are obviously rising with the growing number of people in the program:
Keep in mind that much of this gets spent back into the economy so this isn’t an argument on the merits of the program. There are strict means testing to get on food stamps which is even more troubling because it underlies how many Americans are really in dire economic situations. How is it feasible that we can call this a recovery when we have a vast portion of our population struggling to get by on food stamps? In other words, these families have such little income that they need supplemental support just to feed themselves and their children.
Take a look at what states have the highest food stamp participation:
It is astounding how many states have 20 percent or about 20 percent of their entire population on food stamps. The economics of food stamp usage have also created some winners here. After all, if you have 47 million customers receiving a set amount each month, you can provide products to this group. It is interesting that many dollar stores have shifted from general items to focusing on a large portion of their store selection being on food. Take a look at a couple of major dollar stores around the country and how well they have done over the last few years:
Some excellent performance from both Family Dollar and the 99 Cents Stores. Are we on path to reaching 50,000,000 Americans being on food stamps? At this rate, it’ll only be a few years away. If you think this is the case, you now have a few stocks to invest in assuming you have the money to invest. I believe Wall Street would call this the food stamp play
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Sun Apr 28, 2013 12:24 am
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Some more from the new Canadian budget: It has some interesting charts (page 38) comparing U.S. and Canadian labor markets (or “labour” markets as the Canadians would say).
The charts, replicated below, show that by every dimension (total employment, unemployment rates, and participation rates) the Canadian economy has done far better than the U.S. economy in recent years.
In the United States, policymakers have worked furiously to get job markets moving again, using massive amounts of Keynesian stimulus. I’m not just talking about the 2009 stimulus bill—in Keynesian theory, the whole amount of government deficit spending is supposed to stimulate demand and boost the economy.
In Canada, they did some Keynesian stimulating as well, but far less than we did. Indeed, the chart below shows that the Canadians did only about one-quarter the Keynesian stimulating that we did. Yet today the Canucks have a lower unemployment rate and a higher participation rate than we do. And while total U.S. employment is about the same today as it was in 2006, Canadian employment is up 9 percent.
Rather than big-government stimulating, the Canadians have pursued corporate tax cuts and other pro-growth policies. Government policies don’t determine everything in country economic performance, but the Canadian experience should give pause to U.S. supporters of further Keynesian pump-priming.
View full post on Cato @ Liberty
Christopher A. Preble
Will sequestration undermine U.S. national security? Hardly. Today, the Cato Institute released a new infographic putting these minor cuts in perspective.
Military spending will remain at roughly 2006 levels—$603 billion, higher than peak U.S. spending during the Cold War. Meanwhile, we live in a safer world. The Soviet Union has been dead for more than two decades; no other nation, or combination of nations, has emerged since that can pose a comparable threat. We should have a defense budget that reflects this reality.
To be clear, sequestration was no one’s first choice. But the alternative—ever-increasing military spending detached from a legitimate debate over strategy—is worse. We should have had such a debate, one over the roles and missions of the U.S. military, long before this day of reckoning. And politicians could have pursued serious proposals to prudently reduce military spending. Instead, they chose the easy way out, avoiding difficult decisions that would have allowed for smarter cuts.
Until now, there have been few constraints on Washington’s ability to spend what it pleases on the military. As my colleagues Benjamin Friedman and Justin Logan put it, Americans “buy defense like rich people shop, ignoring the balances of costs and benefits.”
Policymakers can’t postpone the tradeoffs forever, especially when the public has grown increasingly weary of foreign entanglements. If forced to choose between higher taxes, less military spending, or lower domestic spending, in order to balance the budget, the military fares least well, with solid pluralities favoring cuts in military spending over cuts in other programs.
Which is why it is so important to get the foreign policy debate right. If we are going to give our military less, we need to think about asking it to do less.
A number of experts have done that, rethinking the military’s purpose, and documenting the savings that would flow from a more modest foreign policy. The sequester is a first step, albeit an imperfect one, that could finally compel policymakers to do the same.
Download and share this infographic on your blog, Twitter, or Facebook.
