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Is America The Most Materialistic Society In The History Of The World?

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.

53 Percent Of All Young College Graduates In America Are Either Unemployed Or Underemployed

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.

Why Are Record Numbers Of Young Adults Jobless And Living At Home With Mom And Dad?

In the United States today, unemployment among those age 18 to age 34 is at epidemic levels and the number of young adults that are now living at home with Mom and Dad is at an all-time high.  So why are so many of our young adults jobless?  Why are record numbers of them unable or unwilling to move out on their own?  Well, there are quite a few factors at work.  Number one, our education system has completely and totally failed them.  As I have written about previously, our education system is a joke and most high school graduates these days are simply not prepared to function at even a very basic level in our society.  In addition, college education in the United States has become a giant money making scam that leaves scores of college graduates absolutely drowning in debt.  Many young adults end up moving back in with Mom and Dad because they are drowning in so much debt that there are no other options.  Thirdly, the number of good jobs continues to decline and this is hitting younger Americans the hardest.  Millions of young people enter the workforce excited about the future only to find that there are hordes of applicants for the very limited number of decent jobs that are actually available.  So all of this is creating an environment where more young adults are financially dependent on their parents that ever before in modern American history.

Since the start of the recession, the percentage of young adults in America that are employed has dropped like a rock.  In 2007, the employment rate for Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 was 62.4 percent.  Today, it is down to 54.3 percent.

Yes, there are certainly many out there that are lazy, but the truth is that most of them would like to work if they could.  It is just that it is much harder to find a job these days.

And it isn’t just young people that think that the job market has gotten tougher.  According to one recent 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.

But if they cannot get jobs, then young adults cannot financially support themselves.  So more of them than ever are heading back home to live with Mom and Dad.

In the year 2000, 8.3 percent of all American women between the ages of 25 and 34 were living at home with their parents.  Today, that figure is up to 9.7 percent.

In the year 2000, 12.9 percent of all American men between the ages of 25 and 34 were living at home with their parents.  Today, that figure is up to an astounding 18.6 percent.

Take a moment and let those statistics sink in.

Nearly one out of every five American men from age 25 to age 34 are living at home with Mommy and Daddy.

When you look at Americans age 18 to age 24, it is even worse.  Among Americans age 18 to age 24, 50 percent of all women and 59 percent of all men still live with their parents.

Those are very frightening numbers.

Part of this has to do with a fundamental cultural shift.  An increasing number of parents these days expect that they will have to take care of their own children beyond the age of 22.  The following is from a recent article by Pew Research….

When asked in a 1993 survey what age children should be financially independent from their parents, 80% of parents said children have to be self-reliant by age 22. In the current survey, only 67% of parents say children have to be financially independent by age 22—a drop of 13 percentage points.

But what accounts for the tremendous gender disparity that we see in the figures above?

Well, one major factor is that young women are now far more likely to pursue a college education than young men are.  According to an article in the New York Times, women now account for approximately 57 percent of all enrollments at U.S. colleges and universities.

The less education you have, the more likely you are to be unemployed in America today.  So that is certainly a significant factor.

But many that have gone on to college are also moving back home.  When you are a young adult with no job and no prospects and you are swamped with tens of thousands of dollars of student loan debt, it can be incredibly difficult to be financially independent.

After adjusting for inflation, U.S. college students are now borrowing about twice as much money as they did a decade ago.  Many students that go on to graduate school end up with more than $100,000 in total student loan debt.

Sadly, those degrees often do not pay off.  In fact, in America today one-third of all college graduates end up taking jobs that don’t even require college degrees.

So what does all of this mean?

It means that there are millions upon millions of angry, disillusioned and frustrated young adults out there today.  A recent USA Today article told the story of 32-year-old Dennis Hansen….

After a year without work, Hansen, 32, was hired to monitor Lake Michigan and Lake Superior water for the state and federal governments over two summers. He also had short stints as a census worker and as an extra post office hand during one holiday crush.

It hasn’t been enough: Hansen says he has a $13,000 credit card debt and that’s just for basics — his $600 monthly mortgage, heat and food.

“It’s definitely a roller coaster,” Hansen says, with the ups coming when he’s done well in a job interview and the downs when there’s a rejection: “That’s when I’m frustrated, angry and wondering why I went to college for 10 years.”

If the economy was humming along on all cylinders, it would be easy to blame our young adults for being too lazy.

But these days most young adults have to scramble like crazy just to get a really low paying job.  Large numbers of very talented young adults are waiting tables, flipping burgers or stocking shelves at Wal-Mart.

And this reality is reflected in the overall economic statistics.  Since the year 2000, 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.

The “wealth gap” between younger Americans and older Americans is also growing and recently hit a new all-time high.  U.S. households led by someone 65 years of age or older are now 47 times wealthier than U.S. households led by someone 35 years of age or younger.

