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Old 02-14-2014, 05:05 PM  
petegz28 petegz28 is offline
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28 Signs That The Middle Class Is Heading Towards Extinction

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-0...rds-extinction

Submitted by Michael Snyder of The Economic Collapse blog,

The death of the middle class in America has become so painfully obvious that now even the New York Times is doing stories about it. Millions of middle class jobs have disappeared, incomes are steadily decreasing, the rate of homeownership has declined for eight years in a row and U.S. consumers have accumulated record-setting levels of debt. Being independent is at the heart of what it means to be "middle class", and unfortunately the percentage of Americans that are able to take care of themselves without government assistance continues to decline. In fact, the percentage of Americans that are receiving government assistance is now at an all-time record high. This is not a good thing. Sadly, the number of people on food stamps has increased by nearly 50 percent while Barack Obama has been in the White House, and at this point nearly half the entire country gets money from the government each month. Anyone that tries to tell you that the middle class is going to be "okay" simply has no idea what they are talking about. The following are 28 signs that the middle class is heading toward extinction...

#1 You don't have to ask major U.S. corporations if the middle class is dying. This fact is showing up plain as day in their sales numbers. The following is from a recent New York Times article entitled "The Middle Class Is Steadily Eroding. Just Ask the Business World"...

In Manhattan, the upscale clothing retailer Barneys will replace the bankrupt discounter Loehmann’s, whose Chelsea store closes in a few weeks. Across the country, Olive Garden and Red Lobster restaurants are struggling, while fine-dining chains like Capital Grille are thriving. And at General Electric, the increase in demand for high-end dishwashers and refrigerators dwarfs sales growth of mass-market models.



As politicians and pundits in Washington continue to spar over whether economic inequality is in fact deepening, in corporate America there really is no debate at all. The post-recession reality is that the customer base for businesses that appeal to the middle class is shrinking as the top tier pulls even further away.

#2 Some of the largest retailers in the United States that once thrived by serving the middle class are now steadily dying. Sears and J.C. Penney are both on the verge of bankruptcy, and now we have learned that Radio Shack may be shutting down another 500 stores this year.

#3 Real disposable income in the United States just experienced the largest year over year drop that we have seen since 1974.

#4 Median household income in the United States has fallen for five years in a row.

#5 The rate of homeownership in the United States has fallen for eight years in a row.

#6 In 2008, 53 percent of all Americans considered themselves to be "middle class". In 2014, only 44 percent of all Americans consider themselves to be "middle class".

#7 In 2008, 25 percent of all Americans in the 18 to 29-year-old age bracket considered themselves to be "lower class". In 2014, an astounding 49 percent of them do.

#8 Incredibly, 56 percent of all Americans now have "subprime credit".

#9 Total consumer credit has risen by a whopping 22 percent over the past three years.

#10 The average credit card debt in the United States is $15,279.

#11 The average student loan debt in the United States is $32,250.

#12 The average mortgage debt in the United States is $149,925.

#13 Overall, U.S. consumers are $11,360,000,000,000 in debt.

#14 The U.S. national debt is currently sitting at $17,263,040,455,036.20, and it is being reported that is has grown by $6.666 trillion during the Obama years so far. Most of the burden of servicing that debt is going to fall on the middle class (if the middle class is able to survive that long).

#15 According to the Congressional Budget Office, interest payments on the national debt will nearly quadruple over the next ten years.

#16 Back in 1999, 64.1 percent of all Americans were covered by employment-based health insurance. Today, only 54.9 percent of all Americans are covered by employment-based health insurance.

#17 More Americans than ever find themselves forced to turn to the government for help with health care. At this point, 82.4 million Americans live in a home where at least one person is enrolled in the Medicaid program.

#18 There are 46.5 million Americans that are living in poverty, and the poverty rate in America has been at 15 percent or above for 3 consecutive years. That is the first time that has happened since 1965.

#19 While Barack Obama has been in the White House, the number of Americans on food stamps has gone from 32 million to 47 million.

