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Shutdown to death

Time for the last article of the year.

In America the news is all about the shutdown, the government is in a stage of what some call ‘democratic’ application of force, some will call it a serious hoax against the American people and many think it is an atrocity, merely in play because of a wall someone wants. In that regards, it worked in China, not many Chinese left the country via the wall route, did they?

The Washington Post gives us that it is now probable that the shutdown will continue until January 3rd, when the new congress convenes. Some might consider the issue of “deny Trump any new wall money, keeping the Department of Homeland Security’s border-security funding at the current level of $1.3 billion“, yet the issue is a lot larger. It is transgressing borders (quite literally). I see it as the impact of a nation now bankrupt. As they approach a debt of twenty two trillion, or $22,000,000,000,000 we need to realise that even at a mere 0.1%, the US government has to hand over $22,000,000,000 in interest every year. Now we see the impact of the non-taxation of the FAANG group, not to mention all those Wall Street individuals and corporations that are able to have a career plan in tax avoidance (which is actually legal), tax evasion is not. So consider that no one pays a mere 0.1%, so the interest is a lot higher than that. Now consider the 22 billion and the fact that there are 325 million Americans. This would imply $67 for every American. Now consider that 12.3% is in poverty, so lucky for them no taxation and it amounts to 40 million people, this gives us an initial $2.7 billion short. Then we get the 10% group. It gets to be worse when we consider the 2016 numbers. There we see: “An estimated 45.3% of American households — roughly 77.5 million — will pay no federal individual income tax“, in addition those in the lowest 20% paid -$620, which implies no taxation and money from the government, and the picture does not get to be any better beyond that. So the US has a massive budget problem and as I see it, it is bankrupt. In this economist Laurence Kotlikoff actually agrees with me, he came to this conclusion in October, whilst I predicted the setting 3 years ago, the world economies have been in denial for that long. These people might hide behind some fictive ‘wealth of America‘, yet that group of people represents less than 1 million people, and they cannot fork over what the government needs and the picture is merely sliding from bad to worse and this is part of the entire shutdown issue, there is simply no money left.

And those behind “There is frankly no path towards him getting $5 billion in American taxpayer money to meet his campaign promise of a big, beautiful wall with Mexico,” Sen. Christopher A. Coons (D-Del.) said Sunday on CBS’s ‘Face the Nation’“, you see, how strong will this wall be? How long until that wall gets ‘punctured’ with a few shots from a M72 LAW or RPG7? Perhaps more efficient is drilling a few holes and fill it with Dynamite. So, how long until that wall is nothing more than a leaky billboard supporter? How much costs will there be in repairing that damage, a wall 2,400 miles long? How much concrete, how many holes, how many troopers will be required? One could argue that the cure is a lot more expensive than the disease ever was. All that in an economy where a government could never ever correctly deal with a minus 22 trillion invoice? That is before we consider the damage to nature, Big Bend National park, Buenos Aires National Wildlife refuge, Kino Springs, Organ Pipe Cactus national Monument, the impact on Yuma looks disastrous, the outskirts of Mexicali, and the space between San Diego and Tijuana is a foregone conclusion as lost forever. All elements that can be presented around, but there is the real impact of a dozen complications, none with a solution that does anything but drive the price of the wall sky high, merely leaving the US to ridicule (by China) with the notion that their wall was nine times longer, completed and functional 375 years earlier. Yes, these are matters that you will see in the news soon enough. I have no doubt that there is some benefit of having a wall, yet at $5 billion and a lot more afterwards, is that really the way you want to squander cash when you are bankrupt?

A wall that will prove to be detrimental to the funding option of 2019, that and the fact that federal workers are now either growing hungry or mandatory taking vacation days, so that impact will be seen all over 2019 as well. And this is not the first, as the Washington Post tells us: “making this the third partial government shutdown of 2018“. Who signed off on this? So when I see: “Sen. Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.) dismissed it as “really much ado about very little.”“, I wonder how many people on minimum wage were affected and would he be so kind to pay these people out of his own pocket? I wonder how trivial the matter remains at that point. And even as Senator Lisa Murkowski from Alaska gives us: “The votes are clearly not present in the Senate to provide $5 billion for the border wall“, I wonder if that is the full truth, I wonder if the actuality of the opposition is: “There are no funds left for such an outrageous symbol of discrimination“. I get there as terrorists and criminals will find a way around that wall, or under it, so there is that notion and that will happen, it happened, in Berlin, it happened in Colditz, it is still happening in Gaza, and as such it will also happen at the Mexican border.

