The Beginning Of The End
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50 Percent Of American Workers Make Less Than 28,031 Dollars A Year

Real Median Household Income 2014The Social Security Administration has just released wage statistics for 2013, and the numbers are startling.  Last year, 50 percent of all American workers made less than $28,031, and 39 percent of all American workers made less than $20,000.  If you worked a full-time job at $10 an hour all year long with two weeks off, you would make $20,000.  So the fact that 39 percent of all workers made less than that amount is rather telling.  This is more evidence of the declining quality of the jobs in this country.  In many homes in America today, both parents are working multiple jobs in a desperate attempt to make ends meet. Our paychecks are stagnant while the cost of living just continues to soar.  And the jobs that are being added to the economy pay a lot less than the jobs lost in the last recession.  In fact, it has been estimated that the jobs that have been created since the last recession pay an average of 23 percent less than the jobs that were lost.  We are witnessing the slow-motion destruction of the middle class, and very few of our leaders seem to care.

The “average” yearly wage in America last year was just $43,041.  But after accounting for inflation, that was actually worse than the year before

American paychecks shrank last year, just-released data show, further eroding the public’s purchasing power, which is so vital to economic growth.

Average pay for 2013 was $43,041 — down $79 from the previous year when measured in 2013 dollars. Worse, average pay fell $508 below the 2007 level, my analysis of the new Social Security Administration data shows.

Flat or declining average pay is a major reason so many Americans feel that the Great Recession never ended for them. A severe job shortage compounds that misery not just for workers but also for businesses trying to profit from selling goods and services.

Average pay declined in 59 of the 60 levels of worker pay the government reports each October.

And please keep in mind that “average pay” is really skewed by the millionaires and billionaires at the top end of the spectrum.

Median pay in 2013 was just $28,031.02.  That means that 50 percent of American workers made less than that number, and 50 percent of American workers made more than that number.

Here are some more numbers from the report that the Social Security Administration just released…

-39 percent of American workers made less than $20,000 last year.

-52 percent of American workers made less than $30,000 last year.

-63 percent of American workers made less than $40,000 last year.

-72 percent of American workers made less than $50,000 last year.

I don’t know about you, but those numbers are deeply troubling to me.

It has been estimated that it takes approximately $50,000 a year to support a middle class lifestyle for a family of four, and so the fact that 72 percent of all workers make less than that amount shows how difficult it is for families that try to get by with just a single breadwinner.

The way that our economy is structured now, both parents usually have to work as hard as they can just to pay the bills.

But there was one group of Americans that did see their incomes actually increase last year.

Those making over 50 million dollars had their pay increase by an average of $12.8 million in 2013.

For everyone else, the news was not good.

And of course this is a trend that has been going on for a long time.

Posted below is a chart that comes from the Federal Reserve.  It shows how real median household income in the United States has declined since the year 2000…

Real Median Household Income 2014

Meanwhile, the cost of living has continued to rise at a steady pace.

Needless to say, this is putting a tremendous squeeze on the middle class.  With each passing day, more Americans are losing their spots in the middle class and this has pushed government dependence to an all-time high.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 49 percent of all Americans now live in a home that receives money from the government each month.  This is completely and totally unsustainable, but our long-term economic problems just keep getting worse.

Our politicians have stood by as millions upon millions of good paying jobs have been shipped out of the country.  Millions of other middle class jobs have been lost to technology.  This has resulted in intense competition for the middle class jobs that remain.

And at this point we are even losing lots of lower paying retail jobs.  For example, it is being reported that Sears plans to close 110 more stores and lay off more than 6,000 workers.  Sears says that the report “isn’t accurate”, but it isn’t denying that stores will be closed either…

In an email to USA Today, Sears spokesman Howard Riefs said the store count and closures “isn’t accurate,” but did not provide store closures or layoff numbers.

“As we stated in our (second quarter earnings report), we disclosed that we would be closing unprofitable stores as leases expire and in some cases will accelerate closings when it is economically prudent. And that we would consider closing additional stores during the remainder of the year,” Riefs said. “Make no mistake, we believe the store will continue to play an integral role in our transformation, however, if a store is not generating a profit, it is straightforward that the store should be considered for closure.”

No matter how many stores Sears does end up closing over the next few months, the truth is that our economy is a complete and total mess at this point.

Our politicians and the mainstream media are trying to put a happy face on everything, but the cold, hard numbers prove that we are not anywhere close to where we were prior to the last recession.

Because it is so difficult to find a good job in America today, I often recommend to people that they should consider starting their own businesses.

But thanks to the bureaucratic control freaks in the Obama administration and in our state governments, small business ownership in America today is at an all-time low.  It is almost as if they don’t want the “little guy” to win.  Every avenue of prosperity for the middle class is under assault, and there does not appear to be much hope that this will change any time soon.

And the truly frightening thing is that this is about as good as things are going to get for the middle class.  We are rapidly approaching the next major wave of our long-term economic decline, but that is a topic for a future article.

Which America Do You Live In? – 21 Hard To Believe Facts About “Wealthy America” And “Poor America”

Luxury YachtsDid you know that 40 percent of all American workers make less than $20,000 a year before taxes?  And 65 percent of all American workers make less than $40,000 a year before taxes.  If you work on Wall Street, or have a cushy job with the federal government, or work for a big tech firm out on the west coast, life is probably pretty good for you right now.  But the truth is that most Americans are not living the high life.  In fact, most Americans are just trying to figure out how to survive from month to month.  For many Americans, making a choice between buying food for your family and paying the light bill is a common occurrence.  But if you don’t live in that America, hearing that people actually live like that may sound very strange to you.  After all, if everyone around you has expensive cars, the latest electronic gadgets and million dollar homes, the notion that America is in the midst of a very serious “economic decline” may seem very bizarre to you.

On Wednesday, the Dow hit a brand new record high, and Wall Street celebrated.  Since the financial crisis of 2008, stocks have been on an unprecedented run.  The top performers in the market have not just made millions of dollars – they have made billions of dollars.  Luxury apartments in Manhattan and beachfront homes in the Hamptons are selling for absolutely astronomical prices, and it seems like life in the good parts of New York City is one gigantic endless party these days.

Meanwhile, life is quite good down in Washington D.C. as well.  The wealth is spread more evenly, but on average the D.C. region actually has the highest standard of living of any major U.S. city.  The reason for this is the obscene growth of the federal government.  Over the past couple of decades, the U.S. government has ballooned in size and so have government salaries.  During one recent year, the average federal employee living in the Washington D.C. area received total compensation worth more than $126,000.

Out in the San Francisco area, Internet money is flowing like wine right now.  As I wrote about yesterday, top employees of companies such as Facebook and Twitter can make millions of dollars a year.  And if you were lucky to get a piece of the ownership of one of those companies at a very early stage, you are essentially set for life.

And with the Twitter IPO coming up, Internet euphoria is once again reaching a fever pitch.  For example, just check out what a 56-year-old administrative assistant said this week about why she is going to buy Twitter stock

“I’m just buying because everybody’s talking about Twitter,” she said. “I’m just gonna take a chance.”

Is that how we should make our investment decisions from now on?

Just buy a stock because everybody’s talking about it?

That is the kind of insanity that is going on in “wealthy America” right now.

Unfortunately, the gap between “wealthy America” and “poor America” is greater than ever before.

If you live in “wealthy America”, what you are about to hear next will probably sound very strange.

