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

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.

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.

Our Deteriorating Economic Outlook: Serious Inflation On the Horizon

Editor's Note

​Have you noticed that prices seem to be rising faster than the official inflation numbers?

Independent of increasing prices, with food price increases are hidden two additional ways:  (1) reducing quantity or weight yet offering it with a similar price; and (2) reformulating the ingredients of a processed food with cheaper, and often unhealthier ingredients.

Please read and pay attention to this article by Dr Paul Craig Roberts, Guest Columnist, with Dave Kranzler and John Williams of www. shadowstats.com​.

The Deteriorating Economic Outlook

By Paul Craig Roberts, Guest Columnist (former Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury), Dave Kranzler (www.investmentresearchdynamics.com) and John Williams (www.shadowstats.com)

July 8, 2014​

The third and final estimate (until the annual GDP revisions) of first quarter 2014 real GDP growth released June 25 by the US Bureau of Economic Analysis was a 2.9% contraction in GDP growth, a 5.5 percentage point difference from the January forecast of 2.6% growth. Apparently, the first quarter contraction was dismissed by those speculating in equities as weather related, as stock averages rose with the bad news.

Stock market participants might be in for a second quarter surprise. The result of many years of changes made to the official inflation measures is a substantially understated inflation rate. John Williams (www.shadowstats.com) provides inflation estimates based on previous official methodology when the Consumer Price Index still represented the cost of a constant standard of living. The 1.26% inflation measure used to deflate first quarter nominal GDP is unrealistic, as Americans who make purchases are aware.

A reasonable correction to the understated deflator gives a much higher first quarter contraction. The two main causes of inflation’s understatement are the substitution principle introduced during the Clinton regime and the hedonic adjustments ongoing since the 1980s that redefine price rises as quality improvements. Correcting for excessive hedonic adjustments gives a first quarter real GDP contraction of 5%. Correcting for hedonic and substitution adjustments gives a first quarter real GDP contraction of 8.5%.

Realistic economic analysis is a rarity. The financial press echoes Wall Street, and Wall Street economists are paid to help sell financial instruments. Gloomy analysis is frowned upon. Even negative quarters are given a positive spin.

Years of understatement of inflation has resulted in years of overstatement of GDP growth. Thinking about the many years of misstatement, we realized that the typical computation in nominal terms of the ratio of debt to GDP is seriously misleading.

Consider that debt is issued in nominal terms and repaid in nominal terms (except for a few Treasury bonds with inflation adjustments). However, nominal wealth or nominal GDP overstates real economic strength. The debt is growing, but both the nominal and real values of the output of goods and services are not keeping up with the rise in debt.

To understand how risky the rise of debt is, nominal debt must be compared to real GDP. Spin masters might dismiss this computation as comparing apples to oranges, but such a charge constitutes denial that the ratio of nominal debt to nominal GDP understates the wealth dilution caused by the government’s ability to issue and repay debt in nominal dollars. We know that inflation favors debtors, because debts can be repaid in inflated dollars.

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New Silver Price Electronic Exchange: What Does this Mean?

What Will the New Silver Price Electronic Exchange Mean to the Precious Metals Market?

Photo: dailywealth.com

For a long time organizations such as GATA.org, those involved in the precious metals industry as dealers and resellers have claimed that there is price fixing in the precious metals markets.  Some have claimed that the big banks and the Federal Reserve have done a tremendous amount of “naked shorting” to suppress their true worth.

As with any claim or concerns about price-fixing, lawsuits are occurring.  Apparently the current system has lost some credibility and has become a liability.

The London Metals Exchange now announces a new set-up, a silver price electronic exchange,  starting in August for the selling of silver.  Apparently it is trying to address these concerns. (see article below)

So the question becomes what will that do to the price of silver?  If there is a new market for trading will that cause silver prices to increase?  Will prices become more volatile or like a roller coaster ride?  What impact will this have on other precious metals?  These are just a few of the questions I have.

