El Conquistqdor Francisco de Orellana

El Conquistqdor Francisco de Orellana
The Conquistador who put the Amazaon baisn "on the map"....Francisco Orellana

Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year from all your friends in Ecuador at ColonialEcuador....

¡Feliz Año!

37 Absolute must dos in Ecuador in 2013

It's the end of the year.

You're probably making your New Year's resolutions and planning what you'd like ot do, be and have in 2013.

I know sometimes it can be hard to find the time, but you never know how long you'll live, and I'd make a case that Ecuador is one of those few countries in the world that is really worth seeing.

So stop putting it off.

Hard to find such variety in a country the size of Nevada.

Below is my personal Ecuador bucket list for 2013.

Things I just got to do.

1. Watch the Tungurahua Volcano erupt at night from the look out over Banos.  Tours can be arranged in one of the many agencies in Baños. Cost $20 per person.

2. Visit the gold mine in Zaruma where resident Spaniards found a 2 and ½ pound piece of gold and gifted it to King Felipe II several hundred years ago, causing the king such joy he decided to lower the taxes for everyone living in Ecuador.  The mine is called "El Sexmo" and is now open to tourists with guided tours from actual nearby miners.  Free.

3. Observe the amazing Pink river dolphins as they frollic in the unique flooded rainforest of Cuyabeño in northern Ecuador.  Tours can be arranged once on the ground out of Quito or Lago Agrio.  Canoe Tours start from $40 per person. 

4.  Scuba dive in the crystalline waters of Galapagos off Floreana Island with hammerheads and whale sharks.  2 Dives start from around $130.  Best arranged once on the ground in Santa Cruz Island near the port in Puerto Ayora with local dive shops.

5.  Snorkel with the worlds smallest penguin, gigantic manta rays, big marine iguanas and (friendly) reef sharks off las Tintoreras on the picturesque snow-white sands and turqoise waters off Isabela Island in the Galapagos.  Day tours to Isabela arranged in Santa Cruz start around $65/person.

6.  Eat two buckets of the locally-famous garlic crab at one of the best crabhouses (Manny's Crangrejal) in Guayaquil, a city known for its numerous crabhouses.  Near San Marino Mall any taxi will know where it is.  $12.

7. Hunt for fossils along the banks of the Nangaritza River, the only river that connects the Amazon to the Pacific Ocean, high in the Condor Mountain Ridge (Cordillera del Condor).  For more try lindoecuadortours.com  $25-50 /person.
8. Deep-sea fish for Marlin and Whale-watch in August off the calm shores of Salinas.  Trips can be arranged in one of the several agencies along the boardwalk.  Cost: Whalewatching from $20 per person, deep sea fishing price varies depending on amount of people.

9. Bike on a rented bicycle from the city of Puerto Ayora in the Galapagos to the deserted, idyllic beach of El Garrapatero while passing through over a dozen micro-climates and witnessing the giant Galapagos tortoises grazing in their natural habitat.  Cost: $5.

10. Visit a chocolate farm near Guayaquil and learn the whole process of how to make chocolate from harvest to belly.  Get more info here. 

11.  Hummingbird watch and observe thousands of butterflies in the cloud rainforests of Mindo.  Tours can be arranged once in Mindo. Start from $20/person.

12. Climb Cotopaxi, one of the worlds highest active volcanoes at 19347ft / 5897m with a guide arranged in Quito, I've been told even beginners can do it!

13. Explore the massive, underground lava tunnels on Santa Cruz Island in the Galapagos.  Free.

14. Trout fish in one of the surreal apline lakes in the barren Cajas National Park near Cuenca.  Tours can be arranged with Terra Diversa in Cuenca.

15. Go way off the beaten path and discover the Lost City (Ciudad Perdida) of Ecuador's Amazon.  Extreme adventure available through local guides only out of Nangaritza.  Cost: Highly negotiable.

16. Pamper myself with a the natural mud bath in the mud pools in the dry rainforest of Machalilla National Park and spend the night playing volleyball with the local indigenous and later sleeping in one of their tiki huts.  From Puerto Lopez hire a motorcycle taxi and pay a few bucks from them to take you to the indigenous community of Aguas Blancas in the park.  Cost: $10 for the day tour to the mud baths and $10/person for the night.

17. View the thousands of Orchid species growing wild along the well-kept trails of the Podocarpus National Park easily reached in a $4 taxi ride from the town of Zamora.  Free entrance to park.

18. Hike the 10km trek from El Tambo to Ingapirca, ancient Incan ruins and effectively Ecuador's own "Machu Picchu".  You can also take a train, taxi or bus which can be arranged out of Canar.  Ruins Entrance fee $6.

19. Get certified as a glider plane pilot in Ibarra through a one month course with a local flight instructor.  They say if you can fly a plane without an engine you can fly a plane with one.  Course starts around $1300. 2013 prices yet to be released. For more info write me here.

20. Visit the worlds only birds that live in a cave, in the only cave they live in at the CUEVA DE LOS TAYOS.  Tours arranged out of Macas.  Prices vary.

21. Tailgate, then enter a game in Quitos rowdy Atahaulpa Stadium as the National Soccer team attempts to qualify for the next World Cup in Brazil.  The cheap seats start around $10.

22. Learn to kite surf with an instructor against the strangly barren cliff landscapes of Santa Marianita near Manta.  Classes can be arranged on site.  Prices vary.

23. Party with fun locals along the infamous Plaza Foch in Quito during Quitos Festival Week "Fiestas de Quito" the first week of December.  Free if you can find a sugar-momma/pappa to buy you drinks. 

24. Take a tour of a Banana plantation in Machala and learn all the ins and outs of the interesting business with CristyViajes.  Tours start around $20 per person.

25. Fish for Pirana in Laguna Pañacocha, a beautiful black wáter lake backed by cloud forests.  To get there, hire a local canoe where the Rio Panacayu meets the Rio Napo, to get there you'll need to take a Nuevo Rocafuerte Canoe hired in the town of Coca.  Price varies depending on season.

26. Bike the wonderful 7 hour (60km) downhill ride from the high Andes to the mouth of the Amazon in Puyo and witness the furious waterfall of Baños "Pilon de Diablo".  Bike can easily be rented in Banos.  Cost: $5

27. Soak in the odd street water-wars during Carnaval in February in Cuenca where everyone goes around throwing water balloons and soaking random strangers with water guns.  Free.

28. Hike the Quillotoa Volcano and witness the majestic, stunning turquoise-colored lake in the volcano's crater.  Can be done solo by taking a bus from Latacunga and getting off near the base.  Cost: $4 bus fare from Latacunga.

29. Experience the naughty, packed, full-moon-style New Year's Eve party in MontanitaFree if you sleep on the beach in a tent (doable), just don't bring valuables.

30. Mingle with sexy locals dressed to the tilt during the 2 hour river-boat cruise on the all-you-can-drink boat 'Morgans' which leaves every night from the boardwalk (Malecon) of Guayaquil.  Can be arranged out of my B&B in Guayaquil. $15 per person includes all you can drink.

31. Follow the rarely-visited path of the world-famous indigenous Shuar who were the ones that originated the practice of shrinking the heads of their conquered enemies.  Tours now available with local guides through Macas or Zamora. Prices vary.

32. Learn to kayak in the lazy to fierce Andean rivers around the city of Ibarra with Natural AdventuresPrices vary.

33. Devour delicious seafood at the locally-famous "Parque de Mariscos" along the beach in Manta heading towards the airport.  Specifically I want to eat a 'Cazuela' Soup, an amazing nut-based fish soup truly unique to Ecuador.  Cost: $6.

34. Have a 10 minute long conversation in Spanish with a local after a month long Spanish crash course at the highly recommended Galapagos Spanish School in Quito.  Cost: one-on-one classes with real teachers start around $6/hr.