CNN recently profiled a 44-year-old overnight prison guard named Delores Gilmore.  She works really hard, but a lot of times she simply does not have enough money to pay all of her bills…

“The first of the month, I pay the rent,” she said. “The next check, I pay my light bills. Sometimes I won’t pay my rent and I pay the light bill from last month — if they cut if it off. Then I pay the rent the end of the month.”

Her life consists of going to work, taking care of her children, going to sleep, and then getting back up and repeating that same cycle once again…

“I’m not fooling anybody,” she told me. “I don’t have any friends. And that’s sad. … I go to work, come home, take them where they gotta go, if they gotta go somewhere, come back home, lay down, go to work.

“That’s what I do. All day, that’s what I do.”

Sadly, the truth is that tens of millions of Americans can identify with what she is going through on a daily basis.  In millions of families, both the husband and the wife work multiple jobs and it is still not enough.

If we truly did have a free market capitalist system, the entire country would be a land of opportunity and things would be getting better for everybody.  Unfortunately, that is not the case at all.  The following are 21 facts about “wealthy America” and “poor America” that are hard to believe…

#1 The lowest earning 23,303,064 Americans combined make 36 percent less than the highest earning 2,915 Americans do.

#2 40 percent of all American workers (39.6 percent to be precise) make less than $20,000 a year.

#3 According to the Pew Research Center, the top 7 percent of all U.S. households own 63 percent of all the wealth in the country.

#4 On average, households in the top 7 percent have 24 times as much wealth as households in the bottom 93 percent.

#5 According to numbers that were just released this week, 49.7 million Americans are living in poverty.  That is a brand new all-time record high.

#6 In the United States today, the wealthiest one percent of all Americans have a greater net worth than the bottom 90 percent combined.

#7 Household incomes have actually been declining for five years in a row and total consumer credit has risen by a whopping 22 percent over the past three years.

#8 According to Forbes, the 400 wealthiest Americans have more wealth than the bottom 150 million Americans combined.

#9 The homeownership rate in the United States is at an 18 year low.

#10 The six heirs of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton have as much wealth as the bottom one-third of all Americans combined.

#11 18 percent of all food stamp dollars are spent at Wal-Mart.

#12 According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the middle class is taking home a smaller share of the overall income pie than has ever been recorded before.

#13 It is hard to believe, but right now 1.2 million students that attend public schools in America are homeless.  That number has risen by 72 percent since the start of the last recession.

#14 One recent study discovered that nearly half of all public students in the United States come from low income homes.

#15 In 1980, CEOs at S&P 500 companies made 42 times as much as their employees did on average.  Today, CEOs at S&P 500 companies make 354 times as much as their employees do on average.  In fact, there are many CEOs that make more than 1000 times what the average employees in their companies make.

#16 U.S. families that have a head of household that is under the age of 30 have a poverty rate of 37 percent.

#17 At this point, one out of every four American workers has a job that pays $10 an hour or less.

#18 Today, the United States actually has a higher percentage of workers doing low wage work than any other major industrialized nation does.

#19 Approximately one out of every five households in the United States is now on food stamps.

#20 The number of Americans on food stamps has grown from 17 million in the year 2000 to more than 47 million today.

#21 At this point, the poorest 50 percent of all Americans collectively own just 2.5 percent of all the wealth in the United States.

So which America do you live in?  Please feel free to tell us what is going on in your neck of the woods by posting a comment below…

40 Percent Of U.S. Workers Make Less Than What A Full-Time Minimum Wage Worker Made In 1968

1968 Shelby GT350 - Photo by Ben CossitorAre American workers paid enough?  That is a topic that is endlessly debated all across this great land of ours.  Unfortunately, what pretty much everyone can agree on is that American workers are not making as much as they used to after you account for inflation.  Back in 1968, the minimum wage in the United States was $1.60 an hour.  That sounds very small, but after you account for inflation a very different picture emerges.  Using the inflation calculator that the Bureau of Labor Statistics provides, $1.60 in 1968 is equivalent to $10.74 today.  And of course the official government inflation numbers have been heavily manipulated to make inflation look much lower than it actually is, so the number for today should actually be substantially higher than $10.74, but for purposes of this article we will use $10.74.  If you were to work a full-time job at $10.74 an hour for a full year (with two weeks off for vacation), you would make about $21,480 for the year.  That isn’t a lot of money, but according to the Social Security Administration, 40.28% of all workers make less than $20,000 a year in America today.  So that means that more than 40 percent of all U.S. workers actually make less than what a full-time minimum wage worker made back in 1968.  That is how far we have fallen.

The other day I wrote an article which discussed the transition that we are witnessing in our economy right now.  Good paying full-time jobs are disappearing, and they are being replaced by low paying part-time jobs.  So far this year, 76.7 percent of the jobs that have been “created” in the U.S. economy have been part-time jobs.

That would be depressing enough, but what makes it worse is that wages for many of these low paying jobs have actually been declining over the past decade even as the cost of living keeps going up.  The following is from a recent USA Today article

In the years between 2002 and 2012, real median wages dropped by at least 5% in five of the top 10 low-wage jobs, including food preparers and housekeepers.

So where have the good jobs gone?

Well, there are three long-term trends that are absolutely crushing American workers right now.

First of all, thanks to our very foolish politicians American workers have been merged into a global labor pool where they must directly compete for jobs with workers on the other side of the planet that live in countries where it is legal to pay slave labor wages.  This has resulted in millions upon millions of good jobs leaving this country.  Big corporations can pad their profits by taking a job from an American worker making $15 an hour with benefits and giving it to a worker on the other side of the globe that is willing to work for less than a dollar an hour with no benefits.  Our politicians could do something about this, but they refuse to do so.  Most of them are absolutely married to the idea of a one world economic system that will unite the globe.  Unfortunately, the U.S. economy is going to continue to lose tens of thousands of businesses and millions upon millions of jobs to this one world economic system.

Secondly, big corporations are replacing as many expensive workers with machines, computers and robots as they possibly can.  As technology continues to advance at a blistering pace, the need for workers (especially low-skilled workers) will continue to decrease.  Unfortunately, the jobs that are being lost to technology are not coming back any time soon.

Thirdly, the overall U.S. economy has been steadily declining for more than a decade.  If you doubt this, just read this article.  As our economy continues to get weaker, the lack of jobs is going to become a bigger and bigger problem.

And as our economy systematically loses good jobs, more Americans are forced to become dependent on the government.

Back in 1979, there was about one American on food stamps for every manufacturing job.  Today, there are about four Americans on food stamps for every manufacturing job.

When I first found that statistic I was absolutely stunned.  How in the world can anyone out there deny that the U.S. economy is collapsing?

But as I mentioned above, it isn’t just that the number of jobs is not what it should be.  The quality of our jobs is declining as well.  For example, one study found that between 1969 and 2009 the wages earned by American men between the ages of 30 and 50 declined by 27 percent after you account for inflation.

That is a pretty stunning decline.  And it has only accelerated in recent years.  Median household income (adjusted for inflation) has fallen by 7.8 percent since the year 2000, and the ratio of wages and salaries to GDP in the United States is near an all-time record low.

Most Americans are finding that their bills just keep going up but their paychecks are not.  This is causing the middle class to wither away, and most families are just trying to survive from month to month at this point.  In fact, according to one recent survey 76 percent of all Americans are living paycheck to paycheck.

So where do we go from here?

To some people the answer is simple.  They say that we should substantially raise the minimum wage.  And yes, that would definitely make life a bit better for lots of low paid workers out there, but it would also have some very negative side effects.  A substantially higher minimum wage would mean higher prices at retail stores and restaurants, and it would also greatly increase the incentive that corporations have to replace American workers with foreign workers or with technology.  We already have rampant unemployment in this country, and right now there are more than 100 million working age Americans that do not have a job.  We certainly don’t want to make that worse.

