Margaret Thatcher once said that the big problem with socialist governments is that “they always run out of other people’s money”, and unfortunately we are witnessing this play out in a major way in the state of Illinois right now. At this point, the Illinois state government has more than 15 billion dollars of unpaid bills. Yes, you read that correctly. They are already 15 billion dollars behind on their bills, and they are on pace to take in 6 billion dollars less than they are scheduled to spend in 2017. It is the worst financial crisis in the history of Illinois, and State Comptroller Susana Mendoza sounds like she is about ready to tear her hair out in frustration…
“I don’t know what part of ‘We are in massive crisis mode’ the General Assembly and the governor don’t understand. This is not a false alarm,” said Mendoza, a Chicago Democrat. “The magic tricks run out after a while, and that’s where we’re at.”
It’s a new low, even for a state that’s seen its financial situation grow increasingly desperate amid a standoff between the Democrat-led Legislature and Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner. Illinois already has $15 billion in overdue bills and the lowest credit rating of any state, and some ratings agencies have warned they will downgrade the rating to “junk” if there’s no budget before the next fiscal year begins July 1.
Would you continue to do work for the Illinois state government if you knew that they were this far behind on their bills and that it is doubtful that you would be paid any time in the foreseeable future?
Of course the answer to that question is quite obvious. As contractual relationships break down, social services are starting to suffer, and there is not much hope that things will take a turn for the better any time soon.
At this point things have gotten so bad that the Illinois Department of Transportation is planning to cease all roadwork starting on July 1st, and even the Powerball lottery is threatening to cut all ties with the state…
As reported previously, the state Transportation Department said it would stop roadwork by July 1 if Illinois entered its third consecutive fiscal year without a budget – the longest such stretch of any US state – while the Powerball lottery said it may be forced to dump Illinois over its lack of budget. For now, state workers have continued to receive pay because of court orders, but school districts, colleges and medical and social service providers are under increasing strain.
So what has caused this unprecedented crisis?
At the core, the problem is political. A tense standoff between a Republican governor and a Democratic legislature has resulted in the state going 700 days without a budget…
On May 31, Illinois will have gone 700 days without a budget, an unprecedented political failure. Also on May 31, if a budget is not passed, it could mean that the state could go until 2019—an unimaginable idea, except that senators have already imagined it.
How does a state, led by a successful businessman as governor, a brilliant political strategist in the House, and a consummate dealmaker in the Senate, end up in this kind of political disorganization? Bad political errors led to bad political incentives, and as the problem worsened, so did the political risk of solutions—and what politicians had to ask of their constituents.
This is another example of how deeply divided we are as a nation right now. Democrats hate Republicans and Republicans hate Democrats, and it is getting to the point where the two parties cannot work together on even the most basic things.
In the end, the state of Illinois is either going to have to cut spending dramatically, raise taxes substantially or some combination of both. And since the Democrats have very large majorities in both chambers of the state legislature, I wouldn’t count on spending being cut that much.
This is the thing with big government – it always has a tendency to get even bigger. And the bigger government gets, the more of our money and the more of our freedom it takes away.
When you let government get out of control, what you end up with is a ravenous beast that has an endless appetite for more of your money. In Illinois, the money is all gone and the beast is desperately hungry for more.
Sadly, what is happening in Illinois is just the tip of the iceberg. If stock prices start declining from these massively inflated levels, state pension funds all over America are going to be in crisis mode very rapidly. And a new recession would greatly accelerate the financial problems of a whole bunch of states that are already dealing with huge budget shortfalls.
Unfortunately, experts all over the country are warning that the next major downturn is coming very quickly. For example, just consider what Bernard Arnault just told CNBC…
A financial crisis could be just around the corner, according to the chief executive of LVMH, who has described the global economic outlook as “scary”.
“For the economic climate, the present situation is…mid-term scary,” Bernard Arnault told CNBC Thursday.
“I don’t think we will be able to globally avoid a crisis when I see the interest rates so low, when I see the amounts of money flowing into the world, when I see the stock prices which are much too high, I think a bubble is building and this bubble, one day, will explode.”
There is always a price to pay for going into too much debt.
A financial day of reckoning can be delayed for a while, but eventually bad financial decisions are going to catch up with you. The state of Illinois is learning this lesson in a very harsh manner right now, and the country as a whole is on the exact same path as Illinois.
I am often criticized for endlessly warning about America’s coming day of reckoning, but you can’t pile up the biggest mountain of debt in the history of the world without paying a price.
Just like the state of Illinois, we will pay for decades of exceedingly foolish decisions, and unfortunately this is going to cause severe economic pain throughout our entire society.
Most Americans are deathly afraid to go to the hospital these days – and it is because of the immense pain that it will cause to their wallets. If you want to get on a path that will lead you to bankruptcy, just start going to the hospital a lot. In America today, hospitals and doctors are blatantly ripping us off and they aren’t making any apologies for it. As you will read about below, some hospitals mark up treatments by 1,000 percent. In other instances, basic medical supplies are being billed out at hundreds of times what they cost providers. For example, it has been reported that some hospitals are charging up to 30 dollars for a single aspirin pill. It would be difficult to argue that the extreme greed that we see in the medical system is even matched by the crooks on Wall Street. These medical predators get their hands on us when we are at our most vulnerable. They know that in our lowest moments we are willing to pay just about anything to get better or to make the pain go away. And so they very quietly have us sign a bunch of forms without ever telling us how much everything is going to cost. Eventually when the bills come in the mail, it is too late to do anything about it.
How would you feel if someone sold you something for ten times the amount that it was worth?
Some hospitals are marking up treatments by as much as 1,000 percent, a new study finds, and the average U.S. hospital charges uninsured patients three times what Medicare allows.
Twenty of the hospitals in the top 50 when it comes to marking up charges are in Florida, the researchers write in the journal Health Affairs. And three-quarters of them are operated by two Tennessee-based for-profit hospital systems: Community Health Systems and Hospital Corporation of America.
“We just want to raise public awareness of the problem,” said Ge Bai of Washington & Lee University in Virginia, an accounting professor who wrote the study along with Gerard Anderson of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.
Does reading that make you angry?
They are greedily taking advantage of all of us.
Other studies have come up with similar results. Here is one example…
According to National Nurses United, U.S. hospital charges continue to soar with a handful of them, such as Meadowlands Hospital Medical Center in Secaucus, N.J., going as far as charging more than ten times the total cost — or almost $1,200 per $100 of the cost of care. Meanwhile, the hundred priciest hospitals in the nation were found to have this cost ratio begin at 765 percent, which is more than twice the national average of 331 percent.
Much of the time, we are being overcharged for tests, services and procedures that we don’t even need.
It has been estimated that the amount of truly wasteful spending in the U.S. medical system comes to a grand total of about $600 billion to $700 billion annually. That means that wasteful medical spending in the U.S. each year is greater than the GDP of the entire country of Sweden.
