The gravy train is over for oil workers. All over North America, people that felt very secure about their jobs just a few weeks ago are now getting pink slips. There are even some people that I know personally that this has happened to. The economy is really starting to bleed oil patch jobs, and as long as the price of oil stays down at this level the job losses are going to continue. But this is what happens when a “boom” turns into a “bust”. Since 2003, drilling and extraction jobs in the United States have doubled. And these jobs typically pay very well. It is not uncommon for oil patch workers to make well over $100,000 a year, and these are precisely the types of jobs that we cannot afford to be losing. The middle class is struggling mightily as it is. And just like we witnessed in 2008, oil industry layoffs usually come before a downturn in employment for the overall economy. So if you think that it is tough to find a good job in America right now, you definitely will not like what comes next.
At one time, I encouraged those that were desperate for employment to check out states like North Dakota and Texas that were experiencing an oil boom. Unfortunately, the tremendous expansion that we witnessed is now reversing…
In states like North Dakota, Oklahoma and Texas, which have reaped the benefits of a domestic oil boom, the retrenchment is beginning.
“Drilling budgets are being slashed across the board,” said Ron Ness, president of the North Dakota Petroleum Council, which represents more than 500 companies working in the state’s Bakken oil patch.
Smaller budgets and less extraction activity means less jobs.
Often, the loss of a job in this industry can come without any warning whatsoever. Just check out the following example from a recent Bloomberg article…
The first thing oilfield geophysicist Emmanuel Osakwe noticed when he arrived back at work before 8 a.m. last month after a short vacation was all the darkened offices.
By that time of morning, the West Houston building of his oilfield services company was usually bustling with workers. A couple hours later, after a surprise call from Human Resources, Osakwe was adding to the emptiness: one of thousands of energy industry workers getting their pink slips as crude prices have plunged to less than $50 a barrel.
These jobs are not easy to replace. If oil industry veterans go down to the local Wal-Mart to get jobs, they will end up making only a very small fraction of what they once did. Every one of these jobs that gets lost is really going to hurt.
And at this point, the job losses in the oil industry are threatening to become an avalanche. The following are 12 signs that the economy is really starting to bleed oil patch jobs…
#1 It is being projected that the U.S. oil rig count will decline by 15 percent in the first quarter of 2015 alone. And when there are less rigs operating, less workers are needed so people get fired.
#2 Last week, 55 more oil rigs shut down. That was the largest single week decline in the United States in 24 years.
#3 Oilfield services provider Baker Hughes has announced that it plans to lay off 7,000 workers.
#4 Schlumberger, a big player in the energy industry, has announced plans to get rid of 9,000 workers.
#5 Suncor Energy is eliminating 1,000 workers from their oil projects up in Canada.
#6 Halliburton’s energy industry operations have slowed down dramatically, so they gave pink slips to 1,000 workers last month.
#7 Diamondback Energy just slashed their capital expenditure budget 40 percent to just $450 million.
#8 Elevation Resources plans to cut their capital expenditure budget from $227 million to $100 million.
#9 Concho Resources says that it plans to reduce the number of rigs that it is operating from 35 to 25.
#10 Tullow Oil has reduced their exploration budget from approximately a billion dollars to about 200 million dollars.
#11 Henry Resources President Danny Campbell has announced that his company is reducing activity “by up to 40 percent“.
#12 The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas is projecting that 140,000 jobs related to the energy industry will be lost in the state of Texas alone during 2015.
And of course it isn’t just workers that are going to suffer.
Some states are extremely dependent on oil revenues. Just take the state of Alaska for instance. According to one recent news report, 90 percent of the budget of Alaska comes from oil revenue…
But oil is also a revenue source in more than two dozen states, especially for about a third of them. In Alaska, where up to 90 percent of the budget is funded by oil, new Gov. Bill Walker has ordered agency heads to start identifying spending cuts.
Sadly, it looks like oil is not going to rebound any time soon.
China, the biggest user of oil in the world, just reported that economic growth expanded at the slowest pace in 24 years. And concerns about oversupply drove the price of U.S. crude down another couple of dollars on Monday…
Oil declined about 5 percent on Tuesday after the International Monetary Fund cut its 2015 global economic forecast on lower fuel demand and key producer Iran hinted prices could drop to $25 a barrel without supportive OPEC action.
U.S. crude, also known as West Texas Intermediate or WTI, settled 4.7 percent lower at $46.39 a barrel, near its intraday bottom of $46.23.
There is only one other time in history when we have seen an oil price crash of this magnitude.
That was in 2008, just before the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression.
Many believe that we are now on the verge of the next great financial crisis.
I hope that you are getting ready.
