PODCAST: Transformation of the Global Monetary Central Banking System, R.I.P.

The global financial reset is unfolding according to plan. You won’t hear much about this on the financial news (just yet), so let’s connect the dots on but a few occurrences leading up to what may prove to be perhaps one of the biggest stories of the century as the transformation of the global monetary central banking fiat system is coming to an end, R.I.P. Actually rather than rest in peace, shall we say, R.I.H. (rest in heat)?

Connect the Dots

There have been many random events occurring now for quite some time as it relates to the global financial reset. For starters, Russia has sold off nearly all of its US treasuries. This  is very telling. What is even more telling about this event is what they did with the proceeds. They invested mainly in gold and some other currencies. China, once the largest purchaser of the US treasury notes has also been liquidating US treasuries over a period of some years. Today, the largest purchaser of the US treasury is the Federal Reserve.

If we are connecting the dots we must mention the recent meeting in Switzerland, Basel III. In essence, gold is becoming sort of a de-facto currency as central banks are beginning to acquire a substantial amount of gold. In 2017 in a GQ interview, Trump stated, “Bringing back the gold standard would be very hard to do, but boy, would it be wonderful. We’d have a standard on which to base our money.”  Articles like this in Forbes are yet another indicator of restoring sound money. In my opinion, gold will back the currency and perhaps other commodities. The dollar will reset, dropping in value to help offset the debt debacle. There may also be a forgiveness of debt, a sort of jubilee if you will. Time will tell. And this may even be just a step in a series of steps to follow. One thing for sure, the US dollar and the Bretton Woods Agreement has seen its day in the sun. This will soon come to an end. Please remember that there is nothing Federal about the Federal Reserve and there is no Reserve. The Federal Reserve is no more a government agency than Federal Express.

President Trump is not only transforming the 9th circuit courts and the Supreme Court, but he is also transforming the Federal Reserve board with two recent nominations, those being Herman Cain and Stephen Moore. It is important to note that both of these men are pro gold and understand the magnitude of the problem with our Central Banking fiat system. Meanwhile Federal Reserve Chairman Powell has done a 360 with regards to slowing down or holding off on raising rates through 2019. It appears that President Trump may have exerted a degree of control over the Fed when it comes to the recent decision by Powell. Trump has managed to get the Fed to cease the raising of rates for now and this will help keep markets in tact so that a collapse does not endanger the 2020 election. After the election (and perhaps before hand, time will tell), the thrust of the reset springs into full force and there will be some carnage and pain until we see this through. One thing we can be on the lookout for is a battle of sorts playing out in 2019 and in 2020 between President Trump and the Fed.

Setting the Table

President Trump is three feet behind the heads of the economic swamp creatures heads as well as the fake news media. He will catch them all by surprise. The 3D chess maneuvers of the President that the astute observer has become accustom to, is telling us that the stage is being set. Trump is setting the table. He will continue to play within the rigged doomed systems and beat them at their own game. Meanwhile President Trump’s plan is in motion with regard to China and other world leaders. Now, with the biggest political scandal in US history and the treasonous, illegal take down and the failed coup d’ etat attempt behind the President, he can now accelerate and complete his negotiations with China, Russia and others. The stage is being set. Once re-elected in 2020, things accelerate. The positioning will be a such that the collapse that will hit, is to be blamed on the Fed. Accounts will be hemorrhaging. The President will then get the support he needs from the people and the Congress to audit the Fed. Check out HR 24 and HR 25. Ron Paul will be dancing in his PJ’s as the conclusion of the audits (which will go on for some time), will result in the end of the Fed and the fiat system. There is much more to this and I will be commenting on this in future articles for some time as this plays out.  Look for contributions to these articles from PHD economist Dr. Kirk Elliott.

Summary

Not only will the audits expose the Fed and the Central Banking system, but Gold too will prove just what it is this debt based fiat monetary system is worth and what it has really done to the people. They fear gold like a Vampire fears the light. Support this President. Vet and vote for candidates that will do the same. The reset will not happen without a collapse and correction of sorts. The President will do all he can to minimize the carnage.

And as to your investments? The time to begin repositioning assets is right now. I will do a dedicated series of articles on this specific subject as well. In the meantime you can request a free digital PDF report loaded with everything you need to know. Send a request to me for the Global Financial Reset report. I will send it to you. We are transitioning from the economic swamp creatures’ crippling Central Bank economy to the peoples economy. Thus restoring power to the people. It’s an amazing time to be alive. Buckle down and stay the course.

Related Links:

The Economic Patriot Plan Activated, On Schedule, Did You Miss It? – Episode 1834a

Trump Draining the Economic Swamp

Trump, Money and the Fed

Signs The Global Financial Reset Has Begun

Setting the Stage for the Next Global Reserve Currency

Trump’s Economic Capitalism and the Coming Collapse, Blame it on Trump

Trump Economic Policy Speech

EDITORS NOTE: This JMC column with podcast is republished with permission.

Bernie Sanders’s Idea of Economic Rights Is the Path to Serfdom

Such a policy will require the government to wield a huge amount of control over the direction of the economic activity of the state. – Adam Toomey


Senator Bernie Sanders fired up the Twitterverse last Sunday with an impassioned tweet touting the “economic rights” of the citizen. Everyone has the “right to a decent job, the right to health care, housing, education, [and] retirement security,” the senator said. While this type of rhetoric has become the norm for him, questions abound about the details of such a policy.

For starters, what jobs will be guaranteed? The senator has never really gone into explicit detail on this matter. However, he strongly hinted at what this might look like in a recent tweet. “Our lives, our existence, should be about more than just the accumulation of more and more wealth,” the senator claimed. Although scant in details, Sanders is alluding to the fact that economic worries are a hindrance to political liberty.

Free Markets and Political Freedom Go Together

In doing so, however, he is ignoring the fact that free-market economics is a prerequisite for political liberty to exist at all. The two are intimately intertwined. Writing in Capitalism and Freedom, Milton Friedman noted, “I know of no example in a time or place of a society that has been marked by a large measure of political freedom, and that has not also used something comparable to a free market.”

Exploring the likely scenario of Bernie Sanders’s job guarantee will only serve to validate Friedman’s belief. Such a policy will initially result in government-backed industries competing alongside private enterprises. This is a textbook socialist policy of “economic security” rather than “economic rights.”

And what economic security promises is a set standard of living for all citizens. Every person is entitled to a job with a guaranteed salary. In providing this, the government alleviates the risk inherent to freedom of choice and opportunity. The individual no longer has to worry about being fired or a potential setback in their material means. As the theory goes, free from the burden of economic risk, the citizen will be freer than ever before.

But this is far from the reality of the situation. Writing in The Road to Serfdom, F.A. Hayek noted that “the security of an invariable income can be provided for all only by the abolition of all freedom in the choice of one’s own employment.” And it’s easy to understand why Hayek would reach such a conclusion.

For one, to enact such a policy will require the government to wield a huge amount of control over the direction of the economic activity of the state. The individuals that submit to such guarantees will not be given a choice of which jobs they wish to pursue. Instead, a centralized department will allocate them to a job based off of their perceived skill set and a perceived economic need. Freedom of choice will inevitably be traded for the security of income.

Centralized Economic Planning Restricts Freedom

An additional problem with such a scheme is that it will completely distort market economics. In a free market, it is inevitable that groups of people will face layoffs. It is a burden that we all sympathize with. However, there is a valuable teaching lesson for those affected. When their job is no longer in demand, groups of people are able to allocate their resources and focus on pursuing jobs that are in demand.

Senator Sanders’s proposal of economic security poses a risk to this painful yet critical lesson of the free market. With the guaranteed job in hand, the individual has no way of knowing the usefulness of their task. They have no standard by which to judge their skills. As such, they lose the ability to see a goal to aim and strive for.

The economic planner will seek to alleviate this problem, as well. In overseeing the economy, the planner will make a centralized decision on what jobs are useful. A group of men, rather than the impersonal free market, will decide where to allocate resources. Citizens will be herded to and fro and assigned to certain tasks.

Morally Problematic

The moral problems of such a policy are glaring. For John Stuart Mill, the power of choice enlivens our faculties of thought and introspection. “The human faculties of perception, judgment, discriminative feeling, mental activity, and even moral preference are exercised only in making a choice,” Mill says in On Liberty. In the absence of choice, such people will come to resemble what Mill called “ape-like.” The citizen will not develop the faculties distinctive of being a human being.

Alexis de Tocqueville, author of Democracy in America, reached the same conclusion as Mill in observing the citizens of the centralized state. Such a man “sleeps…without passion and enlightenment,” always looking to the government to make his decisions for him. He loses control of his individual life and lacks “a spirit of ownership and [is] without ideas of any improvement.” He is of no use to himself or his fellow man. In the hyper-centralized state, he is machine-like rather than human.

But alas, we are still human. And as humans, we are usually in need of external motivation to perform the task at hand. Hayek observed this in The Road to Serfdom,as well. For Hayek, with a job guaranteed as our “right,” we lose the greatest motivator, which is the potential for material loss. With our interests no longer involved in our work, we are highly unlikely to remain productive. Thus, balancing the “right to a job” with the problem of discipline will be an impossible task to solve.