It gets to be worse, especially in light of the earliest promise that this wall would be on the Mexican dime (never realistic), we see: “There is no mechanism for direct payments from Mexico’s government to the U.S. government for a wall in the trade agreement. And a number of Republicans have been greatly frustrated by Trump’s intransigence“. In light of that, why was $5 billion pushed for in American budgets? Although in this setting, the application was never made so artistically poetic by replacing ‘stubborn mule attitude‘ with intransigence, the Washington Post gets bonus points on that one.

An additional short update

I made mention of it in my article ‘That did not take long‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2018/12/22/that-did-not-take-long-2/). there I stated: “because AT&T is going to start pretending its most advanced 4G LTE tech is 5G” and even as we were exposed to: “T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray wrote that AT&T was “duping customers into thinking they’re getting something they’re not.” The “E” is easy to miss, too, judging by a mockup AT&T sent out“, and it was the Washington Post (at https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2018/12/21/was-year-g-hype-g-reality-is-yet-come/) who gave us pretty much at the very same time: “We’ll make sure America wins the global 5G race,” John Legere vowed. “5G will unlock capabilities that will fuel job creation and innovation well beyond what we have seen so far“, as well as “AT&T said it too had switched on its 5G service, announcing it is the “first and only company in the U.S. to offer a mobile 5G device over a commercial, standards-based mobile 5G network” the catch? Access is limited for now to a select group of businesses and consumers in a dozen cities, and it requires the use of a mobile hotspot“, so is this real 5G, or is that the mentioned 5G evolution? In light of this article in the Washington Post, does this constitute deceptive conduct, or merely a missed communication between the WP editor and AT&T executives? And as we are treated to “As for when we will see the first 5G-capable smartphone? Industry analysts say the consensus appears to be the first quarter of 2019“, we see the completion of a stage of intransigence, I merely wonder who is not clear enough to see the sea of disagreement here. the fact that whatever comes is to be with an estimated price of US$1800 for the complete edition should also consider that this one item could max out the average credit card on the spot and that is without additional warranty and protection. So as 5G goes, it is seemingly merely for the rich (for now), so as such, is it truly an American first, or even a stage where America ends in a fictive first place? Perhaps it is perception on steroids, you can be the first in space, even if you send a monkey, it is in that light we get to see 5G soon enough. You merely have to contemplate who is remembered to be first in space, Yuri Gagarin on the 12th April 1961 or the monkey?

I wonder how soon we see the update on how trivial the difference is between 5GE and 5G, and how soon people realise that they are merely getting a new double priced contract whilst true 5G is not delivered, it might end up being a lovely day for contract lawyers in the US.

 

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When movies fall short

There is nothing as intensely satisfying as when we are confronted with a reality that is a lot more entertaining than a movie would be. Those are moments you live for, that is unless you are a part of Sony and it is your system getting hacked. Life tends to suck just a little at that point.

This is not the latest story to look at, but in light of the elements that have been visibly resolved, it is the best one around. Some will state that the Hostage story in Martin’s Place, Sydney is the big issue, but that is an event that is getting milked for every second possible by the media, I checked! The price of chocolate remains unaffected, so let’s move on to Sony!

The first part is seen in the article ‘Sony hack would have challenged government defences – FBI’ (at http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/dec/12/sony-hack-government-defences-fbi), those who think it is new news seem to have forgotten the issues people had in May 2011 (at http://uk.playstation.com/psn/news/articles/detail/item369506/PSN-Qriocity-Service-Update/). “As the result of a criminal cyber-attack on the company’s data centre located in San Diego, California, USA, SNEI shut down the PlayStation Network and Qriocity services on 20 April 2011, in order for the company to undergo an investigation and make enhancements to the overall security of the network infrastructure” 77 million accounts were compromised and the perpetrators got away with a truckload of data.

