Article 43

 

Friday, October 25, 2019

Rock Bottom

image: dying america

Has America (Finally) Hit Rock Bottom?
Is There Any Lower For Us to Go? Or, Are We Finally at the Beginning of the End of American Collapse?

By Umair Haque
Eudaimonia
October 24,2019

As someone who travels more than they want to, the very first thing people say to me, laughing anywhere and everywhere I go - is just one word: “Trump.” Its enough to send everyone into peals of laughter. The world is right to laugh. Who wouldn’t be amused by Americas very own home-grown aspiring Arab-style dictator? Replete with the tantrums, the scandals, the comedic pronouncements, and the outlandish ignorance of, well, everything an educated sane person should know and value? Who claims he’s getting “lynched"for basic accountability applying to him?

Now, the truth is that I don’t have a defensive reply. I can’t defend America. Who can? And what is there to defend, exactly? Can I say something like, “Hey! Americans are good people!”, when in fact the average American is too weary or numb or dumb to care much about concentration camps? There’s Hong Kong revolting against extradition laws. There’s Extinction Rebellion shutting London down. There are Americans happily trying to forget about kids in cages. What can I say? Shall I pick a fight - and prove to the world just how ugly Americans really are? How can I plead a case that doesn’t exist?

I can’t defend a country that let a guy like Trump get away with his worst, time and again - even if it pretends to be outraged. Words and actions. I have to look at it a little more coldly, like the world does. So all I can really do is shake my head, like most of us do daily. And then, after the laughter has subsided, I ask a tiny question. Maybe, just maybe: can America redeem itself from being a nation that stands humiliated and disgraced in the eyes of the world?

Let me put that question in a more pragmatic way. Has America finally hit rock bottom? I don’t ask it in a mean, ugly, spiteful way. I ask it, if anything, in an optimistic one. Let me explain.

Open corruption. Daily scandal. Whispers, to put it kindly, of betrayal. Nepotism. Malfeasance, incompetence. That’s the everyday state of this Presidency. It hovers somewhere between one of history’s great jokes and one of the world’s great embarrassments. It would be wrong of the world not to laugh at America, because nobody should get a free pass for such reckless irresponsibility - especially not the country which purports to lead the world.

And yet there are signs that Americas long, slow - and the sudden, violent decline may finally be bottoming out.
What signs are those?

Let’s begin with the obvious. First, there’s finally a movement to impeach the fascist who leads the free world. You see, what shocks people wherever I go - from Paris to Berlin to Lahore - isn’t really that a fascist now leads America. That much is predictable to the world, if not to Americans. After all wasn’t America the world’s largest apartheid state, until not so long ago, and hasn’t it long been the worlds most violent society, bombing and invading and destabilizing whomever it saw fit to? If we added up the tally of “collateral damage” in all those wars, from Iraq to Nicaragua to Chile - how high would it go? Nobody has ever counted, my friends and that is a mark of America’s profound moral irresponsibility.

So nobody, really, is shocked that a fascist leads the “free world” except Americans, who, because nobody has explained to them just how casually horrific their everyday behavior has been for the rest of that world, have had no idea just how much damage has been done. What the rest of the world is shocked by - well, perhaps shocked is the wrong word, and faintly amused is the better one is that - Americans dont care very much that they are led by a fascist.

What really surprised the world over the last few years hasn’t been that American fascists built concentration camps, put kids in cages in them, tore them away from their parents, or raided towns and cities, hunting the impure - it’s that the average American did something like this. Shouted in outrage for a day or two - and then - went back to Facebook, Netflix, and Amazon shopping.

Now, when my friends around the world point this out, and say, sometimes: “My God! Americans are terrible people, aren’t they! We had hope in them for so long, but who can respect them now?” I try to point out that they also don’t really understand the pressures Americans live under. Who has time to care about the fascists - when the capitalists have turned your life into a brutal, never-ending struggle for basic survival? When youre left weary and exhausted just trying to keep that job that gives you healthcare and a meagre income҅when the news shocks you into numbness every single daywho has the energy to fight the system? So Americans are victims, too.