35. Dance salsa to afro-latino beats on the white-sand beaches at moonlight in a beach bar near Esmeraldas after eating the local delicacy of Shrimp cooked in spiced coconut milk (encocado de camaron).  I'm sure I'll feel like I'm in the Caribbean.  Cost: $5-6.

36. Visit the perplexing, friendly afro-ecuadorian community of Chota in the middle of the Andes near Otavalo and have a local Shaman (witch doctor) cleanse away my worries.  Cost: $5 bus fare from Quito.

37. Have literally ten years taken off my face through the marvelous work of the locally-famous and reasonably priced Dermatologist Janeth Arevalo in Loja.  Men are welcome. Cost varies depending on what is done. Write her to set appointment, tell her Dom sent you.

Domenick Buonamici
Entrepreneur, Manager
Murali B&B Airport Guayaquil

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Will the French begin to realize Socialism does not work?..

French panel overturns 75 percent tax on ultrarich

PARIS (AP) — Embattled French President Francois Hollande suffered a fresh setback Saturday when France's highest court threw out a plan to tax the ultrawealthy at a 75 percent rate, saying it was unfair.
In a stinging rebuke to one of Socialist Hollande's flagship campaign promises, the constitutional council ruled Saturday that the way the highly contentious tax was designed was unconstitutional. It was intended to hit incomes over €1 million ($1.32 million).

The largely symbolic measure would have only hit a tiny number of taxpayers and brought in an estimated €100 million to €300 million - an insignificant amount in the context of France's roughtly €85 billion deficit.
Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault was quick to respond, saying in a statement following the decision the government would resubmit the measure to take the court's concerns into account. The court's ruling took issue not with the size of the tax, but with the way it discriminated between households depending on how incomes were distributed among its members. A household with two earners each making under €1 million would be exempt from the tax, while one with one earner making €1.2 million would have to pay.

The French government approved the tax in its most recent budget, amid criticism by some that it would do little to stem the country's mounting fiscal problems and would drive away the wealthiest citizens. Hollande's popularity, meanwhile, has been tanking as the country's unemployment continued its rise for the 19th straight month.

In recent weeks, Gerard Depardieu — France's most famous actor — announced his intention to turn in his French passport and move to a village in a tax-friendly Belgium.

More fireworks on New Years in the U.S.......

Fearful of ban, frenzied buyers swarm gun stores

NEW YORK (AP) — The phones at Red's Trading Post wouldn't stop ringing. Would-be customers from as far away as New York wanted to know if the Twin Falls, Idaho gun shop had firearms in stock. Others clamored to find out if their orders had been shipped.

Overwhelmed, gun store manager Ryan Horsley had to do what no employee would ever think of doing just days before Christmas: He disconnected the phone lines for three whole days.

"We had to shut everything off," says Horsley, whose family has owned Red's Trading Post, the state's oldest gun shop, since 1936. "We were swamped in the store and online."

The phones at gun shops across the country are ringing off the hook. Demand for firearms, ammunition and bulletproof gear has surged since the Dec. 14 massacre in Newtown, Conn., that took the lives of 20 schoolchildren and six teachers and administrators. The shooting sparked calls for tighter gun control measures, especially for military-style assault weapons like the ones used in Newtown and in the Aurora, Colo., movie theater shooting earlier this year. The prospect of a possible weapons ban has sent gun enthusiasts into a panic and sparked a frenzy of buying at stores and gun dealers nationwide.

Assault rifles are sold out across the country. Rounds of .223 bullets, like those used in the AR-15 type Bushmaster rifle used in Newtown, are scarce. Stores are struggling to restock their shelves. Gun and ammunition makers are telling retailers they will have to wait months to get more.

Store owners who have been in the business for years say they have never seen demand like this before.
When asked how much sales have increased in the past few weeks, Horsley just laughed.

"We haven't even had a chance to look at it," he says. Horsley spends his days calling manufacturers around the country trying to buy more items for the store. Mainly, they tell him he has to wait.

Franklin Armory, a firearm maker in Morgan Hill, Calif., is telling dealers that it will take six months to fulfill their orders. The company plans to hire more workers and buy more machines to catch up, says Franklin Armory's President Jay Jacobson.

The shortage is leaving many would-be gun owners empty handed.

William Kotis went to a gun show in Winston-Salem, N.C., last weekend hoping to buy a rifle for target shooting. Almost everything was sold out.

"Assault rifles were selling like crazy," says Kotis, who is president and CEO of Kotis Holdings, a real estate development company based in Greensboro. "People are stockpiling."

He left without buying anything.

Luke Orlando's parents were able to get him the 12-gauge shotgun he wanted for Christmas to bird hunt, but his uncle wasn't as lucky.

"At Christmas dinner, my uncle expressed outrage that after waiting six months to use his Christmas bonus to purchase an AR-15, they are sold out and back ordered over a year," says Orlando, 18, a student at the University of Texas.

No organization publicly releases gun sales data. The only way to measure demand is by the number of background checks that are conducted when someone wants to buy a firearm. Those numbers are released by the Federal Reserve Bureau every month. Data for December is not out yet. But the Federal Bureau of Investigation says that it did 16.8 million firearm background checks as of the end of November, up more than 2 percent from a year ago.

The Colorado Bureau of Investigation, which handles background checks for the state, can't keep up with the number of requests it is getting. The bureau has pulled staff from other units and increased its hours, says spokesperson Susan Medina.

Many firearm dealers and manufacturers say that Obama's comments since the Newtown school shooting are driving demand.

James Zimmerman of SelwayArmory.com, a website that sells guns, ammunition and knives, says that sales really took off on Dec. 19 after President Barack Obama held a White House press conference announcing that Vice President Joe Biden would lead a team tasked with coming up with "concrete proposals" to curb gun violence.

That day, one customer ordered 32,000 rounds of ammunition from SelwayArmory.com, worth close to $18,000. The order had to be shipped from the company's Lolo, Mont., office to Kentucky on a freight truck.

"I've done more sales in the week after the 19th than I have the whole year," says Zimmerman, who launched SelwayArmory.com in 2009.

At Lady Liberty Gunsmithing LLC in Atlantic City, N.J., a customer called last week asking if a pistol he wanted was available. When he was told there was only one left, he drove more than two hours from Newark, N.J., to buy it that same day.

"People want guns now even more than ever," says Guy Petinga II, whose father opened the store above his home in 1996.

Others saw demand immediately after the shooting.

Bullet Blocker, which makes bulletproof vests, briefcases and insert panels, saw sales of its children's backpacks suddenly jump.

"That's how I found out about the tragedy. I saw the sales rise and then turned on CNN," says Elmar Uy, vice president of business operations at the Billerica, Mass., company.

Bullet Blocker has sold about 50 to 100 bulletproof backpacks a day since the shooting, up from about 10 to 15 in a regular week. The children's backpacks, which are designed to be used as shields, cost over $200 each.

"I've never seen numbers like this before," says Uy.

Getting to Ecuador Cheap....and having an adventure....

People often complain about how expensive it is to fly to Ecuador.

But it's true when compared to closer destinations like Costa Rica or Mexico.

Flights from the US/Canada to Ecuador can often cost $1000 or more.

For some it’s a deal-breaker.

But it doesn’t have to be.

I'm spoiled.

I often get to Ecuador from the US for under $180 and now you can too. 

Here's how... But first, remember I said “cheap” not necessarily “comfortable”.

To start, you have to get from where you live in the US to Miami or New York City.

I buy two separate flights.  One to Miami/NYC and another to South America.

Or I do it even cheaper and hitchhike, AMTRAK or take the Greyhound bus to Miami.

Then once you’re in Miami (or New York) buy a one way flight from Miami to Armenia, Colombia on my favorite budget airline (that doesn’t yet fly to Ecuador) Spirit Airlines.

Armenia in western Colombia is the closest city to Ecuador they fly.

If you buy at least a month in advance you can get a flight often less than $150, for instance, now I’m seeing flights in late January and early February on the Spirit website for around $135 to Armenia from Miami with taxes and everything included.

In fact, you’ll find Colombia to actually be a nice place to visit.

