Is the World Starting to Move to a Cashless Society?


Editor's Note:

Many people are concerned about a cashless society.  Some feel it is an unreasonable intrusion on personal liberty.  Some think it will make government more engaged in tracking one's spending and funds.    And then there are Christians who are very concerned that a cashless society will be used to force individuals to take the "Mark of the Beast".

My take?

I believe that governments and too big to fail banks are pushing to go cashless to prevent bank raids should their be a major world economic collapse or crash.  In American history the banking industry during the Great Depression could not seem to get on their feet from all the bank raids by depositors and bank holidays.  Wall Street Banks, per Dodd Frank, will not be bailed out when the next crisis happens; instead, their depositors and their savings will bail them out.

As you see governments and banks move more towards a cashless society, this is a sign of lack of confidence in the financial system.  It is also a good time to assess where you put your monies and assets.  Could we one morning wake up to an announcement that bank funds were seized for government debts as did Cyprus citizens experience?

cashless-society

The Cashless Society Cometh: European Nations Such As Sweden And Denmark Are ‘Eradicating Cash’

By Michael Snyder, on December 27th, 2015

Did you know that 95 percent of all retail sales in Sweden are cashless? And did you know that the government of Denmark has a stated goal of “eradicating cash” by the year 2030? All over the world, we are seeing a relentless march toward a cashless society, and nowhere is this more true than in northern Europe. In Sweden, hundreds of bank branches no longer accept or dispense cash, and thousands of ATM machines have been permanently removed. At this point, bills and coins only account for just 2 percent of the Swedish economy, and many stores no longer take cash at all. The notion of a truly “cashless society” was once considered to be science fiction, but now we are being told that it is “inevitable”, and authorities insist that it will enable them to thwart criminals, terrorists, drug runners, money launderers and tax evaders. But what will we give up in the process?

In Sweden, the transition to a cashless society is being enthusiastically embraced. The following is an excerpt from a New York Times article that was published on Saturday…

Parishioners text tithes to their churches. Homeless street vendors carry mobile credit-card readers. Even the Abba Museum, despite being a shrine to the 1970s pop group that wrote “Money, Money, Money,” considers cash so last-century that it does not accept bills and coins.

Few places are tilting toward a cashless future as quickly as Sweden, which has become hooked on the convenience of paying by app and plastic.

To me, giving money in church electronically seems so bizarre. But it is starting to happen here in the United States, and in Sweden some churches collect most of their tithes and offerings this way

During a recent Sunday service, the church’s bank account number was projected onto a large screen. Worshipers pulled out cellphones and tithed through an app called Swish, a payment system set up by Sweden’s biggest banks that is fast becoming a rival to cards.

Other congregants lined up at a special “Kollektomat” card machine, where they could transfer funds to various church operations. Last year, out of 20 million kronor in tithes collected, more than 85 percent came in by card or digital payment.

And of course it isn’t just Sweden that is rapidly transitioning to a cashless society. Over in Denmark, government officials have a goal “to completely do away with paper money” by the year 2030

Sweden is not the only country interested in eradicating cash. Its neighbor, Denmark, is also making great strides to lessen the circulation of banknotes in the country.

Two decades ago, roughly 80 percent of Danish citizens relied on hard cash while shopping. Fast forward to today, that figure has dropped dramatically to 25 percent.

We’re interested in getting rid of cash,” said Matas IT Director Thomas Grane. “The handling, security and everything else is expensive; so, definitely we want to push digital payments, and that’s of course why we introduced mobile payments to help this process.”

Eventually, establishments may soon have the right to reject cash- a practice that is common in Sweden. Government officials have set a 2030 deadline to completely do away with paper money.

Could you imagine a world where you couldn’t use cash for anything?

This is the direction things are going – especially in Europe.

As I have written about previously, cash transactions of more than 2,500 euros have already been banned in Spain, and France and Italy have both banned all cash transactions of more than 1,000 euros.

Little by little, cash is being eradicated, and what we have seen so far is just the beginning. 417 billion cashless transactions were conducted in 2014, and the final number for 2015 is projected to be much higher.

Banks like this change, because it enables them to make more money due to the fees that they collect from credit cards and debit cards. And governments like this change because electronic payments enable them to watch, track and monitor what we are all doing much more easily.

These days, very rarely does anyone object to what is happening. Instead, most of us just seem to accept that this change is “inevitable”, and we are being assured that it will be for the better. And no matter where in the world you go, the propaganda seems to be the same. For example, the following comes from an Australian news source

AND so we prepare to turn the page to fresh year — 2016, a watershed year in which Australia will accelerate towards becoming a genuine cashless society.

The cashless society will be a new world free of $1 and $2 coins, or $5 or $10 bank notes. A new world in which all commercial transactions, from buying an i-pad or a hamburger to playing the poker machines, purchasing a newspaper, paying household bills or picking up the dry-cleaning, will be paid for electronically.

And in that same article the readers are told that Australia will likely be “a fully cashless society” by 2022…

Research by Westpac Bank predicts Australia will be a fully cashless society by 2022 — just six years away. Already half of all commercial payments are now made electronically.

Even in some of the poorest areas on the entire globe we are seeing a move toward a cashless society. In 2015, banks in India made major progress on this front, and income tax rebates are being considered by the government as an incentive “to encourage people to move away from cash transactions“.

Would a truly cashless society reduce crime and make all of our lives much more efficient?

Maybe.

But what would we have to give up?

To me, America is supposed to be a place where we can go where we want and do what we want without the government constantly monitoring us. If people choose to use cashless forms of payment that is one thing, but if we are all required to go to such a system I fear that it could result in the loss of tremendous amounts of freedom and liberty.

And it is all too easy to imagine a world where a government-sponsored form of “identification” would be required to use any form of electronic payment. This would give the government complete control over who could use “the system” and who could not. The potential for various forms of coercion and tyranny in such a scenario is obvious.

What would you do if you could not buy, sell, get a job or open a bank account without proper “identification” someday? What you simply give in to whatever the government was demanding of you at the time even if it went against your fundamental beliefs?

That is certainly something to think about.

