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The US economy and de-dollarization

May 10, 2024 — BarryK

The last political post to this blog was in August 2023, and a little bit before that I puzzled over why the USA hasn't become bankrupt:

However, there was a more recent post about spin in YouTube channels that touches on international politics:

I'm still immensely puzzled over how the global economy works, and in particular how the USA survives given the huge foreign debt and budget deficit that just gets bigger year after year.

I've taken to watching Lena Petrova. She is a Chartered Accountant, so does have a few clues about what is really going on. She is predicting, basically, that for ordinary Americans there is going to be a steady decline in their buying-power, also infrastructure will continue to crumble, and social services will dry up.

A big question; do the leaders in the US Government understand the economic dangers they are facing? Lena posted this quite shocking interview with Jared Bernstein, the President's chief economic advisor:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HcxlWFSQnnU

...yikes!

I don't understand everything she says, but do try and pick up the salient points. I never came across her predicting a marked collapse of the US economy, or maybe I missed that video. However, recently she posted a talk by a Chinese economist, that not only predicts likelihood of financial collapse, but also sets a date; about 4 years from now.

Hmmm, I can't find that video. The talk is probably still there in one of her videos. What particularly interested me about the talk were the factors that might affect the outcome of the US economy; he said it depends on the the ability of the US to continue to "harvest" foreign countries.

That word "harvest" is startling. But yes, that is how the US survives, or so it seems from my understanding so far, the Dollar being the main medium of international transactions. Many countries and foreign entities are trying to de-dollarize international transactions.

On the topic of de-dollarization, here was another video, Lena again I think, quoting what Donald Trump will do if he becomes president. He has stated that he will go all-out to sanction any country that tries to de-dollarize. Found this though, from Palki Sharma:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LTLHlAZnAis

There is something else that shocked me a little bit, though it shouldn't have. I have posted previously that George W. Bush committed war crimes by invading Iraq under the false pretext of "weapons of mass destruction". After that, amazingly, he got re-elected, which spoke volumes about the lack of truth in US media. Anyway, President Bush covered himself from being charged with war crimes by the International Court in Brussels:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=le3noqdHnSA

...yikes again!

You might have contrary viewpoints to what is presented above. OK, I'm just posting this as something to think about, viewpoints that are probably different from what you get in the mainstream media.

EDIT 2024-05-11:
I found a YouTube video where that Chinese economist is giving a 4 year timeline for USA economic collapse, subject to various conditions:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W5VnpVs4Nx4

While searching for it, I stumbled across "Double Down News" channel. This Australian guy is posting how the Prime Minister of Israel, Netanyahu, was caught telling lies to President Biden, that Biden then repeated publically:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-mxfnya3ZRc

Reminds me of another Aussie guy, Jerry Grey, residing in China, who has "Jerry's Take on China" channel. He got upset by ongoing Western media misinformation about China, so started the channel.

He counters the many who have accused him of being a "Chinese shill" on the pay of the CCP:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g9LUhxsAMDs 

EDIT 2024-05-17:
We have to be so careful; take everything we read and see online with a grain of salt.

I received an email from Paul. He carefully studied the video of the interview with Jared Bernstein, frame by frame, see Lena Petrova's video link above. He determined that it is clips cut out from some longer interview. It seems these clips have deliberately been done to show Mr Bernstein in a bad light.

I found a video where a guy said that yes, that is what has been done. However, I have not been able to locate the original longer interview.

The clipped video went viral and Lena found it somewhere. She has used it, which somewhat lessens my opinion of her. She doesn't show sources either.   

Tags: ethos

Spin, spin and more spin

December 26, 2023 — BarryK

I was browsing on YouTube today, and came across a video by MGUY, who claims to "put a realistic perspective on the mad dash to EVs". In this video, he shows the appalling conditions of child labor mining cobalt in Africa:

"The SHOCKING Human and Environmental Cost of EVs"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3LMeqKJQSSc

I am disappointed with MGUY. I have watched a couple of his other videos and found them to be quite good. Unfortunately, there is obvious spin in this video. MGUY must surely be aware of the spin. The commenters, though, these are the people he is targeting, and I don't expect balanced understanding from them.

