Saturday, January 30, 2021

The Glory Of Going Viral - A Fraud Promoted By Big Tech

While pondering the current state of the world I stumbled upon the question or idea that one of the things that makes the internet so intriguing is the alluring idea that it holds the potential to elevate the user to a higher level of importance. Nestled somewhere between collecting followers and buying hits is the fraud promoted by big tech that you could go viral. To many people, the idea of instant fame and fortune is akin to winning the lottery. This could explain why so many people are infatuated by the internet, their phones, and social media.

The Internet Gives Hope To The Masses
Many people particularly those that are younger seem to think that one big or lucky break is what it takes to achieve happiness and this is the way life works. All they need is to come up with either "one good app" or an idea and they could become the next Mark Zuckerberg or Elon Musk. Another example rooted in this same line of thought is once people understand just how exceptional they are people might move them to a higher position in life. They might even send them off to Washington to solve the countries many problems in the same way those on the left have embraced Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and moved her into a place of power.

This is also quite visible with the emergence of influence marketing and what has become known as social media influencers. This is where people and organizations are purported to have an expert level of knowledge in their field and positioned to guide others in forming opinions. An influencer may frame their push as testimonial advertising or take the role of a value-added influencer, such as a journalist, academic, industry analyst, or professional adviser. All these roles scream, "I'm important."

Big tech and social media have a lot to be gained by promoting a few powerful myths. The idea they empower individuals is a biggie. This dovetails with the idea you might suddenly become something far more than you were. All this seems to feed the same pleasure endorphins that people experience when playing the lottery or gambling. If social media and the tech firms are indeed lurking behind this subconscious "subliminal message"  it could make them responsible for the demise of humanity. While such a statement seems a bit over the top, it is clear the internet has been a mixed blessing for society and our culture. While it has great potential as a tool to gather and expand knowledge, it also has an evil side.

You Can't Download A Better Life
In our society, many people crave what is viewed by many as "fifteen minutes of fame" and are willing to pay dearly for it. This is not an overt promise made by those controlling the huge tech firms but bubbles below the surface and draws many people into social media's web. It also feeds into the self-image many people have of themselves and tends to further inflate their already oversized personas. This is where say her name becomes, "Say My Name." This is often evidenced by a person with no real standing opportunistically inserting themselves into the "news story" of the moment.

The pandemic has been a boon to high techs' ability to spread its influence. It has forced people online which has accelerated the power of technology to physically distance us from each other which started with the spread of high-speed internet. This can be seen as people ride along in the same vehicle with no real conversations due to the fact one is focused on a digital device.

This illusion big tech can transform our lives is invaluable to many average people struggling to get through the day. The idea we could elevate ourselves into instant celebrity status, where everyone would want to know us, and sing our praise speaks volumes of the human psyche and how our egos tend to override both logic and how important we are as individuals.

Social media became a powerful force by convincing us they have the power to bring us closer together and bridge the miles. This has not occurred. Just after starting to write this article I came across an article authored by Josephine Bartosch via The Critic. It was apply titled; The Dehumanizing Danger Of Social Media, it contended that far from facilitating an enriching meeting of minds, the online world is producing a dystopian world that is breaking us apart. The argument can be made that technology corporations and activists are driving society towards hyper-individualism.

May I suggest the illusions and frauds offered by big tech extend far beyond what is first obvious? It extends to the very idea they validate our individuality.  The Guardian recently launched a Genderqueer generation, series of stories centered on the children and young adults who are rejecting traditional gender identities. It is perhaps not surprising that when young people with no solid sense of self, twisted and confused by all the digital exposure put before them, turn online, in search of an authoritative framework to make sense of their feelings. This often leaves them open to falling prey to the censorious, tyrannical "group-think" of big tech. Of course, this is reinforced in the warm, fuzzy mission statements touted by technology companies. 

All this sets mankind up for a rather problematic future where we are more interested in the personas we each now advertise online than what flesh and blood reality we live in day today. This helps explain the burgeoning market for sex robots, or why an increasing number of those under 30 now identify themself as “queer”.  In John Perry Barlow’s stirring 1996 Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, he described it as a place where “both everywhere and nowhere … not where bodies live.”

Virtual reality is not real, virtual travel does not take you to a distant land no matter how real it might seem. This is not the sort of thing that glues communities and families together. Adding to my issue with such things is that those pulling the strings can at any time sever them or change the rules leaving those that have become dependent on them unmoored. 

The digital world is a place full of censorship and manipulation. The warped utopian vision of the digital world as a place where freed from prejudice,  our minds  could come together is a dangerous myth. This goes hand in hand with an emerging market in cosmetic surgeries whereby bodies can be cosmetically altered to match a client’s internal sense of self outside initial plans of nature. Technology corporations and “queer theory” activists are fueling the rush into hyper-individualism, destroying our internal structure by which we frame what is a normal human experience.

All this intertwines with what many of us see as the crazy idea children should choose their own gender. The idea we can separate or un-tether the mind from our body has left people adrift, navigating a turbulent online world without the reassuring markers humans require. This all brings forth several questions that society should think about long and hard. What are we becoming? Is this the best we can be? Are we being softened up to where we will surrender our individuality, humanity, and freedom to the forces of AI and those that control it? These are a few of the most important issues we face as a society.

 (Republishing of this article welcomed with reference to Bruce Wilds/AdvancingTime Blog)

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Are EVs good for the environment? - Mostly Not!

EVs Still Charged By Electricity From Fossil Fuel

The idea Electric vehicles are less damaging to the environment has been broadly accepted by many people as fact. The notion EVs are good for the planet is a key factor for many of those deciding to buy an electric car. This debate has become rather political with a recent article in Barron's pointing out that some of the research damning electric cars has been funded by Saudi oil interest. Part of the argument flowing out of this centers on the idea that policies incentivizing electric-car production will lead to the creation of more carbon emissions during coming years than if we were to instead encourage the use of efficient gasoline engines.

It is not surprising that people are going to try and shape conclusions and public opinion to serve their strategic interests. The direction society takes is a high-stakes game since the EU, Japan, Korea, and 110 other countries have pledged carbon neutrality by 2050. This is why countries such as China have extended $100 billion thus far in EV subsidies, the fact is China wants to make many of these vehicles. This is the main reason shares in Chinese EV manufacturers such as NIO and Xpeng have followed Tesla stock higher in recent months.

