Fracking Worse Than You Think: Delusional America and Special Interest Gangs

fracking water

Mam, your water’s just fine, a pungent gasoline smell is normal nowadays. news.nationalgeographic.com

A recent peer reviewed study has revealed that greenhouse gas emissions from drilling and fracking are 50% worse than previously thought. According to the Harvard study US fossil-fuel-industry methane leaks are dramatically higher than the official estimates have claimed. Not surprisingly, the coal seam gas industry in Australia (one of the largest in the world) has rejected the study outright.

The report, published in the US journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, directly challenges the EPA’s decision to cut its methane emission (produced from fossil fuel extraction) estimates by 25% for 1990 – 2011. The report states that:

We find that [methane] data from across North America instead indicates the need for a much larger adjustment of the opposite sign

Fracking is altering the climate far faster than we first thought. However, before we continue with fracking, let’s first understand the difference between Australia’s coal seam gas and America’s natural gas.

Coal Seam Gas Vs. Natural Gas:

As an end-use product, coal seam gas is the same as natural gas...The only difference between CSG and natural gas is in the way that it is formed by nature. CSG is composed predominantly of methane and small percentages of nitrogen and carbon dioxide. The coal seam is both the source and the reservoir, which is different from the sandstone reservoirs of conventional oil and shale gas. As coal forms over millions of years, large quantities of methane-rich gas are generated and trapped in coal seams by water and ground pressure. CSG is trapped in the coal in tiny fractures, or cleats, under hydrostatic pressure. CSG is extracted at low pressures from coal.
Shale gas is methane held within shale layers, rather than a coal seam. Shale is much harder than coal and always requires fracturing ('fracking') to allow the gas to flow.
fracking graphic

Seems pretty technical boys, just throw in all the chemicals you can’t pronounce. http://www.usatoday.com

While natural gas produces less CO2 than coal, the savings become irrelevant when considering the amount of methane that is sprayed into the atmosphere from methane leaks at well sites and while transporting the fuel. The reason for all the worry is that methane traps about 20 times more heat over a 100 year period compared to CO2, despite remaining in the atmosphere for less time.

Related Article: What is the Solution to Smog? A Vacuum! 

A natural gas addiction has infected the U.S. with fracking spreading across the country like a viral epidemic. Fracking is the process of harvesting natural gas, or shale gas.  It involves mixing dangerous chemicals with large quantities of water and sand and injecting the mixture into shale wells at extremely high pressure. It is for this reason that fracking is believed to be poisoning well water all across the U.S. and in other areas of the world. According to the NRDC (Natural Resources Defence Council):

Over the last decade, the industry has drilled thousands of new wells in the Rocky Mountain region and in the South. It is expanding operations in the eastern United States as well, setting its sights most recently on a 600-mile-long rock formation called the Marcellus Shale, which stretches from West Virginia to western New York.  Fracking is a suspect in polluted drinking water in Arkansas, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming, where residents have reported changes in water quality or quantity following fracturing operations.

fracking U.S.

The U.S. is ripe for the fracking! http://www.geomore.com

Immense wells of shale gas are spread across most of the U.S. mainland.  These sites each undergo several fracking pumps. Although the media portrays natural gas as the new and improved, next-gen, problem free energy source, it couldn’t be further from the truth. Pipeline incidents and injuries abound and reports of polluted drinking water continue to pop up across the nation with greater frequency. Studies have directly linked shale gas fracking to:

The EPA still has not issued its report on the effect of fracking on drinking water. Despite all of the science pleading with us to reconsider our actions, fracking continues unimpeded.

Related Article: A Cheaper Alternative to Pollution

 

Fracking Denial and Delusions

By far the worst issue surrounding fracking is that as a whole, we still seem to have no clue that fracking is even taking place, let alone destroying the water supply and decimating the health of 1000’s of people as well as the land.  I suppose this isn’t surprising though as many nations are just as clueless about climate change. Afterall, climate denial is a real thing, actively and directly supported by a large number of the 90 institutions that are responsible for climate change since the industrial revolution. So, why shouldn’t the natural gas and fracking industries involve the same type of nonsense?

 

fracking climate

Superhuman denial abilties…
http://www.frankejames.com/

The truth is that human beings, especially us good ol’ Americans, will buy into anything given the opportunity. People are often fooled into passionate belief, and the denial campaigns and propaganda of billion dollar industries do a great deal of fooling.

Related Article: Climate Change too Fast for Evolution 

Let’s consider climate change again: Many Americans continue to believe that climate change is either a hoax or an over-dramatized issue.  This ignorance is a wrench in the spokes of global progress, especially in light of increasingly volatile weather patternsincreasing extinctions in land and marine lifewarnings from scientists across the globe; and the potential loss of trillions of dollars due to the costly effects of climate change.  This is cognitive dissonance in its purest form: we know the facts, but we are refusing to change.

 

Crony Capitalism and Special Interest

Despite America’s lack of progress in reducing emissions, most Americans’ desire a green, renewable energy policy. This applies to fracking as well; a large number of Americans are completely against it. Unfortunately though, oil, coal, and gas companies are at the top of the special interest dole list.

Special interest comes in the form of better government subsidies, tax cuts, court rulings, and allowances. We all know it takes place, and it has been widely practiced and wildly accepted. It is called crony capitalism, and it has been an an ongoing, yet somehow overlooked problem in America.

Related Article: Team Red = Team Blue

fracking george bush

No. Well, for the entertainment value, yes. bigdanblogger.blogspot.com

When Bush appointed Dick Cheney to lead an energy task force to revolutionize America’s energy policy, Cheney quickly organized a private meeting with fossil fuel giants at the head of the fracking movement. Companies such as Exxon Mobil, Conoco, Shell Oil, BP America and Chevron made the top of the list.  Today, these companies are still given billions of dollars in tax cuts and subsidies despite raking in hundreds of billions of dollars in private profit. According to PBS:

In 2005, Bush, who has received more from the oil and gas industry than any other politician, signed an energy bill from the Republican-controlled Congress that gave $14.5 billion in tax breaks for oil, gas, nuclear power and coal companies. The Energy Policy Act of 2005, which was based on recommendations by Cheney’s energy task force, also rolled back regulations the oil industry considered burdensome, including exemptions from some clean water laws. All of this transpired only one year after Congress passed a bill that included a tax cut for domestic manufacturing that was expected to save energy companies at least $3.6 billion over a decade.

During the time that Bush and Cheney, both of whom are former oil executives, have been in the White House, the oil and gas industry has spent $393.2 million on lobbying the federal government. This places the industry among the top nine in lobbying expenditures. The industry has also contributed a substantial $82.1 million to federal candidates, parties and political action committees, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. 80 percent of the industry’s contributions have gone to Republicans.

It is clear that special interest is taking place and is supporting companies in defiance of America’s health, wealth, and overall best interest. The truth is that a complete multi-industry infiltration of the U.S. government has taken place. Men and women with stake in the fracking, agriculture, pharmaceuticals and more are casting votes and making decisions that directly benefit the industries and leave citizens stripped of their money and power.

 

Monsanto the Usurper

The most obvious example of a corporation infiltrating the U.S. government is that of Monsanto. Monsanto, in case you didn’t know, is responsible for destroying thousands of local farms, using known harmful herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides, using chemicals responsible for colony collapse disorders in bees, and much more.

Related Article: The Senate is Useless and Should be Dismantled

Monsanto and Monsanto products are banned in several countries.  Numerous petitions to cut government ties to Monsanto have circulated, yet to no avail.  I wonder, why they didn’t succeed?

First, follow this link to view a list of 71 senators who voted against your right to know if what you are eating is GMO. Oh, and that’s despite 90% of the population saying they would be in favor of mandatory labeling.

fracking monsanto us

Whoa, there must be some huge cracks in the U.S. government for these people to slip through. https://www.facebook.com/GrowFoodNotLawns

Next, check out the following list of U.S. government/Monsanto ties and the answer will be obvious.

David Beier 
MONSANTO POSITION: Head of Government Affairs for Genetech, (Now Monsanto)
FEDERAL POSITION: Chief Domestic Policy Advisor to Vice President Gore

William Conlon:
MONSANTO POSITION: Worked for Monsanto’s Legal Team
FEDERAL POSITION: Department of Justice

Sam Skinner:
MONSANTO POSITION: Worked on Monsanto’s Legal Team
FEDERAL POSITION: Department of Justice

Robert Fraley:
MONSANTO POSITION: Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer
FEDERAL POSITION: Serves as advisor in public agencies, including the USDA, among others

Michael A. Friedman:
MONSANTO POSITION: Senior Vice President for Clinical Affairs at G.D. Searle &Co. (Merged with Monsanto)
FEDERAL POSITION: Acting Commissioner of the FDA

Marcia Hale
MONSANTO POSITION: Director of International Government Affairs
FEDERAL POSITION: Assistant to President Clinton and Director of Government Affairs

Arthur Hull Hayes:
MONSANTO POSITION: Consultant to Searle’s (merged with Monsanto) Public Relations Firm
FEDERAL POSITION: Previously was FDA Commissioner

John L. Henshaw:
MONSANTO POSITION: Director of ESH Quality & Compliance
FEDERAL POSITION: Senior Advisor to U.S. Secretary of Labor

Rob Horsch:
MONSANTO POSITION: Vice President of Product and Technology Cooperation
FEDERAL POSITION: Advisor to the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy

Michael Kantor:
MONSANTO POSITION: Board of Directors, also represented Monsanto as a lawyer
FEDERAL POSITION: U.S. Secretary of Commerce

Gwendolyn S. King:
MONSANTO POSITION: Monsanto Board Member
FEDERAL POSITION: Commissioner of SSA 1989-1992

Richard J. Mahoney:
MONSANTO POSITION: CEO of Monsanto for 14 years
FEDERAL POSITION: Serves as Director of U.S. Soviet, Japanese and Korean Trade Councils, a Member of the U.S. Government Policy Committee

Margaret Miller:
MONSANTO POSITION: Oversaw the Approval of rBGH, was a top Monsanto scientist
FEDERAL POSITION: In, 1991, Margaret was appointed Deputy Director of the FDA

George Poste:
MONSANTO POSITION: Sits on Monsanto’s Board of Directors, previously a Monsanto Animal Specialist
FEDERAL POSITION: In 2002, Poste was appointed head of Bioterrorism division of Homeland Security

William D. Ruckelshaus:
MONSANTO POSITION: Member of the Monsanto Board of Directors
FEDERAL POSITION: In 1970, he was the first Chief Administrator for the EPA, later the acting director of the FBI, then Deputy U.S. Attorney General

Donald Rumsfeld:
MONSANTO POSITION: Previous CEO of Searle (merged with Monsanto), he successfully had ASPARTAME legalized while in that position.
FEDERAL POSITION: Appointed to Secretary of Defense in 1975, then appointed to Secretary of Defense again in 2002

Suzanne Sechen:
MONSANTO POSITION: Worked on Monsanto-funded rGBH in connection with her graduate work at Cornell University
FEDERAL POSITION: FDA Reviewer on Scientific Data

Robert B. Shapiro:
MONSANTO POSITION: Previously the President and CEO of Monsanto, Chairman and CEO of Nutrasweet, and Chairman and CEO of Monsanto
FEDERAL POSITION: Previously Served as President’s Advisory Committee on Trade Policy and on the White House Domestic Policy Review of Industrial Innovation

Islam Siddiqui:
MONSANTO POSITION: Former Vice President of CropLife America, which represented Monsanto
FEDERAL POSITION: Chief Agricultural Negotiator for the Office of the Trade Representative

Michael Taylor:
MONSANTO POSITION: Former Attorney for Monsanto for seven years, previous h Head of the Monsanto Washington D.C. Office
FEDERAL POSITION: Former FDA Deputy Commission for Policy. In 2010, appointed by the FDA as a senior advisor of the FDA Commissioner

Dr. Charles Thomas:
MONSANTO POSITION: Previous Monsanto Researcher in charge of the Manhattan Project, creating the atomic bomb. Later, became Monsanto’s Chairman of the board.
FEDERAL POSITION: Previously Served as a consultant to the National Security Council and as a U.S. Representative of the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Commission

Clarence Thomas:
MONSANTO POSITION: Former lawyer for Monsanto, a notorious chemical polluter. Thomas would later cast the decisive vote in 2000 on the Supreme Court, ratifying the stolen election that put George W. Bush Jr. into office
FEDERAL POSITION: In 1991, was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court

Anne Veneman:
MONSANTO POSITION: Previously served on the Board of Directors of Calgene, a Monsanto Biotech subsidiary
FEDERAL POSITION: In 2001, was appointed Head of the USDA

Jack Watson:
MONSANTO POSITION: Former Staff Lawyer with Monsanto in Washington D.C.
FEDERAL POSITION: Chief of Staff to President Carter

Seth Waxman:
MONSANTO POSITION: Hired by Monsanto to prosecute two Farmers who fought against Monsanto’s Seed Policies in 2002
FEDERAL POSITION: Former U.S. Solicitor General

Dr. Virginia Weldon:
MONSANTO POSITION: Retired Senior Vice President for Public Policy at Monsanto
FEDERAL POSITION: Previously, was a member of the FDA’s Metabolism & Endocrine Advisory Committee

Rufus Yerxa:
MONSANTO POSITION: Former Chief Counsel at Monsanto
FEDERAL POSITION: In 1993, was nominated as U.S. Deputy to the World Trade Organization

Toby Moffett:
MONSANTO POSITION: Monsanto Consultant
FEDERAL POSITION: U.S. Congressman (D)

Dennis DeConcini:
MONSANTO POSITION: Monsanto Legal Counsel
FEDERAL POSITION: U.S. Senator (D)

Josh King:
MONSANTO POSITION: Director, International Government Affairs
FEDERAL POSITION: White House Communications (Clinton)

Carol Tucker-Forman:
MONSANTO POSITION: Monsanto Lobbyist
FEDERAL POSITION: White House Appointed Consumer Advisor (Clinton)

Linda Fisher:
MONSANTO POSITION: Vice President, Government & Public Affairs
FEDERAL POSITION: Deputy Administrator EPA (Clinton, Bush)

Lidia Watrud:
MONSANTO POSITION: Manger, New Technologies
FEDERAL POSITION: USDA, EPA (Clinton, Bush, Obama)

Hillary Clinton:
MONSANTO POSITION: Rose Law Firm, Monsanto Counsel
FEDERAL POSITION: U.S. Senator (D), Secretary of State (Obama)

Roger Beachy:
MONSANTO POSITION: Director, Monsanto Danforth Center
FEDERAL POSITION: Director USDA, NIFA (Obama)

 

How to Patch a Sinking Ship

It appears that industries spanning every sector, including fracking, agriculture, pharmaceuticals and more are playing a game with the U.S. government, swapping players each season for their own sake, not mine and yours. When congress, the congress of the people, stops acting in the people’s best interest we have a serious problem. Right now we are in the heart of the danger zone. What are we to do?

permaculture fracking system

So, let’s make this happen immediately. shadesofgreeninc.org

In a capitalistic society you are a consumer first and foremost.  A capitalistic society feeds on your spending, and it feeds you with the sweet satisfaction of ‘things.’  You have power in your purchases; use your buying power to support sustainability-minded companies. If companies are getting away with infiltrating and orchestrating sections of the government, then why not make sure they are excellent companies willing to appease, not disease the masses.

