The Beginning Of The End
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18 Sobering Facts Which Prove That The Middle Class Is Not Being Included In This “Economic Recovery”

Have you heard the news?  The stock market is absolutely soaring and according to the U.S. government and the Federal Reserve we are in the beginning stages of a robust economic recovery.  Yippee!  The S&P 500 is up 6.8 percent so far in 2011, and the stock market recently hit a two and a half year high.  So shouldn't we all be celebrating?  Well, if stock market performance was an accurate measure of economic health, then Zimbabwe would have had one of the healthiest economies on the entire globe during the last decade.  But just like Zimbabwe's stock market was artificially pumped up with "funny money" that was rapidly being devalued, so is ours.  All of the "quantitative easing" that the Federal Reserve has been doing is pumping plenty of money into the financial markets and is helping to inflate a false stock market bubble, but it is doing very little to alleviate the suffering of the U.S. middle class.  In fact, when you take a closer look at the numbers you quickly find out that the suffering of the middle class is getting even worse.

According to Gallup, the unemployment rate is now over 10%.  The number of Americans that have given up looking for work recently set a new all-time record.  The number of mortgages in foreclosure tied a record high during the fourth quarter of 2010.  Gas and food prices are rising rapidly.  The number of Americans on food stamps continues to increase every single month.

Yes, right now the economic situation is not in free fall like it was a couple years ago.  We should be thankful for that.  Periods of relative stability such as we are enjoying now will be few and far between in the years ahead.  This "bubble" of economic calm is a great opportunity that we should all be taking advantage of.

However, those that are hoping that this is an economic "turning point" and that things will soon be back to "normal" are going to be greatly disappointed.  This is about as "normal" as things are going to be ever again.

Even during this time of relative economic stability, the U.S. middle class is still being ripped to shreds.  If there are those among your family and friends that are somehow convinced that the U.S. economy is recovering nicely, you might want want to show them the following 18 very sobering facts....

#1 According to Gallup, the U.S. unemployment rate is currently 10.3 percent.  When you add in part-time American workers that want full-time employment, that number rises to 20.2 percent.

#2 According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of job openings in the United States declined for a second straight month during December.

#3 There are currently more than 4 million Americans that have been unemployed for more than a year.

#4 The number of Americans that have become so discouraged that they have given up searching for work completely now stands at an all-time high.

#5 Gasoline prices in the United States recently hit a 28-month high.

#6 During the 4th quarter of 2010, 4.63 percent of all U.S. home loans were in foreclosure.  That matched the all-time high, and it was up significantly from 4.39 percent in the 3rd quarter.

#7 It is estimated that there are about 5 million homeowners in the United States that are at least two months behind on their mortgages, and it is being projected that over a million American families will be booted out of their homes this year alone.

#8 Almost 14 percent of all credit card accounts in the United States are currently 90 days or more delinquent.

#9 The average credit card rate in the United States had increased to a whopping 13.44 percent at the end of 2010.

#10 Americans now owe more than $890 billion on student loans, which is even more than they owe on credit cards.

#11 Average household debt in the United States has now reached a level of 136% of average household income.  In China, average household debt is only 17% of average household income.

#12 U.S. life expectancy at birth is now three years less than Canada and four years less than Japan.

#13 New home sales in the state of California were at the lowest level ever recorded in the month of January.

#14 43 percent of all mortgages in south Florida are currently underwater.

#15 Prior to the most recent economic downturn, there were usually somewhere around four to five million job openings in America.  Today there are about 3 million.

#16 When you adjust wages for inflation, middle class workers in the United States make less money today than they did back in 1971.

#17 One out of every seven Americans is now on food stamps.

#18 One out of every six elderly Americans now lives below the federal poverty line.

You know things are bad when articles start popping up in the mainstream news instructing us how to interact socially with the hordes of unemployed Americans that are out there today.  A recent USA Today article entitled "What not to say to someone who is unemployed" listed some of the things that you should not say to someone that does not have a job.  The following are some of their suggestions on what NOT to say....

"Hey, have you found anything yet?"

"How's the search going?"

"You just have to pound the pavement."

"Something will turn up."

"It's tough out there."

"Other people are going through the same thing."

"Maybe you're asking for too much money."

"Maybe you should go back to school."

"There are plenty of jobs out there."

I am sure most of us have heard things like this at one time or another.  It can be a soul-crushing thing to have others like at you in pity because you don't have a job and you can't pay the mortgage and feed your family.

Most unemployed Americans are not lazy.  The vast majority of them desperately want jobs.  But the U.S. economy is not producing nearly enough jobs today.  As noted above, the U.S. economy currently has about 3 million job openings, but approximately 20 percent of the workforce wants to find a full-time job.  The demand for jobs is far, far, far greater than the supply.

Unfortunately, this is the legacy of decades of bad economic decision-making.  The U.S. economy should be able to provide work for every single person that wants it, but because of the choices that have been made that will never be the case again.

The middle class in America is being ripped to shreds right in front of our eyes and very little is being done to stop it.  Desperation is rising across the nation.  More Americans slip into poverty every single day.  It is almost as if a cloud of gloom and despair has descended upon the U.S. economy and every single month the situation only seems to get darker.

So what about you?  How has this economy affected you and your family?  Please feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts below....

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  • Kevin

    Globalization at it’s finest.

    I think Winston Churchill said this (or real close to it) at the start of the Battle of Britain, “This is not the end or the beginning of the end, it is however the end of the beginning”.

    With another billion to employ at virtual slave wages in developing and yet to be developed Asia the excess of manpower and it’s ability to lower wages in the developed world will be felt for decades.

    It’s kinda like what Henry Ford was faced with in the 1920s when he doubled the wages of his employees. He said, “If my workers can’t buy my cars who can ?”. Fifty cent labor fueled by the “bottomless pit of Asian manpower” does not a consumer make. Something is out of order when the people doing the manufacturing cannot buy the goods they make.

    This is just a simple observation.

  • Liberte

    The way to crush the bourgeoisie is to grind them between the millstones of taxation and inflation. So said Lenin.

    But what I say is this: The way to crush the bolsheviks is to know who they are.

    Study your (true) history.

