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unspinning healthcare reform and exposing the US healthcare oligarchy

February 19, 2010 11 comments

By Morose Perish
2/19/2010
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Editors note: An oligarchy (Greek Ὀλιγαρχία, Oligarkhía) (oligocracy) is a form of government in which power effectively rests with a small elite segment of society.

Healthcare in America today is delivered by an exclusive club. This exclusive club consists of providers, hospitals, insurers and big pharma. Big pharma funds the FDA which acts as a wholly owned subsidiary.

Over 3,300 lobbyists have descended on Washington to to throw money at politicians for votes specifically on “healthcare reform”, thus ensuring the interests and profits of the healthcare oligarchy are upheld.

Over the past 40 years, the cost of healthcare in America has risen at an annual rate of approximately 12 percent. This is the root of the healthcare crisis in America. $100 dollars spent on healthcare 40 years ago increasing at an annual rate of 12 percent costs $9,300 dollars today. During this same 40 year period, $100 dollars in average income has increased to about $220.

The simple fact is that the cost of healthcare has risen at a greatly exaggerated rate relative to the cost of everything else. The rate of increase has been so dramatic relative to income that the costs are now an impossible burden on society.

Two thirds of all personal bankruptcies in America today are due to illness requiring major medical treatment. 78% of those people had medical insurance.

Over the past several decades, Americans have been paying more, getting less, and the enormous profits generated by Americans paying more and getting less have lined the pockets of but a few. Furthermore, there is an economic incentive to overtreat by prescribing unnecessary drugs, ordering expensive tests, and undergoing ineffective treatments. This has the effect of increasing patient costs and unnecessarily increasing risks to patients from side effects of drugs, tests and procedures that were ordered not out of necessity, but out of greed from our elitist providers. Enormously profitable cholesterol lowering drugs have been pushed upon the population by big pharma for decades under the auspices of preventative treatment. Now decades later, we find that not only are the drugs ineffective, they substantially increase the risk of death and disease from other causes. This is not medicine. It’s legalized drug pushing to maximize corporate profits at the expense of their trusting victims. A tragic error? Statistically improbable when we look at the volume of so called preventative drugs pushed on the population in the past several decades which were later pulled from the market because they killed or injured healthy people.

In my city, the CEO of the hospital drives a Rolls Royce. We recently saw an orthopedic specialist to give an opinion by reading an xray. We gave him the CD, he loaded it into his computer, and he spent a total of 10 minutes with us. The cost? $600. That’s $3,600 an hour for giving opinions.  The point is that the healthcare system in America as it stands today is enriching a few at the expense of the many, and at the expense of the sick.  This is not healthcare, it’s racketeering and profiteering from illness and injury. Capitalism? No. Powerful special interest cartels, yes. The only thing that has been capitalized on is the inherent willingness of sick people and their families to spend everything they have and go into debt to save themselves. The healthcare system in America today has many, if not all of the attributes of organized crime.

Furthermore, when analyzed on a price performance basis, although the costs have skyrocketed relative to everything else, the average life expectancy of Americans has gone down, and quality of life studies show that Americans are less healthy overall today and on a declining trend. The system has become impossibly unaffordable, and at the same time delivered a lower quality product as measured by longevity and quality of life. The system, collectively, as a whole, has become a wealth confiscation mechanism, siphoning off the wealth of the citizens and depositing it with a small group of elitist oligarchs.

In recent years, we have seen the development of a phenomenon called “medical tourism” where the costs of treatment in foreign countries is so much lower relative to the US, that US citizens are traveling to places such as India, staying in a five star hotel, receiving first rate treatment for major medical procedures, and then returning to the US still for far less than the cost of the medical treatment or procedure here in the US.  How is this possible?

Clearly something is systemically wrong with the US healthcare system.

Today one in ten of the adult population in America have diabetes and take on the average six different expensive drugs as a result. One in 100 children have autism. Studies have shown that the highest cause of death in America is being admitted to the healthcare system. The list goes on and on but plotted as price vs performance, it can be easily argued that Americans are paying more and getting less, that the system is not competitive, and it is siphoning off the wealth of the citizens at an unsustainable rate.

