Did 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.
The average American spends more than 10 hours a day using an electronic device. And most of that activity is not even interactive. The vast majority of the time we are just passively absorbing content that someone else has created. This very much reminds me of the movie “the Matrix”, but with a twist. Instead of humans being forcefully connected to “the Matrix”, we are all willingly connecting ourselves to it. There is a giant system that defines our reality for us, and the length of time that the average American spends connected to it just continues to keep growing. In fact, there are millions upon millions of us that simply do not “feel right” unless there is at least something on in the background. Just think about it. How much time do you spend each day with all electronic devices completely turned off? Thanks to technology, we live at a time when more news, information and entertainment is at our fingertips than ever before, and we are consuming more of it than ever before. But this also gives a tremendous amount of power to those that create all of this news, information and entertainment. As I have written about previously, more than 90 percent of the “programming” that we absorb is created by just 6 enormously powerful media corporations. Our conversations, attitudes, opinions and belief systems are constantly being shaped by those entities. Unfortunately, most of us are content to just sit back and let it happen.
The following numbers regarding the media consumption habits of average Americans come directly from Nielsen’s most recent “Total Audience Report“. The amount of time per day that Americans spend using these devices is absolutely staggering…
Watching live television: 4 hours, 32 minutes
Watching time-shifted television: 30 minutes
Listening to the radio: 2 hours, 44 minutes
Using a smartphone: 1 hour, 33 minutes
Using Internet on a computer: 1 hour, 6 minutes
When you add it all up, the average American spends more than 10 hours a day plugged into the Matrix.
You have heard the old saying “you are what you eat”, right?
Well, the same applies to what we put into our brains.
When you put garbage in, you are going to get garbage out.
In my recent article entitled “It’s Official: Americans R Stupid“, I discussed how the U.S. population is being systematically “dumbed down” and how we are now one of the least intelligent industrialized nations on the entire planet.
A big contributor to our intellectual and social demise is the Matrix that has been constructed all around us.
Virtually every television show, movie, song, book, news broadcast and talk show is trying to shape how you view reality. Whether you realize it or not, you are constantly being bombarded with messages about what is true and what is not, about what is right and what is wrong, and about what really matters and what is unimportant. Even leaving something out or ignoring something completely can send an extremely powerful message.
In this day and age, it is absolutely imperative that we all learn to think for ourselves. But instead, most people seem more than content to let the Matrix do their thinking for them. If you listen carefully, you will notice that most of our conversations with one another are based on programming from the Matrix. We all love to talk about the movie that we just saw, or what happened on the latest reality show, or what some famous celebrity is doing, or what we saw on the news that morning. The things that matter to us in life are the things that the Matrix tells us should matter.
And if someone comes along with information that contradicts the Matrix, that can cause anger and confusion.
I can’t tell you how many times someone has said something like the following to me…
“If that was true I would have seen it on the news.”
To many people, the Matrix is the ultimate arbiter of truth in our society, and so anything that contradicts the Matrix cannot possibly be accurate.
Fortunately, more people than ever are waking up enough to realize that they have a choice.
It is kind of like that moment in the Matrix when Neo is being offered the red pill and the blue pill.
Admittedly, a lot of people that do begin to wake up choose to take the blue pill and go back to sleep.
But there are so many others that are grabbing the red pill. That is why we have seen such an explosion in the popularity of the alternative media in recent years. Millions of people all over the planet now understand that they are not getting the truth from the Matrix and they are hungry for real information.
Yes, the Internet is being used for unspeakable evil, but it can also be used for great good. The Internet has allowed ordinary people like you and I to communicate on a mass scale like never before in history. The Internet has allowed us to reclaim at least some of the power that we have lost to the Matrix. I don’t know how long this period of history will last, so we should make full use out of this great tool while we still have it.
On my own website, I have felt called to mainly focus on economics in recent years. And I will continue to chronicle economic conditions as we descend into the greatest economic crisis in U.S. history. What is coming is going to be worse than 2008, it is going to be worse than the Great Depression, and it is ultimately going to be worse than most Americans would ever dare to imagine.
But I also want to take my readers on a journey down the rabbit hole.
Our world is about to get really, really strange, and I would like to be a light in the chaos.
Yes, I believe that great darkness is coming. But I also believe that a great awakening is coming.
Personally, I believe that it is a great privilege to be alive at this time in human history.
It is a time of great evil, but it is also a time of great opportunity.
It is a time when everything that can be shaken will be shaken, but it will also be a time when those that stand for what is right will shine like the stars.
So what do you think about all of this? Please feel free to add your two cents by posting a comment below…
As Americans, we tend to be pretty full of ourselves, and this is especially true of our young people. But do we really have reason for such pride? According to a shocking new report from the Educational Testing Service, Americans between the ages of 20 and 34 are way behind young adults in other industrialized nations when it comes to literacy, mathematics and technological proficiency. Even though more Americans than ever are going to college, we continue to fall farther and farther behind intellectually. So what does this say about us? Sadly, the truth is that Americans are stupid. Our education system is an abysmal failure, and our young people spend most of their free time staring at the television, their computers or their mobile devices. And until we are honest with ourselves about this, our intellectual decline is going to get even worse.
According to this new report from the Educational Testing Service, at this point American Millennials that have a four year college degree are essentially on the same intellectual level as young adults in Japan, Finland and the Netherlands that only have a high school degree…
Americans born after 1980 are lagging their peers in countries ranging from Australia to Estonia, according to a new report from researchers at the Educational Testing Service (ETS). The study looked at scores for literacy and numeracy from a test called the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies, which tested the abilities of people in 22 countries.
