CBS News revealed today that under Trump’s watch, the U.S. national debt tops $21 trillion for first time ever. Click here to read.
Twenty-one TRILLION dollars. That’s $21,000,000,000,000. A lot of zeros. The largest national debt in the history of human civilization.
To be fair, this has very little to do with Donald Trump. That’s just CBS playing politics as usual for clickbait. Trump hasn’t been POTUS long enough. Though some might argue that the historic tax break legislation that he and the republican led congress just passed helped contribute to this staggering imbalance (and will add even more to it down the road). But many will also jump out of their SUVs to blame Obama for it. And still others will point to the fact that the George W. Bush administration and their endless “wars on terror” are what really ramped up this new trend in American over-spending. All would be right.
Not that anyone likes thinking about this topic, but what I tend to contemplate a lot regarding the mind boggling National Debt figure above and its ramifications is that statistically we know that once a country’s debt reaches 60% of its GDP, that country historically plunges into a deep depression or even falls apart into panic and chaos, unless it institutes extremely painful “austerity” measures (think cutting back on spending for the most basic of people’s everyday necessities…). Which often leads to bloody revolts and revolutions.
(People generally don’t like starving. And more apt, humanity has reached a new era where many believe that they have a right to being taken care of by very big governments and they have deliberately voted in governments who do just that. (Think Socialism or Communism). And some might even point to modern day America as well. What are commonly referred to as “Entitlements” or “social welfare spending” has reached an epic sixty-some percent of the annual budget in the U.S. It didn’t always used to be this way. It doubles how much is spent on defense, for reference. (Although the U.S. still also manages to spend more on defense (think weapons of war and Intelligence) annually than all other nations on earth combined.)
Even when a country enforces strict austerity measures on its people for years at a time in order to try to pay down its debt, it still often presents numerous challenges to ever escape the clutches of the growing interest payments, it’s currency turns near worthless and it finds itself unable to end the death cycle.
Ironically that’s usually when the US steps in and takes the country over thru the World Bank and IMF and other backdoor means etc… And as funny and tragic as that is, it’s not possible in this instance because it’s the US that we’re talking about here. So who’s going to step in and take over? That’s the real question.
[This might be as good a place as any to note for followers of New World Order Conspiracy theories that there is a view by some that the national debt of the United States is entirely meaningless in the bigger picture, because the world itself is ruled and has been ruled by one very small but far reaching group of people or organizations, dominated by the Vatican (still just the Roman Empire disguised as a “religion”) (the wealthiest country/company in the world), the U.K. (the so-called “royal family” being the second wealthiest country/company in the world, with the largest real estate holdings on earth), France, and the United States. The United States is allegedly the military arm of this invisible, omniscient and omnipotent global power, whereas much of the decision making still comes from the U.K. and the Vatican, as it has for over a thousand years, and to a lesser degree France. In the case of the Vatican/Roman Empire, it’s been more than two-thousand years. So… no debt, low debt, high debt, it just doesn’t matter when you run the military machine for most of the entire globe.]
When it comes to the United States’ national debt, we know the U.S. has been protected from this normally predictable economic outcome outlined above through various nefarious schemes and actions they’ve taken since WW II like dropping two nuclear bombs on Japan in order to intimidate and scare the crap out of potential competing super powers, creating the U.N. as a thinly veiled disguise for its goal of global dominance through more legitimate seeming means, building up the largest military and nuclear stockpile the world has ever seen, dismantling democracies and installing dictatorships all over the world, installing and maintaining 8,000 military bases in over 80 countries, propping up the Saudi dictatorship to control the country of Arabia indefinitely in order to control the global oil supply and force the world to use the US dollar as it’s mandated reserve currency, etc. (The list is much longer, I know. The small sample above can be viewed as a general overview of some of the more standout or major egregious activities that led to the establishment of the modern American empire.)
Okay fine. So the United States has largely gotten away with just about anything one could imagine over the last 75 years, including running up a mind-blowing national debt that surpasses its annual GDP and yet it just keeps on plugging away. [The United States recorded a government debt equivalent to 105.40% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product in 2017. Government Debt to GDP in the United States averaged 61.70 percent from 1940 until 2017, reaching an all time high of 118.90 percent in 1946 and a record low of 31.70 percent in 1981.] For context let’s take note that in the G20 (the largest 20 economies in the world) the United States is NOT the winner in the highest debt to GDP race. That award goes to Italy presently, who’ve managed to rack up an impressive 130% debt to GDP ratio. Japan comes in second place, with approximately 110%. But the United States IS in third place. For the world’s largest economy and one of only two real viable super powers left in the world, that should be a frightening statistic.
But instead, it seems to be no big deal. No one seems to think it’s a problem. Not even normally fiscally conservative Conservatives seem to care anymore. The US dollar is actually getting stronger and forcing other countries’ currencies and debt into dangerous territory. And US Treasury bonds are still considered the safest, most secure and sought after assets in the world.
It may sound crazy. But it’s real. And to some it might beg the question if any of our former ideas regarding global economics even matter today as long as a country like the United States can maintain global dominance through fear of its military might. Classic empire stuff.
But will there ever be a reckoning? Like what will or could cause it? Let’s say the US just keeps jacking that debt up to 25 trillion. Or 28 trillion? Is there a figure that would ever be frowned upon by other nations around the world? Or does the threat of both it’s economic and military might protect the United States from any of the normal rules that other countries must follow?
Would anyone even care or pay attention if the United States jacked its national debt up to 150% as long as it maintained such a stronghold on the world militarily? Especially now after they’ve nearly taken over so much of the Middle East? That campaign was a huge win for the Neocon Hawks and their quest for “a new American 21st century”. Sad (for sure). But except for Iran (a country the U.S. has tried to dominate unsuccessfully for over 70 years), a largely successful military campaign of mammoth imperialist aims.
Some sources claim that during the Obama administration the United States was involved in more simultaneous wars than at any other time in its history. All in the Middle East. That’s a sobering statistic. Although if one reflects back on World War II, it seems hard to believe. But at the very least the United States during the Obama administration was involved in active military campaigns (or covert drone bombings) in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya and Syria. Both the Bush and Obama years saw the United States involved in a multitude of battles and wars all over the Middle East to assure its global dominance would continue in the 21st century.
So what could possibly knock or take the U.S. out? They’re HUGE. Monstrous. Gigantic. You can hear their people mindlessly chanting “USA USA!” People used to compare the United States to the Roman Empire back in the day. Even though that comparison seems quaint by today’s standards. Rome was an ant colony compared to what the United States is now. Total global reach wrapped up and down and all around planet earth and into outer space as well. Does it last forever? Can it?
Historically we know that we’ve never seen it last forever… Every empire crumbles. Or has crumbled. But the only feasible outcome for the US in regards to how they have things set up now is terrifying. Due to their military and nuclear arsenal. One gets the impression that those in power in the US are not going to just get up and go away quietly. If they’re ever forced to go out they’re probably going to want to do so with a very loud and deadly bang.
Is there any other way for the world to regain even a little bit of control or even just liberation from US dominance without the US just going full on ballistic and invading or bombing? Is there any option for a safe NON military way for them to just back down? Even a little? This is what keeps me up at night.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. A brief exploration of the state of affairs of the rest of the world in regards to America’s stupefying national debt and their need to maintain military dominance because of it.
What about the more serious question for Americans? As to what would or could happen to the people of the United States if ever there was a reckoning? If every country in the world got together and collectively decided to stop permitting the US to continue to rack up its unsustainable debt and using bullying tactics to perpetuate it, and the US was forced to get its economic house in order, would any other countries come to their aid? Or would they gleefully take a step back and watch the people of the United States stagger and struggle to survive, believing the tragic but necessary event was deserved and a long time coming?
[Long time readers will remember that when the horrific events of 9/11 transpired (regardless of who you think was responsible, at the time it was viewed as an “attack” on the American people) that yours truly was at a large International language school in Costa Rica. There were about 100 of us there for the semester as students at the time from a variety of different countries, most of them European.
I will never forget the callous nearly gleeful response that some of the other students at the school expressed that morning as we Americans (there were only 2 of us) stood there stunned and horrified watching those planes crash into the World Trade Towers on live TV. I will always remember the sound of people around me mumbling things like “serves them right”, “this was bound to happen” and “what did they expect?” As if they were happy that it was happening. I mention this for context and in light of the possible reactions the world might have if another catastrophe should affect the US, this time being more economic. People tend to cheer for the underdog and feel envious of those who always seem to win. And since World War II the United States has been winning bigtime.
And although old red white and blue collected most of the world’s empathy and support directly following the attacks of 9/11, they spent it all very quickly due to what many labeled unnecessary unjustified and villainous invasions of many middle eastern countries.]
To the above question though, some would respond that China has already been coming to the aid of the US economically and has been for decades. Along with Japan they hold the largest amount (measured in US dollars) of U.S. bonds, T-Bills and debt than any other non-U.S. entities. It’s a convenient way to help prop up the heavily imbalanced American economy, and in return help their own economy as well, since the United States is China’s largest trading partner i.e. the American people spend more money buying things from China than any other nation on earth.
So both super-powers, though ideologically differing in their view on how to run a large government body and control it’s people, have had a relatively stable win-win economic relationship for decades now. And despite the political bluster for the cameras, both rely heavily on the other. And they know it.
That’s a fact that provides me with both comfort and fear. Since the Cold War ended and Russia seemingly retreated back into its oligarchic trenches for the time being, China has lurched forward to become the only primary competitor with the U.S. for world domination both economically and militarily in today’s world. But they at present seem to need the US and it’s consumer base as much as the US needs them. And that’s probably a good thing. Can this delicate balancing act last forever? We don’t know. And that’s the problem.
And yes as always there is obviously much more to the story. We’ll get to it all in time.
– Posted by The Ambassador, as Ed Hale, from the Transcendence Embassy — New York, NY using BlogPress on an iPhone
Today we learned that the GIBSON Guitar Company has filed for bankruptcy. Like Bourbon or baseball, hamburgers or Ford Mustangs, Gibson is one of those living breathing American landmark institutions whose products are so beloved by people from all over the world that it would last forever. They’re adored and worshiped, bought, sold and traded above ground and underground and coveted like gold, classic paintings or vintage cars. The older they get the more valuable they become.
As a longtime Gibson sponsored artist and avid fan, I admit that this news still seems more than anything else just surreal at the moment, but not necessarily a complete surprise. It’s a cold wake up call for sure. Gibson guitars are expensive. Hell, all musical instruments are expensive when you can’t pay the rent, which is the unfortunate situation that most professional musicians and music artists have found themselves in over the last 15 years — especially the ones who have refused to give up or turn it into a hobby or attempt to start a new career.
Yesterday I posted an important piece about some proposed legislation that has the potential to significantly help increase the royalty rates that music artists are paid in this struggling new world of music streaming. The drastic reduction in artist compensation from all potential revenue streams happened so quickly and drastically that most people are still trying to just catch up and learn about it…. It’s hard to take all the data in and fathom just how bad it’s gotten for the musicians and songwriters that each of us chooses to love and follow.
At the heart of it is the simple fact that as a global society we forgot to acknowledge or even notice that music, the commodity, somehow somewhere down the line became FREE. Which yes is crazy. It’s impossible to type that sentence or read it and not do a double take. Especially when you start to ponder how true it is. Despite how fun and easy it’s been for all of us as consumers to have access to free music over the last decade or two, it’s had a devastating effect on the music industry and the artists who create that music.
From 2000 to 2015 music-sales revenue dropped by double digits every year. That’s insane. Do people really not value music THAT much? Or is it more just due to none of us stopping to notice? To the latter, I’d say “Hell, I noticed… How could you not?” So is it more a problem of us just not knowing what to do about it? Not knowing how to fix what we started perceiving was a broken system? Music became free….. We KNEW it was illogical and crazy. Didn’t make sense. Nothing of value is free.
But who was in charge? Surely they’re doing something about it. But alas, no one was doing anything about it and we’re going on 18 years of declining revenue…. The recent news earlier this year that I Heart Radio had also filed for bankruptcy was yet another sign post of the crumbling music industry.
We’ve seen this movie before. Book stores, music stores, office supply stores, hardware stores, non-chain coffee shops, newspapers and magazines, clothing lines, movie theatre chains, all four “big network” television companies and pretty much every retail and department store brand… all gone or in the process of going. Or at least transitioning. At best. One can hope.
The music business is just another industry breaking down fast from the disruption that takes place when technology advances and enters an industry too quickly or in some cases completely takes it over. Call it the digitization of the music business. Music became digital. And for many that meant free.
But in reality it’s just one of thousands of used up old unwanted relics lining the side of the highway to the digitization of our entire society. It starts at the top, at the corporate level, and then slowly works its way down to the workers. In this case, that means the songwriters, producers, musicians, recording artists and everyone else who makes a living from making music. And then from the bottom up it continues to crumble.
So it’s not that shocking to hear that Gibson is going bankrupt. Truth is, if musicians can no longer afford to buy music instruments, who’s going to buy them? Pawn shops and eBay have been chock full of guitars and every other kind of musical instrument for decades now. It’s one of the most coveted secrets in the biz — we never buy new. We always buy vintage. They’re better (or so we tell ourselves…) and they’re way more affordabe. And we know we can turn right around and sell that same guitar for the same price in a few weeks or months or years whenever times get hard.
As working musicians we’ve been using our guitars and basses and drums as an alternate form of cash for the last 15 years…. Selling them when we need to eat. Buying them back when we catch a lucky break. But unfortunately that doesn’t help Gibson. Nor does it help the last of the dying music stores that attempt to stay alive for one more year in the ghost town strip malls of America’s larger cities.
But before you light a candle and stream “The Day the Music Died”, there is actually some GOOD news in all this. And it’s just starting to happen. We’re calling it the New Renaissance of the Music Business or Music Consumer, depending on who you ask. And it’s seeming to take flight fast. It turns out that most people LIKE paying a subscription for their media content. Netflix is proving it. (Granted, Netflix charges too little to actually make a profit. They exist based solely on their ability to accrue more debt. Sad but true. Just like HULU and pretty much everyone else in the streaming media business. But it’s a start.) Combined with the advent of portable stand alone speakers like Amazon’s Alexa or Echo (JBL makes awesome ones. Apple’s Homepod is also said to sound AMAZING…), consumers are flooding into subscription based music streaming services like Apple Music or Spotify.
That’s the “good” news. The bad news is that none of these services are profitable yet…. because they’re charging way too little per month in order to acquire new customers. It’s the classic amazon model. Cut prices to below profit in order to lure new customers in and slowly raise the prices later down the road. It works. We’ve seen it work. But of course that means they still can’t afford to pay a living wage to the people who create the products they sell, music artists. At least not yet. BUT… it’s definitely a step in the right direction. And that’s a positive.
One gets the feeling that somehow Gibson will survive. The same way that Ford and GM have managed to… It might get hairy ugly. But they’ll make it. We all will if we remember to #respectmusic
I recently watched a brief speech given by Elon Musk on a social media platform where he was speaking about climate change in regards to carbon emissions and our need for sustained energy. But healthy sustained energy. Everyone knows by now that big oil and coal are the enemies of a healthy planetary environment. At least that’s the meme subscribed to by the majority of the human population. Solar power, hydro, nuclear and wind are the most popular solutions being offered. Musk has the most to profit if solar becomes the energy provider du jour. But I personally wouldn’t permit my mind to believe that this plays too much of a role in his business ventures nor in the ideals he proposes. He’s made his money.
In his speech he speaks of all the doom and gloom we can look forward to if we stay on our present course of burning fossil fuels and producing such high levels of carbon emissions. How at least 5% of the world’s coastal cities will soon be swallowed up and wiped away by the oceans.
There’s a moment where it becomes quite moving…. As moving as a speech by Musk can be at least. What will we say when our children and grandchildren ask us “if we knew what we were doing? We will have to tell them that yes we knew what we were doing…”
I’ll share something here that I’ve hinted at before, touched on… It’s taken a while to really get it under my skin in a way where I could speak cogently about it.
As most people know, I spent the better part of the first 40 years of my life on the outer OUTER fringes of society… Never watched TV or played sports or went camping or any of the other things that most Americans spend their time doing. All my free time was spent deeply immersed in a world of music, art, learning and spirituality. Consciousness exploration. Searching for God and truth. Learning studying praying meditating traveling marching protesting & activisting mainly. I was hopeful. Idealistic. Rise and shine.
A few years ago when I hit this age and income bracket that compels some of us to become active investors it was a real wake up call to me. Still is almost on a daily basis… Many of these men and women are my friends now. Powerhouse names in the investing community, but names that most everyday people have never heard of.
And the truth of it is that you just wouldn’t believe how utterly entirely uninterested and uncaring the majority of the people in this particular world are in these matters that people like me spent their entire lives battling. The causes and issues we march and fight and petition and protest for. Big oil is to be prized. We’re talking 7% dividends on some of these bad boys! Drill baby drill! They think the whole global warming issue is a foolish hoax.
Big Pharma may be the people’s enemy. But it’s the investor’s best friend. We need to get government out of our way and raise those drug prices even higher to get that share price moving. Monsanto may be public enemy #1… But forget all that silly talk about them being “bad or evil”; they’re just ONE of the many in that sector and frankly they’re a damn good profit making machine who also pay a great dividend. They’re not going anywhere.
See… “progress” is a relative term. What one group sees as progress, i.e. generating bigger profits and creating more wealth, another group may see as absolutely devastating. To the public good or to the environment for example. And in turn, what this group may consider “progress”, i.e. more regulations, labor laws, higher wage obligations, another group may see as absolutely devastating. To the financial bottom line in this case.
Of course I’m used to this now. This strange dichotomy between these different groups of people…. both of whom I sincerely like and respect. But the much larger group in influence — in terms of access control resources friends in the mainstream political and media influence — is this investor class; and they literally have absolutely no clue about any of the things that this other activist group fight for on a daily basis. It’s mind boggling how clueless they are about the harm or dangers inflicted on the earth or its people by major industries.
In order to save you a lot of time and energy of your own, I will reveal some of the revelations I had while exploring this world and explain the reason why we haven’t and won’t make any progress in these “big arenas” of our lives until it’s way too late –something I myself wondered for years as an idealistic activist.
It is actually very simple to understand if you do what I did and jump full bodied into the business/trading/investing world to soak it all in and learn. THAT little world, though small, literally controls the entire world. It’s the “great wheel” that moves every other little wheel of every industry and aspect of human life on earth. (And in space).
From currencies to commodities (stop now and look up wherever you are…everything you are seeing is a commodity), from every business and industry to every government and political leader or civil servant…they are all controlled and governed by, hell it would be better put to say they are all literally created and put in place BY, this small group — the investor/business class….
People still think that “they’re in the way of our progress as enlightened citizens and activists…..” What they don’t realize is that THEY are literally the car we’re all driving in. They’re not just driving the car. As some might interject. They create the car, decide on whether the car should continue to exist or not, decide on what color it should be –capitalist or communist…the entire system we live and breathe in is created and sustained by this small group.
Headed up and controlled from the top down by Central Banks at the very top, investment banks and the wealthiest individuals who own and control them just below that, and on down….the “people” are way way way down at the bottom of this pyramidic structure. I’m sure you’ve seen this pictorial before.
Money….because of the (perhaps sad and) simple fact that we human beings have created it as THE MOST ESSENTIAL IMPORTANT & NECESSARY OBJECT TO HUMAN SURVIVAL… is the prime mechanism that drives this industry, and this industry in turn controls all that money, which translates to them literally controlling every action and reaction we’ve ever heard of or read about, every invention or intervention, every government and politician, every monarch product service law rule political party idea you name it…the gate of whether “it” is allowed to exist or not AND how “it” is perceived lies squarely in the center of this tiny little world. Controlled by such a small percentage of the human population.
It’s actually quite fascinating. Objectively. If you can find a way to leave your emotions at the door for a while. Really gets the cerebral blood flowing and the heart pounding. Because we are speaking about nothing less than how an entire race of people, an entire species of beings, is governed. What they think, how they think, what they do and how they do it. All of it.
Because “long term survival of others” is not an idea that pops up on anybody’s radar in this group, the ideas and actions that are motivated by that idea are completely ignored. Ignored is the wrong word. They’d have to be thought of or heard to be ignored. And they’re not even thought of, so they’re not even considered. Because it’s simply not a motivating idea in that world.
Short term and even long term profit IS. But survival of “all of us as a group” is not. In case you reach that point in your contemplation of “well what do they plan on doing once 5% of the earth is swallowed up by the ocean?” The answer is they know THEY won’t be THERE being swallowed up by the ocean is what they’re planning. It’s really that simple.
“But what about their children and grandchildren?” you ask… “Don’t they care about them?” Yes, of course they do. But they will be completely shielded and protected from any of the tragic fallout from present day actions just as these people are today. Because they too will have the same money and hence access resources power control and connections that their parents and grandparents have today.
I too am bothered by leaving you here…in such a sullen place… surely there’s more to it, more that can be done… Yes I believe that too. In fact I believe that the more of us from this “other group” who deliberately jump into the world of investing and business the better. Our “strange ideas” of health wealth liberty happiness and prosperity for all will slowly rub off and catch on. For there is great joy–and benefit– in groups. In being part of a group. And in helping others. We just need to keep sharing and vibrating that.
As always, more later.
– Posted by The Ambassador using BlogPress on an iPhone
I received a message this weekend from someone with a few questions regarding the potential of a “conspiracy” around the upcoming US presidential election. I don’t get a chance to respond to all messages I receive. I would say that the process is almost “random” at this point. Some just catch my eye. Many i simply never get a chance to read. But I try. I really do. In any case, here is one that I felt particularly intrigued to respond to for some reason.
“Ed… I trust yr opinion on politics….what do you think of this theory which keeps being tossed around. this was posted on the new Reddit Sub.. “Political Revolution” by a anonymous poster (don’t know if you go on Reddit but it is all anon) interesting times as Harry Palmer would say. hope you see this .. would love yr input….–]YourPoliticalParty [score hidden] 14 minutes ago
“Sigh Here we go again: Donald Trump is false-flagging as a Republican (thanks to the right-wing popularity he got from pushing the Obama “birther” nonsense in 2008) to discredit the Republican Party, to distract from Hillary Clinton’s scandals/investigation, and to force voters to vote for Hillary Clinton in the general election as the “lesser-of-two-evils.” Trump and the Clintons have been close-friends for years. Hillary sat front-row at Trump’s 2005 wedding, while Trump endorsed her and donated to her 2000 Senate and 2008 Presidential campaigns. Bill Clinton and Donald Trump are golfing buddies, and have regular phone conversations where they discuss golf, politics, and the Clinton Foundation. Even Chelsea and Ivanka are friends. Now, after locking in the GOP nomination, Trump ramps up his divisive rhetoric and self-sabotage to situate himself as more unfavorable than record-breaking Hillary. That’s why every single thing that comes out of the Clinton campaign ultimately goes back to Donald Trump, because his role-playing as the right-wing menace is supposed to be her guarantee to the White House. They are putting on a show for the American people, where Donald Trump plays the ignorant bigoted businessman trying to run away with the country, and Hillary Clinton pretends to be the upstanding progressive hero who will stop him.””
Re this post, this is pretty typical/classic conspiracy thought. Nothing wrong with that. I first learned about, started studying and hooked up with the patriot movement (which is a term i prefer over “conspiracy theories…) back in ’94 when i was just a youngin’. So i’ve heard it all over the last twenty years.
What i find personally is that posts like this are way too simplified compared to reality. Reality is just a very complex system. And sure there are PLENTY of real live conspiracies at play right in front of our eyes. No denying that. (9/11, the EU, this insane increase in “mass killings” in the States is certainly suspect…since it’s such a new phenom.)
But regarding this particular issue you bring up, let’s just look at the “facts” (as best we can) and not necessarily try to make any conclusions, but rather just check them out…
Trump was a long time Dem, always has been. And then mysteriously switched to the GOP. This might seem suspect… BUT this was for rather obvious reasons. No way he was going to win a primary in the modern Dem party. Just not a chance. And he knew it.
[to me personally that seems an intelligent though crafty slimy move by someone with not much left in life to achieve except “becoming president”. You know, some people desire to serve. Other’s desire to achieve. Becoming president could be viewed as a “great achievement” by some, and if one listens to Trump, it sounds like he sees it as just another great thing to achieve. By all accounts he’ll probably spend most of his time on the golf course and trying to stay a TV star. Being president of the U.S. will grow old and tiresome and too much work for him quickly. And soon it will be just another buck head on the wall. Sooooo, no real surprise there.]
Trump does happen to be good friends with the Clintons and has been for 30 years. So isn’t it weird that he’s attacking Hilary so badly?
[From a small suburban mindset, sure; no one would want their longtime next door neighbor to treat them that way… It would be shocking. BUT…these are the games that modern american politics have turned into. It’s a blood sport now. It’s reality TV at it’s absolute worst and absurd. No love will be lost between these two. They get it. It’s a show. Trump will LOVE becoming president despite his friendship with and (maybe even) love for Bill and Hilary. And he will expect Hilary and Bill to take it gracefully. We are after all talking about “the highest office in the land” — at least to many folks. And as some say, “all’s fair in love and war”. I never liked or felt aligned with that sentiment. But many less evolved believe it’s smart to abide by it.]
