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Survival Skills - Fire Making with a Hand Drill

Chris Martenson - August 29, 2014 - 16:19

Learn the basics of making fire with the hand drill method.  Also check out the the WSID article on 9 Ways to Make Fire Without Matches.

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Categories: Economics

Inflation - Crash Course Chapter 11

Chris Martenson - August 29, 2014 - 15:36

For close to 300 years, inflation in the US remained very subdued. Small spurts occurred around major wars (Revolutionary, Civil, WW1, etc), but after each, inflation quickly trended back down to its long-term baseline. If you lived during this stretch of time, your money had roughly the same purchasing power your great-grandfather's did.

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Categories: Economics

Daily Digest 8/29 - People Aren't Buying Guns, Detroit Property Tax Revenue Falls Short

Chris Martenson - August 29, 2014 - 07:37
  • The Impending Catastrophe
  • 'Kiev, rise up!' Protesters demand ouster of Ukrainian president, defense minister
  • What All This Bad News Is Doing to Us
  • People Aren't Buying Guns
  • Detroit Expected $55 Million in Property Tax Revenue; It Brought in $6.7 Million
  • Propaganda and the lack thereof
  • Newly Built CO2-Emitting Plants Outpace Closings
  • This Twenty-Something Hopes to Unleash the Next Green Revolution

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Categories: Economics

Daily Digest 8/29 - People Aren't Buying Guns, Detroit Property Tax Revenue Falls Short

Chris Martenson - August 29, 2014 - 07:37
  • The Impending Catastrophe
  • 'Kiev, rise up!' Protesters demand ouster of Ukrainian president, defense minister
  • What All This Bad News Is Doing to Us
  • People Aren't Buying Guns
  • Detroit Expected $55 Million in Property Tax Revenue; It Brought in $6.7 Million
  • Propaganda and the lack thereof
  • Newly Built CO2-Emitting Plants Outpace Closings
  • This Twenty-Something Hopes to Unleash the Next Green Revolution

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Categories: Economics

Let’s End Poverty: We Have the Money, Do We Have the Will?

Photo by Tomasz Wagner.

I am driving my old red Jeep near my house. I stop for a traffic light and see a disheveled man, trying to smile, wanting to look me in the eye, and holding a cardboard sign on which he has printed in thick, black letters: “No job. Anything helps. God bless.”

Do I roll down my window and hold out some coins? Or pretend I don’t see him?

Do I avoid eye contact because, deep down, seeing him forces me to confront a scary reality—that I, too, could wind up begging on the streets? Do I let his presence reinforce the common belief that poverty is inevitable, a timeless plight I cannot solve?

My stoplight turns green. Problem solved. For now.

Although not for the man with the hand-lettered sign, nor for about 47 million other Americans who live beneath the official poverty line, as well as under a daily judgment of failure.

The question today is: Whose failure?

In this storied “land of opportunity,” where those who pull themselves up by their bootstraps are exalted, any failure to do just that is reflexively disparaged: “If you fail to succeed, then you must be lazy. You didn’t try hard enough. So you deserve to sleep in a  doorway downtown or maybe in a park.”

Yet the official numbers reveal an altogether different reality: The vast majority in poverty are not those we see begging at stoplights. In 2012, 2.9 million Americans worked full-time jobs and still lived below the poverty line. Some 22 percent of our children live in poverty, and it’s worse for African American youth—38 percent—and Hispanic children—34 percent.

You don’t have to crunch many numbers to see that having a permanent underclass is neither natural nor inevitable but is, in fact, a choice our society has made. Consciously.

For the very wealthy, top marginal tax rates have been lowered from 91 percent, when Lyndon B. Johnson became president, to 39.6 percent by 2013 under President Obama’s administration. Those were intentional changes to the tax code that widened the gap between the rich and the rest. And, starting around 1994, policy changes encouraged offshoring of U.S. jobs, and corporations moved to downsize domestic workforces, shrink wages, and destroy pensions.

Fifty years ago, President Johnson declared  his War on Poverty. Yet, in less than a decade, demagogic politicians began refocusing the nation on a new foe. America’s leaders retooled from our noble War on Poverty to a cynical war on crime. The term “criminal” came to mean poor people, usually with brown or black skin. If you were poor, you were not just the problem; you became the enemy.

