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We Might As Well Face It – America Is Addicted To Debt

Debt Tree - Public DomainCorporations, individuals and the federal government continue to rack up debt at a rate that is far faster than the overall rate of economic growth.  We are literally drowning in red ink from sea to shining sea, and yet we just can’t help ourselves.  Consumer credit has doubled since the year 2000.  Student loan debt has doubled over the course of the past decade.  Business debt has doubled since 2006.  And of course the debt of the federal government has doubled since 2007.  Anyone that believes that this is “sustainable” in any way, shape or form is crazy.  We have accumulated the greatest mountain of debt that the world has ever seen, and yet despite all of the warnings we just continue to race forward into financial oblivion.  There is no possible way that this is going to end well.

Just the other day, a financial story that USA Today posted really got my attention.  It contained charts and graphs that showed that business debt in the U.S. had doubled since 2006.  I knew that things were bad, but I didn’t know that they were this bad.  Back in 2006, just prior to the last major economic downturn, U.S. nonfinancial companies had a total of about 2.6 trillion dollars of debt.  Now, that total has skyrocketed to 5.8 trillion

Companies are sitting on a record $1.82 trillion in cash. That might sound impressive until you hear companies owe three times more – $5.8 trillion, according to a new report from Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services.

Debt levels are soaring at U.S. non-financial companies so quickly – total debt outstanding rose $650 billion in 2014, which is six times faster than the $100 billion in added cash.

So are we in better condition to handle an economic crisis than we were the last time, or are we in worse shape?

Let’s look at another category of debt.  According to new data that just came out, the total amount of student loan debt in the U.S. is up to a staggering 1.2 trillion dollars.  That total has more than doubled over the past decade…

New data released by The Associated Press shows student loan debt is over $1.2 trillion, which is more than double the amount of a decade ago.

Students are facing an average of $35,000 in debt, that’s the highest of any graduating class in U.S. history. A senior at University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, Jon Cheek, knows the struggle first hand.

“It’s been a pretty big concern, I work while I go to school. I applied for a bunch of scholarships and done everything I can to try and keep it low,” said Cheek.

And of course it isn’t just student loan debt.  American consumers have had a love affair with debt that stretches back for decades.  As the chart below demonstrates, overall consumer credit has more than doubled since the year 2000…

consumer credit outstanding

If our paychecks were increasing at this same pace, that would be one thing.  But they aren’t.  In fact, real median household income is actually lower today than it was just prior to the last economic crisis.

So American households should actually be cutting back on debt.  But instead, they are just piling on more debt, and the financial predators are becoming even more creative.  In a previous article,  I discussed how many auto loans are now being stretched out for seven years.  At this point, the number of auto loans that exceed 72 months is at an all-time high

The average new car loan has reached a record 67 months, reports Experian, the Ireland-based information-services company. The percentage of loans with terms of 73 to 84 months also reached a new high of 29.5% in the first quarter of 2015, up from 24.9% a year earlier.

Long-term used-vehicle loans also broke records with loan terms of 73 to 84 months reaching 16% in the first quarter 2015, up from 12.94% — also the highest on record.

When will we learn?

The crash of 2008 should have been a wake up call.

We should have acknowledged our mistakes and we should have started doing things very differently.

But instead, we just kept on making the exact same mistakes.  In fact, our long-term financial problems have continued to accelerate since the last recession.  Just look at what has happened to our national debt.  Just prior to the last recession, the U.S. national debt was sitting at approximately 9 trillion dollars.  Today, it is over 18 trillion dollars…

National Debt

Our debt has grown so large that we will never be able to get out from under it.  This is something that I covered in my recent article entitled “It Is Mathematically Impossible To Pay Off All Of Our Debt“.  Because of our recklessness, our children, our grandchildren and all future generations of Americans are consigned to a lifetime of debt slavery.  What we have done to them is beyond criminal.  If we lived in a just society, a whole bunch of people would be going to prison for the rest of their lives over this.

During fiscal year 2014, the debt of the federal government increased by more than a trillion dollars.  But in addition to that, the federal government has more than seven trillion dollars of debt that must be “rolled over” every year.  In other words, the government must issue more than seven trillion dollars of new debt just to pay off old debts that are coming due.

As long as the rest of the world continues to lend us enormous mountains of money at ridiculously low interest rates, we can continue to keep our heads above the water.  But this can change at any time.  And once it does, interest rates will rise.  If the average rate of interest on U.S. government debt was to return to the long-term average, we would very quickly find ourselves spending more than a trillion dollars a year just on interest on the national debt.

The debt-fueled prosperity that we are enjoying now is not real.  It is a false prosperity that has been purchased by selling future generations into debt slavery.  We have mortgaged the future to make our own lives better.

We are addicts.  We are addicted to debt, and no matter how many warnings we receive, we just can’t help ourselves.

Shame on you America.