Trump swept the Rep nomination in a record landslide manner that we haven’t seen in the 21st or 20th centuries.
[Conspiracy? Nah. Trump just recognized how the game has completely transformed and what it’s transformed into in the last 4-8 years. Does one really believe that Cruz or Rubio or BUSH for God’s sake didn’t REALLY WANT and work hard for that nomination? Seriously? It would be a really silly short-sighted and ignorant (simply meaning not possessing much knowledge about the subject) thing to believe. Trump won it fair and square. Sad? sure. Scary. Hell yeah. Disturbing because of what it implies about at least 50% of our fellow Americans and where their heads are at? My God yes. But a conspiracy? No. He won it. The people wanted it.]
What about the whole thing on a bigger level being one big false flag in terms of “them” KNOWING Trump doesn’t stand a chance of being elected in the General, and thus being able to secure the agreement they made with Hilary back in ’08 (remember that not so secret coming out party that the Bilderberg Group had when they handed the presidency to Obama and gave Hilary Sec of State and most likely promised her POTUS in 2016?)..?
[Okay, yes, from an informed widened back perspective, this seems highly likely and some would say downright obvious. And unfortunately, that just seems to be where Americans are today. It’s all image and soundbites and not many seem to care about research or facts. So… SOMEONE has to be in charge besides “the people”. “The people” are just too damn busy doing other things now to care about how they’re governed. So these wealthy small multi/super-national elitist groups control things and keep the peace from behind closed doors. And as long as everything seems to remain relatively calm peaceful and healthy financially, the people seem to be fine with it.
(Admittedly this proposition does suck. It’s a sad idea to ponder.) BUT I will say this, after more than 25 years of studying these issues and ideas, from the whackiest to the most fact-based and obvious realities, ultimately “the people” (here at least) still get to VOTE. SO even IF the powers that be promised Hilary the presidency, if the people don’t appear to be taking the bait, she will be out. Period. Place crash, sudden illness, a drop out “to be closer to her new grandbaby…” You’ll see. These small elitist cabals that control the goings-on of global finance and politics do NOT care who appears to be in charge. Just as long as they play along with the myths. They no more “like” Hilary than anyone else they could put in her place. WHOEVER is “selected” gets briefed on how things work, who’s in charge and what’s expected of them. It’s not like they just jump in and do whatever they want. By the time one gets to where Hilary is, they’ve known who’s in charge and what the rules are for a long time.
BUT that doesn’t mean in any way that they get a free pass. I mean, just look at how HARD Hilary has had to work over the last year and a half!!!! I despise Hilary’s actions as an alleged so-called civil servant over the last 25 years. (I don’t know her personally, so I have no opinion of her person..) But i have been in awe of how hard she has worked to achieve this goal of her’s. I mean sheesh! She is on turbo. I don’t know how she does it. It just looks like she REALLY WANTS IT.
But don’t be fooled. She’s still going to have to win it. The powers that be are very aware that the American people LOVE and cherish the potus election aspect of their beloved republic and are NOT ready to give up the myths of this process. They know full well that the people need to “feel as though” THEY are electing their president. And in some ways, they still are. Just not “completely”. They’re electing the choices handed to them from a small group of people who are willing to play ball who are selected and offered up to them by others. BUT this is how it’s been in the US for a very long time.
Well isn’t that a conspiracy? Yeah, sure it is. But it’s not a new one. We’ve already known this for decades. At least since they did away with JFK MLK and Bobby for not playing ball. Is it a conspiracy if everyone knows it’s happening? Conspiracy implies secrecy. And these matters are not very secret at this point. We already know and have known that bigger figures — much bigger than any president — “control things from the shadows” (as some people like to say. I prefer “from behind closed doors” because it is more realistic). Our world has ALWAYS worked this way. For centuries. Hell, for millennia.
Until the people can take no more and they revolt. It’s cyclic. At which time, the powers that be then regroup and form a new structure closer in look and feel to what the people think they want at that time. But they still stay in control. Just under slightly different guises. AND YES the people DO get a slightly altered world that perhaps looks and feels and acts a bit more like they want it to…(civil rights legislation, women’s rights, gay rights, labor rights, the abolishment of slavery and even capital punishment in many states now, etc etc…) So as dark and depressing as this system is, it does offer hope, at least a ray of it in my humble opinion.]
Okay, so to just wrap up your original question regarding the possibility of a conspiracy surrounding the upcoming election of POTUS, i guess the best way to view it is “well yeah, sure, in the bigger picture, of course. Just as it’s always been. Nothing’s changed. Bigger powers plan and implement these things decades before we’re even thinking about them. (just look at how long they worked on creating the EU! (Its founding was in 1941 in Berlin, Nazi Germany, then a little more work in ’44…. Slow, steady, constant…. Fucking amazing patience planning and perseverance to achieve that egregious goal. (28 European countries no longer have the right to national sovereignty nor the ability to vote for their own laws as a people in their own country because it’s all being done for them by selected officials in Brussels — for 28 countries!!!! = WOW! AMAZING what people are willing to give up when they don’t care.)
BUT, here in the States the people are getting a voice still. No one’s going to occupy that House that the people don’t like or want. In today’s America, the powers that be are very aware that that mentality still stands. So we’ll end up with exactly who the majority says we will. And for better or worse, it will probably be Hilary. The better of two evils. And haven’t we been playing that game for a long time….I hope we eventually transcend it. But in the meantime, a good way to sum it up is “It’s not a conspiracy if everyone knows about it.” And at this point we do.
One more thing, since we’re on it. And since you might ask or reflect on it… “But Ed, how are we going to eradicate these selfish greedy wicked controlling forces that operate beneath the surface of things?” you might be thinking…. I know i am.
Well, real quick, just look at them. They’re freaking HUGE.
– The Rothschild banking cartel is GIGANTIC and has its hands in everything in every country and has for over a hundred years.
– Vatican City. HUGE. It’s a freaking multi-national corporation AND a COUNTRY, besides being the world’s most feared and admired religion, and yet most people don’t even know that.
– Central Banks. (one could argue that this is just an extension of The Rothschild empire, and to a certain degree, for at least the purpose of simplicity, they could be said to be right). Private Central Banks like the not-even-a-little-bit-Federal Reserve and the BOJ, BOE, PBOC and ECB control the whole bloody civilized world. The World Bank and the IMF control the rest. So…. yeah, good luck doing away with them.
– The no-such-thing-as-Royal Families. They’re everywhere. Ubiquitous leeches with enormous wealth, the largest land holdings on earth STILL and protections in place that ensure their existence for generations to come. England’s royal family lives in their own PRIVATE COUNTRY withIN England in order to protect their money and sovereignty. (in other words so that they can always be able to do what they want when they want to, just in case the rabble get out of hand again…) It’s called “London” but a different London than the UK city that everyone knows. And this is a fact that even most Brits aren’t aware of. And that’s just England.
– The Bilderberg Group. So called. This is more of just a very small arm of these larger groups mentioned above. BUT research into THEM always eventually leads one to what’s really going on.
The point being is that IMHO we aren’t going to ever eradicate these giant institutions. At least not in our lifetimes. They’re just way too big and way too cemented into human society and our cultural paradigms. Religion, government, banking, the control of money, cultural identification…. These are HUGE archetypes for most people to abandon or discreate.
Best bet is that we keep on working from the outside, one person at a time and eventually we fold these larger powers into the mix like ingredients into cake batter — the same way they did to us — and through our positive influence and vibrations they will slowly evolve into more helpful and aligned institutions and individuals.
Of course there is also the possibility that we might also be able to speed up this process through doing work in consciousness from behind the scenes. Avatar Wizards and many others are already consciously doing that. That should give us an exponential increase in velocity and creational yield I believe.
Alas I wish I had “better” news for you. But remember, this is just one idea. Nothing is set in stone. If I’ve learned one thing, it’s that. And to bring these high concepts down to earth for a moment, as an example, just look at what the Brits did last week! Sure they temporarily destroyed trillions of dollars in the world’s capital markets, BUT they demanded to take back their right to vote for their own laws and governance. That’s pretty big and impressive.
There is hope in such things.
A caveat: for those more accustomed to, and more interested in, the usually more philosophical, theological or sociological nature of The Diaries, you may want to skip this post. It’s about finance and economics and more technical than usual. Just a heads up. If you do decide to venture in, I will clarify a bit more than usual regarding the economy and investing world to give context — so another caveat, this one for those who are already well versed in all things finance and investing: you may find the first few paragraphs a bit elementary… feel free to skip ahead, but hang on and stay in. This one’s for you and there are worthy takeaways to be had.
The investing world is abuzz with Silicon Valley again and it has been for a number of years now. It feels like 1999 all over again. Both the American and European stock markets have been on a tear — in what is commonly called a “secular bull market” — for almost six straight years. People who are active or even passive investors in “the markets” have been making money hand over fist from doing absolutely nothing but just staying invested. It’s an odd paradoxical dichotomy — and it truly is — that as the American economy continues to drag and sputter, making financial abundance, or even stability, seem increasingly unreachable for the majority of Americans still, the top 1% have been doing incredibly well in “the markets”. This paradox is well known amongst the wealthiest in the country. It’s not a mystery or an unknown. It’s very well known, sad as it is, amongst the people who are making all the money. It’s a given. And there are very specific reasons for it.
One might remember investment guru Warren Buffet commenting a few year ago how ridiculous he thought it was that he pays less tax annually than his secretary does. This surprising statistic is simply due to the fact that the common bread earner in the United States pays a much higher tax on their “income” i.e. the money they earn from their job, than an investor does on the profits he or she makes in any kind of investment. That tax — known as the Capital Gains Tax — is capped at 15%. What this means is that whether you made $100 from your stock market investments last year or $1,000,000, you’re still only required to pay 15% tax on it. With the right kind of finagling — owning a few corporations that make big money — enough to fund even the most lavish lifestyles — but somehow mange to “not make a profit” but instead make a loss (and this is more common than the average person realizes…) and you can even reduce that measly 15% capital gains tax further down and come out paying Uncle Sam next to nothing, as in ZERO. You just have to know the game and how it’s played.
But this post isn’t about that. Perhaps one day we’ll go into further details about this sad but true paradox, because I must admit I do receive a fair share of requests from folks begging me to explain to them how on earth one is capable of making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year and paying next to no tax on it. It’s not as hard as most people think. In fact it’s quite easy. Again, you just have to understand how the system works. So yes… perhaps we will get into it one day… But today is not that day.
Another reason for this strange upside down economy is due to Federal Reserve policy. “The Fed” as it is commonly referred to is a large private cabal of banking cartels who control the monetary policy and the money supply of the United States. The funny thing is that the Federal reserve is NOT “federal”; they are not a branch of the U.S. government. They don’t work for the U.S. government. They answer to no one. But they make all the rules. (This is truly a whole book unto itself, let alone too much for even a series of posts — so one is encouraged to take some time to research this incredibly vexing scam…) In a nutshell this organization that controls all things monetary — think the economy — is the primary entity that loans the United States the money it needs to continue to operate. When you hear terms like the national debt or national deficit, this debt is owed to this company known as The Federal Reserve; they being a private bank who exist solely to make money charges the U.S. interest on the money it lends the country, just as any bank does; thus in a way one could say that the Fed has a vested interest in seeing the United States economy do well — at the moment the U.S. owes a staggering amount of money to this organization, something to the tune of 17 TRILLION dollars.
In exchange for all the money The Fed loans the United States to stay “in business” so to speak, the United States government allows the Fed to do just about anything it wants to — including for example keeping it’s books private and sealed. One might have a recollection of a few years ago when then-presidential candidate Ron Paul (remember him?) tried to pass a Bill in Congress to force The Fed to allow the U.S. government to see it’s books — as in take a look at its accounting records. This would seem to be rather a no-brainer, right? All public companies are obligated to make their accounting records open and available to the public — how much money they have, how much debt they have, how much money they are making in gross revenues and net profits, etc. etc. But The Fed is no regular “public company”. It’s ironic if not downright terrifying that 99% of Americans do not even realize that The Federal Reserve is not only NOT part of the federal government, but they are so private that no one in the United States government is even allowed to look at it’s books. The word shocking comes to mind. But terrifying fits the bill even more appropriately considering how much power this private group of banks has over the health and wealth of the whole country.
So how much power DOES this private group of banks have over the United States? Put it this way: The Fed has the ability to say yes or no to the United States government regarding how much money it loans them or doesn’t — as in any day they can collapse the American economy or continue to allow it to wrack up more debt. It’s all in THEIR hands and truly no one else’s. They also of course have the power to set monetary policy in general — this is why it is a fool-hearty idea to ever blame a good or bad economy on any American president, for they simply don’t have much power in regards to the economy, but that doesn’t stop most people from still doing this. The primary thing the Fed does in regards to “setting monetary policy” is they decide what the lending rate is at any given time in the American economy. At the moment it is set roughly around -0-. This is the rate of interest that banks can charge each other to borrow money from one another. This “prime lending rate” has a great influence on all the other interest rates in a healthy first-world society such as mortgage rates or car loan financing interest rates or the interest one receives from investing bonds or savings accounts or bank CDs.
You might have heard the term QE bandied about over the last few years. QE stands for Quantitative Easing, which was the Fed’s fancy term for lowering the prime lending rate down to a record low AND at the same time temporarily loaning the U.S. billions of dollars by buying various bonds from the United States and various other banks — they did this in order to “stimulate the economy”, as a means to get people spending again and to get banks loaning money to people again. So far it hasn’t worked out as well as many hoped it would. BUT to be fair it did at least according to general agreement amongst most experts save the country from sinking into another Great Depression from our recent Great Recession (the recent economic crisis we experienced in 2007 and 2008).
What this policy did do though was stimulate the hell out of the American stock markets. By lowering interest rates down to near -0-, people with money had no other choice but to invest their money in the stock markets — simply because they couldn’t make any money with their money from investing in anything else. Savings accounts, bonds and CDs offered zero to almost zero return, i.e. interest. If you add in even a small amount of inflation — the price of goods increasing compared to the value of the Dollar, and one would actually LOSE money if they had invested their money in a savings account, bond or bank CD due to how low the interest received was. So people with money jumped into the stock market.
This is what has created one of the strongest and longest running bull markets in American history. More and more money has poured into the markets and as long as this mysterious organization called The Fed continues to keep interest rates LOW, then people assume that the stock market will continue to go up. From the outside, from the view of the average American who doesn’t bother to pay attention to monthly and quarterly economic data, things still seem rather bleak to be sure. Unemployment has supposedly declined, though many doubt this claim. Jobs still seem few and far between and raise and promotions seem a fantasy of days long gone by for most.
Except in the world of finance that is. You see, every time we have economic data — the investing world holds its breath: if the data is GOOD, the markets tank, as an improving economy would compel the Fed to start raising rates again which could signal the end of the bull market. So instead people who are heavily invested hope that the data is BAD. In the world of investing this is known as the “bad news is good news” paradigm and without fail every time any economic data comes in that is “bad” for the average American, you can hear and see high fives flying around Wall Street like wild fire. It’s an upside down situation to be sure. Instead of the stock markets flying high due to a healthy economy, it continues to fly high due to hopes that the economy stays bad. This will keep rates low and insure that more and more money will continue to flow into the markets. Again this may sound shocking to the average person, but it’s not exactly “news” to those who invest their money for a living rather than work a regular salaried job. Frankly yes it’s easy to see why anyone first learning of this closely guarded bit of data would claim that it’s fucked up. It is.
In a nutshell there’s your lesson in finance and econ for the day. Now on to the main point of this post.
Today we are going to focus our attention on the Social Media sector of the investment world. [Again just for those who may not know this: the investment world is divided into sectors FYI. There are many of them and savvy investors are familiar with them all. For example there’s the Semi-Conductor sector (what we refer to as “the Semis”), the Consumer Discretionary sector (Tiffany, Coach, Whirlpool — basically anything that is not essential to the consumer but is purchased when the consumer has discretionary money laying around…), there’s the Oil sector — which is further split between the Refiners and the Oil Services companies, and on and on it goes. Believe it or not, once you enter this world — as with any — it becomes very easy to memorize all the various data points, statistics and acronyms.]
Two sectors that have been red-hot over the last few years have been the Technology sector (usually referred to as “Tech”) and the Social Media sector (often just referred to as simply “Social”). Companies like Facebook (FB), Google (GOOG), Twitter (TWTR) and Yelp (YELP) are all part of the Social Media sector and even the most distanced individuals have surely heard the stories over the years about the ridiculous amount of cash people have been making from investing in these “hot companies”. Silicon Valley is on fire at the moment, with venture capital spending reaching all time highs once more pouring money into the latest start-ups hoping that they can eventually turn them into the next Facebook or YouTube.
The word on the street for these companies is Unicorn. You may have even heard the word bouncing around lately as it is one of the many newest trending in the social media world. A Unicorn is any super hot start up company that is raising a ton of investment capital — usually to the tune of one billion or more — in the Valley with the intention of eventually going “public” — all long before the company starts actually making money. The companies just have to show growth in their user base and their “potential” to make money and people will throw millions upon millions of dollars at them. A few of the hottest Unicorns at the moment are Uber, AirBNB, and Pinterest. Yes from the inside it all appears just as blatantly stupid as it does from the outside. But this is just how the markets work. They are completely irrational, as they always have been.
At this very moment analysts and traders on CNBC’s midday show Halftime Report are all discussing the Social Media sector. Primarily because during this latest earnings season social media companies have been getting clobbered. After running up to more than $85 a share Facebook is now trading below $79. Twitter dropped from $55 a share to $38 in one day — you have to imagine having say a million dollars of your clients’ money invested TWTR and having that figure lose almost half of it in less than 24 hours to really understand the ramifications of such a dramatic drop. YELP not to be left behind performed the worst out of all of them so far, dropping from a high of $85 earlier this year to a measly $39 as of today’s trading session — losing 22% of it’s value in just one day and more than 50% from its highs of the year. When you contemplate the insane amount of money invested in these companies by hedge funds, money managers and investment banks — in the case of YELP, a smaller player, we’re talking billions of dollars invested, you begin to fathom just how much money that is to lose in such a short period of time. LinkedIn was the latest social player to kick the bucket: In one day their stock fell from $250 to $203, a 20% loss in less than an hour.
But why? WHY are social media companies taking such a beating? All the talking puppets on CNBC, Bloomberg and FOX Business News continue to talk about these companies with big smiles on their faces as if they are viable investment vehicles — no one ever saying what would be clearly obvious to even the least educated in business and finance: the American consumer is sick and tired of being advertised to, and social media companies make their money, or at least they’re supposed to, from collecting advertising revenue. You see, once upon a time Facebook made mention that it might start charging for it’s services — charging the everyday user to have a Facebook profile and communicate with their friends and family on a regular basis. The backlash could be heard in places as remote as the Himalayas! The week they made this announcement, as ironic as it may seem, the FB newsfeed was filled with posts advertising that the BAN FACEBOOK DAY was soon upon us as everyone and their brother announced that they would not stand to pay a single penny to use Facebook and they would immediately jump ship if such a fee was ever initiated. And that was the end of that idea. Facebook learned a valuable lesson from that stunt — people may love you if you’re free, but that doesn’t mean they have any intention of giving you any of their hard earned money. They don’t love you like THAT.
It turned out that Facebook was not as essential as it thought it might have been and thus they had to go back to the drawing board to figure out just how they were going to actually generate MONEY. See, Facebook WAS hugely successful in terms of it’s popularity amongst users. At one point it reached one BILLION users globally. That’s a phenomenal figure when you consider it for a moment: it translates to almost 20% of every single person on planet earth having a Facebook account of some kind. But the company didn’t make any money. The average person on the street, struggling to just pay their monthly bills always has a tough time understanding concepts like this: how can a company be as big as Facebook (or Amazon or Yelp or Twitter for that matter…) but not actually make any money?!? It seems illogical. And in reality it is. The truth is that these companies BORROW the money they have from what you commonly hear referred to as “angel investors” or venture capitalists. They then use that money to grow their business with the hope that one day they WILL make money… Some do. Many never make it. Amazon — one of the largest companies in the free world still operates at a loss every year. Yep. It’s true. They bring in billions of dollars a year in revenue. But every year they report not a profit but a LOSS, meaning that they spent more than they made. How is this even possible? Simple. They borrow more money and go further into debt based on the idea that one day they actually will make a profit. It’s a funny business. One that just about any average American would love to be able to take advantage of in their own personal finances to be sure. Problem is, banks and venture capitalists aren’t interested in you or me and our ability to pay our bills or even have enough money to eat for that matter. Instead they are interested in future profit potential. That’s life in a nutshell. As unfair as it is, that’s just how it is. You’d have a better chance at borrowing money from a bank — millions even — if you presented them with some dumb idea that showed that you could have half a million “users” by year end 2016 than you would just asking them for money to put food on the table or pay your mortgage. It’s capitalism.
So where were we? Ah yes, Facebook. So here’s Facebook, a simple idea, a dumb idea, at best a rip off of MySpace (remember them?) who was a rip off of Friendster (remember THEM?) showing tremendous growth in “users” but no way to make money from these users. So how to monetize all these users? That was the question…. This was back in the days when Facebook had swept Wall Street by storm by going public and seeing it’s stock price go from $16 to $45 in one day and then having it quickly fall back to $17 where it stayed for a few years, leaving many investors sorry they ever heard of the name. Imagine that kind of a loss in your retirement portfolio. Eventually Facebook got smart and created a very simple advertising vehicle for any and every one to use — a way for users to advertise to each other. “Here’s my Page. Like it!” It didn’t cost that much, you could set the amount you wanted to spend each day, and you could actually see your little ads pop up on the side bar of your Facebook screen now and then. It felt good. And it seemed to generate actual results. It was similar to buying an ad from Google to get more traffic to your website. And we all know how well Google had done… Facebook is presently worth about $178 BILLION dollars. Google is worth roughly TWICE that.
So began the great social media company frenzy. It was 1999 all over again. All a company had to do was show that it could grow its user base, forget about making money or generating a profit, and the investment dollars poured in. Twitter soon leaped onto the scene and ran up to $55 on it’s first day going public from a starting price of around $16. This valued Twitter at about 35 billion dollars overnight. For a company that wasn’t even making a billion dollars a year, nor anything close to it. But it was all about the user growth. Twitter still operates at a loss — meaning that it loses money every year rather than makes it. How would you like that kind of job? TO get paid for losing money? But the pundits had valid points: Twitter WAS popular. People did seem to have a valid interest in and excitement about it. The problem was and still is that that excitement is fleeting. Today’s Twitter is tomorrow’s Snapchat or Tumblr. Remember them? Yahoo purchased Tumblr — and what exactly was Tumblr in the first place? a blog for kids? — for some FIVE BILLION dollars. There’s money they’ll never get back. And Tomorrow’s Snapchat or Tumblr is next week’s Meercat or Periscope. The landscape is constantly changing in the hands of the ever-fickle American consumer. The truth is that they really just don’t CARE.
And that’s the big disconnect between Wall Street and Main Street. The average person on Main Street has a life. Family problems, car problems, job worries, relationship woes… They could care less about Facebook or Twitter or Snapchat or Tumblr in the grand scheme of things. When’s the last time you heard anyone even mention Tumblr? But the folks on Wall Street don’t recognize this simple fact of life. These are minor trivialities in the hearts and minds of the average consumer, these “fancy websites” they call social media. They don’t put food on the table. They don’t even offer anything relatively substantial or of value that cannot be had elsewhere. NEW is much more exciting to the consumer than been there done that. It doesn’t mean that mom still won’t keep trying to Message you on Facebook this year. She probably will. But are you really even paying attention anymore?
Environments like Facebook and Twitter have continued to remain semi-entertaining and even useful at times when one has nothing better to do or when there’s big news we want instant access to… But when we’re in the mood for big news, we are NOT interested in ads clogging up our newsfeed. Nor are we interested in ads when we have nothing better to do than scroll through old friends’ attempts at wit or their latest selfie or cat photograph. Let’s face it, social media is fraught with meaningless drivel. Hence the shift back towards more meaningful content platforms like blogs or even texting.
Every social media company is reporting user growth increasing but revenues and profits shrinking. And the simple reason for it is because nobody likes being advertised to. The television world and Wall Street already recognizes this fact as more and more people shift away from traditional TV towards digital alternatives like Netflix or Hulu or flat out stealing online. This is the time of the great peregrination of the consumer away from advertising — why? Because we can. And in an environment like this, you better not have advertising revenue as your main means of generating cashflow or you’re going to be screwed. YELP is the perfect example. Yelp is actually a great tool. Nearly everyone has it loaded on their phone and loves it. The problem is that no one is willing to pay for it. (The music industry is going through a similar shift…) Yelp wants to generate revenue from selling advertising. But the users who use Yelp the most absolutely REFUSE to use Yelp if they believe that any of the data they are reading such as reviews are being influenced in any way by advertising dollars — in other words, people want to believe what they read on Yelp. They want to read ALL the reviews, not just the ones that some company has paid to place there, and they certainly don’t want to find out that companies are able to pay to have negative reviews removed from Yelp. What’s the point of the app then? See the problem? Yelp is basically fucked. A valuable tool with no viable way to make money.