Buy local, support the little guy. Sure, it may sometimes be more expensive, but try not spending your money on a few of your monthly non-essentials and you’d be surprised how quickly your savings add up.

Related Article: Income Inequality in America

Become more independent and deplete your dependence on ‘the system’ by making purchases with awarenessFind satisfaction in the little things and start wanting less. Become more aware of how each and every decision you make affects the rest of the world.  Imagine that everyone else on planet Earth is you; what effect would you like to have on yourself?

Grow a garden, go foraging for food, or keep honeybees. Learn about permaculture and begin practicing a zero-waste lifestyle. It’s way easier than you think, and is actually really fun.

Arguably the most important thing you can do is vote. Contact your elected officials  and tell them what you think. Demand that they act as your representative, not a rogue speaker. Help fight fracking by joining organizations that fight to stop it.

Educate yourself and spread awareness about issues that are important to you.

Consider. Constantly consider the effect you are causing.

 

 

 

Source:

http://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/harvard-fracking-study-rings-methane-alarm-bells-in-australia-20131126-2y87s.html#ixzz2lu8UBq6R

http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2013/03/12/factbox-csg-australia

http://epa.gov/climatechange/ghgemissions/gases/ch4.html

http://www.dartgas.com/content/Document/Factsheets/What%20is%20CSG.pdf

http://www.nrdc.org/energy/gasdrilling/

http://www.nature.com/news/is-fracking-behind-contamination-in-wyoming-groundwater-1.11543

http://www.nicholas.duke.edu/news/radioactive-shale-gas-contaminants-found-at-wastewater-discharge-site

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/04/fracking-could-cause-elevated-levels-of-air-pollutants-near-gas-wells/256158/

http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/2012/03/reproductive-problems-death-animals-exposed-fracking

http://www.npr.org/2012/01/05/144694550/man-made-quakes-blame-fracking-and-drilling

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/blogpost/post/monsanto-petition-tells-obama-cease-fda-ties-to-monsanto/2012/01/30/gIQAA9dZcQ_blog.html

http://www.businessinsider.com/epa-data-links-groundwater-contamination-fracking-2012-10

http://www.dangersoffracking.com/

http://www2.epa.gov/hfstudy

http://www.fractracker.org/map/

http://www.climatecentral.org/news/americans-uninformed-about-fracking-says-new-study-16762

http://www.pewresearch.org/2006/02/28/both-reds-and-blues-go-green-on-energy/

http://www.pbs.org/now/shows/347/oil-politics.html

http://www.organicconsumers.org/gefood/countrieswithbans.cfm

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/blogpost/post/monsanto-petition-tells-obama-cease-fda-ties-to-monsanto/2012/01/30/gIQAA9dZcQ_blog.html

http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_27635.cfm

http://justlabelit.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Mellman-Survey-Results.pdf

http://www.monsanto.com/whoweare/pages/robert-fraley-bio.aspx

http://organicconsumers.org/monsanto/revolvedoor.cfm

http://www.rense.com/general33/legal.htm

http://www.aiard.org/meetings/2004forum/horsch.htm

http://www.monsanto.com/whoweare/pages/gwendolyn-king-bio.aspx

http://www.nytimes.com/1983/08/02/business/talking-business-with-mahoney-of-monsanto-farm-subsidy-complications.html

http://organicconsumers.org/monsanto/revolvedoor.cfm http://www.gao.gov/assets/200/196503.pdf

https://webapp4.asu.edu/directory/person/629659

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Rumsfeld#Career_in_government_.281962.E2.80.931977.29

http://www.gao.gov/assets/200/196503.pdf

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_B._Shapiro

http://www.gao.gov/assets/200/196503.pdf

http://www.nap.edu/booksearch.php?booksearch=1&record_id=4548&term=monsanto&chapter=338-353

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/07/supreme-court-monsanto-seeds_n_1946361.html

http://www.organicconsumers.org/corp/veneman.cfm

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/20/business/justices-signal-a-monsanto-edge-in-patent-case.html?_r=0

http://beckerexhibits.wustl.edu/mowihsp/bios/weldon.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rufus_Yerxa

http://www.organicconsumers.org/corp/foremancfa.cfm

http://one.gaslandthemovie.com/take-action/contact-elected-officials

 

 

 

https://wondergressive.com/news/90-companies-responsible-climate-change/

https://wondergressive.com/news/fooling-people-into-passionate-belief/

https://wondergressive.com/news/warning-weather-hazards-ahead/

https://wondergressive.com/news/unprecedented-changes-and-extinctions-occurring-in-marine-life/

https://wondergressive.com/news/climate-change-too-fast-for-evolution/

https://wondergressive.com/news/costly-climate-changes/

https://wondergressive.com/news/ask-an-astrobiologist-global-warming-and-what-to-expect/

https://wondergressive.com/news/indiana-blue-laws-exemplify-crony-capitalism-time-to-punish-politicians/

https://wondergressive.com/news/mystery-of-the-dyingdisappearing-honeybees-solved/

https://wondergressive.com/news/bowman-monsanto-court-case/

https://wondergressive.com/news/afraid-to-wake-up-conquering-fear-and-living-the-lives-we-want/

https://wondergressive.com/news/the-wonderful-healthier-life-changing-and-life-lengthening-world-of-fasting/

https://wondergressive.com/news/awareness-and-dealing-with-rejection/

https://wondergressive.com/news/edible-landscapes/

https://wondergressive.com/news/healthy-honey-bees/

Fear Mongering: The Media on the Government Shutdown

Fear mongering isn’t just done by cultists and tyrants. Although many of the dictators of today and days past did have it down to a T, our media happens to be one of the best fear mongering machines around. How about the North Korea debacle of recent times? It was the only subject on the news, only to be dismissed again by the masses and forgotten until the news took another recent shot at it. And Syria? We have only been following news on Syria when there are horrendous events happening leading up to what seems to be an intervention initiated by the US. Fear mongering is central to every major subject covered by the media.

Related Article: Imminent Western Intervention in Syria

No wonder our government doesn’t tell us everything; we would be in a constant state of hysteria, running around and threatening each other to protect our family and property. Let’s say, for instance, that beyond the fear mongering hype we knew there was to be a global crash of all computer systems and all the data was to be reset because we were dawning on a new millennium. Oh right, the panic of Y2K. Oh HOOO!!! What if we knew precisely when the world was going to end? Ahh.. December 21, 2012. Boy did that rattle the cages.

Related Article: NOT Another 9-11 Article

Fear mongering is omnipresent in all facets of our lives. Maybe I can spin it another way to get you riled up [after all I am representing a media of sorts, and boy do we like to spin things (tops, pizzas, balls, mouse scrollers, clocks, globes)]. The media is making the government shutdown seem more severe than it needs to be. Let us explore a couple of facts about our government:

How about the fact that there have been 18 government shutdowns since 1976! Take a good look at that list of reasons why the government shut down. Most of them are political disputes that couldn’t be solved so they took the battle to the people, showing their supporters how they stood by their policies and wouldn’t budge. No possible fear mongering there.

How about the fact that neither you nor I were influenced by the shutdown? Nothing actually happened (to us and our daily lives) when the government took a break. In fact our government probably saved a whole lot of money during the shutdown.

Another fact is that Obamacare is in high demand, causing its own shut down of government websites resulting in a blindsided president? Wasn’t Obamacare at the root of the problem of politicians disagreeing in the first place? And yet here it is slowly starting to function and in extreme demand. If you’re going to practice fear mongering, start screaming about the failure of the Obamacare website.

Lastly, it is a fact that the stock market didn’t crash due to the shutdown, people didn’t withdraw all their funds to cause a high volatility in the market place, and investors just kept on investing. So much for all that fear that was being tossed around.. but the government shutdown did happen, and it may happen again if budget problems aren’t solved.

Related Article: TVs, Brains, and Zombies Oh My!

All the while the people of this great country will stand by and listen to live broadcasts in order to be the first to know of any revolts or uprisings taking place. And for what? To be prepared damnit! If the media practices fear mongering and says the situation is severe then we should go buy water and food supplies for the next couple of months, go get a gun to protect ourselves (not that we shouldn’t anyway), and of course find ways to secure our wealth and protect our property! All this for something that is purely word of mouth. If only the game “telephone” was this effective at getting a point across.

Oh misery! What is the point? I am not saying we should be oblivious to world events. In fact it is important that we embrace world events such as the recent protests in Egypt over governmental control, instead of blindly accepting the fear mongering that is fed to us. However, we often forget that a great deal of media is formed on opinion, and the stronger opinions always jump out at us more than the calm, forgetful opinions and facts. Maybe it is time to turn off the news? Maybe it is time to forget about the 9 o’clock updates of recent events on channel 9, 7 , 5, 2, etc. The saying “ignorance is bliss” perfectly pertains to the media and its relentless fear mongering.

Cheers to being ignorant of the media and its senseless fear mongering!

 

 

Research:

Government Shutdown in the United States

PRY: The danger of dismissing North Korea’s nuclear threat

North Korea on high alert, threatens US ships with “horrible disaster”

Y2K Bug Britannica

December 21 2012

Government shutdown? Panic on the markets? Buy stocks.

Obamacare website problems blindsided the President

ObamaCare Facts

 

Wondergressive: Clouds of Western Intervention Loom over Syria

Wondergressive: Imminent Western Intervention in Syria

Wondergressive: NOT Another 9-11 Article

Wondergressive: World Protests: Can You Hear Me Now?

Wondergressive: TVs, Brains, and Zombies Oh My!

The 20 Biggest Wastes of Money and How to Avoid Them

money garbage

Waste of Money http://1four.co.uk

We all spend too much money on something out there. After all, money in and of itself is useless unless we are spending it. That being said though, some of the everyday things people spend their money on are an absolute waste and a downright scam. In this post, I will go over the 20 biggest wastes of money that we continue to spend our hard earned cash on. I am not here to judge anyone in particular, just the human race as a whole that I am happily a part of. How many of these are you guilty of?

 

1) Cigarettes

Cigarettes are bad for you, like really bad, like proven to cause cancer and a multitude of other illnesses bad. Despite what you tell yourself, and unlike other substances such as cannabis, there are actually no real benefits to smoking cigarettes, especially when it comes to the money in your pocket. There are however hundreds of reasons to quit.

Related Article: Smoking: A Pre-existing Condition Under Obamacare

To begin, cigarettes do not just contain tobacco, they contain over 599 additives. These 599 additives turn into 4000 different chemicals through the chemical change of burning the tobacco. 69 of these chemicals are known to cause cancer. Some of the lovely chemicals that cigarette smokers deeply inhale include: carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, hydrogen cyanides and ammonia. The initial 599 additives have been approved as safe by the FDA, but they were approved without being burned. The FDA never once approved the 4000 chemicals created through the burning process that are known to be noxious poisons. You are spending your money on unapproved carcinogens.

According to the CDC:

Worldwide, tobacco use causes more than 5 million deaths per year, and current trends show that tobacco use will cause more than 8 million deaths annually by 2030. Cigarette smoking account[s] for an estimated 443,000 deaths, or nearly one of every five deaths, each year in the United States. More deaths are caused each year by tobacco use than by all deaths from human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), illegal drug use, alcohol use, motor vehicle injuries, suicides, and murders combined. Smoking causes an estimated 90% of all lung cancer deaths in men and 80% of all lung cancer deaths in women.

Translation: Cigarettes are a near guaranteed death sentence, a death sentence that consists of horrible pain and struggling until the very last moment. Oh, and if you don’t die from smoking cigarettes, you are still more likely to get sick. Because they lower the effectiveness of the immune system and other bodily functions, the CDC notes that compared to non-smokers, smokers are more likely to develop:

  • coronary heart disease by 2 to 4 times
  • strokes by 2 to 4 times
  • men developing lung cancer by 23 times
  • women developing lung cancer by 13 times
  • dying from chronic obstructive lung diseases (such as chronic bronchitis and emphysema) by 12 to 13 times

So if cigarettes are so harmful, why do people start smoking in the first place? The major reasons are:

  • Media advertising
  • Epigentic predisposition
  • Parental influence
  • Stress relief
  • Self medication
  • Appetite suppression
  • Rebellion
  • Social benefits
  • Peer pressure

Some of these reasons for starting are understandable and may seem like benefits from the get go. For example, stress relief doesn’t sound so bad. The problem is that once the incredibly strong sway of nicotine addiction sets in, which could be within days, cigarettes themselves become a stressor because smokers are antsy, anxious, and stressed without the tool they have become dependent on for solving their stress. Quite the downward spiral. The truth is that any physical benefit from smoking quickly subsides as the body builds a resistance to the nicotine found in tobacco. The positive benefits, such as appetite suppression and mood elevation, quickly fade in place of the same old you, that same old you that you originally tried to alter with a highly potent poison. Keep in mind that nicotine is incredibly potent, with resistance and dependency forming very quickly. To be precise, it is:

  • 1000 X more potent than alcohol
  • 10-100 X more potent than barbiturates
  • 5-10 X more potent than cocaine or morphine

What about social benefits? Isn’t it great to be able to do something with your mouth and fingers to distract from the awkwardness of getting to know other people? The truth is that in this case you are only slightly curing a symptom of a problem with much deeper roots. If you require a biologically destructive tool to be able to comfortably talk to people, then you should put your focus on overcoming this societal fear rather than using an irrational crutch forever and ever.

Related Article: Cannabis Cures Cancer and More: A Thorough History and Review of the Evidence

It should be obvious that the rest of the list consists of very shallow and poor reasons for choosing to take up such a clearly destructive and incredibly hard-to-break habit. Not to mention, cigarettes are extremely expensive.

Super, super expensive in fact! In 2011 a pack of cigarettes cost between $4.74 (West Virgina) and $11.90 (New York), depending on the state. In 2012 the price range for cigarettes changed to $4.84 (West Virgina) to $12.50 (New York). If you live in New York and smoke a modest 1 pack of cigarettes a day, you’re spending $87.50 a week, which is $4,550 a year. Not surprisingly, a recent study found that cigarettes smokers in New York that made $30,000 a year or less spent a whopping 25% of their income on cigarettes. 25% of their income on something that has no real benefits past the first couple weeks, is incredibly difficult to stop doing, is proven to cause cancer, and shortens your life span by at least 10 years. Go figure.

You might be thinking, ‘Hey, I’m sure some people enjoy smoking until the day they die whether they develop cancer or not.’ The odds are against you friend. 69% of smokers in the United States admit to wanting to quit completely with 52% of smokers trying to quit in 2010. Feel like throwing your health and money away? Grab a pack of cigarettes.