And yet they are just as much predators. That is a fact I can’t dispute. Americans supported all the things that led to Trump. Maybe you didn’t - Im sure you are a saint, or at least a decent and thoughtful person - but Americans as a society did. The wars, the open corruption, the impossibly-low-taxes that denied them anything Europeans and Canadians would regard as basic human rights, like healthcare or retirement, the trade dealsӔ that made the rest of the world just labour to be exploited so that Americans got the everyday low price.

When somethings too good to be true, it usually is. So while their elites promised Americans lives of impossible ease, comfort, and prosperity җ the rest of the world, those dirty, filthy subhumans, theyll do all the work, and weҒll live in safety and peace and plenty!!  the reality was very much that the opposite started to happen. The dream began to die. Americans began to live lives of newfound poverty in a rich country.</b> Theirs was the דsafest country, so they said - why else all the wars?  but meanwhile, kids massacred each other at school<b>. Capitalism was to make the average American an owner, a master, finally - and yet instead, the average American now dies in debt, meaning they’ve never effectively owned, saved, or earned anything at all.

It was too good to be true, the American Dream. Not the humble one, I think, that I grew up with. Little houses on cul-de-sacs and kids walking to school. But the other one. A McMansion, three SUVs, a perfect body to fuck, and a million or two in every bank account. That dream, my friends, was one of subjugation, of violence, of power. And who was going to end up ruling over it - but a Trump, the most violent and shameless and indecent one of all?

So now there’s a movement rising - finally to impeach the fascist. And maybe America’s little nightmare is coming to an end. Sure, the Senate wont convict him and remove him from office - so what? It’s enough for a President to stand disgraced. For what? For a better one to come in.

Which brings me to the next reason that America might finally be at rock bottom. It’s becoming more obvious by the day that Elizabeth Warren will be Americas next President. She’s surging for a good reason. Shes the best candidate, by a very, very long way.

And yet I wonder if Americans see her like the world might. In global terms, what she is is a great democratic reformer. Latin American and Arab countries, too, have seen the like. A figure who rises to challenge the abuses of the tyrants and dictators that rule over a meek, timid populace - ironically, just like America now, only installed by America there, too - and roars to power in a tidal wave of people power.

Such figures tend to have one of two outcomes. One, they really do reform their societies for decades. Two, they are met with such extreme resistance that they fail without even really being given a chance ח and the dictators and tyrants come right back to power anyways. The first kind of such reformer is a Peron. To understand the other kind of outcome, think of a Sisi. Whether or not that makes, we dont need to dwell on it. Let me make the point sharper.

America’s decline has looked something like this. Long and slow, like an eroding shoreline. And then sudden and violent like a cliff crumbling away. Long and slow: American living standards have stalled for half a century, leading to mounting despair, collapsing trust, the loss of faith and optimism in society. Sudden and violent: all that frustration exploded into rage when the middle class finally became a minority - exactly the moment Trumpism arose.

Maybe the moment of catharsis has happened. Maybe Americans have got it out of their system. Maybe they’ve understood that voting for a violent, stupid man - just because you’re frustrated with a system - only empowers the violent and stupid. And no, I dont just mean the Trumpists - I mean even the elites, the analystsӔ and journalists and so on who pooh-poohed the idea that the Trumpists were a) actual fascists b) capable of doing terrible things c) not just misunderstood good ole boys.

Now, just because Elizabeth Warren comes to power doesn’t mean that Americas out of the woods, yet. I’m sure as I bet you are - that they’ll try to steal the election from her, or much worse, from outright intimidation to open violence. I’m sure, too, that pushing the agenda of real reform through a country as broken and divided as America will be no easy task - even for a visionary leader in power. Remember how Americans never figured out that when something is too good to be true, it usually is? How they ended up turning a blind eye to what they were doing to the world - and all those things, from fascism to tyranny to violence, now came back to haunt them?

Warren’s challenge isn’t just policies - that’s easy. It’s changing Americans. Helping them become the genuinely good people that the world is losing faith in them ever becoming. Enabling them to not live lives of desperation and poverty is one thing - but then leading people towards their better selves is bigger challenge still. Poverty and deprivation cause hate and violence and so American fascism was eminently predictable. But abundance and plenty by themselves are no guarantees of morality and virtue. Americans might well go on being the lazy and selfish and embarrassing people they’ve become anyways, even if Warrens successful just at the Ezra Klein level of ғpolicy.