Why would the government want to punish people that are just trying to work hard, become more self-sufficient and take care of their families? There are approximately 3 million preppers in the United States today, and often they appear to be singled out for punishment by bureaucratic control freaks that are horrified at the thought that there are families out there that actually want to try to become less dependent on the system. So if you use alternative methods to heat your home, or if you are not connected to the utility grid, or if you collect rainwater on your property, or if you believe that parents should have the ultimate say when it comes to health decisions for their children, you could become a target for overzealous government enforcers. Once upon a time, America was the land of the free and the home of the brave, but now we are being transformed into a socialist police state where control freak bureaucrats use millions of laws, rules and regulations to crack down on anyone that dares to think for themselves.
For example, people have been burning wood to heat their homes since this country began. And this is still very common in rural areas. But the Obama administration does not like this at all. The Obama bureaucrats at the EPA fear that our little wood stoves may be contributing to “global warming”, so they have outlawed the production and sale of 80 percent of the wood stoves that are currently in use. The following comes from a recent Forbes article…
It seems that even wood isn’t green or renewable enough anymore. The EPA has recently banned the production and sale of 80 percent of America’s current wood-burning stoves, the oldest heating method known to mankind and mainstay of rural homes and many of our nation’s poorest residents. The agency’s stringent one-size-fits-all rules apply equally to heavily air-polluted cities and far cleaner plus typically colder off-grid wilderness areas such as large regions of Alaska and the American West.
While EPA’s most recent regulations aren’t altogether new, their impacts will nonetheless be severe. Whereas restrictions had previously banned wood-burning stoves that didn’t limit fine airborne particulate emissions to 15 micrograms per cubic meter of air, the change will impose a maximum 12 microgram limit. To put this amount in context, EPA estimates that secondhand tobacco smoke in a closed car can expose a person to 3,000-4,000 micrograms of particulates per cubic meter.
Most wood stoves that warm cabin and home residents from coast-to-coast can’t meet that standard. Older stoves that don’t cannot be traded in for updated types, but instead must be rendered inoperable, destroyed, or recycled as scrap metal.
Does that make you angry?
There are other preppers that try to use very “clean” methods to power their homes, but that is still not good enough for some government control freaks.
For example, one prepper down in south Florida that had gone “off the grid” was recently ordered by a court to connect back to the grid or face eviction from his home. The following is an excerpt from a recent article by Guiles Hendrik…
Think you are still free to make choices in your life? Do you think the government will allow you to live independent of their utility monopolies? If you think so, try opting for renewable non-grid tied power and utilize environmentally friendly composting toilets and your own self-sufficient water supply. Today, those life choices could land you in jail if you live in South Florida. Take the case of Robin Speronis.
Robin Speronis has lived off the grid, independent of the city’s water and electric system. A Florida court ruled this off-the-grid living illegal last week and has given Robin until March to connect her home to a municipal water line or face possible eviction. Further, officials in the city of Cape Coral have justified this by deeming Robin’s home “unsanitary,” citing the International Property Maintenance Code. First of all, since when did we begin to locally recognize “international codes?” Where in the US Constitution does it provide for international jurisdiction over local codes? Ironically, this “international” code mandates that homes be connected to an electricity grid and a running water source, even though most of the world lives without reliable electricity and municipal water and sewer. Further, the code is outdated and obsolete because it was written without consideration to both old and new technologies that relegate the need for grid tied power and municipal water as unnecessary and expensive; especially, in locations where it simply isn’t feasible to have grid tied utilities. Nonetheless, Speronis’ home does in fact have power and water through far cheaper and more environmentally friendly means — solar panels and rainwater, but that reality is ignored by the local government.
Incredibly, most Americans still seem to believe that we live in a “free country”. But we don’t. Our lives are very tightly constrained by literally millions of laws, rules and regulations, and more are being added every single day.
Even some of our most basic fundamental rights have been seriously eroded. One of these is the right to make basic health decisions for our own children. In New York state, children that have not received all of the designated vaccines can now be banned from attending public school, and this requirement was recently upheld by a federal appeals court…
New York state’s requirement that children be vaccinated before attending public school does not violate their constitutional rights, a federal appeals court in Manhattan said on Wednesday.
In affirming the requirement’s constitutionality, a three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals also upheld a previous ruling by a federal judge that students exempted from the requirement for religious reasons can be barred from school when another child has a disease preventable by a vaccine.
The decision was the latest to go against three parents from New York City who say their religious rights were violated when their children were kept out of school as a result of the immunization policies. The parents’ lawyer, Patricia Finn, said her clients planned to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
So what are we free to do without government interference these days?
In fact, in some states we can’t even sit on our own land and collect the rain as it falls from the sky for our own personal use.