Many will cheer as the world makes a rapid transition to a cashless society, but I will not. I believe that a truly cashless system would open the door for great evil, and I don’t want any part of it.

What about you?

Would you welcome a cashless society?

Michael-Snyder-Bio-American-Dream

Times Are Challenging; Life is Precious

Editor's Note:

After the 2008 stock market crash, there was an increase in suicides.  Currently there are more Americans dying from suicides than from automobile accident deaths.

Increase in suicides are a reflection of challenging economic times.

Suicide is no solution for one's financial woes.  All it does is create grief, pain and lifelong emotional troubles for family and loved ones.  Children, for example, illogically believe that they are somehow responsible for his or her's parent's death.  Can you see that suicide is really a selfish act independent of the spiritual and religious questions it raises?


Canadian-Flag

Suicide, Crime, Unemployment And Poverty All Soar As The Economic Crisis In Alberta Accelerates

By Michael Snyder, on December 23rd, 2015

The nightmare that is currently unfolding up in Canada will soon be coming to the United States. When the price of oil first started crashing, most Americans and most Canadians applauded. Most people thought that lower gas prices would be really good for the economy. Well, it turns out that the exact opposite is true. Just like in the United States, the energy industry has been the primary engine for the growth of good paying jobs in Canada since the last recession. Up in Alberta, there was such a need for oil patch workers that even someone that had just recently graduated from high school could find an oil patch job that paid six figures during the boom times. Now the “boom” is turning into a “bust”, and huge numbers of those good paying jobs are being lost. As a result, suicide, crime, unemployment and poverty are all skyrocketing, and the mainstream media is telling us that “the worst is yet to come“.

It saddens me to watch what is happening to Alberta, because I have family up there. Whenever I have visited Alberta, I have been very impressed by how clean and orderly the communities are and by how very polite most people seem to be. As Americans, there is much that we could learn from our neighbors to the north.

But now that the oil bubble has burst, things are changing up in Alberta very rapidly. The following comes from a recent Bloomberg article

Crime is rising, home prices are falling and food banks are overwhelmed in Calgary as job losses spread. And the worst isn’t yet over in the heart of Canada’s oil patch.

Some of the city’s largest employers are poised to cut more jobs in 2016 as they reduce spending for a second straight year, adding to an estimated 40,000 oil and natural gas positions lost across the nation since the crude price rout began 18 months ago.

We all know someone who has lost a job,” Naheed Nenshi, the city’s mayor, said in a speech this month, lamenting the “funeral”-like atmosphere in the business community.

When we start digging into some of the hard numbers, things get even bleaker. Just check out these statistics

-A total of more than 63,000 jobs were lost in Alberta during the first eight months of 2015 alone.

-Over the past 12 months, the official unemployment rate in Calgary has shot up from 4.6 percent to 6.9 percent.

-Home sales in Calgary have plummeted 21 percent so far in 2015.

-Just since September, the number of school lunches for poor children provided by Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids has risen by 16 percent.

-Food bank use in the province of Alberta overall has jumped by a whopping 23 percent according to the most recent numbers.

-In Calgary, the number of commercial break-ins has nearly doubled over the past year.

-The number of bank robberies in Calgary has increased by 65 percent in 2015.

-The number of home invasions in Calgary has risen by 52 percent in 2015.

-Every time there is an economic downturn in Alberta, the suicide rate shoots up, and this year is no exception. It is being projected that the suicide rate will be about 30 percent higher this year than it was last year.

This is what happens when a “boom cycle” turns into a “bust cycle”, and the same thing is coming to the United States.

Even in the midst of our so-called “economic recovery”, poverty in America has continued to explode, suicide rates have continued to rise, and in many of our largest cities violent crime rates are up by double digit percentages in 2015.

If these things have been happening during the “good times”, what in the world are the “bad times” going to look like?

Just because the U.S. stock market is doing okay for the moment does not mean that the underlying economy is in good shape. The truth is that we are in the midst of a long-term economic collapse that is now starting to accelerate once again. For much more on this, please see my previous article entitled “Sayonara Middle Class: 22 Stunning Pieces Of Evidence That Show The Middle Class In America Is Dying“.

What is happening up in Alberta right now gives us some important clues about what we can expect to happen shortly in our own communities.

First of all, we are going to see large numbers of people start to lose their jobs just like we saw back in 2008. And because 62 percent of the country is living paycheck to paycheck, that means that most people do not have a cushion to fall back upon. Just like in 2008, millions upon millions of Americans will go from living a very comfortable middle class lifestyle to facing hard times and desperation very, very rapidly.

As fear and poverty spread, people will become desperate, and desperate people do desperate things.

Some will decide that their lives are no longer worth living and will turn to suicide. Others will turn to drugs, alcohol or pills. When things get tough, addictive behavior tends to rise, and this time around will probably be no exception.

Other Americans will turn to crime and violent behavior in their desperation. Just like we are seeing in Canada right now, home invasions, bank robberies and other forms of violent crime will increase.

But if you are prepared ahead of time, you and your family will have a chance to make it through the storm. That is why I am constantly urging my readers to prepare. If you wait until the storm is right on top of us, that will be too late to start preparing.

Right at this moment, things seem relatively quiet. Most of us have become trained to think in terms of 48 hour news cycles, and so we can be fooled by temporary lulls in the action.

Don’t be fooled. This period of relative quiet is about to come to an abrupt end, and 2016 is going to be far more chaotic than most people would dare to imagine.

So please get prepared for what is ahead now, while you still can.

Are Your Prepared for an Ebola pandemic or other health disaster?

                Editor's Note:

No one wants to think of the US or any country suffering a pandemic of some sorts, whether Ebola or otherwise.

But with the total international mismanagement of this particular pandemic, i.e., letting people fly to and from these countries with serious outbreaks, do you come to the conclusion that governments are generally challenged organizations on these issues?

This situation has been mismanaged.

Now we learn from a recently leaked Border Patrol internal report that individuals from these countries are also coming across our porous Southern Border.

Instead of being in fear and trembling waiting for the next announcement from the government, why don't you start preparing at home in case they continue to mismanage the situation?

