Could you imagine being a single parent and trying to survive in America today on $10.50 an hour? For a moment, I want you to imagine that you are living in a moldy apartment that is so badly maintained that rain seeps in whenever it rains. You are employed, but you are completely dependent on government programs such as food stamps and Medicaid in order to make ends meet. Sometimes you would really like to take your small child somewhere fun, like a movie theater, but you can’t really afford the gas money. You are working as hard as you can, but you never seem to get anywhere, and you feel trapped because nobody seems to want to hire you for a better job. What I have just described for you is real life for a 22-year-old single mother from Chicago named Adriana Alvarez, but there are tens of millions of other Americans that have similar stories. If every day seems like it is a soul-crushing struggle for you, I want you to know that you are not alone. The long-term economic collapse that I chronicle on my website is not just about facts and figures. It is about real people that are quietly leading lives of silent desperation, and by now it has becoming exceedingly apparent that our politicians, the mainstream media and the gigantic corporations that dominate our economy do not really care much about the rest of us at all.
Life fundamentally changes once you become a parent. Instead of living just for yourself, all of a sudden you have a precious little child that is completely and totally dependent on you. And it is absolutely heartbreaking for any parent to look into the eyes of a little child and try to explain why there is not enough food or why they can’t afford a better place to live.
With that in mind, I want you to read an excerpt from Adriana’s recent blog post entitled “What It’s Really Like To Support Yourself On McDonald’s Pay“…
I’m a single mom with a three-year-old son named Manny. To support him, I work full-time as a cashier at a McDonald’s in Chicago.
I’ve worked at McDonald’s for five years, but still make only $10.50 an hour. The only way my son and I can make it is with food stamps, Medicaid, and a child care subsidy. Most of my coworkers are in the same boat, no matter how long they’ve held their jobs.
With child care, transportation to work, food, rent, and our other basic expenses, there’s no money left over for living. Every time I think about taking Manny somewhere fun, like to a movie, I have to think about whether we can really afford the gas.
When you only make $10.50 an hour and you have a child to take care of, you are obviously very limited as far as where you can live, and where Adriana lives sounds extremely depressing…
We live in a basement apartment, because it’s all I can afford. When it rains, water seeps into the apartment. This wetness brings mold, and I can’t get rid of the smell. We can’t even leave anything on the floor, which is tough with a three-year-old. Toys or anything else on the floor may get ruined when the water comes in.
So what is the solution for Adriana?
Well, she is taking part in nationwide strikes to try to force McDonald’s to pay workers like her a livable wage.
Unfortunately, that simply is not going to happen. McDonald’s restaurants are already experiencing a sales downturn, and if they raise wages substantially they will get crushed by the competition.
And of course those jobs were never meant for people that are trying to raise families. When I was growing up, it was teenagers and senior citizens that worked at McDonald’s. I know, because I was one of those teenagers.
But now millions upon millions of Americans in their prime working years are doing these kinds of jobs. As good jobs have disappeared from our economy, the competition for the jobs that remain has become extremely intense. It is really easy to tell Adriana that she should “get a better job”, but that can be extremely difficult in this economy, especially if you don’t have much education.
I know a lot of sharp, talented, responsible people that have been unemployed for a very long time or that are working at places like McDonald’s because nobody else will hire them. I am amazed that there is not a place for their talents and abilities in the “greatest economy on Earth”. But you know what? Things are about to get a whole lot worse out there.
A few months ago, I wrote that the crashing price of oil was going to cause massive job losses in the energy industry, and now it is happening.
According to Yahoo, more than 100,000 layoffs have already been announced, and this could be just the tip of the iceberg…
Since crude prices began tumbling last year, energy companies have announced plans to lay off more than 100,000 workers around the world. At least 91,000 layoffs have already materialized, with the majority coming in oil-field-services and drilling companies, according to research by Graves & Co., a Houston consulting firm.
And remember, these are not $10.50 an hour jobs. Many of these jobs pay well into the six figures annually. These are exactly the kinds of jobs that the U.S. economy simply cannot afford to lose.
Meanwhile, Barack Obama is colluding with Congress to push through the next great job killing trade agreement. The following was in the Wall Street Journal on Thursday…
Lawmakers introduced fast-track trade legislation into the House and Senate Thursday that could pave the way for President Barack Obama to conclude a major agreement with 11 nations around the Pacific.
This agreement is called “The Trans-Pacific Partnership”, and it would result in millions more good jobs being sent overseas. For much more about this shocking betrayal of the American people, please see my previous article entitled “Obama’s Secret Treaty Would Be The Most Important Step Toward A One World Economic System“.
