El Conquistqdor Francisco de Orellana

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

Monday, July 29, 2013

Why We're Working Less Than Our Parents Did

Besides out of control big government...perhaps this is a reason why the US is going down the tubes.....

It's a common complaint: You feel like you're working constantly, and there's never enough time to enjoy life.
But as a whole, Americans are working far less now than they did a generation ago, and have more leisure time than ever.

The average work week has gone from over 38 hours in 1964 to under 34 hours in 2013 -- a drop of nearly 12%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

A big reason for the decline is the growth in part-time jobs, which have surged as more woman entered the workforce and the number of restaurants, shopping malls, and other establishments that employ part-time workers have exploded.

Another explanation is that people tend to stay in school longer and retire earlier, clocking fewer hours over their lifetime. Men in their 50s, for example, have been retiring or entering semi-retirement earlier and in greater numbers than those in previous generations, according to John Robinson, a sociology professor at the University of Maryland, and are partly responsible for driving down overall work hours per week.

And we're working a lot less than our grandparents, great grandparents and earlier generations. The average work week for a manufacturing employee in the 1860s was 62 hours, according to a paper from Robert Whaples, an economist at Wake Forest University.

In the 1600s, there were actually laws requiring a minimum work day, wrote Whaples. In parts of the country, most people had to work sun up to sundown -- part of the Puritanical "idle-hands-are-the-devil's-workshop" ethos.

Related: 10 hardest working countries
It wasn't easy to change that culture. Political battles that led to less religious influence over the nation's laws almost sparked a civil war. A century later, labor activists fought for decades to get the 40 hour work week.
Coinciding with the shorter work week is a rise in leisure time. Americans reported having just under 35 hours a week of "free time" in 1965 -- that's time not spent at work, doing housework, eating, sleeping or doing other activities necessary for day-to-day survival, according to research by Robinson, who directs the American's Use of Time Project at the University of Maryland.

By 2012, it had reached 42, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

"People feel less rushed than they did even a decade ago," said Robinson.

And thanks to modern technology, the time we spend on housework and cooking is declining.
Just what are we doing with all these extra hours? Watching more TV, mostly.

Related: World's shortest work weeks
But technology certainly hasn't made all our lives easier.

Some people, especially those at the higher end of the earnings spectrum, report working more hours than they want to. This is particularly true for professionals who are now tied to their work by smartphones and email.

Also, many Americans are working part time not because they want to, but because their jobs have been replaced by automation, outsourced, or otherwise eliminated.

"The promise of technology is that we'd all get to work less," said Linda Barrington, head of the Institute for Compensation Studies at Cornell University's school of Industrial and Labor Relations. "But it's playing out differently for different people at different income levels."

Barrington believes the Affordable Care Act - a.k.a. Obamacare -- is the first real law intended to deal with some of the disruption of a changing workplace, as more Americans enter freelance or part-time positions that don't provide health insurance.

As happened during the industrial revolution, she feels other measures will need to take shape to make the technological revolution more beneficial to all workers.

"How are we going to change the rules again?" she asked.

Exclusive: 4 in 5 in US face near-poverty, no work

While we are "looking from the outside in".....we find this hard to believe....where has the US gone?

Exclusive: Working-class whites are gloomy about future amid rising income gaps, racial shifts