Anyway, I read through the comments, and there are some with interesting information; contrary to MGUY's spin. And I found one guy who posted about EV batteries moving away from cobalt. I replied:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3LMeqKJQSSc&lc=UgxdG4SDB40XkV34m714AaABAg.9wZb47_iJ969ykJsJyvqHL

I sometimes watch "The Electric Viking". He is the opposite to MGUY, and unfortunately I find pro-EV spin in Electric Vikings videos. Though, in his case it is more a case of being overly-enthusiatic sometimes and not carefully checking before pumping out another video; I do continue to watch his videos.

Just to clarify, the word "spin" is an indirect form of telling lies, usually by omission.

Of course, this blog post is me expressing my opinions; they cannot be guaranteed to be correct, just what I understand at this point in time. So, having expressed that disclaimer, read on...

A further note about cobalt used in lithium batteries; these are what is known as "lithium ternary" batteries, or "NMC" -- meaning lithium battery that contains nickel, manganese and cobalt. LiFePo4, also known as "LFP" batteries -- meaning lithium, iron and phosphate, do not contain nickel, manganese or cobalt.

You can buy EVs with LFP batteries, it is a consumer choice. I have posted about the recumbent trike I recently purchased from China. Unfortunately, it came with a NMC battery. Not only do LFP not contain cobalt, they are safer (higher ignition temperature) and last for many more charge cycles.

So, I have purchased a 48V LFP battery for my trike. There was no choice when ordering the trike, I got the NMC type, but now I have a problem; how to dispose of it? There is no place locally where I can take it. Not that I know of anyway; there are two local places, Battery World and Supercheap, but they only take lead acid batteries.

Question: why hasn't our oh-so-pro-green government, State or Federal, provided, or legislated to provide, local dropoff points to recycle lithium batteries? Even better, verge pickup?

Another question: why hasn't our pro-green government legislated to allay our fears about EVs catching fire? As well as take a stand against child-labour mining cobalt in China? One very simple temporary solution: legislate a minimum ignition temperature, which will force all vendors of cars, trucks, ebikes, scooters, not to use NMC type.

I'm just throwing out some questions, that seem logical to me.

On so many of these YouTube channels, the popular ones employ clickbait and bias to attract people with certain beliefs. They will pander to these beliefs, conveniently ignoring any contrary facts.

It is not just YouTube; in the USA, you have right-wing media and left-wing media doing the same thing. Even if media outlets and companies tell lies and get fined, that doesn't stop them. I could name organizations, but probably better not.

It is not just the USA, it is worldwide. There is a huge propaganda war between China and the USA, both sides spreading misinformation about the other.

For example, US officials announced that the Chinese government is commiting genocide against some muslim minorities. This, coming from a country that carpet-bombed North Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, killing hundreds of thousands of people, sprayed Agent Orange over vast areas knowing how dangerous it is to humans. Bombed Bhagdad on the false premise of "weapons of mass destruction".  Turned a blind eye to vicious dictatorships that were on "their side". Now standing by while Israel forces kill thousands of civilians in Gaza. Sent cluster bombs to Ukraine.

I investigated that "genocide" claim in China. My  tentative conclusion is that it is not genocide. It is an emotive word, that causes a certain reaction in those hearing it -- which is why the word is used.

It is a more mild example, but we had emotive words being used by the Australia Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) here in Australia, during the recent "The Voice" referendum. This was whether to change the Australian Constitution to formally recognise the indigenous people. I posted about this:

https://bkhome.org/news/202306/the-voice-referendum-in-australia.html

...on the day, I voted "NO".

The Federal Government was pro-Voice, especially our Prime Minister. The language used by the pro-Voice people was very insulting toward the "no" proponents. Many of those within the ABC, despite supposing to be impartial, would use words like "misinformation" and "racist" in reference to those promoting the No vote.

Actually, misinformation and racial bias was rife in those campaigning for the Yes vote, but that was never mentioned.

It used to be, years ago, that I believed that the ABC was an impartial source of information. No more. I have come to realise that there is a lot of filtered news. Anyway, I will continue to watch the ABC, as the less-evil news outlet.

Reading this post, you recognise that I am in a bit of a down-mood, different from my usual blog posts. In this mood, I am wanting to withdraw from everything -- don't know what form that will take, should I decide to action it -- maybe throw away the TV and go offline. Anyway, I'm getting toward the end of this life-span, which is actually a feeling of relief.  But then, I believe, and I have what I consider good reason to believe, that I will continue beyond death, so the event of death is not a worry for me, more of a freeing from a prison.