#20 While Barack Obama has been in the White House, the percentage of working age Americans that are actually working has declined from 60.6 percent to 58.6 percent.

#21 While Barack Obama has been in the White House, the average duration of unemployment in the United States has risen from 19.8 weeks to 37.1 weeks.

#22 Middle-wage jobs accounted for 60 percent of the jobs lost during the last recession, but they have accounted for only 22 percent of the jobs created since then.

#23 It is hard to believe, but an astounding 53 percent of all American workers make less than $30,000 a year in wages.

#24 Approximately one out of every four part-time workers in America is living below the poverty line.

#25 According to the most recent numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau, an all-time record 49.2 percent of all Americans are receiving benefits from at least one government program each month.

#26 The U.S. government has spent an astounding 3.7 trillion dollars on welfare programs over the past five years.

#27 Only 35 percent of all Americans say that they are better off financially than they were a year ago.

#28 Only 19 percent of all Americans believe that the job market is better than it was a year ago.

As if the middle class didn't have enough to deal with, now here comes Obamacare.

As I have written about previously, Obamacare is going to mean higher taxes and much higher health insurance premiums for middle class Americans.

Not only that, but millions of hard working Americans are going to end up losing their jobs or having their hours cut back thanks to Obamacare. For example, a fry cook named Darnell Summers recently told Barack Obama directly that he and his fellow workers "were broken down to part time to avoid paying health insurance"...

And the Congressional Budget Office now says that Obamacare could result in the loss of 2.3 million full-time jobs by 2021.

Several million people will reduce their hours on the job or leave the workforce entirely because of incentives built into President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, the Congressional Budget Office said Tuesday.



That would mean job losses equal to 2.3 million full-time jobs by 2021, in large part because people would opt to keep their income low to stay eligible for federal health care subsidies or Medicaid, the agency said. It had estimated previously that the law would lead to 800,000 fewer jobs by that year.

But even if we got rid of Obamacare tomorrow that would not solve the problems of the middle class.

The middle class has been shrinking for a very long time, and something dramatic desperately needs to be done.

The numbers that I shared above simply cannot convey the level of suffering that is going on out there on the streets of America today. That is why I also like to share personal stories when I can. Below, I have posted an excerpt from an open letter to Barack Obama that a woman with a Master's degree and 30 years of work experience recently submitted to the Huffington Post. What this formerly middle class lady is having to endure because of this horrible economy is absolutely tragic...

Dear Mr. President,
I write to you today because I have nowhere else to turn. I lost my full time job in September 2012. I have only been able to find part-time employment -- 16 hours each week at $12 per hour -- but I don't work that every week. For the month of December, my net pay was $365. My husband and I now live in an RV at a campground because of my job loss. Our monthly rent is $455 and that doesn't include utilities. We were given this 27-ft. 1983 RV when I lost my job.



This is America today. We have no running water; we use a hose to fill jugs. We have no shower but the campground does. We have a toilet but it only works when the sewer line doesn't freeze -- if it freezes, we use the campground's restrooms. At night, in my bed, when it's cold out, my blanket can freeze to the wall of the RV.



We don't have a stove or an oven, just a microwave, so regular-food cooking is out. Recently we found a small toaster oven on sale so we can bake a little now because eating only microwaved food just wasn't working for us. We don't have a refrigerator, just an icebox (a block of ice cost about $1.89). It keeps things relatively cold. If it's freezing outside, we just put things on the picnic table.

You can read the rest of her incredibly heartbreaking letter right here.

This is not the America that I remember.

What in the world is happening to us?
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Old 02-14-2014, 08:54 PM   #46
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HonestChieffan View Post
See above. You are in need of help.
No, he isn't, not really.

Its you old man, your blind allegiance to any and everything pushed by the government is the problem... "haven't gotten a fair shake? not my problem, I got mine while the getting was good, why didn't you? oh! too young to have, well tough shit"

You're about as detached... "piss on ya lazy kids, I gots mine!" from the average working man as anyone I could ever possibly imagine, thanks, Judge Smails.
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Old 02-14-2014, 09:09 PM   #47
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Its not going to get better, at least not in the short run. American workers are going to have to compete with the rest of the world from now on. The rest of the world will catch up in terms of wealth, that's just an inevitable result of globalization. Its a new reality to which we are going to have to become adjusted.
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Old 02-14-2014, 09:12 PM   #48
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scott free View Post
No, he isn't, not really.