If you do this in the state of Oregon, for example, you could go to prison…
Gary Harrington, the Oregon man convicted of collecting rainwater and snow runoff on his rural property surrendered Wednesday morning to begin serving his 30-day, jail sentence in Medford, Ore.
“I’m sacrificing my liberty so we can stand up as a country and stand for our liberty,” Harrington told a small crowd of people gathered outside of the Jackson County (Ore.) Jail.
Several people held signs that showed support for Harrington as he was taken inside the jail.
And of course these are just a few examples. Almost every single day there are more stories in the news about government bureaucrats cracking down on preppers. They almost seem to relish the opportunity to go after the “non-conformists”.
But the good news is that the number of Americans that are seeking to become less dependent on the system just continues to grow.
So what about you?
Are you a prepper?
My friend Daisy Luther recently wrote a piece entitled “45 MORE Signs That You Might Be One of Those Crazy Preppers“. The following are some of the most interesting “signs” from her list…
*You spend your days off digging an underground bunker in your backyard.
*Your family doesn’t dare take something from the food stockpile without marking it off the list.
*Your kids know how to don a gas mask in 30 seconds.
*Everyone in your survival group carries the same firearm so that ammo is standardized.
*Your family is no longer surprised when you announce, “Hey, we’re going to learn how to make (insert anything here)!”
*You have long since accepted the idea that if you’re not on someone’s list, you’re probably not doing it right.
*You don’t just rotate food, you rotate ammo.
*Moving to a new house is no longer “moving”, but “strategic relocation”.
*Your kids think it’s a fun game to see who can find the most potential weapons in a room.
*Your EDC includes a knife, firearm w/extra mag, flashlight, mylar blanket, Chapstick, and an ounce of silver — and that’s just for when you’re walking the dog.
*One criterion for your new winter coat is that it fits over your body armor.
You can read her entire article right here.
America was built by people that loved their families, worked hard and were self-sufficient.
Now our government is specifically targeting those kinds of people.
What in the world is happening to us?
Did you know that the number of Ebola cases in Liberia and Sierra Leone is approximately doubling every 20 days? People are dropping dead in the streets, large numbers of bodies are being dumped into the rivers, and gravediggers can hardly keep up with the the number of corpses that are being delivered to the cemeteries. As you read this, life is pure hell in many areas of West Africa, and now the CDC is warning that things may get far, far worse in the very near future. According to the CDC, the number of Ebola cases could potentially soar to 1.4 million by the end of January. Of course the CDC says that this is a “worst-case scenario”, but for our health officials to even suggest that such a huge number is possible is quite chilling. We are now being told that the fatality rate for this Ebola outbreak has risen to 71 percent, and so most of the “cases” will eventually turn into deaths. If we do eventually see 1.4 million cases of Ebola in West Africa, it is incredibly naive to think that it will not spread to other parts of the globe as well.
The World Health Organization has been trying to document the number of cases and deaths that are happening, but at this point even the WHO admits that the official statistics “vastly underestimate the magnitude of the outbreak.”
And for the first time, health officials are conceding that this crisis may never have an end point. A study that was published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine says that Ebola could potentially become endemic to West Africa. In other words, it could become a disease that is continually spread and that we have to deal with on a regular basis like malaria or the flu.
Hopefully this outbreak will be brought under control shortly. But at the moment there are no signs that this is happening. In fact, hundreds of health workers have contracted the disease themselves. And if current trends continue, the CDC warns that we could see up to 1.4 million cases of Ebola by the end of January…
Researchers say the total number of cases is vastly underreported by a factor of 2.5 in Sierra Leone and Liberia, two of the three hardest-hit countries. Using this correction factor, researchers estimate that approximately 21,000 total cases will have occurred in Liberia and Sierra Leone by Sept. 30. Reported cases in those two countries are doubling approximately every 20 days, researchers said.
“Extrapolating trends to January 20, 2015, without additional interventions or changes in community behavior,” such as much-improved safe burial practices, the researchers estimate that the number of Ebola cases in Liberia and Sierra Leone could be between approximately 550,000 to 1.4 million.
Over the past several weeks, there have been numerous reports of dead bodies lying in the streets of major cities over in West Africa.
And now even the WHO is admitting that many Ebola corpses have been dumped into nearby rivers…
“The true number of deaths will likely never be known, as bodies in the notoriously poor, filthy and overcrowded West Point slum, in the capital, Monrovia, have simply been thrown into the two nearby rivers,” WHO said in a separate statement.
No wonder Ebola is spreading so rapidly.
So far authorities have been able to keep this crisis mostly contained to just a few countries.
But what happens when we have over a million people running around with Ebola?
How in the world do we keep that contained?
There are some in the scientific community that are expressing skepticism that we will be able to…
That sort of exponential increase in cases makes it more likely that Ebola will become entrenched in West Africa, said Robert Murphy, a professor of medicine and biomedical engineering at Northwestern University.