Adding to claims of agenda "propaganda" is the fact that a lengthy and detailed EV study by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), published in the scientific journal “Nature Communications,” was paid for by oil giant Saudi Aramco, which counts China as its largest customer. This indicates how little transparency exists around private companies’ financial or other involvement in the U.S. Department of Energy’s research. Some analysts say that Aramco’s role in producing the research is a potential conflict of interest and that the relationship between Aramco and ORNL highlights a broader concern about how some companies fund scientific research only to directly support their business interests.  

As this article is being written those ready to curse my take on this issue are gathering in the wings. On one side we have those that think EVs are the solution, on the other is an even larger group ready to scream about freedom of choice or how climate change is a hoax. To the first group, I say you are being deceived by those conveniently forgetting that most electricity is still generated by fossil fuel and that EVs also have a few other issues. To the second group, my message is, self-indulgent, self-centered, people with the attitude the world is their oyster and the hell with everyone else. Some of these people are not even open to the idea that what humans do here on earth has any effect at all on our climate.

Gas-guzzlers Are Often Used As Family Cars
As a strong environmentalist, I get tired "of hearing that EVs are good for the environment. While my stand may rile those promoting EVs my attitude towards the four-door pickups driven by many average citizens angers and appalls many others. The fact is vehicle manufacturers maximize profits by prioritizing these big-ticket gas-guzzlers. These trucks are not used for work and should carry a heavy "poor mileage tax." All the high horsepower petroleum vehicles that fill our streets with engines able to get us from stoplight to stoplight in the blink of an eye and the huge low mile per gallon vehicles often occupied by one person are the bane of environmentalist.

As to whether EVs are as environmentally friendly as many people claim is a topic that is hotly debated. The chart near the top of this article screams that they are not. Electricity demand is still rising across the world, most nuclear plants getting very old, and the most ecologically friendly sources are running full out. This means the slack is being taken up by fossil-fuel generated plants. Under the idea of, last in first out, this would mean that almost all the juice being pumped into EVs comes from fossil-fuel generated juice. To make matters worse, other issues exist.

Below are a few comments, or parts of comments, about EVs that have been gathered from different recent articles. I have not fully researched all these but they do add to my doubts about these vehicles.

*The Greenwashing Industrial Complex is one of the evilest and fraudulent scams of the 21st century. As an example, the pollution and environmental destruction created by the manufacturing and disposal of EV batteries, and also the magnets for power-generating windmills, is 10X worse than pollution created by fossil-fuel vehicles.

*In Germany about 40% of the energy mix is produced by coal and 30% by renewables - a mid-sized electric car must be driven for 125,000 km, on average, to break even with a diesel car, and 60,000 km compared to a petrol car. It takes nine years for an electric car to be greener than a diesel car, assuming an annual average mileage of 13,500 km. Most consumers will have bought a new car by then. The case is similar in the U.S. but less pronounced in nuclear-powered France

*Battery production causes more environmental damage than carbon emissions alone. Consider dust, fumes, wastewater, and other environmental impacts from cobalt mining in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; water shortages and toxic spills from lithium mining in Latin America, which can alter ecosystems and hurt local communities; a heavily polluted river due to nickel mining in Russia; or air pollution in northeastern China, as mentioned above.

*There isn't enough cobalt in the world to replace even half of the current ICE vehicles.  Never mind the fact they have kids mining the stuff in the Congo. InsideSources, says, every EV battery contains cobalt, with most of it mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). This area has been an ugly mess for years as the Congo government and armed militants duke it out over the control of mines. Much of the DRC cobalt is then hauled to South Africa and shipped to China for processing.

Also flowing into the issue of " less damaging to the environment" is something recently brought to my attention, and that is, EVs tend to rapidly eat through tires. While many people may not think this is a big deal, it is. Since electric car batteries are heavier than petrol engines they need a more robust tire. Also, because of their accelerating faster from a standstill. If you want to take advantage of that without too much wear then you need a more robust tire, these cost more, and it has been said, you are lucky if you get 20,000 miles out of a set of tires. All this is addressed at,

Pollution From Tires Is A Growing EV Issue

Like many people I had forgotten or brushed aside the thought something as simple and common as the tire was such a problem. This should have been high on my radar because years ago I was given a building simply because it had been filled with tires. The officials in my city were all over the owner to get rid of them. It cost me a bit of money and a lot of work to have them hauled away and properly recycled. With that in mind, below are a few of the many articles voicing pollution issues concerning tires. claims; Toxins released from tire decomposition, incineration, or accidental fires can pollute the water, air, and soil. While 42 states regulate tire disposal to some degree, eight states have no restrictions on what you must do with your discarded tires. Even with laws in place, illegal dumping still occurs, presenting negative environmental impacts. states; Air pollution from tire wear particles can be 1,000 times worse than what comes out of a car’s exhaust, Emissions Analytics found harmful particle matter from tires is a serious environmental problem. What is even more frightening is that while exhaust emissions have been tightly regulated for many years, tire wear is not. With the increasing growth in sales of heavier SUVs and battery-powered electric cars, non-exhaust emissions are a growing problem.

And,, delves into how driving affects the environment in ways beyond the well-known pollutants spewing from tailpipes and leaking from engines. Tires shed tiny pieces of plastic as they wear down, accounting for about 10 percent of the microscopic pieces of the pollutant found in the sea, according to one estimate. Tire waste was addressed in the European Commission's Plastics Strategy earlier this year. The EU executive is looking into how to cut down on microplastics that may be coming from tires and is considering regulations.

With all the above in mind, the buzz in EV trading over the last couple of weeks has interestingly been surrounding legacy automakers like General Motors and, even Ford moving strongly in the direction of manufacturing more EVs. This may someday be seen as a huge environmental misstep. The best answer may be a shift to more efficient gasoline engines in smaller vehicles.  