‘You’re Fired – Now Train Your Much Cheaper Foreign Replacement’

Fired - Photo by XonecaIf you were laid off from your job, would you be willing to train your replacement if your company threatened to take away your severance pay if you didn’t do it?  And how would you feel if your replacement came from India, and the only reason your company was replacing you was because the foreign worker was a lot less expensive?  Sadly, this is happening all over America – especially in the information technology field.  Huge corporations such as Disney and Southern California Edison are coldly firing existing tech workers and filling those jobs with much cheaper foreign replacements.  They are doing this by blatantly abusing the H-1B temporary worker visa program.  Workers that had been doing a solid job for decades are being replaced without any hesitation just because it will save those firms a little bit of money.  There is very, very little loyalty left in corporate America today.  Even if you have poured your heart and your soul into your company for years, that ultimately means very little.  The moment that your usefulness is over, most firms will replace you in a heartbeat these days.

When I learned that Disney was doing this, I was absolutely outraged.  Talk about a company that is going down the toilet.  The following comes from the New York Times

While families rode the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and searched for Nemo on clamobiles in the theme parks, these workers monitored computers in industrial buildings nearby, making sure millions of Walt Disney World ticket sales, store purchases and hotel reservations went through without a hitch. Some were performing so well that they thought they had been called in for bonuses.

Instead, about 250 Disney employees were told in late October that they would be laid off. Many of their jobs were transferred to immigrants on temporary visas for highly skilled technical workers, who were brought in by an outsourcing firm based in India. Over the next three months, some Disney employees were required to train their replacements to do the jobs they had lost.

I just couldn’t believe they could fly people in to sit at our desks and take over our jobs exactly,” said one former worker, an American in his 40s who remains unemployed since his last day at Disney on Jan. 30. “It was so humiliating to train somebody else to take over your job. I still can’t grasp it.

Honestly, I don’t think that I could do it.

I don’t think that I could train my much cheaper foreign replacement.

But if you are the average American that is just barely scraping by from paycheck to paycheck, I guess complete and total humiliation is better than losing your home to foreclosure.

Out on the west coast, Southern California Edison did the exact same thing that Disney did.  The following is an excerpt from a Fox News report

Anonymous workers who were displaced by the visa holders also submitted written testimonials to lawmakers detailing their firings. Several claimed they were forced to train their replacements, and threatened with losing their severance if they did not.

We had no choice in this,” one anonymous worker who claimed to have been one of those let go from Southern California Edison, said in a letter. The worker described how when the two vendors were picked – Infosys and TCS, both major Indian companies – SCE employees were told to “sit with, video chat or do whatever was needed to teach them our systems.”

If they did not cooperate, according to the testimonial, “we would be fired and not receive a severance package.”

That is wrong on so many levels.  But this is what corporate America has become today – a cold, heartless place that has absolutely no empathy for the average worker.

These workers at Southern California Edison were even told that the firm “could replace one of us with three, four, or five Indian personnel” and still save money on the deal

They told us they could replace one of us with three, four, or five Indian personnel and still save money,” one laid-off Edison worker told me, recounting a group meeting with supervisors last year. “They said, ‘We can get four Indian guys for cheaper than the price of you.’ You could hear a pin drop in the room.”

The original intent of the H-1B temporary worker visa program was to allow U.S. companies to import foreign workers to do jobs that they were unable to fill with American workers.

But that is not what is happening.

Instead, the H-1B temporary worker visa program is being used to replace thousands upon thousands of well paid American workers.

It is a disgusting practice and it needs to stop.  There has been so much outrage over this that it has even gotten the attention of the U.S. Senate.  The following is from a letter that a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators sent to the Attorney General

A number of U.S. employers, including some large, well-known, publicly-traded corporations, have reportedly laid off thousands of American workers and replaced them with H-1B visa holders.  To add insult to injury, many of the replaced American employees report that they have been forced to train the foreign workers who are taking their jobs. This troubling practice seems to be particularly concentrated in the information technology (IT) sector, which is not surprising given that sixty five percent of H-1B petitions approved in FY 2014 were for workers in computer-related occupations.  Though such reports of H-1B-driven layoffs have been circulating for years, their frequency seems to have increased dramatically in the past year alone.

So has anything been done about this?

Of course not.

Instead, Barack Obama is working on an extremely secretive global economic treaty which will reportedly allow far more foreign workers to come into this country and which will result in millions more good paying jobs being shipped overseas.  It is called “The Trans-Pacific Partnership”, and it is basically NAFTA on steroids.

Why is it that Barack Obama has to be on the wrong side of every single issue?

The U.S. middle class is being systematically ripped to shreds, and most Americans are showing very little alarm about this.

How much damage has to be done before people will finally start waking up?