So when we see the quote “The cyber-attack that crippled Sony Pictures, led to theft of confidential data and leak of movies on the internet would have challenged almost any cyber security measures, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has said“, we should consider the expression once bitten twice shy and not, when bitten use antiseptic, go into denial and let it be done to your network again.

The fact that this revolves around another branch of Sony is just ludicrous, it’s like listening to a prostitute stating that the sick man used the other entrance this time, so we need not worry! If you think that this is an over the top graphical expression, consider that twice in a row that the personal details of millions in the form of data ‘leaked’ to somewhere.

The second quote will not make you feel any safer ““In speaking with Sony and separately, the Mandiant security provider, the malware that was used would have slipped or probably got past 90% of internet defences that are out there today in private industry and [would have] challenged even state government,” Joseph Demarest, assistant director of the FBI’s cyber division told a US Senate hearing“, as we know that governments tend to be sloppy with their technology as they do not have the budgets the bulk of commercial enterprises get, we can look at the quote and regard the statement to be a less serious expression of ‘do we care’, which is nothing compared to the ignored need to keep personal data safe.

You see, commercial enterprises have gotten sloppy. getting newly graduates to look into a system where you need seasoned veterans and you need a knowledge base and a good setup, all factors that seem to be in ‘denial’ with a truckload of companies the size of Sony, as they are all cutting corners so that they can project revenue and contributions in line with the ‘market expectations’.

The quote that becomes interesting is “A link between Gop and North Korea has been muted over Pyongyang’s reaction to the Sony Pictures film The Interview, which depicts an assassination attempt on Kim Jong-un“, so is this group calling itself Guardians of Peace (Gop), the ‘simpleton’ group they are trivialised to be, or is there more. You see, we see a growing abundance of data collections that seem to go nowhere, but is this truly the case? You see, data is money, it is a currency that can be re-used several times, the question becomes, finding someone willing to buy it. If we regard the 2 billion Microsoft paid for Minecraft to be more than just the IP of the sandbox game, then what is it? Which part of that 2 billion is seen as value for the 120 million registered users on PC? Do you now see the currency we are confronted with?

In my book the Sony exercise is a display of the expression ‘a fool and his money are soon parted‘. In light of the 2011 issue, the fact that security was increased to the extent that it could be done again makes for entertainment on a new level, in addition, like a bad infomercial it does not stop here, no! For $9.95 you get so much more then you see now. That we see in the article that was published two days before that (at http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/dec/10/fbi-doubts-north-korea-link-sony-pictures-hack). The part that should make you howl like a hyena is seen here “The security firm hired by Sony to investigate the attack, FireEye, described the attack as an “unparalleled and well-planned crime, carried out by an organised group, for which neither SPE nor other companies could have been fully prepared” in a leaked report“, So did you notice ‘unparalleled and well-planned crime‘ and ‘leaked report‘, oh sarcasm, thy name be Miss Snigger Cackle!

The leaked report, which was from the 7th of December (at http://recode.net/2014/12/07/sony-describes-hack-attack-as-unprecedented/) gives us “demanding that organizations which have obtained the leaked information avoid publishing any more material from the hackers, and destroy existing copies. Boies called it “stolen information.”“, you see, the issue here is that if we consider the quote “This attack is unprecedented in nature. The malware was undetectable by industry standard antivirus software and was damaging and unique enough to cause the FBI to release a flash alert to warn other organizations of this critical threat“, so even after the malware, info was still going past the firewall, or was this just ‘leaked’ by an internal source? It takes a little twist when we look at the quote in the December 10th article “The malware had been signed and authorised by Sony Pictures, allowing it to bypass certain security checks“, in my mind this reads as follows: ‘Some idiot gave a pass to malware to roam free on the system‘, so is it that, or was this an internal operation all along? If the second part is true, then who was the beneficiary of all that private data? Who is it means for? You see, many forget that our information is not always for stealing from our credit cards, sometimes it is used to profile us, as a customer, as marketing or as leverage. Why the word leverage? Consider healthcare, consider usage, what happens when an insurance company gets to profile 20 million couch potatoes, what if your healthcare premium suddenly goes up by 15%, do you have any idea how much money that is? So as insurance companies keep the leveraged margins of charge, whilst overcharging risks in addition, we see a growing margin of profit for these insurance companies, whilst getting them to pay for what you are insured for has not gotten any easier has it?