The results are sobering, with dire implications for America. It hints that students may be falling behind not only in their early educational years but at the college level. Even though more Americans between the ages of 20 to 34 are achieving higher levels of education, they’re still falling behind their cohorts in other countries. In Japan, Finland and the Netherlands, young adults with only a high school degree scored on par with American Millennials holding four-year college degrees, the report said.
How in the world is that possible?
I can tell you how that is possible – our colleges are a joke. But more on that in a moment.
Out of 22 countries, the report from the Educational Testing Service found that Americans were dead last in tech proficiency. We were also dead last in numeracy and only two countries performed worse than us when it came to literacy proficiency…
Half of American Millennials score below the minimum standard of literacy proficiency. Only two countries scored worse by that measure: Italy (60 percent) and Spain (59 percent). The results were even worse for numeracy, with almost two-thirds of American Millennials failing to meet the minimum standard for understanding and working with numbers. That placed U.S. Millennials dead last for numeracy among the study’s 22 developed countries.
It is in this type of environment that Coca-Cola can be marketed to Americans as “a healthy snack“.
As I mentioned above, our system of education is one of the biggest culprits. From the first grade all the way through post-graduate education, the quality of education that our young people are receiving is absolutely pathetic. In a previous article, I highlighted some statistics from USA Today about the declining state of college education in America…
-“After two years in college, 45% of students showed no significant gains in learning; after four years, 36% showed little change.”
-“Students also spent 50% less time studying compared with students a few decades ago”
-“35% of students report spending five or fewer hours per week studying alone.”
-“50% said they never took a class in a typical semester where they wrote more than 20 pages”
-“32% never took a course in a typical semester where they read more than 40 pages per week.”
I have sat in many of these kinds of college courses. It doesn’t take much brain power to pass the multiple choice tests that most college professors give these days. The truth is that if you fail out of college you really, really have to try hard.
In another previous article I shared some examples of real courses that have been taught at U.S. universities in recent years…
-“What If Harry Potter Is Real?”
-“Lady Gaga and the Sociology of Fame”
-“Philosophy And Star Trek”
-“Learning From YouTube”
-“How To Watch Television”
-“Oh, Look, a Chicken!”
This is a national crisis. Parents should be screaming bloody murder about the quality of the education that their children are receiving. But because very few of them actually know what is going on, they just continue to write out huge tuition checks all the time believing that their kids are being prepared for the real world.
To show how “dumbed down” we have become, I want to share with you a copy of an eighth grade exam from 1912 that was donated to the Bullitt County History Museum in Kentucky.
Would eighth grade students be able to pass such an exam today?
Would college students?
As you look over this exam from 1912, ask yourself how you would do on it…
In addition, I find it very interesting that the reading level of the State of the Union addresses delivered by our presidents has steadily declined since the inception of this nation.
And it should be no surprise that Barack Obama’s State of the Union addresses have been some of the dumbest of all.
But could it be possible that I am being too harsh?
After all, scientists are now discovering that our diminishing intellectual capabilities are actually the consequence of natural processes.
For example, a Stanford University biology professor named Gerald R. Crabtree has published two papers in which he detailed his conclusion that humans have been getting dumber for thousands of years…
Are humans becoming smarter or more stupid? Comparing our modern lives and technology with that of any preceding generation, one might think we are becoming increasingly smarter. But, in two papers published in Trends in Genetics, Gerald R. Crabtree of Stanford University claims that we are losing mental capacity and have been doing so for 2,000–6,000 years! The reason, Crabtree concludes, is due to genetic mutations—which are the backbone of neo-Darwinian evolution.
Why is this happening?
Professor Crabtree believes that this loss of intellectual capability is due to the accumulation of errors in our genes…
Based on data produced by the 1000 Genomes Project Consortium and two recent papers in Nature, Crabtree estimates in the first article that, in the past 3,000 years (approximately 120 generations), about 5,000 new mutations have occurred in the genes governing our intellectual ability. He claims most of these mutations will have no effect, while about 2–5 percent are deleterious and “a vanishingly small fraction will increase fitness.” Crabtree bases his conclusion that humankind is losing mental capacity on the ratio between the deleterious and the beneficial mutations.
Our DNA is mutating, and it has been for thousands of years. And no, those mutations are not helping us. Each one of us has tens of thousands of errors in our DNA that we have inherited, and we will add even more errors which we will pass on to future generations.
Given enough time, many scientists believe that humanity would eventually degenerate into a bunch of gibbering idiots incapable of rational thought.
Or could it be possible that a large segment of the population has already arrived at that state?
Feel free to tell us what you think by posting a comment below…
The American people are feeling really good right about now. For example, Gallup’s economic confidence index has hit the highest level that we have seen since the last recession. In addition, nearly half of all Americans believe that 2015 will be a better year than 2014 was, and only about 10 percent believe that it will be a worse year. And a lot of people are generally feeling quite good about the people that have been leading our nation. According to Gallup, once again this year Hillary Clinton is the most admired woman in America and Barack Obama is the most admired man in America. I don’t know what that says about our nation, but it can’t be good. Unfortunately, when things seem to be going well common sense tends to go out the window. A couple days ago, the Guardian ran an article entitled “Goodbye to one of the best years in history“, and a whole lot of people out there are feeling really optimistic these days. But should they be?