  • Todd

    Well, My family has been ripped to shreds alright.

    Overall combined (My father, and myself) make about 60k a year. We can barely survive we keep looking to cut things, and make things cheaper but it’s just not working fast enough.

    My wife can’t find a job, and now student loans are starting to become issues. (won’t go in to further details).

    Tax returns taken, and various other things, Can’t even afford dental care. We don’t even get to go out anymore, and lucky to get any type of snacks. Just so you know there are 5 people living in this house.

    What started it all was a few unemployment stints and a few surgeries. The only thing that we do “splurg” on is the internet and tv. It’s rather ridiculous.

  • gregge johnson

    why hasnt anybody done a report on the massive shoplifting of food at supermarkets?????

  • Gary2

    Why have the folks that caused this not been punished? Hedge fund managers still only pay 15% on their income. Why has the repubes gone to the mat for more tax cuts for the rich?

    Why is the crisis being paid for by the poor and the middle class while the rich feel no paid and even get tax cuts? Why are we cutting WIC and home heating assistance yet giving tax cuts to the rich?

    Until this is fixed nothing will change. We need to tax the rich and spread the wealth.

    This is one f’ed up country and society that gives the rich tax cuts they don’t need or deserve yet is saying we all need to share in the pain while they do not share in the pain.

    Let me repeat-We are giving the rich more tax cuts at the same time we are cutting WIC etc for poor mothers and infants. I read that if the federal government simply gave the states the amount of money it gave to just AIG none of the states would have any budget shortfalls. To hell with all of them.

  • Jeff in Fredericksburg, VA

    First to give you a little background on me. I graduated college in May 2000 with a Bachelors degree in Broadcasting/Minored in History. I have worked for major corporations as an Enterprise Sales Consultant selling Servers. I was a Network Engineer for Qwest Communications. I even worked for the Federal Government and held a Security Clearance for 4 years. I also won Dell Small Business Sales Consultant of the quarter as well. But since I don’t have an active clearance anymore no one wants to hire me in D.C. I lost my job in 07/2010 and from 07/2010-Present I have been unemployed. My food stamps were also recently cut off last month since the State of Virginia decided that for a household of 1 you can’t make more than $1178 a month. I make $1250 a month in Unemployment compensation before taxes so according to the Government I am too rich to receive Food stamps now. My Rent, Gas and Car insurance is $1000 a month and I am holding on for dear life. I am currently in the process of declaring Chapter 7 Bankruptcy and using my tax return to pay the attorney $1500 to file. That leaves me with only #250 a month for food, water and cell phone.

    I have a list compiled in my Google email with approximately 784 applications I have filled out for every government agency, defense contractor and job available in the Washington, DC area. I even applied to Carmax and my old jon in college waiting tables at red Lobster and the moving company I used to work at during the summers in college. If its bad for someone like me with over 10 years of Sales, Server/computer experience, Investigations and Network Engineering than I can’t imagine how bad it is for people that just have a high school diploma. I have been on one interview out of the almost 1000 jobs I have applied to(It takes about 2 hours to apply to one job). The one interview I went on offered me less than my unemployment gives me at $8 an hour. I can sit at home and make more money on unemployment than 80% of the jobs that I have applied too and even those jobs don’t call me. Is this what America has become? Is this what I sacrificed 5 years of my life in college from 17 years old to 21 years old and spent $40,000 to get a worthless degree that won’t even get you hired? Every email I get from a recruiter asks…
    “Where are you working now?”
    “Are you unemployed?”…..”
    “Do you have an active Top secret clearance?”

    I also am afraid that because of my Credit and my financial situation that is causing employers to not hire me. Once I let the employer do a credit check on me I never hear from them again and I even send Personal Hand written Thank you cards! So I am going back to school to get my Network+Certificate. I hope this will make a difference in my job search. Its hard out here but I keep the faith. I mean what is it going to take?
    24 masters degrees?….PHD’s? Do I need to go to law school too?

    I even sent my resume to my state senators, My congressman and my senator asking to intern or do anything in their office! All I get are form letters back! The only good politician that actually writes me back is my Virginia Delegate Mark Cole. All the rest ignore me. If our government doesn’t do something soon then there will be riots in DC and in every major capitol.

    I Also am going to add my two cents on the topic of Food stamps since I actually have been on food stamps from 07/2010-Present(Yes I know I know since I am a Libertarian I shouldn’t even accept government assistance is what you are all thinking on the Buzz board). Well my answer to that is that I am not going to go hungry so I can prove a certain political philosophy or be a burden on my family or friends. I Thank god every day that I have food Stamps. If it wasn’t for Food stamps I would be in REALLY bad shape. Maybe that doesn’t make me Libertarian but when reality hits you in the face and you have to do what you have to do to survive politics go out the window and not starving to death is a MUCH higher priority. I get $200 a month on the Virginia EBT card. I usually run out of Food Stamps at about the 25th of every month but usually I have enough food to survive that last week until the 1st when the EBT card gets re-loaded.

    From my 6 months of observations and shopping on food stamps here is my normal shipping list, what I eat, etc.

    Pretty much you always eat at home and prepare all your meals at home. Going to Chick-Fil-A is a once a month treat for me and so is Starbucks. Other than that I haven’t been to a Restaurant like Outback. Red Lobster, Chili’s in about 4 months. Rent, Gas, and Car Insurance take up about $750 a month in expenses just to put a roof over my head and have transportation. I can only afford the ghetto $40 a month no credit check phone from Best Buy which I pay ahead every month. And believe me its definitely not a Smart phone and there is NO Internet on the phone…LOL.
    I brew my own coffee every day and always buy the big canisters of Folgers since Maxwell House is Nasty. When you are on SNAP benefits(I love how the Government renamed Food stamps to the wonderful euphemism of the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program……hilarious!). The only place that you can really afford to shop at and be able to afford protein is Wal-mart. I tried Wegmans one month and I was out of food stamps by the 15nth. I eat alot of Tostino’s Pizza’s, Peanut butter sandwiches and eat alot of cereal and spaghetti that I freeze in containers. You HAVE to go to Wal-mart at the beginning of the month because thats when the sales are for bulk items. You have get their early on the 1st because usually all the bulk rice, bulk sugar, bulk coffee, and $1 loaves of bread are hoarded off the shelves by the big families that come in with $1000 EBT cards.

