Are you thinking of going to college? If so, please consider that decision very carefully. You probably have lots of people telling you that an “education” is the key to your future and that you will never be able to get a “good job” unless you go to college. And it is true that those that go to college do earn more on average than those that do not. However, there is also a downside. At most U.S. colleges, the quality of the education that you will receive is a joke, the goal of most colleges is to extract as much money from you and your parents as they possibly can, and there is a very good chance that there will not be a “good job” waiting for you once you graduate. And unless you have someone that is willing to pay your tuition bills, you will probably be facing a lifetime of crippling student loan debt payments once you get out into the real world. So is college a waste of time and money? In the end, it really pays to listen to both sides of the debate.
Personally, I spent eight years at U.S. public universities, and I really enjoyed those times.
But would I trade my degrees today for the time and money that I spent to get them?
Right now, Americans owe more than a trillion dollars on their student loans, and more than 124 billion dollars of that total is more than 90 days delinquent.
It is a student loan debt bubble unlike anything that we have ever seen before, and now even those that make their living from this system are urging reform. For example, consider what a law professor at the University of Tennessee recently wrote for the Wall Street Journal…
In the field of higher education, reality is outrunning parody. A recent feature on the satire website the Onion proclaimed, “30-Year-Old Has Earned $11 More Than He Would Have Without College Education.” Allowing for tuition, interest on student loans, and four years of foregone income while in school, the fictional student “Patrick Moorhouse” wasn’t much better off. His years of stress and study, the article japed, “have been more or less a financial wash.”
“Patrick” shouldn’t feel too bad. Many college graduates would be happy to be $11 ahead instead of thousands, or hundreds of thousands, behind. The credit-driven higher education bubble of the past several decades has left legions of students deep in debt without improving their job prospects. To make college a good value again, today’s parents and students need to be skeptical, frugal and demanding.
When a lot of young Americans graduate from college and can’t find a decent job, they are told that if they really want to “be successful” that what they really need is a graduate degree.
That means more years of education, and in most cases, even more debt.
But by the time many of these young achievers get through college and graduate school, the debt loads can be absolutely overwhelming…
The typical debt load of borrowers leaving school with a master’s, medical, law or doctoral degree jumped an inflation-adjusted 43% between 2004 and 2012, according to a new report by the New America Foundation, a left-leaning Washington think tank. That translated into a median debt load—the point at which half of borrowers owed more and half owed less—of $57,600 in 2012.
The increases were sharper for those pursuing advanced degrees in the social sciences and humanities, versus professional degrees such as M.B.A.s or medical degrees that tend to yield greater long-term returns. The typical debt load of those earning a master’s in education showed some of the largest increases, rising 66% to $50,879. It climbed 54% to $58,539 for those earning a master of arts.
In particular, many are questioning the value of a law school education these days. Law schools are aggressively recruiting students even though they know that there are way, way too many lawyers already. There is no way that the legal field can produce enough jobs for the huge flood of new law school graduates that are hitting the streets each year.
The criticism has become so harsh that even mainstream news outlets are writing about this. For instance, the following comes from a recent CNN article…
For the past three years, the media has picked up the attacks with relish. The New York Times, in an article on a graduate with $250,000 in loans, put it this way: “Is Law School a Losing Game?” Referring to the graduate, the Times wrote, “His secret, if that’s the right word, is to pretty much ignore all the calls and letters that he receives every day from the dozen or so creditors now hounding him for cash,” writes the author. Or consider this blunt headline from a recent Business Insider article: “‘I Consider Law School A Waste Of My Life And An Extraordinary Waste Of Money.’” Even though the graduate profiled in the piece had a degree from a Top 20 law school, he’s now bitterly mired in debt. “Because I went to law school, I don’t see myself having a family, earning a comfortable wage, or having an enjoyable lifestyle,” he writes. “I wouldn’t wish my law school experience on my enemy.”
In America today, approximately two-thirds of all college students graduate with student loan debt, and the average debt level has been steadily rising. In fact, one study found that “70 percent of the class of 2013 is graduating with college-related debt – averaging $35,200 – including federal, state and private loans, as well as debt owed to family and accumulated through credit cards.”
That would be bad enough if most of these students were getting decent jobs that enabled them to service that debt.
But unfortunately, that is often not the case. It has been estimated that about half of all recent college graduates are working jobs that do not even require a college degree.
Could you imagine that?
Could you imagine investing four or five years and tens of thousands of dollars in a college degree and then working a job that does not even require a degree?
And the really sick thing is that the quality of the education that most college students are receiving is quite pathetic.
Recently, a film crew went down to American University and asked students some really basic questions about our country. The results were absolutely stunning…
When asked if they could name a SINGLE U.S. senator, the students blanked. Also, very few knew that each state has two senators. The guesses were all over the map, with some crediting each state with twelve, thirteen, and five senators.
I have posted the YouTube video below. How in the world is it possible that college students in America cannot name a single U.S. senator?…
These are the leaders of tomorrow?
That is a frightening thought.
If parents only knew what their children were being taught at college, in most instances they would be absolutely horrified.
The following is a list of actual college courses that have been taught at U.S. colleges in recent years…
-“What If Harry Potter Is Real?”
-“Lady Gaga and the Sociology of Fame”
-“Philosophy And Star Trek”
-“Invented Languages: Klingon and Beyond”
-“Learning From YouTube”
-“How To Watch Television”
-“Sport For The Spectator”
-“Oh, Look, a Chicken!”
That last one is my favorite.
The truth is that many of these colleges don’t really care if your sons and daughters learn much at all. They just want the money to keep rolling in.
And our college students are discovering that when they do graduate that they are woefully unprepared for life on the outside. In fact, one survey found that 70% of all college graduates wish that they had spent more time preparing for the “real world” while they were still in college.
In America today, there are more than 300,000 waitresses that have college degrees, and close to three out of every ten adults in the United States under the age of 35 are still living at home with Mom and Dad.
Our system of higher education is not working, and it is crippling an entire generation of Americans.
So what do you think?
Do you believe that college is a waste of time and money?