Twitter god love it is in a similar position. I personally use Twitter all day as a means to receive notifications about subjects I am interested in ON MY PHONE. In other words, I set up notifications to come directly to my phone from Twitter about various different subjects or different individuals or even tweets that may mention me — the president of Iran will shoot out an interesting tweet now and then, and where else can one access such data but Twitter? But that doesn’t mean I ever scroll through the Twitter newsfeed or what they call their “Timeline”. The truth is I never do. The notifications come to my phone. I scroll through them. Get the basic gist of what was said. And I move on. All on Twitter’s dime. Or better put on the billions of dollars invested in Twitter by their investors. All without ever paying for Twitter and all without ever seeing an ad. Hell, like most people I’m downright annoyed and pissed off when I see an ad on Twitter. How dare they?!? And yet THIS is precisely how they intend on making their money! From advertising. It’s farcical when you really start thinking about it.
We have to begin to realize and acknowledge that we’ve reached a crossroads in the global economy. We’ve raised a whole generation on free usage based on the idea that we’d make our money from advertising — while at the same time weening them off of advertising on every other platform. There are hundreds of apps now on the market that REMOVE ads from Twitter and Facebook. And one would be right to believe that very soon there will be apps to somehow remove the ads from Pandora and Spotify as well — which is how those companies make the majority of their money as well since they’ve programmed whole generations to believe that music should be free — just about the dumbest thing one could think to do if MUSIC was the one and only product that you wanted to sell in your business. Again, we’re at this major crossroads where at some point soon, something has to give. Investors are going to learn sooner than later — just as they did in the dot com crash of 2000 — that they can’t keep pouring money into businesses who don’t actually make money. And businesses are going to eventually learn that you can’t run a business offering the main product you sell for zero dollars. It’s an illogical business model. And all it’s done is destroy more than one industry, the music business just being one of them. TV is next. Social media never really was in reality. And people are just starting to see that now as these once high flying stocks crash and burn.
As a sidenote with a potential solution, look at the companies who actually DO have a chance at making money. Out of the three Unicorns mentioned above, Pinterest is another Yelp waiting to happen. They’ll garner billions of dollars in investment capital and blow through it all in the hopes of turning all those bored moms and housewives into advertising clicking robots, only to realize that those bored moms and housewives aren’t any more interested in clicking on ads as the rest of us, and they’ll go belly up a year or two after going public IF Wall Street is dumb enough to take them there. But Uber and AIRBnB are different. Both of them actually SELL something besides advertising. Sure there’s a social aspect to both companies. That’s just the new normal — there has to be a social aspect to EVERYthing now. Eventually we’ll have apps where people post their latest and greatest bowel movements for others to see and rate. (If those already don’t exist, which I can’t with certainty…).
But the key is that the social aspect to both Uber and Air BnB is NOT the product itself. It’s a byproduct of the actual product. And that really is the key to this new environment. Social is key. But it can’t be THE key. There has to be an underlying product to be sold. And “to be sold” means to CHARGE MONEY FOR IT. Just as PayPal charges a few pennies on the dollar for every transaction, they’re offering a very valuable product — the ability to exchange money with freinds, family and business associates without ever leaving your home or office, or even your couch for that matter. All from the comfort and ease of your smart phone. That’s smart. Uber and Air BnB are doing the same thing. Small fees. Nothing fancy. But they’re actually making money. And isn’t that the reason to start and run a business in the first place? What companies like Yelp and Twitter are going to do is a mystery. They’ve screwed themselves from the outset with a faulty business model. As have companies like Spotify. The next few months and years are going to be ugly as this grand experiment fails and falls to pieces in rubble all around the feet of Wall Street and Main Street investors. People are already asking “are we in a bubble” everyday now… and truth be told, in the bigger picture of the investing world, no, not quite yet. But in the social media sector we’re beyond bubble territory. We’re in the sloppy frothy messy slime and sludge of a bubble already burst. Most just don’t see it yet. If you’re into shorting, now would be the time…
A few years back I posted an article here suggesting that the television industry needed to institute a radical change in programming and release full seasons of shows all at once instead of sticking to the old model of one episode per week and that they could even charge a premium for it because consumers were changing how they wanted to view TV. Less than six months later the advent of “binge watching” and studios releasing full seasons all at once began when Netflix released an entire new season of Arrested Development. Soon after came House of Cards, Orange is the New Black and once Amazon jumped on board the rest as they say is history.
Well here’s another one for you and I’m going to give it to you free of charge. At some point in the near future we will all hear about an exciting new company — whose title will invariably be one word and be a pun or spin off of another more common word — that gives consumers an opportunity to buy and/or sell to each other their pre-owned digital media such as movies, ebooks, albums, TV episodes or whole seasons.
At one point or another we’ve all sprung for a movie we really wanted to see on Amazon, went ahead and bought it because it wasn’t yet available to rent — and now it sits in our “Video Library” — digitally speaking — even though we may never feel a desire to ever watch that film again. The same is fast becoming true with TV episodes. As more and more of us travel more or ditch cable completely, we still want to keep up with our favorite shows; so we end up “purchasing” different episodes, usually at about $1.99 per OR $39.99 per season.
But let’s say we’ve already binge watched seasons 1 through 4 of Walking Dead a few times and we’re over it. As of now all those episodes just sit in our possession forever. Stored on Amazon’s servers and held in our name — what they call our “Video Library”. After a while we may want to sell all those episodes to someone else, say at half the price we paid, and buy season 1 of True Detective. Again we won’t buy True Detective new, nor will we even rent it via On Demand — we may no longer subscribe to cable. Instead we will have the opportunity to purchase or better put “repurchase” it from someone else who already bought it a year or two earlier.
The biggest challenge to this business — and it’s guaranteed that this WILL BE an exciting new business everyone will be raving about at some point in the next 6 to 12 months — is making the calls to set up all the partnerships that would be needed to make it work. For one thing deals will have to be made with all the distributors, the Amazons and HBOGOs and ShowTimes and the like. Best solution would be to offer them a simple transaction fee for every time they change the name of one of the titles they have in their library from say Mr. John Smith to Mrs. Annabella Washington. The digital media will never move. It will still stay in the same place on their servers. The only thing that will change will be the owners name. Think of it like a virtual eBay for virtual media (since the media is no longer in physical form). No shipping required.
Deals will also have to be struck with all the content providers and the licensing agencies, the people who originally created and licensed the product who usually receive a fee every time that particular title, whether it be an ebook or a movie or an or a TV episode, is purchased; whether it’s a television studio or a production company or a record company etc etc. Yes it will be a challenge. But it’s no more challenging than what YouTube or Sootify or Pandora have had to do. It’s just going to take time, a good law firm, a little effort, a smattering of charm and a gift for gab. In a few months time all of these deals can easily be put into place and the business can be up and running on a simple web and mobile platform for consumers to start using.
Will it happen? Yes, without a doubt. Within a year this is a no brainer for an acquisition or take over by one of the larger media companies. The question is WHO is going to do it? It could be you. Like I said, this is a freebie. Take it. I’ve already got too much in the pipeline. But regardless of who creates it, I personally cannot wait to use this service. I own way too many episodes of The Good Wife and would gladly trade them all in for half of what I paid for them.
The advent of a consumer market for used digital media is right around the corner. The demand is already there. We just need someone to build it.
– Posted by The Ambassador using BlogPress on an iPhone 6
“The music industry is dwindling, but only for the artists. Something’s not right here. Artists can’t make a living anymore. They’re having to go get second jobs to pay the bills. But look at the profits of music companies like YouTube, iTunes, Spotify and the evil publicly-traded Pandora (who recently sued artists and record labels to be allowed to pay even less per stream — they won btw and are now only obligated to pay a royalty rate of .0007 per stream. Yes, as incomprehensible as that is to fathom, that’s 7/1000th of one penny –that’s all we as artists get paid every time someone listens to a song of ours on Pandora. They’re revenue is in the billions. It’s hard to believe, I get it. It is just as hard for us, the content creators/product suppliers, to believe as well. The problem is the labels. I know and like these guys. And I’ve told them this to their face. They’ll sell their own mother for $25. They’ve got to change and start helping the artists more.” — Garth Brooks to CNN November 17, 2014
Hearing Garth say the words above in an interview today sparked me. It’s easy to feel like you’re being an ungrateful whiner when you’ve lived a life like mine — one that many could easily claim has been privileged, and yet you’re going around complaining about “artist royalty compensation” and other such seemingly elitist issues when regular folks are having a tough time making ends meet or even finding a job in the first place. It’s a subject Princess Little Tree and I discuss often: do I stir the flames of protest publicly about what’s happening in the music business to us the artists and tell people how bad it is? Or do I just play it cool? Is it bad for business? Or is it the right thing to do? Will people think I’m being ungrateful? Or greedy? Will I lose my street cred by bringing up the subject of money — which to certain circles of people shouldn’t even hold a place in the same conversation as music or art…?
Earlier this year I started the Fair Pay for Fair Play campaign to address just these issues. Accessing the Facebook page is the easiest way to get informed and involved in this cause and if you care about music and the artists who create it I encourage you to do just that. Visit the page. Like it. Share it with your friends. Because the truth is we are struggling in a way that we have never seen before in modern times. Artists are quite literally starving. Because we are being squeezed out of the very industry that we create the product for.
There are many many reasons for this sad state of affairs and over the last few months I have used these usually more literary Transcendence Diaries to discuss some of the root causes of this issue. No one diary entry is going to address the entire issue in its entirety. That would be impossible. It would take a volume of books to do the cause any real justice. But at the very least we are getting ball rolling in terms of alerting the public not just to the problem itself but to just how serious it is becoming. The easiest way to sum it up is to remind people that over the last ten years we have moved away from consuming music via purchasing it, through CDs or vinyl or through digital downloads ala iTunes, and shifted instead towards consuming music via “streaming it” online using services like Pandora or Spotify or YouTube.
For you and me as music lovers this has been an exciting trend, a revolutionary transition to a world where any and every thing that has ever been recorded by anyone we’ve ever heard of (or not) can be accessed immediately from anywhere in the world. Even on the go right from our phones. In fact most of us now listen to music via our phones more often than home stereos (remember those?) Besides the most obvious abhorrent problem with this shift — the fact that we use extremely expensive state of the art equipment worth millions of dollars to create the most pristine sounding music we possibly can for the audience and it is now being degraded to sound like shit through phone speakers, there’s another problem: as technology companies quickly take control of the distribution of the music — through the aforementioned streaming services, deals have been and are being struck that leave less than pennies for the artist, or worse yet leave them out of the equation entirely. And the sad part is that is most people have no idea that this is what’s going down. They just assume that because it’s all being done above board and publicly that “surely the artists are being paid as they always have.” But the answer is “No. They are not.”
It’s only been a few weeks since U2 shocked (and to some annoyed) the world by giving away their new album for free via Apple due to the realization that it probably wouldn’t sell many copies and thus like Jay Z, Kanye, Coldplay and Thom Yorke before, they’d be better off just giving it away rather than risking low sales figures.
Even more recently Taylor Swift rocked the music world by pulling her albums, including her very successful new one, off of Spotify completely — due to the fact that Spotify only pays us approximately 7/1000th of a penny per play. Consider that for a moment: Spotify doesn’t even pay us one cent per spin. That’s the cold hard truth. No matter how they try to spin it. And trust me, as a music lover I personally LOVE Spotify and it’s potential as a listening device. But as an artist there isn’t anything I can think of off the top of my head that I loath more than Spotify. Piracy, e.g. people who don’t pay for music at all and just go online to download it for free via bit torrent type piracy sites ranks just a bit higher on my hate list. But Spotify Pandora and YouTube come in a close second. Why? Because at least piracy sites are upfront and honest about what they are doing. They’re criminals and often times proud of it. They see “free music” as some sort of cause of rebellion, as if by stealing music they’re somehow sticking it to The Man. But companies like YouTube and Spotify pretend to be “working with the record labels and artists to create a fair playing field for everyone”. But that claim is total bollocks. It’s just completely untrue.
Today it was announced that platinum country rocker Garth Brooks decided to sell his new album via his own website, something called Ghost Tunes, instead of via iTunes. Why? For pretty much the same reasons. He’ll make a much larger profit that way without having to sell even a fifth of the copies he would have to via iTunes.
Caveat: I and my boys in Transcendence are on an independent label, Dying Van Gogh Records, one which we have a large stake of ownership in. And so we make a larger percentage of sales than artists like Brooks and Swift. We make at least 50% of sales. Whereas artists on larger labels like Garth Brooks and Taylor Swift only make 10% of total sales if they’re lucky.
So do the math. If Spotify is only paying out 7/1000th of one penny per spin of any one song and 90% of THAT goes to the label, leaving only 10% to the artist…well how is that artist supposed to make a living? Sales and downloads?
Well therein lies the problem: because streaming has become so popular, people are buying and downloading less and less music. In a nutshell sales and downloads of music — personal ownership of music has nearly come crashing to a halt. It’s a failed business model. (Unfortunately that also means that album artwork and photography is a dying art form as well. A sad often overlooked side effect of this trend.)
But okay let’s look at downloads still because there are some artists who can still sell some serious numbers. Taylor Swift being one of them. iTunes only takes about 28%, leaving the label and artist a full 72% of gross sales. Not bad right? But again if the label is taking 90% of THAT, leaving the artist only 10% of it…there we are again, asking how can the artist make any real money?
It’s no wonder that both Swift and Brooks have tried to create work-arounds to try to make more money from their new music. It’s only natural.
Speaking about this situation personally, this past weekend it was brought to my attention that the lead singles from my last solo album had huge spikes in their views on YouTube. Granted, they’re nothing close to big platinum selling artists like U2, Taylor Swift or Garth Brooks. But they’re significant. “Scene in San Francisco” somehow managed to hit 225,000 views; “New Orleans Dreams” close to that and “Hello My Dove” still hovers around 20,000. And yes I’m sure if we sat down and did more research we would find that plenty of the other songs we have on YouTube have even higher view counts than these three, because they are older classics and have the advantage of having been around longer, but I am referring to these songs specifically because they are the NEWEST songs from our catalogue. Just those three songs alone have pulled in a healthy half a million views on YouTube since their release. Not bad.
Any normal rational thinking music lover is going to assume that we the artist MUST BE earning something from all this action. After all we are forced to sit through a ten to thirty second commercial before every single song we listen to on YouTube. It only makes sense that if YouTube is profiting from all these commercial spins that at least some of that has to get passed on to the artist and their record label.
Now here’s the deal: we do NOT get paid directly from YouTube. That would be too easy. Too fair. The music business has never been fair or easy. Nope. We the artists get paid by YouTube paying out “public performance royalties” to the PROs (Performing Rights Organizations) like ASCAP, SESAC and BMI on a quarterly basis who are supposed to turn around and pass on ALL that money to us, the artists. Remember, these PROs portend that they are NON-PROFIT, that they are ONLY in business to “serve the needs of the artists”. And yet when we have called our PRO, ASCAP, they have repeatedly told us “hey wow Ed Hale that’s great man. Congratulations! You’re really making good traction with the new songs! But see, with our proprietary system we really don’t even pay out on YouTube views until a song gets at least half a million to a million views. And even then you would have to accumulate those views at a rate of half a million views per month in order for us to calculate them and pay you any for them. So as unfair as it seems we can’t really pay you for any of those views for your new songs sorry to say.”
Needless to say every time I have this conversation with them I hang up that phone angry and discouraged. See, there’s no shortage of new fans for the music what with all these new ways to experience our music… But we the artists are just getting screwed out of the process. And yet it is WE WHO ARE CREATING THE PRODUCT!!! Without us there would be NO product for YouTube to play. Nor Spotify or Pandora or iTunes.
I ran the numbers in my head this morning as I was watching Garth complain about the same thing… Even if YouTube only paid us ONE CENT per spin I would make at least $5,000 just for those three songs alone this year. If they paid us just TWO CENTS per spin or view those songs would generate $10,000. No that’s not enough to support a family. But it’s certainly better than ZERO! And zero is what we are currently being paid from YouTube views.
See, the problem is that just a few short years ago we would make that kind of money in just a few weeks from putting out a new album and selling it. Either via a CD or via iTunes downloads. But with every song we release becoming instantly available online there is really no incentive for a fan to make that purchase. They can just go to YouTube or Spotify. And as a music lover myself I totally get how awesome that is. I do it myself. At least I used to. But if these streaming services are not going to compensate the artists for the streaming because of some “proprietary system” ala YouTube or only pay the artist 7/1000th of a penny per spin…the fans and music lovers are getting just as duped as we the artists are — believing their favorite artists are being compensated for the listening pleasure that their music is providing when in reality no such thing is happening.
If you’ve been wondering lately where your favorite artist is or where they have been and why you haven’t heard from them in a while, and who hasn’t… This is the reason why. They’re still alive. They just cannot afford to make music any longer. And this is by no means an exaggeration. As an artist myself I promise you that it is much worse than I have made it out to be simply because it is just too embarrassing to fully admit publicly — especially regarding other people who may or may not want the world to know how tough things are for them. That decision has to be up to each artist and their respective family. But suffice it to say I personally know many who are big names and plenty of smaller names who simply cannot afford to make music at the present time. And that is a very sad thing for all of us.
Of course there is much more to all of this. But this is a start. We will continue to explore this in future updates. In the meantime YOU can do something by simply publicly letting the above mentioned companies know that you believe they need to start compensating artists fairly. Something needs to change. And as always that change begins and ends with us — we the people can turn this tragic episode around and create for ourselves the miraculous happy ending that we all hope and wish for just as we always do in all world affairs.
– Posted by The Ambassador aka Ed Hale using BlogPress on an iPhone
The always entertaining Bob Lefsetz sent out an otherwise illuminating blog post today entitled “NAPSTER WOULD KILL CREATION AND NO ONE WOULD MAKE MUSIC”. “Otherwise” illuminating because in the first sentence he made a glaring error that is going to just further perpetuate the already pervasive and excruciatingly painful myth with the masses that “it’s okay if we only stream music through all those high tech new services like Beats Music because they’re paying the artists now, right?”. WRONG. They’re not. At least not in a manner that anyone with half a brain would consider anything close to a livable wage. I already knew I would come here to The Diaries and post a rebuttal to straighten out the facts of Bob’s post. But I also decided to write Bob a quick note to ask him to also correct the facts himself. Below is both the first few sentences of his post (PS — subscribe to his blog. It’s almost always worth the read) and my correction of the actual facts.
Below that I have also pasted another blog post of his from a few days ago that deals with the same issue and Thom Yorke’s decision to release his new album on bit torrent. It makes some great points. Again, Lefsetz is completely mistaken in his assertion that “YouTube and Spotify are compensating artists 70% just like iTunes does”. That’s not even close to being true, and it makes one wonder from where he is getting his information. Perhaps he just makes it up to prove his enlightening points? Or perhaps he knows of certain artists at certain large companies who have managed to negotiate completely different terms than almost every other artist in the world today. Not sure. But don’t let the erroneous facts of his post minimize the importance of some of his finer points. They’re cutting edge insightful and almost always entertaining if nothing else. He just happens to be very wrong about the current state of artist compensation in the music business.
“On Tue, Sep 23, 2014 at 3:04 PM, Bob Lefsetz <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
NAPSTER WOULD KILL CREATION AND NO ONE WOULD MAKE MUSIC
Just the opposite has happened. With new tools for production and distribution that bring the cost of creating and getting your work out at close to zero it seems like everybody’s got a song in them. More people are making more music than ever before, leaving the audience overwhelmed with productions.
MUSIC IS FREE
It just feels that way.
America’s #1 music service, YouTube, pays rights holders, as does Spotify. Can we stop the mantra that music is free? Sure, piracy exists, but it always did. If you think kids are busy stealing instead of streaming you probably went to the Apple Store to stock up on the discontinued iPod.”
As you know I’m a fan; often even sharing your posts through my own social media profiles occasionally when I find them extraordinarily prescient or insightful. But you can’t be sending out posts that say things like “YouTube and Spotify are now compensating rights holders” — especially not to what I would guess is largely a musician/music biz exec audience — when these statements are almost entirely untrue. Sure guys like me and others who are buried neck deep in the business and understand how it works understand the finer points of what you are saying, but most people take you at your word and then go to hunt down this $$$ that YouTube and Sp and the like are supposed to be paying them because Bob Lefsetz said so and they come up with nothing. Why? Because as those of us in the biz recognize, YT, SP, Beats and P are “trying” to compensate rights holders to a certain degree, but they have systems set up that are so heinous and prohibitive that it basically means that 99% of artists are NOT being compensated in any way from YouTube, Spotify, Beats or Pandora. Take a little thing they like to call “threshholds”; i.e. YouTube doesn’t pay out unless a song reaches over 500,000 to one million views AND that has to be within the quarter. So even if you get to 499,999 views that quarter you get paid ZERO $$$ from YouTube. ZERO. Now THAT is NOT compensating the artist nor the rights holder. Period. Just pick up the phone and call ASCAP, BMI or SESAC to confirm this fact for God’s sake. It’s common knowledge.
Spotify and Pandora pay us approx .005 to .0007 per stream. As in 500 streams to earn ONE CENT or in the other case 7000 streams to earn one cent. (!!!) So saying “Now that YouTube and Spotify are compensating rights holders…” is completely erroneous and misleading. Not only that, but it then renders the rest of your post less credible. Of course this is just IMHO and I will certainly share my thoughts in the Transcendence Diaries. But rather than have me as “the bearer of truth and light corrections in response to Bob Lefsetz’s erroneous claims”, wouldn’t it be easier (certainly on me) if you just fact-checked before posting? All said with the utmost respect of course as always.
The Transcendence Embassy
c/o Dying Van Gogh Records
304 Park Avenue South
New York, NY 10010
In the above letter I only point to a very small number of roadblocks that have been built into the new system of the music business that prevent artists and labels from being able to make a living from music creation. There are a TON of them presently. YES the music being created today is as creative and exciting as it’s ever been. But the artists are not just being paid “less than they ever have”, they ARE NOT BEING PAID almost exclusively. This is WHY Radiohead’s Thom Yorke DID decide to release his latest album for free on a flagrant music piracy site — as a statement, as in “fuck all of you if you’re going to stream our music for free allowing these giant new tech companies like Spotify and Beats to profit in the millions while I don’t make shit, I’ll just give my music directly to the FANS!”
U2 decided to do the same thing, choosing instead to sell their new album to Apple so as not to risk putting it out on the market and not achieving any sales. Coldplay used Target. Jay Z used ATT. Artists are nothing if not creative and in this new age of no money for music we are having to be just as creative outside of the studio as we are inside — in an attempt to try to figure out how to squeeze a few nickels out of the fans who very clearly still love our music. That’s right, we totally get that YOU the music lover still love our music and that you’re not directly involved in what’s happening in our industry. I hear it from fans all the time. “I had no idea you weren’t getting paid!” they exclaim. And some even pay that $10 to Spotify or Beats every month. But when these companies are reporting hundreds of millions of dollars in profits per quarter, that should be a tip off to all of us, artist and consumer alike, that there might be a good chance that the artists aren’t getting paid.
So what CAN we do about it? Well, number one, we can always go back to downloading albums from iTunes. Or songs if you like. Yep, iTunes PAYS US. And they pay us well. No complaints from Apple. And they’re still the largest most profitable company on planet earth. Go figure. So next time you hear anyone try to defend Beats, or Spotify or Pandora, in ANY way, regarding their claim that they would be “unable to fairly compensate the artists in the same manner that iTunes does or we’d go bankrupt” just remind them of how many hundreds of millions of dollars they reported earning last quarter. It’s all s smokescreen. They figure that if the consumer doesn’t mind ripping off the artist then they don’t mind profiting from it. And that’s where WE come in.
If you like music, if you love it, if you enjoy it, then shoot off an email to Spotify and Pandora. Let them know that although you’ve been thinking about starting up an account with them, or currently have a paid account with them, you just cannot justify it any longer as long as they are not compensating the artists whose music they are selling. It’s pretty simple. These companies are in the business of SELLING MUSIC. But the problem is that they aren’t BUYING THE MUSIC. In any other world that would be considered criminal. Stealing. And at its eessence that’s exactly what is happening. Legal stealing. Music piracy is already bad enough, but these new streaming services are killing today’s working artists. Ever wonder why they’re starting to appear on singing competition shows as judges? Or cheesy TV commercials? Yep. There’s a reason. Basically because of music streaming services NOT compensating us for our music that they are selling to you the consumer they are forcing musical artists to do anything and everything to try to bring home the bacon. And we’re no longer talking about striking it rich here. We’re talking about just trying to make enough to make a decent living, to pay the bills. That’s what it’s come down to now. I personally make MORE money from buying and selling Pandora stock in a week than I will make from Pandora paying me for streams in an entire quarter. Why? Because no one can make a living from being paid .007 cents per stream.
