The Beginning Of The End
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Multiple Government Agencies Are Keeping Records Of Your Credit Card Transactions

Credit CardsWere you under the impression that your credit card transactions are private?  If so, I am sorry to burst your bubble.  As you will see below, there are actually multiple government agencies that are gathering and storing records of your credit card transactions.  And in turn, those government agencies share that information with other government agencies that want it.  So if you are making a purchase that you don’t want anyone to know about, don’t use a credit card.  This is one of the reasons why the government hates cash so much.  It is just so hard to track.  In this day and age, the federal government seems to be absolutely obsessed with gathering as much information about all of us as it possibly can.  But there is one big problem.  What they are doing directly violates the U.S. Constitution.  For those that are not familiar with it, the following is what the Fourth Amendment actually says: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”  Unfortunately, the Fourth Amendment is essentially dead at this point.  The federal government is investigating all of us and gathering information on all of us all day, every day without end.

Many Americans have never even heard of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, but Judicial Watch has discovered that they are spending millions of dollars to collect and analyze our financial transactions…

Judicial Watch announced today that it has obtained records from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) revealing that the agency has spent millions of dollars for the warrantless collection and analysis of Americans’ financial transactions. The documents also reveal that CFPB contractors may be required to share the information with “additional government entities.”

Judicial Watch was able to obtain some absolutely shocking documents thanks to a Freedom of Information Act request that it filed in April.  The following is a summary of some of the things those documents show…

  • Overlapping contracts with multiple credit reporting agencies and accounting firms to gather, store, and share credit card data as shown in the task list of a contract with Argus Information & Advisory Services LLC worth $2.9 million
  • A provision stipulating that “The contractor recognizes that, in performing this requirement, the Contractor may obtain access to non-public, confidential information, Personally Identifiable Information (PII), or proprietary information.”
  • A stipulation that “The Contractor may be required to share credit card data collected from the Banks with additional government entities as directed by the Contracting Officer’s Representative (COR).”

How do you feel about the fact that the government has contracts with “multiple credit reporting agencies and accounting firms to gather, store, and share credit card data”?

How do you feel about the fact that your credit card data and other “non-public, confidential information” may be shared with “additional government entities”?

Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton put it very well when he said that this “warrantless collection of the private financial information of millions of Americans is mind-blowing.  Is there anything that this administration thinks it can’t do?”

But of course the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is not the only one keeping records of your credit card transactions.

We have also recently learned that the NSA is doing it too.  The following is from a recent Time Magazine article

Networks are most likely giving the government “metadata.” That is, the credit card issuers could provide the NSA details such as an account or card number, where and when a purchase was made, and for how much. Even though the exact items purchased aren’t revealed, Brian Krebs, who blogs at KrebsOnSecurity.com, says “merchant category codes” in such data give clues about what was bought.

If the NSA is collecting data at the processor level, “at that point the transaction gets cleared and posts to an account, so, yes, you can track it down to a person,” Aufsesser says.

The NSA conceivably could — and probably would — be able get the names of individual account holders from banks issuing credit cards. ”I don’t see how you would anonymize it,” says Al Pascual, senior analyst for security, risk and fraud for Javelin Strategy & Research.

We are rapidly becoming a “Big Brother society” where the government tracks virtually every move that we make.

And don’t think that you can escape this by not using credit cards or by staying off of the Internet.  The truth is that we are being tracked in hundreds of different ways.

For example, have you heard of automated license plate readers?

They are being installed on police vehicles all over the nation, and the amount of information that they are gathering on all of us is frightening.

A computer security consultant named Michael Katz-Lacabe asked the city of San Leandro, California for a record of every time that these license plate readers had scanned his vehicle, and what he discovered absolutely stunned him

The paperback-size device, installed on the outside of police cars, can log thousands of license plates in an eight-hour patrol shift. Katz-Lacabe said it had photographed his two cars on 112 occasions, including one image from 2009 that shows him and his daughters stepping out of his Toyota Prius in their driveway.

That photograph, Katz-Lacabe said, made him “frightened and concerned about the magnitude of police surveillance and data collection.” The single patrol car in San Leandro equipped with a plate reader had logged his car once a week on average, photographing his license plate and documenting the time and location.

At a rapid pace, and mostly hidden from the public, police agencies throughout California have been collecting millions of records on drivers and feeding them to intelligence fusion centers operated by local, state and federal law enforcement.

Most Americans do not even know that these devices exist, but they have been “collecting millions of records” and feeding them into law enforcement databases all over the nation.

In San Diego alone, more than 36 million license plate scans have been fed into a regional database just since 2010

In San Diego, 13 federal and local law enforcement agencies have compiled more than 36 million license-plate scans in a regional database since 2010 with the help of federal homeland security grants. The San Diego Association of Governments maintains the database. Like the Northern California database, the San Diego system retains the data for between one and two years.

“License-plate data is clearly identifiable to specific individuals,” said Lee Tien, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “This is like having your barcode tracked.”

Is this the kind of society that we want to become?

Do we really want the police to be taking millions of photographs of us?

Do we really want all of our financial transactions to be fed directly into federal databases?

Do we really want the government to track every phone call we make and every email we send?

As I wrote about recently, it has been documented that literally thousands of companies have been handing over customer data to the NSA.

Is this the kind of legacy that we want to leave for our children and our grandchildren?

Fortunately, it appears that at least some Americans are waking up to all of this.

According to a brand new Rasmussen survey, 56 percent of likely voters in the United States now believe that the federal government is a threat to individual rights…

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 56% of Likely U.S. Voters now consider the federal government a threat to individual rights rather than a protector of those rights. That’s up 10 points from 46% in December.

While 54% of liberal voters consider the feds to be a protector of individual rights, 78% of conservatives and 49% of moderates see the government as a threat.

Overall, only 30% believe the feds today are a protector of individual rights. Fourteen percent (14%) are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

If the American people do not stand up and demand change, the people that are constantly violating our privacy are going to continue to do so.

Sadly, the vast majority of the politicians in both major political parties seem to think that there is nothing wrong with the status quo.  So I wouldn’t expect any major changes in the short-term.  But hopefully government surveillance will start to become such a major issue with the American people that the politicians will be forced to start addressing it.