(Republishing of this article welcomed with reference to Bruce Wilds/AdvancingTime Blog)

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Building A false Economy On Hope And Printing Money

False Economy's End In Decay And Failure
This article is in response to a piece about how it looks like massive stimulus is finally upon us and the only question is how big it will be. It would be wise to remember this is all an experiment and could result in a false economy so rooted in unsustainable stimulus that it cannot survive yet alone flourish. A modern example of this is the implosion of the USSR in 1991. The impact of such a collapse is not limited to the economy but extends deep into the lives of a county's citizens.

When we look back over the wreckage brought upon certain sectors of our economy during the last year and the policies governments are now embracing we should feel a sense of dread and apprehension for the long-term health of our culture. Government overreach is in full swing and ripping away the strength and social power from all other institutions of social life. Not only are we seeing our civil liberties under attack, but the lock-downs have also been an economic disaster that has devastated most small and medium-sized businesses. 

The December job numbers show America lost 140,000 jobs last month. The big issue here is that as small businesses close their doors forever, many of these jobs won't be coming back. We need to couple this with the idea the minimum wage is likely to soon increase driving the forces of automation into overdrive which will further reduce job opportunities in the future. This translates into far higher government deficits going forward as many more Americans exit the workforce. It is difficult to argue that the government stepping into the role of our primary supporter does not reduce our incentive to work. This is especially true considering the level of support many Americans seek.

As Our National Debt Nears $28 Billion Is It Time To Say We Have A Problem?

The fact is, neither monetary nor fiscal policy will effectively stimulate the economy. More important are the policies enacted by Washington so far we have witnessed nothing positive flowing from our nation's capital. Do not be surprised if we are about to slide into a multi-year economic downturn. An example of this is evident in the prediction that New York city's recovery could take two years longer than the rest of the country as the virus-induced downturn has severely damaged five key industries - restaurants, hotels, the arts, transportation, and building services - most of which heavily rely on travel and tourism.

The idea we are in a false economy while many Americans  remain out of work is underlined by an event that has gone largely unnoticed by many Americans. A colossal container-ship traffic jam has grown off the California coast. The pileup of container ships offshore in San Pedro Bay and the congestion onshore at the terminals have reached epic proportions and will most likely get even more maddening in the weeks ahead. It seems these ships are full of consumer goods from countries like China that benefited greatly as Americans used the covid-19 money from our government intended for buying food and paying rent to instead purchase foreign-made goods. 

This dovetails with a previous article on this blog that pointed out that where and how people spend the money given to them by the American government matters and will continue to impact our economy. The port congestion due to the spike in import volumes is expected to last until February. Making matters worse at the terminals is they are operating with limited labor and split shifts due to covid-19. The labor shortage is affecting turnaround time for truckers, inter-terminal transfers, and the number of daily appointments available for gate transactions. This is even causing containers to end up in the wrong terminal. Similar congestion is now being seen in Canada as well as in the Port of New York and New Jersey.

Turning back to the issue of hope and printing money, later in the day the surprisingly bad job numbers were released, Biden came out declaring his administration with its two newly elected Democrat Senators would hit the ground running.

“The price tag will be high,” Biden said of his planned package in Wilmington, Delaware before taking office on Jan. 20. He went on to say,“It will be in the trillions of dollars.”

When approaching the idea that a massive stimulus is finally upon us and the only question is how big it will be. The Biden team is considering up to $2 trillion in fiscal stimulus, well above earlier estimates of $750 billion. The problem we face is that while promising "stimulus on steroids" is about to be unleashed does not necessarily create a strong economy. More does not always translate into strength, it just means more.

Even to the many who see government spending on infrastructure as a job creator and a silver bullet for our ailing economy I would like to raise a word of caution, things are not that simple. What is clear is that when Washington begins to talk about infrastructure spending, hands go out across America as politicians and businesses  rush to endorse such programs, of course, the first words out of their mouths are "This should be administered on a local level so the money is not squandered by the inefficient minions of  Washington that don't understand the priorities we face."

This sets in play the feel-good issuance of what is herald as free money being gifted by those in charge. What is their not to like? When it comes to the virtues of infrastructure spending it may be time for a truth-off. The truth is more "bridges to nowhere" and wasted spending exists then the taxpayer could ever imagine. Often infrastructure spending falls short of creating real wealth for our country but merely feeds cronyism and ends up lining the pockets of those in power and their friends.

Economic strength and economic growth are two very different animals. You don't have to stimulate a strong economy. Poorly spending even trillions of dollars does not necessarily create a strong economy. We are embarking on an economic experiment and will result in a false economy so rooted in unsustainable stimulus that it cannot survive. False economies create bubbles and debt. Adding to this ugliness is the money being doled out, wasted, and squandered is borrowed from our children's future yet few people have the courage to say, stop this madness. 

( Republishing of this article is welcomed with reference to Bruce Wilds/AdvancingTime Blog )

Lotto Madness Takes A Toll On Our Culture

A Billion Dollars In Cash!
The failure of anyone to win two of America's largest lotteries recently caused the jackpots to soar unleashing a bout of "Lotto Madness." This spread like a wildfire across America revealing something very significant about our culture. While this might not reach the level of needing a post-event "debriefing" a closer look at how these large lotteries affect our culture may be important and meaningful. A close inspection of how people react to the idea of winning a large sum of money exposes more than a few flaws in our values and the way we think. It seems that society has reached the point where it thinks the road to riches is not through the valley of hard work and savings and that we can by-pass the important area known as sacrifice.

Family Guy Wins The Lottery!
When we have a large jackpot, lotto madness can even extend into the media and influenced television shows like the animated comedy "Family Guy." During one of the big payouts years ago, an episode had the Griffin family living on a strict budget until a local news story on the lottery influences Peter to buy a ticket in hopes that he will win and set the family on a better financial platform. In fact, Peter reveals to his family that he has not bought just one, but several thousand lottery tickets, admitting that he has taken out a second mortgage on the house to buy them. After watching the results of the lottery that night, they discover that they have indeed won it yes, they have obtained the American dream.