People complaining about the need to raise the minimum wage have NO idea how much worse it is for musical artists. I would LOVE to be guaranteed a steady stream of income every week from my hard work. But in this ever changing industry, where any moment some new young upstart can grab your entire recorded catalog and throw it up on the internet and call it a new business — completely forgetting to address how the artist will actually be paid, we artists do not have the luxury of anything close to a guaranteed stream of income. It’s potluck now. But again, there IS something that can be done about it. All we have to do is get YouTube, Spotify, Pandora and the rest of them to start paying the artists a decent living wage. It really is that simple. You the consumer will do the rest, as you always have, by consuming the music we make. And as always we are forever grateful to you for that. This isn’t your fault. You just caught in the middle.
As always, more later…
To read the rest of Bob’s (like i said) otherwise brilliant post, go here: http://lefsetz.com/wordpress/
Earlier this year Ed Hale gave an in-depth interview with the website FlyFreeAvatar.com, where he opens up more about his music, business, spiritual and personal life than ever before. The interview also makes mention of the potential release of a new book entitled Bouncing Back When Flat. The interview is being reprinted here for Transcendence Diaries readers in its entirety with permission from the owners. Original interview published on February 1st, 2014 here: Bouncing Back When Flat — An Interview with Recording Artist Ed Hale
FlyFreeAvatar.com recently had the opportunity to get recording artist Ed Hale to sit down for an in-depth interview. This is a project we have spoken about doing for several years, and the New Year seemed like the perfect time to finally complete it. Hale has been in the public eye for most of his life, having released his first album at the age of 17. He is best known as a singer-songwriter and recording artist — as the lead singer of the musical group Ed Hale and the Transcendence, scoring numerous Top 40 hits over the last fifteen years — including classics like “Superhero Girl”, “Scene in San Francisco” and “New Orleans Dreams”. He is also well-known as a successful entrepreneur and businessman, a prolific writer, and an outspoken social and political activist and human rights advocate. He has a reputation for being open and outspoken about his personal life, especially in his popular long-running blog The Transcendence Diaries, which is celebrating its twelfth year online this year. He is refreshingly candid about sharing his spiritual views as well – a rare quality in the entertainment world. Being actively involved in community building and Civilian Diplomacy work with organizations like Habitat for Humanity and Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR), Hale has traveled the world extensively for diplomatic, peace and work trips and speaks six languages. Most applicable to this site, Hale has taken all of the Avatar Courses numerous times over the last 15 years and continues to do so on a regular basis.
FlyFreeAvatar (FFA): When I first thought about talking to you for this interview, there were two questions that came to mind immediately. The first was about how your music has been affected by taking the Avatar courses. And the second was about all the success you’ve had over the years and how much of a role you think Avatar has played in it.
Ed Hale (EH): Yep. I can see that. Those are the two questions I get asked the most when it comes to Avatar. But that’s TWO questions you know. [laughs]
FFA: Okay so let’s start with your career success. With the band’s last album’s success and the hit singles you had from your solo album, “Scene in San Francisco” and “New Orleans Dreams” climbing the Billboard Top40 Charts, why don’t we start there? With your career success. How much of a role do you think Avatar has played in that?
EH: Well I had achieved success in music at an early age. Long before I took the Avatar Course for the first time. So I don’t want to mislead anyone on that count. But it was short lived. I mean, I was signed, released an album, had a few hits and was touring before I finished high school. And then it was all over before I graduated college! [laughs] But this latest success? I think we could safely say that I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for everything I learned in Avatar; let alone be in Billboard magazine.
FFA: Your early career, that was when you were known as Eddie Darling…
EH: Yes. That’s the embarrassing truth. But you know, when we’re young… we don’t know. We think we know… but we don’t. At the time I guess I thought that was a cool sounding name. But that was such a crazy experience to go through at such a young age. None of it was on my terms. It was all up to other people. Just a very large greedy money-making machine. If they like what you’re doing, you’re in. If they don’t like what you’re doing, you’re out. No compassion, no sense of artistic integrity or guidance. It was really disheartening for me as a young artist. I thought that was going to be the start of this amazing career, but it didn’t last very long. A few years in the big leagues and it was over and I was back in the local club scene.
FFA: But you obviously didn’t give up on music, which has been a hallmark of your career, this persistence. What led you to keep going?
EH: Well I did give up for a while there. I went back to college and got really into that. But it didn’t last long. I just couldn’t stay away from making music. I don’t know if I’ll ever feel comfortable NOT making music. It’s just the one thing in life I enjoy doing more than anything else. Except being married of course! [laughs] The difference was, when I went back into music then, that it was going to be on MY terms. I didn’t feel like I had any control in it my first run-through. So that was one of the many reasons why I took the Avatar Course. I wanted to harness more deliberateness in my life. Not sure if that’s a word… But I really liked the idea of “living deliberately”. [Living Deliberately is the name of the first book by Harry Palmer. Palmer is the author and creator of the Avatar Course and has published many books on the subject.]
FFA: You were young when you took Avatar for the first time.
EH: Yes, I was 21 or 22 years old. Back then that was considered “young”. Now there are kids eight and nine years old taking the courses. It’s incredible. I used to feel like “the kid” around those courses. Now I feel old compared to these kids. [laughs]
FFA: Yes. It’s amazing. But still, 22 is still pretty young to take Avatar. Especially back then when the course was fairly new and unknown. What prompted you to take it?
EH: Well it’s like what I was saying, about the last album, and really all of them over the last ten years… I took Avatar initially because I wanted to feel more in control of my life. I wanted to feel like I was creating my experiences. I could FEEL that what it was about totally vibrated with what I believed personally. I mean, the whole “we create our experiences based on our beliefs” premise… I believed that already. Or at least wanted to. But how do we control our beliefs? That’s what puzzled me and interested me the most. And I learned how to do that on that first Avatar Course; and in the future ones that I took like Masters and Wizards. It gave me the ability to create my beliefs deliberately. So instead of feeling caught up in a large out of control system like the music business, I created feeling in control and confident. And every album since has done better than the last. It’s really been a very positive force in my career. For sure. There’s no arguing about that.
FFA: So do you use the tools regularly?
EH: Yes. Absolutely. I try to live through them… By using them all the time… Like in every moment. After a while, it transcends “using the tools” and just becomes… a way of life, a habit, how you live.
FFA: Have you used the tools specifically about your career? In other words is there a direct correlation between the success you’ve had and using the Avatar tools?
EH: Yes. Absolutely. In terms of using them specifically around my career, I learned from some of the more experienced Avatars out there – and I’m not sure if this is “a thing” or not… But I learned that they might go to a course and dedicate that whole course to just one aspect of their lives, like say their career, or money. Other things come up of course, because it’s all connected, all the different aspects of our lives… but I went to a Pro Course [The Avatar Professional Masters Course] and decided to dedicate the whole course to my career. And it was a truly amazing experience. Doing it that way.
FFA: In what way?
EH: Just the discipline you have to have in order to do that, to stay focused on one thing; controlling your will to be able to do it. And then the variety of tools available to you to explore that one aspect of your life. They offer you so many different perspectives you’ve never thought of before. And the course keeps you on track to really get to the bottom of things. In whatever you’re focusing on. In that case, tackling your beliefs about one specific subject, like your career, from the variety of different angles that are provided to you by using all those different tools. We released the Rise and Shine album a few months later and that album took off bigger and faster than we ever expected. It opened the door for us. Before that, we were a new and relatively unknown band. After that album, we became a national act. The songs were charting in cities all over the country. That was when I first started learning about where all these cities were that we hear about all the time around the country. From the radio station play charts. [laughs] I can’t help believe that part of what helped all that to happen was because I had dedicated that course a few months earlier to focusing just on my career. It was so effortless.
FFA: Have you done that with other areas of your life? Is it something you always do?
EH: No it is not something I always do. But I have done it with other things. But not usually. I did it regarding relationships one year and that was also very successful. I found my soul-mate because of doing that I believe. I cleaned up all the beliefs I had about love and romance and relationships… But usually I just take the courses and allow whatever comes up to come up. And you know, what I notice is that if your attention is on your career, then that’s what’s going to come up for you anyway. So it’s not really necessary. It all tends to work out perfectly if you don’t fight it and you just let it flow. Ultimately it’s your consciousness, no one else’s. You just have to decide if you want to be a victim of it or the master and leader of it.
FFA: That’s well put. So how do the courses affect your music? As an artist?
EH: Well I get that question a lot. And the answer is I honestly don’t know. I know that the answer is supposed to be really incredible and mystical or magical in some way… There’s this expectation there it seems… But honestly, in terms of music, I’ve been writing and playing music since I was a kid, since before I could walk. So if I were to be totally honest, I don’t know what affect it’s had. Freedom maybe?
FFA: That’s fair. Freedom in what way?
EH: Well… I can tell you this. When I first took the Avatar Course and then the Masters Courses, I felt OUT OF THIS WORLD. I had never felt so good in my life. Just like… I don’t know, flying is how I would put it. High as a kite, but without drugs. High on life. [Hale is very animated as he speaks. His eyes are wide and he uses a lot of hand gestures.] I felt SO confident and SO fresh and new and GOOD inside. I KNOW that came through in the music I was writing back then. It gave me a feeling of invincibility and that definitely translated to me having a new-found confidence as a musician and as a writer… to write whatever I wanted to and forget about any of the so-called “rules of the business”. You know? So in that sense, the courses did affect my music tremendously.
FFA: Some of your songs are very spiritual. You tend to write more specifically about spiritual matters than other mainstream rock or pop singers…
EH: So now I’m mainstream? That’s a first!
FFA: You know what I mean, singers in the public eye… most of them don’t write about spirituality as much as you do. Even the ideas of Avatar and Abraham Hicks are referenced. I also couldn’t help notice that you credit Harry Palmer on some of the songs.
EH: Well yeah, [laughs] you get so excited after you first learn all that knowledge. It’s a big WOW moment. Like discovering chocolate or sex for the first time or something. [laughs] But bigger. Just the knowledge is mind-blowing, right? So it’s a given that you’re going to want to share that with people. Just not go overboard with it… hopefully. But if you use the tools on a regular basis, if you practice BEING an Avatar… then you feel like you’re walking on clouds most of the time. Those ideals and principles are embedded in you. Simple things. But profound. So they tend to come out in the lyrics. If I write a lyric that sounds really close to something I’ve read then yeah I’ll give credit to wherever I think credit is due. When I was younger I was writing a lot of songs about spirituality and transcendence and stuff like that and it really did feel like I was channeling the ideas of Avatar through music at times. So I would credit whoever was the inspiration. That doesn’t make our publisher very happy [laughs] because it creates a lot more paper work. But it’s the right thing to do. Harry Palmer’s ideas have been a huge influence on me and how I think… ever since I was a kid.
FFA: Does he know that he’s written songs with you?
EH: I don’t know. [laughs] That’s a weird way to put it. But I’ve never kept it a secret. We’ve never talked about it. I always wonder if he gets these checks in the mail and then wonders where they’re coming from. [laughs]
FFA: You’ve also had tremendous success in business, as an entrepreneur.
EH: I’ve tried. [laughs]
FFA: Well you have. That’s an aspect of your career that isn’t talked about as much. You were a successful entrepreneur before you were 30, irrespective of your career in music. And that seems to be a running thread throughout your life, starting businesses and being in business, since you were very young. [Hale started his first company at the age of 20 when he opened up a rehearsal and recording studio. Since then he’s owned health food stores, juice bars, a vitamin manufacturing company, a business consulting company, a record label and a real estate investment company.]
EH: Yeah, for sure. That’s another one of those things that I just absolutely LOVE. Business. Being in business. LOVE it.
FFA: You say that about a lot of things!
EH: Maybe I do… [laughs] I don’t know. I guess I just love a lot of stuff. Hey that’s the Ambassador!
FFA: So what is it about business that you love?
EH: Well I was raised in that kind of an environment, number one. I grew up with my parents owning businesses. So I think that was instrumental in it. And I have just always enjoyed being in business for myself more than working for other people. Though I don’t necessarily believe that it’s easier. I actually think working for other people – especially for a large company – is the easier path to take, for sure. But for someone like me… I just could never imagine doing that full time and long term. Plus, there’s also a real rush you get out of the risky and adventurous aspect of being in business for yourself. Unlimited reward but unlimited risk as well. I get off on that.
FFA: But how do you keep up with it? And how does Avatar affect it?
EH: You know that’s two questions, right? [laughs] I’ve always been fascinated by being in business for yourself. Since I was a kid I always admired those kind of people. Tony Robbins has been as big an influence on me as say, someone like John Lennon. Almost equal. And I also found that I was good at it, or at least lucky in it. So I keep up with it as best as I can. Probably not as well as I could honestly. The Avatar thing, that’s a different story. It helps obviously. I know that. That’s the thing… Avatar helps you with everything. It’s not just one aspect of your life. It’s your whole life that is affected.
FFA: You’ve talked about Harry Palmer and Tony Robbins a lot throughout your career in interviews. They seem to come up quite a bit.
EH: [laughs] Yeah I guess I do. But hey if you’re going to have mentors, they might as well be great ones. And for my money those are two of the brightest minds in the world today when it comes to personal achievement. Even though they’re very different. Stephen Bauman too. He’s more of a spiritual intellectual who keeps your integrity on its toes. But really all of them do that. [Stephen Bauman is an author, speaker and Methodist Pastor in New York City]
FFA: I know your love for Tony Robbins and Stephen Bauman. But in relation to this website and its readers, how does Avatar help with your success in business?
EH: Well to me I think the answer to that question is obvious, but for someone who’s never taken any of the Avatar Courses before…. okay, we can go there… Say you’re experiencing the same challenge over and over again in your business. Everything seems to be going well except this one thing… Or perhaps LOTS of things… You can keep banging your head against the wall over it… Hire new people, recruit consultants, read more books, take more classes, etc. etc. OR you can take a look at the beliefs underneath this problem and once you discover them, you can then DIScreate them. That’s a term that Harry Palmer came up with in the Avatar Course. It’s brilliant. And voila! They’re gone. That challenge will no longer be there. THAT’S how it can help. It’s miraculous. If people have ever seen that movie The Secret… it’s like that. But it’s real.
FFA: You make it sound so easy.
EH: Well in a way, it is. Not all the time. But it isn’t rocket science. It’s a very natural thing. It’s an organic process, just like breathing oxygen. We just have to re-remember it… Discreating limiting beliefs helps us remove obstacles in our life that up to that point seem insurmountable to us. I can honestly say I would not have experienced the level of business success I have had in my life, especially as young as I was, without having that knowledge and those tools. To me it’s a no-brainer. The same with religious faith. Both help.
FFA: Speaking of obstacles, you’ve had your share and always seem to bounce back, which has been an inspiration to many people. What’s the secret? Or does that give away the plot to your new book? [Hale has a new business/inspirational book coming out this year entitled Bouncing Back When Flat]
EH: Besides what I just said? [laughs] I mean that kind of sums it up, right?
FAA: I was hoping we could go a little deeper.
EH: Okay well which ones? There’ve been a lot of them. [laughs] It hasn’t been as easy as people seem to think it has. It never is. Not for any of us.
FFA: A few years ago you experienced a major business setback that left you broke and even homeless for a while, which is what your new book is about. I’ve read some of the interviews about that experience and it’s shocking. But you turned it around. What I’m trying to come to is how you did it? [In 2006 Hale discovered that his business partner had sold one of the companies he had founded, Ageless Foundation Laboratories, without his knowledge to a publicly traded company. Hale found out through the SEC filing. Naturade Inc., the company who purchased Hale’s company, didn’t even know Hale was an owner of the company when they made the purchase, finding out months later. The story has been written about extensively, but Hale has been relatively quiet about it.]
EH: Yeah, that… [This is the first time in the interview Hale becomes quiet, anything but animated.] That’s still a tough thing for me to talk about. But I understand that it’s important and why you think it’s relevant. I’m still coming to terms with it all.
FFA: Well that’s why you wrote this book, right?
EH: Yes. Absolutely. It’s an important story. I know that.
FFA: Not many people can imagine living through that kind of a setback, let alone bouncing back from it. But you did. Rather quickly some would say. And you have had tremendous success since then.
EH: Yes, I know. And I’m very grateful for that. Hence the book. If I can do that, then anyone can do anything. That’s how I look at it.
FFA: I read an interview you gave last year where you did talk about it and it was inspiring. I only ask because the story does have a happy ending. You didn’t let it take you down, but instead you found a way to work your way back to the top. That’s an incredible achievement.
EH: Yes, it did take me down. I mean, how could it not have? One day I was going about my business and living my life, not a worry in the world, and then in one fell swoop everything I had in the world was gone. Bank accounts, credit cards, my company, retirement savings. Everything. Gone. It was the single most challenging thing I’ve ever lived through. For sure. But you’re right, I didn’t let it keep me down forever. I started from scratch and rebuilt. And slowly I was able to rise back up.
FFA: Without giving too much of the book away, how were you able to do that?
EH: Well for one thing, my faith is very strong. We’ve talked about that. I’ve never hidden that. I try not to be preachy, but I also think it’s bullshit, pardon my French, when entertainers keep their faith in the closet because they’re worried about how it’s going to affect their career.
FFA: You’ve certainly never done that.
EH: No, I haven’t. I talk about it when it’s appropriate. It’s important to me and I believe it’s important to a lot of my friends and fans.
FFA: You write a lot about religion and faith in your blog and sometimes sound almost anti-religious, almost like an atheist, which I know you’re not. And yet at the same time you write a lot about being a Christian and how challenging it is. Can you explain that a little?
EH: Well I’m definitely not one of those “100% sold” kind of people. I think anyone who’s really honest about their religious faith is going to be confused about it… and struggle occasionally. Because there are just so many contradictions in religion and spirituality… The difference with me I guess is that I haven’t necessarily chosen a side yet… I’m still open to all of them…. dissecting it all. And I explore all that a lot publicly in the Diaries. [Hale is referring to his long-running blog The Transcendence Diaries].
FFA: I know a lot of people find that inspiring. But you also anger certain groups of people with this “openness”.
EH: I know. And I don’t mean to. What I’m really doing is what I believe we should all be doing if we’re serious about spirituality and faith… questioning, studying, exploring. I’m not trying to make anybody mad or even question what they believe. To me it’s fun. It’s academic. But it also meaning beyond that.
FFA: I think most people recognize that. So your faith is one of the things that brought you through that business challenge?
EH: Without a doubt. A lot of reflection and prayer. And a lot of counseling with mentors. Seeking advice from older people that I looked up to. Also I had a really strong community around me. Family and friends who were there for me. That’s a tremendous asset. Something that you can’t buy. If it weren’t for that, I don’t know if I’d be here today. Because when that kind of thing happens to you, you really start questioning your life. All your effort and hard work and even your beliefs, things that you’ve taken for granted your whole life all of a sudden… you start questioning.
FFA: Like what?
EH: Well like… just everything. For example, you assume that if you work hard and you’re a good person that you’re going to succeed. That’s what I’d ALWAYS believed. My whole life. And I experienced that. Over and over again throughout my life that’s what I experienced. And then when this happened, it was so shocking, that it was hard to put those pieces back together, of that belief. It didn’t ring true to me anymore. Being a good person did NOT equal being successful. I started wondering if maybe that was just bs and perhaps we were supposed to be bad people and that was how to succeed. That was my first gut reaction of course. It took me some time to overcome that idea…. because bad people seem to succeed just as much as good people.
FFA: It’s easy to see how you could come to that.
EH: Right? But here’s the thing. I was wrong. We’re not “good” people because we want to succeed. We’re good people because we believe that’s the best way to live life. You know? My friends and family would call me every day, I mean every day, just to see how I was doing and check in on me. That was a big help. And we would talk about it and little by little they got through to me. I remember this one time I was driving around Manhattan with a friend, Big Mac, I LOVE this guy. He’s super funny, a southern guy. And he had just finished seminary at Princeton… So he is a spiritual guy too…
FFA: You write about him in your Diaries. I know the name.
EH: Yep. I write about EVERYBODY in the Diaries. Much to their displeasure! [laughs]
FFA: I definitely want to talk about that later, because I have a lot of questions about your blog and the reaction you’ve gotten through the years, but I don’t want to interrupt your train of thought. So go on with the story.
EH: Okay… So I was telling Big Mac how I was trying to make sense of God’s plan for my life with making this horrible thing happen to me. With Naomi and the business. That perhaps God was trying to show me a different path to take, rather than all this success and being a business tycoon that maybe God wanted me to be more focused on making the world a better place. And Big Mac, he just looked over at me and said “Bro I could never believe in a God like that.” I’ll never forget it. That was just one of those moments in life you never forget. I was like “What do you mean?” And he said “Ed, God doesn’t make bad things happen to people. God is grace. And love. Who did this to you? This Naomi chick did this to you.” The way he enunciated her name in his southern drawl… I can still remember it… He said “People did this to you man. God didn’t. God is the one helping you. Not hurting you.” I turned around in my seat and I began to cry. Right there in his truck. Because that was exactly what I needed to hear in that moment. I had been so puzzled by it. I couldn’t figure out WHY it happened… I was still trying to make sense of it. But he made me realize in that moment that it didn’t have anything to do with God or God’s plan… it was people. If anything, God is there to help us, not hurt us. At least in his view.
FFA: And is that your viewpoint now?
EH: Yes. Absolutely. That really resonated with me. When he said it. And looking back, still, it totally changed my whole point of view. That’s what I mean by my beliefs were being challenged. I was actually so fooled for a while there that I thought maybe that “God” wanted me to suffer in that way… It’s crazy. But luckily, if anything it made me stronger. And more importantly it offered me a reference point for how to view life when bad things happen to us. That it’s not about blaming God, every time something good or bad happens to us. People were the cause of it. And more importantly so was I.
FFA: How so? How were you the cause of it?
EH: Well that’s the part where I think I got the most out of the experience. Where if there is anything positive to take away from it, I got it. The first thing I did, because I had taken Avatar, was I started looking at my own past actions to see what was there, what had I done, in my life… I started reflecting on my own responsibility in the whole thing, instead of blaming anyone – and trust me it was easy to blame people… it was a horrible thing they did, they broke the law in a hundred different ways, and worse… broke my heart by taking advantage of our friendship… I HATE stuff like that… people like that. But I knew I needed to look for where and how I was responsible… So on the one hand, I saw how we have to be real when it comes to people doing harmful things to us; it happens. We can’t live in a bubble and pretend that there aren’t bad people out there. Because there are. But I also saw that I had some responsibility in it too.
FFA: That’s admirable, but in what ways were you responsible?
EH: Well I can’t act like I did anything overtly wrong to cause it… Sometimes people can make the mistake of over-owning things I think. It’s not like I was acting unethically or broke the law or something… I was a good guy. Same as I am now. But I had been warned that that kind of thing might happen before it did… at least a hundred times before to be honest. It wasn’t like it came out of the blue. I had been in business with Naomi for years. And that was the main thing we argued about, was her always wanting to break the law and me always saying that we most certainly should NOT. And our employees would always be stuck in the middle, between our two viewpoints. She constantly accused me of being “self-righteous” and I just wanted us to play it straight. So I had definitely been warned already. But what had I done about it? Nothing. Sure we had stacks of legal agreements between us that prohibited us from doing those kinds of things… But based on what I’d already experienced with her in the past, I should have known better. I should have taken more action BEFORE all that happened. And I didn’t. Why? Because I was being lazy, yes… or because I was resisting conflict. For sure. I didn’t like conflict of any kind. I love people and I love harmony and I’m all about love and peace, you know? So I just pretended like everything was fine when I knew it really wasn’t. I could feel it…
FFA: You were in denial… of your intuition?
EH: Yes, absolutely. Living in denial. Pretending. I helped to create the whole thing through knowing about the potential for something like that to happen and NOT doing anything about it. NOT acting when you know you should can be just as bad as TAKING an action that’s harmful.
FFA: So you took responsibility for the experience? Did that make it easier to deal with?
EH: Yes, absolutely. It gave me a sense of relief. It enabled me to feel the remorse for my non-actions that might have contributed to it, and other things, and then to move on. What it does is help you feel responsible for it rather than like a victim of it.
FFA: That’s a great example of using what you learn in Avatar in the real world.
EH: Yes. Totally. I think so. That one experience compelled me to fill three whole notebooks with actions from my past that I felt weren’t necessarily aligned with being a good person and to make amends for them. In order to get a fresh start. It led to a lot of self-reflection and taking responsibility for my past. I became a better person through doing all that.