“There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning,” explained Warren Buffet, the billionaire who became a traitor to his class by calling for higher taxes on the wealthy.

Poverty Is Not Inevitable: What We Can Do Now to Turn Things Around

If we want to do something about poverty, our first step is crucial: Change the story. Stop believing the myths: that “we’ll always have poor people” or that “the poor deserve their lot.” Accepting these fictions will assure more poverty and send more money upward to transnational corporations and the superrich—who will spend it to further manipulate a political process that already has made inequality more extreme in America than in any other developed country.

This issue of YES! looks at strategies Americans can choose—or already are choosing—that can help us write a new story, one that shows how the wealthiest nation in history can choose to eliminate poverty, reduce inequality, and include all of us in a New American Dream.


Dean Paton wrote this article for The End of Poverty, the Fall 2014 issue of YES! Magazine. Dean is executive editor of YES!


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Categories: Economics

The Faces Behind the Fight for $15 an Hour

It was an outrageously ambitious goal—a 64 percent pay hike to more than twice the federal $7.25 an hour minimum wage. But in a short time the Seattle City Council met the demands of workers and organizers, unanimously approving the first $15 minimum wage in the nation. Read more about how it happened here, and meet some of the workers on the frontlines below.

For low-wage workers, Seattle's minimum wage increase means a chance to go to school, pay the rent, and visit the dentist.

Portraits and interviews by Betty Udesen.


Imeleta Noa, 51

Noa works 36 hours a week and is paid $10.53 per hour as a home care provider. She lives with her husband, their 14-yearold son, plus three other family members in SeaTac.

The Noa family likes living near the airport because it is convenient for travel and to have visitors. Noa’s husband, Liu, is disabled. After a friend told her about the campaign to raise Seattle’s minimum wage, Noa got busy with the phone bank, calling other caregivers. Now that Seattle and SeaTac have set the national minimumwage bar, Noa is hopeful the movement will spread. She took part in rallies and made a three-day bus tour to campaign in other cities. She speaks passionately about her continued involvement. “With a raise in pay, I’ll be able to pay the bills, especially the rent, and maybe we can have a little vacation,” she says.


Brittany Phelps, 23 and Martina Phelps, 22

Brittany makes $9.52 per hour. Martina makes $9.47 per hour. Both work full-time at McDonald’s in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood.

Brittany’s daughter, Emonie Phelps, 5, marched with her mother and aunt, chanting “What do we want? 15! When do we want it? Now!” She says her favorite thing to do is “play outside.” Her mom doesn’t let her out to play in the South Seattle neighborhood where they live, saying it’s too dangerous. With the increased minimum wage, Brittany hopes to move out of her mother’s 2-bedroom, 1-bath apartment that is currently home to five people. Both women have college degrees. Martina hopes to get her own place to live and to return to school for a degree in cosmetic chemistry so she can make beauty products for skin and hair.


Sam LeLoo, 19

LeLoo makes $9.57 per hour at McDonald’s in North Seattle.

This is his fi rst job. He lives with his mother and 3-year-old sister in a townhouse in Shoreline and rides the bus for transportation. LeLoo got involved with the movement to raise the minimum wage a few months before the fast-food-worker strike. He didn’t have an opinion on whether Seattle voters would approve the $15 minimum wage. He simply knew he had to take a stand. With his upcoming raise, LeLoo sees college as “the fi rst stepping stone to where I’m going.” He used to want to be a game designer, but now he’s thinking of becoming a counselor or something similar, “because it’s real, and I can make a difference.”


Colton McMurray, 24

McMurray works as a sales associate at Red Light Vintage & Costume in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. He makes $10 per hour and works 31 hours a week.

“I basically make a little over $500 each paycheck,” he says. “Half my paycheck goes to rent, and the rest to groceries, commuting for work, phone, and laundry.” He rents a room in a home in the University District, a 15-minute bus ride from work that costs him $5 per day. “Growing up, you think that once you have a job, things are going to be easy, but it’s not that way. Stressing about money for food is the worst—deciding whether to spend my last $5 to get to work and back or to spend it on something to eat on my lunch break.”