And of course almost everyone has a story about an absolutely ridiculous medical bill that they have received. In fact, if you have one that you would like to share, please feel free to share it at the end of this article. The following are just a few examples that were shared in an editorial in a local newspaper…
Have you heard about the little girl who required three stitches over her right eye? The emergency room sent her parents a bill for $1,500 — $500 per stitch (NY Times, Dec. 3). My neighbor recently spent six hours in the emergency room with bleeding from the mouth. He was on a blood thinner, needed several blood tests, and his heart was monitored. His hospital bill came to $22,000. A California man diagnosed with lung cancer chose to fight his cancer aggressively. Eleven months later his widow received a bill exceeding $900,000.
One of the most disturbing trends that we are witnessing all over the nation is something called “drive by doctoring”. That is where an extra doctor that isn’t even necessary “pops in” to visit patients that are not his or “assists” with a surgery in order to stick the patient with a big, fat extra bill. The following is from a New York Times article about this disgusting practice…
Before his three-hour neck surgery for herniated disks in December, Peter Drier, 37, signed a pile of consent forms. A bank technology manager who had researched his insurance coverage, Mr. Drier was prepared when the bills started arriving: $56,000 from Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan, $4,300 from the anesthesiologist and even $133,000 from his orthopedist, who he knew would accept a fraction of that fee.
He was blindsided, though, by a bill of about $117,000 from an “assistant surgeon,” a Queens-based neurosurgeon whom Mr. Drier did not recall meeting.
How would you like to receive a bill for $117,000 from a doctor that you had never met and that you did not know would be at your surgery?
This is how broken our medical system has become.
And of course this type of abuse is not just happening in New York. It is literally happening all over the nation…
In operating rooms and on hospital wards across the country, physicians and other health providers typically help one another in patient care. But in an increasingly common practice that some medical experts call drive-by doctoring, assistants, consultants and other hospital employees are charging patients or their insurers hefty fees. They may be called in when the need for them is questionable. And patients usually do not realize they have been involved or are charging until the bill arrives.
If you or a close family member has been to the hospital recently, you probably know how astronomical some of these bills can be.
And if you have a chronic, life threatening disease, you can very rapidly end up hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt.
If you doubt this, just check out the following excerpt from an article that appeared in Time Magazine. One cancer patient out in California ran up nearly a million dollars in hospital bills before he finally died…
By the time Steven D. died at his home in Northern California the following November, he had lived for an additional 11 months. And Alice had collected bills totaling $902,452. The family’s first bill — for $348,000 — which arrived when Steven got home from the Seton Medical Center in Daly City, Calif., was full of all the usual chargemaster profit grabs: $18 each for 88 diabetes-test strips that Amazon sells in boxes of 50 for $27.85; $24 each for 19 niacin pills that are sold in drugstores for about a nickel apiece. There were also four boxes of sterile gauze pads for $77 each. None of that was considered part of what was provided in return for Seton’s facility charge for the intensive-care unit for two days at $13,225 a day, 12 days in the critical unit at $7,315 a day and one day in a standard room (all of which totaled $120,116 over 15 days). There was also $20,886 for CT scans and $24,251 for lab work.
The sad truth is that the U.S. health care system has become all about the money.
A select few are becoming exceedingly wealthy while millions go broke. One very disturbing study discovered that approximately 41 percent of all working age Americans either have medical bill problems or are currently paying off medical debt. And collection agencies seek to collect unpaid medical bills from approximately 30 million Americans every single year.
Once upon a time, going into the medical profession was a sacrifice and you did it because you wanted to help people.
Today, it is considered to be a path to riches.
If the U.S. health care system was a separate country, it would actually be the 6th largest economy on the entire planet. Even though our system is deeply broken, nobody wants to rock the boat because trillions of dollars are at stake. If it was up to me, I would tear the entire thing down and rebuild it from scratch.
So what about you? How would you fix our broken health care system? Please feel free to share your ideas by posting a comment below…
When the coming economic crisis strikes, more than half the country is going to be financially wiped out within weeks. At this point, more than 60 percent of all Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, and a whopping 24 percent of the country has more credit card debt than emergency savings. One of the primary principles that any of these “financial experts” that you see on television will teach you is to have a cushion to fall back on. At the very least, you never know when unexpected expenses like major car repairs or medical bills will come along. And in the event of a major economic collapse, if you do not have any financial cushion at all you will be a sitting duck. Yes, I know that there are millions upon millions of families out there that are just trying to scrape by from month to month at this point. I hear from people that are deeply struggling in this economy all the time. So I don’t blame them for not being able to save lots of money. But if you are in a position to build up an emergency fund, you need to do so. We have been experiencing an extended period of relative economic stability, but it will not last. In fact, the time for getting prepared for the next great economic downturn is rapidly running out, and most Americans are not ready for it at all. The following are 14 signs that most Americans are flat broke and totally unprepared for the coming economic crisis…
#1 According to a survey that was just released, 24 percent of all Americans have more credit card debt than emergency savings.
#2 That same survey discovered that an additional 13 percent of all Americans do not have any credit card debt, but they do not have a single penny of emergency savings either.
#3 At this point, approximately 62 percent of all Americans are living paycheck to paycheck.
#4 Adults under the age of 35 in the United States currently have a savings rate of negative 2 percent.
#5More than half of all students in U.S. public schools come from families that are poor enough to qualify for school lunch subsidies.
#6 A study that was conducted last year found that more than one out of every three adults in the United States has an unpaid debt that is “in collections“.
#7 One survey discovered that 52 percent of all Americans really cannot even financially afford the homes that they are living in right now.
#8 According to research conducted by Atif Mian of Princeton University and Amir Sufi of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, 40 percent of Americans could not come up with $2000 right now without borrowing it.
#9 That same study found that 60 percent of Americans could not say yes to the following question…
“Do you have 3 months emergency funds to cover expenses in case of sickness, job loss, economic downturn?”
#11 Today, the average American household is carrying a grand total of 203,163 dollars of debt.
#12 It is estimated that less than 10 percent of the entire U.S. population owns any gold or silver for investment purposes.
#1348 percent of all Americans do not have any emergency supplies in their homes whatsoever.
#1453 percent of all Americans do not even have a minimum three day supply of nonperishable food and water in their homes.
Perhaps none of this concerns you.
Perhaps you think that this bubble economy can persist indefinitely.
Well, if you won’t listen to the more than 1200 articles that set out the case for the coming economic collapse on my website, perhaps you will listen to former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan. The following is what he recently told one interviewer…
We asked him where he thought the gold price will be in five years and he said “measurably higher.”
In private conversation I asked him about the outstanding debts… and that the debt load in the U.S. had gotten so great that there has to be some monetary depreciation. Specially he said that the era of quantitative easing and zero-interest rate policies by the Fed… we really cannot exit this without some significant market event… By that I interpret it being either a stock market crash or a prolonged recession, which would then engender another round of monetary reflation by the Fed.
He thinks something big is going to happen that we can’t get out of this era of money printing without some repercussions – and pretty severe ones – that gold will benefit from.
And as I have stressed so frequently, the signs that the next crisis is almost here are all around us.
