Modern Foraging: Death by 1000 cuts

(Survival manual/2. Social issues/Modern foraging)

Modern Foraging topics:
1.  Junk foods
2.  The school lunch program
3.   Obesity
4.   Diabetes in USA
5. Exercise-energy balance
6.  Same dollars, less food (food cost inflation)
.

1.  JUNK FOODS
.

A.  What is a Junk Food?
•  Any food that has poor nutritional value is considered unhealthy and may be called a junk food.
•  A food that is high in fat, sodium, and/or sugar is known as a junk food.
•  Junk food is easy to carry, purchase and consume.
•  Generally, a junk food is given a very attractive appearance by adding food additives and colors to enhance flavor, texture, appearance, and increasing long shelf life.
• A junk food has little enzyme producing vitamins & minerals and contains high level of calories. When we eat these empty calorie foods, the body is required to produce its own enzymes to convert these empty calories into usable energy. This is not desired as these enzyme producing functions in our body should be reserved for the performance of vital metabolic reactions.

Remember, junk foods are empty calories. An empty calorie lacks in micro-nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, or amino acids, and fiber but has high energy (calories).

Since junk food is high in fats and sugars, it is responsible for obesity, dental cavities, Type 2 diabetes and heart diseases.

 Junk Food & Cholesterol
Fried and processed food, particularly fast food, contains high amounts of oxycholesterol.
A healthy diet rich in antioxidants can counter these effects.

Some junk food pictures of beef burger, French fries, Coca Cola, and potato chips and cinema popcorns are given below.

Cinema popcorn: Popcorns are healthy, but the one sold in cinemas are a nutritional horror. The Center for Science in the Public Interest compared in Nov 2009 some popcorn and drinks combos sold at key movie theater chains in USA and found the following:
•  A medium popcorn and soda combo at Regal, the United States’ biggest movie theater chain, contains 1,610 calories and 60 grams of saturated fat.
•  At AMC theaters, a large popcorn contains 1,030 calories and 57 grams of saturated fat.
The high calorie counts could be due to the fact that corn was popped in coconut oil. Popcorn cooked in canola oil showed lower levels of saturated fats, but similar levels of calories and sodium.

 List of Junk Foods
Given below is a list of junk food (empty calorie) items that you should avoid. It’s up to you how to  keep your four trillion cells happy.
•  Sugars: Refined foods, like sugar and plain flour based items like white bread and most packaged goods, such as Twinkies and sugar donuts, etc. Our body eventually turns sugars into fat. If you consume just 3 tsp of sugar daily, imagine how much sugar you would have consumed by the time you are 50 years of age; it will be about 600 lbs, about 4 times your weight!
•  Fats & Hydrogenated oils: Are found in cookies, chips, candy bars, fried foods, muffins, bologna, etc.  Many snacks, such as potato chips, cheeseburgers and fries, have high levels of fat, sugar or salt-ingredients that are usually best limited to a small portion of your diet. The saturated fat comes mainly from animal products. Our body has no use for hydrogenated or trans fat. The excessive fats stick to our arteries and cause the blockages leading to heart disease and strokes. They can also aid to cancer, arthritis, PMS and sexual dysfunction.
Some fats like Omega-3 fatty acids are good for our bodies.
•  Salt: Excessive salt is not good for our body (Daily Salt Recommendation). However, sodium in moderate amount, along with potassium, maintains the water balance in our body. But too much sodium can cause high blood pressure. Pretzels, chips and many canned food items contain excessive salt.

Daily Salt Recommendation
There is no sodium intake recommended or Recommended Daily Allowance for sodium or salt. However, the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association recommend 2300mg of sodium daily for adults. This is about 1 teaspoon of sodium chloride (salt) in one day. However, most people     take more than the recommended amount a day in diet, almost double the value.
How much sodium is in a teaspoon of salt?
It depends on the type of salt. Roughly, about 6g of salt makes one teaspoonful and approximately 2.4g sodium.

1 teaspoon salt = 6,200mg (6.2g) sodium  chloride= 2,400mg (2.4g) sodium 1 teaspoon baking soda = 1000mg sodium

Note that the salt crystals and sea salt contain the same amount of sodium.

.B.     Junk Food Facts: Not always easy to swallow
http://www.discover-yoga-online.com/junk-food-facts.html
Digesting junk food facts can take a strong stomach. Here are a few facts to chew on before your crack open another can of coke:
.
_1)  What’s in Some of that Junk Food?
•  One teaspoon of sugar is extracted from a stalk of sugarcane one yard in length!
•  A can of cola contains 10 teaspoons of sugar.
•  The metal in the can costs more than the ingredients (mainly water with additives, refined sugar and caffeine).
•  A super-sized order of McDonald’s fries contains 610 calories and 1.02 ounces of fat.
•  A king-sized order of Burger King’s fries packs 590 calories and 1.05 ounces of fat.
•  Artificial ingredients can contain an alarming variety of chemicals. For instance, ‘artificial strawberry flavor’ can contain about 50 chemicals… and no strawberries at all!
•  A king-sized Burger King meal, (Double Whopper with cheese, large fries and large drink) contains 1,800 calories (mostly derived from fat and refined sugar). To ‘burn’ these calories would take nearly 6 hours of cycling (at 20 miles per hour).

_2)  Junk Food Advertising
•  The food industry spends over $33 billion per year in the US alone to advertise food products that could be classified as junk food.
•  The majority of food advertising during children’s television programming is for sweetened cereals, soft drinks, candy, processed snacks and fast foods.
•  The average American child sees around 20,000 ads a year for junk food.
•  Over 90% of American children eat at McDonald’s at least once per month
•  American teenagers drink an average of 760 can of soda pop per year (with boys drinking about 25% more than girls).
•  The average American of any age drinks over 500 cans of soft drinks per year.
•  Nearly 20% of children under 2 years of age are given soft drinks every day in America!
•  The average person today consumes more sugar in two weeks than a person a century ago would have eaten in a whole year. That’s a junk food fact!

 [Image above: Note that the percentage of the household budget spent on food has dropped by over 50% in the last 50 years, however, the quality of what we EAT has declined. The ‘quality’ statement is not documented in the graphic, but is shown in actuary tables for American health, types of disease and life expectancy. Mr Larry . The graphic is from <http://vegetalion.blogspot.com/2010/11/americas-grocery-spending-habits-since.html>]

 _3)  Harmful Effects of Junk Food
•  The regular consumption of junk food is the leading factor in obesity and excess weight.
•  Obesity is second only to smoking as a cause of death in America.
•  46% of Canadian adults are either overweight or obese, with obesity in children increasing three-fold over the past 2 decades.
•  Consumption of soft drinks containing sugar has been linked to weight gain and an increased risk for development of type 2 diabetes.
•  Studies have revealed that obese people have twice the rate of chronic health problems as people of normal weight. This includes a 100% greater chance of developing Type 2 diabetes, 50% increased likelihood of developing heart disease. Obese men are nearly 90% more likely to get colon cancer.
•  Junk food diet is a major cause of heart diseases.
•  High cholesterol resulting from junk food puts undue strain on the liver, causing long-term damage to this essential organ. •  Research has suggested that diets high in fat may also impair essential brain functions, like concentration and memory.

The junk food facts about soft drinks alone are alarming. There is compelling evidence that regular consumption of soft drinks leads to:
•  Increased rates of bone fracture
•  Increased risk for osteoporosis
•  Increased risk of weight gain and obesity
•  Increased risk for Type II Diabetes
•  Increased risk for kidney stones •
• Increased rate of tooth decay and other dental problems.
Junk food facts are numerous, and the negative effect of junk food on health and wellbeing is undeniable.
.

2.  THE SCHOOL LUNCH PROGRAM
.

USDA calls for dramatic change in school lunches
1/12/2011, USA Today, by Nanci Hellmich
The proposed rule applies to school breakfast and lunch, but not to what’s sold in vending machines and school stores. [We’ll cut back feeding you dangerous food products, but if you have cash we’ll sell them to you. lp]

Hold the French fries and salt!

The government is calling for dramatic changes in school meals, including limiting French fries, sodium and calories and offering students more fruits and vegetables.

The proposed rule, being released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, will raise the nutrition standards for meals for the first time in 15 years.

This is the “first major improvement” in the standards that “we’ve seen in a generation, and it reflects the seriousness of the issue of obesity,” says Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

About a third of children and adolescents — 25 million kids – are obese or overweight. Extra pounds put children at a greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and other health problems. An analysis in 2005 found that children today may lead shorter lives by two to five years than their parents because of obesity. [This will remove that generation from receiving longer term Social Security benefits, the funds won’t be available anyway.]

Vilsack says addressing the childhood obesity problem is critical for kids’ health, future medical costs and national security, as so many young adults are too heavy to serve in the military.

The new meal standards are designed to improve the health of nearly 32 million children who eat lunch at school every day and almost 11 million who eat breakfast. Overall, kids consume about 30% to 50% of their calories while at school.

Among the requirements for school meals outlined in the proposed rule:

  • Decrease the amount of starchy vegetables, such as potatoes, corn and green peas, to one cup a week.
  • Reduce sodium in meals over the next 10 years [Why not reduce the sodium over summer break, why wait 10 years? lp]. A high school lunch now has about 1,600 milligrams of sodium. Through incremental changes, that amount should be lowered over the next decade to 740 milligrams or less of sodium for grades through 9 through 12; 710 milligrams or less for grades 6 through 8; 640 milligrams or less for kindergarten through fifth grades.
  • Establish calorie maximums and minimums for the first time [No one thought to have a Nutritionist do this in the past?-(smile) – lp]. For lunch: 550 to 650 calories for kindergarten through fifth grade; 600 to 700 for grades 6 through 8; 750 to 850 for grades 9 through 12.
  • Serve only unflavored 1% milk or fat-free flavored or unflavored milk. Currently, schools can serve milk of any fat content.
  • Increase the fruits and vegetables kids are offered. The new rule requires that a serving of fruit be offered daily at breakfast and lunch and that two servings of vegetables be offered daily at lunch.
  • Over the course of a week, there must be a serving of each of the following: green leafy vegetables, orange vegetables (carrots, sweet potatoes, summer squash), beans, starchy and other vegetables. This is to make sure that children are exposed to a variety of vegetables.
  • Increase whole grains substantially [Substantially? Why not serve only whole grains? lp]. Currently, there is no requirement regarding whole grains, but the proposed rules require that half of grains served must be whole grains.
  • Minimize trans fat by using products where the nutrition label says zero grams of trans fat per serving.

Vilsack says the government is not trying to “dictate” what people eat but is trying to help parents make sure their youngsters “are as healthy, happy, productive and as successful as God intended them to be.”

Implementing the new meal standards is part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 signed into law by President Obama on Dec. 13.

The proposed rule applies to school breakfast and lunch, but not to what’s sold in vending machines and school stores. Those will be addressed later in a separate rule.

Cleaning up the “school nutrition environment” would make a big difference to kids’ diets — and teach them good eating habits that could affect them the rest of their lives, says Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy for the Center for Science in the Public Interest and an advocate of healthier school meals. “Kids learn by doing, and so serving a healthy meal is such an important part of their education.”

Wootan says the challenge now is for school food-service personnel to make these changes, which will cost more. “They need technical assistance, support, model recipes, model product specifications. They need to know how to make a healthier chicken nugget or healthier pizza.

“There are schools already serving healthy foods that kids really like. The problem is that not enough schools know how to do it.”

Currently, schools receive $2.72 from the federal government for every child who is on the free lunch program. Schools that meet the new standards will get another 6 cents per meal.

Nancy Rice, president of the School Nutrition Association, a non-profit professional organization representing school food-service professionals, says that schools are going to have to “stretch limited food-service dollars. We are going to have to do the best we can and to try to cut in other areas. Everything we are doing is to benefit kids.”

Cutting back on fries could be a shock to some students, she says. Some school systems still sell fries every day in a la carte lines, she says. “But the vast majority of the school systems are already limiting French fries, and when they are serving them, they are baking them.”

The agriculture department is asking for input on the proposed rule during a public comment period that ends April 13. When the regulation is final, schools will be required to meet the new standards to get government reimbursement on school meals. The rule does not need congressional approval.

A current typical lunch menu is seen below.
.


.[Pizza, pizza, pizza, country fried ‘this’ and ‘that’, cold cut meats, hot dogs, chicken nuggets, alfredo sauce (heart attack on a plate)…Once in a while, any of these meals would be alright, but a daily diet is not healthy. It is socially immoral to injure the health of children and the general population with the kind of foods allowed and fostered upon us by people who are supppose to know better.. Well, actually they do know better, it is a profit driven endeavor, even at the expense of the health of your and my children, our grandchildren and of own our own bodies.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government complains that Health Care and Medicare cost too much. What can they expect from allowing us to be slowly poisoned by innappropriate public foods? So,they  turn the blame on to the heads of we sheeple-people.
Please note, if terrorists killed and maimed as many people, and caused as much economic hardship as junk foods fed to our children and offerred through out the core area of the grocery stores, FEMA would be on a permanent Red Alert. So, while we loose our freedoms for the sake of ‘potential’ safety from terrorists, our bodies are destroyed by bad food–and there is narry a word of caution from the governement, nor an advertising campaign, or a punative tax on high fat, high salt, high calorie, high sugar foods. While the terrorist may kill us by the 10’s each year, the bad food is killing us by the several 100,000’s every year…but, that’s business as usual. Mr Larry]
.

3.     OBESITY

A.  Reasons Why So Many People Are Overweight
by Eric Cho
http://www.activefitnessworld.com/articles/food/overweight.php

Obesity has become a huge problem for most people living in developed countries. Today, 30% of children between the ages of 10 and 17 are obese and 60% of all adults are either overweight or obese. There are many reasons for our overweight problem.

Obesity is responsible for increased rates of stroke, heart attack, type II diabetes, and even some forms of cancer. In fact it is responsible for as many premature deaths as smoking. Obesity has now become a threat to our longevity.

On the surface it would seem that the underlying reason is really quite simple. If a person takes in more calories than the person burns, weight gain is the final outcome. These factors certainly play a role in obesity but there are more factors which contribute to this problem.

Modern society has changed a great deal from just a couple of generations ago when agriculture and manual labor were common place. Today people spend a great deal of the day sitting at a desk in an office, driving the car, or relaxing on the sofa at home. All of which has affected the overall health of people living in developed countries.

By the time a person arrives home, the last thing most are thinking about is going for a walk or heading off to the gym. Combine that with the idea that as a nation we eat just as much food, if not more than our ancestors did without nearly as much physical exertion and suddenly the recipe for obesity becomes very clear.

But there is more to it. Statistics show that we have actually doubled our food intake. This is where the fast food industry is to blame. Everything has been super sized and not in a good way either with most of these foods being high in trans fatty acids (the bad fat) and sugar, it is easy to see that weight gain is inevitable.

But the fast food industry cannot take all the credit. Our schooling system has allowed vending machines to offer children fast food and soft drinks with provides no nutritional value and empty calories. School cafeterias that serve food are hardly a step above fast food. Add to that, most parents nowadays don’t have time to cook traditional wholesome foods due their hectic work schedule and as a result buy convenience foods which are also high in fat and sugar and low in nutrition.

As well both children and adults are now more sedentary than any other time in history. PE is no longer mandatory in schools; recess time has almost disappeared, after school play time has been replaced with the Xbox or Gameboy. Now instead of the entire body getting a workout only the thumbs do.

Most adults are too busy or too tired to add an exercise regime to their day and even something as simple as a walk can seem demanding. The result is people do not have time to burn off all those excess calories that they are consuming through the day.

Statistics show that if adults in the home are overweight then chances are that their children will also be overweight. Statistics have shown that when adults in the home are not physically active children in the home will not be active either. Studies have confirmed that both good and bad eating habits are developed in the home. It is a combination of what adults allow their children to eat and what they serve their children which is contributing to our overweight crisis.

The reasons for our overweight problem are complex. Increasing physical activity and improving nutrition are great ways to start to work towards a solution to this

B.  Obesity Epidemic “Astronomical”
The prognosis for the nation is bad and getting worse as obesity takes its toll on the health of adults and children alike.
May 16.2011, WebMD Feature, by R.Morgan Griffin, Reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MD.

http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/obesity-epidemic-astronomical

One of the biggest health stories of the year has been the rise in obesity among both adults and children in the U.S. We’ve all heard so much about the “obesity epidemic” that it’s easy to think the story is being blown out of proportion. After all, people putting on a few pounds may not seem to warrant the proclamation of a national emergency.

But while obesity may not be the Black Death, it is a severe public health crisis. Experts agree that as more and more obese children become obese adults, the diseases associated with obesity, such as heart disease, cancer, and especially diabetes will surge. That will mean a lot of sick people.

According to Marion Nestle, PhD, MPH, chair of the department of nutrition and food studies at New York University, the costs of these illnesses will be “astronomical.”

James O. Hill, PhD, agrees. Hill, director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, claims that at the rate we’re going, obesity-related diabetes alone “will break the bank of our healthcare system.”

So one has to wonder how obesity got so out of control that we reached this crisis. And more importantly, how do we stop it?

_1)  The Causes
So what’s causing the epidemic? Not surprisingly, everyone agrees that it stems from two things: eating too much and exercising too little. The differences are in the specifics.

Although people may toss around the idea of genetics in obesity, genes can’t really explain what’s happening, Hill says. While a person may have a genetic predisposition toward a certain body type, the fact that each succeeding generation is heavier than the last proves that changes in our environment are playing the key role.

Hill believes the culprit may be a decrease in our physical activity, arguing that because of shifts in how we live and work, we don’t get as much exercise as previous generations did.

Nestle agrees that exercise is important, but she lays more stress on eating habits. In her book Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health, Nestle argues that recommendations about healthy eating are overwhelmed by the hundreds of billions of dollars worth of advertising for junk foods that we’re subjected to at home and even in public schools. And as fast food companies and chains compete with one another by increasing portion sizes, our waists are increasing proportionately.

[Chart: 1900-2000, comparing the growth of diabetes (red), obesity (blue) and cardiovascular disease (green) during the 20th Century.]

_2)  The Numbers
Despite the new attention paid to obesity by doctors, researchers, and the media, no discernable progress has been made in fighting obesity. According to most experts, it looks almost certain that obesity will get worse before it gets better.

Cynthia Ogden, PhD, a CDC epidemiologist, published the results of a study of weight in the United States that she conducted with other experts. The results were startling: 31% of adults are obese and 15% of children and teenagers age 6-19 are overweight. The proportion of obese people has been growing steadily for the last few decades. Although Ogden stresses that obesity is a problem for all groups and genders, it is particularly severe among certain ethnic groups. For instance, 50% of all non-Hispanic black women are obese.
Did Ogden see anything promising in the results of the study about obesity in the U.S.? “I didn’t see any hopeful signs,” she says.

_3)  Conflicting Recommendations
The seemingly contradictory reports in the media about what people should and shouldn’t be eating almost certainly don’t help things. For instance, proponents of protein diets argue that all of the accepted wisdom about eating a low-fat diet is wrong. Most experts don’t agree with them, but protein diets are being evaluated in studies now.

Where mainstream nutritionists and protein diet proponents agree is that the low-fat recommendations of the 1990s didn’t quite work. “People took the low-fat message and decided that it meant that as long as they ate things that were low-fat, they could eat as much as they wanted,” says William Dietz, MD, PhD, the director of the division of nutrition and physical activity in the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion at the CDC. That isn’t the case, since calories add up, no matter what form they come in. Even worse, many of the low-fat snacks that companies developed actually had higher calories than their regular-fat equivalents, Dietz observes.

According to Nestle, the media also have a tendency of confusing things by reporting the results of scientific studies out of context. She argues that the relative stability of the dietary and fitness recommendations over the years — eat less fat and more fruits and vegetables, exercise regularly — is obscured by the media, which are more interested in exciting stories about radical diets or the effects of particular “miracle” foods or vitamins.

_4)  Surgical Options
An increasingly common treatment for severe obesity is bariatric surgery, such as “stomach stapling” in which the size of the stomach is surgically reduced. It’s gotten a high profile as some obese celebrities and public figures have undergone the procedure with dramatic results. It’s even becoming more common among teenagers. While bariatric surgery is necessary and life-saving in some cases, is it a reasonable treatment for obesity in America?

“Surgery is an effective last resort,” says Dietz, “and many people are so obese, with a body mass index over 40, that they’re at the last resort stage.” However, if obesity continues to worsen, so many people will require surgery that it will become impossible to operate on all of them. “It’s difficult for me to see how we’ll be able or willing to perform surgery on 100 million Americans,” says Hill. Instead, the only real answer is in preventing people from getting to the point of surgery in the first place.

_5)  The Problems With Prevention
As with other public health campaigns, such as the efforts to get people to stop smoking or to practice safe sex, results of the campaign against obesity will come gradually. But Dietz sees reason for hope.
“I think that in the last three years, we’ve seen a dramatic shift in the attitudes of policy makers toward obesity,” Dietz tells WebMD. “There is now a huge amount of attention being paid to the condition,” he says, and that’s an important first step

_6)  What Should I Do?
While the news about preventing and treating obesity on a national scale may be depressing, it’s important not to confuse a national health problem with your own, individual efforts to lose weight and live a more healthy life. While changing society may be tricky, changing yourself is considerably easier.

For instance, many people are able to lose weight and keep it off successfully, and even small reductions in weight can significantly decrease your health risks. Much of Hill’s research has focused on the National Weight Loss Registry in Colorado, which Hill co-founded, that tracks the progress and habits of people who have lost weight and kept it off.

Hill reports that while people in the registry lost weight on all sorts of different diets, including protein diets, they tended to shift to a low-fat and high carbohydrate diet to maintain their weight loss. And on average, they exercised every day. While Hill stresses that most registry members say it wasn’t easy, they almost uniformly believe that losing weight was worth the sacrifices.
So rather than get overwhelmed by depressing statistics or confused by competing theories of how to lose weight, it may be best to stick to the established recommendations about eating well and exercising regularly. Doing what you can might make a big difference.

C.  Obesity Threatens to Cut U.S. Life Expectancy, New Analysis Suggests
Wednesday, March 16, 2005, NIH News, National Institute of Health, Dollemore contact Doug.http://www.nih.gov/news/pr/mar2005/nia-16.htm

Over the next few decades, life expectancy for the average American could decline by as much as 5 years unless aggressive efforts are made to slow rising rates of obesity, according to a team of scientists supported in part by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

The U.S. could be facing its first sustained drop in life expectancy in the modern era, the researchers say, but this decline is not inevitable if Americans — particularly younger ones — trim their waistlines or if other improvements outweigh the impact of obesity. The new report in the March 17, 2005 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine appears little more than a year after the DHHS unveiled a new national education campaign and research strategy to combat obesity and excessive weight.

The new analysis, by S. Jay Olshansky, PhD, of the University of Illinois at Chicago, Leonard Hayflick, Ph.D., of the University of California, San Francisco, Robert N. Butler, M.D., of the International Longevity Center in New York, and others suggests that the methods used to establish life expectancy projections, which have long been based on historic trends, need to be reassessed. This reevaluation is particularly important, they say, as obesity rates surge in today’s children and young adults.

“Forecasting life expectancy by extrapolating from the past is like forecasting the weather on the basis of its history,” Olshansky and his colleagues write. “Looking out the window, we see a threatening storm — obesity —that will, if unchecked, have a negative effect on life expectancy.”

Unlike historic life expectancy forecasts, which rely on past mortality trends, the Olshansky group bases their projection on an analysis of body mass indexes and other factors that could potentially affect the health and well-being of the current generation of children and young adults, some of whom began having weight problems very early in life. The authors say that unless steps are taken to curb excessive weight gain, younger Americans will likely face a greater risk of mortality throughout life than previous generations.

