Is Crime Making A Comeback? 12 Crime Statistics That Make You Wonder What Is Happening To America

For about a decade and a half, crime rates in the United States have generally fallen.  That is the good news.  The bad news is that even during those “good” years, the United States still had the most car thefts, the most rapes and the most murders in the world.  And even though the United States has the most people in prison in the entire world by a large margin, there are all kinds of signs that there are still enough criminals out there for crime to start moving back up again.  Sure, there are some areas that are still recording small decreases in the crime rate, but there are other areas where the jump in crime statistics is more than a bit alarming.  There are millions of Americans that have been out of work for over a year at this point, and when people lose everything that they have they tend to totally lose it.  People get desperate when they lose their homes and they don’t have anything to eat.  For example, police in Chesterfield, Virginia are investigating 16 separate incidents just this month in which thieves stole food or drinks from homes, cars and even people walking on the street.  It wasn’t money that these crooks were after.  They just wanted something to eat.  As the economy gets even worse over the next couple of years, it is inevitable that we are going to start to see a lot more of this kind of thing.  Frustration and anger are on the rise from coast to coast, and when people don’t feel like they have anything to live for they become very dangerous.

As mentioned at the beginning of the article, it is undeniable that violent crime rates are significantly lower than they were 15 or 20 years ago in many areas of the nation.  An unprecedented standard of living fueled by our addiction to debt has kept most Americans fat, happy and generally sedated.  However, there are indications that we are approaching a “turning point” – a moment when crime rates start to go up significantly once again.

In fact, there are some forms of crime (such as sexual crime against children) that are already at ridiculously high record-setting levels.  For example, how in the world did we ever get to the point as a society where we have 400,000 registered sex predators running around?

As the economy continues to unravel, things are not going to get any better.  In fact, people who are suffering are only going to become more desperate.  Already, there are quite a few troubling signs out there.  The following are 12 crime statistics that make you wonder what is happening to America….

#1 The murder rate in New York City has increased more than 15 percent in 2010, and the number of rapes has shot up from 943 in 2009 to 1075 so far this year.

#2 In the city of Detroit, crime has gotten so bad and the citizens are so frustrated by the lack of police assistance that they have resorted to forming their own organizations to fight back.  One group, known as “Detroit 300”, was formed after a 90-year-old woman on Detroit’s northwest side was brutally raped in August.

#3 Crime in Miami Beach was up almost 11 percent during the first half of 2010.

#4 The murder rate in Tempe, Arizona is now the highest it has been in 10 years.

#5 Shoplifting is completely and totally out of control.  According to the National Association of Shoplifting Prevention, every single day Americans steal more than $35 million worth of goods from retail stores.

#6 Today, there are approximately 400,00 registered sex offenders in the United States.

#7 U.S. authorities claim that there are now over 1 million members of criminal gangs operating inside the United States. According to federal statistics, these 1 million gang members are responsible for up to 80% of the violent crimes committed in the U.S. each year.

#8 The median age of the victims of imprisoned sex offenders in the United States is 13 years old.

#9 The crime rate in the San Diego school system is escalating out of control. The following is what San Diego School Police Chief Don Braun recently told the press about the current situation….

“Violent crime in schools has risen 31 percent. Property crime has risen 12 percent. Weapons violations (have gone up) almost 8 percent.”

#10 53 percent of all investigated burglaries in the states of California, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona and Texas are perpetrated by illegal aliens.

#11 Law enforcement officials estimate that about 600,000 Americans and 65,000 Canadians are trading dirty child pictures online.  They also say that the total profit from creating and trading these images is approximately two to three billion dollars every year.

#12 Each year, one out of every five people in the U.S. is victimized by crime.  No other nation on the planet has a rate that is higher.

So will the police step in to protect us all as crime increases?

Well, unfortunately police forces all across the United States are being slashed because the money just isn’t there anymore.

So all of us may soon be facing much more crime with much fewer police to assist us.

For example, because of extreme budget cuts and police layoffs, Oakland, California Police Chief Anthony Batts has announced that there are a number of crimes that his department simply will no longer respond to due to a lack of resources.  The following is a partial list of the crimes that police officers in Oakland will no longer be responding to….

  • burglary
  • theft
  • embezzlement
  • grand theft
  • grand theft: dog
  • identity theft
  • false information to peace officer
  • required to register as sex or arson offender
  • dump waste or offensive matter
  • loud music
  • possess forged notes
  • pass fictitious check
  • obtain money by false voucher
  • fraudulent use of access cards
  • stolen license plate
  • embezzlement by an employee
  • extortion
  • attempted extortion
  • false personification of other
  • injure telephone/power line
  • interfere with power line
  • unauthorized cable tv connection
  • vandalism

Not that Oakland wasn’t already a mess before all this, but now how long do you think it will be before total chaos and anarchy reigns on the streets of Oakland?

But this kind of thing is not just happening in Oakland.

The sheriff’s department in Ashtabula County, Ohio has been reduced from 112 deputies to 49 deputies, and now there is just one vehicle remaining to patrol all 720 square miles of the county.

So what in the world are the citizens of that county supposed to do to protect themselves?

Well, Judge Alfred Mackey said that the citizens of the county should do the following….

“Arm themselves.”

So is that where all of this is going?

Every man and woman for themselves?

The truth is that there are already many communities across the United States where it is simply not a good idea to go out of your home at night.

