The Homeless in NYC Are Now Living in Tiny Spaces in the Frame of the Manhattan Bridge

I just got back to Colorado from 10 days in my hometown of New York City. It’s always fun to see friends and family as well as take stock of how much things have changed since I left. There is no question about it, NYC feels more like “Disneyland for Wall Street” than ever before. The very rich are doing very well, everyone else, not so much. We are often told by charlatans and mainstream media propagandists that this mythical rising tide of wealth lifts all boats. If that’s the case, I find it quite perplexing that the homeless population in America’s financial center is exploding five years into the so-called recovery. Meanwhile, let’s not forget that 22% of the city is on food stamps.

How is this possible? Because we have witnessed five years of egregious corruption and crony capitalist theft, not a genuine recovery. That’s how.

The war on the homeless has been accelerating in recent years, as city officials across the nation would rather hide the problem that admit the economic recovery is bullshit. In most cases, the measures are subtle, but have the desired effect of pushing homeless people away from public view (in Columbia, South Carolina it is not so subtle and you need a $120 weekly permit to feed the homeless). NYC officials are a bit more nuanced. For example, I was shocked to see a sign posted in a park in Manhattan that said adults can’t come in without children. It looked something like this:

Screen Shot 2014-04-14 at 10.25.22 AM

No matter what spin somebody may put on this, the primary goal is to keep homeless people away.

I grew up in New York City and was a toddler in the early 1980′s, not exactly the safest period in the city. I remember playing in the parks around my parents’ apartment and there were homeless people everywhere. It was a part of my childhood for better or worse, but it was reality. I think I was better off knowing the homeless existed than if they had all been pushed away to the outskirts and everyone pretended they weren’t there.

The thing is, many of the very wealthy in New York City want to believe this bullshit story that things are generally getting better. Meanwhile, the statistics speak for themselves, and according to HUD, the homeless population in NYC increased 13% last year. That’s quite disturbing five years into raging bull market for stocks.

Moving along, we now we find that homeless people are living in coffin-sized spaces inside the frame of the Manhattan Bridge.

From the New York Post:

Crafty hobos are turning the Manhattan Bridge into a veritable shantytown, complete with elaborate plywood shacks that are truly “must see to believe.”

One of the coffin-sized living spaces — which have been built into the bridge frame near the Manhattan entrance — is secured with a flimsy bike lock and bolted to a metal beam by its inhabitant.

The pods are built into the underside of the upper deck, below car traffic but above the subway and bike lanes.

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Where Does the Real Problem Reside? Two Charts Showing the 0.01% vs. the 1%

While I always supported the overall message and energy that encompassed the Occupy Wall Street movement, I never backed the slogan of the 1% vs. the 99%. From my own personal experience, it is entirely clear that the actual problem is a far smaller group within the 1%, the 0.1% or the 0.01% (although I recognize “We Are the 99.9%” isn’t catchy).

This is why you’ll never hear me demonize “the 1%”, rather I always try to use the term oligarch, which refers a small handful of people who benefit most disproportionately from Federal Reserve handouts, D.C. corruption, tax code loopholes and the destructive trend of financialization generally.

This is is also why I became so disgusted by Sam Zell’s ignorant and destructive comments on Bloomberg television earlier this year that decided to pen an open letter to him.

Thanks to The Atlantic, we now have two charts that show what I have been writing about for many years now. It is not the 1% that is the problem, it’s actually a much smaller slice within that group that is thieving and pillaging at will from the rest of American society.

From The Atlantic:

I’ve written, over and over, that the most important divide in our wealth disparity was between the 1 percent and the 99 percent. For example, when I compared the evolution in investment income since the late 1970s, I often imagined a graph like this from the Economic Policy Institute, showing the 1 percent flying away from the rest of the country.

It turns out that that graph is somewhat misleading. It makes it look like the 1 percent is a group of similar households accelerating from the rest of the economy, holding hands, in unison. Nothing could be further from the truth.

A few weeks ago, I shared this graph (from the World Top Incomes Database) showing how the top 0.01 percent—that’s the one percent of the 1 percent—was leaving the rest of the top percentile behind.