So is this simply a cinematography from Sony Pictures film, called The Interview, which depicts an assassination attempt on Kim Jong-un, or was that the smoke screen? The FBI seems to have ruled out North Korea, as far as I have been able to tell, the only fans of North Korea are the North Koreans and Dennis Rodman (who has no fame in any IT endeavour), so is there enough doubt regarding the reality of what happened and why it happened? Yes, as I see it there is, the question becomes, when there is this much smoke, where are we not looking? That part is to some extent seen in another Guardian Article (at http://www.theguardian.com/film/2014/dec/12/hackers-attack-film-studios-sony-pictures-leak-cybersecurity-warning). We see this quote “Sean Sullivan, senior adviser and researcher at the security company F-Secure, said that he believes the purpose of the Sony hack was extortion. “If it was just hacktivists, they’d have released everything all at once,” he said. “But these releases, it’s like they’re shooting hostages. One thing one day, another the next. This is a really different tactic from what we usually see.”“, this is certainly plausible, but is that it? Why ransom of data and sell it back with the FBI and others on your tail, when you can sell it in Hong Kong, Bangkok, Riyadh and a host of other locations. A simple transaction for an external encrypted drive, a deal you can offer to ALL parties for amount X, the more you offer, the higher X is.

Whilst our data is sold on and on, we run additional risks of getting invoiced for our lives choices and extorted by other financial firms because our privacy is no longer a given in the age of data and it is directly linked to corporations that cannot clean up their act. In the mean time we see leaked report on impossible hack successes, whilst it took only one executive to ‘accidently’ sign and authorise a mere trinket of malware.

So yes, the movies are falling short; reality can be scary and entertaining all at the same time. The question becomes, will there be a change to our invoice of life because of corporate considerations, or lack there off?

 

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17 or 70 trillion?

Even though we see so many ‘stories’ on how well the US is doing, we must ask ourselves on what value these numbers are trying to convince us of.

The thoughts I am about to phrase started a little after the following had been released (at http://blogs.marketwatch.com/capitolreport/2014/06/06/standard-poors-is-concerned-about-the-u-s-debt-burden/). “Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services put out research Friday confirming the AA+ rating of the U.S.“, so the US has dropped a notch on the credibility scale. This in itself should not be a reason for direct concern. The one part that does worry is that S&P was the only one doing this. The other part we should notice is the quote “The federal debt was $16.1 trillion at the end of fiscal year 2012, according to the Government Accountability office.” why are we not seeing a 2013 number, which according to some is over 17 trillion? How interesting is it to see the numbers game whilst the numbers quoted are not up to date?

The next part is the article from Bloomberg on April 29th 2014. Here we see the following “The drop in net marketable debt will be $78 billion in the April-June period, $38 billion more than the pay down projected three months ago, with an end-of-June cash balance of $130 billion, the Treasury said today in Washington. The improvement will be short lived — net borrowing of $169 billion is projected next quarter, with $130 billion in cash Sept. 30th“. Can anyone see the issue I have with this? The debt of well over 17,000 billion is getting met with a quarterly pay down of less than 0.4588%. How is this progress and even though we see that the US still has a high credit score, is the likelihood of a continued credit score even realistic?

That part can be seen in the Market watch quote “We believe that renewed debate over the debt ceiling could resume after the midterm elections in November 2014 under certain scenarios. While we expect the discussions about the debt ceiling to be ultimately resolved as they have been, we still see risks that these debates entail.” So, not only is there no solution to the current debt levels, the chance of any serious solutions occurring within this current administration is close to zero, which means that the next administration will inherit a debt closer to 20 trillion. I do find the headline about ‘US debt level concerns‘ hilarious. Many with me had raised these dangers for well over 2 years and now as the game is up, some are ‘raising’ concerns, whilst those in charge and those on the watchdogs of economy had long known that any level of lowering the debt had been a mere myth for over 2 years.

