The Beginning Of The End
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12 Numbers Which Prove That Americans Are Sick And Tired Of Politics As Usual

Barack_Obama_and_John_Boehner_enjoying_Saint_Patrick's_Day_2014The 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…

The Middle Class In Canada Is Now Doing Better Than The Middle Class In America

Canada - Photo by SsolbergjFor 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.

16 Signs That Most Americans Are NOT PREPARED For The Coming Economic Collapse

Disaster Is ComingSometimes 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.

30 Survey Results That Sound False But That Are Actually True

Sheeple - Photo by Andrew R TesterYou 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…

10 Stories From The Cold, Hard Streets Of America That Will Break Your Heart

Depressed - Photo by Sander van der WelIf 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…

Depression

20 Signs That The Global Economic Crisis Is Starting To Catch Fire

Lighting A Match - Photo by Sebastian RitterIf you have been waiting for the “global economic crisis” to begin, just open up your eyes and look around.  I know that most Americans tend to ignore what happens in the rest of the world because they consider it to be “irrelevant” to their daily lives, but the truth is that the massive economic problems that are currently sweeping across Europe, Asia and South America are going to be affecting all of us here in the U.S. very soon.  Sadly, most of the big news organizations in this country seem to be more concerned about the fate of Justin Bieber’s wax statue in Times Square than about the horrible financial nightmare that is gripping emerging markets all over the planet.  After a brief period of relative calm, we are beginning to see signs of global financial instability that are unlike anything that we have witnessed since the financial crisis of 2008.  As you will see below, the problems are not just isolated to a few countries.  This is truly a global phenomenon.

Over the past few years, the Federal Reserve and other global central banks have inflated an unprecedented financial bubble with their reckless money printing.  Much of this “hot money” poured into emerging markets all over the world.  But now that the Federal Reserve has begun “tapering” quantitative easing, investors are taking this as a sign that the party is ending.  Money is being pulled out of emerging markets all over the globe at a staggering pace and this is creating a tremendous amount of financial instability.  In addition, the economic problems that have been steadily growing over the past few years in established economies throughout Europe and Asia just continue to escalate.  The following are 20 signs that the global economic crisis is starting to catch fire…

#1 The unemployment rate in Greece has hit a brand new record high of 28 percent.

#2 The youth unemployment rate in Greece has hit a brand new record high of 64.1 percent.

#3 The percentage of bad loans in Italy is at an all-time record high.

#4 Italian industrial output declined again in December, and the Italian government is on the verge of collapse.

#5 The number of jobseekers in France has risen for 30 of the last 32 months, and at this point it has climbed to a new all-time record high.

#6 The total number of business failures in France in 2013 was even higher than in any year during the last financial crisis.

#7 It is being projected that housing prices in Spain will fall another 10 to 15 percent as their economic depression deepens.

#8 The economic and political turmoil in Turkey is spinning out of control.  The government has resorted to blasting protesters with pepper spray and water cannons in a desperate attempt to restore order.

#9 It is being estimated that the inflation rate in Argentina is now over 40 percent, and the peso is absolutely collapsing.

#10 Gangs of armed bandits are roaming the streets in Venezuela as the economic chaos in that troubled nation continues to escalate.

#11 China appears to be very serious about deleveraging.  The deflationary effects of this are going to be felt all over the planet. The following is an excerpt from Ambrose Evans-Pritchard’s recent article entitled “World asleep as China tightens deflationary vice“…

China’s Xi Jinping has cast the die. After weighing up the unappetising choice before him for a year, he has picked the lesser of two poisons.

The balance of evidence is that most powerful Chinese leader since Mao Zedong aims to prick China’s $24 trillion credit bubble early in his 10-year term, rather than putting off the day of reckoning for yet another cycle.

This may be well-advised for China, but the rest of the world seems remarkably nonchalant over the implications.

#12 There was a significant debt default by a coal company in China last Friday

A high-yield investment product backed by a loan to a debt-ridden coal company failed to repay investors when it matured last Friday, state media reported on Wednesday, in the latest sign of financial stress in China’s shadow bank sector.