Articles occasionally appear in the media with in your face revelations of incomes and comparing salaries. One showed an athlete making $15,900,000 a year, next to a government employee making $165,000, a CEO at $120,000,000 a year, and a business owner at $24,000 a year, this is the sort of thing that gives us a reason to pause.  No wonder we as a society are totally screwed up as to how we value and relate to money.  We must question our values, we must question the fairness of such inequality. It is hard to measure the discontent generated by such fluff pieces and irresponsible articles like these that are often inaccurate or fail to tell the full story.

It is clear that many people feel the trade-offs we face by living in a free market-consumer-based society and it wears away at them. The fact is economic growth is accompanied by  “wheel spinning”, inefficiencies and waste.  While the benefits of our system often outweigh the negatives we find society is paying a toll through increased rates of addiction, depression, and economic inequality.  On the emotional side, many people are not achieving the degree of being content or happy they had hoped for and are left with feelings of insecurity. This all contributes to people going totally bonkers and off the deep end at the prospect of winning a great deal of money even if the odds are massively against them doing so.

Government sanctioned gambling and especially lotteries send a message to the populace that conflicts with many important cultural values. These can have far-reaching effects. These messages promote a "let it roll" mentality.  Simply allowing such activities and promoting them are two different issues.  The government has climbed into bed with the devil to gain revenue from taxing these activities.  Gaming does not benefit the average man.  Truth is the laws of nature and the odds are against you, that’s why they call it gambling and not winning. It might be interesting to place more focus on how many people suffer post lotto depression when they do not win. 
Many people who can least afford it spend $5 or $10 a week on lottery tickets in a futile attempt at striking it rich. The problem is, few people comprehend the chance to win a lottery is very small. These lotteries redistribute wealth from the working poor to the government which wins every week. Some studies indicate when lower-income players do buy tickets, they spend far more money on lottery tickets than wealthier players. A study published in the Journal of Gambling Studies found that those in the bottom fifth of income spent the most on lottery tickets, and more than twice as much as the richest lottery players - $433 a year vs. $193 a year.

Huge sums of money from lotteries are unmanageable by the average man and often cause adjustment difficulties, resulting in pain and not happiness.  Large jackpots also result in a disconnect in true and associated values causing unrealistic expectations.  The thought that we might at anytime win a jackpot in excess of one hundred million dollars gives a false impression of reality that is harmful in cultivating positive work ethics and makes a mockery of those who toil to produce a better life. In the past, some winners have used the line "be careful what you wish for" after having their life turned upside-down and disrupted by good fortune. One person that won big and experienced having his brutalized is Jack Whitaker. He has been quoted as saying he wished he had torn up his ticket after he was afflicted numerous times by the "lottery curse".

Our modern consumer-based society has made us slaves to material objects and producers of waste.  Many economists urge us to consume, even when we must borrow to do so, saying it creates more jobs. We follow Governments and leaders that we often neither like nor trust.  Today’s youth growing up besieged by marketers are now vilified for being materialistic, marred by too little perspective, they find themselves angry and disappointed. During the latest lotteries that sported a massive well-publicized jackpot people used covid-19 relief money that was intended to be used to pay rent and even the food stamp money given to them by taxpayers to buy tickets. Bottom-line this is indeed madness.
( Republishing of this article is welcomed with reference to Bruce Wilds/AdvancingTime Blog )

Sunday, January 17, 2021

The Next Wave Of Spending Will Not Bring Prosperity

We Are Starting A New Series Of Mistakes
Many of the jobs lost during the covid-19 shutdowns are not coming back. A big part of the problem is this is only one indicator of the carnage taking place in our economy. As small businesses closed their doors forever, a massive change has taken place in the economy. This translates into far higher deficits going forward as many more Americans exit the workforce. Adding to our dilemma is the answer to our problem being touted around includes giving substantial amounts of money to most Americans which reduces their incentive to get out and hustle to find work. This underlines the fact we should not confuse what some call "the latest economic rebound" with a "recovery."

After these numbers were released, Biden came out declaring his administration with its two newly elected Democrat Senators would hit the ground running.

 “The price tag will be high,” Biden said of his planned package in Wilmington, Delaware. He promised to lay out his proposals before taking office on Jan. 20, he also stated, “It will be in the trillions of dollars.” 

The package Biden laid out only came in at 1.9 trillion dollars disappointing some of his followers. This is because it does not include a great deal of what he has promised. Missing were things like spending on infrastructure and forgiving student loans. This, however, is only the first of many packages that will be rolling through congress in an effort to halt the economy from unraveling. To see how devastating the pandemic and the lock-downs instituted to slow its advance have been on the economy we only need to look to cities such as New York where it has become obvious the effects will be long term. Recent revelations that many large and notable companies now intend to relocate to smaller cities in coming years will only exacerbate these problems.

While the nation's average unemployment rate is around 6.7%  Bloomberg reports the Bronx's unemployment rate stands around 16%. Not only could the virus-induced downturn result in roughly a third of the city's businesses going under. Cities, where tourism is a large part of the economy, have been particularly hard hit. Hotels, restaurants, and all the businesses that serve them and their customers are suffering. The failure of these small and medium-sized firms are causing people to flee such areas en masse. Which in turn causes vacancies to soar and rents to fall. Simply throwing money at a problem does not guarantee it will halt the formation of a self-feeding loop.

To be perfectly clear, the problem we face is that poorly spending even trillions of dollars does not necessarily create a strong economy. As usual, when it comes to government spending more often than not much of the money is simply squandered. An example of this is how many people see government spending on infrastructure as a job creator and a silver bullet for our ailing economy I would like to raise a word of caution, things are not that simple. What is clear is that when Washington begins to talk about infrastructure spending hands go out across America as politicians and businesses  rush to endorse such programs. Of course, they claim this should be administered on a local level so the money is not squandered by the inefficient minions of  Washington that do not understand the priorities we face.

This sets in play the feel-good issuance of what is herald as free money being gifted by those in charge. The truth is more "bridges to nowhere" and wasted spending exists than the taxpayer could ever imagine. Often infrastructure spending falls short of creating real wealth for our country but merely feeds cronyism and ends up lining the pockets of those in power and their friends. History shows much of infrastructure spending is poorly spent. In the long run, a country's economic policies and its system of taxation are far more important to the economy than government spending.

