The Odds are Never in Your Favor

By: The Burning Platform

Happy Hunger games
The irony of the phrase "may the odds be ever in your favor" is not lost on the readers of the Hunger Games trilogy of novels or the film adaption. Despite the grimness of the story, over 65 million copies of the books have been sold.

The total box office take so far has exceeded $1.4 billion for the four movies. The dystopian series tackles real issues like severe poverty, starvation, torture, oppression, betrayal and the brutality of war. It doesn't fit into the standard film making success recipe of feel good fluff, politically correct storylines and happy endings. Each film in the series gets progressively darker, with the final episode permeating doom and gloom. The books and the movies capture the deepening crisis mood engulfing the world today.

And they realistically portray the world as a place where there are no good guys in positions of power. The ruling class, in all cases, is driven by a voracious appetite for supremacy, wealth, and control.

An Ambiguous, Confusing, Dangerous World

The world is a morally ambiguous place where those in power and those seeking power utilize the influence of media propaganda and PR campaigns built around "heroes" and "icons" to psychologically control the masses, while enriching themselves and their crony capitalist sponsors. Endless war against the latest "bad guys" further enriches the arms dealers and their political lackeys who joyfully use faux patriotism and nationalistic fervor to insist upon more boots on the ground, drones in the air, bombs dropped, and missiles launched.

War is good for business and keeps the masses distracted, while the Wall Street financiers harvest the wealth of the citizens. The division of the country into 12 districts, sending their bounty to the capital of Panem at the point of a gun, while they are allocated a pittance to survive, is no different than our corporate fascist government as they extract hundreds of billions in taxes, fees, levies, tolls, and fines from the productive class, while regulating, enforcing, mandating, and authorizing the plebs to death.

We live in a confusing world of anxiety, hate, greed, deceit and immorality, where governments throughout the world are nothing but rotting cesspools of psychotic despots desperately clinging to power while using any means necessary to keep the masses sedated and docile. Good people, with noble intentions, still exist in this decadent world, but they do not seek power or have any say in the governance of this world. The oppressed are hopelessly enslaved in debt, kept submissive by welfare transfers from the corrupt state, dumbed down by the state education system, amused by technological gadgets and vacuous entertainment, and kept in perpetual fear of seen and unseen enemies. We are told who to hate, who to fear, who to love, and who to believe by a nameless faceless state run by people we didn't elect, constituting the invisible government.

The world is a dangerous place, made more dangerous by a willfully ignorant populace who mindlessly go about their day to day existence without thinking, questioning, or considering the possibility their leaders are corrupt lying thieves. We are told Putin, Assad, China, Iran and ISIS are the bad guys. Previously we had been told Hussein, Gadaffi, Bin Laden, Mubarak, Al Qaeda and the Taliban were the bad guys. It is true that none of these men or organizations are good.

It is also true that no one in leadership positions in Washington DC, on Wall Street, in corporate America, or in the mainstream media are good. The entire world is under the control of deceitful, cunning, egomaniacal, corruptible, psychopaths who will stop at nothing to fulfill their personal agendas. They are human beings who have allowed their dark sides to dominate their actions. There are no good guys, just varying degrees of evil imposed upon the masses by erratic unpredictable people with wildly differing levels of intelligence, patriotism and judgement.

The Power of Propaganda

It's a tribute to the propagandists who have taken Edward Bernays' teachings to another level as they have molded the minds of millions, consciously manipulating the opinions and beliefs of the masses to further their agenda of world domination. Once the Cold War ended, the ruling class sought enemies to keep their military industrial complex and Wall Street financiers enriched and happy. 9/11 was used to further that agenda as war on a tactic (terror) will never end. Perpetual conflict is a chief goal of the establishment. Orwell would be impressed with how our keepers have perfected the "We've always been at war with Eastasia" propaganda tool to perpetuate their goals. Both parties continue to promote war and increase the profits of the military industrial complex.

The U.S. invaded Afghanistan fourteen years ago to get bin Laden and rid the country of the Taliban.

Bin Laden was supposedly killed in 2011, but no documentary evidence has been revealed to substantiate that claim. The Taliban is stronger than ever in Afghanistan after hundreds of billions in expenditures and thousands of lives lost. The occupation continues. The neo-cons convinced the dimwitted Bush to invade Iraq in 2003 because Hussein was a bad guy with weapons of mass destruction. Amusingly, he was our buddy when he was fighting our Iranian enemies and we provided him with the WMD (gas) he used on the Kurds.