Therefore, what we have with Senator Sanders’s proposal is an inefficient system that reduces men to cogs in machinery. Devoid of passion and interest, such a person will meander from assigned task to assigned task. This person will practice the skill of passivity rather than actively controlling his individual aims and ambitions.

Perhaps, then, it is as Benjamin Franklin popularly said: “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

COLUMN BY

Adam Toomey

Adam Toomey is a Philosophy graduate and current Masters student at St. John’s College. You can follow him on Twitter at dare2besocrates.

RELATED ARTICLE: Saving Capitalism from the Capitalists

EDITORS NOTE: This FEE column is republished with permission.

The Racist Roots Behind the Minimum Wage

Economist Walter Williams has called the minimum wage “one of the most effective tools in the arsenal of racists everywhere in the world.”

Yet today’s “Fight for $15” has placed a federal minimum wage increase at center stage.

“The federal minimum wage of $7.25 is a starvation wage,” Sen. Bernie Sanders tweeted. “If you work 40 hours a week, you should not live in poverty.”

Legislation to increase the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour also gained the support of 2020 Democratic Presidential nominees including Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and Cory Booker.

Today’s progressives deny that minimum wage hikes cause unemployment, specifically for low-skill and minority workers. But in the Progressive Era that initiated the first minimum wage laws, they considered such unemployment to be a feature and not a bug.

The Minimum Wage’s Beginnings

As documented in this Cato Institute research paper, the first minimum wage law, the Davis-Bacon Act of 1931, had racist origins. According to researcher David E. Bernstein, the story begins in 1927 when a contractor from Alabama “won a bid to build a Veteran’s Bureau hospital in Long Island, New York. He brought a crew of black construction workers from Alabama to work on the project. Appalled that blacks from the South were working on a federal project in his district, Representative Robert Bacon of Long Island submitted H.R. 17069.”

This bill was the precursor to the legislation known as the Davis-Bacon Act that was eventually passed into law. The act mandated a minimum wage to any workers on construction projects part of a contract with the U.S. or District of Columbia governments that exceeded $2,000.

As Walter Williams has further noted about the Act, “Among the widespread racist sentiment was that of American Federation of Labor President William Green, who complained, ‘Colored labor is being sought to demoralize wage rates.’”

In practice, the mandated minimum wage in Davis-Bacon “was almost universally determined to be the same as the union wage,” wrote then-Harvard law student John Frantz in this 1994 article for the Foundation of Economic Education.

“Most major union construction unions excluded blacks. This was an effective tool to fight against what some legislators openly complained about, cheap black laborers from the south,” Frantz continued.

Representative John Cochran from Missouri laid bare the motivation behind the act when he stated, “I have received numerous complaints in recent months about southern contractors employing low-paid colored mechanics getting work and bringing the employees from the South.”

The minimum wage being used as a means to discriminate against minorities was not exclusive to the U.S., however.

Economist Thomas Sowell points out how the minimum wage has been used to keep minorities and immigrants from accessing jobs in several nations across the world for generations.

In 1925, a minimum wage law was passed in the Canadian province of British Columbia, with the intent and effect of pricing Japanese immigrants out of jobs in the lumbering industry, Sowell wrote.

In 1912, Sowell notes, Harvard professor Arthur Holcome referred approvingly to Australia’s minimum wage law as a means to “protect the white Australian’s standard of living from the invidious competition of the colored races, particularly of the Chinese” who were willing to work for less.

Minimum Wage as a Means of Social Control

These days, you can count on media talking heads and countless politicians to proclaim how wonderful the minimum wage is for the poor. Wage floors will improve the standard of living, they say.

But back during the Progressive Era, they knew better. They understood that minimum wages exclude workers — and they favored them precisely because such wage floors drive people out of the job market. People without jobs cannot prosper and are thereby discouraged from reproducing. Minimum wages were designed specifically to lock “racial inferiors” out of the workforce and keep wages for white natives high enough to prevent immigrants and minorities from out-breeding the native population.

Princeton University’s Thomas C. Leonard wrote about this extensively, including in a 2003 issue of the History of Political Economy academic journal. Leonard’s research led him to conclude “Progressive economists, like their marginalist interlocutors, believed that binding minimum wages would result in job losses.” Those progressive economists, however, viewed these job losses as a benefit.

Leonard further noted that progressives in the early 20th century didn’t reject the prevailing notions that “blacks, Asians, Southern and Eastern Europeans, and mental and physical ‘defectives’ should be seen as innately different and inferior.” Indeed, progressives at the time embraced the notion and sought measures of social control to weed them out of the labor force, and ultimately society.

Moreover, progressives were concerned that immigrants and other “inferior stock” like blacks could outcompete natives and whites for work because they were willing to accept lower wages.

“Low-wage ‘races’ are depicted as innately disposed to endure a low standard of living,” Leonard wrote. “Racial theories were flexible enough to found a willingness to accept low wages on racial causes that ran from laziness to greed.”

The willingness of these “low-wage races” to accept low wages would drive down the wages of native whites, progressive economists feared at the time. Because of these lower wages, the native whites would be less able to afford larger families, and the blacks and immigrants would reproduce in greater number. Over time, the “inferior stock” of races would overwhelm the native white population and create a new ethnic majority in the country, according to progressives. This process of “race suicide” became a genuine concern.

One way to combat this process, the progressive economists theorized, was to create minimum wage laws to prevent a fall in wages and to effectively block low-skilled immigrants and minorities from the labor force.

For instance, progressive Princeton economist Royal Meeker favored the minimum wage for its effective means of culling out the least productive workers, Leonard wrote. Once separated, the ‘unemployables’ become easy to identify and in turn to be managed by the state.

Conclusion

There is little debate that the Fight for $15 is a fight to increase unemployment among low-skilled workers. Particularly hardest hit would be minorities and immigrants.

Today’s minimum wage advocates, however, naively deny any such negative economic consequences. Perhaps this denial is a manifestation of a guilty conscience created by the racist motivations of progressives a hundred years ago who disturbingly viewed such unemployment as a social benefit.

Either way, we should all agree that there is no place for the criminalization of voluntary labor agreements in a free society. The minimum wage’s racist roots serve to underscore its destructive nature.

Trump Really Does Have a Plan That’s Better Than Obamacare

“If the Supreme Court rules that Obamacare is out,” President Donald Trump said last week, “we’ll have a plan that is far better than Obamacare.”

Democrats couldn’t believe their luck. They still were reeling from special counsel Robert Mueller’s finding that the Trump campaign neither conspired nor coordinated with Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 elections.

Now the president was changing the subject from collusion (a suddenly awkward topic for Democrats) to health care (which helped them capture dozens of House seats last November).

Besides, the president really doesn’t have a plan that is far better than Obamacare, or any plan at all. Right?

Wrong.

A look at his fiscal year 2020 budget shows that the president has a plan to reduce costs and increase health care choices. His plan would achieve this by redirecting federal premium subsidies and Medicaid expansion money into grants to states. States would be required to use the money to establish consumer-centered programs that make health insurance affordable regardless of income or medical condition.

The president’s proposal is buttressed by a growing body of evidence that relaxing federal regulations and freeing the states to innovate makes health care more affordable for families and small businesses.

Ed Haislmaier and I last year published an analysis of waivers that have so far enabled seven states to significantly reduce individual health insurance premiums. These states fund “invisible high risk pools” and reinsurance arrangements largely by repurposing federal money that would otherwise have been spent on Obamacare premium subsidies, directing them instead to those in greatest medical need.

By financing care for those with the biggest medical bills, these states have substantially reduced premiums for individual policies. Before Maryland obtained its waiver, insurers in the state filed requests for 2019 premium hikes averaging 30 percent. After the federal government approved the waiver, final 2019 premiums averaged 13 percent lower than in 2018—a 43 percent swing.

Best of all, Maryland and the other waiver states have achieved these results without increasing federal spending or creating a new federally funded reinsurance program, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has proposed to do.

State innovation also extends to Medicaid. Some states have sought waivers permitting them to establish work requirements designed to help Medicaid recipients escape poverty.

Arkansas, for example, last June began requiring nondisabled, childless, working-age adults to engage in 80 hours of work activity per month. The program defined “work activity” broadly to include seeking a job, training for work, studying for a GED, engaging in community service, and learning English.

More than 18,000 people—all nondisabled and aged 30-49—were dropped from the rolls between September and December for failing to meet these requirements. The overwhelming majority did not report any work-related activity. All became eligible to re-enroll in Medicaid on Jan. 1. Fewer than 2,000 have done so, suggesting that most either don’t value the benefit or now earn enough to render them ineligible for Medicaid.

Nonetheless, last week a federal judge ordered Arkansas to drop its Medicaid work requirement, a requirement that would likely improve lifetime earnings of Medicaid recipients.

Administration efforts to relax federal rules to benefit employees of small businesses also were nullified last week by a federal judge.

Most uninsured workers are employed by small firms, many of which can’t afford Obamacare coverage for their employees. The Labor Department rule allowed small firms to band together, including across state lines, giving them purchasing power comparable to that of big businesses.

study of association health plans that formed after the new rule took effect last September found that they offered comprehensive coverage at premium savings averaging 23%. The court ruling stopped that progress in its tracks.

Waivers and regulations that benefit consumers are susceptible to the whim of judges and bureaucrats, which is why Congress should act on the president’s proposal.