So raising the minimum wage would not solve our problems.  It would just redistribute our problems.

What we really need to do is to return to the principles that once made this country great.  In early America, we protected our markets with high tariffs.  Access to the U.S. market was a privilege.  Foreign domination was kept out, and our economy thrived.

It is definitely not “conservative” and it should not be “liberal” to stand by and watch millions upon millions of our good jobs get shipped over to communist China.  We need more “economic patriots” in America today, but unfortunately they appear to be a minority at this point.

And once upon a time the U.S. economy was actually a free market system where rules, regulations and red tape were kept to a minimum.  Our nation blossomed under such a system.  Sadly, today we have become a nation that literally has millions of laws, rules and regulations.  The control freaks seem to run everything.  In fact, the Obama administration recently forced one small-time magician out in Missouri to submit a 32 page disaster plan for the little rabbit that he uses in his magic shows for kids.  That is a very humorous example, but it is a perfect illustration of how absurd our system has become.

Another thing we could do to turn this around would be to get rid of the IRS and the income tax.  Did you know that the greatest period of economic growth in U.S. history was during a time when there was absolutely no income tax?  If you doubt this, just read this article.

And of course probably the most important thing that we could do for our economy would be to get rid of the Federal Reserve.  The Fed is a massive Ponzi scheme and it has played a primary role in creating almost every single financial bubble in the post-World War II era.  Right now we are living in the greatest bond bubble in the history of the planet, and when that Fed-created bubble bursts the pain is going to be absolutely excruciating.  In addition, the value of our currency has declined by over 96 percent and the size of the U.S. national debt has gotten more than 5000 times larger since the Fed was created.  The Federal Reserve is at the very heart of our economic problems, and we desperately need to shut it down.

Unfortunately, our politicians are not even willing to consider these solutions, and most Americans are way too busy watching Toddlers & Tiaras, Honey Boo Boo and other mindless television programs to be bothered with the real problems that our country is facing.

So needless to say, the great economic storm that is coming is not going to be averted.  Most of the country is still asleep, and most people are going to get absolutely blindsided by the economic nightmare that is rapidly approaching.

If You Think The Employment Numbers Are Good, Then You Really Need To Read This Article

Homeless Bill Needs Rich Woman Photo By Josh SwieringaDo you actually believe that the employment numbers are getting better?  Do you actually believe that there is a bright future ahead for American workers?  If so, then you really need to read this article.  The truth is that we are in the midst of the worst employment crisis since the Great Depression, and there has been absolutely no employment recovery.  In fact, the percentage of working age Americans that are employed is just about exactly where it was during the darkest days of the last recession.  But the mainstream media is not telling you this.  The mainstream media is instead focusing on the fact that the official “unemployment rate” declined from 7.6% in June to 7.4% in July.  That sounds like great news, but when you take a deeper look at the employment numbers some very disturbing trends emerge.

Over the past several years, almost the entire decline in the unemployment rate can be accounted for by people “leaving the workforce”.  The “unemployment rate” has not been going down because people are actually getting jobs.  Rather, the “unemployment rate” has been going down because the government has been pretending that millions upon millions of American workers simply do not want jobs anymore.  This is extremely misleading.

We are being told that 162,000 jobs were created in July.  Okay, so that is just barely enough to keep up with population growth, and most of the jobs that were created last month were part-time jobs.

Meanwhile, the jobs numbers for the two previous months were both revised down

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for May was revised from +195,000 to +176,000, and the change for June was revised from +195,000 to +188,000. With these revisions, employment gains in May and June combined were 26,000 less than previously reported.

Will this month eventually be revised down too?

When it comes to measuring employment in the United States, I believe that a much more accurate measurement than the highly manipulated “unemployment rate” is the civilian employment-population ratio.  This ratio tells us what percentage of working age Americans actually have a job.

Just prior to the last recession, about 63 percent of all working age Americans had a job.  During the recession, that number plunged dramatically and ultimately fell below 59 percent, and it has stayed below 59 percent for 47 months in a row

Employment-Population Ratio 2013

This is the first time in the post-World War II era that the employment-population ratio has not bounced back after a recession.

So there has not been an employment recovery.  Anyone that tells you that there has been an employment recovery is lying to you.

Since the end of 2009, we have been treading water at best.  But during that time, another disturbing trend has emerged.  Good paying full-time jobs are rapidly being replaced by low paying part-time jobs.

And this trend has definitely accelerated this year.  If you can believe it, an astounding 76.7 percent of the jobs that have been “created” in 2013 have been part-time jobs.

As I wrote about last month, the employment landscape in this country is fundamentally changing.  At this point, the number one employer in this country is Wal-Mart, and the number two employer in this country is a temp agency (Kelly Services).

This is a huge reason why the middle class is dying.  You simply can’t raise a family on a part-time income.

Our young adults are being hit particularly hard.  According to Gallup, the percentage of working age Americans under the age of 30 with a job fell from 47.0% in June 2012 to 43.6% in June 2013…

Fewer Americans aged 18 to 29 worked full time for an employer in June 2013 (43.6%) than did so in June 2012 (47.0%), according to Gallup’s Payroll to Population employment rate. The P2P rate for young adults is also down from 45.8% in June 2011 and 46.3% in June 2010.

When our young people get out of school and enter the real world, they are finding that “good jobs” are few and far between.  But unless our young people can find “breadwinner jobs”, they are not going to be able to get married, buy homes and raise families.

A lot of young people are doing their best, but things are really tough out there right now.  The lack of good jobs is the primary reason why families that have a head of household under the age of 30 have a poverty rate of 37 percent.

A lot of young adults are coping with this employment crisis by moving back in with their parents.  According to one recent study, 36 percent of all young adults in the 18 to 31 age bracket are currently living with their folks.

Are you starting to understand that our system is broken?

The quality of jobs in this country continues to steadily decline.  Just consider the following numbers from one of my previous articles

-The number of part-time workers in the United States has just hit a brand new all-time high, but the number of full-time workers is still nearly 6 million below the old record that was set back in 2007.

-In America today, only 47 percent of adults have a full-time job.

-At this point, one out of every four American workers has a job that pays $10 an hour or less.

-An astounding 53 percent of all American workers make less than $30,000 a year.

And as I mentioned yesterday, until we have a jobs recovery there will be no housing recovery no matter how much the Federal Reserve tries to manipulate the system.

The mainstream media continues to insist that “things are looking up” for the housing market, and yet the home ownership rate in the United States is the lowest that it has been in 18 years.

In order for the middle class to thrive, people have got to be able to get good jobs and people have got to be able to buy homes.

Instead, the percentage of good jobs in our economy continues to shrink, the level of home ownership continues to decline, and less than half of all Americans now consider themselves to be middle class.

The next wave of the economic crisis has not even hit us yet, but we continue to see poverty rates soar all over the nation.  In fact, just this week there was an article about the tent cities that are starting to pop up all over New Jersey

Tent cities have popped up across New Jersey including the state’s poorest city.

Meg Baker chased the story of Camden’s tent city.  Residing off Route 38 at Wilson Boulevard under an overpass, through woods and down a path of trash lays a community of people living in tents.  This particular community was relocated from Federal Street and it’s inhabited by an array of people: addicts, people who have fallen on hard times and some with mental illness.