Postamble:

I came across something very interesting. Our Federal Government is considering legislation to fine companies that spread misinformation:

https://www.news.com.au/technology/online/security/digital-platforms-could-face-68m-fines-over-misinformation/news-story/3a3c800427d86864262d16100682b871

Sky News Australia and the The Australian newspaper, part of the Murdoch empire (as are most of the daily newspapers in Australia), are strongly opposed to it.   

Tags: ethos

Brand new ebike catches fire

November 27, 2023 — BarryK

Poor guy. Going for the first ride on his new US$6,000 ebike:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wxr1iXEf9lY

img1

...the bike starts smoking just past midway through the video.

We are discussing EVs and lithium batteries in the off-topic section of the Puppy Forum (requires login to see):

https://forum.puppylinux.com/viewtopic.php?t=9965       

Tags: ethos

How to protect yourself in the Australian Outback

November 10, 2023 — BarryK

This applies to anywhere in the world, where you are in a remote region on your own. In the USA, you can carry a gun, which is an equaliser as the other guy is likely to have a gun. A gun will also protect from wolves. Here in Australia though, the citizens are disempowered; we are not allowed to effectively protect ourselves.

I recall a TV ad. from 2006, an Australian TV tourism advertising campaign; a bikini-clad Lara Bingle saying "So where the bl**** he** are you?". The swear words were allowed in Australia as the goverment took the position that they are part of the Australian vernacular; however, the ad. got banned in the UK and Canada. It's on YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y-ZLr9ePuj8

There have been some sendups of that advert., including this one:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g9DQgai4-C0

...yeah, human predators, the worst kind.

In Australia, getting a license to carry a gun is very difficult. For a long time there was a racket in Western Australia; a landowner could give permission for someone to shoot feral animals on their land and the person could then buy a gun. It was a racket because some enterprising landowners had a nice little income selling these permissions to people who never ever did any actual shooting of feral animals on their land.

Recently there has been a crackdown, all of these permissions have been revoked. Gun owners must reapply and each application will be considered on its merits.

Another way to get a gun license is to join a rifle or pistol club. However, the gun must be kept locked in an approved safe at home and only taken out when going to a club event.

This report shows the benefit of owning a gun in a remote region. Chris, a prospector in the inland-north of Western Australia was attacked by dingoes earlier in 2023:

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-06-08/wa-dingo-attacks-prompt-prospectors-warning/102451042

img1

Chris was fortunate to have a small pistol, but what about most other people?

You could have a knife. The dingo would chew on you a bit before you manage to get the knife into him.

Then there's pepper spray. As I mentioned above, Australians are completely dis-empowered by our governments, Federal and States. WA is the only State that allows ownership of pepper spray; in the rest of the country there is an enormous fine, even prison, if caught with it. Even so, here in WA there are strict guidelines on who can own pepper spray, as explained here:

https://ursafe.com.au/pepper-spray-is-it-legal-and-where-can-you-buy-it-in-australia/

So, I have that option in WA.

But there is another self-protection option, that probably hardly anyone considers; an ultra-bright flashlight. Most useful at night; it will temporarily blind a dingo or human. But possibly some of them are so bright they would also be an effective deterent in the daytime. I'm thinking of these:

https://flashlightgo.com/blogs/guide/what-do-you-know-about-flashlight-with-fan-cooling

...they are not usually advertised as a security deterent, which I can understand. Up to 150,000 lumens, that is so incredibly bright; needs a heatpipe and dual fans. But look at the prices!!!

There are many cheaper ones on Aliexpress, but beware lots of false advertising. I found one that looks like genuine 45,000 lumens, at AU$150, but it doesn't have active cooling and can only run at full power for a maximum of 20 seconds; when reaches 50 degrees C will automatically drop down to 5,000 lumens.

Another possibility is a prospector pick, which I do own. If have other prospectors equipment and a Miners Right permit, can quite legitimately carry the pick.

There are other options. Awhile back I was reading a forum thread discussing these. There are other spray cans, that are legal to own, and effective if sprayed into an animals eyes. Don't recall any details.        

Tags: ethos

Misinformation and more misinformation

August 25, 2023 — BarryK

I make the occasional political comment in posts in the "ethos" category of this blog. This current post is about misinformation on YouTube. I want to remain as politically neutral as possible, just present the issues that I have recently experienced, and leave it open for the reader to draw conclusions.

I've taken to watching YouTube videos quite a lot recently, often browse looking at interesting topics. Got interested in China; in particular, what is life like inside China, as opposed to the impression we get from Western media.

