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Goldman Sachs Made 400 Million Betting On Food Prices In 2012 While Hundreds Of Millions Starved
TEC ^ | 01/25/2013 | Michael Snyder

Posted on 01/27/2013 6:18:38 AM PST by SeekAndFind

Starving Child In Ethiopia - Photo by Cate Turton - Department for International DevelopmentWhy does it seem like wherever there is human suffering, some giant bank is making money off of it? According to a new report from the World Development Movement, Goldman Sachs made about 400 million dollars betting on food prices last year. Overall, 2012 was quite a banner year for Goldman Sachs. As I reported in a previous article, revenues for Goldman increased by about 30 percent in 2012 and the price of Goldman stock has risen by more than 40 percent over the past 12 months. It is estimated that the average banker at Goldman brought in a pay and bonus package of approximately $396,500 for 2012. So without a doubt, Goldman Sachs is swimming in money right now. But what is the price for all of this "success"? Many claim that the rampant speculation on food prices by the big banks has dramatically increased the global price of food and has caused the suffering of hundreds of millions of poor families around the planet to become much worse. At this point, global food prices are more than twice as high as they were back in 2003. Approximately 2 billion people on the planet spend at least half of their incomes on food, and close to a billion people regularly do not have enough food to eat. Is it moral for Goldman Sachs and other big banks such as Barclays and Morgan Stanley to make hundreds of millions of dollars betting on the price of food if that is going to drive up global food prices and make it harder for poor families all over the world to feed themselves?

This is another reason why the derivatives bubble is so bad for the world economy. Goldman Sachs and other big banks are treating the global food supply as if it was some kind of a casino game. This kind of reckless activity was greatly condemned by the World Development Movement report...

"Goldman Sachs is the global leader in a trade that is driving food prices up while nearly a billion people are hungry. The bank lobbied for the financial deregulation that made it possible to pour billions into the commodity derivative markets, created the necessary financial instruments, and is now raking in the profits. Speculation is fuelling volatility and food price spikes, hurting people who struggle to afford food across the world."

So shouldn't there be a law against this kind of a thing?

Well, in the United States there actually is, but the law has been blocked by the big Wall Street banks and their very highly paid lawyers. The following is another excerpt from the report...

"The US has passed legislation to limit speculation, but the controls have not been implemented due to a legal challenge from Wall Street spearheaded by the International Swaps and Derivatives Association, of which Goldman Sachs is a leading member. Similar legislation is on the table at the EU, but the UK government has so far opposed effective controls. Goldman Sachs has lobbied against controls in both the US and the EU."

Posted below is a chart that shows what this kind of activity has done to commodity prices over the past couple of decades. You will notice that commodity prices were fairly stable in the 1990s, but since the year 2000 they have been extremely volatile...

Commodity Prices

The reason for all of this volatility was explained in an excellent article by Frederick Kaufman...

The money tells the story. Since the bursting of the tech bubble in 2000, there has been a 50-fold increase in dollars invested in commodity index funds. To put the phenomenon in real terms: In 2003, the commodities futures market still totaled a sleepy $13 billion. But when the global financial crisis sent investors running scared in early 2008, and as dollars, pounds, and euros evaded investor confidence, commodities -- including food -- seemed like the last, best place for hedge, pension, and sovereign wealth funds to park their cash. "You had people who had no clue what commodities were all about suddenly buying commodities," an analyst from the United States Department of Agriculture told me. In the first 55 days of 2008, speculators poured $55 billion into commodity markets, and by July, $318 billion was roiling the markets. Food inflation has remained steady since.

The money flowed, and the bankers were ready with a sparkling new casino of food derivatives. Spearheaded by oil and gas prices (the dominant commodities of the index funds) the new investment products ignited the markets of all the other indexed commodities, which led to a problem familiar to those versed in the history of tulips, dot-coms, and cheap real estate: a food bubble. Hard red spring wheat, which usually trades in the $4 to $6 dollar range per 60-pound bushel, broke all previous records as the futures contract climbed into the teens and kept on going until it topped $25. And so, from 2005 to 2008, the worldwide price of food rose 80 percent --and has kept rising.

Are you angry yet?

You should be.

Poor families all over the planet are suffering so that Wall Street bankers can make bigger profits.

It's disgusting.

Many big financial institutions just seem to love to make money on the backs of the poor. I have previously reported on how JP Morgan makes billions of dollars issuing food stamp cards in the United States. When the number of Americans on food stamps goes up, so does the amount of money that JP Morgan makes. You can read much more about all of this right here: "Making Money On Poverty: JP Morgan Makes Bigger Profits When The Number Of Americans On Food Stamps Goes Up".