FFA: When you’ve written about the experience that’s what you mean by it also being a positive experience…
EH: Yes. Let’s face it. No one wants to go through something like that. To have everything you own taken from you by other people. That’s a bad thing. The betrayal aspect of it alone is enough to make you feel so discouraged and ungrounded… so unsure of yourself and the world. When someone lies to you so overtly and is doing it from a place of friendship, it can really screw with your mind. But you have to find a way to turn it around and see the positive side of it. And for me the best way to do that was to start looking at me instead of at the others. And to start planning how I could improve who I was as a person… Once again I saw firsthand how our actions in the world can affect others, either in a positive or in a negative way. That’s the least we can do. Take stock of our actions and make sure we are having a positive impact. So that’s what I did.
FFA: That is inspiring. And within a few years you had overcome it and were back on top again with three hit albums, songs on the Billboard charts, and your now infamous trip to Iran… Do you think there’s any correlation between what you went through and the success you’ve had?
EH: No. I don’t. Maybe, I don’t know. I know it inspired me. But only through necessity. Before that happened I was really enjoying life. Taking advantage of how hard I had worked and how successful I had become. After that, I was forced to go back to square one and start over again and rebuild my entire life and career from scratch. It really inspired me to become successful again. I was determined to. So in that respect yes there was a correlation. But I’ll tell you this: no one should ever believe for a minute that they need to endure some kind of tragedy or suffering in order to succeed. That would be a very impeding and unnecessary belief to cultivate.
FFA: That’s a good point to make.
EH: Well if you go and read a lot of the articles that were written when our first album after that experience came out and became successful there is a lot of attention paid to the whole rags to riches aspect of it, “from homeless to Billboard!” became a headline. As if there was a romantic aspect to it. And I can promise you that there is nothing romantic about going through something like that. If you can avoid it, do so.
FFA: Well the story is an appealing and inspiring one, from an entertainment or person of interest point of view. You can see that…
EH: Yeah, I can. Totally. Which is one of the reasons why I wrote a book about it. I mean, I get it. How often does something like that happen to a person? Not very often. It’s more like a movie than real life.
FFA: There is another aspect about that experience that I wanted to have you talk about if you don’t mind, because I think it’s important. Ultimately you decided to settle the whole thing with your partner out of court. Yet the case still remains unresolved years later. Why did you decide to do that? And do you regret it now? [Naomi Whittel signed a settlement agreement to pay Hale for the sale of the company in order to render it a legal transaction months after the sale and prevent the case from going to court, but the agreement has never been fulfilled.]
EH: Well that’s more than just one question….
FFA: Okay. Why did you agree to settle out of court? Why didn’t you just go about it in a more traditional business manner?
EH: You mean by taking legal action?
FFA: Yes. Laws were clearly broken. Contracts were breached. It seems like an open and shut case.
EH: Right, I know. And it was. I get this question a lot, especially from other business people. There was a ton of criminal activity revealed. Fraud, forgery, tax fraud, embezzlement, a lot of lying and stealing… You know. Crazy stuff. It was something right out of a movie. Totally unreal and way outside anything I’d ever dealt with before. It’s insane when you think about it. This was a situation where yes, I probably could have played tougher… But for one thing, there’s a good chance that Naomi would have gone to jail if I would have gone public with it by taking it to court. And I was still operating under the misconception that Naomi and I were friends. We had been engaged to be married after all for years. So I still cared about her as a person. Secondly, she literally called me every day for years from the moment I found out what she had done…. Begging me to settle. Even though it may seem in retrospect like such an open and shut case now, at the time, I was still receiving these calls from her every day begging me to settle and not go to court. I felt very pulled. Between my loyalty to her as a person, and to her family… And to doing the right thing perhaps…
FFA: So now you think that taking it to court would have been the right thing?
EH: Well it would have been the more normal action to take under those circumstances…. But also I felt that there had already been enough legal action in our lives. I mean, she had created such a huge mess of legal actions for us already. It was all lawyers and law firms galore… for years. No one was winning except the law firms as they say. But because I had made peace within myself about it, and she was pushing hard for an out of court settlement, I looked at both outcomes… Part of me really wanted to “get justice”. Because in business that’s what you do. If someone commits a criminal act, they deserve to get what they get, right? Justice, to the full extent of the law. I got that. But at what cost to me and my own sanity? And at what cost to my family and friends? They’d already been through the ringer because of what happened. I reflected on it and prayed about it a lot… And it just seemed like settling it was the right thing to do. To put it behind us as quickly and smoothly as possible.
FFA: Plus you assumed that once you settled that it would really be over and behind you as you say.
EH: Yes, I did. Totally. I thought that would be the end of it. The end of “the Naomi saga” once and for all. It happened. It was bad. But the ball was in my court. I could sue and drag it out in court for years, or I could forgive and settle and move on with my life.
FFA: But it didn’t end there. After all that, the settlement agreement remains unfulfilled. Which is what led to the major setback you experienced. So do you regret that decision now?
EH: Yes and no. Yes, because I wish it were over. I regret what I had to go through. And I am sublimely shocked that we’re still talking about it years later. I don’t honestly know how she can deal with it still being out there open and unresolved. But no, because in that moment I feel like I made the most responsible and mature decision that could have been made at that time. Trust me, forgiveness in those kinds of situations is difficult… but it’s the HIGH road. Being vindictive or seeking vengeance, that may be the more common road, but it’s not the high road.
FFA: Yes, as an Avatar I completely understand you choosing forgiveness over revenge. Even though in the end it was a costly decision…
EH: Yes, it was. So far at least. But I’m still giving her the benefit of the doubt. That’s the part that a lot of people don’t understand. At first she swore up and down that she had nothing to do with it, that she was “forced into it by her husband and this pack of evil attorneys” they had hired. I didn’t necessarily believe her… But you know, when you’re close to someone like that… It’s hard to cut the line completely that connects you. There is still love there. And compassion. You want to give them the benefit of the doubt.
FFA: But it sounds like a very one-sided kind of compassion.
EH: Maybe it is… That’s something I wonder about sometimes. Long story short, she swore up and down that she had every intention of fulfilling the agreement, and more than anything she was just afraid. At the time I felt like I was doing the right thing, by being compassionate and forgiving, because that’s what WE do, right? And protecting her…
FFA: Yes, I agree. That’s what we do. But this brings up the question of when is it better to look out for yourself by taking a more Guardian Heart approach? [Guardian Heart is a concept explored in the book Resurfacing by Harry Palmer.]
EH: I know… There’s a fine line between being a nice person or a good person and letting someone take advantage of you… They are two different things. And sometimes we confuse them. Maybe I’ve crossed that line now… I hope not. But I can tell you now, after going through all of that, I understand the importance of the Guardian Heart a lot more now, of not confusing being a nice person with being someone who allows others to take advantage of them. That IS something that we tend to get confused sometimes as humans. I also see the importance of standing up for what we believe in or just being committed to protecting ourselves and our loved ones. I know what you’re getting at. And I am in no way attempting to promote forgiveness as being equal to letting people take advantage of us.
FFA: There is a certain responsibility we have to ourselves and to others in defending integrity and justice for the good of everyone…
EH: Yeah, absolutely. And that’s one of the reasons why I decided to write the book about what happened. It’s not just about the inspiration factor. But more about the responsibility to others. Not just to inspire other people who might be going through a similar challenge, but also to warn people that this kind of thing can happen to the best of us. No matter how nice we are or how good of people we are. No one is immune to it. You have to look out for yourself, no matter how nice of a person you are. But it is how we deal with it that is the true measure of a person.
I remember Tony Robbins telling a story once about how he went through a similar experience in his business life. His CFO was also his best friend and he discovered that this guy had been embezzling a ton of money from their company and it just shattered him; challenged his optimistic outlook for a while. When he told that story, I couldn’t relate to it at all. I was too young. I had never gone through anything like that. But when almost the same exact thing happened to ME… THEN I could relate to it. And knowing ahead of time that he lived through it really helped me. His story and his struggle with that inspired me. And I’m sure there are a lot of people who would be surprised that something like this even happened to me, because I’ve never really talked about it openly before. But I get it now. That responsibility to share it so other people can learn from it. That’s important.
FFA: I believe it is too. Not to spoil the finale of your book, but can you share at least a little about how you were able to rebuild from something like that? Tangible things, actions that you took.
EH: Yes, absolutely. If you can imagine waking up one day and being absolutely flat broke after years of working and having made a ton of money… Going from wealthy to broke overnight. That money still exists, but you just can’t get to it. Someone else now has control of it. You can’t even afford your next meal because your bank accounts have been taken over. Horrible right?
FFA: I find it hard to imagine. I think most people would.
EH: Well me too… Until it happened. After it happened, I wasn’t just broke; I was also extremely disheartened. It was hard to believe in humanity at all. But I didn’t want to become a jaded person. Or cynical. Or believe the worst in people. So I used the Avatar tools to let all those potentially negative beliefs go. I discreated them. And I deliberately created being who I really believed I was: a generally positive and optimistic person who believed in myself and others. I took every guitar I had and walked each one to a different friend’s house and left it there and said “I’ve been hit in a bad way. You know this. I need money for an attorney and money to eat. Here’s a guitar. This is what it’s worth. If you’re willing to help, I’ll leave it here till I can pay you back.” And you know, every friend I had was more than willing to help me out. It makes me emotional still. Because it really showed me how powerful friendships are. I had guitars all over the city in different people’s homes as collateral. And honestly half of my friends didn’t even care about collateral. That was just for me. To make me feel more comfortable in receiving help…
FFA: That’s exactly the kind of thing I was hoping you would share. These tangible actions that you took. I think people will find them very inspiring and informative.
EH: Well yeah, obviously in that kind of situation you have to find a way to get on your feet. Just to be able to eat. The part that hurt the worst is that Naomi and I were connected at the hip for ten years before that. We were engaged to be married for God’s sake. AND business partners for years after that. So she knew that once she did that that I would literally not have a cent to my name, nor even a way to eat. It was astounding to me that someone could do that. But once it happens you have to move on and find a way out of it. So that’s the first thing I did. Then I hired an attorney to help me sort out just what the hell happened. And then I started doing consulting work to bring in money. Business and health consulting. And of course liquidating assets. Physical things… And then I started hardcore trading again.
FFA: You mean trading in the stock market?
EH: Yes. Something I already had a lot of experience with. But besides real estate there’s no faster way to make money fast when your funds are limited. Of course it works in the reverse as well. So you really have to have a strong stomach and nerves of steel. But it was all about taking very real and tangible actions to move forward and start to rebuild. All of this AND still trying to finish recording the new albums with the band at that time and play shows in different cities.
FFA: I remember that. I bet a lot of people wondered why you changed so many things in your life at the time.
EH: Yes I’m sure they did. Because I also leased out my apartment in Manhattan for a while to make money. Whatever it took. Living with family and friends. It was a freaking nightmare honestly. But it was also a tremendous challenge and so kind of fun… When people asked me what was up, I didn’t hide the truth. But I also didn’t advertise it. I just kept moving forward. It was an insane position to be in. But you start from where you are. You start with the basics. You create being happy to be you, and simple things like “I can do this”. “I can make it happen”. “I believe in me”. Things like that. Using the Avatar tools to create those realities. Or whatever “tools” you have available to you. In spite of how challenging things may appear. You do it anyway. And at the same time you announce it to the world. Tell everyone what you’re doing. For me that meant telling everyone “The Ambassador is down but he’s not out! I’m rebuilding the empire!” Perceive it as a challenge, a doable challenge. And set about every day to being real with where you are… but also striving toward bigger things. I truly believed that I had learned a valuable lesson, but that I was not meant to stay down for long. That was not my destiny. I didn’t take all these courses and read all these books to let one major setback ruin my life forever. I was totally committed to rebuilding in spite of that setback.
FFA: When the first song from your new solo album made it onto the Billboard Charts, after going through all that, did it feel like your hard work had finally paid off?
EH: Are you kidding? Yeah. It was amazing! We laughed, we cried. And then laughed some more. A lot of jumping up and down screaming. One of the greatest days of my life. Friends calling from all over the country because they just heard the song on the radio or in their car… Things like that. I think because of the immense disadvantage I had been placed in – and everyone knowing about it…. That’s what made it so much more enjoyable for everyone. To be down like that and to rebuild it all from scratch and then top it off by hitting the Top 40 a few times. That was an amazing moment for sure.
FFA: You really did “bounce back when flat” as you say.
EH: Yeah, it’s hard to believe. But we did it!
FFA: And it didn’t end there. Around the same time, you were invited to be one of only a handful of Americans to visit Iran post-revolution on a peace mission. How did that come about? [Hale visited Iran in 2009 on a well-publicized Civilian Diplomacy mission along with eleven other Americans in leadership positions from a wide cross section of different industries. He represented the arts. He just returned from a similar trip to Israel-Palestine recently. In between he’s also visited countries in Africa, Europe and Central and South America to build homes and community centers.]
EH: I’m glad you asked. Because it’s actually a really magical story in a way. I was at this silent retreat at a convent of nuns…
FFA: You always say these things that sound so outrageous… Like you’re narrating a movie.
EH: Hah! Well I’m telling you, this is what happened. It sounds crazy. But that’s how it went down. I was at a silent retreat at a convent of all these sisters in the middle of nowhere in upstate New York. Episcopalian I think. And you couldn’t talk for like a week. So I used that time to just unwind and decompress. But they had this policy where during meals you could do some light talking… something like that. I met this one sister who was really cool, very hip. And we shared this passion for global human rights activism. We couldn’t really talk that much. But we got to know each other. And at the very end of the retreat she told me about this historic upcoming delegation of Americans who were headed to the country of Iran for a two week peace mission. She said that the application process had expired, but that if I got mine in really quickly that she’d put in a good word for me with the international organization that was putting the thing together. I had been trying to get into Iran for five years. I must have applied ten times and was denied every time. I had already been studying the language, Farsi, so I could speak the language a little bit… That helped. And you know, there’s more, but basically it all came down to me being at this silent retreat in the middle of nowhere that got me into Iran. Sort of. I suppose it was more than that. But that was the original impetus.
FFA: Being in the right place at the right time. It’s fascinating how these little miracles happen in our lives when we’ve put our attention and intention on them.
EH: Exactly! First our attention, then our intention, get rid of beliefs or ideas that are in the way and BAM! Things manifest!
FFA: Can you talk a little bit about your activism?
EH: Well it is something that I am passionate about. I think it’s an easy way to feel good. Because you’re giving back. It’s not all about you. It’s nice to step outside of it being all about us sometimes. A lot of times actually. [laughs. Hale has become reanimated. His eyes have that light back in them.] Every one of those trips will stay with me forever. I hope this is only the beginning.
FFA: And again you started a business around it. But this one was a non-profit. What is the goal of your PeaceWithIran.com organization?
EH: Just that. Peace with Iran. Exactly what it says. I honestly see it as a reality. I see it happening. Maybe not this year. But soon. The alternatives are far worse than the simple act of a peaceful reconciliation between the two countries.
FFA: From your mouth to God’s ears. What was the most important thing you learned from your trip to Iran?
EH: Great question. I’ve written a lot about this already, but I’d say that the first thing that struck me was how genuinely nice they are there and how much they love Americans. That was very much a surprise for me, for all of us on that trip. We never hear about what nice people the Iranians are here in the States. And we also don’t hear about how much they love and admire us here. That’s an important thing to share I think.
FFA: What other areas of activism are you interested in moving forward?
EH: Well now a lot of my focus lately has been on Israel and Palestine… That’s the real hotbed I believe… Even in regards to Iran, it seems to all come down to Israel and Palestine at the foundation.
FFA: Before we go too far off into world politics, can you talk a little bit about your new albums? What keeps you motivated to keep making music at such a rapid pace?
EH: Well I tend to write a lot of songs. AND at the same time I tend to have a lot of ambition when it comes to always wanting to out-do what we did last time, artistically. Every time we get an opportunity to make a new album it feels like such a privilege. So at first we just head into the studio to record our quote-unquote next album. It always starts out as a simple process and then it just starts to slowly get more and more complicated. So it’s just me wanting to challenge myself, see how far I can take it I guess. And the fans, their reaction to it…
FFA: So are the album titles official now? The ones that were just released to the public?
EH: Almost positively yes. Welcome to the Rest of the World for one, and Another Day in the Apocalypse for the other. They’re starting to sound really different from each other now. And the songs have been chosen for each. So we can see the finish line… finally.
FFA: So when can people expect to hear the first single or finished product?
EH: We’re not 100% sure, but my guess would be sometime this spring or summer…
FFA: Well I know a lot of people are excited to hear the albums. The last thing I want to ask you is if there was one thing that you could share with people about any of the Avatar Courses, what would it be? As someone who has taken all the courses and continues to do so.
EH: Well that’s easy. And hard, because there’s so much you could say about it. I mean, it’s a HUGE thing, right? I write about it a lot actually. On the one hand, it’s a way of life. It’s a way of being… You learn a whole new way of being, through becoming more adept at feeling and using your intuition… You become more honest and real. More in line with the truth. But on the other hand, it’s also just a series of courses. You know, it is what it is, whatever each person makes it out to be. I guess that’s what I would say about it. That in essence, the Avatar Course is essentially just a series of courses that contain all this confidential knowledge that you sort of already know, way down deep inside, like it resonates strongly when you read it, as if you’ve known it all your life, right? [Hale is once again excited and animated] And yet now it’s been broken down into very easy to understand and doable steps. That’s amazing! No one had ever done that before. I could go on and on… but put it like this: Take all the cool stuff that we’ve read about in metaphysical and new age books, AND all those documentaries about quantum physics and the so-called paranormal, and then turn all that into a nine day course filled with exercises and processes that teach you how to actually do THOSE things. Tools to help you gain more control over your life and the world around you… more personal power. Now do that with hundreds of thousands of other people from all over the world speaking seventy-something different languages! THAT’S what Avatar has turned into now after almost 30 years. A giant collection of the most enlightened or maybe better put the most enlightenment-seeking people on planet earth. It’s the coolest thing happening in the world right now hands down. Hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world working on being the best they can be AND trying to make the world a better place! Incredible stuff. People always ask me, “Is it worth the money?” And I’m like “Oh my God, no… it’s worth ten times as much.” Talk about a paradigm shift. If someone is looking for a real paradigm shift –something really transformative in their lives – I can’t think of anything else as powerful or noteworthy. At least not yet anyway. Out of everything out there. And I’ve tried it all and then some.
To find out more about an upcoming Avatar Course, visit www.Avatarepc.com
To find out more about Ed Hale, visit iTunes or www.edhale.com
French president Francois Hollande visited the United States this week. Some claim that U.S. president Barack Obama is more actively courting Hollande at present simply because he “can” — implying that his approval ratings are so low abroad that France is the best that he can get; citing allegations that relations with Germany are strained and have swung to all time lows due to recent revelations about the NSA’s wiretapping of German communications. This is politics as usual in our current state of the Union. Speaking of which, for whatever reason, president Obama didn’t get the usual “bump” in approval that most U.S. presidents get in the weeks following a State of the Union Address. But then again, we are in year two of the wounded warrior’s second term.
Historically, U.S. presidents never seem to do fare well in second terms. It will take a few years post-presidency for the general malaise and blame-gaming to stop for Obama, just as it does for all U.S. presidents, and soon the mainstream media will be touting his “countless achievements and unyielding perseverance over numerous adversities” as they prop him up heroically upon the mantle of “the Great Ones” just as they do for every FORMER U.S. president. It’s a taken for granted tradition, a predictable practice — the media seem to believe that the American public NEEDS its former presidents to be heroes.(Though one might make note that such blustery hyperbolic accolades have yet to transpire for former presidents G.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter, both of whom remain semi-respected in their own parties, but rather ignored by the country’s general populace and mainstream media). Only time will tell if president Obama will go the way of Bush the younger or Clinton the mythic demi-god who can do no wrong even when he’s doing wrong. Regardless, it is a fascinating spectacle, watching the American public slowly turn on the man that at one time in the not too distant past seemed so beloved that he graced the cover of every magazine on the newsstand — even Gold Digest and various different pet magazines. America hadn’t seen this kind of hero worship since the final days of the Ronald Reagan presidency. But those days are long gone now as more and more grey hairs take over this young president’s once youthful head of hair.
One of the reasons that the White House cited for the French president’s visit to the U.S. was for the two countries to cement their agreement that the country of Iran needed to assure the world that its nuclear program was purely for the purposes of energy and that it would not attempt to create any nuclear weapons. Iran, under the leadership of newly elected president Hassan Rouhani, has for all intents and purposes appeared to cave lately to these demands by the planet’s so-called “super powers” in exchange for their incessant bullying and torment to end. Iran and its people have been under an enormous amount of pressure for over a decade now by a very small select group of albeit very powerful nations, mainly the United States, Great Britain, France and Israel.
They call themselves “the United Nations Security Council” (along with China and Russia — though these countries are much more friendly with Iran). To be clear and fair, the United Nations Security Council is a complete farce. A legal crime syndicate that bosses around and bullies the rest of the countries on earth. If you remember that group of wealthy, good looking bitches in high school who walked around with their noses in the air making fun of everyone else and had a little name for themselves ala the movies Mean Girls or Clueless, that’s essentially what the UN Security Council is. They weren’t elected by anyone. They simply decided that they would form themselves into a little group outside of the confines of the United Nations proper so they could hold the power to veto anything the rest of the countries on earth came to agreement on. And that’s precisely what they do.
How the tiny and entirely new country of “Israel” became a part of this cabal, the most powerful political and military group in the world today, should say more to any intelligent mind about the true nature of Israel than any words can. The fact speaks for itself and does so quite loudly. Over the last ten years, under intense pressure from Israel and the United States, the so-called Security Council has made Iran and its people to suffer enormously. Most people have heard of “the sanctions”, though most don’t actually know what they are or what it implies. The proper term for it in political science speak is “economic terrorism”. A large and powerful country blackmails and bribes as many countries on earth as it can into not doing any business with another country that it is trying to force into doing something. In this case, Israel and the United States have been trying to get Iran to stop their nuclear program (and to be fair, to stop back-door funding terrorist groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas.
The problem that any rational mind would have with this second bit is that the United States and Israel commit much more blatant and atrocious terrorist acts, killing and injuring many more people, on a regular basis than Hezbolla of Hamas ever have or ever will. The difference is that when the U.S. or Israel (or France, Germany, China, or Great Britain for that matter) commit said terrorist acts, they do so openly and overtly and claim that it’s a “justified military act of war in order to defend freedom and liberty”. Small groups like Hezbollah and Hamas claim the same things, but the world isn’t run by people friendly to the populations that these groups serve and protect. So the story gets twisted and manipulated by the powers that be in government and media and voila! “terrorism” turns into “any act of violence committed against the powers that are currently in control of the world at present”.
For the last sixty years, “the power that’s in control at present” has been the United States of America. So it is they who get to write the rules, spin the story, and revise the history that we all pretend to live by. [It would be important to note somewhere, so it might as well be here, that this is the way it’s always been on planet earth as far as we can tell since we can remember. There has always been a dominating power or ruling empire that has controlled the plot and created the rules that the rest of the world pretends to live by. Going all the way back to the early days of recorded human history, one could plot it out: from Sumer to Egypt to Babylon to Persia to Greece to Rome to the Goths and Mongols and Turks and Ottomans, eventually Great Britain, Spain, France… all have had their time in the sun for brief periods as the ruling empire of the day. And eventually they have all failed, faltered and fallen. It’s difficult to imagine for instance Egypt or Rome or the UK or especially France as “the ruling empire of the world”. But at one point they were. The fact that one day the United States will fall and lose its power as the current empire of the day is an inevitability. It is only a matter of time.]
But at present, the United States IS that country. Countries like Iran don’t stand a chance at self governance as long as countries like the U.S. remain in control; UNLESS they find a way to gain access to nuclear weapons. The ONLY determining factor in how much a country on earth can be controlled and bullied by the Unites States is IF they have nuclear weapons and how many they have. It may seem a ridiculously inane and irrational notion — since an all-out nuclear war between two nations would devastate the entire planet and render it inhabitable by just about anything except cockroaches — but the powers that be have this contingency under control, or so they believe they do.
The United States, and supposedly Switzerland and a few other major nation-states as well, have built a very large and elaborate underground bunker-style living quarters, deep underground, that can house and feed up to one-hundred thousand of the country’s “most important citizens” should a nuclear war ever transpire. They would have access to everything from electricity and the internet to plumbing and plenty of food. So the threat of a nuclear attack by the United States if you should piss them off, as horrible and deplorable as it may seem, is a real one. After all, as the former president of Iran, Khatami, once reminded me when I was there last, “the United States does itself a great disservice being the only country in the world who has bombed another country with nuclear weapons. So it’s ironic that they should be the one telling others that they shouldn’t be allowed to have nuclear weapons out of fear that they might use them.”
