For many Americans, the quality of Christmas is determined by the quality of the presents. This is especially true for our children, and some of them literally spend months anticipating their haul on Christmas morning. I know that when I was growing up Christmas was all about the presents. Yes, adults would give lip service to the other elements of Christmas, but all of the other holiday activities could have faded away and it still would have been Christmas as long as presents were under that tree on the morning of December 25th. Perhaps things are different in your family, but it is undeniable that for our society as a whole gifts are the central feature of the holiday season.
And that is why so many parents feel such immense pressure to spend a tremendous amount of money on gifts for their children each year. Of course this pressure that they feel is constantly being reinforced by television ads and big Hollywood movies that continuously hammer home what a “good Christmas” should look like.
Once again in 2016, parents will spend far more money than they should because they want to make their children happy. According to a brand new survey from T. Rowe Price, parents in the United States will spend an average of 422 dollars per child this holiday season…
More than half of parents report they aim to get everything on their kids’ wish lists this year, spending an average of $422 per child, according to a new survey from T. Rowe Price.
To me, that seems like a ridiculous amount of money to spend on a single child, but this is apparently what people are doing.
But can most families really afford to be spending so wildly?
Of course not. As I have detailed previously, 69 percent of all Americans have less than $1,000 in savings. That means that about two-thirds of the country is essentially living paycheck to paycheck.
So all of this reckless spending brings with it a lot of additional financial pressure. But because we are a “buy now, pay later” society, we do it anyway. We are willing to mortgage a little bit of the future in order to have a nice Christmas now.
The SunTrust Banks, Inc. (NYSE: STI) annual Holiday Financial Confidence survey reveals that 43 percent of Americans feel pressure to spend more than they can afford during the holiday season. Pressure to overspend is up four percent since the survey was first conducted in 2014 by Harris Poll, but down slightly from a high of 46 percent last year.
Ultimately, much of this spending ends up going on credit cards, and credit card debt is one of the most insidious forms of debt.
But at least one indicator suggests that much of the US is actually struggling financially: Americans are piling on credit card debt at record levels that we haven’t seen since the financial crisis.
Households added $21.9 billion in credit card debt in the third quarter — the largest increase for that period since 2007 — bringing the amount of outstanding credit card debt to $927.1 billion, according to the latest study from WalletHub.
Debt takes future consumption and brings it into the present, but there is a price to be paid for doing that.
Because we have to pay interest on that debt, we always have to pay back more money than we originally borrowed. And because interest rates on credit cards are so high, paying back credit card debt can be particularly painful.
According to Business Insider, the average American household currently owes nearly $8,000 to the credit card companies, and it is being suggested that this is a sign that the economy is much weaker than we have been led to believe…
The fact that the average household with debt now owes $7,941 to credit card companies, according to WalletHub, suggests that America’s putative economic strength might be a mirage — that the economy may in fact be a lot weaker than all the happy indicators are leading people to believe.
“I think it is a cause of concern because it says consumers are struggling despite the low unemployment figures,” says Lucia Dunn, an economics professor at Ohio State University. “I think the rise in debt arises from weakness in the economy. People whose incomes have dropped may be trying to maintain an older level of consumption by just charging everything.”
And guess what?
The Federal Reserve just raised interest rates, and so that means that paying off credit card debt will be even more painful for Americans in 2017 than it was in 2016.
Could it be possible that we have lost our way?
Could it be possible that we need to entirely rethink our approach to “the holiday season”?
According to an old NBC News story, one survey discovered that 45 percent of all Americans would prefer to skip Christmas altogether because of all the financial pressure…
Some 45 percent of those polled said the holiday season brings so much financial pressure, they would prefer to skip it altogether. Almost half said their level of stress related to holiday expenses is high or extremely high.
That’s probably because nearly the same amount — some 45 percent — say they do not expect to have enough money set aside to cover holiday expenses.
As a society, we need to learn that things will never make us happy.
Life is not about accumulating toys. Rather, we were created to love and to be loved.
If you want to live a great life, learn how to be a person of great love. Unfortunately, most people never seem to learn that lesson.
A couple of months ago, I reported that the total amount of household debt in the United States had reached a grand total of 12.3 trillion dollars.
If you break that number down, it comes to approximately $38,557 for every man, woman and child in the entire country.
In addition to that, we must also remember that corporate debt has approximately doubled while Barack Obama has been in the White House, state and local government debt is completely out of control, and the U.S. national debt is now sitting just under 20 trillion dollars.
Our greed is absolutely killing us, but we can’t stop.
So we will continue to party until eventually somebody comes along and turns out the lights.
Could you imagine spending the holidays in a homeless shelter, in a tent city surrounded by drug addicts and prostitutes, or in a sleeping bag on the cold, hard streets of an urban jungle? Unfortunately, that is what real life looks like for an increasing number of Americans. Most of the time when we think of “homeless people”, the image that comes into our minds is one of a grizzled old man asking for some spare change, but the truth is that vast numbers of women and children in our country do not have anywhere to live. In fact, Poverty USA has reported that last year a grand total 1.6 million U.S. children stayed either in a homeless shelter or in some other form of emergency housing. And you never hear the mainstream media report this number, but the truth is that the number of homeless children in the United States has risen by 60 percent since the “end” of the last recession. For the moment the wealthy are getting wealthier, but meanwhile things have just continued to get harder and harder for those that are struggling to survive in this economy.