“This work paints a disturbing portrait of the potential effect that life styles of baby boomers and the next generation could have on life expectancy,” says Richard M. Suzman, Ph.D., Associate Director of the NIA for Behavioral and Social Research. Indeed, Suzman notes, obesity may already have had an effect. The sharp increase of obesity among people now in their 60s, he suggests, may be one explanation why the gains in U.S. life expectancy at older ages have been less than those of other developed countries in recent years.

“But it is critical to note that the reduced life expectancy forecast by the study is not inevitable, and there is room for optimism,” Suzman says. “Government and private sector efforts are mobilizing against obesity, and increased education, improved medical treatments, and reduced smoking can tip the balance in favor of reduced mortality and continued improvements in life expectancy.”

For instance, smoking significantly reduces the life expectancy of the average smoker, Suzman says, so obesity is just one of many factors that will need to be accounted for, together or separately, in projecting how Americans will age. The NIA supports several projects on population demography that forecast life and health expectancy, research which is critically important to policy makers looking at the implications of an aging population.

According to the NEJM report, studies suggest that two-thirds of American adults are overweight (having a body mass index — BMI — of 25 or more) or obese (having a BMI of 30 or more). One study cited by the authors indicates that the prevalence of obesity in U.S. adults has increased about 50 percent per decade since 1980. Additional research has shown that people who are severely obese — with a BMI greater than 45 — live up to 20 years less than people who are not overweight. Some researchers have estimated that obesity causes about 300,000 deaths in the U.S. annually. In addition, obesity is fueling an epidemic of type 2 diabetes, which also reduces lifespan.

The overall reduction in life expectancy of one-third to three-fourths of a year attributed to obesity in this analysis exceeds the negative effect of all accidental deaths combined, and could deteriorate over time, the researchers said.

“These trends suggest that the relative influence of obesity on the life expectancy of future generations could be markedly worse than it is for current generations,” Olshansky and the authors conclude in their report. “In other words, the life-shortening effect of obesity could rise …to two to five years, or more, in the coming decades, as the obese who are now at younger ages carry their elevated risk of death into middle and older ages.”

The projected decline contrasts with estimates by other leading researchers, which predict a continuation of the historic trend of increasing life expectancy in America and Europe dating back to the 1850s, according to Dr. Suzman. In fact, he points out that the experience of other developed nations is instructive as a barometer of how much room might exist to increase U.S. life expectancy. More than 20 other developed nations, including France, Japan, Germany, Sweden, and the United Kingdom have a higher average life expectancy than the U.S. Women in Japan, for example, live about 5 years longer than women in the U.S. There is little evidence that life expectancy in these countries is approaching any kind of limit, Suzman says.
.

4.  DIABETES
.

A.  Diabetes costs USA more than wars, disasters, study says
23 January 2008, USA TODAY, By Liz Szabo

http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2008-01-23-diabetes-cost_N.htm

About 17.5 million people in the USA have diabetes, and an additional 6 million have it but don’t know it. Costs associated with the disease: Medical costs: $116 billion, Lost productivity: $58 billion. (Source: American Diabetes Association)

Uncontrolled diabetes wreaks havoc on the body, often leading to kidney failure, blindness and death. A new study shows that the nation’s unchecked diabetes epidemic exacts a heavy financial toll as well: $174 billion a year. That’s about as much as the conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and the global war on terrorism combined. It’s more than the $150 billion in damage caused by Hurricane Katrina.

The incidence of diabetes has ballooned — there are 1 million new cases a year — as more Americans become overweight or obese, according to the study, released Wednesday by the American Diabetes Association. The cost of diabetes — both in direct medical care and lost productivity — has swelled 32% since 2002, the report shows.

Diabetes killed more than 284,000 Americans last year, according to the diabetes association.
Diabetes costs the nation nearly as much as cancer, whose costs in 2006 totaled $206.3 billion, although cancer kills twice as many people, according to the American Cancer Society.

Even those without diabetes help pay the bill. The mounting costs affect everyone with insurance, through rising premiums and copays, says Paul Fronstin of the Employee Benefit Research Institute, who was not involved with the report. About half of diabetics have medical insurance through government programs such as Medicare, the report shows.

Providing routine care — such as doctor’s visits and medications — costs relatively little, according to the report. The real expenses come from uncontrolled diabetes, which can lead patients to require dialysis and kidney transplants, says Ann Albright, a diabetes expert at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and president of health care and education at the American Diabetes Association, which paid for the study.

About half of diabetes costs go to inpatient hospital care, the study shows. Because diabetes makes people so much sicker, it increases the time that people stay in the hospital for other problems by nearly 50%.
Albright expects the number of people diagnosed with diabetes to increase, given that many Americans are “pre-diabetic,” with problems handling insulin and sugar.

Diabetes “will ruin a generation of Americans,” says Helen Darling, president of the National Business Group on Health, a non-profit that represents large employers. Over the next few decades, she says, diabetes will handicap both state and local economies, as communities divert money from education and other important areas to care for patients. “It’s a sad story that should cause us to take action,” Albright says.

B.  Success and Opportunities for Population-based Prevention and Control: At A Glance 2010
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

http://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/resources/publications/AAG/ddt.htm

_1) What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a disease in which the body has a shortage of insulin, a decreased ability to use insulin, or both. Insulin is a hormone that allows glucose (sugar) to enter cells and be converted to energy. When diabetes is not controlled, glucose and fats remain in the blood and, over time, damage vital organs.
•  Type 1 diabetes usually is first diagnosed in children and young adults, although the disease can occur at any age. Type 1 may be autoimmune, genetic, or environmental and accounts for 5% of diabetes cases. There is no known way to prevent this type of diabetes.
•  Type 2 diabetes, which is linked to obesity and physical inactivity, accounts for 90%–95% of diabetes cases and most often occurs in people older than 40. Type 2 is associated with older age, obesity, family history of diabetes, history of gestational diabetes, impaired glucose metabolism, physical inactivity, race, and ethnicity. Type 2 diabetes in children and adolescents, although still rare, is being diagnosed more frequently among American Indians, African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, and Asians/Pacific Islanders.
•  Prediabetes is a condition in which a person has blood glucose levels higher than normal but not high enough to be classified as diabetes. An estimated 57 million American adults had prediabetes in 2007. People with this condition have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

_2) Diabetes Is Common, Disabling, and Deadly
•  23.6 million people in the United States (7.8% of the total population) have diabetes. Of these, 5.7 million have undiagnosed diabetes.
•  In 2007, about 1.6 million new cases of diabetes were diagnosed in people aged 20 years or older.
•  African American, Hispanic, American Indian, and Alaska Native adults are twice as likely as white adults to have diabetes.
•  If current trends continue, 1 in 3 Americans will develop diabetes sometime in their lifetime, and those with diabetes will lose, on average, 10–15 years of life.
•  Diabetes is the leading cause of new cases of blindness, kidney failure, and nontraumatic lower-extremity amputations among adults.
•  Diabetes was the sixth leading cause of death on U.S. death certificates in 2006. Overall, the risk for death among people with diabetes is about twice that of people without diabetes of similar age.
•  In 1999–2000, 7% of U.S. adolescents aged 12–19 years had impaired fasting glucose (prediabetes), putting them at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

_3) Diabetes Is Preventable and Controllable
Recent studies show that lifestyle changes can prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes among people at high risk.
•  For people with prediabetes, lifestyle changes, including a 5%–7% weight loss and at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week, can reduce the rate of onset of type 2 diabetes by 58%.

Disability and premature death are not inevitable consequences of diabetes. By working with their support network and health care providers, people with diabetes can prevent premature death and disability by controlling their blood glucose, blood pressure, and blood lipids and by receiving other preventive care in a timely manner.
•  Blood glucose control reduces the risk for eye, kidney, and nerve diseases among people with diabetes by about 40%.
•  Blood pressure control reduces the risk for heart disease and stroke among people with diabetes by 33%–50%. It reduces the risk for eye, kidney, and nerve diseases by about 33%.
•  Detecting and treating diabetic eye disease with laser therapy can reduce the risk for loss of eyesight by 50%–60%. Comprehensive foot care programs can reduce amputation rates by 45%–85%.

C.  Recognizing the signs of Diabetes
While diabetes was once recognized as an unfortunate disease that only affected a small number of people, today statistics indicate that more than 18 million people in the United States alone suffer from this disease. Perhaps even more startling is the fact that almost one-third of those individuals may remain undiagnosed, largely to the failure to recognize the most common warning signs related to this disease.

One of the reasons that diabetes symptoms can be difficult to recognize is the fact that they can appear either gradually over a long period of time or dramatically and suddenly. Some of the symptoms that may be noticed include fatigue, frequent urination and excessive thirst. In some cases, sudden weight loss, urinary tract infections and blurred vision may also be noticed.

Due to the fact that diabetes can lead to a number of serious health issues such as blindness, heart disease and nerve and kidney damage, it is extremely important that you be tested for diabetes if you suffer from symptoms associated with the disease. While these symptoms are commonly associated with diabetes, keep in mind that in some cases diabetes presents absolutely no signs or symptoms. Therefore, if you are over the age of 45 or fall into a high risk category, you should make a point to be tested for diabetes at least once every couple of years.
.

5.  EXERCISE-ENERGY BALANCE

.
A.   Exercise trends
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exercise_trends

Worldwide, there has been a large shift towards less physically demanding work. This has been accompanied by increasing use of mechanized transportation, a greater prevalence of labor saving technology in the home, and less active recreational pursuits. At least 60% of the world’s population does not get sufficient exercise. This is true in almost all developed and developing countries, and among children.

These exercise trends are contributing to the rising rates of chronic diseases including: obesity, heart disease, heart disease, stroke and high cholestrol. Active transport such as walking and bicycling, etc. have been found to be inversely related to obesity in Europe, North America, and Australia. Thus exercise has been associated with a decrease in mortality.

One of the causes most prevalent in the developing world is urbanization. As more of the population moves to cities, population over-crowding, increased poverty, increased levels of crime, high-density traffic, low air quality and lack of parks, sidewalks and recreational sports facilities leads to a less active lifestyle.
Physical inactivity is increasing or high among many groups in the population including: young people, women, and the elderly.
A number of factors has been associated with physical inactivity at a population level including: female gender, older age, living with a partner, smoking, little schooling and poverty.

Studies in children and adults have found an association between the number of hours of television watched and the prevalence of obesity. A 2008 meta analysis found that 63 of 73 studies (86%) showed an increased rate of childhood obesity with increased media exposure, and rates increasing proportionally to time spent watching television.

Americans have become less physicallyh active overall between 1955 and 2005. While the rate of leisure-time physical activity has not changed significantly there has been a decrease in work-related activity, human powered transportation, activity in the home, and increasing sedentary activity. During 2000 and 2005 the number of adults who were never physically active increased from 9.4% to 10.3% while the number who were engaged in the highest level of physical activity decreased from 18.7% to 16.7%. Pertaining to leisure-time physical activity, people involved in no activity increased from 38.5% to 40.0% while those who spent most of their day sitting increased from 36.8% to 39.9%.

In 2000 the CDC estimated that more than 40% of the US population was sedentary, another 30% was active but not sufficiently and less than 30% had an adequate level of physical activity. There has been a trend toward decreased physical activity in part due to increasingly mechanized forms of work, changing modes of transportation, and increasing urbanization. Obesity rates have increased in relation to expanding suburbs. This has been attributed to increased time spent commuting, leading to less exercise and less meal preparation at home. Driving one’s children to school has become increasingly popular. In the USA the proportion of children who walk or bike to school declined between 1969 (42%) and 2001 (16%) resulting in less exercise.

 B.    Warning: Lack of Exercise Is Detrimental To Your Health
By Jim O’Connor
http://ezinearticles.com/?Warning:-Lack-of-Exercise-Is-Detrimental-To-Your-Health&id=110610
Jim O’Connor, A Beverly Hills celebrity fitness consultant, has conducted thousands of personal fitness consultations with celebrities, business executives, and highly motivated individuals throughout Los …

You just put in a good 10 hour day in front of your computer screen, and the last thing you want to do is exercise. Let’s see, exercise, and improve your fitness level, or sit down with a glass of wine and watch your favorite evening television show. What would you do? Seventy percent of individuals know they should exercise, but choose the wine and the television program instead.

Do you know this simple daily decision can end up being detrimental to your health? According to the CDC, 54.1% of adults don’t do the minimum level of exercise or physical activity recommended for wellness. The slogan “use it or lose it” has never been more true.

The simple innocent choice of not exercising has shown, in studies, to promote 10 serious health conditions you don’t ever want to develop. The bottom line is physical inactivity has a lot of unhealthy implications even at our bodies cellular level. At the cellular level, inactivity decreases the ability to transfer oxygen from your blood stream to your cells, and also decreases the number of power activating mitochondria. However, the worst cost of not exercising or being physically active can result in the following 10 devastating conditions:
_1)   Cancer – Studies have shown that fitness enthusiastic men and women who are physically active have a 30 to 40 percent lower risk of colon cancer compared to individuals who are inactive.
_2)   Diabetes - Studies show lack of regular physical exercise increases insulin sensitivity. Diabetes is considered the “sedentary disease” which is striking people at an alarming rate. If it is not controlled, it can destroy the body’s organs.
_3)   Heart – Lack of consistent physical activity, over time, decreases the function of the heart muscle, affects the blood vessels, including the large aortic artery to the veins and small capillaries. According to many studies, scientists have good reason to believe that regular exercise protects the heart.
_4)   Stroke - Regular exercisers are 25% less likely to have a stroke than their sedentary counterparts. Being fit lowers blood pressure, raises HDL cholesterol, and reduces the risk of blood clots.
_5)  BrainPeople who are physically active, according to solid evidence, are at lower risk for cognitive decline and dementia.
_6)   Muscles – If you don’t exercise on a regular basis, you are at risk of losing some 6 percent of your muscles mass every decade of life from the age of 30 on. This also translates into a 10 – 15 percent loss of strength per decade. Once again, if you don’t use the muscle, you will lose the muscle quickly.
_7)   Osteoporosis – Fragile bones cause more than 1.5 million fractures each year in the U.S. Bone is like muscle, if you stress it, it responds. If you don’t, you gradually lose its strength, and increase your chances of breaking them. Regular weekly strength training can help prevent osteoporosis, and decrease your chances of breaking a bone.
_
8)  Mental Health – People who don’t exercise on a regular basis are more prone to develop depression. According to a recent study, people who were more active were nearly 20 percent less likely to be diagnosed with depression over the next five years than less active people. Fitness conscious individuals also generally display an improved self esteem, or self image.
_9)
   WeightIf you are inactive, year in and year out, you will eventually gain weight and lose fitness which increases the chance of a heart attacks, and diabetes.
_10)  Immune SystemModerate amounts of exercise reduces the risk of upper respiratory infection. Regular exercise may boost immune function.

Now I would like to ask that same question I asked above. What would you do? Wine and television, or physical activity? Now for the good news! In as little as 30 minutes of exercise or fitness work each day, you can significantly decrease your chances of developing any of these horrible conditions mentioned above. This is the best “medicine” any doctor can possibly prescribe!

C.  Aging and What To Do About It – The value of exercise
http://www.faqs.org/health-encyc/The-Lifetime-of-a-Human-Being/Aging-and-What-To-Do-About-It-The-value-of-exercise.html
As you grow older, exercise can help you look, feel, and work better. Various organs and systems of the body, particularly the digestive process, are stimulated through activity, and, as a result, work more effectively.
You can improve your posture through exercise that tones supporting muscles. This not only improves appearance, but can decrease the frequency of lower-back pain and disability.

Here are some other benefits of exercise:
•  it can increase your ability to relax and tolerate fatigue;
•  it improves muscle tone; reduces fat deposits;
•  increases working capacity of the lungs;
•  improves kidney and liver functions;
•  increases volume of blood, hemoglobin, and red blood cells, leading to improved utilization of oxygen and iron.

Also, physically active people are less likely to experience a heart attack or other forms of cardiovascular disease than sedentary people. Moreover, an active person who does suffer a coronary attack will probably have a less severe form. The Public Health Service studied 5,000 adults in Framingham, Mass., for more than a decade. When any member of the group suffered a heart attack, his physical activity was reviewed. It was found that more inactive people suffered more fatal heart attacks than active members.

_1) Walking for Exercise
Exercise need not be something you must do, but rather something you enjoy doing. One of the most practical and enjoyable exercises is walking. Charles Dickens said: “Walk and be happy, walk and be healthy. The best of all ways to lengthen our days is to walk, steadily and with a purpose. The wandering man knows of certain ancients, far gone in years, who have staved off infirmities and dissolution by earnest walking—hale fellows close upon eighty and ninety, but brisk as boys.”

The benefits of walking were revealed in a recent Health Insurance Plan study of 110,000 people in New York City. Those who had heart attacks were divided into two groups—walkers and non walkers. The first four weeks of illness were reviewed for both groups. At the end of the time 41 percent of the non walkers were dead, while only 23 percent of the walkers were. When all physical activity was considered, 57 percent of the inactive had died compared to only 16 percent of those who had some form of exercise.

Walking is as natural to the human body as breathing. It is a muscular symphony; all the foot, leg, and hip muscles and much of the back musculature are involved. The abdominal muscles tend to contract and support their share of the weight, and the diaphragm and rib muscles increase their action. There is automatic action of the arm and shoulder muscles; the shoulder and neck muscles get play as the head is held erect; the eye muscles are exercised as you look about you.

_2) Other Types of Exercise
Swimming and bicycling exercise most of the muscles, and gardening is highly recommended. The fresh air is beneficial, the bending, squatting, and countless other movements exercise most parts of the body.

Surprisingly, most games do not provide good exercise. According to a physical fitness research laboratory at the University of Illinois, the trouble with most games is that the action is intermittent—starting and stopping—a burst of energy and then a wait. The bowler swings a ball for two and one-half seconds and gets about one minute of actual muscular work per game.
Golf is a succession of pause, swing, walk—or, more often, a ride to the next pause, swing, and so on. Also, you spend a lot of time standing and waiting for the party ahead and for your partners.
Tennis gives one more exercise but it too involves a great deal of starting and stopping, as does handball.
No game has the essential, tension-releasing pattern of continuous, vigorous, rhythmic motion found in such activities as walking, running, or jogging.
For formal exercises, you could join a gym, but you might find your enthusiasm waning after a few weeks. You could also exercise at home; there are many excellent books on exercise that provide programs for you to follow at home on a daily basis.

[For readers of the 4dtraveler blog: I have been doing exercises 7 days a week for the last 4 years since my retirement. My early morning, before breakfast regime includes: A not too difficult exercise of 16 minutes Tai Chi, 14 minutes of walking and 11 minutes Yoga. That 14 minute walk amounts to 2,000 steps which is about 1 mile distance. During mid morning, I walk another 1,000 steps (1/2 mile) and take another short 1,000 step walk later in the day. These exercises are in addition to any normal activies about the house, an do not include any form of shopping, all of which are extra.]

.
6.     SAME DOLLARS, LESS FOOD  (food cost inflation)

.

A.  Objects in store are smaller than they appear
November 09, 2008, Los Angeles Times, staff writer Jerry Hirsch
<http://articles.latimes.com/2008/nov/09&gt;

It is hard to spot what happened this year in the peanut butter aisles of local supermarkets.

But a careful look at the jars of Skippy on the shelves may reveal a surprise. The prices are about the same, but the jars are getting smaller.

They don’t look different in size or shape. But recently, the jars developed a dimple in the bottom that slices the contents to 16.3 ounces from 18 ounces – about 10% less peanut butter.

The only way to know you are buying less is to look at the weight on the label and recognize it’s lighter than before Unilever, owner of the Skippy brand, switched out containers.

Across the supermarket, manufacturers are trimming packages, nipping a half-ounce off that bar of soap, narrowing the width of toilet paper and shrinking the size of ice cream containers.

Often the changes are so subtle that they create “the illusion that you are buying the same amount,” explained Frank Luby, a pricing consultant with Simon-Kucher & Partners of Cambridge, Mass.

To shoppers it may seem like getting less, but companies say cutting quantity is a common way to avoid raising prices.

It’s an age-old dilemma for manufacturers juggling prices, container sizes and profits — at the same time coping with rising prices for ingredients and greater competition on supermarket shelves.

At international food giant Unilever, “we have chosen to reduce package sizes as one of our responses” to rising commodity and business expenses, said spokesman Dean Mastrojohn. He said the new smaller sizes are clearly marked on labels.

Shoppers understand the manufacturers’ dilemma, but also say they feel deceived at times.

Kathy Yukl of La Crescenta says she’s tired of going to the store and finding dimples in the bottoms of jars — she buys Skippy only when she has a coupon. She is annoyed that containers that once held half a gallon of ice cream, or 64 ounces, now have only 48 ounces. And she’s frustrated that cereal boxes are shrinking. “What these companies don’t realize is that their chronically deceptive marketing ploys tell us loud and clear that we absolutely cannot trust them for anything,” Yukl said.

Other shoppers agree. “I think the whole thing is deceitful, and yes, it does irritate me, and I do feel they are tricking the consumer,” said Bill Stone of Long Beach. “This practice, however, has been going on for many years and apparently the manufacturers feel it is to their advantage to try to slip these changes by the customer rather than announcing it.”

B.   Food Inflation Kept Hidden in Tinier Bags
March 28, 2011, New York Times, By Stephanie Clifford and Catherine Rampell.
<http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/29/business/29shrink.html&gt;

Chips are disappearing from bags, candy from boxes and vegetables from cans.
As an expected increase in the cost of raw materials looms for late summer, consumers are beginning to encounter shrinking food packages.

With unemployment still high, companies in recent months have tried to camouflage price increases by selling their products in tiny and tinier packages. So far, the changes are most visible at the grocery store, where shoppers are paying the same amount, but getting less.

For Lisa Stauber, stretching her budget to feed her nine children in Houston often requires careful monitoring at the store. Recently, when she cooked her usual three boxes of pasta for a big family dinner, she was surprised by a smaller yield, and she began to suspect something was up.

Whole wheat pasta had gone from 16 ounces to 13.25 ounces,” she said. “I bought three boxes and it wasn’t enough — that was a little embarrassing. I bought the same amount I always buy, I just didn’t realize it, because who reads the sizes all the time?”

Ms. Stauber, 33, said she began inspecting her other purchases, aisle by aisle. Many canned vegetables dropped to 13 or 14 ounces from 16; boxes of baby wipes went to 72 from 80; and sugar was stacked in 4-pound, not 5-pound, bags, she said.

Five or so years ago, Ms. Stauber bought 16-ounce cans of corn. Then they were 15.5 ounces, then 14.5 ounces, and the size is still dropping. “The first time I’ve ever seen an 11-ounce can of corn at the store was about three weeks ago, and I was just floored,” she said. “It’s sneaky, because they figure people won’t know.”

In every economic downturn in the last few decades, companies have reduced the size of some products, disguising price increases and avoiding comparisons on same-size packages, before and after an increase. Each time, the marketing campaigns are coy; this time, the smaller versions are “greener” (packages good for the environment) or more “portable” (little carry bags for the takeout lifestyle) or “healthier” (fewer calories).

Where companies cannot change sizes — as in clothing or appliances — they have warned that prices will be going up, as the costs of cotton, energy, grain and other raw materials are rising.

“Consumers are generally more sensitive to changes in prices than to changes in quantity,” John T. Gourville, a marketing professor at Harvard Business School, said. “And companies try to do it in such a way that you don’t notice, maybe keeping the height and width the same, but changing the depth so the silhouette of the package on the shelf looks the same. Or sometimes they add more air to the chips bag or a scoop in the bottom of the peanut butter jar so it looks the same size.”

