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Daily Digest 9/11 - What An Aging Population Looks Like, Farmers Wanted

Chris Martenson - September 11, 2014 - 05:48
  • This Is What An Aging Population Looks Like
  • Detroit Clears Crucial Hurdle on Bankruptcy
  • The U.S. spends more on defense than the next eight countries combined
  • Learning to Love the Fed's Bubbles Is Our Only Choice
  • Moral Hazard: The Abysmal Failure of the Doctrine Of Selective Justice In Finance
  • Wanted: A Farmer
  • CO2 surge drove greenhouse gas levels to new high in 2013 - WMO
  • Printable solar panels, developed by CSIRO and Melbourne universities, one step closer to market
  • Safe lithium batteries with a long service life
  • Net Metering: Affordable Solar Panels that Actually Pay You
  • Carbon dioxide accumulates as seas and forests struggle to absorb
  • BP May Owe Anglers $585 Million After Oil Spill

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Categories: Economics

Migrant Farmworkers Find Paths Out of Poverty Through Incubator Farms

Octavio Garcia and his brothers now manage their own 6.5 acres leased from ALBA. Photo by Nancy Porto / ALBA.

Nine years ago Octavio Garcia was a seasonal laborer, spending long days bent over another man’s field in California’s Central Valley, picking strawberries for $6.25 an hour. Today the 24-year-old is manager of his own 6.5 acres, growing strawberries, tomatoes, garlic, and other produce on land leased to him by ALBA, the Agriculture and Land-Based Training Association in Salinas, Calif.

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ALBA is one of a growing number of “incubator farms” across the United States dedicated to training the next generation of farmers. According to NIFTI, the National Incubator Farm Training Initiative at Tufts University, there are currently 111 new or planned incubator projects in 38 states—up from 45 projects at the start of 2012. More than half the 5,700 aspiring farmers they serve are refugees and immigrants who will help fill an important demographic gap as current farmers age out of the profession. The average farmer, according to USDA Census of Agriculture statistics, is now over 57 years old.

Originally from Michoacán, Mexico, Garcia heard about ALBA from a fellow migrant worker. He went to an introductory talk and decided to take the five-year training. “My earnings are not huge,” he says, “because I am still investing most of what I make back into the farm. But they are more than $6.25 an hour. And what I really like is being my own boss, the freedom to do what I want when I want.” Garcia looks forward to buying his own land with help from California FarmLink, a nonprofit organization that offers loans and matching funds to beginning farmers.

There are currently 111 new or planned incubator projects in 38 states.

Chris Brown, executive director of ALBA, believes the program is a good model for ending poverty among seasonal farmworkers. For farmworkers, he says, “It’s very difficult to break out of poverty. We’re trying to help them pursue their own business.”

Though learning new regulations and marketing techniques can be challenging, ALBA’s beginning farmers often bring solid agricultural experience and entrepreneurial skills to the program, he says. Their hard work, plus growing consumer interest in buying organic, has helped ALBA’s annual produce sales go from $500,000 in 2008 to $5 million in 2014.

“This is money that’s going back into the pockets of farmers,” Brown says.

“What I really like is being my own boss, the freedom to do what I want when I want.”

ALBA, started in 2000 on land sold to the federal government’s anti-poverty program in the 1970s, is one of the oldest incubator farm programs in the country. Earnings from organic produce sold to Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and Stanford University help build economic self-sufficiency for beginning farmers and fund 70 percent of ALBA’s operating budget. The rest comes from USDA and private grants.

Aspiring farmers pay sliding scale tuition to attend ALBA’s introductory course part-time while working other jobs. Graduates can go on to the Incubator Farm Program, which provides subsidies to lease land and equipment over a five-year period. Of the 200 people who have completed the introductory course, Brown says, 90 have entered the incubator farm program, and around 25 now lease their own land elsewhere. He hopes those numbers will double over the next few years.

Mauricio Soto, 44, is Viva’s general manager, in addition to running his own farm. Photo by Amanda Wilson / Viva.

At Viva Farms, an incubator in Washington state’s Skagit Valley, farm-to-community fellow Leigh Newman-Bell also sees the incubator model as a way out of poverty for seasonal migrant workers.

“It always shocks me that a high percentage of farm workers are also receiving SNAP benefits,” she says. “How is it that people who grow the food can’t afford it themselves?”