In Wal-Mart parking lots and campgrounds all over America tonight, you will find formerly middle class families that are living in cars, trucks and recreational vehicles during this holiday season. Most of them will never complain and will try to put on a happy face outwardly, but inside the worry and fear are eating them alive.
As the weather gets cold, many homeless Americans head for warmer climates, and this is one of the factors that is fueling the unprecedented homelessness crisis in Los Angeles. The following comes from L.A. Weekly…
By nearly every metric, Los Angeles has the worst homelessness crisis of any city in America. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, there are more people suffering from chronic homelessness in L.A. than anywhere in the country, and their number is growing at a faster clip than those in New York City.
One homeless man in Los Angeles has decided to do what he can to make the best of his circumstances. He has transformed a depressingly bleak area underneath a freeway underpass into his own “personal paradise”…
A homeless man who turned a freeway underpass into his personal paradise by furnishing it with a make-shift jacuzzi and four-poster bed has become a viral hit and unlikely tourist attraction.
Ceola Waddell Jr, 59, began living in the underpass in L.A.’s 110 freeway near Coliseum six months ago.
He has since foraged two porcelain toilets, discarded refrigerators, couches and two beds to transform the space into his personal refuge.
You can’t help but smile when you read what Mr. Waddell has done, but the truth is that the homelessness crisis in the state is rapidly getting way out of control. In fact, Los Angeles is swamped by so many homeless people at this point that the L.A. City Council has asked California Governor Jerry Brown to officially declare a state of emergency.
On the east coast things are getting really, really bad as well.
You may find this hard to believe, but the number of homeless people in New York City has never been higher…
The number of homeless people living in New York City has reached a record-high.
The Department of Homeless Services reported there were 60,252, up 200 in two weeks.
Now, some are saying the city’s current plan to combat homelessness isn’t working.
So why is this happening?
The stock market is at an all-time high and the mainstream media keeps telling us that things are getting better, and yet poverty just continues to rise.
Other than the very wealthy, the truth is that things are not getting any better for virtually everyone else. In fact, it has been reported that over half of all New Yorkers “are teetering on the brink of homelessness”…
More than half of all New Yorkers are teetering on the brink of homelessness — without enough cash in the bank to cover them in the event of a disaster or lost job, a troubling new study has found.
This is one of the reasons why I am always encouraging my readers to build up their emergency funds. Sadly, the cold, hard reality of the matter is that most of the country is only a couple of paychecks away from losing everything.
To give you an idea of how deep the suffering can be this time of the year for those that have already lost it all, I want to share with you a story of a precious little dog named Ollie…
When Ollie was found, his fur was matted and so long you couldn’t see his adorable little eyes. He was clearly in need of dire help.
A woman and her sister saw Ollie outside her apartment, shivering in the freezing cold. They brought him in and quickly called the Michigan Humane Society to help take care of the dog.
Once Ollie was brought in, it was discovered just how sick he is. Had he not been rescued, he would have suffered a very painful death alone in the streets.
Very few people could come across a hurting dog like Ollie without helping him out, but what about the countless numbers of our fellow Americans that no longer have a warm home and will spend the night shivering in the cold?
Look, the truth is that you don’t have to have a whole lot of resources in order to make a difference. In Tennessee, there is a group of elderly women that refer to themselves as “the bag ladies” that are turning old plastic bags into sleeping mats for the homeless…
It all starts with cutting plastic bags into strips, tying those strips together, and rolling them into a ball.
The Bag Ladies call it “plarn,” instead of yarn. They then crochet the “plarn” into mats.
It takes 600 bags to make an 18 square foot mat. So far, this year, they have used 52,000 bags to make 88 mats.
“This is not young ladies doing this. This is older ladies with the arthritis,” said Akin.
How marvelous is that?
A single act of kindness can make a world of difference.
In the months ahead, temperatures are only going to get colder and economic conditions are only going to get tougher for those that are already living in poverty.
I would encourage all of us to think about what we can do to make a difference for those that are deeply hurting this time of the year.
An epidemic of creepy clown sightings is sweeping America, and authorities don’t know who or what is behind it. In some instances, clowns with horrific expressions painted on their faces have been spotted standing on the side of the road, lurking near the edge of the woods or just roaming about town staring at random people. But in other instances there have been reports of clowns actually attempting to lure children with gifts, and there have even been some reports of children running away from creepy clowns that were chasing after them. While doing research for this article, I came across recent creepy clown sightings from South Carolina, North Carolina, Ohio, Florida, Wisconsin, California, Alabama, Georgia and West Virginia. This is truly a nationwide phenomenon, and many believe that it will get even worse as Halloween approaches.
This creepy clown trend appears to have begun with a very disturbing case at an apartment complex in South Carolina…
Donna Arnold, one of the people residing at the complex who received the letter, said she called the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office to come out to Fleetwood Manor after her son and others reported seeing clowns behind the basketball court.
“I thought my child was seeing things,” Arnold said. “And then the next day I had about 30 kids come up to me and say, ‘Did you see the clown in the woods?”
Community activist Bruce Wilson said he is getting involved at the apartments to make sure children are safe, even if the sightings turn out to be harmless.
Whether people are dressed as clowns or not, attempting to abduct children in no joke.