Sadly, even today, despite so much available information, 4,000 kids younger than 18 smoke their first cigarette everyday, and everyday 1000 kids younger than 18 become daily smokers. If you are attempting to quit smoking, there are many ways to change behavior and break habits successfully. Don’t give up on yourself, you’re worth it!

Related Article: A How To: Behavior Changes and Breaking Habits

 

 

2) Designer Clothing and Fashion

designer clothing expensive

projectmotherhoodnyc.com

If there was ever an absolute scam, this is it. Billions of people around the world have been brainwashed into believing that brand names equate to better quality and ‘cool factor’. While this may be the case in some instances, it is not the norm.

Whether it be sunglasses, watches, hats, handbags, pants, jackets, shoes, or any other material possession, much of the world is not happy unless they have an item made by their favorite designer. The problem is that designers charge insane amounts of money for products that often cost them about the same amount as it costs Walmart to make their products. The difference is that they claim their name and minimum amount of labor is worth the hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars extra.

The brainwashing goes even further when people insist that they need to buy new clothes each season to keep up with the changing fashion. High end clothing companies and designers would have you believe that you are not cool unless you pay them exorbitant amounts of your hard earned money four times a year to keep up with the ‘in crowd.’ What an ingenious way to suck consumers dry.

Related Article: Income Inequality in America: Red Herrings and Wealth Envy

This form of brainwashing comes largely in the form of advertising, celebrity worship, and companies/independent designers banking on your insecurities. According to David A. Aaker, the vice chairman of Prophet, a brand consulting firm:

The cost of creating those things has nothing to do with the price, it is all about who else is wearing them, who designed them and who is selling them.

It’s not about price, it’s about competing with everyone around you. And for what? To look the flashiest? Readers, I have news for you: You are an adult, and if you haven’t figured this out yet, it doesn’t matter what other people think of you. The only time it matters is in a job interview, because a job has the benefit of giving you the ability to support yourself. Your potential boss is not looking at your wardrobe, he is looking at a single outfit. But even in that instance, guess what? Unless you have the Walmart logo on your button down collared shirt, your boss will have NO IDEA how much you spent on your clothing. As long as you look presentable, that is what matters, and it does not take $500, $200, or even a $50 shirt to do that.

The mark ups on all clothing are astronomical, but this is especially the case with designer clothing. Did you know that Kohl’s department store has been caught hiking up the price of their products right before a huge sale? It is even possible to pay more for a sale price than you would have for the normal price of the good. There is a reason why all your favorite designers are living in multiple mansions, driving cars that cost more than your life’s net worth, and purchasing their own islands: they tricked you. They have the world at their fingertips, and what do you have? Their sewn together fabric. Woopdie-do.

Related Article: A Note on the Top 1%: Psychopaths or Superhumans?

If you just can’t break the habit of buying designer goods and clothing, all hope is not lost. Head to a resale shop like Plato’s Closet and pick up some designer clothes at a fraction of the price. Sure, the clothes might be used, but after washing them no one will be able to tell the difference. Plato’s Closet has incredibly high standards for their clothing and even the slightest defect will be noticed and that piece of clothing removed from the store. You may be wearing used clothes, but at least you won’t have to work 20 hours of overtime next week to pay back the growing interest on your Macy’s credit card.

*Note: Another great idea is to buy clothes and other art from Etsy.com and support independant, and possibly even local artists/artisans. At least you’ll know that your particular item is one of a kind instead of wearing the same Abercrombie shirt as every other 20-something-debt-up-to-their-nose-fashion-freak.

 

 

3) Playing the Lottery

You actually have a better chance of being killed by a mountain lion or becoming president of the U.S.A than winning the Mega Millions Jackpot or the Megabucks Slot Machine Jackpot. There is a reason winning the lottery is called a pipe dream, and it’s not because pipes help you win.

200170608-001

 

4) New Cars

Buying a new car is one of the best ways to cut your money into little pieces and throw it to the wind. The moment you drive your shiny new vehicle off the lot it depreciates in value by up to 40% of the price you just paid only seconds before. So, if you pay $25,000 for a new car, within seconds of the purchase it is worth only $15,000. Yikes! By the end of the third year your 4-wheeled baby is worth about 40% of its original price. If you’re planning on holding onto yo6a00d83451b3c669e2013486235de6970c-800wiur car for longer than 3 years its only going to get worse. The older a car is, the slower it depreciates in value.

Don’t forget that it’s impossible to know whether you will get into an accident or not, potentially totaling your car. Remember, you might be the best driver in the world, but what about everyone else?

 

 

 

5) Bottled Water

Bottled water is next on the list. Not only is bottled water a completely unnecessary expenditure in all but the most extreme cases, it is also extremely detrimental to the environment and your wallet.

While there is an ongoing debate regarding the safety of many plastics and various other ingredients found in plastic bottled water, what is not debated is the effect on the environment. Bottled water clearly effects the already heavily burdened environment in a highly negative way. Just because you throw your plastic bottles in the recycling bin does not mean that the bottle is being reused; it’s probably being dumped right into a landfill or the Pacific Ocean.

Related Article: Unprecedented Changes and Extinctions Occurring in Marine Life

bottled water landfill waste money

ipsofactoradio.blogspot.com

Every bottle you buy and toss away has on average a 28% chance of actually being properly recycled. Keep in mind that due to improper recycling practices and the rise of plastic use around the world, parts of the Pacific Ocean contain more particles of plastic than plankton. Sea life consumes this plastic, is caught by fishing companies, and goes right back on your plate. You are eating the water bottles you throw away, that is not an exaggeration.

Furthermore, there is no clear proof that bottled water is any healthier to drink than tap water. While our tap water is not very clean, containing harmful drugs, plastics, pesticides and other dangerous elements, there is no evidence that bottled water does not contain the same substances. You are better off buying a water filter and filling your own BPA free water bottles at home. The best reason to fill up your own water bottles at home is how much money it will save you in the long run.

Related Article: The 5 R’s: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot

Think gasoline is expensive? Bottled water costs up to 3 times as much per galon! To make matters worse, bottled water costs over 1000 times more than tap water, the water you are paying for each month anyway! The absolute worst part? Many studies have found that a large percentage of bottled water is just tap water.

On average, each person in the U.S. consumes 167 plastic bottles of water each year. You can use this bottled water cost calculator to figure out your own wasteful spending, but let’s just assume you are average. If you buy 167 bottles of water per year at a low price of 1.50 per bottle (some bottles of water like Fiji brand could cost up to $5.00 per bottle in the stores) you are looking at $250 dollars per year. Compare that to buying a water filter and a reusable water bottle and the purchase already pays for itself even before the end of a year. Remember that the water filter and water bottle are almost endlessly reusable.

Related Article: Conservation Efforts of Earth’s Seven Continents

The multi-billion dollar bottled water industry is one of the most lucrative businesses in the world, and it is a complete scam. Ever notice that Evian is naive spelled backwards?

*Note: The one instance where it is extremely tempting to buy bottled water is while traveling where it is unsafe to drink the water. The same suggestion applies: buy a couple reusable BPA-free water bottles and just fill them on the go at your hotel/hostel. You can even get a lightweight, compact UV water purifier to bring with you and ensure your water is completely safe to drink. If you live or are traveling in North America, a great solution to bottled water is to take advantage of purified water vending machines, an idea that many bottled water companies are implementing. These vending machines can often be found outside of supermarkets.

 

 

6) Weddings

Weddings: one of the prime sources of gossip on Facebook, and one of the ultimate stressors for couples and relatives alike. Weddings are romanticized and embedded deep into the psyche of little girls from the time they are toddlers. Since time immemorial, humans have simply accepted that the culmination of success and happiness in a relationship must lead to a budget crippling, single-day expenditure called a wedding. Of course, most weddings just end in the creation of bridezillas and couples taking out a few additional loans to base the foundation of their future lives on. No wonder so many marriages end due to arguments over finances.

wedding waste of money

Who needs a house? http://www.glamour.com

The majority of couples end up paying far more for their wedding than they had originally budgeted for. After adding up so many variables (the wedding dress, makeup and hair, DJ, decorations, food, wedding favors, invitations, photography… the list is seemingly endless) the final price of a wedding usually ends up being about the price of the downpayment on a new couple’s house. I suppose that’s easy to understand when the average price of a DJ is $748, and the average price of a photagrapher is $1,777. Even saying thank you costs big bucks, with the average price of thank you cards totaling $94.

Related Article: Afraid to Wake Up? Conquering Fear and Living the Lives We Want

In 2012, couples and their families in the U.S. spent an average of $28,427 on wedding ceremonies alone. This is an absolute waste of money, especially for something that lasts less than a full 24 hours. According to the Bureau of Business & Economic Research, the median personal income in the United States in 2012 was $42,693. That means that on average, couples are spending 66% of the average person’s income on a single day to celebrate, well, themselves. Spending the cost of a house downpayment on a single day to remind everyone of your love: that might be the very definition of both insanity and vanity.

The truth is that traditional weddings are downright unnecessary and insultingly wasteful to the rest of the struggling world. Amy Keyishian reminds women in her article “Why I think Weddings are a Stupid Waste of Money,” to not make the mistake of spending thousands for a wedding. By not spending so much:

You’re not a princess, princess. You’re a smart cookie. Trust me, that’s so much better.

If you are spending anywhere near the United States average on a single day, this is a great chance to improve your creativity. There are a remarkable amount of DIY wedding ideas that you can implement to ensure that your wedding is a low cost, creative, unforgettable experience. There are also many ways to have the traditional wedding you’ve been fantisizing about on the cheap by cutting out some of the unnecessary expenses. One of my favorite solutions is cutting out all the ridiculous party favors. According to Gail Johnson, a Decatur, Ga.-based wedding and event consultant:

expensive wedding

bahmankadeh.blogspot.com

I can’t tell you [how] many times guests leave these items on the tables or take them home and toss them. Entertaining your guests with a great meal and entertainment is plenty, so there is no need to spend money on wedding favors.

Weddings are not a fairytale, they are part of a multi-billion dollar industry that wants as much of your money as possible. What’s so romantic about that?

Related Article: Money: Designed to Fail

*Note: Even the prospect of marriage isn’t entirely necessary nowadays. Although there are a great deal of federal benefits afforded to married couples, domestic partnerships and civil unions are a great option as well. Check out your state policies to see if a civil union or domestic partnership is a better alternative for you and your significant other. Remember, marriage does not equate to true love.

 

 

Rolls of Paper Towels7) Paper Towels

One ton of paper towels is equal to 17 trees and 20,000 gallons of water. 3,000 tons of paper towels are produced in the U.S. each and everyday. That means that each day approximatley 51,000 trees and 60,000,000 gallons of water are used so that Americans can dry their hands.

Related Article: Wood Pulp is Changing the World

The solution is simple. Instead of shelling out clams for disposable paper towels each time you go the supermarket, make a one time purchase and buy reusable dish towels instead. It costs $13 for a 12 pack of reusable cotton dish towels. Throw them in the wash when they get dirty, dry them, and repeat. I know Bounty brand is tempting, but it destroys the bounty of our environment!

 

8) Diamonds/Jewelry

Many people purchase diamonds and jewelry as gifts that symbolize true love. This was not always such a widespread practice though. Giving a diamond ring as an engagement gift is only about a century old. Furthermore, the only reason people do it, as usual, is because a very clever business convinced all of us that it is not only a great idea, but a crucial one. Oh well, at least diamonds and other precious jewelry are a great investment right? Wrong. This myth has been dispelled time and time again.
The value of jewelry rises at about the same rate of inflation, but good luck selling your jewelry at even half that price. The biggest issue with trying to sell jewelry is that high-end jewelry stores generally do not buy back precious stones and metals. The amount they would offer sellers would be embarassingly low as they would have to offer them the wholesale price, not the insanely high mark-up price that we all pay.

Related Article: A Planet Covered in Diamonds

Diamonds and jewelry are a horrible waste of money and the very opposite of a smart investment. You’re better off recalibrating your societally learned bourgeoisie tastes and heading to Etsy.com for truly unique, creative, and beautiful jewelry. Besides, is it really worth putting so many eggs into one basket. Owning a $5,000 dollar diamond ring means that if your ring is lost or stolen, so are all those greenbacks the ring is worth.

Keep in mind that an unknown amount of diamonds on the market are blood diamonds, and it is very hard to be sure of the source of your precious stones. When you flash your bling-bling, there’s a good chance you are announcing to the world that you happily support slavery, suffering, and mass death. Support Etsy instead.

 

 

9) Fast Food

Fast food: quick, convenient, cheap, and a total waste of money. In 1970, Americans spent $6 billion on fast food. In the year 2000 that number rose to $110 billion and continues to rise year after year. To give you a better perspective of these numbers, every day 25% of the adult U.S. population shoves fast food down their gullets.

Fast food might seem like a bargain, but the truth is that you are scamming your body and your wallet with every bite you take. Sure, you can get a meal that will fill you up for 3 dollars by ordering off the dollar menu, but is it worth it? Is a dollar worth the nutritional value and health detriment of a Wendy’s Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger? The simple answer is no. Let’s take a look at the not so simple answer.

Related Article: Obesity Has More to Do With Diet Than Exercise

Eric Schlosser describes in his book “Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal” the ugly truth behind fast food: it tastes good, but is utterly destructive to your body. In an excerpt from Fast Food Nation, Schlosser explains that:

The Food and Drug Administration does not require flavor companies to disclose the ingredients of their additives, so long as all the chemicals are considered by the agency to be GRAS (Generally Regarded As Safe). This lack of public disclosure enables the companies to maintain the secrecy of their formulas. It also hides the fact that flavor compounds sometimes contain more ingredients than the foods being given their taste. The ubiquitous phrase “artificial strawberry flavor” gives little hint of the chemical wizardry and manufacturing skill that can make a highly processed food taste like a strawberry.

A typical artificial strawberry flavor, like the kind found in a Burger King strawberry milk shake, contains the following ingredients: amyl acetate, amyl butyrate, amyl valerate, anethol, anisyl formate, benzyl acetate, benzyl isobutyrate, butyric acid, cinnamyl isobutyrate, cinnamyl valerate, cognac essential oil, diacetyl, dipropyl ketone, ethyl acetate, ethyl amylketone, ethyl butyrate, ethyl cinnamate, ethyl heptanoate, ethyl heptylate, ethyl lactate, ethyl methylphenylglycidate, ethyl nitrate, ethyl propionate, ethyl valerate, heliotropin, hydroxyphenyl-2-butanone (10 percent solution in alcohol), α-ionone, isobutyl anthranilate, isobutyl butyrate, lemon essential oil, maltol, 4-methylacetophenone, methyl anthranilate, methyl benzoate, methyl cinnamate, methyl heptine carbonate, methyl naphthyl ketone, methyl salicylate, mint essential oil, neroli essential oil, nerolin, neryl isobutyrate, orris butter, phenethyl alcohol, rose, rum ether, γ-undecalactone, vanillin, and solvent.

fast food waste money

mrmeltdown.com

Here’s a hint: much of what you just read does not belong in your body, and that is just one example among tens of thousands of products. Despite this, American kids between the ages of 6 and 14 eat fast food 157,000,000 times every month. One of the major reasons is that the flavor wizardry of fast food keeps you wanting more. Simply put, fast food is addictive.