Its you old man, your blind allegiance to any and everything pushed by the government is the problem... "haven't gotten a fair shake? not my problem, I got mine while the getting was good, why didn't you? oh! too young to have, well tough shit"

You're about as detached... "piss on ya lazy kids, I gots mine!" from the average working man as anyone I could ever possibly imagine, thanks, Judge Smails.
Really? Boy you have a long rough road if you don't learn to take some responsibility for yourself.

I agree with 90% of Petes issues.

Old man. I like that. You think Im pro government? How ****ing ignorant are you?

****ing dumbs statement. You are usually pretty sharp.
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Old 02-14-2014, 10:05 PM   #49
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Technology, globalization, and economics are why the middle class is shrinking. That trend will continue and perhaps accelerate as more and more middle class jobs become increasingly automated.

Marx wrote about labor versus owning the means of production. Human capital (labor) is becoming less relevant and will continue on that trend as technology progresses. At some point I think it will be necessary to own something like robotic production capability, or intellectual property, or land in order to live beyond the subsidence level.
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Old 02-14-2014, 10:07 PM   #50
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HonestChieffan View Post
Really? Boy you have a long rough road if you don't learn to take some responsibility for yourself.

I agree with 90% of Petes issues.

Old man. I like that. You think Im pro government? How ****ing ignorant are you?

****ing dumbs statement. You are usually pretty sharp.
Myself, like literally millions of other able bodied adults who're ready and able to work, who have no real arrest record beyond childhood, no DUI's, no drug arrests, no prison time... yet any job that pays a living wage around here is next to impossible to obtain.

My current town in particular has lost SIX manufacturing jobs, big joints like Kraft Foods and EMI records in the last 10 years, and that's really just a taste of it, K Mart left and so did Midlands Farm and Home Supply... the list is friggin endless.

Yet everything is hunky friggin dory with you it seems, everyone crying for good jobs is some kind of lazy ass pillowbiter, right?... let me tell you about the last real game in town, Reynolds, you're favorite purveyors of sandwich baggies, trash bags and aluminum foil...

Know what they want from their people... 3 rotating shifts of 12 hours every 3 weeks... so, you get used to one sleeping pattern for three weeks, change it. Then get used to another three week pattern then change it. Then get used to one ****ing MORE and change it.

Then rinse, cycle and repeat... just about the time you're used to a shift/sleeping cycle they change it on you 180... if that's what they want then kiss my ass, I honestly have forgotten the number of people from that place I dealt with as a car sales rep who are on every ****ing prescribed drug imaginable just to keep up with what this factory does to them with their constant change of shifts.

Its medieval, a schedule like that... just about the time you're used to a sleep schedule at the end of a three week period, we're changing it on you and then changing it again 3 weeks later.

Most folks I know cant even figure out how a schedule like that benefits the company, it just seems like evil for the sake of it, like some new style west Virginia coal mine.

You have your's HCF and that's great, but the FAIR opportunity you had is GONE... its a bunch of garbage right now.
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Old 02-15-2014, 06:48 AM   #51
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cdcox View Post
Technology, globalization, and economics are why the middle class is shrinking. That trend will continue and perhaps accelerate as more and more middle class jobs become increasingly automated.

Marx wrote about labor versus owning the means of production. Human capital (labor) is becoming less relevant and will continue on that trend as technology progresses. At some point I think it will be necessary to own something like robotic production capability, or intellectual property, or land in order to live beyond the subsidence level.
I know you guys like to blame technology, but the Data isn't there to back it up.

Don’t Blame the Robots
Assessing the Job Polarization Explanation of Growing Wage Inequality


http://www.epi.org/publication/techn...me-the-robots/


I challenge anyone who believes technology is a major reason for stagnating wages to disprove that article. I'll wait.