What our economy desperately needs is more jobs, not less jobs.
And traditionally, small businesses have been the primary engine of job growth in this country.
Unfortunately, our politicians have been absolutely killing small businesses for decades. Just look at the chart below. It comes from the U.S. Census Bureau, and it is extremely alarming. Back in 1980, nearly half of all firms in America were considered to be “young”, and those young firms accounted for almost half of all job creation. Since that time, there has been a slow, steady, depressing decline…
And as I discussed the other day, more businesses have closed in the United States than have opened for each of the past six years.
Prior to 2008, that had never happened before in all of American history.
Thank you Barack Obama.
When I talk about our “long-term economic collapse”, I am not exaggerating.
Our economy is literally dying right in front of our eyes, and it is people like Adriana Alvarez that are paying the price.
We desperately need to go back and start doing the things that once made this country so great, but unfortunately we continue running in the other direction as fast as we can.
So in the end, things are going to get much, much worse.
Things did not have to turn out this way, but these are the choices that we have made, and now we get to live with them.
Should the federal government be spending billions of dollars to pump up Wal-Mart’s profits? I know that question sounds really bizarre, but unfortunately this is essentially what is happening. Because Wal-Mart does not pay them enough money, hundreds of thousands of Wal-Mart employees enroll in Medicaid, food stamps and other social welfare programs. Even though Wal-Mart makes enormous profits, they refuse to properly take care of their employees so the federal government has to do it. And of course this is not just a Wal-Mart problem. There are hundreds of other major corporations doing exactly the same thing. And they will keep on doing it as long as they can because relying on the federal government to take care of their employees allows them to make much larger profits. This gives these companies an enormous competitive advantage and it distorts the marketplace. If you love the free enterprise system, you should be aghast at this. Our big corporations have become the biggest “welfare queens” of all, and Wal-Mart is near the top of that list.
Does your local Wal-Mart store seem like it needs help from the federal government?
Of course not.
Wal-Marts all over the nation were absolutely packed this holiday season, but according to a recent Bloomberg article, the average amount of welfare that Wal-Mart employees receive from the government each year breaks down to about $420,000 per store…
Wal-Mart’s low wages have led to full-time employees seeking public assistance. These are not the 47 percent, lazy, unmotivated bums. Rather, these are people working physical, often difficult jobs. They receive $2.66 billion in government help each year (including $1 billion in healthcare assistance). That works out to about $5,815 per worker. And about $420,000 per store.
Does that make you angry?
Today, Wal-Mart employs approximately 1.2 million people in the United States, and it makes a yearly profit of about 17 billion dollars.
So why does it need 2.6 billion dollars of help from the U.S. government?
Wal-Mart is a colossal money-making behemoth. Just consider the following numbers…
The size of Wal-Mart is sometimes difficult to visualize. To put it into some context, consider the following: 100 million U.S. shoppers patronize Wal-Mart stores every week. Wal-Mart has twice the number employees of the U.S. Postal Service, a larger global computer network than the Pentagon, and the world’s largest fleet of trucks. Americans spend about $36 million dollars per hour at the stores. Wal-Mart now sells more food than any other company in the world, capturing one of every four dollars spent on food in the U.S. The average American family of four spends over $4,000 a year there. Each week, it has 200 million customers at more than 10,400 stores in 27 countries. If the company were an independent country, it would be the 25th largest economy in the world.
Wal-Mart does well enough to be able to pay their workers a livable wage.
And yet they refuse to do it.
Shame on them.
Meanwhile, the six heirs of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton have as much wealth as the poorest one-third of all Americans combined.
This reminds me of something that I read in the fifth chapter of James the other day…
Come now, you rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. Your riches are corrupted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have stored up treasures for the last days. Indeed the wages that you kept back by fraud from the laborers who harvested your fields are crying, and the cries of those who harvested have entered into the ears of the Lord of Hosts. You have lived in pleasure on the earth and have been wayward. You have nourished your hearts as in a day of slaughter.
But we continue to reward this behavior, don’t we?
100 million of us continue to visit Wal-Mart every single week, and we continue to fill up our shopping carts with cheap products that are made outside this country.
We refuse to support American workers and American businesses, and this is a recipe for utter disaster. For much more on this, please see my previous article entitled “National Economic Suicide: The U.S. Trade Deficit With China Just Hit A New Record High“.
The truth is that we cannot consume our way to prosperity. When we consume far more wealth than we produce, we pile up debt and we become poorer as a nation.
