Could you imagine being a single parent and trying to survive in America today on $10.50 an hour? For a moment, I want you to imagine that you are living in a moldy apartment that is so badly maintained that rain seeps in whenever it rains. You are employed, but you are completely dependent on government programs such as food stamps and Medicaid in order to make ends meet. Sometimes you would really like to take your small child somewhere fun, like a movie theater, but you can’t really afford the gas money. You are working as hard as you can, but you never seem to get anywhere, and you feel trapped because nobody seems to want to hire you for a better job. What I have just described for you is real life for a 22-year-old single mother from Chicago named Adriana Alvarez, but there are tens of millions of other Americans that have similar stories. If every day seems like it is a soul-crushing struggle for you, I want you to know that you are not alone. The long-term economic collapse that I chronicle on my website is not just about facts and figures. It is about real people that are quietly leading lives of silent desperation, and by now it has becoming exceedingly apparent that our politicians, the mainstream media and the gigantic corporations that dominate our economy do not really care much about the rest of us at all.
Life fundamentally changes once you become a parent. Instead of living just for yourself, all of a sudden you have a precious little child that is completely and totally dependent on you. And it is absolutely heartbreaking for any parent to look into the eyes of a little child and try to explain why there is not enough food or why they can’t afford a better place to live.
With that in mind, I want you to read an excerpt from Adriana’s recent blog post entitled “What It’s Really Like To Support Yourself On McDonald’s Pay“…
I’m a single mom with a three-year-old son named Manny. To support him, I work full-time as a cashier at a McDonald’s in Chicago.
I’ve worked at McDonald’s for five years, but still make only $10.50 an hour. The only way my son and I can make it is with food stamps, Medicaid, and a child care subsidy. Most of my coworkers are in the same boat, no matter how long they’ve held their jobs.
With child care, transportation to work, food, rent, and our other basic expenses, there’s no money left over for living. Every time I think about taking Manny somewhere fun, like to a movie, I have to think about whether we can really afford the gas.
When you only make $10.50 an hour and you have a child to take care of, you are obviously very limited as far as where you can live, and where Adriana lives sounds extremely depressing…
We live in a basement apartment, because it’s all I can afford. When it rains, water seeps into the apartment. This wetness brings mold, and I can’t get rid of the smell. We can’t even leave anything on the floor, which is tough with a three-year-old. Toys or anything else on the floor may get ruined when the water comes in.
So what is the solution for Adriana?
Well, she is taking part in nationwide strikes to try to force McDonald’s to pay workers like her a livable wage.
Unfortunately, that simply is not going to happen. McDonald’s restaurants are already experiencing a sales downturn, and if they raise wages substantially they will get crushed by the competition.
And of course those jobs were never meant for people that are trying to raise families. When I was growing up, it was teenagers and senior citizens that worked at McDonald’s. I know, because I was one of those teenagers.
But now millions upon millions of Americans in their prime working years are doing these kinds of jobs. As good jobs have disappeared from our economy, the competition for the jobs that remain has become extremely intense. It is really easy to tell Adriana that she should “get a better job”, but that can be extremely difficult in this economy, especially if you don’t have much education.
I know a lot of sharp, talented, responsible people that have been unemployed for a very long time or that are working at places like McDonald’s because nobody else will hire them. I am amazed that there is not a place for their talents and abilities in the “greatest economy on Earth”. But you know what? Things are about to get a whole lot worse out there.
A few months ago, I wrote that the crashing price of oil was going to cause massive job losses in the energy industry, and now it is happening.
According to Yahoo, more than 100,000 layoffs have already been announced, and this could be just the tip of the iceberg…
Since crude prices began tumbling last year, energy companies have announced plans to lay off more than 100,000 workers around the world. At least 91,000 layoffs have already materialized, with the majority coming in oil-field-services and drilling companies, according to research by Graves & Co., a Houston consulting firm.
And remember, these are not $10.50 an hour jobs. Many of these jobs pay well into the six figures annually. These are exactly the kinds of jobs that the U.S. economy simply cannot afford to lose.
Meanwhile, Barack Obama is colluding with Congress to push through the next great job killing trade agreement. The following was in the Wall Street Journal on Thursday…
Lawmakers introduced fast-track trade legislation into the House and Senate Thursday that could pave the way for President Barack Obama to conclude a major agreement with 11 nations around the Pacific.
This agreement is called “The Trans-Pacific Partnership”, and it would result in millions more good jobs being sent overseas. For much more about this shocking betrayal of the American people, please see my previous article entitled “Obama’s Secret Treaty Would Be The Most Important Step Toward A One World Economic System“.
What our economy desperately needs is more jobs, not less jobs.
And traditionally, small businesses have been the primary engine of job growth in this country.
Unfortunately, our politicians have been absolutely killing small businesses for decades. Just look at the chart below. It comes from the U.S. Census Bureau, and it is extremely alarming. Back in 1980, nearly half of all firms in America were considered to be “young”, and those young firms accounted for almost half of all job creation. Since that time, there has been a slow, steady, depressing decline…
And as I discussed the other day, more businesses have closed in the United States than have opened for each of the past six years.
Prior to 2008, that had never happened before in all of American history.
Thank you Barack Obama.
When I talk about our “long-term economic collapse”, I am not exaggerating.
Our economy is literally dying right in front of our eyes, and it is people like Adriana Alvarez that are paying the price.
We desperately need to go back and start doing the things that once made this country so great, but unfortunately we continue running in the other direction as fast as we can.
So in the end, things are going to get much, much worse.
Things did not have to turn out this way, but these are the choices that we have made, and now we get to live with them.
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.
#5 More 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?”
#10 A different study discovered that less than one out of every four Americans has enough money stored away to cover six months of expenses.
#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.
#13 48 percent of all Americans do not have any emergency supplies in their homes whatsoever.
#14 53 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…
The unintended consequences of a money-printed, credit-fueled, mal-investment-boom in commodities (prices – as opposed to physical demand per se) and the downstream signals that sent to any and all industries are starting to bite. The Baltic Dry Index has plunged once again to new record lows and the collapse of the non-financialized ‘clean’ indicator of the imbalances between global trade demand and freight transport supply has the real-world effects are starting to be felt, as Reuters reports the third dry-bulk shipper this month has filed for bankruptcy… in what shippers call “the worst market conditions since the ’80s.”