For example, boost your immune system through nutrition.  Stop eating the GMO, MSG, hidden msg and aspartame trash the grocery stores sell. 

Supplement with vitamins, herbs and work on detoxing your body.

Stock up on food and water reserves in case you need to 'informally quarantine" yourself and your family for 3 to 6 months minimum.

Find alternative water supplies from friends who have wells in case there is a bottled water shortage such as occurred in the Toledo area recently.

Just standing there helpless, looking like a deer in the headlights, achieves NOTHING

Working on alternative risk management plans gives one peace of mind.

Read the below article for food for thought.  You don't have to go there unless you want to be an ostrich that sticks its head in the sand. 

Think about it!​

What Will It Mean If The Potential Ebola Victim In New York City Actually Has The Virus?

Ebola In New York CityOn Monday, we learned that a "possible Ebola patient" was being treated at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.  We are being told that this individual recently returned from a country in Africa where there have been confirmed cases of Ebola.  So that would narrow it down to Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia and Nigeria.  The patient is being described as a male "with high fever and gastrointestinal symptoms".  The hospital says that "necessary steps are being taken to ensure the safety of all patients, visitors and staff".  But could you imagine the panic that is going to be created if there actually is a confirmed case of Ebola in the heart of New York City?  There is nothing in the post-World War II era that would even be comparable.  Certainly 9/11 created fear for a short period of time, but a full-blown Ebola outbreak would create a panic that could potentially last for months or even years.

And this comes on the heels of another Ebola scare in the United Kingdom.  According to a British news source, a seriously ill 72-year-old woman "collapsed and died" after getting off a plane from Sierra Leone at Gatwick Airport...

Airport staff tonight told of their fears of an Ebola outbreak after a passenger from Sierra Leone collapsed and died as she got off a plane at Gatwick.

Workers said they were terrified the virus could spread globally through the busy international hub from the West African country which is in the grip of the deadly epidemic.

The woman, said to be 72, became ill on the gangway after she left a Gambia Bird jet with 128 passengers on board. She died in hospital on Saturday.

Officials tell us that the plane was rapidly quarantined and that they were tracking down anyone that had been in contact with that woman.

I don't know about you, but all of this is starting to remind me of some of the really bad Hollywood disaster movies that I have seen.

In my article yesterday, I included the following chart which shows how this Ebola outbreak is beginning to grow at an exponential pace...

Ebola Outbreak - Photo by Leopoldo Martin R

Well, today the World Health Organization says that the total number of cases has risen to 1,663 and the total number of deaths has risen to 887.  So just imagine what that chart would look like now.  Yes, it is definitely not an exaggeration to use the word "exponential" to describe what is happening.

If Ebola does start spreading inside the United States, it would be incredibly disruptive to our way of life.

In areas where there were confirmed cases of Ebola, it is inevitable that schools would be shut down and large gatherings of people such as concerts and sporting events would be cancelled.  In addition, due to fear of catching the virus, foot traffic at grocery stores and shopping malls would drop off dramatically.  If the panic lasted for multiple months, our economy would essentially grind to a halt.  Most economic activity still involves face to face interaction, and if people are afraid that if they go out in public they might catch a disease that will kill them, it would create an economic disaster of unprecedented proportions.

And what happens if strict travel restrictions (to prevent the spread of the disease) or plain old fear cause massive interruptions in our transportation system?  Almost all economic activity involves moving something from one location to another, and if we are not able to move stuff around because of an Ebola pandemic, that would create nightmarish problems almost immediately.  For example, the following is an excerpt from a report released by the American Trucker Associations that I discussed in a previous article...

*****

A Timeline Showing the Deterioration of Major Industries Following a Truck Stoppage

The first 24 hours

• Delivery of medical supplies to the affected area will cease.
• Hospitals will run out of basic supplies such as syringes and catheters within hours. Radiopharmaceuticals will deteriorate and become unusable.
• Service stations will begin to run out of fuel.
• Manufacturers using just-in-time manufacturing will develop component shortages.
• U.S. mail and other package delivery will cease.

Within one day

• Food shortages will begin to develop.
• Automobile fuel availability and delivery will dwindle, leading to skyrocketing prices and long lines at the gas pumps.
• Without manufacturing components and trucks for product delivery,
assembly lines will shut down, putting thousands out of work.

Within two to three days

• Food shortages will escalate, especially in the face of hoarding and consumer panic.
• Supplies of essentials—such as bottled water, powdered milk, and
canned meat—at major retailers will disappear.
• ATMs will run out of cash and banks will be unable to process
transactions.
• Service stations will completely run out of fuel for autos and trucks.
• Garbage will start piling up in urban and suburban areas.
• Container ships will sit idle in ports and rail transport will be disrupted, eventually coming to a standstill.

Within a week

• Automobile travel will cease due to the lack of fuel. Without autos and busses, many people will not be able to get to work, shop for groceries, or access medical care.
• Hospitals will begin to exhaust oxygen supplies.

Within two weeks

• The nation’s clean water supply will begin to run dry.

Within four weeks

• The nation will exhaust its clean water supply and water will be safe for drinking only after boiling. As a result gastrointestinal illnesses will increase, further taxing an already weakened health care system.

This timeline presents only the primary effects of a freeze on truck travel. Secondary effects must be considered as well, such as inability to maintain telecommunications service, reduced law enforcement, increased crime, increased illness and injury, higher death rates, and likely, civil unrest.

*****

Are you starting to get the picture?

A major transportation disruption would not just result in an economic downturn.  Many Americans would start running out of food and basic supplies very rapidly.  Without the ability to constantly resupply at the grocery store, a lot of people would start giving in to panic in just a matter of days.

And needless to say, a full-blown Ebola outbreak would wreak havoc on our financial system.  The stock market would almost certainly collapse and we would witness a credit crunch that would be absolutely unprecedented.  Nobody would want to lend to anybody in the midst of an Ebola pandemic.  The flow of money through our system would come to a screeching halt, and we would be facing an economic nightmare that would make 2008 look like a Sunday picnic.

So let us hope and pray that this crisis goes away and that Ebola does not start spreading across the country.

Because if it does, it could potentially kill millions of people, destroy our economy and plunge this nation into utter madness.