Plus, Colombia is a place that doesn't require a roundtrip ticket to enter.  Whereas Ecuador officially does require the return although most the time they don't enforce it yet sometimes the airlines will not let you on the plane to Ecuador without the return passage.

I know, it's confusing but it is what it is.

Colombia is far removed from the bloody 80’s, 90’s and Escobar years.  I should know, I lived there for a year recently and learned of this strategy because I wanted to visit some old friends and get from the US to Ecuador cheap.

A really nice area to visit near Armenia is the “Coffee Triangle” or “Eje Cafetero”.

Once in Armenia take the 2 ½ hour bus ($4-5) to Cali, another interesting town and a famous salsa dance Mecca.

Once in Cali hop a little crop-duster-type plane to Tulcan on the Ecuadorian border with one of the several tiny Colombian airlines that aren’t well advertised on the net like Satena.  I’ve caught flights as low as $65.

Or to it even cheaper hop one of the frequent daily buses (15 hours, $20-30) from Cali to Tulcan.

It's a scenic ride and one beautiful stop along the way is Popayan, a pearly-white colonial town in the southern hills of Colombia.

Then from Ipiales, Colombia cross the border to Tulcan (Ecuador), get your passport stamped and hop one last bus 4-5 hours ($5) to Quito.

That’s it!  You made it!

If you’ve been keeping track, if you fly to Colombia and bus it the rest of the way you can get from Miami, USA to Ecuador one way for around $175 in 2013. 

Especially great for people who are coming to Ecuador one way!

OR if you are over 65 and have an Ecuadorian Cedula meaning you are an Ecuador resident OR Ecuadorian citizen, you can buy national or international flights for HALF PRICE, any time of the year with the Ecuadorian airlines of Aerogal, LAN or TAME.  Preferibly buy in person at the airports or by over phone to get the senior discount.

Domenick Buonamici
Entrepreneur, Manager
Murali B&B Airport Guayaquil


8 Countries That Take Bank Secrecy Seriously

By Bob Bauman
International Living Magazine
Down through history, whenever a major war or other calamity has threatened, ever-greater hoards of foreign cash have flowed into Swiss bank accounts because the world knows Switzerland traditionally stands for safety.
With the U.S. Internal Revenue Service claiming worldwide powers, it’s certainly no longer easy for Americans to open a Swiss or other offshore bank account.
But the list of friendly offshore bankers, even for Americans, is longer than you might think. And accounts in selected offshore financial centers offer everyone what U.S., U.K, French and German banks no longer can guarantee—much stronger asset protection and greatly increased banking privacy.
For Americans, a foreign account also provides a choice of stronger non-dollar currencies, plus a means for direct trading and investing in more profitable foreign equities, precious metals and tax-deferred insurance and annuities.
The Swiss banker won’t roll out as warm a welcome to Americans as he once did—but Switzerland is still on a short list of places that every American should consider investigating for banking advantages.
That is so because, even with all the post-UBS tax-evasion scandal fallout, Switzerland still has one of the strongest bank-secrecy laws anywhere, even when dealing with the U.S. government. If anything, all their recent troubles and the attendant publicity have made Swiss bankers more aware of obligations to clients and protective of clients’ rights.
Other banking countries that make my short list and should be on yours are: Liechtenstein, Denmark, Austria, Singapore, Hong Kong, Panama and Uruguay.
Each of these countries’ banks has a different level of protection and different requirements for clients. While in general banks in each country are wary of U.S. clients because of the demands of high-handed U.S. laws such as the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), selected banks there often are willing to open trust or corporate accounts controlled by Americans.
But be ready to comply with now-universal “know your customer” rules requiring proof of citizenship and current residence, as well as signing IRS Form W-9 allowing the bank to confirm your taxpayer identifications number (TIN) and notify the IRS of payments to you.
The 1934 Swiss Bank Secrecy Law, still in effect, was a direct response to the rise of Hitler and the threat of war.
Seventy-eight years later, savvy Argentines are escaping that country’s ruinous policies by banking in neighboring Uruguay, and Putin’s beleaguered Russian business people are pouring billions of rubles into banks in far more friendly Cyprus.
History proves my point: an offshore account can serve as your personal shield against oppressive government, stifling regulations and declining currencies.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

75 Economic Numbers From 2012 That Are Almost Too Crazy To Believe

Happy New Year!

Michael Snyder
December 21st, 2012
The Economic Collaps

What a year 2012 has been! The mainstream media continues to tell us what a “great job” the Obama administration and the Federal Reserve are doing of managing the economy, but meanwhile things just continue to get even worse for the poor and the middle class. It is imperative that we educate the American people about the true condition of our economy and about why all of this is happening. If nothing is done, our debt problems will continue to get worse, millions of jobs will continue to leave the country, small businesses will continue to be suffocated, the middle class will continue to collapse, and poverty in the United States will continue to explode. Just “tweaking” things slightly is not going to fix our economy. We need a fundamental change in direction. Right now we are living in a bubble of debt-fueled false prosperity that allows us to continue to consume far more wealth than we produce, but when that bubble bursts we are going to experience the most painful economic “adjustment” that America has ever gone through. We need to be able to explain to our fellow Americans what is coming, why it is coming and what needs to be done. Hopefully the crazy economic numbers that I have included in this article will be shocking enough to wake some people up.

The end of the year is a time when people tend to gather with family and friends more than they do during the rest of the year. Hopefully many of you will use the list below as a tool to help start some conversations about the coming economic collapse with your loved ones. Sadly, most Americans still tend to doubt that we are heading into economic oblivion. So if you have someone among your family and friends that believes that everything is going to be “just fine”, just show them these numbers. They are a good summary of the problems that the U.S. economy is currently facing.

The following are 50 economic numbers from 2012 that are almost too crazy to believe…

#1 In December 2008, 31.6 million Americans were on food stamps. Today, a new all-time record of 47.7 million Americans are on food stamps. That number has increased by more than 50 percent over the past four years, and yet the mainstream media still has the gall to insist that “things are getting better”.

#2 Back in the 1970s, about one out of every 50 Americans was on food stamps. Today, about one out of every 6.5 Americans is on food stamps.

#3 According to one calculation, the number of Americans on food stamps now exceeds the combined populations of “Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming.”

#4 According to one recent survey, 55 percent of all Americans have received money from a safety net program run by the federal government at some point in their lives.

#5 For the first time ever, more than a million public school students in the United States are homeless. That number has risen by 57 percent since the 2006-2007 school year.

#6 Median household income in the U.S. has fallen for four consecutive years. Overall, it has declined by over $4000 during that time span.

#7 Families that have a head of household under the age of 30 have a poverty rate of 37 percent.

#8 The percentage of working age Americans with a job has been under 59 percent for 39 months in a row.

#9 In September 2009, during the depths of the last economic crisis, 58.7 percent of all working age Americans were employed. In November 2012, 58.7 percent of all working age Americans were employed. It is more then 3 years later, and we are in the exact same place.

#10 When you total up all working age Americans that do not have a job in America today, it comes to more than 100 million.

#11 According to one recent survey, 55 percent of all small business owners in America “say they would not start a business today given what they know now and in the current environment.”

#12 The number of jobs at new small businesses continues to decline. According to economist Tim Kane, the following is how the decline in the number of startup jobs per 1000 Americans breaks down by presidential administration…

Bush Sr.: 11.3

Clinton: 11.2

Bush Jr.: 10.8

Obama: 7.8

#13 The U.S. share of global GDP has fallen from 31.8 percent in 2001 to 21.6 percent in 2011.

#14 The United States has fallen in the global economic competitiveness rankings compiled by the World Economic Forum for four years in a row.

#15 There are four major U.S. banks that each have more than 40 trillion dollars of exposure to derivatives.

#16 In 2000, there were more than 17 million Americans working in manufacturing, but now there are less than 12 million.

#17 According to the Pew Research Center, 61 percent of all Americans were “middle income” back in 1971. Today, only 51 percent of all Americans are.