America redeeming itself from being a humiliated and disgraced nation isn’t just about one mans obscenity, my friends. It is about all of us. Our negligence and willful blindness and complicity, too. A nation is never just one man.

And yet all those are good problems to have - or at least - better ones. If we have those problems tomorrow, then well know: America hit rock bottom, and from there, things began to curve gently, slowly upwards. And it was about time. We see Trumpism, too often, as a thing-in-itself. But the truth is that American decline has lasted fifty years now and counting, while American collapse has lasted just five. That’s a long time for a modern society to fall apart. Maybe, then, finally, were at the point of renewal.

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 10/25/19 •
Section Dying America
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Thursday, October 24, 2019

USMCA

image: fake news

While the LONG-TERM UNEMPLOYMENT ELIMINATION ACT OF 2019 collects dust in Congress, our empress in chief lulled us to sleep last month with THESE HOLLOW WORDS:

Today, here we are here to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the White Houses Pledge to America’s Workers, a call to action for business and industry to create more and better jobs for Americans by providing education and skills for American students and workers.

To add INSULT TO INJURY, Our VP in chief spits in the face of the long-term unemployed - and all U.S. workers - trying to push the newest NAFTA on us as another godsend - the USMCA.

United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement - The United States has reached an agreement with Mexico and Canada in the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). When finalized and implemented, the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) will create more balanced, reciprocal trade that supports high-paying jobs for Americans and grows the North American economy.
- USMCA

---

Vice President Mike Pence says The American People deserve better

Clarksville Online
October 23, 2019

On Monday, October 21st, 2019, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence traveled to Pennsylvania and got a firsthand look at SCHOTT - North Americas original optical glass manufacturing plant in the United States. The facility first opened its doors 50 years ago.

“Since then, this facility, I’m told, has expanded nearly five times over,” he said.

SCHOTT’s success story symbolizes the manufacturing renaissance that’s happened under U.S. President Donald J. Trump. In the less than 3 years since Election Day 2016, SCHOTT has invested $32 million in this one facility alone and expanded its workforce by 15 percent. Then, they watched their sales soar by a third.

“Each one of you are proving every single day that as long as the playing field is level, American workers can out-compete, out-innovate, and out-work anybody in the world,” the Vice President told employees.

But that level playing field is at risk, despite President Trump’s continued push to renegotiate America’s aging, failing trade deals. The reason is that when it comes to our most important trading relationship - that with Canada and Mexico, covered by the outdated NAFTA - House Democrats continue to shelve President Trumps new deal.

USMCA or the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, updates the quarter-century old NAFTA to the tune of a projected $68 billion in new economic growth. That amounts to another 175,000 jobs, of which 50,000 will be on factory floors across America.

“As I stand here today, the USMCA is languishing in the House of Representatives,” Vice President Pence said. “You see the headlines. These days, Democrats are spending all their time on endless investigations and a partisan impeachment. But the American people deserve better.”

States like Pennsylvania can’t afford this political waiting game. Today, the Keystone State exports more than $15 billion of its goods and services to Canada and Mexico. That number would dramatically increase if USMCA passes.

Democrats wrongly assume that obstructing and declining to update NAFTA will hurt President Trump politically. Theyre wrong. But more important, putting partisan politics before the very labor and environmental improvements they once fought for is Washington at its swampiest.

House Democrats, Speaker Nancy Pelosi claims your 24/7 hearing circus won’t keep Congress from doing its job. Prove it. Pass USMCA, and put American workers first.

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 10/24/19 •
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Sunday, October 13, 2019

Bad Moon Rising Part 78 - China 70 Years Later

image: china flag

Why Russia and China Stand Together

By Andre Vltchek
New Eastern Outlook
October 13, 2019

The capitalist world is in decay. The West is ROTTING. Anger and nihilism are pouring from the imperialist empire whose citizens are frustrated; not at peace with themselves.

Imperialist North America and Europe are furious at the countries like Venezuela and Cuba because their thinkers and leaders are exposing the terrible deterioration of values which is streaming from the neo-colonialist and historically imperialist countries.

