Good morning HomeSec!
That's right, it seems our President has ordered our Big Brothers at Homeland Security to "Compile a comprehensive list of hundreds of thousands of “journalists, editors, correspondents, social media influencers, bloggers etc.”, and collect any “information that could be relevant” about them**." [Not only that but they have put the contract out for bid to a private company](https://www.forbes.com/sites/michellefabio/2018/04/06/department-of-homeland-security-compiling-database-of-journalists-and-media-influencers/#2ca123126121) – what could possibly go wrong?**
As part of its “media monitoring,” the DHS seeks to track more than 290,000 global news sources as well as social media in over 100 languages, including Arabic, Chinese and Russian, for instant translation into English. The successful contracting company will have “24/7 access to a password protected, media influencer database, including journalists, editors, correspondents, social media influencers, bloggers etc.” in order to “identify any and all media coverage related to the Department of Homeland Security or a particular event.”
“Any and all media coverage,” as you might imagine, is quite broad and includes “online, print, broadcast, cable, radio, trade and industry publications, local sources, national/international outlets, traditional news sources, and social media.”
If you find yourself skeptical of this proposal of mass state monitoring of the press, consider yourself a bonafide member of the “tinfoil hat wearing, black helicopter conspiracy theorists,” DHS representative Tyler Houlton said Friday. It’s all very routine, he argued, casting the project as an innocent means of “monitoring current events.”
The funny thing is that, although I will submit this article, I'm fairly positive it will be rejected by editors at Seeking Alpha for being "*too political*" – as many of my posts are. That's one of the World's top Financial web sites censoring political discussion because the author dares to be critical of the President and against actions which "*abridge the freedom of speech, or of the press*" and, if that sounds familiar to you – it's because I'm quoting it DIRECTLY FROM THE FIRST AMENDMENT!**
You know the First Amendment, don't you? It's the one that our Founding Fathers wrote before the Second Amendment….
Now "abridge" means, essentially, curtail so one could argue that, so far, Team Trump is not "curtailing" anyone's rights – they are simply monitoring or, as Orwell liked to say "WATCHING" whatever we say. I am constantly curtailed by the editors at Seeking Alpha and that's their right as a private company who are, in turn, WATCHED by HomeSec and don't want to make any waves.
Of course, having HomeSec monitor everything I write is now only one step away from having HomeSec monitor everything you read – isn't it? What would come in between this action and that action? What is protecting you from being watched if you don't stand up against the Press being monitored? Certainly the Press won't be there to defend you once we are curtailed…
There is an in-between step, of course. It's the step Hitler took in Nazi Germany where publishers and authors who had "radical views" were put on lists and, long before they were rounded up and executed, the people who read the banned books and newspapers were discouraged (as in: their "courage" was taken away!) from having any association with them, for fear of also being branded as undesireables.
This is not Nazi Germany, this is America and we went to war to put a stop to that kind of outrageous action by the last demagogue who tried to abrdige mankind's most basic freedoms. I don't know how many people saw "The Post" – I only saw it because it was on the plane recently but I would urge you to watch it to get a sense of how hard it was at the time for the Washington Post and the New York Times to go against Nixon by simply publishing the Pentagon Papers, which were nothing more than an internal analysis of the Vietnam War created by the Army, using our tax Dollars, which painted an unflattering view of the Administration and the War Effort.
The Washington Post and the New York Times are still enemies of the current State and God help us all if they are abridged by this Administration. There are many ways to destroy a paper without actually arresting the writers and editors and the economic and public relations ground war has already begun. We're only one step away from HomeSec adding the line "and their subscribers or readers" before the intimidation phase begins.
Anyway, while we stil can: On to the market discussion!
What's really bothering me this morning is the fact that I read a lot and, from my reading, I get the impression that the global economy has plateaued and may even be contracting a bit as various Governments try to get control of their debt (not ours, of course, we're doubling down on $20Tn). Massive debts in a rising rate environment is one of those things that is absolutely going to cause pain in all sorts of ways – yet none of this is being taken into account in the ever-rising forward p/e expectations of analysts.
About 20% of the S&P 500s earnings this year are coming from a one-time tax cut yet those numbers are not just being extrapolated forward like the $1Tn annual budget deficit the cuts are causing will never be an issue but that there will be no broader repercussions to our country being $30Tn in debt by the end of Trump's second term (or perhaps he will be President for Life by then). Even at just 3%, assuming the US keeps it's AAA credit rating and the rest of the World keeps buying our debt at record-low rates, the interest alone on $30Tn is $1Tn and that's 1/3 of all the money the Government collects just to pay the interest on what we owe.
Meanwhile, the population ages and our Retirement System is strained as well as our Health Care System but none of that is as worrying as our aging infrastructure, which has been an "emergency" since 2006 but then the market collapsed, so we put off doing something about it and Trump promised to do something but hasn't. Like an unfixed leak, the infrastructure issues get worse the longer you ignore them and $4 TRILLION is what is now required to fix just the things that are falling apart, according to the most recent study.
It "only" costs us $3,400 a year, per family, NOT to act on infrastructure but there's the rub – $3,400 is nothing to the people who got $34,000 tax breaks for ignoring the infrastructure. To actually do something about it would cost $3/day per family so $1,000/yr x 110M = $110Bn/yr to do what's needed to be done but, as the GOP makes sure you are aware, the bottom 50%, who earn less than $24,000 per family, don't pay much tax (just Social Security, Medicare, Unemployment, State and Local), which means the top 5% would have to pay an average of $2,000 a year and those in the Top 1% would pay perhaps $20,000 a year so your grandma can have reasonable access to public transportation – NO WAY!!!
The real economy, where the real people live, is fraying at the seams while the Top 10% are fiddling and the rights of the citizens are burning.
That's my bearish premise!