Unsurprisingly, this case made national headlines, and at that point it appears that a whole host of copycats started to come out of the woodwork. The following is how an article in the Week summarized what happened next…
A week later, a boy at an apartment ten miles away reported seeing a man in a clown mask in the woods near his home. Later that night, a boy at an apartment just three miles from Fleetwood Manor reported seeing another clown. That apartment also sits on the edge of a wooded area. There was another local sighting the next day. The following day, a woman told police she saw a clown standing outside a Greenville laundromat, simply staring at her.
By then, the clowns had begun to mobilize. The previous day, a 14-year-old boy in Columbus, Ohio, said that a man wearing a clown mask chased him with a knife while the boy was walking to his school bus stop. Less than a week later, on Sept. 5, two children in Winston-Salem, N.C., claimed a clown was offering candy, as long as they would follow him into the woods. Later that night, a woman in the area claimed that a clown tried to coax her into the woods, except this one was carrying a machete. He wore black gloves and a black tie. The next morning, in the nearby town of Greensboro, a man said he saw a clown in the woods behind his apartment. Yellow polka-dotted shirt, blue pants.
Since that time the creepy clown sightings have not stopped, and one of the most alarming incidents of all just took place in McDuffie County, Georgia…
“It was this morning at 6:30 when we were leaving at the house,” said Cameron Frails, who saw the clown.
But as Frails and his neighbor, Hannah Rice, started walking, they noticed something.
“I was standing over there,” said Rice. “And I was like, ‘who’s that guy following Cameron?'”
“We saw a man with all black on, clown mask and a red wig,” said Frails.
They said they saw at least two men dressed in all black coming toward them between two trailers, so they started running.
According to the police report, the woman said the children told her they were leaving the community center as it was getting dark Monday evening when five people dressed as clowns and wearing masks emerged from a white panel van and began chasing them.
The 48-year-old woman also told police she saw a white panel van slowly driving past her home prior to the supposed incident at the community center around the corner, on McKinley Drive.
A lot of the copycats out there may be doing this sort of thing as a prank, but law enforcement authorities are beginning to take this threat very seriously.
In fact, Time Magazine is reporting that two schools in Alabama “were put on lockdown” on Friday due to threats from a group known as “Flomo Clowns”…
Two southern Alabama schools were put on lockdown Friday because of threatening Facebook messages and emojis posted on the now-deleted page of a group called the ‘Flomo Klowns.’
The sinister Facebook messages said “It’s going down tonight,” followed by revolver emojis, and “I love kids.” A parent also contacted the Flomaton Police Department to say her child had been sent threatening messages by the group.
The entrances to Flomaton High School, which has around 400 students, and Flomaton Elementary School, which has about 300, were locked, as well as internal doors. Local officers and sheriff deputies secured the school grounds and searched the area, AL reports.
I think that this is another example of how sick and twisted our society has become. There are a lot of unbalanced people out there that get a thrill from spreading terror, and the initial clown stories have inspired them to capitalize on this trend.
If you are able to take a photograph or some video of these creepy clowns, please feel free to contact me. “Killer clown” costumes are always extremely popular during the Halloween season, and I have a feeling that this wave of terror is only going to intensify as we approach the end of October.
One photograph of a creepy clown that was taken on Simmons River Road near Duhring, West Virginia has gotten a lot of attention on social media. It was originally posted by Karen Mann Hicks on Facebook, and you can view it right here…
Hopefully this creepy clown craze will soon fade, but it is a quick way for deeply disturbed individuals to “get on the news”, and so it seems likely that there will be even more copycats.
But those that are tempted to dress up like creepy clowns and terrorize children should be aware that police all over the nation are taking this very seriously, and arrests will likely be made at the first sign of trouble.
Can Donald Trump turn the U.S. economy around? This week Trump unveiled details of his new economic plan, and the mainstream media is having a field day criticizing it. But the truth is that we simply cannot afford to stay on the same path that Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and the Democrats have us on right now. Millions of jobs are being shipped out of the country, the middle class is dying, poverty is exploding, millions of children in America don’t have enough food, and our reckless spending has created the biggest debt bubble in the history of the planet. Something must be done or else we will continue to steamroll toward economic oblivion. So is Donald Trump the man for the hour?
If you would like to read his full economic plan, you can find it on his official campaign website. His plan starts off by pointing out that this has been the weakest “economic recovery” since the Great Depression…
Last week’s GDP report showed that the economy grew a mere 1.2% in the second quarter and 1.2% over the last year. It’s the weakest recovery since the Great Depression – the predictable consequence of massive taxation, regulation, one-side trade deals and onerous energy restrictions.
And Trump is exactly right about how weak this economic recovery has been.
So how would he fix things?
The following are 10 things that every American should know about Donald Trump’s plan to save the U.S. economy…
#1 Donald Trump would lower taxes on the middle class
The tax savings under Trump’s plan would actually be quite substantial for middle class families. The following numbers come from a recent Charisma article…
• A married couple earning $50,000 per year with two children and $8,000 in child care expenses will save 35% from their current tax bill.
• A married couple earning $75,000 per year with two children and $10,000 in child care expenses will receive a 30% reduction in their tax bill.
• Married couple earning $5 million per year with two children and $12,000 in child care expenses will get only a 3% reduction in their tax bill.