But it is China and Russia who are AT THE FOREFRONT of spite of the Western nation and their propagandists. It is all grotesque, now. Russia which saved the world from Nazism, and which helped to decolonize dozens of nations, is now least liked country in Europe. Germany, which murdered millions of Jews, Roma, Slavs, and others, is the most liked. In the West, nobody seems to care that Germany is still plundering such nations like Venezuela while using its industrial and banking might to strip defenseless nations of their riches.

China, a mighty Communist country, (or call it a socialist country with Chinese characteristics), is being mocked and humiliated by Western propaganda. Arrogance of the European and North American indoctrinators and most of their servile pseudo-intellectuals, from the so-called center to the right, has no boundaries. Most of them are suffering from incurable superiority complexes. They feel that they have the right to judge China; to decide for it, whether it is “truly” Communist or not, and whether it is on the correct track.

China is a calm, some could even say timid nation. No matter how mighty it has become, it tries to resolve all conflicts with its self-proclaimed adversaries, harmoniously. It does not attack, and it does not provoke. Historically, it cares for the well-being of its peripheries, and even for the welfare of faraway nations. For millennia, the wisdom went like this: if the neighbors are doing well, so will do well China itself.

Chinese leaders and Chinese people are convinced that if the entire world would become prosperous, China would benefit as a result. That is the essence of the BRI (Belt and Road Initiative), which is often defined as the NEW SILK ROAD.

Of course, it is not as simple as this, but in essence, it is. New Silk Road is the flagship of the Chinese internationalism. I saw China in action, in such places as Africa and Oceania, and I have been greatly impressed. I am an anti-imperialist, and an internationalist, therefore I decisively support China!

***

Increasingly, I consider myself a Communist and an internationalist, not a Marxist. Karl Marx was a historical, European figure, a good analyst and critic of the old, early capitalist regime. He was preoccupied with mainly European system, without using much energy to attack colonialism and imperialism. In the last hundreds of years, the most horrid problem has been the Western plunder of the planet by the West. Marx did not pay much attention to it.

Countries like the Soviet Union and Peoples Republic of China, which have been defending those who are defenseless, are consistently and very professionally demonized by London, Paris, Berlin, and Washington, insanely smeared as ғequal to the fascists, while it is clear that the only honest equation could be made between the Nazism/fascism and the European and North American colonialism, or more precisely, neo-colonialist and imperialism.

While perfecting its own socialist system, China learned a lot about the mistakes made by the Soviet Union. It is not going to repeat them. Those of us who are close to the Academy of Social Sciences, or to the Chinese leading universities and media outlets, are doing our best to explain the errors committed in both Soviet Union and the so-called Eastern Block. Based on the analyses of its own past, and of other socialist countries, China is both fighting for the survival of the world, and for the improvement of the standards of living of its own people.

I like her approach; I am proud to be part of the process. And I support China with my entire heart because I know that if China falls, if it gets destroyed by the imperialist West, it would be the end of all hopes for our humanity. The West already demonstrated what it would do to the planet, if it would be allowed to continue ruling, unopposed, over the billions of lives of human beings.

United, allied, China and Russia are creating a powerful block of independent nations. Directly and indirectly, they are defending those good countries which are antagonized, brutalized, even terrorized by the West. Both nations are benefiting from working together. Now, dozens of countries on all continents are benefiting, too.

I like what I see. Hope is in the air. It is beautiful. It is full of optimism. And that is why I support; that is why I am celebrating the 70th Anniversary of the People’s Republic of China!

***

It goes without saying that China is being intimidated and provoked by almost all Western countries, as well as their client states.

Actually, attacking China is turning into the most lucrative career for both the mediocre journalist working for the mass media outlets and for the funding-starved individuals all over the world.

Reasons for these attacks are only too easy to identify: The Peoples Republic of China is clearly winning in all fields and areas, over both the imperialism and savage capitalism: ideologically, intellectually and socially.

With only a fraction of the GDP per capita (compared to the West), China is eliminating extreme poverty. Its infrastructure is now better than that in the West. Its progress in the field of ecology cannot be matched by any other part of the world. Its creativity, in the area of culture and science, is colossal. The life of the Chinese people is improving, dramatically. And, it is very hard not to notice, the lives of the people in the countries that are working with China, are getting much better, as well.