Perhaps you do see things coming.
Perhaps you do want to get prepared.
If you are new to all of this, and you don’t quite know how to get started preparing, please see my previous article entitled “89 Tips That Will Help You Prepare For The Coming Economic Depression“. It will give you some basic tips that you can start implementing right away.
And of course one of the most important things is something that I talked about at the top of this article.
If at all possible, you have got to have an emergency fund. When the coming economic storm strikes, your family is going to need something to fall back on.
If you are trusting in the government to save you when things fall apart, you will be severely disappointed.
Did you know that 77 million Americans have unpaid debts that are “in collections” and that Congress is actually thinking about letting post offices offer payday loans? We live in a country where almost everyone is drowning in debt and where most people are either flat broke or very close to flat broke. Years ago, “your Mama is so broke” jokes were all the rage, and at the rate we are going they could make a big comeback. Some of my favorites were “your Mama is so broke she went to McDonald’s and put a milkshake on layaway” and “your Mama is so broke your family ate cereal with a fork to save milk”. Unfortunately, the facts that I am about to share with you are not funny at all. In fact, they are quite sobering. Yes, things are going fairly well for the elitists that live in the good areas of New York City, Washington D.C. and San Francisco right now, but most of the country is deeply struggling as our economic fundamentals continue to crumble. Please share these numbers with as many people as you can, because we need people to understand that there has not been an “economic recovery” for most of America. In fact, in many ways things just continue to get even worse. The following are 21 ways to end the phrase “Americans are so broke”…
1. Americans are so broke that about a third of them have debt collectors on their heels. One recent study discovered that more than one out of every three adults in the United States has an unpaid debt that is “in collections“. That is a total of 77 million people. In other words, the debt collection business in America is absolutely booming.
2. Americans are so broke that Congress is now actually considering allowing post offices to provide payday loans and check cashing services.
3. Americans are so broke that they are keeping their vehicles longer than ever. The average age of vehicles on America’s roads recently set a new all-time high of 11.4 years.
4. Americans are so broke that car dealers are having to go to extreme lengths to get new customers. Last year, one out of every four auto loans in the United States was made to someone with subprime credit.
5. Americans are so broke that 52 percent of them cannot even afford the homes that they are living in right now.
6. Americans are so broke that they are falling farther behind on their student loans than ever. The total amount of student loan debt in the U.S. has now reached a whopping 1.2 trillion dollars, and approximately seven million Americans are in default on their student loans at this point.
7. Young Americans are so broke that half of all college graduates are still relying on their parents financially when they are two years out of school.
8. Young Americans are so broke that only 36 percent of American adults under the age of 35 currently own a home. That is the lowest level that has ever been recorded.
9. Americans are so broke that many of them can’t even afford to shop at Wal-Mart and dollar stores anymore…
Discount stores are slowly dying.
Yesterday, Dollar Tree announced it would buy Family Dollar, a chain that is in the process of closing hundreds of stores and firing workers.
Other discount stores have been struggling as well, writes Heidi Moore at The Guardian. Fashion discounter Loehmann’s filed for bankruptcy, while Wal-Mart’s sales have declined for the past five quarters.
“There’s just not enough money deployed by American families to keep all the discount chains in business,” Moore writes.
10. Americans are so broke that they are running up record levels of debt. Overall, U.S. households are 11.68 trillion dollars in debt right now.
11. Americans are so broke that the wealth of the “typical American household” has fallen by 36 percent over the past decade.
12. Americans are so broke that one out of every four part-time workers in America is living below the poverty line.
13. Americans are so broke that more than 37 million Americans are now being served by food pantries and soup kitchens.
14. Americans are so broke that there are 49 million Americans that are dealing with food insecurity.
15. Americans are so broke that the number of people on food stamps has increased by about 14 million while Obama has been in the White House. Ten years ago, the number of women in the U.S. that had jobs outnumbered the number of women in the U.S. on food stamps by more than a 2 to 1 margin. But now the number of women in the U.S. on food stamps actually exceeds the number of women that have jobs.
16. Americans are so broke that the U.S. government has had to spend an astounding 3.7 trillion dollars on welfare programs over the past five years.
17. Americans are so broke that more than 20 percent of all children in the U.S. are living in poverty.
18. Americans are so broke that we have a record number of kids sleeping in the streets. In fact, we have more than a million public school children that are homeless at this point.
19. Americans are so broke that 76 percent of all Americans are living paycheck to paycheck.
20. Americans are so broke that 26 percent of Americans have absolutely no emergency savings whatsoever.
21. Americans are so broke that approximately two-thirds of all Americans do not have enough money saved up to cover six months of expenses if an emergency arose.
If things are this bad now, during the so-called “economic recovery”, how bad will things get during the next major economic downturn?
Unfortunately, most Americans have been lulled into a false sense of security. The financial crisis of 2008 seems like ancient history to most of them now, and most people appear to believe that our leaders have “fixed” whatever was wrong the last time.
Of course that is not the case at all. In fact, our long-term problems have just continued to grow since then.
The truth is that what we are experiencing right now is about as good as things are going to get for the U.S. economy. When the next crisis arrives, all of the numbers in the list above are going to rapidly get a lot worse.
So enjoy the rest of this “bubble” while you still can. It certainly will not last for too much longer.
The U.S. health care system is a giant money making scam that is designed to drain as much money as possible out of all of us before we die. In the United States today, the health care industry is completely dominated by government bureaucrats, health insurance companies and pharmaceutical corporations. The pharmaceutical corporations spend billions of dollars to convince all of us to become dependent on their legal drugs, the health insurance companies make billions of dollars by providing as little health care as possible, and they both spend millions of dollars to make sure that our politicians in Washington D.C. keep the gravy train rolling. Meanwhile, large numbers of doctors are going broke and patients are not getting the care that they need. At this point, our health care system is a complete and total disaster. Health care costs continue to go up rapidly, the level of care that we are receiving continues to go down, and every move that our politicians make just seems to make all of our health care problems even worse. In America today, a single trip to the emergency room can easily cost you $100,000, and if you happen to get cancer you could end up with medical bills in excess of a million dollars. Even if you do have health insurance, there are usually limits on your coverage, and the truth is that just a single major illness is often enough to push most American families into bankruptcy. At the same time, hospital administrators, pharmaceutical corporations and health insurance company executives are absolutely swimming in huge mountains of cash. Unfortunately, this gigantic money making scam has become so large that it threatens to collapse both the U.S. health care system and the entire U.S. economy.