I started watching some videos, and soon realised the sole purpose of those channels is to bash China. I wondered what their hidden agenda is; I read comments that they are backed by right-wing and religious elements. One China-bashing YouTube channel was mentioned as backed by the Falun Gong, a religious sect banned in China.

One channel that I watched, the guy has 1.37 million subscribers, but some things he said, I thought that doesn't seem quite correct. I began to suspect that facts were being deliberately distorted, pandering to a certain audience. For example, this post claiming BYD and other Chinese car manufacturers were collecting government subsidies to manufacture electric vehicles, but then just dumping them as unable to sell them:

"China is throwing away fields of electric cars - letting them rot!"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1SEfwoqKRU8

img1

"The Electric Viking", an Aussie guy, responded to that, with a contrary viewpoint:

"China and BYD are throwing away fields of electric cars, letting them rot"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_lrpkV2XaJA

Then I stumbled across a post from a foreign guy in China who actually went to the dump-site shown in the above photo:

"Chinese EV graveyards - uncovering the truth in person at one of these controversial sites"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uD8qqEx4G18

There is a propaganda war going on, not just between the USA and China. It is broader than that. Another example that comes to mind; I watched on the news on TV, a Chinese Navy ship water-bombing the sailors on a Philippines ship (those sailors were trying to deliver supplies to Philippine soldiers based on a sunken ship). So of course we see that and think the Chinese are being the bad guys again. However, I stumbled upon a video that explained the history behind that incident:

"Another dispute in the SCS - here's what is really happening"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZtfBJ_yoRDI

...is this completely true? Is there another perspective?

I got interested in finding out what is really going on in China; how is life day-to-day for ordinary citizens? So started watching video channels by foreigners living in China. Most of them are working there, some are tourists, some are teachers -- my guess is that most of the latter are English teachers. Here is a collection of these channels, in no particular order:

https://www.youtube.com/@WilleneBusinessLifestyle
https://www.youtube.com/@LucaRachele
https://www.youtube.com/@PartTimeTravellerChina
https://www.youtube.com/@ShangguanJiewen
https://www.youtube.com/@mikeraynaldo3454
https://www.youtube.com/@Gweilo60
https://www.youtube.com/@emilyboitumelo
https://www.youtube.com/@JasonLivinginChina
https://www.youtube.com/@ForAllLifesAdventures
https://www.youtube.com/@MichelePonte
https://www.youtube.com/@AlexFromXinjiang
https://www.youtube.com/@TheJesstination
https://www.youtube.com/@IndianInChinaVlog
https://www.youtube.com/@SoSab/videos
https://www.youtube.com/@GoYvon
https://www.youtube.com/@JamesandKeli
https://www.youtube.com/@BlockchaininChina
https://www.youtube.com/@lizzyinchina
https://www.youtube.com/@Reporterfy
https://www.youtube.com/@ShangguanJiewen
https://www.youtube.com/@HarveysVlog
https://www.youtube.com/@KajaKubicka

This is interesting, as Sabrina is black and a Christian and she attended church in China:
https://www.youtube.com/@Sabrina_inchina

Throwing this one in; another church:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-7l8mka6M4

Which reminds me, there was one fascinating video, a guy toured around in Tibet, visited monasteries and saw the daily life of the monks. Can't find that link now.

There are also fascinating videos taken in Muslim regions of China.

These guys are tourists in China. They also visit other countries:
https://www.youtube.com/@NomadicTour
https://www.youtube.com/@bencoleman121

"Jerry's take on China" channel, already mentioned.
https://www.youtube.com/@jerrystakeonchina799

Cyrus Janssen is a very interesting guy. He visited China recently, returning after the pandemic, but I think he is currently in the US.
https://www.youtube.com/@CyrusJanssen

Are any of these people in the pay of the Chinese government? There is one guy who is so over-the-top pro-China that if I had to bet on it, I would say yes. Also, if I had to bet on it, I would say that most of the others are not. But of course, living in China, there are strict rules, things that you cannot criticize.

Another thing that must not be forgotten is that we are able to view these inside-China channels on YouTube; you won't be seeing videos critical of China in the Chinese YouTube-equivalent (YouTube itself is banned).

But these posts do give me a view into daily life within China, and it certainly is very interesting, enlightening even, to see things from the inside perspective.