Michael is a Guest Columnist.  He has multiple websites where he writes on economic, cultural and ethics issues.  Michael has a B.S. in Business and Commerce from the University of Virginia.  He also earned a law degree (J.D.) as well as a Masters in Law (LL.M.) in Taxation from the University of Florida.

Michael is wise beyond his years.  He's graciously allowed this ministry to publish his articles in full.  This particular article comes from theeconomiccollapseblog.com.​

Western Water Crisis Is Expanding

Western US water crisis worse than thought

Nasa study finds dramatic loss of underground water in Colorado River Basin

By ,US Correspondent of London Telegraph

8:24PM BST 24 Jul 2014

Photo by Bureau of Reclamation/NASA

The water crisis in the south west of the US is likely to worsen according to a new study carried out by the American space agency and University of California.

Research has found that the Colorado River Basin, the prime source of water in the region, is being sucked dry.

Only last week California announced daily fines of $500 (£300) for residents who water their lawns with nearly four fifths of the state being classified as being under “extreme” and “exceptional” drought conditions.

The Colorado River is the only major river in the southwestern US, with the basin supplying water to 40 million people in seven states and irrigating around four million acres of farmland.

In California, the basin is a key source of water for Los Angeles and San Diego.

The new study is the first to look at the role of groundwater in the parched region and has been carried out against a backdrop of a severe drought dating back to 2000.

A series of monthly measurements have shown that over nine years the Colorado River Basin lost nearly twice as much water as Lake Mead, Nevada – the country’s largest reservoir.

“We don’t know exactly how much groundwater we have left, so we don’t know when we’re going to run out,” said Stephanie Castle, a water resources specialist at the University of California, Irvine.

“This is a lot of water to lose. We thought that the picture could be pretty bad, but this was shocking.”

Jay Famiglietti, the senior water cycle scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, warned the findings have long term implications for the entire region.

“The Colorado River Basin is the water lifeline of the western United States,” he said.

“With Lake Mead at its lowest level ever, we wanted to explore whether the basin, like most other regions around the world, was relying on groundwater to make up for the limited surface-water supply.

“We found a surprisingly high and long-term reliance on groundwater to bridge the gap between supply and demand.

“Combined with declining snowpack and population growth, this will likely threaten the long-term ability of the basin to meet its water allocation commitments to the seven basin states and to Mexico.”

Read More

Switzerland China Currency Swap Through Their Central Banks

Editor's Note

The Chinese keep expanding the use of mutual currency swaps to do an end run around the U.S. Dollar.  Now Switzerland China currency swap is added to the growing list.

Here's the countries I have found, prior to the Swiss, that have entered into the currency swap arrangements with China since 2008:

  • ​Pakistan
  • Argentina
  • South Korea
  • Indonesia
  • New Zealand
  • Malaysia
  • Belarus
  • Hong Kong
  • Japan
  • Uzbekistan
  • Thailand
  • Turkey
  • Singapore
  • Kazathstan
  • Chile
  • India
  • Brazil
  • United Kingdom
  • France
  • South Africa
  • Germany
  • Nigeria
  • United Arab Emirates (UAE)
  • Australia
  • Iran
  • Russa
  • Switzerland
  • Mongolia
  • Iceland
  • Hungary

This list may not have all the countries agreeing to go outside the dollar and do currency swaps with China.  (I DID NOT DO A SEARCH ON EACH INDIVIDUAL COUNTRY AND THEIR CURRENCIES.)  But the currency swaps are expanding to the Central Banks to include the ECB (European Central Bank) to now the Swiss Central Bank.  The Swiss are a major player in world banking and finance.

And let's not forget, whether our national and international policies are right or wrong, this year we have alienated more countries, such as Russia and France (especially with the sanctions) ​to move away from the US Dollar.

Truthfully if this present trend continues and we have more international issues, without some real solutions to our monetary policy issues, you have to ask yourself:  Will the US Dollar still be the world's reserve currency by the end of 2015?​

Why does it matter whether the US Dollar is the world's reserve currency?  Can't we just use the US Dollar at home? 

Yes, you can use the US Dollar at home.  We spend trillions in international trade and are highly dependent on it.  In fact 20% of your food supply is IMPORTED.  We have been exporting our manufacturing base since George Bush Sr. 41 was president.  Since we have been exporting our manufacturing base we are dependent on IMPORTS for our economy and individual use

Can you now see that we will experience our modern Weimar Republic (Germany post WWi), an onslaught of meteoric rise of inflation in major economic sectors of our economy,  once other countries loose faith in the US Dollar as the trading instrument?

I encourage everyone to keep following the currency swaps on their own.  The media seems to focus only on the BRICS countries, but they are just a fraction of what is going on. Follow the trend.​

Be on your toes so your dollars, income and savings can go farther!

Swiss, Chinese Central Banks Enter Currency Swap Agreement

By Dow Jones Business News, July 21, 2014, 04:12:00 AM EDT

By Neil MacLucas and Richard Silk

ZURICH--The Swiss National Bank and the People's Bank of China reached a currency swap agreement on Monday, allowing the two central banks to buy and sell their currencies up to a limit of 150 billion renminbi, or 21 billion Swiss francs ($23.4 billion).

The deal will also allow the Swiss central bank to invest some of its huge accumulation of foreign exchange reserves in the Chinese bond market, the SNB said in a statement Monday.

The Zurich-based SNB said the agreement will further strengthen collaboration between it and its Chinese counterpart and is a "key requisite for the development of a renminbi market in Switzerland." It could also facilitate trade and investment between the two countries, the PBOC said.

Switzerland is the latest of a series of countries to set up swap lines with China, which is keen to promote the international use of the yuan.

Last year China signed swap agreements with the European Central Bank and a clutch of others, including the U.K., Brazil and Indonesia.

The agreement between China and Switzerland has a term of three years and can be renewed thereafter, the PBOC said.