Sadly, the global food supply is getting tighter with each passing day, and things are looking rather ominous for the years ahead.

According to the United Nations, global food reserves have reached their lowest level in nearly 40 years. Global food reserves have not been this low since 1974, but the population of the world has greatly increased since then. If 2013 is another year of drought and bad harvests, things could spiral out of control rather quickly...

World grain reserves are so dangerously low that severe weather in the United States or other food-exporting countries could trigger a major hunger crisis next year, the United Nations has warned.

Failing harvests in the US, Ukraine and other countries this year have eroded reserves to their lowest level since 1974. The US, which has experienced record heatwaves and droughts in 2012, now holds in reserve a historically low 6.5% of the maize that it expects to consume in the next year, says the UN.

"We've not been producing as much as we are consuming. That is why stocks are being run down. Supplies are now very tight across the world and reserves are at a very low level, leaving no room for unexpected events next year," said Abdolreza Abbassian, a senior economist with the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

The world has barely been able to feed itself for some time now. In fact, we have consumed more food than we have produced for 6 of the last 11 years...

Evan Fraser, author of Empires of Food and a geography lecturer at Guelph University in Ontario, Canada, says: "For six of the last 11 years the world has consumed more food than it has grown. We do not have any buffer and are running down reserves. Our stocks are very low and if we have a dry winter and a poor rice harvest we could see a major food crisis across the board."

"Even if things do not boil over this year, by next summer we'll have used up this buffer and consumers in the poorer parts of the world will once again be exposed to the effects of anything that hurts production."

We desperately need a good growing season next summer, and all eyes are on the United States. The U.S. exports more food than anyone else does, and last summer the United States experienced the worst drought that it had seen in about 50 years. That drought left deep scars all over the country. The following is from a recent Rolling Stone article...

In 2012, more than 9 million acres went up in flames in this country. Only dredging and some eleventh-hour rain kept the mighty Mississippi River from being shut down to navigation due to low water levels; continuing drought conditions make "long-term stabilization" of river levels unlikely in the near future. Several of the Great Lakes are soon expected to hit their lowest levels in history. In Nebraska last summer, a 100-mile stretch of the Platte River simply dried up. Drought led the USDA to declare federal disaster areas in 2,245 counties in 39 states last year, and the federal government will likely have to pay tens of billions for crop insurance and lost crops. As ranchers became increasingly desperate to feed their livestock, "hay rustling" and other agricultural crimes rose.

Ranchers were hit particularly hard. Because they couldn't feed their herds, many ranchers slaughtered a tremendous number of animals. As a result, the U.S. cattle herd is now sitting at a 60 year low.

What do you think that is going to do to meat prices over the next few years?

Meanwhile, the drought continues. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, this is one of the worst winter droughts the U.S. has ever seen. At this point, more than 60 percent of the entire nation is currently experiencing drought.

If things don't turn around dramatically, 2013 could be an absolutely nightmarish year for crops in the United States. If 2013 does turn out to be another bad year, food prices would soar both in the U.S. and on the global level. The following is from a recent CNBC article...

The severe drought that swept through much of the U.S. last year is continuing into 2013, threatening to cripple economic growth while forcing consumers to pay higher food prices.

"The drought will have a significant impact on prices, especially beef, pork and chicken," said Ernie Gross, an economic professor at Creighton University and who studies farming issues.

So let us hope for the best, but let us also prepare for the worst.

It looks like higher food prices are on the way, and millions of poor families all over the planet will be hard-pressed to feed their families.

Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs will be laughing all the way to the bank.

A Global Food Crisis Is Coming - Are You Ready? - Photo by Oxfam East Africa



TOPICS: Business/Economy; Society
KEYWORDS: bsarticle; businessinsider; climatechange; food; globalwarming; goldmansachs; idiocy; lunacy; starvation; waroncarbon; zerohedge

1 posted on 01/27/2013 6:18:51 AM PST by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind

Yeah, rising food prices has nothing to do with the fact that due to the AGW hoax, America now burns a huge amount of crops in the form of ethanol. It really the evil rich’s fault. Uh huh.


2 posted on 01/27/2013 6:23:55 AM PST by piytar (The predator-class is furious that their prey are shooting back.)
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To: SeekAndFind

I don’t know a lot about banking, etc—but something tells me that this entire article is pure BS!