After spending $1 trillion, we left Iraq as a festering quagmire of religious zealots with a bombed out infrastructure and a corrupt incompetent puppet running the show on our behalf.

Then it was on to leaving Libya in a state of chaos because we overthrew another bad guy. We didn't like the democratically elected leader of Egypt after we overthrew Mubarak, so we overthrew Morsi and installed another military dictatorship. The propaganda storyline is always about democracy and getting rid of bad guys, not the truth about securing oil resources, weakening the enemies of Israel, and keeping the profits flowing to our "vital" defense industry.

It seems the empire ran into a bit of a snag with their plan to remove the latest "bad guy" in Syria. Another "bad guy" - Vladimir Putin - saw through the American plan to eliminate Assad and have their co-conspirators in Saudi Arabia and Qatar build a gas pipeline to Europe.

After overthrowing the democratically elected president (and friend of Russia) of the Ukraine and waging an unsuccessful war against Russian backed rebels in Eastern Ukraine, Europe was left at the mercy of an angry Putin as far as not freezing to death during the upcoming winter.

Putin is a strongman leader of a country with a nuclear arsenal capable of blowing up the earth several times over. He will do what is in the best interest of his country and will not blink when confronted with the likes of corrupt feckless toadies like Obama, Kerry, Hollande, Merkel, and Edrogen. His counter measures and revelations about the true nature of U.S. and Turkish actions in Syria and Iraq have blown the lid off of U.S. plans in the Middle East.

The latest fear mongering propaganda device for the vested interests has been the dreaded ISIS. The captured mainstream corporate media fails to mention the U.S. created, armed and continues to fund ISIS as part of their master plan to overthrow Assad. The U.S. left Iraq in such a state of chaos and lawlessness, fanatical Islamist radicals used the vacuum of power and the billions of dollars' worth of top notch U.S. military hardware to create a safe space for themselves within Iraq and Syria. The U.S. has been funding and arming the supposed "moderate" Islamic radicals fighting Assad for the last few years, while attempting to use a false flag gas attack to wage all-out war. The U.S., Saudi Arabia, and Turkey created ISIS in order to further their economic and political interests. Lead neo con warmonger, Maniacal McCain, even had a photo op with his ISIS homies.

McCain with ISIS

Once Putin decided to fully support Assad and actually concentrate on destroying ISIS, it became clear the U.S. was turning a blind eye to the billions in illicit oil profits being earned by ISIS refining, transporting and selling oil to Turkey. Putin began to destroy the oil infrastructure of ISIS and immediately saw a passenger plane blown out the sky and a bomber shot down by Turkey. So the organization we created is now the most feared terrorist organization on the planet, but we refuse to cooperate or coordinate its defeat with Assad or Putin because they are "bad guys".

Turkey financially supports ISIS and is fighting hardest against our allies the Kurds, but we fully support their crazed dictator leader Erdogan. Iran is fighting ISIS, but more than half of Congress and all presidential candidates want to obliterate them on behalf of Israel. Virtually all domestic terrorism has a link to Saudi Arabia, they treat women like cattle, behead anyone not following Islamic law and are pumping oil at a prodigious pace in an effort to destroy the U.S. shale industry, but they are considered a close ally in the Middle East. It is quite clear there are no good guys running the show in this bizarro world of unholy alliances, backstabbing, revenge, and fear mongering.

A Lot of Hope is Dangerous

No one in positions of power can be trusted. Betrayal, violence, money, power and war are the weapons of the state. Loyalty, courage, sacrifice, love and hope are the domain of the people.

The state walks a fine line between keeping the masses controlled through entertainment, debt, fear and hope. If the people lose all hope, despair leads to anger as those with nothing to lose take to the streets. President Snow of Panem explains the fine line between control and revolution:
"Hope. It is the only thing stronger than fear. A little hope is effective. A lot of hope is dangerous. Spark is fine, as long as it's contained."