Write to Neil MacLucas at neil.maclucas@wsj.com and Richard Silk at richard.silk@dowjones.com


Read more: http://www.nasdaq.com/article/swiss-chinese-central-banks-enter-currency-swap-agreement-20140721-00068#ixzz38JjLmYOq

Drought Crisis: Ingenuity Reigns

  Editor's Note:

Have you heard of the expression:  "Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

That's what Californians are facing with the water crisis.  The state is going to fine $500 for water use beyond emergency measures.  The local communities are going to fine $500 for not watering your lawn because of fire hazard and aesthetics.

​So what happens?

American Ingenuity!  A new business of painting your lawn grass to look like it is healthy.

Although sad, this article is also a hoot!  Americans don't have to be held done unless they choose to be.  Think about it!​

Enter your text here...

Painters color match parts of the lawn that are still green using dyes mixed with water, and sprayed onto the grass.

SoCal Homeowners Spray-Painting Lawns Green To Avoid Water Fees During Drought

by Gregg Rosenblum July 20, 2014 7:04 PM from www.sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/ A man spray-paints a lawn in Southern California during a severe drought. (CBS)

A man spray-paints a lawn in Southern California during a severe drought. (CBS)

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LOS ANGELES (CBS SF) — Homeowners in Los Angeles are facing tough choices in keeping their lawns green during a devastating drought, pushing some far enough to spray paint them.

Business for lawn painters like Kerry McCoy is booming now that the state is sanctioning homeowners for excessive water use.

“As soon as the water sanctions hit, and as soon as people find their water bills rising, they’re looking for ways to cut back on their expenses, and that’s when they start calling,” she said.

More: KPIX Drought Coverage

McCoy says the grass doesn’t die completely, and when winter rains come, the lawn will turn green again on their own.

Read more on the California Drought at http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2014/07/20/socal-homeowners-spray-painting-lawns-green-to-avoid-water-fees-during-drought-grass-spray-paint-sanctions-water-bills-excessive/

Rising Inflation: People Realizing the Government Figures Aren’t Accurate

Editor's Note:

Do you think that the federal government statistics are accurate?

Dr.Paul Craig Roberts has written extensively on this.  I refer you to his website, www.paulcraigroberts.org.  

Basically in the Clinton administration they changed the way we calculated unemployment (which led to underreporting) and inflation the government had used for over 100 years.  If you want to know the numbers based on the historical way inflation was calculated for over 100 years based upon today's data, see the website www.shadowstats.com of economist John Williams.

The truth is inflation is accelerating.  Whether this country follows what happened to the German Republic after WWI remains to be seen.  

What we also know wages are not increasing at a rate to offset the inflation.  (Instead, when inflation rises it seems that some employers cut payroll.)

Look below at how food prices have been increasing and what others are reporting.  Judge things by what you are experiencing.  For example at the grocery store you are seeing price increases in three ways:  (1) direct price increase; (2) decreasing quantity for the same or slightly higher price and (3) reformulation with cheaper ingredients and fillers.

Food prices are a faster rising sector due to many factors, i.e., the drought, 20% of our food being imported, the devaluation of the dollar, etc.

You can mitigate significantly the food inflation by locking in your prices with freeze dried and dehydrated foods.  I encourage you to consider storing Thrive because it really has the best quality all around among the freeze dried food companies.

Inflation where it matters: Close to 50 percent of Americans indicate spending more on groceries and fuel this summer. Nearly one third indicate more spending on rent and mortgage payments

By myfoodbudget360.com

The stock market continues to move upwards ambivalent to economic indicators and the reality that inflation is permeating throughout our economy. The Fed continues to point at CPI as evidence that inflation remains subdued and this gives them the motivation to move forward with monetary policies that we have never embarked upon. We are already getting a taste of the bigger consequences including a growing low wage labor force. A recent Gallup survey found that Americans are spending more money on items that actually matter and items that consume a large portion of a household’s budget. This is key here in understanding the nature of inflation. Items like housing, healthcare, food, and energy make up a large portion of spending. Yet the Fed looks at other items that consume a small part of a household’s budget and balance out the overall picture. What you get is a massive understating of inflation and a stock market heavily juiced on easy money. Large pools of money are chasing real assets and crowding out regular Americans from the market.

Where inflation matters

It is interesting to see how people react to a constant feed of distorted information. The message is clear and it is one that is underplaying inflation. The tone set by the Fed is one in which monetary easing should continue to go on because inflation is simply not happening in the real economy. This could not be further from the truth.

Looking at the Gallup survey, you can find that Americans are spending more on the items that already consume a large part of their budgets:

Inflation

Source: Gallup, GS

Read More at http://www.mybudget360.com/inflation-where-it-matters-inflation-2014-data-inflation-items/

Escalating Food Prices Are Here

                Editor's Note

I've been sharing various reports that food prices are increasing.

For example, from January 1, 2014 to the March report on zerohedge.com, food prices (reported by Bloomberg) went up 19%.

           

from Zerohedge.com March 26, 2014

Food prices are continuing their upward climb as the article by Michael Snyder below documents.

WIth all of the food pricing volatility, drought and current world events it is being a wise steward to store some food that you and your family routinely eat so you can cost average and lower your food bill.

Unfortunately the drought will probably be impacting food costs through 2015.

That's one of the great things about freeze dried and dehydrated foods.  They last so much longer than the shelf life of grocery store foods.  Plus our food comes in BPA free cans and we help you avoid GMOs, MSG, hidden MSG, aspartame, food processing chemicals, gluten, and more! 

If the food inflation issue did not exist, we are a much healthier alternative to the traditional grocery store.  And we are more convenient and help cut your meal prep times 50% or more since everything comes chopped, cut, prepped and clean!

So please do your wallet and your health a favor by trying Thrive!  I will show you how to get the lowest price possible if you just email me at thrive@northstate.net.​

If This Keeps Up, They Will Have To Start Putting Armed Guards On Food Trucks

By Michael T. Snyder, Guest Columnist, 7/17/2014 of TheEconomicCollapseBlog.com

The basic necessities in life just keep getting more expensive.  On Tuesday, Hershey announced that the price of all of their chocolate bars is going to go up by about 8 percent.  That is particularly distressing to me, because I am known to love chocolate.  But if it was just chocolate that was becoming significantly more expensive perhaps that would be okay.  Last month, it was coffee.  J.M. Smucker, one of the largest coffee producers in the United States, announced that it planned to raise coffee prices by about 9 percent.  And Starbucks has announced a bunch of price increases across the board on their coffee products.  Of course we could all survive without chocolate and coffee, but as you will see below just about every food category is becoming more expensive.  If this keeps up, could we eventually see armed guards in grocery stores and on food trucks?

