Make-Believe America

by Paul Craig Roberts from his website

Americans live a never-never-land existence. The politicians and presstitutes make sure of that.

Consider something as simple as the unemployment rate. The US is said to have full employment with a January 2018 unemployment rate of 4.1 percent, down from 9.8 percent in January 2010.

However, the low rate of unemployment is contradicted by the long-term decline in the labor force participation rate. After a long rise during the Reagan 1980s, the labor force participation rate peaked in January 1990 at 66.8 percent, more or less holding to that rate for another decade until 2001 when decline set in accelerating in September 2008.

Today the labor force participation rate is the lowest since February 1978, reversing all of the gains of the Reagan years.

Allegedly, the current unemployment rate of 4.1 percent is the result of the long recovery that allegedly began in June 2009. However, normally, employment opportunities created by economic recovery cause an increase in the labor force participation rate as people join the work force to take advantage of employment opportunities. A fall in the participation rate is associated with recession or stagnation, not with economic recovery.

How can this contradiction be reconciled? The answer lies in the measurement of unemployment. If you have not looked for a job in the last four weeks, you are not counted as being unemployed, because you are not counted as being part of the work force. When there are no jobs to be found, job seekers become discouraged and cease looking for jobs. In other words, the 4.1 percent unemployment rate does not count discouraged workers who cannot find jobs.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics has a second measure of unemployment that includes workers who have been discouraged and out of the labor force for less than one year. This rate of unemployment is 8.2 percent, double the 4.1 percent reported rate.

The US government no longer tracks unemployment among discouraged workers who have been out of the work force for more than one year. However, John Williams of continues to estimate this rate and places it at 22 or 23 percent, a far cry from 4.1 percent.

In other words, the 4.1 percent unemployment rate does not count the unemployed who do show up in the declining labor force participation rate.

If the US had a print and TV media instead of the propaganda ministry that it has, the financial press would not tolerate the deception of the public about employment in America…

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Trump’s National Security Speech

Paul Craig Roberts

What do we make of Trump’s national security speech? First of all, it is the military/security complex’s speech, and it is inconsistent with Trump’s intention of normalizing relations with Russia.

The military/security complex, using Trump’s position as President, has defined Russia and China as “revisionist powers,” Washington’s rivals who seek to put their own national interests ahead of Washington’s unilateralism. Russia and China are “revisionist powers” because their assertion of their national interests limits Washington’s hegemony.

In other words, Washington does not accept the validity of other countries’ interests if those interests are contrary to Washington’s interests. So, how does Trump expect to work with Russia and China when he reads a speech that Russia and China seek to “shape a world antithetical to our interests and values.”

“Our values” means, of course, Washington’s dominance.

Trump begins by honoring the military, police, Homeland Security, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In other words, “America first” means domination by Washington over the citizenry as well as over foreign countries.

Trump then cloaks himself in the American people who “voted to make America great again.”

Then Trump’s speech picks up the Israel Lobby’s line about a bad deal with Iran and asserts that previous administrations tolerated ISIS, when in fact they created it and set in upon Libya and Syria.

Then he attacks environmental protection and complains of illegal aliens, while ignoring the refugees Washington’s wars imposed on Europe.

In an era of neoconservative celebration of US world hegemony, Trump accuses his predecessors of losing confidence in America. This is extraordinary. When a country’s entire foreign policy is based on the assumption that it is the “exceptional and indispensable country,” how is this a loss of confidence? It is massive arrogance and hubris. The problem is not a loss of confidence by the rulers but an overbearing hubris.

Then Trump claims that through him, Americans again rule their nation.

He says that now Washington is serving the citizens. Looking at the tax bill, he must mean that citizens consist of the One Percent.

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The Re-enserfment of Western Peoples

by Paul Craig Roberts, Sputnik International

The re-enserfment of Western peoples is taking place on several levels. One about which I have been writing for more than a decade comes from the offshoring of jobs. Americans, for example, have a shrinking participation in the production of the goods and services that are marketed to them.

On another level we are experiencing the financialization of the Western economy about which Michael Hudson is the leading expert (Killing The Host). Financialization is the process of removing any public presence in the economy and converting the economic surplus into interest payments to the financial sector.

These so called “trade partnerships” have nothing to do with trade. These agreements negotiated in secrecy grant immunity to corporations from the laws of the countries in which they do business. This is achieved by declaring any interference by existing and prospective laws and regulations on corporate profits as restraints on trade for which corporations can sue and fine “sovereign” governments. For example, the ban in France and other counries on GMO products would be negated by the Trans-Atlantic Partnership. Democracy is simply replaced by corporate rule.