We will leave you alone

In the Mockingjay portion of the Hunger Games trilogy you are left with the evil President Snow attempting to maintain the status quo, with Panem ruling over the formally subservient districts, while President Coin leads the rebels in attempting to overthrow the rotting immoral government of Snow. Both sides use the power of media propaganda, symbolism, false heroes, and despicable tactics to win. In the standard good guy/bad guy plot used to entertain the American masses, the rebels would be the good guys fighting for a noble cause.

Their symbolic mockingjay leader - Katniss Everdeen - is portrayed as the fearless revolutionary of the people. She is the hope which ignites a revolution and turns despair into a war against the oppressive state and the wealthy vested interests in Panem. The rebels have the moral high ground, but the underlying feeling of distrust is always evident. The good guys might not be so good.

The central question of the final episode was, real or not real? Who can be believed? Are heroes really heroes or are they just created by public relations propaganda specialists? When an icon used to inspire a revolution has served their purpose, will the "good guys" purposefully sacrifice them for the good of the establishment? Can any government be trusted? Can any politician be trusted? Can the media be trusted?

The truth is that no one in a position of power can be trusted. The only people who can be trusted are family and friends. And even they can turn on you with enough monetary incentive.

It's a confusing, brutal world driven by greed, endless military conflict, religious zealotry, and controlled by shadowy unelected men using their ill-gotten wealth to pull the strings on all aspects of society. We are living in a dystopian nightmare where the masses have been induced to love their enslavement.

Katniss undergoes a metamorphosis after seeing her sister blown up while rushing to the aid of victims and later confronting President Snow after the rebels succeeded in overthrowing his regime.

President Coin, the leader of the "good guys", reveals herself to be even more duplicitous and evil than the leader of the "bad guys". She used the deep-seated characteristic of human compassion to kill Katniss' sister along with hundreds of children and rescue workers as a tactic to turn the war in her favor. Those in positions of power will use any means necessary to gain or maintain power.

When Coin proposes a last Hunger Games sacrificing the children of the previous regime's leadership, Katniss realizes Coin is going to just replace Snow as a dictator, perpetuating the despotic policies which created the rebellion in the first place. Katniss rightly decides that killing innocents, and especially children, is never justifiable. Therefore, she decides to kill Coin, while the rioting crowds kill Snow. She sacrifices her status as a national hero in order to give her country a chance to regain its former glory as a republic. The personal sacrifice on behalf of her country is almost unbearable, but ultimately sacrifice, courage, love, strength and hope for a better future are able to sustain her during the dark days.

Turnkey Tyranny

As the former Republic known as America has descended towards the tyranny of a corporate fascist surveillance state, there have been two true patriots who have dedicated their lives to inspiring a revolution in thought and action to help this country regain its former glory based on the U.S. Constitution. One patriot is young and the other patriot old, but their message is the same - we must resist and oppose the ever growing oppressive power of a tyrannical state systematically dismantling the Constitution and stripping the people of liberty and freedom.

Their words speak for themselves.

Snowden and Ron paul
"The great fear that I have regarding the outcome for America of these disclosures is that nothing will change. People won't be willing to take the risks necessary to stand up and fight to change things... And in the months ahead, the years ahead, it's only going to get worse. The NSA will say that... because of the crisis, the dangers that we face in the world, some new and unpredicted threat, we need more authority, we need more power, and there will be nothing the people can do at that point to oppose it. And it will be turnkey tyranny." - Edward Snowden 
"The original American patriots were those individuals brave enough to resist with force the oppressive power of King George. I accept the definition of patriotism as that effort to resist oppressive state power. The true patriot is motivated by a sense of responsibility and out of self-interest for himself, his family, and the future of his country to resist government abuse of power. He rejects the notion that patriotism means obedience to the state." - Ron Paul

Edward Snowden is our modern day Paul Revere, but instead of riding across the countryside warning "the British are coming", he used the power of modern technology to warn the world "the NSA is watching, listening, and monitoring". He sacrificed his citizenship, high paying job, freedom, and possibly his life (if the U.S. government had its way) in order to blow the whistle on the blatant destruction and disregard for the Fourth Amendment being perpetrated by the NSA, with the full knowledge and approval of the executive, legislative and judicial branches of the U.S. government.

He knew his revelations would result in his persecution, attempted apprehension and ultimate imprisonment, as the corrupt malevolent establishment and their mass media mouthpieces would brand him a traitor for revealing the truth about the illegal malfeasance being conducted at the highest levels of government. He realized true patriotism is sacrificing your life for something bigger.