It closely parallels the Health Care Choices Proposal, the product of ongoing work by national and state think tanks, grassroots organizations, policy analysts, and others in the conservative community. A study by the Center for Health and the Economy, commissioned by The Heritage Foundation, found that the proposal would reduce premiums for individual health insurance by up to 32 percent and cover virtually the same number of people as under Obamacare.

It also would give consumers more freedom to choose the coverage they think best for themselves and their families. Unlike current law, states could include direct primary care; health-sharing ministries; short-term, limited-duration plans; and other arrangements among the options available through their programs.

Those expanded choices would extend to low-income people. The proposal would require states to let those receiving assistance through the block grants, Medicaid, and other public assistance programs apply the value of their subsidy to the plan of their choice, instead of being herded into government-contracted health maintenance organizations.

Outside groups that helped develop the proposal, which is similar to the president’s, are looking to refine it by incorporating other Trump administration ideas like expansion of health savings accounts, health reimbursement arrangements, and association health plans. They’re also reviewing various administration ideas to reduce health care costs through choice and competition.

The president really does have “a plan that is far better than Obamacare.” Congress should get on board.

COMMENTARY BY

Doug Badger is a former White House and Senate policy adviser and is currently a senior fellow at the Galen Institute and a visiting fellow at The Heritage Foundation. Twitter: .

RELATED ARTICLES:

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RELATED VIDEO: America’s Biggest Issues: Health Care


Dear Readers:

Just two short years after the end of the Obama administration’s disastrous policies, America is once again thriving due to conservative solutions that have produced a historic surge in economic growth.

The Trump administration has embraced over 60 percent of The Heritage Foundation’s policy recommendations since his inauguration. But with the House now firmly within the grips of the progressive left, the victories may come to a screeching halt.

Why? Because they are determined more than ever to give the government more control over your lives. Restoring your liberty and embracing freedom is the best thing for you and the country.

President Donald Trump needs all of the allies he can find to push through the stone wall he now faces within this divided government. And the best way you can partner with him is by becoming a member of his greatest ally in Washington: The Heritage Foundation.

Will you activate your membership with a tax-deductible gift today?

ACTIVATE YOUR MEMBERSHIP TODAY


EDITORS NOTE: This Daily Signal column is republished with permission.

Marijuana-Related ER Visits Triple During Legalization in Colorado

A toxicology specialist has found a connection between legalized marijuana and a threefold increase in related visits to emergency rooms in Colorado for heart and other issues, confirming that cannabis poses health risks.

Marijuana may be a recreational activity for many, but marijuana-infused “edibles” in particular have been subject to scrutiny because of their ties to a jump in patients seeking medical treatment.

The new study from researchers with the University of Colorado School of Medicine found that marijuana-related ER visits tripled between 2012 and 2016.

The study also found that people consuming marijuana edibles suffer from toxic reactions at higher rates than those who simply smoke the drug. These edibles typically include brownies and other baked goods.

Dr. Andrew Monte, an associate professor at the medical school’s Anschutz campus, was lead author of the research paper published Tuesday in the Annals of Internal Medicine, touted as the first study to show an increased rate of adverse health events linked to marijuana edibles.

“Some patients will have psychosis, hallucinations, or they will hear things,” Monte, also an emergency medicine and toxicology specialist at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital, told the website UCHealth. “The more common thing is acute anxiety, panic attacks, and very high heart rates.”

“There’s a much higher risk with taking edible agents,” he added. “It’s so unpredictable in terms of the effects.”

Colorado legalized medical marijuana shops in 2009, then legalized recreational marijuana use in 2014. Since the legalization of marijuana in some jurisdictions across the U.S., public health experts have called for better quality control of marijuana.

ER visits by those consuming marijuana edibles have risen since Colorado legalized marijuana use, for both cardiac and psychiatric problems, the study found.

From 2012 to 2016, the study found, a total of 10,000 ER visits were tied to patients who previously smoked marijuana or used edibles.

More than 25 percent of the ER visits involved symptoms related to marijuana use. Visits related to toxic reactions from marijuana edibles were 33 times higher than expected, the study found.

Another finding: Marijuana users often suffered from nausea and vomiting, a condition known as cannabinoid hyperemesis.

Although sales of edibles make up a small share of Colorado’s marijuana market, the number of patients suffering from toxic side effects was found to be 11 percent.

Edible marijuana products also were tied to unpleasant psychiatric symptoms and, though rarely, death, according to the study. It also found that marijuana users who sought treatment generally were younger and male.

“When people take something to get high, they generally don’t want to get high three hours later and be high for 12 hours,” Monte told UCHealth, referring to the potency of some edibles.

Edibles containing greater concentrations may produce cyclic vomiting syndrome, he warned.

Enjoying pot-infused edibles “isn’t completely safe,” Monte said, but it’s hard to pinpoint all the side effects because of a lack of clinical trials.

COLUMN BY

Joshua Nelson

Joshua Nelson is a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation.


Dear Readers:

Just two short years after the end of the Obama administration’s disastrous policies, America is once again thriving due to conservative solutions that have produced a historic surge in economic growth.

The Trump administration has embraced over 60 percent of The Heritage Foundation’s policy recommendations since his inauguration. But with the House now firmly within the grips of the progressive left, the victories may come to a screeching halt.

Why? Because they are determined more than ever to give the government more control over your lives. Restoring your liberty and embracing freedom is the best thing for you and the country.

President Donald Trump needs all of the allies he can find to push through the stone wall he now faces within this divided government. And the best way you can partner with him is by becoming a member of his greatest ally in Washington: The Heritage Foundation.

Will you activate your membership with a tax-deductible gift today?

ACTIVATE YOUR MEMBERSHIP TODAY


EDITORS NOTE: This Daily Signal column is republished with permission.

PODCAST: Why We Work

PODCAST: Why we work.

In this age of entitlement, some young people are wondering if they should be enjoying life as opposed to working as diligently as we do. This explains why Millennials do not seriously think about long-term employment. Studies indicate they would rather see the world now, not later, sample new delicacies, relax and play games as opposed to being attached to a career. From their perspective, they have two lives, personal and working, but they do not see them intertwined. This is the antithesis of preceding generations who worked hard, not just to survive, but to prosper.

As someone from the old school, I tend to believe we were put on this planet to work, e.g., to explore, to discover, to invent, to compose, to engineer, to basically leave the world better than how we found it. Of course, this represents evolution, to aspire for perfection, knowing we may never achieve it, but to improve it nonetheless.

Some do not see work in this light as their job may seem too mundane, such as pushing a broom or digging a ditch. However, I believe there is dignity in all forms of work and I, for one, certainly do not look down my nose at anyone regarding their form of employment, as long as they do it professionally. The work of common laborers may seem trivial, but as Michelangelo observed, “Trifles make perfection and perfection is no trifle.”

To illustrate, a janitor is typically responsible for cleaning, sweeping and tidying up. The cleanliness of the work place has a huge impact on the other workers as studies have shown people work more productively in a clean environment as opposed to a cluttered one. If the janitor doesn’t perform the job properly, it could very easily have an adverse effect on the output of the other employees.

I remember a time when I was working with a customer late at night in a large office. I happened to observe the janitor cleaning up as most of the staff had gone home. He noticed a framed picture was skewed ever so slightly. Where some people would skip over it, he stopped and straightened it. I asked him why, to which he replied, “It just wasn’t right.” In other words, he took his responsibilities seriously and developed a professional attitude which ultimately influenced the lives of others in the office.

To those who take on a professional attitude, there is no separation between personal and working lives, as they are merged into one. Our working life is an extension of our personal life. After all, there is only one you. Even when we are charged to perform a task at work we do not like, this is essentially no different than doing a difficult task in our personal life. The marriage of the two affects both sides; our skills and ethics on our personal side influences our decisions at work, and our working side teaches the personal side new lessons.

When a person decides to retire, it severs an important part of their life. Some people begin to deteriorate shortly thereafter as they have lost their sense of purpose and have difficulty finding a new endeavor to pursue. To illustrate, when American presidents leave office, it is not uncommon to see their health and mental acuity diminish. Lyndon Johnson is a good example. Here is a man who spent his life in government as a member of the House, the Senate, as Vice President, and finally as President. He was a man who stood at the helm during our Viet Nam War and oversaw the civil rights movement. Regardless of how you felt about LBJ, when his term of office was over, and he retired to his Texas ranch, his health declined rapidly and he died just five years later. This is why it is important to remain busy in some pursuit following retirement.

There are fundamentally three reasons why we work:

  1. Survival – to put food on the table and secure the well-being of ourselves and loved ones.
  2. Improve the human condition – to go above survival and endeavor to achieve greater things.
  3. Spirituality – for our mental well-being and development as a person.

As to this last point, learning to work and mastering a craft gives the person a sense of purpose, structure, and sense of accomplishment (reward gratification). It also teaches us to learn the differences between right and wrong thereby affecting our sense of ethics. Bottom-line, work leads to the development of our character, our sense of worth and dignity.

This is why it is important to assume a professional attitude regardless of your job. If you are not happy with your current job or want to do something else, quit and move along, but while you are charged with a task, do it to the best of your ability if, for no other reason, your mental well-being.

Consider the adverse effects on a person who is unemployed. They become unstable and a burden on society. The old adage, “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop,” comes to mind.

On the other hand, “if you find a job you love, you’ll never work again,” as you have found stimulation and fulfillment as a person.