Related Article: Save the Food Pyramid by Cutting Out Carbs

You’d be hard pressed to find a doctor who would suggest that even a small amount of fast food is okay to eat. In fact, many doctors in the UK are demanding a ban on fast food chains near schools due to how serious of an epidemic fast food, and consequently obesity, is. That is why fast food is an utter waste of money. Sure, you won’t starve if you eat it, but you are far more likely to become obese and have very serious health problems down the road if you eat fast food on a regular basis.

Take a look at the nutrition facts for your favorite fast food chain. A Big Mac alone contains 540 calories, 29 grams of fat, and 1040 mg of sodium. Add the obligatary order of large french fries and you just tacked on an extra 500 calories, 25 grams of fat, and 350 grams of sodium. Based on a 2000 calorie diet, that single meal consisting of a burger and fries accounts for 50% of your alloted daily calories, 83% of your alotted daily fat intake (consisting of a great deal of saturated fats and some trans fats thrown in for good measure), %58 of your daily sodium intake, and 36% of your daily carbs at 108 grams. Not a pretty picture, is it? Let’s paint a complete picture just for fun and eat 3 meals at McDonalds, shall we?

 

Breakfast:

Minutemaid Orange Juice: Calories (190), Fat (0), Carbs(0), Cholesterol(0), Sodium (39mg)

Egg McMuffin: Calories (300), Fat (12g), Carbs(30g), Cholesterol(260mg), Sodium (820mg)

Hashbrown: Calories (150), Fat (9g), Carbs(15g), Cholesterol(0), Sodium (310mg)

 

Lunch:

Big Mac: Calories (540), Fat (29g), Carbs(45g), Cholesterol(75mg), Sodium (1040)

Large Fries: Calories (500), Fat (25g), Carbs(63g), Cholesterol(0mg), Sodium (350g)

21 fl oz Diet Coke: Calories (0), Fat (0), Carbs(0), Cholesterol(0), Sodium (30mg)

 

Dinner:

Big N’ Tasty With Cheese: Calories (510), Fat (28g), Carbs(38g), Cholesterol(85mg), Sodium (960mg)

Medium French Fries: Calories (380), Fat (19g), Carbs(48g), Cholesterol(0), Sodium (270mg)

Mcflurry with Oreo Cookies: Calories (510), Fat (17g), Carbs(80g), Cholesterol(45mg), Sodium (280mg)

21 fl oz Coke: Calories (0), Fat (0), Carbs(58g), Cholesterol(0), Sodium (15mg)

 

Totals:

Breakfast: Calories (640), Fat (21g), Carbs(45g), Cholesterol(260mg), Sodium (1169mg)

Lunch: Calories (1040), Fat (54g), Carbs(108g), Cholesterol(75mg), Sodium (1420mg)

Dinner: Calories (1400), Fat (64g), Carbs(224), Cholesterol(130mg), Sodium (1525mg)

 

Full Day Total: (Daily values based on a 2000 calorie diet)

Calories (3080) 154%DV

Fat (139 g) 214%DV

Carbohydrates (377 g) 126%DV

Cholesterol (465 mg) 155%DV

Sodium (4114 mg) 171%DV

 

Combine these atrocious numbers with all the artificial additives and preservatives in fast food and its easy to understand why it is so unfathomably unhealthy and not worth a single penny!

Related Article: The Obese Shall Inherit the Earth

The fats found in most fast food products have been linked to increased fat around the abdomen and an increased risk of diabetes. There is also clear evidence that fast food (constituting the foundation of a poor general diet) is in large part responsible for childhood obesity. Even seemingly healthy options at fast food chains are coated with hidden fats and biologically harmful ingredients. Keep in mind that all of the health problems caused by eating fast food also increases individual and statewide health costs.

What is the point of eating food that only serves to harm you? Doesn’t it make more sense to spend a little extra cash for the sake of actually eating a nutritional meal, maintaining health, and steering clear of medical bills? Paying more for healthy food actually gives you bang for your buck, as opposed to fast food which only serves as a health detriment in the long run.

Besides, eating healthy doesn’t have to be more expensive! In fact, with some careful planning, eating healthy and cooking your own meals at home could be even cheaper than your weekly fast food budget. For example:

Don’t have time to cook? Might as well start making time for more hospital visits. I can’t put this any nicer: find time! It is your life and well being we are talking about here! You could be spending $200 to $400 a month on healthy food, or a ‘fair price‘ of $63,648 on heart surgery. $63,648 is equal to 13 to 27 years of paying for healthy food. It’s your choice.

Related Article: The Life Changing and Life Lengthening World of Fasting

If you don’t think eating healthy foods will fill you up enough, remember that getting filled up is entirely dependant on food density, rather than calorie content. While 4 pounds of fruits and veggies will provide about 400 calories, 4 pounds of pop tarts will provide nearly 10,000. If you think 4 pounds of veggies won’t fill you up, give it a try. You won’t even make it a fourth of the way through.

People that struggle with body fat management tend to fill up on energy dense, processed foods. This means stored energy for later.

Translation: Fatness.

If we eat 4 pounds of energy-controlled, whole, real food – we get lots of nutrition with a calorie count that our body can handle.

Check out the differences outlined below:

Most people in the U.S. are consuming (on average) the following amounts of food each day:

2.0 pounds of meat, dairy and eggs
1.5 pounds fruits and veggies
0.5 pound grains
0.5 pounds added sugars, fats and oils
= 4.5 pounds
= about 3,700 calories per day

What if we switched this around?

2.5 pounds of fruits and veggies
1.0 pounds of grains and legumes
0.3 pounds nuts/seeds
0.3 pounds meat, dairy and eggs
0.1 pounds added sugars, fats and oils
= 4.2 pounds
= about 2,075 calories per day

You can eat healthy without paying anymore than you would for fast food and still be left completely satisfied. The dollar menu is an illusion; nutritionally the food is worth far less than a dollar.

If you happen to work 120 hours a week for $1 an hour, then there are still options for you. If for whatever reason you must resort to eating fast food, there are ways to make healthier choices when perusing the fast food menu, as well as ways to make normally unhealthy fast food healthier. Some of my favorite suggestions are to drink water instead of a soft drink, undress your meal by removing unnecessary sauces, and to research all ingredients. Don’t waste your money on non-nutritional garbage. Think of healthy food as an investment in yourself.

fast food waste money

“Supersize Me”

 

10) University

While some countries enjoy free university and college, here in the U.S. we are stuck paying prices that a Middle Eastern oil mogul would be awed by. From 2008 to 2010 the average tuition cost for American universities rose by 15%. For some schools, it was even as high as 40%. On average, in the 2010 to 2011 school year, the average cost of one year of tuition, room, and board for all insitutions across the U.S. was $18,497. To split that total up, the average 4-year private institution cost $32,617 per year while the average 4-year public institution cost $15,918 per year. That is a whole lot of dead presidents. Some for-profit universites, which are not included in those averages, could cost even more.

Related Article: Public School Failure in America

students-in-front-of-the-academic-building-on-the-texas-a-m-university-campus_slideA university education is not a waste of money for everyone out there, but for a huge percentage of the population it absolutley is. Think long and hard before setting foot on campus: there is no return policy. If you are paying $20,000 a year to get a bachelors degree, by the end of 4 years you are looking at spending the price of a brand new condominum, or 2 brand new condos, depending on where in the U.S. you lay your head at night. And that’s IF it takes you 4 years to complete your degree. The average time it takes to complete a bachelors degree is 54 months, or 4.5 years. So, if you are on the upper end of that average, and going to an above average university, you could be spending closer to $200,000. You could completley pay for 2 houses for that price; live in one and rent the other one out. We are talking about a very serious amount of money just to listen to people considered experts in their field give lectures. From my experience it is mandatory to buy the new version of their book each year too.

Despite what society would have you believe, going to college or university isn’t for everyone. A degree does not guarantee success, nor does it guarantee a job. With unemployment currently hovering around 7.5%, employers only plan on hiring an extra 2.1% of graduates compared to 2012, a number that they had originally estimated to be 13% in the Fall of 2012. Unemployment for people under 25 in the U.S. is closer to 16%. Financially, the situation is even more troubling for recent grads:

Young college graduates with full-time jobs earned an average hourly wage of $16.60 last year, roughly $34,500 a year. That is down 7.6 percent from 2007. Benefits are also a problem. Between 2000 and 2011, the share of young graduates whose jobs provide for retirement plans dropped to 27.2 percent from 41.5 percent. The trend is troubling given that most students are graduating from college with huge debts.

Let me reiterate: having a degree does not guarantee success, or even make success any more likely. The most important thing when thinking about university is to consider who you are as an individual, and to remember that there are so many other options. An article from Learnfinancialplanning.com shares a very poignant story.

A friend of mine recently told me the story from when she worked at McDonald’s back when she was still in high school. Someone came along and applied for a job. Under “educational experience”, the individual listed a 6 year degree in Calligraphy.

They hung the application on the wall and had quite a few chuckles.

They laughed because the degree was absurd and stereotypical. There are precious few things one can do with a degree in Calligraphy. Spending $50,000 was probably a bad choice. The individual could have simply learned the trade without the degree, and saved thousands.

Don’t go to a degree it isn’t necessary. If it is necessary, and you can make your money back with a typical job in the field you’ll be getting your education in, then go for the degree. Just rationally analyze your situation, your goals and the necessity of the degree, and you’ll be fine.

Related Article: Science Says “Smart People are Idiots”

studentdebtEducation comes in many forms, don’t let society convince you that university is the only way. So, what are your alternatives to university? How about traveling the world? Backpacking through different countries is a great way to widen your perspectives and find out what you truly want to achieve in life. It is also one of the best ways to meet other people and create a solid network. The age old saying ‘it’s not about what you know, but who you know’ still applies. Volunteering or interning is also a great way to get experience in a field without having to pay tens of thousands of dollars to find out that it doesn’t really appeal to you. You could also apply for vocational training, or even start a business. Ever heard of Mark Zuckerberg? He didn’t need a degree to make Facebook.

While not everyone who starts a business will succeed, the lessons you will learn will be an invaluable tool you can take with you for the rest of your life. PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel is even paying university students $100,000 to drop out of school and attempt to start a business. According to Thiel,

Learning is good. Credentialing and debt is very bad. College gives people learning and also takes away future opportunities by loading the next generation down with debt.

In a similair vein, Cameron Herold, an entrepreneur since he was a child, points out the importance of recognizing and fostering entrepreneurial talent in kids. He gives an extraordinary TED talk on how exactly to raise kids to better their chances of becoming succesful entrepreneurs, if not more successful people in general when they grow up.

Related Article: Paul Ryan: “School? Get a Job! In Fact Get Three!”

Sure, you may be nervous to go against the mold of society, but just remember that there’s no rush. Take some time to think about what you want out of life. Society insists that we go to university, graduate, and start a career as quickly as possible; don’t listen to everything you hear! Your life is yours to live. If going to university/college turns out to be a mistake, it will be a costly one that will haunt you in the form of loans and insane interest rates (6% or more!) for decades to come. You don’t have to waste your money on university if it isn’t right for you, and you can still be a fully capable, and even highly successful member of society.

If you feel alone in choosing not to go to university, check out this endless list of highly succesful people that never went to university or dropped out. Just to name a few:

Sandy Adams, U.S. congressperson. Dropped out of high school at the age of 17 to join the Air Force. Later got her GED and attended the police academy before being hired as a deputy sheriff.

Ben Affleck, actor, screenwriter. Left the University of Vermont after one semester; then dropped out of Occidental College to pursue acting.

Chuck Allen, banker, co-founder of the National Scholastic Surfing Association, and founder of the U.S. Amateur Snowboard Association. At the age of 19, he moved from Oklahoma to California and began working odd jobs until he was established enough to move on to a banking career.

Woody Allen, screenwriter, actor, director, and producer. Was thrown out of New York University after one semester for poor grades. Also dropped out of City College of New York. As he admitted, “I was thrown out of college for cheating on the metaphysics final. I looked within the soul of the boy sitting next to me.”

Hans Christian Andersen, short story author, fairy tales. Left home at the age of 14 to find work. Later attended Copenhagen Univesity.

Peter Arnell, advertising executive. Never attended college. Talked his way into the advertising business after graduating from high school.

Julian Assange, Wikileaks founder, software programmer. Studied mathematics at the University of Melbourne but dropped out because other students were doing research for the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Dan Aykroyd, actor, comedian. Dropped out of Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada.

Keep in mind that this list consists only of famous drop outs with last names that start with the letter ‘A.’

Related Article: Coursera: Free Online Courses from the World’s Top Universities

 

 

11) Charity/Non-For-Profit

When you donate to charity it gives you a nice, warm feeling inside. You get to help the world, at least a little bit, from the comfort of your own home. In 2011, individuals, corporations, and foundations in the U.S. collectively donated $298.42 billion to charitable organizations. The sad truth is that a surprisingly large percentage of many charities’ donations do not go to helping anything or anyone at all, but instead cover the costs of overheads.

charity perpetuate poverty waste of money

michellegallardogsoc151.blogspot.com

Even well known organizations such as Feed the Children have been found to be utterly inefficient. While the founder and former president of the organization Larry Jones purchased a $1.2 million dollar house to better “reach out to celebrities,” Feed the Children was caught lying about donating food to the needy in Haiti. They hadn’t fed a single person!

A few weeks ago I was was traveling through Sumatra, trekking through the jungle with a guide. The guide explained to me that people from North America and Europe think that the money they donate to NGO’s such as the World Wild Fund for Nature is being used to make a difference. He expressed a very different reality, telling me that:

They do nothing to help the wildlife here, and often do more harm than good. They helped pay for feeding platforms for the dying organgutans, but this only makes the orangutans dependant on humans for food. It also spreads disease to the orangutans. Because they have nearly 97% identical DNA with humans, they can catch our sicknesses and have no way to cure themselves. WWF is useless.

Even handing out money to homeless people you pass on the street is often totally unhelpful because tiny amounts of money that they do not and cannot save only serves to perpetuate their poverty. What they need is direction, not beer money.

Related Article: Ever Heard of Microcreditng?

I am not going to claim that every single charity is a waste of money though! You can use the sites Charity Watch, and Charity Navigator to check the efficiency of charities and find out if the money you donate is actually being used to help the needy.

Another option is to look into is microcrediting. Microcrediting is:

a small loan that individuals invest towards small businesses or entrepreneurs in developing countries. It can also help to improve the lives of many women who, unlike men, have less of a chance to find stable employment.

This provides the direction that the needy require, hopefully allowing them to escape from poverty for good.