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Four out of 5 U.S. adults struggle with joblessness, near-poverty or reliance on welfare for at least parts of their lives, a sign of deteriorating economic security and an elusive American dream.
Survey data exclusive to The Associated Press points to an increasingly globalized U.S. economy, the widening gap between rich and poor, and the loss of good-paying manufacturing jobs as reasons for the trend.
The findings come as President Barack Obama tries to renew his administration's emphasis on the economy, saying in recent speeches that his highest priority is to "rebuild ladders of opportunity" and reverse income inequality.
As nonwhites approach a numerical majority in the U.S., one question is how public programs to lift the disadvantaged should be best focused — on the affirmative action that historically has tried to eliminate the racial barriers seen as the major impediment to economic equality, or simply on improving socioeconomic status for all, regardless of race.
Hardship is particularly growing among whites, based on several measures. Pessimism among that racial group about their families' economic futures has climbed to the highest point since at least 1987. In the most recent AP-GfK poll, 63 percent of whites called the economy "poor."
"I think it's going to get worse," said Irene Salyers, 52, of Buchanan County, Va., a declining coal region in Appalachia. Married and divorced three times, Salyers now helps run a fruit and vegetable stand with her boyfriend but it doesn't generate much income. They live mostly off government disability checks.
"If you do try to go apply for a job, they're not hiring people, and they're not paying that much to even go to work," she said. Children, she said, have "nothing better to do than to get on drugs."
While racial and ethnic minorities are more likely to live in poverty, race disparities in the poverty rate have narrowed substantially since the 1970s, census data show. Economic insecurity among whites also is more pervasive than is shown in the government's poverty data, engulfing more than 76 percent of white adults by the time they turn 60, according to a new economic gauge being published next year by the Oxford University Press.
The gauge defines "economic insecurity" as a year or more of periodic joblessness, reliance on government aid such as food stamps or income below 150 percent of the poverty line. Measured across all races, the risk of economic insecurity rises to 79 percent.
Marriage rates are in decline across all races, and the number of white mother-headed households living in poverty has risen to the level of black ones.
"It's time that America comes to understand that many of the nation's biggest disparities, from education and life expectancy to poverty, are increasingly due to economic class position," said William Julius Wilson, a Harvard professor who specializes in race and poverty. He noted that despite continuing economic difficulties, minorities have more optimism about the future after Obama's election, while struggling whites do not.
"There is the real possibility that white alienation will increase if steps are not taken to highlight and address inequality on a broad front," Wilson said.
Nationwide, the count of America's poor remains stuck at a record number: 46.2 million, or 15 percent of the population, due in part to lingering high unemployment following the recession. While poverty rates for blacks and Hispanics are nearly three times higher, by absolute numbers the predominant face of the poor is white.
More than 19 million whites fall below the poverty line of $23,021 for a family of four, accounting for more than 41 percent of the nation's destitute, nearly double the number of poor blacks.
Sometimes termed "the invisible poor" by demographers, lower-income whites generally are dispersed in suburbs as well as small rural towns, where more than 60 percent of the poor are white. Concentrated in Appalachia in the East, they are numerous in the industrial Midwest and spread across America's heartland, from Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma up through the Great Plains.
Buchanan County, in southwest Virginia, is among the nation's most destitute based on median income, with poverty hovering at 24 percent. The county is mostly white, as are 99 percent of its poor.
More than 90 percent of Buchanan County's inhabitants are working-class whites who lack a college degree. Higher education long has been seen there as nonessential to land a job because well-paying mining and related jobs were once in plentiful supply. These days many residents get by on odd jobs and government checks.
Salyers' daughter, Renee Adams, 28, who grew up in the region, has two children. A jobless single mother, she relies on her live-in boyfriend's disability checks to get by. Salyers says it was tough raising her own children as it is for her daughter now, and doesn't even try to speculate what awaits her grandchildren, ages 4 and 5.
Smoking a cigarette in front of the produce stand, Adams later expresses a wish that employers will look past her conviction a few years ago for distributing prescription painkillers, so she can get a job and have money to "buy the kids everything they need."
"It's pretty hard," she said. "Once the bills are paid, we might have $10 to our name."
Census figures provide an official measure of poverty, but they're only a temporary snapshot that doesn't capture the makeup of those who cycle in and out of poverty at different points in their lives. They may be suburbanites, for example, or the working poor or the laid off.
In 2011 that snapshot showed 12.6 percent of adults in their prime working-age years of 25-60 lived in poverty. But measured in terms of a person's lifetime risk, a much higher number — 4 in 10 adults — falls into poverty for at least a year of their lives.