And as a country we have become exceedingly cold-hearted toward our workers. If you truly love free markets and capitalism, you should be encouraging big companies to pay their workers properly. Instead, we are moving closer and closer to the slave labor model employed by China and other communist nations with each passing day. Sadly, I am becoming increasingly convinced that many prominent “pro-business” voices in America today are actually closet communists. They seem to want everything to be made in China and for American workers to be paid just like Chinese workers.
At this point, the U.S. middle class is well on the way to being destroyed. As I have written about previously, 40 percent of all American workers now make less than what a minimum wage worker made back in 1968 after you account for inflation.
How is the middle class supposed to survive in such an environment?
And for any “pro-business” people that want to defend Wal-Mart, do you actually like paying suffocating taxes to support all of the people that are being forced on to the safety net?
What is our society going to look like as millions more Americans become dependent on the federal government each year? Government dependence is already at an all-time record high. How much worse do things have to get before we admit that we have a real problem?
Unfortunately, it looks like our problems are only going to accelerate in 2015. Thanks to the stunning decline in the price of oil, we are starting to lose good paying jobs in the energy industry…
One company caught in the industry downturn is Hercules Offshore Inc. The Houston-based firm is laying off 324 employees, roughly 15% of its workforce, because oil companies aren’t renewing contracts for its offshore drilling rigs in the Gulf of Mexico while crude prices are depressed.
“It’s been breathtaking,” said Jim Noe, executive vice president of Hercules, which was founded in 2004. “We’ve never seen this glut of supply and dislocation in oil markets. So we’re not surprised to see a significant decline in demand for our services.”
These are jobs that we cannot afford to lose.
Since the end of the last recession, the energy industry has been the leading creator of good paying jobs in America.
But now as the U.S. energy boom goes bust, it might lead the way in job losses.
In order to have a middle class, we have got to have middle class jobs.
Unfortunately, those kinds of jobs are disappearing and the entire U.S. economy is moving toward the Wal-Mart model.
In the end, we will all pay a great price for such foolishness.
Did you know that 65 percent of all children in the United States live in a home that receives aid from the federal government? We live at a time when child poverty in America is exploding. Yes, the U.S. economy is experiencing a temporary bubble of false stability for the moment, but even during this period of false stability the gap between the wealthy and the poor continues to rapidly expand and the middle class is being systematically destroyed. And sadly, this is having a disproportionate impact on children. This is happening for a couple of reasons. First of all, poorer households tend to have more children than wealthier households. Secondly, most people tend to have children when they are in their young adult years, and right now young adults are being absolutely hammered by this economy. As a result, things just continue to get even worse for children living in this country. Here are 14 facts that show that the number of children in America living in poverty this Christmas is at an all-time record high…
#1 The National Center for Children in Poverty says that 45 percent of all U.S. children belong to low income families.
#2 According to a Census Bureau report that was released just this week, 65 percent of all children in America are living in a home that receives some form of aid from the federal government…
“Almost two-thirds (65 percent) of children,” said the Census Bureau, “lived in households that participated in at least one or more of the following government aid programs: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), Medicaid, and the National School Lunch Program.”
#3 According to a report recently released by UNICEF, almost one-third of all children in this country “live in households with an income below 60 percent of the national median income”.
#4 When it comes to child poverty, the United States ranks 36th out of the 41 “wealthy nations” that UNICEF looked at.
#5 An astounding 45 percent of all African-American children in America live in areas of “concentrated poverty”.
#6 40.9 percent of all children in the United States that are living with only one parent are living in poverty.
#7 These days, a lot of single mothers are really, really struggling to survive. A decade ago, the number of women in America that had jobs outnumbered the number of women in America on food stamps by more than a 2 to 1 margin. But now the number of women in America on food stamps actually exceeds the total number of women that have jobs.
#8 It is hard to believe, but right now 49 million Americans are dealing with food insecurity.
#9 According to a report that was released last month by the National Center on Family Homelessness, the number of homeless children in the United States has reached a new all-time high of 2.5 million.
#10 There are more than half a million homeless children in the state of California alone.
#11 One recent survey found that about 22 percent of all Americans have had to turn to a church food panty for assistance.
#12 This year, almost one out of every five households in the United States will go through the holiday season on food stamps.
#13 One of the primary reasons why kids are suffering so much is because their parents are simply not making enough money. This is especially true for parents of young children. For example, check out the following numbers from the Atlantic…
Since the Great Recession struck in 2007, the median wage for people between the ages of 25 and 34, adjusted for inflation, has fallen in every major industry except for health care.
