The Beginning Of The End
The Beginning Of The End By Michael T. Snyder - Kindle Version

The Prepper's Blueprint

The Mystery Of The Shemitah
Don't Buy Survival Food Until You Read This - If you stockpile the wrong foods, you could be setting your family up to starve. It sounds harsh, but the truth is too many people with good intentions are making critical mistakes with their food stockpiles. Watch this video now >>
Gold Buying Guide: Golden Eagle Coins

Recent Posts

Archives

Is America About To Reach A Breaking Point? Anger Grows As Unemployment Benefits Get Cut

Breaking PointIn America today, there are close to 50 million people living in poverty and there are more than 100 million people that get money from the federal government every month.  As the middle class disintegrates, poverty is climbing to unprecedented levels.  Even though the stock market has been setting record high after record high, the amount of anger and frustration boiling just under the surface in our nation grows with each passing day.  And now extended unemployment benefits have been cut off for 1.3 million unemployed Americans, and it is being projected that a total of 5 million unemployed Americans will lose their benefits by the end of 2014.  In addition, as I have written about previously, 47 million Americans recently had their food stamp benefits reduced.  The conditions for a “perfect storm” are certainly being created.  So how much longer will it be until we see all of this anger and frustration boil over in the streets of our major cities?  Is America about to reach a breaking point?

If you think that the title of this article is “alarmist”, you probably have not been paying attention to what has been happening over the past few weeks.  For example, a 600 person brawl broke out at at movie theater in Jacksonville, Florida just the other day…

Five teenagers were arrested when a 600-person brawl broke out in a Florida movie theater’s parking lot on Christmas night.

Described by police as a “melee,” the fight occurred around 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday outside the Hollywood River City 14 movie theater in Jacksonville when a group tried to storm the theater’s doors without purchasing tickets, police said. Several had rushed an off-duty police officer working as a security guard.

The officer “administered pepper spray to disperse the group, locked the doors and called for backup, following protocol,” said Lauri-Ellen Smith, a spokeswoman for the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.

Soon after the pepper spray was used, “upward of 600 people moving throughout a parking lot about the size of a football field began fighting, disrupting and jumping on cars,” she said.

And a “flash mob” of “400 crazed teens” was so violent that it forced a mall in Brooklyn to shut down just a few days ago

A wild flash mob stormed and trashed a Brooklyn mall, causing so much chaos that the shopping center was forced to close during post-Christmas sales, sources said Friday.

More than 400 crazed teens — who mistakenly thought the rapper Fabolous would perform — erupted into brawls all over Kings Plaza Shopping Center in Mill Basin on Thursday at 5 p.m., sources said.

The troublemakers looted and ransacked several stores as panicked shoppers ran for the exits and clerks scrambled to pull down metal gates.

In addition, the release of new Air Jordan sneakers caused mini-riots and brawls to break out all over the country just before Christmas.

So why is all of this happening?

Of course people will come up with all sorts of theories to explain these outbreaks of violence, but what pretty much everyone should be able to agree on is that we are seeing levels of anger and frustration rise to very dangerous levels in this country.

Right now, there are approximately 6 million Americans in the 16 to 24-year-old age group that are not in school and that are not working either.  What that means is that we have an alarmingly high number of very frustrated young people that do not have anything better to do than to cause trouble.

In some of our largest cities this has become a massive problem.  In fact, quite a few major U.S. cities actually have more than 100,000 “idle youth” living in them…

Just look at some of the nation’s largest cities. Chicago, Houston, Dallas, Miami, Philadelphia, New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Riverside, Calif., all have more than 100,000 idle youth, the Opportunity Nation report found.

But the Obama administration says that this should not be a problem.  In fact, the Obama administration tells us that the unemployment rate has been steadily “declining” and that there are plenty of opportunities for everyone.

Of course that is a giant lie.  Just before the last recession, about 63 percent of all working age Americans had a job.  During the recession that number fell below 59 percent and it has stayed there ever since

Employment-Population Ratio 2013

So the notion that we are experiencing an “employment recovery” is absolutely laughable.

But most of our politicians appear to believe this lie, and it is being used as justification to cut off extended unemployment benefits.

And the funny thing is that by cutting off these benefits, it is going to make it appear as though unemployment has gone down even more.  Millions of unemployed workers that are being forced into the streets will now be counted as having “left the labor force”, and it is being projected that the unemployment rate could decline by as much as half a percentage point as a result.

What a joke.

A lot of the people that are having their benefits cut off are really hurting.  For instance, consider the case of 63-year-old paralegal Laura Walker

“Not all of us have savings and a lot of us have to take care of family because of what happened in the economy,” said Walker, of Santa Clarita, who said she has applied for at least three jobs a week and shares an apartment with her unemployed son, his wife and two children. “It’s going to put my family and me out on the streets.”

So what is she going to do?

Well, at this point she appears to be down to just one option…

“I just don’t know what to do, except pray.”

And of course the unemployed are not the only ones that have had their benefits cut.  As I mentioned above, all 47 million Americans that are currently on food stamps recently had their benefits reduced.  The following is an excerpt from a recent article by Mac Slavo

Earlier this year government benefits for nutritional assistance were reduced after the expiration of emergency legislation that was enacted following the 2008 financial collapse. Nearly all of the 48 million people receiving food stamp distributions were affected. The move led to warnings from food pantries and recipients around the country who said that the $40 billion in cuts would leave many American families without the ability to put food on dinner tables across America. According to Feed America, the roughly $29 per family that would no longer appear on their EBT cards will amount to about 1.5 billion meals in 2014.

The fact that government dependence has soared to all-time highs even in the midst of this so-called “economic recovery” is just another sign that the middle class is dying.  For years, middle class families have tried strategy after strategy in an attempt to survive, but now it has become apparent that the middle class is rapidly approaching a breaking point

Rising income inequality is starting to hit home for many American households as they run short of places to reach for a few extra bucks.

As the gap between the rich and poor widened over the last three decades, families at the bottom found ways to deal with the squeeze on earnings. Housewives joined the workforce. Husbands took second jobs and labored longer hours. Homeowners tapped into the rising value of their properties to borrow money to spend.

Those strategies finally may have run their course as women’s participation in the labor force has peaked and the bursting of the house-price bubble has left many Americans underwater on their mortgages.

And even though the Obama administration and the mainstream media have tried to convince us over and over that the economy is “getting better”, most Americans are not buying it.  In fact, according to a new CNN poll, 70 percent of all Americans believe that “the economy is generally in poor shape”.

As the economy continues to decline, not all Americans will respond to their desperate situations by getting violent.  Many suffer quietly, hoping that things will eventually turn around for them.  Unfortunately, the ranks of the suffering grow with each passing year.  For example, a recent CNN article discussed the continued growth of “tent cities” all over America…

The total number of homeless people residing in tents and makeshift homes is unknown. Many of these communities are small and hidden from public view, while others claim hundreds of residents and are sprinkled through major urban areas.

Some, like those tucked under roadways, are temporary and relocate frequently. Their conditions are vile, unsanitary and fail to provide refuge from storms and winds. Then there are communities, such as Dignity Village in Portland, Oregon, that have a more sustained presence. The 13-year-old “ecovillage” set up by homeless people is hygienic and self-sufficient.

Preliminary findings by The National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty show that tent cities have been documented in almost every state, and they’re growing.

So how do we solve these problems?

Are there any solutions that could get us out of this mess?

Of course there are.  But don’t hold your breath waiting for any of them to be adopted.  In fact, the American people continue to express great support for the very people that got us into this mess in the first place.  For example, according to a Gallup survey that was just released, Barack Obama is the most admired man in America by a very wide margin and Hillary Clinton is the most admired woman in America by a very wide margin.

And the mainstream media will continue to tell all of us that “leaders” like Obama, Clinton, Reid, Boehner, McConnell and Pelosi can be trusted to get us out of this mess.