Sadly, what we are experiencing right now is so similar to what we witnessed in 2007 and early 2008. The stock market had been on a great run, people were flipping houses like crazy and most people were convinced that the party would never end.
But then it did end – very painfully.
The signs of trouble were there, but most people chose to ignore them.
Sadly, the exact same thing is happening again.
On Monday, the price of oil hit a brand new five year low. As I write this, U.S. oil is sitting at a price of $53.76 a barrel, which is nearly a 50 percent decline from the peak earlier this year.
There is only one other time in history when the price of oil has declined by more than 50 dollars a barrel in such a short time frame. That was back in the middle of 2008, shortly before the worst stock market crash since the Great Depression.
Unless the price of oil starts really bouncing back, the U.S. economy is going to be hit really hard.
Since 2009, oil industry employment has risen by 50 percent. And jobs in the oil industry pay quite well. One figure that I saw put the average weekly wage at about 1700 dollars.
But now we aren’t going to be gaining those types of jobs. Instead, we are going to rapidly start losing them.
Already, the oil rig count has dropped for three weeks in a row and is now at an 8 month low. And as the oil industry suffers, all of the industries that it supports are also going to start feeling the pain. In fact, Business Insider is reporting that Texas business executives are “freaked out” about what is happening…
Business executives in Texas are worried about the drop in oil prices.
On Monday, the Dallas Fed’s latest manufacturing survey showed that activity in Texas was slowing down.
The latest composite index came in at 4.1, widely missing expectations and down big from November’s reading. Expectations were for the index to come in at 9, down from 10.5 last month.
So while most Americans are feeling really good about the coming year, many of those with an inside view are becoming quite alarmed. One Texas business executive went so far as to say that the stunning decline in oil prices was “going to make things ugly … quickly.“
Meanwhile, the 9 trillion dollar U.S. dollar carry trade is starting to unwind.
The following is an excerpt from a recent Zero Hedge article…
Oil’s collapse is predicated by one major event: the explosion of the US Dollar carry trade. Worldwide, there is over $9 TRILLION in borrowed US Dollars that has been ploughed into risk assets.
Energy projects, particularly Oil Shale in the US, are one of the prime spots for this. But it is not the only one. Economies that are closely aligned with commodities (all of which are priced in US Dollars) are getting demolished too.
Just about everything will be hit as well. Most of the “recovery” of the last five years has been fueled by cheap borrowed Dollars. Now that the US Dollar has broken out of a multi-year range, you’re going to see more and more “risk assets” (read: projects or investments fueled by borrowed Dollars) blow up. Oil is just the beginning, not a standalone story.
If things really pick up steam, there’s over $9 TRILLION worth of potential explosions waiting in the wings. Imagine if the entire economies of both Germany and Japan exploded and you’ve got a decent idea of the size of the potential impact on the financial system.
And that’s assuming NO increased leverage from derivative usage.
And yes, as that last excerpt mentioned, derivatives could soon become a massive problem. The big banks are holding trillions in commodity derivatives that could blow up if the price of oil does not rebound. Overall, there are five U.S. banks that each have more than 40 trillion dollars of exposure to derivatives of all types, and the total global derivatives bubble is at least 700 trillion dollars at this point.
At the same time, many are becoming concerned that the unprecedented bond bubble that we are witnessing could soon implode and trillions of dollars of “wealth” could disappear into thin air.
In fact, Bloomberg says that we should “get ready for a disastrous year” for bonds…
Get ready for a disastrous year for U.S. government bonds. That’s the message forecasters on Wall Street are sending.
With Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen poised to raise interest rates in 2015 for the first time in almost a decade, prognosticators are convinced Treasury yields have nowhere to go except up. Their calls for higher yields next year are the most aggressive since 2009, when U.S. debt securities suffered record losses, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
That certainly does not sound very optimistic, does it?
Anyone with even a minimal amount of intelligence should be able to see the massive financial bubbles that the central banks of the world have created, and anyone with even a minimal amount of intelligence should be able to see that we are heading for a massive financial implosion which will be extraordinarily painful.
Unfortunately, as I wrote about yesterday, the American people have become “zombiefied“. Instead of thinking for themselves, they let “the matrix” do their thinking for them. And right now “the matrix” is telling them that everything is going to be just fine in 2015.
If you do not think that there is a propaganda machine that tells us what to think, I want you to watch the video posted below very carefully. This video makes it so obvious that even a small child can understand it…
The American people are increasingly waking up to the fact that nothing ever seems to change in Washington D.C. no matter which political party is in power. In fact, as you will see later on in this article, an all-time high 53 percent of all Americans believe that neither party “represents the American people”. Over the past several decades, we have sent a Bush, a Clinton, another Bush and an Obama to the White House, but the policies coming out of Washington have remained pretty much the same the entire time. The mainstream media would have us believe that the Republicans and the Democrats are constantly fighting like cats and dogs, but the truth is that the Republicans want to take us to the same place that the Democrats want to take us – just a little more slowly perhaps. And behind the scenes, Republicans and Democrats have a good time with one another and they are ultimately controlled by the same set of oligarchs. The Americans people are really starting to recognize what a sham our system has become, and the numbers show that they are quite fed up with it.
I truly wish that things were different. When I was much younger, I was actively involved in politics and I enthusiastically campaigned for certain candidates. But then when they got to Washington D.C., they never did most of the things that they promised to do during their campaigns.