The following are 50 signs that the U.S. health care system is a massive money making scam that is about to collapse…
#1 Medical bills have become so ridiculously large that virtually nobody can afford them. Just check out the following short excerpt from a recent Time Magazine article. One man in California that had been diagnosed with cancer ran up nearly a million dollars in hospital bills before he 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.
#2 This year the American people will spend approximately 2.8 trillion dollars on health care, and it is being projected that Americans will spend 4.5 trillion dollars on health care in 2019.
#3 The United States spends more on health care than Japan, Germany, France, China, the U.K., Italy, Canada, Brazil, Spain and Australia combined.
#4 If the U.S. health care system was a country, it would be the 6th largest economy on the entire planet.
#5 Back in 1960, an average of $147 was spent per person on health care in the United States. By 2009, that number had skyrocketed to $8,086.
#6 Why does it cost so much to stay in a hospital today? It just does not make sense. Just check out these numbers…
In 1942, Christ Hospital, NJ charged $7 per day for a maternity room. Today it’s $1,360.
#7 Approximately 60 percent of all personal bankruptcies in the United States are related to medical bills.
#8 One study discovered that approximately 41 percent of all working age Americans either have medical bill problems or are currently paying off medical debt.
#9 The U.S. health care industry has spent more than 5 billion dollars on lobbying our politicians in Washington D.C. since 1998.
#10 According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the U.S. is currently experiencing a shortage of at least 13,000 doctors. Unfortunately, that shortage is expected to grow to 130,000 doctors over the next 10 years.
#11 The state of Florida is already dealing with a very serious shortage of doctors…
Brace yourself for longer lines at the doctor’s office.
Whether you’re employed and insured, elderly and on Medicare, or poor and covered by Medicaid, the Florida Medical Association says there’s a growing shortage of doctors — especially specialists — available to provide you with medical care.
And if the Florida Legislature goes along with Gov. Rick Scott’s recommendation to offer Medicaid coverage to an additional 1 million Floridians — part of the Affordable Care Act that takes effect next January — the FMA says that shortage will only get worse.
#12 At this point, approximately 40 percent of all doctors in the United States are 55 years of age or older.
#13 In America today, many hospital executives make absolutely ridiculous amounts of money…
In December, when the New York Times ran a story about how a deficit deal might threaten hospital payments, Steven Safyer, chief executive of Montefiore Medical Center, a large nonprofit hospital system in the Bronx, complained, “There is no such thing as a cut to a provider that isn’t a cut to a beneficiary … This is not crying wolf.”
Actually, Safyer seems to be crying wolf to the tune of about $196.8 million, according to the hospital’s latest publicly available tax return. That was his hospital’s operating profit, according to its 2010 return. With $2.586 billion in revenue — of which 99.4% came from patient bills and 0.6% from fundraising events and other charitable contributions — Safyer’s business is more than six times as large as that of the Bronx’s most famous enterprise, the New York Yankees. Surely, without cutting services to beneficiaries, Safyer could cut what have to be some of the Bronx’s better non-Yankee salaries: his own, which was $4,065,000, or those of his chief financial officer ($3,243,000), his executive vice president ($2,220,000) or the head of his dental department ($1,798,000).
#14 Health insurance administration expenses account for 8 percent of all health care costs in the United States each year. In Finland, health insurance administration expenses account for just 2 percent of all health care costs each year.
#15 If you can believe it, the U.S. ambulance industry makes more money each year than the movie industry does.
#16 All over America, people are reporting huge health insurance premium increases thanks to Obamacare. The following example is from a recent article by Robert Wenzel…
A California small businessman tells me that he switched healthcare insurance carriers in 2012. The monthly premium for him and his wife was about $400, but when he received his first bill in January of this year it was for $1,200. He hasn’t been to a doctor in years, his wife has only gone for minor care.
Apparently there is some clause in the Affordable Healthcare Act that results in health insurance firms using a new method to calculate premiums. Those who have health insurance plans that have been in effect since at least 2010 are grandfathered under the old calculation method, but insurance carriers are using a new formula for new plans.
#17 Blue Shield of California has announced that it wants to raise health insurance premiums by up to 20 percent this year in an effort to keep up with rising health costs.
#18 Aetna’s CEO says that health insurance premiums for many Americans will double when the major provisions of Obamacare go into effect in 2014.
#19 Close to 10 percent of all U.S. employers plan to drop health coverage completely when the major provisions of Obamacare go into effect in 2014.
#20 According to a survey conducted by the Doctor Patient Medical Association, 83 percent of all doctors in the United States have considered leaving the profession because of Obamacare.
#21 Approximately 16,000 new IRS agents will be hired to help oversee the implementation of Obamacare, and the Obama administration has given the IRS 500 million extra dollars “outside the normal appropriations process” to help the IRS with their new duties.
#22 During 2013, Americans will spend more than 280 billion dollars on prescription drugs.
#23 Prescription drugs cost about 50% more in the United States than they do in other countries.
#24 In the United States today, prescription painkillers kill more Americans than heroin and cocaine combined.
#25 Nearly half of all Americans now use prescription drugs on a regular basis according to the CDC. Not only that, the CDC also says that approximately one-third of all Americans use two or more pharmaceutical drugs on a regular basis, and more than ten percent of all Americans use five or more pharmaceutical drugs on a regular basis.
#26 The percentage of women taking antidepressants in America is higher than in any other country in the world.
#27 In 2010, the average teen in the U.S. was taking 1.2 central nervous system drugs. Those are the kinds of drugs which treat conditions such as ADHD and depression.
#28 Children in the United States are three times more likely to be prescribed antidepressants as children in Europe are.