Thomas J. Alexander, a finance professor at Northwood University, said that businesses had little choice these days when faced with increases in the costs of their raw goods. “Companies only have pricing power when wages are also increasing, and we’re not seeing that right now because of the high unemployment,” he said.

Most companies reduce products quietly, hoping consumers are not reading labels too closely.

But the downsizing keeps occurring. A can of Chicken of the Sea albacore tuna is now packed at 5 ounces, instead of the 6-ounce version still on some shelves, and in some cases, the 5-ounce can costs more than the larger one. Bags of Doritos, Tostitos and Fritos now hold 20 percent fewer chips than in 2009, though a spokesman said those extra chips were just a “limited time” offer.

Trying to keep customers from feeling cheated, some companies are introducing new containers that, they say, have terrific advantages — and just happen to contain less product.

Kraft is introducing “Fresh Stacks” packages for its Nabisco Premium saltines and Honey Maid graham crackers. Each has about 15 percent fewer crackers than the standard boxes, but the price has not changed. Kraft says that because the Fresh Stacks include more sleeves of crackers, they are more portable and “the packaging format offers the benefit of added freshness,” said Basil T. Maglaris, a Kraft spokesman, in an e-mail.

And Procter & Gamble is expanding its “Future Friendly” products, which it promotes as using at least 15 percent less energy, water or packaging than the standard ones.

“They are more environmentally friendly, that’s true — but they’re also smaller,” said Paula Rosenblum, managing partner for retail systems research at Focus.com, an online specialist network. “They announce it as great new packaging, and in fact what it is is smaller packaging, smaller amounts of the product,” she said.


[1] Adequate exercise: a) 30 minutes moderately intensive exercise daily,  b) 30-45 min/day 5 days a week, c) 150+ minutes aerobic (walking, cycling) exercise /week

Leave a comment

Filed under Survival Manual, __2. Social Issues

Modern Competition: Part 3 of 3 (Illegal Immigration & Free Trade)

(Survival Manual/ 2. Social Issues/ Death by 1000 cuts/ Modern Competition: Part 3 of 3)

Topics:
Part I
1.  College and future income

2.  Consumer debt

Part II
3.  Wage slaves

Part III
4.  Illegal (Mexican) immigration
5.  Free trade & globalization
.

4 . Illegal (Mexican) immigration

A.     Illegal Immigration
1 Sep 2010, SHTF Plan.com
“…With a 10% unemployment rate, nationally, estimated by the government; it means there are more than 35 million Americans out of work. At more than 16% unemployed based upon Shadow Stats analysis, it means that more than 50 million Americans are out of work, while presumably, 30 million Illegal Latinos are still working. If these 30 million Illegal’s are not working in American jobs, what the hell are they doing here to survive? And if they are working in American jobs, why is this acceptable to our federal government?

Many false arguments arise with respect to the employment picture. The biggest fallacy is that these Latino foreign nationals are taking jobs Americans don’t want. Does any American citizen really believe that there are 30 million Latino “lettuce pickers” in the United States?

 

A.  “Legal vs Illegal
(–from the web: anonymous)
You have two families: “Joe Legal” and “Jose Illegal”. Both families have two parents, two children, and live in California . Joe Legal works in construction, has a Social Security Number and makes $25.00 per hour with taxes deducted. Jose Illegal also works in construction, has NO Social Security Number, and gets paid $15.00 cash “under the table”.

Ready? Now pay attention . . .

Joe Legal: $25.00 per hour x 40 hours = $1000.00 per week, or $52,000.00 per year. Now take 30% away for state and federal tax; Joe Legal now has $31,231.00.
Jose Illegal: $15.00 per hour x 40 hours = $600.00 per week, or $31,200.00 per year. Jose Illegal pays no taxes. Jose Illegal now has $31,200.00.

Joe Legal pays medical and dental insurance with limited coverage for his family at $600.00 per month, or $7,200.00 per year. Joe Legal now has $24,031.00.
Jose Illegal has full medical and dental coverage through the state and local clinics at a cost of $0.00 per year. Jose Illegal still has $31,200.00.

Joe Legal makes too much money and is not eligible for food stamps or welfare. Joe Legal pays $500.00 per month for food, or $6,000.00 per year. Joe Legal now has $18,031.00.
Jose Illegal has no documented income and is eligible for food stamps and welfare. Jose Illegal still has $31,200.00.

Joe Legal pays rent of $1,200.00 per month, or $14,400.00 per year. Joe Legal now has $9,631.00.
Jose Illegal receives a $500.00 per month federal rent subsidy. Jose Illegal pays out that $500.00 per month, or $6,000.00 per year. Jose Illegal still has $ 31,200.00.

Joe Legal pays $200.00 per month, or $2,400.00 for insurance. Joe Legal now has $7,231.0
Jose Illegal says, “We don’t need no stinkin’ insurance!” and he still has $31,200.00.

Joe Legal has to make his $7,231.00 stretch to pay utilities, gasoline, etc . . .
Jose Illegal has to make his $31,200.00 stretch to pay utilities, gasoline, and what he sends out of the country every month.

Joe Legal now works overtime on Saturdays or gets a part time job after work.
Jose Illegal has nights and weekends off to enjoy with his family.

Joe Legal’s and Jose Illegal’s children both attend the same school.
Joe Legal pays for his children’s lunches while Jose Illegal’s children get a government sponsored lunch.

Jose Illegal’s children have an after school ESL program.
Joe Legal’s children go home.

Joe Legal and Jose Illegal both enjoy the same police and fire services, but Joe paid for them and Jose did not pay.”
..

B.  Income Gap Growing in Texas, Group Says. Illegal Aliens and a Spineless Government the Cause, I Say!
Friday, May 16, 2008
<http://theunloadingzone.blogspot.com/2008/04/income-gap-growing-in-texas-group-says.html&gt;

The Dallas Morning News recently did an article on how the gap between Rich and Poor in Texas is growing. REALLY? You’re just noticing that now?
In Texas the gap between rich and poor is growing. Not only is it true, but they define “rich” as $124K per year and poor at $16K per year. Texas rich is upper middle class up north….barely. And Texas poor, well you tell me how anyone can support a family on $16K a year.

The article ends: “You can either live in Texas, where you may be poor but you have lots of job opportunities, or you can do what these people propose and turn us into Michigan or Illinois, which are hemorrhaging jobs,” he said. “There, if you’re poor, you stay poor.” .

That’s because they’re not over-run with millions of illegal aliens working below the minimum wage for cash. That’s because employers get away with hiring them every day.

It’s because Governor Perry and TxDot are turning every road and highway in what was middle class Texas into “lucrative” toll roads. And that’s their plan for the future…..toll, toll, toll. Why?
We have Fund 6 where all the gas tax money is SUPPOSED to be going, but instead is being siphoned off for other “projects”. Gas prices are 2 weeks away from $4/gallon for regular. In Collin County, STATE HIGHWAY 121 (not supposed to be a toll road), when complete, will cost the average user $1800 a year for their work commute.

The middle class is systematically being wiped out. Sales taxes are at 8.25% and, unlike most States, food and clothes are not exempt. What was the middle class has no discretionary income; no dinners out; no movies. The solution? BRING IN MORE Illegal Aliens! But at least we can brag we don’t have a State Income Tax.

It’s because Texas is re-fighting the Mexican-American War alone and losing. Texas is losing its identity, it’s heritage, it’s culture, and it’s standard of living. Crime rates are up, taxes are up paying to educate, feed, house, and provide free health care for people not legally allowed in this country in the first place.

The Feds don’t care. The Dept. of Homeland Security is such a tangled bureaucratic mess that even divisions like ICE don’t know what they’re responsible for. And the politicians: all they know is Hispanics will be the majority racial group in this country by 2060 and they want those votes at any cost.

They talk about “amnesty”. Ronald Reagan, a giant of a man, badly miscalculated when he gave a million Hispanics amnesty in 1986. I spoke to the Regional Director of ICE recently: they are STILL trying to process those illegals from 22 years ago!
How are we going to give amnesty to 12-18 million more illegals? That will take centuries!

And Texas is losing because it’s culture is passive-aggressive. With a very few exceptions, people and towns take action. Most just smile and say how wonderful diversity is in public, and then go home and rant and rave. So much for the myth of the “plain-spoken Texan”.
Meanwhile, half the jobs advertised require bi-lingual language skills, there are Spanish-Only billboards and signs popping up every day, and the people do nothing.…while the small to medium sized business community cashes in.

And now even the big box retailers are joining in. Walmart has more Spanish signage than English in many of their stores. And you can walk the entire length of the store and never hear a word spoken in English. So much for the melting pot theory.  What a Great TV Ad for Texas this article would make! I’m sure all the local Texas Chambers of Commerce loved it too.
.

5.  Free Trade

A.  How “Free Trade” Ruined America
28 February 2011, The Drifting Ship: The U.S. and Global Economy

http://fsuchick86.blogspot.com/2011/02/how-free-trade-ruined-america.html

The one question that is running rampant in class is, “Where are the jobs, professor?”
How will America get jobs back in America? How do we jump start the American economy without deficit spending? It appears that all economists — at least the ones teaching — haven’t an answer. It’s all about finding the right “incentives” and “business environment” and BAM… back to the booming 1980s. But perhaps it’s due to the entire economics profession selling out to Wall Street interests or corrupted by age-old economic doctrinaires that DO NOT work in the “real world.”

I, however, offer a different take on why there are no jobs in America and it has to do with “free trade” and the practice that Wal-Mart aka “the Temple of More” is notorious for… outsourcing.

[Image above: Our exports]

Today, economists are blind to the loss of American industries and occupations because they believe these results reflect the beneficial workings of “free trade.” Whatever is being lost, they think, is being replaced by something as good or better. This thinking is rooted in the doctrine of comparative advantage put forth by David Richardio in 1817. In sum, it states that, even if a country is a high-cost producer of most things, it can still enjoy an advantage, since it will produce some goods at lower relative cost than its trading partners.

Today’s economists leading the pack and teaching in academia can’t identify what the new industries and occupations might be that will replace those that are lost (manufacturing), but they’re certain that those jobs and sectors are out there somewhere. We just have to look a little bit harder. What does not occur to them is that the same incentive that causes the loss of one tradable good or service — cheap, skilled foreign labor — applies to all tradable goods and services. But there is no reason that the “replacement” industry or job, if it exists, won’t follow its predecessor offshore.

For comparative advantage to work, a country’s labor, capital, and technology must NOT move offshore. This international immobility is necessary to prevent a business from seeking an absolute advantage by going abroad. The internal cost ratios that determine comparative advantage reflect the quantity and quality of the country’s technology and capital. If these factors move abroad to where cheap labor makes them more productive, absolute advantage takes over from comparative advantage.

This is what is wrong with today’s debate about outsourcing and offshore production. It’s not really about trade, but about labor arbitrage. Companies producing for U.S. markets are substituting cheap labor for expensive U.S. labor. The U.S. loses jobs and also the capital and technology that move offshore to employ the cheaper foreign labor. Many economists argue that this loss of capital does not result in unemployment but rather a reduction in wages. The remaining capital is spread more thinly among workers, while the foreign workers whose country gains the money become more productive and are better paid.

Economists like to call this wrenching adjustment short-run “wage adjustments.” But when the loss of jobs leaves people with less income but the same mortgages and debts, upward mobility collapses. Income distribution becomes more polarized to the upper tiers of society, the tax base is lost, and the ability to maintain infrastructure, pension funds, and public commitments is reduced. Nor is this adjustment just short-run. The huge excess supplies of labor in India and China mean that American wages will fall a lot faster than Asian wages will rise for a long time. That is economic reality.

Until recently, advanced economies retained their capital, labor, and technology. Foreign investment occurred, but it worked differently from outsourcing. Foreign investment was confined mainly to the world’s advanced economies. Its purpose was to avoid shipping costs, tariffs, and quotas, and thus sell more cheaply in the foreign market. The purpose of foreign investment was not offshore production with cheap foreign labor for the home market.

When David Ricardo developed the doctrine of comparative advantage in 1817, climate and geography were important variables in the economy. The assumption that factors of production were immobile internationally was realistic. Since there were inherent differences in climate and geography, the assumption that different countries would have different relative costs of producing tradable goods was also realistic.

Today, acquired knowledge is the basis for most tradable goods and services, making the Ricardian assumptions unrealistic. Indeed, it is not clear where there is a basis for comparative advantage when production rests on acquired knowledge. Modern production functions operate the same way regardless of their locations. There is no necessary reason for the relative costs of producing manufactured goods to vary from one country to another. Yet without different internal cost ratios, there is no basis for comparative advantage.

Outsourcing is driven by absolute advantage. Asia has an absolute advantage because of its vast excess supply of skilled and educated labor. With American capital, technology, and business know-how, this labor can be just as productive as American labor, but workers can be hired for much less money. Thus, the capitalist incentive to seek the lowest cost and most profit will seek to substitute cheap labor for expensive labor. India and China are gaining, and America is losing!
Until outsourcing is reversed one should not expect jobs to return to America any time soon. That is just something I like to call the harsh economic reality of 2011!

B.  Cost of US ‘free’ trade: collapse of two centuries of broadly shared prosperity
April 1, 2011, The Christian Science Monitor, By Ian Fletcher
http://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/Opinion/2011/0401/Cost-of-US-free-trade-collapse-of-two-centuries-of-broadly-shared-prosperity

It’s time to face a brutal truth about the American economy: Even if rising gas and food prices don’thasten a double dip recession, our 200-year tradition of broadly shared prosperity is over. That’s because the great American job machine has been destroyed by a reckless free-trade policy.

Since the end of the cold war, and accelerating after NAFTA in 1994, Washington has pursued a globalized economy made possible by ever-expanding “free” trade agreements. This policy is a major factor in America’s increasing inequality, our rising indebtedness, community abandonment, and the weakening of the industrial sinews of our national security.
.

[Photo above: Our imports]

About to crumble
The good news is that this global order of free trade is about to crumble – within the next 10 years at most. The unsustainable American trade deficit alone makes this a near-certainty.
For now, though, America’s economy continues to struggle because our trade deficit – fluctuating around $500 billion a year for a decade now – acts as a giant “reverse stimulus.” It causes a huge slice of domestic demand to flow not into domestic jobs but foreign wages.

Our trade deficit helps Guangdong, Seoul, Yokohama, even Munich – but not Gary, Indiana, Fontana, California, and the other badlands of America’s industrial decline. Washington’s response? Yet more stimulus, leading to an ever-increasing overhang of debt, both foreign and domestic, the cost of whose servicing then exerts its own drag on recovery.

Despite the 216,000 jobs added last month, the American economy has, in fact, entirely lost the ability to create jobs in tradable sectors. This cheery fact comes straight from the Commerce Department. All our net new jobs are in non-tradable services: a few heart surgeons and a legion of busboys and security guards, most of them without health insurance or retirement benefits.

These are dead-end jobs, and our economy as a whole is being similarly squeezed into dead-end industries. The green jobs of the future? Gone to places like China, where governments bid sweeter subsidies than Massachusetts can afford. Nanotechnology? Perhaps the first major technology in a century where America is not the leading innovator. Foreign subsidies are illegal under WTO rules, but no matter: Who’s going to enforce them when corporate America is happily lapping at their very trough?

Part of the problem is that today’s free-trade order is in reality a curious mixture of genuinely free trade practiced by the United States and a few others with the technocratic mercantilism of surging East Asia and Germanic-Scandinavian Europe. It wasn’t always like this.

A history of protection
From 1790 to 1945, America grew and prospered in a largely protected economic environment. Our trade then was not “free.” But after World War II, we wandered away from Alexander Hamilton’s vision of a relatively self-contained American economy in order to win the cold war. We threw our markets open to the world as a bribe not to go communist. If we fail to return to a policy of strategic, not unconditional, economic openness, we may lose the next cold war – to a Confucian authoritarianism no less opposed to the idea of a free society than Marxism, and considerably more efficient.

There is an appropriate policy response. For starters, the US should apply compensatory tariffs against imports subsidized by currency manipulation, an idea that originated with Kevin Kearns of the US Business and Industry Council and was recently passed by the House of Representatives. Also essential is a border tax to counter foreign export rebates implemented by means of foreign value-added taxes.

The fundamental reality of free trade is that it relieves corporate America from any substantial tie to the economic well-being of ordinary Americans. If corporate America can produce its products anywhere, and sell them anywhere, then it has no incentive to care about the capacity of Americans to produce or consume. Conversely, if it is tied to making a profit by selling goods made by Americans to Americans, then it has a natural incentive to care about American productivity and consumption.

Productivity and consumption are prosperity. [Think about that. The US has lost productive capacity,  there are less production jobs, unemployment has increased considerably and become a structural problem (very long term), the US dollar is declining in value–prosperity is slowly evaporating, like soil moisture before an expanding drought . Mr Larry]

C.  Globalization and American Wages: Today and Tomorrow
October 10, 2007, EPI Briefing Paper #196 Globalization and American Wages
Today and Tomorrow,  by L. Josh Bivens
<http://www.epi.org/publications/entry/bp196/&gt;

The continuing integration of the rich United States with a far poorer global economy has provoked much anxiety among American workers. Because it is well-known that basic economic theory predicts that global integration leads to gains for all nations, this anxiety is often treated as a political puzzle. A once again fashionable explanation for this puzzle is that globalization’s benefits are huge but diffuse (primarily, lower prices for imported goods), while its costs are small but concentrated (workers displaced by imports); hence, the gains are hard to see, but the losses are all too visible.1

This Briefing Paper reexamines what conventional economics actually predicts about the effects of integrating the rich United States and poor global economies. Contrary to popular rhetoric, there is no puzzle to be explained: conventional economic theory argues that American workers will indeed be harmed by this integration—and their anxiety is well-founded.

The paper also provides rough empirical estimates of integration’s effect on American wages and inequality. Lastly, it uses some prominent forecasts about the future potential reach of service-sector offshoring to make a very rough guess as to the future wage implications of these forecasts.

The key findings indicate:
•  In 2006, the impact of trade flows increased the inequality of earnings by roughly 7%, with the resulting loss to a representative household (two earners making the median wage and working the average amount of hours each year) reaching more than $2,000. This amount rivals the entire annual federal income tax bill paid by this household.
•  Over the next 10-20 years, if some prominent forecasts of the reach of service-sector offshoring hold true, and, if current patterns of trade roughly characterize this offshoring, then globalization could essentially erase all wage gains made since 1979 by workers without a four-year college degree. [A couple decades ago, wives went to work to supplement the erosion of a one income family, that 2nd income is now rapidly eroding; over the next decade or so, lower class  and less fortunate children may again need to return to work ‘to help make ends meet’. Mr Larry]

[Before 1938 (when the US Child Labor Laws were enacted), a great many American children worked to help support their families. More recently, because of the loss of substantial numbers of good paying US production jobs, increasing energy prices as we decline from Peak Oil, the US household donsumer debt structure, and erosion of income from 2 income families–we may again see pictures comparable to the one above. When Amazon and Apple market shares tank and Walmart scales back it inventory and floor space, look for a line of ‘Made in USA’, young teens ‘rough and ready work dungarees’ at your favorite clothing retailler.]

Globalization’s real costs: not just unemployment or adjustment
Some readers may think these results are obvious. Nobody, for example, denies that, say, U.S. steel workers displaced by import competition face hardship from trade. These costs, however, are often thought to be small and manageable with temporary government assistance.

This is, however, a radical understating of globalization’s costs. Note that the above example did not take into account the adjustment cost of workers’ unemployment spell between jobs. These adjustment costs are, of course, real and should be of concern to policy makers, but they are not the first-order costs of globalization to American workers.

Rather, the losses identified above are permanent wage-loss suffered by labor in this simple economy. Empirical studies in the trade and wages debate have generally used production and non-supervisory labor as a proxy for labor in the United States, and non-production and supervisory labor as a proxy for professionals. Occasionally, workers with a 4-year college degree stand in for professionals, with the rest of the workforce standing in for labor.

Production workers constitute roughly 75% of the entire U.S. workforce, and workers without a four-year college degree constitute roughly 70% of this workforce. Hence, while gross gains may exceed gross losses in the U.S. as global integration proceeds, it is not necessarily the case that winners outnumber losers. Global integration, in short, has the potential to inflict permanent harm to most American workers, and the scale of this harm is much larger than commonly realized.

[Sooner, or later, we’ll return to the time honored, ‘old fashion way’ of competing – by production, work, scrimping to save, investing wisely and personal responisbility…Mr. Larry]

Leave a comment

Filed under Survival Manual, __2. Social Issues

Modern Competition: Part 2 of 3 (Wage Slaves)

(Survival Manual/ 2. Social Issues/ Death by 1000 cuts/ Modern Competition: Part 2 of 3)

Topics:
Part I
1.  College and future income
2.  Consumer debt

Part II
3.  Wage slaves

Part III
4.  Illegal (Mexican/Central American) immigration
5.  Free trade & globalization
.

3.  Wage Slaves

A.      What is a wage slave?
<http://www.whywork.org/about/faq/wageslave.html&gt;

So what exactly is a wage slave? It’s doubtful that you’d be exploring this web site if you didn’t have some idea at least, but for the sake of ease, we’ll clarify further.
Here are some brief and incomplete definitions from CLAWS members:
•  “Wage slavery is the state where you are unable to perceive choices and create courses of action different from the grind of the job.”
•  “Wage slave: A wage earner whose livelihood is completely dependent on the wages earned.”

The point here, of course, is that we don’t have a single agreed-upon definition of wage slavery. Many of us prefer to focus on wage slavery as a state of mind, while others prefer to focus on the external aspects of wage slavery such as the wage economy. But overall, we seem to sense something rotten at the core of what we’ve been taught about “making a living”, and that’s the place to begin our questioning.

Have you ever noticed how many of us seem to live “lives of quiet desperation”, as Henry David Thoreau puts it? We feel trapped by forces beyond our control, trapped in a mindless job, for the sake of money, status or recognition. We complain that we never seem to have the time for what’s really important to us, because our jobs take so much energy and focus that we hardly have anything left over. We plod along day to day; sometimes we even dread getting out of bed in the morning.

We see the futility of the standard, socially approved path in America. It goes something like this: Go to school, get good grades, so you can get a “good” job, make lots of money, get a mortgage and a car and a spouse, keep up with the Joneses, and be “successful”. We know it’s not the path for us; we want to define success for ourselves. But we don’t know how to forge a new path for ourselves, because, well, what would we do for money if we quit? How would we support ourselves? Sometimes there’s a glazed look in our eyes; it’s as if some part of us has died. We are just doing time, working hard and hoping for the next promotion, waiting for the day when we can throw off our shackles, quit our dull jobs, and finally live life. Everything gets put on hold until we have more time, or more money. Meanwhile, life is passing us by.

Perhaps you are one of these people. If so, CLAWS (Creating Livable Alternatives to Wage Slavery) was created for your benefit. We have news for you: You do not have to live your life that way. CLAWS is here to inspire you to greater fulfillment, and to help you figure out how to get out of the endless cycle of living paycheck to paycheck and feeling chained to a job you don’t care about.

We have other news, too: It won’t necessarily be the easiest thing you’ve ever done. You have a choice, but you may have to re-examine your way of thinking very thoroughly. The pull of the socially accepted way of doing things is amazingly strong, and trips up the best of us despite our good intentions. It takes a certain kind of independent thinker to be “job-free”. We use that term rather than “unemployed”, in an effort to convey to people that we’re proud, not ashamed, of not having regular jobs. We also make an important distinction between jobs and work. All of us do some kind of work, though not necessarily for monetary compensation.