I was quite bewildered by this. At the time, I concluded that we just needed to send even more “good politicians” to D.C. and then things would finally turn around.
But things never did turn around. No matter which party had the upper hand, the same garbage continued to spew forth from Washington.
Ultimately, like millions of other Americans, I have come to see that there is not really much of a difference between Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi on one side, and John Boehner, John McCain, Mitch McConnell and Jeb Bush on the other side.
Sure, if you listen to their campaign speeches you might be tempted to think that they were polar opposites, but when you watch what they actually do there is not that much that really separates them.
Fortunately, large numbers of Americans are starting to see through this disgusting charade. Most of our politicians are con men that tell us what we want to hear during their campaigns, and then after they are elected they forget all about us. Dissatisfaction with these politicians has risen to unprecedented levels in recent years, and that could be a good thing. The following are 12 numbers which prove that Americans are sick and tired of politics as usual…
#1 A national Rasmussen Reports survey has found that an all-time high 53 percent of all Americans believe that neither major political party “represents the American people”.
#2 According to a Real Clear Politics average of national polls, only 29 percent of Americans believe that the country is heading in the right direction.
#3 According to a Real Clear Politics average of national polls, Americans disapprove of the job that Barack Obama is doing by a 52.2 to 43.7 percent margin.
#4 According to a Real Clear Politics average of national polls, Americans disapprove of the job that Congress is doing by a 77.6 percent to 14.2 percent margin.
#5 52 percent of Americans “do not think the economy is fair to those willing to work hard”.
#6 65 percent of Americans are dissatisfied “with the U.S. system of government and its effectiveness”. That is the highest level of dissatisfaction that Gallup has ever recorded.
#7 Only 4 percent of Americans believe that it would “change Congress for the worse” if every member was voted out during the next election.
#8 An all-time low 31 percent of Americans identify themselves as Democrats.
#9 An all-time low 25 percent of Americans identify themselves as Republicans.
#10 An all-time high 42 percent of Americans identify themselves as Independents.
#11 60 percent of Americans report feeling “angry or irritable”. Two years ago that number was at 50 percent.
#12 70 percent of Americans do not have confidence that the federal government will “make progress on the important problems and issues facing the country in 2014″.
Of course at the heart of much of this dissatisfaction is the continuing problems in our economy. For example, check out the Gallup daily employment tracking survey that you can find right here. As you can see, the payroll to population number (those Americans working 30 hours a week or more) has been flatlining in the low forties for more than four years now. The truth is that there never has been an employment recovery in this nation since the last recession. For much more on all this, please see my previous article entitled “This Is What Employment In America Really Looks Like…”
The last wave of the economic crisis really devastated the middle class, and as a result record numbers of Americans have become dependent on the government. As I mentioned in one recent article, ten years ago the number of women working outnumbered the number of women on food stamps by more than a 2 to 1 margin. But now the number of women on food stamps actually exceeds the number of women that have jobs.
No wonder so many Americans are so angry. Things are not nearly as good as they used to be.
Unfortunately, even though so many people are angry and frustrated, there is very little consensus on the solutions to our problems.
Many Americans even want to throw out the principles that this country was founded upon entirely. For example, one recent survey discovered that 59 percent of all Americans believe that the U.S. Constitution is “outdated”.
That is a very chilling number. We live at a time when Americans are becoming increasingly ignorant about who we are, where we came from and how we get here.
And a lot of our fellow citizens do not even know how our system of government works. One survey actually found that only 25 percent of all Americans knew how long U.S. Senators are elected for (6 years), and only 20 percent of all Americans knew how many U.S. senators there are (100).
In the final analysis, it is hard to be optimistic about a political solution to any of our major problems in the near future. Most of our politicians are deeply corrupt, the American people are incredibly angry and are deeply divided, and the vast majority of campaigns for federal office are won by the candidate that raises the most money.
But perhaps there is something that I am missing. So what do you think? Do you believe that there is hope that we can get Washington D.C. turned around in the near future? Please feel free to share your thoughts by posting a comment below…
For most of Canada’s existence, it has been regarded as the weak neighbor to the north by most Americans. Well, that has changed dramatically over the past decade or so. Back in the year 2000, middle class Canadians were earning much less than middle class Americans, but since then there has been a dramatic shift. At this point, middle class Canadians are actually earning more than middle class Americans are. The Canadian economy has been booming thanks to a rapidly growing oil industry, and meanwhile the U.S. middle class has been steadily shrinking. If current trends continue, a whole bunch of other countries are going to start passing us too. The era of the “great U.S. middle class” is rapidly coming to a bitter end.
In recent years, I have been up to Canada frequently, and I am always amazed at how much nicer things are up there. The stores and streets are cleaner, the people are more polite and it seems like almost everyone that wants to work has a job.
But despite knowing all this, I was still surprised when the New York Times reported this week that middle class incomes in Canada have now surpassed middle class incomes in the United States…
After-tax middle-class incomes in Canada — substantially behind in 2000 — now appear to be higher than in the United States. The poor in much of Europe earn more than poor Americans.
And things are particularly dire for those in the U.S. on the low end of the scale…
The struggles of the poor in the United States are even starker than those of the middle class. A family at the 20th percentile of the income distribution in this country makes significantly less money than a similar family in Canada, Sweden, Norway, Finland or the Netherlands. Thirty-five years ago, the reverse was true.