#29 There were more than two dozen pharmaceutical companies that made over a billion dollars in profits during 2008.
#30 According to the CDC, approximately three quarters of a million people a year are rushed to emergency rooms in the United States because of adverse reactions to pharmaceutical drugs.
#31 According to a report by Health Care for America Now, America’s five biggest for-profit health insurance companies ended 2009 with a combined profit of $12.2 billion.
#32 The top executives at the five largest for-profit health insurance companies in the United States combined to bring in nearly $200 million in total compensation for 2009.
#33 The chairman of Aetna, the third largest health insurance company in the United States, brought in a staggering $68.7 million during 2010. Ron Williams exercised stock options that were worth approximately $50.3 million and he raked in an additional $18.4 million in wages and other forms of compensation. The funny thing is that he left the company and didn’t even work the entire year.
#34 It turns out that the financial assistance that Barack Obama promised would be provided for those with “pre-existing conditions” under Obamacare is already being shut down because of a lack of funding…
Tens of thousands of Americans who cannot get health insurance because of preexisting medical problems will be blocked from a program designed to help them because funding is running low.
Obama administration officials said Friday that the state-based “high-risk pools” set up under the 2010 health-care law will be closed to new applicants as soon as Saturday and no later than March 2, depending on the state.
#35 In America today, you are 64 times more likely to be killed by a doctor than you are by a gun.
#36 People living in the United States are three times more likely to have diabetes than people living in the United Kingdom.
#37 Today, people living in Puerto Rico have a greater life expectancy than people living in the United States do.
#38 According to OECD statistics, Americans are twice as obese as Canadians are.
#39 Greece has twice as many hospital beds per person as the United States does.
#40 The state of California now ranks dead last out of all 50 states in the number of emergency rooms per million people.
#41 According to a doctor interviewed by Fox News, “a gunshot wound to the head, chest or abdomen” will cost $13,000 at his hospital the moment the victim comes in the door, and then there will be significant additional charges depending on how bad the wound is.
#42 It has been estimated that hospitals overcharge Americans by about 10 billion dollars every single year.
#43 One trained medical billing advocate says that over 90 percent of the medical bills that she has audited contain “gross overcharges“.
#44 It is not uncommon for insurance companies to get hospitals to knock their bills down by up to 95 percent, but if you are uninsured or you don’t know how the system works then you are out of luck.
#45 According to a study conducted by Deloitte Consulting, a whopping 875,000 Americans were “medical tourists” in 2010.
#46 Today, there are more than 56 million Americans on Medicaid, and it is being projected that Obamacare will add 16 million more Americans to the Medicaid rolls.
#47 Back in 1965, only one out of every 50 Americans was on Medicaid. Today, one out of every 6 Americans is on Medicaid.
#48 Today, there are more than 50 million Americans on Medicare, and that number is projected to grow to 73.2 million in 2025.
#49 When Medicare was first established by Congress, it was estimated that it would cost the federal government $12 billion a year by the time 1990 rolled around. Instead, it cost the federal government $110 billion in 1990, and it will cost the federal government close to $600 billion this year.
#50 Even if you do have health insurance, that is no guarantee that medical bills will not bankrupt you. Just check out what a recent Time Magazine article says happened to one unfortunate couple from Ohio that actually did have health insurance…
When Sean Recchi, a 42-year-old from Lancaster, Ohio, was told last March that he had non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, his wife Stephanie knew she had to get him to MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Stephanie’s father had been treated there 10 years earlier, and she and her family credited the doctors and nurses at MD Anderson with extending his life by at least eight years.
Because Stephanie and her husband had recently started their own small technology business, they were unable to buy comprehensive health insurance. For $469 a month, or about 20% of their income, they had been able to get only a policy that covered just $2,000 per day of any hospital costs. “We don’t take that kind of discount insurance,” said the woman at MD Anderson when Stephanie called to make an appointment for Sean.
Stephanie was then told by a billing clerk that the estimated cost of Sean’s visit — just to be examined for six days so a treatment plan could be devised — would be $48,900, due in advance.
By the way, that hospital down in Houston made a profit of 531 million dollars in one recent year.
So what can be done about all of this?
Well, the truth is that the status quo is a complete and total disaster, and every “solution” being promoted by politicians from both major political parties would only make things worse.
In the end, the U.S. health care system needs to be rebuilt from the ground up, but we all know that is not going to happen.
Instead, our politicians and the health care industry will just find additional ways to extract money from all of us, and the level of care that we all get will continue to decline.
If you don’t believe this, just check out what Paul Krugman of the New York Times had to say recently…
We’re going to need more revenue…Surely it will require some sort of middle class taxes as well.. We won’t be able to pay for the kind of government the society will want without some increase in taxes… on the middle class, maybe a value added tax…And we’re also going to have to make decisions about health care, doc pay for health care that has no demonstrated medical benefits . So the snarky version…which I shouldn’t even say because it will get me in trouble is death panels and sales taxes is how we do this.
Others are urging us to become more like Europe.
But do we really want what they have in the UK?…
Sick children are being discharged from NHS hospitals to die at home or in hospices on controversial ‘death pathways’.
Until now, end of life regime the Liverpool Care Pathway was thought to have involved only elderly and terminally-ill adults.
But the Mail can reveal the practice of withdrawing food and fluid by tube is being used on young patients as well as severely disabled newborn babies.
One doctor has admitted starving and dehydrating ten babies to death in the neonatal unit of one hospital alone.
Writing in a leading medical journal, the physician revealed the process can take an average of ten days during which a baby becomes ‘smaller and shrunken’.
In the end, my philosophy is just to avoid the U.S. health care system as much as possible. Most doctors are just trained to do two things – prescribe drugs and cut you open. In an emergency situation where you are about to die, those may be your best options, but otherwise I would just as soon avoid the gigantic money making scam that the U.S. health care industry has become.
