One of the things that this era of American history will be known for is conspicuous consumption. Even though many of us won’t admit it, the truth is that almost all of us want a nice vehicle and a large home. They say that “everything is bigger in Texas”, but the same could be said for the entire nation as a whole. As you will see below, the size of the average new home has just hit a brand new record high and so has the size of the average auto loan. In the endless quest to achieve “the American Dream”, Americans are racking up bigger debts than ever before. Unfortunately, our paychecks are not keeping up and the middle class in the United States is steadily shrinking. The disparity between the lifestyle that society tells us that we ought to have and the size of our actual financial resources continues to grow. This is leading to a tremendous amount of frustration among those that can’t afford to buy expensive cars and large homes.
I remember the days when paying for a car over four years seemed like a massive commitment. But now nearly a quarter of all auto loans in the U.S. are extended out for six or seven years, and those loans have gotten larger than ever…
In the latest sign Americans are increasingly comfortable taking on more debt, auto buyers borrowed a record amount in the first quarter with the average monthly payment climbing to an all-time high of $474.
Not only that, buyers also continued to spread payments out over a longer period of time, with 24.8 percent of auto loans now coming with payment terms between six and seven years according to a new report from Experian Automotive.
That’s the highest percentage of 6 and 7-year loans Experian has ever recorded in a quarter.
Didn’t the last financial crisis teach us about the dangers of being overextended?
During the first quarter 0f 2014, the size of the average auto loan soared to an all-time record $27,612.
But if you go back just five years ago it was just $24,174.
And because we are taking out such large auto loans that are extended out over such a long period of time, we are now holding on to our vehicles much longer.
Ten years ago, it was just four years and two months.
My how things have changed.
And consumer credit as a whole has also reached a brand new all-time record high in the United States.
Consumer credit includes auto loans, but it doesn’t include things like mortgages. The following is how Investopedia defines consumer credit…
Consumer credit is basically the amount of credit used by consumers to purchase non-investment goods or services that are consumed and whose value depreciates quickly. This includes automobiles, recreational vehicles (RVs), education, boat and trailer loans but excludes debts taken out to purchase real estate or margin on investment accounts.
As you can see from the chart below, Americans were reducing their exposure to consumer credit for a little while after the last financial crisis struck, but now it is rapidly rising again at essentially the same trajectory as before…
Have we learned nothing?
Meanwhile, America also seems to continue to have an insatiable demand for even larger homes.
According to Zero Hedge, the size of the average new home in the United States has just hit another brand new record high…
There was a small ray of hope just after the Lehman collapse that one of the most deplorable characteristics of US society – the relentless urge to build massive McMansions (funding questions aside) – was fading. Alas, as the Census Bureau today confirmed, that normalization in the innate desire for bigger, bigger, bigger not only did not go away but is now back with a bang.
According to just released data, both the median and average size of a new single-family home built in 2013 hit new all time highs of 2,384 and 2,598 square feet respectively.
And while it is known that in absolute number terms the total number of new home sales is still a fraction of what it was before the crisis, the one strata of new home sales which appears to not only not have been impacted but is openly flourishing once more, are the same McMansions which cater to the New Normal uberwealthy (which incidentally are the same as the Old Normal uberwealthy, only wealthier) and which for many symbolize America’s unbridled greed for mega housing no matter the cost.
There is certainly nothing wrong with having a large home.
But if people are overextending themselves financially, that is when it becomes a major problem.
Just remember what happened back in 2007.
And just like prior to the last financial crisis, Americans are treating their homes like piggy banks once again. Home equity lines of credit are up 8 percent over the past 12 months, and homeowners are increasingly being encouraged to put their homes at risk to fund their excessive lifestyles.
But there has been one big change that we have seen since the last financial crisis.
Lending standards have gotten a lot tougher, and many younger adults find that they are not able to buy homes even though they would really like to. Stifled by absolutely suffocating levels of student loan debt, many of these young adults are putting off purchasing a home indefinitely. The following is an excerpt from a recent CNN article about this phenomenon…
The Millennial generation is great at many things: texting, social media, selfies. But buying a home? Not so much.