Even while our politicians and the media continue to proclaim that everything is “just fine”, the U.S. middle class continues to slide toward oblivion.
The biggest reason for this is the lack of middle class jobs. Millions of good jobs have been shipped overseas, and millions of other good jobs have been replaced by technology.
The value of our labor is declining with each passing day, and this has forced millions upon millions of very qualified Americans to take whatever they can get. As NBC News recently noted, this is a big reason why the temp industry has been booming…
For Americans who can’t find jobs, the booming demand for temp workers has been a path out of unemployment, but now many fear it’s a dead-end route.
With full-time work hard to find, these workers have built temping into a de facto career, minus vacation, sick days or insurance. The assignments might be temporary — a few months here, a year there — but labor economists warn that companies’ growing hunger for a workforce they can switch on and off could do permanent damage to these workers’ career trajectories and retirement plans.
“It seems to be the new norm in the working world,” said Kelly Sibla, 54. The computer systems engineer has been looking for a full-time job for four years now, but the Amherst, Ohio, resident said she has to take whatever she can find.
It has been estimated that one out of every ten jobs is now filled by a temp agency. I have worked for temp agencies myself in the past. Big companies like the idea of having “disposable workers”, and this is a trend that is likely to only grow in the years ahead.
But temp jobs and part-time jobs don’t pay as well as normal jobs. And those kinds of jobs generally cannot support middle class families.
At this point, nine out of the top ten occupations in the United States pay an average wage of less than $35,000 a year.
That is absolutely stunning.
These days most families are barely scraping by, and they don’t have much extra money to go shopping with.
This is a big reason for the “retail apocalypse” that we are now witnessing. This week we learned that retail stores in the United States are closing at the fastest pace that we have seen since the collapse of Lehman Brothers. But you won’t hear much about that on the mainstream news.
You can find lots of “space available” signs and empty buildings in formerly middle class neighborhoods all over the country. For example, one of my readers recently shot the following YouTube video in Scottsdale, Arizona. As you can see, empty commercial buildings are all over the place…
As the middle class shrinks, more families are being forced to take in family members that can’t find decent work. I have written previously about the huge rise in the number of young adults that are moving back in with their parents. But this is not just happening to young people. As the Los Angeles Times recently detailed, the number of Americans 50 and older that are moving in with their parents has absolutely soared in recent years…
For seven years through 2012, the number of Californians aged 50 to 64 who live in their parents’ homes swelled 67.6% to about 194,000, according to the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research and the Insight Center for Community Economic Development.
The jump is almost exclusively the result of financial hardship caused by the recession rather than for other reasons, such as the need to care for aging parents, said Steven P. Wallace, a UCLA professor of public health who crunched the data.
“The numbers are pretty amazing,” Wallace said. “It’s an age group that you normally think of as pretty financially stable. They’re mid-career. They may be thinking ahead toward retirement. They’ve got a nest egg going. And then all of a sudden you see this huge push back into their parents’ homes.”
The U.S. economy is slowly but steadily falling apart, and more people fall out of the middle class every single day.
A recent Gallup survey found that 14 percent of all Americans would experience “significant financial hardship” within one week of a job loss.
An additional 29 percent of all Americans would experience “significant financial hardship” within one month of a job loss.
That means that 43 percent of the entire country is living right on the edge.
It is no wonder why only about 30 percent of all Americans believe that we are moving in the right direction as a nation.
Most people know deep down that something is seriously wrong. But most people can’t explain exactly what that is or how to fix it.
Meanwhile, the politicians and the media keep telling us that if we just keep doing the same old things that everything will work out okay somehow. The blind are leading the blind, and we are rapidly marching toward disaster.
Sometimes I think that I sound like a broken record. I am constantly using phrases such as “get prepared while you still can” and “time is running out”. In fact, I use them so often that people are starting to criticize me for it. But the truth is that only a small percentage of people out there are actively taking steps to get ready for what is coming. Most of the country is not prepared at all. In many ways, it is just like 2007 all over again. There were many people that could see what was about to happen and were doing all they could to warn people, but most did not listen. And then the great financial crisis of 2008 struck and millions of people lost their jobs and their homes. Unfortunately, the next great wave of the economic collapse is going to be even more painful than the last one. It is imperative that people get prepared for what is on the horizon, but for the most part it is just not happening.
A lot of it has to do with the fact that we have such short memories and such short attention spans in America today. Thanks to years of television and endless hours on the Internet, I find myself having a really hard time focusing on anything for more than just a few moments. And we are accustomed to living in an “instant society” where we don’t have to wait for anything. In such a society, we are used to “news cycles” that only last for 24 hours and very few people take a “long-term view” of anything.
And another one of the big problems that we are facing is something called “normalcy bias”. The following is how Wikipedia defines it…
The normalcy bias, or normality bias, refers to a mental state people enter when facing a disaster. It causes people to underestimate both the possibility of a disaster occurring and its possible effects. This often results in situations where people fail to adequately prepare for a disaster, and on a larger scale, the failure of governments to include the populace in its disaster preparations. The assumption that is made in the case of the normalcy bias is that since a disaster never has occurred then it never will occur. It also results in the inability of people to cope with a disaster once it occurs. People with a normalcy bias have difficulties reacting to something they have not experienced before. People also tend to interpret warnings in the most optimistic way possible, seizing on any ambiguities to infer a less serious situation.