 

12) Makeup

Makeup? More like mark-up! The price of makeup is marked up by 78% on average. Ladies, all 80% of you that wear makeup on a regular basis have seen and paid for these high prices, but is it really worth it?

The average woman spends $15,000 on makeup in her lifetime, money that contributes to an industry worth more than $382 billion. Lost makeup alone costs women $400 a year on average. All of this money to alter your physical self in order to be more comfortable around people that will judge you regardless of the mask you wear. Daily makeup use is also very unhealthy due to the chemicals that are absorbed into the skin, and subsequently the bloodstream. Anything that has a 78% mark-up, is unhealthy for you, and only serves to hide who you really are is an absolute waste of money.

If makeup gives you a greater sense of confidence and security, then I can certianly understand your argument. But ladies, moderations is key. Your health and wallet will thank you dearly!

 

 

13) Greeting Cards

Whether it is for birthdays, anniversaries, religious holidays or just to say thank you, giving greeting cards is a staple tradition of society. It is subsequently a mindless waste of money. As Pretired Nick excellently describes:

At the local stores, the customer plays his or her role, flipping through the cards as quickly as possible until one is found that will “work” — not perfect, just “good enough.” The card is mindlessly purchased, a name is unemotionally signed and the card sits until it’s time to hand it over to the receiver. That moment is funny, too, with the giver anxiously waiting while the receiver opens the card, fakes a chuckle at the joke and says a heartfelt “thank you.” If it’s a group setting, the card is then passed around so everyone can enjoy the hilarious joke. And, then, of course, after the journey from forest to factory to store to lucky recipient, the card is usually recycled [or thrown away].

Related Article: Fooling People into Passionate Belief

The greeting card has become an object we now take for granted. We may as well pretend to open a card, say “blah, blah, blah” out loud, and then mock throw the card away; it will yield the same results only with less waste. Giving a greeting card is equivalent to giving a person a clump of dirt and saying “look, I picked this clump of dirt for you rather than any of the other clumps, how great is that!?” sad_batman_greeting_card_by_hatpire-d53ecao

They are a drain on the environment, a social stressor, and most of all, a sink-hole in your wallet. Americans spend between $7 billion to $8 billion each year on over 6.5 billion greeting cards.Birthdays are by far the most popular card sending occasion. And listen up ladies; you are responsible for a whopping 80% of all greeting card sales!

Related Article: A How To: Behavior Changes and Breaking Habits

The average price of a greeting card falls between $2 -$4. If you buy greeting cards for a modest 10 people, on 4 different days out of the year, you are spending $80 to $160 per year on something that is glanced at, thrown away, and never thought of again. If you are buying cards for more than 10 people, well… you may as well just burn your money and leave out the middle man.

I know, I know, you still don’t want to break the societal mold and just stop giving greeting cards, so what can you do? Luckily for you, technology!

You can always send your friends and family an e-card and save the environment, money, and your time. The best part about sending an e-card is that they are usually free. Even Hallmark, the almighty Baron of Greeting Cards, offers unlimited e-cards for only $1 per month! E-cards will also reach the recipient instantaneously. Goodbye snail-mail, hello 21st century!

Related Article: Go Go Gadget: Wearable Tech

Another major reason for not buying greeting cards is that picking a piece of paper from amongst other pieces of paper requires zero creativity. The same applies to ready made e-cards. If you truly want to show someone that you care about them, make your own greeting card or e-card. There is endless amounts of greeting card software available for those that are not creatively inclined.

For those with even a minute semblance of creativity, get a piece of paper, put a writing instrument in your hand, and make your own. Simple, yet surprisingly not so obvious.

 

14) Wrapping Paper

Wrapping paper may be the single most belligerent thing humans have ever conjured up. It’s single, solitary function is to be ripped apart and thrown away. That’s right, not recycled, but thrown away, because the dyes and chemicals in wrapping paper make it non-recyclable.

Here are some disgusting facts about wrapping paper and its evil cousin, ribbon:

Related Article: Unprecedented Changes and Extinctions Occuring in Marine Life

The environment is just one consideration. Think about how much time you spend wrapping each and every gift. I’ve seen people set aside entire nights devoted solely to wrapping with paper that will be immediately disregarded in lieu of what is inside of it. Waste of time, waste of resources, burden to the environment, and an utter waste of money.

Let’s assume a naked gift is simply going to far. You’re modest and have a sense of dignity, and you want your gifts to reflect your top notch moral values. I understand. Here are some cheap, eco-friendly alternatives to wrapping paper:

Related Article: A Product That Will Turn You into a Tree After Death

More often than not, wrapping paper is dyed and laminated. It can also contain non-paper additives, such as gold and silver coloring, glitter and plastics. Additionally, it can be very thin and contains few good quality fibers for recycling. To make matters worse, it usually has tape on it from gift wrapping. Recognizing that those pretty words at the beginning of this paragraph probably distracted a few pro-wrapping paper fiends out there, if you do receive a gift covered in it, make sure to reuse it and not just throw it in the garbage.

The way I see it, giving unwrapped gifts can be a great gauge of a person’s personality. If they seem irritated, angry, or disappointed that you didn’t wrap their gift, then they missed the whole point of your giving them a gift in the first place. They are short-sighted and ungrateful. Pat them on the back, leave them alone for the time being, and send them over to this article for some perception restructuring. We’ll have them back to you good as new in no time.

Related Article: Sweden is Running Out of Trash

 

15) Vitamins

Many of us took Flintstone vitamins as kids, take vitamin supplements as adults, and will continue taking vitamins well into the winter of our lives. You probably already know this, but I’ll remind you anyway: food, that natural stuff that grows out of the Earth and comes in various shapes and colors, contains the same vitamins and nutrients found in all the pills you’re popping!

Just because vitamin supplements contain nutritious elements doesn’t mean they’re your best option for attaining nutrients. In fact, the only reason ANYONE takes vitamins is due to a single Nobel prize winner named Linus Pauling, who despite decades of clear scientific data showing the opposite, claimed that taking multivitamins would eradicate the common cold, cure cancer, and Vitaminsamongst other miracles, extend life expectancy to 150 years. In case you weren’t sure, Linus was dead wrong.

Related Article: Cannabis Cures Cancer and Everything Else

Although just about the entire global scientific community agrees that multivitamins/ nutrient supplements do more harm than good in the long run, over half of the American population still takes their daily multivitamins. This is largely due to age old hype and unfounded propaganda convincing people that money spent on vitamins equates to years of elongated, healthy life.

Even a glance at the tip of the research iceberg regarding the effects of multivitamins makes it clear that they are incredibly dangerous and in fact detrimental to health. They are a waste of money in the same way that cigarettes are. The vitamin and supplement industry combined is worth nearly $90 billion, despite the fact that according to Steven Nissen, chairman of cardiology at the Cleveland Clinic, it is clear that:

The concept of multivitamins was sold to Americans by an eager nutraceutical industry to generate profits. There was never any scientific data supporting their usage.

Studies repeatedly make it clear that this multi billion dollar market is pure quackery, and yet:

On October 25 [2011], a headline in the Wall Street Journal asked, “Is This the End of Popping Vitamins?” Studies haven’t hurt sales. In 2010, the vitamin industry grossed $28 billion, up 4.4 percent from the year before. “The thing to do with [these reports] is just ride them out,” said Joseph Fortunato, chief executive of General Nutrition Centers. “We see no impact on our business.”

HealthyVitaminFeatureRelated Article: Starve Cancer by Eating

Just eat food! As long as its not a money waster like fast food. It borders on impossible to consume too many vitamins or other nutrients from actual food.

If you do have certain allergies or restrictive diets, your choices may be slim, but there are SO many options out there. Be creative and do your research. You don’t need pills to be healthy, quite the opposite!

 

 

16) Cleaning Products

How many households including your own do you know of that have a cabinet filled with cleaning products? I’m willing to bet there’s bottles you didn’t even know you had sitting under your sink, filled with chemical names you can’t pronounce or even begin to know the danger of. The truth is that all of those bottles of biological/environmental poison can be replaced by a few simple, sunder-kitchen-sink-cabinet-organization-hall-of-fame-21605295afe substances/solutions that you can make yourself in moments for a fraction of the cost.

Related Article: For Humanity’s Sake Wash Your Hands!

Websites abound with various options for creating your own cheap household cleaning products. These cleaning products often involve white vinegar, lemon zest, certain essential oils, and the legendary baking soda! I consider it legendary because baking soda can save you money by being used in literally hundreds of different ways, from deodorizing smells, to cleaning produce, to putting out fires!

A mixture of baking soda and white vinegar mixed with a solution of water can take care of just about any area in the home that needs some cleaning and disinfecting. If you’re looking to kill mold, instead of bleach, use clove oil, which in my experience works just as well.Need to cut grease? Use lemon juice, it’s that simple!

Related Article: pH Levels and Your Scalp

In no time, by making a few simple changes, you can clean your home non-toxically and on the cheap. Not to mention, think of all the cabinet space your cans of Febreeze and Oxy had been hoarding that is now ripe for the filling! For 1000’s of cheap, alternative cleaning ideas, check out the following links:

Non-Toxic Home Cleaning Solutions

1001 Uses for White Distilled Vinegar

Eco-Friendly Cleaning Recipes

Cleaning with Clove Oil

 

 

17) Gadgets

gadgets31

Give me 6 of everything please. http://tech.gaeatimes.com

We love our gadgets! How could we not? With a single device that fits into our pocket we can put our lives on autopilot and have even more time for shopping, Jersey Shore re-runs, and fast food.

But, and I know I should walk on eggshells when I ask this, do we really need all our fancy gadgetry? Of course not, but it makes life so much better. So, let’s rephrase the question: Do we really need a new gadget so often? Do we really need to upgrade our phone every 6 – 12 months, get a new computer every 1-4 years, buy the latest, greatest, mind-bending fast machine the moment it is released?

Related Article: The Draw of Cellphones

We all know that technology changes rapidly; there is always something new. Weeks after buying state of the art technology it is rendered obsolete by the next best thing. It is simply impossible to keep up with every single generation of new gadgetry. And yet, in the face of impossibility, we humans persevere, and practically kill ourselves trying to keep up with society’s view of the Western dream:

A television in every room, a computer, a laptop, a tablet, a smartphone, printer, faster internet, a bigger television, a better computer, an external harddrive, faster laptop, new headphones, more advanced smartphone, faster internet, new camera, 3-D television, quad core computer…. you get the idea.

Related Article: 3D Printing: The Next Revolution in Creativity

Isn’t it incredible that the moment we hear rumours about the iPhone 5S, suddenly, our iPhone 5 seems like a drab toy barely capable of entertaining a Neanderthal? The tech industry, specifically the at-home-electronics industry, is a Yoda-level swindler when it comes to convincing you that what you need is the next greatest technological development NOW. The industry, like all big industries, is a master of constantly reigniting your desires for something new, and convincing you that what you have simply isn’t good enough.

Every 3 – 12 months Apple releases a new model of the iPhone, and its out with the old, in with the new. Their sales continue to rise, and the population continues to fork over their hard earned cash for something they pretty much already have. And that’s just the iPhone! Countless other gadgets, electronics, and gizmos attain the status of ‘necessary to our lives’ on a daily basis. How is it possible that a device that can do everything, including have a conversation with you, can bore us in less than a year? Our grandparents used to get a kick out of playing wall ball for half a day. Wall ball, a game so simple that you can describe the entire premise of the game with two syllables: wall, and ball. Try to do the same with Final Fantasy. And yet, More than 20 Final Fantasy games later, we need more, more, MORE!

Related Article: Oculus Rift and Omni Treadmill: Gaming of the Future

The hard truth is that in contemporary society, enough is simply never enough. Take a look at the graph below. It is evidence of the aforementioned truth.

 

According to the graph:

— In 1900, <10% of families owned a stove, or had access to electricity or phones

— In 1915, <10% of families owned a car

— In 1930, <10% of families owned a refrigerator or clothes washer

— In 1945, <10% of families owned a clothes dryer or air-conditioning

— In 1960, <10% of families owned a dishwasher or color TV

— In 1975, <10% of families owned a microwave

— In 1990, <10% of families had a cell phone or access to the Internet

Today, at least 90% of the [U.S.] has a stove, electricity, car, fridge, clothes washer, air-conditioning, color TV, microwave, and cell phone. They make our lives better. They might even make us happier. But they are not enough.

Related Article: Income Inequality in America: Red Herrings and Wealth Envy

Compared to a single generation ago, everyone has everything, and yet, the majority of everyone is in debt and/or living paycheck to paycheck. So, is the only solution to become the fool on the hill and live gadget free? Not a chance. The answer is far less extreme.

Decrease your frequency of gadgetry/electronics purchases. That’s it. As long as you can still browse the internet, take pictures and video, call friends and family, play endless amounts of games, take notes, have conversations with AI, and pinpoint your exact latitude and longitude in the blink of an eye, you DON’T need a new gadget that performs the exact same functions with the sole added bonus of a fingerprint scanner for an additional $500 or more. Gadgets themselves are not a waste of money, far from it. It’s a waste of money to buy a brand new, redundant gadget so often. Let’s have a look at some solutions to your expensive gadget habbit:

Related Article: Your Old Android Phone Can Save the Rainforest

Virtual-Keyboard

Is that a thing? Oh my god I need that right now! new-gadgetstech.blogspot.com

Be honest with yourself. Buy a single gadget that meets your needs. Don’t buy a new one until you TRULY need it. If you have a built in camera in your phone, do you really need a state of the art $2800 camera? Unless you are a professional photographer, the answer is no.

Look for sales. For many people, a sales price means that because the item is so cheap they have money left over to play “what’s the quickest way to empty my wallet?” This defeats the purpose of buying items on sale. Take advantage of sales prices, but don’t spend the money you save on something else you don’t need. Be patient. Some of the best sales can pop up at any time. Use sites like slickdeals.net to ensure that you are getting the best bargain price possible.

Upgrade instead of buying new. The next time your computer starts processing information in slow motion, consider upgrading its component parts rather than buying a whole new one. If you have 8gb of RAM, and your computer has a 16GB RAM capacity, just buy more RAM. Upgrades will not always be the better value, but they often are. Make sure to do a price comparison.

Related Article: Augmented Reality Blows My Mind Twice

Wait for the price to come down. Within as little as a few months after a product’s release the price will inevitably decrease. The truth is that technology companies have already developed the technology years before it is released, meaning that nothing is really state of the art. Everything you see on the market is technologically inferior to what actually exists. Simply put, you will never truly have ‘the best.’ So, is it really a big deal to just deal with your perfectly capable piece of tech for a few more months, or even years, in order to eventually buy a product at a fraction of its original price?

Watch out for gadget overlap. If you have a laptop that can do practically everything you don’t need a tablet for the sole fact that it has a touch screen. People have survived without touch screens since, well, forever, and you will too. If you have a $20 pair of headphones that work, unless you are Mark Zuckerberg and have a couple billion dollars to throw away, you do not need a $1200 pair of headphones. No, you don’t.