3 posted on 01/27/2013 6:27:06 AM PST by basil (basil)
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To: basil
something tells me that this entire article is pure BS

Your instincts are correct. What is one man's speculator is another man's market maker. Futures and derivatives are financial instruments which allow actors (farmers, agricultural wholesalers, for instance) to disperse risk, much like insurance policies. Planting a crop is a gamble, as is contracting for future deliveries of agricultural products that do not even exist yet. Middlemen play a vital role by assuming some of the risks in these gambles.

Demagogues like Huey Long, Barack Obama, ad infinitum prey on envy and economic illiteracy. Given enough power they produce results like the Soviet Union, Maoist China and USA 2016.

4 posted on 01/27/2013 6:40:39 AM PST by Lonesome in Massachussets (What word begins with "O" and ends in economic collapse?)
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To: basil
something tells me that this entire article is pure BS

Your instincts are correct. What is one man's speculator is another man's market maker. Futures and derivatives are financial instruments which allow actors (farmers, agricultural wholesalers, for instance) to disperse risk, much like insurance policies. Planting a crop is a gamble, as is contracting for future deliveries of agricultural products that do not even exist yet. Middlemen play a vital role by assuming some of the risks in these gambles.

Demagogues like Huey Long, Barack Obama, ad infinitum prey on envy and economic illiteracy. Given enough power they produce results like the Soviet Union, Maoist China and USA 2016.

5 posted on 01/27/2013 6:40:43 AM PST by Lonesome in Massachussets (What word begins with "O" and ends in economic collapse?)
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To: basil
---having been raised on a farm where my 92 year old mother rents out the cropland, about a year ago I started watching commodity prices--corn and soybeans --.

--not surprisingly , as little rain fell , the price doubled---didn't really take a genius to figure out---

6 posted on 01/27/2013 6:44:38 AM PST by rellimpank (--don't believe anything the media or government says about firearms or explosives--)
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To: SeekAndFind
We desperately need a good growing season next summer, and all eyes are on the United States. The U.S. exports more food than anyone else does, and last summer the United States experienced the worst drought that it had seen in about 50 years. That drought left deep scars all over the country.

As ranchers became increasingly desperate to feed their livestock, "hay rustling" and other agricultural crimes rose.

You can easily deduce that the author is a Leftist ideologe when he writes a story like this and does not include a single sentence about the thousands of tons of corn being burned as ethanol simply as a political balm to the Environmental Left.

7 posted on 01/27/2013 6:45:18 AM PST by Pontiac (The welfare state must fail because it is contrary to human nature and diminishes the human spirit.)
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To: SeekAndFind

Is what Goldman Sachs did illegal?


8 posted on 01/27/2013 6:47:18 AM PST by Cowboy Bob (Soon the "invisible hand" will press the economic "reset" button.)
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To: Cowboy Bob

What is immoral is not necessarily illegal


9 posted on 01/27/2013 6:59:12 AM PST by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind
Looks like he, Michael Snyder, is as much a economic doomster as a (perhaps) liberal. The blog, TEC, is "The Economic Collapse Are You Prepared For The Coming Economic Collapse And The Next Great Depression?" I am no fan at all of the big 5 banks but neither am I a fan of the "All bankers are gangsters" either. No bank should be allowed to get so large as to be a danger to the economy by being either too strong or too weak. Anti-trust is the tool to break them down to size and it should, judiciously, be applied!

A for this entry, should anybody be gored for making a good investment? This presupposes that Goldman Sachs did not have the power to cause or ameliorate the conditions upon which they made their profit (which I think is unlikely!) Would this gent have been equally incensed if they had made their bet the other way and lost a bushel of money?

10 posted on 01/27/2013 7:00:59 AM PST by SES1066 (Government is NOT the reason for my existence but it is the road to our ruin!)
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To: SeekAndFind

If you look to investment banking/securities/management firms for moral guidance, you’re doing something wrong.


11 posted on 01/27/2013 7:02:55 AM PST by 1rudeboy
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To: SES1066

wise words! A lot of Republicans are frightened of anti-trust out of sheer principal, but I think we should look to Teddy Roosevelt for our inspiration when it comes to the financial services industry.

Either break them up, or regulate them into being utilities, with the risk-taking parts of them cut away from government backing.


12 posted on 01/27/2013 7:09:19 AM PST by babble-on
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To: SeekAndFind

Are you making an accusation of immorality?


13 posted on 01/27/2013 7:19:27 AM PST by impimp
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To: babble-on

I fear you and the mindset that led to your comments.


14 posted on 01/27/2013 7:20:48 AM PST by impimp
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To: babble-on

I don’t think that would work, the idea of making them utilities. One of the reasons that people can make money is that they have the option of determining the amount of risk they wish to be exposed to relative to the possible profits that they might derive from that risk.