Baker took a tour of this run down community and the pictures show just how heart-wrenching this situation really is.  Among the homes are decomposing food, broken furniture, and feral cats.

This is supposed to be “the economic recovery”.

If things were going to get “better” it should have happened by now.

But things didn’t get better, and now the next wave of the economic crisis is rapidly approaching.

As I tried to explain the other day, the most important number in our economy is the yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries.  As that number goes up, interest rates all over our economic system go up.  And much higher interest rates would be absolutely devastating for our economy.

Unfortunately, many analysts now believe that interest rates are going to go much, much higher than they are right now.  Just check out this excerpt from a recent CNBC article

The Federal Reserve will lose control of interest rates as the “great rotation” out of bonds into equities takes off in full force, according to one market watcher, who sees U.S. 10-year Treasury yields hitting 5-6 percent in the next 18-24 months.

“It is our opinion that interest rates have begun their assent, that the Fed will eventually lose control of interest rates. The yield curve will first steepen and then will shift, moving rates significantly higher,” said Mike Crofton, President and CEO, Philadelphia Trust Company told CNBC on Wednesday.

If interest rates do go that high, our economy simply will not be able to handle that.  It would cripple the finances of state and local governments all over the nation, it would absolutely crush the housing market, and it would cause a derivatives crisis unlike anything that we have ever seen before.

The smart money knows that rising interest rates spell big trouble and they are already pulling their money out of the market as a Bloomberg article recently detailed…

Private-equity managers from Fortress Investment Group LLC (FIG) to Blackstone Group LP (BX), which made billions by buying low and selling high, say now is the time to exit investments as stocks rally and interest rates start to rise.

And Apollo Global Management LLC Chief Executive Officer Leon Black said the following back in April

“It’s almost biblical: there is a time to reap and there’s a time to sow,” Apollo (APO)’s Black said at a conference in April. “We think it’s a fabulous environment to be selling. We’re selling everything that’s not nailed down in our portfolio.”

The smart money is getting out while the getting is good.

They know that a storm is coming.

They know what higher interest rates will do to the economy.

As bad as the employment picture is right now, this is NOTHING compared to what is coming.

This is about as good as things are going to get.  It is all downhill from here.

So enjoy this false bubble of pseudo-prosperity while you still can.

When the next great wave of the economic crisis strikes, millions upon millions of Americans are going to lose their jobs and the official unemployment rate is going to soar well up into the double digits.

The “McDonald’s Budget”: Laughably Unrealistic But Also Deeply Tragic

The McDonald's BudgetCan you support a family on $2,000 a month?  Recently, McDonald’s and Visa teamed up to launch a website that is intended to help employees of McDonald’s manage their money.  The aspect of the website that is getting a tremendous amount of national attention is the “McDonald’s Budget” which is a sample monthly budget which is designed to help workers plan their spending.  You can see a copy of it for yourself right here.  This budget is laughably unrealistic, but it is also deeply tragic, because there are tens of millions of American workers that are actually trying to raise families on this kind of an income.

The first thing that you will notice about the McDonald’s Budget is that it expects workers to have two jobs.  It is an open admission that working at McDonald’s is not enough to survive.  So this budget assumes that the worker will take on a second job which will pay nearly as much as the first one does.  Assuming that both jobs pay about the minimum wage, the budget will require about 70 to 80 hours of work every week.

People can put in those kind of hours for a time, but after a while your body starts to break down.  I have been there, and I have known many others that have been there.

But let’s assume that the hypothetical worker that this budget is for can work that many hours indefinitely.  The budget assumes a yearly income of about $24,000 after taxes, and that would make it a fairly typical budget for a typical working class American.

In the United States today, 47 percent of all U.S. workers make less than $25,000 a year before taxes.  So millions upon millions of U.S. workers are trying to make ends meet each month on very limited incomes.

Does the “McDonald’s Budget” provide any solutions for those workers?

Well, this budget allocates $0 for food, so if you plan on following this budget you might want to anticipate fasting a lot each month.

This budget also allocates $0 for gasoline.  So either you will have to ride a bicycle or walk everywhere you go.

This budget does not allocate any money for clothing either.  If you really need something to wear, perhaps you can take some cash from the “monthly spending money” category and go down to the local thrift store and get something.

In addition, this budget has no money for water, no money for child care and you might as well forget about saving for retirement.  But if you work yourself 70 to 80 hours a week, you probably won’t even make it to retirement age anyway.

So what are some of the things that actually are in the budget?

Well, it allocates $20 a month for health insurance.

Wow – where can I sign up for that health insurance plan?

As the Washington Post noted, nobody is going to be able to get health insurance that cheaply…

Low-income individuals receive assistance from Medicaid, but an after-tax income of $24,720 would put Medicaid out of reach in most states. The same point will likely apply to the subsidies offered by Obamacare: An individual with an income of $17,000 in California will be able to get a basic health insurance plan at no cost, but an individual making $28,000 will have to pay at least $137 per month.

So even a young, healthy person will have to pay $100 or more for an individual health insurance policy in most circumstances. Perhaps McDonalds is tacitly admitting that many low-income workers, including McDonalds employees, can’t afford health insurance and simply make do without it.

The original version of the budget also assumed that the worker would spend zero dollars a month on “heating”.

Perhaps McDonald’s just expects their workers to freeze all winter.

The new version of the budget now allocates $50 a month for heating.  Perhaps that may work for the state of Florida, but anyone that lives in a northern state knows that it takes a whole lot more than that just to heat up your home to a level that is barely livable during the winter.

This budget is absolutely crazy.  But perhaps even more patronizing then the budget itself is the following statement that is made on the website: “You can have almost anything you want as long as you plan ahead and save for it.”

Oh really?

Do they expect anyone to actually fall for that line?

Don’t get me wrong.  Working at McDonald’s is great for some people.  I worked there myself when I was in high school.  But the vast majority of adult Americans need jobs that will enable them to take care of their families.  And those kinds of jobs are rapidly disappearing.

Last month, the U.S. economy lost 240,000 full-time jobs.  We are about 6 million full-time jobs below the all-time record that was set back in 2007.  For much more on this, please see my previous article entitled: “The Decline Of Breadwinner Jobs Has Resulted In The Longest Bread Lines In American History“.

Today, one out of every four American workers has a job that pays $10 an hour or less.  A lot of very talented people are cutting hair, flipping burgers or working for temp agencies.  Those people should be doing something that takes advantage of their skills and abilities, but the U.S. economy is not producing enough of those kinds of jobs anymore.

Unfortunately, this is only just the beginning.  The next major wave of the economic collapse is rapidly approaching, and when it strikes unemployment in this country is going to get much worse.

So don’t put all of your faith in the system, because the system is failing.  Even if you do have a good job right now, you could lose it at any moment.

Whatever you can do to become more independent of the system is a good thing.  For example, starting up a side business is a wonderful thing.  It takes a tremendous amount of effort, but nobody can fire you if you are the boss.

