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?
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....
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.