Why?

To answer that question, we need to ask the question, what mechanism is in place to contain healthcare costs balanced against the demand side of people willing to pay whatever they have to pay to save, cure or treat themselves.

In a free market, with competition, one would expect healthcare costs to rise only at the baseline rate of inflation. Healthcare however is not a free market. There are 4 distinct groups, each having enormous lobbies in Washington, and there is effectively no competition because barriers to entry have been erected.

  • providers (represented by the AMA and ADA)
  • big pharma (funded and represented by the FDA, lobbied by Hill & Knowlton and tens of other powerful lobbying firms)
  • medical insurers (represented by “America’s Health Insurance Plans” and other lobbies)
  • hospitals (represented by “American Hospital Association reps” “the Federation of American Hospitals” and others)

In other words, this is not a free market. There are 4 distinct cartels, each with powerful lobbies, and competition outside of those four groups is effectively banned.

Given a monopolistic supply curve and an inelastic demand curve, the cartel can effectively charge whatever price they want without reducing demand. They can charge up to the point where the society is unable to pay. This system has reached that point and then some.

As a result of this, any sort of “reform” can be guaranteed one thing. Each of these 4 lobbies will pay money to lawmakers to ensure their interests are upheld. Interestingly, those interests all involve maximizing their own profitability. If the providers, big pharma, insurers, and treatment centers are all maximizing their profitability, the flip side of that is that they are delivering decreased price performance…ie a higher cost and lower quality care. Their maximizing of profits ensures a declining standard of care and ever increasing costs. Interestingly, this lines up exactly with what can be documented using the historical data.

Where does that leave us?

It leaves us with a broken healthcare system. It is a broken system because the system itself after 40 years of annual double digit cost increases now collectively requires more money than is available to feed it.

It is not going to be fixed because of corruption. The lobbies will ensure that every vote on any kind of reform is paid for in advance. In come cases, the lobbies are even writing the reform and the lawmakers are just rubber stamping it without even reading it. It doesn’t matter because it’s all been purchased. The votes have been purchased and the wording in the reform has been purchased. The corporate media is running interference by trying to paint it as a left vs right political issue. It isn’t. It’s the criminal corruption of an entire industry who effectively bribes Washington to get what they want.

So what about the future of healthcare in America?

In an introspective look, I wrote that the only thing you can be sure of regarding healthcare reform is that you will pay more and get less. The lobbies will ensure that as they endeavor to maximize their profitability. One would expect to see the total size of the four groups decrease, but for prices to continue to rise. It will be a dysfunctional system with shortages of care, high prices, and a good percentage of the people going bankrupt as an unfortunate result of getting sick and entering into it.

Edit:Add Footnotes

Life Expectancy Declines for American Women
By Larry West
Life expectancy for American women is declining for the first time since the Spanish influenza epidemic in 1918, according to study [pdf] published today [April 22, 2008] by the Harvard School of Public Health and reported in the Washington Post.
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Life Expectancy Worsening or Stagnating for Large Segment of the U.S. Population
Monday, April 21, 2008
Boston, MA — Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and the University of Washington found that 4% of the male population and 19% of the female population experienced either decline or stagnation in mortality beginning in the 1980s.
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Anemia drug doubles stroke risk, study finds
Marilynn Marchione, Associated Press
Saturday, October 31, 2009
A new study raises fresh safety concerns about widely used anemia medicines, finding that the drug Aranesp nearly doubled the risk of stroke in people with diabetes and chronic kidney problems who are not yet sick enough to need dialysis.
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Cholesterol-lowering drugs increase risk of diabetes, study finds
17 February 2010
By Lyndsay Moss
USING drugs to lower cholesterol increases the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, research in Scotland suggests. An analysis of 13 studies involving the drugs, known as statins, found that they increased the chances of someone developing diabetes by 9 per cent.
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Child cases of diabetes set to double, says study
Number of under-fives with type 1 diabetes will be twice figure it was four years ago by 2020
Alexandra Topping
UK Guardian
Thursday 28 May 2009
The number of cases of insulin-dependent diabetes among children under five is expected to double in the next 11 years, according to experts. If present trends continue, by 2020 the number of children with type 1 diabetes will be twice the number it was four years ago.
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U.S. diabetes rate doubles in 10 years
By CDC
Oct 31, 2008
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Dozens of Pfizer and Merck Research Studies Faked
In the largest research fraud in medical history, Dr. Scott Reuben, a former member of pharmaceutical giant Pfizer’s speakers’ bureau, is pleading guilty to faking dozens of research studies published in medical journals.
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Senate Turns Down Drug  Reimportation
Mark Crane
December 15, 2009 — The US Senate today turned down a bipartisan amendment to allow the purchase and importation of prescription drugs from other countries.
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Widely-used diabetes drugs can cause heart disease and death, warn experts