For example, the Baltic Dry Index has just plunged to a fresh record low, and things have already gotten so bad that some global shippers are now filing for bankruptcy…
Did you know that we buy nearly five times as much stuff from the Chinese as they buy from us? According to government numbers that were just released, we imported 44.9 billion dollars worth of stuff from China in September but we only exported 9.3 billion dollars worth of stuff to them. And this is not happening because our economy is so much larger than China’s. In fact, the IMF says that China now has the largest economy on the entire planet on a purchasing power basis. No, the truth is that this is happening because our economy is broken. Every month, we consume far more wealth than we produce. Because the outflow of money is far greater than the inflow, we have to go to major exporting nations and beg them to lend our dollars back to us so that we can pay our bills. Meanwhile, the quality of the jobs in this country continues to go down and our formerly great manufacturing cities are rotting and decaying. We are committing national economic suicide, and most Americans don’t seem to care.
Barack Obama is constantly hyping a “manufacturing resurgence” in America, but the numbers don’t lie. In September, our manufactured goods trade deficit with the rest of the world soared to a new all-time record high of 69.16 billion dollars. For the year, we are nearly 12 percent ahead of last year’s record pace.
When we buy far more things than we sell, we get poorer as a nation.
How do you think that we ever got into a position of owing China more than a trillion dollars?
We just kept buying far more from them than they bought from us, and their money just kept piling up. Now it has gotten to the point where our politicians literally beg them to lend our money back to us. They are the head and we are the tail.
And we did this to ourselves.
Once upon a time, the United States was the greatest manufacturing powerhouse that the world had ever seen. But now China manufactures more stuff than us and China also accounts for more total global trade (imports plus exports) than us.
This should never have happened. Several decades ago, the Chinese economy was a complete joke. But decades of incredibly foolish decisions by our politicians have resulted in the loss of tens of thousands of manufacturing facilities, millions of good paying jobs and the destruction of vast stretches of our economic infrastructure.
During the same time frame, gleaming new manufacturing facilities have gone up all over China.
China is literally wiping the floor with us on the global economic stage and most Americans don’t even understand what is happening. Here is more on the trade deficit numbers that were just released from the RealityChek Blog…
>The China goods deficit of $35.56 billion blew past the old mark of $30.86 billion, set in July, by 15.23 percent. The new deficit also represented a 17.77 percent increase over the August level of $30.20 billion.
>U.S. goods exports to the still strongly growing Chinese economy fell on month in September from $9.63 billion to $9.33 billion (3.12 percent). U.S. merchandise imports from China jumped by 12.70 percent over August levels, from $39.83 billion to $44.89 billion – itself an all-time high.
>The U.S. goods deficit with China this year is now so far running 5.62 percent ahead of 2014’s record pace.
>The longstanding U.S. manufacturing trade shortfall shot up from $59.10 billion in August to $69.16 billion in September. This 17.02 percent jump resulted in a beat of the old record of $67.33 billion, also set in July, by 2.72 percent.
And it isn’t just cheap plastic trinkets that China is selling to us.
In fact, their number one export to us is computer equipment.
Meanwhile, one of our main exports to them is “scrap and trash”.
Sadly, there are a couple of factors that will probably make our trade deficit with the rest of the world even worse in the months ahead.
Number one, the currency war that I wrote about earlier this week will probably push the U.S. dollar even higher against the yen and the euro.
You might think that a rising dollar sounds good, but the truth is that it will make our exports less competitive in the global marketplace.
Nations such as Japan devalue their currencies so that they can sell more stuff to us. But that hurts our own domestic industries. And when our own domestic industries suffer, that means less jobs for American workers.
Secondly, the collapse in the price of oil could have very serious implications for the shale oil industry.
In recent years, the shale oil revolution has caused local economic booms in states such as Texas and North Dakota. But shale oil tends to be quite expensive to extract. As I write this, the price of U.S. oil has fallen to about 77 dollars a barrel. If it stays at that level or keeps going down, shale oil production in the United States will slow down dramatically.
In other words, a lot of these shale oil “boom towns” could go “bust” very rapidly.
If that happens, the amount of oil that we import will rise substantially and that will add to our overall trade deficit.
But of course the biggest factor fueling our trade deficit is that the vast majority of Americans simply do not care that we are committing national economic suicide.
When we buy products made in America, we support American businesses and American workers.
When we buy products made overseas, we hurt American businesses, we kill American jobs and we make ourselves poorer as a nation.
Of course there is nothing wrong with buying a foreign-made product once in a while. But this holiday season, most people will fill their shopping carts to the brim with foreign-made goods without even thinking twice about it.
The next time that you go into a huge retail establishment such as Wal-Mart, start picking up products and look to see where they were made.
I think that you will be shocked at how few of them are actually made inside the United States.
When are Americans going to get sick and tired of making China wealthier at our expense?
We are willing participants in the destruction of the U.S. economy, and yet only a small minority of people seem to care.
What is it going to take for people to finally wake up?
Barack Obama has greatly expanded the powers of the presidency during his time in the White House, but there is one institution that he simply will not mess with. There is one organization that is considered to be so sacred in Washington D.C. that Obama will not dare utter a single negative word against it. That organization is the Federal Reserve. Even though he has shown that he is unafraid to pick a fight with just about everyone else in Washington, Obama flat out refuses to criticize the Fed and he even reappointed Ben Bernanke for another term as Fed Chairman even though Bernanke has a track record of failure that would make the Chicago Cubs look good. Perhaps Obama is aware of what has happened to other presidents that have chosen to tangle with the Fed. In any event, it has become clear that Obama submits to anything that the Fed says without question, and the controversy over the “trillion dollar coin” is another perfect example of this. For weeks, there has been much speculation in the mainstream media about the possibility that the Obama administration may print up a one trillion dollar coin that it would use to keep paying the bills of the federal government if an agreement to raise the debt ceiling is not reached. But on Saturday the Federal Reserve killed that idea, and we shouldn’t be surprised by that because under no circumstances will the Fed ever accept a threat to their monopoly over money creation in the United States. If the Federal Reserve had allowed Obama to print up a debt-free trillion dollar coin, that would have set a very dangerous precedent for the Fed. The American people would have realized that the federal government can actually create debt-free money whenever it wants and that it does not actually have to borrow money from anyone. That is something that the Fed probably would have moved heaven and earth to keep from happening. But now we won’t ever know how far the Fed would really be willing to go to keep their monopoly over money creation, because Obama has no plans to challenge this latest ruling from “the real boss” of our financial system.
Sadly, most Americans don’t even realize that a private banking cartel has a monopoly over all money creation in this country. In recent years they have abused this power by wildly printing money (“quantitative easing“), and by making more than 16 trillion dollars in secret loans to their friends during the last financial crisis. Under our system, the private Federal Reserve creates money whenever they want, and nobody else gets to create money. It is an insane system, but very, very few of our politicians will ever dare to question it.