As for his goals? “I’d love to have my own amazing online vintage store or a little boutique. Meanwhile, I think it would be nice to live your life when you’re young and not be worried about having the dollars to get to work. And, it would be nice to go to the dentist.”


Jason Harvey, 43

Harvey makes $9.32 per hour at a Ballard neighborhood Burger King, his employer for the past eight years. He’s scheduled to work 28.5 hours a week but often gets called in to work extra hours. He takes the bus.

“It’s a step in the right direction,” says Harvey of his pending wage increase. “I might be able to get my teeth fixed. My three front teeth are broken. There’s a program with the VA that, for $50 a month, they’ll take care of everything. I just can’t afford that with what I’m making now.” Harvey is a Navy veteran. “I still love America and the freedom that we have here.”

“The wage increase will give me a greater level of opportunity,” he says. “I’m 43 years old, probably not ever going to be able to buy a house, but at least I’ll be a little more comfortable in my own surroundings.” Harvey says, “I don’t really feel like I’m a part of mainstream society. I haven’t gone out to see a movie in three or four years, or to a concert, the zoo or aquarium for about five years. I save up to do Karaoke once a month.”

This photo essay was compiled by Betty Udesen for The End of Poverty, the Fall 2014 issue of YES! Magazine. Betty is a pioneer in multimedia reporting that combines still images with field-recorded sounds and interviews. She has done projects in Zimbabwe, Indonesia, Central and South America, and Israel as well as in her hometown of Seattle. Her work has been recognized with two first place awards from the Society of Professional Journalists. For more of her photographs, visit

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Categories: Economics

If Unions Are Breaking Automakers, Why Are BMW and Mercedes So Rich?

Photo by Ben / Flickr.

When the financial crisis of 2008 sent U.S. automakers to the precipice of failure, conservatives, notably Mitt Romney, urged the Obama administration to let the car companies go bankrupt. Neoconservatives blamed “high wages” paid to unionized autoworkers for the inability of GM, Ford, and Chrysler to compete. In his book The Crash of 2016, author Thom Hartmann points out a flaw in the argument that high wages to American workers are the problem. He says:

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Actually, Germany paid their autoworkers about $67 an hour (including wages and benefits). But the United States paid its average worker only $33 an hour (also including wages and benefits). On top of that, German car manufacturers were highly profitable, despite the comparatively large paychecks of their workers. BMW earned a before-tax profit of 3.8 billion euros, and Mercedes-Benz hauled in profits of 4.6 billion euros.

So how did Germany just completely blow up the myth that car companies have to pay their workers less to be more profitable and manufacture more cars? How can Germany do the opposite: pay their workers more, be more profitable, and make more cars?

The answer: democracy.

First, Germans have completely democratized the auto plant by unionizing nearly every single autoworker in the country—under IG Metall, the German autoworkers union. With such a high union membership rate, autoworkers hold a lot of sway when they threaten to go on strike. That’s how workers have been able to keep wages high and working conditions satisfactory. But as Horst Mund, the head of the International Department of the German autoworkers union, pointed out, unions hardly ever go on strike in Germany “because there is an elaborate system of conflict resolution that regularly is used to come to the sort of compromise that is acceptable to all parties.”

How did Germany just completely blow up the myth that car companies have to pay their workers less to be more profitable and manufacture more cars?

One reason for the more collaborative relationship between CEOs and workers is that, unlike in the United States, unions aren’t under attack and there aren’t any “right to work for less” zones in Germany to which car manufacturers can flee so they can ignore the voice of organized labor.

Another and perhaps more powerful reason is that there is a constitutional amendment in Germany that forces corporate executives to listen to labor unions. The Works Constitution Act requires every factory to set up a works council that gives representatives of the workers a seat at the table in every decision-making process at the factory. That is the democratization of capitalism, expanding the decision-making process to not just the corporate elite but the entirety of the company, from the bottom up.

This, according to Mund, is the real reason why the autoworkers union has a loud voice in the German economy. Pointing to the adversarial relationship between employers and labor unions in America, Mund says, “The accusation that American unions are more radical and destructive … definitely has to do with the hostile environment in which the unions have to act. How can they be constructive and friendly if their asses are kicked all the time?” He goes on to say that without the Works Constitution Act in Germany, “employers would not talk to us either if they had the choice.”