The fact governments across the world are embarking on similar spending programs should do little to reassure Americans considering the explosion of debt we have witnessed since 2008. A slew of problems come with economic decline and the working poor take much of the pain, this becomes evident in the form of more social unrest and increasing violent crime. As rents and mortgages go unpaid do not be surprised to see inequality continues to grow. We should remember this is all an experiment destined to result in a false economy so rooted in unsustainable stimulus that it cannot endure.


Footnote: Rather than seeing this as doom porn, please consider this as a strong objection to the path we are on and have been on for some time.

 ( Republishing of this article is welcomed with reference to Bruce Wilds/AdvancingTime Blog )

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Big Tech Suppresses Free Speech Through Censorship

This Warning We Must Take Seriously

It appears that silencing the masses is not just for countries such as China. The wholesale move by huge tech companies to put its footprint on the neck of free speech speaks volumes about the powerful dictating the direction of society. This all raises to mind the line used by George Orwell in his novel Animal Farm. While the phrase "All Animals are Equal" started as one of the seven commandments, the Animal Farm pigs soon reinterpreted it to read as “ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL / BUT SOME ANIMALS ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS.”

This phrase has become one of our culture's ultimate examples of how the systematic abuse of language and logic can systematically be used by those with the intention of taking control of those they consider, shall we say, beneath them. Two noteworthy tools used to achieve this goal are propaganda and censorship. The sad reality is that "Power To The People" is dead because we are often unable to agree on anything. Even when people come together in general agreement forms, many individuals are so ridged they allow the finer points and details to become stumbling blocks to moving forward. 

In many ways, big tech and mainstream media have become a polarizing force that stirs the pot of social unrest. By promoting polarization they have made it impossible for the American people to unite and regain any control over Washington. This situation benefits those wishing to expand their control over us. Ironically, they are probably giddy over the problems Facebook has created by playing fast and loose with data from its followers. Facebook by crossing the line and abusing the trust of those with accounts and information posted on  its platform has taken the pressure off of the mainstream media to do a better job.

More unsettling is the alliances' companies like Amazon have made with the sector of our government that spies on us and spins the narratives to which we dance. This creates a powerful platform ripe for exploitation by those with an agenda. Propaganda is a powerful tool that has resulted in many wars that enrich those who make weapons at the expense of those called upon to give their blood. The fact that behemoth Amazon has intertwined business interests with the CIA, NSA, and several other "Deep State" government agencies is a monument to our having lost control. 

Big Tech Has Taken Control Over Our Right To Free Speech

Proof of the bond between big tech and our government is evidenced by the massive contract Amazon's cloud division has with the CIA and NSA. Connections such as this should send shivers down the back of those believing in freedom and limited government. Anyone who doesn't believe that countries use psychological warfare and propaganda to sway the opinions of people both in and outside of their country is naive.  This tangled mess includes the influential Washington Post which is owned by the CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos. Simply put, this has unleashed a propaganda force to which none of our institutions can resist.

This is also where censorship comes into play, censorship is in many ways a reverse form of propaganda. It is not a mistake or oversight that many mainstream media outlets give their audience little ability to give feedback. They go out of their way to avoid anything that might dispute their narrative. While it could be argued the lack of a comment area or feature linked to an online format was an omission I often see this as something more sinister. The lack of a feedback loop is a tool that tends to reinforce the idea there is no objection or criticism of the article or statement and everyone accepts its conclusions.

 A "False Flag" Distraction

Censorship is the suppression of speech, public communication, or other information, on the basis that such views or material have been deemed objectionable, harmful, sensitive, or "inconvenient." Censorship can be conducted by governments, private institutions, or corporations. This includes mainstream media. Removing the platforms on which we present our opinions is censorship.

By its nature censorship often implies those being silenced are trying to say something very wrong. I consider censorship and mainstream media's role in it as part of the self-feeding propaganda loop that plays such a huge role in shaping public opinion. This tends to result in those in leadership positions and controlling the media to slowly hack away at our individual rights by furthering the idea it is all "for the greater good." The fact is politics should not even enter into the free speech debate.

The idea of having a press that is free to cover the news is generally linked to the idea they will be fair and even have an obligation to be so because such a freedom generally comes with a degree of responsibility. A common example of how freedom of speech and this obligation go hand in hand is while someone has the right to speak their mind, they do not have the right to falsely scream fire in a crowded theater. This can slip into an argument as to the duty of the media in presenting as unbiased a view of events as possible. 

This subject has been muddied and complicated by the fact many news outlets have moved more towards an entertainment format rather than presenting the cold hard facts This is often because it allows sensationalism which draws viewers. Today many people get the majority of their news over the internet which is controlled and shaped by big tech. While this has made a huge difference in how news is distributed and how we receive the news, much of the content remains controlled by a few strong players that often are driven by an agenda of self-interest.

I contend the subtle omission of a comment section online is often an effort to quell dissenting voices rather than because it to simplify the format. It could be argued that the media has a moral obligation to provide such a public forum if they want the right to call themselves "free and balanced." It  is a red flag when you are told YOUR OPINION IS NOT REQUESTED OR WANTED!

Many of us out beyond the beltway in the backwaters and wilds of America have grown to feel the media has a casual relationship with the truth. In many ways, the media has become viewed more as a tool of the establishment than the protector of the people and defender of our rights. This could explain why the press is often held in such low esteem by the very public that relies on them for information. Coverage filled with subtle digs or comments and even subliminal messages taints the premise media is fair. During interviews, we often get an opportunity to witness examples of just how badly you can treat a guest invited to answer questions when they alter the narrative being pushed. 

This often results in over the top efforts to put words in someone's mouth and take statements out of context. These words are then spun in the most harmful ways. If the guest represents views differing from the interviewer what we often see is an ambush. If a guest is favored or their views are endorsed it is often as though they had written the softball questions asked of them or as if they had been given the questions in advance or controlled the interview. All this can then be backed up by a series of scripted statements that all loop back around to support a hard or subliminal message.

Free Speech Is Our Most Sacred Right

With the biased coverage of current events being very common, it is little wonder that Americans question the honesty of the media whose ranks appear to have become filled with opportunists and bums dressed as a journalist. Free speech is the cornerstone of freedom. Our forefathers in their wisdom made it an intricate part of our civil rights, it was not by accident it was the first amendment. It was their clear intention to protect our right to speak out even if people disagreed with what we wished to say. Free speech is not a right we should yield or ever surrender.