But just don’t take my word for it. The following is some very sound advice from Dr. Robert S. Dotson…
Avoid contact with the existing health care system as far as possible. Yes, emergencies arise that require the help of physicians, but by and large one can learn to care for one’s own minor issues. Though it is flawed, the internet has been an information leveler for the masses and permits each person to be his or her own physician to a large degree. Take advantage of it! Educate yourself about your own body and learn to fuel and maintain it as you would an expensive auto or a pet poodle. One does not need a medical degree to:
1. avoid excessive use of tobacco or alcohol or, for that matter, caffeine;
2. avoid poisons like fluoride, aspartame, high fructose corn syrup, and addictive drugs (legal or illicit);
3. avoid unnecessary and potentially lethal imaging studies (TSA’s radiation pornbooths, excessive mammography, repetitive CT scans – exposure to all significantly increases cancer risk);
4. avoid excessive cell phone use and exposure to other forms of EMR pollution where possible (the NSA is recording everything you say and text anyway);
5. avoid daily fast food use and abuse (remember: pink slime and silicone) ;
6. avoid untested GM foods (do you really want to become “Roundup Ready?”):
7. avoid most vaccinations and pharmaceutical agents promoted by the establishment;
8. avoid risky behaviors (and, we do not need a bunch of Nanny State bureaucrats to define and police these);
9. exercise moderately;
10. get plenty of sleep;
11. drink plenty of good quality water (buy a decent water filter to remove fluoride, chloride, and heavy metals);
12. wear protective gear at work and play where appropriate (helmets, eye-shields, knee and elbow pads, etc.):
13. seek out locally-grown, whole, organic foods and support your local food producers;
14. take appropriate nutritional supplements (multi-vitamins, Vitamin C, Vitamin D3);
15. switch off the TV and the mainstream media it represents;
16. educate yourself while you can;
17. QUESTION AUTHORITY!
Doing these simple, common-sense things will add healthy years to a person’s life and help one avoid most medical encounters during his or her allotted time on earth.
So what do you think?
Do you believe that the U.S. health care system is a gigantic money making scam that is about to collapse?
Please feel free to post a comment with your thoughts below…
If the economy is improving, then why are many of the largest retail chains in America closing hundreds of stores? When I was growing up, Sears, J.C. Penney, Best Buy and RadioShack were all considered to be unstoppable retail powerhouses. But now it is being projected that all of them will close hundreds of stores before the end of 2013. Even Wal-Mart is running into problems. A recent internal Wal-Mart memo that was leaked to Bloomberg described February sales as a “total disaster”. So why is this happening? Why are major retail chains all over America collapsing? Is the “retail apocalypse” upon us? Well, the truth is that this is just another sign that the U.S. economy is falling apart right in front of our eyes. Incomes are declining, taxes are going up, government dependence is at an all-time high, and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the percentage of the U.S. labor force that is employed has been steadily falling since 2006. The top 10% of all income earners in the U.S. are still doing very well, but most U.S. consumers are either flat broke or are drowning in debt. The large disposable incomes that the big retail chains have depended upon in the past simply are not there anymore. So retail chains all over the United States are now closing up unprofitable stores. This is especially true in low income areas.
When you step back and take a look at the bigger picture, the rapid decline of some of our largest retail chains really is stunning.
It is happening already in some areas, but soon half empty malls and boarded up storefronts will litter the landscapes of cities all over America.
Just check out some of these store closing numbers for 2013. These numbers are from a recent Yahoo Finance article…
Forecast store closings: 200 to 250
Sears Holding Corp.
Forecast store closings: Kmart 175 to 225, Sears 100 to 125
Forecast store closings: 300 to 350
Forecast store closings: 125 to 150
Barnes & Noble
Forecast store closings: 190 to 240, per company comments
Forecast store closings: 500 to 600
Forecast store closings: 150 to 175
Forecast store closings: 450 to 550
The RadioShack in a nearby town just closed up where I live. This is all happening so fast that it is hard to believe.
But the truth is that those store closings are not the entire story. When you dig deeper you find a lot more retailers that are in trouble.
For example, Blockbuster recently announced that this year they will be closing about 300 stores and eliminating about 3,000 jobs.
Toy manufacturer Hasbro recently announced that they will be reducing the size of their workforce by about 10 percent.
Even Wal-Mart is going through a tough stretch right now. According to documents that were leaked to Bloomberg, Wal-Mart is having an absolutely disastrous February…
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. had the worst sales start to a month in seven years as payroll-tax increases hit shoppers already battling a slow economy, according to internal e-mails obtained by Bloomberg News.
“In case you haven’t seen a sales report these days, February MTD sales are a total disaster,” Jerry Murray, Wal- Mart’s vice president of finance and logistics, said in a Feb. 12 e-mail to other executives, referring to month-to-date sales. “The worst start to a month I have seen in my ~7 years with the company.”
So what in the world is going on here?
The mainstream media continues to proclaim that we are experiencing a robust “economic recovery”, but at the same time there are a whole host of indications that things are continually getting worse.
Even global cell phone sales actually declined slightly in 2012. That was the first time that has happened since the last recession.
Perhaps it is time that we faced the truth. The middle class is shrinking, incomes are declining and there are not nearly as many jobs as there used to be.
Mort Zuckerman pointed this out in a recent article in the Wall Street Journal…
The U.S. labor market, which peaked in November 2007 when there were 139,143,000 jobs, now encompasses only 132,705,000 workers, a drop of 6.4 million jobs from the peak. The only work that has increased is part-time, and that is because it allows employers to reduce costs through a diminished benefit package or none at all.
So how can the mainstream media be talking about how “good” things are if we still have 6.4 million fewer jobs than we had back in November 2007?
And sadly, things may soon be getting a lot worse. If Congress does not do anything about the “sequester”, millions of federal workers may shortly be facing some very painful furloughs according to CNN…
Federal workers could start facing furloughs as early as April, according to federal agencies trying to prepare for the worst.
Unless Congress steps in, some $85 billion in massive spending reductions will hit the federal government, doling out furloughs to much of the nation’s 2.1 million federal workforce, experts say.
If you still live in an area of the country where the stores and the restaurants are booming, you should be very thankful because that is not the reality for most of the country.
I often write about the stunning economic decline of major cities such as Detroit, but there are huge sections of rural America that are in even worse shape than Detroit in many ways.
For example, many Indian reservations all over America have been shamefully neglected by the federal government and have become hotbeds for crime, drugs and poverty.