The All-Seeing Eye Is Watching You

Show This To Anyone That Believes That “Things Are Getting Better” In America

Show This To Anyone That Believes That Things Are Getting Better In AmericaHow can anyone not see that the U.S. economy is collapsing all around us?  It just astounds me when people try to tell me that “everything is just fine” and that “things are getting better” in America.  Are there people out there that are really that blind?  If you want to see the economic collapse, just open up your eyes and look around you.  By almost every economic and financial measure, the U.S. economy has been steadily declining for many years.  But most Americans are so tied into “the matrix” that they can only understand the cheerful propaganda that is endlessly being spoon-fed to them by the mainstream media.  As I have said so many times, the economic collapse is not a single event.  The economic collapse has been happening, it is is happening right now, and it will continue to happen.  Yes, there will be times when our decline will be punctuated by moments of great crisis, but that will be the exception rather than the rule.  A lot of people that write about “the economic collapse” hype it up as if it will be some huge “event” that will happen very rapidly and then once it is all over we will rebuild.  Unfortunately, that is not how the real world works.  We are living in the greatest debt bubble in the history of the world, and once it completely bursts there will be no going back to how things were before.  Right now, we are living in a “credit card economy”.  As long as we can keep borrowing more money, most people think that things are just fine.  But anyone that has lived on credit cards knows that eventually there comes a point when the game is over, and we are rapidly approaching that point as a nation.

Have you ever been there?  Have you ever desperately hoped that you could just get one more credit card or one more loan so that you could keep things going?

At first, living on credit can be a lot of fun.  You can live a much higher standard of living than you otherwise would be able to.

But inevitably a day of reckoning comes.

If the federal government and the American people were forced at this moment to live within their means, the U.S. economy would immediately plunge into a depression.

That is a 100% rock solid guarantee.

But our politicians and the mainstream media continue to perpetuate the fiction that we can live in this credit card economic fantasy land indefinitely.

And most Americans could not care less about the future.  As long as “things are good” today, they don’t really think much about what the future will hold.

As a result of our very foolish short-term thinking, we have now run up a national debt of 16.4 trillion dollars.  It is the largest debt in the history of the world, and it has gotten more than 23 times larger since Jimmy Carter first entered the White House.

The chart that you see below is a recipe for national financial suicide…

U.S. National Debt

Of course things have accelerated over the past four years.  Since Barack Obama entered the White House, the U.S. government has run a budget deficit of well over a trillion dollars every single year, and we have stolen more than 100 million dollars from our children and our grandchildren every single hour of every single day.

It is the biggest theft of all time.  What we are doing to our children and our grandchildren is beyond criminal.

And now our debt is at a level that most economists would consider terminal.  When Barack Obama first entered the White House, the U.S. debt to GDP ratio was under 70 percent.  Today, it is up to 103 percent.

We are officially in “the danger zone”.

If things really were “getting better” in America, we would not need to borrow so much money.

Our politicians are stealing from the future in order to make the present look better.  During Obama’s first term, the federal government accumulated more debt than it did under the first 42 U.S presidents combined.

That is utter insanity!

If you started paying off just the new debt that the U.S. has accumulated during the Obama administration at the rate of one dollar per second, it would take more than 184,000 years to pay it off.

So what is the solution?

Get ready to laugh.

The most prominent economic journalist in the entire country, Paul Krugman of the New York Times, recently suggested the following in an article that he wrote entitled “Kick That Can“…

Realistically, we’re not going to resolve our long-run fiscal issues any time soon, which is O.K. — not ideal, but nothing terrible will happen if we don’t fix everything this year. Meanwhile, we face the imminent threat of severe economic damage from short-term spending cuts.

So we should avoid that damage by kicking the can down the road. It’s the responsible thing to do.

You mean that we might actually do damage to the debt-fueled economic fantasy world that we are living in if we stopped stealing so much money from future generations?

Oh the humanity!

It is horrifying to think that all that one of the “top economic minds” in America can come up with is to “kick the can” down the road some more.

Unfortunately, neither Paul Krugman nor most of the American people understand that our financial system is actually designed to create government debt.

The bankers that helped create the Federal Reserve intended to permanently enslave the U.S. government to a perpetually expanding spiral of debt, and their plans worked.

At this point, the U.S. national debt is more than 5000 times larger than it was when the Federal Reserve was first created.

So why don’t the American people understand what the Federal Reserve system is doing to us?

It is because most of them are still plugged into the matrix.  A Zero Hedge article that I came across today put it beautifully…

US society in a nutshell: Chris Dorner has been around for a week and has 222 million results on Google; the Federal Reserve has been around for one hundred years and has 187 million results.

If nothing is done about our exploding debt, it is only a matter of time before we reach financial oblivion.

According to Boston University economist Laurence Kotlikoff, the U.S. government is facing a “present value difference between projected future spending and revenue” of 222 trillion dollars in the years ahead.

So how in the world are we going to come up with an extra 222 trillion dollars?

But it is not just the U.S. government that is drowning in debt.

Just check out this chart which shows the astounding growth of state and local government debt in recent years…

State And Local Government Debt

All over the United States there are state and local governments that are on the verge of bankruptcy.  Just check out what is going on in Detroit.  The only way that most of our state and local governments can keep going at this point is to also “kick the can” down the road some more.

And of course most of the rest of us are drowning in debt as well.

40 years ago, the total amount of debt in the U.S. economic system (government + business + consumer) was less than 2 trillion dollars.

Today, the total amount of debt in the U.S. economic system has grown to more than 55 trillion dollars.

Can anyone say bubble?

The good news is that U.S. GDP is now more than 12 times larger than it was 40 years ago.

The bad news is that the total amount of debt in our financial system is now more than 30 times larger than it was 40 years ago…

Total Credit Market Debt Owed

At the same time that we are going into so much debt, our ability to produce wealth continues to decline.

According to the World Bank, U.S. GDP accounted for 31.8 percent of all global economic activity in 2001.  That number dropped to 21.6 percent in 2011.  That is not just a decline – that is a nightmarish freefall.  Just check out the chart in this article.

We are becoming less competitive as a nation with each passing year.  In fact, the U.S. has fallen in the global economic competitiveness rankings compiled by the World Economic Forum for four years in a row.