Unfortunately that’s where we are in our current state of evolution. Control and power — even when it comes to self governance of your own land, your own laws, and your own people — is dictated by the country with the largest stockpile of nuclear weapons and the largest fiercest military to use them. That is the ONLY thing that determines who is in control at present. That and money. Which explains how and why countries like Great Britain, France, Germany and Israel are able to ride along side the United States beating their chests and brandishing their own nuclear weapons. Without nuclear weapons, any country on earth is literally helpless to the whims and dictates of the more powerful countries that DO possess them. This is how the United States has been able to commit so many terrorist activities around the world and not be held accountable for them by the global community. This is also how they’ve been able to use economic terrorism (sanctions) to achieve their goals — no matter how unfair, unjust or inhumane — against a variety of countries such as Colombia, Guatemala, Bolivia, Iraq (where this act killed nearly one-million people, half of them being children), and lately in Iran. They slowly strangle the entire population of the country to death economically till the leaders of that country cry “mercy!” and crawl to the negotiating table to ask what the United States wants from them.
I am often asked by people what exactly “economic sanctions” are and how they work. It seems that just saying “economic terrorism” doesn’t suffice to explain it adequately enough. So I am going to give you an example here of what it looks like, just so this post makes more sense. First you announce it to the world. For instance, this small group of bullies that call themselves the “UN Security Council” will decide to enact “stronger sanctions” against the country of Iran. Not all of the countries who are members of the Security Council will necessarily agree to it — in this instance both China and Russia do not agree with sanctions against Iran, both being friends and partners in trade with Iran, so they will vote no. But that doesn’t stop it from happening. Again the United States writes nearly all the rules for the rest of the world, nuclear weapons being the only thing that protects other countries such as China or Russia, from full on control by the United States.
The United States will then order every bank, financial institution, credit card company, commodity manufacturer (the very basic stuff that keep a people alive, think grains, cereals, milk, soy, cotton, corn, wheat, sugar, oil, natural gas, etc.) and any other company that exists to “not do business with the country of Iran or we will not do business with you and we will convince our allies all over the world to also not do business with you.” Think of very large organizations like the World Bank or the World Trade Organization or Monsanto or Dow Chemical or Kellogg or Conoco Philips or BP (that one especially ironic for those in the know…) or Visa, MasterCard, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, etc. Pretty soon you have just about every company in the entire world refusing to supply you with goods, refusing to trade with you, refusing to sell you things, no matter how much you or your people need it. Food, oil, water purification supplies, sanitation needs, banking, credit card processing, financing for new ventures or even basic needs materials, even things like oil and gas, car companies, airlines, transportation needs such as the trains and trucks to get food and medicine into and around your country… All off limits to you and your people.
What you have then is a people entirely cut off from the world and from the very basics that sustain life. Grocery store shelves go bare. Hospitals begin losing access to medicine and supplies. Banks close because lending stops. ATMS stop working. Credit cards don’t work and don’t exist anymore. When I was in Iran they were not yet quite at the peak of the U.S. sanctions against them, but they were already a few years into them. Store shelves are half full. People are forced to carry around large suitcases of cash in order to pay for everything and anything because they can’t get any credit card companies to work with them. In order to pay an additional fee for one of my flights while I was there, I was not allowed to use my credit cards to do so. Nor was I able to find any ATM machines to get cash. Because of the sanctions. There I was in the airport unable to get on the plane to fly home because I could not come up with the suitcase of cash needed to pay this additional fee being requested. I looked around me and all over the airport were men carrying large suitcases filled with hundreds of thousands of Tumans (their currency). They lift them up onto the counter and begin counting them out. Thousands of them. Just to pay for a flight. And so it is with everything in their country. I was able to pay for my flight eventually because I borrowed the cash from a fellow traveler that I was with who knew better than I how bad things were going to be, so he brought a TON of cash with him. IF it weren’t for him, I would have been stranded there.
So, you might be asking by now, surely the rest of the world wouldn’t do this, not ALL of the companies in the world would take part in such a brutal atrocity?! Well, you’re right. Some don’t. China and Russia and many Middle Eastern countries don’t. But these countries don’t have access to “everything”. Only to limited supplies of a limited amount of things needed to sustain life. Many companies don’t WANT to participate in this economic strangling of an entire people. But if they don’t participate then they are blackmailed by the United States: “if we catch you doing business with Iran, we can assure you that we will get every other major country in the world to immediately refrain from buying your goods or using your services”. This could easily bankrupt a company in a few short weeks. So even companies that do not wish to participate in these Draconian tactics are forced to — simply because of the power that the United States currently wields in the world.
To understand the power and the full implications of these economic sanctions, when the United States did this same thing to Iraq during the Clinton years, it is estimated that over one-million Iraqi civilians died, half of them being children, mostly from starvation or thirst or preventable disease. The rest of the world stood on the sidelines and watched this take place. Some spoke up and tried to stop it; but most are just as afraid of the United States and its power and influence as Iraq was. After all, they could be next. THIS is how the United States is able to control the actions of a country without necessarily attacking it militarily. The only thing that prevents the United States from doing this to larger countries like China or Russia, again, is the fact that THEY have nuclear weapons and a strong army. So the U.S. is smart in who it targets with this kind of terrorism. It knows who to fuck with and who to stay away from. (Besides the fact that China is currently propping up the American economy more than any other country on earth. (In case you were wondering why the U.S. claims to stand for freedom democracy and liberty but at the same time supports the overtly corrupt communist China regime…))
Hopefully this helps explain exactly what “economic sanctions” are. Let us return to our story shall we?
Seeing that Iran does not yet have any nuclear weapons, so it’s prone to just about any bullying by the U.S. that the U.S. cares to dish out, it could only hold out during the U.S. led sanctions against it for so long. The economy in Iran was thoroughly ravaged. And why? Because countries like the U.S. and France and Great Britain and especially Israel do not want Iran to have access to nuclear weapons. Plain and simple. But Iran has moved forward steadfastly with its nuclear energy program. It claims that it will be out of oil by the year 2020 and it needs to create a viable nuclear energy program. It also claims that it has no intention of ever using a nuclear weapon against another country, that it violates it’s basic core values as a nation and of its religion. Of this we cannot be sure. EVERY country on earth “claims” to be good nice and well-meaning. And nearly all of them commit horribly selfish acts of violence against others when it suits their needs. Just as the United States does and has, to be fair, Iran has too. At least according to reports we receive from mainstream media.
One thing is at least certain about Iran. They do not have the greatest justice system in the world when it comes to human rights. They’ll put to death some six-hundred people in a year and imprison thousands more for various different “capital offenses” such as speaking out against the government or being gay or peacefully protesting. So as defenders of civil liberties and human rights and equality, we can’t turn a blind eye to these harsh realities about Iran no matter how much we want the United States to be more fair-minded and even handed with them. It’s not an issue of black or white. It’s all very grey and shady.
But with that said, it still does not justify the treatment the country of Iran has received from the United States and other major nations around the world. The only way that Iran is ever going to rise up to a state of equality in the world is to eventually acquire its own nuclear weapons arsenal. This is just a fact of the current state of the world we live in. Might truly makes right. And everything else too. Right now Iran has no choice but to play the apologetic but proud and noble victim to the brutal dictatorship of the United States and its smaller cronies. Unlike the insane Saddam Hussein regime of Iraq, Iran cares about its people and their welfare. It had to eventually cave in to the demands of the United States led UN Security Council, which in this case means allowing inspectors into its country to verify whether or not it’s building nuclear weapons and also lower the level of plutonium it’s enriching to levels not high enough to build nuclear weapons. It’s a very tricky business. On the one hand, possessing nuclear weapons is the only way Iran (and any other country in the world) will ever reach a state of equality with other countries in the world and be treated with the same level of respect that it deserves. On the other hand, it needs for the time being to reduce the amount of sanctions being levied against it for the health and welfare of its people.
There should be no question and no debate about the state of this quandary that we are in regarding Iran and the issues outlines above. The United States is no more a “friendly country with good intentions that stands for freedom liberty and democracy” than Russia, China or any other major world super power. It commits violent acts of terror all over the world on a regular basis and justifies it’s doing so simply because it’s the most powerful country in the world. We cannot claim on the one hand to be intelligent rational adults and continue to pretend that the United States are “the good guys” and everyone they decide to go to war or fight with are “the bad guys” simply because they say so or because we happen to live here. Just as we cannot pretend to believe that Iran should not be allowed to have nuclear weapons because “they are evil compared to the rest of the world”. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander as they say. If the United States is so adamant about world peace and protecting the world and its people from the threat of nuclear war, then it should give up its own nuclear weapons.
But it won’t. Because then it would have to operate fairly in the world, on equal grounds on a level playing field. So the games and charade continues. But that doesn’t mean that any of us has to play along. One of the greatest gifts the United States ever gave to the world is freedom of thought and freedom of speech. It is one of our most sacred freedoms and probably one that we take for granted a little bit too much since we’re so accustomed to it. Despite what many of our conspiracy theorist friends claim, that freedom is still very much alive and well in America. Especially compared to other countries like China, Russia, Cuba, aforementioned Iran or pick one in the Middle East. As long as that freedom still exists, so too does our ability to speak up about issues like this one regarding Iran and other countries like it.
In fact, I would contend that it’s more than just an ability that we possess, but an obligation that we have. There are people who don’t understand why some of us come off so “anti-American”. They scream and shout and yell at us to “leave if you don’t like it here!” What they don’t realize is that, number one, we are doing nothing but speaking the truth, just not a very common or oft-heard truth, and two, we aren’t “anti-American” at all. On the contrary. We love the United States of America more than most and would like to one day see it rise up to being equal in practice with what it preaches and claims about itself. THAT would give cause for real celebration. I’d love to see it one day in my life before I pass on from here. For that to happen it will take a good majority of us to cry foul when we see one. In regards to our current dealings with Iran, there are plenty of fouls being committed in plain sight. We need to continue to remind each other of this fact and speak up about it. For if we don’t, who will?
To be clear, I’m not saying I desire Iran to have nuclear weapons. If it were up to me, NO country on earth would posses them. We’ve seen what they can do. We know why every country on earth has them and wants them. No good can come from it. What I am saying is that the current state of affairs between the nations of the world and rules by which they all play is dishonest, unjust and unfair. I don’t believe that it’s fair for the one country who possesses the largest stockpile of nuclear weapons in the world to demand that another country not have any, and furthermore especially not if they’re going to do so attempting to act noble and valiant. There is nothing noble or valiant about being the world’s bully and dictator, which is exactly what the United States has turned into. This most recent ruckus with Iran is yet another glaring example of this.
If you’re going to go full-on, all-out deceptive, manipulative and evil, do so proudly ala Nazi Germany or Stalin-era Russia. Don’t hide behind pretense and bullshit like “American exceptionalism” and a bunch of empty clichés like “freedom liberty and democracy”. Don’t lie in everyone’s face, pretending to be the hero when you’re overtly playing the villain. Just boldly pronounce that you want to rule the world for selfish gain and you don’t care how you do it. I and many others would have a lot more respect for the powers that be in Washington if they did that compared to what they’re doing now. At least they’d be an honest villain, one that we could respect. There’s nothing more loathsome and disreputable than a dishonest villain attempting to fool the world into believing they’re the hero when everyone can plainly see they’re not but is just too afraid to say anything. There’s no respect in that. It reeks of the inevitable coming downfall of an empire. And no one wants to be around when an empire crumbles. Only when it’s rising.
So are we going to support the United States in it’s ascent towards true greatness? Or continue to enable it to play the hated fool on the world stage? That’s a question that as citizens we are all obligated to ask ourselves, and once answered, have further an obligation to act. President Obama has come a long way in acting more evolved towards his treatment of Iran than any U.S. president in a long time. And he should be commended for that. But we’ve got a long way to go if we are truly going to deserve the glorifying accolades that we so readily bestow upon ourselves on a constant basis.
Well it finally happened. Though there’s slim chance anyone noticed. But the Conscience Revolution (or whatever one wishes to call it) just may have begun in the United States. Today. Or last night at 1 am to be exact. In an unheard of move in the world of Wall Street, one of the highest rated analysts on the Street today issued a downgraded “Sell” recommendation for Apple Computer Corporation based on “moral grounds”. The video of a brilliant and bewildering interview with the analyst is embedded below in this post. But more on that in a minute. For some, I know what you might be thinking. “What Conscience Revolution is that Mr. Ambassador? You mean the one that started way back in the nineteen-sixties when we were marching in the streets for women’s rights and civil rights and to end the war in Vietnam? Doesn’t sound new to me!” Yes, that one. And point well taken. The sixties were certainly a moment of awakening conscience.
But I’d offer several alternative perspectives to consider. Number one, that wasn’t a revolution as much as it was a revolt. By a relatively small number of people. Though we were able to make great strides towards more equality, pass the Civil Rights Act, garner more pay — and more say — for the female portion of our society, and yes even brought the Vietnam War to an end eventually (though some could rightly argue that America’s retreat from Vietnam had little to do with the will of the people and everything to do with the fact that the powers that be in Washington finally realized it was an unwinnable war), these are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to truly eradicating the myriad injustices in the world today, not to mention the ones in our own backyard here in the land of the free. More to the point, the group that was revolting — call them hippies, liberals, concerned citizens, whackos, crazies, people of conscience — was still a very small and select group of Americans compared to the over all majority who sat back in their easy-chairs each night to watch the chaos ensue on TV. For whatever reason(s), the message didn’t get through to the larger majority of the American people. Hence no revolution.
[In fact some even point to the nineteen-sixties as the exact moment that those mysterious powers-that-be took over the governing of the United States — through their carefully targeted assassinations of JFK, MLK, Malcolm X, RFK and a few Black Panthers, they discouraged, frightened and mentally defeated the people so much that from that point on everyone in the country knew the rules. No revolutions here thank you very much.]
The problem with a full-on Conscience Revolution in America is that we have –quite literally– three types of citizens in America. Each vying for very different agendas. Neither specifically politically nor religiously divided one might be able to break these groups down as follows:
Type One — The Short Hairs — The Mainstreamers — The Capitalists. They LOVE freedom and capitalism and the free-enterprise system. They believe in that sophomoric ideal tossed about during election season known as “American Exceptionalism”. Just as much as they believe that Lee Harvey Oswald killed Kennedy, by himself mind you; or that Adam Lanza killed all those kids in that school in Sandy Hook (with a gun that was found later in a trunk of a car after the shooting). And yes they believe that Osama Bin Laden was the mastermind who brought down the Twin Towers on 9/11, along with Building #7 (most of these people don’t even know there was a Building #7 that mysteriously collapsed to the ground as if by magic). They pretty much believe anything that they see on the evening news or their morning news show of choice. They want “government out of our way”. It’s an every man woman and child for themselves rule of law they promote. And if you work hard, you’ll get ahead. If you don’t manage to get ahead, some of that wealth of the higher-ups will “trickle down” and surely come your way anyway. Thus they fight for lower taxes across the board, for individuals as well as for corporations, and they fight for fewer looser regulations.
They tend to be unfairly and inaccurately associated with Evangelical Christians, but they aren’t any one religion. This isn’t about religion. They could be all sorts of different Christian denominations. Some may be Jewish. Some may be Hindu or Buddhist. Surely some are atheists. And let’s remember that Arabia (refuse to use the family name of Saudi on moral grounds — (which would definitely make you a Type Two person)) happens to also fit into this category and they’re all strictly Muslim, but that doesn’t stop them from working with and profiting greatly from working with the Americans of this ilk. They don’t always vote Republican. That’s too stereotypical. But they sure aren’t as focused on raising the minimum wage or providing affordable health care for all Americans as they are on increasing corporate profits and their own salaries. They’re not going to show up at any protest or demonstration any time soon. Except maybe a Tea Party one — and that’s a very small minority of them. They’re too busy living or attempting to live the American Dream.
Now these Type One people, they aren’t necessarily all bad or evil — in fact some of them are the nicest folks you’d ever want to share a beer and a steak with. They give just as often as the next guy. They just may not give to environmental charities, because they don’t like environmentalism for the most part because it “gets in the way of business and corporate profits” too much. They think a lot of it is hogwash. Some even point to a global conspiracy created by certain hucksters to frighten the world into believing there is an impending human-created global warning crisis coming in order to profit from ineffectual “alternative energy” sources like solar and wind energy that we don’t even need. They know coal and other fossil fuels are bad for the air we breathe and the water that the fishes live in, but they don’t see any other valid way of powering our lives in the convenient manner that we’re used to nor at the inexpensive prices we’re used to.
They want government to butt out of Big Oil and Big Coal and Big Pharma and Big Defense spending and any other Big industry where Big profits are being made. They know about sweat shops and they know about slave labor. But it’s not going to stop them from buying the latest gadget or their favorite pair of shoes. They also know that China is a fascist/communist country where the people have fewer rights than we could ever even imagine, but they don’t feel strongly enough about it to be compelled to boycott products made in China or do anything else about it. Because they’ve been told that “there is nothing we can do about it”. They accept the status quo. The same hook line and sinker that’s fed to them every four years from the same two political parties that control the country and they don’t even recognize that that fact alone is not very democratic. They’re good hearted generous salt of the earth Americans. Nothing wrong with them. If anything, some of them, a small minority granted, are also waiting for a revolution of sorts. Just an entirely different one than Type Two citizens. Their revolution entails getting rid of as much of the Federal government as possible in order to allow what they call the “free market system” to work the way it’s supposed to. To them you would never make an investment decision based on moral grounds. That just goes beyond all logic to how they think and function. There’s some truth to what they practice and preach. It’s not a bad idea to get to know them and learn what makes them tick.
Type Two — The Conscious — The Protestors — The Awakened — The Hippy Crowd: Some may consider these Type Two types as being strictly Democrats or liberals. But again this isn’t strictly about political persuasion. These citizens are a different breed that’s for sure. And yes they’re occasionally labeled hippies or crazies or whackos by Type One and Three types. They do tend to be liberal (lower case l), meaning, they believe that everyone should be treated equally no matter who they are or where they’re from. And they’re willing to fight for that cause. Certainly more than the cause of freeing up the free market capitalist system. They’re also willing to write letters, start NGOs, march, protest, demonstrate, get arrested, or do just about anything if they believe that it will bring more real freedom, justice and liberty to the people of the world . They don’t always vote Democrat but they seem to lean that way. Lately they’ve been voting Independent more and more.
They too hate taxes just as much as the next guy, but not for the “really wealthy”, which of course is anyone who makes more money than they do. Joking. That’s not actually fair. Based on numerous polls, most of these Type Twos don’t actually mind paying higher taxes if it means that their moral values are being expressed in society more through the paying of said higher taxes. They’re peculiar that way. They claim that they don’t think there’s anything wrong with “paying a bit more to help more people”. They believe in global warming, or at least that there’s something wrong with the weather lately and they believe that there’s something that we humans have done to cause it and there’s something we can do about it. They were in the streets in the sixties fighting for civil rights and women’s rights and all sorts of other rights. They burned their draft cards and they burned their bras in the seventies. During the eighties they were marching against nuclear proliferation and various wars. In the nineties and two-thousands they were in the streets fighting for corporate finance reform and political campaign finance reform and for banking and financial institution reform and trying to prevent yet more wars.
They tend toward what the Mainstreamers would label conspiracy theories. They think it’s a crock that anyone could believe that Lee Harvey Oswald killed JFK all by himself (maybe because it’s impossible…?) or that James Earl Ray killed MLK by himself, or that “Osama Bin Laden masterminded the 9/11 attacks”. They’ve seen LOOSE CHANGE (the most popular of the 9/11 Truth movement’s documentaries on the subject) more than once and find too many inconsistencies in the official story to believe it. They protested America’s invasion of Iraq and they protest the monopoly that corporate lobbyists have on Washington DC politicians. They fight for equal rights for same sex couples because they truly believe in equal rights for all as being what America and democracy is all about. They’ve got their separation of church and state issues reconciled. They may be religious or they may not be. They aren’t necessarily against it or for it. But they certainly wouldn’t stop anyone from practicing said religion if they wanted to. They’re more concerned with saving the planet from pollution and corrupt politicians and ending slave labor and sweat shops. They’re awaiting a coming revolution where freedom, beauty, truth, love, peace and compassion are the ties that bind us all and govern the way we live. They want the revolution to be peaceful. They’re willing to do just about anything to see it in their lifetime.
Type Three — The Laggards — The Majority: Type three citizens don’t fit into either of the above groups. They may lean one way or the other on certain issues but for the most part they just don’t have the time nor the attention span to care one way or the other about most of the issues to get too involved. It’s not that they don’t care. Some do. (Incredibly some actually don’t, and don’t mind bragging about it). Some are beyond jaded and just downright cynical because they’ve seen too much. Some are lazy. Some are just too poor and busy making ends meet to jump in the game. And it’s not that they don’t have an opinion. Ask them. Some do. They just don’t have any irons in the fire. They’ve got no skin in the game to fight for anything one way or the other. They work. They consume. They eat. They live. They get married and have children and buy homes and get jobs and retire and mourn their loved ones when they pass on just as everyone else does. But you aren’t going to get them to a protest or a march for anything. And likewise, you also aren’t going to hear them complaining too much about how Washington needs to get out of the way of big business so the free market system can do it’s thing. They may know about these issues. To a degree. But they know a lot more about Kim and Kanye or American Idol or Hoda and Kathy Lee. They’re common everyday folk. Both rich and poor. Both middle class and not so middle class. They’re everywhere and they’re just about everyone. They’re the majority of the people all around us. They don’t want a revolution. Though they don’t mind singing about it if a good song happens to come on the radio. But more than revolution one way or the other, they just want to be happy. And that’s their right.
Towards the end of the game, they’re the swing vote. They’re what makes America purple. They’re too afraid to jump in, but if the life of someone they loved was on the line, a betting man could depend on them to step in and do something about it. They just need coaxing from the heavy weight and burden brought about by five decades of strong near police state government coercion tactics. They don’t want to get in any trouble. Some care. Some don’t. But for those that do, they’re a good lot to have in your corner because they aren’t necessarily swayed one way or the other yet. Getting along and being happy are their primary motivations.
Walk down the busiest street in any major city and you’re likely to run into a pretty equal portion of all three groups on any given day. After a day or two you’ll notice that there tends to be more Type Three people in America than either of the first two groups. That’s just the way it is. For now at least. And therein lies the problem. In terms of Type One versus Type Two, the country seems almost split between them. The groups cross through all nationalities, religions, political persuasions, ethnicities and classes. Both groups think they’re right for believing what they do, and in certain cases, on both sides, they are.
The problem of this equal split is also of course the beauty of the country. Our diversity is one of our most cherished strengths. But it makes getting things done take a long long time. It is said that Civil Rights never stood a chance of passing without President Kennedy being assassinated and Lyndon Johnson using his inaugural address as a platform to promote the cause in the name of the slain American war veteran and political demi-god Kennedy. MLK and Malcolm had to die too. Perhaps it works this way all over the world, and perhaps it always has; but nothing moves a country or its people towards rapid progress more than a martyr or two.
Usually the lines between these two groups of Type Ones and Type Twos are clearly marked: You can spot a Type Two American a mile away. You can see it in the clothes they wear or on the bumper stickers they slap on the backs of their fuel efficient hybrid cars. And the same goes for Type Ones. They surely won’t be wearing Birkenstocks and they don’t see a problem driving a Hummer. And for the most part that’s a good thing. A Type Two American doesn’t believe that Monsanto should be allowed to patent seeds that farmers plant in the ground and then ban those same farmers from ever being able to plant another crop in the ground without first paying them. Type Ones see this as only right, seeing that Monsanto spent all that money to come up with those special seeds, and more importantly they’re pro-business and just might own stock in Monsanto. They want to see the company do well because they want the stock to go up. They also want the stocks to go up of the numerous companies that Monsanto works with. Everything is connected economically and they’re smart enough to know this. They’ll tell you that “we’ll figure out the tragic plight of the farmers later. Or we’ll import our food from a poorer nation where we can get a hell of a lot cheaper anyway”. And when it comes to our food, specifically the genetically modified kind, Type Ones see all those regulations regarding labeling as just another aspect of government that’s bad for business and corporate profits. Like I said, the lines in the sand that separate these two groups are pretty wide.
But something changed all that today. A minor glitch in the system for sure. But still a major milestone. A research report came out last night at 1 am EST by one of Wall Street’s most respected and highly rated research investment firms, Standpoint Research. Turns out the owner and chief analyst at Standpoint had a Jerry Macguire moment and decided to downgrade APPLE Corporation to a Sell rating. Now upgrades and downgrades by Wall Street analysts happen all the time, everyday in fact. Investors, both institutional and individual live and die by these reports. They’re usually logical and reasonable and if nothing else thorough analyses of where that company is in the moment in terms of it’s ability to be successful and continue to grow, as in make a good investment or a bad one for people who invest their money in order to make more with it, which is a good chunk of most people in America, regardless of which group they happen to camp in.