Please feel free to share your thoughts by posting a comment below…
Why are young people in America so frustrated these days? You are about to find out. Most young adults started out having faith in the system. They worked hard, they got good grades, they stayed out of trouble and many of them went on to college. But when their educations where over, they discovered that the good jobs that they had been promised were not waiting for them at the end of the rainbow. Even in the midst of this so-called “economic recovery”, the full-time employment rate for Americans under the age of 30 continues to fall. And incomes for that age group continue to fall as well. At the same time, young adults are dealing with record levels of student loan debt. As a result, more young Americans than ever are putting off getting married and having families, and more of them than ever are moving back in with their parents.
It can be absolutely soul crushing when you discover that the “bright future” that the system had been promising you for so many years turns out to be a lie. A lot of young people ultimately give up on the system and many of them end up just kind of drifting aimlessly through life. The following is an example from a recent Wall Street Journal article…
James Roy, 26, has spent the past six years paying off $14,000 in student loans for two years of college by skating from job to job. Now working as a supervisor for a coffee shop in the Chicago suburb of St. Charles, Ill., Mr. Roy describes his outlook as “kind of grim.”
“It seems to me that if you went to college and took on student debt, there used to be greater assurance that you could pay it off with a good job,” said the Colorado native, who majored in English before dropping out. “But now, for people living in this economy and in our age group, it’s a rough deal.”
Young adults as a group have been experiencing a tremendous amount of economic pain in recent years. The following are 30 statistics about Americans under the age of 30 that will blow your mind…
#1 The labor force participation rate for men in the 18 to 24 year old age bracket is at an all-time low.
#2 The ratio of what men in the 18 to 29 year old age bracket are earning compared to the general population is at an all-time low.
#3 Only about a third of all adults in their early 20s are working a full-time job.
#4 For the entire 18 to 29 year old age bracket, the full-time employment rate continues to fall. In June 2012, 47 percent of that entire age group had a full-time job. One year later, in June 2013, only 43.6 percent of that entire age group had a full-time job.
#5 Back in the year 2000, 80 percent of men in their late 20s had a full-time job. Today, only 65 percent do.
#6 In 2007, the unemployment rate for the 20 to 29 year old age bracket was about 6.5 percent. Today, the unemployment rate for that same age group is about 13 percent.
#7 American families that have a head of household that is under the age of 30 have a poverty rate of 37 percent.
#8 During 2012, young adults under the age of 30 accounted for 23 percent of the workforce, but they accounted for a whopping 36 percent of the unemployed.
#9 During 2011, 53 percent of all Americans with a bachelor’s degree under the age of 25 were either unemployed or underemployed.
#10 At this point about half of all recent college graduates are working jobs that do not even require a college degree.
#11 The number of Americans in the 16 to 29 year old age bracket with a job declined by 18 percent between 2000 and 2010.
#12 According to one survey, 82 percent of all Americans believe that it is harder for young adults to find jobs today than it was for their parents to find jobs.
#13 Incomes for U.S. households led by someone between the ages of 25 and 34 have fallen by about 12 percent after you adjust for inflation since the year 2000.
#14 In 1984, the median net worth of households led by someone 65 or older was 10 times larger than the median net worth of households led by someone 35 or younger. Today, the median net worth of households led by someone 65 or older is 47 times larger than the median net worth of households led by someone 35 or younger.
#15 In 2011, SAT scores for young men were the worst that they had been in 40 years.
#16 Incredibly, approximately two-thirds of all college students graduate with student loans.
#17 According to the Federal Reserve, the total amount of student loan debt has risen by 275 percent since 2003.
#18 In America today, 40 percent of all households that are led by someone under the age of 35 are paying off student loan debt. Back in 1989, that figure was below 20 percent.
#19 The total amount of student loan debt in the United States now exceeds the total amount of credit card debt in the United States.
#20 According to the U.S. Department of Education, 11 percent of all student loans are at least 90 days delinquent.
#21 The student loan default rate in the United States has nearly doubled since 2005.
#22 One survey found that 70% of all college graduates wish that they had spent more time preparing for the “real world” while they were still in college.
#23 In the United States today, there are more than 100,000 janitors that have college degrees.
#24 In the United States today, 317,000 waiters and waitresses have college degrees.
#25 Today, an all-time low 44.2 percent of all Americans between the ages of 25 and 34 are married.
#26 According to the Pew Research Center, 57 percent of all Americans in the 18 to 24 year old age bracket lived with their parents during 2012.
#27 One poll discovered that 29 percent of all Americans in the 25 to 34 year old age bracket are still living with their parents.
#28 Young men are nearly twice as likely to live with their parents as young women the same age are.
#29 Overall, approximately 25 million American adults are living with their parents according to Time Magazine.
#30 Young Americans are becoming increasingly frustrated that previous generations have saddled them with a nearly 17 trillion dollar national debt that they are expected to make payments on for the rest of their lives.
And this trend is not just limited to the United States. As I have written about frequently, unemployment rates for young adults throughout Europe have been soaring to unprecedented heights. For example, the unemployment rate for those under the age of 25 in Italy has now reached 40.1 percent.
Simon Black of the Sovereign Man blog discussed this global trend in a recent article on his website…
Youth unemployment rates in these countries are upwards of 40% to nearly 70%. The most recent figures published by the Italian government show yet another record high in youth unemployment.
An entire generation is now coming of age without being able to leave the nest or have any prospect of earning a decent wage in their home country.
This underscores an important point that I’ve been writing about for a long time: young people in particular get the sharp end of the stick.
They’re the last to be hired, the first to be fired, the first to be sent off to fight and die in foreign lands, and the first to have their benefits cut.
And if they’re ever lucky enough to find meaningful employment, they can count on working their entire lives to pay down the debts of previous generations through higher and higher taxes.
But when it comes time to collect… finally… those benefits won’t be there for them.
Meanwhile, the overall economy continues to get even weaker.
In the United States, Gallup’s daily economic confidence index is now the lowest that it has been in more than a year.
For young people that are in high school or college right now, the future does not look bright. In fact, this is probably as good as the U.S. economy is going to get. It is probably only going to be downhill from here.
The system is failing, and young people are going to become even angrier and even more frustrated.
So what will that mean for our future?
