Charity, economic decline and derivatives

 The Thanksgiving holiday will be a different experience for millions of Americans this year and probably next year as well. By then, millions will be unemployed, adding to the million or so unemployed this year and they will all know that unemployment checks are long used up before turkey and dressing can even be thought about.

     Charities attempting to alleviate some of the pain and suffering are already stretched to the limit, with most trying to figure out how to serve more people with less and less resources. We know that first hand as we  get deeper into the organization of the 2008 Sharing at Christmas campaign. We’ve received $575.00 in contributions so far that will go  toward food boxes for the hundreds of less fortunate Union County applicants. Like all others who are determined to assist those in need, we will try to figure out how to do so, but mostly we will just pray for guidance on how to do what is right. If your prayers guide you to help any or all of us assist our neighbors, we’ll welcome your contributions.

     The predictions for next year and probably the next are not good. There’s a lot of talk about how resilient the American people have proven themselves to be during past national disasters, but all of us have to admit that this is something much different. It’s not war-related, it’s not related to a natural disaster, it’s actually man-made and therefore more cruel to those who are the least protected. Americans have only faced one economic downturn orchestrated by the most fortunate in our nation. That was called the “Great Depression” and the poor and the almost nonexistent middle-class took the brunt of it all, while the rich got richer. The rich today, for the most part, are their descendents and are fairing much the same as their ancestors, probably much better.

     Some Americans will remember a slight mention of what has been called the “invisible market” and currently nicknamed the world’s biggest “black market.” Derivatives are the basis for an “invisible black market,” considered to be the culprit behind our current economic collapse that will continue to push us down in the future. While the majority of Americans are not even aware of derivatives, the aforementioned wealthy folks and corporations are very aware and involved.

     By definition, according to Investopedia, derivatives are securities whose price is dependent upon or derived from one or more underlying assets. The derivative itself is merely a contract between two or more parties. Its value is determined by fluctuations in the underlying assets. The most common underlying assets include stocks, bonds, commodities, currencies, interest rates and market indexes. Most derivatives are characterized by high leverages and risk and totally unregulated.

     Future contracts, forward contracts, options and swaps are the most common types of derivatives. Because derivatives are just contracts, just about anything can be used as an underlying asset. There are even derivatives based on weather data, such as the amount of rain or the number of sunny days in a particular region. Almost like a game.

     Put more simply, and so us poor folks can understand, the very rich, including companies and banks who use our money for these purposes, can hedge their risk by speculating about and contracting by literally gambling that certain aspects of their deal or others may or may not happen. This is a world-wide game or practice by the very rich and those who can use other people’s money to generate unbelievable profits on the backs of the rest of us.

     During the past five years, the derivatives   

market grew five time bigger from about $100 trillion to $516 trillion fueled by the cheap money made available by our Federal Reserve which created the sub prime housing situation, the collapsing U.S. Treasury made so by the continuing war in the middle east, the trade deficits with China and the rest of the world which has made the value of the U.S. dollar near nothing and our wonderful friends in the middle east demanding equity payments rather than extending the U.S. credit to buy oil and other commodities. Most of these countries have accepted aid from us in the past.

     Folks, we’re in a near-unresolvable mess and all the  while we are continuing to spend money we don’t have to fight a war in the middle east. We are still attempting to feed hungry children and people in other parts of the world. We are sending aid in dollars, medicine and commodities all around the world, while showing little or no compassion for the American citizens who are in a rapid decline in terms of economic well being. This includes not only our national government, but our religious institutions and charitable organizations as well.

   Some may disagree, but I  think we should pull back our charities and economic aid and redirect the money, food and medicines to help  our fellow Americans. At least we know they have need and will appreciate it.