On Wednesday, Robert Wenzel of the Economic Policy Journal shared some new data that has just been released by the federal government about food inflation over the past year.  Without a doubt, these numbers are quite startling...

According to the latest data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, year-over-year gains in some food products at the producer level have been truly spectacular.

Eggs for fresh use are up 33.9%.

Pork is up 28%.

Processed turkeys are up 20.4%.

Dairy products are up 10.7%.

Fresh and dry vegetables are up 8.4%.

Fresh fruits and melons are up 7.5%.

Unfortunately, paychecks for most American families are not going up at similar rates.

What that means is more pain when we make our trips to the grocery store.  Things have gotten so bad that even the mainstream media is running stories about this.  For example, this excerpt comes from a recent CNBC article...

"I try to do all my local errands in one day and go up to the mall," said Helon Rapfogel of New Jersey. "I used to go maybe twice or three times a week, and now I just go one day a week, if that much. And I try to consolidate things."

Rapfogel said that higher costs for food and gas are hitting her overall budget.

"You sacrifice things. Like not doing an ice cream run during the week with the kids. [That could] hurt the local retailers, and we don't want to do that ... but we may have to," she said.

At the grocery store, meat, dairy and fruit prices are all up substantially. People are even paying more for lattes at their local coffee shops. And it's not just food—gas prices have jumped sharply on geopolitical unrest, and at the moment there's no relief in sight.

So why is all of this happening?

Well, the truth is that a lot of factors have combined to produce something of a perfect storm.

First of all, we should talk about Federal Reserve money printing.  Since the last financial crisis, the Fed has been on an unprecedented money printing spree.  This has dramatically pushed up the prices of stocks, commodities and just about everything else.  It was naive to think that we wouldn't eventually see substantial food inflation as well.  Just look at what "quantitative easing" has done to M1 since the last recession...

M1 Money Supply 2014

When you have more dollars chasing roughly the same amount of goods and services of course prices are going to go up.

It is just basic economics.

But according to Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, there is absolutely no reason to be concerned.  The following is a video of her telling the press her view on inflation that I shared in a previous article...

But crazy Fed money printing is not the only reason why food prices are going up.

The endless drought in the western half of the country is severely hurting food production as well.  The size of the U.S. cattle herd has shrunk for seven years in a row, and it is now the smallest that it has been since 1951.  And the drought is hitting the state of California particularly hard, and considering the fact that it produces nearly half of all of our fresh produce that is more than a little bit alarming.  Yes, we are more technologically advanced that we used to be, but we are not advanced enough to overcome an epic multi-year drought in half the nation.

In addition, we are also dealing with the worst pork virus to ever hit the United States right now.  Porcine epidemic diarrhea has already wiped out about 10 percent of the pig population in the U.S., and approximately 100,000 more are dying each week.  As you saw above, pork prices are already up 28 percent over the past 12 months, and if a solution is not found to this virus the price increases are going to get much worse.

Down in Florida, citrus growers are facing a horrific outbreak of citrus greening disease.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture says that orange production in the U.S. will be down 18 percent compared to last year, and it is expected that this will be the worst crop in close to 30 years.

Another plague known as the TR4 fungus has hit banana production.  According to CNBC, this horrible fungus may eventually completely wipe out the variety of bananas that we eat today…

Banana lovers take note: The world’s supply of the fruit is under attack from a fungus strain that could wipe out the popular variety that Americans eat.

“It’s a very serious situation,” said Randy Ploetz, a professor of plant pathology at the University of Florida who in 1989 originally discovered a strain of Panama disease, called TR4, that may be growing into a serious threat to U.S. supplies of the fruit and Latin American producers.

“There’s nothing at this point that really keeps the fungus from spreading,” he said in an interview with CNBC.

While there are nearly 1,000 varieties of bananas, the most popular is the Cavendish, which accounts for 45 percent of the fruit’s global crop—and the one Americans mostly find in their supermarkets.

For decades, Americans have been able to go to the grocery stores and fill up their carts with massive amounts of very inexpensive food.

But just because it has been that way for so many years does not mean that it will be that way in the future.

Right now, there are 49 million Americans that are dealing with food insecurity, and that number will only get worse as food prices go even higher.

It is getting to the point where it is not too hard to imagine desperate people holding up food trucks and robbing grocery stores in order to feed themselves and their families.

Let us hope that we don't see anything like that any time soon, but we are moving in that direction.

Just a few years ago, the notion that we could ever see armed guards on food trucks or in grocery stores in the United States was absolutely unthinkable.

But now, it is not so crazy.

Drought Monitor: Is A Severe Food Supply Crisis On the Horizon?

                Editor's Note           

The only way to save money on the fast rising grocery tab is for you to store some food.  Specifically you should store foods that your family regularly eat and are more subject to the higher price increases.

As my previously published research shows California has a strangehold on your grocery cart. Most of the produce, whether fruits, vegetables, nuts, etc. come from California. 

I encourage you to revisit these articles:

Make a list of those crops your family loves and start storing today!  If you want to purchase Thrive for some of those items, contact me at thrive@northstate.net.  I will work with you to get you the lowest possible price.

20 Signs The Epic Drought In The Western United States Is Starting To Become Apocalyptic

By Michael T. Snyder, July 15, 2014, Guest Columnist, TheEconomicCollapseBlog.com.

​When scientists start using phrases such as "the worst drought" and "as bad as you can imagine" to describe what is going on in the western half of the country, you know that things are bad.  Thanks to an epic drought that never seems to end, we are witnessing the beginning of a water crisis that most people never even dreamed was possible in this day and age.  The state of California is getting ready to ban people from watering their lawns and washing their cars, but if this drought persists we will eventually see far more extreme water conservation measures than that.  And the fact that nearly half of all of the produce in America comes out of the state of California means that ultimately this drought is going to deeply affect all of us.  Food prices have already been rising at an alarming rate, and the longer this drought goes on the higher they will go.   Let us hope and pray that this drought is permanently broken at some point, because otherwise we could very well be entering an era of extreme water rationing, gigantic dust storms and crippling food prices.  The following are 20 signs that the epic drought in the western half of the United States is starting to become apocalyptic...