Over the past several years, the U.S. economy has been relatively stable. And that is a good thing. But it has also lulled millions upon millions of people into a false sense of security and complacency. At this point, most Americans consider 2008 to be a temporary bump in the road, and most assume that the U.S. economy will always be strong.
Unfortunately, that is not the truth. As I have written about previously, the long-term trends that are destroying our economy have continued to get worse since 2008, and none of the problems that caused the last financial crisis have been fixed.
We are steamrolling toward the edge of an economic cliff, and most people in our entertainment-addicted society are totally oblivious to what is going on. So they are not doing anything to get ready for the immense economic pain that is coming. The following are 16 signs that most Americans are completely unprepared for the coming economic collapse…
#1 Could you come up with $2000 right now? According to a shocking study that was just released, 40 percent of Americans could not…
Forty percent of individuals in the U.S. said they could not or probably could not come up with $2,000 if an unexpected need arose, according to research by Atif Mian of Princeton University and Amir Sufi of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
#2 In that same study, Americans were asked the following question…
“Do you have 3 months emergency funds to cover expenses in case of sickness, job loss, economic downturn?”
An astounding 60 percent of people that responded said that they do not.
#3 Another study found that less than one out of every four Americans has enough money stored away to cover six months of expenses.
#4 Some people are actually trying really hard to get ahead, but admittedly that is really tough to do when we are all being taxed into oblivion. In fact, it was reported this week that Americans now spend more on taxes than they spend on food, clothing and housing combined.
#5 Right now, more Americans are dependent on the government than ever before. In fact, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, 49 percent of all Americans live in a home that currently gets direct monetary benefits from the federal government.
#6 It is estimated that less than 10 percent of the entire U.S. population owns any gold or silver for investment purposes. That is a stunning number.
#7 It has been estimated that there are approximately 3 million “preppers” in the United States. But that means that almost everyone else is not prepping.
#8-16 The following are nine more statistics that come from a survey conducted by the Adelphi Center for Health Innovation. As you can see, a significant portion of the population is not even prepared for a basic emergency that would last for just a few days…
- 44 percent don’t have first-aid kits
- 48 percent lack emergency supplies
- 53 percent do not have a minimum three-day supply of nonperishable food and water at home
- 55 percent believe local authorities will come to their rescue if disaster strikes
- 52 percent have not designated a family meeting place if they are separated during an emergency
- 42 percent do not know the phone numbers of all of their immediate family members
- 21 percent don’t know if their workplace has an emergency preparedness plan
- 37 percent do not have a list of the drugs they are taking
- 52 percent do not have copies of health insurance documents
What do you think is going to happen to these people once the economy collapses and there is chaos in the streets?
How are they going to survive?
After all of these years of writing about the coming economic collapse, nothing has changed as far as the long-term outlook is concerned.
We are still heading toward a complete and total economic meltdown.
But most Americans continue to have faith in the system, and the mainstream media keeps assuring them that everything is going to be just fine.
And in this “dumbed-down” society of ours, most people are perfectly content to let others do their thinking for them. In America today, only one out of every six Americans can even find Ukraine on a map of the world. That is how far we have fallen.
In this day and age, it is imperative that we all learn how to think for ourselves. The foundations of our society are crumbling, our economic system is failing and the blind are leading the blind. If we do not learn to make our own decisions, we are just going to follow the rest of the herd into oblivion.
In addition, we all need to start taking a long-term view of things. Just because the economic collapse is not going to happen this month does not mean that it is not going to happen. When you step back and take a broader view of what is happening, it becomes exceedingly clear where we are heading.
Sadly, most Americans will never do that.
You will be shocked at what some Americans actually believe. For example, close to 90 percent of us believe that we are eating a healthy diet, and yet more than third of the population is officially obese. 65 percent of all Americans say that they are dissatisfied with the government, and yet nearly a third of us would be willing to submit to a “TSA body cavity search” in order to get on an airplane. As you will see below, Americans are angrier and more frustrated with government and with their lives than ever before, but we also exhibit almost unbelievable levels of sloth and apathy. Some of the numbers below are quite funny, and others are absolutely stunning. But they all say something about who we have become as a nation. The following are 30 survey results that sound false but that are actually true…
#1 According to a recent Rasmussen Reports survey, 52 percent of Americans “do not think the economy is fair to those willing to work hard”.
#2 70 percent of all Americans do not “feel engaged or inspired at their jobs”.
#3 According to another recent Rasmussen Reports survey, 59 percent of Americans believe that “less government involvement in the economy” would help reduce the size of the income gap in this country. (And those 59 percent are actually correct.)
#4 20 percent of all government workers and 26 percent of all Obama supporters consider the Tea Party to be “the biggest terror threat” that America is facing.
#5 Approximately 30 percent of all American workers have $1,000 or less saved up for retirement.
#6 A worldwide survey conducted by the Worldwide Independent Network and Gallup found that 24 percent of people around the world consider the United States to be the biggest threat to peace. Pakistan was in second place with just 8 percent.
#7 60 percent of Americans report feeling “angry or irritable”. Two years ago that number was at 50 percent.
#8 36 percent of Americans admit that they have yelled at a customer service agent during the past year.
#9 29 percent of Americans believe that “cloud computing” involves an actual cloud.
#10 A survey of employers that currently pay minimum wage to at least some of their employees found that 38 percent of them would start laying off employees if the minimum wage was raised.
#11 One survey found that 56 percent of Americans believe that it is okay for the government to track “the telephone records of millions of Americans” in order to keep us safe.