Most Americans don’t understand this, but the United States buys far more from the rest of the world than they buy from us each year.  In 2012, we had a trade deficit of more than 500 billion dollars with the rest of the world.

That means that more than 500 billion dollars that could have gone to U.S. workers and U.S. businesses went out of the country instead.

So how does our country survive if hundreds of billions of dollars more is flowing out of the country than is flowing into it?

Well, to make up the shortfall we go to the countries that we sent our money to and we beg them to lend it back to us.  If that doesn’t work, we just print and borrow even more money.

Overall, the United States has run a trade deficit of more than 8 trillion dollars with the rest of the world since 1975.

That is 8 trillion dollars that could have saved U.S. businesses, paid the salaries of U.S. workers and that would have helped fund government.

But instead, our foolish policies have greatly enriched China and the oil barons of the Middle East.

Sadly, politicians from both political parties continue to boldly support the one world economic agenda of the global elite.

Just consider how destructive many of these “free trade” deals have been to our economy…

When NAFTA was pushed through Congress in 1993, the United States had a trade surplus with Mexico of 1.6 billion dollars.

By 2010, we had a trade deficit with Mexico of 61.6 billion dollars.

Back in 1985, our trade deficit with China was approximately 6 million dollars (million with a little “m”) for the entire year.

In 2012, our trade deficit with China was 315 billion dollars.  That was the largest trade deficit that one nation has had with another nation in the history of the world.

In particular, our trade with China is extremely unbalanced.  Today, U.S. consumers spend approximately 4 dollars on goods and services from China for every one dollar that Chinese consumers spend on goods and services from the United States.

But isn’t getting cheap stuff from China good?

No, because it costs us good paying jobs.

According to the Economic Policy Institute, the United States is losing half a million jobs to China every single year.

Overall, more than 56,000 manufacturing facilities in the United States have been shut down since 2001.  During 2010, manufacturing facilities in the United States were shutting down at a rate of 23 per day.  How can anyone say that “things are getting better” when our economic infrastructure is being absolutely gutted?

The truth is that there are never going to be enough jobs in America ever again, because millions of our jobs are being sent overseas and millions of our jobs are being lost to technology.

You won’t hear this on the news, but the percentage of the civilian labor force in the United States that is employed has been steadily declining every single year since 2006.

Younger workers have been hit particularly hard.  In 2007, the unemployment rate for the 20 to 29 age bracket was about 6.5 percent.  Today, the unemployment rate for that same age group is about 13 percent.

If you are under the age of 30 and you aren’t living with your parents, there is a really good chance that you are living in poverty.  If you can believe it, U.S. families that have a head of household that is under the age of 30 have a poverty rate of 37 percent.

Our economy has been steadily bleeding huge numbers of middle class jobs, and many of those jobs have been replaced by low paying jobs in recent years.

According to one study, 60 percent of the jobs lost during the last recession were mid-wage jobs, but 58 percent of the jobs created since then have been low wage jobs.

And at this point, an astounding 53 percent of all American workers make less than $30,000 a year.

Oh, but “things are getting better”, right?

Maybe if you live on Wall Street or if you are an employee of the federal government.

But for most families this economic decline has been a total nightmare.  Median household income in America has fallen for four consecutive years.  Overall, it has declined by over $4000 during that time span.

Sometimes people forget how good things were about a decade ago.  About three times as many new homes were sold in the United States in 2005 as were sold in 2012.

But we like to live in denial.

In fact, a lot of families are trying to keep up their standards of living by going into tremendous amounts of debt.

Back in 1983, the bottom 95 percent of all income earners in the United States had 62 cents of debt for every dollar that they earned.  By 2007, that figure had soared to $1.48.

Fake it until you make it, right?

But how much debt can our system possibly handle?

Total home mortgage debt in the United States is now about 5 times larger than it was just 20 years ago.

Total credit card debt in the United States is now more than 8 times larger than it was just 30 years ago.

We are a nation that is completely addicted to debt, but as the financial crisis of 2008 demonstrated, all of that debt can have horrific consequences.

As the economy has slowed in recent years, the Federal Reserve has decided that “the solution” is to recklessly print money in an attempt to get the debt spiral cranked up again.

Have they gone overboard?  You be the judge…

Monetary Base 2013

And of course this won’t have any affect on the value of the money that you have been saving up all these years right?

Wrong.

Every single dollar that you own is continually losing value…

Purchasing Power Of The Dollar

Overall, the value of the U.S. dollar has declined by more than 96 percent since the Federal Reserve was first created.

As the cost of living continues to go up and wages continue to go down, millions of American families have fallen out of the middle class and into poverty.

If you can believe it, the number of Americans on food stamps has grown from about 17 million in the year 2000 to more than 47 million today.

But “things are getting better”, right?

Incredibly, more than a million public school students in the United States are homeless.  This is the first time that has ever happened in our history.

But “things are getting better”, right?

There are now 20.2 million Americans that spend more than half of their incomes on housing.  That represents a 46 percent increase from 2001.

But “things are getting better”, right?

In 1999, 64.1 percent of all Americans were covered by employment-based health insurance.  Today, only 55.1 percent are covered by employment-based health insurance.

But “things are getting better”, right?

Today, more Americans than ever have found themselves forced to turn to the federal government for help.

Overall, the federal government runs nearly 80 different “means-tested welfare programs”, and at this point more than 100 million Americans are enrolled in at least one of them.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 49 percent of all Americans live in a home that receives direct monetary benefits from the federal government.  Back in 1983, less than a third of all Americans lived in a home that received direct monetary benefits from the federal government.

So is it a good sign or a bad sign that the percentage of Americans that are financially dependent on the federal government is at an all-time high?

And in future years the number of Americans that are receiving benefits from the federal government is projected to absolutely skyrocket.

Back in 1965, only one out of every 50 Americans was on Medicaid.  Today, one out of every 6 Americans is on Medicaid, and things are about to get a whole lot worse.  It is being projected that Obamacare will add 16 million more Americans to the Medicaid rolls.

If you take a look at Medicare, things are very more sobering.

As I wrote recently, it is being projected that the number of Americans on Medicare will grow from 50.7 million in 2012 to 73.2 million in 2025.