While others want a free ride, there is something to be said about the satisfaction of earning something on your own, which can be very motivational to people and instills pride in our work. I am, therefore, a proponent of the benefits of gainful employment.

Finally, always try to remain positive and never embrace a defeatist attitude. As former President Theodore Roosevelt observed in a talk to schoolchildren in Oyster Bay, Christmas-time 1898:

“There are two things that I want you to make up your minds to: first, that you are going to have a good time as long as you live – I have no use for the sour-faced man – and next, that you are going to do something worthwhile, that you are going to work hard and do the things you set out to do.”

Keep the Faith!

EDITORS NOTE: This Bryce is Right podcast is republished with permission. All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Pro-Gun Senators Introduce Bill to Prohibit Discrimination in Financial Services

On March 14, pro-gun Sens. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) and John Kennedy (R-LA) introduced S. 821 the Freedom Financing Act, a bill to prohibit discrimination against the firearms industry in the provision of financial services.

We have long been reporting on how anti-gun activists are seeking to use access to financial services as a means to punish and suppress lawful firearm-related commerce.

First came Operation Choke Point, a supposed “anti-fraud” effort during the Obama administration that morphed into a campaign by federal regulators to intimidate banks and payment processers into refusing business with politically disfavored clients, including firearm-related businesses. That program was officially repudiated by the Trump Administration, but for some businesses, the damage had already been done.

Anti-gunners next turned directly to the financial service providers themselves, extorting them with “social justice” condemnation for “financing” mass shootings and insisting they drop their firearm industry clients or impose gun control-like conditions on doing business with them. Several national banks did just that.

Activist institutional investors in publicly-traded gun companies also tried to embarrass those companies with proxy actions designed to portray the businesses in a negative light. To date, those efforts have been largely unsuccessful.   The Freedom Financing Act aims to put a stop to this discrimination by ensuring that banks participating in certain federal programs – as well as credit card companies, credit unions, and users of the Automated Clearing House Network — cannot refuse business with law-abiding federal firearm licensees for political or “reputational” reasons.

More recently, anti-gun members of Congress have reverted to Choke Point-like tactics in a continuing effort to intimidate banks and marginalize law-abiding businesses in the firearm sector. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) went so far as to berate the president and CEO of Wells Fargo Bank during a public oversight hearing for refusing to buckle to the pressure of the anti-gun lobby’s demands.

“How bad does the mass shooting epidemic have to get before you will adopt common sense gun safety policies like other banks have done?” Maloney demanded to know.

To his credit, the Wells Fargo executive stood firm, replying, “We just don’t believe that it is a good idea to encourage banks to enforce legislation that doesn’t exist.”

The Freedom Financing Act aims to put a stop to this discrimination by ensuring that banks participating in certain federal programs – as well as credit card companies, credit unions, and users of the Automated Clearing House Network — cannot refuse business with law-abiding federal firearm licensees for political or “reputational” reasons.

It is important to keep in mind that the national banks targeted by this legislation owe their very existence in large part to government and taxpayer largesse. Among other things, they benefit from public bailouts and federally-subsidized loan programs, as well as from infrastructure financed or subsidized by the government.

Private businesses generally enjoy broad discretion in setting their own policies and objectives, as is appropriate in our free market system. But exclusionary politics in the financial services industries hearken back to some of the most shameful episodes in American history. They are rightfully condemned, and have long been rightfully prohibited in other contexts.

The NRA thanks Sens. Cramer and Kennedy for their leadership in this important effort and commends the bill for swift action by the Senate.

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EDITORS NOTE: This NRA-ILA column is republished with permission.

Open Borders Push Americans To Socialism: Democrats seek total control over America.

My dad sagely told me that you could turn a capitalist into a communist overnight, simply by taking away his/her money.

In the beginning, it was the Republicans who wanted open borders to provide their political base, the business owners, with cheap and compliant workers.  As more foreign Third World workers entered the labor pool and brought with them Third World expectations of drastically substandard wages and working conditions, these wages and working conditions became the new standard.  This forced American workers to settle for less money and fewer benefits if they wanted to keep their jobs.

For the greedy and immoral exploitative employers, the bottom line is the bottom line.

Decades ago the Democrats resisted this push for foreign workers because the Democrats understood that their base, Americans workers, wanted to be  protected from the unbridled greed of their employers.  Unions also promised to protect their members against unscrupulous employers.

Essentially the scales were balanced.  The Republicans represented business owners and the Democrats represented the workers.

However, the labor unions began pushing for the rights of illegal alien workers as the number of Americans who joined unions dropped.  The union leaders simply “did the math.”  More members meant the union had more political leverage and more members paid more union dues.  This was a “win/win” for the unions and a disaster for the American workers they purported to represent while encouraging ever more foreign workers to come to America.

When I was a new INS agent I was more than a bit surprised that when I participated in raiding garment factories, literal “sweat shops” and arrested many illegal aliens, often the labor unions would send bail bondsmen to our office who arrived nearly as soon as we arrived with our illegal aliens in custody.  It was clear that the unions did not care whether their members were U.S. citizens, lawful immigrants or illegal aliens, only if they joined the unions and paid their dues.

In recent years the Democratic Party came to the same conclusion reached by the labor unions years earlier.  Flooding America with alien workers, both legal and illegal, would ultimately increase the numbers of voters who would likely vote for the Democratic candidates, not unlike the unions, cynically claimed that they would protect their jobs and wages.

Commentators frequently opine that the Republicans want cheap labor while the Democrats want those new voters.

While that simplistic assessment has merit, what is being missed is that as more foreign workers enter the United States, either legally or illegally, the wages for American workers is suppressed.  Labor is, after all, a commodity.  When you flood the marketplace with any commodity, the value of that commodity is decreased.

This would negatively impact millions of Americans who would be forced to vote for the party of the hand-out, the Democrats.

A massive increase in H-1B visas for high-tech workers greatly lowers the wages for workers in those industries.  Therefore the Republicans who are eager to placate their constituents have sought to greatly increase the numbers of those visas.

As noted above, the Democrats are also eager to increase the numbers of those visas as well.

My recent article, Open Borders Facilitate America’s Race to the Bottom included a quote from Alan Greenspan the former Fed Chairman when he testified at a hearing before the Senate Immigration Subcommittee on April 30, 2009 at the behest of Chuck Schumer, the then-chairman of that subcommittee on the need for Comprehensive Immigration Reform.  He was referencing the need to drastically increase the number of H-1B visas to meet the demands of Microsoft’s Bill Gates.  Greenspan’s prepared testimony included this outrageous assertion in which middle class workers were referred to as the “privileged elite!”

Greatly expanding our quotas for the highly skilled would lower wage premiums of skilled over lesser skilled. Skill shortages in America exist because we are shielding our skilled labor force from world competition. Quotas have been substituted for the wage pricing mechanism. In the process, we have created a privileged elite whose incomes are being supported at noncompetitively high levels by immigration quotas on skilled professionals. Eliminating such restrictions would reduce at least some of our income inequality.

In other words, the solution to “wage inequality” is to destroy middle class wages!

When huge numbers of Americans lose their jobs or face wage suppression they will invariably vote for the (Democrat) candidates who promise to provide financial assistance.  After all, it is an established fact that voters vote their wallets.

In addition to flooding America with foreign workers, America’s non-secure borders also floods America with narcotics.  Americans who are addicted to drugs frequently lose their jobs and their ability to be hired.  This adds to the huge number of unemployed Americans.

Of course Americans who are convicted of crimes lose their right to vote.  Is it any wonder that the Democrats are attempting to pass laws around the United States that would enable convicted felons to vote?  Those felons, because of their economic hardships are virtually guaranteed to vote for Democratic candidates.

Do you still wonder why Democrats want to legalize marijuana, the gateway drug to heroin and cocaine, or not secure the borders to prevent the entry of drugs or illegal aliens?

If you doubt the impact all of this has on the United States, on March 11, 2019 CBS News’ 60 Minutes aired a wide-ranging interview with Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell.

In addition to noting the impact of AI (Artificial Intelligence) and globalism Powell also turned to the current opioid crisis:

PELLEY: This builds on a conversation that we were having a short time ago. You mentioned the opioid crisis. It’s that big a problem in the labor force?

POWELL: Yes, it is. The opioid crisis is millions of people. They tend to be young males. And it’s a very significant problem. And it’s part of a larger picture of low labor force participation, particularly by young males.

PELLEY: I mean, you seem to be talking about part of this generation being lost, unattached from the rest of the economy.

POWELL: That is the issue. When you have people who are not taking part in the economic life of a country in a meaningful way, who don’t have the skills and aptitudes to play a role or who are not doing so because they’re addicted to drugs, or in jail, then in a sense they are being left behind. And there are too many of those people. And I think bringing them into the labor force would enormously benefit our country. We’d grow more strongly. And I think it would be good for the economy and good for the country.

These disenfranchised Americans are potential Democrat voters if only they were able to vote.

The Lunatic Left’s new darling, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez stunned her audience when she said that we shouldn’t fear robots because people who have no jobs would be able to pursue their interests.

What has been missed by those who ridiculed her is the fact that the goal of the Democratic Party Socialists is to unemployed as many Americans as possible.  Without paychecks they would be entirely dependent on the handouts offered by the Democrats.