American Pharoah: What A Perfect Description For The Guy In The White House

Obama Pharoah - YouTube ScreenshotA horse named “American Pharoah” just won the Triple Crown.  Is this some sort of a sign for America?  The office of the presidency was greatly strengthened under previous administrations, but now Barack Obama has grabbed an unprecedented amount of power for himself.  In this article, I am going to focus on immigration, but Obama’s power grab is certainly not limited to this area.  And as I have written about previously, if there is some sort of major “national emergency” over the next year or so, the legal framework has already been created for Obama to use his “emergency powers” to take total control of virtually everything.  So is comparing Obama to the pharoahs of ancient Egypt unfair?  I don’t think so at all.  He is certainly acting as if he would like the powers of a dictator, his policies in the Middle East would make the pharoahs proud, and without a doubt Obama loves the adoration and worship of his fans.  In my opinion, he is the closest thing to a pharoah that the United States has ever seen.

Just consider Obama’s approach to immigration.  The laws of our land require him to protect our borders, but he has left them wide open and has openly encouraged illegal immigration because that is what he decided was best.  He also attempted to use his “executive powers” to grant amnesty to millions upon millions of immigrants that were in this country illegally.  Fortunately, that action has been blocked in the courts (at least for now), but Obama says that he is going to keep trying to do everything he can to “bring them out of the shadows”.

Personally, I am someone that believes that the United States will always need a certain level of legal immigration.  But the key word there is “legal”.  It is absolutely imperative that we require everyone to come in by the front door, so that we can weed out those that would be damaging to our society.  But instead of adopting a system that makes sense, we have left the back door wide open while making it extremely challenging to come in through the front door.  As a result, we have seen an endless flow of gang members, drug dealers, serial criminals, welfare parasites and political radicals enter this country illegally.  We have made it really easy for the “bad guys” to come in, but extraordinarily difficult for the “good guys” to move here.  What we are doing does not make any sense at all.

And thanks to our foolishness and the refusal of recent presidential administrations to enforce the law, all of this immigration has fundamentally altered the employment picture in this nation.  According to the latest numbers, nearly all of the job gains that the U.S. economy has experienced since 2007 have gone to foreign born workers

Assuming, the Household and Establishment surveys were congruent, this would mean that there was just 1K native-born workers added in May of the total 280K jobs added.

Alternatively, assuming the series, which is not seasonally adjusted, was indicative of seasonally adjusted data, then the 272K increase in total Household Survey civilian employment in May would imply a decline of 7K native-born workers offset by the increase of 279K “foreign borns.”

But while all of these comparisons are apples to oranges, using the BLS’ own Native-Born series, also presented on an unadjusted basis, we find the following stunner: since the start of the Second Great Depression, the US has added 2.3 million “foreign-born” workers, offset by just 727K “native-born”.

Foreign Born vs. Native Born

This means that the “recovery” has almost entirely benefited foreign-born workers, to the tune of 3 to 1 relative to native-born Americans!

It is getting to the point where we have a national epidemic on our hands.  According to one recent study, nearly one out of every 10 workers in the entire state of California is here illegally.  Imagine how much easier it would be to get a job in that state if the illegal workers were not part of the equation.

And of course it isn’t just employment that we need to be concerned about.  Thanks to unchecked illegal immigration, there are now 1.4 million gang members living in our cities, and these gang members often commit crimes that are absolutely horrific.  For example, the following is from an article about a crime that was recently committed by members of MS-13

Three teenage reputed members of the MS-13 street gang were ordered held without bail Friday on charges they forced a 16-year-old into a wooded area of a Long Island golf course, where two of them took turns raping her while the third stood as a lookout.

This is one of the most brutal, heinous crimes that I have seen in a long, long time,’ Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota said at a news conference following the suspects’ arraignments.

‘This poor young woman is so lucky that, quite frankly, that she is alive. These are vicious young men, vicious young men and what they did to her was absolutely terrible.’

If Barack Obama had protected our borders like he should have, those members of MS-13 would have never gotten into this country and they never would have raped that girl.

But instead of admitting that what he has done has been wrong, Pharoah Obama is doubling down on his current approach.  He insists that leaving the border wide open is “the right thing to do”, and he pledges to “bring more undocumented immigrants out of the shadows”.  The following comes from the Examiner

After executive amnesty was blocked in the courts and in the House the last two days, President Obama used his weekly radio address to ridicule House Republicans for blocking a vote on immigration reform, while promising that he would keep up the fight for undocumented immigrants.

“I’m going to keep doing everything I can to make our immigration system more just and more fair,” Obama said. “Last fall, I took action to provide more resources for border security; focus enforcement on the real threats to our security; modernize the legal immigration system for workers, employers and students; and bring more undocumented immigrants out of the shadows so they can get right with the law.”

“Some folks are still fighting against these actions,” Obama said, without directly naming the legal hurdles his executive actions face. “I’m going to keep fighting for them. Because the law is on our side. It’s the right thing to do. And it will make America stronger.”

And if Obama has his way, this is only just the beginning.