Please feel free to share what you think by posting a comment below…
Would you like to know what America’s young people are actually learning while they are away at college? It isn’t pretty. Yes, there are some very highly technical fields where students are being taught some very important skills, but for the most part U.S. college students are learning very little that they will actually use out in the real world when they graduate. Some of the college courses listed below are funny, others are truly bizarre, others are just plain outrageous, but all of them are a waste of money. If we are going to continue to have a system where we insist that our young people invest several years of their lives and tens of thousands of dollars getting a “college education”, they might as well be learning some useful skills in the process. This is especially true considering how much student loan debt many of our young people are piling up. Sadly, the truth is that right now college education in the United States is a total joke. I know – I spent eight years in the system. Most college courses are so easy that they could be passed by the family dog, and many of these courses “study” some of the most absurd things imaginable.
Listed below are 20 completely ridiculous college courses being offered at U.S. universities. The description following each course title either comes directly from the official course description or from a news story about the course…
1. “What If Harry Potter Is Real?” (Appalachian State University) – This course will engage students with questions about the very nature of history. Who decides what history is? Who decides how it is used or mis-used? How does this use or misuse affect us? How can the historical imagination inform literature and fantasy? How can fantasy reshape how we look at history? The Harry Potter novels and films are fertile ground for exploring all of these deeper questions. By looking at the actual geography of the novels, real and imagined historical events portrayed in the novels, the reactions of scholars in all the social sciences to the novels, and the world-wide frenzy inspired by them, students will examine issues of race, class, gender, time, place, the uses of space and movement, the role of multiculturalism in history as well as how to read a novel and how to read scholarly essays to get the most out of them.
2. “God, Sex, Chocolate: Desire and the Spiritual Path” (UC San Diego) – Who shapes our desire? Who suffers for it? Do we control our desire or does desire control us? When we yield to desire, do we become more fully ourselves or must we deny it to find an authentic identity beneath? How have religious & philosophical approaches dealt with the problem of desire?
3. “GaGa for Gaga: Sex, Gender, and Identity” (The University Of Virginia) – In Graduate Arts & Sciences student Christa Romanosky’s ongoing ENWR 1510 class, “GaGa for Gaga: Sex, Gender, and Identity,” students analyze how the musician pushes social boundaries with her work. For this introductory course to argumentative essay writing, Romanosky chose the Lady Gaga theme to establish an engaging framework for critical analysis.
4. “Lady Gaga and the Sociology of Fame” (The University Of South Carolina) – Lady Gaga may not have much class but now there is a class on her. The University of South Carolina is offering a class called Lady Gaga and the Sociology of Fame. Mathieu Deflem, the professor teaching the course describes it as aiming to “unravel some of the sociologically relevant dimensions of the fame of Lady Gaga with respect to her music, videos, fashion, and other artistic endeavours.”
5. “Philosophy And Star Trek” (Georgetown) – Star Trek is very philosophical. What better way, then, to learn philosophy, than to watch Star Trek, read philosophy, and hash it all out in class? That’s the plan. This course is basically an introduction to certain topics in metaphysics and epistemology philosophy, centered around major philosophical questions that come up again and again in Star Trek. In conjunction with watching Star Trek, we will read excerpts from the writings of great philosophers, extract key concepts and arguments and then analyze those arguments.
6. “Invented Languages: Klingon and Beyond” (The University Of Texas) – Why would anyone want to learn Klingon?
7. “The Science Of Superheroes” (UC Irvine) – Have you ever wondered if Superman could really bend steel bars? Would a “gamma ray” accident turn you into the Hulk? What is a “spidey-sense”? And just who did think of all these superheroes and their powers? In this seminar, we discuss the science (or lack of science) behind many of the most famous superheroes. Even more amazing, we will discuss what kind of superheroes might be imagined using our current scientific understanding.
8. “Learning From YouTube” (Pitzer College) – About 35 students meet in a classroom but work mostly online, where they view YouTube content and post their comments. Class lessons also are posted and students are encouraged to post videos. One class member, for instance, posted a 1:36-minute video of himself juggling.
9. “Arguing with Judge Judy” (UC Berkeley) – TV “Judge” shows have become extremely popular in the last 3-5 years. A fascinating aspect of these shows from a rhetorical point of view is the number of arguments made by the litigants that are utterly illogical, or perversions of standard logic, and yet are used over and over again. For example, when asked “Did you hit the plaintiff?” respondents often say, “If I woulda hit him, he’d be dead!” This reply avoids answering “yes” or “no” by presenting a perverted form of the logical strategy called “a fortiori” argument [“from the stronger”] in Latin. The seminar will be concerned with identifying such apparently popular logical fallacies on “Judge Judy” and “The People’s Court” and discussing why such strategies are so widespread. It is NOT a course about law or “legal reasoning.” Students who are interested in logic, argument, TV, and American popular culture will probably be interested in this course. I emphasize that it is NOT about the application of law or the operations of the court system in general.
10. “Elvis As Anthology” (The University Of Iowa) – The class, “Elvis as Anthology,” focuses on Presley’s relationship to African American history, social change, and aesthetics. It focuses not just on Elvis, but on other artists who inspired him and whom he inspired.
11. “The Feminist Critique Of Christianity” (The University Of Pennsylvania) – An overview of the past decades of feminist scholarship about Christian and post-Christian historians and theologians who offer a feminist perspective on traditional Christian theology and practice. This course is a critical overview of this material, presented with a summary of Christian biblical studies, history and theology, and with a special interest in constructive attempts at creating a spiritual tradition with women’s experience at the center.
12. “Zombies In Popular Media” (Columbia College) – This course explores the history, significance, and representation of the zombie as a figure in horror and fantasy texts. Instruction follows an intense schedule, using critical theory and source media (literature, comics, and films) to spur discussion and exploration of the figure’s many incarnations. Daily assignments focus on reflection and commentary, while final projects foster thoughtful connections between student disciplines and the figure of the zombie.
13. “Far Side Entomology” (Oregon State) – For the last 20 years, a scientist at Oregon State University has used Gary Larson’s cartoons as a teaching tool. The result has been a generation of students learning — and laughing — about insects.
14. “Interrogating Gender: Centuries of Dramatic Cross-Dressing” (Swarthmore) – Do clothes make the man? Or the woman? Do men make better women? Or women better men? Is gender a costume we put on and take off? Are we really all always in drag? Does gender-bending lead to transcendence or chaos? These questions and their ramifications for liminalities of race, nationality and sexuality will be our focus in a course that examines dramatic works from The Bacchae to M. Butterfly.