#13 Japan’s Nikkei stock index has already fallen by 14 percent so far in 2014.  That is a massive decline in just a month and a half.

#14 Ukraine continues to fall apart financially

The worsening political and economic circumstances in Ukraine has prompted the Fitch Ratings agency to downgrade Ukrainian debt from B to a pre–default level CCC. This is lower than Greece, and Fitch warns of future financial instability.

#15 The unemployment rate in Australia has risen to the highest level in more than 10 years.

#16 The central bank of India is in a panic over the way that Federal Reserve tapering is effecting their financial system.

#17 The effects of Federal Reserve tapering are also being felt in Thailand

In the wake of the US Federal Reserve tapering, emerging economies with deteriorating macroeconomic figures or visible political instability are being punished by skittish markets. Thailand is drifting towards both these tendencies.

#18 One of Ghana’s most prominent economists says that the economy of Ghana will crash by June if something dramatic is not done.

#19 Yet another banker has mysteriously died during the prime years of his life.  That makes five “suspicious banker deaths” in just the past two weeks alone.

#20 The behavior of the U.S. stock market continues to parallel the behavior of the U.S. stock market in 1929.

Yes, things don’t look good right now, but it is important to keep in mind that this is just the beginning.

This is just the leading edge of the next great financial storm.

The next two years (2014 and 2015) are going to represent a major “turning point” for the global economy.  By the end of 2015, things are going to look far different than they do today.

None of the problems that caused the last financial crisis have been fixed.  Global debt levels have grown by 30 percent since the last financial crisis, and the too big to fail banks in the United States are 37 percent larger than they were back then and their behavior has become even more reckless than before.

As a result, we are going to get to go through another “2008-style crisis”, but I believe that this next wave is going to be even worse than the previous one.

So hold on tight and get ready.  We are going to be in for quite a bumpy ride.

Lighting A Match - Photo by Sebastian Ritter

221 Percent Increase In One Year? Why Are So Many People Renouncing American Citizenship?

American FlagThe number of Americans that renounced their citizenship was 221 percent higher in 2013 than it was in 2012.  That is a staggering figure, and it is symptomatic of a larger trend.  In recent years, a lot of really good people with very deep roots in this country have made the difficult decision to say goodbye to the United States permanently.  A few actually go to the trouble to renounce their citizenship, and that is mostly done for tax purposes.  But most willingly choose to leave America for other reasons.  Some were very serious when they said they would leave the U.S. if Barack Obama got a second term, some (such as Jesse Ventura) are dismayed at how our freedoms and liberties are eroding and are alarmed at the rise of the Big Brother police state, some are absolutely disgusted by the social and moral decay that is eating away at the foundations of our society, and there are yet others that consider “the grass to be greener” on the other side of the planet.  Personally, I have a number of friends that have made the very hard decision to relocate their families thousands of miles away because they see what is coming to America and they believe that there isn’t any hope of turning things around at this point.  I also have a lot of friends that are determined to stay in the United States no matter what.  When it comes to the future of America, almost everyone has a very strong opinion, and these are discussions that we need to start having.

Once upon a time, the United States was seen as “the land of opportunity” all over the globe and it seemed like everyone wanted to come here.

But now that is all changing.  As we have abandoned the principles that this country was founded upon, our economy has gone steadily downhill.

As I wrote about the other day, the middle class in America is slowly dying.  As millions of good paying jobs have been shipped out of the country, the competition for the remaining jobs has become quite intense.  At this point, there is even tremendous competition for minimum wage jobs.

Compared to exactly six years ago, 1,154,000 fewer Americans have jobs.  Meanwhile, our population has gotten significantly larger since then.  There simply are not enough jobs for everyone, and we continue to fall even farther behind.  In January, the economy only added 113,000 jobs and in December the economy only added 75,000 jobs.  Both of those figures are well below what we need just to keep up with population growth.

Looking ahead, things look even more troubling.