#1 According to the Los Angeles Times, downtown Los Angeles is now the driest that it has been since records began being kept all the way back in 1877.

#2 The California State Water Resources Control Board says that nearly 50 communities are already on the verge of running out of water.

#3 In a desperate attempt to conserve water, the state of California is considering banning watering lawns and washing cars.  Once implemented, violators will be slapped with a $500 fine for each offense.

#4 It has been reported that a new social media phenomenon known as "drought shaming" has begun in California.  People are taking videos and photos of their neighbors wasting water and posting them to Facebook and Twitter.

#5 Climate scientist Tim Barnett says that the water situation in Las Vegas "is as bad as you can imagine", and he believes that unless the city "can find a way to get more water from somewhere" it will soon be "out of business".

#6 The water level in Lake Mead has now fallen to the lowest level since 1937, and it continues to drop at a frightening pace.  You can see some incredible photos of what has happened to Lake Mead right here.

#7 Rob Mrowka of the Center for Biological Diversity believes that the city of Las Vegas is going to be forced to downsize because of the lack of water...

The drought is like a slow spreading cancer across the desert. It's not like a tornado or a tsunami, bang. The effects are playing out over decades. And as the water situation becomes more dire we are going to start having to talk about the removal of people (from Las Vegas).

#8 In some areas of southern Nevada, officials are actually paying people to remove their lawns in a desperate attempt to conserve water.

#9 According to Accuweather, "more than a decade of drought" along the Colorado River has set up an "impending Southwest water shortage" which could ultimately affect tens of millions of people.

#10 Most people don't realize this, but the once mighty Colorado River has become so depleted that it no longer runs all the way to the ocean.

#11 Lake Powell is less than half full at this point.

#12 It is being projected that the current drought in California will end up costing the state more than 2 billion dollars this year alone.

#13 Farmers in California are allowing nearly half a million acres to lie fallow this year due to the extreme lack of water.

#14 The lack of produce coming from the state of California will ultimately affect food prices in the entire nation.  Just consider the following statistics from a recent Business Insider article...

California is one of the U.S.'s biggest food producers — responsible for almost half the country's produce and nuts and 25% of our milk and cream. Eighty percent of the world's almonds come from the state, and they take an extraordinary amount of water to produce — 1.1 gallons per almond.

#15 As underground aquifers are being relentlessly drained in California, some areas of the San Joaquin Valley are sinking by 11 inches a year.

#16 It is being projected that the Kansas wheat harvest will be the worst that we have seen since 1989.

#17 The extended drought has created ideal conditions for massive dust storms to form.  You can see video of one female reporter bravely reporting from the middle of a massive dust storm in Phoenix right here.

#18 Things are so dry in California right now that people are actually starting to steal water.  For example, one Mendocino County couple recently had 3,000 gallons of water stolen from them.  It was the second time this year that they had been hit.

#19 At the moment, close to 80 percent of the state of California is experiencing either "extreme" or "exceptional" drought.

#20 National Weather Service meteorologist Eric Boldt says that this is "the worst drought we probably have seen in our lifetime".

Most people just assume that this drought will be temporary, but experts tell us that there have been "megadroughts" throughout history in the western half of the United States that have lasted for more than 100 years.

If we have entered one of those eras, it is going to fundamentally change life in America.

And the frightening thing is that much of the rest of the world is dealing with water scarcity issues right now as well.  In fact, North America is actually in better shape than much of Africa and Asia.  For much more on this, please see my previous article entitled "25 Shocking Facts About The Earth’s Dwindling Water Resources".

Without plenty of fresh water, modern civilization is not possible.

And right now, the western United States and much of the rest of the world is starting to come to grips with the fact that we could be facing some very serious water shortages in the years ahead.

So what is the solution?

Big Corporations Power Over Your Food Supply

                Editor's Note           

You should pay attention to the concentration of our food supply. It is bad for your health and your wallet.

When power gets concentrated:

  • ​Higher prices result because price fixing is easier, i.e., YOUR GROCERY BILL INCREASES!
  • You have less choice of products, i.e., cheaper ingredients, GMOs, MSG, hidden MSG, aspartame, etc.
  • Innovation gets decreased because competition becomes more difficult;
  • You have less influence over product ingredients.

Stay away from Walmart!  It's sick that a third of the groceries are bought there!  Walmart heavily relies upon imported food from China.  Food grown in China has all kinds of safety issues.  Please see my page, http://survive-thrive.us/food-country-of-origin/.  Country of origin does matter for your health.  Also a recent study this year found that 54% of the food sold in Walmart would not meet Whole Foods standards to be sold in their stores.  Whole Foods has issues but nothing like Walmart, which I consider the bottom of the pit.

I visit a variety of grocery stores for market observations.  It is very striking time after time observing the physiological differences between shoppers at Trader Joes and Whole Foods compared to Walmart.  Many of the  grocery shoppers at Walmart are grossly morbidly obese yet when you visit Trader Joes or Whole Foods you do not see that degree of obesity there.  Just go and observe for yourself. 

It makes you wonder could it be the foods these shoppers are selecting that is contributing to their physiological presence and health issues?​

​(You don't have to go to Walmart to save on your groceries.  You can afford to stay out of Walmart by eating Thrive foods.  Just contact me and I will show you how to save 20 to 40% or more by planning and not wasting food.)

Vote for your health and your pocketbook with your dollars!  Avoid purchasing any of these brands if at all possible!

Pay attention to the diagram below.  Vote for your health and your pocketbook with your dollars!  Avoid purchasing any of these brands if at all possible!