Another thing you’ll need if you decide to rethink your beliefs about jobs and money is the willingness to challenge conventional wisdom. It will take perseverance, and a commitment to throw out the limiting beliefs you may have unwittingly adopted. This is not the path for everyone. If your priority is comfort or social approval, or if you’re the sort of person who doesn’t rock the boat, CLAWS probably won’t meet your needs.

If you embark on this path, it’s important to know what it will ask of you. It may require you to disassemble, dissect, and tear apart your old beliefs, let go of some mighty persistent and tempting illusions, and build a new foundation for your thinking, sometimes from scratch. Are you prepared to do this? If so, you’re in the right place.

Even if you have seen through the false sense of “security” a normal job offers you, and already questioned that approach to life, you may not really believe you can do it. You may still have questions about how to bridge the gap from the old way of life to a new one that you envision. That’s where we can help, dear reader. CLAWS would like to see you devote yourself to the life you’ve dreamed of, the life your heart desires. We don’t want to see you waste your precious days any longer. Life is short, and the time to pursue your dreams is NOW.

In the words of Norman Cousins:
“Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live.”
“The debt and work cycle is an ingenious tool of subjugation. Make people think they need all these things, then they must have a job, and they give up control of their lives. It’s as simple as that. We live in one of the most free countries in the world, but we fix it so we are not free at all

Larry Roth
“Capitalism only supports certain kinds of groups, the nuclear family for example, or ‘the people I know at my job’, because such groups are already self-alienated & hooked into the Work/Consume/Die structure.”

Hakim Bey
“Supposing we suddenly imagine a world in which nearly everybody is doing what they want. Then we don’t need to be paid in order to work and the whole issue of how money circulates, how we get things done, suddenly alters.”

Robert Theobald
When survival or mere subsistence is at stake, a society can focus only on the overwhelming needs of the moment, and questions of meaningful work and leisure are considered purely academic. But we believe that the world has enough wealth to move all of humanity above survival and subsistence.”
.
.
B.  Modern Day Slavery, or Debt Slavery
Saturday, January 3, 2009, by Patent Attorney Robert Platt Bell

http://livingstingy.blogspot.com/2009/01/modern-day-slavery-or-debt-slavery.html

When I discuss Modern Day Slavery, or Debt Slavery, some people freak out, or even say such talk is racist, or some such nonsense. In reality, Slavery has existed for millennia. In the old days of Leviticus and such, slaves were not necessarily Black, but merely folks, who, for one reason or another, found themselves indentured. Typically, invading armies would enslave foes, usually people they deemed to be of lesser intelligence and value.

It was only until the 18th Century that Slavery became associated as a Black-only thing. But the roots remained the same – a view by the slave-masters that they were superior to the enslaved. And even then, the enslavement of Africans was a follow-on to the practice of indentured servitude, which was promulgated in the New World. Once the settlers in the New World ran out of indentured servants, taking Africans as slaves seemed like a natural next step. Debt-slavery conditioned people to accept actual slavery – which is troubling, given the conditions in the world today.

Even today, slavery exists in the world, albeit in a much smaller scale. Oppressed people are coerced into slave-like conditions. The traffic in human misery continues, as women are forced into prostitution, or the poor are kept as virtual hostages as housekeepers and servants in some countries – sometimes even in the US!

But that is not what I am talking about here. While those types of modern-day slavery exist and are deplorable, they are not as common as what might be called Debt Slavery – the defacto condition of servitude that many in this country (and others) find themselves in as the result of economic conditions and consumer debt. While Debt Slavery is certainly not on the level of the traffic in human flesh, it can be debilitating and devastating to its victims. And since it is far, far more widespread, one could argue that Debt Slavery is a greater harm overall.

The conundrum of Debt Slavery is that most victims willing fall into it, through their own actions and by yielding to easily-offered temptation. And like traditional slavery, it disproportionally affects minorities, the poor, and the less educated. However, even white, middle-class folks can end up selling their souls to “the man”.

What is Debt Slavery?
In England in the 1700’s, one could literally fall into a real form of Debt Slavery. If one failed to pay the bills and went bankrupt, not only would you lose all your worldly possessions, one could be forced into the workhouse or jail (debtor’s prison) until the debt was considered “paid” or a prison sentence served. Like in antebellum slavery, children were often separated from their parents (as in Dickens’ Oliver Twist) and literally sold.

Reforms brought about in part by stories like Dickens’ have made bankruptcy less harsh. We no longer throw debtors into prison or take them to the workhouse. However, even a lavish prison is still a prison, and many folks in modern America find themselves in perpetual debt. If real slavery were legalized tomorrow, within a few years, a staggering proportion of Americans would end up as slaves, all because of the inability to control spending. People would literally sell themselves into bondage, all for a wall-screen TeeVee.

Debt Slavery might be defined as a condition of perpetual debt, which in turn forces a person to perpetually work in order to pay off this perpetual debt. It is a condition in which a large percentage of a person’s labor (one third or more) is devoted to servicing debt – most of which is payment of interest on debt. A person in Debt Slavery never gets ahead, since as soon as one debt is paid off, another is incurred. A person in Debt Slavery never owns anything, they only owe.

And while reforms since Dickens’ time have made the poorhouse and the debtor’s prison things of the past, recent “reforms” to bankruptcy laws have made it nearly impossible to get out from some debts, particularly student loan debts. The old days, where debts were “wiped clean” are largely past. And as a result, we have created a nation of perpetual debtors, who are forever trying to “work out” their past debts, never to get ahead.

How Do People Become Debt Slaves?
One of the most puzzling thing about Debt Slavery is that most, if not all, people who fall victim to this condition willingly sign up for it. In exchange for shiny consumer goods (cars, boats, televisions, clothes, etc.) they sign their lives away, so that they can have it all “now” rather than later. Often this means paying two, three, or four times as much for an article than its actual retail price.

So, for example, a person buys a brand new car, signing up for three or four years of car payments. With interest, they easily pay 1-1/2 times the retail price of the car. Compared to the same car purchased used, they pay double the value of the car. Throw in the added cost of collision insurance over the life of the loan, and (for young people in particular) they can end up paying four or five times the value of the car.

They signed up for this to satisfy the need of the ego to have something new and shiny – and because of weakness – the inability to say “no” to a persuasive salesman. It also is a result of ignorance, or lack of experience or training. Car salesmen and dealers are not going to point out the economic folly of such a transaction. And yet the victim sees all his peers doing the same thing, so he thinks, “This must be an OK deal, right?” Wrong, of course.

Once the process starts, it worsens. Paying too much for one item, like a car, leaves the victim with less money to spend on other essentials, such as car maintenance. When the car is finally “paid for” (or even before) it is in such bad shape that the victim goes back to the dealer to “trade in” – often on onerous terms. Since the car may be worth less than the balance of the loan, sometimes the “negative equity” is folded into a new loan. As the creditworthiness of a Debt Slave is always suspect, and the balance on the loan exceeds the value of the new car, the terms of the loan (interest rate) are staggering.

But the debt slave, seeing only a monthly payment and a shiny new car, signs the papers and kids themselves they are “ahead” of their neighbor who owns and older, paid-for car.
The car scenario is only one major example, and an example of how debt can snowball out of control. Granted, most people don’t end up being scammed as badly as in my example above. But that example is based on the real-world experiences of a friend of mine, so I can say that it does happen.

How Do People Remain Debt Slaves?
Once people get into Debt Slavery, it is very, very difficult to get out. Institutions cater to the Debt Slave and continually entice them to staying in its grasp. Once a credit rating is shot, only the worst sort of financing is available to the Debt Slave – interest rates of 20-30% or more.

Catering to the “I have to have it NOW” mentality, enterprises such as Rent-To-Own furniture and appliances sell consumer goods to the Debt Slave for 2-3 times their real market value. A recent trend and extension of this concept is the Rent-To-Own Rims (car wheels) that enslave their victims in exchange for what is literally bright shiny and cheaply made trinkets. The Manhattan Indians were tricked in a similar manner, swapping the Island of Manhattan for $24 worth of beads and trinkets. In the cities today, young men do the same thing for cheap Korean-made “bling” rims.

Of course, once the process starts, the Debt Slave is short of money. Financing companies fill in the gap by providing payday loans, often at interest rates of 300% or more. Each payday loan is folded over into another loan, and never paid off. Tom Wolfe wrote about this practice back in the 1930’s in Look Homeward Angel, in which an unscrupulous local lawyer would loan $20 to the poor, having them pay it back in $1 weekly installments perpetually – to cover only the interest. Once trapped like this, the victims never paid the loan back. In over 70 years, not much has changed.

Pawn Shops, Car Title Loan shops, and other enterprises separate the Debt Slave from the meager consumer goods that they have managed to pay off. For pennies on the dollar, they sell off what little they have in exchange for getting money NOW.
Even if the Debt Slave manages to get ahead somewhat in payments, or gets a raise or promotion, they often fall back into slavery by buying yet another new car or purchase.

Credit Cards merit special mention. Credit Card companies have been very aggressive in recruiting new customers, oftentimes customers they know cannot pay off large debts. They offer large credit lines, knowing that the victims will indulge themselves with purchases of food, clothing, and other consumer items. Once they reach their limit, they will be charged over-limit fees and the like. Since the Debt Slave cannot manage their finances, they may pay a card late, which in turn jacks the interest rates to 20-30% or more, making paying off the debt nearly impossible. And the Credit Card companies have successfully lobbied to pass new laws limiting a debtor’s rights in bankruptcy. The one weapon that debtors had in the past has been severely blunted.

Why Do People Remain Debt Slaves?
Peer Pressure is one reason many people remain in Debt Slavery. By this I do not mean the type of pressure to conform faced by high school students. Rather, I mean the tendency of human beings to judge their own actions by the actions of others. If a suburbanite sees that his neighbor is in debt, but has a new car and other desirable consumer goods, then he/she thinks that such indebtedness is a “normal” part of modern life.

Unfortunately, we, as humans, tend to judge our actions this way – by what our peers are doing. And this negative tendency can explain some of the most egregious human behavior. If all your neighbors join the Nazi party, then it certainly doesn’t seem like such a bad thing. Germans were not being particularly evil, they were just being particularly human. The scary lesson here is that any behavior can be adopted on a mass-scale, once people view it as a “norm”.

Or take cigarette smoking – and the campaigns against it. When everyone smoked, the idea of lighting dozens of small, hand-held fires in an aircraft surrounded by aviation fuel seemed “normal”. Today, the “norm” is to be anti-smoking, so smokers can be ostracized. Homophobia worked the same way. Today, homosexuality is accepted as part of the “norm”, but in the not-too-distant past, it was not. What is viewed as a “norm” in society can change, and change very rapidly.

For this reason, the Debt Slavery industry does not want to change what is perceived as normative. Here in Georgia, for example, laws were passed outlawing payday loans. The payday loan industry has fought this, arguing that they are a legitimate business, and that in certain instances, people need such loans to get by – and that the government should not interfere in what is, essentially, a private transaction. Usury laws and the like were also repealed on similar grounds.

The Debt Industry advertises heavily. You probably know the catch-phrases and jingles of most major credit card companies (“What’s in YOUR wallet?”). Payday loan places, Rent-to-Own furniture stores, and the like, all heavily advertise on Radio and TeeVee. Unscrupulous home refinancing deals also advertise heavily, offering the Debt Slave a “way out” – but one paved with toxic ARMS, junk fees, and loan points.

For many people, however, the TeeVee is the source of their normative cues. Most Americans watch 6-8 hours a day, believe it or not. They wake up to the TeeVee, watch it at a restaurant during lunch, turn it on after work, and shut it off before they go to bed. The TeeVee is the ultimate propaganda machine, and if you keep watching it, you will end up brainwashed, no matter what. The best thing to do, is turn it off entirely.

So long as Debt Slavery can be viewed as a “norm,” it will continue. The best thing you can do is stop taking your normative cues from television and your dimwitted neighbors, and learn to think for yourself.

One interesting aspect of Debt Slavery is that on many blog sites and other discussion boards, you will see postings from people who actually defend bad financial decisions that lead to Debt Slavery. While some of these postings are no doubt shilling from the debt industry, others appear to be from genuine individuals who want to self justify their own bad behavior, by convincing themselves that leasing a brand new car every three years or running up debt on an ” airline miles” card really isn’t such a bad thing after all.

So Why is Debt Slavery a Bad Thing?
Some might argue that Debt Slavery affects only its victims. And by being in debt, the victims of Debt Slavery have a motivation to go to work every day, and thus it encourages productivity from the masses. Debt Slavery results in a massive transfer of wealth from the people in our society who can afford it least, to a small minority of people and institutions who need it least.

But just as secondhand smoke affects non-smokers, Debt Slavery harms society as a whole, not just its immediate victims. Debt Slavery creates a permanent underclass in our society, an underclass that feels it has been lied to and taken advantage of. The Debt Slave tends to believe, with good reason, that the system is fixed and the game is rigged – that there is no legitimate way to win.

And with ” reforms” in bankruptcy laws, the debt industry has been emboldened to lend money more and more to people they know in advance cannot pay it back. They count on “workouts” and other means of getting their money back, plus copious interest payments. By the time most Debt Slaves think about bankruptcy, they have paid for their credit card purchases at least twice over, with interest charges. Any workout money is a pure bonus for the debt industry. Compare this to the old days, when banks and credit card companies were reluctant to loan money to people they knew would default – as there was a real risk of not being paid back!

Creating a permanent disgruntled underclass degrades our entire society, not just the underclass it affects. Once a person comes to believe, either from personal experience or by watching the experiences of others, that they cannot get ahead legitimately, then criminal activity seems all the more legitimate. The next time you are robbed or your car stolen, ask yourself if the motivation of the robber or thief was pure laziness or merely a sound economic decision based on the perceived choices available to them.
The wealthy have far more to lose by creating a permanent underclass than does the underclass itself.

How do You Avoid Debt Slavery?
The key here is to redefine your normative cues. This can be difficult in a city or suburb, or even in the country (Many a farmer has gone bankrupt buying the latest and largest tractor, just because his neighbor has one). Bucking the norm will open you up to ridicule and abuse. But life at the center of the herd is never the richest. Most of the grazing grass at the center of the herd has been eaten down, trampled and pooped upon. The edge of the herd is dangerous, to be sure, but that’s where the prime grazing is.

      If you buy a second hand car and then keep it for 10 years, you can be sure that a shallow neighbor will rib you about having an “old car”. This is to be expected, particularly if the neighbor has a shiny new car and a string of car payments (or worse, lease payments). You are challenging their norm, and it scares them. They want to reassure themselves that being in debt is good, and that you are the one who is wrong.

In other cultures, it may be different cues. In Gay communities in major cities, many young men bankrupt themselves trying to appease a mythical “norm” which involves spending enormous amounts of money (all on credit) on clothes, bars, and oftentimes, drugs. Those who challenge such norms will be ridiculed for not having “stylish” clothes and $200 haircuts.

The list goes on and on. Regardless of whether you live on a 1,000 acre farm, an Army barracks, a tract home, or a school dorm, you will be pressured to get involved in many forms of self-destructive economic behavior. It takes strength and resolve to fight these trends and have your own ideas – and follow through with them. Once you have that resolve the rest is easy.

The procedural techniques of what you need to do to get out of debt and stay out of debt are well-known and obvious, and can be summed up in one simple statement: spend less than you make. That is not the hard part. Like a diet, the hard part is willpower.

It is also a good idea to understand the politics of Debt Slavery. Payday loan operators spend a lot of money supporting candidates who want preserve their line of work. Credit Card companies pay lobbyists millions of dollars to get Congressmen to pass laws in their favor. If you vote for such politicians based on their position on “social issues,” for example, but fail to recognize the real dangers to yourself and society, then it is you, not the slave-masters, who are to blame.

Debt Slavery is deadly serious, and nothing to take lightly. And anyone can fall victim to it, without thinking. If you follow the herd and take your cues from the television, chances are you are on your way to becoming a debt slave, if you are not already one.

“Money is the new form of slavery” - Leo Tolstoy 1900 AD
End of part 2 of 3.

Continued in Survival Manual/ 2. Social Issues/ Death by 1000 cuts/ Modern Competition: Part 3 of 3.

Leave a comment

Filed under Survival Manual, __2. Social Issues

Modern Competition: Part 1 of 3 (College vs. Income & Consumer Debt)

(Survival Manual/ 2. Social Issues/ Death by 1000 cuts/ Modern Competition: Part 1 of 3)

Topics:
Part I
1.  College and future income
2.  Consumer debt

Part II
3.  Wage slaves

Part III
4.  Illegal (Mexican) immigration
5.  Free trade & globalization
.

1.  College and future income

Will a College Education be Worth the Investment in the Future?
November 22, 2010, econfuture
<http://econfuture.wordpress.com/2010/11/22/will-a-college-education-be-worth-the-investment-in-the-future/&gt;

Yves Smith at Naked Capitalism has a good post on the declining economic value of college, and the looming danger of massive student loan defaults. Shockingly, a full 50% of college graduates are winding up underemployed:

Take note: half the recently-minted college grads are in jobs that do not require a college degree.

Now if these graduates were going to college for the mere love of learning, and didn’t mind working at Home Depot because they could work on a novel in their garret, this picture might not be quite as terrible as it looks. But I sincerely doubt that anyone in the US goes to college to become a working class intellectual.

But the economic (as opposed to social and personal) value of higher education is exaggerated. The widely-touted College Board claim that lifetime earnings for college grad outpace those of mere high school grads by $800,000 does not stand up to scrutiny. The author of the 2007 study which the College Board relied upon disclaims that estimate and says $450,000 is a better figure. Mark Schneider, a vice president of the American Institutes for Research, who used actual earnings data of graduates ten years after college, and allowed for other factors such as taxes, pegged the difference at $280,000.

And these estimates are averages. Students who are drawn to fields such as architecture, which require advanced education, but are not terribly well paid, will fare less well.

In addition, the value of a degree is premised as much on its scarcity and credentialing value as it is on actual gains in skills. If college educations go from a sign of achievement to a mere social norm, do they really provide that much income benefit to the recipient? James Galbraith, in The Predator State, argued that encouraging more people to get college degrees actually lowered its value, but also served the useful social function of delaying entry into the job market, and hence reducing employment pressures.

But students and their parents have been sold on the value of education as an investment, and it isn’t hard to see why. As higher education costs have skyrocketed, more and more students need to borrow to finance their schooling. The Economist gives an overview:

“For decades, college fees have risen faster than Americans’ ability to pay them. Median household income has grown by a factor of 6.5 in the past 40 years, but the cost of attending a state college has increased by a factor of 15 for in-state students and 24 for out-of-state students. The cost of attending a private college has increased by a factor of more than 13 (a year in the Ivy League will set you back $38,000, excluding bed and board). Academic inflation makes most other kinds look modest by comparison.’

In the stone ages of my youth, many middle class parents could afford to send their kids to Ivy League schools. A year at Harvard, with room and board, is now over $50,000, on a par with median household income.

And perversely, student loans are the only form of consumer debt that is virtually impossible to discharge in bankruptcy.

Thanks to a provision the 2005 Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act signed into law by then President George W. Bush, the current law only allows the discharge of private student loans in bankruptcy after a showing of “undue hardship,” the same requirement that is made for federal or non-profit backed student loans. Undue hardship requires a separate showing to a bankruptcy judge proving, in essence, that the borrower would never be able to pay off the loan. This is an extremely difficult legal standard to meet.

New graduates are, or at least should be, very attractive to employers. Someone who can’t find a good job right out of school will face even higher hurdles down the road. Paul and Wilson describe how high unemployment rates for young people represent a an economic and ultimately a social problem:

Recent college graduates, those in the labor force with the freshest batch of knowledge and skills, are currently underwater and sinking fast with unprecedented student loan and personal debt. Average student debt for the class of 2008 was $23,200, an increase over four years of about 25%, meaning that students are knee deep in negative equity between their educational investment and actual earnings.

Between inflated student debt and the lack of available jobs for qualified graduates, students are defaulting at an all time high level of 7.2%. From 2008 to 2009, student debt defaults jumped about 30% to $50.8 billion. This earning-to-debt gap not only hurts lending institutions, but also may affect students’ future abilities to borrow – a significant hurdle in our credit driven economy.

[Above, <http://valutarian.blogspot.com/2010/02/are-college-degrees-bubble-asset.html> the appalling graph, Earnings of Young College Grads vs college Costs.]

If student debt and job stagnation continue, younger workers will face real structural unemployment (as opposed to the fake kind that had been suspected by some economists, but was recently debunked by the San Francisco Fed). The more time these young workers spend unemployed and underemployed, the greater chance for future structural unemployment due to deteriorating human capital.

High debt, high defaults, and low family earnings will prevent many students from finishing college at all. High unemployment for those who do manage to graduate with a degree will create barriers for those unable to start their careers.

This is a slow motion train wreck. Optimistic estimates of economic recovery project unemployment reverting to pre-bust norms by 2015; more realistic forecasts put it at years later. And the more students drop out of college, the worse job market pressures become.

At the end of their piece, Paul and Wilson make a persuasive case for action:
“In order to solve future structural problems in the United States and ensure a future for the sandwich generation, fiscal policy focused on educational and job growth is crucial. While deficit hawks may squawk about the costs, the burden of repayment is on younger people. Without adequate education and careers for students, we will never be able to balance the budget. In the long run, it makes more fiscal sense to create jobs and collect tax revenue than to rely on a model that merely waits for the private sector to invest.”

But the “long run” and “fiscal sense” don’t count for much in deficit debates. Sadly, the very real plight of this cohort is certain to be ignored unless they can find a way to make their needs heard.

Unfortunately, I think there is every reason to believe that the problem will get worse. Technology will increasingly be leveraged to automate the knowledge worker jobs that are often taken by new college graduates, and this is likely to hit especially hard at the entry-level.

I also think the future impact of offshoring is underestimated. We cannot escape the reality that intellectual capability within the population is subject to a normal distribution. This implies that, collectively, India and China have more smart people…than the United States has people. In the future, technology will make it even easier for the millions of people on the right flank of Asia’s bell curve to compete directly with Americans for knowledge-based jobs.

Here is a section from The Lights in the Tunnel in which I discuss the future of college education:
“Nearly everyone agrees that a college degree is generally a ticket to a brighter future. In the United States in 2006, the average worker with a bachelor’s degree earned $56,788, while the average high school graduate earned a little more than half this amount, or $31,071. Workers with graduate or professional degrees earned a still higher average salary of $82,320. While the primary motive for the majority of individuals to pursue advanced education is almost certainly economic, we would all agree that education also conveys many other benefits both to the individual and to society as a whole. A person with more education seems likely to enjoy a generally richer existence, to have an interest in a greater variety of issues and is perhaps also more likely to be focused on continuing personal and professional growth. A more educated society is generally a more civil society with a lower crime rate.” An educated person is likely to hang out in the library—rather than on street corners.

The unfortunate reality, however, is that the college dream is likely at some point to collide with the trends in offshoring and automation that we have been discussing in this chapter. The fact is that college graduates very often become knowledge workers. As we have seen, these jobs—and in particular more routine or entry level jobs—are at very high risk. The danger is that as these trends accelerate, a college degree will be seen increasingly not as a ticket to a prosperous future, but as a ticket to a job that will very likely vaporize. At some point in the future, the high cost of a college education, together with diminishing prospects for college graduates, is likely to begin having a negative impact on college enrollment. This will be especially true of students coming from more modest backgrounds, but it will have impact at all levels of society.