#2 Donald Trump would lower taxes on businesses
Under his plan, no business in America would be taxed more than 15 percent. Alternatively, Hillary Clinton’s plan would tax some small businesses at a rate of close to 50 percent. So Trump’s plan would undoubtedly be good for businesses, and it would encourage many that have left the country to return.
But where would the lost tax revenue be made up?
#3 Childcare expenses would be exempt from taxation
For working families with children this would be a great blessing. Without a doubt this is an effort to win over more working women, and this is a demographic that Trump has been struggling with.
It is definitely an idea that I support, but once again where will the money come from to pay for this?
#4 U.S. manufacturers will be allowed to immediately fully expense new plants and equipment
This would undoubtedly lead to a boom in capital investment, but it would also reduce tax revenue. As an emergency measure this would be very good for encouraging manufacturers to stay in America, but it would also likely increase the budget deficit.
#5 A temporary freeze on new regulations
Red tape is one of my big pet peeves, and so I greatly applaud Trump for this proposal. I think that Bob Eschliman put it very well when he wrote the following about Trump’s planned freeze on new regulations…
In 2015 alone, federal agencies issued over 3,300 final rules and regulations, up from 2,400 the prior year. Studies show that small manufacturers face more than three times the burden of the average U.S. business, and the hidden tax from ineffective regulations amounts to “nearly $15,000 per U.S. household” annually. Excessive regulation is costing our country as much as $2 trillion dollars per year, and Trump will end it.
#6 All existing regulations would be reviewed and unnecessary regulations would be eliminated
In particular, Trump’s plan would focus on getting rid of regulations that inhibit hiring. The following are some of the specific areas that he identifies on his official campaign website…
The Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, which forces investment in renewable energy at the expense of coal and natural gas, raising electricity rates;
The EPA’s Waters of the United States rule, which gives the EPA the ability to regulate the smallest streams on private land, limiting land use; and
The Department of Interior’s moratorium on coal mining permits, which put tens of thousands of coal miners out of work.
#7 Donald Trump would fundamentally alter our trade relationships with the rest of the globe
Donald Trump is the first major party nominee in decades to recognize that our trade deficit is absolutely killing our economy. I write about this all the time, and it is a hot button issue for me. So I definitely applaud Trump for proposing the following…
Appoint trade negotiators whose goal will be to win for America: narrowing our trade deficit, increasing domestic production, and getting a fair deal for our workers.
Withdraw from the TPP.
Bring trade relief cases to the world trade organization.
Label China a currency manipulator.
Apply tariffs and duties to countries that cheat.
Direct the Commerce Department to use all legal tools to respond to trade violations.
#8 Donald Trump’s plan would be a tremendous boost for the U.S. energy industry
Barack Obama promised to kill the coal industry, and that is one of the few promises that he has actually kept. Obama also killed the Keystone Pipeline, and right now the energy industry as a whole is enduring their worst stretch since the last recession. To turn things around, Trump would do the following…
Rescind all the job-destroying Obama executive actions including the Climate Action Plan and the Waters of the U.S. rule.
Save the coal industry and other industries threatened by Hillary Clinton’s extremist agenda.
Ask Trans Canada to renew its permit application for the Keystone Pipeline.
Make land in the Outer Continental Shelf available to produce oil and natural gas.
Cancel the Paris Climate Agreement (limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius) and stop all payments of U.S. tax dollars to U.N. global warming programs.
Not only that, but Obamacare has also sent health insurance premiums soaring, and this is putting a tremendous amount of financial pressure on many families.
Trump says that he would “replace” Obamacare, but that is a rather vague statement.
What exactly would he replace it with?
#10 Trump’s plan says nothing about the Federal Reserve
This is a great concern, because the Federal Reserve has far more power over the economy than anyone else does. It is at the very heart of our debt-based system, and unless something is done about the Fed our debt bubble will continue to get even larger.
Since the Federal Reserve was created in 1913, the value of the U.S. dollar has fallen by more than 96 percent and our national debt has gotten more than 5000 times larger. For Trump to not even mention the Federal Reserve in his economic plan is a tremendous oversight.
We are in the midst of a long-term economic decline, and things have not gotten better during the Obama years. If you can believe it, a study that was just released by Harvard even acknowledges this…
America’s economic performance peaked in the late 1990s, and erosion in crucial economic indicators such as the rate of economic growth, productivity growth, job growth, and investment began well before the Great Recession.
Workforce participation, the proportion of Americans in the productive workforce, peaked in 1997. With fewer working-age men and women in the workforce, per-capita income for the U.S. is reduced.
Median real household income has declined since 1999, with incomes stagnating across virtually all income levels. Despite a welcome jump in 2015, median household income remains below the peak attained in 1999, 17 years ago. Moreover, stagnating income and limited job prospects have disproportionately affected lower-income and lower-skilled Americans, leading inequality to rise.
That same study found that the percentage of Americans participating in the labor force peaked back in 1997 and has been steadily declining since that time…
If we continue to do the same things, we will continue to get the same results.
Donald Trump is promising change, and many of his proposals sound good, but there are also some areas to be concerned about.
Ultimately, just tinkering with the tax code and reducing regulations is not going to be enough to turn the U.S. economy around. We need a fundamental overhaul of our economic and financial systems, and Trump’s plan stops well short of that. But without a doubt what he is proposing is vastly superior to Hillary Clinton’s plan, and so he should definitely be applauded for at least moving in the right direction.