The number of “planned job cuts” in January was 12 percent higher than 12 months earlier, and it was actually 47 percent higher than in December.

The competition for jobs has also resulted in an extended period of declining incomes in the United States.

As I mention frequently, median household income in the United States has fallen for five years in a row, and the rate of homeownership in the United States has fallen for eight years in a row.

Those that read my articles regularly probably have those facts memorized by now.

In addition, a study that just came out has shown that the number of “low-wage breadwinners” in the United States is at an all-time high

A staggering number of American households are relying on low-wage jobs as their leading or sole source of income.

Meet the low-wage breadwinner. There were about 21 million of them in the United States in 2011, according to a forthcoming study by University of Massachusetts Boston economists Randy Albelda and Michael Carr.

Unlike other studies which often focus just on low-wage workers, the researchers looked at those who also live in low-income households. This way, they were able to strip out the teenager making $8 an hour flipping burgers but still living comfortably with his parents. Or the mom who works a part-time job in retail to supplement her husband’s otherwise ample salary.

For tens of millions of average American families, there simply is not enough money left at the end of each month.

That is why many of them turn to debt to try to make up the difference.  Consumer credit is increasing at an alarming pace once again, and when the next great economic shock arrives many of those families are going to be in for a tremendous amount of financial pain.

In this type of economic environment, it should not be a surprise that anger, frustration and desperation are rising to very dangerous levels.

It was desperation and a fear of losing everything that he had ever worked for that drove one 80-year-old man to become a methamphetamine courier.

It was intense anger and frustration that drove a 58-year-old military veteran to package up cat feces and send it to employers that had turned him down

Rather than simply grumble to himself or complain to others, a St. Louis man aggrieved by a company’s failure to hire him took another approach.

Jevons Brown packaged up cat feces and sent it through the mail.

Brown, 58, was sentenced Friday to two years of probation after pleading guilty in August to a misdemeanor charge of mailing injurious articles.

The plea says Brown, a veteran, became frustrated with his lack of employment opportunities and lashed out at employees of companies that failed to hire him.

This is just the tip of the iceberg.

In the years ahead, we are going to see much, much worse.

And if you do lose everything, don’t expect anyone to care very much.  There is already a frightening lack of compassion for those that are down on their luck in the United States today.  For example, in Pensacola, Florida it is actually illegal for homeless people to use blankets or cardboard boxes to shield themselves from the cold…

So there I was with my wife and three kids, all of us huddled under blankets with the fireplace roaring, watching the temperature continue to drop from a comfortable 65 degrees down to 45. But outside it was 17 degrees and raining and sleeting, and if you were homeless, you had to consider that if you used a blanket to shield yourself from the elements, that you might be hauled off to jail for a violation of a local ordinance prohibiting using blankets, cardboard, or newspaper to cover yourself.

Once you lose everything, society just wants you to go away.

And this lack of compassion is going to get a whole lot worse during the very hard times that are coming.

So it is easy to understand why many Americans would want to get out of this country while they still can.

However, the truth is that the grass is not necessarily greener on the other side.

For instance, you may be dreaming of moving to a tropical paradise where you can enjoy the sand and the sun every single day.

In the past, many Americans considered Puerto Rico a good place to relocate to.  After all, it is a United States territory and if you only speak English you can still get around pretty well.

But you wouldn’t want to move down to Puerto Rico these days.  Right now it is in the middle of a full-blown economic collapse

Puerto Rico’s slow-motion economic crisis skidded to a new low last week when both Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s downgraded its debt to junk status, brushing aside a series of austerity measures taken by the new governor, including increasing taxes and rebalancing pensions. But that is only the latest in a sharp decline leading to widespread fears about Puerto Rico’s future. In the past eight years, Puerto Rico’s ticker tape of woes has stretched unabated: $70 billion in debt, a 15.4 percent unemployment rate, a soaring cost of living, pervasive crime, crumbling schools and a worrisome exodus of professionals and middle-class Puerto Ricans who have moved to places like Florida and Texas.