I have been meaning to write about this at length. However, others, such as Chris Hedges, are doing a good job of explaining the power grab that eliminates representative government.

The corporations are buying power cheaply. They bought the entire US House of Representatives for just under $200 million. This is what the corporations paid Congress to go along with “Fast Track,” which permits the corporations’ agent, the US Trade Representative, to negotiate in secret without congressional input or oversight.

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Central Banks Have Become a Corrupting Force

by Paul Craig Roberts, from Sputnik International

Are we witnessing the corruption of central banks? Are we observing the money-creating powers of central banks being used to drive up prices in the stock market for the benefit of the mega-rich?

These questions came to mind when we learned that the central bank of Switzerland, the Swiss National Bank, purchased 3,300,000 shares of Apple stock in the first quarter of this year, adding 500,000 shares in the second quarter. Smart money would have been selling, not buying.

It turns out that the Swiss central bank, in addition to its Apple stock, holds very large equity positions, ranging from $250,000,000 to $637,000,000, in numerous US corporations — Exxon Mobil, Microsoft, Google, Johnson & Johnson, General Electric, Procter & Gamble, Verizon, AT&T, Pfizer, Chevron, Merck, Facebook, Pepsico, Coca Cola, Disney, Valeant, IBM, Gilead, Amazon.

Among this list of the Swiss central bank’s holdings are stocks which are responsible for more than 100% of the year-to-date rise in the S&P 500 prior to the latest sell-off.

What is going on here?

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FBI Evidence Proves Innocence of Accused Boston Marathon Bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

by Paul Craig Roberts

I have been contacted by attorney John Remington Graham, a member in good standing of the bar of the Minnesota Supreme Court and the United States Supreme Court. He informs me that acting in behalf of Maret Tsanaeva, the aunt of the accused Tsamaev brothers and a citizen of the Kyrgyz Republic where she is qualified to practice law, he has assisted her in filing with the US District Court in Boston a pro se motion, including an argument of amicus curiae, and an affidavit of Maret Tsarnaeva. The presiding judge has ordered that these documents be included in the formal record of the case so they will be publicly accessible. The documents are reproduced below.

The documents argue that on the basis of the evidence provided by the FBI, there is no basis for the indictment of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. The FBI’s evidence clearly concludes that the bomb was in a black knapsack, but the photographs used to establish Dzhokhar’s presence at the marathon show him with a white knapsack. Moreover, the knapsack lacks the heavy bulging appearance that a knapsack containing a bomb would have.

Appendix Tsarnaeva Exhibit 3

backpack containing bomb supposedly planed by Dzhokhar Tsarnaev


Appendix Tsarnaeva Exhibit 4

As readers know, I have been suspicious of the Boston Marathon Bombing from the beginning. It seems obvious that both Tsamaev brothers were intended to be killed in the alleged firefight with police, like the alleged perpetrators of the Charlie Hebdo affair in Paris. Convenient deaths in firefights are accepted as indications of guilt and solve the problem of trying innocent patsies.

In Dzhokhar’s case, his guilt was established not by evidence but by accusations, by the betrayal of his government-appointed public defender Judy Clarke who declared Dzhokhar’s guilt in her opening statement of her “defense,” by an alleged confession, evidence of which was never provided, written by Dzhokhar on a boat under which the badly wounded youth lay dying until discovered by the boat owner and hospitalized in critical condition. Following his conviction by his defense attorney, Dzhokhar allegedly confessed again in jihadist terms. As legal scholars have known for centuries, confessions are worthless as indicators of guilt.

Dzhokhar was not convicted on the basis of evidence.

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The Social Cost of Capitalism

(Yeah, it’s called neoliberal fascism, folks. And unfortunately, Mr. Roberts helped design it when he crafted Reagan’s “trickle down” economic theory (i.e. neoliberal, Free Market economics). Well, maybe he’s had a bit of a change of heart since then. Who knows.)

by Paul Craig Roberts, Sputnik International

Few, if any, corporations absorb the full cost of their operations. Corporations shove many of their costs onto the environment, the public sector, and distant third parties. For example, currently 3 million gallons of toxic waste water from a Colorado mine has escaped and is working its way down two rivers into Utah and Lake Powell.

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