My thanks go out to Harrison Moar and Zach Graves for conceiving this, pulling the data together, and making it look really cool.
Additional Cato resources on sequestration and military spending:
- “Sequestration Is Still Better than the Alternatives,” by Christopher A. Preble
- “Budgetary Savings from Military Restraint,” by Christopher A. Preble and Benjamin H. Friedman
- “Economic Effects of Reductions in Defense Outlays,” by Benjamin Zycher
- Video: “The Truth about Sequestration”
Infographic sources (in order of figures listed, left to right):
- $6 trillion (current dollars): Congressional Budget Office, “The Budget and Economic Outlook: Fiscal Years 2013 to 2023,” Table 1-5, February 2013, http://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/cbofiles/attachments/43907-BudgetOutlook.pdf.
- $500 billion (current dollars): Widely cited approximate figure. See Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall, Jr., “Panetta Thanks Congress, Seeks End to Sequestration,” American Forces Press Service, United States Department of Defense, January 2, 2013, http://www.defense.gov/News/newsarticle.aspx?ID=118907; and Editorial, “Defense and the Sequester,” New York Times, February 24, 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/25/opinion/defense-and-the-sequester.html?ref=global&_r=0.
- $605 billion (constant FY 2012 dollars): Department of Defense, “Fiscal Year 2012 Green Book,” Table 6-8 – Dept. of Defense BA by Title, March 2011, http://comptroller.defense.gov/budget2012.html. War costs totaled $132 billion.
- $603 billion (current dollars): Congressional Research Service, Memorandum from Amy Belasco, “Potential Effects on Defense Spending of a Year-long Continuing Resolution and the March 2013 Sequesters,” Table 1, February 7, 2013, http://www.pogoarchives.org/straus/CRS-Sequester-20130207.pdf. Figures based on FY 2013 Continuing Resolution. War costs total $82.1 billion.
- $580 billion (constant FY 2012 dollars): Department of Defense, “Fiscal Year 2012 Green Book,” Table 6-8 – Dept. of Defense BA by Title, March 2011, http://comptroller.defense.gov/budget2012.html.
- $560 billion (constant 2012 dollars): State Department,“World Military Expenditures and Arms Transfers: 1989,” Table I, Released October, 1990, http://www.state.gov/t/avc/rls/rpt/wmeat/c50834.htm. Author’s inflationary calculations.
- $111 billion (2010 estimate): International Institute of Strategic Studies, The Military Balance 2012, (London: Routledge, 2012), p.215.
- $65 billion (2010 estimate): International Institute of Strategic Studies, The Military Balance 2012, (London: Routledge, 2012), p.192.
- $12 billion (2011 estimate): International Institute of Strategic Studies, The Military Balance 2012, (London: Routledge, 2012), p. 323.
- $7 billion (2009 estimate): Approximation based on estimated military expenditure as a percentage of GDP from U.S State Department document and CIA World Factbook. State Department, “North Korea Background Note,” April 4, 2012, http://www.state.gov/outofdate/bgn/northkorea/200972.htm; and Central Intelligence Agency, “World Factbook: Korea, North,” https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/kn.html.
View full post on Cato @ Liberty
The United States of Debt Addiction: Our reliance on debt has created an entire economy fortified in the fires of moral hazard and fiscally dangerous leverage.
Posted by mybudget360 in bailout, banks, debt, government, income, recession, wall street
16 point 7 trillion dollars. That is our current national debt. 12 point 8 trillion dollars. That is the amount households carry in mortgage and consumer debt. We are now addicted to debt to lubricate the wheels of our financial system. There is nothing wrong with debt per se, but it is safe to say that too much debt relative to how much revenue is being produced is a sign of economic problems. At the core of our current financial mess is how we use debt as a parachute for any problem. We’ve been masking the shrinking of the middle class by allowing households to take on too much debt for a couple of decades. The results were not positive. Too this degree, we have now created a massive moral hazard economy where savings are punished into oblivion. There is very little incentive to put your money in a bank account yielding zero percent interest when real inflation is eating away at your money like a hungry wolf. So what do people do? Well many simply cannot save and therefore choose to go into debt to finance cars, housing, and education with very little down. Where does this debt addiction lead us?