To Save Family Farms from Corporate Buyout, Retiring Farmers Connect with a New Generation

Seasonal farmworkers who take advantage of incubator farm training will also lead healthier lives, she adds. “Many of our farmers worked as migrant laborers on large conventional farms prior to starting our program, and they came here because they wanted to farm organically to avoid being exposed to harsh pesticides.”

Newman-Bell says the program is highly valued in the community. Though only 26 people have participated in Viva’s program so far, “If you were to include all the family members, volunteers, community members, and friends who come out to lend a hand, that number would easily be in the hundreds,” she says.

Mauricio Soto, 44, worked for more than 20 years on farms in California, Washington, and Mexico. He took Viva’s training and now works as its general manager, in addition to leasing a three-quarter acre farm from the organization.

“The classes that Viva offers are very interesting,” he says. “If you apply yourself, you can do well.”

“Working my farm,” he adds, “I feel happy and free.”



Lisa Gale Garrigues wrote this article for The End of Poverty, the Fall 2014 issue of YES! Magazine. Lisa is a writer, teacher, and healing consultant based in San Francisco.

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Categories: Economics

8 Best Practices for Creating a Peer-to-Peer Marketplace

Shareable Magazine - September 10, 2014 - 11:35

At Near Me, we've learned that peer-to-peer marketplaces can be a great way for nonprofits, businesses, and communities to support their members in a fun and mutually beneficial way, if done right. 

Categories: Economics

Daily Digest 9/10 - Venezuelan Rout Deepens, U.S. Deficit Increases From 2013

Chris Martenson - September 10, 2014 - 06:52
  • Spanish yields jump on fears Scotland vote may inspire Catalonia
  • Moody's lowers outlook on Brazil's government bond rating
  • US CBO Estimates $129b Aug Govt Deficit Vs $148b Defict Aug'13
  • Russia, China agree to settle more trade in yuan and rouble
  • Venezuelan Rout Deepens as Default Specter Raised
  • UK pension deficit doubles in year to August
  • Britain faces storm as giant global investors awaken to break-up dangers
  • French budget deficit widens over year to July
  • ECB's Constancio: Further policy tools available
  • Bank of Japan Buys Government Debt at Negative Yield

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Categories: Economics

Defying Gravity

Chris Martenson - September 9, 2014 - 21:05

Today's markets exist in an Oz-like, fantasy world. For 5 years now, stock and bond prices have risen like Dorothy's balloon, without so much as a puff of downdraft to spoil the fun.

Everybody likes higher prices, so let's have them always go up! Forever!

Whether that can happen is a topic of current hot debate, though few think corrections have been permanently banished from the financial markets.

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Categories: Economics

How to Hedge Against A Market Correction

Chris Martenson - September 9, 2014 - 21:04
Executive Summary
  • What you need to know about hedging with
    • Stops
    • Inverse and leveraged ETFs
    • Shorts
    • Options
    • Futures
  • Deciding which hedging instruments are appropriate for your portfolio

If you have not yet read Part 1: Defying Gravity available free to all readers, please click here to read it first.

OK - hedging sounds prudent. But how do you do it?

Our focus here in Part 2 of this report is to cover the most common vehicles used in hedging strategies. Each one merits its own dedicated report (a series we'll likely create in the future) to truly understand how and when to best deploy, so this report will focus on providing you with a good introduction to each, with guidance on how to further explore the ones that strike you as appropriate for your needs and personal risk tolerance.


An easy way to limit your downside on large positions in your portfolio is to set stops.

(Stops can be used on positions of any size, but you'll typically want to employ them on your largest ones first, where your exposure is greater.)

stop order (also referred to as a "stop-loss" order) is used to trigger the sale or purchase of a stock once its price reaches a predetermined value, known as the stop price.

As an example, let's say you bought a stock for $50. You may decide you want to limit your maximum loss on the stock to 10%, so you enter a stop order for $45. Then, if the price of the stock subsequently drops below $45, your stop activates an order to sell the stock at market.

If instead of falling, the stock you buy climbs higher, your stop is not triggered and you continue owning the security.

As the name "stop-loss" implies, stops are intended to help you...

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Categories: Economics

A Wealthy Capitalist on Why Money Doesn't Trickle Down

Photo by AAstock / Shutterstock.

The fundamental law of capitalism is: When workers have more money, businesses have more customers. Which makes middle-class consumers—not rich businesspeople—the true job creators. A thriving middle class isn’t a consequence of growth—which is what the trickle-down advocates would tell you. A thriving middle class is the source of growth and prosperity in capitalist economies.