#18 The Pew Research Center has also found that 85 percent of all middle class Americans say that it is harder to maintain a middle class standard of living today than it was 10 years ago.

#19 62 percent of all middle class Americans say that they have had to reduce household spending over the past year.

#20 Right now, approximately 48 percent of all Americans are either considered to be “low income” or are living in poverty.

#21 Approximately 57 percent of all children in the United States are living in homes that are either considered to be either “low income” or impoverished.

#22 According to one survey, 77 percent of all Americans are now living paycheck to paycheck at least part of the time.

#23 Back in 1950, more than 80 percent of all men in the United States had jobs. Today,less than 65 percent of all men in the United States have jobs.

#24 The average amount of time that an unemployed worker stays out of work in the United States is 40 weeks.

#25 If you can believe it, approximately one out of every four American workers makes 10 dollars an hour or less.

#26 According to the U.S. Census Bureau, an all-time record 49 percent of all Americans live in a home where at least one person receives financial assistance from the federal government. Back in 1983, that number was less than 30 percent.

#27 Right now, more than 100 million Americans are enrolled in at least one welfare program run by the federal government. And that does not even count Social Security or Medicare. Overall, there are almost 80 different “means-tested welfare programs” that the federal government is currently running.

#28 When you account for all government transfer payments and all forms of government employment, more than half of all Americans are now at least partially financially dependent on the government.

#29 Barack Obama has been president for less than four years, and during that time the number of Americans “not in the labor force” has increased by nearly 8.5 million. Something seems really “off” about that number, because during the entire decade of the 1980s the number of Americans “not in the labor force” only rose by about 2.5 million.

#30 Electricity bills in the United States have risen faster than the overall rate of inflation for five years in a row.

#31 According to USA Today, many Americans have actually seen their water bills triple over the past 12 years.

#32 There are now 20.2 million Americans that spend more than half of their incomes on housing. That represents a 46 percent increase from 2001.

#33 Right now, approximately 25 million American adults are living with their parents.

#34 As the economy has slowed down, so has the number of marriages. According to a Pew Research Center analysis, only 51 percent of all Americans that are at least 18 years old are currently married. Back in 1960, 72 percent of all U.S. adults were married.

#35 At this point, only 24.6 percent of all jobs in the United States are good jobs.

#36 In 1999, 64.1 percent of all Americans were covered by employment-based health insurance. Today, only 55.1 percent are covered by employment-based health insurance.

#37 Recently it was announced that total student loan debt in the United States has passed the one trillion dollar mark.

#38 If you can believe it, one out of every seven Americans has at least 10 credit cards.

#39 One survey of business executives has ranked California as the worst state in America to do business for 8 years in a row.

#40 In the city of Detroit today, more than 50 percent of all children are living in poverty, and close to 50 percent of all adults are functionally illiterate.

#41 It is being projected that half of all American children will be on food stamps at least once before they turn 18 years of age.

#42 More than three times as many new homes were sold in the United States in 2005 as will be sold in 2012.

#43 If you can believe it, 53 percent of all Americans with a bachelor’s degree under the age of 25 were either unemployed or underemployed last year.

#44 The U.S. economy continues to trade good paying jobs for low paying jobs. 60 percentof the jobs lost during the last recession were mid-wage jobs, but 58 percent of the jobs created since then have been low wage jobs.

#45 Our trade deficit with China in 2011 was $295.5 billion. That was the largest trade deficit that one country has had with another country in the history of the planet.

#46 The United States has lost an average of approximately 50,000 manufacturing jobs a month since China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001.

#47 According to the Economic Policy Institute, America is losing half a million jobs to China every single year.

#48 The U.S. tax code is now more than 3.8 million words long. If you took all of William Shakespeare’s works and collected them together, the entire collection would only be about 900,000 words long.

#49 According to the IMF, the global elite are holding a total of 18 trillion dollars in offshore banking havens such as the Cayman Islands.

#50 The value of the U.S. dollar has declined by more than 96 percent since the Federal Reserve was first created.

#51 2012 was the third year in a row that the yield for corn has declined in the United States.

#52 Experts are telling us that global food reserves have reached their lowest level in almost 40 years.

#53 One recent survey discovered that 40 percent of all Americans have $500 or less in savings.

#54 If you can believe it, one recent survey found that 28 percent of all Americans do not have a single penny saved for emergencies.

#55 Medical costs related to obesity in the United States are estimated to be approximately$147 billion a year.

#56 Corporate profits as a percentage of GDP are at an all-time high. Meanwhile, wages as a percentage of GDP are near an all-time low.

#57 Today, the wealthiest 1 percent of all Americans own more wealth than the bottom 95 percent combined.

#58 The wealthiest 400 families in the United States have about as much wealth as the bottom 50 percent of all Americans combined.

#59 The six heirs of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton have a net worth that is roughly equal to thebottom 30 percent of all Americans combined.

#60 At this point, the poorest 50 percent of all Americans collectively own just 2.5% of all the wealth in the United States.

#61 Nearly 500,000 federal employees now make at least $100,000 a year.

#62 In 2006, only 12 percent of all federal workers made $100,000 or more per year. Now, approximately 22 percent of all federal workers do.

#63 If you can believe it, there are 77,000 federal workers that make more than the governors of their own states do.

#64 Nearly 15,000 retired federal workers are collecting federal pensions for life worth at least $100,000 annually. The list includes such names as Newt Gingrich, Bob Dole, Trent Lott, Dick Gephardt and Dick Cheney.

#65 U.S. taxpayers spend more than 20 times as much on the Obamas as British taxpayers spend on the royal family.

#66 Family homelessness in the Washington D.C. region (one of the wealthiest regions in the entire country) has risen 23 percent since the last recession began.

#67 If Bill Gates gave every single penny of his fortune to the U.S. government, it would only cover the U.S. budget deficit for about 15 days.

#68 During fiscal year 2012, 62 percent of the federal budget was spent on entitlements.

#69 Back in 1965, only one out of every 50 Americans was on Medicaid. Today, approximately one out of every 6 Americans is on Medicaid.

#70 It is being projected that Obamacare will add 16 million more Americans to the Medicaid rolls.

#71 Medicare is also growing by leaps and bounds. As I wrote about recently, it is being projected that the number of Americans on Medicare will grow from 50.7 million in 2012 to 73.2 million in 2025.

#72 Thanks to our foolish politicians (including Obama), Medicare is facing unfunded liabilities of more than 38 trillion dollars over the next 75 years. That comes to approximately $328,404 for each and every household in the United States.

#73 Amazingly, the U.S. national debt is now up to 16.3 trillion dollars. When Barack Obama first took office the national debt was just 10.6 trillion dollars.

#74 During the first four years of the Obama administration, the U.S. government accumulated about as much debt as it did from the time that George Washington took office to the time that George W. Bush took office.