This is, obviously, a very unconventional view. Most economists and others who study such trends would probably strongly argue exactly the opposite case: that in the future, a college degree will be increasingly valuable and there will be strong demand for well-educated workers.

This is essentially the “skill premium” argument—the idea that technology is creating jobs for highly skilled workers even as it destroys opportunities for the unskilled. I think the evidence clearly shows that this has indeed been the case over the past couple of decades, but I do not think it can continue indefinitely. The reason is simple: machines and computers are advancing in capability and will increasingly invade the realm of the highly educated. We’ll likely see evidence of this at some point in the form of diminished opportunity and unemployment among recent graduates and also among older college-educated workers who lose jobs and are unable to find comparable positions.

We may not see an actual closing of the gap in average pay for college v. non-college graduates because opportunities for workers of all skill levels are likely to be in decline. I am not suggesting that high school graduates who would have otherwise gone to college will chose to remain completely unskilled, but I do think there is likely to be a migration toward relatively skilled blue collar jobs if there is a perception that these occupations offer more security.

As new high school graduates begin to shy away from a course leading to knowledge worker jobs, they will increasingly turn to the trades. As we have seen, jobs for people like auto mechanics, truck drivers, plumbers and so forth are among the most difficult to automate. The result may well be intense competition for these relatively “safe” jobs. As high school graduates who might previously have been college-bound compete instead for trade jobs, they will, of course, end up displacing less academically inclined people who may have been a better fit for those jobs. That will leave even fewer options for a large number of workers.

We see evidence of this trend already in the daily news. Newspapers routinely report that people are specifically seeking jobs that can’t be off shored. Much is made of new “green collar jobs that cannot be outsourced.” While this is certainly a desirable development, we have to acknowledge that the bulk of these jobs are going to involve installing solar panels, wind turbines and so forth. They are trade jobs; not jobs for college graduates.

The cost to society of such a turn away from education would be enormous. It would damage the hopes, dreams and expectations of our children and potentially rob them of things that we ourselves have come to take for granted. Those workers whose prospects were diminished by a new influx of more “book smart” competitors would become even more dispirited and more likely to turn to crime or other undesirable alternatives. This hash new reality would fall most heavily on people in disadvantaged sectors of the population. Finally, and perhaps most chillingly, a trend away from college would rob us of talent we may well need in the future.

2.  Consumer Debt

 A.  Consumer Debt Statistics
2006, Money-zine.com
<http://www.money-zine.com/Financial-Planning/Debt-Consolidation/Consumer-Debt-Statistics/&gt;

The latest statistics from the Federal Reserve indicate that the total amount of consumer debt outstanding remained fairly steady in 2010. The total amount of consumer debt in the United States stands at nearly $2.4 trillion. Based on the 2010 Census statistics, that works out to be nearly $7,800 in debt for every man, woman and child that lives here in the U.S.

If you’re saying to yourself – that that statistic doesn’t seem quite so bad – keep this in mind: We’re talking about consumer credit, which does not include debt secured by real estate. If you thought that number has debt associated with mortgages, it doesn’t.

Consumer Credit Breakdown
So just how does that debt breakdown in terms of credit cards or the purchase of a new automobile? Roughly 33% of all consumer debt, as of October 2010, is what is termed revolving credit. This is credit that is repeatedly available as periodic repayments are made to lenders. The most common type of revolving credit would be credis card debt.

The other 67% of that debt is derived from loans that are not revolving in nature. This type of debt would include automobile loans, student loans, as well as loans on boats, trailers, or even vacations. In fact, these statistics also tell us that the average new car loan is over $27,600, and the loan to value ratio is 83%. That means new car buyers are using down payments that are 17% of the car’s purchase price.

Credit Card Debt
According to information gathered by the US Census bureau, there were approximately 173 million credit card holders in the United States in 2006, and that number was projected to grow to 181 million Americans by the end of 2010. These same Americans own approximately 1.5 billion cards, an average of nearly nine credit cards issued per credit card holder.

In addition, Americans charged approximately $1,950 billion to their credit cards in 2006. That’s just over $11,300 in charges per cardholder. This information includes all credit card types such as bank cards, phone cards, as well as credit cards issued by oil companies and retail stores.

This data also tells us that Americans carried approximately $886 billion in credit card debt, and that number is expected to grow to a projected $1,177 billion by the end of 2010. This works out to over $5,100 in credit card debt per cardholder (not household) and that number is expected to increase to over $6,500 by the end of 2010.

[The above chart shows credit card debt on a per-household basis,compared to and dwarfing median household income growth since 1980.]

Bankruptcy and Consumer Debt
In January 2008, the American Bankers Association reported credit card accounts that were 30 or more days past due dipped slightly to 4.18% in the fourth quarter of 2007. That’s good news because it means more consumers are paying their bills on time.

But even with this decline in late payments, credit card delinquencies were at the third highest level on record. To James Chessen, ABA’s chief economist, that can signal financial distress, and he attributes this distress to the rise in gasoline prices as well as rising interest rates.

In January 2010, Fitch Ratings reported the number of cardholders 60 or more days late on payments stood at 4.50%. Cardholders that were 30 days late declined to 5.72%. Both of these values are significantly higher than reported by the ABA back in 2008.

Bankruptcy Filings
Despite the Fed’s feelings about consumer credit, the bankruptsy law changes that were instituted in the fall of 2005 resulted in a rush of indebted consumers to file for bankruptsy. At that time, personal bankruptcy filings rose to their highest levels on record, with estimates in excess of 2 million filings.

The trend in stagnating or falling real wages has been happening since the 1970s.
The chart below shows household debt as a percentage of GDP. Once wages began to stagnate, households turned to borrowing to make up the difference. You can also clearly see that the debt-fueled housing boom begin around 2001. Consumer spending makes up more than 70 percent of the economy, and it usually drives growth during economic recoveries.  Households are now beginning the painful process of deleveraging by cutting back on spending and paying down their debt.

.
What If the Consumer Economy Never Comes Back?
http://www.quizzle.com/blog/2011/10/what-if-the-consumer-economy-never-comes-back/ According to a recent article in the New York Times, there is no “going back to normal.” This is the new “normal.” America’s economy was propelled for almost 30 years by consumer spending, consumer credit, and home equity debt, and the driving forces that made this situation possible are no longer in play.

Consider these sobering facts from the article:
•  American consumers are on track to buy 28 percent fewer cars in 2011 than in 2001.
•  Sales of ovens and stoves are at their lowest level since 1992.
•  Americans’ “discretionary service spending” (i.e. restaurant meals, entertainment, education, insurance and other categories) is own 7 percent – more than any other time in history.
•  Walmart’s CFO has mentioned that Walmart customers are buying smaller packages at the end of the month – a sign that these families are literally running out of money each month.
•  The U.S. unemployment rate has risen 5 percentage points in the past four years.
.

B.  Personal debt and peak oil
Published Feb 1 2005 by <www.powerswitch.org.uk, Archived Feb 1 2005 by Clive Smith
http://www.energybulletin.net/node/4200> (from England, what happened there soon happens in the USA)

National identity cards, a national road toll system that will charge car users large sums of money for driving at peak times by 2014. The government has already given warning that the current pension system, is not in the long term affordable. In the summer of 2004 the UK government announced that it was prudent that people should put three weeks worth of food aside for emergencies (the BBC ran several pieces on this), mainly terrorist attack. Along with plans to base the army at food depots during the next fuel strike and you begin to understand that we have all quietly been put on notice.
.
[Note: The USA Gov’t. has increased the recommended amount of household emergency food storage from 72 hours (3 days) to 5 days–as opposed to the UK’s 21 days. Who do you suppose is the most in error. It occassionally takes 3 days just to enter a damaged area, mush less beging to service the needs of the surviving residents. Mr. Larry]

For the majority of us, our standard of living is better than it has ever been. You just have to look around to see all this newfound wealth – although with the UK consumer debt having topped the £1 trillion mark last summer (including mortgage debt), you begin to wonder. Many homeowners discovered in the last few years that their homes are worth so much more than they paid for them, so they have borrowed extra, to finance home improvements or a new car and holidays. This new wealth is in reality huge debt running on borrowed time.

Most of our recent increased personal wealth, seen as new cars, home improvements, bigger homes, two holidays a year and expensive electrical goods, has been funded by personal borrowing. One of the most popular forms of borrowing has been to extend mortgages, as the UK has over the past few years seen a huge housing boom. Increased borrowing on a mortgage is the most expensive form of borrowing. The interest is paid over a very long period and unfortunately the housing bubble will be the first to burst in an economic down turn, leaving many people out in the cold so to speak.

You are probably thinking this is all very interesting and you have probably heard some of it before, “so what has this got to do with me?”

Since we have done nothing to prepare for the coming oil shocks, we are completely reliant on increasing our supply of oil to power all of our transport needs, our food production, our manufacturing of goods and 40% of our total energy needs. With an economy that is based on perpetual growth, this is very bad news. As a lack of surplus energy, means a lack of economic growth.[As it becomes more difficult to service debt, debt ceilings will be lowered for many and the lines of credit cut off for most. Mr. Larry]

It is generally given in simple terms, that a shrinking oil supply will mean a recession and high prices for all goods. In a recession, people tend to lose their jobs and spend less money. Thus the spending of less money – a consumer downturn – makes the spiral even worse and more people lose their jobs.

I had a conversation with a friend who works in the airline business the other day. He has known about the basics of peak oil for a while and could see the price of oil continuing to rise into the future. He suggested that as the price of crude oil increases and thus the price of holidays and flights, people would just pay more as they wouldn’t stop travelling to go on holiday.

This idea is very common, put completely incorrect. In the short term this might happen. Although as many people lose their jobs and there is less money around as the economy enters into a crisis, the majority of us will not be going on holidays abroad whatever the cost. Many companies will go to the wall. Not only will there be less money available, but also less goods. It’s a spiraling down effect that will continue, even if we manage to find a miracle that can replace oil, for many years.

If I could offer you three pieces of advice that would make your life easier in the future, it would be the following;
a) Get out of debt, b) Reduce your debt base, c) Pay off your debts.

The future is likely going to be tough. Many changes will happen and we will have to change our very ideals and ways we live. Governments have known about this for years, but the changes that are needed to secure our futures are unpopular and not vote winners. So nothing will be done, until it becomes complete obvious to all that we really are in trouble and most of our beliefs about our lives and prosperity come crashing down around us.

If you are up to your eyes in debt, with a mortgage, loan(s) and credit card(s), what will happen when you lose your job or are forced to take a job paying substantially less than you need to service these debts? “Your house is at risk, if you are unable to keep up the repayments on it”. This well-known phrase should give you an idea of what is likely to come. The economic downturn that brought on the last housing market crash in the early 90s was small, compared to the possible energy crisis ahead. Many people lost their homes and were left with huge debts. The current housing boom has taken personal debt to new highs and left many families very vulnerable.

I can’t stress the importance of this. Having excessive debt is going to make things very difficult. Although, I do think it is important to have some sort of balance, between this and things that you want to do in your life. What I mean by this is, if you have always wanted to travel the Far East or back pack round the world, now is the time to do it. It’s a balancing act, between getting your life in order and enjoying the party, whilst we are still living through it.

Try to clear loans and credit cards and reduce your mortgage. This is far more important in the long term to your well being, than buying a new car (or the latest plasma screen, dishwasher etc), when a cheaper second hand model is adequate. You could also sell expensive assets to help pay off your debts or mortgage quicker, i.e. downgrade from a prestige car to a more economical cheaper model. You might decide that this is the right time to sell your house/flat in London and move to a house in the country or a small town, thus reducing your mortgage.
.

C.  Eight Things You Need to Know About the Shaky U.S. Economy
by Larry Saltzman and Linda Buzzell-Saltzman
<http://www.forthefuture.org/assets/articles/col_shaky_econ.htm&gt;

On the macro level, we may be concerned about the negative impacts of globalization and so-called “free trade.” We may also be uncomfortable with the kind of planet-destroying capitalism that has sprung up under the giant international corporations. But there is more – much more – we need to understand about how economics is impacting our personal and collective lives and the health of our planet.

The economic consequences of globalization and late stage hyper-capitalism are reaching a crisis point that will be felt by most of us in the next few years “up close and personal” – probably even before we feel the immediate results of peak oil or global warming. Even if we are doing everything we can to live a low-impact, sustainable lifestyle, we need to understand what’s happening in the U.S. and world economies.

The Big Picture
We have lived most of our lives in a growth economy, and our society has been getting rich off the consumption of cheap fossil fuel. That “free ride” up to Peak Oil and along the gradually declining top of the curve, is just about over, while a number of disturbing economic trends are appearing that spell big trouble for oil-dependent economies and for the average U.S. citizen. The era of endless “economic growth” is coming to an end. The Energy Descent economy has begun.

So let’s examine eight worrisome economic trends. They are interconnected and when stirred together create a nasty brew…

_1.  Private Debt
“Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.” – Charles Dickens, “David Copperfield”

America has forgotten Charles Dickens’ famous words of wisdom. We are collectively trying to buy happiness by going on the greatest credit binge in the history of humanity.

Here are a few of the shocking facts:
•  The Federal Reserve reports that Americans collectively owe $2,164 trillion, of which $804 billion is credit-card or other revolving debt. By 2001, Americans were paying $50 billion a year in finance charges to service their debt and that number has since climbed higher. The average American owes $8,562 on their credit card(s) and will need ten years to pay that amount off at the minimum payment. At that point, they will have paid out over $16,000 or almost double the amount they originally borrowed.
•  These levels of personal debt are virtually enslaving Americans, forcing many of us to work harder and harder, for longer hours, at often meaningless corporate jobs in order to pay off our obligations. And bankruptcy laws have recently been hardened to make it even more difficult to escape the impact of serious personal debt, often caused by huge medical bills as well as our own intemperance.

_2. The Real Estate Bubble
Thanks to low interest rates, Americans have been on a real estate binge, buying any property at any imaginable price in the belief that real estate will appreciate forever. Interest-only loans, variable interest loans, balloon payments and low- or no-down payments have become the norm in the usually conservative world of home loans. The result is that as interest rates continue their inevitable ride upwards, many recent home buyers are going to see their home payments rise beyond their ability to pay. And as home prices begin to fall, and perhaps collapse, some home owners are going to experience negative amortization. That means that every month, instead of the equity on your home increasing, it will decrease and the total amount you owe will increase.

As real estate prices soften, which is already happening on the South Coast and elsewhere, foreclosures may rise as people go “upside down” on their loans, owing more on their mortgage than their properties are currently worth. Banks, stuck with unwanted properties, may begin to sell them at fire-sale prices, further depressing the price of real estate.

 Any fall in real estate values is especially worrisome as some Americans have been using their home equity as a kind of last-resort personal bank, taking out second mortgages to pay off credit card balances, do home remodels, buy cars or take expensive vacations. Others have used their equity to pay monthly or extraordinary bills, masking the fact that it’s getting harder and harder for many Americans to retain a middle class lifestyle in the era of outsourced jobs and flattened incomes.

_3. Our Savings Rate
The citizens of the United States can now boast having a negative savings rate. We remove more money every month from our collective piggy banks than we put in. The average baby boomer will retire with a net worth of $23,000. The parents of baby boomers left their children far better off than the baby boomers are going to leave their children. Perhaps we can partly blame boomers’ extravagance, consumerism and sense of entitlement. But we also have to look at changes in the U.S. economy that have allowed those at the top to earn more and more while paying less and less taxes, while the middle and working classes are being squeezed with job losses and the export of much of our manufacturing.

_4.  The Bond Bubble
This is a little more obscure problem, but worth understanding. As interest rates have been increasing on short term debt, the interest rates on long term debt have remained stubbornly low — probably because of foreign investment in U.S. Treasuries and the fact that U.S. currency has been until recently the preferred currency to accept payment in. Recently a 90-day Treasury bill paid approximately the same interest rate as a ten-year bond. As interest rates keep rising, the value of bonds may plummet, causing many people to lose a lot of money in supposedly safe and secure U.S. Treasury Bonds.

Bonds are confusing to most people. High interest rates mean that the price of existing lower-yielding bonds falls. Why buy an existing bond paying 5% when you can get a new bond paying 6%? Much of this U.S. debt is of course held by foreign countries, most notably China. If foreign countries ever panic and begin dumping U.S. Treasuries, we will see interest rates rise dramatically and we will be very lucky to escape a full blown depression.

_5. Government Debt
Whatever happened to old fashioned conservative fiscal responsibility? Thanks to George Bush and his imbecilic economic policies, we have now become the nation with both the largest personal debt and the largest government debt. Our military policies are hugely expensive as well as immoral and stupid. And as the effects of Peak Oil and Energy Descent begin to be felt, we will have little wealth available to invest in new solutions.

If we are lucky enough to elect one of the hapless Democratic candidates for President and this person turns out to be a Franklin Roosevelt disguised as a centrist Democrat, he or she will have none of the maneuvering room, that Roosevelt had, to get us out of the economic depression that we may face in the not too distant future. Roosevelt was able to keep the much smaller federal budget of that era in balance while spending on programs to jump start the economy. Today’s Bush economics will leave a great deal of our federal budget servicing the debt the fiscally irresponsible Republicans have run up.

_6. Inflation and Higher Prices
By lowering interest rates to practically zero to encourage false and unsustainable economic growth, the Federal Reserve under recently-retired Chairman Alan Greenspan set the stage for inflationary pressure in the economy. Virtually non-existent interest rates not only fueled the current real estate bubble but made borrowing in general too cheap and easy. This conned millions of Americans into a borrowing binge that has left us deep in debt to the banking industry. If we cannot pay those debts, the banks themselves may also falter.

_7.  Loss of True Productivity
What does America actually produce these days? Our financial services sector is now far larger than our manufacturing base. In other words, the business of America is moving money around. And what happens to this truly unproductive economy when the shaky American dollar falters or exorbitant fossil fuel prices make it impossible to import what we need?

_8.  The Shaky U.S. Dollar
A currency has to be based on something of true value. But the U.S. dollar is increasingly dependent on its status as the world’s default currency rather than the underlying worth of America’s productivity. So what would happen if oil producers, for example, decide they’d rather be paid in Euros than dollars?

Add it all up…

So what do these eight interconnected trends add up to? An unsustainable situation, a house of cards waiting for a tiny breeze – another spike in oil prices caused by a natural or terrorist supply glitch, a sneeze from our major creditor: China, a major oil producer requesting payment in Euros, another bad hurricane season – to start the downward cascade.

How You Can Survive and Thrive in Spite of these Trends
The solutions at the individual level are clear:
•  Stay out of debt, and if you are in debt get out ASAP. If you don’t pay your credit cards off in full every month, get rid of them and use a debit card.
Even if you aren’t in credit-card debt, consider getting rid of your cards anyway as a political act. Credit cards have tricked and deluded Americans into feeling richer than we actually are. They start arriving in the mail while we are in college so we get hooked young. Then these plastic handcuffs enslave many of us, creating an illusion of wealth and disguising the fact that our salaries have stagnated and fallen. This has benefited politicians and banks, not ordinary people. Credit cards lock us into the world of materialism, consumerism and greed and keep us like hamsters in a treadmill, running to keep up, going nowhere. If you think of debt as an addiction, the credit card companies are the pushers.
•  Find work that has a future in an energy descent economy in which “economic growth” is a relic of the pre-Peak past.
•  Learn to take your pleasures from simple and sustainable living. Live at or below your means and save for the future, even if you can sock away only a few bucks a month. Let friends, family and spiritual pursuits replace consumerism and greed. The Voluntary Simplicity movement has done a great job of showing us how to enjoy a rich and satisfying lifestyle without excessive materialism. And Permaculture offers the practical tools for sustainable living that increase our real prosperity and the true wealth of the earth rather than squandering it on the impossible nightmare of endless economic growth at the cost of environmental and social destruction.
.

D.   Cycle of debt continues through life
11 May 2008, Seattle Times, by Barbara Steiner
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/businesstechnology/2004406000_pfdebtstages11.html.
An indispensable tool in modern life, debt happens for many reasons. As the economic struggle of the Depression and rationing of World War…

Debt life stages (discussed in paragraphs below)
College
: As the cost of higher education soars, more students are taking out loans.
Young singles: At a time when people don’t have much money, they need it to get established.
Young families: Having children can stretch finances to the breaking point.
Mature families: A time of relative security, but maybe too much spending.
Empty nesters: Now it’s time to help the grown-up kids.
Retirees: Time to relax? Maybe.

An indispensable tool in modern life, debt happens for many reasons.

As the economic struggle of the 1930s Depression and rationing of World War II fades from the collective consciousness, Americans feel more confident taking on debt and optimistic about their ability to pay it all back and start saving one day in the future.

Robert Manning, author of “Credit Card Nation,” studied the financial practices of Americans across generations to discover what influences spending in specific age groups. The research professor and director of the Center for Consumer Financial Services at Rochester Institute of Technology also examined the different attitudes toward debt to find out why people owe so much more today than they did 40 years ago.

“You really can’t overgeneralize,” Manning says. “You have to look at people in particular life cycles to find out why they spent more on those particular items than did a previous generation.”
Experts explain that debt starts from youth and continues on through life, often into those not-so-golden years. 

College
Borrowing to pay for college has become the primary way that most students pay for college,” says Tamara Draut, director of the Economic Opportunity Program at Demos and author of “Strapped: Why America’s 20- and 30-Somethings Can’t Get Ahead.”
Parents unable to save the staggering amount of money needed to fund their children’s undergraduate degrees have a few choices. They can go into debt by getting a plus loan or by taking out a second mortgage — or they can put the burden on their children.

“If you look at the way we used to do it, we had pressures on states to keep tuitions low and affordable for middle-income households, and for lower-income households we had grant aid that covered about three-fourths of the cost of going to college,” Draut says.
“Now the majority of aid is debt-based aid and the grants cover about a third of the cost of school.”

According to the College Board’s “Trends in College Pricing 2007,” average tuition costs for the 2007-08 academic year are $23,712 at a private school and $6,185 for a public school. Add in room and board and the totals come to $32,307 and $13,589, respectively.
The borrowing doesn’t stop there for college students. Undergraduates make easy targets for credit-card companies that often give out swag for signing up for a card. “Young people are starting off graduation not only in debt, but it also shows that that competitive pressure that they experienced in high school is what they see as the norm when they go to college,” Manning says. “As we start to see the competitive consumption start at an earlier and earlier age, it’s not surprising that it then continues in older age groups,” he says.

Young singles
Getting established in the world costs money — lots of money. In a cruel twist, people fresh out of school often don’t have a lot of it. Some lucky people can fall back on their parents for help, but not everyone has that option or wants to take it.

“It’s unfortunate, but people have always judged others on superficial stuff. So you have to have nice clothes, a nice car, a nice apartment,” says Lewis Mandell, professor of finance and managerial economics at the University of Buffalo.
A recession may mean that college graduates won’t be able to waltz into a cushy corporate job that offers ample pay for a worker bee living in the big city.

“Earnings have been really flat for young people with college degrees,” Draut says. “Incomes are not really keeping up with costs, but one particular difference is that you’re talking about a starting salary and a lot of debt that has to be repaid,” she says.
With tight budgets and soaring living expenses, young people end up on a tightrope between paydays and too often credit cards are their only safety net. “There is not a lot of cushion left at the end of every month, which makes young people very vulnerable to amassing large amounts of credit-card debt when the car breaks down or when they need to go to the dentist,” Draut says.

But if college graduates are feeling bruised by harsh economic realities, those without degrees feel it even more. “The potential for a young worker without a college degree has plummeted within a generation,” Draut says. “They make a lot less than they used to and all of the benefits that we used to think of coming with your first real job have disappeared.”

