Unraveling Market Manipulations With Mencken

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 |  Includes: AGG, DIA, QQQ, SPY
by: James Quinn

H.L. Mencken once said:

I believe that it is better to tell the truth than a lie. I believe it is better to be free than to be a slave. And I believe it is better to know than to be ignorant.

H.L. Mencken was a renowned newspaper columnist for the Baltimore Sun from 1906 until 1948. His biting sarcasm seems to fit perfectly in today’s world. His acerbic satirical writings on government, democracy, politicians and the ignorant masses are as true today as they were then. I believe the reason his words hit home is because he was writing during the last Unraveling and Crisis periods in America. The similarities cannot be denied.

The Roaring Twenties of decadence, financial crisis caused by loose Fed monetary policies, stock market crash, Depression, colossal government redistribution of wealth, and ultimately a World War, all occurred during his prime writing years. I know people want to believe that the world only progresses, but they are wrong. The cycles of history reveal that people do not change, just the circumstances change. How Americans react to the undulations of history depends upon their age and generational position.

Mencken captured the essence of American politics and a disconnected populace 80 years ago. Even though many people today feel the average American is less intelligent, more materialistic, and less informed than ever before, it was just as true in 1930 based on Mencken’s assessment:

The Presidency tends, year by year, to go to such men. As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.

You can make your own judgment on the accuracy of his statement.

People still read newspapers in the 1930s to acquire credible information about the economy, politics and economy. Today’s corporate owned rags aren’t fit to line a bird cage. The mainstream media is a platform for the lies of their corporate sponsors. Each TV network or newspaper spouts propaganda that supports the financial interests and ideology they are beholden to. Does anyone think they are obtaining the truth from Paul Krugman, Chris Matthews, Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh? Evidently the answer is yes.

In the 1930s you needed to count on newspapers for the truth. The purpose of those who wield power is to keep the masses dumbed down and paranoid regarding terrorist threats and artificial enemies. By convincing the dense public that acquiring material goods on credit was a smart thing to do, they have trapped them in a web of debt. By making life an inexhaustible bureaucratic nightmare or rules, regulations, forms, ID cards, registrations, and red tape, those in power maintain control and retain power. H.L. Mencken would be proud:

Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance. No one in this world has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby.

Let’s See How Far We’ve Come

H.L. Mencken also said:

The worst government is often the most moral. One composed of cynics is often very tolerant and humane. But when fanatics are on top there is no limit to oppression.

The corporate / government / banking oligarchy started the fire. The world is burning to the ground and politicians have thrown gasoline onto the fire with passage of the Obamacare bill. To anyone willing to think for just a few minutes, the picture is unambiguous. This requires the ability to think critically.

Critical thinking is the careful, deliberate determination of whether one should accept, reject, or suspend judgment about a claim and the degree of confidence with which one accepts or rejects it. Critical thinking employs not only logic but broad intellectual criteria such as clarity, credibility, accuracy, precision, relevance, depth, breadth, significance and fairness. Critical thinking requires extensive experience in identifying the extent of one's own ignorance in a wide variety of subjects ("I thought I knew, but I merely believed.")

One becomes less biased and more broad-minded when one becomes more intellectually empathetic and intellectually humble. I have observed little or no critical thinking skills in the pompous asses that write daily columns in today’s newspapers and zero critical thinking skills among the vacuous pundits and brainless fashion models that yap all day long on CNBC, MSNBC, CNN, Fox and the Big 3 dying networks.

Everything being spewed at the public from the MSM, Wall Street, and Washington DC is intellectually dishonest, manipulated and packaged by pollsters and PR firms. I’ve come to the conclusion that those in power prefer public school systems of the United States to churn out ignorant, non-questioning morons. A populace that is incapable or uninterested in critically thinking about the important issues of the day is a politician’s best friend.

Ignorance is the state of being uninformed about issues and unaware about the implications of those issues. It is not about intelligence. A huge swath of America is ignorant due to lack of education and a low class upbringing. But, I know many college educated people who haven’t read a book in 20 years or could care less about economic issues. They made a choice to be ignorant.

Most Americans are incapable of looking beyond a 2 to 3 year time horizon. That is why the median 401k balance in the US is $13,000. That is why the average credit card debt per household is $16,000. That is why 25% of all homeowners are underwater on their mortgage. Politicians, banks, and marketers take advantage of this ignorance to enslave the average American.

An informed, interested, questioning public would be a danger to the government as described by H.L. Mencken:

The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out ... without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane, intolerable.

The combination of educationally uninformed, ignorant by choice, and intellectually dishonest will be fatal for the country. Total US debt as a % of GDP is at an all-time high, exceeding 370% of GDP. It is 25% higher than it was at the depths of the Great Depression. Consumer debt has barely fallen, while government debt has skyrocketed in the last year.

The financial crisis was caused by excessive utilization of debt. In order to correct these imbalances, the country needed to undergo a deleveraging and reversion back to a country of savers. Savings equals investment. Instead, our “leaders” have reduced interest rates to 0% and have gone on an unprecedented government borrowing and spending spree. Savers are punished, while gamblers and speculators are rewarded. Anyone who thinks about this strategy for a few minutes will realize it is asinine and hopeless.
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Based upon the Obama administration’s own 10 year budget plan, The National Debt of the U.S. will exceed $25 trillion in 2019. That is double the current figure of $12.4 trillion. This is after George Bush doubled the National Debt from $5.6 trillion to $11 trillion during his reign of terror. It seems one thing Republicans and Democrats can agree on is that spending money they don’t have will have no negative consequences.

We add $4.4 billion of debt to this figure each and every day. We add $183 million to this figure each and every hour. The interest on the National Debt has been averaging $400 billion per year even with an effective interest rate of 3.3%. Much of this interest is paid to foreign governments like China, Japan and OPEC nations. This is $1.1 billion per day of interest to foreigners. With just the slightest bit of critical thinking one could easily perceive that with a National Debt of $25 trillion and a likely increase in interest rates to at least 6%, our annual interest costs would increase to $1.5 trillion per year.

The entire revenue of the US government totaled $2.1 trillion in 2009, with $900 billion of those funds earmarked for Social Security outlays in the future. Does this seem sustainable? President Obama submitted a budget of never ending trillion dollar deficits and then gives speeches declaring that we must get our deficits under control.

He appears on the MSM declaring his fiscal responsibility and what passes for a journalist these days nods their head like a lapdog and lobs the next softball to the President. You have to be delusional to believe this claptrap. Luckily for the politicians, most Americans are delusional and uninterested. They just got another text message from their BFF.

H.L. Mencken understood the false promises of democracy 80 years ago:

Democracy is also a form of worship. It is the worship of Jackals by Jackasses. It is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.

Disclosure: No positions

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