Screen Shot 2014-03-29 at 9.23.25 PM

It’s even more egregious than that. An amazing chart from economist Amir Sufi, based on the work of Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman, shows that when you look inside the 1 percent, you see clearly that most of them aren’t growing their share of wealth at all. In fact, the gain in wealth share is all about the top 0.1 percent of the country. While nine-tenths of the top percentile hasn’t seen much change at all since 1960, the 0.01 percent has essentially quadrupled its share of the country’s wealth in half a century.

houseofdebt_SaezZucman21

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The New York Times Covers “Oligarch Welfare” – Tax Breaks for Private Planes, Yachts and More…

I’m pleased to say that the topic of oligarch and corporate welfare finally seems to be getting the much needed attention it deserves. While billionaires like Sam Zell (read my open letter to him) continue to spout nonsense about how the poor just need to be more like the rich, objective folks are catching on to the joke.

Ironically, the biggest welfare queens in America are the oligarchs and multinational corporations themselves, yet many of them constantly like to blame growing inequality on the supposed character deficiencies of the lower classes.

Earlier this week, I wrote a very well received post titled, A First Look at a New Report on Crony Capitalism – Trillions in Corporate Welfare, as well as the post, Walmart Admits in its Annual Report that its Profits Depend Heavily on Corporate Welfare.

The New York Times has now thrown its hat in the arena with an article titled: A Nation of Takers?

Here are some excerpts:

In the debate about poverty, critics argue that government assistance saps initiative and is unaffordable. After exploring the issue, I must concede that the critics have a point. Here are five public welfare programs that are wasteful and turning us into a nation of “takers.”

First, welfare subsidies for private planes. The United States offers three kinds of subsidies to tycoons with private jets: accelerated tax write-offs, avoidance of personal taxes on the benefit by claiming that private aircraft are for security, and use of air traffic control paid for by chumps flying commercial.

I worry about those tycoons sponging off government. Won’t our pampering damage their character? Won’t they become addicted to the entitlement culture, demanding subsidies even for their yachts? Oh, wait …

Second, welfare subsidies for yachts. The mortgage-interest deduction was meant to encourage a home-owning middle class. But it has been extended to provide subsidies for beach homes and even yachts.

In the meantime, money was slashed last year from the public housing program for America’s neediest.

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Eric Holder and the DOJ Have Spent Millions of Taxpayer Dollars on Unreported Personal Travel

As the Attorney General of these United States, Eric Holder is the top legal advisor for the entire nation. As such, he has been in a position to help punish financial criminals and the mega-banks for the crimes they committed in the run-up to the financial crisis, and the egregious looting thereafter.

Despite his unique role, Eric Holder has spent the past five years taking absolutely zero action on any matter of national significance. In fact, his major claim to fame appears to be that he has solidified the creation of a group of untouchable criminals known as the “Too Big to Jail” class.

So what does Eric Holder do in his spare time, you know, when he isn’t coddling financial oligarchs and running firearms into Mexico? Apparently, according to a recent study from the non-partisan Government Accountability Office, he likes to hop on government planes for personal trips at taxpayer expense. Serfs up suckers!

From The Washington Post:

The agency that tracks federal travel did not report hundreds of personal and other “non mission” trips aboard government planes for senior Justice Department officials including Attorney General Eric Holder and former FBI Director Robert Mueller, according to a watchdog report.

Congress’s nonpartisan Government Accountability Office determined that the 395 flights cost taxpayers $7.8 million. But the General Services Administration, which oversees trips aboard federal jets, did not require documentation because of a GSA reporting exemption that covers intelligence agencies, even in cases of unclassified personal travel.

The findings, released Thursday, came out nearly 19 months after Republican lawmakers began questioning Holder’s use of an FBI jet for travel unrelated to Justice Department work. Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, asked the GAO to look into the matter.

For security reasons, attorneys general are required to use non-commercial flights when they fly, and they have access to Defense Department jets. However, they must reimburse the government for personal trips.

Oh right, good luck with that. I’m more likely to have dinner with the Easter Bunny tonight.

Full article here.

In the spirit of this article, I suggest watching this classic Eric Holder video clip that I highlighted last year. Enjoy:

In Liberty,
Michael Krieger

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The True State of the U.S. Economy: Caviar Facials and Desperate Fire Sales on Craigslist

By now, it must be completely obvious to anyone paying even the slightest bit of attention that the so-called “recovery” we have supposedly been witnessing for the past several years is nothing more than a wealth transfer to a handful of oligarchs and their political minions. While I am intimately familiar with the process in the U.S., it appears to be a global phenomenon as well.