I do not have a degree in finance, business, or economics although I do teach business law to MBA students.  So I am a layman, just like you, who reads, observes and looks for patterns.

What I am trying to determine is when the price of precious metal rise, is there an inverse relationship to the health of the dollar?  If there is, then obviously when the price of precious metals elevate one should be concerned about the viability of the U.S. Dollar and other currencies.  Another question I am mulling is whether a rise in precious metals is more of an accurate indicator of the true rate of inflation instead of our government statistics?  Since the Clinton Administration changed the formula for inflation accounting many say that the real rate of inflation is underreported.  See John Williams’s website www.shadowstats.com for more information.

For those interested in this topic see the announcement below:

UPDATE 2-CME, Thomson Reuters win battle to replace century-old silver benchmark

Fri Jul 11, 2014 11:05am EDT

(Writes through with quotes, background)

* LBMA settles on silver fix replacement after 2-month hunt

* New mechanism heralds change in precious metals benchmarks

By Clara Denina and Jan Harvey

LONDON, July 11 (Reuters) – CME Group and Thomson Reuters will operate an electronic silver benchmark when the 117-year-old “fix” is disbanded in August, in a move widely seen preceding sweeping reforms of precious metals price-setting.

The London Bullion Market Association (LBMA) said in a statement on Friday that CME Group will provide a price platform and methodology for the daily process, while Thomson Reuters is responsible for administration and governance.

CME/Thomson Reuters will start testing the new process in early August after the closely contested competition to produce a solution.

The silver fix – used by producers, consumers and investors – is set every day at noon by three banks via a conference call, working out a price at which their customers are willing to buy and sell the metal.

But with increased attention from regulators in the wake of benchmark manipulation in other markets, the current operator – London Silver Market Fixing Ltd – said in May it would stop running the daily call.

The LBMA consulted market participants with the aim of producing a transparent electronic alternative that complies with toughened regulatory benchmarking standards.

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Encouraging Illegal Immigration: Charity Begins At Home

Why Is Obama Encouraging Illegal Immigration When We Can’t Take Care Of Millions Of Our Own Citizens?

Michael Snyder, JD, of the Economic Collapse Blog, Guest Columnist

07 Jul 2014 07:36 PM PDT

For years, the Obama administration has been making it abundantly clear that it is a friend of illegal immigrants.  Border security is a joke, the federal government refuses to go after “sanctuary cities” even though they are breaking federal law, there is a website that instructs immigrants how to sign up for welfare programs once they arrive in the United States, and the Obama administration has distributed flyers that tell illegal immigrants that their immigration status will not be checked when they apply for food stamps.  And Obama has even instructed officials to use “prosecutorial discretion” in deportation cases involving non-criminals.  In other words, Obama has been flashing a huge green light to illegal immigrants, and so of course our borders were going to be inundated with them.

Apologists for the Obama administration will debate you all day about what Obama “intended” and what he didn’t “intend”, but there is no doubt about what message immigrants from Central America have been receiving.

For example, one young mother recently told the press that she heard that if you “go to America with your child, you won’t be turned away“.

And you can view video of a little boy from Central America telling an investigate reporter that he believes that Barack Obama has “given permission” for him to live in the United States right here.

It isn’t an accident that our southern border is literally being flooded with illegal immigrants right now.  Newspapers in El Salvador and Honduras have been publicizing how easy illegal immigration has become, and even the President of Honduras has said that people are coming to the United States for “Obama’s amnesty”.

When they arrive, thousands upon thousands of these illegal immigrants are using rehearsed answers that border patrol agents are hearing over and over again.  Word has spread that if illegal immigrants claim that they are “fleeing gang violence” that it is more likely that they will be allowed to stay.

What we are witnessing down on the southern border is really unprecedented.  It has been estimated that twelve times as many kids are crossing our borders illegally now compared to just a few years ago.