Just 36% of Americans under the age of 35 own a home, according to the Census Bureau. That’s down from 42% in 2007 and the lowest level since 1982, when the agency began tracking homeownership by age.
It’s not all their fault. Millennials want to buy homes — 90% prefer owning over renting, according to a recent survey from Fannie Mae.
But student loan debt, tight lending standards and stiff competition have made it next to impossible for many of these younger Americans to make the leap.
This is one of the primary reasons why homeownership in America is declining.
A lot of young adults would love to buy a home, but they are already financially crippled from the very start of their adult lives by student loan debt. In fact, the total amount of student loan debt is now up to approximately 1.1 trillion dollars. That is even more than the total amount of credit card debt in this country.
We live in a debt-based system which is incredibly fragile.
We experienced this firsthand during the last financial crisis.
But we just can’t help ourselves.
We have always got to have more, and society teaches us that if we don’t have enough money to pay for it that we should just go into even more debt.
Unfortunately, just as so many individuals and families have found out in recent years, eventually a day of reckoning arrives.
And a day of reckoning is coming for the nation as a whole at some point as well.
Sometimes it can be easy to forget that behind all of the horrible economic numbers that we hear about are millions of real people that have had their lives absolutely devastated by this economy. Elderly couples are being brutally evicted from their homes, young families are living in their cars, terminally ill people are dying because they cannot afford medication that they need and millions of parents can’t sleep at night as they wrestle with anxiety over not being able to provide for their children. Often those that lose their jobs or their homes discover that people start looking at them very differently and that there is very little compassion out there these days. As you will read about below, one major U.S. bank is even kicking an elderly woman with stage 4 breast cancer out of her home because she cannot make her full mortgage payment each month. When the next major global financial catastrophe happens, we are going to see a whole lot more economic despair. Will society respond to that crisis by becoming warmer and more compassionate, or will the world around us become even more cold and even more cruel? As bad as things are right now, it truly is frightening to think about what the world is going to look like after the next major economic downturn.
Many of the stories that you are about to read are truly heartbreaking. Unfortunately, they represent thousands upon thousands of other stories that never make it into the news….
Foreclosing On An Elderly Woman With Stage 4 Breast Cancer
Wells Fargo is threatening to evict an elderly woman with stage 4 breast cancer named Cindi Davis from her family home in North Carolina….
“They want us to make a house payment of almost $900 a month,” Cindi told the station of their lender, Wells Fargo bank. “We can afford maybe half that. I pay $1,100 a month in prescription medications.”
The couple says they have tried to work with Wells Fargo, even sending notes from Cindi’s doctors explaining her condition, but haven’t been able to come to a workable solution.
“They’re just going to put us out and it’s like, we are willing to pay what we can pay, but it’s not enough,” Cindi said.
Her cancer is in her lungs, lymph nodes and on her liver and she’s gone through a double mastectomy and multiple chemotherapy treatments, but Cindi has handled her disease like a fighter.
Cindi and her husband say that if they are evicted they may have to move in to their pickup truck.
Can you imagine living your last days in a truck as you try desperately to battle stage 4 breast cancer?
There is a severe shortage of medicine in Greece right now, and many doctors are essentially volunteers at this point because so few people can actually afford to pay their bills. The following description of the chaos in the Greek healthcare system comes from a recent Natural News article….
The economic situation in Greece is only continuing to worsen, as reports indicate that hospitals and care centers throughout the nation are running completely out of medicines, and many healthcare workers are now voluntarily providing care services without pay.
Strapped with spiraling debt, the Greek healthcare, which is government-run, has had to receive gobs of international financial aid just to keep operating with some semblance of normalcy. There has also been plenty of IOUs issued, and desperate patients quietly forking over cash “gifts” to doctors to receive treatments. All in all, the healthcare situation is in utter chaos, save for those that have sacrificed their own time, often free of charge, just to help those in need.
But it is not just the healthcare system that is deeply troubled.
Economic conditions have gotten so bad in Greece that some parents are actually abandoning their children in the streets according to the Daily Mail….
Children are being abandoned on Greece’s streets by their poverty-stricken families who cannot afford to look after them any more.
Youngsters are being dumped by their parents who are struggling to make ends meet in what is fast becoming the most tragic human consequence of the Euro crisis.