These numbers come from an analysis of the Census Current Population Survey by Konrad Mugglestone, an economist with Young Invincibles.
In retail, wholesale, leisure, and hospitality—which together employ more than one quarter of this age group—real wages have fallen more than 10 percent since 2007. To be clear, this doesn’t mean that most of this cohort are seeing their pay slashed, year after year. Instead it suggests that wage growth is failing to keep up with inflation, and that, as twentysomethings pass into their thirties, they are earning less than their older peers did before the recession.
#14 Overall, the quality of the jobs in America continues to decline. At this point, most Americans do not bring home enough income to support a middle class lifestyle for their families. Below I have shared an excerpt from an article that I published a while back…
The following are some statistics about wages in the U.S. from a Social Security Administration report that was recently released…
-39 percent of American workers made less than $20,000 last year.
-52 percent of American workers made less than $30,000 last year.
-63 percent of American workers made less than $40,000 last year.
-72 percent of American workers made less than $50,000 last year.
In addition to all of these numbers, there is also a lot of anecdotal evidence that families with children are really struggling right now.
For example, McDonald’s has traditionally been a place where poor and middle class families have taken their children for a cheap meal. But the restaurant chain just released the worst sales numbers that we have seen in more than a decade.
And the really bad news is that this is just the beginning of the economic pain for families with children. The U.S. economy is in a bubble period right now, and the authorities have been trying with all of their might to keep the bubble inflated.
Just imagine a bodybuilder that is pressing with all of his might to do one more rep on the bench press. That is essentially where we are at. In a recent piece, Brian Pretti summarized some of the extraordinary measures that global central banks have taken to keep the economic bubble inflated…
Since early 2009, central banks globally have printed more than $13 trillion. In addition, governments across the planet have increased their borrowings at historic proportions (the US just crossed $18T – another new high!), all in an effort to stimulate economies and avoid deflationary pressures. Total US Federal debt has more than doubled in five years, an increase of $9.5 trillion and counting.
Despite all of these efforts, the best that we have achieved is economic stagnation.
And now it is becoming clear that the overwhelming deflationary forces around the globe are starting to win the battle. The central banks have used up their ammunition and they still have not turned things around. In fact, as Ambrose Evans-Pritchard so eloquently put it recently, what we see all around us is “evidence of a 1930s-style depression, albeit one that is still contained”…
What is clear is that the world has become addicted to central bank stimulus. Bank of America said 56pc of global GDP is currently supported by zero interest rates, and so are 83pc of the free-floating equities on global bourses. Half of all government bonds in the world yield less that 1pc. Roughly 1.4bn people are experiencing negative rates in one form or another.
These are astonishing figures, evidence of a 1930s-style depression, albeit one that is still contained. Nobody knows what will happen as the Fed tries to break out of the stimulus trap, including Fed officials themselves.
But will it still be contained once the next major financial crash strikes?
As I discussed yesterday, there has never been a time when conditions have been more ideal for a financial crisis since the last one happened in 2008.
So as bad as things are for the children of America right now, they are only going to get worse.
In the years ahead may we all have great compassion for these victims of our incredibly foolish economic mistakes.
Are you in better shape financially than you were last Thanksgiving? If so, you should consider yourself to be very fortunate because most Americans are not. As you chow down on turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce this Thursday, please remember that there are millions of Americans that simply cannot afford to eat such a meal. According to a shocking new report that was just released by the National Center on Family Homelessness, the number of homeless children in the U.S. has reached a new all-time high of 2.5 million. And right now one out of every seven Americans rely on food banks to put food on the table. Yes, life is very good at the moment for Americans at the top end of the income spectrum. The stock market has been soaring and sales of homes worth at last a million dollars are up 16 percent so far this year. But most Americans live in a very different world. The percentage of Americans that are employed is about the same as it was during the depths of the last recession, the quality of our jobs continues to go down, the rate of homeownership in America has fallen for seven years in a row, and the cost of living is rising much faster than paychecks are. As a result, the middle class is smaller this Thanksgiving than it was last Thanksgiving, and most Americans have seen their standards of living go down over the past year.
In 2014, there are tens of millions of Americans that are anonymously leading lives of quiet desperation. They are desperately trying to hold on even though things just keep getting worse. For example, just consider the plight of 49-year-old Darrell Eberhardt. Once upon a time, his job in a Chevy factory paid him $18.50 an hour, but now he only makes $10.50 an hour and he knows that he probably would not be able to make as much in a new job if he decided to leave…
For nearly 20 years, Darrell Eberhardt worked in an Ohio factory putting together wheelchairs, earning $18.50 an hour, enough to gain a toehold in the middle class and feel respected at work.