The risks of poverty also have been increasing in recent decades, particularly among people ages 35-55, coinciding with widening income inequality. For instance, people ages 35-45 had a 17 percent risk of encountering poverty during the 1969-1989 time period; that risk increased to 23 percent during the 1989-2009 period. For those ages 45-55, the risk of poverty jumped from 11.8 percent to 17.7 percent.
Higher recent rates of unemployment mean the lifetime risk of experiencing economic insecurity now runs even higher: 79 percent, or 4 in 5 adults, by the time they turn 60.
By race, nonwhites still have a higher risk of being economically insecure, at 90 percent. But compared with the official poverty rate, some of the biggest jumps under the newer measure are among whites, with more than 76 percent enduring periods of joblessness, life on welfare or near-poverty.
By 2030, based on the current trend of widening income inequality, close to 85 percent of all working-age adults in the U.S. will experience bouts of economic insecurity.
"Poverty is no longer an issue of 'them', it's an issue of 'us'," says Mark Rank, a professor at Washington University in St. Louis who calculated the numbers. "Only when poverty is thought of as a mainstream event, rather than a fringe experience that just affects blacks and Hispanics, can we really begin to build broader support for programs that lift people in need."
The numbers come from Rank's analysis being published by the Oxford University Press. They are supplemented with interviews and figures provided to the AP by Tom Hirschl, a professor at Cornell University; John Iceland, a sociology professor at Penn State University; the University of New Hampshire's Carsey Institute; the Census Bureau; and the Population Reference Bureau.
Among the findings:
—For the first time since 1975, the number of white single-mother households living in poverty with children surpassed or equaled black ones in the past decade, spurred by job losses and faster rates of out-of-wedlock births among whites. White single-mother families in poverty stood at nearly 1.5 million in 2011, comparable to the number for blacks. Hispanic single-mother families in poverty trailed at 1.2 million.
—Since 2000, the poverty rate among working-class whites has grown faster than among working-class nonwhites, rising 3 percentage points to 11 percent as the recession took a bigger toll among lower-wage workers. Still, poverty among working-class nonwhites remains higher, at 23 percent.
—The share of children living in high-poverty neighborhoods — those with poverty rates of 30 percent or more — has increased to 1 in 10, putting them at higher risk of teenage pregnancy or dropping out of school. Non-Hispanic whites accounted for 17 percent of the child population in such neighborhoods, compared with 13 percent in 2000, even though the overall proportion of white children in the U.S. has been declining.
The share of black children in high-poverty neighborhoods dropped from 43 percent to 37 percent, while the share of Latino children went from 38 percent to 39 percent.
—Race disparities in health and education have narrowed generally since the 1960s. While residential segregation remains high, a typical black person now lives in a nonmajority black neighborhood for the first time. Previous studies have shown that wealth is a greater predictor of standardized test scores than race; the test-score gap between rich and low-income students is now nearly double the gap between blacks and whites.
Going back to the 1980s, never have whites been so pessimistic about their futures, according to the General Social Survey, a biannual survey conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago. Just 45 percent say their family will have a good chance of improving their economic position based on the way things are in America.
The divide is especially evident among those whites who self-identify as working class. Forty-nine percent say they think their children will do better than them, compared with 67 percent of nonwhites who consider themselves working class, even though the economic plight of minorities tends to be worse.
Although they are a shrinking group, working-class whites — defined as those lacking a college degree — remain the biggest demographic bloc of the working-age population. In 2012, Election Day exit polls conducted for the AP and the television networks showed working-class whites made up 36 percent of the electorate, even with a notable drop in white voter turnout.
Last November, Obama won the votes of just 36 percent of those noncollege whites, the worst performance of any Democratic nominee among that group since Republican Ronald Reagan's 1984 landslide victory over Walter Mondale.
Some Democratic analysts have urged renewed efforts to bring working-class whites into the political fold, calling them a potential "decisive swing voter group" if minority and youth turnout level off in future elections. "In 2016 GOP messaging will be far more focused on expressing concern for 'the middle class' and 'average Americans,'" Andrew Levison and Ruy Teixeira wrote recently in The New Republic.
"They don't trust big government, but it doesn't mean they want no government," says Republican pollster Ed Goeas, who agrees that working-class whites will remain an important electoral group. His research found that many of them would support anti-poverty programs if focused broadly on job training and infrastructure investment. This past week, Obama pledged anew to help manufacturers bring jobs back to America and to create jobs in the energy sectors of wind, solar and natural gas.
"They feel that politicians are giving attention to other people and not them," Goeas said.