There has never been a bigger gang problem in U.S. history than we are facing today, there have never been more sex predators running around, and millions of Americans are going to become increasingly desperate as they lose their homes and can’t find jobs.

So how is crime where you live?  Feel free to leave a comment with what you are seeing in your neighborhood….

30 Reasons Why People Should Be Getting Really Nervous About The State Of The U.S. Economy

The mainstream media is full of happy economic news these days.  The S&P 500 has shot up 16 percent since the beginning of July.  Ford Motor Company just reported a profit that jumped nearly 70 percent in the third quarter.  It was Ford’s best third quarter performance ever and it was the 6th quarterly profit in a row for the company.  Other major firms have announced earnings that have far exceeded expectations in recent weeks.  Hooray!  The pundits are proclaiming that the economic collapse is over and that the U.S. economy has won.  It is almost enough to make one tear into a stirring rendition of “Happy Days Are Here Again”.  But perhaps we should take a moment and get a hold of ourselves first.  After all, the underlying economic fundamentals have not changed.  The same long-term trends that were ripping the U.S. financial system apart a month or two ago are still continuing to do so.  Millions upon millions of American families are still deeply suffering.  So exactly what in the world is going on here?  Well, this is what is known as a “sucker’s rally”.  Those on the inside know better than to throw money at this market.  In fact, corporate insiders are now selling off stock so fast you would think it is going out of style.  Meanwhile, hordes of innocent rubes are jumping back into the stock market thinking that it is the perfect time to get in. 

The truth is that these “good times” are only temporary.  Don’t get used to them.  The following are 30 reasons why people should be getting really, really nervous about the state of the U.S. economy…. 

#1 Corporate insiders are selling off stock at a blinding pace and are looking for the exits.  Alan Newman, the editor of the Crosscurrents newsletter, examined a number of the top performing stocks in the market including Google, Apple and Target and found that the ratio of corporate insider stock sold to corporate insider stock purchased over the last six months for those companies was 3,177 to 1.  At the group of firms that Newman looked at, corporate insiders had purchased 38,000 shares of stock over the last six months and yet had sold off over 120 million shares.

#2 Analysts at both Bank of America and Goldman Sachs both believe that the U.S. Federal Reserve is going to initiate a new round of quantitative easing in November.  It does not take a genius to figure out that this is very likely to push up inflation and have very serious consequences for the U.S. dollar.

#3 Economists at Goldman Sachs are projecting that the Fed will have to purchase at least $4 trillion in assets during this next round of quantitative easing to get the U.S. economy moving in a positive direction once again.

#4 In the United States today, there are 5,057 janitors with Ph.D.’s, other doctorates, or professional degrees.

#5 Investors have very little faith in the U.S. dollar (and in paper currencies in general) at this point.  Precious metals are soaring to obscene heights.  The price of gold has increased more than 20 percent in 2010.  The price of silver has skyrocketed about 40 percent this year.  These are not signs that indicate that the U.S. financial system is stable.

#6 Robin Griffiths, a technical strategist at Cazenove Capital, told CNBC on Monday that the U.S. dollar is in danger of becoming “toxic waste”.

#7 In the United States today, 317,000 waiters and waitresses have college degrees.

#8 U.S. lending institutions repossessed an all-time record total of 102,134 homes in the month of September.  That was the first time that home repossessions in the U.S. had ever exceeded the 100,000 mark during a single month.

#9 According to a Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller home price report that was released on Tuesday, single family home prices in the United States declined  for a second straight month in August.

#10 In the United States today, over 18,000 parking lot attendants have college degrees.

#11 During the months of August and September, the state of Nevada had an unemployment rate of 14.4 percent, which was the highest in the history of the state.  Not that the rest of the country is doing any better.  The state of California has become a complete and total economic disaster zone, and the city of Detroit, Michigan is literally dying.

#12 The “official” unemployment rate in the United States has been at nine and a half percent or above for 14 consecutive months.

#13 The number of people unemployed in the state of California is approximately equivalent to the populations of Nevada, New Hampshire and Vermont combined.

#14 According to the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, there are approximately 3 million more vacant housing units than usual in the United States.

#15 China has reduced the export quota on rare earth elements for the second half of 2010 by 72%, thus strengthening their position in the world economy even more.  Rare earth elements are absolutely crucial to the manufacture of a vast array of high technology products, and now even more of them will have to be made in China.

#16 In 1985, the U.S. trade deficit with China was 6 million dollars for the entire year.  In the month of August alone, the U.S. trade deficit with China was over 28 billion dollars.

#17 Wheat, corn and other staples are absolutely soaring in price on world markets.  These higher food prices are going to hit U.S. consumers hard.

#18 In 2007, 3 U.S. banks failed.  In 2008, 25 U.S. banks failed.  In 2009, 140 U.S. banks failed.  Last Friday, it was announced that 139 U.S. banks have failed so far this year and it is not even the end of October yet.

#19 Total student loan debt in the United States is climbing at a rate of approximately $2,853.88 per second.

#20 Back in 1980, the United States imported approximately 37 percent of  the oil that we use.  Now we import nearly 60 percent of the oil that we use.

#21 According to an analysis by the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation, the health care reform legislation that Congress didn’t read but passed into law anyway will generate $409.2 billion in additional taxes on the American people by the year 2019.

#22 Median household income in the U.S. declined from $51,726 in 2008 to $50,221 in 2009.  That was the second yearly decline in a row.

#23 One out of every six Americans is now enrolled in a government anti-poverty program, and yet the number of Americans signing up for food stamps and other social programs just continues to set new all-time records month after month after month.