If you believe that, there is a bridge that I would like to sell you.

The American people need to stop having blind faith in the relentless propaganda that is being spewed at them through their televisions screens.  The pretty faces that you see “reporting the news” do not care about you and they are not watching out for your best interests.  The corporate-controlled news is highly scripted and it is pretty much the same whatever channel you turn to.  If you have any doubt that “the news” is scripted, just check out this video

The Coming Food Stamp Riots

Riot Control - Photo by James McCauleyIt may not happen this month, or even this year, but food stamp riots are coming to America.  In fact, we got a small preview of the coming food stamp riots this past weekend when a “temporary system failure” caused food stamp cards to stop working in 17 U.S. states.  Within hours, there were “mini-riots” at Wal-Marts and other retailers that rely heavily on food stamp users.  So what would happen if food stamp benefits were cut off or reduced for an extended period of time?  As you will see below, if Congress had not pushed through a “deal”, the USDA would have started cutting off food stamp benefits on November 1st.  Considering the fact that 47 million Americans are on food stamps and more than 100 million Americans are enrolled in at least one welfare program run by the federal government, that could have sparked massive rioting.  So the good news is that the coming food stamp riots will probably not happen in November.  The bad news is that the “deal” in Congress only delays the political fighting until after Christmas.  In just a few months we will be dealing with a potential “government shutdown” and a debt ceiling deadline once again.

Most Americans have no idea what almost just happened.  According to Reuters, the state of North Carolina had already cut off some welfare benefits for the month of November…

North Carolina has become the first state to cut off welfare benefits to poor residents in the wake of the partial federal government shutdown, ordering a halt to processing November applications until a deal is reached to end the federal standstill.

More than 20,000 people – most of them children – receive monthly benefits aimed at helping them buy food and other basic supplies through North Carolina’s welfare program, called Work First, which is fully funded by the federal government. Recipients must reapply each month.

And as Mac Slavo recently detailed, the USDA was already planning to cut off food stamp assistance to millions of Americans on November 1st…

We say next month because the USDA, which oversees the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), has just issued an order to SNAP agency directors calling for their respective States to implement an emergency contingency program because of government funding issues. In a letter obtained by the Crossroads Urban Center food pantry, the USDA is directing state agencies to, “delay their November issuance files and delay transmission to State Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) vendors until further notice.”

What this means is that should Congress fail to increase the debt ceiling this week, come November there will literally be millions of people in the United States who will have exactly zero dollars transferred to their EBT cards.

What will happen to the nearly 50 million people who depend on these benefits to survive?

In fact, there have been quite a few news reports that have confirmed this

In Utah, Fox News 13 in Salt Lake City reported that a local provider recently received a letter from the USDA sticking to the November 1 cut-off date.

“This is going to create a huge hardship for the people we serve here in our food pantry,” Bill Tibbits, Associate Director at Crossroads Urban Center, told Fox News 13.

“What this means [is] if there’s not a deal, if Congress doesn’t reach a deal to get federal government back up and running, in Utah about 100,000 families won’t get food stamp benefit,” added Tibbits.

The USDA letter says in part, “in the interest of preserving maximum flexibility, we are directing states to hold their November issuance files and delay transmission to state electronic benefit transfer vendors until further notice.”

So what would have happened if tens of millions of Americans suddenly had their food stamp benefits cut off without warning?

Well, what happened last weekend can give us a few clues.  Just check out what happened at one Wal-Mart in Mississippi

Customers staged a disturbance then walked out of a Mississippi Walmart store with groceries that hadn’t been paid for Saturday night after a computer glitch left them unable to use their food stamp cards.

People in 17 states found themselves unable to buy groceries with their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program cards after a routine check by vendor Xerox Corp. resulted in a temporary system failure.

Shortly after the mini-riot, managers decided to temporarily close the store, citing customer safety.

Due to this technical glitch, many parents were left wondering how they were going to feed their families.  If this is the kind of anger that is unleashed over a single failed trip to the grocery store, what would we see if this kind of thing went on for an extended period of time?

At some Wal-Mart stores down in Louisiana, EBT cards were not showing any limits on Saturday night, and within two hours many store shelves in the grocery section were completely cleared of merchandise…

Shelves in Walmart stores in Springhill and Mansfield, LA were reportedly cleared Saturday night, when the stores allowed purchases on EBT cards even though they were not showing limits.

The chaos that followed ultimately required intervention from local police, and left behind numerous carts filled to overflowing, apparently abandoned when the glitch-spurred shopping frenzy ended.

Springhill Police Chief Will Lynd confirms they were called in to help the employees at Walmart because there were so many people clearing off the shelves. He says Walmart was so packed, “It was worse than any black Friday” that he’s ever seen.

Sadly, this was only a very small preview of the massive food stamp riots that are eventually coming to America.  I like how Mike Adams explained what we are likely to see in the future…

Why does any of this matter? Because this is exactly the same way these people will behave when the federal government goes into default and nearly 50 million EBT cards stop working nationwide.

Fifty million. Consider that for a moment. Most of those 50 million people live in high-density cities. Many are proud owners of Obama phones, Obama food stamps, Obama unemployment checks and Obama subsidized housing. They have absolutely no clue that the government upon which they wholly depend to put food on the table is teetering on the verge of permanent collapse. (Seriously, they cannot conceive of the idea of government “running out of money” because they do not understand where money comes from.) Because of this distorted belief, they do not prepare for any future events other than more Obama handouts. Their entire “preparedness” plan is to vote for Democrats, because that’s who they know will give them the most handouts. And they will always win the popular vote, too, because any politician promising to restore responsible fiscal spending to the government by cutting programs will be viciously accused of being “mean” or involved in “hating poor people.” So the government handouts will only ratchet higher and higher, ensnaring more and more people, until the entire system is unsustainable and collapses under its own weight.

When that system of dependence fails, those who depend on it will panic in mere hours. As proof of this, consider the fact that this mass looting of Wal-Mart stores happened in less than three hours after the Saturday EBT card glitch struck. Police had to be called in to prevent the situation from getting completely out of control, and it was offline for only part of one day.

Now imagine what will happen when EBT cards go offline for 24, 48 or even 72 hours. And imagine it happening in every U.S. city simultaneously.

Of course not all Americans would go wild when food stamp benefits are cut off.

Other Americans express their desperation in other ways.  According to Bloomberg, an increasing number of people are starting to sell hair, breast milk and their own eggs in a desperate attempt to make ends meet…

Hair, breast milk and eggs are doubling as automated teller machines for some cash-strapped Americans such as April Hare.

Out of work for more than two years and facing eviction from her home, Hare recalled Louisa May Alcott’s 19th-century novel and took to her computer.

“I was just trying to find ways to make money, and I remembered Jo from ‘Little Women,’ and she sold her hair,” the 35-year-old from Atlanta said. “I’ve always had lots of hair, but this is the first time I’ve actually had the idea to sell it because I’m in a really tight jam right now.”

The mother of two posted pictures of her 18-inch auburn mane on www.buyandsellhair.com, asking at least $1,000 and receiving responses within hours. Hare, who also considered selling her breast milk, joins others exploring unconventional ways to make ends meet as the four-year-old economic expansion struggles to invigorate the labor market and stimulate incomes.

We have moved into a time when things are becoming increasingly unstable and when people are becoming increasingly desperate.

In an attempt to keep order, the authorities will become increasingly forceful in the years ahead.  At this point, many law enforcement officers already believe that there is very little that they cannot do to exert their “authority” over the rest of us.  Just check out video of a drunk off-duty police officer “arresting” a woman that refused to go out on a date with him right here.  Sadly, this type of behavior is becoming way too common these days.