If there are hundreds of thousands of Ebola cases, then “many more countries will have cases, and it won’t be just West Africa,” Murphy said. “There is so much mobility now, this can spread anywhere.”
If Ebola continues to spread like wildfire throughout West Africa, it is probably just a matter of time before it starts popping up in major cities in other areas of the globe.
If this were to happen in the United States, life would change for all of us almost overnight.
It is hard to put into words that kind of chaos that we are witnessing over in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone right now. Panic and fear are everywhere, and the corpses just keep piling up. The following is an excerpt from a recent New York Times article…
The Ebola epidemic is spreading rapidly in Sierra Leone’s densely packed capital – and it may already be far worse than the authorities acknowledge.
Various models of the growth of the epidemic here “all show an exponential increase,” said Peter H. Kilmarx, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention team in Sierra Leone. “The conditions are amenable to Ebola spread.”
“Since last month, it’s every day, any minute and hour, and often, they are coming” to bury the Ebola dead, said Desmond Kamara, a police officer.
A cloudy stream drains from the area of the new graves into the slum, further frightening the residents.
“We are at risk, big risk,” said Ousman Kamara, a resident. “We have made many complaints.”
But the bodies, he said, keep coming.
“Even at night,” he said. “You stand here, and you see them coming.”
Could you imagine something like that happening in America?
At this stage of the crisis in West Africa, all existing treatment facilities are absolutely overwhelmed.
Because there are no more beds, large numbers of people with Ebola are being turned away. Many end up dying just outside of the walls of some of these clinics…
A new Ebola clinic opened in Monrovia this week, but bodies lay on the ground outside its walls. Ambulances filled with Ebola patients, some that have traveled seven hours to get there, are not unloaded. Without help to get them inside, the patients fall in the dirt, mere feet away from treatment.
If things are this bad already when we only have thousands of cases, what are things going to look like when we have more than a million cases?
A representative for Samaritan’s Purse admitted the other day that “it’s too late. Nobody’s going to build 100,000 beds.”
And it can be absolutely heartbreaking for health workers to turn away people that are dying.
The following is firsthand testimony from a health worker that is on the front lines of this crisis that is actually having to do this…
The first person I had to turn away was a father who had brought his sick daughter in the trunk of his car. He pleaded with me to take his teenage daughter, saying that whilst he knew we couldn’t save her life, at least we could save the rest of his family from her.
Other families just pulled up in cars, let the sick person out and then drove off, abandoning them. One mother tried to leave her baby on a chair, hoping that if she did, we would have no choice but to care for the child.
I had to turn away one couple who arrived with their young daughter. Two hours later the girl died in front of our gate, where she remained until the body removal team took her away.
Those that are working on burial teams often see things that are even worse. Just consider the following example…
Dressed from head to toe in white protective suits and thick goggles, the burial teams try to stay safe, but nothing can shield them from the unspeakable horrors they’ve seen when they make their regular rounds. On Friday, Kiyee described what he saw when he entered a home:
“I took the key and opened the door and went in and saw a 6-month-old child licking on the mother’s skin,” said Kiyee. The mother was lying on her stomach. She had died from Ebola. The baby was searching for the mother’s milk. “Right away I started shedding tears.”
This is the kind of pure hell that we could see in the United States if Ebola starts spreading here.
Just because we have a more advanced medical system and better living conditions does not mean that we will be able to stop the spread of this virus.
In fact, some medical professionals are already warning that we are not prepared for an Ebola pandemic.
If cases of Ebola do start appearing in major cities throughout America, you will want to be prepared to stay at home as much as possible. There will not be any magic pill that you can pop that will “cure” you of this disease. It is a brutally efficient killer that does not show any mercy.
So let us hope that global health officials know what they are doing and that this pandemic will be brought under control soon.
But it would also be foolish not to prepare for the worst.