The obvious long-term goal of Ocasio-Cortez and her cohorts is a one-party government.

The Democratic Party.

EDITORS NOTE: This FrontPage Magazine column is republished with permission.

Fascism: Socialism with a Capitalist Veneer

As an economic system, fascism is socialism with a capitalist veneer. The word derives from fasces, the Roman symbol of collectivism and power: a tied bundle of rods with a protruding ax. In its day (the 1920s and 1930s), fascism was seen as the happy medium between boom-and-bust-prone liberal capitalism, with its alleged class conflict, wasteful competition, and profit-oriented egoism, and revolutionary Marxism, with its violent and socially divisive persecution of the bourgeoisie. Fascism substituted the particularity of nationalism and racialism—“blood and soil”—for the internationalism of both classical liberalism and Marxism.

Where socialism sought totalitarian control of a society’s economic processes through direct state operation of the means of production, fascism sought that control indirectly, through domination of nominally private owners. Where socialism nationalized property explicitly, fascism did so implicitly by requiring owners to use their property in the “national interest”—that is, as the autocratic authority conceived it. (Nevertheless, a few industries were operated by the state.)

Where socialism abolished all market relations outright, fascism left the appearance of market relations while planning all economic activities. Where socialism abolished money and prices, fascism controlled the monetary system and set all prices and wages politically. In doing all this, fascism denatured the marketplace. Entrepreneurship was abolished. State ministries, rather than consumers, determined what was produced and under what conditions.

Fascism is to be distinguished from interventionism, or the mixed economy. Interventionism seeks to guide the market process, not eliminate it, as fascism did. Minimum wage and antitrust laws, though they regulate the free market, are a far cry from multiyear plans from the Ministry of Economics.

Under fascism, the state, through official cartels, controlled all aspects of manufacturing, commerce, finance, and agriculture. Planning boards set product lines, production levels, prices, wages, working conditions, and the size of firms. Licensing was ubiquitous; no economic activity could be undertaken without government permission.

Levels of consumption were dictated by the state, and “excess” incomes had to be surrendered as taxes or “loans.” The consequent burdening of manufacturers gave advantages to foreign firms wishing to export. But since government policy aimed at autarky, or national self-sufficiency, protectionism was necessary: imports were barred or strictly controlled, leaving foreign conquest as the only avenue for access to resources unavailable domestically. Fascism was thus incompatible with peace and the international division of labor—hallmarks of liberalism.

Fascism embodied corporatism, in which political representation was based on trade and industry rather than on geography. In this, fascism revealed its roots in syndicalism, a form of socialism originating on the left. The government cartelized firms of the same industry, with representatives of labor and management serving on myriad local, regional, and national boards—subject always to the final authority of the dictator’s economic plan. Corporatism was intended to avert unsettling divisions within the nation, such as lockouts and union strikes. The price of such forced “harmony” was the loss of the ability to bargain and move about freely.

To maintain high employment and minimize popular discontent, fascist governments also undertook massive public-works projects financed by steep taxes, borrowing, and fiat money creation. While many of these projects were domestic—roads, buildings, stadiums—the largest project of all was militarism, with huge armies and arms production.

The fascist leaders’ antagonism to communism has been misinterpreted as an affinity for capitalism. In fact, fascists’ anticommunism was motivated by a belief that in the collectivist milieu of early-twentieth-century Europe, communism was its closest rival for people’s allegiance. As with communism, under fascism, every citizen was regarded as an employee and tenant of the totalitarian, party-dominated state. Consequently, it was the state’s prerogative to use force, or the threat of it, to suppress even peaceful opposition.

If a formal architect of fascism can be identified, it is Benito Mussolini, the onetime Marxist editor who, caught up in nationalist fervor, broke with the left as World War I approached and became Italy’s leader in 1922. Mussolini distinguished fascism from liberal capitalism in his 1928 autobiography:

The citizen in the Fascist State is no longer a selfish individual who has the anti-social right of rebelling against any law of the Collectivity. The Fascist State with its corporative conception puts men and their possibilities into productive work and interprets for them the duties they have to fulfill. (p. 280)

Before his foray into imperialism in 1935, Mussolini was often praised by prominent Americans and Britons, including Winston Churchill, for his economic program.

Similarly, Adolf Hitler, whose National Socialist (Nazi) Party adapted fascism to Germany beginning in 1933, said:

The state should retain supervision and each property owner should consider himself appointed by the state. It is his duty not to use his property against the interests of others among his own people. This is the crucial matter. The Third Reich will always retain its right to control the owners of property. (Barkai 1990, pp. 26–27)

Both nations exhibited elaborate planning schemes for their economies in order to carry out the state’s objectives. Mussolini’s corporate state “consider[ed] private initiative in production the most effective instrument to protect national interests” (Basch 1937, p. 97). But the meaning of “initiative” differed significantly from its meaning in a market economy. Labor and management were organized into twenty-two industry and trade “corporations,” each with Fascist Party members as senior participants. The corporations were consolidated into a National Council of Corporations; however, the real decisions were made by state agencies such as the Instituto per la Ricosstruzione Industriale, which held shares in industrial, agricultural, and real estate enterprises, and the Instituto Mobiliare, which controlled the nation’s credit.

Hitler’s regime eliminated small corporations and made membership in cartels mandatory. The Reich Economic Chamber was at the top of a complicated bureaucracy comprising nearly two hundred organizations organized along industry, commercial, and craft lines, as well as several national councils. The Labor Front, an extension of the Nazi Party, directed all labor matters, including wages and assignment of workers to particular jobs. Labor conscription was inaugurated in 1938. Two years earlier, Hitler had imposed a four-year plan to shift the nation’s economy to a war footing. In Europe during this era, Spain, Portugal, and Greece also instituted fascist economies.

In the United States, beginning in 1933, the constellation of government interventions known as the New Deal had features suggestive of the corporate state.

The National Industrial Recovery Act created code authorities and codes of practice that governed all aspects of manufacturing and commerce. The National Labor Relations Act made the federal government the final arbiter in labor issues. The Agricultural Adjustment Act introduced central planning to farming. The object was to reduce competition and output in order to keep prices and incomes of particular groups from falling during the Great Depression.It is a matter of controversy whether President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal was directly influenced by fascist economic policies. Mussolini praised the New Deal as “boldly . . . interventionist in the field of economics,” and Roosevelt complimented Mussolini for his “honest purpose of restoring Italy” and acknowledged that he kept “in fairly close touch with that admirable Italian gentleman.” Also, Hugh Johnson, head of the National Recovery Administration, was known to carry a copy of Raffaello Viglione’s pro-Mussolini book, The Corporate State, with him, presented a copy to Labor Secretary Frances Perkins, and, on retirement, paid tribute to the Italian dictator.

This article was reprinted with permission from the Library of Economics and Liberty.

COLUMN BY

Florida: First Generation Pakistani Heart Doctor Defrauded Medicare to the Tune of $2.2 Million

And, the same newspaper that reported the news from Davenport, Florida had praised him to the heavens just a couple years before in a glowing article about how much the first generation Pakistani doctor was giving back to the community.

Editor: I haven’t written a Medicare fraud story for two weeks, not since this story about the Colorado fugitive Pharmacist! But, I’m glad to focus on one this morning.  Maybe I like these stories because I’m a senior and see around me friends and acquaintances getting all sorts of tests and procedures that strike me as unnecessary and possibly harmful.

I’m also writing it because I like the fact that a 75-year-old patient tipped-off the feds and will be getting a big reward for turning him in!

You don’t often see a photo of the doctor in stories like this, but because The Ledger featured him in a glowing “giving to the community” story in 2016, they had a picture.

So here is the story titled,

Davenport doctor settles health care fraud lawsuit for $2.2M

From The Ledger,

DAVENPORT — A Davenport doctor and his vascular surgery practice paid more than $2.2 million to settle allegations of health care fraud for filing false claims to federal health programs.

According to U.S. Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez in a media release issued by the United States Attorney’s Office Middle District of Florida, Dr. Irfan Siddiqui and the Heart & Vascular Institute of Florida in Davenport violated the False Claims Act by submitting claims from Jan. 2, 2011 to June 30, 2018 for medically unnecessary and non-Medicare reimbursable vein ablations that were up-coded to reflect they were medically necessary so the doctor and the practice would profit.

[….]

In federal case documents filed with the U.S. District Court Middle District of Tampa, the lawsuit said the claims filed by Siddiqui and the medical practice also contained false diagnoses and symptoms, and notes the vein ablation procedures were performed by unqualified personnel, such as ultrasound technologists and therapists, and not the doctor himself.

According to court documents, Lois Hawks, 75, a former patient from Winter Haven, was the plaintiff in the case, represented by Nicholson & Eastin, LLP in Fort Lauderdale. Attorney Robert N. Nicholson said Hawks “is very grateful that the United States Attorney’s Office aggressively pursued her allegations, and that a significant recovery resulted from their efforts.”

Siddiqui’s attorney, Saqib Ishaq, did not respond to emails from The Ledger.

[….]

Civil court documents filed say that Hawks went to Siddiqui with pain and redness in her left ankle. She first visited Siddiqui on Oct. 14, 2014, on a referral from her podiatrist for evaluation and treatment.

Go to The Ledger for an account of what she experienced over the next several months.