Living the high life in Quito Sarah Marshall

Sarah Marshall, AAP July 29, 2013, 9:27 am
 It seems I've arrived in Quito a day too late.

Had I been here 24 hours earlier, I'd have found the city's undulating cobbled streets filled with plumes of exotic feathers and thick, woven rainbow-coloured flags.

After marching 600km from the Amazon rainforest and the high Andean plains, Ecuador's indigenous communities had converged on the capital to protest passionately about land rights.

Their painted faces may have disappeared, but their sentiment lingers in every ancient stone crevice of this surprisingly progressive South American city which straddles the equator.

Despite being one of the smallest countries in the continent, Ecuador is remarkably diverse in terms of both landscape and population.

It's also no stranger to controversy. Thanks to the government's liberalism - not to mention defiant anti-American leanings - it's becoming a refuge for whistleblowers: both WikiLeaks' Julian Assange and NSA's Edward Snowden have turned to the country for assistance.

But there are many more reasons to visit Ecuador than simply seeking political asylum.

Wildlife-rich jungles, snow-capped volcanoes and miles of unspoilt coastline can be reached within a matter of hours. But a highlight is a visit to Quito. Snaking through the Andes at an altitude of 2800m above sea level, it's the highest capital city in the world.

The introduction of a new airport earlier this year has made landing here a much easier and safer experience, and several new luxury hotel openings in the region mean there's greater reason to stick around.

Gazing up at the gold-encrusted nave of the 17th century church of La Compania de Jesus (which took 160 years to build), I can appreciate why this was the first city in the world to be granted UNESCO World Heritage status. Given some of the crude artwork and overstuffed cherubs, it's hardly Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel - but the sheer opulence is equally impressive.

My visit coincides with Holy Week, when devotees (known as Cucuruchos) in purple robes and tall cone hoods march solemnly through the streets in the pouring rain, some self-flagellating with thorns and poison ivy, others dragging heavy wooden crosses.

The procession ends in Plaza de Santo Domingo, the main square, where a flock of pigeons scores an appropriately grey streak across the sky. Bystanders look on, keeping warm with helpings of fanesca, a traditional Easter soup made with hard-boiled eggs, salt cod, milk and 12 types of bean, served in small plastic carrier bags.

It's a hearty, calorie-packed meal, but at this altitude the body's metabolism apparently speeds up, so I don't feel quite so guilty about joining in.

As it turns out, being this high up has a number of advantages, most notably the variety of spectacular views.
The most popular viewpoint is the Virgen de Quito, which stands atop the 200m-high hill El Panecillo and overlooks the city below. From here, on a clear day, the sharp tip of volcano Cotopaxi appears to pierce the sky.

I do suffer pangs of vertigo, however, when I attempt to climb the bell towers of the neo-gothic cathedral, Basilica of the National Vow, towering 115m above ground. A narrow steel, rail-free ladder, hanging precariously from the side of one tower, is a step too far and I fail to make it to the top.

From every rooftop and high point, it's clear that Quito is surrounded by natural beauty, and day trips out of town confirm this.

I set off on a two-hour drive to Otavalo, one of the best indigenous markets in South America, where Quechua people sell heavy ponchos and thick alpaca jumpers alongside racks of Panama hats - which in fact, I'm told, originate from Ecuador.

On my way, I stop off at Calderon, a small village famous for its ornaments made from hardened bread dough. Shops sell brooches in an eye-smarting array of colours, and even delicate miniature nativity scenes set inside matchboxes.

As we climb into the Andes, temperatures drop and evenings are spent sipping canelazo (made with cinnamon and firewater) in front of a roaring fire at the traditional Spanish hacienda Pinsaqui, where military and political leader Simon Bolivar once stopped off for the night.

The region is populated by craftsmen, some of whom marched into Quito only days before. On the wall of one musician's workshop hang paintings by Ecuador's world-famous indigenous artist Oswaldo Guayasamin. The sad expressions of those depicted suggest suffering and injustice, but they also communicate proud defiance.

As I'm quickly learning, for a country so small, Ecuador has a lot to shout about.

Built on the site of an Inca temple, this former family mansion originally had just a handful of vast rooms and a couple of bathrooms. Now the carefully restored property, set in the historic Santo Domingo square, offers 32 rooms and is the most talked-about luxury boutique hotel in the city. The grand space is filled with native roses, one of Ecuador's biggest exports. Head to the rooftop bar to admire views of Cotopaxi.
Bolivar Oe6-41 y Cuenca, Quito. Visit casagangotena.com
Rooms are set around an elegant Escher-like courtyard in this upmarket hotel, which functioned as as a colonial home in the 16th century. Rooms are simple but well priced, and the breakfast, served in another courtyard space, is plentiful.
Gabriel Garcia Moreno N 652, Quito. Visit www.hotelpatioandaluz.com
Originally built in 1790, this traditional hacienda, where Simon Bolivar once famously rested, is still in the hands of the same Spanish family. Peacocks and hummingbirds visit the grounds, while roaring hearths keep cold mountain chills at bay.
Panamericana Norte, Otavalo. Visit www.haciendapinsaqui.com
Ecuadorian artist Oswaldo Guayasamin communicated the plight of indigenous communities with his paintings and sculptures. His masterwork, The Chapel of Man, is on display at his former home, high up in the hills. Completed in 2002, three years after his death, it documents man's cruelty to man and humanity's potential greatness.
Lorenzo Chavez E18-143 y Mariano Calvache. Visit www.capilladelhombre.com
Altitude sickness permitting, it is possible to climb the perfectly symmetrical volcano Cotopaxi, which rises to 5897m. But even a gentle walk around the grounds of the national park, filled with lichens, wildflowers and 90 species of bird, is worthwhile. Visit during June and July for the best chance of a clear day.
A museum and monument mark the official line of the equator. It's a 20km journey to the north of Quito, and an essential tick-box visit for most tourists who come to cross from the world's northern to the southern hemisphere. Modern GPS readings have actually revealed the site is slightly adrift from the true dividing line, but that's done little to deter crowds.
San Antonio, Quito. Visit www.mitaddelmundo.com