#75 Today, the U.S. national debt is more than 5000 times larger than it was when the Federal Reserve was originally created back in 1913.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Foreign Bank Accounts (and More) in the "New Switzerland"

The last five years has seen a rush of foreign bankers to the island city-state of
Singapore. Swiss banks, such as Julius Baer, have expanded their operations to capitalize on new business opportunities there. And earlier this year, the world’s number-three commodities trader, Trafigura, shifted its trading center from Switzerland to Singapore.
Just a few steamy miles north of the Equator, close to Malaysia, this small republic (population 5.4 million) has slowly established itself as Asia’s newest private-banking hub by luring the super-wealthy.
In 2005, Singapore began adopting laws patterned after Switzerland’s. Laws that tightened its bank secrecy. But unlike land-locked Switzerland, Singapore sits at the center of Asia’s booming demand for raw materials, close to many key physical markets. It also beats Switzerland on taxes. Official corporate tax rates in Singapore have fallen by 3% to 17% over the past five years but held steady at just above 21% in Switzerland.
The New York Times’ description of Singapore as "Asia’s answer to Geneva and Zurich" fits the bill. And just like those Swiss cities, Singapore is a nice place to live. It’s a modern city, as I found out when I visited.
High-tech industry has replaced rickshaws. But ancient traditions, from feng shui to ancestor worship, are still honored.
It’s the most livable city in Asia, according to financial consultant Mercer’s Quality of Living Survey. And international contrarian investment guru Jim Rogers, whom I met there, agrees. He moved his wife and two daughters there a few years ago and they love it.
A series of reforms in the wake of the 1997-98 Asian financial crises transformed Singapore into what is now one of the world’s pre-eminent platforms for business growth. It is a tax-friendly environment, a global center for private banking and offshore finance, and an ideal base for second residence, naturalization, and even eventual citizenship.
And the country’s trust laws are as good as those you can find in any traditional offshore trust jurisdiction, such as Panama or the Channel Islands. When Singapore, along with Switzerland, finally agreed after much OECD pressure to adopt tax-information exchange under Article 26, it was from a much stronger privacy basis than most countries.
They did it by renegotiating existing individual double tax treaties, not with any blanket policy adoption—an unusual procedure that permitted tough negotiating and ruled out fishing expeditions, required showing evidence of actual tax evasion and allowing account holders to be notified and appeals allowed.
The number of private banks operating in Singapore has more than doubled in recent years. The Singapore Monetary Authority estimates that assets held by banks in Singapore have grown by 20% each year since 2000, to nearly US$700 billion in 2012.
Singapore’s Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp. retained the 2012 title of the world’s financially strongest bank for the second year. Two other Singaporean lenders, United Overseas Bank Ltd. (UOB) and DBS Group Holdings (DBS), were also among the 10 strongest.
Singapore enjoys one of the world’s strongest currencies, the Singapore dollar, backed by one of the world’s largest currency reserves. There is low government debt, strong protections for investors, and many listed public companies that are industrial leaders in fields ranging from shipping and ports to oilfield services and water desalination.
The government is also allowing foreigners, especially Europeans, who meet its wealth requirements to buy land and become permanent residents. The goal is to attract private wealth from across Asia, as well as riches that Europeans and other Westerners are moving out of Switzerland and EU nations to avoid new tax and reporting laws there.
Singapore offers a foreign investors’ citizenship program called the "Scheme for Entrepreneurs." It was designed mainly for wealthy residents of Hong Kong who wished to secure a place for themselves and their families in a similar, bustling economic environment before Communist China’s takeover in 1997.
Various organizations have listed Singapore as the world’s most open, most liberal economy… number two for the best investment potential… and first in Asia and fourth in the world for the lowest level of economic corruption.
Singapore makes perfect sense as a destination for those seeking a new home for themselves or their wealth. The money flowing to it from the U.S., Europe, and Asia demonstrates perfectly how one little nation, in the borderless world of finance, can become a roaring success with sensible free-market policies and an open-door attitude.
Bob Bauman
International Living Magazine

Big Brother is watching you.....

Congressmen Want Answers On DOJ Spying

December 26, 2012 by  

Anyone following liberty-related current events already knows that the Federal government keeps vast troves of data on virtually all American citizens, even those never accused of a crime. Following a write-up in The Wall Street Journal, a couple of Congressmen want the specifics on the Department of Justice’s justification for its sweeping and unConstitutional surveillance procedures.
Last week, Representatives Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder asking just what the DOJ is doing with the massive amounts of data it collects. They want to know if the DOJ seriously believes it has the legal authority to keep data on citizens who are not suspected of any crime, analyze aggregated government databases and change fundamental rules governing surveillance without approval from Congress. All of these things, the DOJ has done in secret in recent years.

From the letter:

If the WSJ report is accurate, these new powers represent a sweeping departure from past practices, which barred the NCTC from storing information about ordinary Americans unless a person was a terror suspect or the information sought was related to an investigation.
If the WSJ report is accurate, it raises numerous concerns and questions.  As elected Representatives and members of the House Judiciary Committee, we are concerned such sweeping, fundamental changes would be made to existing policy without public input and Congressional approval.  Changes, which fundamentally alter the relationship between the government and the governed, should only be made with input from the people by and through their elected Representatives.
The Congressmen have requested a response by the end of January. The American Civil Liberties Union has also done extensive research into the DOJ surveillance program, which can be read here.

Peace on Earth.....Good will towards men?

More Evidence Of Impending Societal Collapse

December 26, 2012 by  

Manners, common decency and respect for others are lost American traits.
Interactions turn nasty at the drop of a hat. Name-calling and the violence now pass for discussion. Young children are resorting to theft.

I recently wrote about some of the signs of societal collapse here. Here are some more, taken from recent headlines:

A Pennsylvania man became irate after the replacement hamburger he requested contained a slice of cheese. The replacement was necessary because the first one he ordered at the drive-thru also contained a slice of cheese. He parked his car, entered the restaurant and demanded and received a refund. He then cursed the staff, knocked over a trash can and threw a children’s high chair across a room filled with diners. When he realized that a restaurant worker had followed him outside to get his license plate number, the man grabbed the female worker, put her in a headlock and smashed the phone she was carrying. He then threatened to fight another employee before leaving.

A 65-year-old priest waiting on a bus was attacked with pepper spray and robbed of $125 at a bus stop in Philadelphia in broad daylight.

A college student riding a Chicago Transit Authority train was attacked by a man who put a sock filled with feces in her face and hair and on her clothes. The victim said she did not know the attacker and he uttered no words and did not demand her valuables. “I don’t know why he did it,” she said.

A diner at a Denny’s restaurant in San Antonia, Texas, became irate at being made to wait on his bill, so he set fire to the restaurant’s Christmas tree and left the restaurant. The flames caused $150,000 in damage to the business.

An 8-year-old girl was caught on a surveillance camera stealing a package off her neighbor’s porch in Clermont, Fla. Police investigating a spate of missing packages from the neighborhood believe the girl is responsible for all or most of them. Some of the stolen packages were found at a nearby abandoned house.
In Wentzville, Mo., barbershop patrons were discussing the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings. One patron said the incident “makes me want to murder the suspect.” For unknown reasons, another patron took that as a threat against him. He retrieved a gun from his car and fired three times at the other patron.

In South Union Township, Pa., two women tussled over a shopping cart at the Wal-Mart Supercenter. When one of the women abandoned the cart and grabbed another, the other woman “still engraged” then “ran down” the first woman with the cart, pushed it onto her back and began punching her in the face.
On a single afternoon in Chicago, a city in the State with the Nation’s most restrictive gun laws, a series of eight shootings left at least 10 people wounded, including four teenagers.

We live in a Nation in which God has been removed from schools, prayers are banned from public places and babies are slaughtered by the thousands on a daily basis. Unemployment remains high and inflation is sapping the wealth of the elderly and savers. Politicians squabble over whether they are going to screw us out of a lot of money or a lot more while ginning up class envy and promoting hatred of one group over another simply on the basis of wealth.