A little bit of deleveraging
US households have deleveraged from the peak in the crisis. However, much of this deleveraging has been forced via the 5 million foreclosures that have occurred:
I’m not sure if we can interpret that as some sign of a healthy and growing economy. Households have had their access to debt limited in many sectors. Yet one sector that never retreated was that in higher education. There is little doubt that there is a major bubble in higher education. Instead of addressing the problems head on we now have more access to debt as the solution. In order to compete in our service driven economy, having a skill is very important. Most will make the investment to pursue a college degree but the issue is that with easy access to debt, prices have soared. It is no surprise that college prices are following the trajectory of what happened in housing.
If you look at the above chart, a big part of the contraction has come from deleveraging from mortgages and credit card debt. Yet we are now once again loading up on auto debt and college debt. The system is now setup to punish any type of savings. Good luck trying to stash your money in a bank account and outrun even the steady pace of inflation.
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Tue Feb 05, 2013 12:06 pm
View full post on opinions.caduceusx.com
Don McGahn is a member and former chair of the Federal Election Commission. Don has many years experience practicing election law, and he has thought a lot about both the law and politics of his subject. The other day, after the Cato conference on Citizens United, Don sat down with Cato’s Caleb Brown to discuss that famous decision and its aftermath. McGahn’s thoughts are worth your time:
At the same conference, University of Massachusetts political scientist Ray LaRaja discussed his research on the impact of Citizens United on elections, spending, and the political parties. For my money Ray is among the best of the young scholars working on campaign finance.
View full post on Cato @ Liberty
Map of Consciousness, Dr. David R. Hawkins
Transcending the United State of MAD
- Jim ONeill (Bio and Archives) Tuesday, December 25, 2012
“So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart. Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their view, and demand that they respect yours. Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people. Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide.
When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song and die like a hero going home.”—Chief Tecumseh (1768—1813)—(note: this attribution is disputed)
…Above the planet on a wing and a prayer,
My grubby halo, a vapor trail in the empty air
Across the clouds I see my shadow fly
Out of the corner of my watering eye
A dream unthreatened by the morning light
Could blow this soul right through the roof of the night
There’s no sensation to compare with this
Suspended animation, a state of bliss
Can’t keep my mind from the circling sky
Tongue-tied and twisted just an earth-bound misfit, I
—Pink Floyd “Learning to Fly”
“We change the world not by what we say or do but as a consequence of what we have become.”—Dr. David R. Hawkins (1927-2012)
As I watch the transformation of the free republic(s) of the United States of America into the centrally controlled United State of America, I am reminded of an acronym popular during the height of the Cold War—MAD, or Mutually Assured Destruction.
MAD referred to the lose/lose scenario that would follow a nuclear weapons exchange between the United States and Russia. MAD was considered to be a deterrent to nuclear war, as such a war would inevitably end in mutual destruction; so what would be the point?
As far as deterrents go, the theory of MAD leaves much to be desired IMHO, but nonetheless it was in vogue for a number of years. In any event, MAD has appeared on the scene again in the form of two mutually irreconcilable ideologies that verge on tearing the United States apart—I am referring to what we call the conservative and liberal (Progressive) viewpoints.
“We the people” generally agree with Henry David Thoreau that “That government is best that governs least.” Liberals on the other hand, believe that “the bigger the better” when it comes to government. These two diametrically opposed views of government are rapidly closing together, and as things stand will soon reach their flashpoint.
[Sidebar: It is worth noting that government per se is not evil, not even a necessary evil. A limited government (such as outlined in the US Constitution) is a positive force for good, in that it protects its citizens and allows them to “follow their star” under the rule of law. According to what might be called “The Goldilocks Rule,” too little government (anarchy) results in chaos—while too much government smothers freedom, stifles initiative, and ultimately fosters rebellion and chaos. It is a question of balance. Given human nature’s propensity for greed, corruption and other mischief, the Founders felt that the best answer to the question of how America should be governed was to limit the power and size of central government by law (the Constitution). The US Constitution is paid lip service and little else these days, with the result that the federal government has been free to run amok].