Rioting, looting, burning down stores and shooting police officers – is this about to become the “new normal” in America? What we just witnessed happen in the streets of Ferguson, Missouri is a prime example of how quickly the streets of America can descend into chaos. There is so much anger and frustration in this country, especially among our young people, that all it takes is a “trigger event” to spark a wildfire. In this case, it was the shooting of an unarmed black teen by a police officer. According to the police, 18-year-old Michael Brown got into a physical altercation with an officer and was subsequently shot. Word spread quickly throughout the community, and protests were rapidly organized. But the protests didn’t stay peaceful. People started chanting “kill the police” and throwing rocks and bottles. Store windows were smashed, the looting began, and people went absolutely crazy. And it wasn’t just a few people that were doing the looting. Huge mobs of people looted stores all over Ferguson. At one point an ATM was even dragged out of a QuikTrip gas station and a while after that the store was set on fire. But this is what happens when things descend into chaos. The owners of those stores didn’t have anything to do with the shooting of Michael Brown, but the violence got directed at them anyway. And someday when we see similar scenes erupt in major cities all over the nation, it won’t matter what your political beliefs are. You just better not be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Ferguson is a little town just outside of St. Louis with a population of about 21,000 people. You wouldn’t think that it would be possible to see such massive rioting in such a small community. But that is precisely what happened. On Monday, millions of Americans were absolutely mesmerized by the images coming out of Ferguson. The following is how one news source described what happened…
Brian Schellman, with the St. Louis County Police Department, said close to 300 police officers from at least 15 different departments were called to Ferguson when angry mobs began smashing windows, setting fires and looting businesses in the area.
Schellman said a St. Louis County officer injured his knee while at a Foot Locker store during the rioting. He said another officer was injured when he had a brick thrown at him.
Throughout the evening, numerous cop cars sustained damage and Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson said someone in a yellow pickup truck fired shots at officers while circling a WalMart parking lot. Chief Jackson said he got into a cop car to give chase to the truck but the truck got away.
Police said shots were also fired at a police helicopter in the area.
But words do not really accurately convey the level of craziness that was unleashed. I would encourage you to watch some of the videos on YouTube of the rioting and looting that were going on in Ferguson. The video posted below is just one example…
Sadly, this violence might continue for a while.
Just check out what one very angry 30-year-old man told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch…
DeAndre Smith, 30, of Ferguson was happy to justify the looting when a reporter asked him about it Monday morning.
“This is exactly what is supposed to be happening when an injustice is happening in your community,” he said, adding: “You have kids getting killed for nothing.”
Smith, who moved to St. Louis from New York in December, said there could be more to come.
“I don’t think it’s over honestly,” he said. “I just think they got a taste of what fighting back means.”
Of course this is not the first time that we have seen this kind of thing happen. Earlier this year, all it took was a snow storm for people in Atlanta to start behaving like crazed lunatics. And late last year we saw rioting and looting all over the nation when a technical glitch caused the EBT system to go down for a short while.
Even though the economy has somewhat stabilized (at least for the moment), levels of anger and frustration have continued to grow in this country. We have been taught to hate one another and to blame one another for our problems, and so now the U.S. is more divided than at any other point in recent memory. For much more on this, please see my previous article entitled “America The Divided: Everyone Knows We Have Problems But There Is Very Little Agreement On Solutions“.
We live at a time when things are so tense that even a small spark can light an absolutely huge fire. America has become a tinderbox. Next time it might not be a racially-charged shooting. Next time it might be an Ebola outbreak that sparks looting and panic. Or it might be some sort of financial collapse. We just don’t know.
But what we do know is that there are lots and lots of people that are willing to riot and loot and commit unspeakable crimes given the right circumstances.
Decades of social decay have gotten us to the point where the thin veneer of civilization that we all take for granted every single day is wearing dangerously thin.
The truth is that it is not going to take much to push this nation over the edge.
If this kind of rioting can take place in a community with just over 20,000 people, what would a full-blown riot look like in a city with millions of people?
That is a very sobering thing to think about.
Once upon a time in America, you could leave your doors unlocked at night and you could let your kids play in the streets without ever having to worry.
But now we are a sick, decaying nation that has millions of people ready to riot and loot at the drop of a hat.
Is there any hope for us?
A house divided against itself will surely fall. America is more divided today than it has been in decades, and the deep divisions that are tearing us apart continue to get even worse. In fact, a newly released Rasmussen Reports national survey discovered that 67 percent of voters believe that America is even more divided now than it was four years ago. We are angry, we are frustrated and we love to fight with one another, but none of this strife and discord is getting us anywhere. What most Americans can agree on is that we are facing tremendous problems as a nation. One average of recent polls found that only 26 percent of Americans believe that this country is heading in the right direction and 63.8 percent of Americans believe that this country is heading in the wrong direction. Unfortunately, there is very little agreement on what the solutions to our problems are. That is where the division is. As a nation, we no longer have a shared set of values or principles that provides a foundation for our decisions. Everyone just kind of does whatever is right in their own eyes, and the result is chaos. At a minimum, the U.S. Constitution was supposed to bond all of us together, but it has become clear that very few of our lawless politicians have any respect for that document at this point. And the American people must not have too much respect left for the Constitution either, because they keep sending the very same politicians back to Washington over and over again. Unless a miracle happens, everyone is going to keep pulling in different directions, and that is going to continue ripping our country to shreds.