Just like during the last economic crisis, homeless encampments are popping up all over the nation as poverty grows at a very alarming rate. According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, more than half a million people are homeless in America right now, but that figure is increasing by the day. And it isn’t just adults that we are talking about. It has been reported that that the number of homeless children in this country has risen by 60 percent since the last recession, and Poverty USA says that a total of 1.6 million children slept either in a homeless shelter or in some other form of emergency housing at some point last year. Yes, the stock market may have been experiencing a temporary boom for the last couple of years, but for those on the low end of the economic scale things have just continued to deteriorate.
Tonight, countless numbers of homeless people will try to make it through another chilly night in large tent cities that have been established in the heart of major cities such as Seattle, Washington, D.C. and St. Louis. Homelessness has gotten so bad in California that the L.A. City Council has formally asked Governor Jerry Brown to officially declare a state of emergency. And in Portland the city has extended their “homeless emergency” for yet another year, and city officials are really struggling with how to deal with the booming tent cities that have sprung up…
There have always been homeless people in Portland, but last summer Michelle Cardinal noticed a change outside her office doors.
Almost overnight, it seemed, tents popped up in the park that runs like a green carpet past the offices of her national advertising business. She saw assaults, drug deals and prostitution. Every morning, she said, she cleaned human feces off the doorstep and picked up used needles.
“It started in June and by July it was full-blown. The park was mobbed,” she said. “We’ve got a problem here and the question is how we’re going to deal with it.”
But of course it isn’t just Portland that is experiencing this. The following list of major tent cities that have become so well-known and established that they have been given names comes from Wikipedia…
Most of the time, those that establish tent cities do not want to be discovered because local authorities have a nasty habit of shutting them down and forcing homeless people out of the area. For example, check out what just happened in Elkhart, Indiana…
A group of homeless people in Elkhart has been asked to leave the place they call home. For the last time, residents of ‘Tent City’ packed up camp.
City officials gave residents just over a month to vacate the wooded area; Wednesday being the last day to do so.
The property has been on Mayor Tim Neese’s radar since he took office in January, calling it both a safety and health hazard to its residents and nearby pedestrian traffic.
“This has been their home but you can’t live on public property,” said Mayor Tim Neese, Elkhart.
If they can’t live on “public property”, where are they supposed to go?
They certainly can’t live on somebody’s “private property”.
This is the problem – people don’t want to deal with the human feces, the needles, the crime and the other problems that homeless people often bring with them. So the instinct is often to kick them out and send them away.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t fix the problem. It just passes it on to someone else.
As this new economic downturn continues to accelerate, our homelessness boom is going to spiral out of control. Pretty soon, there will be tent cities in virtually every community in America.
In fact, there are people that are living comfortable middle class lifestyles right at this moment that will end up in tents. We saw this during the last economic crisis, and it will be even worse as this next one unfolds.
Just like last time around, the signs that the middle class is really struggling can be subtle at first, but when you learn to take note of them you will notice that they are all around you. The following comes from an excellent article in the New York Post…
Do you see grocery stores closing? Do you see other retailers, like clothing stores and department stores, going out of business?
Are there shuttered storefronts along your Main Street shopping district, where you bought a tool from the hardware store or dropped off your dry cleaning or bought fruits and vegetables?
Are you making as much money annually as you did 10 years ago?
Do you see homes in neighborhoods becoming run down as the residents either were foreclosed upon, or the owner lost his or her job so he or she can’t afford to cut the grass or paint the house?
Did that same house where the Joneses once lived now become a rental property, where new people come to live every few months?
Do you know one or two people who are looking for work? Maybe professionals, who you thought were safe in their jobs?
Don’t look down on those that are living in tents, because the truth is that many “middle class Americans” will ultimately end up joining them.
The correct response to those that are hurting is love and compassion. We all need help at some point in our lives, and I know that I am certainly grateful to those that have given me a helping hand at various points along my journey.
Sadly, hearts are growing cold all over the nation, and the weather is only going to get colder over the months ahead. Let us pray for health and safety for the hundreds of thousands of Americans that will be sleeping in tents and on the streets this winter.
Have you noticed that people say some of the most hateful things imaginable on the Internet? Earlier today, I came across a Time Magazine article entitled “How Trolls Are Ruining the Internet“, and it made me reflect on my own experience as the publisher of a number of prominent websites. Over the years, I have often gotten to see what is really going on in some of the darkest hearts in our society. There are people that come to my websites that somehow think that making crude sexual remarks about the wives and children of people that they have never met is perfectly acceptable behavior. There are others that say incredibly vile things about people that have a different skin color than they do, and some people have a hatred for Christians and the Christian faith that is absolutely frightening. I can’t understand why anyone would want to be like that, but apparently this kind of behavior is very widespread. In fact, one Pew Research Center survey discovered that 70 percent of all 18-to-24-year-olds who use the Internet have experienced harassment at some point.
Sadly, the truth is that the relative anonymity of the Internet allows people to reveal what is really in their hearts. For some people, the Internet magnifies the kindness and goodness that is in their hearts, but for others it does the exact opposite. From the safety of their own homes, they endlessly spew speech that is so abusive that it is hard to imagine that the person spewing it is actually human.