And they just keep on coming.

This is utter madness.

Now, please don’t think that I am anti-immigrant.  I am all for legal immigration.  This is a nation of immigrants and we will always need immigration.  But everyone should be required to come in through the front door.  Encouraging illegal immigration is simply a recipe for disaster.

If we keep the back door wide open, the truth is that we have absolutely no idea who is coming into our country.  Do we really want countless numbers of criminals, welfare parasites, drug dealers and gang members pouring into our cities?  According to the FBI, there are now approximately 1.4 million gang members living in the United States, and it has been estimated that illegal immigrants make up approximately 30 percent of the total population in federal, state and local prisons.

And why in the world would we not want to control the diseases coming into this country?  Over the past several weeks, it has been documented that some of the illegal immigrants that have been apprehended have scabies and tuberculosis.

But instead of sending them right back out of the country, U.S. officials are setting up camps for this tsunami of illegal immigrants.  In other cases, the federal government is simply putting them on buses and planes and shipping them all over the country.  The illegal immigrants are released into their new communities and are given papers which order them to eventually appear in court, but of course the vast majority of them never show up.  You can see a map that documents areas where the federal government has been shipping illegal immigrants right here.

The rational thing to do would be to secure our borders and to send a very clear message that illegal immigration is not welcome in the United States.

But instead of doing that, the Obama administration is actually bringing in a riot squad to deal with anti-immigration protesters.

During normal times all of this would be crazy enough, but right now we are at a point where we cannot even take care of millions upon millions of our own citizens.

We are told that illegal immigrants do the jobs “that Americans don’t want to do”, but is that really accurate?

In this day and age, there is intense competition for just about any kind of a job.  Despite what the mainstream media says, the truth is that there hasn’t been a significant employment recovery in the United States.  As you can see from the chart posted below, the percentage of the working age population that is actually working is still far, far below where it was just prior to the last recession…

Yes, there has been a very slight bump in the numbers in recent months, but it is certainly no reason for celebration.  When the mainstream media declares that unemployment in America has been steadily going down, they are simply being disingenuous.  Right now things are only slightly better than they were during the worst times of the past several years.

And according to shadowstats.com, the broadest measure of unemployment is still well over 20 percent and has been steadily rising since the end of the last recession.

So no, there aren’t nearly enough jobs in the United States.

And thanks to competition from immigrant labor and thanks to the fact that millions of good jobs have been shipped overseas, the quality of our jobs continues to decline as well.  For much more on that trend, please see this article.

Needless to say, now is not the time to open up the floodgates to millions of immigrants that will need jobs to support themselves.  Many of our major cities are already so economically depressed that they look like war zones.  In fact, things have gotten so bad in Detroit that a plan is being considered to bulldoze a fifth of the entire city

In May, a group ominously titled the “Detroit Blight Removal Task Force” released a report claiming that around 22 percent of the city’s properties were “blighted” – vacant, damaged or considered dangerous. They also found that, of the 84,000 properties owned by public entities, just over 5,000 were occupied by squatters, making the city of Detroit, the report’s authors noted, “a very large and inadvertent landlord”.

The task force’s proposed solution is to demolish it all over the next five years and start again. Unfortunately, the plan doesn’t extend to rebuilding the properties – it’ll be down to private companies and developers to buy up the land and rebuild.

For much more on the decay of our major cities, please see my previous article entitled “The Death Of The Rust Belt“.

Considering the fact that we are already having such a severe problem taking care of our current population, what do you think is going to happen to these waves of illegal immigrants as they attempt to settle in to communities all around the nation?

Ultimately, we are going to have to end up financially supporting a very large percentage of them too.

Right now, more than 20 percent of children in this country are already living in poverty, and 49 million Americans are dealing with food insecurity.

If Obama continues to encourage mass illegal immigration, those numbers are going to get much worse.