    FORGET about purchasing anything Organic! Let me stress that again if you start buying anything organic like Milk, eggs or organic vegetables or fruit you will starve by the 20th of the month. I know because I tried. You can survive off of Food stamps for one person but the only protein I get is from eggs, peanut butter or hamburger meat that is 70/30 thats in my spaghetti I make. Forget about buying any lean hamburger meat or ground turkey which is $4 a pound now at Wal-mart. I make sure I take daily vitamins and minerals. If you don’t take Vitamins or minerals on the food stamp diet I would be really worried about major vitamin and mineral deficiencies. The Folgers bulk coffee cans used to be $6.99 and now they are $9.99 which really sucks if you are a coffee drinker like me. The biggest expenses I have is for frozen chicken breasts and anything that is a protein item. I can only afford to eat fish once every two weeks(I wish I could eat fish, shrimp or crab more often) I have gone a week without any protein since the EBT card ran out and let me tell you that my body is not a happy camper eating just frozen pizza’s and noodles. It is much harder than I thought it was going to be as well. I really hate Wal-mart but I am forced to shop there since its all I can afford. I wish I could eat the Yogurt too but if I purchase a 14 day supply of Yogurt its almost $40 now. One of the best ways to survive I haver found is Instant quaker oatmeal and cheerios and Milk. I eat that almost every day. I also lived a week off of cheese hot dogs and corn dogs as well.

    I hope this helped explain to people that $200 a month isn’t shit. You will not starve or die but I have gained like 15 pounds from all the transfats, white flour products, corn sugar products and processed foods. I also have found that one main thing that is important is make sure you dress in shitty clothes when you whip out that EBT card. One day I made the mistake of buying food with my EBT card with my suit and tie on coming back from a job interview and I received many really shitty, condescending looks from people.

    Finally let me add that I have a wonderful family that invite me over for dinner. My brothers take care of me and so does my Mom by making me feel like a normal person. They make me feel Human when I eat home cooked meals that are delicious and healthy. They are all I have in this world and without them I would really struggling right now.

    I really hope someone from congress or the President reads this.

    I keep the hope though that America will be stronger coming out of this. We need strong leaders. We need strong men and women of integrity. Without my faith in God I would not be where I am. Things will turn around for me. I know it. I want to give you all hope to not give up. But do some research on what is really causing all this. I buy silver, I buy MRE’s and storable food, water filter and a solared power flashlight AM/FM radio and a good military grade knife.

  • mondobeyondo

    Haven’t you heard the news? The recession is over! It ended in July of 2009. Home Depot is hiring! I heard it all on the CBS Evening News!

    Oh well, whatever. Nevermind. (“Smells Like Teen Spirit”, Nirvana, 1991)

    I lost track of how many resumes I’ve sent out during the past several months. My neighbors think I’m trying to win the Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes or something (yeah, that would help too! Ha!)

    Maybe I should go back to school and become an RLP (Rejection Letter Professional).

  • mondobeyondo

    We’ve been down this road before. This isn’t new. Unfortunately, we are very slow learners, and when it comes to history, we tend to ignore it. History may not repeat itself sometimes, but it does tend to rhyme.
    ——————-
    “They used to tell me I was building a dream
    And so I followed the mob
    When there was earth to plow or guns to bear,
    I was always there, right on the job

    They used to tell me I was building a dream
    With peace and glory ahead
    So why am I here standing in line
    Just waiting for bread?”

    “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?” (1932)
    ——————-
    Guess what?? They told me I would get Social Security, and Medicare, and a pension when I retired. So why am I here standing in line, to buy eggs with my food stamp card?

  • Colin

    My mother is unemployed. She is 61 years old, has 25 years of experience working for a major telecommunications corporation, and has a four-year degree. I watch her send application after application to employers with no response. I watch her get contacted by recruiters who say she is a ‘perfect fit’ for a job and never deliver. I watch her slide into depression and staying in bed many hours of the day.

    I am 38 years old, I have mental illness, and I recently lost my job as a delivery driver because the owner sold his business to a competitor.

    I don’t believe that either my mother or I will ever be employed again. I am beginning to feel that I am permanently in the world of the unemployed. I feel as trapped as I did when I spent weeks in an in-patient clinic for the mentally ill where you could never leave and you know that there is a world out there just beyond the locked doors.

    `They are Man’s,” said the Spirit, looking down upon them. “And they cling to me, appealing from their fathers. This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased. Deny it!” cried the Spirit, stretching out its hand towards the city. “Slander those who tell it ye! Admit it for your factious purposes, and make it worse! And bide the end!” “Have they no refuge or resource?” cried Scrooge. “Are there no prisons?” said the Spirit, turning on him for the last time with his own words. “Are there no workhouses?” Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol, 1843

  • Mimiq

    These points are obvious signs and portents for any American who reads and listens to our daily news. Many of these points apply to my current financial life and chills my soul for the future of my three children. You are performing a valuable service by discriminating the truth however grim and ugly. The truth is our only beacon out of this. I just read John Bogle’s speech on what went wrong. How timely. Thanks for your work, Mimiq

  • Colin

    For myself, I am willing to forgo a cellular phone and cable tv. This week, I am handing in my phone. If they ask why, I will say, “I am unemployed. I am broke. I can’t pay for this luxury.” If I have a phone and internet connection, I am ok.

    I am able to survive this by relating my experience to those who lived in the past and in the present. I am no worse off or better off than anyone else. I am just like everyone else. For someone with my illness, this is a small comfort.

    Two years ago, when I voted for Barack Obama, I didn’t understand just how far right our country has shifted in my lifetime or my mother’s lifetime. That is until I saw a segment on Rachel Maddow. Here is the Republican Party Platform of 1956:
    http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=25838
    It’s amazing for myself reading this document how many of these proposals are now supported by the Democrats and repudiated by the Republicans.