EDIT 2023-08-26:
Here are more channels of foreigners living in China:

https://www.youtube.com/@RafaGoesAround
https://www.youtube.com/@expressless8832
https://www.youtube.com/@arafsadventures
https://www.youtube.com/@BarrettYT
https://www.youtube.com/@nadineinchina
https://www.youtube.com/@yasminvroon
https://www.youtube.com/@2Feet2Worlds
https://www.youtube.com/@Nicofilms
https://www.youtube.com/@nickinchina2552
https://www.youtube.com/@realchinafromchina9780
https://www.youtube.com/@iheartchina8160
https://www.youtube.com/@AlysaWonderland
https://www.youtube.com/@ShangguanJiewen
https://www.youtube.com/@tranostv
https://www.youtube.com/@AleeseLightyear
https://www.youtube.com/@MichelePonte
https://www.youtube.com/@LucaRachele
https://www.youtube.com/@TripBitten

Posts about Muslims in China:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BQ4n2NKR-qM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w4vBJtioHrQ
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hrYVp3-pObg
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1fjfvDK667U

Interesting analysis of the Muslim Uyghur situation:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZiooMZOyJGY

Posts about Tibet:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kq02TerxQIY
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jnpzmJYQ2Uc
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dEaBbHkRtVU
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5vYDQDFVz-c
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nkop_x7TZC4

That's enough. I make a "political post" every six months to a year, so don't expect another one for at least another six months.         

Tags: ethos

When will the USA be bankrupt?

August 22, 2023 — BarryK

I haven't posted to this blog for a couple of days, so posting some thoughts about this question. Off-topic from my usual posts!

My knowledge of economics is rudimentary, so this post is really just expressing my puzzlement. But then, many economic experts don't seem to know what is going on either.

A couple of years ago, after reading how massive is the US foreign debt, and that it grows bigger every year, with no hope of paying it off, I wondered how is it that the country keeps going? Back then, I did a search and found what looks like the answer: the US Dollar is the international currency, and most of the money that the USA owes to the rest of the world is in US Dollars.

This means that if the US is on the verge of defaulting on repayments, all that it needs to do is devalue the US Dollar, that is, print more money.

That is going to mean US citizens will become poorer; everything is going to cost more. But it also means that the entities that have loaned the money will be getting less back; in other words, the USA is sucking wealth out of the rest of the world.

If the above summary is wrong, or an over-simplification, well, I did say my understanding is rudimentary. Anyway, that is what I have come understand is the current situation.

A little while ago, I ordered a recumbent trike from China, and had to pay in US Dollars. My little situation is repeated scaled up across the globe, and being the international currency is one factor that keeps the US Dollar afloat, or so it seems to me.

So, I was very interested to read of the upcoming BRICS alliance annual meeting in South Africa. History of BRICS is here, and most interesting is the list of countries that have applied this year to join:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BRICS

What has really jumped out at me while reading about BRICS, is the move to an international currency exchange system, based on the value of gold. Here are some videos that explain more:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FUr33QCXca0

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XDgCAvcNo-o

So, some countries are selling US bonds and buying gold. But why has the price of gold gone down again? -- I watch the price of gold in the finance section of the news on TV most evenings, and it has been trending down for awhile.

A couple of extra comments. I sometimes watch "The Electric Viking" channel on YouTube, and he has pointed out many times that Japan also is massively in debt, and Toyota, the biggest car manufacturer in the world is the most indebted company in the world.

OK, I have posted some links above, but won't post any more conclusions, as my knowledge is too limited. These guys made some interesting predictions, before the US had exited from Afghanistan:

https://mises.org/power-market/coming-bankruptcy-american-empire   

Tags: ethos

Legal action against Amazon

June 27, 2023 — BarryK

In late 2022, I posted that I canceled my Amazon account:

https://bkhome.org/news/202210/have-cancelled-amazon-account.html

I had an awful experience, getting signed up with Prime membership without realizing, and then unable to cancel it. Well, it turns out that I am not the only one experiencing that difficulty with Prime:

https://www.gizmodo.com.au/2023/06/amazon-allegedly-tricked-users-into-prime-subscriptions-and-sabotaged-their-attempts-to-cancel/

In my blog post, I mentioned that I purchased books from Book Depository instead. Then Jon informed me that Book Depository had been purchased by Amazon. It still operated independently though, so I bought from them.

Guess what, Amazon has now, April 2023, closed down Book Depository. Doesn't this seem like a familiar scenario?    

Tags: ethos