At this point, Medicare is facing unfunded liabilities of more than 38 trillion dollars over the next 75 years.  That comes to approximately $328,404 for every single household in the United States.

Are you ready to contribute your share?

Social Security is a complete and total nightmare as well.

Right now, there are approximately 56 million Americans collecting Social Security benefits.

By 2035, that number is projected to soar to an astounding 91 million.

Overall, the Social Security system is facing a 134 trillion dollar shortfall over the next 75 years.

Oh, but don’t worry because “things are getting better”, right?

I honestly do not know how anyone can look at the numbers above and come to the conclusion that the economy is in good shape.

We have accumulated the largest mountain of debt in the history of the world, our economic infrastructure is being gutted, we are bleeding good jobs, government dependence is at an all-time high and we are getting poorer as a nation with each passing day.

But other than that, everything is rainbows and lollipops, right?

If you want to see the economic collapse, just open up your eyes.

And if dramatic changes are not made quickly, things are going to get much, much worse from here.

Please share this article with as many people as possible.  Time is quickly running out and there are a whole lot of people out there that we need to wake up while we still can.

The Economic Collapse Is Happening

 

 

A Massive Electromagnetic Pulse Could Collapse The Economy In A Single Moment

A Massive Electromagnetic Pulse Could Collapse The Economy In A Single MomentWhat would you do if all the lights went out and they never came back on?  That is a question that the new NBC series “Revolution” asks, but most people have no idea that a similar thing could happen in real life at any moment.  A single gigantic electromagnetic pulse over the central United States could potentially fry most of the electronics from coast to coast if it was powerful enough.  This could occur in a couple of different ways.  If a powerful nuclear weapon was exploded at a high enough altitude, it could produce an electromagnetic pulse powerful enough to knock out electronics all over the country.  Alternatively, a massive solar storm could potentially cause a similar phenomenon to happen just about anywhere on the planet without much warning.  Of course not all EMP events are created equal.  An electromagnetic pulse can range from a minor inconvenience to a civilization-killing event.  It just depends on how powerful it is.  But in the worst case scenario, we could be facing a situation where our electrical grids have been fried, there is no heat for our homes, our computers don’t work, the Internet does not work, our cell phones do not work, there are no more banking records, nobody can use credit cards anymore, hospitals are unable to function, nobody can pump gas, and supermarkets cannot operate because there is no power and no refrigeration.  Basically, we would witness the complete and total collapse of the economy.  According to a government commission that looked into these things, approximately two-thirds of the U.S. population would die from starvation, disease and societal chaos within one year of a massive EMP attack.  It would be a disaster unlike anything we have ever seen before in U.S. history.

Most Americans are totally clueless about what an EMP attack could do to this nation, but the threat is very real.  There was even a congressional commission that studied the potential effects of an EMP attack on the United States for eight years

The US Congress in 2000 established the Congressional Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack. In 2004, the committee produced a 70-page executive summary on the EMP threat, and it issued a final report on the matter in 2008. According to the report, “several potential adversaries have or can acquire the capability to attack the United States with a high-altitude nuclear weapon-generated electromagnetic pulse (EMP). A determined adversary can achieve an EMP attack capability without having a high level of sophistication.”

Dr. William Graham was the chairman of that commission, and he says that an EMP attack could knock the United States back into the 1800s in just a single moment

An EMP attack “could not only take down power grids, which are fragile anyway in this country, and telecommunications networks, and financial networks, and traffic controls and many other things, but in addition, there is a very close interrelationship among those national infrastructure capabilities,” Graham says.

“So, for example, we need telecommunications to re-establish the power network, and we need the power network to keep telecommunications going for more than a few hours. And we need the financial network to continue to operate to maintain the economy, we need the transportation system, roads, street lights, control systems, to operate just to get people to the failed power, telecommunication and other systems,” he adds.

Life after an EMP attack “would probably be something that you might imagine life to be like around the late 1800s but with several times the population we had in those days, and without the ability of the country to support and sustain all those people,” Graham says. “They wouldn’t have power. Food supplies would be greatly taken out by the lack of transportation, telecommunication, power for refrigeration and so on.”

Unfortunately, very few of us are equipped to survive in such an environment.  We have become incredibly dependent on technology, and most Americans would have no idea how to do something as simple as growing their own food.  Most people would be in a very serious amount of trouble in a very short period of time.

An article by Mac Slavo detailed some of the things that we could expect in the aftermath of a massive electromagnetic pulse…

The first 24 – 48 hours after such an occurrence will lead to confusion among the general population as traditional news acquisition sources like television, radio and cell phone networks will be non-functional.

Within a matter of days, once people realize the power might not be coming back on and grocery store shelves start emptying, the entire system will begin to delve into chaos.

Within 30 days a mass die off will have begun as food supplies dwindle, looters and gangs turn to violent extremes, medicine can’t be restocked and water pump stations fail.

Are you prepared for such an event?

If not, why not?

And actually, high altitude nuclear explosions and solar storms are not the only things that could produce sizable EMP bursts.

For example, the U.S. military has developed “a directed electromagnetic pulse gun” that can take out all electronics within a limited area.  This kind of weapon can be fired from a plane, a cruise missile or even a drone.  The following is from a recent WND article

A pre-programmed cruise missile not too different from a drone has been proven to be capable of blasting out an EMP-type microwave that was able to destroy personal computers and electrical systems inside a building over which it was flying.

The U.S. Air Force and its contractor Boeing have created the High-powered Microwave Advanced Missile Project, or CHAMP, which was just tested over a Utah desert.

Other nations such as Russia and China are busy developing similar weapons.  The ability to instantly take out the electronics of the enemy would be a very powerful advantage.

Even North Korea has been working on this kind of technology.  According to Newsmax, it is believed that they may have tested a “Super-EMP” weapon back in 2009

North Korea’s last round of tests, conducted in May 2009, appear to have included a “super-EMP” weapon, capable of emitting enough gamma rays to disable the electric power grid across most of the lower 48 states

As this technology becomes more widespread, it will soon be accessible to just about everyone.  You don’t actually need a nuclear weapon to set off a massive electromagnetic pulse.  A non-nuclear pulse generator can do the same thing.  If you set one off next to a power station you could potentially take out the electrical grid for an entire region.