    I feel this shift has contributed to the decay we see in our country. How can a nation be governed responsibly when there is no balance in our political process? Our nation’s policies are determined by a fidelity to ideology and not patriotism. I feel we need to take our country from the radical and reactionary politicians that now fill the halls of Congress and the White House, and on the news channels. Our politicians are pushing aside the people of this country as they debate access to abortion, protection and maintenance of the environment, the funding of NPR, etc., etc, etc. Though these issues are important, they are not so important as getting our economy to work for the American people.

    I asked my mother a question last year, If the last middle class person disappears in this country, will anyone notice their passing?

  • dilby

    you americans have brought this on yourselves, too many years of borrow borrow borrow and living the high life with your cheap oil. Now you have to pay back all your debt, but because of having it so easy for so long you have forgotten how to run an economy. The worst thing is that you are dragging the rest of the world down with you. You guys are to patriotic and narrow minded and have missed what has been happening else where. Why dont you just start some more wars over some BS reason? That should create some more jobs building your weapons of mass destruction.

  • BJ99-MD

    Employed citizens have no idea what is going on in this country – and they are NOT trying to find out. They think they have been spared because they are still working so the problem won’t touch them. Then, when their rug is pulled out from under them, they are like a deer in headlights. Its happening every day. Our government needs to start telling the public the truth so that we can try to adequately prepare — but they refuse. Unemployment is rising but that fact is under the radar because employers learned to stop laying off large numbers at one time. Unemployment is now like a constantly dripping faucet. This country relies on the daily news to keep them informed – the daily news is only concerned with how well Wall Street is doing. Wall Street and the banks are doing better than great – and that’s all the PTB in this country want to know. This morning on the news, they were trying to tell us that we need to learn how to eat stink bugs. Now, why would they waste their time on that? Oh wait, they don’t waste time because time is money. Hmmmm.

  • BJ99-MD

    P.S. To Jeff in Fredericksburg, you are learning how to survive. Keep learning! In the near future, you will be that much better off. Look at all the people around us that can’t even stop going on shopping sprees even when they know their jobs are in jeopardy. And thank you for that well-written slice of life – many of us are also there. Perhaps our knowledge of what’s coming toward us will help. Nothing has been done about anything.

  • William

    # 16 is the most worrisome. For 40 years, income for the average American has stayed the same. The Wall St criminals have seen their incomes sky rocket, and their taxes drop. The Republican plan for the destruction of America continues on pace……be careful of WHO you vote for…..you just might be surprised in the result.

  • http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com Wood Burner

    The unfortunate fact is many Americans have forgotten that the fastest way to become a servant to the money masters is to be in debt. No debt = freedom. In the current version of America it is very hard to exist without some form of debt. That is precisely as the “elite” want it and most “free Americans” have bought into the get it now lifestyle all too easily.

    “Among the natural rights of the colonists are these: first, a right to life; second, to liberty; third, to property; together with the right to support and defend them in the best manner they can. These are the evident branches of the duty of self-preservation, commonly called the first law of nature. All men have a right to remain in a state of nature as long as they please; and in case of intolerable oppression, civil or religious, to leave the society they belong to, and enter into another.”
    Sam Adams

    Our government, whether local, state or federal, has claimed ownership of everything. We have merely become “squatters”. If you dispute this, ask yourself what happens if you do not pay the rent (property tax) on the land you currently are squatting on. If you “own” anything you are already in debt to some government agency.

    Prepare yourselves……”If you love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home and leave us in peace. We seek not your council, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you; and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.” Sam Adams

    God bless you and your families.

  • http://www.grandmasdepressionmemories.com/ Leigh Kimmel

    My husband had to take early retirement. He was hoping to work all the way to 67, in spite of a very unpleasant work environment, but last year he got a negative performance view full of bogus complaints that were so subjective there was no way to challenge them. This was after almost thirty years of “meets or exceeds expectations” performance reviews. It was clear that somebody had orders to drum out all the older workers who were getting to the top end of their pay scales and replace them with cheap younger workers. Since he’s old enough to be eligible for early retirement, he decided it was better to jump than be kicked, because if he were dismissed, he’d lose all his accumulated vacation days, a sum that was a real help in getting him from his last paycheck to his first pension check (which was late).

    I run a bookselling business and build websites, but my book sales are way down compared to a few years ago. We are very concerned about what may be happening soon, and are really focusing on eliminating the debts we accumulated after a string of misfortunes in 2005.

  • Kevin

    Gary2

    You stated.. “Why have the folks that caused this not been punished?”

    Well it’s because for the most part they we’re re-elected. Wall Street for the most part did not break the law. When Glass-Stegall was abandoned the banking and investment firms regulations were significantly reduced. Speculation and packaged debt sold as an asset once illegal became legal and for the most part the re-regulation post crash is cosmetic. OBTW the “New Rules” that were incorporated into legal code to replace the once stringent Glass Stegall we’re signed into law by that pillar of integrity Bill Clinton who is a damn near an icon of the Democratic Party. He signed into law NAFTA and China Free Trade too.

    The Democrats and Republicans in majorities of both party’s voted for NAFTA and China Free Trade. Once again instead of being punished at the polls the incumbents we’re re-elected after both of these trade deals that have damn near eviscerated US industry.

    Personally I don’t care if we tax the rich as you propose. I’m just telling you that the revenues received are insignificant to balance the budget. Even if the budget was balanced the trade imbalance caused by foreign surplus virtual slave labor would still facilitate the loss of more, “Good jobs at good wages”. Remember that line from 1988? Well our downfall predates that by almost two decades. The rate of decline massively increased with the trade deals that both party’s supported in abundance. Yes your pet Democrats differ very little from the Republicans. For the most part they “Talk the Talk” but don’t “Walk the Walk”. Eighty percent of US Senate Democrats voted for China Free Trade and they then had the audacity to court labors vote.

    Any questions?

  • mark

    Jeff,yes times are tough and are going to get worse. I am sorry to say this but coffee and ground meat will not be in many homes. You can eat better with rice and beans. A 25 pound sack of rice can be bought for $10 and a 25 pound sack of dry pinto beans can be had for $12.85 at costco. This will help to make it through the month. And a word about help from families. They should be the first place people in need turn to. The government is the last place. This is what families are for. Private charities are before government. Many families will have to live together to survive as much of the rest of the world does. P.S. buy the rice and beans now for the price will rise a lot.