A diabetes drug used by tens of thousands of Britons increases the risk of heart disease and death, according to a new report.
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Medical problems were behind two-thirds of personal bankruptcies in 2007. And that was before the economic crisis.
By Andrew Leonard
Friday, Jun 5, 2009
Salon
Americans filed for bankruptcy at a rate of 6,020 per day in May, reports Credit Slip’s Bob Lawless. That’s the first time the 6,000-per-day mark has been broken since the passing of the 2005 bankruptcy law, which made it hard for Americans to seek relief from their debts. In related bankruptcy news, the results of a study to be published in the August issue of the American Journal of Medicine show that “medical problems contributed to nearly two-thirds (62.1 percent) of all bankruptcies in 2007.” More strikingly — “between 2001 and 2007, the proportion of all bankruptcies attributable to medical problems rose by 49.6 percent.” (Found via Mark Thoma. The authors of the study cite their findings as yet more evidence that the healthcare system in the United States is broken.
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78 Percent Of Bankruptcy Filers Burdened By Healthcare Expenses Had Health Insurance
In an update to their landmark 2001 study on medical bankruptcy, researchers at Harvard University have concluded that medical debt contributed to 62 percent of U.S. personal bankruptcies in 2007 — 78 percent of bankruptcy filers burdened by healthcare expenses had health insurance but “still were overwhelmed by their medical debt“:
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Six Lobbyists Per Lawmaker Work on Health Overhaul
By Jonathan D. Salant and Lizzie O’Leary
Aug. 14 (Bloomberg) — If there is any doubt that President Barack Obama’s plan to overhaul U.S. health care is the hottest topic in Congress, just ask the 3,300 lobbyists who have lined up to work on the issue. That’s six lobbyists for each of the 535 members of the House and Senate, according to Senate records, and three times the number of people registered to lobby on defense. More than 1,500 organizations have health-care lobbyists, and about three more are signing up each day. Every one of the 10 biggest lobbying firms by revenue is involved in an effort that could affect 17 percent of the U.S. economy. These groups spent $263.4 million on lobbying during the first six months of 2009, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington-based research group, more than any other industry. They spent $241.4 million during the same period of 2008. Drugmakers alone spent $134.5 million, 64 percent more than the next biggest spenders, oil and gas companies.
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Modern Health Care System is the Leading Cause of Death
Doctors are in fact the LEADING cause of death in this country. Not heart disease, not cancer–doctors. In all fairness, doctors themselves are not to blame for all of this. The entire modern health care system, however, is to blame for allowing, even promoting, so many unnecessary procedures, drugs and mishaps.
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How Big Pharma is Infiltrating Your Child’s School
by Steve Gaylord
F ebruary 25, 2010
This subject is definitely alarming…
School Based Health Centers: How Big Pharma Is Infiltrating Your Child’s School
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Despite outcry, Anthem Blue Cross to go ahead with big rate hike
By Michael B. Farrell
San Francisco – Anthem Blue Cross, the health insurer that plans to boost rates by as much as 39 percent in California this year, has become a lightning rod in the national debate over healthcare reform
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Statins: The side effects ‘are worse than feared’
By Jenny Hope
Last updated at 10:02 AM on 21st May 2010
The side effects of statins can be far worse than previously thought, a study suggests. For the first time, the level of harm posed by the cholesterol-lowering drugs has been quantified by researchers. They found some users are much more likely to suffer liver dysfunction, acute kidney failure, cataracts and muscle damage known as myopathy. For some patients, the risk is eight times higher than among those not taking statins. Overall, the risk of myopathy – which may be irreversible – is six  times higher for men on statins and three times higher for women.
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Tags: Healthcare,  Health Care, medical insurance, unaffordable, lobbyist, lobbying, reform, oligarchy, bankruptcy, illness, major medical, medical tourism, failure