But this is not good for our society.  When there is civil unrest, it is not those 65 and older that take to the streets.

We desperately need our economy to get healthy again so that our young adults can get good jobs, get married, set up households, raise families and be productive members of society.

Instead, the percentage of young adults that have jobs is near an all-time low, the percentage of young adults living with their parents is at an all-time high, the proportion of adults in the United States that are married is at an all-time low and we have hordes of angry, frustrated young adults with plenty of time on their hands.

You don’t have to be a genius to see trouble on the horizon.

What is going to happen when the next major financial crisis comes and the economy gets significantly worse than it is now?

In the end, we are going to reap what we have sown.  We have fundamentally failed our young adults, and those failures are going to produce some very bitter fruit.

Underemployed And Hating Life

Today, millions of smart, hard working Americans are flipping burgers, waiting tables or working dead end retail jobs not because they want to, but because they have no other options.  According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 14 million Americans are currently unemployed and another 9.3 million Americans are currently “underemployed”.  During this economic downturn, a lot of Americans have been forced to take part-time jobs because they have been unable to find full-time jobs.  For many, this can be a soul-crushing experience.  It can be easy to become very bitter when you have worked very hard all your life and yet you find yourself having to take a job that only pays you a fraction of what you used to make.  A lot of young college graduates end up hating life because the only jobs that they can seem to find do not even require a college degree and don’t even come close to enabling them to keep up with their crippling student loan debt payments.  Sadly, the underemployment problem continues to grow even worse.  In September alone, the number of underemployed Americans rose by close to half a million.

There are other measurements that indicate that unemployment in America is even worse that the Bureau of Labor Statistics is indicating.

For example, a recent Gallup poll found that approximately one out of every five Americans that currently have a job consider themselves to be underemployed.

In addition, according to author Paul Osterman about 20 percent of all U.S. adults are currently working jobs that pay poverty-level wages.

When you try as hard as you can and you still can’t pay the bills, it is easy to end up hating life.

What some Americans are going through is absolutely heart breaking.  Just consider the following story from a recent article on Fox News….

Damian Birkel, of Winston-Salem N.C., found himself in similar circumstances. He was a marketing manager at Sarah Lee in the early 1990s when he was downsized. Since then, he has been laid off from three other jobs, including one at a recruiting firm.

“I felt like I had ‘loser’ tattooed to my forehead, and ‘will work for food’ tattooed to my chest,” he says. 

The hardest part was telling his young daughter that there might not be enough money to pay the bills — among them, sending her to summer camp. “She brings her piggy bank and says, ‘Daddy, why don’t you break into the piggy bank so that you can pay some of the bills.’”

How would you feel if your little daughter said that to you?

Unfortunately, the number of good jobs just continues to decrease.

There are fewer payroll jobs in the United States today than there were back in 2000 even though we have added 30 million extra people to the population since then.

And the mix of jobs that our economy is producing continues to change.

Back in 1980, less than 30% of all jobs in the United States were low income jobs.  Today, more than 40% of all jobs in the United States are low income jobs.

What that means is that the middle class is shrinking.

A lot of young people are coming out of college right now and are having their dreams absolutely crushed.  Large numbers of them are entering the “real world” with nightmarish student loan debt burdens and only a limited number of them can find decent jobs.

A recent USA Today article told the story of one of these very frustrated young Americans….

Kate Wolfe chased a dream when she moved to New York after college, looking to break into acting while working as a maître d’.

Her $50,000 worth of student loans were a distraction she could handle. Then the uninsured 25-year-old was mugged last year, and the final indignity was the $30,000 emergency room bill.

We are pumping out tons of college graduates, but we are not pumping out nearly enough jobs for all of them.

If you can believe it, in the United States today there are 317,000 waiters and waitresses that actually have college degrees.

That is an absolutely horrifying statistic.

But the truth is that the lack of good jobs is hitting every age level really hard.

For example, the average American family is under a tremendous amount of financial stress in this economy.  Once you adjust it for inflation, median household income in the United States has declined approximately 10 percent since December 2007.

Meanwhile, the cost of food, gas, health insurance and just about everything else a family needs has gone up significantly.

Our politicians keep talking about “jobs, jobs, jobs” but the number of decent jobs continues on a very clear downward trend.

Back in 1980, 52 percent of all jobs in the United States were middle income jobs.  Today, only 42 percent of all jobs in the United States are middle income jobs.

Sadly, it now looks like even the low income jobs are starting to dry up.

Mall vacancies recently hit a brand new all-time record.  Major retail chains all over the country are announcing layoffs.  Things do not look very promising for the upcoming holiday season.

So what are our leaders doing about all of this?

Well, unfortunately they continue to fumble the football very badly.