These people are commonly known as “trolls”, and the following is how the Time Magazine article that I mentioned above describes these trolls…
Psychologists call this the online disinhibition effect, in which factors like anonymity, invisibility, a lack of authority and not communicating in real time strip away the mores society spent millennia building. And it’s seeping from our smartphones into every aspect of our lives.
The people who relish this online freedom are called trolls, a term that originally came from a fishing method online thieves use to find victims. It quickly morphed to refer to the monsters who hide in darkness and threaten people. Internet trolls have a manifesto of sorts, which states they are doing it for the “lulz,” or laughs. What trolls do for the lulz ranges from clever pranks to harassment to violent threats.
Whatever happened to treating other people the way that you would like to be treated?
When did the Golden Rule go out of style?
As our society becomes more evil, hearts all over the country are growing cold, and one of the results is that the Internet is being transformed into a festival of hatred. The same Time Magazine article detailed some particularly disturbing examples of troll hate…
They’ve been steadily upping their game. In 2011, trolls descended on Facebook memorial pages of recently deceased users to mock their deaths. In 2012, after feminist Anita Sarkeesian started a Kickstarter campaign to fund a series of YouTube videos chronicling misogyny in video games, she received bomb threats at speaking engagements, doxxing threats, rape threats and an unwanted starring role in a video game called Beat Up Anita Sarkeesian. In June of this year, Jonathan Weisman, the deputy Washington editor of the New York Times, quit Twitter, on which he had nearly 35,000 followers, after a barrage of anti-Semitic messages. At the end of July, feminist writer Jessica Valenti said she was leaving social media after receiving a rape threat against her daughter, who is 5 years old.
On a very basic level, the Internet allows people to reveal who they really are. Unfortunately, we are finding out that a lot of us are truly vile human beings. Some time ago, a team of Canadian researchers did some research on Internet trolls, and what they found out was quite alarming…
They conducted two online studies with over 1,200 people, giving personality tests to each subject along with a survey about their Internet commenting behavior. They were looking for evidence that linked trolling with the “Dark Tetrad” of personality traits: narcissism, Machiavellianism, psychopathy, and sadism.
They found that Dark Tetrad scores were highest among people who said trolling was their favorite Internet activity.
It should be no surprise that our society is crawling with narcissists, psychopaths and sadists. For decades we have been pushing God out of every corner of public life, and as a result we have seen a moral decline that is absolutely unprecedented in our history.
So what can be done?
Is there a way that the trolls can be stopped?
Some big websites have stepped up their efforts to ban people that are advocating hatred and violence. For instance, the New York Times says that Twitter just suspended 235,000 accounts “that promoted terrorism”…
Twitter suspended 235,000 accounts that promoted terrorism over the last six months, as part of a continuing effort to keep people from using the social network for extremist causes, the company said Thursday.
“The world has witnessed a further wave of deadly, abhorrent terror attacks across the globe,” Twitter said in a statement. “We strongly condemn these acts and remain committed to eliminating the promotion of violence or terrorism on our platform.”
And I definitely applaud Twitter for that.
But where does the censorship stop? All too often, the definition of “extremists” goes far beyond violent terrorists.
Just consider what is happening during this campaign season. Virtually all of the big tech companies have engaged in some form of “pro-Trump censorship”, and this was brilliantly detailed in a recent piece by Liz Crokin. The following is a short excerpt…
I began looking into how strong the bias and censorship runs in these forums after I did an interview on the pro-Trump podcast, MAGAPod. The show’s host, Mark Hammond, was disappointed Apple wouldn’t run his show without an “explicit” warning. Hammond’s podcast didn’t contain content that would be deemed explicit under Apple’s policy, and most other shows in the News & Politics category aren’t labeled as such.
On June 18, Hammond talked to Sandra, a representative from Apple. She explained that, since the description of his show is pro-Trump, his show is explicit in nature—because the subject matter is Donald Trump. So, an Apple employee concluded the Republican presidential candidate is explicit.
iTunes has dozens of podcasts discussing Osama Bin Laden and Adolf Hitler—none of which is marked explicit.
And of course it probably won’t surprise you to learn that Apple CEO Tim Cook is a huge Hillary Clinton supporter and recently hosted a $50,000 per plate fundraiser for her campaign.
So where do we draw the line?
On my websites, I try to let everyone have their say as much as possible. I very much believe in the “marketplace of ideas”, and I very much believe that the interaction between light and darkness can produce some extraordinary results.
But that also means that I often allow people to say things that I find highly offensive.
I don’t claim to have all the answers, but I do know that the problem is growing. As our society continues to come apart at the seams, the hatred on the Internet will continue to increase.
The Internet is used for all sorts of horrible things, but it can also be used to do great things as well. As the darkness rises, I would encourage all of us to choose to be lights.
In a world filled with hate, love is desperately needed.
So instead of responding to hate with even more hate, let us seek to become people of great faith, great hope and great love.
Would you allow microchips to be surgically implanted in your children if that would keep them safer? This is already being done to pets on a widespread basis, and a shocking local NBC News report is promoting the idea that if it is good for our pets, then we should be doing it to our children as well. As you will see below, the report even puts a guilt trip on parents by asking them this question: “How far would you go to keep your children secure?” Of course most parents very much want to keep their children safe, and a microchip would enable authorities to track them down if they were lost or stolen. But is this really a good idea? And where is all of this technology eventually leading? If you have not seen this very disturbing local NBC News report yet, you can view it right here…
In the video, the reporter says that our children could be implanted with microchips “the size of a grain of rice” and that there would be “little to no health risks” involved.