Related Article: TVs, Brains, and Zombies, Oh My

Be rational and reasonable. If you’re a man and you find a computer that is 10% of its normal price but only sold in pink, just be the guy that has a pink computer! You just saved 90% and are now able to eat food without charging your nutritional intake to a credit card.

Heil Kitler! First it was the house that looks like Adolf, now we bring you the cats of the furred Reich  1

You’ve already stared at Kitler’s moustache 14 times this week!

Be satisfied with the incredible god-like gadgets you already own. Compared to a single generation ago, the capabilities of even our most basic gadgets make people living in the 21st century seem like Gods to the rest of former humanity. Keep this in mind the next time you find yourself perusing Amazon for something better. Buying new gadgets, like any type of shopping, is a drug and a status symbol, and you are wasting your cash trying to keep up with the Joneses for the sake of a slightly better screen resolution and larger harddrive space to look at even more high quality pictures of cats with Hitler moustaches.

Related Article: Cute Baby Animal Pictures Increase Productivity

What’s the rush anyway? Due to exponentially accelerated change, in the very near future we won’t be able to tell the difference between biology and technology.Cherish the time when you actually have the choice to be separate from your precious gadgets. The singularity is near.

Related Article: The Singularity is Nigh Upon Us

 

 

18) Eating/Drinking Out

money_food

Eat up, this meal is going to cost you! angellebatten.com

There’s nothing like a nice dinner out with a glass of wine to demolish your bank account. Society romanticises the notion of eating and drinking out, making us believe that going out for a meal or a drink should be the norm. Check your perceptions and you’ll come to see that there is nothing romantic about paying outlandishly high prices for something you can obtain at the market for a fraction of the price right down the street from the restaurant.

Sure, going out to wine and dine affords us a pleasant, stress free night, but in the same vein as gadgets, the problem comes in when we start wining and dining too often.

Related Article: Food Myth: Don’t Eat After a Certain Time

While America as a whole doesn’t spend the most on food and alcohol compared to other nations, food and alcohol still does some serious damage to our collective paycheck. The worst part is that more often than not, we choose to pay for outlandishly overpriced food and drinks at restaurants and bars.

In the last 30 years, from 1982 to 2011, alcohol at stores has decreased in price by 39%, while alcohol from bars and restaurants has increased by a whopping 79%.

Despite these statistics, over the same 30 year period, Americans have increased the amount of alcohol they buy from restaurants and bars by 14%, and have decreased the amount they buy from stores by 16%.

This means that as Americans, we have consciously chosen to spend drastically more money on booze than we have to. Why would we choose to spend nearly double the amount for a product, despite having the clear option of a cheaper deal on the same product right down the street. Must be the booze.

Related Article: The Life Changing and Life Lengthening World of Fasting

What about restaurants? Are we more rational with our restaurant spending? Surely there’s some financial rationality left in the human race.

The good news is that in 2012, a survey from Gallup reported that 77% of Americans were eating at home the day before the survey, which is a fantastic number compared to the 10% who reported they had eaten at a restaurant. The bad news is that when it comes to money, percentages can’t hide the fact that we are throwing it all away on eating out.

61% of Americans say that they want to cut back on their restaurant habit. Clearly we are feeling guilty for the amount of time spent hassling waiters and gorging ourselves in public.

Related Article: Burning Fat App on Your Phone

How much a person dines out is dependant on numerous factors, including gender, age, income, and region. Writers at Mother Jones used information acquired by Bundle.com, a company that analyzes credit card data from Citigroup, to create a food spending chart of major cities around the United States. They found drastically different spending behaviors across the country. For example, the average person in Austin, Texas spends $420 a month on dining out, whereas the average person living in Detroit, Michigan only spends $69 dollars each month on dining out. People living in Austin spend nearly 6 times as much on dining out compared to people in Detroit. According to Mother Jones:

Austin, Texas, spends almost twice the national average for dining out; five Detroit households could eat for a year on an average Austinite’s food budget.

How is it that we are spending so much on food? Don’t these amounts seem drastic? A large part of the reason, as we all know, is that restaurants overcharge us. The only reason restaurants exist in the first place, like any business, is to fill a niche and ultimately make a profit. The only way to make a profit is to charge you more than they paid for the food and drinks. Much, much more, especially since they buy everything in bulk.

Related Article: Why Don’t We Eat Insects?

Barring very special occasions, your best option is to just not eat out all. Even in instances where your family or friends invite you out, invite them to your place and let them know why you would rather make a meal at home. What are some reasons it is better to make food at home?

      • It’s cheaper. This is probably obvious to you, but what might not be so obvious is just how much you can save by not eating or drinking out. For example, Crystal Brothers from Servingjoyfully.com saved her family over $50 per week, or $2600 each year by simply not eating out. Think of all the iPhones you could buy with those savings! Also, if you have some self control, make sure to buy your alcohol in bulk. For example, buy cases of wine instead of a single bottle at a time. You could save 40% or more using this method.
      • It’s more fun. Cooking is an art form that combines all 5 of your senses. The texture of the foods involved, the smell and taste, the colors and presentation, as well as the sounds of preparation all play pivotal roles in the experience of cooking. It is also a great chance to experiment. Buy foods at a foreign supermarket you’ve never even heard of and look up a recipe for them. You might find a new favorite. Take a traditional recipe and spice it up or down. Cooking at home can be a journey of culinary self discovery. You can even get the kids involved or, throw on some tunes, pour a glass of wine and make it into a healthy and delectable date night.
      • It’s healthy. Cooking at home is mentally, emotionally, financially, and physically satisfying. Choosing ingredients and preparing a meal provides mental stimulation. Cooking with a partner gives you more time together to develop a stronger emotional bond. Being in control of the sodium content, fat, cholesterol, etc. in your meal makes it a healthier alternative to eating out. Lastly, your budget will love you for choosing the economical path.
      • You’re in control. You are in control of the ingredients so it can be healthier. You can also control the portion sizes, which is one of the major reasons we in the West take up so much space. Drinking at home can also be more fun as it provides a more intimate scene. Instead of shouting across a noisy bar you will actually be able to hear and engage in proper conversation. Most importantly, being in control can lessen the chance that you will drink industrial amounts and/or drive drunk.
      • Better for the environment. Eating at home is better for the environment for various reasons. Each year America wastes about 40% of all the food it produces. This frightening percentage means that a family of four loses nearly $2,275 per year solely due to food waste. Studies have shown that one of the major reasons for such extreme levels of food waste in America is due to portion sizes, especially those served in restaurants and bars. And, if portion sizes are too big, what do you do? You take your meal home in a plastic container, inside of a plastic bag. Waste upon waste upon waste.

Related Article: The Obese Shall Inherit the Earth

If you’re going to cook at home and aren’t the experimental type, you’ll need some solid recipe sites to inspire you with cooking ideas. Below is a list of some of my favorite recipe sites:

Really though, the internet is full of great ideas for at-home cooking. Take a look in your refrigerator and do a Google search of the ingredients. A delicious recipe is bound to pop up. Or, you can use Recipe Key to find recipes based on what’s in your refrigerator and pantry. You can even make your own baby food. The possibilities are endless.

Related Article: The Power of Hemp Seeds

You know why you shouldn’t eat out, and why it is so much better to eat at home, but what about those uncontrollable urges? How can they be avoided? Here are some tips for avoiding the urge to eat out:

**Note about tipping: Do not go out to eat or drink unless you are also willing to tip. Not tipping is not a way to save money. Waiters, waitresses, bartenders, busboys, and other members of the hospitality service are paid well below minimum wage all across America, (usually between $2.13 and $4.95 per hour) nearly all of which goes to paying taxes. By not tipping a server, you are effectively telling them that you don’t care whether they are alive or not. Even worse, if you don’t tip a server, they are literally PAYING FOR YOU to eat at the restaurant. A percentage of what a server is tipped is given to bartenders, busboys, and other restaurant workers whether a server is tipped or not. If you tip a server 18%, 14% goes to the server, and 4% goes to other employees. This tip-share is different for each restaurant, but the large majority of restaurants have a tip-share.

Related Article: Volunteering is Good for Your Health

If you don’t know how to tip or how much you should tip, read this tipping guide carefully.

 

 

19) Luxury Hotels

How cool would it be to stay in a hotel with a private pool, a grand piano, 12 rooms, and ivory furniture? Even if you had the money, it would still be an utter waste.

accommodation08

Who cares about a mortgage payment, look at all the lanterns we have in our luxurious abode!! http://www.doonbeglodge.com

Sure, you could stay in some of the most expensive hotels in the world and talk to your personal, hotel provided butler all day, but what’s the point of paying top dollar for a luxurious nights sleep. Why bother traveling in the first place?

Related Article: Breathe Deep to Relieve Stress

The most meaningful and memorable vacations are those in which you can truly step outside of your normal day to day life and experience something new and exciting. Sleeping on a super comfy bed in an air conditioned room after ordering room service does not fall into that category.

When my partner and I were traveling through Laos we had the option of staying at a $26 per night hotel, or a $3 per night hostel. While both of these options are incredibly cheap by Western standards, we opted for the $3 hostel. We met another couple who opted for the $26 per night hotel. After exchanging descriptions of our respective accommodation we realized that both places had the exact same amenities. The only difference was that the hotel room had a slightly better view and a larger room. Too bad the only time they went back to the room was to go to sleep, at which point the expensive view they had been enjoying all day outside of the hotel was too dark to see.

Related Article: Money: Designed to Fail

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Classic example of a kitchen in a cheap hostel. http://www.realadventures.com

Keep in mind also that hostels almost always have a public kitchen where you can cook your own meals. This saves even more on food, and gives you the opportunity to shop at a supermarket and live like a local.

Instead of spending so much money on the hotel room, spend the money on a dish you’ve never tried, an unforgettable experience, or something else you come across unexpectedly. Traveling, if done right, will provide you with a truly enriching cultural experience, a cultural education, endless fun, a chance to meet new people, and most of all, an opportunity to get out of your shell and grow into an even more broad minded, well rounded you.

Experience the world, not a hotel room.

Related Article: Fun Fact: You’re the Cause of Boredom

Some great sites to use for finding reviewed hotels, hostels, and guest houses for very cheap can be found below:

Hostelworld

Agoda

Booking

 

For those of you looking for a truly unique experience along with FREE accommodation, even in your own country, check out the following sites:

Help Exchange (HelpX)

World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF)

Couch Surfing

 

 

20) Gyms

ronnie

“Why bother buddy, you’ll never be this big!” http://www.skyhdwallpapers.com

Gyms; the place most of us go to force ourselves to do exercises we hate, exercises that we could be doing for free. What a waste of time and money. Unless you are a professional body builder you have no business giving a gym a single penny.

Related Article: 7 Minute Workout to Burn Fat

Any given gym, like most places we waste our money at, is part of a multi-billion dollar industry worth nearly $20 billion as of 2008. The average gym membership costs $55 per month, and yet, on average, people only go to the gym 2 times per week. Steven Levitt, the author of Freakonomics, stated in the New York Times that

people who buy annual gym memberships often overestimate how much they’ll actually use the facilities by 70%.

In fact, 67% of people with gym memberships never even use them.

Who are we kidding? That’s right, ourselves.

Related Article: Awareness and Dealing with Rejection

Before gyms, did exercise simply not exist? Of course not. Why are you running on a treadmill when it is free to run outside? Or, if you want to run inside, go to your local park district and run around the track for free. Why are you lifting finely sculpted pieces of heavy metal? Just go lift any heavy object that exists on planet Earth, the results will be the same. Oh, you enjoy swimming as a form of exercise? Well, is the $40 gym really the only place with a body of water?

Going to the gym has become a status symbol and social soiree. The gym has more to do with conversation than it does with fitness. Why are you spending any money at all, no matter how little, to stand around talking? And if you are actually exercising, you need to start thinking outside the box gyms have trapped you in.

Related Article: Obesity Has More to Do With Diet Than Exercise

Instead of wasting your money at a gym try doing exercises you can do at home, in a park, or in other places that are free. Try out yoga, callisthenics, a jog around the block, the full body 7 minute workout, maxalding, or even just going for a walk.

You can even incorporate your workout into everyday life. While at the supermarket do a few more laps around the store once your cart is fully loaded. Sprint to the bus stop instead of walking. Do jumping jacks during a commercial break. You can even make a game out of it; for every 30 minutes of GTA V that you play, do 10 push-ups. Or, every time you catch yourself logging into Facebook, do 15 lunges.

Related Article: Salamba Sirsasana: It’s Time to Do a Headstand!

If you’re still not convinced and want to continue pretending you go to the gym far more than you actually do, at least take advantage of tried and true techniques for slashing the cost of gym memberships.

      • Pay month to month
      • Check with your health insurance to see if they will give you a discount for having a gym membership
      • Look for sales and promotions, especially on sites like Groupon
      • Try out a free trial memberships at multiple gyms before committing

The fact remains… unless you are a professional or a highly disciplined individual, a gym is almost always an unnecessary, utterly wasteful expenditure.

Just so you are fully aware, this is the only form of human that can claim his or her money is well spent at the gym:

 

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https://wondergressive.com/2013/01/22/ever-heard-of-microcrediting/

https://wondergressive.com/2012/11/24/volunteering-is-good-for-your-health/

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https://wondergressive.com/2013/08/18/biggest-wastes-of-money-that-we-all-continue-to-pay-for-part-3-fast-food-and-education/

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wondergressive.com/2012/08/15/edible-landscapes/

https://wondergressive.com/2013/03/07/income-inequality-in-america-whats-the-big-deal/

More Money More Problems? A Look at Global Debt

Notorious B.I.G. has the answer to our debt problems. Mo Money Mo Problems.

With recent government shut downs people have been questioning whether or not our debt will ever be solved. Our debt is in the trillions, 16,747,478,675,335.18, as of writing this article, to be exact. Yes, well so what? I have over 100k (property, car, etc.) worth of debt myself and if you extrapolate and assume all the other 300+ million residents of the US average 100k debt, that would yield over $30 trillion of personal debt. In other words, the country owes less to the world then we personally owe to others and to our country. This point may be moot but it is interesting to note before we delve into much more grave notions as we explore debt and money issues.

It is true that we are in debt, but what about the rest of the world? According to nationaldebtclocks.org our world debt clock is over 51 trillion!  As grandstanding and involved as the US is in world economy and politics, we also account for roughly 30% of the debt of the world. We aren’t the only ones who are in debt however, and with the constant printing of money in the United States, I believe it to be a question of when, not if, the dollar will eventually fail.

Related ArticleMoney Designed to Fail

Some significant debts of countries other than the US:

  • Germany runs around 2 trillion Euros
  • Italy 2 trillion Euros
  • UK is at 1 trillion Pounds
  • China is at 14 trillion yen
  • Russia is at 6 trillion rubles

With conversions in mind, that puts those 5 big countries at roughly 2 trillion dollars each in debt compared to our 16 trillion. Ouch, we are hurting, but man we do everything big in this country… Point being, we are all in trouble, some more-so than others, and shutting down governments won’t provide more than a temporary, tiny fix to the looming destructive problem.