Domestically, this process has been driven by the complete corruption and insanity of those calling the public policy shots in Washington D.C. At the heart of that process, resides a group of unelected economic Central Planners known as the Federal Reserve, or the lender of last resort for oligarchs and cronies who make bad business decisions.

Before I get to the title of this post, I want to highlight a very important article published last week that demonstrates how college graduates are forcing their lesser educated peers out of the workforce by taking jobs that do not require secondary education. If you read this and still can’t be honest that this economy is a total distorted shitshow, I don’t know what to tell you.

From Bloomberg:

Recent college graduates are ending up in more low-wage and part-time positions as it’s become harder to find education-level appropriate jobs, according to a January study by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

The share of Americans ages 22 to 27 with at least a bachelor’s degree in jobs that don’t require that level of education was 44 percent in 2012, up from 34 percent in 2001, the study found.

The New York Fed researchers said it isn’t clear whether two decades of increasing underemployment for recent graduates “represent a structural change in the labor market, or if they are a consequence of the two recessions and jobless recoveries in the first decade of the 2000s.”

Two “jobless recoveries.” I’m still trying to figure our how you can have a “jobless recovery.” Perhaps they aren’t recoveries in the first place. Bear in mind that these are the unelected people running the economy.

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Obama Signs Executive Order Blocking Certain Russian Assets Due to Ukraine Crisis

Ok, so this seems like a very big deal and may represent a serious escalation in the soft conflict happening between the U.S. and Russia. As of today, the U.S. seems to be using financial warfare in its response. Not only does this Executive Order issued today appear to block certain Russian assets, it also imposes travel restrictions. The question on my mind now is, does Russia hold some of its treasuries in the custody of the Federal Reserve? If so, are these now frozen?

Here’s the text of the Executive Order (emphasis mine):

Executive Order — Blocking Property of Certain Persons Contributing to the Situation in Ukraine

EXECUTIVE ORDER

- – - – - – -

BLOCKING PROPERTY OF CERTAIN PERSONS CONTRIBUTING TO THE SITUATION IN UKRAINE

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.) (IEEPA), the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.) (NEA), section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 (8 U.S.C. 1182(f)), and section 301 of title 3, United States Code,

I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, find that the actions and policies of persons — including persons who have asserted governmental authority in the Crimean region without the authorization of the Government of Ukraine — that undermine democratic processes and institutions in Ukraine; threaten its peace, security, stability, sovereignty, and territorial integrity; and contribute to the misappropriation of its assets, constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States, and I hereby declare a national emergency to deal with that threat. I hereby order:

Section 1. (a) All property and interests in property that are in the United States, that hereafter come within the United States, or that are or hereafter come within the possession or control of any United States person (including any foreign branch) of the following persons are blocked and may not be transferred, paid, exported, withdrawn, or otherwise dealt in: any person determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State: 

(i) to be responsible for or complicit in, or to have engaged in, directly or indirectly, any of the following:

(A) actions or policies that undermine democratic processes or institutions in Ukraine;

(B) actions or policies that threaten the peace, security, stability, sovereignty, or territorial integrity of Ukraine; or

(C) misappropriation of state assets of Ukraine or of an economically significant entity in Ukraine;

(ii) to have asserted governmental authority over any part or region of Ukraine without the authorization of the Government of Ukraine;

(iii) to be a leader of an entity that has, or whose members have, engaged in any activity described in subsection (a)(i) or (a)(ii) of this section or of an entity whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order;

(iv) to have materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of, any activity described in subsection (a)(i) or (a)(ii) of this section or any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order; or

(v) to be owned or controlled by, or to have acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order.

(b) The prohibitions in subsection (a) of this section apply except to the extent provided by statutes, or in regulations, orders, directives, or licenses that may be issued pursuant to this order, and notwithstanding any contract entered into or any license or permit granted prior to the effective date of this order.