And it looks like major financial institutions are getting ready for the chaos that is eventually coming as well.  In fact, according to an article by Paul Joseph Watson, Chase Bank is now placing a limit on cash withdrawals and is banning business customers from sending wire transfers out of the country…

Chase Bank has moved to limit cash withdrawals while banning business customers from sending international wire transfers from November 17 onwards, prompting speculation that the bank is preparing for a looming financial crisis in the United States by imposing capital controls.

Numerous business customers with Chase BusinessSelect Checking and Chase BusinessClassic accounts have received letters over the past week informing them that cash activity (both deposits and withdrawals) will be limited to a $50,000 total per statement cycle from November 17 onwards.

Fortunately, the chaos that would have been unleashed if Congress had not made a deal has now been delayed for a few months.

But by kicking the can down the road, our politicians continue to make our long-term problems even worse.  Either we are going to have tremendous pain now, or we are going to have even worse pain later.  Peter Schiff explained the choice that we are facing this way…

If Republicans were to inexplicably prevail, and the federal government were to cut spending so that its expenditures matched its tax revenues (a truly radical idea) the country’s financial mess would be laid bare. The government would have to weigh the relative costs and benefits of making interest payments on Treasury debt (primarily to foreign creditors) or to trim entitlements promised to U.S. citizens. But those are choices we will have to make sooner or later anyway. In fact we should have dealt with these issues years ago. But generations of mechanistic debt ceiling increases have allowed us to perpetually kick the can down the road. What could possibly be gained by doing it again, particularly if it is done with no commitment to change course?

The Democrats’ argument that America needs to pay its bills is just hollow rhetoric. Paying off one’s Visa bill with a new and bigger MasterCard bill can’t be considered a legitimate payment of debt. At best it is a transfer. But in the government’s case, it doesn’t even qualify as that. Treasury debt is primarily bought by the Fed, foreign central banks, and major financial institutions. None of that will change with a debt ceiling increase. We will just go to the same people for greater quantities. So it’s like paying off your Visa card with a bigger Visa card.

We are living on borrowed time that has been purchased by stealing money from future generations.

We are literally destroying the future in order to make the present more palatable.

But whether it is this year, or next year or the year after that, at some point we are going to experience the pain that results from decades of incredibly foolish decisions.

I hope that you are getting ready.

The Decline Of Breadwinner Jobs Has Resulted In The Longest Bread Lines In American History

The_Bread_Line_by_George_Benjamin_Luks,_Dayton_Art_InstituteAs the number of good jobs continues to decline, the number of Americans that cannot take care of themselves without government assistance continues to explode.  On Friday, we learned that the U.S. economy added “195,000 jobs” last month.  But when you look deeper at the numbers, another story emerges.  Last month, the U.S. economy actually lost 240,000 full-time jobs.  Overall, the U.S. economy has only added 130,000 full-time jobs in 2013, but it takes about 90,000 full-time jobs a month just to keep up with population growth.  So we are losing quite a bit of ground as far as full-time jobs are concerned.  Meanwhile, the U.S. economy has added more than 500,000 part-time jobs so far this year.  Unfortunately, there are very, very few part-time and temp jobs that can be considered “breadwinner jobs”.  Part-time jobs are great for teenagers, university students and elderly people that only want to work a limited number of hours, but what most Americans need are good paying full-time jobs with benefits that will allow them to take care of their families.  Unfortunately, those jobs are continually becoming a smaller part of our economy.

As David Stockman has noted, the U.S. economy has only regained 200,000 of the 5.6 million breadwinner jobs that were lost during the last recession…

By September 2012, the S&P 500 was up by 115 percent from its recession lows and had recovered all of its losses from the peak of the second Greenspan bubble. By contrast, only 200,000 of the 5.6 million lost breadwinner jobs had been recovered by that same point in time. To be sure, the Fed’s Wall Street shills breathlessly reported the improved jobs “print” every month, picking and choosing starting and ending points and using continuously revised and seasonally maladjusted data to support that illusion. Yet the fundamentals with respect to breadwinner jobs could not be obfuscated.

This is a big problem.  As I wrote about the other day, the quality of jobs in America is falling very fast.  Only 47 percent of all adults in the United States have a full-time job at this point, and 53 percent of all American workers make less than $30,000 a year.

Meanwhile, the number of part-time jobs has hit an all-time record high, and the number of temp jobs is absolutely exploding.

Incredibly, the number of temp jobs has increased by more than 50 percent since the end of the recession.  Approximately 10 percent of the jobs lost during the last recession were temp jobs, but close to 20 percent of the jobs gained since then have been temp jobs.

We are witnessing a fundamental shift in our economy.  Full-time jobs are on the decline.  Part-time and temp jobs are on the rise.

In fact, the second largest employer in the United States is now a temp agency.  Kelly Services has become the second largest employer in the country after Wal-Mart.

But it is really hard to pay the bills stocking shelves at Wal-Mart or working temp jobs for Kelly Services.

Unfortunately, these days millions of American workers find themselves having to take whatever they can find.  We live during a period of chronic unemployment.  In fact, according to John Williams of shadowstats.com, unemployment in the United States is now higher than it was at any point during the last recession after you factor in discouraged workers and workers that have taken part-time jobs for economic reasons.

So why don’t more Americans go out and start businesses and create their own jobs?

Unfortunately, thanks to the federal government, state governments and local governments, the environment for small businesses in America today is incredibly toxic.  In fact, the percentage of self-employed workers in this country is at an all-time record low.

As a result of everything that I have discussed above, more Americans than ever find that they cannot take care of themselves without government assistance.

I have often written about the fact that the number of Americans on food stamps has skyrocketed in recent years.  In the year 2000, there were only 17 million Americans on food stamps.  Today, there are more than 47 million Americans on food stamps.

But the number of Americans that are dependent on our “modern day bread lines” is actually far higher than that.

According to a recent CNS News article, a total of 101 million Americans are enrolled in food assistance programs.  The following are some of the staggering numbers for some of these programs…

The National School Lunch program provides 32 million students with low-cost or no-cost meals daily; 10.6 million participate in the School Breakfast Program; and 8.9 million receive benefits from the Woman, Infants and Children (WIC) program each month, the latter designed for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and postpartum women, as well as children younger than 5 years old.

In addition, 3.3 million children at day care centers receive snacks through the Child and Adult Care Food Program.

There’s also a Special Milk Program for schools and a Summer Food Service Program, through which 2.3 million children received aid in July 2011 during summer vacation.

At farmer’s markets, 864,000 seniors receive benefits to purchase food and 1.9 million women and children use coupons from the program.

Yes, there is some overlap in some of these programs.  So the actual number of Americans receiving food assistance is going to be less than 101 million.

But clearly something has gone horribly wrong.  Our economy is not producing enough good jobs, and more Americans than ever cannot take care of themselves as a result.

This is not normal.  What we are witnessing is the slow-motion collapse of the middle class.  The number of Americans that are dependent on the government for their daily bread is so large that it is difficult to comprehend.  The following are a few statistics from my recent article entitled “21 Facts About Rising Government Dependence In America That Will Blow Your Mind“…

-Back in the 1970s, about one out of every 50 Americans was on food stamps.  Today, about one out of every 6.5 Americans is on food stamps.

-Today, the number of Americans on food stamps exceeds the entire population of the nation of Spain.

-According to one calculation, the number of Americans on food stamps now exceeds the combined populations of “Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming.”

You can read the rest of that article right here.

So what is the solution?

Well, we need a lot more full-time “breadwinner jobs” that will enable men and women to be able to take care of their families.

Unfortunately, we continue to ship millions of good jobs overseas, and our politicians continue to pursue policies which are making the business environment in this country very toxic.

There is not going to be any easy way to fix all of this.  We should have seen a nice bounce in the employment numbers during this so-called “recovery”, but that did not happen.  And now the next wave of the economic collapse is rapidly approaching, and the employment crisis in this country is going to become a lot more painful.