Apple is the largest company in the world today. Bigger than GE, who for decades held that honored title. More importantly Apple is profitable. More than profitable. They’re so profitable that they are sitting on over one-hundred and fifty BILLION dollars in free available cash. Just sitting there. Nope, you read it right. That’s $150,000,000,000. American dollars. It’s an unfathomable number. Never mind that they park most of it offshore in various places as far away as the Cayman Islands or Ireland or China so as not to have to pay the United States any corporate tax on it. (The corporate tax rate they paid in 2012 amounted to less than 9% if you can believe it. Less than what the average American waitress pays a year. These are the kinds of things that Type Two people would like to change in the world today. The exact same things that Type One people would like to keep the way they are or in fact even find a way to improve on. Hell, some say that corporate taxes should be lowered even more to help rev the economy up a bit faster.)
Because Apple is such a damn good company when it comes to making money and delivering new exciting products to tons of adoring customers who love them, trying to downgrade Apple is like trying to talk a child into not liking chocolate. It just doesn’t make any sense. You don’t get much better than Apple when it comes to being a good investment. But analyst Ron Moas of Standpoint disagrees. He wrote a 40 page scathing report last night that concluded that Apple should be a Sell on MORAL GROUNDS. He can’t quite explain what happened, but he was reading up on the company and preparing his analysis of Apple and one of the things he learned is that the average Apple employee in Asia and other parts of the world makes roughly $2 an hour. That’s $80 a week. Do the math. In the States we call that slave labor. Or sweat shop labor. To be fair to Apple, THEY don’t actually hire and pay these people. They outsource most of their staffing to the Chinese behemoth FoxCon. They’re the ones who are paying the Apple workers two bucks per hour. Now based on the fact that Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, brings home approximately $40 MILLION a year in pay, one can easily see why Mr. Moas got so hot and bothered over this discrepancy and in a mad late night burst of conscience declared that everyone should sell their shares of Apple stock until Apple starts compensating it’s employees more equitably. At least a living wage for God’s sake. He also downgraded Amazon.com and Philip Morris for similar reasons.
The report of course didn’t do much to move the market one way or the other. In fact, once people got wind of why Standpoint had downgraded Apple — companies like Standpoint usually have a lot of pull; they can make a stock rise up or fall down 5 to 10% in an hour based on their opinion — everyone had a good chuckle and the stock ended up 4 dollars by end of day. See, that’s the thing about Type One types. If the downgrade would have said something about “Apple’s inability to merge mobile device platforms in the China market effectively enough to increase revenues substantially in the second quarter of 2014” then the stock may have tanked 5%. But because this was simply a downgrade based on moral grounds, the effect it had was nil and the reaction was laughter and mockery.
In fact, a few hours later, CNBC, God bless their money loving naiveté, invited Mr. Ron Moas from Standpoint Research on their Fast Money show to talk about his “strange report and downgrade of Apple”. Lucky for us, he agreed to come on the show. He then proceeded to rally against corporate greed in America and its effect on people all over the world as if he had found a new religion. When the usually well-dressed and air-headed token femme fatale mouthpiece of the show Melissa Lee interviewed Mr. Moas, she had no idea what kind of minefield she was walking into. She, being used to the shallow “think profits only” Type One kind of people that the show usually interviews, innocently threw Mr. Moas a lifeline (or so she thought) and suggested that perhaps he was just tired when he wrote the report, or perhaps he was “on the verge of a nervous breakdown.” For the life of her she just could not imagine how anyone in their right mind could possibly allow “moral reasons” to cloud their judgment about the health or prospective profitability of a company. In fact she even stated this verbatim to Mr. Moas. It was as if two cultures who had never even heard of one another before stepped into a room together for the first time and as soon as one began speaking all hell broke loose.
Moas shot back at Lee “How dare you insinuate such an irrelevant idea like I am having a nervous breakdown when I am up here defending the rights of people all over the world who deserve to be paid a decent living wage for their hard work. I am just so disgusted by how far gone some of these companies are and the lowly extent they are willing to go to hoard money for their shareholders and their executives who reap huge salaries in the tens of millions each year and they can’t afford to pay their workers more than two dollars an hour?!?” The guy was acting flat out crazy at times, I must admit. He went on to say:
“For Apple Computers to pay their workers $2 an hour while they have $150
billion in the bank is nothing short of obscene. They have workers who are doing
back-breaking and eye-burning work in depressed states of mind and in many
instances have already committed suicide. Instead of treating their employees
like human beings, they are treated like animals. If it were not for their
employees, Apple would not be where it is today. But instead of giving these
people a better life, they give these people the bare minimum and defend this
action with the argument that the wage is higher than the average there and
in-line with what their competitors are paying.”
But this is just the kind of reaction we all have when we jump that ship from either Type One or Type Three into the Type Two boat. Life as it’s preached and practiced in corporate America is brutally cut throat, self-serving and greedy. There is no room for compassion or concern for the health and welfare of the workers when your shareholders are demanding a higher dividend yield. When you have activist investors like Carl Icahn breathing down your neck — as Apple currently does — demanding that Apple relinquish more of that one-hundred and fifty billion in free cash to the shareholders. Workers be damned. That’s the free market system at it’s finest. It’s what’s created all the mass fortunes of the wealthiest names in American history, from the Vanderbilts to the Carnegies to the Rothschild’s to the Waltons of Walmart right through to today and Nike’s infamous sweatshops that crank out $200 sneakers at a pay-rate of .40 cents an hour to some of it’s finest sneaker crafts-persons in tiny countries we’ve never heard of. It’s the American way.
The only question is, is it the right way? As someone very torn between the capitalist investor AND the compassionate human rights activist in me, I found this surprising turnaround in Wall Street thinking today quite encouraging. With 150 BILLION in free cash Apple could easily pay more than 2$ an hour to its employees. Hell, it could easily pay $10 an hour and still barely make a dent in all those billions. This is an idea that’s been being promoted over the last few years called Compassionate Capitalism. I am sure there are other names for it too. I believe I even formulated a name for it a few years back here in the Diaries. But what we call it isn’t important. Watching today’s exchange on CNBC between the impassioned Mr. Ron Moas and the unsuspecting Melissa Lee was some high quality entertainment. Truly awe-inspiring to watch a man so on fire all of a sudden with a new found moral compass and the pure unadulterated shock displayed by Lee, someone who clearly is not used to morals and values being on the same plate as her high-priced stocks and corporate profit speak. It was a brilliant display of two culture-clashing. The irony of course being that Moas IS part of that Type One culture. Or at least he has been for the last ten years of his professional life. Perhaps that’s all going to change for the man. Perhaps like Jerry Macguire, Moas is going to awaken tomorrow and discover that he’s out of a job and set about to change the world. Who knows? But it’s a start.
We need to see more people speaking out like that. And more importantly more people like Ron Moas, of that caliber. Somehow we Type Twos got through. How? Because we need to get through to more and more of these types. Moas claimed it was the Pope who gave him his inspiration. But regardless of who it was, let us hope that we just keep getting through. I personally LOVE profits. But not at the expense of or on the backs of those less fortunate than I am.
Deep uncover still, exploring the world of investing and trading. Six months now. Don’t get me wrong, It isn’t just research; it’s also a way to make money. But it isn’t as easy as it once was. Those days are long gone. Yes, with the right amount of capital it isn’t difficult to make anywhere between $500 to $2000 a day actively trading. But it’s intense and stressful. And always a risk. You’re on the edge of your seat the whole time. Every minute seems like an hour when you’re in the middle of a trade. When you win, it’s exhilarating. When you lose, it can happen in an instant and there’s nothing that feels worse.
This is our third exploration into the world of active trading. The first was the period between ’97 to 2004, when I was still a kid, wet behind the ears and green as a newborn. Then 2005 to 2007. By that time I’d already made my fortune and investing was just a way to have fun with money. And now, once again we’ve jumped into the pool with the sharks. But this time it’s different. There are motives here much bigger than just to have fun or make a little extra money. And things have changed in this world. A lot. For everyday readers of the Transcendence Diaries, this isn’t going to be as transcendent as usual, but give it a chance. There is learning here. Just a very different world than what you’re more accustomed to here.
Yes, indeed, things have changed tremendously in the world of trading and investing. And yet things are seeming more and more like the old days. More on that in a few. For one thing HFT (High Frequency Trading) has been invented and is solidly embedded into the system; hell it is the system now. It makes trading operate at a rapid fire speeds. Mili-seconds matter. Pico-seconds in fact. [Many of the things I make note of will need to be Googled if not understood. For the purpose here is to post observations and lessons, not define terminology.] When I first started actively investing it was in the mid-nineties as already established here in The Diaries numerous times. We were in the process of a giant economic recovery in America which many mistakenly believe to be the effect of the Clinton White House or Alan Greenspan, when in reality it had a lot more to do with Silicon Valley and the advent of the internet age and modern technology becoming a regular part of the everyday man’s everyday life. Not only that, something amazing was invented, something truly revolutionary. eTrade. The ability of the average citizen to invest their own money their own way, in real time, without the need of a middle man or a broker.
eTrade was the first such system. Trust me when I say it was truly revolutionary. Up until that point you really did have to call a broker to buy or sell any kind of investment vehicle such as a stock or a bond or an ETF. Hell, ETFs barely existed back then. I was one of the first eTrade clients, coming on board in the beta stage as an early adaptor the same way I did with PayPal and eBay. Elon was still with PayPal back then. eBay was still a home based business. You became friends with the people you bought from and sold to. It was a small community. eTrade too. I still use the same eTrade, ebay and PayPal accounts from 1997 and 98. People are amazed when they see the date attached to my accounts. As if these are relatively new inventions. But to many people they are. That’s something that we always have to remember. The reason why companies like eBay and Netflix are still so valuable is because they’re nowhere near mainstream market saturation. Most people still don’t have a PayPal account; just as most people still don’t have Netflix accounts in their home. So there’s plenty of room for them to grow.
But back to the real meat of the story. Now eTrade is considered the old guard. The old dog that can’t learn new tricks. Try as they might they are having difficulty keeping everyone on board, though they’re still the most used platform out there overall. There’s something about being the first and the oldest that can backfire on you, whether product or service. The same way that Facebook ate MySpace who ate Friendster. Only time will tell if Tumblr will eat Facebook. I’m going to say no. But hey, they made their billion so at this point, who really cares. (Herein lay one of the main points of this post, along with a few dozen more, i.e. how similar today is to the dotcom crash of 2001. But that’s for later.) There are a hundred of these types of electronic home trading platforms out there. Scott Trade, Cool Trade, Ameritrade. Think Or Swim or TOS for short seems to be the popular kid in school these days, the current flavor of the month. Especially with the career traders, the ones who wake up every morning in their bathrobe and actively invest for a living all day. I’ve been there. I know what it’s like. I’m doing it now, though more for research and learning than for a living obviously.
Something has definitely changed though. Now everyone and their brother has access to a computerized home trading platform. And everyone who does fashions themselves an expert. I’ve joined about two dozen investing services over the last few months in order to get a real feel for what’s going on behind the scenes with these retail investors, the average Joes, versus the big dogs. Whereas the big fund managers that we smoke cigars with every day at Barkley Rex or De La Concha are trading huge amounts of cash in the hundreds of millions and billions, the owners and members of many of these trading services are small players. One thing I’ve noticed is this: the big guys, the ones worth seven figures or more who have taught me much of what I know about wealth and finance are quiet, humble, and careful with their words. They volunteer at their church on the weekends. They do their best to keep a low profile. The smaller guys are the exact opposite. They talk a BIG game. They really believe they’re “the shit”. Or at least they talk like they believe it. Totally the opposite of the guys that manage at the big houses that I’m friends with. These smaller guys prey on small fish through seedy posts on social media like Twitter and Facebook and StockTwits. They claim to be able to make you “a fortune overnight”. Obviously this kind of attitude and activity is not new. It’s been around forever. Back in the day our friends at Agora Financial were the masters of it. They’ve turned it into a gigantic business now. Almost to the point where one could call them, dare I say, viable or nearly reputable. El Infinito is working there now. Learning a lot. Some decent minds are now contributing to their content. Very different than the small team that once was back in ’04 and ’05 when it was just Bill and Addison.
But I’ll tell you, this new breed, see they don’t manage money for any big firms. They’re traders. Pirates. But many of them are also professional hucksters. They need the money brought in through monthly subscription fees from small mom and pop investors to make their living. Whereas the guys we hang with over the weekend wouldn’t sell a subscription to their investment advice if you paid them to. And I’ve offered. They’ll talk to you free. But they would never sell you any advice. Why? Because it’s a very closed and private environment number one. And number two, they know how risky it is and how lucky they are to be in the position they’re in, so they’re humbled by that. And three, they don’t need or want that kind of money. They’re in the game for entirely different reasons. It’s more a professional sport to them. They’re in it for the Superbowl Ring. Not for a monthly subscription fee. Obviously we can’t name names here and I never have; we wouldn’t have any friends left if we did. But I have always been amazed at how cool and humble most of these guys are at the Big Ten. I’ve spent ten years smoking and drinking with them and they’re some of the nicest guys you’d ever want to meet. They’re not what you think, the way it’s portrayed in Hollywood movies. I’ve been to their homes, been to their vacation houses in the Hamptons, been on work trips with them, building houses with Habitat for Humanity or with church, and you wouldn’t believe the kind of effort they put in. You can tell they’re fighting some inner demons of guilt for making the kind of money they make when most everyone else is struggling just to get by. So they work their butts off on these work trips. You have to admire this.
Then there’s this whole new breed of guys out there now. Hundreds of them. Maybe thousands. They sell subscriptions to their “expert advice” to anyone and everyone who is willing to cough up 20 to 99 bucks a month for it. Some of them are as high as $5,000 a year. It’s an amazing market. For who doesn’t want to make it rich over night? These guys, they fight with each other over Twitter about who’s the better investor, who made the right call on the right stock. Verbally pounding their chest like apes, bragging about their latest great call. Things like that. Constant bragging. It’s silly kid stuff. One thing I’ve noticed is that they are more concerned with being right than they are with being smart. This is definitely a lose-lose way of operating in the world. And this is where it gets really concerning. You’ll notice that their real teeth in the game is in feeling “right”, as opposed to making money. I’ve heard some say “I’d do that trade a hundred times and even if I was wrong about it 100 times I’d do it again.” That’s actually a favorite tag line of this lot. It’s the “asserting identity” gone wild. The ego seems to take over for the being and runs on auto pilot, while the being itself is only God knows where. Very different than the large fund managers who will spend an hour with you explaining how often they are wrong and how careful we all have to be because “no one can time the markets”. This is experience and maturity speaking. They don’t have to brag because their title does the bragging for them.
[It actually reminds me a lot of the music business. When we’re kids, we swear we’re the greatest thing since the Beatles or Dylan. Then we get a few years under our belt and a few Billboard hits and before you know it, we’re taking three years to finish an album because we’re so damn aware of how average it most likely sounds. Our maturity informs our humility. We take on a humility that is more rooted in the reality of being in the business rather than wanting to be in the business. I assume most industries are probably like this.]
Another trend I’ve noticed now is that social media has really taken a prominent stake in the world of small time investing. People go into various social media outlets and tag the name of companies with a dollar sign. Such as this: $AAPL, when referring to Apple Computer. You see no end to the kind of treachery that one will partake in to make a buck. They pump up a stock the first half the day to trick average investors into believing it’s a great investment and right when it reaches the top of the day, they turn around and dump it — it’s called the Pump and Dump — leaving the average investor holding the bag with a giant loss for the day. Very sad.
Today one such slimy character Tweeted out “$GOGO stock rallying up after FAA approves cell phone usage on flights”. Of course no such announcement had been made. He just wanted to see if he could get a few more suckers to buy some Gogo stock so his shares would go up and he could sell it. Very heinous. The worst kind of pariah. Unfortunately it’s all too common. Lying is about as regular stuff as it gets with this crowd. This is NOT the world of the Avatar or Wayne Dyer or Abraham Hicks. It’s not about being a good person or taking responsibility or helping make the world a better place. It’s about making money. And that’s about all it’s about. Plain and simple. In a post earlier this week, I talked about how the world of investing is destroying the world we live in in the name of making money. Whether it’s the destruction of the environment for fossil fuels or promoting slave labor to improve shareholder dividends, it’s just a very seedy heartless business.
I’ve had a tough time fitting in. But at the same time, it’s the only way we will truly learn all there is to learn about the world of investing in order to better harness the power of Compassionate Capitalism in our quest to create an Enlightened Planet, which is the goal here. Compassionate Capitalism is a growing trend around the world of the wealthy, though very few are as of yet participating. For it takes a lot of self restraint and well, compassion. It also takes a lot of compromise when it comes to foregoing profits in favor of helping. But we’re getting there. More and more are jumping on board. And that’s where we’re headed as a society. It’s just going to take showing everyone else that it’s possible to make a fortune AND be cautious with our investment dollars to avoid contributing to the problems; AND even being pro-active, with a focus on making the world a better place. This might mean investing more in solar and alternative energy rather than oil, fracking and coal. This of course has the potential to lose you a lot of big money. Very true. And I have already experienced the conflict that sets in when trying to stop yourself from jumping into a company that you just know is ravaging the earth while making its fortune. It’s difficult.
A case in point that hits closer to home is that of Pandora. Yes the online radio company. What most people don’t realize is that Pandora has gone public. You can buy and sell shares of the company. And potentially make money doing so. The problem is that Pandora has slowly eroded the very lifeblood of the music industry. The initial deal they structured with the record labels and publishers was for 7 cents a play for each song — try splitting that up ten ways — it was already ridiculously low for as artists. A huge sacrifice. But we were told it was temporary, just until they got their foot in the door, that they were “new and experimental” so we all said yes just to see what would happen; on a temporary basis. Flash forward three years and they are logging tens of millions of listens a day; so they’re no longer “new and experimental”. What was planned was that they would up the ante for us artists once they established themselves and started gaining a bigger listenership. Instead what they’ve done is file a law suit against all the record labels and publishers in the world to ask the courts to allow them to cut that royalty rate in HALF. Yes they now want to only pay about 3 cents per song per spin. That way they can keep the cost down for the listener — it’s already primarily free — AND increase the amount of bonuses they pay to the directors of the company and the dividends they pay to the shareholders.
What’s really heinous is that their primary method of generating revenue — this is classic — is advertising. And who is their main advertising client? Yep. Music business companies. Turning around and selling advertising to US: record companies and publishers in order to promote new albums and singles by the artists. But if WE aren’t making any money from sales anymore, nor from online spins, then what incentive do we have to advertise on their platform? The music business is headed for complete implosion at this point. Not just “gone are the good old days”, but total annihilation. As in no one makes any money at all and everyone just does it for fun IF they can find someone to support them financially. Pandora is one of the reasons why. And what will this lead to ultimately for the average music fan? No good music. Just a lot of random shit gets released — as in whoever can afford to release music of some kind will. No gate keepers. No purveyors. We’ll see. This might be a good thing. But so far all it’s done is muddy the playing field so much that even the most open minded listeners are beginning to recognize that “there just seems to be a lot of really bad music being released these days.” Well now you know why.
[PS — for the record iTunes is not part of the problem. Unfortunately many people are operating under the misconception that iTunes ruined the music business through the distribution of online music and MP3s. But that isn’t the case. iTunes pays one of the best royalty rates out there for artists. And it doesn’t matter who you are or how big or small you are. If people are buying your music, you’re being paid handsomely from iTunes. Kudos to them for this.]
But Pandora, that’s just one example of the kind of conflict I’m talking about. So, let’s say we have a feeling that Pandora is going to rally on Monday, maybe it’ll go up a buck or two. We have a good chance of making some easy money if we invest a large sum. Jump in Friday. Ride it up till Wednesday or so and sell. Easy. But are we contributing to the problem by investing in the company in order to make a profit? I suppose if we turn around and use that same money to fund the counter-suit against them and spread awareness through PSAs about what a wretched organization they are, which is what just about every musical artist in America is doing at the moment — jumping on board this anti-Pandora train, then I guess it’s alright. Especially if we don’t invest for the long haul but only for a few days, to make some money. Why not? But that’s just one example. What about fracking? We know it’s the fastest way towards creating the great zombie apocalypse and destroying the world as we know it, but there’s BIG money to be made in natural gas. I made thousands trading it this week alone. And I KNOW what it is. I KNOW how it is made. And yet… I couldn’t resist the temptation. Again, if it’s just jumping in and out then is it really contributing to the problem?
Unfortunately I would say yes it is. For if NO ONE invested in these companies then they wouldn’t have any access to capital. They wouldn’t be able to keep going. They’d be forced to shut down. There’d be no more fracking. And there’s the problem. The only people fighting the good fight, against the frackers and the GMO monsters and Big Pharma and Big Oil, are the poor and middle class. They’re the ones out in the streets protesting and demonstrating and occupying. Everyone else is trying to figure out which of the big drug companies is going to be the next one that doubles in price next month and investing in it. Along with all the others. It’s a crazy scene. Trust me. For people like us, it’s just an absolutely insane scene. You check your morals and ethics at the door when you step onto the trading floor. You have to if you want to make big money. At least that’s the vibration that emanates from the room as you enter. Very few people speak of changing the world or taking responsibility or faith or peace or love or anything like that.
It’s a strange world full of animal consciousness. A cut-throat world. Ruthless. You hear phrases such as “chop those bears into little pieces” or “major bull trap” or “we’re going to eat these grizzly bears for breakfast once this stock hits $50”. On and on. Most of it I wouldn’t repeat here. Like I said, it’s cut throat. But remember, we’re here to learn. I do my best to keep the peace and stay true to myself, try to offer some civility into the game while I’m learning.
Another thing I’ve learned is this: no one can time the market. Everyone is guessing, analyzing in hindsight. No matter what kind of analyzing they’re doing, whether it’s technical or fundamental or chart reading, it’s all just made up formulae. Everyone and their brother has a special system that they’ve developed or have adopted from someone else, and they all think it’s “the best system out there”. They speak about proprietary systems and all these rules of the market. But no such rules exist. Every time one of the so-called rules is broken, they’ll come up with a different rule to explain why that other rule was broken. It’s hilarious. But it’s also sad because you can see what a vicious cycle it is of ignorance. A company can be worth a veritable fortune and be ridiculously profitable and still have a stock that is poorly valued. Another company can not even be profitable — they actually LOSE money every quarter — and their stock price can be selling at a price that is in the hundreds. It’s a completely illogical game. Twitter, the little company, is about one-tenth the size of Facebook for instance and yet today it traded for about ten dollars more per share than Facebook. No logic. No reason. Just hype and excitement. This is what makes the world of investing so dangerous. No one is using intelligence or rational thinking anymore.
It’s exactly like 1999 to 2001, right before what we call the dotcom crash. We all know what that was like. Most people weren’t actually investing back then. But they’re familiar with the story. I was smack dab in the middle of it. Though I didn’t do it for a living. It was just fun. But I swear we’d make a few thousand dollars in a day just from jumping into a new company’s IPO at the start of the day and jumping out by the end of the day. Things like that. No one even bothered to check out the fundamental financial health of the company. The fact that it was going public through IPO was enough. It had gotten crazy. Which led to a giant melt down. As I’ve already written here, twelve years ago when it happened, I was one of the lucky ones. I was advised by some friends who managed at Goldmans to get out. So I took everything we had out of the market and put it all into Berkshire Hathaway B shares. At the time these were selling for $3,200 per share. I couldn’t believe that one stock could be so expensive. But after the crash, when everyone around me lost a fortune and my shares stayed relatively the same price, I had a lot more appreciation for quality and value when it comes to investing.
We’re in a similar place now. You can feel the rabid nature of the whole thing crashing in around everyone. And yet all they want is for the markets to keep going up. It’s a fascinating study of human behavior. All the sell signals are there right in front of us that we are headed towards a major correction — for a variety of reasons, not just one — and yet everyday in all these public forums and chat rooms and even on TV, you’ll hear the majority of the people still speak very bullish about the markets. Only the very few, the currently unpopular, speak logically and reasonably about the possibility of a coming crash. And yet the smart money simply wants to make money. And with the system as advanced as it is now, the way it’s been designed, making money in a down market is just as easy as making money in an up market. So being bullish about the markets being bullish is just, well, being bull-headed. Smart money feeds on making money. Not on being right. There’s nothing more rewarding than leaving “being right” at the door in order to make some money. But you’d be surprised how many people are ignoring the signs right in front of us all.
Another thing I’ve noticed about the game in general, the industry, the business, is that there is this very prominent “us versus them” attitude that is very prevalent. You’ll hear people constantly referring to “they” as if there is this mysterious malevolent force out there lurking in the shadows whose sole mission in life is to defeat them. They believe it to be an us versus them game, with them being the heroic underdogs of the story and “they” being the wicked apparition or monster out to get them. In reality, it’s nothing of the kind. There is no “they”. There are just millions of people putting money in and taking money out of various different investment vehicles. No real rhyme or reason. But the conspiracy theories are legend and there are many.