Government dependence is already at an all-time record high, and about half the country currently receives benefits of some sort from the federal government every month.

How much more weight can we put on the “safety net” before it breaks?  Just check out some more numbers about this crisis from one of my previous articles

Ten years ago, the number of women in the U.S. that had jobs outnumbered the number of women in the U.S. on food stamps by more than a 2 to 1 margin.  But now the number of women in the U.S. on food stamps actually exceeds the number of women that have jobs.

The U.S. government has spent an astounding 3.7 trillion dollars on welfare programs over the past five years.

Today, the federal government runs about 80 different “means-tested welfare programs”, and almost all of those programs have experienced substantial growth in recent years.

Back in 1960, the ratio of social welfare benefits to salaries and wages was approximately 10 percent.  In the year 2000, the ratio of social welfare benefits to salaries and wages was approximately 21 percent.  Today, the ratio of social welfare benefits to salaries and wages is approximately 35 percent.

While Barack Obama has been in the White House, the total number of Americans on food stamps has gone from 32 million to nearly 47 million.

Back in the 1970s, about one out of every 50 Americans was on food stamps.  Today, about one out of every 6.5 Americans is on food stamps.

It sounds crazy, but the number of Americans on food stamps now exceeds the entire population of the nation of Spain.

According to one calculation, the number of Americans on food stamps is now greater than the combined populations of “Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming.”

According to a report from the Center for Immigration Studies, 43 percent of all immigrants that have been in the United States for at least 20 years are still on welfare.

A lot of people that are trying to immigrate here illegally just want to make a better life for themselves, and I can appreciate that.

But a policy of making it incredibly difficult for honest people to come in through the front door while keeping the back door completely wide open for lawbreakers is a recipe for national suicide.

And right now we don’t have jobs for these immigrants.

We can’t even take care of the people that are already living here.

Something desperately needs to be done about this, but I wouldn’t hold your breath waiting for Obama to make a bold move to stop illegal immigrants from pouring over the border.

 

NOTE:  For those that believe in helping the disadvantaged (which I do), we have to keep in mind what my late Daddy J would say:  CHARITY BEGINS AT HOME. 

If we can’t take care of our own, how are we going to take care of those outside our country???

If President Obama would truly like to help these people, then why does he not close the border and send troops, if necessary, down to their countries to take care of the drug criminal gangs if their countries can’t handle the problem?  It would be in our interest since most of the illegal drugs coming into the US are from Central and South America.

By allowing these unaccompanied minors in, is he not substantially increasing the risk that they will fall prey to sex trafficking and slavery (yes, we are finding some of this even in America)?  Or how humane is it to allow these children and illegal immigrants carrying diseases and sick into the system without treating them?  And how humane is it to expose our citizens, legal and illegal immigrants to the diseases they are carrying?  Is it compassionate and intelligent to be brewing a public health crisis?

Why doesn’t he instead encourage developing businesses within their countries so they have jobs and a reason to stay within their country?

Instead, we continue spending precious resources on borrowed money in the Middle East.

And we do so now when even the US is the number 1 exporter of oil, even exceeding Saudi Arabia, courtesy of fracking (another issue, another day).

Is the problem here that Guatemala, Honduras and other countries don’t have oil?  Do we care less about their stability because there is no financial gain to be had?  Are we a nation of political hypocrites?

What do you think?

Food Inflation, Now Wood Food Fillers

Food Inflation, Now Wood Food Fillers:  It’s not just Your Health.  When Does it Become Misrepresentation/Food Fraud?

As you know I get very “worked up” about knowing what is in my food:  Is it GMO? Does it contain MSG? Hidden Msg? Aspartame?  What is the food formula or food ingredients?  Is it what I call “Chemical Food”?

I wrote about Food Fraud last year that many seafood are not what they are represented to be.

But what if they reformulate, do not tell you, but have a small ingredients label on the product and don’t translate the “foodese” (or food chemical language, akin to my profession having legalese)?