The issues that divide us are countless. The following are just a few examples…
-U.S. Military Intervention In Foreign Countries
-Shipping Our Jobs Overseas
-Cost Of Living/Inflation
-The Gap Between The Wealthy And The Poor
-The Size And Role Of Government
-Global Warming/Climate Change
-The Emerging Big Brother Police State
-The War On Drugs
-The War On Terror
-U.S. Relationship With Israel
-The Role Of Faith In Society
I could go on and on with this list, but I think that you get the point.
If you pick just about any issue on that list, there are large numbers of Americans that want to take us one way and large numbers of Americans that want to take us exactly in the opposite direction. In many instances, both sides consider their opponents to be the epitome of evil.
Sadly, the fights that take place among those that are supposed to be on the same side are often even more disturbing. Some of the most bitter fighting that I have ever witnessed has been between people that should be working together. In fact, it often seems like a lot of people would rather fight others in their own “movement” than do something constructive.
And actually the establishment loves when we fight with one another. The more divided that we are, the easier we are to control.
I am often asked if I think that there is any hope for a political solution in this country.
I wish that I could be more optimistic when I answer, but as divided as this country is right now I see absolutely no hope for a political solution on the national level any time soon.
Even though Darth Vader has a higher favorability rating than any 2016 White House contenders, it is inevitable that one of them (with the full backing of the elite) will be our next president. And even though a few incumbents will be knocked out of Congress in 2014 and 2016, history has shown us that incumbents typically have a victory rate of more than 80 percent in election after election.
We keep sending the same jokers back to D.C. again and again and yet we continue to keep expecting different results.
Are we insane or what?
In a previous article, I noted a whole bunch of other polls and surveys that show how dissatisfied the American people have become with our government…
#1 65 percent of Americans are dissatisfied “with the U.S. system of government and its effectiveness”. That is the highest level of dissatisfaction that Gallup has ever recorded.
#2 66 percent of Americans are dissatisfied “with the size and power of federal government”.
#3 70 percent of Americans do not have confidence that the government will “make progress on the important problems and issues facing the country in 2014.”
#4 Only 8 percent of Americans believe that Congress is doing a “good” or “excellent” job.
#5 Only 4 percent of Americans believe that it would “change Congress for the worse” if every member was voted out during the next election.
#6 60 percent of Americans report feeling “angry or irritable”. Two years ago that number was at 50 percent.
#7 53 percent of Americans believe that the Obama administration is “not competent in running the government”.
#8 An all-time low 31 percent of Americans identify themselves as Democrats.
#9 An all-time low 25 percent of Americans identify themselves as Republicans.
#10 An all-time high 42 percent of Americans identify themselves as Independents.
Clearly the American people are sick and tired of politics as usual.
But even if we voted out every single member of Congress, who would we replace them with?
That is where not having a shared set of values and principles comes into play.
Even if we could start from scratch, the new politicians that the American people would send to Congress would not suddenly look like the founding fathers.
That is because we no longer believe in the same values and principles that they did.
Instead, an entirely new Congress would probably end up looking very much like the old Congress did.
I wish that national unity was just as easy as saying something like this: “Come on guys – let’s all just get together and agree to do what is right for the country.”
That sounds really good, but what is right for the country?
In America today, there is very little agreement about what is right and wrong anymore.
And politically, it is hard enough to get a handful of people to agree on much of anything these days, much less the millions upon millions of people that would be required to form a viable political movement.
So no, I don’t believe that there will be a political solution on the national level any time soon. The government that we have already reflects what is in the hearts of the American people.
Until we start seeing hearts change on a widespread basis, we are not going to see any significant change in Washington.
What would you say if I told you that Americans are nearly 60 TRILLION dollars in debt? Well, it is true. When you total up all forms of debt including government debt, business debt, mortgage debt and consumer debt, we are 59.4 trillion dollars in debt. That is an amount of money so large that it is difficult to describe it with words. For example, if you were alive when Jesus Christ was born and you had spent 80 million dollars every single day since then, you still would not have spent 59.4 trillion dollars by now. And most of this debt has been accumulated in recent decades. If you go back 40 years ago, total debt in America was sitting at about 2.2 trillion dollars. Somehow over the past four decades we have allowed the total amount of debt in the United States to get approximately 27 times larger. This is utter insanity, and anyone that thinks this is sustainable is completely deluded. We are living in the greatest debt bubble of all time, and there is no way that this is going to end well. Just check out the chart…
When the last recession hit, total debt in America actually started going down for a short period of time.
But then the Federal Reserve and our politicians in Washington worked feverishly to reinflate the bubble and they assured everyone that everything was going to be just fine. So Americans once again resorted to their free spending ways, and now total debt in the United States is rising at almost the same trajectory as before and has hit a new all-time record high.