Business Insider recently profiled the Wind River Indian reservation in western Wyoming. The following is a brief excerpt from that outstanding article…
The Wind River Indian Reservation is not an easy place to get to, but I had to see it for myself.
Thirty-five-hundred square miles of prairie and mountains in western Wyoming, the reservation is home to bitter ancestral enemies: the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes.
Even among reservations, it’s renowned for brutal crime, widespread drug use, and legal dumping of toxic waste.
You can see some amazing photos of the Wind River Indian reservation right here.
It is hard to believe that there are places like that in America, but the truth is that conditions like that are spreading to more U.S. communities with each passing day.
We are a nation that is in an advanced state of decline. But as long as the financial markets are okay, our leaders don’t seem too concerned about the suffering that everyone else is going through.
In fact, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan essentially admitted as much during a recent interview with CNBC. The following is how a Zero Hedge article summarized that interview…
Starting at around 1:50, Greenspan states the odds of sequester occurring are very high – in fact, the playdough-faced ex-Chair-head notes, “I find it very difficult to find a scenario in which [the sequester] doesn’t happen” But when asked how this will affect the economy, Awkward Alan is unusually clearly spoken – “the issue is how does it affect the stock market.”
While not so many of our leaders have taken the path to direct truthiness, Greenspan somewhat shocks a Botox’d and babbling Bartiromo when he admits “the stock market is the key player in the game of economic growth.”
Bartiromo shifts uncomfortably in her seat, strokes her imaginary beard and stares blankly as Greenspan explains that while the sequester will have a real effect on the real economy, “if the stock market can hold up through this, then the effect will be rather minor.”
Do you see?
As long as the stock market is moving higher they think that everything is just fine and dandy.
And the Obama administration?
They continue to pursue the same policies that got us into this mess.
Their idea of “economic reform” is to threaten to sue businesses that do not hire ex-convicts.
And of course now that Obama has been re-elected he is putting a tremendous amount of effort into “stimulating the economy”.
For example, he spent this weekend golfing in Florida, and the Obamas recently spent about 20 million taxpayer dollars vacationing in Hawaii.
Meanwhile, the U.S. economy is getting worse with each passing day.
If you doubt that economic conditions are getting worse, please read this article: “Show This To Anyone That Believes That ‘Things Are Getting Better’ In America“.
When you look at the cold, hard numbers, it is undeniable what is happening to America.
And our leaders are not doing anything to fix our problems. In fact, most of the time they are just making things worse.
So buckle up and get prepared. We are in for very bumpy ride, and this is only just the beginning.
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
Adventist Health 48
Airlines SAS 6000
American Cotton Growers 110
American Independence Museum 4
American Airlines 4400 + 800 leaving voluntarily
American Coal 54
Atlantic Lottery Corporation 16
Assc Milk Producers 130
Aveo Oncology 45
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
Consol Energy in W.V. 145
Crouse Hospital Syracuse NY 70
DEP in Tallahassee FL 15
DuPont, Co. 64
Eagle-Tribune, Andover 21
Emanuel Medical Cente 24
Energizer Holdings 1500
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
GT Advanced Tech 165
Harris’ Broadcast 17
Hawker Beechcraft 400 + Facilities closing
Hill Rom 200
Hills Holdings 300
HMX Group 567
Iberia Airlines 4500
ICM of Colwich 25
Judson University 21
Juniper Networks 500
Kaiser Permanente 84
Kinetic Concepts 427
Kratos Defense Security 125
Lackawanna County PA 11
Lightyear Network Solutions 12+
Majestic Star Casino/hotel 80
Major Wind Company 3000
Martha Stewart Living 70
Mills Manufacturing NC 68
Momentive, Inc. 150
Monitor Group 235
Montco Behavioral Health/Dev 58
Nebraska Medical Center 38
Neovia Logistics Services 52
New Energy 40
Penn Refrigeration 40
Penske Logistics 50
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
SRA Intl Inc 222
St. Jude Medical 300
Sun Media 500
TE Connectivity 620
TECO Coal Corporation 90
Texas Instruments 1700
The Providence Journal Co 23
TMX Group Ltd. 100
Turkey Point Nuclear Plant 277
Oce North America, Inc. 135
Turbocare OCE 220
US Cellular 980
UtahAmerican Energy Inc 102
Volvo Trucks Pulaski County 300
Wake Forest Baptist Medical 950
Welch Allyn 275
West Ridge Mine 102
World Media Enterprises Inc 105
WPS Health Insurance 600
Wright Patterson AFB 115
Wyodak Coal Mine 11
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.
Where have we seen this before? Bond yields soar above the 7 percent danger level. Check. The stock market crashes to new lows. Check. Industrial activity plummets like a rock and the economy contracts. Check. The unemployment rate skyrockets to more than 20 percent. Check. The bursting of a massive real estate bubble pushes the banking system to the brink of implosion. Check. Broke local governments beg the broke national government for bailouts. Check. The international community pressures the national government to implement deep austerity measures which will slow down the economy even more and hordes of violent protesters take to the streets. Check. All of this happened in Greece, it is happening right now in Spain, and mark my words it will eventually happen in the United States. Every debt bubble eventually bursts, and right now Spain is experiencing a level of economic pain that very, very few people saw coming. The recession in Spain is rapidly becoming a full-blown economic depression, and at this point there is no hope and no light at the end of the tunnel.
The bad news for the global economy is that Spain is much larger than Greece. According to the United Nations, the Greek economy is the 32nd largest economy in the world. The Spanish economy, on the other hand, is the 4th largest economy in the eurozone and the 12th largest economy on the entire planet. It is nearly five times the size of the Greek economy.
Financial markets all over the globe are very nervous right now because if the Spanish government ends up asking for a full-blown bailout it could spell the end for the eurozone. There simply is not enough money to do the same kind of thing for Spain that is being done for Greece.
Of course European officials are going to do their best to keep the eurozone from collapsing, but what they have completely failed to do is to keep these countries from falling into depression.
As I have written about previously, Greece has already been in an economic depression for some time.
I warned that Spain, Italy, Portugal and a bunch of other European nations were going down the exact same path.