At this point, the U.S. Treasury Department is essentially just an arm of the Federal Reserve. That is why it was no surprise that the Fed and the Treasury Department issued a joint statement on Saturday. According to Treasury spokesman Anthony Coley, both the Treasury and the Fed have come to the conclusion that under no circumstances should a trillion dollar coin be printed up by the Obama administration…
“Neither the Treasury Department nor the Federal Reserve believes that the law can or should be used to facilitate the production of platinum coins for the purpose of avoiding an increase in the debt limit”
But of course it was actually the Federal Reserve which made this decision. The following is from a report posted by Zeke Miller of Buzzfeed.com…
The Federal Reserve was responsible for killing a controversial proposal to circumvent the debt limit, a senior administration official told BuzzFeed Sunday.
On Saturday the Treasury Department released a statement ruling out the only remaining alternative to Congress raising the nation’s borrowing limit, which would utilize a loophole in federal law to mint a $1 trillion coin to be deposited in the Federal Reserve and ensure the federal government could pay all bills and debt obligations.
According to that Buzzfeed article, the Federal Reserve would have actually refused to recognize the trillion dollar coin if the Obama administration had tried to deposit it with the Fed…
But it was the Federal Reserve that killed the proposal, the official told BuzzFeed, denying a purely political rationale for the announcement, saying the independent central bank would not have credited the Treasury’s accounts for the vast sum for depositing the coin.
So there you go.
The real boss has told Barack Obama how it is going to be, and Obama plans to meekly comply.
So why is the Federal Reserve so adamant about maintaining their monopoly over money creation?
Well, it is all about compound interest. Albert Einstein once made the following statement about compound interest…
“Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it … he who doesn’t … pays it.”
When the Federal Reserve system was initially created back in 1913, the bankers that created it intended for it to be a perpetual debt machine that would extract massive amounts of wealth from the U.S. government (and ultimately from all of us) through the mechanism of compound interest. Each year, hundreds of billions of dollars of interest are transferred into the pockets of the wealthy bankers and foreign nations that own our debt. This is one of the reasons why I preach about the evils of government debt until I am blue in the face. The debt-based Federal Reserve system is a way to systematically steal the wealth of the United States, and it is happening right in front of our eyes, but very few people actually understand it well enough to complain about it.
Unfortunately, we are rapidly getting to the point where we have accumulated so much debt that it is threatening to collapse our entire financial system. The following comes from a recent Zero Hedge article…
By now most are aware of the various metrics exposing the unsustainability of US debt (which at 103% of GDP, it is well above the Reinhart-Rogoff “viability” threshold of 80%; and where a return to just 5% in blended interest means total debt/GDP would double in under a decade all else equal simply thanks to the “magic” of compounding), although there is one that captures perhaps best of all the sad predicament the US self-funding state (where debt is used to fund nearly half of total US spending) finds itself in. It comes from Zhang Monan, researcher at the China Macroeconomic Research Platform: “The US government is now trying to repay old debt by borrowing more; in 2010, average annual debt creation (including debt refinance) moved above $4 trillion, or almost one-quarter of GDP, compared to the pre-crisis average of 8.7% of GDP.”
This is a key statistic most forget when they discuss the stock and flow of US debt: because whereas the total US deficit, and thus net debt issuance, is about $1 trillion per year, one has to factor that there is between $3 and $4 trillion in maturities each year, which have to be offset by a matched amount of gross issuance just to keep the stock of debt flat (pre deficit funding). The assumption is that demand for this gross issuance will always exist as old maturities are rolled into new debt, however, this assumption is contingent on one very key variable: interest rates not rising.
Do you understand what is being said there?
Not only is our debt rising by more than a trillion dollars a year, we also need to roll over trillions of dollars of federal debt each year. If interest rates on that debt start rising, we are going to start feeling the pain very rapidly.
As I have mentioned previously, the average rate of interest on U.S. government debt was 6.638 percent back in 2000. If we returned to that level today, we would be paying more than a trillion dollars a year just in interest on the national debt.
The main thing keeping interest rates low right now is the fact that the U.S. dollar is the de facto reserve currency of the world. If that ends, interest rates on U.S. debt will skyrocket. The following is from a recent article by Chris Ferreira…
The US Dollar is the reserve currency of the world. You need it to buy oil, a vital component of any economy. Since other countries like China cannot print US dollars at their leisure, they have to get it from somewhere. They get it from trade with the US. The US buys products in Asia and the rest of the world with US dollars, and in turn these same dollar surpluses are used to buy oil and US bonds, creating a much needed artificial demand for US dollars.
This is also how the enormous US 558$ billion trade deficit in 2011 was financed. The US has been in a trade deficit since the 1980′s and it continues the grow as jobs and manufacturing are being lost to more competitive nations. The trade deficit also accounts for the national debt. The financing of the debt creates artificial demand for US bonds which helps lower the interest rate and coincidentally helps to raise the debt levels even higher.
Most Americans have absolutely no idea how very close we are to financial catastrophe. The only way we can continue to service our enormous 16 trillion dollar debt is for interest rates on that debt to remain super low. But the only way those interest rates can remain low is for the U.S. dollar to remain absolutely dominant in international trade. Once the rest of the world rejects the U.S. dollar, the game is over.
We are headed for total system meltdown, but neither major political party is going to do a thing about it. They are both just going to continue to meekly comply with the dictates of the real boss of our financial system – the Federal Reserve.
It is imperative that we educate the American people about these things. Please share this article with as many people as you can, and the following is another great article for anyone that does not understand how the Federal Reserve is destroying our financial system: “10 Things That Every American Should Know About The Federal Reserve“.
The fastest way to go broke in America is to go to the hospital. These days it seems like almost everyone has an outrageous hospital bill story to share. It is getting to the point where most people are deathly afraid to go to the hospital. All the financial progress that you have made in recent years can literally be wiped out in just a matter of hours. For example, you are about to read about an Arizona woman that was recently charged $83,046 for a 3 hour hospital visit. How in the world is anyone supposed to pay a bill like that? I have a really hard time understanding why a visit to the doctor should ever be more than a couple hundred bucks or why a hospital stay should ever be more than a couple thousand dollars. Outrageous hospital bills are a real pet peeve of mine and I have not even been to the hospital in ages. What makes all of this even more infuriating is that Medicare, Medicaid and the big insurance companies are often charged less than 10 percent of what the rest of us are billed for the same procedures. There is a reason why 41 percent of all working age Americans are struggling with medical debt right now. It is because our health care system has become a giant money making scam. Millions of desperate Americans go into hospitals each year assuming that they will be treated fairly, but in the end they get stuck with incredibly outrageous bills and in many cases cruel debt collection techniques are employed against them if they don’t pay.
So why do we have to pay so much for medical care? Back in 1980, less than 10 percent of U.S. GDP went to health care. Today, about 18 percent of U.S. GDP goes toward health care.
And considering the fact that over the next 20 years the number of Americans 65 years of age or older is projected to double that number is going to go even higher.
On a per capita basis we spend about twice as much on health care as anyone else in the world.