Terrorist groups and lone wolf crazies could even use portable radio frequency weapons to do a tremendous amount of electromagnetic damage over a more limited area.  The following is from a recent article by F. Michael Maloof

Such an individual with a penchant for electronics can pull together components from a Radio Shack or electronic store – even order the components off of selected Internet websites – and fashion a radio frequency, or RF, weapon.

As microprocessors become smaller but more sophisticated, they are even more susceptible to an RF pulse. The high power microwave from an RF weapon produces a short, very high power pulse, said to be billions of watts in a nanosecond, or billionths of a second.

This so-called burst of electromagnetic waves in the gigahertz microwave frequency band can melt electrical circuitry and damage integrated circuits, causing them to fail.

Constructing a radio frequency weapon is not that difficult.  In fact, you can find instructions for how to build them on the Internet.

People need to realize that we live in a world where technology is absolutely exploding and we are dealing with threats that previous generations never even dreamed of.  As the world becomes increasingly unstable, it is inevitable that these kinds of weapons will be used.

It is only a matter of time.

What will life look like after an EMP weapon is used?

That is something to think about.

And we also need to keep watching the sun.  It could produce a massive electromagnetic pulse at literally any moment.  As I have written about previously, scientists tell us that it is only a matter of time before we are hit with a technology-crippling solar super storm.

Most people don’t even realize that the massive solar storm of 1859 fried telegraph machines all over Europe and North America.  If such a storm hit us today, the damage would potentially be in the trillions of dollars.  The following is from a recent New York Times article

A powerful solar (or “geomagnetic”) storm has the potential to simultaneously damage multiple transformers in the electricity grid and perhaps even bring down large sections of it, affecting upwards of a hundred million people in the United States for many months, if not years.

These huge transformers are expensive and difficult to replace, and not many are stockpiled in the United States for an emergency. In the worst case, the impact would be devastating: An outage could cost a few trillion dollars, with full recovery taking years. Not only would parts of the grid be compromised, but telephone networks, undersea cables, satellites and railroads also would be affected.

A 2008 National Academy of Sciences study warned that “because of the interconnectedness of critical infrastructures in modern society,” the “collateral effects of a longer-term outage” would likely include “disruption of the transportation, communication, banking and finance systems, and government services; the breakdown of the distribution of potable water owing to pump failure; and the loss of perishable foods and medications because of lack of refrigeration.”

By the way, 2013 is the peak of the current solar cycle.  So we are moving into a time period when conditions will be very favorable for solar storms.

Let us hope that we are never hit with a massive electromagnetic pulse that is strong enough to take out all of our electronics.

But if it did happen, and all the lights went out for good, what would you do?

Please feel free to share your thoughts by leaving a comment below…

EMP Attack On The United States

Say Goodbye To The Good Life

Say Goodbye To The Good Life - The U.S. Capitol With A Babylonian Holiday Tree In The ForegroundWill this be the last normal holiday season that Americans ever experience?  To many Americans, such a notion would be absolutely inconceivable.  After all, in the affluent areas of the country restaurants and malls are absolutely packed.  Beautiful holiday decorations are seemingly everywhere this time of the year and children all over the United States are breathlessly awaiting the arrival of Santa Claus.  Even though poverty is exploding to unprecedented levels, most families will still have mountains of presents under their Christmas trees.  Of course a whole lot of those presents were purchased with credit cards, but people don’t like to talk about that.  It kind of spoils the illusion.  Sadly, the truth is that our entire economy is a giant illusion.  The extreme prosperity that we have been enjoying has been fueled by debt, and any future prosperity that we will experience is completely dependent on our ability to go into even more debt.  The total amount of debt in our economy is almost 10 times larger than it was just 30 years ago, but we don’t like to think about that too much.  Most Americans are way too busy living the good life to be bothered with “doom and gloom”.  Well, get ready to say goodbye to normal.  As history has shown us, no financial bubble lasts forever, and time is rapidly running out for us.

You know that the hour is late when even mainstream news sources start publishing articles with titles such as this: “Will 2013 Mark the Beginning of American Decline?

That article appeared on Bloomberg.com the other day, and it was written by Simon Johnson, a former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund.  He is convinced that a day of reckoning is coming for U.S. government finances, and he seems resigned to the fact that we will not be ready when that day arrives…

“Sooner or later, it will be America’s turn to fall out of favor with investors and to see its own interest rates rise. It is hard to know when that day will come, or precisely what pressures the country will face.

Let me only venture one forecast: We will not be ready.”

Other analysts are far more pessimistic.  For example, the following is what Gerald Celente said about the “bond bubble” during a recent interview with King World News

Eric King: “Gerald, I wanted to take a look at this upcoming issue you have coming out. (In here it says,) ‘Bonds Away! The bond bomb is ready to explode … threatening to make the real estate and dot-com bubbles, and even the Great Recession, look like market corrections.’ Can you talk about that?”

Celente: “Yes. This piece is being penned by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, the former Assistant Treasury Secretary under Ronald Reagan. And he is convinced that the bond bubble is about to burst. This cannot continue to go on the way it is. Everyone knows that the whole game is rigged, and so is this….”

“The whole game is rigged. It’s ready to go down, and Dr. Paul Craig Roberts believes it’s ‘Bonds Away’ in 2013 as the bond bubble explodes and brings about a financial disaster even worse than the Great Depression.”

Eric King: “He’s saying here it’s a road to financial collapse that we are going to head down when this thing bursts.”

Celente: “It is. Because the whole world is being propped up by these phony bonds and it’s going to collapse. It has to happen. Interest rates are going to start going up, and when they do the bond bubble explodes. You cannot keep interest rates at zero for this amount of time and expect anything other than disaster to follow.”

For much more on all this, you can listen to another excellent interview with Gerald Celente right here.

Our politicians just assume that we will be able to borrow trillions upon trillions of dollars far into the future at super low interest rates, but that is a very dangerous assumption.

As I noted the other day, the average rate of interest on U.S. government debt was 2.534 percent at the end of November.  If that number just rose to where it was about a decade earlier we would be in a massive amount of trouble.

Back in the year 2000, the average rate of interest on U.S. government debt was 6.638 percent.  If we were at that level today, the U.S. government would be paying out more than a trillion dollars a year just in interest on the national debt.