Turning the financial services industry into a utility would mean removing the risk, and I simply don’t think that would work. I am not one of those people who thinks there should be no regulation on the industry, I model my outlook on this viewpoint after those held by the framers of the Constitution. The framers of the Constitution by no means felt that government and of itself was bad, they felt that man is of a basically corruptible nature, and cannot be trusted by default.

I feel much the same way about financial institutions. Greed, sex, and lust for power are things that human beings are susceptible to as levers to immoral behavior, and if we set things up a certain way, we should not do it so as to encourage a breeding environment for immoral behavior.

I understand what you’re trying to say, but I don’t think that’s the correct approach. I will say that I do believe that the government should not be involved hand-in-hand with these institutions. That leads to things like bailouts and political decisions by politicians about who is and who isn’t too big to fail, as well is making it easy for people (both politicians and financiers) to get their hands in the public till.


15 posted on 01/27/2013 7:23:01 AM PST by rlmorel (1793 French Jacobins and 2012 American Liberals have a lot in common.)
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To: basil
I don’t know a lot about banking, etc—but something tells me that this entire article is pure BS!

You are correct. GS investments have nothing to do with children starving. It is just anti-business tripe.

16 posted on 01/27/2013 7:28:18 AM PST by mnehring
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To: SES1066
“This presupposes that Goldman Sachs did not have the power to cause or ameliorate the conditions upon which they made their profit”.

I don't have the time to do the homework on the subject, but a little behind the scenes digging will reveal that the true sins of the big banksters lies in the buying and selling of political power.

The lieberals presume that the evil rich banksters manipulate republicans to ensure their pockets stay filled.
In reality, it was a meeting of bankers and securities “big whigs” that was held in the fall before Obama even declared his candidacy for the 2008 election cycle that decided the money was going to back him and not Hitlery.

Consider the timing of the “financial crises” in the run up to the 2008 election. Who benefited?
Consider the “cause” of the crises. Who benefited from the subsequent bailouts?

Why, in spite of being at the upper echelon of companies that packaged and sold securities that any insider would have known were worthless - has no one been held accountable for the loss of trillions of dollars?

What the bankers and commodities traders are doing is perfectly legal, in theory. But as others have mentioned, too often there are government policies in place that are unduly influencing the markets.

I am not a conspiracy theorist. I believe in capitalism and the free market principles thereof. But what we have is actually crony capitalism and the blatant obvious buying of legislation to control and protect the players.

17 posted on 01/27/2013 7:57:31 AM PST by bitterohiogunclinger (Proudly casting a heavy carbon footprint as I clean my guns ---)
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To: SeekAndFind
from 2005 to 2008, the worldwide price of food rose 80 percent --and has kept rising.

This can't be true. The GE promoters told us they would lower costs and feed the world. /sarc/

18 posted on 01/27/2013 8:05:16 AM PST by aimhigh ( Guns do not kill people. Planned Parenthood kills people.)
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To: basil

Pure BS. $400 million isn’t even a drop in the bucket compared to global food supply. Just the US feed grains crop is worth $70-80 billion.

Food of all kinds has never been more plentiful worldwide.

People who are starving are the victims of their local political arrangements, not because there’s a food shortage.


19 posted on 01/27/2013 8:06:41 AM PST by jjotto ("Ya could look it up!")
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To: jjotto

Same as ENVIRONMENTALISTS who won’t allow DDT for mosquitoes in developing countries....Betcha Bill Gates would NOT use just a NET over his sleeping child to protect them from being bitten....but he provides nets to the third world so he can pretend he is helping. POS.


20 posted on 01/27/2013 8:24:12 AM PST by goodnesswins (R.I.P. Doherty, Smith, Stevens, Woods.)
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To: goodnesswins

This is MSM counting on their news consumers being ignorant.

Instead of UN press releases, go to actual agricultural news sites that are intended for producers and buyers of ag commodities. They tell a vastly different story than the MSM’s hysteria.


21 posted on 01/27/2013 8:31:45 AM PST by jjotto ("Ya could look it up!")
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To: SeekAndFind

Hundreds of million starved? At that rate the world’s overpopulation problem will solve itself in a couple of years.


22 posted on 01/27/2013 8:42:45 AM PST by csmusaret (I will give Obama credit for one thing- he is living proof that familiarity breeds contempt.)
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To: SeekAndFind

Pure alarmist drivel. The question is: Would there be more food available for consumption in 3rd world countries if G.S. withdrew from the derivatives market? Or less? The fact is that G.S. investments enable more farmers to take risks in planting crops.