He is still working with his hands, assembling seats for Chevrolet Cruze cars at the Camaco auto parts factory in Lorain, Ohio, but now he makes $10.50 an hour and is barely hanging on. “I’d like to earn more,” said Mr. Eberhardt, who is 49 and went back to school a few years ago to earn an associate’s degree. “But the chances of finding something like I used to have are slim to none.”
Of course you can’t support a family on $10.50 an hour.
You can barely support one person on $10.50 an hour.
But there are many men out there that would absolutely love to switch positions with Darrell Eberhardt. At this point, one out of every six men in their prime working years (25 to 54) does not have a job. That is an absolutely crazy number.
And of course just because you “have a job” does not mean that things are going well. The number of Americans that are “working part-time involuntarily” has risen by over 50 percent since the beginning of the last recession. There are millions of hard working Americans that would love to get a full-time job if they could land one. But these days “decent jobs” are in short supply.
For example, CNN recently profiled the story of college graduate Meghan Brachle…
Meghan would love to be a music teacher or play full-time in an orchestra. She studied music at Loyola University in New Orleans and plays the flute.
Instead, Meghan works a slew of part-time jobs and receives no benefits.
She is a cashier at Whole Foods, a substitute teacher, a flute tutor and an administrative assistant at a non-profit.
Even with all of her hard work, Brachle and her husband often really struggle to pay the bills…
With inconsistent hours, Meghan monthly income fluctuates between $1,000 and $3,000. Even with her husband’s teaching salary, the couple sometimes struggles to cover the $3,600 of monthly expenses they have.
“It’s very stressful,” Meghan, a college graduate, says. “I think about all the job applications I’ve turned in and all the interviews I’ve been on and all the other people who are in the same situation, looking for those same [full-time] jobs. It’s frustrating.”
Sadly, a lot of these part-time employers know that their employees desperately need these jobs and are using that leverage to treat them very poorly.
For example, it is being reported that any KMart employees that do not show up for work on Thanksgiving will be automatically fired.
What kind of nonsense is that?
And around the country at Wal-Mart stores, food drives are being held for “needy employees“.
So why wouldn’t Wal-Mart just pay their workers enough so that they could afford to take care of themselves in the first place?
Most people don’t realize this, but approximately one out of every four part-time workers in America is currently living below the poverty line. Many of them are working as hard as they can and still can’t make enough to take care of themselves.
Meanwhile, our paychecks are getting stretched further and further with each passing month.
When you don’t make much money, every dollar is precious. And when food prices go up substantially, it can be very painful. Unfortunately, that is precisely what is happening right now…
-From September to October, the price of a pound of Turkey rose from $1.58 to $1.66. That represents a 5.2 percent price increase in just one month.
-The price of a pound of ground beef has just risen to a brand new record high of $4.15 a pound, and more price increases are on the way. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is projecting that U.S. beef production will drop by another 1 billion pounds next year due to a variety of factors including the horrific multi-year drought out west.
-The entire planet is bracing for a huge chocolate shortage, and this threatens to push the price of chocolate beyond the reach of many American families…
Start hoarding those Hershey’s Kisses and stockpile your Snickers: The world could soon experience a chocolate shortage.
Mars Inc. and Barry Callebaut, two of the world’s largest chocolate makers, say that’s the path we’re headed down. They cite a perfect storm of factors: Less cocoa is being produced as more and more people are devouring chocolate.
In 2013, consumers ate about 70,000 metric tons more cocoa than was produced, The Washington Post reports, and that deficit could go up to 1 million metric tons by 2020. The Ivory Coast and Ghana produce more than 70 percent of the world’s cacao beans, and both countries are experiencing dry weather that limits growth. To make things worse, a fungal disease called frosty pod has destroyed 30 to 40 percent of global cocoa production.
As a result of all of the things that I have just discussed above, more Americans than ever are being forced to turn to the government for assistance. Today, the number of Americans getting a check from the government each month is at an all-time high, and at this point Americans collectively get more money from the government than they pay in taxes. For much, much more on this, please see my recent article entitled “21 Facts That Prove That Dependence On The Government Is Out Of Control In America“.
So if things are going well for you this Thanksgiving, you should be truly thankful.
For most of the country, things just continue to get even worse. And if the next major wave of our economic crisis arrives next year like many are projecting, this may just be the beginning of our economic pain.