But our politicians just keep borrowing and spending as if we could do this forever.

From the time that George Washington was inaugurated (1789) to the time that George W. Bush was inaugurated (2001), the U.S. government accumulated about 5.7 trillion dollars of debt.

During the first four years of the Obama administration, the U.S. government accumulated about 5.7 trillion dollars of debt.

How can anyone support this kind of insanity?

You can see an excellent video demonstrating the vastness of our national debt right here.  In the end, all of this debt will absolutely destroy the U.S. dollar, our economic system and the bright futures that our children and our grandchildren were supposed to have.

As if all of that was not enough to be concerned about, there is also the threat that Wall Street could implode at any time.  Most Americans have no idea that Wall Street has been transformed into the largest casino in the history of the world.  The “too big to fail” banks are the ringleaders, and the derivatives bubble hangs over our financial system like a “sword of Damocles” that could fall at virtually any moment.

Everything will remain fine as long as the spiral of derivatives that our bankers have constructed remains perfectly balanced.  But if something happens and it becomes unbalanced and starts to collapse, the consequences could be unlike anything we have ever seen before.

A recent Zero Hedge article entitled “1000x Systemic Leverage: $600 Trillion In Gross Derivatives ‘Backed’ By $600 Billion In Collateral” detailed how there is barely any collateral backing up the hundreds of trillions of dollars of derivatives that are out there…

But a bigger question is what is the actual collateral backing this gargantuan market which is about 10 times greater than the world’s combined GDP, because as the “derivative” name implies all this exposure is backed on some dedicated, real assets, somewhere. Luckily, the IMF recently released a discussion note titled “Shadow Banking: Economics and Policy” where quietly hidden in one of the appendices it answers precisely this critical question. The bottom line: $600 trillion in gross notional derivatives backed by a tiny $600 billion in real assets: a whopping 0.1% margin requirement! Surely nothing can possibly go wrong with this amount of unprecedented 1000x systemic leverage.

Our entire economy has become a giant pyramid of debt, risk and leverage.  At some point there is going to be a giant crash.  When that happens, people are going to become very desperate.

When people become very desperate, they often accept “solutions” that they were not willing to consider previously.

We need to learn some lessons from history.  This is exactly the kind of thing that happened back in the 1930s.

For example, an elderly woman named Kitty Werthmann is telling audiences what life was like in Austria back in the late 1930s…

“In 1938, Austria was in deep Depression. Nearly one-third of our workforce was unemployed. We had 25 percent inflation and 25 percent bank loan interest rates.”

“Farmers and business people were declaring bankruptcy daily. Young people were going from house to house begging for food. Not that they didn’t want to work; there simply weren’t any jobs.”

The Austrian people were really hurting and they were desperate for answers.  When Hitler came to them with “solutions”, they were ready to embrace him with open arms…

“We looked to our neighbor on the north, Germany, where Hitler had been in power since 1933.” she recalls. “We had been told that they didn’t have unemployment or crime, and they had a high standard of living.”

“Nothing was ever said about persecution of any group – Jewish or otherwise. We were led to believe that everyone in Germany was happy. We wanted the same way of life in Austria. We were promised that a vote for Hitler would mean the end of unemployment and help for the family. Hitler also said that businesses would be assisted, and farmers would get their farms back.””Ninety-eight percent of the population voted to annex Austria to Germany and have Hitler for our ruler.”

“We were overjoyed,” remembers Kitty, “and for three days we danced in the streets and had candlelight parades. The new government opened up big field kitchens and everyone was fed.”

Sadly, America is already starting to go down the same path in many ways.  If you doubt this, you can read the rest of her account right here.

Right now, things are still relatively good in America.  Yes, there are a whole host of economic numbers that look really bad, but what we are experiencing right now is nothing compared to the horrific economic pain that is coming.

When our economy finally crashes, nobody is going to be able to press a button and restore things to how they were previously.  We will be told that we have to “adjust” and consider “new solutions” to our “new challenges”.  Someday we will look back on the good life that we were enjoying in 2010, 2011 and 2012 and wish that we could go back to those days.

So enjoy the relative peacefulness and prosperity of these times while you still can.  A horrific economic collapse is on the way, and once it strikes none of our lives will ever be the same.

Santa Claus - A Symbol Of Our Materialism

If One Storm Can Turn D.C. Dark For Several Days, What Would A Massive EMP Burst Do?

Sometimes we all get a little reminder of just how completely and totally dependent we are on the power grid.  Massive thunderstorms that ripped through Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland, Washington D.C. and Virginia left millions without power over the weekend.  At this point it is being projected that some people may not get power back until the end of the week.  The “super derecho” storm that pounded the Washington D.C. area on Friday night with hurricane-force winds is being called unprecedented.  But the truth is that there are other events that could happen that would be far more damaging to our power grid.  For example, a substantial EMP burst over a major U.S. city would fry virtually all of the electronics in the city and take the power grid in the area down indefinitely.  A gigantic EMP burst over the entire country (caused by a massive solar storm or a very large nuclear explosion high in the atmosphere) could theoretically take down the entire national power grid.  Just try to imagine a world where nobody has any electricity, nobody can pump gas, nobody can use their credit cards or get any more money, where most vehicles won’t start, where nobody has the Internet, where all cell phones are dead and where nobody can heat or cool their homes.  That is how serious an EMP burst could potentially be.  We are talking about an event that could be millions of times worse than 9/11.

Hopefully this latest storm has reminded Americans about how vulnerable our power grid really is and about how close we really are to being knocked back to the late 1800s.

Let’s review some of the damage that this “super derecho” storm caused to the D.C. area….

-Thousands of businesses have been forced to close temporarily because they cannot operate without electricity

-Many federal agencies were closed on Monday because there was no power

-Many 911 call centers throughout Northern Virginia were down over the weekend and could not respond to emergencies

-Without electricity, many families have not been able to cook warm meals

-Without warm water, many families have not been able to take hot showers

-A “boil water advisory” was put into effect for several areas of northern Virginia

-Many families that still do not have power are in danger of losing much of the food in their refrigerators and freezers

-Many gas stations were not able to operate because of a lack of electricity and so this has made filling up the gas tank a major hassle for many families

-Hundreds of traffic lights are still out and this is making commuting a major problem in some areas

-Without air conditioning many families are absolutely sweltering as high temperatures remain well above 90 degrees

-During the power outage some people have been without cell phone service because many cell phone towers were inoperable

-Without electricity, thousands upon thousands of people have not been able to use their computers for several days and this is causing a lot of frustration

-Several major websites were totally knocked offline by the storms as Robert McMillan of Wired Magazine explained….