Basic summary:

Quote:
The basic story is that computerization and other technological breakthroughs of the last three decades have displaced large numbers of relatively good paying jobs in manufacturing and elsewhere.

This loss of middle class jobs has forced formerly well-paid workers to crowd into occupations further down the wage scale, like retail trade and restaurant work. This has driven down wages for these workers in particular, and the occupations more generally. The result: the middle and bottom of the income distribution have seen relative declines in their wages because the demand for labor has simply not kept pace with the supply.

The most prominent proponent of this view is David Autor, an economics professor at M.I.T. His work purports to show a hollowing out of the middle, with demand increasing for workers in both high paid and low-paid occupations.

But while Autor’s work has been widely accepted within the profession and in policy debates, not all of us buy it. In fact, my friends and colleagues Larry Mishel, John Schmitt, and Heidi Shierholz recently wrote a paper that challenges many of Autor’s claims. They presented it at the annual economics meetings this month.

While much of the debate is fairly technical, the main points are straightforward. For example, Autor’s story can explain to some extent the pattern of inequality in the 1990s. But it doesn’t work at all for the 2000s. In the 2000s there was indeed an increase in employment in low-paid occupations. But — the share of middle and high-paid occupations both declined. Just look at the data.

And yet, even though the trends in occupation growth were completely different, we saw very much the same pattern of wage inequality in the 2000s as in the 1990s. This suggests that higher demand for workers in high-wage occupations is not the explanation for wage inequality.

Moreover, go back to the first three decades following World War II. In those years there was plenty of demand for more highly skilled workers, and yet it did not lead to growing inequality.
For 30 years, that is, greater demand for high-skilled workers did not cause inequality to rise.
http://www.pbs.org/newshour/making-s...-dont-blame-t/


More articles on why technology is not the major blame:

Quote:
If American workers claimed the same share of national income that they did in 1979, by the middle 2000s, 120 million American private sector workers would have received an additional $600 billion in compensation, amounting to more than $5,000 extra per worker.

Most current research on economic inequality focuses on growing wage gaps between different groups of workers. It’s important work, but it misses a big part of the story. That story is that over the past few decades, the share of U.S. profits going to shareholders, owners and corporate coffers has been going up at the expense of the “labor share” that includes all workers’ wages and benefits. From 1979 through 2007, labor’s share of national income in the private sector decreased by six percent.

About $600 billion went to corporate profits during that period, which mostly benefited the very wealthy. Things didn’t change with the recent economic recession. Although the economic downturn reduced corporate profits as a share of national income, the effect was short-lived. Since 2010, the golden age of swelling corporate profits has resumed.

Some scholars argue that one explanation for this gap is technological changes, including the widespread introduction of computers into the workplace, which over the past few decades left workers less productive than machines and other equipment. This in turn, the argument goes, encouraged firms to reduce their hiring and curb wages and benefits for their employees. Other analysts disagree with this blame-the-robots angle and stress the role of political forces – especially the weakening of labor unions, which has left workers with less power to fight for their own interests.

Until now, there has been no statistical analysis that directly compares these two opposing approaches to explain workers’ falling economic fortunes. I designed my research to address this debate head on. Using decades-long data, I found that broad economic trends masked big differences in various industrial sectors.

The largest declines in the share of income going to workers happened in industries like manufacturing and transportation where unions were once powerful. In other industries like finance, trade and private services, where there was never much of a union presence, the share of economic gains going to workers either remained steady or slightly increased.

In other words, I found a large decline in labor’s compensation and a hefty increase in corporate profits only in sectors that once had high rates of union membership. This suggests that a decline in union membership – which led to disempowerment of workers when bargaining with employers – was the main factor allowing the executives and owners in those sectors to grab the lion’s share of the fruits of economic growth.