We see a similar thing when we look at a chart for consumer debt in America…
For a while after the recession it was trendy to cut up your credit cards and get out of debt.
But that fad wore off rather quickly, didn’t it?
It is almost as if 2008 never happened. We are making the same mistakes with debt that we did before.
As I noted recently, total consumer credit in the U.S. has risen by 22 percent over the past three years alone, and at this point 56 percent of all Americans have a subprime credit rating.
And have you noticed that a lot of people are not afraid to extend themselves in order to buy shiny new vehicles these days?
During the first quarter 0f this year, the size of the average vehicle loan soared to a new all-time record high of $27,612.
Five years ago, that number was just $24,174.
And as I noted in one recent article, the size of the average monthly car payment in this country is now up to $474.
That is practically a mortgage payment.
Speaking of mortgage payments, even though home sales have been falling and the rate of homeownership in the United States is the lowest that it has been in 19 years, a very large percentage of those who own homes are still overextended.
In fact, one recent survey discovered that a whopping 52 percent of Americans cannot even afford the house that they are living in right now.
At the same time, an increasing number of Americans are acting as if the last financial crisis never happened and are treating their homes like piggy banks. Home equity loans are soaring again, and when the next great crisis strikes a lot of those people are going to end up getting into a lot of financial trouble.
There has been much written about what is wrong with the housing industry, but the truth is that home prices are still way too high and young adults cannot afford to purchase homes because they are already loaded down by huge amounts of debt even before they get to the point where they are ready to buy.
In fact, a newly released survey found that 47 percent of millennials are spending at least half of their paychecks on paying off debt…
Four in 10 millennials say they are “overwhelmed” by their debt — nearly double the number of baby boomers who feel that way, according to a Wells Fargo survey of more than 1,600 millennials between 22 and 33 years old, and 1,500 baby boomers between 49 and 59 years old.
To try to get out from underneath it, 47% said they spend at least half of their monthly paychecks on paying off their debts.
When I read that I was absolutely astounded.
Of course the biggest debt that many young adults are facing is student loan debt. According to the Federal Reserve, there is now more than 1.2 trillion dollars of student loan debt in this country, and about 124 billion dollars of that total is more than 90 days delinquent.
What we have done to our young people is shameful. We have encouraged them to sign up for a lifetime of debt slavery before they even understand what life is all about. The following is an excerpt from my previous article entitled “Is College A Waste Of Time And Money?“…
In America today, approximately two-thirds of all college students graduate with student loan debt, and the average debt level has been steadily rising. In fact, one study found that “70 percent of the class of 2013 is graduating with college-related debt – averaging $35,200 – including federal, state and private loans, as well as debt owed to family and accumulated through credit cards.”
That would be bad enough if most of these students were getting decent jobs that enabled them to service that debt.
But unfortunately, that is often not the case. It has been estimated that about half of all recent college graduates are working jobs that do not even require a college degree.
Considering what you just read, is it a surprise that half of all college graduates in America are still financially dependent on their parents when they are two years out of college?
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, only 36 percent of all Americans under the age of 35 own a home at this point. That is the lowest level that has ever been recorded.
And we are passing on to our young people the largest single debt in all of human history. Weighing in at 17.5 trillion dollars, the U.S. national debt is a colossal behemoth. And almost all of that debt has been accumulated over the past 40 years. In fact, 40 years ago the U.S. national debt was less than half a trillion dollars.
But this is just the beginning. As the Baby Boomer “demographic tsunami” washes through our economy, we are going to be facing a wave of red ink unlike anything we have ever contemplated before.
Meanwhile, the rest of the planet is drowning in debt as well.
As I wrote about the other day, the total amount of debt in the world has risen to a new all-time record high of $223,300,000,000,000.
Our “leaders” keep acting as if these debt levels can keep growing much faster than the overall level of economic growth indefinitely.
But anyone with even a shred of common sense knows that you can’t spend more money that you bring in forever.
At some point, a day of reckoning arrives.
2008 should have been a major wake up call that resulted in massive changes. But instead, our leaders just patched up the old system and reinflated the old bubbles so that they are now even larger than they were before.
They assure us that they know exactly what they are doing and that everything will be just fine.
Unfortunately, they are dead wrong.
One of the things that this era of American history will be known for is conspicuous consumption. Even though many of us won’t admit it, the truth is that almost all of us want a nice vehicle and a large home. They say that “everything is bigger in Texas”, but the same could be said for the entire nation as a whole. As you will see below, the size of the average new home has just hit a brand new record high and so has the size of the average auto loan. In the endless quest to achieve “the American Dream”, Americans are racking up bigger debts than ever before. Unfortunately, our paychecks are not keeping up and the middle class in the United States is steadily shrinking. The disparity between the lifestyle that society tells us that we ought to have and the size of our actual financial resources continues to grow. This is leading to a tremendous amount of frustration among those that can’t afford to buy expensive cars and large homes.