To say we are facing a MAD situation as regards our divided nation is not hyperbole. The tense standoff we are currently experiencing brings to my mind the so called “Phony War” of 1939-1940(dubbed the “sitzkrieg” by the British press)—where various European nations, after declaring war on each other, spent the next half-year preparing for hostilities and engaging in futile peace negotiations.
Make no mistake, if the current “Phony War” should end and the gloves come off, the results will be catastrophic. There are patriots among us who believe in Churchill’s admonition that “You may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than live as slaves.” Such people will wage a ceaseless and costly guerilla war against a government that they see as opposing everything that their country once stood for: liberty, opportunity, free enterprise, and God.
Is there a way out of our present MAD predicament? I would say that there is, and I will spend the rest of this article discussing it. The way out of this situation is not through some sort of homogenized group-think overseen and enforced by the federal government. Rather, it entails the application of individual responsibility. It is, in a very real sense, up to us as individuals to extricate ourselves from this mess.
Dr. David R. Hawkins
The focus of this article is on the teachings of Dr. David R. Hawkins, who died (made his transition, if you prefer) earlier this year. Let me say up front that I present this overview of his teachings because I have personally found them to be very helpful in my own life—they may not “ring your bell,” nor am I saying that they should. Of course I hope that most of my readers find his teachings of interest, but if not, then not.
To start with, perhaps a short biography of Dr. Hawkins is in order. The following (edited and truncated) bio comes from the website “Veritas Publishing,” which is devoted to disseminating the teachings of Dr. Hawkins:
Sir David R. Hawkins, M.D., Ph.D. [was] a nationally renowned psychiatrist, physician, researcher, spiritual teacher and lecturer…. Founding Director of the Institute for Spiritual Research, Inc. (1983) and Founder of the Path of Devotional Nonduality (2003), Dr. Hawkins has lectured widely at such places as Westminster Abbey; Oxford Forum; Universities of Notre Dame, Michigan, Argentina, Fordham and Harvard; University of California (SF) Medical School; Institute of Noetic Sciences; and Agape Spiritual Center (Los Angeles). In addition, he has been an advisor to Catholic, Protestant, and Buddhist monasteries….. Dr. Hawkins entered the field of medicine to alleviate human pain and distress, and his work as a physician was pioneering. As Medical Director of the North Nassau Mental Health Center (1956—1980) and Director of Research at Brunswick Hospital (1968—1979) on Long Island, his clinic was the largest practice in the United States, including a suite of twenty—five offices, two thousand outpatients, and several research laboratories. In 1973, he co—authored the ground—breaking work, Orthomolecular Psychiatry with Nobel Laureate chemist Linus Pauling, initiating a new field within psychiatry…. His clinical breakthroughs brought appearances on The Today Show, The Barbara Walters Show and The Mcneil/Leher News Hour. In the 1970s, he co—founded several psychiatric organizations, including the Editorial Board of the Journal of Schizophrenia and the Attitudinal Healing Center in New York…. Many awards followed, such as The Huxley Award for the “Inestimable Contribution to the Alleviation of Human Suffering,” Physicians Recognition Award by the American Medical Association, 50—Year Distinguished Life Fellow by the American Psychiatric Association, the Orthomolecular Medicine Hall of Fame, and a nomination for the prestigious Templeton Prize that honors progress in Science and Religion. In 1995, in a ceremony officiated by the H.H. Prince Valdemar of Schaumburg—Lippe at the San Anselmo Theological Seminary, he became a knight of the Sovereign Order of the Hospitaliers of St. John of Jerusalem (founded in 1077) in recognition of his contributions to humanity…. Dr. Hawkins’s honors are vast. His background is detailed in Who’s Who in America and Who’s Who in the World, and his work has been acclaimed by many world leaders and Nobelists, including Mother Teresa. His life [was] completely devoted to the upliftment of mankind.