Because we often don't agree with everything we view or read "implied agreement" is not valid. Even including a simple thumbs up or down box at the end of an article gives readers a place to weigh in. If only one option is present today it is a place to voice agreement. It is not an oversight that no place is available to object. Next time you are boiling mad or disagree with how an article is characterizing an event I urge you to take the time to see if the source has provided you with an opportunity to present your view. Do not be surprised if they have not.

( Republishing of this article is welcomed with reference to Bruce Wilds/AdvancingTime Blog )

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Fed Driven Bubble Destined To End Badly

At Best, The Fed Is Simply A Flawed Institution

Reassurance from central banks is only emboldening investors to add to their risks. Regardless of what he says Fed Chair Powell has confirmed the Fed plans to continue its role as the great enabler. Every time the Fed signals more easing or that it will keep rates low it boosts the ability of other central banks to do the same and governments to add to their stimulus packages. This is why those demonizing the dollar may be wrong, if anything all fiat currencies that are under pressure from this expansion of the money supply. 

Central banks across the globe have been able to lower their rates or do additional stimulus without causing concerns their currency would crater. The fact that so many loans across the world are based and loaned in dollars means countries and businesses must buy dollars to repay their obligations. This puts a bit of a foundation under the dollar going forward. It could be argued the reason several countries have reduced their US Treasury holdings is not that the dollar is slated to fall but is more related to the fact they have problems at home and need dollars in order to service their debt obligations.

Adding to the complexity of money flows is that America's stimulus packages are simply putting more icing on China's cake and the other countries that enjoy a trade surplus with America. We are carrying the world on our shoulders. Rather than paying rent or making mortgage payments, it seems from the exploding trade deficit that Americans are taking much of the money they get from Uncle Sam and buying imported goods.   

When Powell attempts to explain his continued actions, many of us who pay attention to such things cry "Bullshit." Not only is the current Fed policy uncalled for but it does little to strengthen the economy or address our problems. What it will do is continue to prop up asset prices and encourage risk-taking and malinvestment. This is a big deal and will result in more negative interest rates across the world. Due to the artificially low cost of credit and an unsustainable increase in the money supply bubbles are forming everywhere.

The suggestion that the global financial system was in big trouble even before Covid-19 entered the picture and the pandemic has been used to shift blame and focus away from the governments and central banks that have failed us is full of merit. The situation we are witnessing is not from a failure of injecting enough liquidity into the system but that liquidity is being diverted from where it is needed. The idea more liquidity can make up for a solvency problem is unrealistic and turned failing companies into zombies. 

The market has reached the point where profits are no longer required to generate a return on investment. Bubbles represent a major disconnect from reality. Companies borrow money extremely cheaply by issuing corporate bonds, use it for stock buybacks and shareholder dividends. thus furthering the disconnect between the value of stocks and the economy on Main Street. 

Bitcoin Is An Option To Fiat Currencies

While Nasdaq is banging out a new record high and Bitcoin also hitting all-time highs, much of the world remains locked-down due to the covid pandemic. Much of what is happening on Main Street is being ignored. Much of bitcoin's surge is attributed to growing inflation expectations based on the debasement of currencies. The rise in stocks is also coupled to the expected future economic relief packages that will soon roll out of Congress.  

Adding to our future economic woes is that the Feds easy policy strongly favors big business. This results in the destruction of many small and medium-sized concerns. This has caused inequality to surge during the rash of lock-downs. We are yet to see the massive toll people working from home will take on office buildings or the total devastation online shopping has unleashed upon retail property. The fact that many businesses cannot pay their rent or mortgage payments is a "lag time event " that will only show up over time.

Investors hope to see a big pop in consumer spending due to another round of checks being put into the hands of individuals. This expected bounce in spending may fall short of expectations. Where the massive package passed last spring caused the bizarre situation of incomes rising during a recession this is more a scaled back continuation of expiring programs. It would be wise to remember what we are witnessing is constructed on a foundation of growing debt. This is made clear in the chart below which shows the change in Debt-to-GDP from Q42019 through Q3 of 2020.

In the Austrian business cycle theory, malinvestments are badly allocated business investments, A strong case can be made that we already suffer from far too much leverage in our markets and this rate cut only encourages savers suffering from low-interest rates to take on more risk in search of higher yields. It has been pointed out on many occasions that low-interest rates do not extend down to low-income individuals with poor credit and many people fall into this category. Instead, over time these rates fuel inequality and punish the poor. Unfortunately, the concept that a rising tide floats all boats or trickle-down economics tends to heavily favor the rich. 

We see this in housing where few of the new apartment construction funds are generated locally and much of the building is no-longer based on real need but centered around the whims of huge real estate companies. This is part of the reason roughly 80% of new apartment construction is now for the high-end luxury market. Again the government and Wall Street money is driving this train. While retailers close and large buildings go empty across the land new buildings are being put up on speculation and bogus public-private partnerships are plowing vast sums of money into projects geared to compete with those that already exist. the fact is all across America the Fed is putting the small guy out of business.

Feds Low Rates Have Enabled This (click to enlarge)

The stock market and not the economy. People that point to the market as proof that all is well put stocks in front of the real indicator of our economic strength which is the middle and lower class. The disconnect between the working people and the financial community is apparent in the difficulty people with small businesses have getting loans or financing a project while big business is fed billions of dollars by the banks and Wall Street. If anyone is losing confidence in the system it is these people. This is not a problem Biden or any politician can solve with government social programs.

At some point to reestablish true price discovery it will be necessary to break the well-ingrained habit of "buy the dip." This method of trading has worked since October 19th, 1987 when the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) dropped 22.6 percent in a single trading session. That is the day the actions by Fed Chairman Greenspan galvanized the mantras "buy the dip" and "don't fight the Fed." Greenspan did this by affirming the Federal reserve would be there "to serve as a source of liquidity to support the economic and financial system." 