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Our economy has changed, lest you think that the minimum wage is for teenagers. The average age of a fast-food worker is 28. And minimum wage jobs aren’t confined to a small corner of the economy. By 2040, it is estimated that 48 percent of all American jobs will be low-wage service jobs. We need to reckon with this. What will our economy be like when it’s dominated by low paying service jobs? What proportion of the population do we want to live on food stamps? 50 percent? Does this matter? Should we care?

Businesspeople tell me they cannot afford higher wages. Not true. They can adjust to all sorts of higher costs. The minimum wage is much higher here in Seattle than in Alabama, and McDonald’s thrives in both places. Businesses adjust to higher costs, even when they say they can’t.

Our economy can be safe and effective only if it is governed by rules. Some capitalists actually don’t care about other people, their communities, or the future. Their behavior, if left unchecked, has a massive effect on everyone else. When Wal-Mart or McDonald’s or any other guy like me pays workers the minimum wage, that’s our way of saying, “I would pay you less, except then I’d go to prison.”

A thriving middle class is the source of growth and prosperity in capitalist economies.

Which brings us to the civic dimension of what the campaign to raise the minimum wage to $15 is really about. We’re undeniably becoming a more unequal society—in incomes and in opportunity. The danger is that economic inequality always begets political inequality, which always begets more economic inequality. Low-wage workers stuck on a path to poverty are not only weak customers; they’re also anemic taxpayers, absent citizens, and inattentive neighbors.

Economic prosperity doesn’t trickle down, and neither does civic prosperity. Both are middle-out phenomena. When workers earn enough from one job to live on, they are far more likely to be contributors to civic prosperity—in your community. Parents who need only one job, not two or three to get by, can be available to help their kids with homework and keep them out of trouble—in your school. They can look out for you and your neighbors, volunteer, and contribute—in your school and church. Our prosperity does not all come home in our paycheck. Living in a community of people who are paid enough to contribute to your community, rather than require its help, may be more important than your salary. Prosperity and poverty are like viruses. They infect us all—for good or ill.

An economic arrangement that pays a Wall Street worker tens of millions of dollars per year to do high-frequency trading and pays just tens of thousands to workers who grow or serve our food, build our homes, educate our children, or risk their lives to protect us isn’t an expression of the true value or economic necessity of these jobs. It simply reflects a difference in bargaining power and status.

We’re undeniably becoming a more unequal society—in incomes and in opportunity.

Inclusive economies always outperform and outlast plutocracies. That’s why investments in the middle class work, and tax breaks for the rich don’t. The oldest and most important conflict in human societies is the battle over the concentration of wealth and power. Those at the top will forever tell those at the bottom that our respective positions are righteous and good for all. Historically we called that divine right. Today we have trickle-down economics.

The trickle-down explanation for economic growth holds that the richer the rich get, the better our economy does. But it also clearly implies that if the poor get poorer, that must be good for our economy. Nonsense.

Some of the people who benefit most from that explanation are desperate for you to believe this is the only way a capitalist economy can work. At the end of the day, raising the minimum wage to $15 isn’t about just rejecting their version of capitalism. It’s about replacing it with one that works for every American.

Nick Hanauer wrote this article for The End of Poverty, the Fall 2014 issue of YES! Magazine. Nick is an early investor in Amazon and a Seattle-based entrepreneur. He is co-founder, with Eric Liu, of The True Patriot Network and co-author of The True Patriot. He speaks and writes nationally on inequality, the economy, and democracy. His recent article for Politico Magazine, “The Pitchforks Are Coming…For Us Plutocrats,” was published in June 2014.

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Categories: Economics

4 Vegetables you can plant now for a fall harvest

Chris Martenson - September 9, 2014 - 13:37

With Fall upon us, there is still time to get in a few fast growing crops into the garden.  Here are 4 ideas to get you started.  Don't forget about your kale!

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Categories: Economics

A Glossary of Collaborative Economy Slang

Shareable Magazine - September 9, 2014 - 08:28

Photo credit: Steve Bridger. Article cross-posted from

Buzzwords, buzzwords, buzzwords! Nothing is more fun than using buzzwords – except one thing: Reading all the buzzwords on a single page. Impress your colleagues at the co-working spot, your tatted Lyft drivers, and your hot Tinder dates with your immense knowledge on the latest hipster technology terms.