As our government continuously battles itself on whether or not they should raise the debt ceiling, other things come to mind. One being, will there ever be any profit ceiling? Constantly being in debt, will we ever pay back what we owe? Will our debt to GDP ratio ever flip? With our debt to GDP ratio constantly rising, will our era see the fall of the dollar as the assumed world’s currency?

Related Article: United States’ Taxes, Spending, and Graphs

What would my resolution be?

The lot of you would totally disagree and that’s OK, because that is exactly what should happen. I would call for a complete and total world wide nullification of debt. Every single penny owed to every other country for any said product or good completely erased. A reboot, per say. Yes, you may all be shuddering at the thought but bear with me. After this reboot, instate one single currency to be shared throughout the world/or return to strictly goods traded for other goods method (ie. time of labor traded for food, etc.), empower the UN to become a true police power in the world, and finally focus on what is, in my opinion, important: space exploration and expansion. Keep individual governments, keep individual religions and differences, keep traditions and everything else that makes a country great, but allow for the UN to do more. I know what you’re thinking. That’s crazy talk. Countries won’t agree, leaders will argue, there will be war. Of course they won’t agree, of course there will be resistance, and of course greed will get in the way. But as we stand, the options are very limited. All this of course is with the United States’ well being in mind; countries such as China and Russia, with their shift away from the dollar, would certainly wish for the fall of the superpower rather than complete equality amongst countries. This is the most realistic peace I could think of, even if it were to be temporary, we have to start somewhere.

Related Article: Biggest Wastes of Money

Just a thought. Cheers to Money!

 

Research:

Wikipedia: Mo Money Mo Problems

Reuters: US government shut downs could lead to debt limit superstorms

US Current Debt

National Debt Clocks

Wondergressive: Money Designed to Fail

Wondergressive: United States’ Taxes, Spending, and Graphs

Wondergressive: Biggest Wastes of Money

Internment Camps, Ansel Adams Snaps and Fleeting Liberties

“Rights for me, not for thee.”

The government habitually strips citizens of their rights whenever it suits them to do so. Currently, the Obama administration and the NSA have deemed that Americans are fair game when it comes to domestic surveillance, as we are certainly no longer

secure in [our] persons, houses, papers, and effects.

Related Article: Gossip Through the PRISM: the NSA’s Shenanigans

This is obviously not a new phenomenon. I find that people often forget, for example, that the Jim Crow laws in the South were indeed laws, not just social conventions. State and local governments codified the practice of segregation and indeed would punish businesses and organizations for daring to integrate—systematically disenfranchising blacks through legislative power.

The state will protect and respect individual rights as long as it suits their own interests. They have proven repeatedly that, when convenient, they will forget that the Bill of Rights even exists.

Related Article: The TSA’s Totalitarian Reign

In a famous and extremely disturbing example, the United States considered Japanese-Americans to be a threat to national security after the attack on Pearl Harbor. On February 19, 1942 FDR signed Executive Order 9066 which allowed the military to designate areas from which “any and all persons could be excluded.” As a result, over a hundred thousand American citizens with names like Richard Kobayashi and Catharine Yamaguchi were locked away in concentration camps. Without trial or cause, these people were forcefully removed from their homes and interned solely because of their ancestry.

In 1943 famed American photographer Ansel Adams, renowned for his stunning shots of the American west, visited the Manzanar camp in California. Disturbed by the ramifications of FDR’s “relocation” policy, he took some poignant and beautiful snaps of life in Manzanar that are distressing reminders of how fragile our rights and liberties really are.

Related Article: Another Casualty of the Paramilitary State

Here are farmers toiling in front of snowcapped mountains:

How much more American can you get than playing football, fixing tractors, and holding town hall meetings?

Town Hall

Even enlisted soldiers weren’t exempt from the camps.

US SOldier

Infants unknowingly took their first breaths there.

The NSA’s extralegal invasions into our privacy should rightfully enrage every American. However, it should not be surprising to anyone with a pulse. The truth is simple and blunt: This is what governments do. Mendaciously, the state—dripping with patriotism and draped in red, white & blue—claims to protect the rights of Americans while simultaneously showing absolute disregard for their sanctity, and at best deigning to acknowledge their very existence. To politicians, civil liberties are mere talking points rather than the inalienable rights that this nation was founded upon.

Related Article: Team Red = Team Blue, The Syria Episode

Sadly, there really are no rights in this world. Most would agree that everyone has a right to food and shelter. How, then, are so many people starving and homeless? The Declaration of Independence champions the rights of life and liberty, however, both are so easily taken away. Our rights are better understood as glorious ideals, Vitruvian Men that we all need to aspire to achieve and maintain.

The problem now isn’t so much that governments are invading our privacy, as concerning and Orwellian as their encroachment is. That known entity is to be understood and expected. The most troublesome factor is the absolute apathetic ambivalence and—indeed!—endorsement of these policies from the American populace.

Related Article: War on Drugs Farce Continues Unabated

I am reminded of the famous poem attributed to Martin Niemöller:

First they came for the  communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

Then they came for the socialists,

and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me.

The American citizenry is a frog being boiled slowly, and the rising heat gradually erodes their rights. When are they going to realize that when they’re the only ones left, no one will be there to speak for them?

 

Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Crow_laws

constitution.findlaw.com/amendment4/amendment.html

http://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flash=false&doc=74&page=transcript

http://www.businessinsider.com/ansel-adams-internment-camp-photos-2013-8?op=1

http://leonardodavinci.stanford.edu/submissions/clabaugh/history/leonardo.html

The Bright Side To ObamaCare?

Paging… Dr. Obama?

For everyone that is either groaning or that is pleased with the way  ObamaCare is slowly panning out, there may be a bright side that hasn’t been considered before!

A new study claims that our medical device market will continue to climb to an estimated $10 billion because of ObamaCare! Why is that good news? Economic stimulation from the medical side. The only way our economy booms is if money changes hands. Everyone wants to continue to invest in preventative electronics: pedometers, scales, blood meters, etc. That in itself is great news. People want to stay healthy and want to prevent themselves from getting sick. A major reason for this preventative approach for health is due to rising costs of medicine and doctor’s visits. So yes, we are all money conscious, but why would that be a bad thing?

This brings me to the second bright side; the cost of our future ObamaCare. It may be cheaper and better than your current insurance program. In fact, Forbes has recently posted an article explaining that insurers’ have guaranteed and promised ObamaCare will be competitively priced. That is good news, as affordable healthcare is in everyone’s best interest, especially those that are often sick and cannot afford a quality health care plan.

Related: ObamaCare and the 49-Employee Company

A couple more positive points to take away from ObamaCare:

 1 in 2 Americans have a “pre-existing” condition they could be denied health insurance for. ObamaCare chips away at pre-existing conditions until 2017 when there are no more pre-existing conditions for anyone, including high-risk customers.

ObamaCare requires that all insurance plans cover preventive services and stops insurance companies from dropping you when you are sick, as well as offering a number of other reforms and protections.

Not to mention, it may help balance the ever increasing and outrageous medical costs of hospitals and health services. Because, lets face it, if something doesn’t start harassing the medical/healthcare world, we may as well start taking out loans to help with the ER visits and the yearly health checkups.

Related: A Case Against Gun Control

Along with the good, why not a couple bad speculative points apparent from where I stand:

  • Most likely it will make private insurance go up and cover less to account for the “competitive” price of ObamaCare.
  • It most likely will cause a huge hit on the government’s budget and spending.
  • Lower middle class and middle class will be most heavily affected out of all the classes, but when isn’t this the case?

All of the above is pure speculation on good and bad points, I suppose, as it is not 100% clear how everything will unravel yet.  Uncertainty is especially present with constant updates and changes being made before that January 1st deadline when everyone in America will have to have insurance or an exemption of some sort to avoid fees. But what about those illegally staying in America, those that have not yet become citizens, or those that are vacationing in our country? Will we turn away dying people from hospitals? Will uninsured people involved in life threatening incidents be refused? Let’s not forget our morals people.

Cheers to long healthy lives!

 

Research:

Forbes: New Study Says ObamaCare Will Boost Consumer Medical Device Market to $10 Billion

Forbes: ObamaCare Will Be Price Competitive To What’s On The Market, Insurers Say

ObamaCare Facts

Wondergressive: ObamaCare and the 49-Employee Company

Wondergressive: A Case Against Gun Control

 

For those that want extra research for themselves here is an extended Obama Care Summary: http://obamacarefacts.com/obamahealthcare-summary.php

Team Red=Team Blue, the Syria Episode

The anti-war movement has been a noted absence in America for the last several years. To me this has been a cacophonous silence, something much more evident and noteworthy precisely because of its disappearance.

My explanatory thesis of this phenomenon is very brief “Team Red=Team Blue” argument. Democrats and Republicans actually disagree on very few things. Outside of a few fractious issues like gun control and abortion rights, there are few real differences between the two parties. And indeed, these issues are used as banners to corral followers precisely because of their very intractability. The call for stricter gun control regulation is dead in the water. Abortion rights were settled in Roe v. Wade, and despite all of the War on Women talk, they aren’t going anywhere on the national level.

Rather, there is an abundance of perceived differences between the parties. The result is a battle of two brands to control the most powerful nation in the history of the planet, a struggle between Coke and Pepsi for literal world domination. The only difference is that I for one can clearly taste the difference between the Team Red and Team Blue of the cola world, whereas the Democrats and Republicans are both selling the same re-labeled talking points.

In the salient example of the Syria debacle, although both Democrats and Republicans are perfectly willing to support unnecessary military campaigns, the former party used to have a reputation as being staunchly opposed to foreign entanglements.

When W. Bush was in power, the anti-war movement was mobilized and powerful, with hundreds of rallies occurring in the US and globally between 2002 and 2008. On February 15, 2003, the world witnessed what some have called the largest protest in human history. The BBC estimates that 250,000 gathered in San Francisco, with another 100,000 in New York protesting the imminent invasion of Iraq. These numbers are dwarfed by the figures from Europe. Barcelona alone held demonstrations numbering 1.3 million strong. London was host to up to one million anti-war activists. Another million raised their placards in Rome.

The anti-war effort hit a profound snag, however, when many Democrats abruptly stopped participating in these rallies. According to this chart from Michael T. Heaney and Fabio Fojas, respectively from the University of Michigan and Indiana University, Democratic support of these protests nosedived between September 2008 and January of 2009.

I wonder what transformative event between those dates could have possibly changed their minds?

The authors explain their reasoning:

However, after Obama’s election as president, Democratic participation in antiwar activities plunged, falling from 37 percent in January 2009 to a low of 19 percent in November 2009, and registering 22 percent in December 2009….Since Democrats are more numerous in the population at large than are members of third parties, the withdrawal of Democrats from the movement in 2009 appears to be a significant explanation for the falling size of antiwar protests. Thus, we have identified the kernel of the linkage between Democratic partisanship and the demobilization of the antiwar movement.

Obama campaigned in 2008 on being the anti-war candidate. When he was still an Illinois State Senator in 2002, Obama expressed his views on the impending conflict in Iraq: “I don’t oppose all wars…What I am opposed to is a dumb war.”

The implications are very clear. Democrats were rightfully enraged about the war in Iraq and America’s other extra-curricular adventures in countries like Pakistan, Yemen and Oman. However, now that their party occupies the White House, they are not only less rabid in their opposition to war, but they actively campaign for military action.

It is clear that Team Blue only criticized the Iraq War because it was an easy way to attack the Team Red President. Now that Team Blue sits on the throne, it’s easy to see that the criticism was convenient but certainly not principled. Obama has instructed Congress to debate a possible intervention in Syria further in order to gauge Congressional support as well as the general public’s. This gesture is utterly meaningless, though, as the President has made it perfectly clear that he can take unilateral action against Syria with or without the legislature’s approval.

Speaking on August 31, Obama stated:

I have decided that the United States should take military action against Syrian regime targets…I believe I have the authority to carry out this military action without specific congressional authorization.

Secretary of State John Kerry has also explicitly revealed the White House’s desire to intervene. Speaking in London, Kerry laid out the reasoning for US action:

I don’t believe that we should shy from this moment: the risk of not acting is greater than the risk of acting.

In the end, sending the debate to the legislative branch was nothing but political theater. If Congress favors military action, Obama can claim that he went through the proper legislative channels. He can also later blame any collateral damage on their approval, distancing his legacy from an unpopular intervention. If Congress fails to give him their support, he can blame any further loss of life in Syria on Republican obstructionism and use it as political fodder in the 2014 midterms.

Heads he wins, tails we lose. New boss, meet the old boss.

To be fair, regardless of Congressional deliberations and whether or not the White House even chooses to acquiesce to their judgement, I can’t imagine that any Republican president would have acted any differently than Obama has. Plenty of Republicans are also gung-ho for US action, including former Presidential hopeful John McCain.

But that’s the entire point, isn’t it? After all, Team Red=Team Blue.

 

Sources:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/2765215.stm

http://www-personal.umich.edu/~mheaney/Partisan_Dynamics_of_Contention.pdf

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=88988093

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/08/31/statement-president-syria

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-24016844

Fed Allows Cannabis Legalization, Police Unhappy

 yes-we-cannabis

Eric Holder, head of the Department of Justice, recently announced that the DOJ will allow the legalization of cannabis in Washington and Colorado.  While cannabis remains illegal at the federal level, it has been legalized for recreational use in both states.  Recreational users and those using cannabis as a medicine have been rejoicing since the beginning of the year, but had remained nervous due to potential federal crackdowns. It appears the smoke has been cleared; Washington and Colorado are completely free to ingest cannabis without interference at the federal level, well almost completely.

Related Article: Portugal Decriminalizes All Drugs, 10 Years Later the Results are Mind Blowing

Although the DOJ has reserved the right to file a lawsuit against the states, they have taken a “trust but verify approach” to the new state laws. According to Deputy Attorney General James Cole,

The Department’s guidance in this memorandum rests on its expectation that states and local governments that have enacted laws authorizing marijuana-related conduct will implement strong and effective regulatory and enforcement systems that will address the threat those state laws could pose to public safety, public health and other law enforcement interests. A system adequate to that task must not only contain robust controls and procedures on paper; it must also be effective in practice.

Related Article: War on Drugs Farce Continues Unabated

Despite a new level of state freedom, the DOJ will still prosecute individuals to prevent:

  • the distribution of marijuana to minors;

  • revenue from the sale of marijuana from going to criminal enterprises, gangs and cartels;

  • the diversion of marijuana from states where it is legal under state law in some form to other states;

  • state-authorized marijuana activity from being used as a cover or pretext for the trafficking of other illegal drugs or other illegal activity;

  • violence and the use of firearms in the cultivation and distribution of marijuana

  • drugged driving and the exacerbation of other adverse public health consequences associated with marijuana use;

  • growing of marijuana on public lands and the attendant public safety and environmental dangers posed by marijuana production on public lands;

  • preventing marijuana possession or use on federal property.