Before delving into his teachings, a couple of caveats are in order. First, as mentioned earlier, this article is an overview written with the intention of presenting the gist of Dr. Hawkins’s teachings to the reader who is unfamiliar with them. In no way should this article be considered any sort of “crash course” on his teachings. I am just a water carrier if you will; if you want the “real deal” then you will need to go to the well itself, via the various CDs, DVDs, and books that Dr. Hawkins left us. Secondly, similar to the first caveat, any errors that might be contained in this article are mine, and mine alone.
The Map of Consciousness (MOC)
Perhaps the most important element in Dr. Hawkins’ teachings is the Map of Consciousness (MOC). An excellent introduction to the MOC can be found in Dr. Hawkins’ watershed book “Power Vs. Force” (whose book jacket contains several complimentary blurbs by Dr. Wayne Dyer, automotive “mover and shaker” Lee Iacocca, Walmart founder Sam Walton, and Mother Teresa). An in depth discussion of the various levels of consciousness contained in the MOC can be found in Hawkins’ book “Transcending the Levels of Consciousness.”
Although the levels of consciousness as portrayed in the MOC are not ultimately arranged in a better/worse hierarchy (for esoteric reasons which we will not get into in this article), for our purposes looking at it as a hierarchy will be beneficial, and that is how I will present it. Therefore, in descending order, the levels of consciousness in the MOC are:
The level of Courage is of special importance, as I will explain in a moment.
Note that it occurs in the middle of the levels—with eight levels above it, and eight levels below. Dr. Hawkins writes, “The level of Courage is the critical point that marks the shift from negative to positive energy.” Courage and those levels above it represent states of consciousness that are giving, constructive, positive, and increasingly loving, awake, and aware. Those levels below Courage are negative, non-loving and of limited awareness. Courage separates the men from the boys, so to speak—and, of course, the women from the girls.
Before discussing Courage, a brief side trip to investigate the subject of love is in order. Few words in the English language are as abused, misused, and misunderstood as the word “love.” The capacity to love increases as the levels of consciousness go up, and decreases as they go down. In addition, the level of Love is an exceedingly attractive state of consciousness, so it behooves us to have some clarity regarding what the word “love” truly represents.
First, what it is not. In Dr. Hawkins’ words: “Love as depicted in the mass media is not what this level [Love] is about. What the world generally refers to as love is an intense emotional condition, combining physical attraction, possessiveness, control, addiction, eroticism, and novelty…an addictive sentimentality is likely what’s being spoken about, rather than Love….” Sounds like something you would not want to step in.
Society has burdened the word “love” with such a thick patina of misleading associations that it is no wonder that the word has such a hard time being taken seriously outside of the realm of romantic love. We should at least be aware that love is not an intensive of “like”—as in “Like, like a lot, love,” and that “making love” is in fact “making lust.” Not that I have anything against lust, but it most certainly, in and of itself, is not love.
The muddled conception of love currently holding sway in Western culture is not the love that Jesus was referring to when he said “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you….” (John 13:34)
So what is love? The ancient Greeks were on the right track when they named three different aspects of love, acknowledging the separation of mundane love (conditional), and divine love (unconditional). They named these differing aspects of love philia, or brotherly love (as in Philadelphia), eros (as in erotica) and agape.
Dr. Hawkins calls love a state of being, rather than an emotion or something of the mind. That is, love is something you are. Once you are love, why would you seek for it outside of yourself—the very idea becomes nonsensical. As you progress up the levels of consciousness you stop seeking and taking love, and start freely and effortlessly giving it away as naturally as the sun shines and rain falls.
Unconditional love, or agape, is currently an extreme rarity. Dr Hawkins calibrated that only .04% of the population experiences it—a drop in the bucket. He describes the higher stages of love as being “miraculous, inclusive, nonselective, transformative, unlimited, effortless, radiant, devotional, saintly, diffuse, merciful, and selfless…characterized by inner joy, faith, ecstasy, patience, compassion, persistence, essence, beauty, synchronicity, perfection, surrender, rapture, vision, and openness. [There is] profound peace beyond description…curiously powerful and totally unassailable.” Powerful stuff, wouldn’t you say? And there are still two more levels of consciousness above Love in the MOC. Makes you wonder what they must be like.