  • roadrunner

    Hey guys, don’t worry…be happy…just like Mrs. O’Bama, on another lux trip with Malia & Shasha, at a ski resort. They are not full of anxiety, why should you all be.

  • sharonsj

    Welcome to the wonderful world of living on an annual income of about $12,000 for a single person. (The two guys making $60,000 are well off compared to us). The only reason I am not out on the street is that when I had money I paid off my mortgage.

    However, because I did that, my food stamp allotment is only $25 a month. The heating assistance I get only paid for less than one months’ heat out of the six months I need here in Pennsylvania. All other expenses use up what’s left, so you learn to eat at home; I try not to leave the house because it’s going to cost me money.

    I blame Congress for destroying America. They have given tax breaks to themselves and their rich friends at our expense. Did you know that anybody who serves 5 years in Congress gets a FULL pension at age 62? Us peasants work for 45 years and then if we retire at age 62 we are forced to give up 25% of what we earned.

  • Scott

    Jeff was very articulate and a good writer. Thanks for the explanation.
    I’ve been “poor” all my life it seems. Yet, I learned early and live well. I have 7 children, 3 still at home and a good wife. I have built my 3,000′ home with scraps from other homes and barns. We’ve lived on beans and rice and vegies, good protien, my kids are trim and strong. I could get foodstamps if I wanted them. Our cars have 200,000 miles each. My kids are good at viola, cello, violin and piano. We have a piano room.
    Americans can live on less, they have forgotten the skills needed.
    In my opinion, it will get much worse because of the Fed and our cheating, stealing government.
    It’s time for rugged individualism and huge resistance to the state.
    The Bible says that work, water, food are the three ingredients of happiness. There is much work to be done, even if it’s “unpaid”. Are you up to the job?

  • Niles

    I lost my house, my family was split, and all my savings is gone.

    I have lost hope. I served in the military, went to college and have high tech skills. My country doesn’t give a shit about me. The bankers are as evil as the communists and I hate them.

  • http://www.phantomreport.com DSRehder

    The U.S. BLS should be renamed the U.S. bureau of BS. Statistics are used fit data to a desired result. They are fudging the numbers to make data appear better than the data really is. Statistics are used everyday to convince the public their data or product is a better choice than the competitors.
    U.S. bureau of BLS + CSI data+ corrupt thugs and goons running government = deception at it’s highest against the American people.
    Always be prepared for the worst!

  • Mariposa de Oro
  • Gabrial Singh

    This is the Ronald Reagan strategy to dumb down amerika and outsource our jobs to china, et al, because it is all about the profits of billionaires. Dont worry sheeple, some will “trickle down” to you soon. Just as soon as you relocate to China.

    This strategy also takes care of all you troublemakers and whiners, who dont want to get “rich”. If you dont want to get rich, and give all our tax money to rich people, you ARE NOT a good little conservative.

    Whatsa matter with you, it worked for the hillbilly from Wasilla, why wont that work for you?? Isnt someone calling you right now to run for VP??

  • Kevin

    Jeff

    Sorry if this seems callus but did you honestly believe that a BA in Broadcast and History had sufficient job opportunities?

    My friend is an instrument mechanic / tech that has an associates degree in that field dating back from the 1970s. He has been laid off many times but ends up jumping from chemical plant to similar facility and has relocated several times. His son wanted to “do what he liked” and went to Temple University graduating with a BA in “Film Editing” in 2002. That education cost his old man a hard to come by 60K. The kid has yet to find a job in that field or anything remotely close to it.

    I aimed my boy to becoming an Electrician. He is working steady. Sometimes slow, sometimes with OT but with skilled “educated hands” he will survive.

    Sorry if I’m so cold but unless you have a lot of support you must get skilled in a field that is in demand. First you find out how to make a living. If by some chance you love the field terrific. If you don’t your still paying the bills. I hated rotating shift work but did it for 30 years and on occasion worked in 130 degree heat. Against the law, you bet. Can you be in there for more then a few minuets ? No. What you like does not matter. It’s called work for a reason.

  • Jesse

    Yet do you ever see anyone in MSM or .gov talk of an immigration moratorium? No, despite jobs disaster and not to mention other hurdles for white guys in particular like Affirmative Action etc, then Geithner and Hatch said MORE H1-Bs the other day!!!

  • http://erectuswalksamongstus.com Max Hardwood

    Middle class, huh? ‘Middle Class’ is an illusion
    brought to you by the main-stream media. Middle
    class means debt-serfdom, zero-assets. Middle
    class is defined by status symbols, the type
    of car you drive, the ‘McMansion’ home. Middle
    class is a ‘managed’ perception of affluence.
    Everybody already ‘has’ everything. 5 tv’s, 3
    cars, 2 homes, cell phone, you name it. Now-
    adays, EVERYONE is middle class (at least so
    they think). There’s no middle class anymore.
    We’re all slaves to the banksters. Go ahead and believe you’re ‘middle-class’. You and
    me and everyone else all get stuck in the same
    traffic jams, in the same cars, eat the same
    food, date the same losers, have the same
    thoughts. No, wait, I’m ‘middle-class’: I’m
    special. I’m better than you. I’ve ‘made it’. No you haven’t. Not until you clear all
    of the misconceptions you’ve formed through
    the years of your life, while you’ve been
    programmed. Not until you realize everything
    you believe is a drop in the bucket to reality. (Hat tip-Charles Hugh Smith).

  • Dorothy Johnson

    I live in Illinois, one of the most corrupt states in the US. The state is bankrupt, and so is Chicago, which I recently relocated to. Even though unemployment is at record highs, they continue to raise taxes. Then have the audacity to cut services. The free Cook County hospitals have been cutting staff for years, and I recently heard of more cuts. Those of us, like myself, have no recourse, except to forego medical and dental care. I recently began going to a clinic where they have a sliding fee schedule, but my situation got so bad that I couldn’t even afford that! So, now I have to go back to the County hospital emergency room so that I can be admitted to the clinics and get medical care. This takes weeks, sometimes months, and my condition continues to get worse.