"I had been looking for leaders, but I realized that leadership is about being the first to act. I understand that I will be made to suffer for my actions, and that the return of this information to the public marks my end." - Edward Snowden

Snowden's revelations exposed the U.S. government for what it really is, a corporate fascist organization designed to benefit a chosen few while oppressing the masses through debt, currency debasement, and perpetual war, while implementing Orwellian surveillance measures designed to capture dissenters and critical thinkers. The sustenance of the welfare/warfare state requires a dumbed down, passive, distracted populace who can be manipulated and controlled through propaganda and baubles.

Thus far, the vested interests have successfully convinced more than half the population that Snowden is a traitor. The power of propaganda in conjunction with a willfully ignorant public is a potent combination. Even though Snowden's disclosures have not spurred a revolution yet, they have sparked an underlying dissent that has been growing, as trust in government, politicians, bankers, media and corporate leaders wanes.
"I can't in good conscience allow the US government to destroy privacy, internet freedom and basic liberties for people around the world with this massive surveillance machine they're secretly building. I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded. That is not something I am willing to support or live under. Everyone everywhere now understands how bad things have gotten -- and they're talking about it. They have the power to decide for themselves whether they are willing to sacrifice their privacy to the surveillance state." - Edward Snowden
Snowden worked within the system until his conscience made it unbearable for him to support an immoral, rogue organization bent on trashing the U.S. Constitution at the behest of leaders' intent on retaining their power, control and wealth through any means necessary. Ron Paul has taken a different, but equally noble path as one of the few patriots who worked within the system, but never became corrupted by the system. He has been a voice in the wilderness for decades, condemning the relentless march towards tyranny that he saw firsthand while in Congress.

The establishment, media and leadership of both political parties have scorned and ridiculed him as ineffective and inconsequential. There was never a piece of legislation with his name on it that passed during his time in Congress. His nickname was Dr. No, as he voted against anything that added to the national debt or took away freedoms or liberties.

This disparagement reveals the fallacy of what constitutes success in Washington D.C., as there are now over 5,000 Federal laws, 180,000 pages of Federal regulations, $18.8 trillion of Federal debt, $200 trillion of unfunded Federal liabilities, and every politician of both parties completely captured by corporate and special interests. There is one ruling party and the appearance of choice is nothing but a farce designed to make the masses think they have a say in the governance of their country.
"We've slipped away from a true republic. Now we're slipping into a fascist system where it's a combination of government, big business and authoritarian rule, and the suppression of the individual rights of each and every American citizen. When it comes to any significant differences on foreign policy, economic intervention, the Federal Reserve, a strong executive branch, a welfarism mixed with corporatism, both parties are very much alike. The major arguments in hotly contested presidential races are mostly for public consumption to convince the people they actually have a choice." - Ron Paul

The vitriol and bile hoisted upon Snowden and Paul expose the weakness of the ruling class, as truth, honesty, personal courage, and sacrifice for a higher purpose are attributes they cannot subvert or buy off. It's the words and actions of men like Edward Snowden and Ron Paul that provide hope for critical thinking liberty minded citizens. The ruling class knows a lot of hope is dangerous, so they must undermine the messages of these patriots. Ideas matter. Words matter.

These two men have inspired me and an unknown number of other citizens who still believe in the Constitution and will do everything in our power to provoke a revolution of reason, truth and honesty. The odds will never be in our favor. Carroll Quigley understood the odds were stacked against the American people over 50 years ago. The domination of the world by central bankers representing private interests has never been more evident than it has since the Federal Reserve created 2008 financial crisis and the traitorous actions taken by politicians and central bankers in the last seven years.
"The powers of financial capitalism had a far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert, by secret agreements arrived at in frequent meetings and conferences. The apex of the systems was to be the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland; a private bank owned and controlled by the world's central banks which were themselves private corporations. Each central bank... sought to dominate its government by its ability to control Treasury loans, to manipulate foreign exchanges, to influence the level of economic activity in the country, and to influence cooperative politicians by subsequent economic rewards in the business world." - Carroll Quigley
Even though the odds are never in our favor, there is still hope. Not everyone has to make the extreme sacrifice like Edward Snowden or dedicate their life to the message of liberty like Ron Paul in order to contribute to the revolution. There are thousands of small acts which will weaken the establishment. Arm yourself. Stop watching and listening to the mainstream media.