The level of Courage is the great dividing line between those levels of consciousness below it and those above it. It acts as the gateway to the higher levels of consciousness. In essence it separates the Takers from the Makers. Those below the level of Courage are takers—they take love, they take up society’s resources, they take up your time, they take advantage of you…they take, and take, and take. They are a drain on other individuals and society as a whole. People at and above the level of Courage give. They give love, they give of their time, they come up with new ideas and inventions, and they are positive assets to society.
The level of Courage gets its name from the fact that it is the first of the levels where the concept of individual responsibility appears, and to embrace that concept takes courage. The levels below Courage all play “the blame game” to one degree or another. In the lower levels it is always “their” fault. He, she, it, or they made them do it (whatever “it” is), or is the cause of their misfortune, or the reason behind their lack of success. People in the lower levels almost never “own” their failures; their finger is forever pointing beyond themselves—hence personal growth (on the rare occasion when it occurs) tends to be sporadic and anemic.
Albert Einstein once said “The most important question a person can ask is ‘Is the universe a friendly place?’” The answer depends on whether your state of consciousness is above or below Courage. Below Courage the universe can be a sad, fearful, violent, and hopeless hell hole, whereas at Courage and above, it becomes an ever-increasingly benign and friendly environment.
It is next to impossible to convince someone in the lower levels of consciousness that they are wrong to think and feel the way they do, because the levels of consciousness are self-validating. If you go around wearing a pair of c—p colored glasses then…Presto! You live in a s—tty world. Or a fear filled world, or a sad world, or a hopeless world, or a mean world, or a greedy world, or…well, whatever level of consciousness you call “home base” will color your perceptions. I speak from experience.
For much of my adult life the levels below Courage were my “hood.” My “home base,” or most visited level of consciousness was primarily Pride, but I often made forays into the levels of Desire and Anger—still do in fact. It is also worth noting that even back when I lived in the hood, I often made it to “the other side of the tracks,” and spent much time at the level of Reason.
Speaking from personal experience I would say that “travel” between the various levels of consciousness is not only possible, but common. On any given day I may visit the levels of Pride, Desire, and Anger numerous times. The big difference between now and the time before I reached the level of Courage is that I no longer buy into the “reality” of the lower levels. My “hood” is now Courage and the levels above, and my forays into the lower levels have progressively shortened in duration and lessened in intensity. My old stomping grounds have largely lost their glamour and allure.
Most of the time when I get upset these days, I immediately ask myself, “Why am I choosing to feel this way,” because anymore I know that it is a choice. Sometimes it takes me awhile to come to my senses, but eventually I always do—I am still very much a work in progress. Blaming “them” still has its attractions (it is such an easy out).
Jesus was addressing those below the level of Courage when he asked “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” (Jesus was not above being sarcastic at times). He was addressing those at the level of Pride when He compared the Pharisees (blind guides who strain out a gnat but swallow a camel) to cups that are nice and clean on the outside where everyone can see, but whose insides are full of “greed and evil.” The Map of Consciousness may not have been around during Christ’s day, but the levels of consciousness sure were.
Why This Article?
The reason that I have written this article is because I have a strong sense that playtime is over; that humanity needs to grow up, and we need to be quick about it. We are increasingly being ruled by pompous buffoons, greedy political hacks, power hungry jackals, ideological zealots, and idiot savant technocrats—and it is a recipe for disaster.
It is no secret that humanity’s technological expertise has far exceeded its moral/spiritual understanding, and unless something is done, and done soon, then it is inevitable that our ignorance, hubris, and anger will be our undoing. We constantly invent ever more clever gadgets and gizmos (and weapons), and yet human nature remains “stuck on stupid”—where it has been for millennia. It is a situation that cannot end well.