So what do you think of the “McDonald’s Budget”?  Please feel free to share your opinion by posting a comment below…

McDonald's

Meet Your New Boss: Buying Large Employers Will Enable China To Dominate 1000s Of U.S. Communities

The United States - A Colony Of ChinaAre you ready for a future where China will employ millions of American workers and dominate thousands of small communities all over the United States?  Such a future would be unimaginable to many Americans, but the truth is that it is already starting to happen.  Chinese acquisition of U.S. businesses set a new all-time record last year, and it is on pace to absolutely shatter that record this year.  Meanwhile, China is voraciously gobbling up real estate and is establishing economic beachheads all over America.  If China continues to build economic power inside the United States, it will eventually become the dominant economic force in thousands of small communities all over the nation.  Just think about what the Smithfield Foods acquisition alone will mean.  Smithfield Foods is the largest pork producer and processor in the world.  It has facilities in 26 U.S. states and it employs tens of thousands of Americans.  It directly owns 460 farms and has contracts with approximately 2,100 others.  But now a Chinese company has bought it for $4.7 billion, and that means that the Chinese will now be the most important employer in dozens of rural communities all over America.  If you don’t think that this is important, you haven’t been paying much attention to what has been going on in the world.  Thanks in part to our massively bloated trade deficit with China, the Chinese have trillions of dollars to spend.  They are only just starting to exercise their economic muscles.

And it is important to keep in mind that there is often not much of a difference between “the Chinese government” and “Chinese corporations”.  In 2011, 43 percent of all profits in China were produced by companies that the Chinese government had a controlling interest in.  Americans are accustomed to thinking of “government” and “business” as being separate things, but in China they are often one and the same.  Even when there is a separation in ownership, the reality is that no major Chinese corporation is going to go against the authority and guidance of the Chinese government.  The relationship between government and business in China is much different than it is in the United States.

Over the past several years, Chinese companies have become increasingly aggressive.  Last year a Chinese company spent $2.6 billion to purchase AMC entertainment – one of the largest movie theater chains in the United States.  Now that Chinese company controls more movie ticket sales than anyone else in the world.  At the time, that was the largest acquisition of a U.S. firm by a Chinese company, but now the Smithfield Foods deal has greatly surpassed that.

But China is not just relying on acquisitions to expand its economic power.  The truth is that “economic beachheads” are being established all over America.  For example, Golden Dragon Precise Copper Tube Group, Inc. recently broke ground on a $100 million plant in Thomasville, Alabama.  I am sure that many of the residents of Thomasville, Alabama will be glad to have jobs, but it will also become yet another community that will now be heavily dependent on communist China.

And guess where else Chinese companies are putting down roots?

Detroit.

Yes, the poster child for the deindustrialization of America is being invaded by the Chinese.  The following comes from a recent CNBC article

Dozens of companies from China are putting down roots in Detroit, part of the country’s steady push into the American auto industry.

Chinese-owned companies are investing in American businesses and new vehicle technology, selling everything from seat belts to shock absorbers in retail stores, and hiring experienced engineers and designers in an effort to soak up the talent and expertise of domestic automakers and their suppliers.

If you recently purchased an “American-made vehicle”, there is a really good chance that it has Chinese parts in it.

In fact, it is becoming harder and harder to get auto parts that are actually made in America by American companies.  A lot of those companies are dying off.  One example of this is a battery maker that had received $132 million from the federal government that was recently gobbled up by a huge Chinese corporation…

Industry analysts are hard-pressed to put a number on the Chinese suppliers operating in the United States. “We simply don’t know how many there are,” said David Andrea, an official with the Original Equipment Suppliers Association, a trade organization for auto parts makers.

In one of the more prominent deals, the Wanxiang Group bought most of the assets of the battery maker A123 Systems, which filed for bankruptcy last year despite receiving $132 million of $249 million in federal grants to build two factories in Michigan.

Congressional Republicans criticized the deal, saying A123’s technology could support military applications in China. Still, the buyout was approved this year by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, a federal government panel.

China seems particularly interested in acquiring energy resources in the United States.  For example, did you know that China is actually mining for coal in the mountains of Tennessee?

Guizhou Gouchuang Energy Holdings Group spent 616 million dollars to acquire Triple H Coal Co. in Jacksboro, Tennessee.  At the time, that acquisition really didn’t make much news, but now a group of conservatives in Tennessee is trying to stop the Chinese from blowing up their mountains and taking their coal.  The following is from a Wall Street Journal article back in March…

The Tennessee Conservative Union began airing an ad Tuesday that says lawmakers have failed to protect the state’s scenic mountains and are allowing the “Chinese to destroy our mountains and take our coal…the same folks who hold our debt.”

But when it comes to our energy resources, China has been most interested in our oil and natural gas.  It is a complete and total mystery why the federal government would allow China to buy up our precious domestic sources of energy, but it is happening.  The following is a list of some of the oil and natural gas deals that China has been involved in during the last few years that was compiled by the Wall Street Journal

Colorado: Cnooc gained a one-third stake in 800,000 acres in northeast Colorado and southeast Wyoming in a $1.27 billion pact with Chesapeake Energy Corp.

Louisiana: Sinopec has a one-third interest in 265,000 acres in the Tuscaloosa Marine Shale after a broader $2.5-billion deal with Devon Energy.

Michigan: Sinopec gained a one-third interest in 350,000 acres in a larger $2.5 billion deal with Devon Energy.

Ohio: Sinopec acquired a one-third stake in Devon Energy’s 235,000 Utica Shale acres in a larger $2.5 billion deal.

Oklahoma: Sinopec has a one-third interest in 215,000 acres in a broader $2.5 billion deal with Devon Energy.

Texas: Cnooc acquired a one-third interest in Chesapeake Energy’s 600,000 acres in the Eagle Ford Shale in a $2.16-billion deal.

Wyoming: Cnooc has a one-third stake in 800,000 acres in northeast Colorado and southeast Wyoming after a $1.27 billion pact with Chesapeake Energy. Sinopec gained a one-third interest in Devon Energy’s 320,000 acres as part of a larger $2.5 billion deal.

Gulf of Mexico: Cnooc Ltd. separately acquired minority stakes in some of Statoil ASA’s leases as well as six of Nexen Inc.’s deep-water wells.

How could we be so stupid?

Sadly, as our politicians endlessly bicker China just continues to aggressively push ahead.

And pretty soon China may want to build entire cities in the United States just like they have been doing in other countries.  According to Bloomberg, right now China is actually building a city larger than Manhattan just outside of the capital of Belarus…

China is building an entire city in the forests near the Belarusian capital Minsk to create a manufacturing springboard between the European Union and Russia.

Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko allotted an area 40 percent larger than Manhattan around Minsk’s international airport for the $5 billion development, which will include enough housing to accommodate 155,000 people, according to Chinese and Belarusian officials.

And this is actually already happening on a much smaller scale in this country.  For example, as I have written about previously, a Chinese company known as “Sino-Michigan Properties LLC” has purchased 200 acres of land near the little town of Milan, Michigan.  Their stated goal is to construct a “China City” that has artificial lakes, a Chinese cultural center and hundreds of housing units for Chinese citizens.

In other cases, large chunks of real estate in the middle of major U.S. cities are being gobbled up by Chinese “investors”.  Just check out what a Fortune article from a while back says has been happening in Toledo, Ohio…

In March 2011, Chinese investors paid $2.15 million cash for a restaurant complex on the Maumee River in Toledo, Ohio. Soon they put down another $3.8 million on 69 acres of newly decontaminated land in the city’s Marina District, promising to invest $200 million in a new residential-commercial development. That September, another Chinese firm spent $3 million for an aging hotel across a nearby bridge with a view of the minor league ballpark.

Are you starting to get the picture?

China is on the rise and America is in decline.  If you doubt this, just read the following list of facts which comes from one of my previous articles entitled “40 Ways That China Is Beating America“…

#1 As I mentioned above, when you total up all imports and exports of goods, China is now the number one trading nation on the entire planet.

#2 During 2012, we sold about 110 billion dollars worth of stuff to the Chinese, but they sold about 425 billion dollars worth of stuff to us.  That was the largest trade deficit that one nation has had with another nation in the history of the world.