With the help of a friend, she called Poison Control and was advised to go to the nearest hospital that had scorpion antivenom, Chandler Regional Medical Center. At the hospital, an emergency room doctor told her about the antivenom, called Anascorp, that could quickly relieve her symptoms. Edmonds said the physician never talked with her about the cost of the drug or treatment alternatives.
Her symptoms subsided after she received two doses of the drug Anascorp through an IV, and she was discharged from the hospital in about three hours.
Weeks later, she received a bill for $83,046 from Chandler Regional Medical Center. The hospital, owned by Dignity Health, charged her $39,652 per dose of Anascorp.
What makes this even more shocking is that hospitals in Mexico only charge $100 per dose of Anascorp.
These days many hospitals will do whatever they can get away with on hospital bills.
One NBC News reporter was absolutely stunned at the bill that she received after she went in for neck surgery for degenerative disc disease recently….
Once I got my itemized bill, the grand total was a little over $66,013.40! That was for a one night stay and a four level vertebrae fusion surgery. The charges included $22 for one sleeping pill, $427 for one dissecting tool, and $32,000 for four titanium plates and ten screws.
I brought it to Todd Hill, a fee based patient advocate who helps people decipher their medical bills. “The screws in your procedure were billed at $605 a piece for a total of $6050 dollars. We’ve seen those in our past research for $25 or $30,” he said. “In this case, the markup is tremendous,” he added.
Considering the fact that 77 percent of American families are living paycheck to paycheck at least part of the time, a single hospital bill like this can be a financial death blow.
If you have time, read this tragic story where one man was charged $11,000 and all he had was a case of bad indigestion. Nothing was even wrong with him and now his family is going to have to declare bankruptcy.
Often medical bills are so complex and so confusing that nobody can really understand them. A lot of the times this is probably done on purpose to keep people from understanding how badly they are being overcharged. The following is from a recent article in the New York Times….
Hospital care tends to be the most confounding, and experts say the charges you see on your bill are usually completely unrelated to the cost of providing the services (at hospitals, these list prices are called the “charge master file”). “The charges have no rhyme or reason at all,” Gerard Anderson, director of the Center for Hospital Finance and Management at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “Why is 30 minutes in the operating room $2,000 and not $1,500? There is absolutely no basis for setting that charge. It is not based upon the cost, and it’s not based upon the market forces, other than the whim of the C.F.O. of the hospital.”
And those charges don’t really have any connection to what a hospital or medical provider will accept for payment, either. “If you line up five patients in their beds and they all have gall bladders removed and they get the same exact medication and services, if they have insurance or if they don’t have insurance, the hospital will get five different reimbursements, and none of it is based on cost,” said Holly Wallack, a medical billing advocate in Miami Beach. “The insurers negotiate a different rate, and if you are uninsured, underinsured or out of network, you are asked to pay full fare.”
Medical bills are the number one reason why Americans file for bankruptcy. As I mentioned earlier, approximately 41 percent of all working age Americans are struggling with medical debt.
And health insurance is not as much protection as you might think. According to a report published in the American Journal of Medicine, of all bankruptcies caused by medical debt, approximately 75 percent of the time the people actually did have health insurance.
And if you can’t pay your bills, many hospitals will come after you ruthlessly.
In fact, collection agencies sought to collect unpaid medical bills from approximately 30 million Americans during 2010 alone.
If you don’t cough up the cash they are demanding you can even end up in prison. The following example comes from CBS News….
How did breast cancer survivor Lisa Lindsay end up behind bars? She didn’t pay a medical bill — one the Herrin, Ill., teaching assistant was told she didn’t owe. “She got a $280 medical bill in error and was told she didn’t have to pay it,” The Associated Press reports. “But the bill was turned over to a collection agency, and eventually state troopers showed up at her home and took her to jail in handcuffs.”
Although the U.S. abolished debtors’ prisons in the 1830s, more than a third of U.S. states allow the police to haul people in who don’t pay all manner of debts, from bills for health care services to credit card and auto loans.
But why do these bills have to be so high? It is not like many doctors are getting rich these days. In fact, many of them are going broke.
So what is the deal?
Well, as a recent article by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts explained, there are a whole lot of people pulling profit out of the system other than just doctors these days….
There are two main reasons that US medicine is so expensive. One is that profits are piled upon profits. In addition to wages and salaries for doctors, nurses, and medical personnel, the American health care system has to provide profits for private hospitals, diagnostic centers, insurance companies, and for the accountants, attorneys and management consultants made necessary by the enormous litigation and regulatory compliance cost. American medicine is the most regulated in the world and the most criminalized.
And another big factor is that the rest of us have to make up the difference for the patients that are not profitable.
It has gotten to the point where some doctors in certain kinds of practices barely make any profit on Medicare and Medicaid patients. In fact, in many cases doctors actually lose money treating them.
An article posted on medicalcostadvocate.com has some outrageous examples of the difference between what you and I are billed and what Medicare pays out for the exact same procedures….
A patient in Illinois was charged $12,712 for cataract surgery. Medicare pays $675 for the same procedure. In California, a patient was charged $20,120 for a knee operation for which Medicare pays $584. And a New Jersey patient was charged $72,000 for a spinal fusion procedure that Medicare covers for $1,629.
So not only do we pay very high taxes to support Medicaid and Medicare, we also have to pay higher medical bills in order to make up the difference for the money that doctors and hospitals are not seeing from those patients.
Unfortunately, Medicaid and Medicare are expected to grow dramatically in the years ahead.
In the years ahead it is going to get even harder for those that are not dependent on the government for health care….
-Approximately 10 percent of all employers plan to drop health insurance coverage entirely because of Obamacare.
-According to one recent poll, 83 percent of all doctors in the United States have considered quitting the profession because of Obamacare, and we were already projected to have a severe doctor shortage in the years ahead even before Obamacare came along.
We are heading into the greatest health care crisis the United States has ever seen, and none of our leaders seem to have any answers.
I am just absolutely disgusted with the condition of our health care system. It is dominated by government bureaucrats, pharmaceutical corporations and the big health insurance companies. It is a giant money making scam that seeks to drain as much money from the rest of us as possible.
So do you have a hospital bill horror story to share? Please feel free to share your thoughts below….
How in the world does the average American family survive in this economy? The median household income is a little bit less than $50,000 a year right now. So let’s call that about $4000 a month. But before any of that money gets spent, you have to take out at least $1000 in taxes. That leaves about $3000 a month to pay all the bills with. With that $3000 you have to pay the mortgage (or rent), make the car payments, make the student loan payments, pay for power and water, pay for health insurance, pay for home insurance, pay for car insurance, pay the phone bill, pay the Internet bill and pay the cable bill. On top of all that, every member of the family needs three meals a day and the cars need to be filled up with gasoline or they won’t go anywhere. Of course I haven’t even mentioned expenses that don’t happen every month such as car repairs or new shoes. No wonder so many families are feeling so financially stressed!
The truth is that American families are getting squeezed harder than they have been in ages. The number of good jobs is declining, incomes are going down, and the cost of living just keeps going up.
The following are 17 facts that prove that the average American family is getting absolutely pulverized by this economy….