Could you ever do that to your children?
Sadly, it looks like things are going to get even worse in Greece. It is being projected that the unemployment rate in Greece will reach 30 percent by the end of the year.
Economic Shutdown In Portugal
Greece is not the only European nation that is going through an economic nightmare right now. The truth is that much of southern Europe is virtually shutting down right now.
Excluding the city’s still-bustling tourist areas, it’s very quiet around the city.
Street-level retail shops and restaurants are either devoid of customers or have been vacated. On many blocks I’ve seen more “for lease” signs than operating businesses.
Officially, the unemployment rate is 15.2% in Portugal, and the economy will contract 3% this year… yet the clear lack of economic activity suggests the real figures are much greater.
Without doubt, reality has set in. Locals have capitulated ‘hope’ that the good times will magically re-appear and have adjusted their habits accordingly.
American Families Living In Their Cars
In some areas of the United States you would never even know that an economic crisis is happening, but in other areas things are clearly falling apart very rapidly. There is a very serious shortage of decent jobs in most parts of the country, and we are seeing clear signs of societal breakdown in many of our major cities.
During the last recession, millions of Americans lost their jobs. Because a lot of them did not have much money saved up, many of those unemployed Americans also quickly lost their homes.
In the end, some of them ended up living in their vehicles.
And living in a car can be absolute hell. The following is from an ABC News report….
Three children — one suffering second-degree burns — were taken into protective custody Monday after they were discovered living with their parents in a “filthy” car in a Walmart parking lot.
Police were called to the parking lot Monday morning in Mount Dora, Fla., where they found the family of five living in a 1987 Cadillac Coupe de Ville full of clothes and garbage. Police told the Orlando Sentinel that days-old chicken bones were strewn about the car, along with a spoiled carton of milk and a bottle of tequila.
Other families try to make the best of it that they can. The following is one touching example from a recent 60 Minutes report….
This is the home of the Metzger family. Arielle, 15. Her brother Austin, 13. Their mother died when they were very young. Their dad, Tom, is a carpenter. And, he’s been looking for work ever since Florida’s construction industry collapsed. When foreclosure took their house, he bought the truck on Craigslist with his last thousand dollars. Tom’s a little camera shy – thought we ought to talk to the kids – and it didn’t take long to see why.
Pelley: How long have you been living in this truck?
Arielle Metzger: About five months.
Pelley: What’s that like?
Arielle Metzger: It’s an adventure.
Austin Metzger: That’s how we see it.
Pelley: When kids at school ask you where you live, what do you tell ’em?
Austin Metzger: When they see the truck they ask me if I live in it, and when I hesitate they kinda realize. And they say they won’t tell anybody.
Arielle Metzger: Yeah it’s not really that much an embarrassment. I mean, it’s only life. You do what you need to do, right?
Could you imagine being 13 years old or 15 years old and living in a truck?
Unfortunately, during the next major economic downturn a whole lot more families are going to end up living like this.
For most Americans, this will just mean higher prices at the grocery store.
But for corn farmers, a lack of rain can be absolutely devastating. The following are some recent comments from farmers about this crippling drought on agweb.com….
I am a small farmer, but my crops in Wayne County, Ill., are the worst I have had sine 1952-53. Corn will be lucky to make 10 bu. and beans are going downhill. It’s been over 100 degrees for 11 straight days. Bad crop.
Dryland corn is done! Some people in denial need to walk in field. Later corn tasseled and pollinating with no silks! No rain in seven days or low humidity 90 degrees and warmer by weekend. Yield range for corn on our farms…0 to 0 bpa. Soybeans…if it rains which is a big if may have some hope, not holding my breath!!
This is my 50th year of grain farming, so I think that I can say that I’ve seen it all. This is worse than 1988-Much worse for corn. Beans could still be fair if it starts to rain soon. Sat.-Sun. rains totaled only 1/4 inch.
This is worse than 1983 and 1988. Corn yield will be 30 to 40% of last year’s yield. The jury is still out on the beans. $10 corn is likely, because there will be so little of it relative to demand. Very sad…
You can see some incredible pictures of the drought in the middle part of the country right here.