15. “Oh, Look, a Chicken!” Embracing Distraction as a Way of Knowing (Belmont University) – Students must write papers using their personal research on the five senses. Entsminger reads aloud illustrated books The Simple People and Toby’s Toe to teach lessons about what to value by being alive. Students listen to music while doodling in class. Another project requires students to put themselves in situations where they will be distracted and write a reflection tracking how they got back to their original intent.
16. “The Textual Appeal of Tupac Shakur” (University of Washington) – The UW is not the first college with a class dedicated to Shakur — classes on the rapper have been offered at the University of California Berkeley and Harvard — but it is the first to relate Shakur’s work to literature.
17. “Cyberporn And Society” (State University of New York at Buffalo) – With classwork like this, who needs to play? Undergraduates taking Cyberporn and Society at the State University of New York at Buffalo survey Internet porn sites.
18. “Sport For The Spectator” (The Ohio State University) – Develop an appreciation of sport as a spectacle, social event, recreational pursuit, business, and entertainment. Develop the ability to identify issues that affect the sport and spectator behavior.
19. “Getting Dressed” (Princeton) – Jenna Weissman Joselit looks over the roomful of freshmen in front of her and asks them to perform a warm-up exercise: Chart the major moments of your lives through clothes. “If you pop open your closet, can you recall your lives?” she posits on the first day of the freshman seminar “Getting Dressed.”
20. “How To Watch Television” (Montclair) – This course, open to both broadcasting majors and non-majors, is about analyzing television in the ways and to the extent to which it needs to be understood by its audience. The aim is for students to critically evaluate the role and impact of television in their lives as well as in the life of the culture. The means to achieve this aim is an approach that combines media theory and criticism with media education.
Are you starting to understand why our college graduates can’t function effectively when they graduate and go out into the real world?
All of this would be completely hilarious if not for the fact that we have millions of young people going into enormous amounts of debt to pay to go to these colleges.
In America today, college education has become a giant money making scam. We have a system that absolutely throws money at our young people, but we never warn them about the consequences of all of these loans. The following is an excerpt from an email that one reader sent me recently about the student loan industry…
For example, one woman told me that her and her husband sat down and thought of every possible expense they could when they were applying for parent/student loan for their daughter. When the approval came back, they were approved for 7k more than they asked for…how about ****! Of course at 7%, why not! Funny thing is they kept the 7k, because she’s in wealth management and said she could “easily” get more than 7% in the stock market……awesome! I have another example of a younger friend of mine who graduated law school from Vanderbilt with 210k in student loans. I asked if tuition was that much there. She said kind of, but they kept offering more than the actual tuition, so she took it and used it for a better lifestyle. Now 20% of her income goes to pay those loans, and it’s still not enough to touch one dollar of the principal…so all she is doing is paying interest, and building on principal…like a revers amortizing mortgage. To make it worse, she was able to save 25k, so she is going to buy a house somehow. Having explained to her that the best investment in the world is to pay off a high interest loan, she said I’m tired of waiting to have a life.
In a recent article entitled “The Student Loan Delinquency Rate In The United States Has Hit A Brand New Record High” I detailed how nightmarish our student loan debt bubble is becoming. According to the Federal Reserve, the total amount of student loan debt has risen by 275 percent since 2003, and it just continues to soar.
A college education can be a wonderful thing, but right now we have got a system that is deeply, deeply broken.
So what do you think about our system of higher education?
Please feel free to express your opinion by posting a comment below…
37 million Americans currently have outstanding student loans, and the delinquency rate on those student loans has now reached a level never seen before. According to a new report that was just released by the U.S. Department of Education, 11 percent of all student loans are at least 90 days delinquent. That is a brand new record high, and it is almost double the rate of a decade ago. Total student loan debt exceeds a trillion dollars, and it is now the second largest category of consumer debt after home mortgages. The student loan debt bubble has been growing particularly rapidly in recent years. According to the Federal Reserve, the total amount of student loan debt has risen by 275 percent since 2003. That is a staggering figure. Millions upon millions of young college graduates are entering the “real world” only to discover that they are already financially crippled for decades to come by oppressive student loan debt burdens. Large numbers of young people are even putting off buying homes or getting married simply because of student loan debt.
So why is this happening? Well, a big part of the problem is that the cost of college tuition has gotten wildly out of control. Since 1978, the cost of college tuition has risen even more rapidly then the cost of medical care has. Tuition costs at public universities have risen by 27 percent over the past five years, and there appears to be no end in sight.
We keep encouraging our young people to take out all of the loans that are necessary to pay for college, because a college education is supposedly the “key” to their futures.
But is that really the case?
Sadly, the reality of the matter is that millions of young Americans are graduating from college only to discover that the jobs that they were promised simply do not exist.
In fact, at this point about half of all college graduates are working jobs that do not even require a college degree.
This is leading to mass disillusionment with the system. One survey found that 70% of all college graduates wish that they had spent more time preparing for the “real world” while they were still in college.
And because so many of them cannot get decent jobs, more college graduates then ever are finding that they cannot pay back the huge student loans that they were encouraged to sign up for. The following is from a recent Bloomberg article.
Eleven percent of student loans were seriously delinquent — at least 90 days past due — in the third quarter of 2012, compared with 6 percent in the first quarter of 2003, according to the report by the U.S. Education Department. Almost 30 percent of 20- to 24-year-olds aren’t employed or in school, the study found.
Everyone agrees that we are now dealing with an unprecedented student loan debt bubble, but none of our leaders seem to have any solutions.
The two charts posted below come from a recent Zero Hedge article, and they are very illuminating. The first chart shows how the amount of student loan debt owned by the federal government has absolutely exploded in recent years, and the second chart shows how the percentage of student loan debt that is at least 90 days delinquent has risen to a brand new record high…
How is the economy ever going to recover if an increasingly large percentage of our young college graduates are financially crippled by student loan debt?
And things are about to get even worse.
If Congress takes no action, the interest rate on federal student loans is going to double to 6.8 percent on July 1st. That rate increase would affect more than 7 million students.