I have previously written about the devastating impact that the Trans-Pacific Partnership will have on our economy, but did you know that this secret new treaty that Obama is negotiating will also allow for the free flow of people within the Asia-Pacific region?  The following comes from WND

The European Union was founded on “four freedoms”: the free flow of people, goods, money and services among members. We learned at a recent White House press conference the Trans-Pacific Partnership will ensure “people, goods and money will flow freely within the Asia Pacific region.”

So what does that mean?

Will immigrants be able to move around the nations that are involved in the Trans-Pacific Partnership as freely as they do in the European Union today?  Mexico is one of the countries that will be a part of this new treaty.  Does that mean that people will now “flow freely” between our two nations?

We have seen it time and time again – once Obama is blocked one way, he just comes back and tries to advance his agenda another way.  When he promised to “fundamentally transform” this country, I don’t think that most people had any idea of what we would really be in for.

At this point, many regard Barack Obama as a “lame duck” president that is on his way out.

I don’t see it like that at all.  In fact, I believe that the most tumultuous time of Obama’s presidency is still to come.

Do you agree?  Tell us what you think the remainder of Obama’s time in the White House will look like by leaving a comment below…

Baltimore Has Descended Into A State Of Lawlessness – And More Cities Will Soon Follow

Baltimore Riot Police - Public DomainDid you really think that Baltimore would return to normal after everything that has happened?  On Thursday, a mother and her 7-year-old son were both shot in the head in a double murder that has shocked the entire nation.  Police believe that the son may have been shot in order to prevent him from identifying the individual that shot his mother.  So is this what America is turning into?  A place where 7-year-old kids are executed in cold blood?  That mother and son were the 37th and 38th murder victims in the city of Baltimore so far this month.  That makes this the deadliest month in Baltimore in 15 years, but because of all the controversy surrounding the death of Freddie Gray, police in Baltimore are afraid to do their jobs at this point.  In some areas of the city, young men boldly smoke weed in public and wave guns around at innocent bystanders without any worry that police will intervene.  Baltimore has descended into a state of lawlessness, and this is just the beginning.  As I discussed just the other day, the same kind of lawlessness will soon sweep all across this country.

Have you ever been afraid to step outside of your own home?  That is what day to day life is like for many residents of Baltimore right now.  In fact, one woman is even barricading her door and setting up metal slabs behind her windows to deflect gunfire.  Just check out the following excerpt from a recent news report about what is going on in the city

I’m afraid to go outside,” said Antoinette Perrine, whose brother was shot down three weeks ago on a basketball court near her home in the Harlem Park neighborhood of West Baltimore. Ever since, she has barricaded her door and added metal slabs inside her windows to deflect gunfire.

It’s so bad, people are afraid to let their kids outside,” Perrine said. “People wake up with shots through their windows. Police used to sit on every corner, on the top of the block. These days? They’re nowhere.”

I think that this is an indication of what we can expect from the police when chaos erupts in cities all over America.  In some places there will be troops in the streets to maintain order, but in other areas it will be like the wild west.

Right now, police officers in Baltimore are running scared.  They know that they are targets, and they know that one mistake can land them in prison or on the front page of newspapers all over the nation.  According to Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts, there have been times when officers have gone into an area only to be immediately surrounded by “30 to 50 people”

Our officers tell me that when officers pull up, they have 30 to 50 people surrounding them at any time,” Batts said.

Batts provided more details at a City Council meeting Wednesday night, saying officers now fear getting arrested for making mistakes.

“What is happening, there is a lot of levels of confusion in the police organization. There are people who have pain, there are people who are hurt, there are people who are frustrated, there are people who are angry,” Batts said. “There are people, and they’ve said this to me, `If I get out of my car and make a stop for a reasonable suspicion that leads to probable cause but I make a mistake on it, will I be arrested?’ They pull up to a scene and another officer has done something that they don’t know, it may be illegal, will they be arrested for it? Those are things they are asking.”

The criminals have the upper hand in Baltimore now, and they know it.

Just consider the words of the head of the police union.  He says that the police in the city “are under siege”

“The criminals are taking advantage of the situation in Baltimore since the unrest,” said Gene Ryan, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3. “Criminals feel empowered now. There is no respect. Police are under siege in every quarter. They are more afraid of going to jail for doing their jobs properly than they are of getting shot on duty.”

Wicomico County Sheriff Mike Lewis made even stronger remarks during a recent appearance on Fox News.  He told Sean Hannity that police in Baltimore have been “eviscerated”, “disemboweled”, and have had their “guts removed”…

Wicomico County, MD Sheriff Mike Lewis (R) declared that police officers are “fearful” of doing their jobs on Wednesday’s “Hannity” on the Fox News Channel.