When the economy falls to pieces, the politicians and the big banks get all the air time, but it is average hard working people that feel the most pain.
As the economy gets a lot worse (and it will) there is going to be a huge need for more love and compassion. The government is not going to be able “to save” everyone, and even now way too many people are falling through the cracks in the “safety net”.
Instead of looking down on the homeless and the unemployed, don’t be afraid to give them a helping hand up.
You never know, you might be the one in need of some assistance someday.
In case you hadn’t noticed, the United States is a really weird place. Not that “weird” is always bad. Sometimes “weird” can keep life interesting. But without a doubt, the United States is one of the most unique nations in the history of the world. Some of the weird facts about the United States listed below may be difficult for you to believe. Others are likely to completely shock you. Hopefully there is a little something for everyone in this article, and hopefully you will learn some new things from reading it. I know that I certainly learned some new things as I wrote it. In general, everything tends to be larger in America. The people are larger, the cars are larger, the divorce rate is the highest on the planet and the U.S. government has piled up the largest debt in the history of the world. Whether America does something good or bad, it usually does it in a very “big” way. It is easy to love the United States and all the good that it has done, but it is also easy to be horrified by how far this nation has fallen and by the direction that this country is currently headed. So where does America go from here? That is a very good question.
The following are 40 weird facts about the United States that are almost too crazy to believe….
#1 The highest point in the state of Florida is only 345 feet (115 yards) above sea level.
#2 Today, 66 percent of all Americans are considered to be overweight.
#40 It took from the founding of the nation until 1981 for the U.S. national debt to cross the one trillion dollar mark. Today, our national debt is well over 15 trillion dollars and we add more than a trillion dollars to our debt every single year.
Do you have any other weird facts that you think should be added to this list? Please feel free to leave a comment with your feedback below….
You might not want to read this article if you have a weak stomach. Most Americans have absolutely no idea what is going on in the dark corners of America, and when people find out the truth it can come as quite a shock. Many of you will not believe some of the things Americans are doing just to survive. Some families are living in sewers and drain tunnels, some families are living in tents, some families are living in their cars, some families will make ketchup soup for dinner tonight and some families are even eating rats. Some homeless shelters in America are so overloaded that they are actually sending people out to live in the woods. As you read this, there are close to 50 million Americans that are living below the poverty line, and that number rises a little bit more every single day. America was once known as the greatest nation on earth, but now there is decay and economic despair almost everywhere you look. Yes, money certainly cannot buy happiness, but the lack of it sure can bring a lot of pain. As the economy continues to decline, the suffering that we see all around us is going to get a lot worse, and that is a very frightening thing to think about.
The following is a half hour documentary produced by the BBC entitled “Poor America”. Trust me, this is a must watch. Your heart will break as you hear some American children talk about what they have to do for food….
Wasn’t that video absolutely mind blowing?
Those of us that still live comfortably are often completely unaware of what life is like out on the streets of America at this point.
There are millions upon millions of Americans that have lost all hope and that are living on the very edge of life and death.
And more join the ranks of the hopeless with each passing day. This upcoming weekend approximately 80,000 people in the state of Michigan will lose their unemployment benefits.
So what are those people going to do after that?
They have already been unable to find work month after month. Their savings are most certainly gone. Now the only money they had coming in is going to be eliminated.
Yes, I have written many times about how the U.S. government is absolutely drowning in debt and cannot afford to be giving out so much money. My point here is to show the other side of the equation. There are millions upon millions of Americans that are barely hanging on and there are no jobs for them. The suffering that those families are going through is very real.
Millions of other families are trying to get by on the incomes they pull in from part-time jobs. According to Gallup, the percentage of Americans that are working part-time jobs but that would like full-time jobs is now higher than it has been at any other time in the last two years. The number of the “working poor” just continues to increase, but most Americans don’t have much sympathy for them because they “have jobs”.
Well, when you are making 8 bucks an hour it can be incredibly tough to make it from month to month.
Just look at how much it costs to buy the basic things that we need.
Without gasoline, most of us would not even be able to get to our jobs. The price of gasoline has increased 83 percent since Barack Obama first took office, and it is poised to soar even higher. Right now, the average price of a gallon of gasoline in the United States is $3.51. Never before has the average price of gas gone above $3.50 so early in the year. Many believe that we could set a new all-time record this summer.