According to a recent ABC News report, the U.S. government actually gave a $529 million loan guarantee to an electric car company that decided to make its cars in Finland….

Vice President Joseph Biden heralded the Energy Department’s $529 million loan to the start-up electric car company called Fisker as a bright new path to thousands of American manufacturing jobs. But two years after the loan was announced, the job of assembling the flashy electric Fisker Karma sports car has been outsourced to Finland.

If we don’t figure out how to stop millions of jobs from leaving this country we are going to be in a world of hurt.

The trade policies of the federal government are neither “free” nor “fair” and they are causing the standard of living of American workers to rapidly sink toward the level of the rest of the world.

We are told that it is “inevitable” that we are going to be deindustrialized and that we are going to become a service economy.

But guess what?

Service jobs generally pay a lot less than manufacturing jobs do.

A “one world economy” where our labor force is merged with the labor forces of the rest of the globe is not a good thing for the average American worker and it is not a good thing for America.

But of course trade is not the only reason why we are losing good jobs.  There are a whole bunch of reasons why this is happening.  For many more reasons, just check out this article.

A lot of you that are reading this article are unemployed or underemployed right now.

Unfortunately, there is not much hope that the U.S. economy is going to experience a significant turnaround any time soon.

In fact, it is likely that things are going to be getting even worse.

Our economic system is dying.  Now is the time to try to get as independent of it as you can.

Don’t count on a job (“just over broke”) as your only source of income.  In this economy, no job is safe.

There are millions upon millions of unemployed and underemployed Americans that never dreamed that their lives would go so horribly wrong.

But they did.

Our nation is experiencing the consequences of decades of very bad decisions.

There is no help on the horizon and the cavalry is not on the way to rescue us.

You better prepare accordingly.

Student Loan Debt Hell: 21 Statistics That Will Make You Think Twice About Going To College

Is going to college a worthwhile investment?  Is the education that our young people are receiving at our colleges and universities really worth all of the time, money and effort that is required?  Decades ago, a college education was quite inexpensive and it was almost an automatic ticket to the middle class.  But today all of that has changed.  At this point, college education is a big business.  There are currently more than 18 million students enrolled at the nearly 5,000 colleges and universities currently in operation throughout the United States.  There are quite a few “institutions of higher learning” that now charge $40,000 or even $50,000 a year for tuition.  That does not even count room and board and other living expenses.  Meanwhile, as you will see from the statistics posted below, the quality of education at our colleges and universities has deteriorated badly.  When graduation finally arrives, many of our college students have actually learned very little, they find themselves unable to get good jobs and yet they end up trapped in student loan debt hell for essentially the rest of their lives.

Across America today, “guidance counselors” are pushing millions of high school students to go to the very best colleges that they can get into, but they rarely warn them about how much it is going to cost or about the sad reality that they could end up being burdened by massive debt loads for decades to come.

Yes, college is a ton of fun and it is a really unique experience.  If you can get someone else to pay for it then you should definitely consider going.

There are also many careers which absolutely require a college degree.  Depending on your career goals, you may not have much of a choice of whether to go to college or not.

But that doesn’t mean that you have to go to student loan debt hell.

You don’t have to go to the most expensive school that you can get into.

You don’t have to take out huge student loans.

There is no shame in picking a school based on affordability.

The truth is that pretty much wherever you go to school the quality of the education is going to be rather pathetic.  A highly trained cat could pass most college courses in the United States today.

Personally, I have had the chance to spend quite a number of years on college campuses.  I enjoyed my time and I have some pretty pieces of parchment to put up on the wall.  I have seen with my own eyes what goes on at our institutions of higher learning.  In a previous article, I described what life is like for most “average students” enrolled in our colleges and universities today….

The vast majority of college students in America spend two to four hours a day in the classroom and maybe an hour or two outside the classroom studying. The remainder of the time these “students” are out drinking beer, partying, chasing after sex partners, going to sporting events, playing video games, hanging out with friends, chatting on Facebook or getting into trouble. When they say that college is the most fun that most people will ever have in their lives they mean it. It is basically one huge party.

If you are a parent and you are shelling out tens of thousands of dollars every year to pay for college you need to know the truth.

You are being ripped off.

Sadly, a college education just is not that good of an investment anymore.  Tuition costs have absolutely skyrocketed even as the quality of education has plummeted.

A college education is not worth getting locked into crippling student loan payments for the next 30 years.

Even many university professors are now acknowledging that student loan debt has become a horrific societal problem. Just check out what one professor was quoted as saying in a recent article in The Huffington Post….

“Thirty years ago, college was a wise, modest investment,” says Fabio Rojas, a professor of sociology at Indiana University. He studies the politics of higher education. “Now, it’s a lifetime lock-in, an albatross you can’t escape.”