23 posted on 01/27/2013 8:45:52 AM PST by Guyin4Os (A messianic ger-tsedek)
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To: SeekAndFind

It should be pointed out that this story originates from Russia Today, a Russian government financed outlet designed to improve Russia’s image abroad. RT also sends its ‘journalists’ out for employment in MSM media outlets.

It is the outlet for Julian Assange’s attacks.


24 posted on 01/27/2013 8:46:01 AM PST by jjotto ("Ya could look it up!")
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To: SeekAndFind

I’ve been told numerous times in a very condescending manner here on FR that there is no speculation behind food prices rising.

Oh well, this sort of thing hitting the news cycle will likely put something of a damper on the next bizarre speculative spike in ag commodities, the amoral b-tards. They’ll have to collectively alight on something else to keep the seven figure bonuses rolling in.


25 posted on 01/27/2013 8:50:46 AM PST by RegulatorCountry
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To: SeekAndFind

Hundreds of millions? You mean the same number of children killed by NRA members each year?


26 posted on 01/27/2013 9:01:41 AM PST by pabianice (washington, dc ..)
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To: SeekAndFind
According to a new report from the World Development Movement, Goldman Sachs made about 400 million dollars betting on food prices last year.

OMG! Which evil firm lost 400 million dollars betting on food prices last year?

Because, you know, derivatives are a zero sum game.

27 posted on 01/27/2013 9:02:29 AM PST by Toddsterpatriot (Math is hard. Harder if you're stupid.)
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To: SeekAndFind
What is immoral is not necessarily illegal

Some of the food price increase is due to crop failure, etc.

But, much more of it is due to citizen failure. Continuous election and allowing of the conditions that lead to a lack of prosperity.

Is it immoral to wager on humanity's constant ability to work against their own self interest?

28 posted on 01/27/2013 9:04:57 AM PST by riri (Plannedopolis-look it up. It's how the elites plan for US to live.)
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To: SeekAndFind
Sadly, the global food supply is getting tighter with each passing day, and things are looking rather ominous for the years ahead.

I wonder if this might be responsible for rising food prices? You know, that whole supply and demand thingie.

Nah, must be dat ebil Goldman Sachs.

29 posted on 01/27/2013 9:06:42 AM PST by Toddsterpatriot (Math is hard. Harder if you're stupid.)
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To: piytar
It really the evil rich’s fault. Uh huh.

Not that I blame them for understanding markets, but OTOH, I'd bet they also lobby the gub'mint to subsidize the turning of edible calories into unnecessarily expensive non-edible calories.

30 posted on 01/27/2013 9:19:33 AM PST by Calvin Locke
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To: Toddsterpatriot
responsible for rising food prices?

BHO's EPA, FDA, BLM, etc, and other assorted ne'er-do-wells.

31 posted on 01/27/2013 9:23:19 AM PST by Calvin Locke
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To: basil

It is. These people really need to educate themselves about the role of futures markets in a capitalist economy.


32 posted on 01/27/2013 9:40:26 AM PST by fhayek
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To: SeekAndFind

I wish I had the foresight DS had...then again even if I did I don’t have enough money to do anything about it...


33 posted on 01/27/2013 10:46:05 AM PST by BreezyDog (Illegitimi non carborundum)
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To: BreezyDog
I wish I had the foresight DS had

Who is DS?

34 posted on 01/27/2013 11:27:26 AM PST by BipolarBob (Happy Hunger Games! May the odds be ever in your favor.)
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To: SeekAndFind

It’s up to every individual to make their own way in this world, let the leaches starve.


35 posted on 01/27/2013 11:35:55 AM PST by dalereed
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To: SeekAndFind; a fool in paradise

Pure Marxism. According to the true believers, speculative investments (as all investments in stock certificates are) are immoral, because they are unproductive, in the sense that they don’t contribute to something like the electrification of the country, Lenin’s prime objective in Russia. Off with their heads! This is no joke, this is a glimpse into the minds of people like Obama, and his whisperers Ayers and Valerie.


36 posted on 01/27/2013 11:36:14 AM PST by Revolting cat! (Bad things are wrong! Ice cream is delicious!)
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To: basil

We have heard this crap before. I don’t care about the starving masses in the failed states of the third world, I don’t care what the UN thinks.

I have an obligation to help my neighbors when needed but I don’t have an obligation to help those who refuse to help themselves, you made your bed, sleep in it.


37 posted on 01/27/2013 11:48:36 AM PST by Little Bill (A)
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To: BipolarBob

Sorry Bob...I meant GS


38 posted on 01/27/2013 8:13:30 PM PST by BreezyDog (Illegitimi non carborundum)
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