Regardless of the stringent guidelines, this represents another huge step in the right direction.

Illinois, the 20th state to legalize medical marijuana, along with Washington D.C. is part of a growing list of regions in America that want an end to the fruitless War on Drugs, and free access to a totally non-toxic, highly effective medicine.

2013-Marijuana-States-August

Despite former heads of the DEA warning the federal government earlier this year that allowing state legalization of cannabis would be dangerous, a growing number of Americans aren’t buying the mindless propaganda.  Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the New York-based Drug Policy Alliance accurately states that:

The former DEA chiefs’ statement can best be seen as a self-interested plea to validate the costly and failed policies they championed but that Americans are now rejecting at the ballot box.

Some of the most outspoken individuals against the DOJ’s decision are police officers and police chiefs across the country.  Law enforcement officers have already begun protesting the decision.

Related Article: The Incredible and Diverse Medicinal Properties of Cannabis

Despite the role of police as ‘law enforcement,’ they have decided that they are better suited as political activists.

According to a letter submitted to the DOJ from police groups around the nation:

It is unacceptable that the Department of Justice did not consult our organizations — whose members will be directly impacted — for meaningful input ahead of this important decision.

Now, when the police say they will be directly impacted, they are not referring to work load or moral obligations, they are referring to the almighty dollar.  Cannabis crackdowns makes up a large portion of police funding, and without being able to destroy the lives of peaceful, pot smoking citizens, a large portion of officers may very well become unnecessary. Less criminals means less police.

Related Article: Another Casualty of the Paramilitary State

According to the police groups,

The failure of the Federal government to act in this matter is an open invitation to other states to legalize marijuana in defiance of federal law.

For once, let’s hope the police are right. Not only will the DOJ’s decision give freedom back to states and individuals, it will also allow a medley of marijuana stocks to leave their penny stock status and enter the market place, providing additional state and federal revenue and more jobs.  Who knows, maybe all the cops made redundant can get a job at a pot shop.

In the poignant words of Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy (D-Vt.),

the Justice Department should focus on countering and prosecuting violent crime, while respecting the will of the states whose people have voted to legalize small amounts of marijuana for personal and medical use.

 

Sources:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/29/eric-holder-marijuana-washington-colorado-doj_n_3837034.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/30/police-eric-holder-marijuana-_n_3846518.html

http://marijuanastocks.com/content/list-marijuana-stocks

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/05/dea-marijuana_n_2810347.html

http://medicalmarijuana.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=000881

https://wondergressive.com/2013/06/30/the-incredible-and-diverse-medicinal-properties-of-cannabis/

https://wondergressive.com/2012/09/19/portugal-decriminalizes-all-drugs-10-years-later-the-results-are-mind-blowing/

https://wondergressive.com/2013/06/28/war-on-drugs-farce-continues-unabated/

https://wondergressive.com/2013/01/17/another-casualty-of-the-paramilitary-state/

 

Imminent Western Intervention in Syria

As of this writing, the top headlines of the New York Times, NBC and the BBC are all spotlighted on Syria and how President Obama will proceed concerning the troubled nation. Astute and retentive readers will perhaps remember that my opening salvo for Wondergressive focused on the looming specter of Western intervention in the troubled nation. It now appears that this short-sighted interference is imminent and probably unstoppable, despite public antipathy. According to an August 26 Reuters/Ipsos poll, only 9% of Americans support Washington intervening in Syria.

The calls for action intensified after an alleged chemical weapon attack outside of Damascus last week that reportedly killed up to 1,300 people. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel spoke to the BBC on the President’s stance:

We have moved assets in place to be able to fulfill and comply with whatever option the president wishes to take…[Obama] has seen [all options and contingencies]. We are prepared. We are ready to go.

Syrian National Coalition official Ahmad Ramadan spoke on the pressing urgency of the West’s response to the strife in Syria:

There is no precise timing … but one can speak of an imminent international intervention against the regime. It’s a question of days and not weeks.

Here’s a snippet from my inaugural post in January, which still perfectly sums up my view on a Syrian intervention:

Much like Mugatu, I feel like I’ve been taking Crazy Pills watching this slow entrenchment into a state of permanent war. How is it possible that the US, helmed by equally bloodlust-y Democrats and Republicans, remains utterly incapable of learning from the abundant mistakes of our past?

It’s not as if one has to Indiana Jones these lessons of history from some hidden crypt. The US/UK led coup in Iran in 1953, which re-established the Shah to power, did not prevent the violence and reactionary backlash in that nation, but rather directly contributed to it. The Vietnam War was a prolonged, hellishly painful, and ultimately pointless disaster. The overthrow of the Taliban and installment of President Karzai in Afghanistan has not yielded the stable government we wished to create. Iraq remains a mess nearly a decade after our intervention. The US has sent military forces to central Africa to stabilize threats of terror in that continent, which will likely be just as fruitless.

Despite these recent foreign policy failures, governments still seem prepared and willing to intervene in Syria.

And yet intervene we should and shall!

Related Article: Clouds of Western Intervention Loom Over Syria

Dexter Filkins’ article in The New Yorker sums up the pro-interference mindset, not just for Syria but also for Iraq II and for nearly every other conflict in recent memory, in his very first sentence: “This time it’s different.”

My sarcastic and mocking rejoinder: “This time is always different. It’s last time that’s always the same.”

Filkins concludes:

What can America do? It’s not unreasonable to ask whether even a well-intentioned American effort to save Syrians might fail, or whether such an effort might pull America into a terrible quagmire…But how much longer are we going to allow those questions to prevent us from trying?

In other words, the US should continue to ignore its horrible record of Middle Eastern intervention altogether, despite acknowledging that it might further embroil America into a fetid and futile marsh of violence and occupation.

I understand the horrors of the Assad regime and lament the lives of the estimated 100,000 that have been killed so far. I acknowledge how terrifying and terrorizing the alleged use of chemicals weapons is for citizens there. However, I also acknowledge the historical reality that the West’s interfering might not only be ineffective in ending violence, but I also understand that in all likelihood an intervention will actively increase instability and promote political conflicts.

Chaos-in-SyriaBy arming rebel groups or by striking with cruise missiles to destabilize the Assad regime, Obama will be traveling on a well-trod, dangerous and predictable road. The ramifications of pursuing the role of Team America: World Police will likely create further discord within Syria. One does not have to look far back in history to see manifest examples of this.

After US and British forces bombed Libya to oust Gaddafi, various groups struggled for control of the government. US Ambassador Christopher Stevens wrote in his diary about the growing influence and threat of al-Qaeda in the region. He and three other diplomats were killed in the September 11, 2012 attacks on the Benghazi consulate. Unrest in Libya continues unabated.

After the 2011 Arab Spring revolution in Egypt, President Mohamed Morsi was overthrown this July in a coup only a year after his inauguration. Violent protests between Morsi supporters and the anti-Morsi military have resulted in the deaths of nearly 1,000 in two days of fighting in August alone. And yet the US continues to send billions of dollars of aid to Egypt, including 4 F-16 fighter jets, despite the country’s lack of stability and a decidedly uncertain future.

Even when countries intervene under the best of intentions it fails catastrophically. Famously in the First Gulf War, the United Nations Security Council imposed sanctions on Iraq in 1990 after Saddam invaded Kuwait. Among other things, these measures denied Iraqi access to medical equipment and expertise, including supplies as basic as painkilling medication. As a result, an estimated 500,000 children died in the ’90s, unable to receive care refused to them by “well-intentioned” overlords at the UN.

Sickeningly, here is Madeline Albright, then US Ambassador to the UN and future Secretary of State under Clinton, defending this massive loss of life on CBS’ 60 Minutes, declaring that this horrendous loss of life was “worth it.”

Despite these crystal clear and relevant examples—all remarkably recent events—the US, UK and French governments seemed imminently poised to pursue yet another “peace-keeping” venture in the Middle East.

The West may be poised to support some some seriously shady characters within the rebel camp. The Syrian National Coalition (SNC) represents a large subset of the anti-Assad factions. The SNC supports an organization called al-Nusra Front, which has been called “the most aggressive and successful arm of the rebel force.” The group is also a self-acknowledged wing of al-Qaeda and has admitted to having ties to extremist groups in Iraq. The US itself considers the group to be a terrorist organization, but has been urged by the SNC to not take action against al-Nusra, or any other group that aims to topple the Assad regime.

What could possibly go wrong when Washington aids and arms groups based on expediting immediate goals rather than focusing on long-term strategy?

Oh, right……that guy.

Dexter Filkins’ piece in The New Yorker argues that America needs to exert its might in Syria in an attempt to quell violence there. He does this despite recognizing that our track history in that regard is woeful at best, and that further Middle Eastern intervention could likely mire our military in yet another diplomatic swamp.

I have a much more simple suggestion concerning the West’s involvement in the Syrian conflict. History tells us that we shouldn’t do it. The American people tell us that they want no part of it.

So, just don’t do it.

 

Sources:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2013/08/26/new-poll-syria-intervention-even-less-popular-than-congress/

https://wondergressive.com/2013/01/10/clouds-of-western-intervention-loom-over-syria/

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-23847839

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jVkfDQxPtInQwVg6G0zejv646uog?docId=CNG.d5f1d6f398b0170d098b3ce0afb1ae34.31

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/comment/2013/08/chemical-weapons-and-the-syrian-question.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/10/world/africa/libyan-violence-threatens-to-undercut-power-of-militias.html

http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/79160.aspx

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/765636070/Egypt-Son-of-top-Muslim-Brotherhood-leader-killed.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/10/us-f-16-fighter-jets-egypt_n_3574257.html

http://www.theguardian.com/theguardian/2000/mar/04/weekend7.weekend9

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-partisan/post/al-qaeda-affiliate-playing-larger-role-in-syria-rebellion/2012/11/30/203d06f4-3b2e-11e2-9258-ac7c78d5c680_blog.html

http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Foreign-Policy/2012/1212/For-newly-recognized-Syrian-rebel-coalition-a-first-dispute-with-US-video

Homemade Coilgun Excites Sci-Fans, Frightens Politicians

Let the pearl clutching re-commence!

Several months ago a group called Defense Distributed made headlines by using 3-D printers to create high-capacity magazines for firearms. They then went one step further and created a weapon called The Liberator, the first operational 3-D printed gun. Predictably, the reaction from Washington was characterized by an intense desire to shut down or ban the new, as-of-yet uncontrolled technology.

I have frequently written about guns and many people’s irrational fear of them for Wondergressive, and I believe that Washington may soon have another aneurysm over the latest breakthrough in do-it-yourself frontier firearm technology.

The latest development comes from Jason Murray of Delta-V Engineering. He has designed a device that is sure to make sci-fi and military enthusiasts lustily drool in anticipation: A homemade gauss machine gun. Murray has posted the weapon’s specifications, schematics detailing its construction, and also explanations of the mathematics and engineering involved in constructing the device.

The fully automatic weapon, also known as a homemade coilgun, is named the CG-42. Coilguns operate by wrapping a series of electromagnets around the barrel and function similarly to railguns, another sci-fi staple. By sequentially activating these magnets, they pull a metal object along the barrel at considerable speeds, the exact velocity depending on the strength of the magnets themselves. According to Murray’s specs, the current CG-42 can shoot nail-like projectiles out of the barrel at a speed of 40.03 meters per second. Judging from the (incredibly badass) video below, this speed is probably not enough to kill a human being, but I still certainly wouldn’t want to be the one to donate my body for that experiment.

The sheer uncontrollability of 3-D guns was one of the factors that led to the bed-wetting from Washington. Whenever politicians discover something that they can’t regulate by current law, they almost universally either create new laws that allow them to, or rework and “reinterpret” old laws to the same end. A perfectly impotent example of this was the hysteria around Sudafed and other cold medicines that contained pseudo-ephedrine. Once lawmakers discovered that people could be using these drugs to create methamphetamine (a technique that—as Walter White has engrained in all of us— creates an INFERIOR product!), they created regulations that required buyers to be ID’d and to be put on a list so that officials could keep track of their potential meth-cook status…or to keep an accurate record of just how bad their allergies really are.

Expect the same treatment for Murray and his homemade badassery. However, this instance is quite beautiful because what can the politicians really do to quell people from creating things like this? Create a national registry of magnet owners?

I jest, but Washington has proven itself to have a perverted and profoundly deleterious view of the effects of their actions. In contrast to the famous proverb, the government proudly flaunts its own Bizarro World maxim: “If it ain’t workin’, don’t fix it.”

The consequences that would arise from regulations concerning 3-D printing or homemade gauss guns are eminently predictable, as regulations controlling popular things always have the same outcome. Banning alcohol led to black markets, increased gang violence, and inferior hooch that was inherently more dangerous than the original product. Ditto for the War on Drugs, which I maintain is a frontrunner (if not the outright Usain Bolt of contenders) for the worst and most damaging domestic policy since slavery.

Neither policy did anything to curb usage rates, nor will new ones suppress innovative and motivated people from creating homemade weapons. The trick to understanding the situation is to step back and look at the big picture. Rather than freak out about what a few rogue individuals can make in their garages, people should focus their concern on a government that continues to coercively erode the civil rights of all citizens, a government that sees every problem as a nail and the only tool on its belt is indiscriminate force.

More than anything else, Murray’s CG-42 is a testament to his skills as an engineer and fabricator. He says on his site that the gauss gun and other projects are “about making concepts from science fiction become reality.” I heartily applaud his creation and urge that he continues to explore the possibilities of ballistic science, as I equally enjoy both rad futuristic weapons and fundamentally pissing off politicians.

Having said that, I sadly predict that his work will likely blip on the Washington’s radar in the near-future. Hopefully the CG-42 won’t further tempt them to regulate things they can’t possibly understand or control, however, looking at their past record that seems to be excessively optimistic.

I hope that Murray doesn’t get a stern knock on his door from the Feds any time soon. Although to be fair, a knock would certainly be preferable compared to all the times when the state doesn’t even bother to do that.

 

*BONUS FUN: Here’s a video of the military testing a railgun in 2010.

Sources:

http://www.deltaveng.com/

http://www.forbes.com/sites/andygreenberg/2013/01/14/gunsmiths-3d-print-high-capacity-ammo-clips-to-thwart-proposed-gun-laws/

http://www.forbes.com/sites/andygreenberg/2013/05/05/meet-the-liberator-test-firing-the-worlds-first-fully-3d-printed-gun/

http://www.nypost.com/p/news/national/churning_senator_charles_schumer_aFG4KkMe1AQkorhTVKt3cJ

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/innovations/wp/2013/05/09/plans-for-3d-printed-gun-downloaded-100000-times-state-department-in-contact-with-defense-distributed/

http://www.forbes.com/sites/davidwhelan/2012/05/23/losing-the-war-on-meth-and-sudafed-at-the-same-time/

https://wondergressive.com/2013/01/17/another-casualty-of-the-paramilitary-state/