Anyone that is thinking of going to college needs to do a cost/benefit analysis.

Is it really going to be worth it?

For some people the answer will be “yes” and for some people the answer will be “no”.

But sadly, hardly anyone that goes to college these days gets a “good” education.

To get an idea of just how “dumbed down” we have become as a nation, just check out this Harvard entrance exam from 1869.

I wouldn’t have a prayer of passing that exam.

What about you?

We really do need to rethink our approach to higher education in this country.

Posted below are 21 statistics about college tuition, student loan debt and the quality of college education in the United States….

#1 Since 1978, the cost of college tuition in the United States has gone up by over 900 percent.

#2 In 2010, the average college graduate had accumulated approximately $25,000 in student loan debt by graduation day.

#3 Approximately two-thirds of all college students graduate with student loans.

#4 Americans have accumulated well over $900 billion in student loan debt. That figure is higher than the total amount of credit card debt in the United States.

#5 The typical U.S. college student spends less than 30 hours a week on academics.

#6 According to very extensive research detailed in a new book entitled “Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses”, 45 percent of U.S. college students exhibit “no significant gains in learning” after two years in college.

#7 Today, college students spend approximately 50% less time studying than U.S. college students did just a few decades ago.

#8 35% of U.S. college students spend 5 hours or less studying per week.

#9 50% of U.S. college students have never taken a class where they had to write more than 20 pages.

#10 32% of U.S. college students have never taken a class where they had to read more than 40 pages in a week.

#11 U.S. college students spend 24% of their time sleeping, 51% of their time socializing and 7% of their time studying.

#12 Federal statistics reveal that only 36 percent of the full-time students who began college in 2001 received a bachelor’s degree within four years.

#13 Nearly half of all the graduate science students enrolled at colleges and universities in the United States are foreigners.

#14 According to the Economic Policy Institute, the unemployment rate for college graduates younger than 25 years old was 9.3 percent in 2010.

#15 One-third of all college graduates end up taking jobs that don’t even require college degrees.

#16 In the United States today, over 18,000 parking lot attendants have college degrees.

#17 In the United States today, 317,000 waiters and waitresses have college degrees.

#18 In the United States today, approximately 365,000 cashiers have college degrees.

#19 In the United States today, 24.5 percent of all retail salespersons have a college degree.

#20 Once they get out into the “real world”, 70% of college graduates wish that they had spent more time preparing for the “real world” while they were still in school.

#21 Approximately 14 percent of all students that graduate with student loan debt end up defaulting within 3 years of making their first student loan payment.

There are millions of young college graduates running around out there that are wondering where all of the “good jobs” are.  All of their lives they were promised that if they worked really hard and got good grades that the system would reward them.

Sometimes when you do everything right you still can’t get a job. A while back The Huffington Post featured the story of Kyle Daley – a highly qualified UCLA graduate who had been unemployed for 19 months at the time….

I spent my time at UCLA preparing for the outside world. I had internships in congressional offices, political action committees, non-profits and even as a personal intern to a successful venture capitalist. These weren’t the run-of-the-mill office internships; I worked in marketing, press relations, research and analysis. Additionally, the mayor and city council of my hometown appointed me to serve on two citywide governing bodies, the planning commission and the open government commission. I used to think that given my experience, finding work after graduation would be easy.

At this point, however, looking for a job is my job. I recently counted the number of job applications I have sent out over the past year — it amounts to several hundred. I have tried to find part-time work at local stores or restaurants, only to be turned away. Apparently, having a college degree implies that I might bail out quickly when a better opportunity comes along.

The sad truth is that a college degree is not an automatic ticket to the middle class any longer.

But for millions of young Americans a college degree is an automatic ticket to student loan debt hell.

Student loan debt is one of the most insidious forms of debt.  You can’t get away from student loan debt no matter what you do.  Federal bankruptcy law makes it nearly impossible to discharge student loan debts, and many recent grads end up with loan payments that absolutely devastate them financially at a time when they are struggling to get on their feet and make something of themselves.

So are you still sure that you want to go to college?

Another open secret is that most of our colleges and universities are little more than indoctrination centers.  Most people would be absolutely shocked at how much unfiltered propaganda is being pounded into the heads of our young people.

At most colleges and universities, when it comes to the “big questions” there is a “right answer” and there is virtually no discussion of any other alternatives.

In most fields there is an “orthodoxy” that you had better adhere to if you want to get good grades.

Let’s just say that “independent thought” and “critical thinking” are not really encouraged at most of our institutions of higher learning.

Am I bitter because I didn’t do well?  No, I actually did extremely well in school.  I have seen the system from the inside.  I know how it works.

It is a giant fraud.

If you want to go to college because you want to have a good time or because it will help you get your career started then by all means go for it.

Just realize what you are signing up for.

Finca Bayano

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