The blame-the-robots theory also hits against another striking fact: computer technologies have been adopted in all industries in the past few decades, but it was only in industries where unions significantly declined that investment in computer technology boosted corporate profits and shrank workers’ compensation. Technological change cannot, in and of itself, be the cause of shrinking worker compensation. Much of the negative impact on wages and benefits happens when innovation accompanies or spurs union decline. Since the late 1970s, technological changes and the decline of labor unions have, in combination with each other and with other factors, helped to reduce the share of the national economic pie claimed by U.S. workers – and my research pins down that the decline of labor unions has been the main factor at work.

Union decline has not only increased wage disparities among workers; it has also allowed those sitting at the top of the economic pile to grab a growing slice of economic gains at the expense of all of their employees. Employers were able to do this, not because of the inexorable impact of abstract market forces or impersonal technologies, but because they have been able to deploy new technologies in ways that spurred the decline of unions and reduced the collective capacity of workers to negotiate for wages and benefits.
http://talkingpointsmemo.com/cafe/do...solving-unions

And you can't just blame globalization either. And Globalization is just a fancy word corporate protectionist use that really means screwing the workers that don't have political connections.

Quote:
But if technology and its demand for high skills are not to blame for the rise in inequality, then we have to look elsewhere for the culprits. One obvious source is globalization. Millions of manufacturing workers have lost their jobs to low-paid workers in Mexico, China and elsewhere. Some argue that this is a natural, inevitable market process. But it is not. It is a policy choice.

Yes, there are tens of millions of people in the developing world who can perform the same tasks as our manufacturing workers for a fraction of the pay. But there are also millions of people in the developing world who could perform the same tasks as our doctors, dentists, and lawyers — for a similar fraction of the pay. Our trade policy has been explicitly designed to put our manufacturing workers in direct competition with lower paid counterparts in the developing world.

By contrast, our trade policy has largely left in place or even increased barriers that prevent workers in the developing world’s most highly paid professions from competing with their American counterparts.
http://www.pbs.org/newshour/making-s...-dont-blame-t/

Globalization also doesn't explain why developed countries, like Germany, can have higher wages in manufacturing while America does not.
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Old 02-15-2014, 07:03 AM   #52
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Here is a current day example of how wages are being suppressed in this Country.

And big surprise, the GOP is attempting to alter the private market through government intimidation and extortion.

Quote:
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Republican lawmakers in Tennessee are threatening that the state could turn off the spigot of incentives for Volkswagen if workers at the German automaker's plant decide this week to approve union representation.

State Senate Speaker Pro Tem Bo Watson in a news conference in Chattanooga on Monday called the United Auto Workers campaign at the plant "un-American." He said a vote in favor of the union would lead the wide GOP majorities in the state Legislature to take a dim view of future incentives aimed at expanding production.

Volkswagen received a more than $500 million incentive package as part of its decision to build the plant in Chattanooga in 2008.

About 1,500 workers are eligible to vote in the three-day union election that starts Wednesday.
http://www.wrcbtv.com/story/24682983...devicecgbypass

What does Volkswagen want? The union to be there.

Quote:
A crusade by anti-union forces in Tennessee, including the state's governor and a senior senator, now is as much a fight with Volkswagen management as with the United Auto Workers union.

Volkswagen's neutrality has been challenged by opposition groups. They charge that the German automaker is, in fact, carefully orchestrating a plan to help the UAW win the election.

Some 1,500 VW workers at the plant vote Wednesday through Friday on UAW representation. The secret balloting will be overseen by the National Labor Relations Board.

On Monday, state Republican leaders accused Volkswagen of supporting the UAW and they threatened to withhold any tax incentives for future expansion of the three-year-old assembly plant in Chattanooga if workers vote to join the UAW.

"Should the workers at Volkswagen choose to be represented by the United Auto Workers, then I believe any additional incentives from the citizens of the State of Tennessee for expansion or otherwise will have a very tough time passing the Tennessee Senate," State Sen. Bo Watson, R-Chattanooga, said in a statement sent to the Free Press. (extortion, threatening)

A worker opposition group called Southern Momentum echoed that position in a statement.

"Further financial incentives — which are absolutely necessary for the expansion of the VW facility here in Chattanooga — simply will not exist if the UAW wins this election," Maury Nicely, a Chattanooga labor lawyer representing Southern Momentum said.