“Sean, the Baltimore City Police Department, the officers particularly on the street, have been eviscerated, they’ve been disemboweled, their guts removed to have the courage to go out there and do this job. They’re very fearful that if they go out there and be proactive, which we all should be doing in law enforcement today, we can’t afford to be reactive, especially in urban areas. Those officers are no longer being proactive, and as you see, the violence has surged. … And I hope this is a shot fired across the bow of mayors and urban leaders across this country. Once you disembowel your law enforcement officers, then you cannot no longer expect them to go out there and protect you, or protect your communities. This is very troubling the worst I’ve ever seen in 31 years of law enforcement.”

Can you imagine what must be going through the heads of Baltimore police officers at this point?

One wrong move and you could start a riot.

One wrong move and you could go to prison.

One wrong move and you could be on the front page of every newspaper in the country and be labeled the biggest villain in America.

In early April, I publicly stated that civil unrest was coming to Baltimore, and what we are seeing happen there is eventually going to start happening all over the nation.  Police are going to start pulling back from the most violent areas and will allow chaos to reign in the streets.

It is only human nature.  Police officers are going to be extremely hesitant to risk their lives in communities where they are deeply hated and where they risk ruining their entire lives with a single wrong move.

It is going to take a lot of courage to be a cop in America’s inner cities in the years ahead.  Last year, the number of officers “feloniously killed” in the line of duty increased by 89 percent, and things are only going to get worse.

America is changing, and not for the better.  As economic conditions deteriorate, many of our major cities are going to turn into war zones.  If you are expecting the government to step in and fix things when that happens, you will be deeply disappointed.

This nation is filled with anger and hate, and it is getting worse with each passing day.

I truly wish that things had not turned out this way, but they did.  I truly wish that we could just all learn to love one another and live in peace, but it isn’t happening.

The hatred and frustration that are boiling just under the surface in this country are about to explode, and when that happens we will all pay a very great price.

Flat Broke, Living In A Moldy Basement And Relying On Food Stamps And Medicaid

Lock In The Rain - Public DomainCould 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…

 

Share Of Firms That Are Young

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.

The EMP Threat: All It Would Take Is A Couple Of Explosions To Send America Back To The 1800s

EMP ThreatOur entire way of life can be ended in a single day.  And it wouldn’t even take a nuclear war to do it.  All it would take for a rogue nation or terror organization to bring us to our knees is the explosion of a couple well-placed nuclear devices high up in our atmosphere.  The resulting electromagnetic pulses would fry electronics from coast to coast.  Of course this could also be accomplished without any attack.  Scientists tell us that massive solar storms have hit our planet before, and that it is inevitable that there will be more in the future.  As you will read about below, the most recent example of this was “the Carrington Event” in 1859.  If a similar burst from the sun hit us today, experts tell us that life in America could suddenly resemble life in the 1800s, and the economic damage caused could potentially be in the trillions of dollars.  This is one of the greatest potential threats that we are facing as a nation, and yet Barack Obama has essentially done nothing to get us prepared.

The technology necessary to conduct such an electromagnetic pulse attack against the United States has become much more accessible in recent years.  According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, even rogue nations such as North Korea and Iran either already have or will soon have the capability to hurt us in this way…

Rogue nations such as North Korea (and possibly Iran) will soon match Russia and China and have the primary ingredients for an EMP attack: simple ballistic missiles such as Scuds that could be launched from a freighter near our shores; space-launch vehicles able to loft low-earth-orbit satellites; and simple low-yield nuclear weapons that can generate gamma rays and fireballs.

If a successful, large scale EMP attack ever did take place, it would be a catastrophe beyond anything that the United States has ever seen before.  The EMP Commission, which was established by Congress, says that it is likely that most of us would end up dead

What would a successful EMP attack look like? The EMP Commission, in 2008, estimated that within 12 months of a nationwide blackout, up to 90% of the U.S. population could possibly perish from starvation, disease and societal breakdown.

In 2009 the congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States, whose co-chairmen were former Secretaries of Defense William Perry and James Schlesinger, concurred with the findings of the EMP Commission and urged immediate action to protect the electric grid. Studies by the National Academy of Sciences, the Department of Energy, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the National Intelligence Council reached similar conclusions.

If you are a terrorist, a dictator or a fanatic that is looking for a “killshot” for the United States, those kinds of numbers would certainly get your attention.

And it was recently reported by WND that the Iranian military has already been playing around with such a scenario…

Peter Vincent Pry, who is executive director of a congressional advisory group called the Task Force on National and Homeland Security, raised the alarm as the agreement is about to be finalized.

He said U.S. military officials have confirmed such an Iranian plan.

“Iranian military documents describe such a scenario – including a recently translated Iranian military textbook that endorses nuclear EMP attack against the United States,” Pry wrote in a recent column in Israel’s main online media network, Aruz Sheva.

“Iran with a small number of nuclear missiles can by EMP attack threaten the existence of modernity and be the death knell of Western principles of international law, humanism and freedom,” he said.

Very chilling stuff.