But last year was bad enough. In 2011, the average American family spent over $4,000 on gasoline.
So when you are making just a few hundred dollars per week, it can be a massive struggle just to put gas in your car and food on the table.
The article that I wrote the other day about the decline of Detroit really struck a nerve. All over America, people can see similar things happening to their own neighborhoods. People are scared and they want some answers.
Well, the truth is that we should have never allowed tens of thousands of businesses, millions of jobs and trillions of dollars of our national wealth to be shipped out of the country.
Just check out this stunning photo which compares the decline of Detroit to the rise of Shanghai, China.
Do you think that it is just a coincidence that Detroit is falling apart and that cities in China look sparkly and new?
No, the truth is that it is a natural consequence of our foolish economic policies.
There are hundreds of communities all over the country where third world conditions are setting in. For example, the following is how one blogger describes what life is like in a decaying suburb of Phoenix called Maryvale….
Crime and gangs are widespread. Most houses have either fallen into disrepair, or been remade with outside walls sporting spikes and ironwork. Many of the front lawns are now just dirt (or worse, gravel), the pools green and lethal.
Now we stand on the precipice of another major global financial crisis. Economic conditions in America are going to become significantly worse. The politicians in Washington D.C. may make sure that the boys and girls on Wall Street are always taken care of, but there will be no bailouts for the large numbers of Americans that are about to lose their jobs and their homes.
If you want an idea of what is coming, just look at what is happening in Greece. 25 percent of the businesses have shut down, one-third of all money has been pulled out of Greek bank accounts and unemployment and poverty are absolutely rampant.
For years, a lot of prominent voices out there were screaming and yelling about the dangers posed by our soaring trade deficits and our soaring budget deficits.
But the American people did not listen. They just kept sending the same politicians back to Washington D.C. over and over.
As a result, soon millions of those same Americans will find themselves doing things that they never dreamed that they would do just to survive.
Very few things illustrate how dramatically America has been deindustrialized than the stunning decline of the U.S. auto industry. Once upon a time, the United States literally taught the rest of the world how to make cars. We were the ones that invented the assembly line. We were the ones that showed the rest of the world what mass production could do for an economy. For decades, we produced more cars than anyone else and we sold more cars than anyone else. Detroit was known as “the Motor City” and our manufacturing prowess dominated the planet. But now all of that has changed. Japan makes far more vehicles than we do today. So does Germany. As you read this, state of the art production facilities are going up all over China. Meanwhile, the U.S. auto industry continues to rot and thousands upon thousands of good automotive jobs continue to leave our shores. The rest of the world is making cars better than we are, they are making them cheaper than we are and they really don’t care that many of our formerly great manufacturing cities are turning into rotting, stinking hellholes. The U.S. auto industry was once a symbol of American dominance, but now it is just a symbol of American decline. If we want to remain a great nation, then we need to start becoming great at making things once again.
The following are 17 facts about the decline of the U.S. auto industry that are almost too crazy to believe….
#1 The average age of an automobile in the United States has gone up more than 50% since 1990 and is now sitting at an all-time record of 10.8 years. The average length of a marriage in the United States that ends in divorce is only 8 years.
#3 When you add up salary and benefits, the average auto worker in Germany makes $67.14 an hour. In the United States, auto workers only make $33.77 an hour in salary and benefits.
#4 Back in 2000, about 17 million new automobiles were sold in the United States. During 2011, less than 13 million new automobiles were sold in the United States.
#5 Do you remember when the United States was the dominant manufacturer of automobiles and trucks on the globe? Well, in 2010 the U.S. ran a trade deficit in automobiles, trucks and parts with the rest of the world of $110 billion.
#10 In 1970, General Motors had about a 60 percent share of the U.S. automobile market. Today, that figure is down to about 20 percent.
#11 The combined U.S. market share of the “Big Three” American car companies fell from 70% in 1998 to 53% in 2008.
#12 Detroit was once known as the “Motor City”, but in recent decades automobile production has been leaving Detroit at a staggering pace. One analysis of census figures found that 48.5% of all men living in Detroit from age 20 to age 64 did not have a job during 2008.