And near the end of the report, she insists that “we could see those microchips in everyone” eventually.
The piece flips back to pushing the idea when it quotes electronics expert Stuart Lipoff, who asserts that microchipping children is safe and inevitable.
“People should be aware that testing is being done right now. The military is not only testing this out, but already utilizes its properties. It’s not a matter of if it will happen, but when,” states Lipoff.
Of course if widespread microchipping of the population does start happening, at first it will likely be purely voluntary. But once enough of the population starts adopting the idea, it will be really easy for the government to make it mandatory.
Just imagine a world where physical cash was a thing of the past and you could not buy, sell, get a job or open a bank account without your government-issued microchip identification.
Will you allow yourself and your family to be chipped when that day arrives?
If not, how will you eat?
How will you survive?
What will you do when your children come crying to you for food?
I am certainly not saying that you should allow yourself to be chipped. I know that nobody is ever chipping me. But what I am saying is that people are going to be faced with some absolutely heart-breaking choices.
Just recently, I wrote about a new form of digital currency that is intended to replace the physical dollars that we use now and also replace alternative currencies such as Bitcoin. It was unveiled in front of about 100 top Wall Street executives recently during a secret meeting in New York City. To give you an idea of just how rapidly the concept of a cashless society is advancing, I want to share with you a brief excerpt from an article that I recently wrote about this new technology…
Last month, a “secret meeting” that involved more than 100 executives from some of the biggest financial institutions in the United States was held in New York City. During this “secret meeting“, a company known as “Chain” unveiled a technology that transforms U.S. dollars into “pure digital assets”. Reportedly, there were representatives from Nasdaq, Citigroup, Visa, Fidelity, Fiserv and Pfizer in the room, and Chain also claims to be partnering with Capital One, State Street, and First Data. This “revolutionary” technology is intended to completely change the way that we use money, and it would represent a major step toward a cashless society. But if this new digital cash system is going to be so good for society, why was it unveiled during a secret meeting for Wall Street bankers? Is there something more going on here than we are being told?
On a recent Monday in April, more than 100 executives from some of the world’s largest financial institutions gathered for a private meeting at the Times Square office of Nasdaq Inc. They weren’t there to just talk about blockchain, the new technology some predict will transform finance, but to build and experiment with the software.
By the end of the day, they had seen something revolutionary: U.S. dollars transformed into pure digital assets, able to be used to execute and settle a trade instantly. That’s the promise of a blockchain, where the cumbersome and error-prone system that takes days to move money across town or around the world is replaced with almost instant certainty.
So it is not just Michael Snyder from The Economic Collapse Blog that is referring to this gathering as a “secret meeting”. This is actually how it was described by Bloomberg. And I think that there is a very good reason why this meeting was held in secret, because many in the general public would definitely be alarmed by this giant step toward a cashless society.
Right now, more than 400 billion cashless transactions are conducted around the world each year, and that number is growing very quickly.
And when our system becomes entirely cashless, there will be no more stuffing your mattress with cash and we will all be forced to deal with the banks.
What that day arrives, all of a sudden the government will be able to serve as the gatekeeper for who is allowed to access the system and who is not.
It would be very easy to impose a tax, require some sort of loyalty oath, or mandate some form of microchip identification as a condition for participating in the cashless system.
When we get to that point, what will you do?
In the end, that is something that we all need to be considering very carefully…
*About the author: Michael Snyder is the founder and publisher of The Economic Collapse Blog. Michael’s controversial new book about Bible prophecy entitled “The Rapture Verdict” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.*
What you are about to see is more evidence that the growth of poverty in the United States is wildly out of control. It turns out that there is a tremendous amount of suffering in “the wealthiest nation on the planet”, and it is getting worse with each passing year. During this election season, politicians of all stripes are running around telling all of us how great we are, but is that really true? As you will see below, poverty is reaching unprecedented levels in this country, and the middle class is steadily dying. There aren’t enough good jobs to go around, dependence on the government has never been greater, and it is our children that are being hit the hardest. If we have this many people living on the edge of despair now, while times are “good”, what are things going to look like when our economy really starts falling apart? The following are 21 facts about the explosive growth of poverty in America that will blow your mind…
#2 Other numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau are also very disturbing. For example, in 2007 about one out of every eight children in America was on food stamps. Today, that number is one out of every five.
#3 According to Kathryn J. Edin and H. Luke Shaefer, the authors of a new book entitled “$2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America“, there are 1.5 million “ultrapoor” households in the United States that live on less than two dollars a day. That number has doubled since 1996.
#446 million Americans use food banks each year, and lines start forming at some U.S. food banks as early as 6:30 in the morning because people want to get something before the food supplies run out.
#5 The number of homeless children in the U.S. has increased by 60 percent over the past six years.
#6 According to Poverty USA, 1.6 million American children slept in a homeless shelter or some other form of emergency housing last year.
#13 An astounding 45 percent of all African-American children in the United States live in areas of “concentrated poverty”.
#1440.9 percent of all children in the United States that are being raised by a single parent are living in poverty.
#15 An astounding 48.8 percent of all 25-year-old Americans still live at home with their parents.