Take your money out of Wall Street banks. Grow your own food. Barter with others and starve the beast. Reduce your tax footprint. Buy locally and boycott mega-corporations. Build relationships with neighbors and reduce your dependency on the government.

Live beneath your means and accumulate some physical silver and gold. Don't vote for candidates selected by the vested interests. Spread the message of liberty and freedom to anyone who will listen. Support the alternative media and send pertinent articles to family, friends and acquaintances. Think critically. Do not trust your government. Prepare for the inevitable collapse of this rotten, fetid, corrupt paradigm. Hope, love, courage, and persistence will ultimately win. The tide is turning. Panem will fall. What replaces the existing social order will be up to us.

A chasm at the heart of the Syrian crisis

The lack of mainstream Sunni leadership is a blight across the Middle East

Matt Kenyon illustration©Matt Kenyon
There is a big Sunni hole at the heart of international efforts to find a way out of Syria’s civil war and turn the tide against the Sunni jihadis of Isis and their menacing power-base in Syria and Iraq. From the UN Security Council in New York to the Syria forum convened by the US and Russia in Vienna, the architecture that diplomats are struggling to erect looks as riddled as a Swiss cheese.
Last month, after the Isis attack on Paris but also after five years of fighting that has razed vast swaths of Syria, the Security Council issued a unanimous call to arms against Isis. With France on a war footing, the US and Russia ostensibly putting aside their differences from Ukraine to the Middle East, and even Britain extending its modest role in the anti-Isis fight in Iraq into Syria, it seemed as if the lead external actors in the region were starting to coalesce. The Vienna diplomatic summit, with the presence of Iran, which kept Bashar al-Assad’s regime alive until Russian reinforcements arrived in Syria in September, agreed unanimously on a tentative transition out of the Syrian conflict. Is there substance to any of this?

The US and Russia, the two main powers embroiled in Syria, remain on opposite sides.

President Barack Obama leads a coalition against Isis backed, at least in theory, by Sunni Arab states and Turkey. President Vladimir Putin has put himself at the head of the Iran-backed Shia axis, whose main goal is to prop up the Assad regime, which came perilously close to being toppled by mainstream rebels over the summer. Yet they are both trapped in a dynamic that is conspiring to eliminate any centre ground — widening that already large Sunni hole.

Mr Putin, who says Russia now spearheads the struggle against Isis that Mr Obama had bungled, has concentrated most of his fire on non-Isis, Sunni rebels, variously backed by the US, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar. That is destroying the alternative to Isis that Russia and the US are purportedly trying to identify. By bolstering a minority regime built around Mr Assad’s quasi-Shia Alawite community, Moscow is fanning the sectarian flames consuming and partitioning the Levant.
Mr Obama inherited the debris of President George W Bush’s 2003 invasion of Iraq, which replaced a Sunni tyranny with ruinously sectarian Shia leaders and shattered Iraq into pieces — giving the Isis death cult its start in life.

Yet the Bush mix of recklessness and fecklessness in Iraq resurfaces in Mr Obama’s lethal ambivalence towards Syria. His defenders say he was right to stay out of an intractable, shape-changing conflict. But that is not what he did. He called for the downfall of the Assads but then held back from giving the mainly Sunni rebels the means to achieve it — adding to the sense of dispossession of the Iraqi Sunni minority the feeling of betrayal among Syria’s Sunni majority.

The US-led coalition’s position on the ground against Isis relies essentially on Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga fighters and Syrian Kurdish militia, effective forces that will nevertheless fight only for their own territory. The Pentagon’s attempt to rebrand the Syrian Kurd fighters as a Syrian Arab coalition — with the addition of Sunni tribal fighters and Assyrian Christian militia — merely spotlights the Sunni Arab hole.

The US and its allies are right that, if the Assads stay in place, there is little chance of enlisting mainstream Sunni sentiment against Isis. But, as things stand, Russia and Iran are not wrong in saying there is as yet no plausible alternative to fill a new vacuum if the Assads go. Ba’athist Syria was built as a security state almost impossible to disentangle from the Assad clan, with Alawites as its praetorian guard.