Our society idolizes Pride, and tamps down and represses massive amounts of Fear and Anger (which go together like Nazis and swastikas). In addition, our culture loudly and endlessly sells Desire—from Black Friday greed, to the ubiquitous promotion of sex. We have stopped evolving as a people and as a nation, and have been de-volving; slipping backward into the sludge of the lower levels of consciousness. I feel like I am locked in a room full of arrogant horny monkeys (with college degrees) playing with live hand grenades. (On the positive side, it gives me ample incentive to think of the hereafter and work on my spirituality).
As a freedom loving American patriot it sickens me to watch what has become of our country, and if inclined I could stoke up enough “justifiable anger” to light up a large town—but I do not see any sense in going that route yet again. I look at mankind’s bloody history of nearly constant warfare, and see only more of the “same old/same old” unless we radically change tactics, direction, and ourselves.
This talk about the levels of consciousness is no hocus-pocus voodoo nonsense. They are as real and pragmatic as concrete. When René Descartes came up with his famous observation in the 17th century—”Cogito ergo sum,” I think therefore I am—he did Western civilization no favor. We have been marooned in our heads ever since; in thrall to our thoughts and intellect. It is our awareness that allows us to be cognizant of having thoughts at all, and without awareness we may as well have no thoughts. The correct observation is not “I think therefore I am,” but “I am aware of my thoughts, therefore I am.”
A meaningless difference or splitting hairs you say? Au contraire, mon frere. By changing the focus of our foundational source of being from our thoughts to our awareness we have made a quantum leap from content to context. Think of thoughts as being like fish (content) in a Goldfish bowl, and the water in which they swim and live as awareness (context). When we identify with awareness, as opposed to thoughts, then we have changed our paradigm of reality substantially.
Awareness is a notoriously elusive thing to experience—it is often called “the silent witness,” and trying to know it has been compared to an eyeball trying to see itself. Nonetheless, it can be experienced directly (although it is beyond the ability of the intellect to grasp). But that is neither here nor there, as I have no interest in trying to coax anyone into experiencing awareness (as if I could!). My intention here is simply to point out that awareness is at the root of our being—and that is a fairly easy concept to grasp on the intellectual level. Again, how could we even know we were thinking unless we were aware of our thoughts?
Once we understand the importance of awareness, it is no great jump to acknowledging the importance of our state(s) of consciousness. (An imperfect but serviceable analogy for consciousness is, if awareness is like the water in a goldfish bowl, then consciousness is comparable to the state of that water—is it clean and life-enhancing, or muddied and poisoned?). (Note: awareness is in truth always and forever pure, unblemished, and stainless, but rather than go down a rather Byzantine verbal detour we’ll just stick with my analogy for now).
We are nearing the crux of the matter, and the reason for this article. By the way, congratulations if you have managed to hang in there to this point! Most people will not have made it this far, so give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back—or not, as you see fit.
There is one more important thing that I want to mention before closing. A considerable number of people (myself included) believe that every individual consciousness is at some deep unconscious level interconnected with every other consciousness. It was Dr. Carl Jung who coined the term collective unconscious, which is also known as the “race mind,” the mitote, and several other names.
The collective unconscious is the reason why the most important thing that we can do to help others, to help humanity, is to help ourselves—that is, elevate our personal state of consciousness. Dr. Hawkins echoed numerous sages and saints when he wrote “…our own inner evolution serves all of mankind. By reaching these higher states of lovingness and peace within ourselves, we become a saving presence in the world.”
Although I have not touched on the vast majority of Dr. Hawkins’s teachings, we are near the end of my article. Hopefully those of you who found my article of interest will take it upon yourselves to inquire further into the subject. It is my hope that in addition to taking action on the material plane, those of us who value freedom, honor, and integrity will utilize Dr. Hawkins’ teachings in order to raise not only our own consciousness, but the collective unconscious as a whole.
It is doubtful that many of those in the lower levels of consciousness will attempt to “pull themselves up by the bootstraps,” as they have too much invested in the “blame game.” So it will fall to “we the people” to raise their consciousness along with our own. It is not such a bad gig at all. As we discard such things as guilt, grief, and anger, in dribs and drabs; we automatically help the collective unconscious to rise along with us.