Categories: Economics

Daily Digest 9/9 - The Ministry Of Markets, Australia's First Fuel-Cell Bicycle

Chris Martenson - September 9, 2014 - 08:06
  • They’re Coming for Your Accounts
  • Scottish Independence YES Vote Panic - Scotland Committing Suicide and Terminating the UK?
  • The Ministry Of Markets
  • SIPC Insurance Scam from Fraud Street-Professor Laurence Kotlikoff
  • A childbirth odyssey in austerity-hit Greece
  • The Arguments for and Against Shale Oil and Gas Developments
  • Australia's first fuel cell bicycle
  • Higgs Boson could spell the end of the universe - Stephen Hawking

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Categories: Economics

Why The Dollar Is Gaining Strength

Chris Martenson - September 8, 2014 - 17:30

Recently, the US dollar has gained at lot of territory compared to the yen, pound, euro, ruble, and pretty much every other currency you can think of. The dollar is now at a 14-month high and has been on a real tear.

The reasons why are not that hard to understand, and it's important that we do.

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Categories: Economics

Solar Water Heating Basics

Chris Martenson - September 8, 2014 - 16:35

A great summary article and information to get you thinking about and installing a solar hot water system.

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Categories: Economics

7 ways to use an avocado pit

Chris Martenson - September 8, 2014 - 13:43

Some interesting ways to use the avocado pit and not worry about that hard ball of organic matter sitting around in your compost pile.

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Categories: Economics

53 Million Freelancers Shape the New Economy

Shareable Magazine - September 8, 2014 - 09:43

As the new economy grows, so too does the number of freelancers. A recent study, conducted by the independent research firm Edelman Berland and commissioned by Freelancers Union and Elance-oDesk, found that there are 53 million freelancers adding $715 billion annually to the U.S. economy.

Categories: Economics

Daily Digest 9/8 - Wind Energy Cuts Electricity Bill, Has The World Fallen Out Of Love With Gold?

Chris Martenson - September 8, 2014 - 07:34
  • Has the world fallen out of love with gold?
  • As Crises Pile Up, a President Sticks to His Deliberative Approach
  • Some Retail Workers Find Better Deals With Unions
  • Destroying ISIS May Take Years, U.S. Officials Say
  • Iran Stiffens Resolve to Elude Sanctions in Face of Latest U.S. Penalties
  • Danish wheat quality at an all-time low
  • Wind energy cuts the electricity bill 
  • The present and future of Iceland’s volcanic eruption

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Categories: Economics

US Seed Libraries Mobilize to Protect Their Right to Share

Shareable Magazine - September 8, 2014 - 07:21

In June, officials from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture alerted the Joseph T. Simpson Public Library in Mechanicsburg that their seed library was in violation of the Pennsylvania Seed Act of 2004. According to officials, the library would have to follow the prohibitively expensive procedures of large-scale commercial seed companies or only offer commercial seed. The first option is impractical and the second option would gut the exchange of its primary purpose to serve home gardeners who want to save and exchange their own seed. 

Categories: Economics

10 Open Source Policies for a Commons-Based Society

Shareable Magazine - September 7, 2014 - 12:29

Michel Bauwens is the founder of the P2P Foundation and former advisor to the goverment of Ecuador for a project to “remake the roots of Ecuador’s economy, setting off a transition into a society of free and open knowledge.” With a team of researchers and through a partipatory process involving local civic actors and global commoners, the FLOK project produced a generic transition plan to a commons society with more than 15 specific policy and legislative plans.

Categories: Economics

Francis Koster: Finding Local Investments That Pay Off for You & Your Community

Chris Martenson - September 7, 2014 - 10:06

This week we surface a gem from the archives. This podcast originally aired in March 2011. 

"Locally there are lots of nice, tidy, quarter-of-a-million-dollar investments sitting there that the large companies will not do because their overhead is too high. So one of my themes is look in your own backyard -- focus on fiscally-conservative, sound investments and focus on local employment. You will be surprised at the opportunity that just leaps out at you."

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Categories: Economics

Daily Digest 9/6 - How To Read The Jobs Report, Dengue Fever In Japan

Chris Martenson - September 6, 2014 - 08:21
  • Monthly U.S. Jobs Report: A Story Told by Numbers, With a Twist (or Two)
  • What's The Point Of Hiding It Any Longer?
  • Rare Outbreak of Dengue Fever in Japan
  • Obama outlines strategy to 'ultimately destroy' Islamic State
  • Pursuing ISIS to the Gates of Hell
  • Do High-School Students With Jobs Make More Money Later in Life?
  • More than 100,000 lose power as storms hit Chicago area
  • Wildfire Near Yosemite Forces Hundreds Evacuations

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Categories: Economics