The lack of mainstream Sunni leadership is a blight across the region, which offers instead varieties of Sunni supremacism. Isis, a hybrid of al-Qaeda in Iraq and Ba’athist officers from Saddam Hussein’s army, disbanded by the US after 2003, is obviously the most virulent. But the big Sunni powers — Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt — are diluted flavours of this poison to which they claim to be the antidote.
Saudi Arabia, Washington’s main Sunni Arab ally, has told both the US and Russia its overriding concern is the march of Shia Iranian influence across the Arab world. Its sectarian Wahhabi strain of Sunni Islam competes with Isis as to which is the more effective hammer of the Shia. Turkey under the increasingly autocratic presidency of Recep Tayyip Erdogan has seen its presumption of leading a neo-Ottoman Sunni revival boil down to a revived war with its Kurdish minority. Neither power is carrying the fight to Isis.

Egypt, after the 2013 coup against an elected Islamist government, has turned back towards a police state. Its presumption to being the Arab world’s intellectual powerhouse has to be measured against the fact that Al-Azhar, its millennium-old centre of Sunni learning, only this year excised from its curriculum early Islamic teaching on slavery, taxes due from non-Muslims, apostasy and jihad — the stock-in-trade of Isis.
The Middle East desperately needs a Sunni counter-narrative that takes on board the rights of minorities as well as individuals. Only that will challenge the presumption of Shia Iran and the Isis brand of millenarian Sunni supremacism — and start reassembling a disintegrating region into some sort of liveable shape.

The Magic Growth Bullet: Infrastructure Investment

In economics, nobody likes it but everybody has to live with it: uncertainty. It makes business decisions difficult and wreaks havoc in economic models. This is why mainstream economics oftentimes ignores it and assumes we have complete certainty in economic planning.

In real life, this assumption never pans out, which is part of the reason mainstream economics is notoriously bad at predicting financial crises.

Not so Horace “Woody” Brock. A mathematical economist by training, he embraced Economics of Uncertainty and founded his consulting firm Strategic Economic Decisions after doing extensive research at Stanford University.
His most recent book is called “American Gridlock,” where he proposes common sense solutions to economic crises.
Epoch Times spoke to Woody Brock about why infrastructure spending is the magic bullet to rekindle growth in the United States and why China has overdone it; why workers don’t need to fear competition from robots; how the standard of living for the average person is actually rising despite an increase is income inequality; and how China needs to completely change its economic model to reach the next stage.

Epoch Times: Why is infrastructure investment so important and why can it be profitable?

Woody Brock: The question is: What can be done that would raise GDP? Oh, and is it needed? The thing that could be done is the only thing we haven’t tried—capital spending by government; that is to say, infrastructure: roads, tunnels, a new electric grid.

You should never borrow from the children and do infrastructure if it amounts to drilling holes to nowhere or roads to nowhere. You must have a high rate of return—like the Louisiana Purchase; like the Internet, which was called the ARPANet (solely developed by government); the Erie Canal; the land along the railroads which caused the railroads to be built; and the interstate highway system.

There is no such thing as a deficit. Even though we call it a deficit, when you borrow my $10 trillion proposal over 20 years, redo our infrastructure, that’s not borrowing, that’s investing.

Epoch Times: How can you repay the debt?

Mr. Brock: Let me make the key point though, mathematically: You don’t borrow from the children and invest in infrastructure unless the rate of return is high, properly measured with the externalities of a public good.

The net rate of return is the rate of return minus cost of capital. In the past 7 years, the cost of capital has been the lowest in modern history, at zero to government.

The rate of return of new projects increases exponentially the more your infrastructure has depreciated. Our infrastructure has depreciated for 50 years, therefore, obviously we should be borrowing and rebuilding the infrastructure.
Everybody thinks that all borrowing is bad. Oh Mr. Jefferson, you’re naughty. This country is new in 1807 and we couldn’t afford $15 million. We couldn’t borrow. Mr. Jefferson you’re a sinner to borrow money. Then he made the best investment in the history of the world [The Louisiana Purchase].

Deficits are wonderful if you spend the money properly.

Horace “Woody” Brock, president of Strategic Economic Decisions, at his home on the Upper East Side in Manhattan, New York, on Nov. 2, 2015. (Benjamin Chasteen/Epoch Times)

Epoch Times: The government has to pick up the slack from the private sector?