Do you think that this is misrepresentation or just caveat emptor (“buyer beware”)? 

Is it ethical conduct by the food industry?  (Note:  Sometimes things can be “legal” but that does NOT mean that it is “ethical”.)

Isn’t it a sad state of affairs that when you go grocery store shopping, week after week, that the situation is getting so out of hand (increasing probably more than we realize) that you just can’t trust that the product is still the same but have to read each item and each label every visit? If you think grocery stores are the only ones that do this, think again.  Restaurant chains, including the fast food industry, has wood fillers in their products.

Why are we supporting this kind system with our dollars?

This is one of the reasons that I buy extremely little from the traditional grocery stores and use Thrive.  But if you don’t use Thrive, why don’t you find a food co-op or a local farmer and buy as much of your food from them?

The point is GET OUT OF THE FOOD PROCESSING DISTRIBUTION CHAIN!!!!  It’s become more of a big business food purchase and supply chain than it is a consumer market or service.

How much do they really care about you?  The Grocery Manufacturer’s Association fights tooth and nail to keep you from knowing what their members have put in your food.  If they had healthy products, they would not care if you knew.  In fact, they would spend money conducting public information campaigns to tell you what is in your food.

Instead, they press ahead using dirty tactics, i.e., Washington State and California food labeling referendum, trying to discourage you from knowing what is in your food.

It’s sick.  And we consumers must vote with our dollars and get out of this system ASAP!

 

How Fast Food Providers Beat Inflation – Add Wood Pulp To Burgers

By Tyler Durden of ZeroHedge.com

Who knew wood could taste this good. QZ.com/Photo Reuters/Molly Riley

On Monday, Quartz published an article by Devin Cohen titled, There is a Secret Ingredient in Your Burgers: Wood Pulp. Given the headline and people’s already present suspicion regarding all of the shady and potentially dangerous ingredients hidden in food items, the article gained a lot of traction. In subsequent days, most journalists and bloggers have focused on the dangers of this additive (unclear) and whether or not it is pervasive throughout the food chain as opposed to just fast food (it appears to be).

The one angle that has not been explored as much is the overall trend. Let’s go ahead and assume that wood pulp is a safe thing to consume, it certainly seems to have no nutritional value whatsoever. So why are companies inserting it into food items? To mask inflation and earn more profits most likely. This was a major theme I focused on last year in a series of pieces on stealth inflation and food fraud, a couple of which can be read below:

New Study Shows 59% of “Tuna” Sold in the U.S. Isn’t Tuna

New Study Shows: Food Fraud Soared 60% Last Year

The Quartz article notes that:

There may be more fiber in your food than you realized. Burger King, McDonald’s and other fast food companies list in the ingredients of several of their foods, microcrystalline cellulose (MCC) or “powdered cellulose” as components of their menu items. Or, in plain English, wood pulp.

The emulsion-stabilizing, cling-improving, anti-caking substance operates under multiple aliases, ranging from powdered cellulose to cellulose powder to methylcellulose to cellulose gum. The entrance of this non-absorbable fiber into fast food ingredients has been stealthy, yet widespread: The compound can now be found in buns, cheeses, sauces, cakes, shakes, rolls, fries, onion rings, smoothies, meats—basically everything.

The cost effectiveness of this filler has pushed many chains to use progressively less chicken in their “chicken” and cream in their “ice cream.”

This is the part that really interests me. When did these companies first introduce this substance into their products and what is the growth trend? My guess is that as food costs have risen, the proportion of non-nutritonal fillers has increased substantially. That said, I’d like to see some data and I haven’t yet.

My big takeaway here is the same as last year’s when I first started writing about the trend. As the cost of food continues to rise, the cost of not paying attention to what you are eating rises exponentially. Companies will continue to try to mask inflation by shrinking package sizes, and when that is no longer possible, increasingly inserting empty fillers (or worse) into their products.

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