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Civil Forfeiture of Cash: It Could Happen to You

If you don’t trust U.S. banks to protect the monies you’ve deposited with them, you’re hardly alone.
Once you deposit money in a bank, from a legal standpoint, that money is no longer yours. Instead, the bank owns it. You are an unsecured creditor. What’s more, in the event of future bank failures, the U.S. government has now confirmed that rather than paying off depositors, it may instead force them to submit to a “bail-in” regime similar to what recently transpired in Cyprus.

Only a few years ago, U.S. banks paid interest rates of 4% or higher on savings accounts and certificates of deposit. If it were still possible to obtain these returns today, U.S. depositors might decide that the risk of becoming a “bail-in” victim would be worth it. However, the typical interest rate on a U.S. savings account today hovers around 0.25%. This paltry return hardly compensates for the risks associated with a possible bank failure and subsequent bail-in.

Because of the skewed risk-reward ratio associated with deposits in U.S. banks, many depositors have decided to redeploy these assets. Some depositors have moved their savings to stronger banks. Others have decided to save the old-fashioned way. They now keep at least some of the money that they once deposited in banks in cash stored in a safe at home or other secure location.

Unfortunately, this strategy poses its own risks due to federal and state civil forfeiture laws. Law enforcement agencies consider cash holdings inherently suspicious. Under the topsy-turvy legal process of civil forfeiture, they can seize your cash if they believe that it’s somehow connected to a crime.

Proving that your cash is connected to a crime is surprisingly easy to demonstrate. That’s because 97% or more of cash circulating today contains tiny concentrations of narcotics residues – primarily cocaine. All police need to do is to bring in a drug-sniffing dog to inspect the cash. If the dog alerts, police seize the cash. And, under civil forfeiture rules, it’s up to you to prove that the cash has a legitimate origin.

Consider the case of Emiliano Gomez Gonzolez. During a traffic stop, Nebraska state troopers asked Gonzolez for permission to search his vehicle. During the search, the troopers found bundles of currency totaling $124,700. Based on a dog sniff, police seized all the money.

Gonzolez contested the forfeiture in court. Prosecutors neither convicted nor accused Gomez or any of the other owners of the seized cash of any crime. Nor did police find any drugs, drug paraphernalia, or drug records connected to the cash. Despite these facts, a federal appeals court upheld the confiscation of every dollar found in the vehicle.

In thousands of cases across the United States each year, police follow the same pattern. In a search of someone’s home or vehicle, they discover a significant quantity of cash. They then bring in a dog to sniff the cash for the presence of drug residues. The dog alerts virtually 100% of the time. This supposedly gives police probable cause to seize the cash under state or federal civil forfeiture laws.

Owners of property subject to civil forfeiture find themselves in an Alice-in-Wonderland legal landscape where the property seized is accused of a crime, rather than the owner. The owners must follow obscure rules that originate in Admiralty law, with which most attorneys aren’t familiar. Under these rules, the seized property is presumed guilty, and it’s up to its owner to demonstrate that the property is innocent. (Yes, it’s bizarre, but it’s the law!) Since obtaining legal representation in a civil forfeiture case typically requires a legal retainer of $10,000 or more, most victims of this vicious procedure never contest the seizure.

In an era of across-the-board cutbacks in public spending, civil forfeitures are a lucrative funding source for cash-strapped agencies and states. Last year, the federal government seized more than $4 billion under civil forfeiture laws, more than twice the take in 2011.

Fortunately, you can reduce the likelihood that law enforcement agencies will try to confiscate your cash under civil forfeiture laws. The most important precaution is to insure the cash you hold contains no narcotics residues. That’s difficult to guarantee, but if you insist on withdrawing new bank-wrapped bills from your bank account, the likelihood of contamination drops considerably. Also, keep a withdrawal slip with the cash to prove its origin in a bank account.