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the left vs right smokescreen

February 19, 2010 14 comments

By Uncle Albert
2.19.2010
EarthBlog News©
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Why are 300 million individuals being conveniently divided into two divisive black and white categories that don’t fit the majority of people to begin with?

“Left” vs “Right”,  “Liberal” versus “Conservative”.  This  simple minded paradigm is involuntarily hoisted on Americans by the corporate media while at the same time both parties have sold out the population to the multinational corporations, banks and special interests who run Washington D.C.  To think that every American can be divided into one of two simple categories represents a mass delusion concocted and promoted by the media solely for the purpose of distraction and avoidance of discussing real issues that affect all Americans while the country is looted and power is consolidated.

The fact is that most people may simultaneously hold so called “left” or “right” views depending on any one particular issue. Furthermore, many of the most important and pressing issues in America today are neither “left”, or “right” issues but common issues for every citizen in America and yet Americans are coerced into this stupid binary dance every day, detached from the reality that they are all are being used to divide and conquer the nation. Americans  like well trained seals myopically  beat their liberal/conservative drum of futile self -righteous indignation, while the country has been stolen out from under the people.  It’s pathetic. You are being used.

Now is the part where you, the reader, are supposed to start getting it….

The vast majority of Americans are centrists in the sense that they hold views that are not extreme.  Division among left and right stems from a period when the Republican party favored small limited government and the Democrats favored big government. Now however, both parties represent the latter wrapped in a top down globalist agenda. The President de jour is a political puppet…a bus driver…a mascott…doing what he’s told by the international money interests.

Today there is effectively one party in America and they are all corporatists. Politicians are  loyal only to the money which put them there and keeps them there. The rhetoric may still differ to a tone deaf and disinformed population, but the actions of both parties are virtually identical. The one thing they do have in common is that neither party represents the will of the people. Instead, they represent the will of the corporations and special interests who bought and paid for their votes on all important issues in advance.

There are many important issues that never even make it into public discourse. Issues that do not fit left or right, like a government that has now been in the longest war in US history in the black hole of Afghanistan. Like a Government that is unable to end a war of choice in Iraq where there they have built a US “Embassy” so large it can be seen from outer space. This at the same time as 10 percent of the population have been reduced to subsisting on food stamps, the real unemployment rate is over 20 percent, there are tent cities across America, and people are living in their cars. According to a recent poll, only 21 percent of the American people believe the government has the authority to govern. Is the collapse of US industry and manufacturing a left or right issue? The US doesn’t make anything any more, the industry and the housing are owned by the banking system and the government,  and in the smokescreen their media will all bounce back and forth between blaming the “left” or the “right” for all of this.

Go Ahead, Argue Away, Serfs

Americans are sitting on the couch with their chips and beer while Washington and the Pentagon have bankrupted the treasury and sent our sons and daughters into the meat grinders Iraq and Afghanistan for WMD’s and connections to 9/11 that did not exist.  Even after overwhelming evidence that the pro war propaganda was manufactured, the serfs keep buying into the brain dead notion that somehow, these wars are for the freedom of America.