    I am 62, and decided to take early retirement six months ago. The rent at the place I lived was so high that I couldn’t afford it on a school bus driver’s salary, which I was doing for the past few years, because in spite of 30 years clerical experience, where I performed every function from clerk typist to executive legal secretary, I could not find employment. So I applied for subsidized housing and was forced to move back to Chicago, where the crime rate is very high in certain areas.

    Before I moved I was getting $200 in food stamps, but now that I am in subsidized housing, I have to go and reapply and if I get anything at all, I have heard that it will be about $52 a month! Although the rent is subsidized, I have to pay for my own heat, and the building in which I live is completely electric! Energy assistance doesn’t cover it. They give with one hand and take away with the other.

    I could go on and on, but those of you who have already written have said pretty much what my life has been like for years. As Jeff stated, everyone should do their own research, and what you will find will be very disturbing. This crisis has been coming for decades, and things will never be the same. That’s the truth and the sooner people accept that, the sooner we can decide what course of action to take to survive, or change things on our own. The government is NOT going to do anything for us! I am no longer middle class, and I can accept that, but would like to be given a fair chance! I did not want to retire, but had no option. I could not even pay my rent!

    Don’t give up those of you who are looking for work. You might have to go back and get training in another field. My daughter got laid off in April, and her unemployment will run out soon. She is not eligible for food stamps because of child support payments. Soon she will have to go to food pantries because she has an 18 year old, who is in his last year of high school. It is really tragic what people are going through.

    Also, like Jeff, I am about to begin purchasing canned food, etc., get a good water filter, flashlight, batteries, radio and toiletries. If a revolt happens (which seems like, especially given the protests going on in Wisconsin), we will need these things to survive. People need to wake up and see what’s going on.

  • Michael

    I’m also 38, and have worked in IT since the mid 90s. I lost my full time job in April ’03, and have only been able to find short term temporary work since. The contracts started to get shorter and fewer as the years went on, so in spring ’10 I retrained to be an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) but have not been able to find work in the last 9 months. An ambulance company I applied with said that they have hundreds of applications in several Northern CA counties but no job openings. And health care jobs are supposed to be on the the only areas of growth. I deliver pizzas for cash on and off and am getting unemployment.

    Thankfully, my mom is still working (been with the same company since ’80).

  • SufferingontheWcoast

    I’ve been in the workforce now for over 40 years and have never, ever, seen this severe of a downturn. IMHO this is way beyond a recession. Our government wants to shade the truth and they outright lie in order to put a happy face on the situation and avoid things like COLA increases for those on social security.

    There is no recovery, in fact, with the increased prices in groceries and fuel, things are rapidly getting much worse due to Bernanke rolling the printing presses. A head of lettuce that 1 month ago cost $1.49 is now $2.49. Gas prices locally have increased 50 cents a gallon in the past 2 weeks. I’ve noticed other packaged goods reducing the size without reducing the price.

    With all the Americans who are living off their IRA’s & 401K’s, soon the money will run out, just at the time the elites in this country have succeeded in reducing any hope of assistance.

    We need to stand with the union workers in Wisconsin who are standing up for themselves against a tyrannical government, organized by the elitists (Koch bros) who are hell-bent on sucking the last pennies and dimes from the middle class.

    Our only hope is to make it clear to the politicians that it’s game over and you’re either for us, or against us, and the latter is not your option.

  • http://www.phantomreport.com DSRehder

    Those who own a house and are reading economic collapse daily, weekly, monthly have seen there house value drop by 50% or more since Oct 2008. I for one would walk away and give it back to the corrupt bankers. You will never get a return on your loss. The bankers do it all the time. Bad investment walk away to the next scheme. I know that walking away is not an option for everyone, but if you are young enough to start over do it now.

    Corrupt bankers + real estate = real estate that has become a consumer product , not an investment.
    http://www.phantomreport.com

  • CatNap
  • Steve

    There is actually really quite a simple solution to ALL of our problems we face as a nation. For a few years, we need to just FIRE ALL POLITICIANS. That means no wasted tax payer monies on unnecessary election costs, no taxpayer money wasted on special medical insurance for wasteful politicians, no paychecks to wasteful politicians unnecessary incomes. Just be done with politics. Let the system’s laws that are in place work. No need to rewrite the same laws a million times over and over again. Besides, there are only 10 laws that really matter ultimately.
    We as a society need to see ALL politicians as they really are… manipulating, control freaks that dont want to live by the same rules that they demand on everyone else. They are “above the law”, and they all need to be fired!

  • Kevin

    Suffering

    Your correct this is not a recession or a depression. This is the result of a realignment of global power and it’s great transfer of wealth from the developed world to the developing world. We’re not recovering any more then we were expanding our economy after manufacturing left and the debt engine took it’s place.

    Regarding inflation the government seen this day coming quite a while back. This is why ever so conveniently they removed food and fuel in the tabulation of inflation. Back when the numbers meant something decades ago a GDP increase from debt was not considered an increase. If we tabulated our GDP with a true creation of goods and services (not debt driven) even a blind man would see that we’re falling hard.

    Pull the debt and we stop. Continue the debt and we destroy the currency and then stop. One rock and one very hard place.

  • impeachRonPaul

    All of this and republicans demanded tax cuts for the banksters! added one trillion to deficit!

    These right wingers are using an angry religion to control the uneducated in Texas and Alabama and use the christian churches to divide people. The rich are laughing at the religous right and enjoying the profits they give them. The republicans want no aid to the people but trillions to the rich in tax cuts.

    The religous right is after our freedom and want goverment control on behavior. The main agenda of the republican party is elimination of the middle class.

  • Tom

    I think American jobs are now more across the Pacific. American subsidiaries are hiring urgently in the Philippines, right now. They even offer a full month salary just for signing up for a year. Get the message? Go West…

  • The Unicorn

    Just my take on the article.
    As an example I’m just using stock ticker AMZN.If you look it up you’ll find the P/E to be on the high side.The stock is at almost a 5yr high.I could give example after example of the same conditions in the market.