More obvious all this is becoming to the people worldwide, more horrified are getting the traditionally colonialist and imperialist countries. They cannot offer anything to the world, as their economies and cultures have been based on looting, already for many long centuries. They are unable to stop, to reform, to work for saving the world. And so, all they can do in order to ensure that the status quo prevails is to smear China and Russia; two determined sisters that are working relentlessly for a much better planet.

For decades, China tried to compromise, to appease the West. It has been doing everything possible and impossible to avoid direct or indirect conflict. Only recently, it realized that the only outcome the West would accept would be if China would kneel, surrender, and give up its ғSocialism with the Chinese characteristics system.

And this is unacceptable to both the government in Beijing and to the people of China.

That is why the parade on Tiananmen Square, on the October 1st, 2019. That is why the clear message to the West: Chinese system is not for sale. China is not going to bend. That is why the new weapons, designed to repel anyone who would dare to attack the PRC, have been introduced.

In Russia, they say: Those who come with the sword, from the sword will die.

China clearly understood the wisdom of this truism.

Of course, China welcomes friends with open arms. It is helping those in need. It is trying to build a better world.

But it will never again tolerate attacks, intimidations, and bare racism. In the past, it got occupied, brutalized and humiliated. Now, after 70 YEARS of tremendous leap forward, under the leadership of the Communist Party, China is confident, strong and proud.

I love this confidence. I admire what China is doing both at home and abroad.

That is why I am celebrating with the Chinese people the 70th Anniversary of their socialist motherland. That is why I am working, day and night, to show to the world all those great achievements of the most populous nation on earth.

I also believe that the union of China and Russia represents the last hope for our humanity. I witnessed the suffering of people on all continents; victims of Western imperialism. I do not buy, even for a second, the propaganda that all nations are the same and would they be strong enough, they would plunder the world with the same brutality as Europe and North America have been doing for all those centuries.

I am not too interested in reading and listening to the endless analyses of the Westerners regarding China. I am interested in what the Chinese people have to say about their country!

Now, 70 years after the Victory, the Chinese nation stands as united as ever. And the nations that have been robbed of everything, by the West, are now daring to hope, for the first time in many generations.

That is why, I am saluting the nation which is changing the world, and which, at 70, looks and feels so young, kind and full of optimism!

Andre Vltchek is philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He’s a creator of Vltcheks World in Word and Images, and a writer that penned a number of books, including China and Ecological Civilization. He writes especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 10/13/19 •
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Friday, October 11, 2019

Article 43 Turns 15

Article 43 turned 15 last month.

WHILE:

In the United States, the income gap between the rich and everyone else has been growing markedly, by every major statistical measure, for more than 30 years.

People say credit is a trap - and they may be right.  But for me - if not for credit - I’d be living in a box under some bridge right now.

What about SOCIETY, the jobs picture, and the long-term unemployed/underemployed?

HOW do THEY cope?

I hope BERNIE SANDERS gets to be our next President.

Of all the politicians out there - he’s the only one I think CAN HELP mobilize us all to take action to rebuild our country.

If not, I see no end to the DOWNFALL of America, and SUFFERING OF ITS PEOPLE.

Like Senator Sanders SAYS - it’s TIME FOR a AN ECONOMY THAT WORKS FOR US ALL.

Why? 

There’s 15 years worth of reading here to help figure it out.

Enjoy.

Posted by Elvis on 10/11/19 •
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What Matters

image: book: richer poorer in a traumatized world

Were told we all benefit as the super-rich get even richer, but what if the status quo only benefits those in power at the expense of everyone else - and our planet? Though we may not be politically powerful, we are far from powerless.
- Book: Will You Be Richer or Poorer?: Profit, Power and A.I. in a Traumatized World.

America 2019: Even the Wealthy Are Poorer in Everything That Matters

By Charles Hugh Smith
Of Two Minds
October 10, 2019

A good friend related a story that goes directly to the heart of whats broken in our way of life. My friend went to a reunion in Silicon Valley attended by the most successful cohort in America: super-smart, highly educated people in their mid-40s who have achieved the highest levels of professional accomplishment and built enormous financial wealth, with net worths not just in the millions but in many cases in the tens of millions of dollars.

