Voices from Russia

Saturday, 10 February 2018

US Life Expectancy Rates Drop for the Second Year in a Row: Alcohol, Drugs, and Suicide Noted

The Republicans are the main architects of the falling life expectancy… but Clintonista Democrats are just as bad. Neoliberalism IS bad for your health… in BOTH its “conservative” and “liberal” iterations.

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Life expectancy in the Land of the Free dropped for the second year in a row. A new report published in the British Medical Journal revealed that drug addiction, alcohol abuse, and suicide rates contributed to the dramatic drop. The report pointed up that the drop was most significant among middle-aged white Americans and those living in rural communities. Steven Woolf, a co-author of the report released Wednesday, said:

We’re seeing an alarming increase in deaths from substance abuse and despair.

The report stated that the US life expectancy average was 78.6 years in 2016, a 0.1-year drop from 2015. It didn’t yet calculate the US life expectancy for 2017. Woolf noted:

It may not sound like much, but the alarming story isn’t the amount of the decrease but that the increase ended.

The USA had the highest life expectancy in the world in 1960. However, American life expectancy is currently 1.5 years lower than the 35 nations included in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, which includes Canada, Germany, Mexico, Australia, the Netherlands, and the UK. The report also reveals that Americans are less healthy than those in other developed nations due to adolescent pregnancy, HIV/AIDS, obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Americans also engage in risky behaviour, including high-calorie intake, drug abuse, and gun ownership. In addition, many Americans live in cities where walking or biking is less common. The lack of universal health care in the USA also contributed to poorer American health. The report stated:

The consequences of these choices are dire… not only more deaths and illness, but also escalating health care costs, a sicker workforce, and a less competitive economy. Future generations may pay the greatest price.

According to Woolf, the deadly US opioid crisis contributed to the drop in life expectancy, but it isn’t the primary cause:

It’s a larger issue, involving addiction to opioids but also fatal overdoses from other drugs.

The rate of fatal drug overdoses surged 137 percent in 2000-14. In addition, deaths from alcohol abuse and suicide dramatically increased. In 1999-14, the suicide rate rose 24 percent. White middle-aged Americans, people with limited education, women, and those in rural areas experienced the largest increase in suicide rates. Woolf explained:

The problem is concentrated in rural largely-white counties that often struggled for many years with stagnant wages, unemployment, poverty, and the loss of major industries that fuelled local economies. The root causes argue for policy solutions, especially those directed at strengthening the middle-class, but these aren’t sufficiently prioritised by elected officials.

11 February 2018

Sputnik International

https://sputniknews.com/society/201802111061548893-US-life-expectancy-rates-drop-second-year-in-row/

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10 February 2018. My Take on Anti-Semitism

The Galician Uniate nationalists spewed anti-Semitism under the Nazis… they do so today. They’re fascists, too… fancy that…

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Usually, if you find anti-Semitism, you find fascism… they walk hand in hand. Likewise, if you find true brotherhood, socialism isn’t far behind. Don’t let the loud bleats of identity politics and racism blur your vision. The powers-that-be use them to split us… so beware.

BMD

Only in America… Girl Scout Sells Over 300 Boxes of Cookies Outside California Pot Shop

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Last week, a Girl Scout chaperoned by her parent sold over 300 boxes of cookies over the course of several hours near a San Diego marijuana dispensary. Brilliant business acumen? Bad parenting? It depends on whom you ask. The nine-year-old sold 312 boxes of Girl Scout cookies out of a wagon near a legal marijuana dispensary in just two three-hour-trips on Wednesday and Friday. The girl’s father requested that both he and his daughter remain anonymous. The dispensary, called Urban Leaf, thoughtfully promoted the sales of Girl Scout Cookies on their Instagram account. It posted:

Get some Girl Scout Cookies with your GSC today until 4 PM! Have a friend that wants to #tagalong? Bring them with… shopping is more fun with friends anyways.

“GSC” is a marijuana strain flavoured with tastes said to be similar to those used in Girl Scout cookies. Girl Scouts San Diego clarified that scouts can sell from wagons if they have a parent or guardian present. ABC 10 News reported that Alison Bushan of Girl Scouts San Diego said:

So if that’s what they say they were doing… then, they were right within the rules.

However, it’s against Scout rules to set up a booth directly in front of a business. Bushan said:

From a sales standpoint, she’s done all right, but I know that some of my friends have sold 600 boxes just on Sunday walking their neighbourhood. So, there are many ways that girls are being great entrepreneurs.

When Pot is Legal Peace Prevails: Violence Drops in States With Legal Marijuana

11 February 2018

Sputnik International

https://sputniknews.com/viral/201802111061549349-300-boxes-sold-at-pot-shop/

The Next Crash: Or, Why a Stock Market Booming While Life Craters is a Social Ponzi Scheme, Not an Economy

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Oh, no, friends… the Dow crashed… cue hysteria over everything from gold to retirement accounts to Bitcoin to Trump. Hold on a minute. What does it really mean? Here’s something to bear in mind. Investing in a collapsed society, where people have little left to be preyed upon for (and even those meagre morsels of returns an authoritarian could snatch away in a heartbeat) is a foolhardy bet. If it’s opaque, we’ll get to what that means.