    The sad thing about retraining for a job is that schooling without experience is almost worthless and when you hit 35yrs nobody wants to train you.Its just to expensive, your insurance costs will be higher,you have less years to retirement,the odds start working againist you.There is also alot more outsourcing then ever before.As an example I contracted for this job and it required a 10yr background check,etc. I got the job no problem but when I got there I learned that the entire human resources dept. and 90% of the receiving and inventory dept. had been outsourced.I’m guessing India.Everything was scan based.Thats the future,if you sit behind a computer your job can be outsourced.

  • Gerald

    We need to reconfigure the food stamp program. This car system only benefits the corporations and fraud. In some places people sell their cards and numbers for drugs. Most people who use them benefit from them, though. We need to go back to the old system whereby the government gives people cheese, powdered milk, rice and other staples. Most Americans are killing themselves with a poor diet and this card only perpetuates it. The old way was cheaper, healthier and more practical. We have help people the most efficient way possible. Local communities are the most effective. I am really shocked this guy didn’t have enough sense to go to the local church. Churches give all kind of aid to people genuinely in need.

  • Ivan

    Niles
    February 21st, 2011 at 5:46 pm
    I lost my house, my family was split, and all my savings is gone.
    The bankers are as evil as the communists and I hate them.

    LOL!
    HOW NARROWMINDED… even for a military person

  • mondobeyondo

    “Middle class” didn’t use to be a myth, or an illusion brought to you by the main-stream media. Middle class used to mean a decent job where the man could earn enough to provide for his entire family, and his wife could stay home all day long and take care of the children. She’d even cook the hubby and kids a nice dinner when Dad got home from work. (Ever watch old TV shows like “Leave It to Beaver”, or “Ozzie and Harriet?)

    Unfortunately, and sadly, that was in 1955, and the world has changed a lot..if only it were the same today. It’s 2011 now, and both Mom and Dad are working to stay above water. And even then, they may still lose their house, and get thrown on the street. The kids are in daycare, watching Miley Cyrus or Selena Gomez on the Disney Channel (Walt Disney is spinning in his grave as he sees this!!) They’ve never even heard of Sesame Street, Mister Roger’s Neighborhood, or Captain Kangaroo.

    Sorry, but all this will not end “happily ever after”, because it is not a fairy tale, it is reality. And reality tends to be a bit harsh at times, to say the least.

  • http://www.danielrevelationbiblestudies.com Robert Stout

    Another excellent article guys and gals!!! Enjoyed the many posts from other men and woman who have poured their hearts out!!! Here is my personal opinion about this whole thing: Now what? Where do we go from here? What does the future hold for America and the rest of the world? Can things be turned around? Is the one world agenda a done deal? These are all valid questions with answers not all together clear.
    If one believes there is a God who intervenes into the affairs of mankind, one could safely assume there is a evil force at work in the world attempting to control affairs. Since time began, this battle has existed and will continue to exist – whether you are willing to admit it or not.
    We are a civilization and culture virtually bombarded with useless and insane information. Television is blaring in the average American home more than 8 hours a day. On weekends it is over twelve hours per day with many homes having more than 1 TV. Few pay attention to the principles of Heaven has given us, and we will all have to live with the consequences for our no-conforming ways. There is no way around it because it is the very nature of of God. He is a jealous God and wants no one before Him. Prosperity and the good life have dulled our hearts, minds, and souls to the point that God and discussion of the divine are no longer welcome at the dinner table. Religion and faith are by and large abstract thoughts that are irrelevant in the daily sequence of events. We are a lost generation. The Jesuit’s have carefully and deceivingly planned the fall of American and the world and their plan is working ever so perfectly!! Wake up friends, before its too late!!! Because I have inside information, things are really going to get rough later in the year, so you may want to start planning ahead and go to: http://www.survivorblog.com for valuable information on food, water, shelter and the right gear a family will need very soon! More importantly, a person’s spiritual life, a clear understanding of apocalyptic prophecy and the soon coming events before Jesus comes in the clouds of glory!!! Go to: http://www.danielrevelationbiblestudies.com for in-depth view of coming events!!! You will be eternally glad you did!!!

  • Sirena

    To DSRehder,
    I hear what you say, however, not all states are “walk away” states :(

  • Nora

    In one year gone from over $100K job to State disability. No medical insurance, car got stolen, arrested by police in my home without a warrant, injured, woke up in a mental institution of ‘their choice’… Who is doing this to me?

  • Gary2

    Kevin-thanks for your post. I appreciate your insight. I am also glad you agree with taxing the rich. If nothing else it looks good and seems to be more fair.

  • Nickelthrower

    Greetings,

    What I’m about to say will not be popular but needs to be said.

    Most of the things provided to us by corporate america has quite a bit of mark-up to it. As a people, we must learn to make the things that we consume. Much of what you use is easy to make.

    For example, I work in an industry that requires specialized electronics. These items cost thousands of dollars even though all the manufacturing is now done in Asia. I disassembled many of these items and discovered that they contain about $20 worth of parts.

    For $25 I can have a metal enclosure fabricated for me and I contacted the same factories that supply the parts for the big corporate company and purchased those same parts at a nice low rate. (The Chinese have no loyalty and will make you some amazing deals). Let me digress by stating that many of the parts I need have not been made in the United States for decades.

    Anyway, now I sell those specialized electronic items and I viciously undercut my corporate competitors and still make a really great profit.

    Not everyone need do something that difficult. You could make laundry detergent, soap, shampoo – whatever. Look around at what the corporate world provides and see what part of their business you can take. We must learn to do these things for ourselves.

    As long as we have to crawl on our knees and beg them for goods and jobs then we will always be their slaves.

  • roadrunner

    I just want to remind everybody that before we feel too sorry for the teachers in Wisconsin, we should remind ourselves…at least the retirees among us who still own our homes, that those very same teachers are the very same people who go out on strike just about every year, to demand ever higher salaries and pension/healthcare packages that guess who has to pay thru HIGHER AND HIGHER PROPERTY TAXES ON THEIR HOUSES. Some retirees have been thrown OUT of their houses because they couldn’t meet those HIGHER AND HIGHER tax bills to pay for these nice people. FIRE THEM ALL.

  • Gordon

    Kevin, you said that Wall Street, for the most part, did not break the law. I have to disagree, and I’m not talking about securities laws here.