Young families
For young people already struggling with living expenses and stagnating wages, adding a baby can stretch finances to the breaking point.
According to Draut, couples with children are twice as likely to file for bankruptcy.

This is a time when you’ve got loans that have to be repaid,” she says. You have earnings that are starting lower and growing slower, and then you add a new baby into the mix — which has always been an added expense. It’s nothing new for this generation. “What’s new is that those student loans, those credit cards, don’t go away overnight.”

This life stage also ushers in new housing needs. Whereas a studio or one-bedroom apartment may have been sufficient a couple of years earlier, with the addition of a spouse and a child, space becomes an issue — as does the school district.
“You get married in the late 20s now in the states and you have a kid and then you want, of course, to live in a nice house in a neighborhood with a good school. The American way of life virtually compels most people to take on a lot of consumer debt and it doesn’t really give you an opportunity to get rid of it,” Mandell says.

Home values in good neighborhoods force many young families to confront difficult choices. The best jobs are in metropolitan areas, but those areas don’t come cheap, Draut says. “A starter-home market has disappeared for a lot of high-cost areas,” she says.

Mature families
Typically, mature families have reached a certain level of security. But Manning found that families in this age group spend more and save less than did previous generations.
“One of the most striking findings of my study was the elasticity of demand for people who have children — there’s never a good reason to not indulge our children these days,” Manning says. “Instead of saving money for their children to go to college, parents are spending that money while the kids are in high school.”
Indulging the short-term whims of teenagers can further perpetuate the debt cycle, obligating children to take on loans for college as well as diverting money from retirement savings.

Debt in this stage can be particularly precarious, especially if savings are spare. Many parents take on debt to fund children’s education — for instance, by taking out a second mortgage — which puts them in the uncomfortable position of either entering retirement with debt or using money that would otherwise be saved for retirement to service the debt.

If parents put off saving for retirement until the kids are out of the house and out of school, they may not have enough time to accumulate adequate funds. “It just means that people aren’t going to be able to retire, and that’s fine for people who enjoy their work and are in good health. But for people who aren’t in such good health, that’s one of the costs of debt that’s going to really come back and bite them,” Mandell says.

Empty nesters
In his study, “Living with debt,” Manning found that older people weren’t necessarily shifting their spending into a lower gear.
“By the time we see older people, they are used to living on debt and don’t want to cut back on their standard of living. So they’re maintaining. While their savings rate may go up, they’re spending more — maybe on helping their children. “It was remarkable how many people in their 50s, 60s and 70s are helping a child or maybe a grandchild,” Manning says.

With the kids out of the house and the accompanying pipeline into the wallet of mom and dad removed, empty nesters should be sitting pretty.

Using data from the 2001 Survey of Consumer Finances conducted by the Federal Reserve, Tansel Yilmazer, assistant professor in the Department of Consumer Sciences and Retailing at Purdue University, found that debt does decline with time.
“In general, the probability of carrying debt decreased with age,” she says.
However, some experts think this could be changing, or shifting with the changing demographic. People are having children later in life and reaching the empty-nest phase later as well. As acceptance of debt has increased, the older population is increasingly indebted.

“Some of them, of course, are maybe opting to work longer periods of time. That certainly is a trend that may be part of the changing life cycle stages,” Mandell says.
But he adds that attitudes toward debt at this stage are also changing.
“Also I think that the thinking that ’60 is the new 40′ is really encouraging older people who might in previous generations have been a little bit more sedate in their lifestyles. Now you look on TV and see a 60-year-old doing helicopter skiing and sailing boats across the Atlantic single-handedly. So I think the notion of settling into an empty-nest sedate lifestyle is going against the grain.”

Retirees
Retirement is on shaky ground. No longer assured of pensions, today’s retirees are easing into their golden years with less savings and more debt. If acceptance of debt and lack of savings are symptoms of the debt epidemic, this stage of life is where the ravages of the disease really flare up.

Throughout their lives, people are spending what they used to save, Manning says. “And so the real crisis is being deferred to retirement.”
“We’re seeing retirees leaving the workforce now with as much as $60,000 in unsecured debt,” says David Jones, president of the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies.

The cycle of debt has a domino effect. As today’s young people take on more debt for education, they will spend the money they should have been saving for their retirements to pay off that debt.
Today’s retirees are also affected by skyrocketing education costs. “A bigger percentage of retirees today still owe on their mortgages and that’s not isolated from what’s happening to young people around college. A lot of people are taking out second or third mortgages to help pay for college,” Draut says.
“That’s moved mortgage payments to the retirement years which used to be much more uncommon than it is today.”

For older Americans in good health, that leaves only one option — work. Those that find themselves in debt and in poor health will struggle.
“There are going to be very bad endings for a lot of people,” Mandell says.
He points out expected cuts in Social Security and diminished pensions. “The one thing that may save them is that, with the shrinking labor force, if they are valuable to their employer, they might get the opportunity to work until they’re 92,” he says.
“This may not be what people had originally hoped for.”
End of Part 1 of 3.

Continued in Survival Manual/ 2. Social Issues/ Death by 1000 cuts/ Modern Competition: Part 2 of 3

Leave a comment

Filed under Survival Manual, __2. Social Issues

The Cloward-Priven strategy is working.

Remember these points:
1. “Nothing in politics happens by chance”. — President Franklin Roosevelt
2. “Strategy is something that happens to you while you are looking the other way”. — President Franklin Roosevelt.
3. The illegal we do immediately; the unconstitutional takes a little longer.” –Secretary of State Henry Kissinger

The Cloward–Piven strategy is a political strategy outlined in 1966 by American sociologists and political activists Richard Cloward and Frances Fox Piven that called for overloading the U.S. public welfare system in order to precipitate a crisis that would lead to a replacement of the welfare system with a national system of “a guaranteed annual income and thus an end to poverty”.

Cloward-Piven Paradise Now?

August 1, 2011, American Thinker, By Jeannie DeAngelis
<http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/08/cloward-piven_paradise_now.html>
“Combine class warfare, demonizing the rich, getting as many people onto the welfare rolls as possible, and pushing the economic system to collapse and you have a flawless formula for Cloward-Piven 2.0 — and a vehicle that ensures Obama remains in power. Cloward-Piven is a much talked-about strategy proposed in the mid-1960’s by two Columbia University sociology professors named Richard Andrew Cloward and Frances Fox Piven. The Cloward-Piven approach was sometimes referred to as the “crisis strategy,” which they believed were a means to “end poverty.” The premise of the Cloward-Piven collective/anti-capitalist gospel decried “individual mobility and achievement,” celebrated organized labor, fostered the principle that “if each finally found himself in the same relative economic relationship to his fellows … all were infinitely better off.” The duo taught that if you flooded the welfare rolls and bankrupted the cities and ultimately the nation, it would foster economic collapse, which would lead to political turmoil so severe that socialism would be accepted as a fix to an out-of-control set of circumstances. The idea was that if people were starving and the only way to eat was to accept government cheese, rather than starve, the masses would agree to what they would otherwise reject. In essence, for the socialist-minded, the Cloward-Piven strategy is a simple formula that makes perfect sense; the radical husband-and-wife team had Saul Alinsky as their muse, and they went on to teach his social action principles to a cadre of socialist-leaning community organizers, one of whom was Barack Obama. As the debt crisis continues to worsen, President Obama stands idly by an inferno with his arms crossed, shaking his head, and doing nothing other than kinking the fire hose and closing the spigot. Spectator Obama is complaining that the structure of the American economy is engulfed in flames while accusing the Congress, which is trying desperately to douse the fire, of doing nothing about the problem. Although speculative, if the Cloward-Piven strategy is the basis of the left’s game plan, spearheaded by Alinsky devotee Barack Obama, it certainly explains the President’s inaction and detached attitude.

The greatest nation in the history of the world is teetering on the brink of a catastrophic economic crisis. America was pushed to this point by a rapidly-expanding national debt and a stressed-out entitlement system; in the center of this crisis is the President, who insists on expanding it even further, all in the name “fairness” and “social justice.” As a default date nears and the President threatens seniors that there’s a chance they may not receive their Social Security checks, it has been revealed that the federal government disperses a stunning 80 million checks a month, which means that about a third of the US adult population could be receiving some sort of entitlement. Since the 1960’s when Cloward-Piven presented a socialistic guideline to usher in the type of evenhandedness Obama lauds, America’s entitlement rolls have swelled from eight million to 80 million. If the nation’s ability to disperse handouts were ever disrupted, it’s not hard to see how chaos would erupt should an angry army of millions demand what Cloward-Piven called “the right to income.” Couple the threat of dried-up funds for food stamps, Social Security, unemployment benefits and the like with the Obama administration’s vigorous campaign to turn a tiny upper class of big earners into the enemy, and you have the Cloward-Piven recipe for anarchy and complete collapse. If the worst happened, Saul Alinsky’s biggest fan, whose poll numbers continue to plummet, could use mayhem in the streets to remain firmly ensconced in the White House. Alinsky taught his students a basic principle that community organizer Barack Obama learned well: “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” Fiscal disintegration coupled with lawlessness would deliver the type of Cloward-Piven/Saul Alinsky trifecta that progressives have worked toward and waited decades for…”

The Cloward/Piven Strategy of Economic Recovery
February 7, 2009, American Thinker, By Nancy Coppock http://www.americanthinker.com/2009/02/the_clowardpiven_strategy_of_e.html
“Using borrowed money for a band-aid bailout of the economy should seem backwards to most people. However, it likely is a planned strategy to promote radical change. Those naively believing that President Obama is simply rewarding his far-left base, and will then move to the political center, must wise up.

The assumption that Obama will need the nation to prosper in order to protect the 2010 mid-term election incorrectly assumes that he esteems free market capitalism. He does not. Rather than win through superior ideas and policies, the Democrat plan for success in the mid-term elections is to win by destroying political opposition. Obama adheres to the Saul Alinksy Rules for Radicals method of politics, which teaches the dark art of destroying political adversaries. However, that text reveals only one front in the radical left’s war against America. The Cloward/Piven Strategy is another method employed by the radical Left to create and manage crisis. This strategy explains Rahm Emanuel’s ominous statement, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.” The Cloward/Piven Strategy is named after Columbia University sociologists Richard Andrew Cloward and Frances Fox Piven. Their goal is to overthrow capitalism by overwhelming the government bureaucracy with entitlement demands. The created crisis provides the impetus to bring about radical political change. According to Discover the Networks.org:  Rather than placating the poor with government hand-outs, wrote Cloward and Piven, activists should work to sabotage and destroy the welfare system; the collapse of the welfare state would ignite a political and financial crisis that would rock the nation…[ Making an already weak economy even worse is the intent of the Cloward/Piven Strategy. It is imperative that we view the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan’s spending on items like food stamps, jobless benefits, and health care through this end goal. This strategy explains why the Democrat plan to “stimulate” the economy involves massive deficit spending projects. It includes billions for ACORN and its subgroups such as SHOP and the Neighborhood Stabilization Program. Expanding the S-Chip Program through deficit spending in a supposed effort to “save the children” only makes a faltering economy worse. If Congress were to allow a robust economy, parents would be able to provide for their children themselves by earning and keeping more of their own money. Democrats, quick to not waste a crisis, would consider that a lost opportunity…”

Can it be? When you’re in a hurry to get somewhere socio-economically and the combination of Welfare, Food stamps, Medicare, and Social Security aren’t getting you there fast enough, you must additionally provide  welfare subsidies for the automobile industry, for the some of the worlds largest Financial Banks and even guarantee the solvency of foreign countries.

The Debt Walkers Strike Back
The Automatic Earth, 2 Dec 2011, by Ilargi
http://theautomaticearth.blogspot.com/
“It’s very simple, but maybe that’s the problem. For all I know it’s just too simple for people to see.

There’s a group of people, and it’s tempting to call them the 1%, but they’re not really, since there’s politicians in there too who have no shot at even aspiring to be part of the 1%, and media pundits and economists and what have you, who all together try to save the existing financial system at all cost. A cost that they don’t bear: that cost is being paid for by the 99%.

Theirs is just one particular view, one particular idea, of what it takes to get out of the crisis we’re in. Nothing more, nothing less: just one idea. But one that prevails over any alternatives to such a radical extent that, from an objective point of view, it can’t but boggle the mind.

“If we don’t save the banks and the financial system at large, there’ll be Armageddon to pay”. That’s the endlessly repeated prevailing line.
However, if we keep on spending ever more trillions to prevent Armageddon from arriving, surely we must invite it, by the very act of doing exactly that, to at some point come knocking on the back door. After all, you can’t spend more and more, and then some, without ever being served with the bill for doing so.

So we’ve had all these rescue missions over the past 5 years. Behemoth-sized amounts of taxpayer money and future taxpayer money have been poured into our economies in this alleged attempt to try to save them.

Now, take a step back and tell me what you see. I’ll tell you what I see: a financial system that is in worse shape than ever before during those 5 years. At least half of Europe is flat broke, most banks have lost 50%-80% of their market value, Bank of America, a major bailout

recipient, is fast on its way to becoming a penny stock, China sees shrinkage wherever it looks and Japan is rumored to be awkwardly close to the chopping block.

Evidently, something’s not working the way it’s supposed to.
And here is why: it is becoming clearer by the day that saving the banks is not the same as saving the people, upon whom increasing austerity is unleashed to pay for … saving the banks.

We have a choice to make: either we save the banks, or we save our societies. Which are falling apart as we speak on account of the costs of saving an already deeply bankrupt financial system.

But we’re not even starting to discuss that choice. All choices and decisions are being made -for us- in a one-dimensional vacuum theater by a small group of people who, to a (wo)man, flatly deny that such a choice needs to be made or even exists. Because making that choice doesn’t fit their purposes and careers and fortunes and ego’s.

Merkel, Blankfein, Sarkozy, Jamie Dimon, Obama, David Cameron, Mario Draghi and Timothy Geithner, they are all servants of the existing financial system, of the existing banks, which are broke but try to hide that from us. At our debilitating expense.

Yes, they’ve been able to stave off the inevitable until now. But that has only been possible because they have virtually unlimited access to your money, to the wallets of the 99%.

We should grow up and make these decisions ourselves, instead of letting a group of morally severely challenged suits with very vested interests make them for us any longer.

They’re leading us straight into Dante’s Ninth Circle of Hell. And last I heard, that’s definitely not a place to raise your kids.”

We intuitively know what the executives of the bailed out Financial Institutuions must feel. After costing the American people 10s if not 100s of billion$ of dollars and trillion$ in derivitive guarantees,  they reward themselves with 100,000$ if not million$ in payday bonuses. While they did not share in their largess during times of plenty, yet we were forced to pay their debt.

How do the people toward the lower end of the economic spectrum feel?
As a ‘retired person’ living in a retirement community, I see a lot of elderly folks and have heard a lot of hardship stories.
At present, if you are looking toward retirement there is nowhere to put your savings. Money is not safe due to inflation. Banks are not safe. Funds, stocks, bonds…
If you buy gold & silver bullion or US Mint bullion coins, for protection from inflation, and safety from bank and debt collapse, you will be fined with a huge tax. The Federal Government does not want your money placed in bullion since they have no access to using those funds. They don’t want you to have freedom in your old age, they want you on welfare-where you are controlled by the threat of loss.

Everyone sees the national ‘news’ media and interprets the sound bites into the management of their own unique circumstance. What are people at the real grass-roots learning and what are their community social-economic expectations? Don’t laugh at what follows, it is the result of what was discussed in the article above.
Is the Cloward–Piven strategy working yet? Yes, and we’re far along on the road to what Ilargi refers to as ‘Dante’s Ninth Circle of Hell’. When the ‘system’ finally breaks, it won’t be paradise, but conditions may make our new minimalistic Socialistic Government subsistence checks  look like it.

Mother of 15 Kids: “Somebody Needs to Pay; Somebody Needs to Be Held Accountable”
A woman with 15 kids (and no spouse) complains that people around aren’t doing enough to help her – even though her rent, food and furniture have all been covered by good Samaritans and the government. You have to see this to believe it!
“Somebody needs to be held accountable, and they need to pay,” she said.
Um, maybe that someone should be you?

Paste the following YouTube link in your browser.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bavou_SEj1E

.

.
.

Professor Cornel West: Battle For Entitlements Will Be “Fought In the Streets”
December 5th, 2011, SHTFplan.com, by Mac Slavo  
With the economy on its last leg, poverty stricken Americans at record highs and mass movements against greed and interventionist government policies already organizing in major American cities, Princeton professor Cornel West predicts that the battle for entitlements will be fought in the streets.
[Image at right Professor Cornel West and President Barack Obama.]

“Some of this is going to be fought in the streets. Civil disobedience does make a difference. Because corporate greed now is an issue everybody’s got to talk about. Wealth equality – everybody’s must talk about because of the Occupy movement.” [What did we read in the articles above about the Coward-Priven startegy?- Mr Larry]

[Video link to Professor West’s interview. http://www.shtfplan.com/headline-news/professor-cornel-west-battle-for-entitlements-will-be-fought-in-the-streets_12052011  ]

Civil disobedience will only work until the people realize nothing has been done – and that nothing can or will be done. When they finally understand that politicians, bureaucrats and corporate interests have completely destroyed their way of life, then we can fully expect violent confrontations and mid-east style, potentially armed, riots in the streets of America.   This isn’t going away. In fact, the frustration, anger and desperation will continue to build pressure. Whether its the Tea Party movement, Occupy Wall Street, or other third-party protests, the momentum is gaining speed and strength.   When the powder keg finally blows all bets are off. We can only hope for civil disobedience. But considering what we saw happen in the mid-east, where many were protesting exactly the same circumstances – an out of control government, rising food prices and impoverishment of the working class, among other things – we should be preparing, as trend forecaster Gerald Celente has so oft predicted, for the people who have lost everything, and have nothing left to lose, to completely lose it.   The government is certainly preparing for this eventuality, because in many circles they know civil unrest is a foregone conclusion.

Leave a comment

Filed under News & Editorial

Modern Air & Water, Part 3 of 3

(Survival Manual/2. Social Issues/ Death by 1000 cuts/ Modern Air & Water)

Modern Air & Water topics:
1.  Air pollution (it hasn’t gone away)
2.  Water, with chlorine, fluorine, pharmaceuticals and more.
3.  Berkey water purification system, Royal model
4.  Mercury in food & vaccines
5.  Pollution causes 40% of worldwide deaths

3.     Berkey Water purification system, Royal model

(The advertisement) The versatile Royal Berkey system (see arrow in picture below, 3.25 gallon capacity)  is the ideal system for use at home with large families, travel, outdoor activities or during unexpected emergencies. This powerful system purifies both treated water and untreated raw water from such sources as remote lakes, streams, stagnant ponds and water supplies in foreign countries, where regulations may be substandard at best. Perfect for outdoor activities and a must in hostile environments where electricity, water pressure or treated water may not be available. The Royal Berkey system removes pathogenic bacteria, cysts and parasites entirely and extracts harmful chemicals such as herbicides, pesticides, VOCs, organic solvents, radon 222 and trihalomethanes. It also reduces nitrates, nitrites and unhealthy minerals such as lead and mercury. This system is so powerful it can remove red food coloring from water without removing the beneficial minerals your body needs. Virtually no other system can duplicate this performance. Constructed of highly polished 304 stainless steel, the system comes complete with two purification elements and utilizes the latest technological advances. This system has a storage capacity of about 3.25 gallons (12.3 liters) and when in use it stands 23″ in height with a diameter of 9.5″. The upper chamber nests within the lower chamber for transport and stands only 15.25″ in height. Configured with two Black Berkey purification elements the system will purify up to 4 Gallons (15.1 liters) per hour. This system can be expanded to use four purification elements and is capable of purifying up to 8 Gallons (30.3 liters) per hour.
Price: $283 + any additional Purification Elements.
[The Royal Berkey Water Purification System that I have and use continuously at home, see white arrow below.-lfp]

Black Berkey Water Filters
http://www.berkeywaterfilters.com/blbetesp.html
Each Black Berkey is able to filter up to 3,000 gallons per filter element, making it one of the most cost-effective filters on the market.
[My Royal Berkey using 2 Black Berkey elements can therefore filter up to 6000 gallons water-lfp]

We tested the Black Berkey purification elements with more than 10,000 times the concentration of pathogens per liter than is required by standard test protocol. This concentration of pathogens is so great that the post filtered water should be expected to contain 100,000 or more pathogens per liter (99.99% reduction – the requirement for pathogenic removal). Incredibly the purification elements removed 100%. Absolutely no pathogens were cultured from the effluent or were able to be detected, even under an electron microscope, setting a new standard in water purification.

Under normal conditions it is recommended that each set of two PF-2™ elements be replaced after 1,000 gallons. The Royal Berkey®system is about 3.25 gallons therefore the PF-2™ filters should be replaced after 1,000/3.25 or 307 refills. If the system is refilled about one time per day, the PF-2™’s should be replaced after 10 months, if the system is refilled about twice per day, the PF-2™’s should be replaced about every five months). Actual capacity is dependent on the presence of other competing contaminants in the source water. High levels of Fluoride, arsenic and heavy metals may reduce the capacity and efficiency of the elements.

The ‘Black Berkey’ purification/filter elements (a 7 Log device, 99.99999%) remove or reduce the following:
– Pathogenic Bacteria and Cysts (E. Coli, Klebsiella, Pseudomonas Aeruginosa, Giardia, Cryptosporidium, Raoltella Terrigena) – Reduced to > 99.999% (100%)
– Viruses (MS2 – Fr Coliphage) – Reduced to >99.999%
– Parasites – Reduced to > 99.9999%
– Harmful or unwanted chemicals such as herbicides and pesticides
ChlorineRemoved to Below Detectable Limits (99.9999999%)
– Detergents

Organic solvents removal
- THM’s (Trihalomethanes – Bromodichloromethane, Bromoform, Chloroform, Dibromochloromethane) – Removed to Below Detectable Limits (99.99999%)
– MTBE’s (Methyl tert-Butyl Ehter) – Removed to Below Detectable Limits
.
Table below: Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s) removed:

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
Removed to below detectable limits
Alachlor
Atrazine
Benzene
Carbofuran
Carbon Tetrachloride
Chlorine
Chlorobenzene
Chloroform
2,4-D
DBCP
p-Dichlorobenzene
o-Dichlorobenzene
1, 1-Dichloroethane
1, 2-Dichloroethane
1, 1-Dichloroethylene
cis 1, 2-Dichloroethylene
Trans  1,2-Dichloroethylene
1, 2-Dichloropropane
cis l,3-Dichloropropylene
Dinoseb
Endrin
Ethylbenzene
Ethylene Dibromide (EDB)
Heptachlor
Heptachlor Epoxide
Hexachlorobutodiene
Hexachlorocyclopentadiene
Lindane,
Methoxychlor
MTBE
Pentachlorophenol
Simazine
Styrene
1,1,2,2-Tetrachloroethane
Tetrachloroethylene
Toluene
2,4,5-TP (Silvex)
1,2,4-trichlorobenzene
1,1,1-trichloroethane
1,1,2-trichloroethane
Trichloroethylene
o-Xylene
m-Xylene
p-Xylene

- Cloudiness, removed.
– Silt, removed.
– Sediment, removed.
– Radiologicals – Radon 222 – Removed to Below Detectable Limits
– Nitrates & Nitrites, Greater than 95% reduction
– Heavy metals: Lead, Mercury, Aluminum, Cadmium, Chromium, Copper  – Greater than 95% reduction.
– Fluoride- With PF-2 fluoride filter, Fluoride reduced greater than 95%
– Iron
Foul tastes and odor.