Now we are watching a virtual replay of what happened in Greece take place in Spain.
Unfortunately, the global financial system may not be able to handle a complete implosion of the Spanish economy.
The following are 12 signs that Spain is shifting gears from recession to depression….
#1 At one point on Monday, the IBEX stock market index fell to 5,905, which was the lowest level in nearly ten years. When it hit 5,905 that represented a drop of about 12 percent over just two trading days. If that happened in the United States, it would be the equivalent of the Dow falling by about 1500 points in 48 hours.
#2 So far this year, the Spanish stock market is down more than 25 percent. Back in 2008, the IBEX 35 was well over 15,000. Today it is sitting just above 6,000.
#3 Spain has banned many forms of short selling for 3 months.
#4 The yield on 10 year Spanish bonds is now well above the 7 percent “danger level”.
#5 Thanks to the problems in Spain, the euro continues to fall like a rock. On Monday it hit a new two year low against the U.S. dollar, and it is near a twelve year low against the Japanese yen.
#6 During the first quarter of 2012, the Spanish economy contracted by 0.3 percent. During the second quarter of 2012, the Spanish economy contracted by 0.4 percent.
#7 Local governments all over Spain are flat broke and need to be bailed out by the broke national government. The following is from a recent CNBC article….
Adding to Madrid’s woes, media reports suggested another half a dozen of Spain’s 17 regional authorities, facing an undeclared funding crisis, were ready to follow Valencia in seeking aid from the central government.
#8 The percentage of bad loans on the books of Spanish banks has reached an 18 year high. European officials have already promised a 100 billion euro bailout for Spain’s troubled banking system, but most analysts agree that 100 billion euros will not be nearly enough.
#9 Spanish industrial output declined for the ninth month in a row in May.
#10 The unemployment rate in Spain is up to an astounding 24.6 percent. The unemployment rate in Spain is already higher than it was in the United States at the peak of the Great Depression of the 1930s.
#11 The youth unemployment rate in Spain is now over 52 percent.
#12 The Spanish government has just announced a whole bunch of new tax increases and spending cuts which will cause the Spanish economy to slow down even more. In response to these austerity measures, people are taking to the streets all over Spain. Last week, 100,000 demonstrators poured into the streets to protest in Madrid alone.
Sadly, the nightmare in Spain is just beginning.
If the yield on 10 year Spanish bonds stays above 7 percent, that is going to be a really bad sign. According to the Wall Street Journal, the 7 percent level is key as far as investor confidence is concerned….
Monday’s dramatic market moves suggest Spain may be stuck in a spiral that culminates in a bailout from other euro-zone countries.
“The rise in the 10-year yield well beyond 7% carries a very distinct reminder of events in Greece in April 2010, Ireland in October 2010 and Portugal in February 2011,” said analysts at Bank of New York Mellon. “In each case, a decisive move beyond 7% signaled the start of a collapse in investor confidence that, in each case, led to a bailout within weeks,” they added.
So keep an eye on that number in the weeks ahead.
Meanwhile, the Spanish economy continues to get worse with each passing month.
So just how bad are things in Spain right now?
Just check out this excerpt from a recent article by Mark Grant….
Recently two noted Spanish economists were interviewed. One was always an optimist and one was always a pessimist. The optimist droned on and on about how bad things were in Spain, the dire situation with the regional debt, the huge problems overtaking the Spanish banks and the imminent collapse of the Spanish economy. In the end he said that the situation was so bad that the Spanish people were going to have to eat manure. The pessimist was shocked by the comments of his colleague who had never heard him speak in such a manner. When it was the pessimist’s turn to speak he said that he agreed with the optimist with one exception; the manure would soon run out.
That may make you laugh, but for those in Europe going through these horrific economic conditions it is no laughing matter.
On Sunday, Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras actually told former U.S. president Bill Clinton that Greece is already in a “Great Depression“.
Like Spain, the unemployment rate in Greece is well above 20 percent and the youth unemployment rate is above 50 percent.
The only reason the Greek financial system has not totally collapsed is because of outside assistance, but now there are indications that the assistance may soon be cut off.
At this point there are persistent rumors that the IMF does not plan to give any more aid money to Greece unless Greece “shapes up”.
Meanwhile, the suffering in Greece just gets worse and worse.
Sadly, most Americans pay very little attention to what is going on in Greece and Spain.
Most Americans just assume that we will always have “the greatest economy on earth” and that we can take prosperity for granted.
Unfortunately, the truth is that the United States already has more government debt per capita than either Greece or Spain does.
Just like Greece and Spain, we are also rapidly traveling down the road to economic oblivion, and depression-like conditions will arrive in this country soon enough.
So enjoy these last months of economic prosperity while you still can.
A whole lot of pain is on the horizon.
If you want to know what the early stages of an economic collapse look like, just walk around some of the downtown areas of our major cities. Today, nearly all large U.S. cities are either flat broke or they are on the way to being flat broke. Yes, New York City and Washington D.C. (and a few others) are still doing fairly well, but for most U.S. cities economic reality is catching up with them very quickly. Right now, there are a number of major cities that are so broke that they cannot keep the street lights operating. Down in St. Louis, parents in some areas are carrying golf clubs with them as they walk their kids to school in order to fend off roving packs of wild dogs. In other major U.S. cities, open-air drug markets conduct business without fear. All over the United States, cities that used to be clean and prosperous and full of hope are now being transformed into post-industrial wastelands. We are certainly not in “Mad Max” territory yet, but it doesn’t take too much imagination to see where all of this is headed.
I have previously written about how Detroit is literally coming apart at the seams. Well, now in many areas of the city they can’t even keep the street lights on anymore. There simply is not enough money, and even if there was, thieves are stealing the copper wiring out of the street lights faster than the city can repair them.
At this point, there are some neighborhoods in Detroit where up to 50 percent of the street lights are not functioning.
The following is from a recent article in The Detroit News about this crisis….
The war to keep the lights on in Detroit is a serious one. Thieves, antiquated equipment and a lack of funding have made it impossible for city officials to catch up to the problem.
City officials estimate 15-20 percent of the 88,000 lights in the Motor City are not working, and they acknowledge that figure could be as high as 50 percent in some neighborhoods.