In fact, Puerto Rico is a preview of the kind of societal chaos that we could be seeing inside the United States in just a few years

Schools sit shuttered either because of disrepair or because of a dwindling number of students. In this typically convivial capital, communities have erected gates and bars to help thwart carjackers and home invaders. Illegal drugs, including high-level narcotrafficking, are one of the few growth industries.

Well, what about South America?

In recent years, South America has been an extremely popular destination for those wishing to leave the United States.

Unfortunately, many areas of South America are experiencing full-blown economic collapse right now as well.  As I wrote about recently, deteriorating economic conditions have resulted in widespread crime, looting, violence, blackouts, shortages of basic supplies, and runs on the banks in Argentina and Venezuela.  The following is an excerpt from a recent interview with Fernando Aguirre who actually lives down in Argentina

Chris Martenson:  Okay. Bring us up to date. What is happening in Argentina right now with respect to its currency, the peso?

Fernando Aguirre:  Well, actually pretty recently, January 22, the peso lost 15% of its value. It has devalued quite a bit. It ended up losing 20% of its value that week, and it has been pretty crazy since then. Inflation has been rampant in some sectors, going up to 100% in food, grocery stores 20%, 30% in some cases. So it has been pretty complicated. Lots of stores don’t want to be selling stuff until they get updated prices. Suppliers holding on, waiting to see how things go, which is something that we are familiar with because that happened back in 2001 when everything went down as we know it did.

Chris Martenson:  So 100%, 20% inflation; are those yearly numbers?

Fernando Aguirre:  Those are our numbers in a matter of days. In just one day, for example, cement in Balcarce, one of the towns in Southern Argentina, went up 100% overnight, doubling in price. Grocery stores in Córdoba, even in Buenos Aires, people are talking about increase of prices of 20, 30% just these days. I actually have family in Argentina that are telling me that they go to a hardware store and they aren’t even able to buy stuff from there because stores want to hold on and see how prices unfold in the following days.

Well, what about Europe?

Isn’t Europe a lot more stable?

Unfortunately, that is not necessarily true.  In recent years we have seen rioting, civil unrest and Depression-like conditions in Ukraine, Greece, Spain, Italy and Portugal.

And now you can add Bosnia to that list…

More than 150 people were wounded in Bosnia on Friday in the worst civil unrest in the country since the 1992-95 war as anger over the dire state of the economy and political inertia boiled over.

Angry protesters set fire to part of the presidential palace in Sarajevo in protests over unemployment and corruption, as well as government buildings in the capital Sarajevo, Tuzla and Zenica.

Just because you move out of the United States does not necessarily mean that you will avoid what is coming.

We are heading for a global economic collapse, and the pain is going to be felt to the farthest corners of the planet.

But of course there are many that will end up leaving the United States and will ultimately thrive.

So what do you think?

Is now a time for people to consider leaving the United States permanently?

Please feel free to share what you think by posting a comment below…

American Flag

32 Statistics That Obama Neglected To Mention During The State Of The Union Address

Barack Obama State Of The UnionShow this article to anyone that believes that the economy has actually improved under Barack Obama.  On Tuesday evening, Barack Obama once again attempted to convince all of us that things have gotten better while he has been in the White House.  He quoted a few figures, used some flowery language and made a whole bunch of new promises.  And even though he has failed to follow through on his promises time after time, millions upon millions of Americans continue to believe him.  In fact, you can find a list of 82 unfulfilled promises from his previous State of the Union addresses right here.  Soon we will have even more to add to that collection.  At this point, you have to wonder if Obama even believes half the stuff that he is saying.  Of course it is extremely unlikely that he is going to come out and admit that he has failed and that he has been lying to us this whole time, but without a doubt the gap between reality and what he is saying to the public is becoming ridiculously huge.  To say that his credibility is “strained” would be a massive understatement.  No, things have not been getting better in America.  In fact, they continue to get even worse.  The following are 32 statistics that Obama neglected to mention during the State of the Union address…

#1 According to a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, only 28 percent of all Americans believe that the country is moving in the right direction.