#16 There are simply not enough good jobs to go around anymore. It may be hard to believe, but 51 percent of all American workers make less than $30,000 a year.
#17 There are 7.9 million working age Americans that are “officially unemployed” right now and another 94.7 million working age Americans that are considered to be “not in the labor force”. When you add those two numbers together, you get a grand total of 102.6 million working age Americans that do not have a job right now.
#18 Owning a home has traditionally been a signal that you belong to the middle class. That is why it is so alarming that the rate of homeownership in the United States has been falling for eight years in a row.
#19 According to a recent Pew survey, approximately 70 percent of all Americans believe that “debt is a necessity in their lives”.
#20 At this point, 25 percent of all Americans have a negative net worth. That means that the value of what they owe is greater than the value of everything that they own.
#21 The top 0.1 percent of all American families have about as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent of all American families combined.
If we truly are “the greatest nation on the planet”, then why can’t we even take care of our own people?
Why are there tens of millions of us living in poverty?
It would be one thing if economic conditions were getting better and poverty was in decline. At least then we could be talking about the improvement we were making. But despite the fact that we are stealing more than a hundred million dollars from future generations of Americans every single hour of every single day, poverty just continues to grow like an aggressive form of cancer.
So what is wrong?
Why can’t we get this thing fixed?
Tell us what you think we should do as a nation to solve this problem by posting a comment below…
I am mourning for America, because she is dying. I am mourning for a nation that once knew such greatness but that has now fallen to depths that were once unimaginable. I am mourning for the death and destruction that are coming, and I am mourning for a future that our children and our grandchildren will never get to see. I am mourning for a nation that has refused to listen to the warnings and that now stands on the precipice of judgment. I am mourning for games that will never be played, for books that will never be finished, for family vacations that will never get to happen and for memories that will never be made. I am mourning for the economic depression that is coming, for the horror and suffering that friends and family will endure, and for the coming death of the country where I drew my first breath.
To many, these words will seem “over the top” and overly dramatic. After all, despite the thousands of problems facing this nation, things still seem very “normal” at this moment. Well, if you don’t “get” what I am saying right now, just bookmark this page and come back to it later. Eventually it will make sense to you.
Last week, I was invited to be a guest on a major television show that is beamed into the homes of millions of people in the United States and Canada. If you get a chance to view the shows that are being aired this week, you will notice that I wore all black.
I wasn’t just making a fashion statement. I was doing it because I am in mourning for America. Unlike so many that talk about the horrible things that are ahead for this country, I actually love the United States. I truly wish that this nation had become everything that it could have become. I love the part of the country where I currently live, I love the amazing people that I am constantly meeting, and I love the things that I have been able to experience just because I am an American.
Unfortunately, everything is about to change.
There are many out there that believe that America is still a great nation. Well, great nations do not murder tens of millions of their own children. As Dr. Chuck Missler has pointed out, the most dangerous place to be in America today is in a mother’s womb.
Since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, more than 56 million babies have been purposely destroyed in this country.
What does a nation that has murdered 56 million of its own children deserve?
I believe that we have just come out of a season of time when America has been shown exactly why it is about to be judged.
It is no accident that the undercover Planned Parenthood videos were released when they were. Now the entire world knows that we slaughter our babies, harvest their organs and sell them off to the highest bidder.
So what has the response of the American people been to the revelation of this great evil?
Yes, a small minority of Americans have gotten upset, but most people have been completely unmoved by this news.
Our government gives Planned Parenthood hundreds of millions of dollars each year, and that isn’t going to change. Planned Parenthood is just going to keep doing what they do, and the American people are just going to go back to ignoring the unprecedented holocaust that is happening behind closed doors all over the nation.
This past summer we also witnessed what I believe is the perfect bookend for the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision of 1973. The institution of marriage was permanently altered in all 50 states, and most of the nation greatly rejoiced.
The White House was lit up with rainbow colors to honor what the Supreme Court did. The rainbow is a symbol of God’s covenant with Noah, and in the book of Revelation there is a rainbow around the throne of God. They have taken this symbol that belongs to God, and they are using it as a symbol of their defiance.
Of course these things that I have just mentioned are just the tip of the iceberg. The truth is that evil is growing in this nation in thousands of different ways. Every year there are 20 million new cases of sexually transmitted disease in the United States, we have the highest divorce rate in the entire industrialized world, and nearly one out of every five American women say that they have been raped at some point in their lives. In the United States today, there are 60 million people that abuse alcohol and there are 22 million people that use illegal drugs. America produces more pornography than the rest of the world combined, and surveys have found that Christian men use it at just about the same rate as everyone else.
I will not be publishing an article tomorrow. In a few hours, Yom Kippur will begin where I live. It is the most solemn of all the holidays described in the Bible, and it is a time of repentance. I will be praying for myself, my family, my community and my nation.
If America had repented as a nation and had turned from her wicked ways, we would not have to go through the things that we are about to go through.
I believe that the time of grace that the United States has been given to repent is ending.
I know that this is very different from my usual format. Is it okay if I just share what is on my heart from time to time? On Thursday I will get back to sharing the facts, figures and hard information that you all have come to expect from me. But today when I woke up I just felt that I should share these things with you.
Very shortly, things are going to start changing in a major way.
America is dying, and the hardest times that any of us have ever seen are right in front of us.