Hurricane-like storms knocked an Amazon data center in Ashburn, Virginia, offline last night, and a chunk of the internet felt it. The six-hour incident temporarily cut off a number of popular internet services, including Netflix, Pinterest, Heroku, and Instagram.

But to be honest this was not a major disaster.

After a few days the damage will be fixed and people will start to forget what just happened.

Well, what if the damage was permanent and the entire nation had to go without electricity for the foreseeable future?  The following is from a USA Today article by Dan Vergano….

The sky erupts. Cities darken, food spoils and homes fall silent. Civilization collapses.

End-of-the-world novel? A video game? Or could such a scenario loom in America’s future?

There is talk of catastrophe ahead, depending on whom you believe, because of the threat of an electromagnetic pulse triggered by either a supersized solar storm or terrorist A-bomb, both capable of disabling the electric grid that powers modern life.

As I have written about previously, an EMP attack could fundamentally change life in America in a single instant.

What would you do if such a scenario happened?

Would you try to go somewhere?  Even if the electronics in your car were not totally fried, you would not be able to pump more gas anywhere.

Would you try to call someone?  Most phones would be totally dead and all normal communications networks would be down.  So who would you call?

Would you bunker down and try to survive on what you have at home?  Most of the food in your refrigerator and freezer would rapidly go bad and most Americans only have enough food to last a few days or a few weeks.  In addition, most Americans would no longer be able to heat or cool their homes, so extreme cold and extreme heat would become huge problems very quickly.

How in the world would any of us survive in a world without electricity?

In past centuries our forefathers knew how to survive in such a world, but most of us do not have the same skills or resources that they had.

The following is how an article in the Wall Street Journal once described what a massive EMP burst would do to this nation….

No American would necessarily die in the initial attack, but what comes next is potentially catastrophic. The pulse would wipe out most electronics and telecommunications, including the power grid. Millions could die for want of modern medical care or even of starvation since farmers wouldn’t be able to harvest crops and distributors wouldn’t be able to get food to supermarkets. Commissioner Lowell Wood calls EMP attack a “giant continental time machine” that would move us back more than a century in technology to the late 1800s.

What would you do if you were suddenly cut off from all electricity, all money, all modern forms of communication, all modern forms of transportation and all modern forms of shopping?

Don’t think that it can’t happen.

Scientists tell us that massive EMP bursts generated by gigantic solar storms have hit our planet in the past and that it is inevitable that it will happen again.

In addition, nations all over the planet are aware of what an EMP burst can do and have been developing “Super-EMP” weapons that can take power grids down in a single strike.

The following is a short excerpt from a statement by Dr. Peter Vincent Pry to the United States Senate Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology and Homeland Security on March 8th, 2005….

Russian and Chinese military scientists in open source writings describe the basic principles of nuclear weapons designed specifically to generate an enhanced-EMP effect, that they term “Super-EMP” weapons. “Super-EMP” weapons, according to these foreign open source writings, can destroy even the best protected U.S. military and civilian electronic systems.

That doesn’t sound good.

But perhaps even more troubling is that North Korea has been reportedly developing this type of weapon.  In fact, it has been reported that North Korea may have tested a “Super-EMP” weapon all the way back in 2009….

North Korea’s last round of tests, conducted in May 2009, appear to have included a “super-EMP” weapon, capable of emitting enough gamma rays to disable the electric power grid across most of the lower 48 states

In time, these kinds of weapons will get into more and more hands.

Will someone try to use this kind of weapon at some point?

Frank Gaffney, the president of the Center for Security Policy, believes that a single EMP burst could potentially end up killing the vast majority of the population of the United States….

“Within a year of that attack, nine out of 10 Americans would be dead, because we can’t support a population of the present size in urban centers and the like without electricity”

Once you understand these kinds of threats, it makes it a lot easier to understand why preppers are so busy preparing for the future.

Our world is becoming incredibly unstable.  Another major economic crisis could hit us at any time, war in the Middle East could erupt without warning, earthquakes and other natural disasters are becoming more frequent and society seems to get a little crazier with each passing day.

The era of tremendous peace and prosperity that we have all been enjoying is rapidly coming to an end.  In a world filled with instability and chaos, it only seems prudent to take some precautions.

You might want to get prepared while you still have time.

If The U.S. Government Keeps Spending Money Like This We Are Doomed And If The U.S. Government Stops Spending Money Like This We Are Doomed

If you increased your credit card spending by a couple thousand dollars per month would your lifestyle improve?  Of course it would.  By going into large amounts of debt, it is possible to live a lifestyle that you can’t really afford, at least for a while.  But if you keep racking up huge amounts of credit card debt every single month, eventually it gets to a point where it is extremely difficult to even keep up with the minimum monthly payments and the credit card companies will not lend you any more money.  Well, on a larger scale it is the same thing with government debt.  Right now, the U.S. government is spending more than a trillion dollars more than it takes in every year.  Even if the U.S. government spends all of that money on incredibly stupid stuff, it still gets into the pockets of ordinary Americans.  In turn, those ordinary Americans use that money to pay the mortgage, buy food, shop at the mall, etc.  All of this borrowing and spending by the U.S. government has created a “false prosperity” bubble that is not real.  It may feel real to you right now, but it is unsustainable by definition.  If the U.S. government suddenly started spending only the money that it actually brought in every year, our economy would be doomed and all of this “false prosperity” would rapidly disappear.  But if the U.S. government continues to rack up debt at this pace we are doomed as well.  In fact, every dollar that gets borrowed makes our eventual collapse ever worse.  We are heading down the exact same road that Greece has gone.  Eventually the rest of the world is not going to lend us gigantic mountains of super cheap money anymore.  When the flow of cheap money stops, it can be extremely painful.  Anyone that has ever seen the interest rates on their credit cards go above 20 percent knows how this feels.  If we had addressed these problems as a nation a decade or two ago, perhaps we could have found a solution.  But now there is no way out under our current financial system and a devastating economic collapse is on the horizon no matter what we do.