10 Amazing Charts That Demonstrate The Slow, Agonizing Death Of The American Worker

10 Amazing Charts That Demonstrate The Slow, Agonizing Death Of The American WorkerThe middle class American worker is in danger of becoming an endangered species.  The politicians are not telling you the truth, and the mainstream media is certainly not telling you the truth, but the reality is that there is nothing but bad news on the horizon for workers in the United States.  In the old days, when the big corporations that dominate our society did well, that also meant good things for American workers since those corporations would need more of us to work for them.  But in the emerging one world economic system that our economy is being merged into, those corporations have other choices now.  For instance, the big corporations can now choose to limit the number of “expensive” American workers that they employ by shipping millions of jobs to the other side of the world.  And from their perspective, it makes perfect sense.  They can make much bigger profits by hiring people on the other side of the planet to work for them for less than a dollar an hour.  If they can get good production out of those people, then why should they hire Americans for ten to twenty times as much, plus have to give those Americans health insurance and other benefits?  Another major factor in the slow, agonizing death of the American worker is technology.  We live during a period when technology is advancing at a pace that is almost unimaginable at the same time that it is steadily becoming cheaper and cheaper.  That means that it is going to become easier and easier for companies to replace workers with robots and computers.  As I have written about previously, it is being projected that our economy will lose millions of jobs to technology in the coming years.  Yes, some of us will still be needed to help build the robots and the computers, but not all of us will.  And of course the overall general weakness of the economy is not helping matters either.  The American people inherited the greatest economic machine in the history of the world, and we have wrecked it.  Decades of very foolish decisions have resulted in the period of steady economic decline that we are experiencing now.

America is simply not the economic powerhouse that it once was.  Back in 2001, the U.S. economy accounted for 31.8 percent of global GDP.  By 2011, the U.S. economy only accounted for 21.6 percent of global GDP.  That is a collapse any way that you want to look at it.

Today, American workers are living in an economy that is rapidly declining, and their jobs are steadily being stolen by robots, computers and foreign workers that live in countries where it is legal to pay slave labor wages.  Politicians from both political parties refuse to do anything to stop the bleeding because they think that the status quo is working just great.

So don’t expect things to get better any time soon.

The following are 10 amazing charts that demonstrate the slow, agonizing death of the American worker…

#1 Wages And Salaries As A Percentage Of GDP

Wages And Salaries As A Percentage Of GDP

As you can see, wages as a percentage of GDP are hovering near an all-time record low.  That means that American workers are bringing home a smaller share of the economic pie than ever before.

#2 Average Annual Hours Worked Per Employed Person In The United States

Average Annual Hours Worked per Employed Person in the United States

We are an economy that is rapidly trading good paying full-time jobs for low paying part-time jobs.  The decline in average annual hours worked that we have witnessed represents the equivalent of losing millions of jobs.  There has been an explosion of “the working poor” in the United States, and this trend is probably only going to accelerate in the years to come.

#3 Manufacturing Employment

Manufacturing Employment

As you can see, there are less Americans working in manufacturing today than there was in 1950 even though the population of the country has more than doubled since then.  The United States has lost more than 56,000 manufacturing facilities since 2001, and yet our politicians stand around and do nothing about it.

#4 Employment-Population Ratio

Employment-Population Ratio 2013

This is one of my favorite charts.  It shows that there has been absolutely no employment recovery at all since the end of the last recession.  The percentage of working age Americans that have a job has stayed under 59 percent for 44 months in a row.  How much worse will things get when the next major economic downturn strikes?

#5 Labor Force Participation Rate

Labor Force Participation Rate

This is how the Obama administration is getting the “unemployment rate” to magically go down.  They are pretending that millions upon millions of Americans simply do not want to work anymore.  As you will notice, the decline of the labor force participation rate has accelerated greatly since Barack Obama entered the White House.

#6 Duration Of Unemployment

Duration Of Unemployment

The average amount of time that it takes an unemployed worker to find a new job has declined slightly, but it is still far above normal historical levels.  It is a crying shame that it takes the average unemployed worker two-thirds of a year to find a new job, but this is the new economic reality that we are all living in.

#7 Delinquency Rate On Residential Mortgages

Delinquency Rate On Residential Mortgages

Since there are not enough jobs for all of us, and since our wages are not rising as rapidly as the cost of living is, a whole bunch of us are falling behind on our mortgages.  As you can see, the mortgage delinquency rate has only dropped slightly and is still way, way above typical levels.

#8 New Homes Sold

New Homes Sold

American workers also don’t have enough money to go out and buy new homes either.  Yes, new home sales have rebounded slightly this year, but we are nowhere near where we used to be.

#9 Consumer Credit

Consumer Credit

Millions of American families continue to resort to going into debt in a desperate attempt to make ends meet.  After a slight interruption during the last recession, consumer credit once again is growing at a frightening pace.

#10 Self-Employment At A Record Low

Self-Employed As A Share Of Non-Farm Employment

Since there aren’t enough jobs for everyone, why aren’t more Americans trying to start their own businesses?  Well, the reality of the matter is that the government has made it exceedingly difficult to start your own business today.  Taxes, rules, regulations and red tape are choking the life out of millions of small businesses in the United States.  As a result, the percentage of self-employed Americans is at a record low.

As all of these long-term trends continue, the middle class will continue to shrink, poverty in America will continue to explode and government dependence will continue to rise.

The numbers don’t lie.  Today, the number of Americans on Social Security Disability now exceeds the entire population of Greece, and the number of Americans on food stamps now exceeds the entire population of Spain.

We are in the midst of a horrifying economic collapse, and the next major wave of that collapse is rapidly approaching.

Are you ready?

The More Illegal Immigrants That Go On Food Stamps The More Money JP Morgan Makes

Greed - Photo by J. Solana from Madrid, SpainRecently uncovered documents prove that the Obama administration has been working with the Mexican government to increase the number of illegal immigrants on food stamps, and when more illegal immigrants go on food stamps JP Morgan makes more money.  As you will read about below, JP Morgan has made at least 560 million dollars processing Electronic Benefits Transfer cards.  Each month, JP Morgan makes between $.31 and $2.30 for every single person on food stamps (and that does not even include things like ATM fees, etc).  So JP Morgan has a vested interest in seeing poverty grow and the number of people on food stamps increase.  Meanwhile, the Obama administration has been aggressively seeking to expand participation in the food stamp program.  Under Obama, the number of people on food stamps has grown from 32 million to more than 47 million.  And even though poverty in America is absolutely exploding, that apparently is not good enough for the Obama administration.  It has now come out that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has provided the Mexican government with literature that actively encourages illegal immigrants to enroll in food stamps.  One flyer contains the following statement in Spanish: “You need not divulge information regarding your immigration status in seeking this benefit for your children.”  The bold and the underlining are in the original document in case you were wondering.  Overall, federal spending on food stamps increased from 18 billion dollars in 2000 to 85 billion dollars in 2012, and at this point one out of every five U.S. households in now enrolled in the food stamp program.  When people illegally or fraudulently enroll in the food stamp program, it makes it harder for those that desperately need the help to be able to get it.

It is certainly a good thing to help fellow Americans that are suffering.  It is a crying shame that more than a million public school students in America are homeless.  That should not be happening in the “wealthiest nation on earth”.

But today we have a system that has turned poverty into big business.  According to an article posted on Breitbart.com, JP Morgan has made at least 560 million dollars (and probably much more) processing EBT cards…

A new report by the Government Accountability Institute finds that JP Morgan has made at least $560,492,596 since 2004 processing the Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards of 18 of the 24 states it has under contract for the food stamp program.