We have become an entertainment-centric, me-first society that has gone from slouching toward Gomorrah to a full-on sprint. We are on the brink of societal collapse.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

26 Ways to Know You're Living in Paradise...

By John Curran
During the recent Powerball hype, a friend asked me if I won the lottery, would I move somewhere else? Sure I would! I would move anywhere...but only if you can find me a place that has...
  1. Good weather, the kind that doesn’t require a furnace or A/C to cope—just a T-shirt and a sweatshirt.
  2. Beautiful scenery...because life’s too short to live someplace ugly.
  3. Access to plenty of clean water all year round for cooking, cleaning, and drinking—because I tend to do all three year round...
  4. The proper mix of sun and rain so flowers, plants, and trees don’t just grow, but flourish. (I lived in the desert as well as the snow and cold for far too many years.)
  5. Internet access where I can read, watch, or download whatever I want or need.
  6. Decent roads (I’ve traveled in the outback of Kenya...)
  7. Fresh fruits and vegetables available year round—full of flavor, not chemicals— because I tend to eat year round.
  8. Airports, so I can leave when I need to and, more importantly, come back when I want to.
  9. A healthy environment because I don’t want to live in a place where I’ll need the most expensive health care in the world.
  10. Friendly people who view their life as a privilege, not a right—and live accordingly.
  11. A government that minds its business...so I can get on with mine.
  12. Decent public transportation, even in rural areas, because sometimes the burro (donkey) is in the shop.
  13. A teeny-tiny police force because that’s all that’s required.
  14. Peace and quiet.
  15. A news media that doesn’t think the Kardashians are news.
  16. Clean, crisp air so the sky really is blue during the day, and at night, I can see all the stars I remember as a kid.
  17. Good food... because I like to cook and bake.
  18. Good restaurants... because I don’t always like to cook and bake.
  19. Lots of holidays—because, well, why not?
  20. An appalling lack of mosquitos because I’ve lived in Wisconsin.
  21. A low-stress environment. I’m a firm believer that stress causes bridges, buildings, and especially people to fail at their weakest point.
  22. Airports where I can go through security with a full bottle of water and my dignity.
  23. Adequate health care because you just never know, somebody I care about might need it one day.
  24. Low property taxes because I don’t like paying for my house...twice.
  25. A lot of chickens because when you have chickens around, you’re already halfway to a laugh.
  26. People with a "you only go around once" attitude to life. "I wish I had spent more time at work" were never anyone’s dying words.
So, show me a place where I can have all that and I am there...Oh, wait, I’m already there.
To answer my friend’s question—if I won the lottery, would I move somewhere else? No. Because living in Vilcabamba, Ecuador, it feels like I already won the lottery.
International Living Postcards

21 December 2012

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

From the Grinch: Actually, The Newest Version Of NDAA Makes It EASIER To Detain Americans INDEFINATELY

Michael Kelley | Nov. 29, 2012, 2:34 PM

Business Insider

  At first glance it looked like the 2013 version National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) did more to protect Americans against indefinite detention. We and several other news organizations reported as much yesterday. But on closer examination the new NDAA actually makes it EASIER to detain citizens indefinitely.

Here's the added clause in question:
“Nothing in the AUMF or the 2012 NDAA shall be construed to deny the availability of the writ of habeas corpus or to deny any Constitutional rights in a court ordained or established by or under Article III of the Constitution for any person who is lawfully in the United States when detained pursuant to the AUMF and who is otherwise entitled to the availability of such writ or such rights.”

Yesterday we focused on the line "nothing ... shall be construed to deny ... any constitutional Rights ..."
But today we offer another interpretation from Bruce Afran, a lawyer for the group of journalists and activists suing the government over the 2012 NDAA.

Afran explained that the new provision gives U.S. citizens a right to go to civilian (i.e. Article III) court based on "any [applicable] constitutional rights," but since there are are no rules in place to exercise this right, detained U.S. citizens currently have no way to gain access to lawyers, family or the court itself once they are detained within the military.

"The biggest thing about the [2012] NDAA was that you weren't getting a trial ... Nothing in here says that you'll make it to an Article III court so it literally does nothing," Dan Johnson, founder of People Against the NDAA, told BI. "It's a bunch of words, basically,"

Afran noted that the newest version actually goes further than the NDAA that's now in effect.
"The new statute actually states that persons lawfully in the U.S. can be detained under the Authorization for the Use of Military Force [AUMF]. The original (the statute we are fighting in court) never went that far," Afran said. "Therefore, under the guise of supposedly adding protection to Americans, the new statute actually expands the AUMF to civilians in the U.S."

The suit against the government challenges the indefinite detention provisions of section 1021 of the 2012 NDAA—which allow the military to indefinitely detain anyone who commits a "belligerent act" or provides "substantial support" to the Taliban, al-Qaeda or "associated forces"—on the grounds that certain terms were unconstitutionally vague and could chill free speech.

The provisions were permanently blocked by Judge Katherine Forrest but went back into effect after Appeals Court Judge Raymond Lohier reinstated them in October because he agreed with the government that section 1021 was simply a "reaffirmation" of the AUMF, which gives the president the authority to indefinitely detain anyone involved in carrying out the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

The newest version of the NDAA seems to be equating the AUMF and section 1021 of the 2012 NDAAwhich the government has argued all along—and thereby codifies precisely what the plaintiffs are fighting in court.

All of this makes the lawsuit—which will probably go all the way to the Supreme Court—central to the issue of the indefinite detention of Americans.

The bottom line, according to Afran, is that the NDAA "is still unconstitutional because it allows citizens or persons in the U.S. to be held in military custody, a position that the Supreme Court has repeatedly held is unconstitutional."


From the Grinch: Global Economic Slowdown Signals Sad New Year

December 18, 2012 by

The markets, as most people reading this should now well know, no longer reflect in any way the true economic health of our country. If one were to measure the financial “recovery” of this Nation by the strength of global stocks, he would likely come to the conclusion that the collapse of 2008 was mere hiccup in the overall success of the worldwide economic system. However, electronically traded equities with little more to back their value than scraps of receipt paper and numbers on a screen have no bearing on what is going to happen to you and to me over the course of the coming year. The stock market is a sideshow, a movie, a façade. The real drama is going on behind the scenes and revealed in fundamentals that mainstream analysts no longer discuss

The only advantage of a long, drawn-out disintegration of the overall system is that as the years pass, it becomes possible to discover a pattern through which we can gauge where we really stand today and will stand tomorrow. Unfortunately, the pattern now in motion suggests that the next year will be exactly what we have been predicting over the past several months: dismal.

The mainstream media refuse to discuss it at great length, but all signs show an epic global slowdown in demand and production, especially in the final quarter of 2012. This is exactly as I predicted in January of this year using the Baltic Dry Index as a guide. During that first quarter, the BDI fell to record lows, indicating an extreme decline in shipping demand around the world, which, in turn, indicates a fall in demand for raw goods, which, in turn, indicates a fall in demand for consumer goods. Mainstream pundits sought to distract the public from this fact by claiming that the BDI was collapsing due to an “oversupply of ships,” not rescinding demand. This disinformation was proven incorrect in the beginning of the third quarter of this year, when export nations from China to Japan to Germany all began reporting abysmal manufacturing numbers and steep faltering in overseas purchases.

Of course, we all know what happened next: The markets began to tank, losing 1,000 points within the span of a week. Not so unpredictably (since I also predicted it at the beginning of the year) the Federal Reserve leapt into action with its announcement of a third round of quantitative easing.

QE3 has done little to change the problem of falling global demand, but it has certainly defibrillated stocks. In fact, I think it is safe to say that a majority of QE fiat funds are flowing (directly or indirectly) into the Dow, and not much else. International trade and consumption are starting to feel the pain, and respective countries are no longer able to hide it. Keep in mind that this slowdown is occurring right at the height of the Christmas season, when consumption is usually supposed to reignite.

China’s export growth fell far more than expected in November, something which many Chinese economists are attributing to the complete lack of resurgence in American markets.

Manufacturing in the U.K. went into steep decline almost simultaneously, showing that sinking demand is striking both the East and West .

Germany, the largest economy in the EU and the only country still holding the absurd political entity together, has been shocked to discover that Bundesbank is forecasting a contraction in growth to near zero in 2013.
Japan’s economy suffered an annualized decline in gross domestic product in November greater than that which occurred during the Fukushima disaster.

This contraction has recently caused Japan to install a new, revamped government during elections this month, which unfortunately will be instituting almost identical policies.

Finally, Brazil, a developing export nation with very important significance as a litmus test for world consumption, posted near zero growth in the third quarter of 2012, far below expectations but in line with the bigger picture. The global financial machine is disintegrating, right under our very noses .