#24 The number of Americans working part-time jobs “for economic reasons” is now the highest it has been in at least five decades.

#25 American 15-year-olds do not even rank in the top half of all advanced nations when it comes to math or science literacy.

#26 According to a recent poll conducted by CNBC, 92 percent of Americans believe that the performance of the U.S. economy is either “fair” or “poor”.

#27 After analyzing Congressional Budget Office data, Boston University economics professor Laurence J. Kotlikoff came to the conclusion that the U.S. government is now facing a “fiscal gap” of $202 trillion dollars.

#28 A trillion $10 bills, if they were taped end to end, would wrap around the earth more than 380 times.  That amount of money would still not be enough to pay off the U.S. national debt.

#29 According to the U.S. Treasury Department, the U.S. national debt is rapidly closing in on 14 trillion dollars and and will climb to an estimated $19.6 trillion by 2015.

#30 At our current pace, the Congressional Budget Office is projecting that U.S. government public debt will hit 716 percent of GDP by the year 2080.

The U.S. economy is in the midst of a long-term decline.  There are always going to be moments when it seems like things are getting a bit better, but then reality will kick in and the depressing slide will continue.

If you really want to understand what is happening to the U.S. economy, do not become fixated on the short-term numbers.  Instead, always keep an eye on the long-term trends.

The U.S. economy is dying.  We are getting whipped by the rest of the world and we are drowning in a sea of debt.  A little rally in the stock market is not going to do a thing to fix our very deep fundamental economic problems.

Millions Of Unemployed Americans Now Live As Paupers Even As Foreign Nations Use Sovereign Wealth Funds To Buy Up Huge Chunks Of American Infrastructure

Most Americans still do not understand just how bad the economic horror we are facing really is.  Today, millions of Americans are living as paupers in the land that their foreathers built even as America’s infrastructure is literally being sold out from under their feet by corrupt politicians.  The “official” unemployment rate in the United States has been at nine and a half percent or above for 14 consecutive months, and today it takes the average unemployed American about 35 weeks to find a job.  However, the “official” unemployment rate is misleading, because it does not include workers that have quit looking for work or that have had their hours cut back to part-time.  According to 60 Minutes, when you add those “discouraged workers” and “underemployed workers” into the equation the actual rate is about 17 percent, and in the state of California the actual rate is about 22 percent.  Meanwhile, foreign nations are using sovereign wealth funds to buy up staggering amounts of U.S. infrastructure.  America is quite literally for sale in 2010.  All across the United States, highways, ports, toll roads and even parking meters are being gobbled up by foreign powers.  We have shipped massive amounts of wealth and jobs to other nations, and now those very same countries are turning around and buying huge amounts of U.S. infrastructure with the gigantic piles of dollars that they have accumulated.    

Widespread long-term chronic unemployment was something that America was never supposed to see again.  Our leaders promised us that the U.S. financial system was so strong that we would never have another “Great Depression” in our lifetimes.  But then the financial crisis of 2008 happened.  Unprecedented numbers of Americans started losing their jobs and the U.S. Congress did something that it had never done before.  Congress decided to extend unemployment benefits all the way out to 99 weeks.

Doing that has cost U.S. taxpayers approximately $100 billion dollars to this point, but we were promised that it was a “temporary” fix and that it would give displaced U.S. workers a chance to find new jobs. 

Surely any industrious American worker could get another job within 99 weeks, right?

Wrong.

Today, there are at least 1.5 milion “99ers” – those Americans that have completely exhausted all 99 weeks of unemployment benefits and that still do not have jobs. 

Sadly, as bad as that number sounds, it is likely to keep growing.  Today, over one-third of all unemployed Americans have already been unemployed for at least one year.  If this trend continues, we are going to end up with millions of “99ers”.

60 Minutes recently did a report on some of these “99ers”.  Many of them are very highly educated and very highly qualified.  If you have not seen this 60 Minutes report yet, you have got to take few minutes to sit down and watch it.  This video is so shocking that many of you will have your jaws on the floor by the time you finish watching it….  

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=CwpdGyIY2fQ

So is there much reason for these “99ers” to be optimistic?

No, not really.

In fact, there are some indications that unemployment in America is actually getting worse.  Gallup’s measure of unemployment, which is not adjusted for “seasonal factors”, exhibited a sharp increase in the month of September.  According to Gallup, unemployment has increased from 8.9% in July to 9.3% in August and to 10.1% in September.

In addition, the seasonally-adjusted “Alternate Unemployment Rate” compiled by Shadow Government Statistics also indicates that unemployment in the U.S. is going up once again.  The Alternate Unemployment Rate calculated by SGS reflects estimated “long-term discouraged workers”, which the U.S. government stopped keeping track of back in 1994….

But it is not just the massive number of Americans that are completely unemployed that we need to be concerned about.  The truth is that more Americans than at any other time in recent history are working part-time jobs because that is all they can find.  The number of Americans working part-time jobs “for economic reasons” is now the highest it has been in at least five decades.

Meanwhile, sovereign wealth funds from nations such as Saudi Arabia, China, Kuwait, Libya, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates are buying up highways, ports, toll roads and even parking meters from coast to coast.

So exactly what is a sovereign wealth fund?

Well, just think of it as a huge mountain of state-owned money that roams about the countryside looking for assets to gobble up.

In a recent piece for Rolling Stone, Matt Taibbi described some of the U.S. infrastructure assets that these sovereign wealth funds are buying up….