PF-2™ reduction elements are designed for use in conjunction with Black Berkey® water purification elements to absorb the following unwanted elements found in drinking water:
•   Fluoride
•   Arsenic V and pre-oxidized Arsenic III
•   Other residual heavy metal ions

Heavy Metals reduced by up to 95% by the Black Berkey Filter:

Contaminant Health effects
Lead kidney, nervous system damage
Mercury kidney, nervous system disorders
Aluminum respiratory, nervous system disorders
Cadmium kidney damage
Chromium liver, kidney, circulatory system disorders
Copper gastro-enteric diseases

 .My estimated filter change periods:

Use rate

(gallons per day)

Black Berkey   days/yrs

 Mfg Suggested      My Actual

PF-2   days/years

Mfg Suggested       My actual

1/2 12000/32                       4 2000/5                            2
1 6000/16                         4 1000/2.75                       2
2 3000/8                           4 500/1.36                         2

Change PF-2 every two years and change Black Berkey every 4 years (at every other PF-2 change) . Change more often if, even after cleaning, the filtration rate does not increase, but continues to become slower. Have one set each of  PF-2 ($55/pair) and Black Berkey Filters ($107/pair) on hand for emergency backup.

.
4.    
Mercury in food & vaccines

 A.   Dumbing Down Society Part 2: Mercury in Foods and Vaccines
July 9th, 2010, By VC
http://vigilantcitizen.com/vigilantreport/dumbing-down-society-pt-2-mercury-in-foods-and-vaccines/
Even though mercury is known to degenerate brain neurons and disrupt the central nervous system, it is still found in processed foods and mandatory vaccines. In this second part of the series examining the intentional dumbing-down of society, this article will discuss the presence of mercury in common foods and vaccines.

The first article in this series – Dumbing Down Society Pt 1: Foods, Beverages and Meds – looked at the effects of aspartame, fluoride and prescription pills on the human brain. These substances all cause a decrease of cognitive power which, on a large scale, leads to a dumbing down of the population that is ingesting them. This second article focuses on another toxic product found in everyday foods and mandatory vaccines: mercury.

Mercury is a heavy metal naturally found in the environment. However, it is not suitable for human consumption, as it is extremely harmful to the human body, especially the brain. While some people say that anything can be consumed in moderation, many experts agree that no amount of mercury is safe for the human body. Despite this and the many studies concerning the negative effects of mercury, the heavy metal is continually added to mandatory vaccines and processed foods.

Mercury is known to cause brain neuron degeneration and to disturb the central nervous system. Direct exposure to the metal causes immediate and violent effects:

“Exposure to high levels of metallic, inorganic, or organic mercury can permanently damage the brain, kidneys, and developing fetus. Effects on brain functioning may result in irritability, shyness, tremors, changes in vision or hearing, and memory problems.”

Most people do not come in direct contact with mercury, but are exposed to small doses at a time, resulting in a slow but steady poisoning of the brain. As the years go by, the effects of the substance impairs judgment and rational thinking, decreases memory and disrupts emotional stability. In other words: It makes you dumber.

Mercury has also the unfortunate ability to transfer from pregnant woman to their unborn babies. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, mercury passed on to the fetus during pregnancy may have lasting consequences, including memory impairment, diminished language skills and other cognitive complications.

It has been highly publicized that mercury is found in dangerous quantities in seafood, such as tuna, swordfish and tilefish. This creates a rather ironic situation: Instead of making you smarter because of all the Omega-3 they contain, the fish produce exactly the opposite effect on the brain due to mercury poisoning.

Unfortunately, mercury is also found in other products: vaccines and high-fructose corn syrup.

“I think it’s absolutely criminal to give mercury to an infant.” – Boyd Haley, Ph.D., Chemistry Department Chair, University of Kentucky

Mercury is found in great quantities in mandatory vaccines. Before we get into the details of it, here are some facts about vaccines in America as noted by Dr. Sherri Tenpenny:
•  The U.S. government is the largest purchaser of vaccines in the country. In fact, nearly 30 percent of the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) annual budget is composed of purchasing vaccines and ensuring vaccination is completed for every child in the country.
•  Private insurance companies, which do the best liability studies, have completely abandoned coverage for damage to life and property due to: Acts of God, nuclear war, nuclear power plant accidents and … vaccination.
•  Laws have been passed to protect vaccine manufactures from liability, while at the same time, state laws require parents to inject their children with up to 100 vaccination antigens prior to entering school. If a vaccine injury–or death–occurs after a vaccine, parents cannot sue the doctor, the drug company or the government; they are required to petition the Vaccine Court for damages, a process that can take years and often ends with a dismissal of the case.
•  Each state has school vaccination laws that require children of appropriate age to be vaccinated for several communicable diseases. State vaccination laws mandate that children be vaccinated prior to being allowed to attend public or private schools. Failure to vaccinate children can not only result in children being prohibited from attending school, but their parents or guardians can receive civil fines and criminal penalties. Schools don’t usually tell parents is that in every state, an exemption exists allowing parents to legally refuse vaccines while still allowing their children to attend school.
•  The medical industry advocates vaccines, often demanding that parents vaccinate their children in order to remain under their doctor’s care. A sizable portion of a pediatrician’s income is derived from insurance reimbursement for vaccinations. The ever-expanding vaccination schedule that includes increasingly more expensive vaccines has been a source of increased revenues for vaccinating doctors.

Thimerosal
A child receives approximately 21 vaccines before the age of six and 6 more before the age of 18, for a total of 27 shots during childhood. Many of these injections contain Thimerosal, a preservative added to the shots, made of 49% mercury. The unprecedented use of mercury on children has created a generation of cognitively impaired children.

      “The symptoms experienced by children exposed to mercury are real and can be directly linked to the vaccines they were given as infants. It’s ironic that the vaccines given to these young people are meant to protect them, when in fact they are adversely affecting their neurological development.”
On top of causing an entire generation of babies to have their brains damaged, the use of Thimerosal in vaccines has been linked by many scientists to the staggering rise of autism in the past two decades. Did the dumbing-down campaign go too far?

      “In children who are fully vaccinated, by the sixth month of life they have received more mercury from vaccines than recommended by the EPA. There are many similarities in symptoms between mercury toxicity and autism, including social deficits, language deficits, repetitive behaviors, sensory abnormalities, cognition deficits, movement disorders, and behavioral problems. There are also similarities in physical symptoms, including biochemical, gastrointestinal, muscle tone, eurochemistry, neurophysiology, EEG measurements, and immune system/autoimmunity.”

Due to the suspected link between vaccines and autism, more than 5,000 U.S. families have filed claims in a federal vaccine court against the companies producing the vaccines. In most cases, the plaintiffs received no compensation and all correlation between the illness and vaccines was denied by the defendants. A public relations war has been going on for years, as studies and counter-studies have appeared, proving or denying the links between vaccines and autism, depending where they originate from. The studies claiming that vaccines are safe have often been funded by the very companies that produce them.

Despite the denials, Thimerosal is slowly–and silently–being phased out of vaccines for babies. Not too long after the phasing out began, cases of autism have sharply dropped in the country.

“Published in the March 10 issue of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, the data show since mercury was removed from childhood vaccines, the reported rates of autism and other neurological disorders in children not only stopped increasing but actually dropped sharply – by as much as 35 percent. Using the government’s own databases, independent researchers analyzed reports of childhood neurological disorders, including autism, before and after removal of mercury-based preservatives.

According to a statement from the Association of American Physicians & Surgeons, or AAPS, the numbers from California show that reported autism rates hit a high of 800 in May 2003. If that trend had continued, the reports would have risen to more than 1,000 by the beginning of 2006. But the number actually went down to 620, a real decrease of 22 percent, and a decrease from the projection of 35 percent.
The phasing out of Thimerosal from vaccines intended for children is all well and good, but the preservative is still found in many vaccines intended for adults. Did someone realize that mercury in vaccines is too strong for children, making them sick and ultimately unproductive, but perfect to dumb-down fully developed adults? The ruling class is not looking to create a generation of autistic people who would need constant care, but a mass of “useful idiots” that can accomplish repetitive and mind-numbing tasks, while accepting without questioning what they are being told.

As of today, Thimerosal is still found in Influenza vaccines, commonly known as the flu shot. Those shots are seasonal, meaning that patients are encouraged to come back every winter to get their yearly vaccine/dose of mercury.

Makers of the Influenza vaccine say it boasts a “solid health record,” meaning the shot does not seem cause observable illnesses. What is NEVER discussed, however, is the slow and gradual brain neuron degeneration most individuals go through, year after year, due constant mercury poisoning. This process of slowing down brain functions is not easily observable nor quantifiable but it is still happening on a world-wide scale. If mercury can completely disrupt the fragile minds of children enough to possibly cause autism, it will, at the very least, impair fully developed minds.

Almost as if created to generate demands for vaccines, new diseases appear periodically around the world that, with the help of mass media scare campaigns, cause people to beg their officials for the miracle shot that they are told will cure everybody.

H1N1, also known as the Swine Flu, was the latest of those scary diseases that terrified millions of people for several months. When the shot became available, heavily promoted and massive vaccination campaigns sprung around the world. One fact that was not promoted: Swine flu was often easily curable, and not very different than the “regular” flu. Another fact that was not promoted: Most of the flu shots contained Thimerosal.

High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)
A poison is a “substance that causes injury, illness, or death, especially by chemical means.”
Going by this definition, high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is truly a poison. HFCS is a highly processed sweetner made from corn that has been used since 1970. It continues to replace white sugar and sucrose in processed foods and is currently found in the majority of processed foods found in supermarkets. Studies have determined that Americans consume an average of 12 teaspoons a day of the sweetner.

Here’s a graph depicting the rise of HFCS in our diets:

Due to its sweetening propreties, HFCS is obviously found in sugary products like jams, soft drinks and pre-packaged baked goods. However, most people do not realize that it is also found in numerous other products, including soups, breads, pasta sauces, cereals, frozen entrees, meat products, salad dressings and condiments. HFCS is also found in so-called health products, including protein-bars, “low-fat” foods and energy drinks.How can something that taste so good be so bad?
Here are some facts about HFCS:
•  Research links HFCS to increasing rates of obesity and diabetes in North America, especially among children. Fructose converts to fat more than any other sugar. And being a liquid, it passes much more quickly into the blood stream.
•  Beverages containing HFCS have higher levels of reactive compounds (carbonyls), which are linked with cell and tissue damage leading to diabetes.
•  There is some evidence that corn fructose is processed differently in the body than cane sugar, leading to reduced feelings of satiation and a greater potential for over-consumption.
•  Studies by researchers at UC Davis and the University of Michigan have shown that consuming fructose, which is more readily converted to fat by the liver, increases the levels of fat in the bloodstream in the form of triglycerides.
•  Unlike other types of carbohydrate made up of glucose, fructose does not stimulate the pancreas to produce insulin. Peter Havel, a nutrition researcher at UC Davis who studies the metabolic effects of fructose, has also shown that fructose fails to increase the production of leptin, a hormone produced by the body’s fat cells. Both insulin and leptin act as signals to the brain to turn down the appetite and control body weight. Havel’s research also shows that fructose does not appear to suppress the production of ghrelin, a hormone that increases hunger and appetite.
•  Because the body processes the fructose in HFCS differently than it does cane or beet sugar, it alters the way metabolic-regulating hormones function. It also forces the liver to kick more fat out into the bloodstream. The end result is that our bodies are essentially tricked into wanting to eat more, while at the same time, storing more fat.
•  A study in The Journal of the National Cancer Institute suggested that women whose diet was high in total carbohydrate and fructose intake had an increased risk of colorectal cancer.
•  HFCS interferes with the heart’s use of key minerals like magnesium, copper and chromium.
•  HFCS has been found to deplete the immune system by inhibiting the action of white blood cells. The body is then unable to defend against harmful foreign invaders.
•  Research suggests that fructose actually promotes disease more readily than glucose. Glucose is metabolized in every cell in the body, but all fructose must be metabolized in the liver. The livers of test animals fed large amounts of fructose develop fatty deposits and cirrhosis, similar to problems that develop in the livers of alcoholics.
•  HFCS is highly refined–even more so than white sugar.
•  The corn from which HFCS is derived is almost always genetically modified, as are the enzymes used in the refining process.
•  There are increasing concerns about the politics surrounding the economics of corn production (subsidies, tariffs, and regulations), as well as the effects of intensive corn agriculture on the environment.

Many studies have observed a strong correlation between the rise HFCS in the past years and the rise of obesity during the same period of time.
Obesity, on top of being unhealthy for the body, directly affects brain functions. Some researchers have even questioned the role of obesity in brain degeneration.

Research scientists have long suspected that a relationship existed between obesity and a decline in brain power. New studies now confirm the contention that being overweight is detrimental to the brain. Researchers at the University of California in an article published in the Archives of Neurology demonstrated a strong correlation between central obesity (that is, being fat around the middle) and shrinkage of a part of the brain ( the hippocampus) fundamental for memory.

This does not mean that obese people are dumb. It does however mean that their brain is probably not processing as effectively as it could be. But even if HFCS does not make you fat, it will still affect your brain. Recent studies have shown that the sweetener contains … you’ve guessed it … mercury!
•  “One study – published in the journal, Environmental Health – shows mercury in nine out of 20 samples of commercial high-fructose corn syrup.
•  The second study – by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) – finds nearly one in three of 55 brand-name foods contained mercury, especially dairy products, dressings and condiments. The brands included big names like Quaker, Hershey’s, Kraft and Smucker’s.”

Here is the table found in the IATP’s study called, Not So Sweet: Missing Mercury and High Fructose Corn Syrup, detailing the amount of mercury found in everyday products found in supermarkets.

Of course, companies who produce HFCS deny the results of those studies, claiming the sweetner is “natural”. But this is coming from those who, y’know, SELL the stuff. Corn refiners have even produced some strange PR ads to encourage people to keep ingesting their toxic product.

In Conclusion
Despite the existence of many studies describing the negative effects of mercury on the human brain, governments still push for the increased vaccination of the population with shots containing Thimerosal. Furthermore, governing bodies have protected the pharmaceutical companies who produce the vaccines and foods containing HFCS against any type of lawsuits. The fact that many high executives of these companies also hold key positions within the government, might provide an explanation. There are indeed a restricted amount of persons holding positions of high power in both the private and public sector. These people, in what are clear cases of conflict of interest, collide at the top to form what this site refers to as “the elite” or “the ruling class.” Most of these people have never been elected to governmental positions, yet they create public policies that further their agenda, regardless of the political party in power. Look at the membership of the Bilderberg Group, the Committee of 300 or the Council of Foreign Relations and you will find the CEOs of companies producing your food and medication … and the same people who pass laws governing your food and medication.

Since no public official is likely to betray his peers and fund-raisers to become a whistleblower, it is up to each one of us to learn about what we consume. The cliché saying “read the labels” is quite true, but if you have no idea what “monosodium glutamate” means, reading the label will not help you. This series of articles aims to raise basic awareness of the most harmful substances found in everyday products. I personally cannot claim to have a perfect diet … I grew up in the 80s and love the taste of processed foods like candy, sodas … even Hamburger Helper. But as you find more information and as you begin to realize that every step in the right direction really does make you feel better, each subsequent step becomes easier. No one can do it for you: It’s up to you to take that next step … whether it is toward your detoxification or to Burger King.

B.  Health: Foods Containing Mercury
eHow, By Alexander Grouch

http://www.ehow.com/about_5376461_foods-containing-mercury.html

Foods Containing Mercury
Mercury is a heavy metal that exists in many places throughout the earth. As a result, some of the food we eat contains traces of mercury. Fish in particular absorb copious amounts of mercury as they swim in the water. This is due both to the natural occurrence of mercury and various human actions that exacerbate the situation. While slight amounts of mercury usually will not have a noticeable effect on the human body, prolonged mercury exposure through food may lead to serious health problems such as methylmercury poisoning, vision problems and neurological disturbances in fetuses and infants.

Foods That Contain High Levels of Mercury
Although many foods may contain traces of mercury, fish and shellfish are known to have the most mercury overall. As mercury enters the water supply, all fish absorb some of it into their bodies. Fish that are higher on the food chain have especially high mercury levels since they consume smaller fish. Therefore, it’s no surprise that the largest fish often contain the most mercury. High-mercury fish include swordfish, shark, king mackerel and tile fish. Certain types of tuna also contain mercury well above U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s limits of 0.1 microgram per 2.2 pounds of body weight.

Other Foods That Contain Mercury
While fish gets most of the bad press regarding mercury, other food products also contain mercury. In early 2009, Environmental Health Journal reported on a study conducted by a team led by Renee Dufault that found high fructose corn syrup had high levels of mercury. Many mass-marketed food products contain high fructose corn syrup due the prevalence of corn production in America and the government’s corn subsidy. Popular products sweetened with high fructose corn syrup include most sodas, ketchup and even bread.

In the Dufault study, samples revealed 0.57 micrograms of mercury per gram of high fructose corn syrup. When you consider the large quantities of high fructose corn syrup that most American ingest, many people’s mercury consumption exceeds EPA or U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommendations. To find products free of high fructose corn syrup, read all the ingredients in food products. The earlier in the list you find high fructose corn syrup, the more of it that’s in the product.

Effects
In high doses, mercury wreaks havoc on the central nervous system. Pregnant women especially should avoid fish that may contain mercury. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, mercury passed on to the fetus during pregnancy may have lasting consequences such as memory impairment, diminished language skills and other cognitive complications. If you are pregnant, look for Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or EPA updates on what foods contain high levels of mercury and avoid them to prevent possible damage to your child’s cognitive development.

Mercury Poisoning
In rare cases, some people may consume so much fish and other mercury-rich foods that they experience mercury poisoning. One of the most highly publicized cases of mercury poisoning occurred in 2008 when actor Jeremy Piven had to drop out of a play due to mercury poisoning.
Symptoms of mercury poisoning include impairment to your sight, hearing and touch. Some people who suffer from mercury poisoning report ambulatory trouble and tingling around the lips. If you have a diet high in fish and suffer any of the above symptoms, visit a hospital promptly for evaluation.

Fish Low In Mercury
Since several fish contain such powerful nutrients and healthy oils, the benefits of fish may outweigh genuine mercury concerns. If you want to balance the health benefits of fish with mercury risks, eat fish further down the food chain. According to the FDA and EPA, fish low in mercury include salmon, catfish and pollock. Canned light tuna also contains a relatively low amount of mercury per serving. However, other types of tuna such as albacore have higher levels of mercury. As long as you keep track of your portion sizes, you probably will not suffer any ill effects due to mercury in food. For optimal portion size, eat no more than 12 oz. (about two meals) of low-mercury fish a week.
Read more: Foods Containing Mercury | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/about_5376461_foods-containing-mercury.html#ixzz1MFy97JfQ
.

5.     Pollution Causes 40 Percent Of Deaths Worldwide, Study Finds

Aug. 14, 2007, ScienceDaily
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070813162438.htm
About 40 percent of deaths worldwide are caused by water, air and soil pollution, concludes a Cornell researcher. Such environmental degradation, coupled with the growth in world population, are major causes behind the rapid increase in human diseases, which the World Health Organization has recently reported. Both factors contribute to the malnourishment and disease susceptibility of 3.7 billion people, he says.

David Pimentel, Cornell professor of ecology and agricultural sciences, and a team of Cornell graduate students examined data from more than 120 published papers on the effects of population growth, malnutrition and various kinds of environmental degradation on human diseases. Their report is published in the online version of the journal Human Ecology and will be published in the December print issue.

“We have serious environmental resource problems of water, land and energy, and these are now coming to bear on food production, malnutrition and the incidence of diseases,” said Pimentel.

Of the world population of about 6.5 billion, 57 percent is malnourished, compared with 20 percent of a world population of 2.5 billion in 1950, said Pimentel. Malnutrition is not only the direct cause of 6 million children’s deaths each year but also makes millions of people much more susceptible to such killers as acute respiratory infections, malaria and a host of other life-threatening diseases, according to the research.

Among the study’s other main points:
Nearly half the world’s people are crowded into urban areas, often without adequate sanitation, and are exposed to epidemics of such diseases as measles and flu.
With 1.2 billion people lacking clean water, waterborne infections account for 80 percent of all infectious diseases. Increased water pollution creates breeding grounds for malaria-carrying mosquitoes, killing 1.2 million to 2.7 million people a year, and air pollution kills about 3 million people a year. Unsanitary living conditions account for more than 5 million deaths each year, of which more than half are children.

Air pollution from smoke and various chemicals kills 3 million people a year. In the United States alone about 3 million tons of toxic chemicals are released into the environment — contributing to cancer, birth defects, immune system defects and many other serious health problems.

Soil is contaminated by many chemicals and pathogens, which are passed on to humans through direct contact or via food and water. Increased soil erosion worldwide not only results in more soil being blown but spreading of disease microbes and various toxins.

At the same time, more microbes are becoming increasingly drug-resistant. And global warming, together with changes in biological diversity, influence parasite evolution and the ability of exotic species to invade new areas. As a result, such diseases as tuberculosis and influenza are re-emerging as major threats, while new threats — including West Nile virus and Lyme disease — have developed.

“A growing number of people lack basic needs, like pure water and ample food. They become more susceptible to diseases driven by malnourishment, and air, water and soil pollutants,” Pimentel concludes. He and his co-authors call for comprehensive and fair population policies and more conservation of environmental resources that support human life.

“Relying on increasing diseases and malnutrition to limit human numbers in the world diminishes the quality of life for all humans and is a high-risk policy,” the researchers conclude.

We are affliced by and bringing on ourselves, a global human condition tantamount to ‘Death by 1000 cuts.’, Mr Larry

End of article, Modern Air and Water
Read also the 4dtraveler posts: Modern Competition, Modern Foraging, Modern Freedom of Choice and, Modern Living.

Leave a comment

Filed under Survival Manual, __2. Social Issues

Modern Air & Water, Part 2 of 3

(Survival Manual/2. Social Issues/ Death by 1000 cuts/ Modern Air & Water)

Modern Air & Water topics:
1.  Air pollution (it hasn’t gone away) .
2.  Water, with chlorine, fluorine, pharmaceuticals and more.
3.  Berkey water purification system, Royal model
4.  Mercury in food & vaccines
5.  Synopsis; Pollution causes 40% of worldwide deaths

2.  Water, with chlorine,  fluorine,  pharmaceuticals  and  more

[Photo above: Garbage concentration in a perpetual and growing trash vortex, located 800 miles north of Hawaii, in a 10-million-square-mile oval known as the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre. This is an odd stretch of ocean, a place most boats purposely avoid. For one thing, it is becalmed. “The doldrums,” sailors called it, and they steered clear. So do the ocean’s top predators: the tuna, sharks, and other large fish that required livelier waters, flush with prey. The gyre is more like a desert—a slow, deep, clockwise-swirling vortex of air and water caused by a mountain of high-pressure air that lingers above it. The huge trash concentration began with a line of plastic bags ghosting the surface, followed by an ugly tangle of junk: nets and ropes and bottles, motor-oil jugs and cracked bath toys, a mangled tarp. Tires. A traffic cone. Out in this desolate place, the water is a stew of plastic. It is as though someone has taken a pristine seascape and turned it into a landfill.
Scientists refer to this area as the “Eastern Garbage Patch”, a place in the ocean where the trail of plastic goes on for hundreds of miles.
Yachts traveling through the Gyre sail for a week amongst bobbing, toxic debris, all trapped in a purgatory of circling currents in this 21st-century Leviathan. It had no head, no tail. Just an endless body. http://jonbowermaster.com/blog/tag/30-days-of-oceans/page/4/]
.