Sec. 2. I hereby find that the unrestricted immigrant and nonimmigrant entry into the United States of aliens determined to meet one or more of the criteria in subsection 1(a) of this order would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, and I hereby suspend entry into the United States, as immigrants or nonimmigrants, of such persons. Such persons shall be treated as persons covered by section 1 of Proclamation 8693 of July 24, 2011 (Suspension of Entry of Aliens Subject to United Nations Security Council Travel Bans and International Emergency Economic Powers Act Sanctions).

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Video of the Day: Shit Bitcoin Fanatics Say

Back in 2012, I introduced you to a hilarious video created by my friend Dan Ameduri titled: Shit Gold Bugs Say. If you haven’t seen it, I definitely suggest checking it out. I even make a brief cameo appearance at the 0:57 mark.

Today I bring you a new video. Similar concept, different item and also very funny. Introducing “Shit Bitcoin Fanatics Say.”

Enjoy.

 

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Meet “Goldfinger” – The $850k Motorcycle with “Many Buyers Interested”

Welcome back to pre-financial crisis insanity levels. I recall one of the wildest stories from back in early 2008 near the height of the oil price bubble was about how the wealthy in the UAE were spending tens of millions of dollars buying and selling license plates. Yes, just regular aluminum license plates. The most insane example of this was the $14.3 million paid for one in particular.

Well the stupidity is back, and this time it’s coming in the form of $850,000 motorcycles.

CNBC reports that:

It wasn’t that long ago that the first $1 million car was news. Now, a two-wheel vehicle is about to hit seven figures.

The motorcycle, called “Goldfinger,” was plated with 24-karat gold and covered with 250 small diamonds totaling more than 7 carats. The seat is upholstered with what the company calls a “unique cognac-colored crocodile skin” and the bike’s parts—859 of them—were individually gold-plated by hand.

It was shown at special events in Monaco and Dubai, before a private buyer snapped it up.

The sale price: $850,000.

Uffe Lauge Jensen, the company’s founder and chief creator, declined to comment on the buyer or even the buyer’s country. But he said there were many buyers interested in Goldfinger despite the price.

“It was very popular,” he said.

But Lauge Jensen said he’s already working on something bigger. Though he’s vague on specifics, he said he’s working with a customer on a motorcycle that could easily top $1 million. Basically, he said, it’s a piece of jewelry on two wheels.

Can we finally stop persecuting the poor billionaire oligarchs already?

In Liberty,
Michael Krieger

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Bernanke’s Not Wasting Any Time – Earns $250,000+ for a Speech in Abu Dhabi

Ben Bernanke isn’t wasting any time cashing in on what might be the greatest transfer of wealth in history from 99.9% of the world’s population to a handful of connected oligarchs and their political minions. Cronyism does indeed pay well, even if bureaucrats have to wait until they leave office to collect.

The Bernank isn’t wasting any time ringing the register.

From Reuters:

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said the U.S. central bank could have done more to fight the country’s financial crisis and that he struggled to find the right way to communicate with markets.

“We could have done some things on the margin to mitigate somewhat the crisis,” Bernanke, 60, said on Tuesday in his first public speaking engagement since he stepped down in January after eight years heading the Fed.

“Although we have been very aggressive, I think on the monetary policy front we could have been even more aggressive.”

“This is going to sound very obvious but the first thing we learned is that the U.S. is not invulnerable to financial crises,” Bernanke said.

Um, so you thought it was? Never forget that these are the clowns running the show.

Bernanke said he could now speak more freely about the crisis than he could while at the Fed – “I can say whatever I want” – and in remarks to over 1,000 bankers and financial professionals in the capital of the United Arab Emirates, he made clear that he had regrets.

Bernanke received at least $250,000 for his appearance at the financial conference staged by National Bank of Abu Dhabi NBAD.AD, the UAE’s largest bank, according to sources familiar the matter. NBAD did not announce the fee.

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A Vital Message from Venezuela – “They Talk Like Marx, Rule Like Stalin…”

The following quote written on a piece of cardboard from the ongoing protests in Venezuela basically summarizes how the oligarchs, or the 0.01%, and their political henchmen rule in all countries around the world at the moment. Then they cry like little welfare babies when people criticize their behavior.

Powerful stuff:

They speak like Marx
Rule like Stalin
And live like Rockefellers
While the people suffer

TalklikeMarx

Warren Buffet is the absolute master of the above tactic, which is why I once wrote about him being: A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing.

In Liberty,
Michael Kriegr

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