There are of course other views. One is from Chad Stone who wrote in US News (at http://www.usnews.com/opinion/economic-intelligence/2014/05/16/too-much-deficit-and-debt-reduction-too-soon-will-wreck-the-recovery) “now about $17.5 trillion, found on the ‘debt clocks’ that are so popular with debt hysterics. Gross debt (and its close cousin, ‘debt subject to limit’) is debt held by the public plus debt internal to the government“. This is fair enough, yet there is no information, not even any indication when this debt will start to lower. There is another side to consider. When we look at the IRS data book (at http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-soi/13databk.pdf), consider that the IRS collected a net value of taxation of 2.4 trillion dollars. A slightly more accurate number is 2,490 billion.

When we consider all the numbers thrown at us, like the ‘% of the GDP’ and so on, even if we accept that the 17 trillion dollars debt is held on multiple level, compared to what the IRS collects, we see a number that reflects the tax collected, compared to the total debt. The US gets through taxation a mere 14% of where the debt is at. How is any of that realistic? So, the total collected taxation, before any other cost is taken into account (like paying government staff and utilities), it only amounts to 14%, after all that is done 0.1% is left if the US government gets a fitting budget (something that has not been achieved since president Clinton was in office).

My issue is not just with the US debt levels, it is also about the ‘blasé’ approach economists are throwing at the people stating that things are not that bad and that it will all work out. That part is a figment of THEIR imagination, because for things to resolve, actions must be taken and none are getting taken at present (or in the near future for that matter). My biggest issue with the Article of Chad Stone is seen at the end. His quote “Lowering the debt ratio comes at a cost, not only risking the recovery if it’s done too fast but also in burdening businesses and households with larger spending cuts, higher taxes or both to stabilize the debt ratio“. There is truth in that statement, yet the issue that the money should have NEVER been spent is an issue that is ignored. The culprits of this dangerous endeavour are not named, not held accountable and many of them walked away with millions in bonuses.

We are however nowhere near the end of this debacle. The articles give another view on the matter. An article was published in 2013 stating an entirely different matter of debt. The REAL total debt is set at 70 trillion (at http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/08/15/california-economist-says-real-us-debt-70-trillion-not-16-trillion-government/). The quote that matters is “Hamilton believes the government is miscalculating what it owes by leaving out certain unfunded liabilities that include government loan guarantees, deposit insurance, and actions taken by the Federal Reserve as well as the cost of other government trust funds. Factoring in those figures brings the total amount the government owes to a staggering $70 trillion

Now we are off to an entirely different race, this only gets worse if we take the Bloomberg article into account from March 2014, which headlines as ‘Debt Exceeds $100 Trillion as Governments Binge‘ (at http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-03-10/debt-exceeds-100-trillion-as-governments-binge.html). Make sure you realise that this last article is about global debt and not about US debt.

This was already on my scope for another reason, but I will return to that shortly. I need to return to the Fox News article where it stated the view of Professor Hamilton, an economics professor from San Diego. The reason for this is because I try to stay fair and balanced (statement plagiarised from Fox News) and as such, as I found additional views from the professor, it is only fair that I mention that too. This all is linked to a paper he published in 2013 (at http://econweb.ucsd.edu/~jhamilton/Cato_paper.pdf), it is the starting quote “This paper examines the growth of federal liabilities that are not included in the officially reported numbers” which should grab your attention. Yes, we are talking about ‘off’ the book liabilities, which should make us all wonder whether ANY government should be allowed to be part of liabilities that are not on the books to begin with. If our job is to stem the tide of irresponsible spending, then keeping things ‘off the books‘ as the ‘kids’ seem to state, should not be allowed under any condition. If we look at the quote that was found in the Econ browser by professor Hamilton, we see “Similar calculations from the trustees reports for Medicare report Medicare’s net unfunded liabilities for current program participants to be $27.6 trillion. For more details see Table 4 and the accompanying discussion in my paper.” The floor should open to an entirely different debate and soon. I think it is high time that these events are properly mapped out and as such ALL governments need to adhere to a different level of ‘accounting’. Their books can no longer remain silent in regards to unfunded liabilities. Is it any wonder books are not in order in a massive amount of nations?