But it is not just Detroit that is having a major problem. Over in Highland Park, Michigan the majority of the street lights have been repossessed because the city was not keeping up with the electricity bill.
So what are residents of Highland Park supposed to do?
Are they supposed to lock themselves in their own homes at night?
In Fresno, California the theft of copper wire from street lights has become a total nightmare. At this point, the loss of copper wire and the cost of repairing the street lights is costing Fresno about $50,000 a month. So far, approximately 2,500 street lights have been stripped of their wiring.
Down in St. Louis they are having a different problem. In some of the worst areas of the city, roving packs of wild dogs are a serious threat to children that are walking to school.
A recent report by the local CBS affiliate in St. Louis described the situation this way….
…Lewis Reed is sounding the alarm. “I’ve witnessed packs of dogs, 10 and 15 dogs running together, and I’ve seen all these dogs I’m talking about they don’t have collars, they don’t have tags, these are truly wild dogs,” he said.
Reed says stray dogs are terrorizing the north side. “It’s obscene that parents have to walk their kids to school, in some parts of the city, with a golf club to fend off wild dogs.”
Can you imagine that?
They say that they are going to try to put more money into animal control efforts if they can find it. But like most major U.S. cities, St. Louis is a financial basket case.
Moving west a bit, Las Vegas is a different kind of a problem. It was once a mighty symbol of American luxury and decadence, but now it is a microcosm of everything that has gone wrong with our economy.
The following description of the decline of Las Vegas comes from a recent article in The Telegraph….
But Las Vegas’s days as a boom town are long gone. At 14 percent, unemployment is the highest in America (the national average is 9.1 per cent). House prices have fallen 58.1 per cent since their 2006 high – the biggest losses of anywhere in America, while according to the website RealtyTrac, which specialises in foreclosed properties, Las Vegas is the nation’s foreclosure capital. Some 70 per cent of homes in Las Vegas are thought to be ‘under water’, or in negative equity, meaning their value is worth less than the amount owed on the mortgage, while foreclosure notices have been served on one in 16 properties. A survey last year by the local Las Vegas Review-Journal and Channel 8 News Now found that 34 per cent of locals would leave Las Vegas if they could find a job elsewhere, or if they weren’t underwater on their home loan.
Last year, I wrote a piece entitled “The Death of Las Vegas“. Since then, things have gotten even worse for the city in many ways.
Today, there are hundreds of people living in the tunnels underneath the streets of Las Vegas. You can see CNN video of some of these people right here.
But at least the “tunnel people” have a “roof” over their heads.
Over in “Lost Angeles”, homelessness is absolutely exploding and there are thousands of people living in the streets.
The following is from a recent article by Nick Allen….
In Skid Row, a grimy pocket of downtown Los Angeles, the prostrate forms of homeless people lie strewn across the pavements.
The lucky ones have tents for shelter but others make do with a sliver of cardboard for a bed and a supermarket trolley to carry their rags.
At the last police count 1,662 people live on these streets, twice as many as a year ago.
And now amid the drug addicts and the drunks there are families who not so long ago had homes and ordinary suburban lives.
Wait, wasn’t the economy supposed to be getting better?
So why has the number of people living on Skid Row doubled over the past year?
Los Angeles, like much of California, is rapidly falling apart. Decades of very foolish policies have turned the “California Dream” into the “California Nightmare“.
Unemployment is rampant, crime is seemingly everywhere and the gangs appear to be getting bolder by the day. For example, 21 machine guns were recently stolen right out of an LAPD training facility.
But there are cities in California that are in even worse shape than Los Angeles is. If you go east of Los Angeles about 100 miles, you will come to the city of San Bernardino. 34.6 percent of the residents of San Bernardino are currently living below the poverty line. Among major U.S. cities, only Detroit has a worse poverty rate.
Heading back to the east coast, the city of Camden, New Jersey is representative of the post-industrial hellholes that you will find all over the mid-Atlantic region and up into New England.
In an extraordinary article entitled “City of Ruins“, Chris Hedges did an amazing job of documenting how bad things have gotten in Camden. Today it is estimated that the actual rate of unemployment in Camden is somewhere around 30 or 40 percent. For most young people in Camden, there are very few legitimate opportunities for a better life, so many of them have resorted to selling drugs or selling their bodies in a desperate attempt to survive.
The following is a brief excerpt from “City of Ruins”….
There are perhaps a hundred open-air drug markets, most run by gangs like the Bloods, the Latin Kings, Los Nietos and MS-13. Knots of young men in black leather jackets and baggy sweatshirts sell weed and crack to clients, many of whom drive in from the suburbs. The drug trade is one of the city’s few thriving businesses. A weapon, police say, is never more than a few feet away, usually stashed behind a trash can, in the grass or on a porch.
The era of “American exceptionalism” is over. We have rejected the things that made us great. We have forsaken the truth and now we are paying the price.
At this point, we are rapidly becoming a joke to the rest of the world.
You know that things are bad when headlines such as this start showing up in major international publications: “America Must Manage Its Decline“.
Is that what we are going to tell our kids and our grandkids?
Are we going to tell them that we must “manage” our decline?
Most Americans also realize that something is fundamentally wrong. According to a recent Time Magazine poll, 81 percent of the American people believe that the country is on the wrong track.
So why don’t our cities just spend more money and fix all of these problems?
Well, it is because most of them are drowning in a sea of red ink. Instead of spending more money, most of them are desperately searching for more places to cut. If you can believe it, 72 percent of all U.S. cities are laying workers off this year.
The federal government has been pumping massive amounts of money into state and local governments in recent years, but that can’t last much longer. As I wrote about yesterday, the federal government is in debt up to its eyeballs. In fact, the national debt has become so large that it threatens to collapse our entire financial system.
Sadly, the cold, hard truth is that we are now going to pay the price for decades of financial foolishness.
We thought that it would be our children and our grandchildren that would pay the price for our financial recklessness, but the reality is that we are going to pay the price too.
America is in a serious state of decline and things are going to get a lot worse in the years to come.
Take advantage of the relative prosperity that we are enjoying now to prepare for the lean years which are ahead.