    Just to take the mortgage meltdown, the financial companies committed criminal fraud on many fronts. They lied to investors, lied to insurance companies, and lied to borrowers. Then, when it all hit the fan, they filed fake paperwork to foreclose on homes they could not otherwise prove they had standing to foreclose. They are still doing it.

    These are felonies, and unless they are prosecuted and perpetrators are jailed, trust in the rule of law will not be restored in this country. And without that trust, a true economic recovery is just impossible.

  • the kid

    Hey Todd, stop #@%^& complaining.

    You have house, computer, TV…

    I didn’t have any of them few years ago, you and many amercians have no idea the meaning of “poor”.

  • Ray

    RE: Point 16 — “When you adjust wages for inflation, middle class workers in the United States make less money today than they did back in 1971.” Just curious– are these NET (after-tax) [including federal and state income taxes, property taxes, sales taxes, etc]
    wages or GROSS (pre-tax) wages? If the latter, I’d like to see what inflation-adjusted wages look like AFTER taxes.

  • mondobeyondo

    The first commandment of the Ten Commandments says, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me”.

    Your personal, and national, downfall will occur when you make something material your god, rather than God Himself. It happens time and time again.

    Many people worship money. Money has become their god, and the bank account or job has become their Jesus. Bankers will pay dearly (read James, chapter 3). So will all of us, because we’re all tied into the same corrupt narcissistic system.

    By the way, that list of what not to say to someone who’s unemployed is great! How’s my job search going? Argghhh! I should have as my ringtone that song from the Talking Heads’ “Once in a Lifetime”…

    “Same as it ever was…
    Same as it ever was…
    Same as it everrrr…. waaassss…”

  • Kevin

    Gordon

    Yes I am mistaken and they did commit felonies. If they followed the law to the letter post Glass-Stegall the outcome would have been for practical purposes the same. The regulations once imposed by Glass-Stegall kept commercial banks and investment firms separated. It’s demise allowed them to form as one guaranteeing legal conflicts of interest. That conflict of interest was not only the catalyst but was the mother of massive “pump and dump” stock manipulation and the infamous derivatives scheme.

    “trust in the rule of law” Yes that would certainly help. Having laws to start with would also help. Glass-Stegall came out of the aftermath of the market crash of 1929. It served well for decades keeping an inherently unethical business in line. It’s removal which was dismantled in stages starting in the mid 1980s and completely disappearing in 1999 put the fox in charge of the chicken coop.

  • http://www.osixs.org morpheus

    Let’s really be clear. We’ve gotten ourself in this mess because we’ve been asleep, selfish and complacent. And all the shouting, pouting and tantrums won’t change our new and unpleasant reality.

    “WAKE UP PEOPLE!” – JOIN THE REVOLUTION
    Read “Common Sense 3.1” at ( http://www.revolution2.osixs.org )
    We don’t have to live like this anymore. “Spread the News”

    FIGHT THE CAUSE – NOT THE SYMPTOM
    *** one day you will think me ***

  • The Unicorn

    Just to add alittle about the stock market.When Glass-Stegall came out it was great because it wouldn’t allow “Banks” to run huge margins and put everyones money at risk.There was also the up-tick rule for shorting stocks.

    Up until about the mid 80′s every stock I owned I received a certificate.Legally it would be impossible to short my stock without me allowing it,naked shorting was illegal except by the Market Maker and that was only too make a market

    After the lost of Glass-Stegall and internet trading where the broker held your stock on file the protection of individual investors went out the door.Pretty soon everyone ccould naked short and get away with it,the part about to make a market ment something different then before.Then the up-tick rule went.It was like the banks,brokerage firms,hedge funds,investment banks and mutual fund companies got together to rig the market.Even a stock with excellent fundamentals could be shorted to a penny stock,or could be driven up to highs way above sound fundaments.

    Now we have terms used like insider trading, suckers rally and bear raids constantly.

    Just my take I have no idea what actually goes on.

  • Kevin

    The Unicorn

    Thanks for the detail explaining the mechanics of institutionalized corruption post Glass-Stegall.

    Personally it’s my opinion that Glass-Stegall kept the Market from becoming a Casino.

  • Neville

    @Kevin
    February 22nd, 2011 at 12:13 am
    Suffering

    “Your correct this is not a recession or a depression. This is the result of a realignment of global power and it’s great transfer of wealth from the developed world to the developing world. We’re not recovering any more then we were expanding our economy after manufacturing left and the debt engine took it’s place.”

    Kevin and others, this is exactly correct. It has nothing to do with all the other factors commonly mentioned which are merely symptoms.

    NOW, WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT! VERY SIMPLE, FOLLOW THE MODEL OF A COUNTRY THAT WAS COMPELLED TO ACT RADICALLY OR DIE! I am talking about South Africa in the 1960′s when the world started imposing sanctions and boycotts. You need to follow that model and move to an ‘inward indutrialisation” policy BECAUSE THE PLAYING FIELDS FOR GLOBALISATION ARE NOT LEVEL. How can they be with exchange rates manipulated (China) labour and capital rates much lower etc. etc.

    If I had the ear of Mr Obama I could spell out a blue print that first of all phases out cheap imports, subsidise new industry (you are wasting the QE anyway, use it to buy back your bonds from China if need be) ( heavy governance is also required for this policy) which would create millions of jobs which would create a larger tax base (personal and corporate), decrease imports decrease social spending and put the USA onto a sound footing until subsidies and certain trade duties can be removed. I am afraid this dire situation is your compelling reason. It need not stifle innovation as when the consumer market grows, new products will sell and the profit motif is still king.

    I lived through this economic revolution forced on my ex country because of an evil politcal system, but very instructive on what can be achieved when the chips are all down.

  • Kevin

    Neville

    I think the goal of this is to equalize as much as possible the have and have not nations in the world. We’re not falling because of a poor policy. They are transferring the wealth from the developed world to the developed world intentionally.

    Because it’s obvious that the implementors of the “Free Trade” with slave labor nations are not looking out for the majority of US citizens one question goes begging. Who are they working for because it damn sure ain’t you and I.

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