And debt burdens just continue to increase in size. In fact, according to one recent study, “70 per cent of the class of 2013 is graduating with college-related debt – averaging $35,200 – including federal, state and private loans, as well as debt owed to family and accumulated through credit cards.”
This is one reason why there is so much poverty among young adults in America today. As I mentioned in a previous article, families that have a head of household that is under the age of 30 have a poverty rate of 37 percent. For much more on the student loan debt bubble and how it is crippling an entire generation of Americans, please see my recent article entitled “29 Shocking Facts That Prove That College Education In America Is A Giant Money Making Scam“.
And of course delinquency rates remain very high on other forms of debt as well. For example, delinquency rates on home mortgages have typically been around 2 to 3 percent historically. But as you can see from the chart below, the delinquency rate on single-family residential mortgages is currently close to 10 percent…
So are we really having an “economic recovery”?
Of course not.
Things are good for those that have lots of money in the stock market (for now), but for the vast majority of Americans things continue to get worse.
And we continue to forget the lessons that we should have learned from the financial crisis of 2008. Right now, we are seeing a resurgence of cash out financing. But this time, people are leveraging their inflated stock portfolios instead of their home equity. The following is from a CNN report…
The recent run-up in the market, financial advisers say, has led to a resurgence of the type of loan not seen since the end of the housing boom — cash out financing. But this time, though, people aren’t tapping their inflated house for money. These days stock portfolios appear to be the well of choice.
Financial planners say in recent months clients have taken out so-called margin loans to buy real estate, fund small business acquisitions, or to provide gap financing before a traditional loan could be secured from a bank.
“No one wants to be out of the market for 90 days,” says Mark Brown, a financial planner for Brown Tedstron in Denver. “People just don’t want to sell right now.”
We are a nation that is absolutely addicted to debt. We know that it is wrong, but we just can’t help ourselves.
We are like the 900 pound man that recently died. He knew that he was eating himself to death, but he just couldn’t stop.
In the end, we are going to pay a great price for our gluttony. Everyone in the world can see that we are killing the greatest economy that ever existed, but we simply do not have the self-discipline to do anything about it.
When it comes to materialism, has any nation ever surpassed what we are seeing in the United States right now? We define our lives by how much stuff we have, to a large degree our personal and business relationships are defined by how much money we make, and even most of the important dates on our calendar are all about materialism. Just think about it. We throw outrageous birthday parties for our kids and we shower them with gifts. Most of our “holidays” have become highly materialistic, and the biggest holiday of all in our society, Christmas, is an absolute orgy of materialism. We make lists of the “wealthiest Americans” and we glorify their achievements. We spend most of our time either making money or spending it. Even the phrase “the American Dream” reveals how materialistic we are. When most people are asked what “the American Dream” is, they start talking about a house, a car, vacations, retirement, sending your kids to college, etc. The American Dream has become all about money and stuff. Sadly, no matter how big our homes are and no matter how many shiny new toys we accumulate, we never seem to be happy. We always want more, and we always seem to be willing to go into more debt to get it. We are the most materialistic society in the history of the world, and our endless greed is going to end up swallowing us alive.
When it comes to materialism in America, there are outrageous examples all around us, but one of my favorite examples is the “Rich Kids of Instagram“. It is a Tumblr blog of photos from Instagram of young Americans showing off how they are enjoying the vast wealth of their parents. The following is how the Washington Post describes the blog….
The controversial new Tumblr is a collection of snapshots from the photo-sharing site that depicts the children of wealth and privilege — summering in the Hamptons, lounging on yachts and posing by their luxury cars.
One does a back-flip out of a helicopter near St. Tropez. Others snap pictures of their restaurant bills — allegedly paying thousands of dollars for lobster, champagne and high-end liquor.
In the warm patina of the Instagram, the youngsters appear to be living over-the-top lifestyles — and enjoying every moment.
“Our everyday is better than your best day,” reads one caption, a bit tauntingly. And, “Do you have a horse in your backyard? Didn’t think so.”
But just because you have a horse on your property does that make your life better than the rest of our lives?
Of course not.
Wealth does not equal happiness.
Unfortunately, however, most Americans have totally bought into this lie.
Most Americans believe that more money equals a better life.
In response to “the Rich Kids of Instagram”, the Huffington Post recently put together a piece entitled “the Rich Cats of Instagram” that features photos of cats as they “model upscale accessories, lounge with bottles of champagne, sail on yachts and ponder life while relaxing atop piles of money.”
Of course a lot of those pictures are quite funny, but they also reveal a deep truth about our society.
We have spent our lives chasing after the almighty dollar thinking that it will make us happy. Study after study has shown that we tend to link wealth and happiness. The following is from a recent NBC News article about one of those studies….
Many parents already know older children can be materialistic. Some tweens not only want the latest games and clothes, but also think owning these things will bring them happiness, friends and popularity. And marketers are eager to get them to buy: Tweens spend $28 billion a year, not including the more than $200 billion their parents spend on them, according to market research company C+R Research.
But even though we have an incredibly high standard of living compared to most of the rest of the world, are most of us actually happy?
No way. In fact, Americans take more anti-depressants than anyone else on the planet.
It is really easy to get caught up in materialism though. Let me share an example from my own life.
Several months ago our old truck completely died. Instead of pouring thousands of more dollars into fixing it, we decided that we would get another used truck.
So the other day I stopped by a dealership while my wife was grabbing some things from Home Depot. The salesperson started showing me some of the used trucks on the lot, but after a while I suggested that he show me some of the new trucks that were sitting on the other side of the lot.
Before I knew it, I was sitting in the most expensive truck on the lot and he was showing me all of the cool features it had.
And I have to admit – for a few moments there I was really enamored with that truck. It was the coolest truck that I had ever seen in my life.
Of course my wife and I don’t need a truck like that. We only need to haul stuff around a few times a month. And we certainly do not need the amount of debt that it would take to buy such a truck.
But for a few moments there I really wanted it. The pull of materialism can be very strong.
So would that truck have “changed my life” or brought me lasting happiness?
Of course not.
It would have brought some thrills for the first couple of days, but after a while it would just be sitting in the garage taking up space just like any other truck would.
So did I end up buying a truck?