And of course there are many, many others out there that would love to see the U.S. taken down other than just the Iranians.

Meanwhile, our power grid is far more vulnerable than most Americans would dare to imagine.

In previous articles, I discussed a recent Federal Energy Regulatory Commission report which stated the following…

“Destroy nine interconnection substations and a transformer manufacturer and the entire United States grid would be down for at least 18 months, probably longer.”

Are you starting to get the picture?

Our entire way of life depends upon electricity.  If you take away that electricity, our society is transformed literally overnight.

A successful EMP would be an utter nightmare for this nation.  Just consider what U.S. Representative Scott Perry had to say about a potential attack last year

The consequences of such an attack could be catastrophic; all electronics, power systems, and information systems could be shut down,” Rep. Scott Perry said in prepared remarks during an EMP hearing in May held by the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security. “This could then cascade into interdependent infrastructures such as water, gas, and telecommunications. While we understand this is an extreme case, we must always be prepared in case a rogue state decides to utilize this technology.”

In essence, suddenly nothing would work and just about everything that we take for granted would suddenly be gone.

In a previous article, I spelled out some of the implications of such an event…

-There would be no heat for your home.
-Water would no longer be pumped into most homes.
-Your computer would not work.
-There would be no Internet.
-Your phones would not work.
-There would be no television.
-There would be no radio.
-ATM machines would be shut down.
-There would be no banking.
-Your debit cards and credit cards would not work.
-Without electricity, most gas stations would not be functioning.
-Most people would be unable to do their jobs without electricity and employment would collapse.
-Commerce would be brought to a standstill.
-Hospitals would not be able to function normally.
-You would quickly start running out of medicine.
-All refrigeration would shut down and frozen foods in our homes and supermarkets would start to go bad.

And as I mentioned above, all of this can happen even without an attack.

A direct hit from a major solar storm can cause the exact same thing.

In fact, NASA says that there is a 12 percent chance that such a storm will hit us during the next ten years…

NASA is warning that there’s a 12 percent chance an extreme solar storm will hit Earth in the next decade, sending out massive shock waves that would knock out grids across the world.

The economic impact of this doomsday scenario could exceed $2 trillion — or 20 times the cost of Hurricane Katrina, according to the National Academy of Sciences.

In recent years, we have been really lucky.

There was a close call in 2012 and another one in 2013.

The following is an excerpt from an upcoming book that I have co-authored with Barbara Fix that will soon be published entitled “Get Prepared Now”…

Most people have absolutely no idea that the Earth barely missed being fried by a massive EMP burst from the sun in 2012 and in 2013. And earlier in 2014 there was another huge solar storm which would have caused tremendous damage if it had been directed at our planet. If any of those storms would have directly hit us, the result would have been catastrophic. Electrical transformers would have burst into flames, power grids would have gone down and much of our technology would have been fried. In essence, life as we know it would have ceased to exist – at least for a time. These kinds of solar storms have hit the Earth many times before, and experts tell us that it is inevitable that it will happen again. The most famous one happened in 1859, and was known as the Carrington Event. But other than the telegraph, humanity had very little dependence on technology at the time. If another Carrington Event happened today, it would be a complete and utter nightmare. A study by Lloyd’s of London has concluded that it would have taken a $2,600,000,000,000 chunk out of the global economy, and it would take up to a decade to repair the damage. Unfortunately, scientists insist that it is going to happen at some point. The only question is when.

So keep an eye on the sun.

The giant ball of fire that we revolve around has started to behave very erratically, and it has the power to end our way of life at any time.

In fact, scientists tell us that we are about to get hit with a “glancing blow” on April 7th…

A filament of magnetism stretching halfway across the sun erupted during the late hours of April 4th (22:00-23:00 UT). The eruption split the sun’s atmosphere, hurling a CME into space and creating a “canyon of fire,” shown in a movie recorded by the Solar Dynamics Observatory: The glowing walls of the canyon trace the original channel where the filament was suspended by magnetic forces above the sun’s surface. From end to end, the structure stretches more than 300,000 km–a real Grand Canyon.

Fragments of the exploding filament formed the core of a CME that raced away from the sun at approximately 900 km/s (2 million mph): image. Most of the CME will miss Earth, but not all. The cloud is expected to deliver a a glancing blow to our planet’s magnetic field could on April 7th. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras.

The event of April 7th is not going to cause us major problems.  But someday there will be a solar storm that will.

Personally, I cannot even imagine what life would be like without electricity.

Because we have become so deeply dependent on technology, most of us would have absolutely no idea how to live without it.

An electromagnetic pulse attack would be one of the fastest ways to cripple America and end the dominance of the United States in world affairs.  And in this day and age, there are hundreds of millions of people around the planet that would love to see that happen.

So to not take steps to protect our power grid from such an attack is very foolish.  But that is precisely what Barack Obama (and presidents before him) have chosen to do.  We have technology which would mitigate the damage from an electromagnetic pulse, but rather than spend the money Obama has decided to just hope that it will never happen.