This now grabs back to other observations I made and more important the small revelation my data implied. On March 22nd 2013 I wrote the blog article ‘60% confiscated and counting in Cyprus!‘, here I quoted “If this is what frightens the US, then consider the consequences of a system like LIBOR being manipulated through the total value of trade. If that would have been off by 11.2%. Out of $1000T (UK and US combined) then that difference would be $112T“, I implied to some extent that not only were the percentages messed with, I had some reason to believe that someone had messed with the total trade value that LIBOR represents. Perhaps my mistake (to some extent) was thinking that it was ‘just’ manipulation. In my defence, I came up with these findings before Professor Hamilton had finished his paper, so as a non-economist I was slightly in the dark to begin with. Consider that some politicians could be overspending, whilst using the options of unfunded liabilities within LIBOR to excuse themselves for accountability? What will other governments say, when such events are brought to light (if that would be happening). More important, if my number was closer to the truth then many considered, the global economy is playing high stakes poker with debts twice the size then most realise and our cost of living is based partially upon the irresponsible spending of both Washington and Wall-Street. How are the people ever to get a fair shake at a happy life, when a group of no more than 3000 people have been spending the dreams and futures of well over 1 billion people? Most do not realise that this goes way past the borders of the US, if there is indeed an established group editing the total value of trade considering the manipulation of the LIBOR percentage, the established setting of unfunded liabilities, as well as the breaking up on loans as they might occur. For this example, I would like to point you towards www.lsta.org/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=2480, here we see a paper from Credit Suisse made by Julia Kingston in August 2006. The next part is just pure supposition on my side. Look at slide 35, here we see a term loan set in three parts. What happened when something falls over in 2 or 4 months? How many parts when Wall Street made its 8 trillion bungle was not written off? Is my consideration that the TOTAL LIBOR trade value has a massive amount of ‘entries’ that had remained hoping it would turn for the better? We have seen a multitude of financial advisors playing just such a card on many levels in the 2008-2011 periods. My question now becomes, was my implied 11.2% just the tip of the iceberg?

I am not claiming, nor do I pretend to have the actual answer here, My issue, as it was in the past is that ‘proclaimed’ Journalists sitting in the top newspapers have not taken a hard look at some elements. It is nice for them that Reuters does much of their work for them and many aspire, but will never come close to people like Paul Mason, Robert Peston or Deborah Hargreaves. Yet, how deep did they dig into LIBOR? Also linked (especially with the Guardian) was the claims that Jullian Assange made in regards to banking, they were never followed up (or so it seems), not even by the Guardian as far as I could tell. Consider the article the Guardian had on February 10th 2011 (at http://www.theguardian.com/media/2011/feb/10/julian-assange-wikileaks-book-claims). The quote “Asked about the ostensibly sensational bank leaks Assange keeps suggesting he is ready to release, Domscheit-Berg said the only banking documents he knew WikiLeaks had were ‘totally unspectacular’ is at the heart of this”. When it was ‘just’ about the US military there was some upheaval (especially by the US), yet when banking issues were raise (slightly mentioned in the Forbes interview in November 2010 at http://www.forbes.com/sites/andygreenberg/2010/11/29/wikileaks-julian-assange-wants-to-spill-your-corporate-secrets/). The interview gives us the following “Will we? Yes. We have one related to a bank coming up, that’s a mega leak. It’s not as big a scale as the Iraq material, but it’s either tens or hundreds of thousands of documents depending on how you define it. Is it a U.S. bank? Yes, it’s a U.S. bank. One that still exists? Yes, a big U.S. bank.

After this the hunt for Jullian Assange really takes on additional energy. I have no idea what he found, or if it is even related, the issue is that there is a recorded atmosphere of unaccountability within the banks (on a global scale) which must stop, if not, not only will governments be allowed to continue in irresponsible ways, but the additional ‘myth‘ that banks and governments apply checks and balances need to be thrown out of the nearest window. A last quote from the Forbes interview is every bit as important “We’re still investigating. All I can say is: it’s clear there were unethical practices, but it’s too early to suggest there’s criminality. We have to be careful about applying criminal labels to people until we’re very sure.

This is the part I had written about for some time, it was not just that the issue with Goldman Sachs imploded the financial industry; it was the issue that they, in black letter law, basically had not broken any laws. The people lost well over 8 trillion and no crime was committed even though their money was basically gambled away. It is that part, especially in the LIBOR sight, as well as the issue raised by Professor Hamilton in regards to unfunded liabilities. No laws are broken, but we are all kept in the dark in regards to the debts inflicted upon us, which in itself is a massive wrong.

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