A Daily Beast article provided some more specifics about the monster profits that JP Morgan is making…

Just how lucrative JP Morgan’s EBT state contracts are is hard to say, because total national data on EBT contracts are not reported. But thanks to a combination of public-records requests and contracts that are available online, here’s what we do know: 18 of the 24 states JP Morgan handles have been contracted to pay the bank up to $560,492,596.02 since 2004. Since 2007, Florida has been contracted to pay JP Morgan $90,351,202.22. Pennsylvania’s seven-year contract totaled $112,541,823.27. New York’s seven-year contract totaled $126,394,917.

These contracts are transactional contracts, meaning they are amendable based on changes in program participation. Each month, the three companies that administer EBT receive a small fee that can range from $.31 to $2.30 (or higher depending upon the number of welfare services on an EBT card and state contractual requirements) for each SNAP recipient.

So the more people that are out of work and that need to turn to the government for food, the bigger profits that JP Morgan makes.

What makes all of this even more insulting is that many of the jobs that JP Morgan could be providing to Americans to help alleviate this poverty are being shipped overseas instead.  As I noted in a previous article, many EBT card customer service calls are being routed to call centers in India by JP Morgan.

So why doesn’t anyone do anything about this?

Well, it turns out that JP Morgan has the politicians that oversee the food stamp program in their back pocket.  The following is from a recent Money Morning article

And the bank has taken steps to make sure the SNAP program remains a growing source of revenue. JPMorgan’s political donations to the members of House and Senate agricultural committees, the ones with legislative responsibility for the program, soared from just over $82,000 in 2002 to nearly $333,000 as of 2010.

What a wonderful system we have, eh?

And surely JP Morgan just loves the fact that the Obama administration is actively encouraging illegal immigrants to apply for food stamps.

What you are about to read should absolutely shock you.  At a time when the U.S. government is absolutely drowning in debt, the Obama administration is making it abundantly clear to illegal immigrants that their immigration status will not be checked when they apply for food stamps.  The following is from a recent Judicial Watch press release

Judicial Watch today released documents detailing how the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is working with the Mexican government to promote participation by illegal aliens in the U.S. food stamp program.

The promotion of the food stamp program, now known as “SNAP” (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), includes a Spanish-language flyer provided to the Mexican Embassy by the USDA with a statement advising Mexicans in the U.S. that they do not need to declare their immigration status in order to receive financial assistance.  Emphasized in bold and underlined, the statement reads, “You need not divulge information regarding your immigration status in seeking this benefit for your children.”

The documents came in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request made to USDA on July 20, 2012.  The FOIA request sought: “Any and all records of communication relating to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to Mexican Americans, Mexican nationals, and migrant communities, including but not limited to, communications with the Mexican government.”

The documents obtained by Judicial Watch show that USDA officials are working closely with their counterparts at the Mexican Embassy to widely broaden the SNAP program in the Mexican immigrant community, with no effort to restrict aid to, identify, or apprehend illegal immigrants who may be on the food stamp rolls.

You can see a copy of the flyer right here.

So who pays for all of this?

You do of course.

The Obama administration is doing all that it can to promote illegal immigration, and big banks such as JP Morgan just make bigger profits the more illegal immigration that we see, but it is you and I that end up with the bill.  This was put beautifully in a recent article by Mike Adams of NaturalNews.com

Nearly $75 billion of taxpayer money is spent each year on federal food stamps, and it turns out some of that is alarmingly being handed out to illegal immigrants — people who contribute nothing to the federal tax base in America but who seem to be experts on collecting social welfare benefits of all kinds. If you are working for a living, you are buying food for illegals who are being actively recruited by Obama and the democratic party so that they will vote more democrats into office.

When we reward illegal immigration, what happens?

That’s right – we are just going to get even more illegal immigration.

According to WND, we have already started seeing a huge increase in illegal immigrants coming across the border since Congress began debating the amnesty bill…

Illegal border crossings have doubled, and possibly even tripled, since the latest congressional push began toward comprehensive immigration reform.

In reporting first published by Townhall.com’s Katie Pavlich, border patrol agents in the Tucson/Nogales sector claim illegals are coming here in much higher numbers in just the past few months.

“We’ve seen the number of illegal aliens double, maybe even triple since amnesty talk started happening,” an unnamed border agent said to Townhall. The data from Customs and Border Protection cited in the report shows 504 illegals were detected crossing in that sector between Feb. 5 and March 1. Only 189 were caught on camera, and just 174 of the 504 were apprehended. Of those spotted on camera, 32 were carrying huge packs believed to contain drugs and several were heavily armed.

If that bill is passed, it is being projected that it will bring 33 million more people into this country…

The pending Senate immigration bill would bring a minimum of 33 million people into the country during its first decade of operation, according to an analysis by NumbersUSA, a group that wants to slow the current immigration rate.

By 2024, the inflow would include an estimated 9.2 million illegal immigrants, plus 2.5 million illegals who arrived as children — dubbed ‘Dreamers’ — plus roughly 3.4 million company-sponsored employees with university degrees, said the unreleased analysis.

The majority of the inflow, or roughly 17 million people, would consist of family members of illegals, recent immigrants and of company-sponsored workers, according to the NumbersUSA analysis provided to The Daily Caller.

We have made legal immigration a complete and total nightmare while leaving the back door completely wide open at the same time.

We greatly punish those who are trying to do things legally while at the same time we are greatly rewarding those that are cheating the system.

What kind of sense does that make?

Shouldn’t we insist that everyone come in through the front door?

Those that are coming over our borders illegally know what the score is

Linda Vickers, who owns a ranch in Brooks County, which is Ground Zero for the immigration debate, pins the blame directly on talk of ‘amnesty’ and a ‘path to citizenship’ for people who entered the U.S. illegally.

She recalls one man being arrested on her ranch not long ago.

“The Border Patrol agent was loading one man up, and he told the officer in Spanish, ‘Obama’s gonna let me go’.”

Border Patrol agents report that immigrants are crossing the border, and in some cases surrendering while asking, “Where do I go for my amnesty?”

We are already becoming a poverty-stricken nation.  We simply can’t afford to feed millions upon millions of illegal immigrants as well.

As I write this, the U.S. national debt is $16,758,107,082,298.63.

We now have a debt to GDP ratio of about 105 percent.

In the United States today, the amount of money that is deposited in our banks is about 9.3 trillion dollars.  If we took every penny of that and used it to pay off the national debt, we would still owe more than 7 trillion dollars.

We are stealing more than 100 million dollars from future generations of Americans every single hour of every single day to pay our bills, and yet everyone seems to think that this is “normal” somehow.

The truth is that what we are doing is absolutely criminal, and we should all be ashamed.

For much more on our exploding national debt, please see the following article: “55 Facts About The Debt And U.S. Government Finances That Every American Voter Should Know“.

In the end, it should be apparent to everyone that our system is failing.  Our government is corrupt, our big banks are consumed with greed and most average Americans are so addicted to entertainment that they have absolutely no idea what is going on.

What would those that bled and died for this country think about what we have become today?

JP Morgan Chase Tower - Photo by Krzykol

Rise Of The Droids: Will Robots Eventually Steal All Of Our Jobs?

Rise Of The Droids: Will Robots Eventually Steal All Of Our Jobs? - Photo by stephen bowlerWill a robot take your job?  We have entered a period in human history when technology is advancing at an exponential rate.  In some ways, this has been a great blessing for humanity.  For example, I am absolutely blown away by all of the things that my little iPod can do.  But on the other hand, all of this technology is eliminating millions upon millions of high paying jobs.  In the past, I have written extensively about how millions of American jobs have been sent to the other side of the world, but now we may be moving into a time when workers all over the planet will be steadily losing jobs to super-efficient robots.  For employers, robots provide a lot of advantages to human workers.  Robots never complain, they never get tired, they never need vacation, they never show up late, they never waste time of Facebook, they don’t need any health benefits and there are a whole lot of rules, regulations and taxes that you must deal with when you hire a human worker.  In the past, robots were exceedingly expensive, and that limited their usefulness in the workplace, but as you will see later in this article that is rapidly changing.  As robots continue to become even more advanced and even less expensive, will there eventually come a point where the “human worker” is virtually obsolete?