These are people at the apex of the American economy and society, those who did everything right, worked hard and grasped the brass ring of conventional success.

Yet when the meeting broke into small groups and individuals were asked to speak briefly about their lives, more than a few people teared up and began weeping. My friend was struck by the disconnect between their tremendous success and their personal miseryof failed marriages, of being trapped in their jobs, in feeling their sacrifices weren’t worth it and in sensing the shallowness of their success and the poverty of their inner lives.

Not every super-successful person was miserable, of course; some had shifted gears to lower-paid work they found more fulfilling and others still loved their careers. But what was near-universal was the desire to get the heck out of Silicon Valley and leave its pressure-cooker lifestyle in the dust.

It takes a great deal of honesty and inner strength to admit in public that conventional success hasn’t delivered the glorious FULFILLMENT and happiness we’re scripted to expect.

Ours is a culture of forced optimism.The scripts of forced optimism are repeated daily in endless loops: the “fix” for misery is gratitude (hence everyone interviewed after a “win” must express gratitude and humility) and a menu of self-help tricks: mindfulness, better management of our productivity, etc., in a near-infinite profusion of “5 things you can do to improve your life” lists that gush out of America’s prodigious self-help industry.

All of this is intended to obscure the reality that even the wealthy are poorer in everything that really matters. We measure “wealth” in financial terms, but as the super-successful and super-wealthy discover, financial wealth doesn’t translate into well-being, fulfilling relationships, agency, health or the other forms of intangible capital that make up real wealth.

I’ve just completed a book that explores these topics in depth: Will You Be Richer or Poorer?: Profit, Power and A.I. in a Traumatized World.

The book also examines the constantly hyped faith that technology will inevitably make us all richer, the implicit premise being that every technological advance is automatically making our lives better in every way, every day.

A corollary of this forced technology optimism is that robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) will inevitably generate trillions of dollars in profits that will enable us all to 1) quit working because robots will do all our work and 2) draw a substantial monthly dividend from this endless gusher of tech-generated profits.

Nice, except every one of these assumptions is demonstrably baseless. AI might enrich the few who own the platforms and monopolies, but even that is unlikely, given that these technologies are rapidly being commoditized.

These are difficult dynamics to understand, but if we want to become wealthier in meaningful ways (including sustainable financial wealth), we have to understand these concepts at the deepest level. If it was possible to explain these complex realities in a 200-word list of 5 easy tips, I would, but alas, it took 38,000 words just to manage a modestly comprehensive overview.

As all the costs we don’t even measure pile up, were all getting poorer whether we are able to admit it or not. A society / economy that’s fragmenting and failing is not making us all richer, despite the signaling device of a rising stock market and gamed statistics (unemployment at a 50-year low, etc.).

This book is also the result of my personal journey through burnout, a topic I discussed earlier this year in Burnout Nation. The price were paying to keep our heads above water steepens while the pay-off is dropping off a cliff. While we’re constantly told to focus on the rising value of our stocks and homes (if we have any meaningful equity in either one, which many do not), our well-being, health, social mobility, agency, trust in institutions, non-financial capital and security are all declining.

Burnout forces us to re-assess costs, sacrifices and pay-offs in a wrenching reckoning that can no longer be put off. The recession that is slowly but surely unfolding will increase the stress on many of us, and force all sorts of personal reckonings on people who have spent years avoiding just such a reckoning.

My goal in writing this book was to help everyone going through a personal reckoning understand the impoverishment meted out by our broken socio-economic system, an impoverishment that may be invisible even as we sense it weighing more heavily on us every day.

How do we turn around this decline in everything that matters? The first step is to recognize and measure all forms of capital, tangible and intangible alike, and make a personal balance sheet of all the forms of capital we own or have access to, and prioritize which ones are the most important to us.

There’s much more in the book. Please take a look at the FIRST SECTION for free (PDF). There’s a 15% discount on both the digital and print editions through the month of October.

A note of thanks to those who buy the book: As an independent writer, book sales are a substantial part of my livelihood. I receive no funding from any trust fund, university, philanthro-capitalist foundation, think-tank, shadowy C.I.A. front, media giant or government agency.

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Posted by Elvis on 10/11/19 •
Section Revelations • Section Dying America
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