#12 When George W. Bush was president, 61 percent of Democrats considered NSA surveillance to be “unacceptable”, but now that Obama is in the White House, only 34 percent of them consider it to be “unacceptable”.
#13 67 percent of Americans support the use of unmanned drones in “homeland security missions” inside the United States.
#14 One survey found that 51 percent of all Americans agree with this statement: “it is necessary to give up some civil liberties in order to make the country safe from terrorism.”
#15 Close to one-third of all Americans would be willing to submit to a “TSA body cavity search” in order to fly.
#16 65 percent of Americans are dissatisfied “with the U.S. system of government and its effectiveness”. That is the highest level of dissatisfaction that Gallup has ever recorded.
#17 Only 8 percent of Americans believe that Congress is doing a “good” or “excellent” job.
#18 70 percent of Americans do not have confidence that the federal government will “make progress on the important problems and issues facing the country in 2014″.
#19 According to a survey conducted by the National Geographic Society, only 37 percent of all Americans in the 18 to 24-year-old age range can find the nation of Iraq on a map.
#20 Close to 25 percent of all Americans do not know that the United States declared independence from Great Britain.
#21 Right now, 29 percent of all Americans under the age of 35 are living with their parents.
#22 According to one survey, 24 percent of all U.S. teens that have a sexually-transmitted disease say that they still have unprotected sex.
#23 Approximately one out of every five teenage girls in the United States actually wants to be a teenage mother.
#24 The percentage of Americans that “believe there are signs that aliens have visited Earth” is actually higher than the percentage of Americans that believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
#25 According to one recent survey, only 35 percent of all Americans say that they are better off financially than they were a year ago.
#26 It is hard to believe, but 56 percent of all Americans are considered to have “subprime credit” at this point.
#27 89.7 percent of all Americans believe that they are eating a healthy diet. Meanwhile, approximately 36 percent of all Americans are obese.
#28 44 percent of all Americans do not have a first-aid kit in their homes.
#29 48 percent of all Americans do not have any emergency supplies stored up at all.
#30 53 percent of all Americans do not even have a 3 day supply of nonperishable food and water in their homes. What will they do when a major crisis or emergency strikes? Do they actually believe that the government will swoop in to save them if something happens?
So what do you think about these survey results? Is there anything that you would add to the list? Please feel free to share what you think by posting a comment below…
If the economy is really “getting better”, then why have millions upon millions of formerly middle class Americans been pushed to the point of utter despair? The stories that you are about to read are absolutely heartbreaking. I don’t know how anyone can read them without getting chills. In America today, if you lose a good job, there is a good chance that you will get back on your feet before too long. But there is also a good chance that you won’t be able to find a decent job and will plunge into the abyss of depression and desperation that so many millions of other Americans have fallen into. As I wrote about earlier this month, the U.S. economy is definitely not getting any better. For example, if you assume that the percentage of Americans that want to work is about at the long term average, then the official unemployment rate in the United States would be above 11 percent. And compared to six years ago, 1,154,000 fewer Americans are working today even though our population has gotten significantly larger since then. Behind all of these numbers are real flesh and blood people, and you are about to hear from some of them. The following are 10 stories from the cold, hard streets of America that will break your heart…
#1 A 34-year-old man named Rocco…
“While my wife goes to work, I’ve been staying at home to conserve fuel. I’ve been losing weight from eating less, so my family has more on their plates. It feels like the government and big business expect more and more while trying to give back as little as possible. Soon my internet connection will be shut off and since most companies don’t offer paper applications, how will I find work then? Walking around for miles a day, asking for an application that may or may not be available?”
#2 Homeless people wasting away in “Obamavilles” on the outskirts of Baltimore, Maryland…
A sheet of plastic laid over a clothesline. A mini-fortress of milk crates stacked under a tree. A thin mattress on a flimsy crate lying in a dark tunnel.
On the edge of Baltimore’s woodlands, dozens of the city’s transients live in makeshift homes which they consider safer than homeless shelters.
You can see some incredible photos of how these homeless people are living right here.
#3 A 50-year-old woman in Pennsylvania named Karen…
“My husband only makes 10 dollars an hour and drives 30 miles round trip, so it’s taking all we have just to keep the Jeep filled with gas. We stopped going to church and all to save gas. We are homebodies now, afraid to use what gas we have. We save two kids from getting put in foster care just to be hit like this. It’s just a constant trap they try to keep you from receiving any help! I’m so disgusted when my 12-year-old asks me why we don’t have snacks anymore, or why are we eating so much rice, etc.”
#4 The following is an excerpt from a comment that was recently left by one of my readers…
“I live right at ground zero. South West Virginia and let me tell you things are bad and getting worse by the day. We don’t do drugs but have family members hooked on meth and or pills or both. Many of these pills are prescribed by local doctors either Suboxone to get you off the opiates, a total joke by the way and tons of Xanax why would anyone need 120 Xanax a month how can you even be expected to function. These pills get traded for cash sex and other items, same goes for the SNAP cards. We have family members going to jail repeatedly for the same crimes making meth, selling pills and stealing anything that’s not nailed down. People who are 30 years old look like they are 55 years old. The jobs here are awful walmat, gas stations, fast food etc. Most of our whole county is on the government dole.”
#5 A 55-year-old man from California named Randy Carpadus…
“I was working as a firefighter for the state of California and was laid off in April 2012, right at the beginning of fire season. At my age, I’m not going to be picked up by another fire department. They want younger guys.