Not yet. But we need one soon. My wife has been without a truck for quite a few months now and she is getting impatient.
But whether we get a nice used truck or a used truck that has one foot in the grave, it really isn’t going to change our lives much.
In the end, our lives should not be defined by what we own or by how much money we have in the bank.
But how do we refer to ourselves in this day and age?
The American people are called “consumers” and the truth is that we consume far more than anyone else on the globe does.
Just look at our eating habits. Of all the major industrialized nations, America is the most obese.
The next time you go into a store, take note of how many people are overweight.
It has not always been this way. Back in 1962, only 13 percent of all Americans were obese.
But now overeating is a national sport. At this point, approximately 36 percent of all Americans are obese, and it is being projected that number will rise to 42 percent by 2030.
While we are gorging ourselves with food, what else do we like to do?
That’s right – we love to watch television. In fact, the average American watches 28 hours of television every single week.
We have become completely and totally addicted to entertainment, and we have become trained to be constantly “plugged in” to something.
Our lives have become all about constantly feeding our greed and our selfishness. In fact, that is a major reason for the breakdown of the family in America. We tend to view marriage as a temporary condition that can be quickly discarded when it no longer makes us happy.
Sadly, the United States has the highest divorce rate in the world by a very wide margin at this point.
In addition, more Americans than ever are putting off marriage these days. Young Americans are being told that “an education” and “a career” are more important. According to the Pew Research Center, only 51 percent of all American adults are currently married. Back in 1960, 72 percent of all adults in America were married.
As a result of these factors, we are an incredibly lonely nation. Today, the United States has the highest percentage of one person households on the entire globe.
In order to fill the void, the American people turn to things that will numb the pain. American use more legal drugs than anyone else on the planet and they also use more illegal drugs than anyone else on the planet.
We have more “stuff” than any other society in the history of the world has ever had, but it has not made us happy.
And how did we pay for all of this?
We paid for a lot of this with debt. In fact, we have accumulated the biggest mountain of debt in the history of the world.
During my lifetime, the debt of the U.S. government has gotten more than 30 times larger. For much more on this, please see my previous article entitled “27 Things That Every American Should Know About The National Debt“.
But the federal government is not the only one with a debt problem. The truth is that our entire society is absolutely drowning in debt.
Over the past 50 years, the total amount of debt in the U.S. has grown from less than a trillion dollars to nearly 55 trillion dollars….
We have used massive amounts of debt in an attempt to feed our endless greed and materialism and we have gotten ourselves into a whole lot of trouble.
This is one of the reasons why I write. I want people to understand how bad things have really gotten.
Thanks to our foolishness, our economy has been declining, it is going to continue to decline, and a massive economic collapse is coming.
Some people believe that this is a message of “doom and gloom”, but that is not the case at all.
Sticking our heads in the sand and pretending that somehow everything is going to be just fine is not going to do anyone any good.
Instead, I believe that warning people about the coming economic collapse is a message of hope.
There is hope in understanding what is happening, developing a plan to deal with it, and preparing yourself and your family for the storm that is coming.
It is the people that are ignoring all of the warnings that are going to be in real trouble.
Millions upon millions of people will be absolutely blindsided by what is coming. Many will give in to total despair once they realize that their prosperity is gone and they have done nothing to prepare for what they are now facing.
My hope is that the information that I write about will be shocking enough that it will wake people up and motivate them to get prepared so that they can handle the incredibly challenging years that are ahead.
And the truth is that our lives should not be about our money and our stuff anyway.
Your possessions are just temporary. None of them are going to last forever and you certainly cannot take them with you when you die.
Even though our economy has had some rough times, we still have a higher standard of living than 99 percent of the humans that have ever lived on this planet have had.
You would think that would be enough for us.
But it isn’t. We have hoarded our wealth and we have lived in luxury and self-indulgence.
When our debt-fueled prosperity disappears, most Americans are not going to know how to handle it.
Most Americans will believe that their lives are “over” at that point.
But those that are not caught up in materialism and that have prepared for what is ahead will understand that the next chapters of their lives can be the greatest chapters of all.
If you are in college right now, you will most likely either be unemployed or working a job that only requires a high school degree when you graduate. The truth is that the U.S. economy is not coming anywhere close to producing enough jobs for the hordes of new college graduates that are entering the workforce every year. In 2011, 53 percent of all Americans with a bachelor’s degree under the age of 25 were either unemployed or underemployed. Millions upon millions of young college graduates feel like the system has totally failed them. They worked hard in school all their lives, they went into huge amounts of debt in order to get the college education that they were told they “must have” in order to get a good job, but after graduation they found that there were only a handful of good jobs for the huge waves of college graduates that were entering the “real world”. All over America, college graduates can be found waiting tables, flipping burgers and working behind the register at retail stores. Unfortunately, the employment picture in America is not going to get significantly better any time soon.
All over the United States, “middle class jobs” are being replaced by “low income jobs” and young college graduates are being hurt by this transition more than almost anyone else. Massive numbers of young college graduates are now working jobs that do not even require a high school degree. Some of the statistics about young college graduates are absolutely astounding. The following is from a recent CNBC article….
In the last year, they were more likely to be employed as waiters, waitresses, bartenders and food-service helpers than as engineers, physicists, chemists and mathematicians combined (100,000 versus 90,000). There were more working in office-related jobs such as receptionist or payroll clerk than in all computer professional jobs (163,000 versus 100,000). More also were employed as cashiers, retail clerks and customer representatives than engineers (125,000 versus 80,000).
Can you imagine working really hard all throughout high school and college and always getting good grades and then ending up as a bartender?
Sadly, many hard working college graduates cannot seem to find a decent job no matter how hard they try. The following is one example from the CNBC article mentioned above….
“I don’t even know what I’m looking for,” says Michael Bledsoe, who described months of fruitless job searches as he served customers at a Seattle coffeehouse. The 23-year-old graduated in 2010 with a creative writing degree.
Initially hopeful that his college education would create opportunities, Bledsoe languished for three months before finally taking a job as a barista, a position he has held for the last two years. In the beginning he sent three or four resumes day. But, Bledsoe said, employers questioned his lack of experience or the practical worth of his major. Now he sends a resume once every two weeks or so.
Have you ever been there?
