Perhaps the greatest victims of the economic nightmare that is unfolding right in front of our eyes are our children. The overall economic numbers are really bad, but when you examine the impact that this economy is having on children things get really horrifying. Today, 1 in 5 American children live in poverty and 1 in 4 American children are on food stamps. Experts tell us that about 50 percent of all U.S. children will be on food stamps at some point before they reach the age of 18. Up to half a million American children are homeless even as you read this. And yet we continue to insist that we are the wealthiest nation in the world. Well, if we are so wealthy, then why are so many millions of our children suffering so desperately?
Part of the reason is because an increasing number of parents can't find work. According to a U.S. Labor Department report, the average duration of unemployment in the United States hit 34.4 weeks in May, which was a big increase from 33 weeks during April. To give you some perspective how incredibly bad that is, the average duration of unemployment was only 16.5 weeks in December 2007.
The truth is that when U.S. workers lose their jobs they are finding it exceedingly difficult to find new ones.
In fact, 45.9% of those currently unemployed in America have been out of work longer than six months. That is the highest percentage since the Labor Department began keeping track of this statistic back in 1948.
So is there much hope that things will turn around soon?
No, not really.
In fact, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke says that unemployment is likely to remain "high for a while".
That means a lot of children are going to continue to suffer.
According to one shocking new study, 21 percent of all children in the United States are living below the poverty line in 2010.
That means that more than 1 in 5 American children are now living in poverty.
That is a national disgrace.
Not only that, but the same report estimates that up to 500,000 children may currently be homeless in the United States.
Perhaps we should all think about that while we are enjoying our nice dinners tonight.
But most of us don't think that it is our job to do anything about it. Most of us have been trained that it is the job of the government to fix people's problems.
We have created a monolithic welfare state and record numbers of Americans are now dependent on it.
In fact, for the first time ever, more than 40 million Americans are on food stamps.
40.2 million Americans received food stamps in March, which was a whopping 21 percent increase from a year earlier.
But it is bad enough that 1 out of every 8 Americans is on food stamps. What is far more tragic is that one out of every four U.S. children is now on food stamps. In fact, as mentioned previously, experts tell us that half of all U.S. children will be on food stamps at some point before they turn 18.
So is anyone still not convinced that the U.S. economic system is broken?
So who is doing well these days?
In 2009, the number of millionaires in the United States rose 16 percent to 7.8 million.
Wall Street bonuses for 2009 were up 17 percent when compared with 2008.
The rich are getting richer as the poor are getting poorer. According to the United Nations, the United States has the highest level of income inequality of all of the highly industrialized nations.
The poor are left with an increasingly smaller slice of the pie to divide among themselves. In fact, those in the bottom 40 percent now collectively own less than 1 percent of the nation’s wealth.
But the truth is that as the U.S. economy continues to fall apart, we are all going to experience some very difficult times.
In particular, when the U.S. economy finally completely implodes, it is those who are almost entirely dependent on the "system" that will suffer the most pain. The vast majority of Americans live month to month, don't grow any of their own food and could only last a couple of weeks on the food that they currently have in their homes. So what will happen to those people when the system fails?
And in case you think that this kind of talk is fearmongering, perhaps you should start listening to what some of the top financial analysts around the world are saying.
For example, Anthony Fry, the senior managing director at Evercore Partners, recently told CNBC that things are getting so bad out there that he is "considering investing in barbed wire and guns".
Yes, things are really getting that bad.
Years ago the old timers would warn us that someday we would see Americans standing in bread lines.
Well, today food stamps are the new bread lines, and 40 million Americans a month find themselves dependent on the U.S. government for the food that they need to survive.
If that doesn't send a chill down your spine perhaps you should check your pulse.
When a government has to feed 40 million people a month that means that the system is badly broken.
How many tens of millions of people have to be on food stamps before we can all agree that we are in a complete and total economic nightmare?
If you know of family or friends that are hurting, please consider helping them out. The truth is that in the end we are all in this together. The government is not going to save us. The collapsing U.S. economy is not going to save us. But if we all roll up our sleeves and work together perhaps we can make it through the difficult years that are coming.