Most American patriots are conservatives, and conservatives, by and large, have at least reached the level of Courage, as they believe in and practice personal responsibility. Dr. Hawkins writes, “People on this level [Courage] are the backbone of the country. They are the people we turn to when it is necessary to do so for the common good. They are dependable and can be counted on because of their willingness to accept responsibility.”
We cannot solve our difficulties with the same consciousness that created them, and we cannot find the right answers if we are asking the wrong questions. At bottom the “culture war” that is threatening our country is a war between opposing states of consciousness—the giving, positive states, and the taking, negative states. Courage is the level that separates them.
It is a short distance from Pride to Courage, and if enough people can be encouraged to make the jump from Pride it would mean all that much more positive energy would be available to counterbalance the negativity of the lower levels. (Note: the main reason why Pride is in the lower levels—although, granted, at the top of the heap—is because Pride still depends on the opinion of others for its sense of self-worth. The person in Pride has yet to take personal responsibility for their sense of self-esteem).
The same thing applies to those who are already at Courage and any of the levels above it—if they make a concerted effort to raise their level of consciousness further (which generally entails nothing more than letting go of negative energies) then any elevation in their state of consciousness will translate into more positive energy being available to oppose the negative energies. It is possible, through intention, to rise as high as the level of Joy (after the level of Joy any further progress is a grace and is non-volitional).
What about on the material plane—do I believe in armed resistance? I will protect myself and my family with the weapons I have at hand—that is a given. As far as participating in armed insurrection goes—it would depend on the circumstances. For those in the highest levels of consciousness participating in armed conflict is an impossibility—it simply will not happen. But no doubt their extremely high positive energy output more than offsets a Mother Teresa’s lack of firepower. Seeing as I do not feel in imminent danger of slipping over into sainthood any time soon it is something of a moot point for me. I would say let your conscience be your guide in this matter—literally.
In closing let me reiterate that this article should not be considered in any way to be a crash course on Dr. Hawkins’s teachings. If you have found it to be of interest then please avail yourself of the wealth of material Dr. Hawkins left us. You might want to start with his last book, “Letting Go.” If Dr. Hawkins’s teachings interest you, and you are anything like me, then you have a thousand-and-one questions regarding what this article has covered (usually of the “But what about…” variety). Dr. Hawkins answers many of the most common questions in his books, CDs, and DVDs.
In reference to the higher states of consciousness Ludwig Wittgenstein once famously proclaimed “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.” Thanks for nothing Ludwig. I thank God that we are fortunate enough to have had someone like Dr. Hawkins, who not only experienced those higher states, but shared his experiences with us in a way that is truly astounding. I have been studying the higher states of consciousness for decades, and I have never run across anyone else with Hawkins’s gift for translating the ineffable heights of human consciousness into language that is so accessible. We are truly blessed to have his teachings available.
Those on the left side of the political spectrum claim that they want to make earth into a utopia, but any attempt to create a utopia always has been, and always will be a fool’s errand doomed to failure unless the issue of humanity’s state of consciousness is first addressed and corrected. Until we change ourselves; transform ourselves from the inside out; then no amount of Draconian laws will turn earth into heaven. As Jesus told us, the kingdom of heaven is within us, and we look in vain when we search for it outside of ourselves. Will we ever learn?
Born June 4, 1951 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Served in the U.S. Navy from 1970-1974 in both UDT-21 (Underwater Demolition Team) and SEAL Team Two. Worked as a commercial diver in the waters off of Scotland, India, and the United States. While attending the University of South Florida as a journalism student in 1998 was presented with the “Carol Burnett/University of Hawaii AEJMC Research in Journalism Ethics Award,” 1st place undergraduate division. (The annual contest was set up by Carol Burnett with money she won from successfully suing a national newspaper for libel). Awarded US Army, US Navy, South African, and Russian jump wings. Graduate of NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School, 1970). Member of Mensa, and lifetime member of the UDT/SEAL Association.
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Tue Dec 25, 2012 10:32 am
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