Of course I can hear the objections already.  Many of you will insist that even though automation has always eliminated jobs in the past, it has also always created new jobs that were even better.  For instance, once upon a time most of the U.S. population worked on farms, but thanks to automation now hardly any of us do.

But what happens when we get to the point where super-intelligent robots are more efficient at everything?

What will be left for “human workers” to do?

And if human workers are no longer needed for most tasks, what will their role in society be?

Personally, I still complain about self-service check-in kiosks at airports and self-checkout lanes at supermarkets, but most people seem to have accepted them.  There are even many bank branches now that don’t have any humans in them at all.  The number of jobs where a human worker is absolutely “required” is dwindling all the time.

And a lot of the jobs that are disappearing thanks to advances in technology are fairly high paying jobs.  In fact, one recent study of employment data from 20 countries discovered that “almost all the jobs disappearing are in industries that pay middle-class wages, ranging from $38,000 to $68,000.”

As I mentioned earlier, in the past robots were simply far too expensive to perform most tasks.  So human workers had an advantage.

But that advantage is disappearing right in front of our eyes.  For example, one company has produced a new robot called “Baxter” that only costs $22,000.  The following is from an article about Baxter in the MIT Technology Review

Baxter was conceived by Rodney Brooks, the Australian roboticist and artificial-intelligence expert who left MIT to build a $22,000 humanoid robot that can easily be programmed to do simple jobs that have never been automated before.

Eventually, the goal is to produce versions of Baxter that will perform tasks even more cheaply than Chinese workers do…

Brooks’s company, Rethink Robotics, says the robot will spark a “renaissance” in American manufacturing by helping small companies compete against low-wage offshore labor. Baxter will do that by accelerating a trend of factory efficiency that’s eliminated more jobs in the U.S. than overseas competition has. Of the approximately 5.8 million manufacturing jobs the U.S. lost between 2000 and 2010, according to McKinsey Global Institute, two-thirds were lost because of higher productivity and only 20 percent moved to places like China, Mexico, or Thailand.

The ultimate goal is for robots like Baxter to take over more complex tasks, such as fitting together parts on an electronics assembly line. “A couple more ticks of Moore’s Law and you’ve got automation that works more cheaply than Chinese labor does,” Andrew McAfee, an MIT researcher, predicted last year at a conference in Tucson, Arizona, where Baxter was discussed.

So it won’t just be American workers that will be displaced by robots – it will literally be workers all over the planet.

In the future, when you call someone for customer service you probably won’t be talking to someone in India.  Instead, you will probably be talking to a robot.  In fact, this transition is already starting to happen…

IPsoft is a young company started by Chetan Dube, a former mathematics professor at New York University. He reckons that artificial intelligence can take over most of the routine information-technology and business-process tasks currently performed by workers in offshore locations. “The last decade was about replacing labour with cheaper labour,” says Mr Dube. “The coming decade will be about replacing cheaper labour with autonomics.”

IPsoft’s Eliza, a “virtual service-desk employee” that learns on the job and can reply to e-mail, answer phone calls and hold conversations, is being tested by several multinationals. At one American media giant she is answering 62,000 calls a month from the firm’s information-technology staff. She is able to solve two out of three of the problems without human help. At IPsoft’s media-industry customer Eliza has replaced India’s Tata Consulting Services.

Even some of the largest companies in China are starting to make the transition from human workers to robots.  The following is from a recent TechCrunch article

Foxconn has been planning to buy 1 million robots to replace human workers and it looks like that change, albeit gradual, is about to start.

The company is allegedly paying $25,000 per robot – about three times a worker’s average salary – and they will replace humans in assembly tasks. The plans have been in place for a while – I spoke to Foxconn reps about this a year ago – and it makes perfect sense. Humans are messy, they want more money, and having a half-a-million of them in one factory is a recipe for unrest. But what happens after the halls are clear of careful young men and women and instead full of whirring robots?

So what will the world look like as robots begin to replace humans in just about every industry that you can imagine?

A recent Wired article described what this transition might look like…

First, machines will consolidate their gains in already-automated industries. After robots finish replacing assembly line workers, they will replace the workers in warehouses. Speedy bots able to lift 150 pounds all day long will retrieve boxes, sort them, and load them onto trucks. Fruit and vegetable picking will continue to be robotized until no humans pick outside of specialty farms. Pharmacies will feature a single pill-dispensing robot in the back while the pharmacists focus on patient consulting. Next, the more dexterous chores of cleaning in offices and schools will be taken over by late-night robots, starting with easy-to-do floors and windows and eventually getting to toilets. The highway legs of long-haul trucking routes will be driven by robots embedded in truck cabs.

All the while, robots will continue their migration into white-collar work. We already have artificial intelligence in many of our machines; we just don’t call it that. Witness one piece of software by Narrative Science (profiled in issue 20.05) that can write newspaper stories about sports games directly from the games’ stats or generate a synopsis of a company’s stock performance each day from bits of text around the web. Any job dealing with reams of paperwork will be taken over by bots, including much of medicine. Even those areas of medicine not defined by paperwork, such as surgery, are becoming increasingly robotic. The rote tasks of any information-intensive job can be automated. It doesn’t matter if you are a doctor, lawyer, architect, reporter, or even programmer: The robot takeover will be epic.

I don’t know about you, but the phrase “robot takeover” is not exactly comforting.

Perhaps I just watch too many movies.

In any event, as technology advances there will eventually be very few jobs that robots cannot perform.  In fact, you might be surprised to learn some of the things that robots are already doing.  The following is from a recent Yahoo News article

Google and Toyota are rolling out cars that can drive themselves. The Pentagon deploys robots to find roadside explosives in Afghanistan and wages war from the air with drone aircraft. North Carolina State University this month introduced a high-tech library where robots — “bookBots” — retrieve books when students request them, instead of humans. The library’s 1.5 million books are no longer displayed on shelves; they’re kept in 18,000 metal bins that require one-ninth the space.

So what will the 3.1 million Americans that drive trucks do for a living once robots are driving all of our trucks?

What will the 573,000 Americans that drive buses do for a living once robots are driving all of our buses?

And eventually even our skies may be filled with robotic drones that are busy performing one task or another.  Just check out what a recent Time Magazine article had to say about the emerging drone industry…

But the drone industry is ramping up for a big landgrab the moment the regulatory environment starts to relax. At last year’s Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) trade show in Las Vegas, more than 500 companies pitched drones for filming crowds and tornados and surveying agricultural fields, power lines, coalfields, construction sites, gas spills and archaeological digs. A Palo Alto, Calif., start-up called Matternet wants to establish a network of drones that will transport small, urgent packages, like those for medicine.

In other countries civilian drone populations are already booming. Aerial video is a major application. A U.K. company called Skypower makes the eight-rotored Cinipro drone, which can carry a cinema-quality movie camera. In Costa Rica they’re used to study volcanoes. In Japan drones dust crops and track schools of tuna; emergency workers used one to survey the damage at Fukushima. A nature preserve in Kenya ran a crowdsourced fundraising drive to buy drones to watch over the last few northern white rhinos. Ironically, while the U.S. has been the leader in sending drones overseas, it’s lagging behind when it comes to deploying them on its own turf.

Unfortunately, many people will not understand what I am really trying to get at in this article.

They will just say something like this: “Well, they are going to need someone to build all of those robots.”

Even if that is true, they won’t need hundreds of millions of us to build them.

No, the truth is that when human workers become “obsolete”, those that dominate society with technology will look at the rest of us as “useless eaters” that are not contributing anything to society at all.

Already, there are many economists that are warning that advancements in technology are steadily reducing “the natural employment rate”.