A toll highway in Indiana. The Chicago Skyway. A stretch of highway in Florida. Parking meters in Nashville, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, and other cities. A port in Virginia. And a whole bevy of Californian public infrastructure projects, all either already leased or set to be leased for fifty or seventy-five years or more in exchange for one-off lump sum payments of a few billion bucks at best, usually just to help patch a hole or two in a single budget year.

It turns out that U.S. politicians have figured out that they can help solve their budget problems by selling off or leasing out pieces of infrastructure.  Foreign nations with money to burn have been glad to come in and start buying a lot of this infrastructure up.  Today, it is estimated that the rest of the world currently owns several trillion dollars more of America than America owns of the rest of the world.  Later on in his article, Taibbi noted that the trend toward selling off pieces of infrastructure only seems to be accelerating….

At this writing Nashville and Pittsburgh are speeding ahead with their own parking meter deals, as is L.A. New York has considered it, and the city of Miami just announced its own plans for a leasing deal. There are now highways, airports, parking garages, toll roads — almost everything you can think of that isn’t nailed down and some things that are — for sale, to bidders unknown, around the world.

Sadly, both the number and the value of major acquisitions made by sovereign wealth funds approximately doubled during the first half of 2010.

Instead of being the “land of the free”, we are rapidly becoming the “land that has been leased out to foreign nations”.

So where in the world did these sovereign wealth funds get all this money?

Well, they got it from us of course.

Every single month, the United States buys massive amounts of oil from the Middle East and massive amounts of cheap plastic crap from China.  The rest of the world buys a bunch of stuff from us too, but not nearly as much as we buy from the rest of the world.

So every single month tens of billions of dollars that used to belong to the American people ends up in the hands of foreigners.  Now some of that money is returning to this country and is being used to buy up our infrastructure.

Many of these highways and toll roads that are being sold off had already been completely paid for.  Can you imagine the frustration of the taxpayers in many of these areas when they realize that a road that they have already completely paid for with their tax dollars has been sold out from underneath them?

Another place that all these U.S. dollars held by foreigners is going is into U.S. Treasuries.  In fact, the federal government very much encourages this.  After all, we have to finance our exploding debt somehow. 

In essence, first we made some folks in the Middle East and in Asia incredibly wealthy, and now we are asking them to please lend that money back to us so that we can continue living far beyond our means.

Today, the national debt of the United States is rapidly approaching 14 trillion dollars.  An increasing percentage of this debt is owned by foreigners.

The borrower is the servant of the lender, and we are rapidly becoming enslaved to the rest of the world.

This is national economic suicide, but our politicians have become so addicted to debt that there doesn’t seem to be much hope that things can be turned around any time soon.

100 Dollar Oil Is Coming

The price of oil has been hovering around 80 dollars a barrel for quite some time now, but get ready, because it is going to move significantly higher.  Oil prices have already risen about 9 percent over the past month, and many believe that this could very well be the start of a new trend.  Lawrence Eagles, a top analyst at JP Morgan, recently made headlines across the globe when he stated that oil could hit 100 dollars a barrel “much sooner than we expect”.  Not only that, but a number of top OPEC officials are also publicly discussing the possibility of 100 dollar oil.  But just because a few people are talking about it does not mean that it is going to happen.  So are there any other reasons why we should anticipate a significant increase in the price of oil?

Well, yes there is.

*The Decline Of The U.S. Dollar

Since August 27th, the U.S. dollar has declined approximately 4.8% against the currencies of major U.S. trading partners.  Unfortunately, there seems to be every indication that the dollar is going to continue to decline.  As the U.S. dollar continues to display weakness, just about everything priced in dollars (including oil) is going to continue to rise.

*The Threat Of Quantitative Easing By The Federal Reserve

For weeks, top Federal Reserve officials have been making public statements about the need for more quantitative easing.  If the Fed does initiate a significant program of quantitative easing in the coming months, that is going to put even more downward pressure on the U.S. dollar and even more upward pressure on the price of oil. 

*Other Commodities Have Been Skyrocketing

Over recent weeks, the prices of a wide array of key commodities have been absolutely skyrocketing.  As I noted in a previous article, not only has the price of gold been setting records, the truth is that almost every major commodity has been spiking.  In a recent column entitled “An Inflationary Cocktail In The Making“, Richard Benson noted some of the commodity price increases that he has been tracking this year….

-Agricultural Raw Materials: 24%

-Industrial Inputs Index: 25%

-Metals Price Index: 26%

-Coffee: 45%

-Barley: 32%

-Oranges: 35%

-Beef: 23%

-Pork: 68%

-Salmon: 30%

-Sugar: 24%

-Wool: 20%

-Cotton: 40%

-Palm Oil: 26%

-Hides: 25%

-Rubber: 62%

-Iron Ore: 103%

The increase in the price of oil is just part of a larger trend of soaring commodity prices.  As long as this trend in commodity prices continues it is unlikely that the price of oil will go down.

*The Strikes In France

The austerity strikes in France have interrupted the flow of gasoline in that country.  Once the strikes are over there will be an increase in demand as inventories are restocked.

*Increased Demand From China And Other Emerging Nations

Most analysts are forecasting that the demand for oil in China and other emerging nations will continue to grow at an impressive pace.  This growing demand will also cause upward pressure on the price of oil.