The Ledger then wraps with this line,

Hawks received $446,000 as a statutory relator’s share in the recovery.

press release from the US Justice Department explains that Ms. Hawks received the reward under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act.

I wrote about qui tam here.

As a loving friend and family member, keep an eye on those doctors. And, if you suspect fraud involving medicare or medicaid help them report it!  

EDITORS NOTE: This Frauds, Crooks and Criminals column is republished with permission.

Venezuela’s Road To Disaster Is Littered with Chinese Debt

I barely need to reiterate what you already know: the close links that exist between our people and the people of Venezuela and Hugo Chavez, the promoter of the Bolivarian Revolution and the United Socialist Party he founded. Fidel Castro. When you see people starving in Venezuela and fleeing into neighboring countries and realize that this is a country that once had the world’s largest oil reserves, you realize that they’ve ruined a very good prospect with ideas that sounded good but didn’t turn out well.   – Thomas Sowell

We’re in a global war, facing an enemy alliance that runs from Pyongyang, North Korea, to Havana, Cuba, and Caracas, Venezuela. – General Michael T. Flynn

Venezuela sits at the northern tip of South America with Columbia on the west and Guyana on the east.  The country is collapsing. The constant blackouts have put hundreds of patients at risk and many have already died, food is rotting, and water is at a shortage. According to media reports, schoolchildren and oil workers have begun passing out from hunger, and sick Venezuelans have scoured veterinary offices for medicine. Link  Malaria, measles, and diphtheria have returned with a vengeance. The country’s infrastructure is falling apart along with their decaying power grid, and telecommunication networks have collapsed.

America has offered humanitarian aid, but Maduro has rejected it.  He is taking his cues from communist Havana.  Unfortunately, Venezuela never diversified; oil dominates their exports and government revenue and barrel prices of oil are down.

With Venezuela’s collapse, Maduro is begging Beijing; China’s price will be high as Venezuela’s debt to them is already in the billions.  Xi Jinping needs a presence of power that encourages foreign governments to believe they should play ball with Beijing, not Washington. And that means China’s increased military presence around the world, and what better place than Venezuela or one of her islands in the southern Caribbean.

Would Maduro risk U.S. ire by allowing Chinese basing rights? I think so. Maduro is already increasing his rhetoric against Washington and has repeatedly threatened Colombia. At the same time, the Venezuelan leader knows the U.S. and its allies believe he is an irredeemable despot: They want no part of a rapprochement with his regime.

Xi Jinping, Putin and Maduro

The Venezuelan and Chinese economies seem like they could hardly have less in common. The government of Nicolas Maduro has looted the state-run oil monopoly company Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) to pay for the “Bolivarian revolution,” the socialist movement under the late leader Hugo Chavez. Eleven billion has been stolen from PDVSA in a decade.

With oil prices down, the country is unable even to repair rigs or pay workers to generate income, and the government now faces the prospect of a mass uprising. Meanwhile, half a globe away, China’s gleaming malls stand in stark contrast to Venezuela’s empty shelves.

But Venezuela’s ruinous state has more to do with China than one would think, specifically, with Chinese President Xi Jinping’s plan for expanding China’s global influence through financial diplomacy.

Thanks to a malevolent dictatorship pushing disastrous economic policies aided by another communist benefactor willing to extend near bottomless credit, the country is at collapse. This same toxic mix is present throughout many of the countries receiving large amounts of Chinese lending under China’s Belt and Road Initiative.  China provides large amounts of ruinous lending that pushes developing countries to financial ruin.  The Belt and Road Initiative scheme isn’t offering concessionary lending or international aid but market-based lending rates with high-interest loans. The borrower countries then have to use Chinese firms, inputs, and workers to build out their railways and ports. The Chinese firms are third rate at best.

Since the economic shift in Venezuela, up to 5 million Venezuelans are estimated to have left the country crossing the border mostly to Columbia, while inflation in Venezuela hovers around 1 million percent.

According to a UN report, about 90 percent of the population lives in poverty. The country’s oil revenue is at its lowest in three decades.

America Supports Opposition Leader Juan Guaido

The two communist countries of China and Russia have kept Venezuela afloat by lending billions to the economically crippled petrostate, sometimes with cheap oil thrown in as a sweetener for the two creditors.  “Not only are they getting oil, but they’ve also gained access to pretty good acreage in Venezuela,” said Helima Croft, global head of commodity strategy at RBC Capital Markets.

Those deals were struck with President Maduro, whose leadership is facing a serious challenge from Juan Guaido, and it’s not clear what happens to that debt if Maduro is kicked out of office.  America would like to see Guaido take over the country, and apparently so would the Venezuelan people.  However, Russia and China are working in and out of the shadows, complicating U.S. efforts to foster change.

Venezuela is indebted to external creditors by a total of something close to $100 billion.  Yet, the socialist state is home to the largest oil reserves on the planet, but endemic corruption has devastated its economy. Beijing and Moscow have helped the country stave off collapse by repeatedly extending financial lifelines — to the tune of tens of billions of dollars over the last decade.

Maduro’s re-election last year was marred by charges of widespread vote-rigging, vote-buying, and other irregularities, but more fundamentally it failed to meet constitutional requirements. As such, Guaido, due to his role as head of the National Assembly, appears to be the legitimate president.

Guaido has been recognized by the U.S., Canada, Brazil, Peru, Colombia, and a slew of European countries.

China and Russia Support Maduro

Juan Guaido is not recognized by either China or Russia. They back Maduro to the hilt because they have much to lose if his leftist government falls. From 2007 to 2014, China lent Venezuela $63 billion — 53 percent of all its lending to Latin America during this time. Of that amount, somewhere between $10-$25 billion remains outstanding to China and Russia’s state-backed oil company Rosneft is owed another $2.3 billion, excluding interest.

There was an important catch to this largesse; to guarantee repayment, Beijing insisted on being repaid in oil, but when oil dropped to $30 a barrel in 2016, this caused Venezuela’s price tag for serving its debt to explode. To repay Beijing, Venezuela must now ship two barrels of oil for every single barrel it originally agreed to.  Chavez’ 2002-2003 purge of 25,000 skilled oil workers at PDVSA resulted in massive problems.  As well, reinvestment in the fields and help from foreign oil firms was gone.  Venezuela struck it poor.

Venezuela’s mother lode, the Orinoco heavy oil belt, holds more than a trillion barrels of tarlike bitumen, which makes it much more difficult to extract because when it comes out of the ground, it’s almost solid and cannot flow through pipelines.  It then needs to be upgraded to something resembling liquid oil before sale. Doing all that takes the kind of cash and sophisticated know-how PDVSA lacked at the time.

The heavy oil needs chemicals, diluting agents such as naphtha, to turn into a lighter substance that can eventually be exported. Sanctions include a ban on US firms exporting these agents to Venezuela.

Military Advantages

“Russia and China are using Venezuela as a proxy conflict to challenge the U.S. This is more than just economic support. Russia and China are leveraging its economic support to establish a military-industrial presence in Venezuela,” Joseph Humire, executive director of the Center for a Secure Free Society, an independent global research group, told Fox News.

China and Russia maintain crucial military facilities in the country, such as China’s satellite-tracking facility inside the Capitan Manuel Rios Air Base in Guarico, while Russia has a cyber presence at the Naval Base Antonio Diaz “Bandi” in La Orchilla, an island north of Caracas.  Link

According to one U.S. intelligence and defense official, who was not authorized to speak on the record, the threat of “asymmetric warfare” looms large as the Venezuelan crisis deepens – especially given Russia’s supply of arms and equipment to its Venezuela ally. “Maduro still sits on the largest proven oil reserves in the world. That’s the grand prize. China could say that the more Venezuela becomes a pariah, the cheaper they want it,” noted the intelligence insider. “And the more leverage Russia then has to build a bigger base in the Western Hemisphere, and closer to the United States nonetheless.”

“At a minimum, they could harass the United States, if not cause a lot more trouble. This makes the Cuban Missile Crisis look like child’s play.”  Link

Venezuela and Iran

In General Michael T. Flynn’s book, The Field of Flight, he states, “The war is on.  We face a working coalition that extends from North Korea and China to Russia, Iran, Syria, Cuba, Bolivia, Venezuela, and Nicaragua.  We are under attack, not only from nation-states directly, but also from al Qaeda, Hezbollah, ISIS, and countless other terrorist groups.  Suffice to say, the same sort of cooperation binds together jihadis, Communists, and garden-variety tyrants.”

“Once we bailed out of Iraq in 2011, the power of the Islamic Republic immediately expanded and rapidly filled the void left by our departure.  The mullahs have already established strategic alliances in our own hemisphere with Cuba and Venezuela and are working closely with Russia and China.”

General Michael T. Flynn is absolutely correct.

As Iran and Venezuela become increasingly isolated and sanctioned by the U.S and much of the international community, the two governments are said to be tightening their bond – with the help of Tehran’s proxy group, Hezbollah, in the middle of the action.

Training between Iran and Venezuela has increased in the past few years as part of a larger plan between the Venezuelan regime, consisting of increasing the number of Hezbollah operatives and their supporters across Latin America,” Johan Obdola, President of the Canada-based Global Organization for Intelligence (IOSI) and former counter-narcotics chief in Venezuela, told Fox News. Hassan Rouhani and Nicolas Maduro have established a very firm and close relationship, which was of course initiated by Chavez.”