I’ve read hundreds of books about investing over the last 18 years and studied hundreds of different systems; attended all the big courses and bought into all the secret societies. Each and every one thinks that it alone holds the secret key to how the market works and how to “always win and never lose”. But I’ve never seen one person do it. The closer you get, the more losses you see. People tend to only advertise their wins. So you have to actually buy in in order to get behind the scenes enough to see what’s really going on. And once you do, you see just as many losses in the most expensive proprietary formulas as you do from the average investor. One thing that does seem to help though are the guys who strictly do Options trading. They do tend to understand the market better than anyone else. And they also know how to minimize losses better than most. This has been the primary focus of my research over the last few months. Learning about Options trading. It’s complex stuff. It’s calculated risk because it’s limited risk. Though the timing has to be even better; and because no one can time the market, the losses seem to be more frequent compared to the wins. But at least they are limiting them. Last week I made a small fortune with my first two options trades, both with Apple. This week unfortunately I lost an entire premium — luckily only about $1500 — with another options trade. I’m telling you, it’s potluck. Damn close to gambling it seems sometimes.
But not if you’re smart. And that’s one of the things that I’ve learned from the guys at the big houses. They don’t gamble. Everything they do is very calculated. They keep risk to a minimum. And they pay a lot of attention to fundamentals. If a company isn’t worth a shit, they don’t go there. The average investor speculates. They’ll invest in anything if someone tells them that they might make some money from it. They truly believe that “fundamental analysis is old fashioned; that it’s for the old mom and pops who don’t understand the new game”. But they consistently lose trading these highly speculative companies that are pure “trader’s plays”. Those are stocks for companies that aren’t yet profitable or haven’t yet proven themselves. Smaller companies. It’s become a huge trend. Just as it had in 2000. And just as it had in 2007 with Credit Default Swaps and the rest of it. Personally, I smell a major correction coming. So I almost always sell out of everything at the end of each day. This week every index lost money. It was a bloodbath. And December is supposed to be “most profitable month of the year in the stock market”. Go figure. Like I said, there are no rules. And anyone who believes there are is kidding themselves. There are only rules AFTER. Not before. That’s one of the most important lessons I’ve learned on this most recent venture into this world.
What I’d like to accomplish from this little adventure is two-fold: besides just mastery over all the knowledge of the investing world and global economics — which is what really juices me about all this, I’d also like to be able to understand it all well enough to where I can really help contribute to the advent of Compassionate Capitalism going mainstream. Making money while making the world a better place. We’re a long way from that right now. But we are ON the way. Many have already started. Many more will come on board as older generations die off and the younger ones enter the game. Right now when someone comes on a financial news show who is proposing a business model that helps AND makes money you should see the way that people look at them; it’s as if they’re from a different planet. They are met immediately with suspicion that their business model is no good or is faulty in some way. Just because it has an ulterior motive of doing the world some good. That’s something that needs to change. Together we can do that. We need to continue to spread the meme though mass consciousness that making money and making the world a better place are not mutually exclusive missions. They can easily work together, in harmony and synergistically. It’s the only way we are going to create a world that lasts for a long time to come and is fair and just and friendly to all its citizens. This is the goal. More later.
When I’m not making music or out trying to save the world I’m neck deep into studying the world of investing, finance and economics. Perhaps it’s an age thing. Many are the storied legends of Mick Jagger who spent the first half of his life in the fast lane of sex drugs and rock’n’roll only to transform into a proper English gentleman, knighthood and all, who was just as comfortable sipping tea on his private jet reading The Economist and other finance publications as he used to be onstage. I remember reading these articles about him as a kid and as weird and incongruent as it sounded it still appealed to me, made me think “Hhhmmm…. that seems like a cool way to go… Live life wild crazy and free when you’re young and then transition into an aristocratic Bruce Wayne type of character when you get older.” I logged the memory of the article I read and those thoughts and continued about my life in fast lane for years.
It didn’t take long for the entrepreneurial bug to grab a hold of me. Since that aspect of my life is already well known and written about, as well as not the specific impetus for this particular post, the only thing I’ll add here is that yes I did start my first company when I was 20 (a rehearsal and recording studio facility) and proceeded to transition into a variety of different industries as an entrepreneur and businessman simultaneously throughout my career as a recording artist. Once entrepreneurism gets you, it’s hard to shake it. I still own 3 corporations and have been developing several more new ones this year. Besides the fact that being in business helps bring in an unlimited and more than usual amount of money — which is essential if you want to make music for a living in this day and age (there’s just no money in it anymore), it also feels good to be able to provide jobs to people. That’s one of the aspects of being in business that I like the most. That and the freedom of not having to punch a clock everyday for someone else’s financial gain.
For the last two years, yes two years — i know how insane that sounds — we’ve been working on these two new Ed Hale albums. Same crew. Me and the guys in Transcendence and various other friends and cohorts. What started out as a relatively simple idea, let’s hurry up and get the follow-up to Ballad On Third Avenue and All Your Heroes Become Villains out while we’re hot, as usual turned into a big long laborious and expensive adventure. We shouldn’t even be surprised anymore I suppose. I’ve been doing this for decades now. We start an album and before we know it my mind gets so filled with ideas and concepts and ambitions to innovate that it ends up taking years. The guys hate it. I hate it. Don’t ask why I do it. Can’t help myself really.
These two new ones are no exception. Just the fact that it started out as ONE new album and quickly morphed into 34 songs split up between two albums speaks volumes about what the other guys in the band have to deal with. But if you’re a freind or fan and are feeling more than tired of waiting, I promise you it’ll be worth it. It’s not like we’re doing anything revolutionary or totally out of this world like with All Your Heroes… But we are aiming high and trying a lot of new things we’ve never done before. That’s what’s taking so long. We’ve never created an album with this many musicians on it before. Nor with this kind of build-up and anticipation. Both are contributing to the extended amount of time being invested in the project.
Since the albums have been taking so long, I started to dive into actively learning about investing and finance again. Hardcore. Yes, while it’s true that I began trading fifteen years ago, it was primarily as a hobby. I was a kid. It was fun and games. I had a lot of money to burn. I won some and lost some. I didn’t realize how much there was to learn… I just rode the coat tails of various bull markets. Learned as much as I could and then being a recording artist and general ambassador took over. It became impossible to find any free time to invest in anything but me. Besides the fact that in 2007 we hit this major economic collapse, what is now called “the Great Recession”, and so investing of any kind really lost it’s appeal for me.
Earlier this year that changed. I’m not sure what it was exactly. Precious Metals had always appealed to me. Bought my first 10 ounce bar of silver for $40. They’re now worth $200. And my first 1 ounce gold coin for $345. Those are now worth $1200. That’s incredible to contemplate. Earlier this year a buddy who knew that I used to love precious metals (Zeke Zaskin in fact) informed me how high they had risen over the last few years. So I jumped into investing in them again. First buying them physically. Bullion, bars and coins. And then exploring more advanced techniques for investing in them. ETFs, ETNs, leveraged plays, inverse plays. It’s all gotten quite advanced. Much more so than one could ever imagine from the outside. That got me back into the investing game full time. Pretty soon I was investing in other things, anything and everything. Whatever made money.
And therein we begin to explore the real point of this post. For about six months now I have been actively and passionately waking up at 4:30am everyday to participate in very active investing. This is the reason why it seems as though I “disappeared”. Because I did for all intents and purposes. But I’m still here. I’ve just been buried in this other world. And when I’m not doing this, I’m running our other companies or in the recording studio trying to finish the albums. Now you know.
With finance and economics there’s a big learning curve to it all. I spend about 50% of my time studying and learning and the other 50% behind a computer hardcore investing. Buying, selling, trading, hedging. It’s an insane world to thrust one’s self into. In all honesty I can say unequivocally that I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. There’s got to be better things one can do with their life and time. I’ve just become slightly obsessed with it for various reasons. There’s the money making aspect to it sure. That can’t be denied. But then there’s also something else there, something more powerful and profound. The learning.
See, when we’re out there in the regular world, living our day to day lives on Main Street, going about our business, we normally have no idea what the mechanics are behind the world that we live in. We may try to keep up with the latest news from the radio or TV or water cooler or online media… But it’s rare that we learn the actual “WHY” behind what goes on in the world. Things just are. And we adjust accordingly. Sure pundits try to break things down after the fact. But we never get a peek behind the curtain to see what the primal force underlying the initial development of most events is. Instead we attempt to assess and integrate the incoming data and then act based on it and what we’re told. What I have slowly begun to see from diving so deeply into the world of finance and investing is that nearly everything that touches our world, everything that shapes it, has it’s start in the world of economics and finance. Investing. Money making.
It’s a fascinating game. In our world, meaning YOU and ME — people like us, we take it for granted that burning coal is bad for the planet, or that fossil fuels like oil and fracking are bad for the environment and eroding the atmosphere and poisoning our water supply. But what we almost never think about or hear about — especially not on a level that we can relate to — is how much money is being made from these activities. Not just for rich old cigar chomping white men, but for pretty much everyone. We’re talking about trillions of dollars. Governments are completely indebted to certain entities. Hell, governments are nothing but organized systems of employees who work for large multi-national corporations comprised of a select group of very wealthy individuals who pretty much control everything. The money obtained through taxing a country’s citizens is nothing compared to the money needed to really run a thriving economy, or at least appear as if you’re running a thriving economy.
The United States for instance is completely indebted to this very private corporation made up of various European banking cartels called “The Federal Reserve” — there’s nothing “federal” about them; they’re not a part of the American government — who at the moment are loaning our banks and government 85 billion dollars a month. $85,000,000,000. BILLION. Per month. It’s a figure so staggeringly large that it’s beyond our comprehension. Without this money, our economy would have collapsed long ago. In return our government does whatever this private entity tells it to. So too do our banks. We as citizens are indebted to our government — as in we do what they say when they say it as they instruct us to or we risk being arrested and having our rights taken away and/or being thrown in prison etc. As well we are indebted to the banks of the world. It’s’ how we finance our lives. It’s how we buy our cars, pay for college, buy our homes, pay for our health care, etc. It’s all one big system wrapped in on itself.
Yes everyone needs everyone else to survive — and I elaborate on the potentially beneficial implications of this a lot more in the We Are the Revolution book I have been working on for the last few years that explores the Personal Expression Age, but for the most part just because WE are an integral part of this large system does NOT imply that we have any say or control in it, nor in how it is run. Because for the most part we don’t. [Here I am speaking specifically about physical action that could affect change or results as opposed to actions in consciousness, which is another matter entirely.]
Now that’s the bigger picture. The classic “wealthiest one percent control the world made up of the other 99%” viewpoint. It’s a well-run, well-known and fully explored and taken for granted viewpoint. Always has been since humanity first appeared on earth and started making note of it. That’s the background of our day to day lives. And from what I can tell from all this research and work I’ve done for the last six months into economics and finance, things haven’t shifted at all away from this direction. If anything they’ve become more linearly constricted and compacted, i.e. the 1% have and control even more and the 99% have and control even less, making them more dependent on the 1%.
But that isn’t new, and it isn’t the main crux of this post or what I’ve discovered. What’s more interesting if we zoom in a bit is just how totally controlled the world we live in is by finance. We can call it economics. Most do. But i believe that’s a misleading label. A misnomer. Because since time began we could all say that “the world we live in is largely controlled by economics” and who’s going to argue with that? It’s a given. But it’s not really economics per se as much as it is the world of finance and investing, ie making money. That’s really what’s pulling the strings. That’s what fuels economics, or “the economy”. Like this: economics may seem to control the world we live in, but in actuality it is more a result of and an indicator of what is happening in the world of finance and investing. There’s a difference.
The reason we won’t stop fracking until half the wildlife and water of the United States is destroyed and most everyone we know is dead or dying from unnatural causes is because there is HUGE money being made from natural gas. It’s the same reason why China and India won’t stop burning coal even though they’ve been warned for decades about it’s harmful effects. Just to be clear, the United States still has at least thirty-something percent of it’s electricity being powered from coal as well. So we’re no angels. twenty-something percent is from natural gas. The rest from oil. A very small part is from solar. A very very small part. Solar hasn’t turned into a cash cow yet for anyone. Therefore it will never see the kind of love that oil or coal or natural gas has through the years.
What it really all comes down to is where the money is. You and I don’t have the money to invest in a large energy exploration company or a mining company. No Main Streeter does. So we leave that kind of thing to the big dogs who do. What we commonly call Wall Street. (it’s really industry itself, industrialists; but Wall Street is it’s vehicle so to speak… Wall Street is how industry gets its investment capital.) They’ve got systems in place already that make them a ton of money, these industrialists. God love ’em. Whether it’s oil or gas or coal or iron ore or steel or even uranium or platinum. In the last six months I’ve invested in things I didn’t even know existed a few months ago. It’s a big world out there. Much larger and more entangled than we can ever imagine. And I cannot think of a better arena to learn about it than the finance and investing world. These industries are where the HUGE money is. Without these things we don’t have a “civilized world” to live in. At least not from our current viewpoint or past reference points.
Thus even we take these things for granted. Take a look around you. The giant industrial machine that surrounds us is astounding when you stop and look at it. What’s more fascinating is that every single one of these things that we see use touch smell operate work in and live in is created by someone, usually “someone else”, by a company. A company made up of others. A company made up of others who are making money from creating these things. Whether it’s our car or our house or our heating and air conditioning or our electricity or our roads… on and on… They’re all businesses, i.e. mechanisms for making money for someone. If they didn’t make money from doing it, they wouldn’t do it. And in return we wouldn’t have these things that we’ve become so used to and take for granted.
We’ve all heard of that movie from a few years ago “Who Killed The Electric Car”; it does an excellent job of explaining how the electric car was an idea whose time had come two decades ago — the technology had arrived — but the big oil companies literally stopped it in its tracks because it threatened their money generating ability. That’s an astounding thing when you stop and think about it. Truly astounding, that kind of power. But that’s the point of all this. There is no end to what kind of effect, no matter how bad wrong unjust or harmful, a powerful industry (collection of “other people”) can create in the world we live in if they want to because they feel that they’re money making potential is being threatened. THAT is the real crux of this.
It’s why so-called big pharma releases drugs they know may not be that safe for human consumption. And why large countries invade smaller ones. It’s why the United States claims to be fighting for freedom and liberty and yet supports the largest communist country in the world (China) and the largest dictatorship (Saudi-controlled Arabia). When we wonder why bad things happen in the world, what we’re really doing is pretending we don’t already know that at the heart of all things is the quest to make money.
In the last six months I have had two primary goals in the realm of what we have been discussing: to make money and to learn as much as I can about investing, economics and finance as possible. At times I have found it amazingly easy to make money. I have seen how powerful a small change in price of just a few cents can make if you’re leveraging a large amount of money in an equity. You can make a fortune with just a small move of twenty cents. You can also just as easily lose it. But more than that, what I’ve discovered that is far more profound is the need to make money and for that money to make money and how in the world of investing all morals values ethics and scruples stay home with the dogs and kids. They just don’t enter the picture. Not even a little bit.
All the big money in the world seeks a place to rest safely (protect itself) AND a place where it can generate MORE money. That’s it’s job. So it travels the world looking for new places to rest or do its job. This money, where it lands and what it does while there, is what not only feeds the world around us but builds and creates it. We’ll never get rid of war or weapons of war as long as building and using weapons of war remains such a profitable business. And that’s just another example. The same can be said for just about anything else around us good or bad.
One of the things that people ask me the most is “Don’t people realize that if they destroy the whole world just to make money that they too won’t have a world to live in and neither will their children?” I believe the answer to that question is that the big money already has that taken care of. I think we’d be fooling ourselves if we didn’t assume that they’ve already got contingency plans in place for those scenarios and they’ve got the money to implement them. I cannot help but be reminded of the underground living places and tunnels that connect them that have already been built all over (or under) the U.S. for our president and other “important people”. That’s enough to make you go postal, thinking about that. And also a recent movie entitled Elysium where all the wealthy people live on a space station a few thousand miles away from earth while all the middle class people live on a desolate polluted and over-populated earth. It’s a ghastly dystopian vision of the future. One which I hope we never have a chance to see. But it is a viable vision of the future we are currently creating if we continue on the path we are on.
There are innumerable ramifications to all of this. I believe we are only at the beginning of our learning. At least for me anyway. I was able to only touch upon a few aspects of it here. Just wanted to touch base. Much more later.
Scroll down below this post just to have a look at the email that was forwarded to me so you have a rough idea of what I am referring to in this post. What you’ll see is a very typical “2000s”-type ad that promises the moon and stars to prospective entrepreneurs looking for leads. What they’re selling is not important. In this case it is “new customers and leads”, primarily information and hype, in the form of a plugin for WordPress. It was forwarded to me by Infinito, who tends to keep up with these things. I rely on him and G2 and The Ex Norwegian along with a few other friends to keep me up to date with the latest and greatest in tech.
This is NOT the Diary entry I intended to post today. But it does act as an excellent illustration of yet another Signature of the Personal Expression Age, i.e. “You have to be ready (and willing) to change course on a dime, at a moment’s notice, in the Age of Personal Expression. So in that light, let us do just that. I can always post today’s originally intended Diary entry later this evening.
Infinito wanted to simply show me an example of what the new face of information marketing ads looks like. He wasn’t endorsing this style of adverts per se. I took a look at the ad below and did my best to attempt to get through it. About two-thirds of the way through I had had enough. A strange creeping yucky feeling came upon me as I tried to read it. And thus I replied to Infinito.
Wow. Yes I see these all the time. Used to anyway. I’m actually surprised that people are still trying to use them. I guess there is always that very last group of “Laggards” who we can always count on to bring in that last barrel full of revenue, despite how small it may be. [The term Laggards is based on that infamous “Roger’s Bell Curve” that shows a visual representation of a population divided by how quickly they tend to adopt new ideas and technologies or purchase and begin to use new things. At the front of the curve are the Innovators. It’s a very small percentage of the overall population. Next in line are the Early Adopters. Slightly bigger than the Innovators but still relatively small. Behind them are the average folk who jump on board once things have been proven and the prices go down. These percentage of people are called the Early Majority and is a much larger group. There is one more group after them who would represent the Mainstream or the Masses, The Late Majority. They only jump in once everyone around them believes it or owns it and they can pick it up for half price at Walmart. And then there are the Laggards. These are the people who wait, and wait, and then wait some more, for whatever reason, to accept new ideas to be true, or to make a purchase or begin using anything that is considered “new”. You can Google it. It’s a fascinating study if you’re into sociology science.]
Frankly I don’t like this type of advertising Infinito. It reeks of internet marketing circa-2001. I didn’t like it then and I still don’t. It may manage to eek out a few bucks from the pajama set, those home-bound individuals in boxer shorts sitting behind their computers trying to figure out how to get rich quick from not actually doing anything. But for our purposes I don’t see this type of ad as being effective in the least bit. In fact I would say it’s a downright turnoff. .
For one thing, these types of adverts are too hypey, damn near anxiety-inducing. I’m sure there are probably some people who like this kind of thing… Or else why would they still be creating and pitching them? Except only to each other perhaps? They litter the internet, like empty potato chip bags tossed out of a car on the highway. Wordy, bulky, clunky, chock full of meaningless tech jargon, giant blue hyperlinks and exclamation points everywhere, with big promises impossible to qualify. My Personal Expression Age (PEA) prediction is that we will be seeing less and less of these kinds of ads and that they’re going to continue to sink FAST in the coming year. I foresee a new way of gaining new customers, leads and additional sales is being heralded. Not quite a return to old-school, but close to it.
So far nearly every prediction we’ve made about the Personal Expression Age has come true over the last nine years. (It’s a source of both infinite pride and great sadness for me actually. We’ve yet to publish the actual book in full due to how busy we remain, hence the sadness; but pride in that so far we’ve been dead-on in predicting the path society as a whole would venture down in almost every industry). It’s downright uncanny how accurate we’ve been so far. Right down to the iReporters and hacktivists –as a means of Personal Expression — or the overthrow of nations right before our eyes — through and due to the increased need and acceptance for more Personal Expression.
In 2007 when we first started actively working on the book eight to ten hours a day, my partners and assistants in the project thought I was CRAZY when I said that we would start seeing peoples’ revolutions of entire countries in the next few years. After Tunisia, Libya and Egypt, now they think I’m some kind of prophet. When I said it would extend even to the United States and more stable European nations they looked at me as if I were some kind of mad anarchist speaking treason; warned me against writing it. Weather Girl flat out REFUSED to type what I was dictating to her, half out of fear and half out of patriotism I believe. The whole idea seems rather quaint now. But of course that’s because it’s a common rallying cry for both the far left and right. Though it still seems highly unlikely to most, I stick to my guns on this one. We’ve already seen it happen in Iceland. Nearly in Greece. In the coming few years it will only continue to grow to include larger more seemingly strong and stable countries like the U.S., the UK, France, Germany, and eventually yes, even China, Iran and Russia.
But that’s not what we are discussing here. Back to the point. Hear me now, believe me later: These kinds of ads as we see below are dead. Hype is dead. People just don’t have the time nor the temperament anymore to endure them. Hype is becoming nauseating. We can call this a new Signature of the Age. But I believe it is more of a sub-Signature of several of them. It’s an Outcome if anything, comprised of several different converging Signatures. There is The Backlash Against Hype Signature at play here. A longing and return to more authenticity. The It’s ALL Bullshit Signature. There is also the No Time to Read Signature playing a role as well.
The real point at the very bottom of the well is that hype in general is quickly dying. Society’s willingness to endure it. Across the board. I know what you’re thinking. “What? How can you say that? What about George Zimmerman and the so called royal baby? Or America’s Got Talent for God’s sake? You can’t get much more hype than all that.” Well this is true. But these are actually three very different subjects. One of them quite substantive. But closer to the point, how many people do we actually know who give a rat’s ass about America’s Got Talent or the so called royal baby? Sure it’s plastered all over the mainstream news, but WHO actually cares about it in our reality? Remember, mainstream news is PAID FOR. It’s not based on what’s important, nor newsworthy. Why is mainstream news dying? Well it’s not JUST because internet news is free as some people suggest. Nor is it simply because people can access ONLY the news they want to read about online, though that IS one of the major contributors to the slow crawling death of mainstream news.
More than anything though, it’s because people no longer trust that what they see and hear in the mainstream news is newsworthy. There have been too many revelations in the last five years, hell, in the last fifty years, that mainstream news is way too beholden to the governments and corporations of the world in what they report on and NOT to the people, nor the newsworthy. People long for REAL news. Not what the respective government in office at the time claims is news, nor what the corporation that owns the news outlet nor its subsidiaries WANT people to hear, but actual real news. Hype be damned. Regardless of how much fuss the mainstream news outlets make about this so called royal baby, how many people do WE know who actually care about it?
Hell, most people I know stopped falling for the whole claim of royalty over a century ago. And for good reason. There is NO such thing as royalty in the first place. They made it up. Called themselves “royal” one day and (yeah it’s sad fact that) a large majority of the common people around town fell for the scheme in the first place, but that was thousands of years ago. Not many thinking people in today’s age even believe in the myth of royalty or take it seriously. At least none that I know of. (just lucky?) So as far as this random British chick having a baby… Sure it’s hype, but it’s a non-issue to most. A novelty. And it’s quickly become ingratiating to many.
Don’t get me wrong. Hype may still be good for an entertainment click by the Masses, (Huff Post anyone?) that middle group in Rogers’ bell curve, but a click is all you’ll get. There’s not enough time for much more than that, unless something has true substance and/or is truly moving. Even those ideals are being greatly challenged in the Personal Expression Age; for a variety of reasons — which are expounded upon in much more detail in the book. That’s an unfortunate Signature of the age. But we’re working on it. Many around us are producing content that is just as if not more substantive and moving than ever before.
There is also the Return to Authenticity factor. All of us, but especially the younger generations, are accustomed to wearing strong bullshit and hype repelling armor now. No one believes YOU. No one believes ME. We no longer believe each other. We want to. We long to. But there is just way too much hype surrounding us. We’re drowning in it. Irony and cynicism are normal day to day outerwear. They have to be. In an age of America’s Got no Talent, we’ve trained ourselves to be this way. Everyone and their brother claims to be the next Michael Jackson or Madonna, or to have a son, sister, or cousin that is. Same with TV, film, books, music, literature, technology, apps… It’s a sea of endless hype. How we tread in it and sift through it all to find content of substance and import, products with true quality and functionality… that’s the Holy Grail.
So no. Ads like the below will not work. What we will see rise up in the place of these kinds of ads is more personalized one on one and localized service — even if you’re three-thousand miles away from your prospective customer — IF you want to gain new customers for a product or generate additional revenue from existing customers. What it will look like exactly… I’m not sure yet… I am just beginning to download and formulate the theory. But I can tell you one thing, ads like the below are history. Only the Laggards will click. And only the desperate among them will continue past that first click and pull out their virtual wallet.
As always more later.
On Mon, Jul 22, 2013 at 8:17 AM, Infinito <email@example.com> wrote:
Hi Ambassador, See the below ad as an example of the latest in information marketing advertising…
Begin forwarded message:
From: “awdevine” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: [Online/Offline: Just Launched] Here’s The ONE Thing EVERY Marketer Wants AND NEEDS… Must-See NOW (fast-action bonus)
Date: July 22, 2013 11:05:16 AM EDT
To: “Fellow Marketer” <email@example.com>
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