*The Potential Of War In The Middle East

As always, war could break out in the Middle East at any time.  A minor conflict in the Middle East would likely push the price of oil over 100 dollars a barrel very quickly.  A major conflict would likely push it over 200 dollars or even beyond.  War is very, very difficult to predict, but it does seem quite likely that some kind of conflict will break out in the Middle East at some point over the next several years.

So how soon will oil reach the 100 dollar mark?

That is very hard to say. 

But even now, Americans are already having to dig deeper into their wallets at the gas pump.

For the two week period ending October 22nd, the average price of gasoline in the United States increased 5.23 cents to $2.82 a gallon.

As the price of oil continues to rise significantly over the long-term, it is going to have an impact on thousands of other prices.  Virtually all products must be transported, and an increase in the price of oil will cause those transportation costs to go up.

So an increase in the price of oil would be really bad news. 

If we do see 100 dollar oil, that will be a huge challenge for the U.S. economy.

If we end up seeing 150 dollar oil (especially for an extended period of time) it will be an absolute nightmare for the U.S. economy.

So where do you think the price of oil is going?  Feel free to leave a comment with your opinion….

California Is Broke – 19 Reasons Why It May Be Time For Everyone To Leave The State Of California For Good

Back in the 1960s and 1970s, there was a seemingly endless parade of pop songs about how great life was in California, and millions of young Americans dreamed of moving to the land of sandy beaches and golden sunshine.  But now all of that has changed.  Today, millions of Californians are dreaming about leaving the state for good.  The truth is that California is broke.  The economy of the state is in shambles.  The official unemployment rate has been sitting above 12 percent for an extended period of time, and poverty is everywhere.  For many Californians today, there are very few reasons to stay in the state but a whole lot of reasons to leave: falling housing prices, rising crime, budget cuts, rampant illegal immigration, horrific traffic, some of the most brutal tax rates in the nation, increasing gang violence and the ever present threat of wildfires, mudslides and natural disasters.  The truth is that it is easy to understand why there are now more Americans moving out of California each year than there are Americans moving into the state.  California has become a complete and total disaster zone in more ways than one, and an increasing number of Californians are deciding that enough is enough and they are getting out for good.

Sadly, the state of California is facing such a wide array of social, economic, and political problems that it is hard to even document them all.  It is really one huge gigantic mess at this point.

Just consider the following facts about what life is like in the state of California today…. 

#1 Unemployment in the state of California was 12.4% in September – one of the highest rates in the nation.

#2 The number of people unemployed in the state of California is approximately equivalent to the populations of Nevada, New Hampshire and Vermont combined.

#3 Not even state government jobs are safe in California these days.  Last month, government agencies in California slashed a total of 37,300 jobs.

#4 California has the third highest state income tax in the nation: a 9.55% tax bracket at $47,055 and a 10.55% bracket at $1,000,000.

#5 California has the highest state sales tax rate in the nation by far at 8.25%.  Indiana has the next highest at 7%.

#6 Residents of California pay the highest gasoline taxes (over 67 cents per gallon) in the United States.

#7 Even with all of the taxes, the budget deficit for the California state government for the current year is approximately 19 billion dollars.

#8 According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, California’s unfunded pension liability is estimated to be somewhere between $120 billion and $500 billion.

#9 20 percent of the residents of Los Angeles County are now receiving public aid.

#10 Budget cuts are making life very difficult in many California cities.  For example, Oakland, California Police Chief Anthony Batts says that due to severe budget cuts there are a number of crimes that his department will simply not be able to respond to any longer.  The crimes that the Oakland police will no longer be responding to include grand theft, burglary, car wrecks, identity theft and vandalism. 

Things have gotten so bad in Stockton, California that the police union put up a billboard with the following message: “Welcome to the 2nd most dangerous city in California. Stop laying off cops.”

#11 According to one survey, approximately 1 in 4 Californians under the age of 65 had absolutely no health insurance last year.

#12 California’s poverty rate soared to 15.3 percent in 2009, which was the highest in 11 years.

#13 California’s overstretched health care system is also on the verge of collapse.  Dozens of California hospitals and emergency rooms have shut down over the last decade because they could not afford to stay open after being endlessly swamped by illegal immigrants and poor Californians who were simply not able to pay for the services they were receiving.  As a result, the remainder of the health care system in the state of California is now beyond overloaded.  This had led to brutally long waits, diverted ambulances and even unnecessary patient deaths.

#14 California home builders began construction on 1,811 homes during the month of August, which was down 77% from August 2006.

#15 Earlier this year, it was reported that in the area around Sacramento, California there was one closed business for every six that were still open.

#16 The “lawsuit climate” in California is ranked number 46 out of all 50 states. 

#17 Residents of California pay some of the highest electricity prices in the entire nation.

#18 Over 20 percent of California homeowners are now underwater on their mortgages.

#19 Large tent cities have been springing up all over the state of California.  Just check out the following shocking video news report….

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cRLupIRhrmg

So why doesn’t the state government of California just fix many of these problems?  Well, the truth is that it simply cannot.  The state government is flat broke.  Earlier this year, Bob Herbert of the New York Times described California’s massive budget problems this way….

California has cut billions of dollars from its education system, including its renowned network of public colleges and universities. Many thousands of teachers have been let go. Budget officials travel the state with a glazed look in their eyes, having tried everything they can think of to balance the state budget. And still the deficits persist.

So is there any hope that all this can be turned around?

Is there any hope that the economy of California will recover?

Or will California continue to experience a rapid decline?

Please feel free to leave a comment with your opinion….