#2 In 2008, 53 percent of all Americans considered themselves to be “middle class”.  In 2014, only 44 percent of all Americans consider themselves to be “middle class”.

#3 In 2008, 25 percent of all Americans in the 18 to 29-year-old age bracket considered themselves to be “lower class”.  In 2014, an astounding 49 percent of them do.

#4 Right now there is approximately a billion square feet of vacant retail space in the United States.

#5 There are 46.5 million Americans that are living in poverty, and the poverty rate in America has been at 15 percent or above for 3 consecutive years.  That is the first time that has happened since 1965.

#6 Barack Obama says that the unemployment rate has declined to 6.7 percent, but if the labor force participation rate was at the long-term average it would actually be approximately 11.5 percent, and it has stayed at about that level since the end of the last recession.

#7 While Barack Obama has been in the White House, the number of Americans on food stamps has gone from 32 million to 47 million.

#8 While Barack Obama has been in the White House, the percentage of working age Americans that are actually working has declined from 60.6 percent to 58.6 percent.

#9 While Barack Obama has been in the White House, the average duration of unemployment in the United States has risen from 19.8 weeks to 37.1 weeks.

#10 While Barack Obama has been in the White House, social benefits as a percentage of real disposable income has risen from about 17 percent to nearly 21 percent.

#11 While Barack Obama has been in the White House, the rate of homeownership in the United States has fallen to levels that we have not seen in nearly two decades.

#12 While Barack Obama has been in the White House, median household income in the United States has fallen for five years in a row.

#13 While Barack Obama has been in the White House, the average cost of a gallon of gasoline has gone from $1.85 to $3.27.

#14 At the end of Barack Obama’s first year in office, our yearly trade deficit with China was 226 billion dollars.  Now it is over 300 billion dollars.

#15 Workers are taking home the smallest share of the income pie that has ever been recorded.

#16 Sadly, 1,687,000 fewer Americans have jobs today compared to exactly six years ago even though the population has grown significantly since then.

#17 One recent study found that about 60 percent of the jobs that have been “created” since the end of the last recession pay $13.83 or less an hour.

#18 Only 47 percent of all adults in America have a full-time job at this point.

#19 It is hard to believe, but an astounding 53 percent of all American workers make less than $30,000 a year.

#20 The Obama years have been absolutely brutal for small businesses.  According to economist Tim Kane, the following is how the number of startup jobs per 1000 Americans breaks down by presidential administration

Bush Sr.: 11.3

Clinton: 11.2

Bush Jr.: 10.8

Obama: 7.8

#21 You can still buy a house in the city of Detroit for just one dollar.

#22 The U.S. cattle herd is at a 61 year low.

#23 It is being projected that health insurance premiums for healthy 30-year-old men will rise by an average of 260 percent under Obamacare.

#24 According to the most recent numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau, an all-time record 49.2 percent of all Americans are receiving benefits from at least one government program each month.

#25 When Barack Obama was first elected, the U.S. debt to GDP ratio was under 70 percent.  Today, it is up to 101 percent.

#26 The U.S. national debt is on pace to more than double during the eight years of the Obama administration.  In other words, under Barack Obama the U.S. government will accumulate more debt than it did under all of the other presidents in U.S. history combined.

#27 Right now, there are 1.2 million students that attend public schools in the United States that are homeless.  That number has risen by 72 percent since the start of the last recession.

#28 Only 35 percent of all Americans say that they are better off financially than they were a year ago.

#29 Only 19 percent of all Americans believe that the job market is better than it was a year ago.

#30 According to a recent CNN poll, 70 percent of all Americans believe that “the economy is generally in poor shape”.

#31 According to a recent Pew Research survey, only 19 percent of all Americans trust the government.   Back in 1958, 73 percent of all Americans trusted the government.

#32 According to another poll that was recently released, 70 percent of all Americans do not have confidence that the government will “make progress on the important problems and issues facing the country in 2014.”

Barack Obama State Of The Union

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