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The Coming Collapse of America

“Get it out of your mind that economic and political collapse can’t happen in this country”

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In 1992, I read Bankruptcy 1995: The Coming Collapse of America and How To Stop It, by a captain of industry, Harry E. Figgie, published by Little Brown and Company. Now, 29 years later, as our national debt is soon to reach $30 trillion, we should re-consider many of Figgie’s observations. Here are the notes and excerpts that I extracted from the book:

Bankruptcy Looms

Harry Figgie, here and for all that follows: Within two to four years, the United States, for all practical purposes, will have spent itself into bankruptcy. Interest on the national debt will become the largest item on the federal budget, and the government will have to spend more to make its interest payments than it will collect in taxes.

The federal government’s deficit, will soon be an amount un-repayable or controllable.

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Suppose you earn $50,000 annually, and you are in debt for $450,000. “Are you broke at that point? Technically, no, but you sure have a serious problem, and so do your creditors, since you won’t be able to make your payments.” Soon, the U.S. won’t even be able to afford the annual interest payment on this debt.

Spending cuts that Are Obvious

The Grace Commission report outlined how the government could cut its spending by $424 billion a year between 1984 and 1987, however, the report was ignored.

Most of the recommendations were painfully obvious. One proposal called for closing a western army base that had been built in the 1800s for use as an outpost in the Indian wars. Another base in Virginia was so antiquated it had a moat around it but the state’s junior senator insisted that it “would not be closed on his watch.” It wasn’t.

Year after year, Congress and the Administration present a budget to the American public that shows the deficit being reduced by several million dollars, while the actual deficit at year’s end comes out much higher. Meanwhile, everyone manages or pretends to remain ignorant of our impending physical collapse.

Unable to Meet IMF Standards

Only one important difference separates the U.S. and many Eastern European and South American countries that we think of as being poor or economically distressed. These countries receive aid from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the U.S., ignoring reality, pretends that it is still rich enough to contribute money to the fund.

Countries receiving IMF aid must conform to spending controls. If the U.S. abided by these rules, it would literally be out of business. We do not qualify for an IMF loan.

When the Federal Reserve begins to buy substantial amounts of the governments debt, large private investors become overly concerned with inflation, interest rates begin to rise, and the process builds on itself. To protect yourself, watch for stories about bankers and economists fretting about the expanding money supply.

Decline in the Standard of Living

Some people believe that the debt hasn’t caused their standard of living to suffer, but there has been an actual fall in real family income, the percentage of Americans who own homes, and other vital indicators.

Moreover, personal bankruptcy is nearly triple what it was in the 1960s and 1970s, the cost of higher education exceeds the means of most families, a higher proportion of families require two parents bringing in income, and the age at which first homes are purchased is rising.

The solution involves unrelenting pressure on Congress. Call, write, visit. Be assertive but courteous. Convey your concerns clearly and forcefully. Demand that your elected leaders and officials be accountable to you.

The End of Modest Measures

The time for modest measures has passed. We are in an emergency situation.

The author admonishes: “Get it out of your mind that economic and political collapse can’t happen in this country, or that we can deal with it once it happens.”

Harry Figgie concludes: We must either take control, or suffer the consequences of losing control entirely.

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Jeff Davidson is the world's only holder of the title "The Work-Life Balance Expert®" as awarded by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. He is the premier thought leader on work-life balance, integration, and harmony. Jeff speaks to organizations that seek to enhance their overall productivity by improving the effectiveness of their people. He is the author of Breathing Space, Simpler Living, Dial it Down, and Everyday Project Management. Visit www.BreathingSpace.com for more information on Jeff's keynote speeches and seminars, including: Managing the Pace with Grace® * Achieving Work-Life Balance™ * Managing Information and Communication Overload®



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Business

Culture Jamming, by Kalle Lasn

America has been subverted by corporate agendas and its elected officials bow before corporate power as a condition of their survival in office

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Here are excerpts from the culture-shaking book, Culture Jamming by Kalle Lasn, published by  William Morrow in 1999, which rings truer now than ever!

A Multitrillion-dollar Brand

America is no longer a country. It’s a multitrillion-dollar brand…. essentially no different from McDonald’s, Marlboro or General Motors. It’s an image “sold” not only to the citizens of the U.S., but to consumers worldwide. The American brand is associated with catch-words such as “democracy;’ “opportunity” and “freedom.” But like cigarettes that are sold as symbols of vitality and youthful rebellion, the American reality is very different from its brand image.