Cash withdrawals over $10,000 from a U.S. bank require that the bank file a form with the Treasury Department informing them of the transaction. Don’t try to “structure” multiple transactions less than $10,000 that eventually exceed $10,000 to avoid this requirement. Such “structuring” can result not only in the civil forfeiture of your cash, but also a prison sentence up to five years. There is no requirement that the cash have an illegal origin for the government to prevail in a criminal structuring prosecution.

The continued use of dog sniffs to justify the seizure of cash is unconscionable. Yet it continues and is likely to escalate in the years ahead. Make certain that you can prove your cash isn’t tainted – and that you can prove it has a legitimate origin.
June 29, 2013

Ecuador Finds Bug In Its London Embassy

Ecuador has found a hidden microphone inside its London embassy where the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is living.

Foreign minister Ricardo Patino, speaking in his home country, said he would disclose on Wednesday who controls the device.
Mr Patino said the microphone was found in the office of the Ecuadorean ambassador to the United Kingdom, Ana Alban.
It was discovered when Mr Patino visited the embassy on June 16 to meet Mr Assange, who has been hiding out there for a year.
The WikiLeaks boss works in a different room within the building.            
The Foreign Office in London declined to comment immediately on the allegation and David Cameron's spokesman said he did not comment on security issues.
Mr Assange has been living at the embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden to face allegations by two women of sexual assault and rape, which he denies.
He fears that if sent to Sweden he could be extradited from there to the US to face potential charges over the release of thousands of confidential documents.                          
"We regret to inform you that in our embassy in London we have found a hidden microphone," Patino told a news conference in Quito on Tuesday.            
"I didn't denounce this at the time because we didn't want the theme of our visit to London to be confused with this matter.            
"Furthermore, we first wanted to ascertain with precision what could be the origin of this interception device in the office of our ambassador.           
"We are sorry to say so, but this is another instance of a loss of ethics at the international level in relations between governments."            
Ecuador's protection of Mr Assange has strained relations with Britain.
Mr Patino met Foreign Secretary William Hague on June 17 to discuss the situation but officials said afterwards no substantive progress had been made.             
WikiLeaks used its Twitter account to condemn the hidden microphone.           
"Bugging of Ecuador's London embassy and the blockading of Morales' jet shows that imperial arrogance is the gift that keeps on giving," the anti-secrecy group said.

It’s Not Your Father’s Banking Method Anymore?!?!

Richard of Danbury, D.S.G. 

Show Me da Money…

 Well, it’s not your father’s banking system anymore, or maybe it is. As a child of Great Depression Era parents I heard stories of how many old-timers had a great deal of mistrust in the banking system of their day. With bank failures, bank runs, and the confiscation of gold by the government, many folks would, quite literally, just stuff greenback$ in their mattresses. Mistrust of the banking system was so ingrained in the people of that era that when my parents died we had all to do to track down the myriad of small bank accounts that they had set up containing trivial amounts in every place they had ever lived. Additionally, they had stashes of money hidden in every nook and cranny around their home, just in case… At the time I felt they were overly cautious with the seemingly endless booming 70’s and 80’s and the relatively good times we were in.

Yet it seems that the more things change the more they remain the same. Banks today are continually charging inventive fees for free services that were taken for granted back in the day; even as competition among banking institutions is becoming less and less as smaller banks are continually absorbed and taken over by ever-expanding and fewer mega-banks. Passbook Savings Accounts, while always notoriously low yielding compared to other investments, are currently offering little in the way of returns these days so there is virtually no reason to not go back to our grandfather’s old mattress method of savings, most especially when inflation is ciphered into the equation. This mistrust of banks is particularly understandable in view of the ever more difficult hurdles required for withdrawing any amounts of money. Money that is yours, I might add! On converting one savings account last year I was told that I had to give 48 hours’ notice so the bank could arrange a transfer, and this was by my reckoning a trifling amount well under the $10k reporting requirement of the Feds. This immediately sent up red flags in my mind about the state of our current banking and financial institutions. With the worrisome headlines today containing the changing legal standing of current account holders concerning so-called “bail-ins” and the now regarded status of passbook holders as unsecured creditors, I often wonder if folks are not keeping increasing high reserves of cash at home in safes, strongboxes, and yes, even in the mattress.
As we descend into an increasingly Orwellian Society in all aspects of life: religious, social, political, and financial, we must pause and take stock of our situation on both a societal level and personal level. We are clearly in a chastisement from Almighty God, who has resigned us to our own wills! It doesn’t take much discernment to understand that as we remove God from our collective lives our situation becomes progressively more chaotic in virtually all of our everyday human experiences.