Up to this point, we have been fortunate.

But someday, our luck may run out.

33 Strange Facts About America That Most Americans Would Be Shocked To Learn

33 SignDid you know that about one-fourth of the entire global prison population is in the United States?  Did you know that Apple has more money than the U.S. Treasury?  Did you know that if you have no debt and also have 10 dollars in your wallet that you are wealthier than 25 percent of all Americans?  Did you know that by the time an American child reaches the age of 18, that child will have seen approximately 40,000 murders on television?  There are some things that are great about the United States, and there are definitely some things that are not so great.  Once upon a time we were the most loved and most respected nation on the entire planet, but those days are long gone.  We have wrecked our economy, we have lost our values and we have fumbled away our future.  But if you look close enough, you can still see many of the things that once made this country a shining beacon to the rest of the world.  This article includes some weird facts, some fun facts, but also some very troubling facts.  It has been said that a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, and hopefully as people enjoy reading the fun facts in this article they will also take note of the more serious facts.  If we are ever going to change course as a nation, we need to come to grips with just how far we have fallen.  The following are 33 strange facts about America that most Americans would be shocked to learn…

#1 The amount of cement that China used from 2011 to 2013 was greater than the total amount of cement that the United States used during the entire 20th century.

#2 In more than half of all U.S. states, the highest paid public employee in the state is a football coach.

#3 It costs the U.S. government 1.8 cents to mint a penny and 9.4 cents to mint a nickel.

#4 Almost half of all Americans (47 percent) do not put a single penny out of their paychecks into savings.

#5 In 2014, police in the United States killed 1,100 people.  During that same year, police in Canada killed 14 people, police in China killed 12 people and police in Germany didn’t kill anyone at all.

#6 The state of Alaska is 429 times larger than the state of Rhode Island is.  But Rhode Island has a significantly larger population than Alaska does.

#7 Alaska has a longer coastline than all of the other 49 U.S. states put together.

#8 The city of Juneau, Alaska is about 3,000 square miles in size.  It is actually larger than the entire state of Delaware.

#9 When LBJ’s “War on Poverty” began, less than 10 percent of all U.S. children were growing up in single parent households.  Today, that number has skyrocketed to 33 percent.

#10 In 1950, less than 5 percent of all babies in America were born to unmarried parents.  Today, that number is over 40 percent.

#11 The poverty rate for households that are led by a married couple is 6.8 percent.  For households that are led by a female single parent, the poverty rate is 37.1 percent.

#12 In 2013, women earned 60 percent of all bachelor’s degrees that were awarded that year in the United States.

#13 According to the CDC, 34.6 percent of all men in the U.S. are obese at this point.

#14 The average supermarket in the United States wastes about 3,000 pounds of food each year.

#15 Right now, more than 200 million people around the planet are officially considered to be unemployed.  Meanwhile, approximately 20 percent of the garbage that goes into our landfills is food.

#16 There is a city in Bangladesh called Dhaka where workers are paid just one dollar for every 1,000 bricks that they carry.  Meanwhile, the “inactivity rate” for men in their prime working years in the United States is hovering near record high levels.

#17 According to one recent survey, 81 percent of Russians now have a negative view of the United States.  That is much higher than at the end of the Cold War era.

#18 Montana has three times as many cows as it does people.

#19 The grizzly bear is the official state animal of California.  But no grizzly bears have been seen there since 1922.

#20 One recent survey discovered that “a steady job” is the number one thing that American women are looking for in a husband, and another survey discovered that 75 percent of women would have a serious problem dating an unemployed man.

#21 According to a study conducted by economist Carl Benedikt Frey and engineer Michael Osborne, 47 percent of the jobs in the United States could soon be lost to computers, robots and other forms of technology.

#22 The only place in the United States where coffee is grown commercially is in Hawaii.

#23 The original name of the city of Atlanta was “Terminus“.

#24 The state with the most millionaires per capita is Maryland.

#25 There are more than 4 million adult websites on the Internet, and they get more traffic than Netflix, Amazon and Twitter combined.

#26 86 percent of men include “having children” in their definition of success.  For women, that number is only 73 percent.

#27 One survey of 50-year-old men in the U.S. found that only 12 percent of them said that they were “very happy”.

#28 The United States has 845 motor vehicles for every 1,000 people.  Japan only has 593 for every 1,000 people, and Germany only has 540 for every 1,000 people.

#29 The average American spends more than 10 hours a day using an electronic device.

#30 48 percent of all Americans do not have any emergency supplies in their homes whatsoever.

#31 There are three towns in the United States that have the name “Santa Claus“.

#32 There is actually a town in Michigan called “Hell“.

#33 There are 60,000 miles of blood vessels in your body.  If they were stretched out in a single line, they could go around the planet more than twice.