75 Ways That The Government And The Financial Elite Will Be Sucking Even More Of The Life Blood Out Of The American People In 2011

The American people are experiencing financial death by a thousand cuts and most of them don’t even realize it.  The U.S. government, state governments, local governments and the financial elite are draining us financially in dozens upon dozens of different ways, and yet we have become so programmed to accept it that it just seems normal to us.  2011 is rapidly approaching, and a whole slate of federal taxes is scheduled to go up, state taxes are being increased from coast to coast, local governments are finding new and creative ways to stick it to us and the financial elite are becoming more predatory than ever.  Meanwhile, the incomes of many average Americans are actually going down.  According to the Census Bureau’s annual survey of income and poverty in the United States, of the 52 largest metro areas in the nation, only the city of San Antonio did not see a decline in median household income during 2009.  Tens of millions of Americans are flat broke and they are getting pissed off.  According to a new poll conducted by CNBC, 92 percent of Americans believe that the U.S. economy is either “fair” or “poor”.  The American people desperately want someone to fix the economy, but instead our “leaders” are trying to come up with new and creative ways to drain even more money out of us.

In no particular order, the following are 75 ways that the U.S. government, state governments, local governments and the financial elite will be sucking even more of the life blood out of the American people in 2011….

#1 State governments across the U.S. are raising fees and taxes in so many different ways it is staggering.  A reader named Richard recently sent me an email in which he described the shock that he experienced when he recently received his license plate renewal notice in the mail….

I just got a license plate renewal notice from the Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles. When I opened the envelope and saw the amount of the renewal, I was shocked. The amount seemed much higher than usual.

I have a computerized record of all my financial transactions over the last many years. I looked up previous DMV license plate renewals and I saw that my vehicle license plate fees were up 187% in only 8 years! In other words, they were almost triple what they were 8 years ago!

#2 The cost of health care also continues to escalate out of control.  Americans already pay more for health care than anyone else in the world, and yet costs continue to explode.  Health insurance companies from coast to coast are already announcing that they must raise health insurance premiums substantially due to the new health care law that Barack Obama and the Democrats have pushed through.  For example, I am in perfect health and I have never had a single claim on my health insurance policy and yet I received notice earlier this year that my monthly health insurance premiums were going to be increasing by about 50 percent.

Unfortunately, I am far from alone.  Crazy rate hikes are being reported from coast to coast.  According to The Wall Street Journal, the following are just some of the health insurance companies that have announced rate hikes that are at least partially attributed to the new health care law….

*Aetna says that the extra benefits that the new health care reform law is forcing it to cover are behind rate increases for new individual plans of 5.4% to 7.4% in California and 5.5% to 6.8% in Nevada.

*Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon claims that the cost of providing additional benefits under the new health care law will account for 3.4% of a 17.1% premium rise for small employers.

*Celtic Insurance claims that half of a whopping 18% health insurance premium increase it is seeking comes from complying with mandates in the new health care law.

But do the financial elite in the health care industry really need more of our money?  According to a report by Health Care for America Now, America’s five biggest for-profit health insurance companies ended 2009 with a combined profit of $12.2 billion.

#3 But it isn’t just our health insurance premiums that are going up because of the new health care law.  One review of the health care legislation identified at least 19 different tax increases.  Not only that, according to an analysis by the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation, the health care reform law will generate $409.2 billion in additional taxes from the American people by the year 2019.

#4 From coast to coast, the big Wall Street banks are buying up thousands upon thousands of tax liens and are making a killing by socking distressed homeowners with predatory interest, outrageous penalties and almost unbelievable legal fees.  The article which I published yesterday, “The Big Wall Street Banks Have Found A New Way To Strangle The American People: Predatory Property Tax Collection” elicited a very strong reaction from many readers.  In particular, Walter Burien, who has done some great work exposing financial fraud at the government level, left a message explaining how this kind of predatory property tax collection is being done by design….

Per the article “Predatory Property Tax Collection” here is the why government did this. The feds put it through last year at the recommendation of a few private associations that represented many local governments and it was the government that pushed forward to require the banks and mortgage companies to do the tax collection tied directly into the mortgage. (Quicker money for the local governments) Read the new mortgage documentation and the banks have been required to collect property taxation up front for the local government.

Government in most venues had to wait four (4) years to move forward with foreclosure for delinquent property taxes. Well now that they have assigned the banks to do the collection, the banks usually move on foreclosure in six months which gets a new head in the door to pay the same levied property taxes quicker.

But the biggest drain on all of our incomes is excessive taxation by the government.  If the U.S. Congress does not act, and there is little reason to believe that they will, the following tax increases will go into effect in 2011….

#5 The lowest bracket for the personal income tax is going to increase from 10 percent to 15 percent.

#6 The next lowest bracket for the personal income tax is going to increase from 25 percent to 28 percent.

#7 The 28 percent tax bracket is going to increase to 31 percent.

#8 The 33 percent tax bracket is going to increase to 36 percent.

#9 The 35 percent tax bracket is going to increase to 39.6 percent.

#10 In 2011, the death tax is scheduled to return.  So instead of paying zero percent, estates of $1 million or more are going to be taxed at a rate of 55 percent.

#11 The capital gains tax is going to increase from 15 percent to 20 percent.

#12 The tax on dividends is going to increase from 15 percent to 39.6 percent.

#13 The “marriage penalty” is also scheduled to be reinstated in 2011.  Members of Congress keep promising to do something about this, but so far nothing has happened. 