Mr. Brock: Sometimes it’s an important priority and sometimes it is not. The point here is the level of total investment spending, private and public. There are times when money should go to private investment such as building houses for all the soldiers returning from the war in the early ’50s, because the rate of return is highest when you invest in housing under those circumstances. The money should and did go there.

There are other times like today when private citizens have been shell-shocked. They are not building new houses; they have lost all their money in houses. Corporate investment is stagnant because we live in a slow-rolling economy.

So let’s just say we get a $3 trillion public infrastructure proposal. People think it’s just the government spending that money.
But here’s how it works: If the projected electric grid costs $3 trillion, the government sponsors this and gives American electric power corporations a down payment for the first year of $1 trillion, 5 years later a second $1 trillion and so on.

When the money goes to the bank, Citibank gets a $1 trillion check from the government for the electric power companies and then says: “Oh we’ll now give you a line of credit for two more trillion out of private sector savings.”

So then the government initiates this. But you end up using mostly private sector money, my money, pension fund money, money doing nothing, unproductively sitting on the sidelines. The money gets used productively. Both the government borrowing and the private sector borrowing.

A map of power distribution through California’s electrical grids in the control center of the California Independent System Operator (Cal-ISO) on Aug. 9, 2004 (David McNew/Getty Images)

Epoch Times: How do we create jobs?

Mr. Brock: When you do what the United States did, borrow $10 trillion and not invest any of it except for $33 billion, and you borrow and you spend it on transfer payments like preventing 100,000 government workers from being fired, it’s very nice for the government workers. They did not lose their jobs, but not one new job was opened and you did nothing to raise productivity.

So the children are now $10 trillion in debt, nothing to show for it. “Screw the children, they’ll pay for it,” that’s the idea.

Infrastructure, however, increases productivity, which is how you pay off the children.
With infrastructure you create a new job. Your company beefs up and hires more people, they hire more people, more lunches have to be served and the multiplier is huge. This has been well known forever. Transfer payments on the other hand have a zero net multiplier.

Job creation from infrastructure has a fabulous multiplier, therefore for this particular time in history, at least in the United States—not Switzerland and Japan which don’t need it—we desperately need infrastructure.

Epoch Times: What is so special about the electrical grid?

Mr. Brock: It is so critical that we replace our electric grid because even our Director of Homeland Security admitted we’re defenseless against attacks which will bring down our power grid. We now know that both Russia and China are inside our power grid net.

Using randomized technologies from MIT, it is possible to have a new grid, which is called “decomposable,” where you don’t have all these linkages which they can bring down.

Therefore, I think the president ought to declare it a matter of national security, ram the proposal through. There will be no lawsuits, no complaints. It’s national security. This is what Eisenhower did with the interstate highway system.

A section of historic Route 66 parallels Interstate 40 (far left) near Prewitt, New Mexico, July 8, 2003. (Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images)
Epoch Times: Could you say more about the rates of return of infrastructure?

Mr. Brock: I think they’re huge. To put it this way, what happens to the efficiency of transportation around the country is a good point.

When bridges are falling in, don’t work, and there are potholes, you raise the cost of shipping greatly.

That is known as inefficiency. It shouldn’t happen, it wouldn’t happen with good roads.

New York City faces the collapse of one of its tunnels to New Jersey. This could cost 10 percent of New York’s GDP if you couldn’t ship goods. The tunnel’s 100 years old. It’s pathetic. It should’ve been replaced 50 years ago. It was proposed 60 years ago, but they haven’t done a thing about it.
For example, the interstate highway system, how do you pay for it? Well, government and the private sector sponsor it, then you charge people tolls. Well, you’d have to charge too much in tolls to pay for that.

They didn’t charge a toll because you pay for it indirectly. The existence of the network of roads, 30,000 miles, created 300,000 miles of private roads, 64 new cities, and GDP doubled.

You pay indirectly.

Boston’s $15 billion “Big Dig” was supposed to be $3 billion and ended up $15 billion. It’s a classic example of something that was a waste and shouldn’t have been done.

At first, it had a good rate of return at the investment of $3 billion but certainly not at the investment of $15 billion.

But they put all the highways in central Boston underground and created a new city. It’s now making a fabulous rate of return on $15 billion because 14 new communities along the coast grew up.