The fact is that your childrens blood is being used to grease a corrupt, out of control, now bankrupt empire in wars of conquest. Your money, financial security and your future has been devoured by Wall St. and the Federal Reserve, with collusion from the corrupt cretins who claim to be the people’s representatives. Your standard of living is rapidly eroding into a kings and serfs society as the middle class is becoming extinct. The people? The people don’t have much to say about it because they are apparently too busy arguing among themselves. How convenient for the select few who own Washington and the media and have consolidated all the wealth.

The majority of American people want the government to take care of the roads, maintain the state parks, provide good schools, etc. and otherwise stay out of the way so they can live their lives and pursue happiness. Neither party represents that today. Both parties represent big government, big spending, big favors for the money interests and disregard for the people they are ostensibly representing. “Left vs right”  is merely a convenient tool for the elite to keep people arguing among themselves and to avoid discussing the real issues like a corporatist takeover of the political body.  If there was any truth in advertising, the two political divisions would be “the people” (99.9 percent of the population) and “the elite” (0.1 percent of the population).

The parties today stand for nothing except moral bankruptcy, empty promises and no accountability. They represent self importance, patronizing, greed, corruption and malfeasance. Both political parties today regardless of what they call themselves, do not represent any interests except the interests who have bought and paid for their votes in advance.

Any U.S. politician today who doesn’t kowtow to the money interests, bankers, and globalists  is promptly assassinated by their corporate media, wholly owned and controlled by those interests.

Democrats? Republicans? Wake up. This is a one party system in drag. The political body all the way up to and including the President dance like puppets for the Straussian elitist, globalist, corporate agenda. As a result America is rapidly turning into a kings and serfs society where the one thing the people DO have in common is no voice.

No one is paying any attention to what is really going on, because it’s all supposed to come down to left vs right in a grand smokescreen which obscures the real issues. The fact is that we have had left and right in power for the past decade and the only thing they have in common is wanton disregard for the will and interests of the people. Instead the political body is consumed and controlled by the 0.1 percent who control the money. The corporate media ensures that people are arguing among themselves while the theft of the people’s wealth happens right out in the open.

“And the banks — hard to believe in a time when we’re facing a banking crisis that many of the banks created — are still the most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill. And they frankly own the place.” – Senator Dick Durbin 2009

So this leads to an interesting predicament, where the real issues like the country being indebted to a point where there future labor is all spoken for and then some are not debated or discussed in a serious way. The elimination of the middle class in America..this is not a left or right issue, this is an issue of wealth transfer from the citizens to the elite. All the important issues are banned because the people who are controlling this thing some people still refer to as a democracy or a republic want it to be banned.

The people are supposed to be arguing among themselves about left vs right and looking in caves for Osama Bin Hiding, while the oligarchs have their way and loot your country. There is no middle class in America today. The wealth has been transferred from the people to the oligarchs, in a sophisticated shell game where the money disappeared from the people’s savings, and that money was re created on behalf of the people and given out to guess who?

Not you.

So the left vs right issue in America is a smokescreen for a herd of voiceless dumbbells who are told what they are supposed to believe by six people who control 96 percent of the media that americans consume. The same people who go to davos to consort with the people who are charging you 30 percent interest on your credit card and giving you 1 percent on your savings. The same people who have lobbied your representative to sell poison as food. How nitwitted does anyone need to be to go along with that?  If that sounds extreme then what about this, and this.

Tea Party? A Tea Party for Forrest Gump maybe. Your Tea Party will be sponsored by guess who? The same people who control all the other politicians votes on everything.

In the category of things I am sad to say…

I’m sad to say that the people have been had. Go ahead and argue about (some dumb thing) while your future and your childrens future has already been confiscated by the remaining big money interests who control everything. There is actually a dictionary term for this and it isn’t conspiracy theory, it’s absolute corruption.  There is no way to get rid of it.  It has to fail on it’s own. It is in the process of doing so now.

Already today according to recent polls, only 8 percent of Americans believe they have any representation at all, and yet at the same time find themselves powerless affect change. The last candidate was promoted with a clever platform of change. The next puppet candidate put forth by the people who control all the money and power is going to need a new slogan. I would suggest…

You are screwed.