#14 Many American businesses are going to get hit with a very significant tax increase in 2011.  Small businesses had been able to “expense”, rather than slowly depreciate, equipment purchases of up to $250,000 a year.  Now that will be slashed down to $25,000.  Larger businesses had been able to expense half of their purchases of equipment.  Now all of it will have to be depreciated. 

#15 They keep talking about it, but so far Congress has not passed a “fix” for the Alternative Minimum Tax.  If a fix is not passed, one out of every six U.S. taxpayers is going to be hit by the Alternative Minimum Tax.  The taxpayers most likely to be affected are married couples, very large families, home owners and taxpayers in states that have high state and local taxes.  The average tax increase that these taxpayers will be facing is going to be approximately $3,900 and most of them have no idea that it is coming.  If nothing changes, 27.2 million American households will pay AMT in 2010.

The following are a whole bunch of other taxes that Americans must pay each and every year and which seem to continually go up….

#16 Accounts Receivable Taxes

#17 Building Permit Taxes

#18 Capital Gains Taxes

#19 CDL license Taxes

#20 Cigarette Taxes

#21 Corporate Income Taxes

#22 Court Fines (indirect taxes)

#23 Dog License Taxes

#24 Federal Income Taxes

#25 Federal Unemployment Taxes (FUTA)

#26 Fishing License Taxes

#27 Food License Taxes

#28 Fuel permit taxes

#29 Gasoline Taxes

#30 Gift Taxes

#31 Hunting License Taxes

#32 Inheritance Taxes

#33 Inventory tax IRS Interest Charges (tax on top of tax)

#34 IRS Penalties (tax on top of tax)

#35 Liquor Taxes

#36 Local Income Taxes

#37 Luxury Taxes

#38 Marriage License Taxes

#39 Medicare Taxes

#40 Payroll Taxes

#41 Property Taxes

#42 Real Estate Taxes

#43 Recreational Vehicle Taxes

#44 Road Toll Booth Taxes

#45 Road Usage Taxes (Truckers)

#46 Sales Taxes

#47 Self-Employment Taxes

#48 School Taxes

#49 Septic Permit Taxes

#50 Service Charge Taxes

#51 Social Security Taxes

#52 State Income Taxes

#53 State Unemployment Taxes (SUTA)

#54 Telephone federal excise taxes

#55 Telephone federal universal service fee taxes

#56 Telephone federal, state and local surcharge taxes

#57 Telephone minimum usage surcharge taxes

#58 Telephone recurring and non-recurring charges taxes

#59 Telephone state and local taxes

#60 Telephone usage charge taxes

#61 Toll Bridge Taxes

#62 Toll Tunnel Taxes

#63 Traffic Fines (indirect taxation)

#64 Trailer registration taxes

#65 Utility Taxes

#66 Vehicle License Registration Taxes

#67 Vehicle Sales Taxes

#68 Watercraft registration Taxes

#69 Well Permit Taxes

#70 Workers Compensation Taxes

#71 The Internet is increasingly being viewed as a potential major revenue source.  Many U.S. states are working harder than ever to collect taxes that they feel they are owed from online transactions on the Internet.

#72 Student loan debt is more of a financial drain on Americans than ever before.  Americans now owe more on student loans than they do on credit cards.  As hard as that is to believe, that is actually true.  Americans now owe more than $849 billion on student loans, which is a new all-time record.

#73 More Americans than ever find themselves unable to pay their bills, and an increasing number of frustrated creditors are actually resorting to wage garnishment.  Yes, you read the correctly.  Creditors are starting to ruthlessly go after the weekly paychecks of debtors.

The following is an excerpt from a recent New York Times article that discussed the rise of wage garnishment as a weapon against debtors….

After winning, creditors can secure a court order to seize part of the debtor’s paycheck or the funds in a bank account, a procedure called garnishment. No national statistics are kept, but the pay seizures are rising fast in some areas — up 121 percent in the Phoenix area since 2005, and 55 percent in the Atlanta area since 2004. In Cleveland, garnishments jumped 30 percent between 2008 and 2009 alone.

So if you are getting behind on your debt, you better watch out – your creditors may soon decide to garnish your wages.

#74 Many state and local governments throughout the United States are now viewing their police forces primarily as revenue raising organizations.  For example, earlier this year a federally funded ticketing blitz in the state of Virginia resulted in a total of 6996 traffic tickets being handed out in a single weekend.  Sure the roads are a little safer, but it also brought in a ton of money for the government.

The truth is that the police even realize what is going on.  Just consider the following quote from from Police Chief Michael Reaves of Utica, Michigan….

“When I first started in this job 30 years ago, police work was never about revenue enhancement, but if you’re a chief now, you have to look at whether your department produces revenues.”

#75 If all of this wasn’t bad enough, now there is an increasing amount of talk in international circles about the need for global taxes.  The IMF and the World Health Organization are both proposing new global taxes that would be imposed on all of us.  Not only that, but representatives from 60 different nations recently met at the UN to discuss a tax on global financial transactions that would be used to battle poverty and “climate change”.

If all of these methods of draining us financially were combined into one, the American people would be screaming bloody murder.  But because all of them are so small, and they go up so gradually, most Americans don’t seem to notice.

It is like the story of the frog in the kettle.  If you tried to drop a frog into a pot of boiling water, it would hop out immediately.

But if you put a frog into a kettle of warm water and turn up the heat very gradually, it will just sit there until it boils to death.