 

Barack Obama Says That What America Really Needs Is Lots More Debt

ObamacareWhen it comes to taking a chainsaw to the future of America, nobody seems more eager than Barack Obama.  Despite the fact that the U.S. national debt is on pace to approximately double during his eight years in the White House, he has just proposed a budget that would take government spending to crazy new heights.  When Barack Obama took the oath of office, the U.S. national debt was 10.6 trillion dollars.  Today, it has surpassed the 18 trillion dollar mark.  And even though we are being told that “deficits are going down”, the truth is that the U.S. national debt increased by more than a trillion dollars in fiscal 2014.  But that isn’t good enough for Obama.  He says that we need to come out of this period of “mindless austerity” and steal money from our children and our grandchildren even faster.  In addition, Obama wants to raise taxes again.  His budget calls for 2 trillion dollars in tax increases over the next decade.  He always touts these tax increases as “tax hikes on the rich”, but somehow they almost always seem to end up hitting the middle class too.  But whether or not Congress ever adopts Obama’s new budget is not really the issue.  The reality of the matter is that the “tax and spend Democrats” and the “tax and spend Republicans” are both responsible for getting us into this mess.  Future generations of Americans are already facing the largest mountain of debt in the history of the planet, and both parties want to make this mountain of debt even higher.  The only disagreement is about how fast it should happen.  It is a national disgrace, but most Americans have come to accept this as “normal”.  If our children and our grandchildren get the opportunity, they will curse us for what we have done to them.

All debt destroys.

All debt enslaves.

And when you are talking about an 18 trillion dollar debt, you are talking about an amount of money that is almost unimaginable.

If our national debt was reduced to a stack of one dollar bills, it would circle our planet at the equator 45 times.

How could we have done such a thing?

Thomas Jefferson once said that “the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale.”  He correctly understood that government debt is stealing.  We are financially raping our children, our grandchildren and all future generations of Americans.  It is an incredibly wicked thing to do.

But instead of men like Thomas Jefferson running our country, we have men like Barack Obama running it.

And to Barack Obama, running up a trillion dollars of debt a year is “mindless austerity”

“I want to work with Congress to replace mindless austerity with smart investments that strengthen America,” Obama said in a speech at the Department of Homeland Security. “I’m not going to accept a budget that locks in sequestration going forward. It would be bad for our security, and bad for our growth.”

Yes, if we steal money from future generations it will artificially inflate our current standard of living and make our economy look temporarily better than it should be.

But it is morally wrong to do this, and our current crop of politicians have no intentions of ever bringing the debt party to an end.

Even with the ridiculously optimistic economic assumptions that are used in Obama’s new budget, the federal budget is never projected to balance within the next decade.  Instead, Obama’s budget projects that the national debt will rise from 18.1 trillion dollars right now to 26.2 trillion dollars in 2025.

Of course it would greatly help if the federal government actually spent our money wisely.  But instead, the feds often waste our hard-earned tax dollars in some of the most bizarre ways imaginable.  The following is just one example

The U.S. federal government has prompted controversy after spending over $33,000 on a study to find out whether same-sex couples live closer to tobacco shops than heterosexuals.

The large sum was spent on a study by the National Institutes of Health entitled, ‘Relationship Between Tobacco Retailer Density and Sexual Minority Couples.’

Thanks to this kind of insane spending, our debt is completely and totally out of control.

While Barack Obama has been in the White House, the U.S. national debt has increased by $84,266 per full-time private sector worker.  Anyone that believes that this kind of debt accumulation is sustainable is absolutely delusional.

The only reason why our house of cards has not completely collapsed already is because the rest of the world has been willing to lend us gigantic piles of money at artificially low interest rates.

In December, the average rate of interest on the government’s marketable debt was 2.013 percent.  But in the past, interest rates have been much higher than that.  For example, in January 2000 the average rate of interest on the government’s marketable debt was 6.620 percent.  If we returned to that level today, we would be paying well over a trillion dollars a year just in interest on the national debt.

And the issue isn’t just the more than one trillion dollars in new debt that we are accumulating every 12 months.

As I have discussed previously, the U.S. government has more than seven trillion dollars of debt that must be “rolled over” each year.  In other words, the federal government must issue more than seven trillion dollars of new debt just to pay off old debts that are coming due.

If something were to happen which would cause the rest of the planet to either be unwilling or unable to lend us trillions of dollars at ridiculously low interest rates all of a sudden, the game would be over.

We were handed the keys to the greatest and most prosperous economy in the history of the planet, and our greed has totally wrecked it.

We were wealthy beyond imagination, but that was never good enough for us.  We always had to have more.

And now we are hurtling toward financial oblivion, and we have a man in the White House that wants us to go into debt even faster.

 

12 Signs That The Economy Is Really Starting To Bleed Oil Patch Jobs

Oil Rig Texas - Public DomainThe 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.

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