Drug Trafficking, Iran and Cuba

Caracas, Venezuela and Havana, Cuba are the only two places Tehran, Iran can fly into or out of with people and contraband.  Both are sanctioned by the United States. Venezuela’s ambassador to the United States is defending his country’s controversial airline service to the capitals of Syria and Iran — both countries that are designated by the U.S. as state sponsors of terrorism.

Drug trafficking within the Venezuelan regime is called, “The Cartel of the Suns.”  Criminal cartels have always run drug trafficking but in Venezuela it is managed from within government.  Instead of sidelining those accused of drug trafficking, Maduro has promoted them to the highest offices, perhaps calculating that they have the most to lose if his regime falls and will therefore fight the hardest to preserve it.

The most powerful figures in the Bolivarian regime now have the taint of drug trafficking to differing degrees.

Colombia’s criminal groups and Venezuelan political officials are connected to one another by the cocaine supply chain. Colombian groups produce coca and refine it into cocaine, and some Venezuelan elites’ profit from its transit through their country. Though government action has weakened Colombia’s insurgents and other drug traffickers, the cocaine trade remains a key, illicit industry that will continue to affect both countries.

In 2005 Venezuela severed ties with the United States Drug Enforcement (DEA), accusing its representatives of spying.  Following the departure of the DEA from Venezuela and the expansion of DEA’s partnership with Colombia in 2005, Venezuela became more attractive to drug traffickers.  Between 2008 and 2012, Venezuela’s cocaine seizure ranking among other countries declined, going from being ranked fourth in the world for cocaine seizures in 2008 to sixth in the world in 2012.

Venezuela has been a path to the United States for illegal drugs originating in Colombia, through Central America and Mexico and Caribbean countries such as Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico.

Conclusion

While Chinese engagement could be seen by other Latin American countries as an attractive path to development, the short-term benefits often lead to long-term dependency. Chinese investments focus on extracting natural resources and trading high value-added manufactures from China for Latin American commodities. China’s appetite for commodities will only increase. Link Their plan is global…in 30 years they expect to be the world’s superpower.

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Thought Police (Oops, Medicare) For All

Preview:  

  • The new Medicare for All bill (H.R. 1384) has come and hopefully will go the way of the pet rock.
  • But as usual, bills contain hidden gems
  • The focus on palliative care and lowering costs by reducing “aggressive” end-of-life treatment is one more incremental under-the-radar step along the road to government control over life and death. A culture of hastening death has gradually evolved, disguised as “death with dignity.”
  • Subtly devaluing life primes the pump for rationing of medical care at all stages by a government-run program that is the exclusive purveyor of medical “benefits.”
  • This year, legislators were not so subtle. It is bad enough that our elderly are pushed into hospice, but now the compassionate legislators have set their sights on newborns. New York passed, and Virginia floated laws that permit the killing of babies after birth.
  • Starting in the 1970s, the federal government clearly saw a need to protect medical personnel from the tyranny of the government mandates that could violate religious or moral convictions.
  • We must not let the government bury our conscience and beliefs under layers of bureaucracy. Medicare for All may mean independent thought for none.

The new Medicare for All bill (H.R. 1384) has come and hopefully will go the way of the pet rock. Everybody now knows the basics: the government will take care of all medical, dental, vision, pharmacy, and long-term care services with no out-of-pocket expenses. The bill prohibits parallel private insurance, and has the glaring absence of a financing mechanism.

But as usual, bills contain hidden gems. Section 104 of the bill tracks the Affordable Care Act’s “anti-discrimination” rule, making it clear that no person can be denied benefits, specifically including abortion and treatment of gender identity issues “by any participating provider.” The bill does not correspondingly reaffirm the federal laws protecting conscience and First Amendment religious freedom rights of medical personnel. Such protections relate to participation in abortion, sterilization, assisted suicide, and other ethical dilemmas.

Most sane individuals agree that we do not want our government to control any aspect of our individual lives—particularly not our religious beliefs and moral codes. When the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) sought to clarify such conscience protections, thousands of commenters offered evidence of discrimination and coercion to violate the tenets of the Oath of Hippocrates and their own ethics. Some left their jobs or left the medical profession entirely when their conscientious objections were not honored.

Conscience protections are vital in this time of unabashed devaluing of life. Last year, the Palliative Care and Hospice Education Training Act (PCHETA), passed the House but died in the Senate. This bill would have dedicated $100 million in additional taxpayer dollars to persuade patients to forgo treatment that might prolong life in exchange for a steady stream of increasing doses of narcotics. Already some families feel they are not merely offered hospice as a choice but are steered toward it when their older relatives fall ill, even when the medical prognosis is uncertain.

The focus on palliative care and lowering costs by reducing “aggressive” end-of-life treatment is one more incremental under-the-radar step along the road to government control over life and death. A culture of hastening death has gradually evolved, disguised as “death with dignity.” California, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Montana, Vermont have legalized physician-assisted suicide with 20 other states considering implementing such laws.

Subtly devaluing life primes the pump for rationing of medical care at all stages by a government-run program that is the exclusive purveyor of medical “benefits.” Our western counterparts with single payer have discovered that offering fewer benefits is the simplest way to control costs. The “Complete Lives System”—the brainchild of ObamaCare physician architect Ezekiel Emanuel—includes worrisome determinants of who should receive care. The system prioritizes adolescents and persons with “instrumental value,” i.e., individuals with “future usefulness.”

This year, legislators were not so subtle. It is bad enough that our elderly are pushed into hospice, but now the compassionate legislators have set their sights on newborns. New York passed, and Virginia floated laws that permit the killing of babies after birth. The U.S. Senate garnered only 53 of the 60 votes needed to pass the Born Alive Survivors Protection Act which would mandate medical care and legal protections to infants born alive after an attempted abortion.

Starting in the 1970s, the federal government clearly saw a need to protect medical personnel from the tyranny of the government mandates that could violate religious or moral convictions. Personal liberty is an integral part of our democratic republic. While a physician’s calling is to render treatment to all patients, this is balanced with an individual physician’s moral beliefs. This is no more apparent than in legislation permitting physician assisted suicide and post-delivery “abortions.” Sadly, under threat of discrimination lawsuits, some physicians have acquiesced to patients’ requests for medications and surgical procedures that conflict with their moral code.

As anthropologist, Margaret Mead so brilliantly wrote, “One profession, the followers of [Hippocrates], were to be dedicated completely to life under all circumstances…This is a priceless possession which we cannot afford to tarnish, but society always is attempting to make the physician into a killer—to kill the defective child at birth, to leave the sleeping pills beside the bed of the cancer patient. … It is the duty of society to protect the physician from such requests.”

We must not let the government bury our conscience and beliefs under layers of bureaucracy. Medicare for All may mean independent thought for none.

Kentucky: Refugee Seniors Going Hungry as U.S. Imports More Poverty

One of the good things about this new blog is that I can still bring you stories about refugees while enjoying a much broader choice of news across a wide spectrum of involving frauds, crooks and criminals.

This news, meant to tug on your heartstrings (the Left is good at that!), points to an area of the US Refugee Admissions Program that should make your head explode!

But, before you read it remember: Don’t blame these poor old souls we yanked out of Africa and out of their culture, blame the Open Borders agitators and lobbyists in the refugee industry always on the hunt to import more poverty to America.

Although many of the volunteers on the ground just want to do good by the the refugees, the leadership of the industry headed by Socialists/Marxists! wants to import poverty as a way to reshape America.

If it makes no sense to you that anyone would advocate overloading our welfare system, read about the Cloward and Piven strategy when you have a few extra minutes.

Now to the news from WKU (NPR Kentucky),

The UN was feeding them in Africa and here they go hungry! WTH!

Elder Refugees In Kentucky At Risk for Hunger

Feeding Kentucky, a nonprofit with a mission to alleviate hunger across the Bluegrass State, reports that food insecurity is a reality for one in 10 residents age 60 and older.

Elder refugees in Kentucky face an ever higher risk of hunger due to language barriers and lack of transportation.

On a recent rainy afternoon in Louisville, refugees–some of them in their 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s–lined up at outdoor tables filled with fresh leafy green lettuce, bright red bell peppers, cucumbers and mushrooms.

Federally funded program for refugees over 60 years old!

Kentucky Refugee Ministries, or KRM, is a resettlement agency that has the state’s only federally-funded program for refugees 60 and older. This once-a-month mobile food pantry is a partnership between KRM and Louisville’s Dare to Care food bank.

Eva Nyerges is the KRM coordinator for the Louisville Refugee Elder Program.

“We have on occasion had people say, ‘You know, I don’t have enough money for food. I don’t have food stamps. Will you take me to a food pantry?’” said Nyerges. “And that’s why we kind of started trying to show individual people their local food pantry and help them get down here to KRM’s mobile food pantry.”

Older refugees arrive in the US and are eligible for SSI and Food Stamps!

Nyerges says most of those in the Refugee Elder Program get Supplemental Security Income, or SSI.

A spokesman for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service said refugees are eligible for benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, based on income and resources.

[….]

“Yes, I’m happy just to get the food,” said Namahoro. When asked what kind of items she was looking for, Bagaza said “tomatoes and other names she doesn’t know, but the food she got she’s happy, it’s good.”At the outdoor food pantry, one of the elder refugees trying to manage two bags of vegetables and an umbrella is 75-year-old Namagishu Namahoro. She’s from the Democratic Republic of Congoand spoke through interpreter Patrick Bagaza.