#3 Overall, the U.S. has run a trade deficit with China over the past decade that comes to more than 2.3 trillion dollars.

#4 China now has the largest new car market in the entire world.

#5 China has more foreign currency reserves than anyone else on the planet.

#6 China is the number one gold producer in the world.

#7 China is also the number one gold importer in the world.

#8 The uniforms for the U.S. Olympic team were made in China.

#9 85 percent of all artificial Christmas trees are made in China.

#10 The new World Trade Center tower is going to include glass that has been imported from China.

#11 The new Martin Luther King memorial on the National Mall was made in China.

#12 One of the reasons it is so hard to export stuff to China is because of their tariffs.  According to the New York Times, a Jeep Grand Cherokee that costs $27,490 in the United States costs about $85,000 in China thanks to all the tariffs.

#13 The Chinese economy has grown 7 times faster than the U.S. economy has over the past decade.

#14 The United States has lost a staggering 32 percent of its manufacturing jobs since the year 2000.

#15 The United States has lost an average of 50,000 manufacturing jobs per month since China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001.

#16 Overall, the United States has lost a total of more than 56,000 manufacturing facilities since 2001.

#17 According to the Economic Policy Institute, America is losing half a million jobs to China every single year.

#18 China now produces more than twice as many automobiles as the United States does.

#19 Since the auto industry bailout, approximately 70 percent of all GM vehicles have been built outside the United States.

#20 After being bailed out by U.S. taxpayers, General Motors is currently involved in 11 joint ventures with companies owned by the Chinese government.  The price for entering into many of these “joint ventures” was a transfer of “state of the art technology” from General Motors to the communist Chinese.

#21 Back in 1998, the United States had 25 percent of the world’s high-tech export market and China had just 10 percent. Ten years later, the United States had less than 15 percent and China’s share had soared to 20 percent.

#22 The United States has lost more than a quarter of all of its high-tech manufacturing jobs over the past ten years.

#23 China’s number one export to the U.S. is computer equipment, but the number one U.S. export to China is “scrap and trash”.

#24 The U.S. trade deficit with China is now more than 30 times larger than it was back in 1990.

#25 China now consumes more energy than the United States does.

#26 China is now the leading manufacturer of goods in the entire world.

#27 China uses more cement than the rest of the world combined.

#28 China is now the number one producer of wind and solar power on the entire globe.

#29 There are more pigs in China than in the next 43 pork producing nations combined.

#30 Today, China produces nearly twice as much beer as the United States does.

#31 Right now, China is producing more than three times as much coal as the United States does.

#33 China now produces 11 times as much steel as the United States does.

#34 China produces more than 90 percent of the global supply of rare earth elements.

#35 China is now the number one supplier of components that are critical to the operation of U.S. defense systems.

#36 A recent investigation by the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services found more than one million counterfeit Chinese parts in the Department of Defense supply chain.

#37 15 years ago, China was 14th in the world in published scientific research articles.  But now, China is expected to pass the United States and become number one very shortly.

#38 China now awards more doctoral degrees in engineering each year than the United States does.

#39 The average household debt load in the United States is 136% of average household income.  In China, the average household debt load is 17% of average household income.

#40 The Chinese have begun to buy up huge amounts of U.S. real estate.  In fact, Chinese citizens purchased one out of every ten homes that were sold in the state of California in 2011.

And what we have seen so far may just be the tip of the iceberg as far as Chinese “investment” in U.S. real estate is concerned.  The following is a brief excerpt from a Bloomberg article that was posted just last week

China is studying the possibility of investing a portion of its $3.4 trillion in foreign-exchange reserves in U.S. real estate, said two people with direct knowledge of the situation.

The State Administration of Foreign Exchange began the study after seeing signs of a recovery in the U.S. property market, said the people, who asked not to be identified as they weren’t authorized to speak publicly about the matter. China may acquire properties, invest in real estate funds or buy stakes in property companies, they said. The safety of the investments will be the top priority, said the people, who didn’t elaborate on a timetable or other details.

So what can we do about all of this?

Unfortunately, not a whole lot.  Both major political parties seem to be fully convinced that merging our economy with the economy of communist China is a great idea.  I would not expect major changes in our policies regarding China any time soon.

For now, I will just leave you with one piece of advice…

Learn to speak Chinese.  You might need it someday.

Is China Going To Dominate America?

Do You Want To Scare A Baby Boomer?

Do You Want To Scare A Baby Boomer?If you want to frighten Baby Boomers, just show them the list of statistics in this article.  The United States is headed for a retirement crisis of unprecedented magnitude, and we are woefully unprepared for it.  At this point, more than 10,000 Baby Boomers are reaching the age of 65 every single day, and this will continue to happen for almost the next 20 years.  The number of senior citizens in America is projected to more than double during the first half of this century, and some absolutely enormous financial promises have been made to them.  So will we be able to keep those promises to the hordes of American workers that are rapidly approaching retirement?  Of course not.  State and local governments are facing trillions in unfunded pension liabilities.  Medicare is facing a 38 trillion dollar shortfall over the next 75 years.  The Social Security system is facing a 134 trillion dollar shortfall over the next 75 years.  Meanwhile, nearly half of all American workers have less than $10,000 saved for retirement.  The truth is that I was being incredibly kind when I said earlier that we are “woefully unprepared” for what is coming.  The biggest retirement crisis in history is rapidly approaching, and a lot of the promises that were made to the Baby Boomers are going to get broken.

The following are 35 incredibly shocking statistics that will scare just about any Baby Boomer…

1. Right now, there are somewhere around 40 million senior citizens in the United States.  By 2050 that number is projected to skyrocket to 89 million.

2. According to one recent poll, 25 percent of all Americans in the 46 to 64-year-old age bracket have no retirement savings at all.

3. 26 percent of all Americans in the 46 to 64-year-old age bracket have no personal savings whatsoever.

4. One survey that covered all American workers found that 46 percent of them have less than $10,000 saved for retirement.

5. According to a survey conducted by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, “60 percent of American workers said the total value of their savings and investments is less than $25,000″.

6. A Pew Research survey found that half of all Baby Boomers say that their household financial situations have deteriorated over the past year.

7. 67 percent of all American workers believe that they “are a little or a lot behind schedule on saving for retirement”.

8. Today, one out of every six elderly Americans lives below the federal poverty line.

9. More elderly Americans than ever are finding that they must continue working once they reach their retirement years.  Between 1985 and 2010, the percentage of Americans in the 65 to 69-year-old age bracket that were still working increased from 18 percent to 32 percent.

10. Back in 1991, half of all American workers planned to retire before they reached the age of 65.  Today, that number has declined to 23 percent.

11. According to one recent survey, 70 percent of all American workers expect to continue working once they are “retired”.

12. According to a poll conducted by AARP, 40 percent of all Baby Boomers plan to work “until they drop”.

13. A poll conducted by CESI Debt Solutions found that 56 percent of American retirees still had outstanding debts when they retired.

14. Elderly Americans tend to carry much higher balances on their credit cards than younger Americans do.  The following is from a recent CNBC article

New research from the AARP also shows that those ages 50 and over are carrying higher balances on their credit cards — $8,278 in 2012 compared to $6,258 for the under-50 population.

15. A study by a law professor at the University of Michigan found that Americans that are 55 years of age or older now account for 20 percent of all bankruptcies in the United States.  Back in 2001, they only accounted for 12 percent of all bankruptcies.