Well, we are that frog.  Every single year, they drain us a little more rapidly.  Tens of millions of us are flat broke and yet they keep coming back for more. 

Never before in American history has money been drained out of us in so many different ways.  They are literally bleeding us dry, and eventually there will simply be nothing left to drain.

The Big Wall Street Banks Have Found A New Way To Strangle The American People: Predatory Property Tax Collection

It turns out that the big Wall Street banks have found a dirty new way to make loads of cash from U.S. homeowners, and they really, really don’t want to talk about it.  So what is this dirty new business?  America’s biggest financial institutions have become property tax collectors, and it is extremely lucrative.  From coast to coast, the big Wall Street banks are buying up thousands upon thousands of tax liens and are making a killing by socking distressed homeowners with predatory interest, outrageous penalties and almost unbelievable legal fees.  In some areas, the big banks are able to foreclose on these homes in as little as six months.  The elderly and the poor are the most common targets of these practices.  An absolutely brilliant expose in the Huffington Post has brought these issues to light, and it is creating quite a controversy in the financial world.  The big banks are doing nothing illegal here.  Local governments are offering to sell thousands of tax liens and somebody is going to end up buying them.  But something seems extremely unsavory about the big Wall Street banks capitalizing on the economic downturn that they were so instrumental in causing in such a predatory manner. 

Today, millions of American families are barely hanging on to their homes by their fingernails.  Millions are out of work and millions of others are barely making enough to put food on the table.  Meanwhile, property taxes have absolutely soared in most areas of the nation over the past decade.  Many Americans are finding that when that time rolls around they simply do not have a big chunk of extra money to pay a property tax bill. 

So millions of American families, including many that have completely paid off their homes, now find themselves in danger of being thrown out on to the street over an unpaid property tax bill.

For many local governments, the headache of trying to collect on thousands of property tax liens is just too much, so they are glad to “outsource” the work of collection.

So how do the big Wall Street banks get involved?  Well, it goes something like this….

1) The big Wall Street banks set up or invest in shell companies that will disguise who they really are.

2) These shell companies run around and buy up all of the tax liens that they can get their hands on.

3) Predatory levels of interest (in some states as high as 18 percent), fees and penalties rapidly pile up on these unpaid tax liens.  The affected homeowners quickly end up owing much, much more than what the original tax bills were for.    

4) If the collecting firm has to hire a lawyer, then that gets charged to the homeowner as well.  The bloated legal fees for some of these lawyers can end up being the biggest expense of all.

5) If the tax liens do not get paid, the collecting firms move in to foreclose as quickly as legally possible.       

According to the Huffington Post, Wall Street banks such as Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase have been gobbling up several hundred thousand tax liens from local governments.  It appears that “distressed housing markets” are being particularly targeted.

Many of these tax liens are sold in online auctions, so it is unclear if many local government officials even realize who the big money behind many of these shell companies is. 

Once again, this is all perfectly legal, but it is more than a little distasteful.

The following video by the Huffington Post does a good job of summarizing what they found….

The truth is that there is a huge difference between the letter of the law and true justice.

Just consider the following tragic story from the Huffington Post article….

Barbara Carpenter, a 58-year-old disabled Ohio retiree, found herself in such a situation. The former worker for the American Red Cross struggled to save her Toledo home from a JPMorgan entity called Plymouth Park Tax Services, which in recent years has been among the nation’s top buyers of tax liens.

“It’s a great neighborhood and the house is in good condition,”said Carpenter, who paid $67,000 for the one-story home in 2004. But she fell behind in paying her taxes and a certificate for $1,500 in unpaid taxes was sold off to Plymouth Park, which is based in New Jersey.

Carpenter’s lawyer, Joseph Westmeyer, said Plymouth Park routinely charges an upfront fee of around $1,500 as soon as it buys the lien and 18 percent interest on the debt. If they don’t get paid, they foreclose.

“It’s not a good deal for poor customers,” said Westmeyer. Carpenter wound up selling the house in August for less than half what she had paid. Plymouth Park received about $12,000 in legal fees and other charges, including some additional taxes, Westmeyer said, quoting from court records.

Does that sound like an honorable way of making money to you?

Would you like to make your living by throwing elderly women out of their homes and into the street over unpaid tax bills?

Unfortunately, this problem is not going to go away any time soon.  One out of every six Americans is enrolled in a government anti-poverty program.  Tens of millions of Americans are barely hanging in there.  In addition, tens of millions of elderly Americans live on fixed incomes.  Meanwhile, property taxes just continue to go up in many areas of the United States.

Unless the U.S. economy experiences a dramatic turnaround, we are going to continue to see large numbers of Americans get behind on their property taxes, and the big banks will continue to be there to scoop up the tax liens.

Large numbers of poor and elderly Americans that don’t even have a mortgage will lose their homes and it will all be perfectly legal.  Executives at the big banks will be having a good laugh about their huge bonus checks as thousands upon thousands of our most vulnerable citizens are dumped out into the street.

But weren’t the big banks largely responsible for causing the housing crash and the economic meltdown that followed? 

Yes.

But so far none of them is really paying any kind of a price.  The big banks got bailed out by the U.S. government, and now it looks like the Federal Reserve is preparing another round of “backdoor bailouts” to help them out again.

But do the big banks show any mercy on the poor and the elderly who have gotten behind on their property taxes?

Not at all.

This is 2010 – a time when greed dominates the financial world and when most banks don’t seem to know a thing about kindness or mercy.

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!