I remember the days when paying for a car over four years seemed like a massive commitment. But now nearly a quarter of all auto loans in the U.S. are extended out for six or seven years, and those loans have gotten larger than ever…
In the latest sign Americans are increasingly comfortable taking on more debt, auto buyers borrowed a record amount in the first quarter with the average monthly payment climbing to an all-time high of $474.
Not only that, buyers also continued to spread payments out over a longer period of time, with 24.8 percent of auto loans now coming with payment terms between six and seven years according to a new report from Experian Automotive.
That’s the highest percentage of 6 and 7-year loans Experian has ever recorded in a quarter.
Didn’t the last financial crisis teach us about the dangers of being overextended?
During the first quarter 0f 2014, the size of the average auto loan soared to an all-time record $27,612.
But if you go back just five years ago it was just $24,174.
And because we are taking out such large auto loans that are extended out over such a long period of time, we are now holding on to our vehicles much longer.
According to CNBC, Americans now keep their vehicles for an average of six years and one month.
Ten years ago, it was just four years and two months.
My how things have changed.
And consumer credit as a whole has also reached a brand new all-time record high in the United States.
Consumer credit includes auto loans, but it doesn’t include things like mortgages. The following is how Investopedia defines consumer credit…
Consumer credit is basically the amount of credit used by consumers to purchase non-investment goods or services that are consumed and whose value depreciates quickly. This includes automobiles, recreational vehicles (RVs), education, boat and trailer loans but excludes debts taken out to purchase real estate or margin on investment accounts.
As you can see from the chart below, Americans were reducing their exposure to consumer credit for a little while after the last financial crisis struck, but now it is rapidly rising again at essentially the same trajectory as before…
Have we learned nothing?
Meanwhile, America also seems to continue to have an insatiable demand for even larger homes.
According to Zero Hedge, the size of the average new home in the United States has just hit another brand new record high…
There was a small ray of hope just after the Lehman collapse that one of the most deplorable characteristics of US society – the relentless urge to build massive McMansions (funding questions aside) – was fading. Alas, as the Census Bureau today confirmed, that normalization in the innate desire for bigger, bigger, bigger not only did not go away but is now back with a bang.
According to just released data, both the median and average size of a new single-family home built in 2013 hit new all time highs of 2,384 and 2,598 square feet respectively.
And while it is known that in absolute number terms the total number of new home sales is still a fraction of what it was before the crisis, the one strata of new home sales which appears to not only not have been impacted but is openly flourishing once more, are the same McMansions which cater to the New Normal uberwealthy (which incidentally are the same as the Old Normal uberwealthy, only wealthier) and which for many symbolize America’s unbridled greed for mega housing no matter the cost.
There is certainly nothing wrong with having a large home.
But if people are overextending themselves financially, that is when it becomes a major problem.
Just remember what happened back in 2007.
And just like prior to the last financial crisis, Americans are treating their homes like piggy banks once again. Home equity lines of credit are up 8 percent over the past 12 months, and homeowners are increasingly being encouraged to put their homes at risk to fund their excessive lifestyles.
But there has been one big change that we have seen since the last financial crisis.
Lending standards have gotten a lot tougher, and many younger adults find that they are not able to buy homes even though they would really like to. Stifled by absolutely suffocating levels of student loan debt, many of these young adults are putting off purchasing a home indefinitely. The following is an excerpt from a recent CNN article about this phenomenon…
The Millennial generation is great at many things: texting, social media, selfies. But buying a home? Not so much.
Just 36% of Americans under the age of 35 own a home, according to the Census Bureau. That’s down from 42% in 2007 and the lowest level since 1982, when the agency began tracking homeownership by age.
It’s not all their fault. Millennials want to buy homes — 90% prefer owning over renting, according to a recent survey from Fannie Mae.
But student loan debt, tight lending standards and stiff competition have made it next to impossible for many of these younger Americans to make the leap.
This is one of the primary reasons why homeownership in America is declining.
A lot of young adults would love to buy a home, but they are already financially crippled from the very start of their adult lives by student loan debt. In fact, the total amount of student loan debt is now up to approximately 1.1 trillion dollars. That is even more than the total amount of credit card debt in this country.
We live in a debt-based system which is incredibly fragile.
We experienced this firsthand during the last financial crisis.
But we just can’t help ourselves.
We have always got to have more, and society teaches us that if we don’t have enough money to pay for it that we should just go into even more debt.
Unfortunately, just as so many individuals and families have found out in recent years, eventually a day of reckoning arrives.
And a day of reckoning is coming for the nation as a whole at some point as well.
You can count on that.