#1 The cost of a health insurance policy for the average American family rose by a whopping 9 percent last year. According to a report put out by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research and Educational Trust, the average family health insurance policy now costs over $15,000 a year.
How in the world can most families afford that? Yes, in many cases employers are paying for at least a portion of that, but still that seems absolutely outrageous.
#2 Due to rising costs, a lot of employers are completely getting rid of health plans for their employees. In fact, the percentage of Americans covered by employer-based health plans has fallen for 11 years in a row.
#3 The number of uninsured Americans continues to rise. Things have gotten so bad that an all-time record 49.9 million Americans do not have any health insurance at all.
#4 At this point, most American families are tapped out financially. According to the U.S. Labor Department, incomes and spending were both down for the second straight year in 2010.
#5 At the same time, the employment picture continues to look worse with each passing month. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of layoffs in the United States was up 14 percent in August.
#6 Even if you do have a job that doesn’t mean that you are doing much more than surviving. According to Paul Osterman, a professor of economics at MIT, approximately 20 percent of all employed Americans are making $10.65 an hour or less.
#7 The amount of debt that the average American family has piled up is absolutely staggering. The median yearly wage in the United States is just $26,261, but the average American household is carrying $75,600 in debt.
#8 Consumer confidence is extremely low right now. If the U.S. economy was in good shape, the Consumer Confidence Index would be up around 90. Instead, it is sitting at 45.4.
#9 Nearly every recent survey shows that the American people are feeling really depressed about the economy right now. In fact, one poll found that 80 percent of them believe that we are actually in a recession right now.
#10 Many consumers are seriously starting to cut back on spending again, and that is not a good sign for the U.S. economy. According to one recent study, 40 percent of all Americans have cut back on their spending within the last 60 days.
#11 It certainly does not help that millions of good jobs have been shipped out of the country. Sadly, the trend of offshoring our jobs is going to continue to accelerate if something is not done. According to Professor Alan Blinder of Princeton University, 40 million more U.S. jobs could be sent offshore over the next two decades.
#12 There is a lot of fear in the workforce right now. According to Gallup, 30 percent of all employed Americans are worried that they will be laid off soon.
#13 Today, there are 5.9 million Americans between the ages of 25 and 34 that are living with their parents. That is putting an even greater strain on the budgets of many families.
#14 American families have gotten very accustomed to using plastic to pay for things. Today, the average U.S. household has 13 different credit cards.
#15 Many American families are not making it at all in this economy. Last year, 2.6 million more Americans dropped into poverty. That was the largest increase that we have seen since the U.S. government began keeping statistics on this back in 1959.
#16 For many American families, living on food stamps has become a way of life. Today, there are more than 45 million Americans on food stamps and we keep setting a brand new record almost every single month.
#17 Things have gotten so bad that many American families are selling off whatever they can in order to survive. For example, down in Florida hundreds of people have been selling off their burial plots in an attempt to raise cash. The following is an excerpt from a local news report about this new trend….
Sellers are posting online, using burial plot brokers, and also funeral homes to market the real estate. Some of those advertisements show single plots starting at about $1,000, while family plots can go for up to $50,000.
Most American families are living in a state of almost constant financial stress. Way too many parents are spending way too many sleepless nights wondering how in the world they will be able to keep their heads above water for another month.
Very few families seem to have “extra money” for stuff these days. Yeah, there are the “privileged few”, but most people are really struggling to get by.
In America today, if you are able to keep your home from being foreclosed and you are able to put food on the table and clothes on the backs of your family then you are doing pretty good.
Sadly, as our current economic crisis deepens, the average American family is going to have an even more difficult time trying to survive financially.
So do you have any tips to share for how the average American family can survive in this very tough economy? Please feel free to share your ideas and thoughts below….
It really is hard to find the words to describe the true horror of the national debt. The U.S. government has been on the greatest debt binge in all of human history, and a day of reckoning is coming that is going to be so painful that it is going to shock America to the core. We have lived so far above our means for so long that none of us really has any concept of what “normal” is like anymore. The United States has enjoyed the greatest party in the history of the world, but now this decades-old party is ending and the bills are coming due. It was Dick Cheney who famously said that “deficits don’t matter”. Well, try telling that to the nation of Greece right about now. The horror that Greece is just beginning to experience is a preview of what is going to happen to us as well. Only when it happens to us it is going to be so much worse, because when we go down we are going to bring the entire global financial system down with us.
What we have done to future generations is beyond sickening. Previous generations entrusted to us the greatest economic machine in the history of the world and we destroyed it. Now we are leaving to our children and our grandchildren an economic future that has been totally wiped out and a national debt of more than 14 trillion dollars that we expect them to repay.
In Washington D.C. these days, there is a lot of talk about the debt ceiling. But whatever the politicians do, it is not going to solve our debt problems. If the debt ceiling does not get raised, we move the financial pain into the present. World financial markets would crash and that would be followed by a devastating economic nightmare.
If we do raise the debt ceiling, that will “kick the can down the road” a little bit farther. However, world financial markets will still crash eventually and our eventual economic nightmare will be even worse.
Well, can’t we just “inflate our way” out of debt?
No, unfortunately things are just not that easy. If we try to inflate our way out of debt, interest rates will likely rise just as quickly as inflation does, and that would be absolutely catastrophic.
Before interest rates even reached 20% we would hit a point where it would take every single dollar taken in by the federal government just to pay the interest on the national debt.
Meanwhile, rapidly rising inflation would devastate the value of all of your bank accounts and every other single financial asset that you own.
So no, inflating our way out of debt is not going to work.
At the moment, the U.S. federal government is able to borrow gigantic quantities of money at super low interest rates.
When that changes, all hell is going to be unleashed.
The following are 41 statistics about the national debt that are almost too crazy to believe….
13 – The U.S. government borrows an average of about 168 million dollars every single hour.
14 – The combined debt of the major GSEs (Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Sallie Mae) has increased from 3.2 trillion in 2008 to 6.4 trillion in 2011. Thanks to George W. Bush, Barack Obama and the U.S. Congress, U.S. taxpayers are guaranteeing that debt. This is debt that is not even included in the $14.3 trillion national debt figure.
15 – Some experts estimate that the unfunded liabilities of the U.S. government for programs such as Social Security and Medicare are in the neighborhood of 60 trillion dollars. Other experts claim that the total for federal government unfunded liabilities could be well over $100 trillion. But what almost everyone agrees on is that it is going to be virtually impossible to even come close to meeting all of those obligations.
16 – The U.S. government currently has to borrow approximately 41 cents of every single dollar that it spends.
18 – The level of government waste in this country is absolutely mind blowing. For example, the Department of Health and Human Services has just announced a brand new $500 million program that will, among other things, seek to solve the problem of 5-year-old children that “can’t sit still” in a kindergarten classroom.
20 – The cost for the first week of airstrikes on Libya was 600 million dollars. Keep in mind that the leader of the opposition in Libya has admitted that his forces contain large numbers of the same “al-Qaeda fighters” that were shooting at American troops in Iraq. So we are going broke and we are helping al-Qaeda take power in Libya at the same time.