America has been subverted by corporate agendas. Its elected officials bow before corporate power as a condition of their survival in office. A collective sense of powerlessness and disillusionment has set in. A deeply felt sense of betrayal is brewing.

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By The People?

American culture is no longer created by the people. Our stories, once passed from one generation to the next by parents, neighbors and teachers, are now told by corporations with “something to sell as well as to tell.” Brands, products, fashions, celebrities, entertainments, the very spectacles that surround the production of culture, are now our culture.

Our role is mostly to listen and watch-and then, based on what we have heard and seen, to buy.

A free, authentic life is not possible in America today. We are being manipulated in the most insidious way. Our emotions, personalities and core values are under siege from media and cultural forces too complex to decode. A continuous product message has woven itself into the very fabric of our existence.

Most North Americans now live designer lives: sleep, eat, sit in car, work, shop, watch TV, sleep again. I doubt there’s more than a handful of free, spontaneous minutes anywhere in that cycle.

Smile Button Culture

The human spirit of prideful contrariness and fierce independence has been oddly tamed. We have evolved into a smile-button culture. We wear the trendiest fashions, drive the best cars industry can produce and project an image of incredible aff1uence-cool people living life to the hilt.

Behind that happy mask is a face so ugly it invariably shocks the hell out of my friends from developing countries who come to visit, expecting the giddy Americana depicted on TV and finding instead a horror show of disconnection and anomie.

Our mass media dispense a kind of Huxleyan “soma.” The most powerful narcotic in the world is the promise of belonging. And belonging is best achieved by conforming to the prescriptions of America™. In this way a perverted sense of cool takes hold of the imaginations of our children. And thus a heavily manipulative corporate ethos drives our culture.

The Facade of Cool

Cool is indispensable, and readily, endlessly dispensed. You can get it on every corner (for the right price), though it’s highly addictive and its effects are short-lived. If you’re here for cool today, you’ll almost certainly be back for more tomorrow.

American cool is a global pandemic. Communities, traditions, cultural heritages, sovereignty, whole histories are being replaced by a barren American monoculture.

Living in Japan during its period of sharpest transition to a western way of life, I was astonished by the speed and force with which the American brand took hold. I saw a culture with thousands of years of tradition behind it vanquished in two generations. Suddenly, high school girls were selling themselves after class for $150 a trick so they’d have cash to buy American jeans and handbags.

The Earth cannot support the lifestyle of the cool hunting American-style consumer. We have sought, bought, spewed and devoured too much, too fast, too brazenly, and now we’re about to pay.

Killing the Planet

Economic “progress” is killing the planet. This did not fully hit home for me until nightmarish environmental stories suddenly appeared on the news: acid rain, dying seals in the North Sea, medical waste washing up on New York beaches, garbage barges turned away from port after port, and the discovery that the milk in American mothers’ breasts had four times the amount of DDT permitted in cow’s milk.

To people like me, for whom time had always seemed like a constant, eternally moving train which people got on and, seventy years later, got off, it was the end of innocence. The premonition of ecocide — planetary death — became real and it terrified me. It still does.

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How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci

Throughout their lives, great minds ask confounding questions with child-like intensity

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Author Michael J. Gelb wrote a wonderful book titled How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Every Day, which contains many insights.

“Leonardo da Vinci lived to age 67 and during his life pioneered the sciences of botany, anatomy, and geology. He drew up plans for a flying machine, parachute, and helicopter, and he invented the telescoping ladder that’s still used by firefighters today. He also painted The Mona Lisa and The Last Supper.” Here is what Gelb said about da Vinci and the topic of creativity:

[ ] Ask Questions. Throughout their lives, great minds ask confounding questions with child-like intensity. For instance, “How do birds fly?” “What makes the sky blue?” The answers can lead to discovery.

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[ ] Carry a notebook at all times so you won’t forget your brilliant ideas. By the way, da Vinci’s wrote many of his notes backward. Some people think it was because he was protecting his ideas from being stolen.

[ ] Challenge your long-standing opinions. You might have formed many of your views during or immediately after important childhood events. Ask yourself whether those conclusions still make sense.

[ ] Use your eyes and ears. Focus on the various parts of an object or scene, not just on the whole. This can help expand your perception. Instead of simply looking at a mountain, notice the rock formations and trees.

[ ] Try to write with your non-dominant hand. Taxing the opposite side of your brain can help you to think in a different way. And some people will think you went to medical school!

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