16. Between 1991 and 2007 the number of Americans between the ages of 65 and 74 that filed for bankruptcy rose by a staggering 178 percent.

17. What is causing most of these bankruptcies among the elderly?  The number one cause is medical bills.  According to a report published in The American Journal of Medicine, medical bills are a major factor in more than 60 percent of the personal bankruptcies in the United States.  Of those bankruptcies that were caused by medical bills, approximately 75 percent of them involved individuals that actually did have health insurance.

18. In 1945, there were 42 workers for every retiree receiving Social Security benefits.  Today, that number has fallen to 2.5 workers, and if you eliminate all government workers, that leaves only 1.6 private sector workers for every retiree receiving Social Security benefits.

19. Millions of elderly Americans these days are finding it very difficult to survive on just a Social Security check.  The truth is that most Social Security checks simply are not that large.  The following comes directly from the Social Security Administration website

The average monthly Social Security benefit for a retired worker was about $1,230 at the beginning of 2012. This amount changes monthly based upon the total amount of all benefits paid and the total number of people receiving benefits.

Could you live on about 300 dollars a week?

20. Social Security benefits are not going to stretch as far in future years.  The following is from an article on the AARP website

Social Security benefits won’t go as far, either. In 2002, benefits replaced 39 percent of the average retirees salary, and that will decline to 28 percent in 2030, when the youngest boomers reach full retirement age, according to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.

21. In the United States today, more than 61 million Americans receive some form of Social Security benefits.  By 2035, that number is projected to soar to a whopping 91 million.

22. Overall, the Social Security system is facing a 134 trillion dollar shortfall over the next 75 years.

23. As I wrote about in a previous article, the number of Americans on Medicare is expected to grow from 50.7 million in 2012 to 73.2 million in 2025.

24. Medicare is facing unfunded liabilities of more than 38 trillion dollars over the next 75 years.  That comes to approximately $328,404 for each and every household in the United States.

25. Today, only 10 percent of private companies in the U.S. provide guaranteed lifelong pensions for their employees.

26. Verizon’s pension plan is underfunded by 3.4 billion dollars.

27. In California, the Orange County Employees Retirement System is estimated to have a 10 billion dollar unfunded pension liability.

28. The state of Illinois has accumulated unfunded pension liabilities of more than 77 billion dollars.

29. Pension consultant Girard Miller told California’s Little Hoover Commission that state and local government bodies in the state of California have 325 billion dollars in combined unfunded pension liabilities.

30. According to Northwestern University Professor John Rauh, the latest estimate of the total amount of unfunded pension and healthcare obligations for retirees that state and local governments across the United States have accumulated is 4.4 trillion dollars.

31. In 2010, 28 percent of all American workers with a 401(k) had taken money out of it at some point.

32. Back in 2004, American workers were taking about 30 billion dollars in early withdrawals out of their 401(k) accounts every single year. Right now, American workers are pulling about 70 billion dollars in early withdrawals out of their 401(k) accounts every single year.

33. Today, 49 percent of all American workers are not covered by an employment-based pension plan at all.

34. According to a recent survey conducted by Americans for Secure Retirement, 88 percent of all Americans are worried about “maintaining a comfortable standard of living in retirement”.

35. A study conducted by Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research found that American workers are $6.6 trillion short of what they need to retire comfortably.

So what is the solution?  Well, one influential organization of business executives says that the solution is to make Americans wait longer for retirement.  The following is from a recent CBS News article

An influential group of business CEOs is pushing a plan to gradually increase the full retirement age to 70 for both Social Security and Medicare and to partially privatize the health insurance program for older Americans.

The Business Roundtable’s plan would protect those 55 and older from cuts but younger workers would face significant changes. The plan unveiled Wednesday would result in smaller annual benefit increases for all Social Security recipients. Initial benefits for wealthy retirees would also be smaller.

But considering the fact that there aren’t nearly enough jobs for all Americans already, perhaps that is not such a great idea.  If we expect Americans to work longer, then we are going to need our economy to start producing a lot more good jobs than it is producing right now.

Of course the status quo is not going to work either.  There is no way that we are going to be able to meet the financial obligations that are coming due.

The federal government, our state governments and our local governments are already drowning in debt and we are already spending far more money than we bring in each year.  How in the world are we going to make ends meet as our obligations to retirees absolutely skyrocket in the years ahead?

That is something to think about.

So what do you think?  Do you believe that there is a solution to our retirement crisis?  Do you think that we can actually keep all of the promises that we have made to the Baby Boomers?  Please feel free to post a comment with your thoughts below…

Get Ready Baby Boomers - The Retirement Crisis Is Coming

55 Reasons Why You Should Buy Products That Are Made In America

This is the time of the year when Americans run out to their favorite retail stores and fill up their shopping carts with lots of cheap plastic crap made by workers in foreign countries where it is legal to pay slave labor wages.  By doing this, the American people are actively participating in the destruction of the U.S. economy.  You see, buying products that are made in America is not just a matter of national pride.  It is a matter of national survival.  If we do not support American workers, they are going to continue to see their jobs shipped out of the country.  If we do not support American businesses, they are going to continue to die off at a staggering rate.  Last year, the United States had a trade deficit with the rest of the world of 558 billion dollars.  More than half a trillion dollars that could have gone into the pockets of U.S. workers and U.S. businesses went overseas instead.  If that money had stayed in the country, taxes would have been paid on that mountain of cash and our local, state and federal government debt problems would not be as severe.  As a result of our massive trade imbalance, we have lost tens of thousands of businesses, millions of jobs and trillions of dollars of national wealth.  Both major political parties have sold us out on these issues, and we are getting poorer as a nation with each passing day.  We desperately need a resurgence of economic patriotism in the United States before it is too late.

Yes, I know that it is very tempting to buy foreign-made products.  After all, they are almost always cheaper.

But most people don’t often think about why they are cheaper.

Unfortunately, in the name of “free trade” American workers have been merged into a global labor pool where they have to compete directly for jobs with workers on the other side of the globe that live in countries where it is legal to pay slave labor wages.  This makes employing American workers a tremendous liability.

If a company hires you and pays you 10 to 15 dollars an hour with benefits, how is it going to compete with another company that pays workers a dollar an hour with no benefits on the other side of the planet?

Both major political parties are pushing this emerging “one world economic system“, but it is absolutely killing American jobs.  We have already seen a mass exodus of jobs and businesses out of this country, and wages for the jobs that remain in the United States are being forced down because there are hordes of unemployed workers that are willing to take just about any decent job they can find.

It has become painfully obvious that our politicians are not going to do anything to help us on these issues, so what we need is a mass awakening among the American people.

We need to educate people that buying things that are made in America is good for the economy and that buying things that are made elsewhere is bad for the economy.

But for now, most Americans are clueless.  They will line up on Black Friday morning and trample one another in a desperate attempt to save a few bucks on cheap plastic devices that were made on the other side of the planet.

And they will pay for much of this “shopping” with credit cards.

Credit card debt is on the rise once again.  In fact, average credit card debt per borrower was 4.9 percent higher in the third quarter of 2012 than it was in the third quarter of 2011.  It looks like most of us didn’t learn our lessons from the last financial crisis.

But not all Americans enjoy the shopping that is typically involved with this time of the year.  One recent survey found that approximately 45 percent of all Americans think that there is so much financial pressure associated with the holidays that they wouldn’t mind skipping them completely.

That same poll found that approximately 41 percent of all Americans would only be able to survive for two weeks without a paycheck.  Many Americans are up to their eyeballs in debt, their incomes are not keeping up with rising prices, and they find themselves scratching and clawing just to make it from month to month.