Have you ever sent out resumes week after week, month after month, only to get absolutely nowhere?
Many recent college graduates are being advised by “career counselors” that they should go back and “get more education”.
But is that really the answer? The truth is that there are lots and lots of unemployed and underemployed Americans with advanced degrees too. For example, a recent Business Insider article profiled a law school graduate named Erin that is actually on food stamps….
She remains on food stamps so her social life suffers. She can’t afford a car, so she has to rely on the bus to get around Austin, Texas, where she lives. And currently unable to pay back her growing pile of law school debt, Gilmer says she wonders if she will ever be able to pay it back.
“That has been really hard for me,” she says. “I have absolutely no credit anymore. I haven’t been able to pay loans. It’s scary, and it’s a hard thing to think you’re a lawyer but you’re impoverished. People don’t understand that most lawyers actually aren’t making the big money.”
But what “more education” will do is that it will get you into even more debt. Student loan debt can be one of the cruelest forms of debt, because it cannot be discharged in bankruptcy.
As I wrote about a few days ago, total student loan debt in the United States recently surpassed the one trillion dollar mark. Students keep on racking up student loan debt in the hope that they will find “the American Dream” at the end of the rainbow.
Sadly, many students do everything “right” and still end up in the middle of a nightmare.
But it is not just young college graduates that are suffering in this economy.
As I wrote about a while back, the U.S. economy is not producing enough jobs for anyone at this point.
The mainstream media keeps telling us that unemployment is going down, but the truth is that the percentage of working age Americans that are employed is not increasing. In March 2010, 58.5 percent of all working age Americans had a job. In March 2012, 58.5 percent of all working age Americans had a job.
Does that sounds like improvement?
Of course not.
Unlike what we have seen after every other recession in the post-World War II era, the employment to population ratio is not bouncing back, and that is really bad news.
The main reason for this is because of the bad economy, but also it is important to understand that we are transitioning away from an “employment economy”.
Today, most large corporations view employees as very expensive “liabilities”. The goal for most large corporations is to minimize those “liabilities” as much as possible. In fact, these days some large corporations lay off huge numbers of workers even while they are making huge profits at the same time.
Once upon a time, Henry Ford made a conscious decision to pay his workers enough money so that they could afford to buy the cars that they were making.
Today, most corporations simply do not care about the living standards of their workers. They simply want to maximize profits to the fullest extent possible.
Many small businesses would like to hire more workers, but the federal government has made hiring workers so complicated and so expensive that it has become exceedingly difficult to make a profit on a worker. Most of the time it is simply easier to try to do more with what you already have.
The number of Americans that can work a job (“just over broke”) and still live “the American Dream” is steadily shrinking. Increasingly, the financial rewards in our economy are being funneled to the very top of organizations and workers are finding that their living standards continue to slowly go down.
At corporations that belong to the Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index, CEOs earn 380 times what the average worker makes at those companies. In 1980, CEOs only earned 42 times what the average worker made at those companies.
A fundamental shift is happening in our economy and it is not going to be reversed any time soon. Workers are not valued at most companies anymore. No matter how much of yourself you give to your company, when the day comes that you become “disposable”, you will be cast aside as so much rubbish.
That is why I try to encourage people to start their own businesses and to be their own bosses. There is no job security anymore. The job that you have today could be gone tomorrow.
Meanwhile, the federal government is actually spending your money to train foreign workers to take our jobs. The following is from a recent Daily Caller article….
While the president has been urging “insourcing,” the government has been sending money to the Philippines to train foreign workers for jobs in English-speaking call centers.
According to New York Democratic Rep. Tim Bishop and North Carolina Republican Rep. Walter Jones, this is unacceptable and “shocking.”
The pair are calling on the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to immediately suspend what is known as the Job Enabling English Proficiency (JEEP) program.
Can you believe that?
Over and over again, our politicians talk about the need to keep jobs in the United States and then they go out and do things that have the exact opposite effect.
It is truly maddening.
So what are the hordes of American workers that cannot find jobs supposed to do?
Well, one thing we are definitely seeing is a huge rise in the number of Americans that are dependent on the government.
For example, at the end of the Reagan administration the ratio of workers on Social Security disability to active workers was about 2 percent.
Today, it is over 6 percent.
During the first four months of 2012 alone, 539,000 more Americans were added to the Social Security disability rolls and another 725,000 submitted new applications.
Another federal program that is experiencing explosive growth is food stamps.
Last year, one out of every seven Americans was on food stamps, and the Congressional Budget Office is projecting that the number of people on food stamps will continue to grow through 2014.
It is so sad to see what is happening to America. Our economy is being dismantled all around us and the future looks incredibly bleak.
Right now there are millions upon millions of Americans that are sitting at home wallowing in despair. They don’t understand why nobody will hire them and they are rapidly running out of options.
The following is a comment that a reader left on one of my recent articles about the middle class….
I cannot believe my present situation…
I worked hard in school and college so that I could escape the low income uneducated mess I grew up in.
I made all the correct decisions with my career, finances, etc. I cannot figure out how I got to where I am at now.
In late 2008 I was laid off in the IT field. I was a go-getter, and I didn’t let anyone tell me the economy would make it difficult to find a job. I had another within 4 weeks.
Was laid off from that job last year. I qualified for unemployment, but then my employer decides to bring a bunch of lawyers and fight my eligibility. After I won again, they appealed again. I finally couldn’t afford to keep paying attorney fees. I finally lost the appeal. I had to pay all that money back.
I’m still trying to find a job in my field. Being the go-getting I am, I immediately took a job waiting tables which amounted to a 75% pay-cut.
I had saved 6 months of expenses and that is completely dry. I have completely drained my retirement and savings. Still cannot find a livable wage job after almost a decade in my field.
Things are slowly going into default and it feels utterly hopeless and stressful. My pristine credit rating is gone, my savings and everything I worked for is gone. I haven’t missed a payment on my mortgage, but it is coming. I can’t cut anything more than I already have.
I just can’t figure out how this could have happened to me. I played by the rules and made all the right choices. I skipped vacations and time off to prove I was a good worker and had what it took to be a valuable employee.
I really am just at a loss at this point. I’m single and have no family. This is really make-or-break for me. I have no fallback plan. The feeling of failure is just gut-wrenching.