In order to understand what is happening, I want you to imagine a diminishing cycle. Imagine that in 2008, America was on the edge of a whirlpool and was suddenly caught in the current. Today, we have circled the epicenter several times, each rotation becoming smaller and more volatile than the last. Eventually, the whirlpool will reach an end, and our economy will be sucked into the funnel. One can see evidence of this decline in the BDI:

Some pundits may argue that November’s Black Friday sales were tremendous, and this signals a recovery in spending and consumption. I would point out that such numbers are deceiving. High sales during the most discounted day of the Christmas buying season is not necessarily a good thing. What it shows is that a majority of shoppers were looking for the lowest prices possible because of a lack of funds. Full season numbers have not yet been released; but when they are, I believe we will see a fantastic spike in sales on Black Friday followed by a complete flatline for the rest of the year. Obviously, high consumption has not been sustained; otherwise, manufacturing and shipping would be in much better shape.

The issue here is one of priorities. With multiplying distractions going on around the world, including the fear of mass murders at home, will the public be able to keep track of deadly financial tidal waves just off the coast or will people even care with so many sharks in the water? The next two months will be very revealing. The so-called “fiscal cliff” is on the way, and the question of whether the U.S. government should kick the can down the road or take the sour medicine it needs and move on has arisen once again. This debate is and always has been an illusion. Whether we continue to increase government spending, taxation and inflation or we cut all spending and shut down the fiat presses, there is still going to be a collapse.

This collapse will not be due to the indecision or partisan bickering of our politicians. They are in much closer agreement than the MSM would like to admit. Instead, the monolithic Catch-22 of our age will be the direct result of the actions of the private Federal Reserve and the peripheral international banking cartel. What I fear most is that the results of the fiscal cliff negotiation along with other triggers around the planet will be used to veil the already imploding system and eventually be exploited as scapegoat events for a disaster that has been in the making for decades, not just a few years. The omens are not good for 2013, and we can only circle the drain for so long.
–Brandon Smith

From the Grinch: We Are Witnessing The Death Of Small Business In America

By Michael, on December 13th, 2012

Historically, small businesses have been the primary engine of new job creation in the United States.  If the economy was getting healthy, we would expect to see the number of jobs at new businesses rise.  Instead, we are witnessing just the opposite.  We are told that the economy is supposed to be "recovering", but the number of "startup jobs" at new businesses has fallen for five years in a row.  According to an analysis of U.S. Department of Labor data performed by economist Tim Kane, there were almost 12 startup jobs per 1000 Americans back in the year 2006.  By 2011, that figure had fallen to less than 8 startup jobs per 1000 Americans.  According to Kane, the number of jobs in the United States at businesses that are less than one year old has fallen from 4.1 million in 1994 to 2.5 million in 2010.  Overall, the number of "new entrepreneurs and business owners" has fallen by more than 50 percent as a percentage of the population since 1977.  The United States was once known as "the land of opportunity", but now that is fundamentally changing.  At this point we truly do have a "crisis of entrepreneurship" in this country, and that is a huge reason why America is in decline.  We are witnessing the slow death of the small business in America, and that is incredibly bad news for all of us.

Unfortunately, the problems that small businesses are experiencing right now have been building up for decades.  The economic environment for small businesses in America has become incredibly toxic.  Sadly, we can see this in the numbers.  According to Kane, the following is how the decline in the number of startup jobs per 1000 Americans breaks down by presidential administration...
Bush Sr.: 11.3
Clinton: 11.2
Bush Jr.: 10.8
Obama: 7.8
Obviously, we are headed very much in the wrong direction.  Kane speculates about why this may be happening in his paper..

There is anecdotal evidence that the U.S. policy environment has become inadvertently hostile to entrepreneurial employment. At the federal level, high taxes and higher uncertainty about taxes are undoubtedly inhibiting entrepreneurship, but to what degree is unknown. The dominant factor may be new regulations on labor.  The passage of the Affordable Care Act is creating a sweeping alteration of the regulatory environment that directly changes how employers engage their workforces, and it will be some time until those changes are understood by employers or scholars. Separately, there has been a federal crackdown since 2009 by the Internal Revenue Service on U.S. employers that hire U.S. workers as independent contractors rather than employees, raising the question of mandatory benefits. New firms tend to use part-time and contract staffing rather than full-time employees during the startup stage. According to Labor Department data, the typical American today only takes home 70 percent of compensation as pay, while the rest is absorbed by the spiraling cost of benefits (e.g., health insurance). The dilemma for U.S. policy is that an American entrepreneur has zero tax or regulatory burden when hiring a consultant/contractor who resides abroad. But that same employer is subject to paperwork, taxation, and possible IRS harassment if employing U.S.-based contractors. Finally, there has been a steady barrier erected to entrepreneurs at the local policy level. Brink Lindsey points out in his book Human Capitalism that the rise of occupational licensing is destroying startup opportunities for poor and middle class Americans.

Kane raises some very good points in his analysis.  Without a doubt, small businesses in the United States are being taxed into oblivion.  If you doubt this, just read this article.
And the regulatory environment for small businesses is more suffocating than it has ever been before.  Unfortunately, our politicians never seem to learn that lesson.  During his first term, Obama piled on mountains of new regulations, and now that he has won a second term he is preparing to unleash another massive wave of new regulations.

But many times the worst offenders are politicians on the state and local level.  There are some areas of the country (such as California) that have created absolutely nightmarish conditions for small businesses.  California had the worst "small business failure rate" in the country in 2010.  It was 69 percent higher than the national average.  And in 2011, the state of California ranked 50th out of all 50 states in new business creation.

Yet the politicians in California just continue to pile on even more regulations and even more taxes.
Sadly, this kind of thing is happening from coast to coast and it is killing off hordes of small businesses.  Just consider the following statistics...

-According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. economy lost more than 220,000 small businesses during the last recession.
-As a share of the population, the percentage of Americans that are self-employed fell by more than 20 percent between 1991 and 2010.
-As a share of the population, the percentage of "new entrepreneurs and business owners" dropped by a staggering 53 percent between 1977 and 2010.
-The average pay for self-employed Americans declined by $3,721 between 2006 and 2010.
So what needs to be done?

Well, first of all, the tax burden and the regulatory burden on small businesses both need to be greatly reduced.

Secondly, the balance of power in our nation needs to be dramatically shifted.  Conservatives run around talking about the need to reduce the power of government and liberals run around talking about the need to reduce the power of corporations, and actually both of them are right.

Our founding fathers intended to establish a Republic where power would never be concentrated in the hands of just a few.  That is why they tried to strictly limit the power of the federal government in the U.S. Constitution, and that is why they greatly restricted the size and scope of corporations in early America.  For much more on this, please see this article: "Corporatism Is Not Capitalism: 7 Things About The Monolithic Predator Corporations That Dominate Our Economy That Every American Should Know".

Our founding fathers wanted to empower individual citizens and small businesses.  They never intended for us to have a system where big government and big corporations dominate everything and crush the "little guy" at every opportunity.

Even as we witness the death of the small business in America, corporations are absolutely thriving.

So has this been good for workers?  No, it has not translated into more jobs and higher wages.  In fact, wages and salaries as a percentage of GDP are now at an all-time low...

That is why it is imperative that we change "the rules of the game" so that the balance of power is shifted back in the direction of individual citizens and small businesses.  We desperately need to turn back to the principles that this nation was founded upon.

If nothing is done, these trends are going to get even worse.  Barack Obama certainly has no plans to reduce the size and the power of the government.  Since he was elected, an average of 101 new federal employees have been added to the government payroll every single day...

In the 1,420 days since he took the oath of office, the federal government has daily hired on average 101 new employees. Every day. Seven days a week. All 202 weeks. That makes 143,000 more federal workers than when Obama talked forever on that cold day in January of 2009.

And if nothing is done, the monolithic predator corporations that dominate our economy will just get even larger and even more powerful.  Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands more small businesses will close up shop all over the country.

Monday, December 17, 2012

We NOW can get an Ecuadorian Passport!!!!!!

Some get one for the "show".

Some get one to feel like Bond when the cute airport clerk asks for their passport...

...so their reply can be "which one?"