Meanwhile, we continue to destroy our own jobs and businesses by spending our money on products that have been made outside the country.

The following are 55 reasons why you should buy products that are made in America this holiday season…

1. When you buy products that are made in America you support American workers.

2. When you buy products that are made in America you support companies that are doing business in America.

3. In 2000, there were more than 17 million Americans working in manufacturing, but now there are less than 12 million.

4. The United States has a trade imbalance that is more than 7 times larger than any other nation on earth has.

5. Our trade deficit with China in 2011 was $295.5 billion.  That was the largest trade deficit that one country has had with another country in the history of the planet.

6. In 2011, our trade deficit with China was 28 times larger than it was back in 1990 and more than 49,000 times larger than it was back in 1985.

7. When NAFTA was passed in 1993, the United States had a trade surplus with Mexico of 1.6 billion dollars.  In 2010, we had a trade deficit with Mexico of 61.6 billion dollars.

8. One professor has estimated that cutting the U.S. trade deficit in half would create 5 million more jobs in the United States.

9. Overall, the United States has run a trade deficit of more than 8 trillion dollars with the rest of the globe since 1975.  That 8 trillion dollars could have gone to support U.S. businesses and pay the wages of U.S. workers.  Federal, state and local taxes would also have been paid on that 8 trillion dollars if it had stayed in the United States.

10. According to the Economic Policy Institute, America is losing half a million jobs to China every single year.

11. The United States has lost an average of approximately 50,000 manufacturing jobs a month since China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001.

12. According to U.S. Representative Betty Sutton, the United States has lost an average of 15 manufacturing facilities a day over the last 10 years.

13. During 2010 alone, an average of 23 manufacturing facilities permanently shut down in the United States every single day.

14. Overall, the United States has lost more than 56,000 manufacturing facilities since 2001.

15. The United States has lost a staggering 32 percent of its manufacturing jobs since the year 2000.

16. Between December 2000 and December 2010, 38 percent of the manufacturing jobs in Ohio were lost, 42 percent of the manufacturing jobs in North Carolina were lost and 48 percent of the manufacturing jobs in Michigan were lost.

17. As I have written about previously, 95 percent of the jobs lost during the last recession were middle class jobs.

18. Due in part to the globalization of the labor pool, only about 24 percent of all jobs in the United States are “good jobs” at this point.

19. Right now, more than 41 percent of all working age Americans do not have a job, and the vast majority of the new jobs that are being created are low paying jobs.

20. The United States now has 10 percent fewer “middle class jobs” than it did just ten years ago.

21. According to the Economic Policy Institute, the U.S. economy loses approximately 9,000 jobs for every $1 billion of goods that are imported from overseas.

22. As our economic infrastructure is gutted, formerly great manufacturing cities all over America are being transformed into festering hellholes.

23. Between 2001 and 2007, the value of products that Wal-Mart imported from China grew from $9 billion to $27 billion.

24. In 2001, American consumers spent 102 billion dollars on products made in China.  In 2011, American consumers spent 399 billion dollars on products made in China.

25. The United States spends about 4 dollars on goods and services from China for every one dollar that China spends on goods and services from the United States.

26. Back in 1998, the United States had 25 percent of the world’s high-tech export market and China had just 10 percent. Today, China’s high-tech exports are more than twice the size of U.S. high-tech exports.

27. In 2002, the United States had a trade deficit in “advanced technology products” of $16 billion with the rest of the world.  In 2010, that number skyrocketed to $82 billion.

28. The United States has lost more than a quarter of all of its high-tech manufacturing jobs over the past ten years.

29. Manufacturing employment in the U.S. computer industry was actually lower in 2010 than it was in 1975.

30. The Chinese undervalue their currency by about 40 percent in order to gain a critical advantage over foreign competitors.  This means that many Chinese companies are able to absolutely thrive while their competition in the United States goes out of business.

31. According to the New York Times, a Jeep Grand Cherokee that costs $27,490 in the United States costs about $85,000 in China thanks to all the tariffs.

32. In 2010, China produced more than twice as many automobiles as the United States did.

33. Since the auto industry bailout, approximately 70 percent of all GM vehicles have been built outside the United States.

34. Do you remember when the United States was the dominant manufacturer of automobiles and trucks on the globe?  Well, in 2010 the U.S. ran a trade deficit in automobiles, trucks and parts of $110 billion.

35. In 2010, South Korea exported 12 times as many automobiles, trucks and parts to us as we exported to them.

36. In 2010, China produced 627 million metric tons of steel.  The United States only produced 80 million metric tons of steel.

37. In 2010, China produced 7.3 million metric tons of cotton.  The United States only produced 3.4 million metric tons of cotton.

38. Today, China produces nearly twice as much beer as the United States does.

39. 85 percent of all artificial Christmas trees are made in China.

40. Right now, China is producing more than three times as much coal as the United States does.

41. China is now the number one supplier of components that are critical to the operation of U.S. defense systems.  How stupid can we possibly be?

42. According to author Clyde Prestowitz, China’s number one export to the U.S. is computer equipment.  According to an article in U.S. News & World Report, during 2010 the number one U.S. export to China was “scrap and trash”.

43. All over the United States, road and bridge projects are being outsourced to Chinese firms.  Just check out the following excerpt from a recent ABC News article….

In New York there is a $400 million renovation project on the Alexander Hamilton Bridge.

In California, there is a $7.2 billion project to rebuild the Bay Bridge connecting San Francisco and Oakland.

In Alaska, there is a proposal for a $190 million bridge project.

These projects sound like steps in the right direction, but much of the work is going to Chinese government-owned firms.

“When we subsidize jobs in China, we’re not creating any wealth in the United States,” said Scott Paul, executive director for the Alliance for American Manufacturing.

44. The new World Trade Center tower is going to include glass that has been imported from China.

45. The new Martin Luther King memorial on the National Mall was made in China.

46. The Chinese economy has grown 7 times faster than the U.S. economy has over the past decade.

47. The Chinese economy is projected to be larger than the U.S. economy by 2016.

48. One economist is projecting that the Chinese economy will be three times larger than the U.S. economy by the year 2040.

49. In recent years the U.S. economy has embraced “free trade” and the emerging one world economy like never before.  Instead of increasing the number of jobs in our economy, it has resulted in the worst stretch of job creation in the United States in modern history….

If any single number captures the state of the American economy over the last decade, it is zero. That was the net gain in jobs between 1999 and 2009—nada, nil, zip. By painful contrast, from the 1940s through the 1990s, recessions came and went, but no decade ended without at least a 20 percent increase in the number of jobs.

50. If you gathered together all of the workers that are “officially” unemployed in the United States today, they would constitute the 68th largest country in the world.

51. China now holds approximately more than a trillion dollars of U.S. government debt.  If you were alive back when Jesus was born and you had spent a million dollars every single day since then, you still would not have spent that much money by now.

52. Jeffrey Immelt, the head of Barack Obama’s highly touted “Jobs Council”, has shipped tens of thousands of good jobs out of the United States.

53. Without enough good jobs, more Americans than ever before are falling into poverty.  Today, more than 100 million Americans are enrolled in at least one welfare program run by the federal government.

54. According to Professor Alan Blinder of Princeton University, 40 million more U.S. jobs could be sent offshore over the next two decades if current trends continue.

55. If U.S. consumers do not start supporting U.S. workers and U.S. businesses, eventually we will all be so poor that very few of us will be able to afford to buy any gifts during the holiday season.

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