A.  The Water Resources of Earth
Over 70% of our Earth’s surface is covered by water ( we should really call our planet “Ocean” instead of “Earth”). Although water is seemingly abundant, the real issue is the amount of fresh water available.
•  97.5% of all water on Earth is salt water, leaving only 2.5% as fresh water
•  Nearly 70% of that fresh water is frozen in the icecaps of Antarctica and Greenland; most of the remainder is present as soil moisture, or lies in deep underground aquifers as groundwater not accessible to human use.
•  1% of the world’s fresh water (~0.007% of all water on earth) is accessible for direct human uses. This is the water found in lakes, rivers, reservoirs and those underground sources that are shallow enough to be tapped at an affordable cost. Only this amount is regularly renewed by rain and snowfall, and is therefore available on a sustainable basis.

Water as a Resource
Since antiquity, irrigation, drainage, and impoundment have been the three types of water control having a major impact on landscapes and water flows. Since the dawn of irrigated agriculture at least 5000 years ago, controlling water to grow crops has been the primary motivation for human alteration of freshwater supplies. Today, principal demands for fresh water are for irrigation, household and municipal water use, and industrial uses. Most supplies come from surface runoff, although mining of “fossil water” from underground aquifers is an important source in some areas. The pattern of water withdrawal over the past 300 years shows the dramatic increases in this century.

[Human Appropriation of the World’s Fresh Water Supply
<http://www.globalchange.umich.edu/globalchange2/current/lectures/freshwater_supply/freshwater.html>]

A timeline of human water use:
http://www.globalchange.umich.edu/globalchange2/current/lectures/   freshwater_supply/freshwater.html
•  12,000 yrs. ago: hunter-gatherers continually return to fertile river valleys
•  7,000 yrs. ago: water shortages spur humans to invent irrigation
•  1,100 yrs ago: collapse of Mayan civilization due to drought
•  Mid 1800’s: fecal contamination of surface water causes severe health problems (typhoid, cholera) in some major North American cities, notably Chicago
•  1858: “Year of the Great Stink” in London, due to sewage and wastes in Thames
•  Late 1800s-early 1900: Dams became popular as a water management tool
•  1900s: The green revolution strengthens human dependency on irrigation for agriculture
•  World War II: water quality impacted by industrial and agricultural chemicals
•  1972: Clean Water Act passed; humans recognize need to protect water
•  The six billion people of Planet Earth use nearly 30% of the world’s total accessible renewal supply of water.  By 2025, that value may reach 70%.  Yet billions of people lack basic water services, and millions die each year from water-related diseases.

B.   The unHealthy side Effects of Chlorine in Drinking Water
http://www.pure-earth.com/chlorine.html
The U.S. General Accounting Office reports that there are serious deficiencies in water treatment plants in 75% of the states. More than 120 million people (about 50% of the US population) may get unsafe water according to a study conducted by the Natural Resources Defense Council.

U.S. Health Officials estimate 900,000 people each year become ill – and possibly 900 die – from waterborne disease. The General Accounting Office estimates 66% of Safe Drinking Water Act violations aren’t reported.

The contamination of water is directly related to the degree of contamination of our environment. Rainwater flushes airborne pollution from the skies, and then washes over the land before running into the, rivers, aquifers, and lakes that supply our drinking water. Any and all chemicals generated by human activity can and will find their way into water supplies.

The chemical element chlorine is a corrosive, poisonous, greenish-yellow gas that has a suffocating odor and is 2- 1/2 times heavier than air. Chlorine belongs to the group of elements called halogens. The halogens combine with metals to form compounds called halides. Chlorine is manufactured commercially by running an electric current through salt water. This process produces free chlorine, hydrogen, and sodium hydroxide. Chlorine is changed to its liquid form by compressing the gas, the resulting liquid is then shipped. Liquid chlorine is mixed into drinking water and swimming pools to destroy bacteria.

Until recently, concerns about drinking water focused on eliminating pathogens. The chlorine used to reduce the risk of infectious disease may account for a substantial portion of the cancer risk associated with drinking water. Chlorination of drinking water was a major factor in the reduction in the mortality rates associated with waterborne pathogen. The use of chlorine was believed to be safe. This view is evident in an article, which appeared on the back page of the New York Times. The report stated that with the use of chlorine, “Any municipal water supply can be made as pure as mountain spring water. Chlorination destroys all animal and microbial life, leaving no trace of itself afterwards”. This statement reflected opinion accepted until recent years when halogenated organic compounds, such as chloroform, were identified in chlorinated drinking water supplies. Recent surveys show that these compounds are common in water supplies throughout the United States.

These concerns about cancer risks associated with chemical contamination from chlorination by-products have resulted in numerous epidemiological studies. These studies generally support the notion that by-products of chlorination are associated with increased cancer risks.

Chlorine is used to combat microbial contamination, but it can react with organic matter in the water and form dangerous, carcinogenic Trihalomethanes. According to Dr. Joseph M. Price, MD, in Moseby’s Medical Dictionary, “Chlorine is the greatest crippler and killer of modern times. It is an insidious poison”.

In a 1992 study that made front-page headlines, and was reported on in the July issue of the American Journal of Public Health researchers at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee found that people who regularly drink tap water containing high levels of chlorine by-products have a greater risk of developing bladder and rectal cancers than people who drink unchlorinated water. The study estimates that about 9 percent of all bladder cancer and 18 percent of all rectal cancer cases are associated with long-term consumption of these by-products. This amounts to over 20,000 new cases each year.

Morris, with epidemiologist Thomas C. Chalmers and his colleagues at Harvard, used a new technique called meta-analysis to combine the results from the 10 best studies, yielding the new findings. They report that people drinking chlorinated water over long periods have a 21% increase in the risk of contracting bladder cancer and a 38% increase in the risk of rectal cancer. “I am quite convinced, based on this study, that there is an association between cancer and chlorinated water.”, says Robert D. Morris of the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, who directed the new study.

About 90% of the population is drinking water which may contain hundreds of these Disinfection By-products (DBPs), also known as Trihalomethanes. The Environmental Protection Agency lowered the Maximum Contaminant Level for Disinfection By-products but it will be years before the new standard goes into effect.

In his book, Coronaries/Cholesterol/Chlorine, Joseph M. Price, MD presents startling evidence that Trihalomethanes, are the “prime causative agents of arteriosclerosis and its inevitable result, the heart attack or stroke.” These Trihalomethanes are created when the chlorine that is added to the municipal water supply reacts with organic matter such as leaves, twigs, or chemicals from agricultural runoff.

Here’s What The Experts Have To Say
•  Drinking chlorinated water has finally been officially linked to an increased incidence of colon cancer. An epidemiologist at Oak Ridge Associated Universities completed a study of colon cancer victims and non-cancer patients and concluded that the drinking of chlorinated water for 15 years or more was conducive to a high rate of colon cancer. Health Freedom News, January/February 1987
•  Long-term drinking of chlorinated water appears to increase a person’s risk of developing bladder cancer as much as 80%, according to a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Some 45,000 Americans are diagnosed every year with bladder cancer. St. Paul Dispatch & Pioneer Press, December 17, 1987
•  Although concentrations of these carcinogens are low…it is precisely these low levels which cancer scientists believe are responsible for the majority of human cancers in the United States.  Report Issued By The Environmental Defense Fund
•  Chlorine itself is not believed to be the problem. Scientists suspect that the actual cause of the bladder cancers is a group of chemicals that form as result of reactions between the chlorine and natural substances and pollutants in the water. (organic matter such as leaves and twigs.) St. Paul Dispatch & Pioneer Press, December 17, 1987
•  Greenpeace reports have found chlorine-based compounds to be the most common toxic and persistent pollutants in the Great Lakes.

Summary and Prevention Strategies
Contaminants may enter water supplies at many points before reaching the tap. The carcinogens in drinking water at the point of use may result from contamination of source water, arise from the treatment processes, or enter as the water is transported to the consumer. Varied carcinogens may contaminate the source water, but they usually exist in drinking water at low concentrations. However, chemicals that enter drinking water during water treatment are limited in number, but appear in drinking water supplies with greater frequency than most source water contaminants.

Under conditions of average temperature, humidity, and activity, the human body loses and, therefore, must replace about 2.3 liters of water each day. Two-thirds of this consumption is in the form of water or some other beverage. Concerns about the health risks or taste of drinking water may cause those who consume tap water to shift to bottled water, or other beverages. These beverages may include sweetened soft drinks and alcoholic beverages, which can pose health risks greater than those associated with drinking water.

To stop chlorination of drinking water to eliminate the elevated cancer risks from chlorination by-products would be foolhardy. Nonetheless, the data provide strong evidence to support expanded efforts in research and development of alternatives to chlorination for the disinfection of drinking water. Chlorination is particularly effective in preventing recontamination during distribution. Alternatives must provide a similar level of protection. Perhaps the most viable alternative is point of use water treatment units.

The weight of the evidence suggests that chlorination by-products pose substantial cancer risks that should be reduced.

Dr. Herbert Schwartz of Cumberland County College in Vineman, N.J. says: “Chlorine has so many dangers it should be banned. Putting chlorine in the water supply is like starting a time bomb. Cancer, heart trouble, premature senility, both mental and physical, are conditions attributable to chlorine treated water supplies. It is making us grow old before our time by producing symptoms of aging such as hardening of the arteries.”

Chlorine has been hailed as the saviour against cholera and various other water-borne diseases; and rightfully so. Its disinfectant qualities and economy of production have allowed communities and whole cities to grow and prosper by providing disease-free tap water to homes and industry. Some people have grown-up on tap water, and believe the taste of chlorine signifies purity and safety. Well, not necessarily so.

      Chlorine is, essentially, bleach. And what comes out of most municipally delivered faucets is, quite actually, a mild bleach solution. Consider some well-known attributes of chlorine. Let’s say, “the dark side” of the saviour. A PhD chemist friend put it this way: “If I were assigned to go into a lab and produce a menu of known carcinogens (cancer-causing agents), the first thing I would do would be to grab-up a cylinder of chlorine and start bubbling it through some water that contains naturally occuring organic acids (humic and fumic acids — as are found in all natural bodies of water like rivers, lakes, reservoirs, etc.).”

      Note the “chloro” part in the following: trichlorophosphate (TCP) and the trihalomethane group (THMs) which includes chloroform. You may recognize these known bad guys by the legally imposed requirement of your municipality to periodically make report to the public (newspaper) on the levels of these known or highly suspected carcinogens in the tap water being produced. There are others, but those are popularly known. And they’re all chlorine by-products.

      Another problem directly related to chlorine disinfection are the aesthetic properties imparted when chlorine is combined with organic compounds that are natural to open bodies of water (surface water). This regards the “taste and odor” problems many municipalities experience during certain times of the year (especially in four-season latitudes) which draw their water supply from surface water. Surface water includes ponds, lakes, reservoirs, rivers, etc., as opposed to underground sources (wells, aquifers). Bubble chlorine through humic and fumic acids common to surface water supplies and you produce the “fishy” or “musty” odors and tastes so common in the spring and fall, when the lake “turns-over.”

The good news is, you don’t have to drink it anymore. The most practical and efficient method for removing chlorine, chlorine by-products, and taste and odor problems, is to filter it with granular activated carbon (GAC) or other suitable chemical-removing filter media.

      The municipalities are stuck. Environmental and public safety laws require most to maintain a chlorine residual throughout the entire water main delivery system. This is to retain some disinfecting properties in the event of groundwater infiltration and other contaminations. Barking at your local water company or water department about the taste and odor will accomplish nothing. Chances are, they’re doing their best, and meeting the laws. The most practical solution to the problem is to take it back out at the “point of use” (POU) — your own home or office.

Environmental Systems Distributing
Sunday, 20 February, 2000, The Electronic Telegraph, London, England
An independent study into the use of chlorine-treated drinking water has been ordered by the Government because of fears that it may cause spina bifida and stillbirths.

Scientists from Imperial College, London University, will carry out the research after doctors in Norway, Canada and the United States reported higher levels of birth defects in areas where chlorine is used, compared with drinking water treated by alternative methods. All of Britain’s water companies chlorinate their supplies. The only people who have non-chlorinated water are those with their own bore holes or wells.

A Norwegian study of 141,000 births over three years found a 14 per cent increased risk of birth defects in areas with chlorinated water. Scientists have already found an association between chlorine and an increased risk of bowel, kidney and bladder cancer, but it is the first time that a link has been found with higher levels of spina bifida.

Last night the Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus Association said it was “concerned” by the findings and would be discussing them with medical advisers before considering making representations to the Government. British water industry experts have not dismissed the findings but said that the safety benefits of purification outweigh the risks of birth defects.

Dr Per Magnus, who carried out the Norwegian research, said: “This is an important finding because we know there are chemicals released by the action of chlorine on organic particles at treatment works. We have observed mutations in these chemicals which seem to tie up with mutations that are found in babies. We were in a unique position in Norway to make these observations because in some areas our water comes from the mountains and doesn’t require cleaning with chlorine.”

The Norwegian government has ordered more research. Concerned families there have been filtering tap water. A popular method has been to place sachets of coral sand, dredged from fjords, into water before it is drunk, removing all traces of chlorine in tap water in 15 minutes. In Canada, at Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia, researchers found that high levels of trihalomethanes, a by-product of chlorine in drinking water, significantly increased the risk of stillbirth.

Dr John Marshall, of the Pure Water Association, a pressure group which has been campaigning for safer drinking water, said: “It shows we should be paying more attention to the chemicals we put in drinking water and be looking for other alternatives to chlorination. A number of safe, non-toxic options exist, such as treating water with the gas ozone or ultra violet.”

Chlorine is in the same chemical group as fluoride, which has been linked with cancer and osteoporosis. There is also a connection between fluoride and increased blood pressure and an increase in problems with the thyroid gland. John Fawell, a leading specialist on water quality, and an independent industry consultant, said the British Government and water companies were taking the danger of birth defects seriously. He said: “The people who have done this work in Norway and the United States are reputable researchers and the Government and water companies have commissioned their own research from London University.

“But at present the conclusion of the World Health Organization and other concerned bodies is that the risk from contaminated water supplies outweighs the risk to health from chlorine. Levels of chlorine and its by-products have been falling in water and the amount coming out of the average tap is half a milliliter per liter.”

.

C.     Environment: Top 11 compounds in US drinking water
12 January 2009 by Rowan Hooper
<http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn16397-top-11-compounds-in-us-drinking-water.html&gt;

A comprehensive survey of the drinking water for more than 28 million Americans has detected the widespread, but low-level presence of pharmaceuticals and hormonally active chemicals.
[Photo at left: Our image of the kind of polluted water you might expect to find under the worst conditions in a 3rd World rcountry. We need to realize it’s not just how water looks that idicates it’s not healthy. Tap water in the USA looks clean and pure, but in large percent of the country, various types and concentrations of chemicals are in our drinking water. Chemicals that we can’t see it or taste. Think of this in the same way as nuclear radiation, we can’t see it or taste it, but a slightly higher doases over a number of years can injure you, or in the case of ‘high tech’ chemicals in the water, can disrupt activities in your body’s biochemistry causing premature illness, disability and a reduction in your quality of life over the long term.  lfp]

Little was known about people’s exposure to such compounds from drinking water, so Shane Snyder and colleagues at the Southern Nevada Water Authority in Las Vegas screened tap water from 19 US water utilities for 51 different compounds. The surveys were carried out between 2006 and 2007.

The 11 most frequently detected compounds – all found at extremely low concentrations – were:
•  Atenolol, a beta-blocker used to treat cardiovascular disease
•  Atrazine, an organic herbicide banned in the European Union, but still used in the US, which has been implicated in the decline of fish stocks and in changes in animal behaviour
•  Carbamazepine, a mood-stabilising drug used to treat bipolar disorder, amongst other things
•  Estrone, an oestrogen hormone secreted by the ovaries and blamed for causing gender-bending changes in fish
•  Gemfibrozil, an anti-cholesterol drug
•  Meprobamate, a tranquiliser widely used in psychiatric treatment
•  Naproxen, a painkiller and anti-inflammatory linked to increases in asthma incidence
•  Phenytoin, an anticonvulsant that has been used to treat epilepsy
•  Sulfamethoxazole, an antibiotic used against the Streptococcus bacteria, which is responsible for tonsillitis and other diseases
•  TCEP, a reducing agent used in molecular biology
•  Trimethoprim, another antibiotic

The concentrations of pharmaceuticals in drinking water were millions of times lower than in a medical dose, and Snyder emphasises that they pose no public health threat. He cautions, though, that “if a person has a unique health condition, or is concerned about particular contaminants in public water systems, I strongly recommend they consult their physician”.

Christian Daughton of the EPA’s National Exposure Research Laboratory says that neither this nor other recent water assessments give cause for health concern. “But several point to the potential for risk – especially for the fetus and those with severely compromised health.”

Daughton says the contamination surveys help people realize how they are intimately and inseparably connected with their environment. “The occurrence of pharmaceuticals in the environment also serves to make us acutely aware of the chemical sea that surrounds us,” he says.

Modern life
While the US government regulates the levels of pathogens in US drinking water, there are no rules for pharmaceuticals and other compounds, apart from one: the herbicide atrazine. The atrazine levels measured by Snyder and colleagues were well within federal limits.
Snyder says water utilities could make drinking water purer. But the costs of “extreme purification” – far beyond what is needed for safety alone – are huge in terms of increased energy usage and carbon footprint. Ultra-pure water might not even be safe, adds Snyder.
The widespread occurrence of pharmaceuticals and endocrine disruptors reflects improved detection techniques, rather than greater pollution, says Snyder. Contamination is a fact of modern life, he adds.
“As we continue to populate and aggregate, our wastes will certainly accumulate where we live,” he says. “We as a species have decided to live a modern life, with pharmaceuticals, plastics, transportation – therefore we must accept that there will be a certain degree of contamination.”
.

D.     Pharmaceuticals and ther Contaminants in Our Drinking Water?
http://health-compendium.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=121&Itemid=9
We can’t live without water…, tainted water may not seem like a big deal now, and without sounding to much like an alarmist it is an issue that will eventually affect all of us if something isn’t done soon (if it isn’t already). The issue of contaminants in the water that we drink has come to light lately in the press, and whether you believe the news or not, it is really an insidious detriment to society.

The reality of the situation is that we are completely dependent on water to survive; however we have a tendency to take this fact for granted. It is yet another environmental issue that lies just under the medical radar, and isn’t taken seriously because many ‘so called’ experts say we should not be concerned. Then there are the political issues; if the scientists that worked for the government and water treatment plants all over the U.S. let on as to how big an issue this is, there would be wide spread panic.
•  With that said; just to let you know how big a problem this is, contaminants such as pharmaceuticals and other chemicals in our drinking water has been shown to affect 41 million people that live in the U.S. Many of the largest cities in the country have reported that their water has been found to contain everything from antibiotics to anti-depressants, birth control pills, seizure medication, cancer treatment meds, hormones, pain killers, tranquilizers and derivatives of cholesterol-lowering compounds. This is only the tip of the iceberg, because when these meds come in contact with the chlorine that is already in the water, there is evidence that they become even more toxic than their original form.
•  These public water statistics are those that can be quantified because they are being extracted from documentation that comes from cities that keep these kinds of records. What about the folks that get their water from wells; this water isn’t filtered or treated in any way and therefore may contain higher concentrations of the above contaminants. So, where do these toxins come from, who is dumping them into the ecosystem? Well, the answer is fairly clear. Most of what is ending up in the system comes from the pharmaceutical industry, hospitals and millions of households around the country. When people are done with meds that they have not used up, they many times dispose of them by flushing what is left down the toilet, the other way they end up in circulation is by being excreted from the body as waste into the toilet, which then gets re-circulated in the water table. Most of these drugs pass through conventional sewage treatment facilities intact, and get re-deposited back into streams, lakes and even underground aquifers. The same goes for meds that have been tossed into the garbage, these pharmaceuticals often end up in dumps and landfills, and eventually again end up in our ground water. When researchers tested water from remote streams, they really didn’t expect to find much, but instead found as many as sixty different common pharmaceuticals…this really is shocking. The drugs they identified ranged from lipid-lowering drugs, antiseptics, antibiotics, beta-blockers, analgesics and contrast agents used to process X rays.
•  The information provided above has only touched on what comes from humans; the ‘other side of the coin’ are the hormones and other drugs that get deposited back into the environment as they are excreted from animals. Farm animals are also a source of contamination because they are injected with a host of drugs, and the rest they consume. An unknown fact is that approximately forty percent of the antibiotics used in the U.S. are fed to farm animals to increase yields. Many of the pharmaceuticals these animals excrete end up back in the ground water that surrounds many of our largest cities.
•  The above discusses only the pharmaceuticals, but there is much more to the story. Now take into account the millions of gallons of personal care products that people worldwide use every day, that end up in our bath water, septic tanks and sewage treatment plants. These chemicals are the active ingredients in soaps, toilet/shower cleaners, and shampoo’s which include an array of ingredients too long to list here. All of these also have a direct impact on the environment. Should we even talk about the pesticides, fertilizers and chemicals that are used on farms, in home gardens and those discarded by industry? It is mind boggling…

      There has been a considerable amount of press on this subject that has been printed lately, and some scientific organizations are just now starting to take note. However, much of what is being found isn’t getting much traction. You see; since a direct correlation between what is being found in the water that we are drinking can’t be directly tied to causing any specific disease, no one in a position of authority seems to want to take this issue on. It is really all about money, since there isn’t any monetary gain to be garnered from testing for these contaminants; it is difficult to get funding to do what is needed to make the case against the contamination that is on going.

      Some will say that these toxins were found only in trace amounts, which are in the parts per million or even lower range. This may be true, but what they don’t tell you is that many of these drugs are fat soluble and they will accumulate in the body over time. And if you are already taking some of these meds to treat a disease, ingesting extra amounts from external sources, even in small amounts can be toxic. This brings up the subject of antibiotic resistance; this occurs when the system becomes resistant to certain types and therefore doesn’t protect the body from what it is supposed to. Virus’s also become resistant to some drugs after long term exposure, they then mutate and the drugs no longer perform as they are supposed to.

      What is really disconcerting is that these contaminants also make their way into the food table, that is in fish and any other wild life that drink tainted waters, it can become concentrated in their bodies and then when ‘they’ are eaten as food, the recipient gets a much more concentrated dose than they would even get from water. So, you can see that it isn’t as simple as the people in charge make it out to be. When young girls start having their periods at age ten, and young boys start to appear with what is known as gynocomastia (man breasts), this is a problem and it is happening more and more each year. This doesn’t take into account the idiopathic pathologies that manifest in millions of people that the medical profession can’t treat, because they don’t make the connection between the environmental issue and the pathology that the patient is presenting with.

      So, you have to be the judge as to whether this is an issue for you and your children, you should read everything you can get your hands on that discusses this subject so you can make an educated decision. The only way that you can protect yourself as of right now is to purchase a reverse osmosis filtration system; this is the only sure way to ensure your drinking water is safe to consume. If you listen to the officials that claim there isn’t an problem, and that their treatment plants meet government standards for safety, well the standard right now really isn’t set up to show what levels are of concern, mostly because they claim it isn’t an issue to begin with. And even if it did, to filter and treat water at this level would cost millions, and no one wants to pick up the tab for that.

So, until such time that science can show that this issue can be tied directly to large groups of people manifesting a certain disease, those that are suffering from exposure and are presenting in the doctor’s office with sub-clinical symptoms that most doctors do not know how to treat or test for…,they will have to suffer. In the mean time, we will have to take charge and fend for ourselves. When it is all said and done though, your best defense is to drink clean water to start with.

Continued in Survival Manual/Social Issues/Modern Air & Water, Part 3 of 3.

1 Comment

Filed under Survival Manual, __2. Social Issues