In this case, the US has 120 trillion or so in obligations on 2 trillion or so in current income. There’s a word for that which is called bankrupt. Caveat Emptor.

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“If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be” – Thomas Jefferson

Edit: Add

Only 21% Say U.S. Government Has Consent of the Governed

Elizabeth Warren: Why Washington Is Not Reforming the Financial System

Poll: Majority in US Oppose Both Wars

Few Want Members of Congress Re-Elected, Poll Finds

Zogby Poll: 51% of Americans Want Congress to Probe Bush/Cheney Regarding 9/11 Attacks; Over 30% Seek Immediate Impeachment

Vote Fraud 2004: How Ohio was “Delivered” to Bush

Obama Approval Index History

15 Years Ago, the Combined Assets of the 6 Biggest Banks Totaled 17% of GDP… By 2006, 55% … Now, 63%

ECONned (Kindle Edition)
“The result has been a massive transfer of wealth, with its centerpiece the greatest theft from the public purse in history. This campaign has been far too consistent and calculated to brand it with the traditional label, “spin”. This manipulation of public perception can only be called propaganda. Only when we, the public, are able to call the underlying realities by their proper names—extortion, capture, looting, propaganda—can we begin to root them out.” – Yves Smith, ECONned
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Rasmussen: Mere 4% Support Establishment Political Class
Rasmussen Reports
April 14, 2010
Sixty-five percent (65%) of voters nationwide now hold populist, or Mainstream, views of government. That’s up from 62% last September and 55% last March. Mainstream Americans tend to trust the wisdom of the crowd more than their political leaders and are skeptical of both big government and big business (see crosstabs). While Republicans and unaffiliated voters are more likely to hold Mainstream views than Democrats, a majority of those in the president’s party (51%) hold such views. Only four percent (4%) now support the Political Class. These voters tend to trust political leaders more than the public at large and are far less skeptical about government.
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Radical Concentration of Wealth is Destroying Both Capitalism and Democracy

Sunday, April 11, 2010
George Washington’s Blog
Note: If you wish, feel free to substitute the word “republic” for “democracy”.
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Bilderberg Agenda Revealed: Globalists In Crisis, Supportive Of Attack On Iran
Global government, carbon tax agenda failing, but majority of elitists in favor of air strikes on Iran
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Bilderberg Wants Americans Disarmed And Dependent On Government
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Former Nato Secretary-General Admits Bilderberg Sets Global Policy
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Bilderberg Meetings
The 58th Bilderberg Meeting will be held in Sitges, Spain 3 – 6 June 2010. The Conference will deal mainly with Financial Reform, Security, Cyber Technology, Energy, Pakistan, Afghanistan, World Food Problem, Global Cooling, Social Networking, Medical Science, EU-US relations. Approximately 130 participants will attend of whom about two-thirds come from Europe and the balance from North America. About one-third is from government and politics, and two-thirds are from finance, industry, labor, education, and communications. The meeting is private in order to encourage frank and open discussion.
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Bilderberg See People With Income As “A Threat” To Their Agenda

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Secretive Bilderberg Club ready for protests
June 3, 2010
Graham Keeley, Barcelona
Splash! Could that be the sound of Lord Mandelson hitting one of the Dolce hotel’s four pools? Or Robert Zoellick of the World Bank? Paul Volcker of the US Economic Recovery Advisory Board? Or merely the euro taking another dive? That is the thing about the Bilderberg group’s top secret meetings: you never know quite what is going on behind the police checkpoints. Across the world, secretaries to the rich and the powerful have blocked out the next three days in their bosses’ calendars for their annual gathering, this time at the Dolce in Sitges, one of Spain’s most exclusive resorts.
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US attendees at ‘world government’ meeting may be breaking law: activists

– Roguegovernment.com
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The Federal Reserve Has Been Abusing Derivatives Since 1999
by Eric deCarbonnel
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
The Federal Reserve reports that Minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee Meeting on June 24-25, 2003.
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Exposing the Bilderbergers: Photos from Spain

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