And we are already seeing this happen in the United States.  As I wrote about the other day, the percentage of the labor force that is employed has declined every single year since 2006…

2006: 63.1

2007: 63.0

2008: 62.2

2009: 59.3

2010: 58.5

2011: 58.4

In January, only 57.9 percent of the civilian labor force was employed.

Of course there are certainly a lot of factors involved in why those numbers are declining, but without a doubt technology is playing a role.

So what do we do with all of the workers that are being displaced?

Are we just going to put everybody on food stamps?

Will the gap between the rich and the poor grow even larger than it is today?

Will most people eventually become dependent on the government in order to survive?

We are moving into uncharted territory, and nobody is quite sure what comes next.

As time goes by, robots will even start to look more like us.  In fact, this is already starting to happen.  Just check out the following description of a “bionic man” that has been created from a recent article in the Guardian

He cuts a dashing figure, this gentleman: nearly seven feet tall, and possessed of a pair of striking brown eyes. With a fondness for Ralph Lauren, middle-class rap and sharing a drink with friends, Rex is, in many ways, an unexceptional chap.

Except that he is, in fact, a real-world bionic man. Housed within a frame of state-of-the-art prosthetic limbs is a functional heart-lung system, complete with artificial blood pumping through a network of pulsating modified-polymer arteries. He has a bionic spleen to clean the blood, and an artificial pancreas to keep his blood sugar on the level. Behind the deep brown irises are a pair of retinal implants, giving him a vista of the crowds of curious humans who meet his gaze.

He even has a degree of artificial intelligence: talk to him, and he’ll listen (through his cochlear implants), before using a speech generator to respond.

As robots become more like us, will we eventually become more like them?

Will we be told that we must “merge with the machines” in order to keep up and be useful in society?

As we rapidly approach the “technological singularity” that futurist Ray Kurzweil and others have talked about, will humans increasingly seek to “enhance” themselves with technology in an attempt to “get an edge”?

What will happen to those of us that refuse to “merge with the machines” and that refuse to “enhance ourselves” with technology?

Will we be outcasts?

Those are some important questions.  Feel free to share your thoughts on those questions by posting a comment below…

Terminator - Photo by tenaciousme

The Twinkie That Broke The Economy’s Back?

Can you hear that sound?  It is the sound of the air being let out of the economy.  Since the election, there has been a massive tsunami of layoffs and business failures.  Of course the company that is making the biggest headlines right now is Hostess.  On Monday, Hostess will be in a New York bankruptcy courtroom as it begins the process of liquidating itself.  Needless to say, Twinkie lovers all over America are horrified.  Many are running out to grocery stores and hoarding as many as they can find, and some online sellers are already listing boxes of 10 Twinkies for as much as $10,000 on auction websites such as eBay.  Well, there is really no reason to panic.  It is very likely that another company will purchase the Twinkie brand and continue to produce them.  In fact, it is already being rumored that a Mexican company may have the inside track.  But even though the Twinkie may survive, the failure of Hostess is yet another sign of how weak the U.S. economy has become.  Approximately 18,500 Hostess workers will be losing their jobs, and even if some of them are rehired by the company that takes over the Twinkie brand, the truth is that those workers will almost certainly be looking at greatly reduced pay and benefits.  Sadly, we are seeing this kind of thing happen all over America.  Large numbers of once thriving businesses are either shutting down or laying off workers.  Overall, the failure of Hostess is not that big of a deal for the U.S. economy.  But we may look back someday and remember Hostess as a symbol of the economic problems that were unleashed by the election of 2012.  Since November 6th, a wave of pessimism has swept over the economy and we are now seeing some of the worst economic numbers that we have seen in more than a year.  Many fear that we may have reached a tipping point and that things are only going to get worse from here.

Sadly, the reality is that Hostess is not the only iconic American company that is in a huge amount of trouble right now.  Sears just announced a loss of nearly 500 million dollars in the third quarter.  Sears has been bleeding money like this for a couple of years, and if they continue to do so it will just be a matter of time before Sears is headed for liquidation as well.

Can you imagine trying to explain the Sears catalog and Twinkies to future generations in a world where those things no longer exist?

Our world is changing at mind blowing speed, and the pace of change is only going to keep accelerating.

A few days after the election, I wrote an article about the huge number of layoff announcements that we saw after Barack Obama won.

Well, it has gotten even worse since then.  The following is a partial list of the layoffs and job losses that have been announced since November 6th…

Abbott Labs 700
Activision 30
Adventist Health 48
Airlines SAS 6000
AMD 400
American Cotton Growers 110
ArcelorMittal 20
American Independence Museum 4
Ameridose 790
American Airlines 4400 + 800 leaving voluntarily
American Coal 54
Atlantic Lottery Corporation 16
Assc Milk Producers 130
Aveo Oncology 45
ATI 172
Bankia 5000
Bechtel Power Corp 277
Bigpoint Games 47
Boston Scientific 1200
Brake Parts LLC 75
Brattleboro Retreat 31
Bristol Myers 500
Career Education 900 + Closing 23 Campuses
Cigna 1300
Citigroup 100
Commerzbank 6000
Consol Energy in W.V. 145
Covidien 595
Crouse Hospital Syracuse NY 70
Cummins 150
CVPH 27
DEP in Tallahassee FL 15
DuPont, Co. 64
Eagle-Tribune, Andover 21
Emanuel Medical Cente 24
Energizer Holdings 1500
Ericsson 1550
Exide Tech, Laureldale 150
City of Findlay, OH 39
First Energy 400
Gameforge Berlin 20
Gamesa Energy 92
GenOn Energy Inc 33
Glen Falls Hospital 29
Groupon 80
GT Advanced Tech 165
Harris’ Broadcast 17
Hawker Beechcraft 400 + Facilities closing
Hill Rom 200
Hills Holdings 300
HMX Group 567
Hostess 627
Iberia Airlines 4500
ICM of Colwich 25
ING 2350
Judson University 21
Juniper Networks 500
Kaiser Permanente 84
Kinetic Concepts 427
Kratos Defense Security 125
Lackawanna County PA 11
Lightyear Network Solutions 12+
Lonza 500
Majestic Star Casino/hotel 80
Major Wind Company 3000
Martha Stewart Living 70
Medtronic 1000
Mills Manufacturing NC 68
Momentive, Inc. 150
Monitor Group 235
Montco Behavioral Health/Dev 58
NBC 500
Nebraska Medical Center 38
Neovia Logistics Services 52
New Energy 40
Ormet 200
Panasonic 10000
PayPal 320
Penn Refrigeration 40
Penske Logistics 50
Pepsi 4000
Philips Electronics 218
Pierce Mfg 325
Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne 100
Research in Motion 200
Rheem Manufacturing 50
Sentry Foods 70
Shaw’s Supermarket 700
Shawano foundry WI 90
Smith & Nephew 770
Smithfield Packing Co. 125
Solel Solar Systems 140
Southeastern Container 15
SpaceX 100
SRA Intl Inc 222
St. Jude Medical 300
Stryker 1170
Sulake 60
Sun Media 500
TE Connectivity 620
TECO Coal Corporation 90
Texas Instruments 1700
The Providence Journal Co 23
TMX Group Ltd. 100
Turbocare 220
Turkey Point Nuclear Plant 277
Oce North America, Inc. 135
Turbocare OCE 220
UBS 10000
US Cellular 980
UtahAmerican Energy Inc 102
Volvo Trucks Pulaski County 300
Wake Forest Baptist Medical 950
Welch Allyn 275
West Ridge Mine 102
Westinghouse 50
World Media Enterprises Inc 105
WPS Health Insurance 600
Wright Patterson AFB 115
Wyodak Coal Mine 11
Xerox 2500

Sadly, the list actually keeps going.  You can view the remainder of the list right here.