Some get a second passport and dual nationality for tax, business or other personal reasons.

At least if you are an American who likes to travel you should seriously consider it.

Fact is, a quickly growing amount of countries these days charge Americans a stiff fee for entry visas when other nationalities walk in free or for pennies on the dollar.

China, India, Brazil and Bolivia all fall under this category.

As I discovered last year traveling through the middle east, other surprisingly nice countries are sadly off limits to Americans.

Many in fact.

Thankfully, Ecuador still warmly receives Americans as they do Europeans or Canadians.

And it's relatively EASY to get dual citizenship and thus a second passport from Ecuador.

After sitting down with an immigration official this week, in December of 2012, here's what I learned about how you can apply for Ecuadorian dual citizenship...

The main requirement is you need to be a resident of Ecuador for a minimum of 3 years from the date in which you get your first "cedula (Ecuador ID card)" or 2 years if you have an Ecuadorian kid.

You then need to gather the following documents:

1. Birth certificate apostilled (if from a country from within the apostille treaty like the US) or legalized by an Ecuadorian consulate abroad and then translated.
2. Copy of passport notarized and the original with the current resident visa.
3. Copy of cedula notarized and original.
4. Certificate from both the SRI (the Ecuadorian IRS) and the BIESS (Social Security) stating you have no outstanding debts to either.  (Certificacion de no ser deudor.)
5. Your Ecuador police record and immigration movement documents.  (Movimiento migratorio y record policial)
6. 4 passport photos.

The cost is $700, $200 paid up front, then $500 after being approved.

And there are no language tests, dorky Ecuadorian history tests nor required military service or further obligations upon attaining Ecuadorian citizenship.

Ecuador income is taxed by the Ecuador government, foreign income is not, regardless of if you are a citizen or not.

Currently, unless Peruvian or Colombian all foreigners need to apply for citizenship out of the Quito immigration office on Av. Carrion and 10 de Agosto.  That's it.

Now you've got your Ecuadorian passport and can waltz freely through South America, the Galapagos, the Middle East and Cuba without paying a cent of visa fees or hassles.

Saludos til next time,

Dom Buonamici
Murali B&B Airport Guayaquil

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Mabye Catholic Ecuador can get this stuff too.......

'World's Best Beer' Finally Available


Beer aficionados are pouncing at the rare opportunity to buy one of the world's most elusive and revered beers for the first - and perhaps only - time in the United States.

It is called Westvleteren XII, and it is often hailed as the "world's best beer" by reviewers and fans.
Westvleteren XII is produced by Trappist monks in Belgium and sold at the abbey of Saint Sixtus in the Belgian countryside. The beer can usually only be purchased by reservation at the abbey - and reservations are extremely hard to come by.

But when the abbey found itself hurting for money for an expensive renovation, the monks reluctantly made the decision to sell the beer outside of the walls of the monastery on a one-time-only basis.

"I think it will be the last [time]," Westvleteren Brewery spokesman Mark Bode told NPR. "They say, 'We are monks, we don't want to be too commercial. We needed some money to help us buy the new abbey and that's it,' Back to normal again."

Beginning today, limited quantities of the beer are being sold in the U.S. and abroad. A number of stores have been sent "bricks" of the beer, which include six bottles and two glasses from the monastery. The gift box retails for $84.99.

"The phone has been ringing off the hook," Megan McBrayer, manager at New York City's Beer Table Pantry, told ABCNews.com. She said the store received 24 cases of the beer and has already sold many of them.

McBrayer said beer lovers are taken with "the whole mystique about it and the rarity of it."

"It consistently rates as one of the best beers in the world," she said. "It's been something that [beer lovers] have wanted for a long time, but it's been completely unattainable."


Ecuador: Worlds No. 1 retirement haven getting more popular......

Ecuador says asylum for Assad not ruled out

Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa, in an interview published Monday, said his country would consider granting asylum to his embattled Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad.

"Any person that requests asylum in Ecuador, obviously we are going to consider as a human being whose basic rights we have to respect," he told the daily Folha de Sao Paulo.

He confirmed that Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Fayssal Mekdad visited Quito two weeks ago but denied Israeli press reports that a possible asylum for Assad and his family was discussed during the visit.

"These conversations did not take place," he said in the interview conducted in Brasilia Friday ahead of the summit of the Mercosur regional trade bloc.

Correa said Mekdad came to Quito to thank Ecuador for its "objective stance" on the Syrian civil war.
"Ecuador will never favor violence...Can we believe all those news stories on violence, the dictator? Let's remember what was said about Iraq," he added.

Last week, Ecuadoran Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino denied that Assad had been offered asylum.
"Totally denied," Patino said on his Twitter account. "No Syrian citizen has requested asylum in Ecuador, much less its current president."

Assad has so far rebuffed international pressure to step down, but fighting has intensified around Damascus amid a brutal civil war that human rights monitors estimate has claimed at least 42,000 lives.

Monday, December 10, 2012

US goes gaga over Britain's bouncing royal baby to be

By Robert MacPherson (AFP) – 6 days ago

WASHINGTON — News that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, aka Prince William and wife Kate, are having a baby lifted Americans' fascination with the British royal family to new heights on Tuesday.

Mainstream media and showbiz websites alike fell over themselves with breathless updates on Kate Middleton's morning sickness, Prince William's hospital visits and what it all means for a monarchy America rejected in 1776.

"Kate's pregnant," trumpeted USA Today atop its front page, inviting readers to dive into three inside pages of "royally complete coverage" dedicated to such pressing concerns as what the baby's name will be.

"It's a reassuring symbol of continuity for the monarchy and, by extension, the United Kingdom itself," it said, explaining how the "already stable Windsor dynasty" has now been "bolstered again" by the royal pregnancy.

The Wall Street Journal made "father in waiting" William its front-page photo, taking the edge off the lead story about the looming US fiscal cliff.

And the Washington Post declared "Britain is expecting" as it dedicated most of the front of its hip Style section to Kate, William and "what may very well turn out to be the world's most famous baby."

On its website, People magazine duly chronicled William's return Tuesday to Kate's hospital bedside -- and the probability that "Queen Elizabeth II won't visit" -- alongside a photo gallery of "British royal maternity fashions."

The Daily Beast went all out on its regularly updated Royalist blog, whose editor Tom Sykes patted himself on the back for having correctly guessed on November 30 that a royal pregnancy was being kept under wraps.

Among the clues, Sykes wrote at the time, were recent photos of Kate putting her hands on her tummy, sipping water in lieu of anything stronger at social events and growing bangs, as Americans call a hair fringe over the forehead.

Not to be outdone, the Huffington Post counted down "the nine most scrutinized uteri in recent history -- other than Kate Middleton's." They included Jennifer Aniston, Beyonce and Japan's Crown Princess Masako.

"I think there is an aspect (of the British monarchy) that fascinates Americans, the whole notion of people who live in castles and palaces," Susan Kelley, who blogs about Kate's fashion sense at WhatKateWore.com, told AFP.

"In Kate and Wills' case, everyone love a fairy tale," Kelley said. "For women especially, that drives a lot of the interest."

Fascination with the British royals has been part of American celebrity culture since the storybook wedding of William's parents Prince Charles and Princess Diana in 1981 and the subsequent collapse of their marriage.

When college sweethearts Kate and William tied the knot in May last year, nearly 23 million Americans rolled out of bed early to watch the spectacle live on any one of 11 different television networks, according to Nielsen ratings.

By way of comparison, this past weekend, 16.5 million tuned in for the most popular US prime time drama, "NCIS," and 10 million for the season finale of the zombie saga "Walking Dead."

From across the pond, Scottish journalist and former Washington correspondent Alex Massie, in a blog Tuesday for Foreign Policy magazine, dismissed America's love for British royalty as "ghastly."

"There is no novelty in observing that much of American culture thirsts for dynasties and aristocracy to an extent and with a prominence that is sometimes hard to find in the United Kingdom," he opined.