21 – Just one day of the war in Afghanistan costs more money than it took to build the entire Pentagon.
22 – In 1980, government transfer payments accounted for just 11.7% of all income. Today, government transfer payments account for 18.4% of all income.
23 – 59 percent of all Americans now receive money from the federal government in one form or another.
24 – Back in 1965, only one out of every 50 Americans was on Medicaid. Today, one out of every 6 Americans is on Medicaid.
25 – Back in 1950, each retiree’s Social Security benefit was paid for by approximately 16 workers. Today, each retiree’s Social Security benefit is paid for by approximately 3.3 workers. By 2025 it is projected that there will be approximately two workers for each retiree.
29 – If the U.S. government was forced to use GAAP accounting principles (like all publicly-traded corporations must), the U.S. government budget deficit would be somewhere in the neighborhood of $4 trillion to $5 trillion each and every year.
According to a recent note from the sage of Dallas based Hayman Capital, highly respected Kyle Bass, a move back to 5% (2006 levels) in short term interest rates will increase annual U.S. interest expense by almost $700 billion annually. This is against current U.S. government tax revenues of $2.228 trillion (CBO FY 2011 forecast).
37 – A trillion $10 bills, if they were taped end to end, would wrap around the globe more than 380 times. That amount of money would still not be enough to pay off the U.S. national debt.
38 – If Bill Gates gave every penny of his fortune to the U.S. government, it would only cover the U.S. budget deficit for 15 days.
39 – If you were alive when Jesus was born and you spent one million dollars every single day since that point, you still would not have spent one trillion dollars by now. But this year alone the U.S. government is going to add more than a trillion dollars to the national debt.
40 – If you went out today and started spending one dollar every single second, it would take you over 31,000 years to spend one trillion dollars.
41 – If the federal government began right at this moment to repay the U.S. national debt at a rate of one dollar per second, it would take over 440,000 years to pay off the national debt.
You might be depressed after reading all of those statistics about the national debt, but there is some good news.
The national debt is a problem that should have been handled 20 or 30 years ago.
But it wasn’t.
So now what we have to look forward to is a very bleak future. Even if we totally scrapped our current monetary system and repudiated the debt, the transition would be “rocky” at best and we would not enjoy anything close to the standard of living that we are enjoying today.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of our politicians in Washington D.C. would never even dream of abandoning the current system. Most of them still totally believe in it.
But this current system is headed for an inevitable collapse. There is no way of getting around it.
Even most of our top politicians are now admitting that our current state of affairs is “unsustainable”. They just don’t have the guts to do anything about it.
Tens of millions of American families are about to go through economic hell and most of them don’t even realize it. Most Americans don’t spend a whole lot of time thinking about things like “monetary policy” or “economic cycles”. The vast majority of people just want to be able to get up in the morning, go to work and provide for their families. Most Americans realize that things seem “harder” these days, but most of them also have faith that things will eventually get better. Unfortunately, things aren’t going to get any better. The number of good jobs continues to decline, the number of Americans losing their homes continues to go up, people are having a much more difficult time paying their bills and our federal government is drowning in debt. Sadly, this is only just the beginning.
Since the financial collapse of 2008, the Federal Reserve and the U.S. government have taken unprecedented steps to stimulate the economy. But even with all of those efforts, we are still living in an economic wasteland.
So what is going to happen when the next wave of the economic crisis hits?
If you look at the economic relapse that’s going on right now, look at Friday’s abysmal job numbers, look at the housing numbers, understand that all of this is taking place with record monetary and fiscal stimulus. What happens if we remove those supports?
At the end of June, the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing program is slated to end. The U.S. Congress and state legislatures from coast to coast are talking about budget cuts. The amount of borrowing and spending that has been going on is clearly unsustainable, but will the U.S. economy start shrinking again once the current “financial sugar high” has worn off?
Already, all sorts of bad economic news has been coming out and all kinds of economic indicators are turning south. The American people are becoming increasingly restless. One new poll has found that 59 percent of the American people disapprove of Barack Obama’s handling of the economy (which is a new high). According to another recent poll, 63% of Americans say that they feel “not good” or “bad” about how the U.S. economy is performing.
If most Americans had good jobs, could afford their mortgages and could pay their bills, the economy would not be such a big issue.
Unfortunately, times are really tough for American families right now and they are about to get a lot tougher.
The official unemployment rate just went up to 9.1 percent, but that figure only tells part of the picture.
There are some areas of the country where it seems nearly impossible to find a decent job. Millions of Americans have fallen into depression as they find themselves unable to provide for their families.
According to CBS News, 45.1 percent of all unemployed Americans have been out of work for at least six months. That is a higher percentage than at any point during the Great Depression.
Just two years ago, the number of “long-term unemployed” in the United States was only 2.6 million. Today, that number is up to 6.2 million.
Can you imagine being out of work for 6 months or more?
How would you survive?
Just look at the chart below. What we are going through now is really unprecedented. The average duration of unemployment in this country is now close to 40 weeks….
So will things get any better soon? Well, there were only about 3 million job openings in the United States during the month of April. Normally there should be about 4.5 million job openings. The economy is slowing down once again. Good jobs are going to become even more rare.
There are millions of other Americans that are “underemployed”. All over the United States you will find hard working Americans that are flipping burgers or working in retail stores because that is all they can get right now.
Most temp jobs and most part-time jobs don’t pay enough to be able to provide for a family. But there are not nearly enough full-time jobs for everyone.
Sadly, the number of “middle class jobs” is about 10 percent lower than a decade ago. There are simply less tickets to the “good life” than there used to be.
But without good jobs, the American people cannot afford to buy homes.
Without good jobs, the American people cannot even afford the homes that they are in now.
U.S. home prices have fallen 33 percent since the peak of the housing bubble. That is more than they fell during the Great Depression.
This decline in housing prices has caused a lot of problems.
28 percent of all homes with a mortgage in the United States are in negative equity at this point. There are millions of American families that are now paying on mortgages that are for far more than their homes are worth.
Millions of American families literally feel trapped in their homes. They can’t afford to sell their homes, and if they simply walk away nobody will approve them for new home loans for many years to come.
Many Americans are sticking it out and are staying in their homes until they simply can’t pay for them anymore.
As the number of good jobs continues to decline, the number of Americans that are losing their homes continues to rise.
If the economy slows down once again and millions more Americans lose their jobs this problem is going to get a lot worse.
Even if they aren’t losing their homes yet, millions of other Americans families are finding it increasingly difficult to pay the bills.
Wages have been very flat over the past few years and yet the cost of most of the basics just seems to keep going up and up.
According to Brent Meyer, a senior economic analyst at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, the cost of food and the cost of energy have risen at an annualized rate of 17 percent over the past six months.
Have your wages gone up by 17 percent over the past six months?
As 2009 began, the average price of a gallon of gasoline in the United States was $1.83. Today it is $3.77.