I’ve applied for everything from truck driver, to sales, to nonprofit work. I’ve sent out almost 400 resumes, and I’ve gotten nothing. I’ve done whatever I could to make ends meet.
Through some connections, I got a temp job as a truck driver in Napa Valley — a 3-hour commute from where I live. I lived in my car and worked during grape harvest.”
#6 In this tough economic environment, debt collectors are becoming even more aggressive. Just check out the kind of harassment that one woman named Jennifer Posey has been put through…
“This is Jimmy Lee calling from CheckCare. Just letting you know we’re in full force,” he said. The man had a thick Southern accent that stretched the word “you” into a two-syllable accusation. “We’re going to have warrants out for your arrest in Columbus, Ga.,” the man threatened. “We know you have an apartment on the canal in Clearwater.”
It was when he mentioned her home in Florida that Posey began to feel anxious. “We’re hurting you,” he continued. “We’re hurting your family, your son’s family, your cousin’s family. Whatever we can do to get you to pay.”
Forty minutes later, her phone rang again. “What about that 12-, 13-year-old child you’re trying to raise?” the voice sneered.
#7 A 50-year-old woman from New York named Sharon Ritchie…
“I am constantly told I am ‘overqualified.’ I’ve also been told to dumb down my resume, but I can’t just erase 30 years of experience.
You can only stand the word ‘no’ so many times. There are times that I cry at night wondering what happened, and at times I have thought about suicide.
But, I keep on going, hoping the cycle will break.”
#8 In response to my recent article about Appalachia, a reader named Rob shared the following…
“I am from rural south central KY (Brodhead, Rockcastle County) and I can tell you that most of the things described above are exactly how it is here. There are so many people on drugs it’s crazy. First it was the meth, which was more of a problem back in 2002-2007, then the pain pills really started becoming a huge problem, OxyContin and perc 30’s (roxicet) obtained from Florida and Georgia doctors. The pain pills are something that you can’t just walk away from after doing them for a while; they cause people to steal from family, sell everything they own, and/or prostitute themselves in order to avoid opiate withdrawal.”
#9 A 30-year-old man from California named Alejandro…
“I need to provide for my son who is diagnosed with autism and my baby girl. I’ve sold a bunch of my belongings to try and put food on the table, to buy clothes for my kids, to pay rent and utilities and to put gas in my vehicle to go job hunting. Not having money for necessities takes a toll on my mind. Depression has kicked in. It really takes a toll on one’s self-esteem and confidence to move forward.I’ve applied to countless amounts of jobs, only to not even get a call back. I’ve gone from construction site to construction site, only to be told they are not hiring. Finally, I got at least a positive call back from a company telling me they will call me to work in a couple of weeks. I am crossing my fingers and praying. There are millions of people in my situation or even worse.”
#10 An excerpt from a heartbreaking letter that an unemployed woman named Paula Bray sent to Barack Obama…
Dear Mr. President,
I write to you today because I have nowhere else to turn. I lost my full time job in September 2012. I have only been able to find part-time employment — 16 hours each week at $12 per hour — but I don’t work that every week. For the month of December, my net pay was $365. My husband and I now live in an RV at a campground because of my job loss. Our monthly rent is $455 and that doesn’t include utilities. We were given this 27-ft. 1983 RV when I lost my job.
This is America today. We have no running water; we use a hose to fill jugs. We have no shower but the campground does. We have a toilet but it only works when the sewer line doesn’t freeze — if it freezes, we use the campground’s restrooms. At night, in my bed, when it’s cold out, my blanket can freeze to the wall of the RV. We don’t have a stove or an oven, just a microwave, so regular-food cooking is out. Recently we found a small toaster oven on sale so we can bake a little now because eating only microwaved food just wasn’t working for us. We don’t have a refrigerator, just an icebox (a block of ice cost about $1.89). It keeps things relatively cold. If it’s freezing outside, we just put things on the picnic table.
Sadly, this is just the beginning.
The economic despair that we are witnessing right now is just a taste of the horrible economic nightmare that is going to unfold in the United States during the coming years.
And already there are signs that things are starting to take another turn for the worse. In recent months, we have seen a whole host of retail chains announce store closings. In fact, one of my readers wrote to me the other day and told me about a home appliance chain known as “American TV” that is going out of business in the Midwest. When these stores shut down, close to another 1000 Americans will soon be out of work…
“While this is a sad moment it is also a proud moment. It’s a moment to be proud of our efforts and to be proud of what we have delivered to the community”, said Doug Reuhl, President and CEO of American since 1988. “Words cannot adequately express how grateful we are to our millions of loyal customers, and to the incredible, dedicated family of employees that we have been blessed with over our 60 years of business”. Advanced notice of the business closing has been given to the 989 employees affected in eleven locations. Employees will be compensated, with benefits, through the notification period, and the majority will continue employment through the closing process.
But if you listen to the mainstream media, you would think that happy days are here again for America. Just check out some of the bizarre headlines that I have collected in recent weeks…
CNBC: “Stop whining! The US economy is in good shape”
USA Today: “Economists: U.S. will see better growth in ’14”
Newsday: “Why the economy isn’t doomed”
Most Americans will buy into this propaganda and will never see the next major economic crisis coming until it is too late to do anything about it.
So what do you think about all of this?
Do you have a personal story to share?
Please feel free to add to the discussion by leaving a comment below…