The trading patterns flowing from investors buying the dip are now ingrained in the algorithms embedded deep inside the computers that drive much of the stock market's action. As noted earlier, to the chagrin of those with a negative view of the Fed, Powell has confirmed the Fed plans to continue as the great enabler. The rapid expansion of debt and credit during the last decade could not have occurred without the Fed being complicit. When things move too far in one direction adjustments do occur. Do not be surprised if the dollar again jumps higher as the reality sets in that many countries will do far worse than America in the coming months. For now, we watch and wait while the market again tries to discover its true value both here in America and across the world. 

 ( Republishing of this article is welcomed with reference to Bruce Wilds/AdvancingTime Blog )

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Apple May Soon Join Tesla In The EV Auto Sector

Apple Like Tesla Has A Cult-Like Following
Recently Apple threw its hat into the ring when it announced its intention to move forward with developing self-driving car technology. It should be noted that when a company with the market cap of Apple and a great deal of money decides to move into the auto industry it can buy all or most of a struggling automaker. This would give them an instant production capacity. This means Apple can rapidly jump into the EV market. 

According to Reuters, Apple is targeting 2024 to produce a passenger vehicle. Make no mistake, this has the potential to derail Elon Musk's plan for Tesla to put out a million robotaxis. This places Apple in the position of competing with others with major self-driving projects, including Tesla and Google/Alphabet's Waymo project which stands for a new way forward in mobility. Google started working on a self-driving car several years ago but so far has little to show for its effort. 

Apple seems very interested in pushing its way into this sector of the economy. Adding to the validity that Apple is serious about moving in this direction, Reuters also reported Apple's cars might include sensors and a new "monocell designed battery" that has been developed internally at Apple. Such a battery could be a much-needed breakthrough in battery technology. The lack of better batteries is one of the biggest problems currently facing the EV industry. 

All EV manufactures are seeking new battery designs that could "radically" reduce battery cost and increase a vehicle's range. A better battery has been seen as the Holy Grail of the EV industry. While some people point out Tesla has been moving to improve its batteries the same could be said about all these companies. More efficient motors in these vehicles are also important. The Toyota Prius also uses IPMSynRm Motors such as used in the Tesla Model 3.

An interesting question was put forth in the form of a comment on another webpage: How many of the 499,550 Telsa's sold in 2020 were to straw buyers? and of those, how many will be dismantled and have their parts recycled back into 2021 models? This comment suggests that some people and investors forget how numbers can be fudged and Tesla has a great incentive to do such a thing. The company is in a self-feeding loop and so overvalued that it can afford to buy its cars and ship them to the bottom of the sea because each car they sell has been driving its stock ever higher.

It Appears That China's EV Sales Peaked In June Of 2019

Tesla has an almost cult-like following but there is more to its story than that. You can also throw into the mix an article that appeared weeks ago about how China was forcing a recall of Tesla Model S and Model X vehicles. This indicates a "bump in the road" is forming between the company and the Chinese state. Then, on Christmas, Chinese company Pingwest released what can only be called a brutal expose about quality control and working conditions at Tesla's Shanghai factory. 

The article titled "Giga-Sweatshop Meets Corporate Overlords: an Exclusive Look Into How Tesla China Runs its Shanghai Gigafactory 3." The piece lays out how quickly Tesla was able to set up shop and begin producing in China, and how it sent the company's stock price soaring up over"six-fold" in 2020. The piece then begins to poke holes in the idea Tesla is a picture of "blindingly quick efficiency." It claims behind-the-scene stories inside the non-stop Shanghai Gigafactory are much darker than people have been led to believe. It points to low "quality standards" and other problems at the plant.

Many people do not realize that while Tesla has dominated our EV market, as an American company it may have an uphill battle for market share in other countries even if it builds a plant there. The chart to the left is from the first eight months of 2019, it shows the Tesla Model 3 lagging far behind its domestic competition in the massive Chinese market. At that time, the BAIC EU-Series was the top-selling model.

The chart to the right paints a far brighter picture for Tesla but several factors skew its accuracy of predicting future sales. These include Tesla's factory opening which has now been topped off by some of the bad press in China. Interestingly, again we see Tesla in China also shows signs of being addicted to end-of-quarter peak deliveries. In Q2, the Model 3 started slow (4,312 units in April), then picked up the pace in May (11,468), and ended the quarter with a bang, with 15,023 units registered. 

This replicates Tesla’s typical sales pattern in other places. This means the  Tesla Model 3 dominated the scene in China during June almost tripling the deliveries of the surprise runner-up, the Baojun E-Series. Adding to the confusing numbers is the growth in this market was negative in June 2020, overall China was down 6% year over year with plugins doing much worse, down 53%. Muddying things even further is the fact June 2019 marked an all-time high for plugins in China, due to a sales boost from subsidies changes that occurred.

Three years ago few people thought Tesla would be the force it is today. Even less considered it would be trading at 1,458 times earnings. While I expect nothing written here or elsewhere will change the mindset of those bullish on Tesla, I echo the message of, while almost 500,000 deliveries globally is a big number for Tesla, it constitutes only a fraction of the global auto market. In 2020 is estimated 73 million vehicles were delivered. This means Tesla’s global market share in 2020 was just 0.7%. This screams that Tesla is massively overvalued.

It may be difficult for those caught in all the EV euphoria to remember the gasoline engine is not dead and not everyone desires a vehicle that is self-driving. Still, it is difficult to deny that Tesla has astounded investors and is the talk of the markets. With a market cap of 669 billion dollars Tesla's market cap is larger than the combined total market cap of Toyota (Toyota and Lexus), Volkswagen (VW, Audi, Porsche, and many other brands), Daimler, GM, BMW, Honda, Ford, and Fiat Chrysler. Each one of these companies manufactures far more vehicles than Tesla.  

Circling back to Apple and whether it could rapidly become a force in the EV market and damage Tesla's position, this is something only time will reveal. After Apple reiterated its intent to move into this market, Bloomberg technology columnist Tim Culpan noted that Apple CEO Tim Cook's ability in delivering iPhones at scale bodes ill for Tesla. A wild card here is that Apple often contracts out much of its manufacturing. Apple becoming a force in the automotive market may be difficult to imagine but Tesla's success which made Elon Musk, its CEO and founder the second richest man in the world was also unlikely to the bulk of investors.