#13 Today, only Chrysler still operates an automobile assembly line within Detroit city limits.
#14 Since Alan Mulally became CEO of Ford, the company has reduced its North American workforce by nearly half.
#15 Today, only about 40 percent of Ford’s 178,000 workers are employed in North America, and a significant portion of those jobs are in Canada and Mexico.
Just because we have had it so good for so long does not mean that it will always be that way.
As a nation, our wealth is declining. A decade ago, the United States was ranked number one in average wealth per adult. By 2010, the United States had fallen to seventh.
We lived off the wealth created by previous generations for a long time, but that was not enough for us. We always wanted more. Eventually we started going into massive amounts of debt so that we could keep this bubble of “false prosperity” going.
Economic despair is beginning to spread rapidly in America. As you read this, there are millions of American families that are just barely hanging on by their fingernails. For a growing number of Americans, it has become an all-out battle just to be able to afford to sleep under a roof and put a little bit of food on the table. Sadly, there are more people than ever that are losing that battle. Tonight, tens of thousands of formerly middle class Americans will be sleeping in their cars, even though that is illegal in many U.S. cities. Tens of thousands of others will be sleeping in tent cities or on the streets. Meanwhile, communities all over America are passing measures that are meant to push tent cities and homeless people out of their areas. It turns out that once you lose your job and your home in this country you become something of an outcast. Sadly, the number of “outcasts” is going to continue to grow as the U.S. economy continues to collapse.
Most Americans that end up living in their cars on in tent cities never thought that it would happen to them.
An article in Der Spiegel profiled one American couple that is absolutely shocked at what has happened to them….
Chanelle Sabedra is already on that road. She and her husband have been sleeping in their car for almost three weeks now. “We never saw this coming, never ever,” says Sabedra. She starts to cry. “I’m an adult, I can take care of myself one way or another, and same with my husband, but (my kids are) too little to go through these things.” She has three children; they are nine, five and three years old.
“We had a house further south, in San Bernardino,” says Sabedra. Her husband lost his job building prefab houses in July 2009. The utility company turned off the gas. “We were boiling water on the barbeque to bathe our kids,” she says. No longer able to pay the rent, the Sabedras were evicted from their house in August.
How would you feel if you had a 3 year old kid and a 5 year old kid and you were sleeping in a car?
Sadly, if child protective services finds out about that family those kids will probably be stolen away and never returned.
America is becoming a very cruel place.
Unfortunately, what has happened to that family is not an isolated incident. As rampant unemployment has spread across America, the number of people that have lost their homes has soared.
Today, it is estimated that approximately a third of the homeless population in Seattle live in their cars.
It is even happening to my readers. A reader named JD left the following comment on one of my articles a while back….
I was laid off from my construction job almost 2 yrs ago was on unenjoyment for over a yr they cut me off last september so i lost my apartment. Since then ive been couch surfing and hotel hopping. Now i occaisonally sleep in my car. I was lucky enough to have a friend with a lawn care business so i can at least put ever increasing gas in my car\house. I hate to say it but i think we will see hoovervilles in the major cities soon. When the welfare & food stamps & all the other govt. programs end the anarchy begins.
Desperation is rising all over America. Most people had hoped to see an economic recovery by now but it just hasn’t happened.
The phenomenon of Americans living in their cars has become so prominent that even Time Magazine has done a story about it….
For people who cannot afford rent, a car is the last rung of dignity and sanity above the despair of the streets. A home on wheels is a classic American affair, from the wagon train to the RV. Now, for some formerly upwardly mobile Americans, the economic storm has turned the backseat or the rear of the van into the bedroom. “We found six people sleeping in their cars on an overnight police ride-along in December,” says John Edmund, chief of staff to Long Beach councilman Dee Andrews. “One was a widow living in a four-door sedan. She and her husband had been Air Force veterans. She did not know about the agencies that could help her. I had tears in my eyes afterwards.”
Unfortunately, it turns out that sleeping in cars has been made illegal in many areas of the United States.
In many cities, police are putting boots on the cars and when the homeless owners can’t pay the fines the vehicles are being taken away from them.