American families are finding that their paychecks are going a lot less farther than they used to, but Ben Bernanke keeps insisting that we have very little inflation in 2011.
Most Americans don’t care much about economic statistics – they just want to be able to do basic things like take their children to the doctor.
So these days when American families can’t feed themselves what do they do?
They turn to the federal government of course.
At the moment, approximately 44 million Americans are on food stamps.
But our federal government cannot afford to spend money like this forever.
According to a recent USA Today analysis, the U.S. federal government took on $5.3 trillion in new financial obligations during 2010. USA Today says that the U.S. government now has $61.6 trillion in financial obligations that have not been paid for yet.
Who is going to end up paying that bill?
So with so much bad news, are our leaders alarmed?
Others are not so sure that everything is going to turn out okay.
Recently, James Carville warned that we could literally see rioting in the streets if the economic situation does not turn around soon. Just check out the last part of the video below….
The truth is that America is in decline. Just like with all of the great empires of the past, our empire is starting to crumble too.
A recent article in the Guardian touched on some of the reasons for America’s decline….
The experience of both Rome and Britain suggests that it is hard to stop the rot once it has set in, so here are the a few of the warning signs of trouble ahead: military overstretch, a widening gulf between rich and poor, a hollowed-out economy, citizens using debt to live beyond their means, and once-effective policies no longer working. The high levels of violent crime, epidemic of obesity, addiction to pornography and excessive use of energy may be telling us something: the US is in an advanced state of cultural decadence.
The economic news is only part of the puzzle. This country has rejected the ancient wisdom that was passed down to us and we have rejected the principles of our founding fathers.
We have piled up the biggest mountain of debt in the history of the world and yet somehow we expected that everything would turn out okay.
Well, everything is not going to turn out okay.
All of this debt is going to come down on us like a ton of bricks and the U.S. economy is going to continue to fall apart. Millions of American families are going to lose their jobs and their homes.
Do you ever have the feeling that there are holes in your pockets? These days our money seems to slip through our hands faster than ever. The Federal Reserve keeps telling us that the rate of inflation in 2011 is “close to zero”, and this is causing confusion for many Americans because they are making just as much money as they did in previous years but it doesn’t seem to go nearly as far. So what in the world is going on out there? Well, sadly, the truth is that we really don’t even know what the government considers “inflation” to be anymore. The way that the U.S. government calculates inflation has changed an astounding 24 times since 1978. You see, it is always politically beneficial to have a low inflation rate, so recent administrations have been changing the formula constantly in an attempt to look good. But these days most Americans know something is up. All they have to do is stop at a gas station, go shopping for food or open up their bills. The reality is that inflation in 2011 is about as bad as we saw back in the 1970s, it is just that the government is much less honest about it now.
Many years ago Kenny Rogers released a song that contained the following lyrics….
You got to know when to hold em, know when to fold em
Know when to walk away and know when to run
You never count your money when you’re sitting at the table
There’ll be time for counting when the dealer’s done
Well, the U.S. middle class has been dealt a losing hand, but in the game of life you just can’t fold.
Over the past 3 decades, the average household income for the bottom 80 percent of Americans has been remarkably flat. In fact, over the past several years we have actually seen median household income decline several times. If you do not know about how the U.S. middle class is being ripped to shreds, just read this article. Without a doubt, America is getting poorer.
Well, not the top 1 percent, but the vast majority of the rest of us sure are.
Meanwhile, prices have started to rise with a vengeance.
Will it be 29 percent more expensive again next year?
Perhaps some of us will just have to stop having Memorial Day cookouts because we can’t afford them anymore.
The price of gas is also digging into our paychecks big time.
A gallon of gas costs about a dollar more than it did a year ago, but we can’t avoid buying gas. All of us have got to get to work and drive to the store.
Sadly, each time the price of gasoline goes up 50 cents it takes about $70 billion out of the U.S. economy (on a yearly basis).
A recent article in USA Today described the kind of impact these high gas prices are having on average American families….
For every $10 the typical household earns before taxes, almost a full dollar now goes toward gas, a 40 percent bigger bite than normal.
Households spent an average of $369 on gas last month. In April 2009, they spent just $201.
But don’t worry, according to Ben Bernanke we barely have any inflation at all in 2011.
Some companies are trying to avoid raising their prices by reducing their package sizes. A recent article posted on Marketwatch entitled “Inflation diet: same price, less product” explored this phenomenon in detail. Millions of Americans are going to the supermarket and are finding that many of their favorite products are now 10 or 20 percent smaller and yet they are paying the same price as before.
Another thing that is happening is that product quality is going down. Have you noticed how things just don’t seem to be made the way that they used to? This is not a coincidence.
According to Global Hunter Securities Macro and Consumer Strategist Richard Hastings, retailers have been collaborating with their production contractors for about two years. They are trying to push back on the total volume, cost and weight of every unit.
“Along the way, the consumer barely noticed. By now, everybody knows something is wrong,” said Hastings. “If we had to put a number on it, it’s probably a 7.5% decline in total quality and durability of products compared to a bigger increase in the cost of production per unit made outside of the U.S.”
But no matter how hard companies try to hide it, at some point the American people are going to wake up and they are going to realize that they aren’t getting as much for their money as they were before.
This is why so many people get upset when the Federal Reserve and the U.S. government devalue our money. Inflation is a “hidden tax” on every single one of us. When our dollars don’t buy as much stuff, that means that we are all poorer than we were before.
All of this inflation is coming at a time when the economy is really struggling. Personally, I am seeing all kinds of signals that the economy is really starting to slow down once again.
What is going to make things even worse is all of the government austerity that is going to be implemented over the next couple of years.
Once upon a time, a government job was the safest kind of a job you could have. Sadly, as a recent Reuters article noted, those days are long gone….
Around 450,000 people who work for U.S. states, counties, cities, towns and villages could get pink slips in fiscal 2012, sharply up from the 300,000 positions shed this year, a report said on Monday.
So should we, as many of our liberal friends insist, tax the rich so that we can pay for all of those government workers?
Well, the truth is that the wealthy are already being taxed into oblivion. If you doubt this, just read this editorial in The Wall Street Journal: “A 62% Top Tax Rate?”
Most of the “ultra-wealthy” have learned how to avoid most of this taxation by moving their wealth offshore. In fact, as I have written about previously, it is estimated that a third of all the wealth in the world is now held in “offshore” tax havens.
The Federal Reserve and our politicians in Washington D.C. have been very naughty. They have been systematically destroying the value of our dollars.
Someday when you are using your money as toilet paper because toilet paper is actually much more valuable than dollars are you will wish that the American people had stood up and insisted on a different path.
Don’t laugh – during the hyperinflation that the Weimar Republic experienced in the 1920s, German citizens were actually burning stacks of money in their furnaces in order to keep their homes warm.
100 years ago, a U.S. dollar had more than 20 times the purchasing power than it has today.
Sadly, we are now in a terminal phase of dollar devaluation. It is only going to get worse from here. Someday we will look back and long for the days of “low inflation” that we had back in 2011.