Saturday, January 2, 2021

The EU Is At Risk Of Becoming Subservient To China

Europe Cannot Out-trade China
The EU is taking the path of strengthening its ties to China in the hope it will spark an economic renaissance. The Euro-Zone was already in deep trouble before CoVid-19 hit. Argue as you may but the bout of economic weakness that started in 2017 never ended. The latest scheme cooked up by Brussels seems more of its policy to extend and pretend all is well. The EU abandoned all structural reforms in 2014 when the ECB started its quantitative easing program (QE) and expanded the balance sheet to record-levels. Playing into Europe's problems is that in 2019, almost 22% of the Euro Zone GDP gross added value came from Travel & Leisure, a sector that will unlikely come back anytime soon. 

To avoid the union coming apart at the seams the European Commission last year unveiled an unprecedented  €750BN CoVid-19 recovery plan. It consisted of €500 billion in grants to member states and €250 billion in loans. This means those in Brussels are seeking a major extension of their power to where they can borrow money under the premise it will aid in ending the worst recession in European history and at the same time shore up Italy. This would result in transforming the EU’s governing body in Brussels by allowing it to raise unprecedented sums on the capital markets to shore up hard-pressed EU countries. 

Roughly 80% of the Euro-Zone's real economy is financed by a banking sector that carries more than 600 billion euro in non-performing loans. Unemployment is also a problem, almost 30% of the Euro Zone labor force is expected to be under some form of unemployment scheme for years. France, Spain, and Italy, with important rules and tax burdens on job creation, may suffer large unemployment for even longer. As of 2017, not a single European company ranked among the top fifteen technology companies in the world and only four of the top 50 global technology companies are European. This is why skeptics are concern that if the politically directed "Green New Deal" agenda doesn't boost growth or reduce debt the Euro-Zone will remain economically stagnate.

The elephant in the room is that the Euro-zone region simply isn't competitive. The EU lacks technological and intellectual property and is falling further behind the U.S. and China. Germany, the regions manufacturing powerhouse continues to skirt along narrowly escaping recession while France, Spain, and Italy face years of large unemployment levels. It was clear that the EU was struggling in the spring of 2020 when the European Commission sharply revised lower its economic growth forecast for the area due to Covid-19. So far, the European Commission's expectations its economy would rapidly rebound have been dashed by a second wave of the pandemic. 

To generate the impression of hope the EU's leaders in Brussels are trying to pull a rabbit out of the hat by strengthening ties with China. The Guardian recently reported that China and the EU now appear to have resolved their differences over protecting labor rights in China and are set to sign a long-delayed investment agreement. This would strengthen ties between them and make the economies of the two blocs more interdependent. The investment talks address opening up Chinese markets for European investment, as well as addressing Chinese practices opposed by the EU concerning industrial subsidies, state control of enterprises, and forced technology transfers. 

A sticking point for the talks launched in 2013, has been the treatment of Uighur Muslims, and the systematic suppression of free speech in Hong Kong. At the heart of these talks has been the EU's concern about these issues and how to enforce and arbitrate other parts of the agreement. It must be noted the same members of the European parliament have in the recent past passed resolutions condemning the use of forced labor in China must ratify the agreement. Also, America and the incoming Biden administration are far from happy about the EU-China comprehensive investment agreement which signifies a significant shift in EU policy towards Asia.

The proposed deal dovetails with Beijing's "One Belt, One Road" (OBOR) initiative and follows the signing of an agreement made with Italy which is viewed by many as bankrupt. Last year, in what might be considered a bold move the Italian Prime Minister signed a historic memorandum of understanding with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Rome. The agreement made Italy the first founding EU  member, and the first G-7 nation, to officially sign on to OBOR in hopes it would shore up its weak prospects. The ramifications flowing from Italy's deal with China may, in the end, prove to be a deal with the devil. 

The key motivation behind China working to reach a deal with poor, weak, but lovable Italy was its desire to exploit Italy and use it as a backdoor into the broader Euro-Zone market. The deal China and Italy inked contained development deals covering everything from port management, science and technology, e-commerce, and even soccer. The reality is that China is eager for control of entry points into the European Union that can be lawfully expanded upon. This does not bode well for the region.

While in the past, Europe has enjoyed a trade surplus with America year after year this has not been the case when it comes to China. According to data from Eurostat, the EU had a 153 billion euro ($180.3 billion) surplus with the U.S. (meaning it exported more to the U.S. than it imported) in 2019. The European Union is China's second-largest trading partner but imports far more from China than it imports. These sort of numbers are not outliers but certification of a trend that has been growing for years. Simply put America has been carrying Europe on its back and the money and wealth that flows from America to Europe quickly finds its way to Asia. 

Below are the import and export figures with China from 2018 in billions of US dollars.

 United States,  Total trade 583.3  Exports 429.7  Imports   153.9  Trade Deficit  275.8

 European Union,  Total Trade  573.08  Exports  375.1   Imports  197.9  Trade Deficit 177.1

It could be argued Brussels is leading the EU into an ambush, Europe cannot hold its own against China. In the past, both the United States and the European Union have complained that China wants free trade without playing fair. To think China is a tiger that has suddenly changed its stripes borders on insanity. This treaty will not correct the market imbalance or give Europe the same level of market access or non-discriminatory environment investors seek. They will find this is not the first time that China signs such an agreement without respecting it. Europe which has seen its manufacturing sector debased by cheap knockoffs from China and other low-wage countries will find little comfort in bringing more of these goods into their market.

It could be argued the Chinese system is geared to exploit. China's state-run economy is based on a predatory business model that is geared to expand by crushing the competition. China is determined to move into high-tech products and its plan centers around both state-owned and private firms investing in and acquiring foreign companies to steal their technological innovations. Subsidizing those companies working within its system in a multitude of ways helps China achieve this goal. This is not going to change, China exports goods at slightly below cost in order to draw manufacturing jobs from other countries. Those of us with such a view of China contend the move towards closer ties with China may hasten the demise of Europe.

Below are a few links to other article relating to China and the situations contained above.

Republishing this article is welcomed with reference to Bruce Wilds/AdvancingTime Blog