Venice, California is one place where people have been arrested for living in vehicles. Venice had been a popular spot for people living in their RVs to go, but police started arresting people that were living in RVs and they began towing away their vehicles. The following is an excerpt from an article that appeared on the Daily Kos website….
They took Eric while he was changing his battery in his car. Claimed he lived in his car. A few days later they went to 3th Street and took his RV because he was in jail and no one moved it for 72 hours. Saturday they did a sweep of 7th and took Bear and his RV. They also took Elizabeth’s RV but do not know if they took Elizabeth but can not find her. The police went to 6th and took the white RV that always parks by Broadway on 6th. Everyday they take 1 to 4 RVs. Very soon there will be no one left.
Once you are down on your luck in America you will quickly find that authorities will try to take everything else you still have away from you.
The United States can be a very brutal place to be if you are poor.
All over America, communities are making tent cities illegal or they are simply just chasing them away.
It turns out that many Americans really don’t like large numbers of homeless people camping out in their neighborhoods.
But many of those now living in tent cities used to be just like you and me.
What is being done to tent cities in some areas of the country is absolutely disgusting.
For example, who could ever forget this video of police in St. Petersburg, Florida using box cutters to slash up the tents of the homeless….
What goes through your mind when you watch something like that?
If you don’t feel at least a little bit of compassion for those people then something is wrong.
You never know – you might be the next one forced to take refuge in a tent city.
In many U.S. cities, it is even illegal to sleep on the street. If you are homeless I am not sure what you are supposed to do. In some areas of the U.S. you can’t sleep in your car, you can’t sleep in a tent city and you can’t sleep on the street.
So what should we do with all of the Americans that are being forced out of their homes by this economy?
Should we just round them all up and put them into fenced camps?
Don’t laugh – we are getting closer to that kind of thing every day.
We live in very frightening times.
Poverty is absolutely exploding in America. The number of Americans that are going to food pantries and soup kitchens has increased by 46% since 2006. There are 44 million Americans on food stamps. If it was not for measures like these, the streets of America would be filled with destitute people.
Things are tough out there and they are about to get tougher.
At the beginning of next year, the extended unemployment benefits that have been helping the unemployed during this economic downturn will expire. Up to now, many unemployed Americans have been able to enjoy up to 99 weeks of unemployment benefits. Now that is coming to an end.
According to the New York Times, this is going to drain 37 billion dollars out of the wallets of unemployed Americans that are just barely hanging on.
What in the world is that going to do to the economy?
This all comes at a time when it looks like unemployment is going to start rising once again.
Cisco has just announced that they are going to be laying off 10,000 workers. Other large firms are expected to announce more layoffs shortly. The number of good jobs continues to shrink.
There are other signs that the economy is slowing once again. Pre-orders for Christmas toys are way down. Vacancies at U.S. shopping malls are rising again. Nearly every major poll shows that Americans are extremely pessimistic about the economy right now.
So why in the world is all of this happening?
Where in the world did all of our jobs go?
Well, it turns out that millions of our jobs have been shipped overseas where the labor is far, far cheaper and it is really starting to catch up with us.
Occasionally a half-ruined or half-burned house still stands to remind you that this used to be a cityscape. Pathetic, besieged knots of surviving homes remind you of what was once here. Sometimes amazing efforts have been made to keep them smart. More often, they haven’t.
Many bear menacing notices warning visitors to stay away. On the door of one, easy to imagine as a neat home with an iron-pillared porch where the head of the family must once have sat on summer evenings, are the words ‘Enter at ya own risk’ accompanied by a crude drawing of an angry face.
I ventured into a nearby ruin, smashed, charred and half-filled with garbage. You have no idea who or what might be lurking in these houses.
But don’t laugh at Detroit. What is happening in Detroit is coming to your area soon enough.
America is in an advanced state of decay. The number of “outcasts” is going to multiply as more Americans lose their jobs and their homes. Millions more Americans will be sleeping in their cars, in tent cities or on the streets before this is all over.
The U.S. economy is never going to get back to “normal”. What we are living through now is the “new normal” and it is rip-roaring prosperity compared to what is coming.
Please show compassion to the people around you that are hurting right now.
You never know, as the economy continues to unravel it may be you that needs some compassion soon.