But intentions aside, the empowerment of labor unions in Germany and the democratization of the workplace through an enforced constitutional amendment have been an economic boon for Germany, as demonstrated by car sales, employee wages, and profitability.

As Mund concludes, “We have strong unions, we have strong social security systems, we have high wages. So, if I believed what the neo-liberals are arguing, we would have to be bankrupt, but apparently this is not the case…the economy is working well in Germany.”

So how do we democratize capital in the United States and give workers more of a say in how our economy is run?

Thom Hartmann wrote this article for The End of Poverty, the Fall 2014 issue of YES! Magazine. Thom is a writer, activist, and talk show host. This column is an excerpt from his latest book, The Crash of 2016: The Plot to Destroy America—and What We Can Do to Stop It (Twelve Books, 2013). Used with permission of the publisher.

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Categories: Economics

4 Ways to Raise Livestock Without Chemicals

Chris Martenson - August 28, 2014 - 08:21

4 great tips to keep livestock off the chemical pharmaceuticals and have them on natural methods for preventing and treating common ailments.

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Categories: Economics

Daily Digest 8/28 - Dethrone 'King Dollar', Does Dirt Make You Happy?

Chris Martenson - August 28, 2014 - 07:27
  • Dethrone 'King Dollar'
  • Who's In The Office? The American Workday In One Graph
  • Finitude is the human condition and our days on this earth are numbered, in one chart
  • Yazidis still stranded on Mount Sinjar: 'We need weapons now more than food or water'
  • Free Mailbox Stickers Signify Goods Residents Are Willing to Lend Neighbors
  • Alaska Is A Petrol State
  • New Technology Could End The Debate Over Pipeline Safety
  • Does Dirt Make You Happy?

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Categories: Economics

I Blame The Central Banks

Chris Martenson - August 27, 2014 - 17:17

The current bubble in financial assets -- in both equities and bonds of all grades and quality -- raging in every major market across the globe is no accident.

It's a deliberate creation. An intentional result of policy.

Therefore, when it bursts, we shouldn't regard the resulting damage as some freak act of nature or other such outcome outside of our control. To reiterate, the carnage will be the very predictable result of our terribly shortsighted decision-making and defective logic.

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Categories: Economics

Something Very Wicked This Way Comes

Chris Martenson - August 27, 2014 - 17:17
Executive Summary
  • How sovereign debt is becoming larger and more mis-priced each year
  • Why corporate borrowing is accelerating, but only being used for non-productive means
  • Junk bonds have never been priced so low (ever), indicating a complete denial of risk
  • Today's record bond prices are supported by near-historic low (i.e. extremely tenuous) levels of volume
  • Why, mathematically, nearly no-one will be able to exit unscathed when this overinflated market rolls over

If you have not yet read Is Part 1: I Blame The Central Banks available free to all readers, please click here to read it first.

Italy: Insanity On Display

Let’s look at one of the sovereign entities that has piled on the debt to staggering levels. In this case: Italy.

This can serve as a template for understanding the rest of the insanity that exists in the global sovereign bond market.

The rules for lending to a nation should be roughly the same as lending to an individual. You’ve got some measure of the country's credit-worthiness that needs to be taken into account, plus an assessment of its income.

After all, the future principal and interest payments have to come from future income. If there’s too much debt compared to income, then there’s an increasing risk that the debt servicing payments not only will not be made, but cannot be made.

Italy’s sovereign debt has been expanding enormously as the government borrows and spends. Its national debt finally cleared more than $2 trillion euros early in 2014:

Italy's public debt hits record 2.1072 trillion euros

Apr 14, 2014

(ANSAmed) - ROME, APRIL 14 - Italy's massive public debt hit a record 2.1072 trillion euros in February, the central bank reported Monday. The amount was up 17.5 billion euros since January, the Bank of Italy said.

The European Commission has criticized Italy's 2014 budget for not doing enough to bring down debt, around 132% of gross domestic product (GDP).

As a result it has put Italy under "specific monitoring" over its "excessive macroeconomic imbalances", which include high debt and poor competitiveness, as part of an in-depth review.