Even companies owned by Obama supporters are laying people off.  Just check out this excerpt from a report by CitizenLink

A corporation whose part owner gave $2 million to a group committed to re-electing President Obama announced this week that it will be forced to lay off more than 1,000 employees in lieu of the financial hardship imposed by the president’s signature health care law.

Overall, more than 100,000 job losses have been announced since the election.  It is almost as if the election was the straw that broke the camel’s back.  Everyone in the business community that had been hoping for something different now realizes that no change is coming.

Meanwhile, Obama continues to pour on even more rules and regulations.  According to CNSNews.com, the Obama administration has posted a total of 6,125 regulations on its reguations.gov website during the past 90 days.  Our politicians are clueless and they simply don’t understand what they are doing to the business community.

But of course this goes for politicians from both sides.  For decades we have been consuming far more than we produce and spending far more money then we bring in, and most of our politicians seem to be under the delusion that this can continue indefinitely.

The other night my wife had me watch a documentary entitled “The Queen of Versailles” that followed the lives of time share mogul David Siegel and his wife Jackie.  I found it to be a perfect metaphor for what America is going through right now.  David Siegel built the greatest time share empire the world has ever seen on a mountain of easy money and cheap credit.  At the beginning of the movie, David and Jackie were living the high life and were constructing the largest house in America down in Florida.

Well, things dramatically changed when the financial crisis of 2008 struck.  Suddenly nobody wanted to lend to David’s company and the house of cards started to crumble.  But even though they were facing massive financial problems, Jackie found it incredibly difficult to adjust her lifestyle.  She just kept spending and spending and spending.

It would be easy to pass judgment on David and Jackie, but the truth is that they are a perfect example of what this entire country is going through.  Thousands of businesses are failing, our economic infrastructure is being gutted, millions of jobs are being shipped overseas, our financial system has become a gigantic casino and we keep piling even more mountains of debt on top of the mountains of debt that we already have.  We have been living way above our means for so long that we don’t even have any concept of what “normal” is anymore.

If you have not seen “The Queen of Versailles” yet, I encourage you to do so.  Don’t watch it to laugh at the downfall of David and Jackie Siegel.  They are just trying to make their way in this world like all of us are.  Rather, watch for parallels between their lives and what the United States is experiencing as a whole.  As I mentioned earlier, I found their story to be a perfect metaphor for what is happening to this entire country.  You can find the trailer for “The Queen of Versailles” right here.

As the economy falls apart, it is going to be really easy to point fingers at one another and blame one another.  But what will really be needed is more love and compassion.  A lot of workers at Hostess and a lot of other good companies just lost their jobs.  The unemployment epidemic in this country is going to get a lot worse.  These people are going to need our love and support.

In the end, we are all in this together.  The coming economic storm is not going to be averted, but we can choose how we respond to it.  Hopefully the crisis that is coming will bring out the best in many of us.

The Worst Economic Numbers In More Than A Year

With everything else that is going on in the world, a lot of people have failed to notice that we are seeing some of the worst economic numbers that we have seen in more than a year.  For example, it was announced on Thursday that initial claims for unemployment benefits have hit their highest level in a year and a half.  Hopefully this is just a temporary blip in the data, because initial unemployment claims tend to have a very strong correlation with the overall performance of the economy.  We also continue to see poverty statistics rise.  According to government statistics released earlier this month, the number of Americans living in poverty and the number of Americans on food stamps are both at all-time record highs.  Meanwhile, the Dow and the S&P 500 are both down more than 5 percent since the election and the U.S. government rolled up 22 billion dollars more debt in October 2012 than it did in October 2011.  The unfortunate truth is that things are not getting better.  The U.S. economy continues to become weaker and more unstable, and there are a whole lot of reasons to be very pessimistic about our economic situation as we move into the winter months.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the troubling economic numbers that have been released in recent days…

Initial Claims For Unemployment Benefits

The optimism that many analysts had about jobs is rapidly dissipating.  Over the past few weeks there has been a huge wave of companies announcing layoffs.  Just check out this article and this article.

But now we are actually seeing a significant rise in the number of American workers applying for unemployment benefits.  Initial claims for unemployment benefits soared to 439,000 for the week ending November 10th.  This is the highest level that we have seen in more than a year.  The last time initial claims were this high was April 2011.  It is interesting to note that the largest numbers of new unemployment claims came from the swing states of Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Record Food Stamp Numbers

In dozens of articles I have carefully documented the steady rise of poverty in America and the steady decline of the middle class.

Even though our politicians insist that we are in the middle of an “economic recovery”, the number of Americans dependent on the government for their very survival just continues to keep going up.

A few days ago, the latest food stamp numbers were released.  It turns out that the number of Americans on food stamps increased by 420,947 from July to August.  That was the largest one month increase that we have seen in a year.  At this point, an all-time record 47.1 million Americans are enrolled in the food stamp program.  What would that look like if all of those people had to actually stand outside in bread lines like in the old days?

Stunning Stock Market Declines

A few days ago, I wrote about how many wealthy Americans are dumping stocks and other financial assets in anticipation of the looming “fiscal cliff”.

Well, if things get much worse we may soon have a “market crash” on our hands.

The Dow and the S&P 500 are both down by more than 5 percent since the election and many are wondering if things are about to get a whole lot worse.

Shares of Apple are down by 25 percent since late September.  Some analysts are actually using the term “panic selling” to describe what is happening to the stock.

Slowing Economic Activity

All over America there are indications that economic activity is starting to slow down.  Is Superstorm Sandy responsible for this, or are there other factors at work?

According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, economic activity appears to be contracting in areas that were hit particularly hard by Superstorm Sandy…

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s general economic index was minus 5.2 this month after minus 6.2 in October. Readings of less than zero signal contraction in New York, northern New Jersey and southern Connecticut.

Things appear to be slowing down in the mid-Atlantic region as well.  According to CNBC, manufacturing activity in the mid-Atlantic region has contracted much faster than analysts were projecting…

The Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank said its business activity index slumped to -10.7 from 5.7 the month before. The fall was much steeper than economists’ expectations for slippage to a reading of 2.0, according to a Reuters poll.

Any reading above zero indicates expansion in the region’s manufacturing. The survey covers factories in eastern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey, and Delaware.

New Poverty Numbers

More American families are falling out of the middle class every single day.

New numbers that were just released by the U.S. Census Bureau show that the number of Americans living in poverty rose to a new all-time record of 49.7 million last year.

Once upon a time, people would have laughed at you if you suggested that someday 50 million Americans would be living in poverty.

But here we are.

Soaring Government Debt

Anyone that follows my columns on a regular basis knows that government debt is one of my major pet peeves.

Well, despite all of the “budget deals” that have been made between the Republicans and the Democrats, the amount of debt that we are accumulating just continues to balloon in size.

The federal budget deficit for October 2012 was 120 billion dollars.  That was a huge increase over the October 2011 federal budget deficit of 98 billion dollars.

How long can we possibly continue to do this?

Things In Europe Are Getting Worse Too

In case you had not noticed, the economic situation in Europe continues to unravel as well.  The eurozone is officially in a recession once again, and unemployment in the eurozone is at an all-time record high.  Violent protests and rioting happen on an almost daily basis over in Europe now.  The largest economy on the planet continues to implode right in front of our eyes, and this is another factor that will continue to drag down the U.S. economy.

So is there anyone out there that actually still believes that things are “getting better”?

The brief period of economic stability that we have been experiencing is rapidly coming to an end.  The “recovery” turned out to be extremely disappointing, and now the next major downturn is almost here.

Shocking Forecast
Thrive Life
FEMA Hates This

Austin Coins
High Blood Pressure?
FINCA BAYANO
Survive After Collapse

Silver.com

Camping Survival
GunMagWarehouse.com
SFC_The-Video-They-Tried-To-Ban_125
Print Friendly and PDF
Facebook Twitter More...