A taxi drives through the ‘Big Dig’ Interstate 93 North tunnel in in Boston, Massachusetts, Nov. 19, 2004. ( Darren McCollester/Getty Images)

Boston’s exploding, it’s the fastest growing city, it’s the world center of education and medicine.

The world center of both with only one 8 percent of the population of New York. Not bad.

We underestimate hugely the benefits of good, sound rational public infrastructure investment, including education.
Epoch Times: How do you make sure the right projects are chosen?

Mr. Brock: There should be an office doing it. There ought to be an office saying the bullet train from San Francisco to L.A. is a basket case idea and nobody is going to use it. While one from Boston to Washington has a huge rate of return; you figure out the details.

What has the government been doing with trillions of dollars, if they can’t even have people rating 20 projects in terms of relative rate of return? If I’m your president, I’m going to say that we set up a special department with a special supervisor and all we do is focus on infrastructure, end of story.


A Fearful Congress Sits Out the War Against ISIS

The omnibus spending bill Congress passed this month includes several explicit mentions of the military campaign against the Islamic State and a $58.7 billion budget line that will allow the Pentagon to continue fighting the terrorist group in Iraq and Syria with bombs and, increasingly, troops on the ground.
That may be as close as Congress comes to authorizing war against the Islamic State for the foreseeable future. After a couple of halfhearted attempts, the White House and leaders in the House and Senate appear to have given up on drafting a new authorization for the use of military force that would set clear parameters for the escalating conflict.
That may be politically expedient for lawmakers who see no political gain, and plenty of risk, in casting a vote that could come back to haunt them. But by abdicating one of their most important responsibilities under the Constitution, which gives Congress the exclusive right to declare war, lawmakers are unwisely emboldening the executive branch to overstep its powers.
“Not just President Obama, but other presidents have become very liberal in interpreting their power as commander in chief,” Douglas Lovelace Jr., the director of the Strategic Studies Institute at the United States Army War College, said in an interview. “The president can take the nation to war, and once U.S. forces are in harm’s way, what congressional leader will say, ‘Let’s cut off their funding’?”
American lawmakers and presidents have clashed in past decades over dueling interpretations of their authority on matters of war. The issue has been particularly contentious since Congress passed the War Powers Resolution in 1973 with enough votes to override a veto by President Nixon. The resolution required the White House to get explicit authorization from Congress for military campaigns within 60 to 90 days after the deployment of troops to a conflict zone. It was adopted because the president had failed to consult with Congress adequately on military matters in the Cold War and the Vietnam War.

Since then, Congress has formally endorsed four major military engagements. Two authorizations — for the 1983 deployment of Marines to Lebanon and the 1991 Persian Gulf war — followed vigorous political debate about the use of military force. The other two, which paved the way for the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq after the Sept. 11 attacks, have been the subject of less legal and political scrutiny. The first one, which gave the White House sweeping authority to target Al Qaeda, has been interpreted overly broadly by the Obama administration, which continues to rely on it to fight militant groups around the world.
Launched under that authority, the military campaign against the Islamic State, which was initially billed as a short humanitarian intervention, has morphed into an ever-expanding campaign that now includes ground troops, which the Pentagon euphemistically calls a “specialized expeditionary targeting force.”
While there is broad political consensus in the West that a forceful military response is needed to fight the depravity of the Islamic State, Congress has been unwilling to hold the type of substantive deliberations that lawmakers in Germany and Britain recently conducted on what their nations were willing to contribute to the effort.
By failing to debate and approve an authorization of war, Congress is sidestepping a set of critical questions it has a duty to address, including the precise goals of the campaign in Syria and whether the current strategy appears likely to achieve them. That debate should clearly set geographic and time limits on the use of military force and establish a way to phase out the two resolutions passed before the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan.
Some lawmakers, including Senators Tim Kaine of Virginia, a Democrat, and Jeff Flake of Arizona, a Republican, have called on their colleagues to vote on a new war resolution. But leaders of both parties in the House and Senate, cowed by the potential political risks of having an honest debate, have refused to make it a priority.
House Speaker Paul Ryan has acknowledged the importance of replacing the 2001 war authorization, “to declare our mission with respect to ISIS.” But he appears unlikely to rally support for a new authorization, particularly while the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, maintains, preposterously, that he wouldn’t want to pass anything that might constrain a future president.