Italy raked up significant debt at a far faster rate than its underlying economy was growing, leading to a steadily rising debt-to-GDP ratio as seen in this next chart...

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Categories: Economics

The 10 Mistakes of Raising Chickens

Chris Martenson - August 27, 2014 - 15:07

Raising chickens can be a very rewarding process. Besides providing you with fresh eggs, it can also be a teaching resource for your children and a way for you to become self-sufficient.

However, there are a few mistakes that people make when they first start raising chickens. Check out this list below and add your mistakes at the bottom to help others learn.

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Categories: Economics

New Wiki Will Help You Grow a Better Garden

Shareable Magazine - August 27, 2014 - 08:31

Top image: Rory Aronson at TEDx UCLA. Article cross-posted from

Categories: Economics

16 Worker Coops Redefining the Cooperative Movement

Shareable Magazine - August 27, 2014 - 08:19

The worker cooperative movement has hit a new stride. Re-emerging in the 1960s, cooperatives tend to elicit thoughts of natural food stores and specialty bookshops but the movement has grown to include tech companies, coworking spaces, international businesses, large factories and much more.

Categories: Economics

Why Trails Are America’s New Town Squares

Shareable Magazine - August 27, 2014 - 07:50

Top image: The Midtown Greenway in Minneapolis. Photo credit: Micah Taylor under a Creative Commons license. Article cross-posted from On the Commons.

Americans are people on the go!

Categories: Economics

Daily Digest 8/27 - Fukushima Groundwater Operation Ineffective, Healthcare Premiums Expected To Rise

Chris Martenson - August 27, 2014 - 06:58
  • Fukushima groundwater bypass operation ineffective: Tepco
  • Thyroid cancer diagnosed in 104 young people in Fukushima
  • China Will Need Stimulus to Hit 7.5% Growth Target, KC Fed Paper Says
  • Putin Warns on Ukraine Pursuing Closer Ties With West
  • Argentine black-market peso falls to new low despite rate rise
  • Arizona's Obamacare health plan premiums expected to rise
  • Health care costs will spike for Birmingham retirees unless council acts Tuesday
  • Affordable Care Act drafting error could strip health care subsidy from thousands in Wisconsin
  • White House Won't Comment On Burger King-Tim Hortons Deal
  • Euro zone yields turn negative on Draghi hopes

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Categories: Economics

Teaching Survival Skills to Children

Chris Martenson - August 26, 2014 - 13:30

Some great activities and lessons to teach children that will support better situational awareness and survival skills.  Provide them with the mental tools to keep them safer and more resilient in difficult situations.

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Categories: Economics

Portland’s Collaborative Ethos Shines at Recent PDX Skillshare

Shareable Magazine - August 26, 2014 - 07:13

Portland, Oregon, a city known for having a strong D.I.Y. ethos, is no stranger to collaborative, D.I.T. (do it together) culture either. Case in point: the recent PDX Skillshare. Supported in part with a grant from Shareable, the event brought people together to exchange skills and information about martial arts, screen printing, meal planning and preparation, beekeeping, business networking, clawhammer banjo playing, and much more.

Categories: Economics

Daily Digest 8/26 - The Fed Is Not As Powerful As We Think, U.S. Housing Bull Market Over?

Chris Martenson - August 26, 2014 - 05:48
  • Generation Later, Poor Are Still Rare at Elite Colleges 
  • The Fed Is Not As Powerful As We Think
  • U.S. Housing Bull Market Over? House Prices Trend Forecast Current State
  • Blackouts in Egypt Prompt Accusations
  • Uncertainty for Workers Losing Jobs at Atlantic City Casinos
  • The Aftershocks
  • Emission-free Hydrogen May Now Be Truly Emission-free
  • 7 Seriously Farmed Bugs

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Categories: Economics

The Trouble With Natural Gas

Chris Martenson - August 25, 2014 - 17:56

One of the areas where there's an overblown amount of overtly politicized and outrageously propagandized information is shale natural gas (NG).

The US, for obvious geopolitical reasons, would love to supply Europe with NG and cut out Russia. But as we'll soon see, the basic facts just don't back up that desire just yet.

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Categories: Economics