Let’s start with what you probably know. The stock market isn’t the economy. The market boomed… but real incomes stagnated for decades. However, even that’s not really “the economy”. The economy is how well people’s lives are doing, and on that score, America’s in uniquely bad shape among rich nations… falling life expectancy, rising mortality, mass killings, stress, rage, misery, loneliness, and distrust. Therefore, ironically, it appears to me that Americans speak of The Market like the Soviets spoke of The Party. Just as Soviets said, “The Party’s in fine shape!”, so, today, Americans say, “Comrades! The stock market’s booming!” Both are myths that deflect from reality, protecting us from the harder work of seeing things as they are. Just as the Party wasn’t Soviet society… just a twisted caricature of it… so the stock market isn’t the American economy… it’s a bizarre upside-down mirror image.

While I’m sure you’ve had similar thoughts, here’s what you might not have gotten to yet. This shell game… a stock market booming while an economy and the lives in it crater… can’t go on forever. An economy based on such is a Ponzi Scheme of prosperity conducted on a massive social scale. One day, the bill must come due. Perhaps, you think… what could be better for capitalists than a nation of neo-peasants? However, the truth is a little more subtle. The stock market booming while life falls apart reflects a real economic transfer… the average person’s quality of life, stability, security, opportunity, and (of course) his income and savings dissolve into the future profits of predatory entities, whether they’re banks, corporations, hedge funds, etc. Where a truer capitalism… if such a thing exists… might focus on providing value, these self-evidently don’t… hence, life falling apart.

How long can all that go on? There must be something to prey on. However, the average American doesn’t have much left to give. His income is shrinking. He has less than 1,000 USD (58,366 Roubles. 6,290 Renminbi. 64,220 INR. 1,258 CAD. 1,280 AUD. 817 Euros. 723 UK Pounds) in savings. He has no real vacation or leisure time, working longer and harder hours than his peers anywhere else. He’ll never retire, be able to educate his kids, or afford decent healthcare. He’s even given his life… to the point where his longevity is now declining. Is there anything left for monopolistic predatory capitalism to take? Not much. This game can’t just go on forever… it can’t go on much longer at all. What happens when markets understand all that? They fall hard and fast. The market isn’t the economy… at least until there’s nothing left to syphon off, and, then, suddenly, kaboom. Markets must ultimately reflect the economic, social, and political reality of a failing nation, too… just as they had to before the Depression, reflecting inequality, stagnation, and predation.

What does that all mean, at the root? Markets must price in risks. However, the greatest risk of all for America is one that we haven’t yet priced in… one not considered, valued, and accounted for. That’s political risk. For example, markets discount perpetually chaotic Latin American or Eastern European economies; now, they’ll have to do the same for America. You see, not only is American life falling apart… American democracy is too. A (literal) Nazi is running unopposed for Congress in Illinois. That’s a tiny example of the trends that daily headlines reveal all too well… America is imploding from an imperfect democracy to an authoritarian kleptostate. The nearest parallel is probably Russia. Nevertheless, one doesn’t put one’s money into Russian investments without carefully considering political risk.

What does “political risk” of “autocracy” really mean? Why do markets care? Think of it as a country run by and for mafias. Mafias run protection and extortion rackets for small enterprises… the same is true for kleptocrats on a national scale. They grant favours to whoever will pay them off the most. They give shares in privatised industries to their cronies. They use every trick in the book to make already-tilted playing fields ones that players can’t enter at all unless there’s money paid out, whether in soft or hard bribery. They’ll mercilessly extort whoever isn’t part of the organisation or the family. Let’s say you’re an investor, looking at America. How far away is it from such a scenario? Already, nationalist sentiments have gone all the way to the top. They’re ripping up trade deals. They’re choosing favourites. Instead of doing business, CEOs try to curry favour… although they hold their noses at the stench. Going forward, you’d be very foolish not to begin pricing in all this risk… that one day, at the whim of a single authoritarian leader, all your money might simply disappear, be expropriated, be seized… the first step in most such situations is that you must give a portion of it to his family, friends, allies, just to do business at all.

There’s a steep political risk now for money flowing into America, just as there is and has been for other fallen states. However, the difference is that markets haven’t priced in this risk yet. They’ve coasted on two comfortable illusions:

  • American democracy will magically fix itself
  • The gains from preying on its imploded middle class outweigh the rising costs of autocratic politics

Nonetheless, those gains are drying up… all that’s left now are the costs… strongmen, extremism, and authoritarianism. That points to a very simple conclusion. The American stock market is in for a historic crash. It can’t go on being a perverse mirror image of economic reality forever. It goes up; it goes down. However, at some point, it’ll fall and fall mightily, as investing in a collapsed society where people have little left to even be exploited for (even those dwindling returns an authoritarian could snatch away from you in the blink of an eye) is a foolhardy bet. Of course, that isn’t a “prediction”. Markets always suffer crashes. It’s only a way of understanding the next crash. Perversely, the market boom of the 2000s was due to riches gained from the implosion of American life. However, the crash to follow will be about what happens after a society implodes… the loss of American democracy, prosperity, confidence, and growth, replaced by despair, cruelty, authoritarianism, and collapse.

5 February 2018

Umair Haque

Eudaimonia

https://eand.co/the-next-crash-254816fbbeb7

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