Please say a prayer for that reader and for all of the other hard working Americans out there that are desperate to find a job.
If you are at the end of your rope, please do not give up. Even in the darkest moments, there is always a way to turn things around if you will just keep on fighting.
Sadly, way too many people are giving up on life because of the economy. In Europe, economic conditions have deteriorated so badly that there has been a dramatic increase in suicides. The following is from a recent article in the New York Times….
The economic downturn that has shaken Europe for the last three years has also swept away the foundations of once-sturdy lives, leading to an alarming spike in suicide rates. Especially in the most fragile nations like Greece, Ireland and Italy, small-business owners and entrepreneurs are increasingly taking their own lives in a phenomenon some European newspapers have started calling “suicide by economic crisis.”
When the next major economic downturn happens in the United States, we will probably see a similar thing happen here too.
But people need to realize that our lives are not about how much stuff we own.
Even if every single thing is taken away from you and you are left with nothing that does not mean that your life is over.
Even if you have not been able to find a job for years, that does not mean that you should give up.
In life, everyone gets knocked down.
But unless you are dead, there is always a way to get things turned around in a more positive direction.
One thing that I have learned in life is that you must never, ever, ever, ever give up.
The years ahead are going to be really hard for the global economy, but that doesn’t mean that they have to be horrible years for you.
The years ahead can be the very best years of your entire life, but that will never happen if you decide to simply give up.
Who ever imagined that Ben Bernanke would become a poster child for the student loan debt problem in America? Recently Bernanke told Congress that his son will graduate from medical school with about $400,000 of student loan debt. For most Americans, such a staggering amount of debt would almost certainly guarantee a lifetime of debt slavery. Unfortunately, Bernanke’s son is not alone. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, approximately 167,000 Americans have more than $200,000 of student loan debt. The cost of a college education has increased much more rapidly than the rate of inflation over the past several decades, and most students enter the “real world” today with a debt burden that will stay with them for most of their working lives. In an economy where there are so few good jobs for college graduates, it can be incredibly difficult to get married, buy a house or afford to have children when you are drowning in student loan debt. It would be hard to overstate the financial pain that student loans are causing many young adults in America today. The student loan debt problem is a national crisis and it is not going away any time soon.
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York says that the total amount of student loan debt in America now exceeds the total of all credit card debt in the country. It also exceeds the total of all auto loans.
The New York Fed says that there is a total of $870 billion owed on student loans in the United States right now. Other sources claim that the total amount of student loan debt in the United States will soon exceed one trillion dollars.
Either way, we are talking about an extraordinary amount of money.
Sadly, approximately two-thirds of all U.S. college students graduate with student loan debt these days. The average amount of student loan debt at graduation is approximately $25,000.
That might not be so bad if the economy was full of good paying jobs for college graduates, but that simply is not the case.
As college tuition continues to soar, the student loan debt problem continues to get even worse. U.S. college students are borrowing about twice as much money as they did a decade ago after adjusting for inflation.
That is not a good trend.
The truth is that it has simply gotten way too expensive to go to college.
Back in 1952, a full year of tuition at Harvard was only $600.
Today, the price tag is $35,568.
So why is a Harvard education 59 times more expensive than it used to be?
Somebody is getting rich off of all this, and it isn’t the students.
In fact, many students are looking at a life of debt slavery for decades to come.
The following is a quote from one recent graduate from a recent Politico article….
“I pay almost $1,000 a month just in student loan repayment. I will have to do so for the next 30 years. How will I ever afford to buy a house, have children or save for the future?”
After working so hard all the way through school, is that any kind of a “future” to look forward to?
The system is failing our young people.
Many young college graduates have found themselves unable to make their payments or have simply decided to quit making payments.
Officially, the student loan default rate has nearly doubled since 2005. But a new report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York says that things may be even worse than that. According to the New York Fed, approximately one out of every four student loan balances are past-due at this point.
But it isn’t just young people getting into trouble with student loan debt.
These days, financial institutions are increasingly targeting parents. Federal student loans often do not cover all of the expenses of college in this day and age, and so increasingly loans are being made to parents to make up the difference. Student loans made to directly to parents have increased by 75 percent since the 2005-2006 academic year.
Unfortunately, what students and parents are getting in return for all of this money is not that great.
I spent eight years of my life studying at U.S. colleges and universities. The institutions that I attended were supposed to be better than most. But most of the classes that I took were a total joke. A 6-year-old child could have passed most of them.
Almost everyone agrees that the quality of college education in America is in a serious state of decline. The goal is to get these kids through the system and to keep collecting the big tuition checks.
When I was in school, I could hardly believe how little was being required of me. But being as lazy as I was, I certainly did not complain.
If only more parents realized what was really going on.
The following are some facts about the quality of college education in the United States from a USA Today article….
-“After two years in college, 45% of students showed no significant gains in learning; after four years, 36% showed little change.”
-“Students also spent 50% less time studying compared with students a few decades ago”
-“35% of students report spending five or fewer hours per week studying alone.”
-“50% said they never took a class in a typical semester where they wrote more than 20 pages”
-“32% never took a course in a typical semester where they read more than 40 pages per week.”
Are you starting to get the picture?
If you are in college right now, enjoy the good times while they last, because when you graduate you will find that there are very few good jobs available for the hordes of new college graduates that are pouring into the labor market.
For a new college graduate, things can be rather depressing. Just consider the following statistics….
*About a third of all college graduates end up taking jobs that don’t even require college degrees.
*In the United States today, there are more than 100,000 janitors that have college degrees.
*In the United States today, 317,000 waiters and waitresses have college degrees.
There are millions of college graduates that are unemployed in America today. There are millions of others that have been forced to take very low paying jobs because that is all they can get.
It is no coincidence that incomes for households led by someone between the ages of 25 and 34 have fallen by about 12 percent after you adjust for inflation since the year 2000.
Young people in America are under intense financial pressure right now.
Many are unable to make it at all and have moved back in with Mom and Dad. As I wrote about recently, approximately 25 million American adults are living with their parents at this point.
The system of higher education in this country is badly broken and it desperately needs to be fixed.
So do you have a solution to these problems or do you have a student loan debt horror story to share?
Please feel free to leave a comment with your opinion below….