Today's threat comes less than 48 hours after Volkswagen said it favors a German-style works council with union representation.

"Outside political groups won't divert us from the work at hand: innovating, creating jobs, growing, and producing great automobiles," said Sebastian Patta, Volkswagen Chattanooga vice president of human resources.

...


If workers at the Volkswagen plant in Tennessee vote for UAW representation the union and company will form a German-style works council at the plant.

A 20-page legal agreement for a union election between the UAW and Volkswagen says that the UAW has agreed to delegate to the works council many of the functions and responsibilities ordinarily performed by unions.

"Our works councils are key to our success and productivity. It is a business model that helped to make Volkswagen the second largest car company in the world," Frank Fischer, chairman and CEO of Volkswagen Chattanooga said in a statement.
http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/...tives/5368195/
Work Councils are one of the biggest reason German workers have a higher pay than their American counter-parts.

Of course this puts them at odds with corporate protectionist and their bought and paid for politicians, so they threaten and attempt to extort to get their way, even though that is the government interfering with the wishes of a private company.

This example is a great representation of how our wages of stagnated.

Oh, a patty, I thought the GOP wasn't anti-union.
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Old 02-15-2014, 07:13 AM   #53
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Volkswagen must hire a lot of republican workers because they voted down the union last night.

Or it might have something to do with already having much higher wages than their Ford, GM, Chrysler union counterparts.
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Old 02-15-2014, 07:27 AM   #54
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Originally Posted by mlyonsd View Post
Volkswagen must hire a lot of republican workers because they voted down the union last night.

Or it might have something to do with already having much higher wages than their Ford, GM, Chrysler union counterparts.
Or the threatening from GOP politicians.

The government openly threatening the plant may have something to do with it.

But go ahead and ignore the GOP using the government to interfere in private business.
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Old 02-15-2014, 07:36 AM   #55
mlyonsd mlyonsd is offline
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Originally Posted by Loneiguana View Post
Or the threatening from GOP politicians.

The government openly threatening the plant may have something to do with it.

But go ahead and ignore the GOP using the government to interfere in private business.
Just like you're ignoring the possibility Volkswagen workers don't trust unions and see them in a bad light.
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Old 02-15-2014, 07:43 AM   #56
petegz28 petegz28 is offline
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Originally Posted by Loneiguana View Post
Or the threatening from GOP politicians.

The government openly threatening the plant may have something to do with it.

But go ahead and ignore the GOP using the government to interfere in private business.
Yes, that is interference but both sides pull shit like that which is a big part of the problem.
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Old 02-15-2014, 08:00 AM   #57
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High Tech is Sorcery and the people who are really powerful are literally telling people to commit crimes using the psychic interspace created by the WWW and Wireless. They are controlling peoples actions like drones . The two things are deeply intertwined. The more man's brain interfaces with machines the creepier it gets. They use brains separate from a human body in a supercomputer and you have The Image of the Beast. The military has been doing this since the 50s
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Old 02-15-2014, 08:12 AM   #58
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Keep on telling yourself whatever it is you need to tell yourself. There's what you say and then there is what it is. The data unfortunately does not support your side of the argument. Thus your constant dodging and personal attacks. Not once in the last week have you spelled out what the problem is, or what benefit we are getting from the current system you support so much.

You just keep rapping at the mouth, Limbaugh style.
You seem to be confused about my "side of the argument". Like so many things, you just make it up in your head. The current system is almost as far from what I support as your worse, envy-based ideas.
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Old 02-15-2014, 08:13 AM   #59
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You seem to be confused about my "side of the argument". Like so many things, you just make it up in your head. The current system is almost as far from what I support as your worse, envy-based ideas.
Seems to be going around.
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Old 02-15-2014, 08:18 AM   #60
petegz28 petegz28 is offline
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You seem to be confused about my "side of the argument". Like so many things, you just make it up in your head. The current system is almost as far from what I support as your worse, envy-based ideas.

I think you're confused on your side of the argument, to be honest.
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