Five million elderly Americans are going hungry and we bring in more hungry seniors from Africa, Asia and the Middle East!

Even though elder refugees face many challenges in having steady supply of fresh, nutritious food, they are far from alone. Across the nation, nearly five million people age 60 and over are at-risk for hunger.

More here.

I checked the data at Wrapsnet just now and see that we have passed the 50,000 DR Congolese flow to the US that Obama promised the UN we would take.

Of the 50,848 DR Congolese the US State Department and its contractors placed in your towns since the beginning of FY14, 2,215 were between the ages of 51-64 and 653 were over 65 years old. (And, those numbers are just for refugees from the DR Congo!).

What do you do?  Every opportunity you get—to speak to an elected official, to write a letter to the editor, or just when talking with friends and neighbors—your message should be WE MUST TAKE CARE OF AMERICANS FIRST!

THE MIDDLE CLASS: Separating Capitalism from Socialism

One of the fundamental differences between capitalism and socialism is in the area of class structure and, unfortunately, many people do not grasp this difference. Under capitalism, there are three levels: an upper class representing super successful people who have earned a fortune, the middle class representing John/Jane Doe who works diligently to put food on the table for their family, and a lower class representing the less fortunate of us. Influence is top-down based on the economic pecking order, thereby creating resentment by those lower in the chain.

Socialism, on the other hand, has just two classes: the ruling class, as represented by the state, and the working class where everyone is equal. I tend to refer to this as a “Master/Slave” relationship as the analogy to slavery is uncanny, where the Master micromanages everything and the Slave puts forth just enough effort to get by, but expects to be taken care of by the Master. There are many other nuances, but for the purposes of this article, the big difference here is the middle class.

A sizable middle class represents an economic engine for a country. Capitalism encourages people to work, to invest and to spend their money, allowing a country to collectively compete. The average person wants nothing more than to earn a respectable livelihood, so they can enjoy life and raise a family unencumbered by overbearing government regulations. As President Calvin Coolidge observed, “After all, the chief business of the American people is business. They are profoundly concerned with producing, buying, selling, investing and prospering in the world. I am strongly of the opinion that the great majority of people will always find these the moving impulses of our life.”

Do people truly understand the power of the middle class? I think they’re starting to overseas. We may not have invented the concept of a middle class, but we sure perfected it, and everyone wants to emulate it. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, countries around the world have been re-configuring their economic policies in order to remain competitive in a global economy. In case you haven’t been paying attention, new middle classes have slowly emerged in such places as China, Belarus, Brazil, Russia, Vietnam, and among South African blacks. People in these countries now have spending power thereby causing a demand for products and services, not to mention a call for construction of new houses and businesses.

In order for capitalism to work, you need to be allowed to have certain freedoms, such as the freedom of expression, the freedom to innovate and invent, the freedom to choose your own path, the freedom to conduct legitimate business, etc. This is why it is rather ironic how some of our former communist foes are now embracing capitalism. Under socialism, there is no protection of intellectual property, such as patents, trade secrets, copyrights, etc. Everything is owned by the state, not the individual.

In the absence of a middle class, you have just the rich and the poor (the “have’s” and the “have not’s”) which lends itself to being a feudal state controlled by dictators or monarchies. Such a state does not operate harmoniously, corruption is rampant, and unrest is common. The “have not’s”, which is a sizable majority, have little to earn and spend. Consequently, the economy sputters and stagnates which our communist friends discovered the hard way.

As mentioned, in order for capitalism to work, certain freedoms have to be permitted to allow a person to work, earn, and save their money, not to have it redistributed to others by government decree. This means there is an explicit relationship between freedom and capitalism. Implicitly, it means capitalism requires a certain amount of democracy to allow the citizens to participate in how the government runs, which means capitalism cannot work under a dictatorship (see Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, et al). As an aside, it is the middle class who elects government officials, not the upper or lower classes. The upper class may support politicians economically, but it is the middle class that casts the votes.

When someone asks me about my political leanings, I tell them I am an unabashed capitalist. This of course means I believe in liberty, and the right of the individual to lead a meaningful life, and I abhor any attempt by government to alter this or forcibly redistribute the wealth earned by the individual. I can understand government monitoring the legality of someone’s occupation, but aside from this they should not hinder a person’s right to earn a living.

Capitalism is our greatest export. It represents the seeds of freedom and economic prosperity. If it spreads, it could lead to world stability and peace which, of course, certain tyrants and crackpots openly reject. For example, Iraq will be an interesting experiment in capitalism. If Iraq succeeds, freedom and democracy will succeed, which is why Middle Eastern terrorists desperately want to see it fail as it represents a challenge to their authority. It’s not so much about religion as it is about control. Capitalism is a genuine threat to feudalism, a system which has no regards for the rights of the human-being and respect for the human spirit. Make no mistake, feudalism is barbaric.

To summarize:

  1. In order to effectively compete in a world economy, you need capitalism.
  2. In order for capitalism to flourish, you need freedom and democracy.
  3. A byproduct of capitalism is a sizable middle class with spending power.
  4. Therefore, any attempt to change capitalism is a threat to freedom, democracy, and the middle class.

No, I am not a proponent of government sponsored bailouts, stimulus packages or the creation of artificial jobs. Such devices does a disservice to capitalism and is unnatural. It is not government’s role to tamper with capitalism, only to establish the environment for capitalism to flourish, namely assuring freedom and protecting rights, serving its constituents, and providing incentives to encourage new avenues of business.

I am also of the belief that capitalism is very much akin to Darwin’s “natural selection” whereby goods and services evolve and improve in order to effectively compete. Under socialism, there is no competition as everything is controlled by the state. From this perspective, it is not “natural.” In other words, capitalism recognizes change through competition; in order for it to succeed, you must allow for the right to failure. By doing so, you assure our right to succeed.

Keep the Faith!

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CAPITALISM VERSUS SOCIALISM:  REFERENCE GUIDE – What every young person should know.

PODCAST: WWBA-AM 820 with Chris Ingram discussing, “Capitalism vs. Socialism Reference Guide”.

Minnesota Rep: We aren’t going to make Food Stamp recipients work!

Egads!  What is going on in Minnesota?  It’s not just MN Rep. Ilhan Omar making news, but now we see that Democrat Rep. Collin Peterson—the dean of the Minnesota delegation!—is making news by telling Trump:

“I’ll guarantee you it’s not going to happen.” 

He is referring to the Trump initiative to tell states they must enforce work requirements for able-bodied adults receiving food stamps!

Peterson’s district is considered the most Republican in the state, but obviously not Republican enough or they wouldn’t have re-elected him to represent them since 2007.

The district has a growing Somali population due to BIG MEAT/POULTRY wanting the cheap refugee labor.

See what he said as reported by Watchdog.org on Tuesday,

House Ag Chairman: Requiring SNAP recipients to work is ‘not going to happen’

The Democratic chairman of the House Agriculture Committee says the Trump administration’s policy requiring states to enforce work-requirements for SNAP recipients “isn’t going anywhere.”

“I’ll guarantee you it’s not going to happen,” U.S. Rep Collin Peterson said.

Peterson’s comments came after U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue testified last week before the House Agriculture Committee about the state of the rural economy. Committee members asked him about the impact of tariffs on farmers, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, the effects of natural disasters, and the expansion of rural broadband access, among other questions.

The Trump administration is revising a 22-year-old federal regulation that has enabled states to acquire waivers exempting able-bodied adults without dependents (ABWDs) from having to work or undergo job training to receive taxpayer-funded food stamps.

Reforming the rule would reduce the taxpayer burden and enable more individuals to move from federal dependency to self-sufficiency, according to the administration.

Peterson’s remarks also came after a new Government and Accountability Office (GAO) report identified at least $1 billion in food stamp fraud. The extent of the fraud is uncertain, the GAO warns, estimating the abuse of the program could be as high as $4.7 billion.

Peterson’s position, according to Kristina Rasmussen, vice president of federal affairs at the Foundation for Government Accountability, isn’t helping SNAP recipients move from welfare to work or to find gainful employment. It’s also supporting an abuse of taxpayers’ money, the FGA argues.

[….]

Roughly 20 million lower-income households receive $64 billion in SNAP benefits. But the GAO*** found that instead of being used for food, many stores are defrauding the program by “selling” cash instead of food.

The fraud, known as “retailer trafficking,” costs taxpayers at least $1 billion. However, the real cost could be “anywhere from $960 million to $4.7 billion,” the GAO adds.

By the way, I’ve noticed that food stamp fraud busts have been happening less frequently then say 5-10 years ago when I first started tracking them and when almost all practitioners of this fraud were ‘new American’ followers of the ‘religion of peace.’

I don’t know if that is because food stamp use is down generally or whether the worst frauds have been caught.  It is also possible that the busts are not being reported by the media.

***I mentioned that GAO report here.

question markHave a convenience store or mom & pop gas station near you?  Keep an eye on the comings and goings!  I’m told it is pretty easy to spot the stores where food stamp trafficking is happening—shelves not well stocked, people going in and out all day and night, a new American behind the cash register!  Easiest thing to do is to take your suspicions to the local police and let them set up a sting operation.