For enlargement of diagram: http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/10-Corporations-Control-What-We-Eat.png

Big Corporations Have An OVERWHELMING Amount Of Power Over Our Food Supply

By Michael T. Snyder, Guest Columnist, of TheEconomicCollapseBlog.com​

​From our fields to our forks, huge corporations have an overwhelming amount of power over our food supply every step of the way.  Right now there are more than 313 million people living in the United States, and the job of feeding all of those people is almost entirely in the hands of just a few dozen monolithic companies.  If you do not like how our food is produced or you don't believe that it is healthy enough, it isn't very hard to figure out who is to blame.  These mammoth corporations are not in business to look out for the best interests of the American people.  Rather, the purpose of these corporations is to maximize wealth for their shareholders.  So the American people end up eating billions of pounds of extremely unhealthy food that is loaded with chemicals and additives each year, and we just keep getting sicker and sicker as a society.  But these big corporations are raking in big profits, so they don't really care.

If we did actually have a capitalist system in this country, we would have a high level of competition in the food industry.  But instead, the U.S. food industry has become increasingly concentrated with each passing year.  Just consider the following numbers about the U.S. agricultural sector...

The U.S. agricultural sector suffers from abnormally high levels of concentration. Most economic sectors have concentration ratios around 40%, meaning that the top four firms in the industry control 40% of the market. If the concentration ratio is above 40%, experts believe competition can be threatened and market abuses are more likely to occur: the higher the number, the bigger the threat.

The concentration ratios in the agricultural sector are shocking.

-Four companies own 83.5% of the beef market.
-The top four firms own 66% of the hog industry.
-The top four firms control 58.5% of the broiler chicken industry.
-In the seed industry, four companies control 50% of the proprietary seed market and 43% of the commercial seed market worldwide.
-When it comes to genetically engineered (GE) crops, just one company, Monsanto, boasts control of over 85% of U.S. corn acreage and 91% of U.S. soybean acreage.

When so much power is concentrated in so few hands, it creates some tremendous dangers.

And many of these giant corporations (such as Monsanto) are extremely ruthless.  Small farmers all over America are being wiped out and forced out of the business by the predatory business practices of these huge companies...

Because farmers rely on both buyers and sellers for their business, concentrated markets squeeze them at both ends. Sellers with high market power can inflate the prices of machinery, seeds, fertilizers and other goods that farmers need for their farms, while powerful buyers, such as processors, suppress the prices farmers are paid. The razor-thin profit margins on which farmers are forced to operate often push them to "get big or get out"—expanding into mega-operations or exiting the business altogether.

Of course the control that big corporations have over our food supply does not end at the farms.

The distribution of our food is also very highly concentrated.  The graphic shared below was created by Oxfam International, and it shows how just 10 gigantic corporations control almost everything that we buy at the grocery store...

10 Corporations Control What We Eat

And these food distributors are often not very good citizens either.

For example, it was recently reported that Nestle is running a massive bottled water operation on a drought-stricken Indian reservation in California...

Among the windmills and creosote bushes of San Gorgonio Pass, a nondescript beige building stands flanked by water tanks. A sign at the entrance displays the logo of Arrowhead 100% Mountain Spring Water, with water flowing from a snowy mountain. Semi-trucks rumble in and out through the gates, carrying load after load of bottled water.

The plant, located on the Morongo Band of Mission Indians’ reservation, has been drawing water from wells alongside a spring in Millard Canyon for more than a decade. But as California’s drought deepens, some people in the area question how much water the plant is bottling and whether it’s right to sell water for profit in a desert region where springs are rare and underground aquifers have been declining.

Nestle doesn't stop to ask whether it is right or wrong to bottle water in the middle of the worst drought in the recorded history of the state of California.

They have the legal right to do it and they are making large profits doing it, and so they are just going to keep on doing it.

Perhaps you are thinking that you can avoid all of these corporations by eating organic and by shopping at natural food stores.

Well, it isn't necessarily that easy.

According to author Wenonah Hauter, the "health food industry" is also extremely concentrated...

Over the past 20 years, Whole Foods Market has acquired its competition, including Wellspring Grocery, Bread of Life, Bread & Circus, Food for Thought, Fresh Fields, Wild Oats Markets and others. Today the chain dominates the market because it has no national competitor. Over the past five years its gross sales have increased by half (47 percent) to $11.7 billion, and its net profit quadrupled to $465.6 million. One of the ways it has achieved this profitability is by selling conventional foods under the false illusion that they are better than products sold at a regular grocery store. Consumers falsely conclude that these products have been screened and are better, and they are willing to pay a higher price.

The distribution of organic foods is also extremely concentrated. A little-known company, United Natural Foods, Inc. (UNFI) now controls the distribution of organic and natural products. Publically traded, the company has a contract with Whole Foods and it is the major source of these products for the remaining independent natural food stores. This relationship has resulted in increasingly high prices for these foods. Small manufacturers are dependent on contracts with UNFI to get their products to market and conversely, small retailers often have to pay a premium price for products because of their dependence on this major distributor. Over the past five years, UNFI's net sales increased by more than half (55.6 percent) $5.2. billion. Its net profit margin increased by 88 percent to $91 million.

Everywhere you look, the corporations are in control.

And this is especially true when you look at big food retailers such as Wal-Mart.

Right now, grocery sales account for about half of all business at Wal-Mart, and approximately one out of every three dollars spent on groceries in the United States is spent at Wal-Mart.

That is absolutely astounding, and it obviously gives Wal-Mart an immense amount of power.

In fact, if you can believe it, Wal-Mart actually purchases a billion pounds of beef every single year.

So the next time someone asks you where the beef is, you can tell them that it is at Wal-Mart.

On the restaurant side, the ten largest fast food corporations account for 47 percent of all fast food sales, and the love affair that Americans have with fast food does not appear to be in danger of ending any time soon.

Personally, if you do not like how these corporate giants are behaving, you can always complain.

But you are just one person among 313 million, and most of these big corporations are not going to consider the ramblings of one person to be of any significance whatsoever.

Collectively, however, we have great power.  And the way that we are going to get these big corporations to change is by voting with our wallets.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of Americans seem quite satisfied with the status quo.  So the population as a whole is likely going to continue to get sicker, fatter and less healthy with each passing year, and the big food corporations are going to keep becoming even more powerful.