If there was a Hollywood movie where some crooks successfully stole 150 million dollars, what would you think of those crooks?

Would you have admiration for them?

Would you be disgusted with them?

Would you feel like your intelligence was insulted because nobody could ever steal 150 million dollars and get away with it?

Well, right now the federal government is stealing approximately 150 million dollars from our children and our grandchildren every single hour.

That’s right – the U.S. government is borrowing an astounding 150 million dollars an hour that our children and our grandchildren will be expected to deal with.

It is a theft so vast that it is almost unimaginable.

So what should be done?

A lot of people out there think that our problems would be solved if the government would just quit borrowing so much money.

Well, it is just not that simple.

Look at Greece.  They were forced by the EU and the IMF to dramatically reduce government spending.  But when Greece reduced government spending, that caused the economy to shrink rapidly and it caused tax receipts to go down more than expected.  So Greek budget deficits were even larger than anticipated and so Greece was forced to cut spending even more.  But that created even more economic problems.

A recent article by John Mauldin described the nightmarish effect that this cycle has had on Greece….

And as Greece began shake and bake its way to “austerity,” the very act of cutting deficits pushed the country into recession, which lowered tax revenues and increased expenses, putting the elusive goal of a balanced budget even further off. We should quickly note that this is not just a Greek problem. Spain’s “draconian” cuts have meant that its 6% deficit target for the year has this week been raised to a more likely 8%, making it harder to get back to even.

For country after country, this is the Endgame. It is the end of the Debt Supercycle. Debt has grown to the size that it cannot be sustained. The market will not lend any more money on terms that can be afforded, and any efforts to cut spending and raise taxes will result in an even worse economy, in various degrees of recession, with falling revenues and rising costs.

This is what happens when a country that has been spending far beyond its means is forced to dramatically cut back.

Those that are convinced that balancing the federal budget in the United States will be relatively painless should take a close look at what is happening in Greece.

As I have written about previously, the Greek economy has been plunged into a 21st century “Great Depression”.  In Greece, 20 percent of all retail stores have already shut down, the unemployment rate for those under the age of 24 is sitting at 39 percent, and one third of the entire nation is living in poverty.

And this is only just the beginning for Greece.

Things are going to get even worse.

Unfortunately, many believe that the United States is destined to experience far worse pain than Greece is currently experiencing.

For example, Peter Schiff insists that the United States is in worse financial shape than Europe at this point.  Just check out this video….

Anyone that attempts to downplay the U.S. debt problem is making a serious mistake.  Yes, we are still able to borrow trillions of dollars for next to nothing, but that is going to come to an end.

Remember all of those “suckers” that signed up for mortgages at “teaser rates” that later got jacked up dramatically?

Of course you do.

So what happened to them?

When the rates went up many of them ended up losing everything.

Well, we have gotten ourselves into the exact same kind of a position.  All of this cheap money has enabled us to live very nicely for now, but when the cheap money ends the nightmare will begin.

Right now, our debt is growing much, much faster than our economy is.  Between 2007 and 2010, U.S. GDP grew by only 4.26%, but the U.S. national debt soared by 61% during that same time period.

What would your household finances look like if your total debt grew by 61 percent next year but your income only grew by 4 percent?

When I was a little boy, the U.S. national debt was considered to be a huge national crisis.  Politicians from both major political parties were promising that they would fix things.

But what has happened since then?

Well, when Ronald Reagan took office the U.S. national debt was less than 1 trillion dollars.  Today, the U.S. national debt is over 15.2 trillion dollars.

During 2011, the federal government went into more debt than the U.S. government accumulated from the time that George Washington became president to the time that Ronald Reagan became president.

That may be hard to believe, but it is true.

During fiscal year 2011, the U.S. government spent 3.7 trillion dollars but it only brought in 2.4 trillion dollars.

That is utter insanity, and yet most Americans have become convinced that this is “normal” and that there is nothing to worry about.

It is hard to grasp how much money a trillion dollars is.

If right this moment you went out and started spending one dollar every single second, it would take you more than 31,000 years to spend one trillion dollars.

That is how much money a trillion dollars is.

And things look even worse when you look at the balance sheet of the U.S. government.

The U.S. government has total assets of 2.7 trillion dollars and has total liabilities of 17.5 trillion dollars.  Those liabilities do not even count 4.7 trillion dollars of intragovernmental debt that is currently outstanding.

But it is not just the federal government that has been living a fantasy.

The chart posted below shows the growth of total debt in America over the past several decades.  Consumers, businesses and government officials have been on a debt binge that is absolutely unprecedented….

The scary thing is that even with all of this borrowed money, our economy is still in the dumps.

So what in the world is it going to look like when the debt bubble totally bursts?

Even with all of this “borrowed prosperity”, anger at the government is rapidly growing.  A recent Gallup poll found that “satisfaction with government” in the United States is now at an all-time record low of 29 percent.

So how angry will the American people be when all of this “borrowed prosperity” disappears?

When this whole thing comes tumbling down, a lot of people are going to blame our problems on “capitalism”.

In fact, it is already happening.  Just check out what the founder of the World Economic Forum is saying….

“We have a general morality gap, we are over-leveraged, we have neglected to invest in the future, we have undermined social coherence, and we are in danger of completely losing the confidence of future generations,” said Klaus Schwab, host and founder of the annual World Economic Forum.

“Solving problems in the context of outdated and crumbling models will only dig us deeper into the hole.

“We are in an era of profound change that urgently requires new ways of thinking instead of more business-as-usual,” the 73-year-old said, adding that “capitalism in its current form, has no place in the world around us.”

But capitalism is not the problem.  Capitalism has produced the greatest eras of prosperity that the world has ever seen.

No, the real problem is our debt-based financial system that is managed and run by the central banks of the world.

You see, debt-based central banking is not capitalism.  But way too many people equate the two.

A lot of people cannot even imagine this, but theoretically you could have capitalism without any debt whatsoever.

But what we have today is a financial system that has debt as the very foundation.  And such a system is inevitably going to fail someday.

As I have written about so many times before, the Federal Reserve is at the very heart of our economic problems here in the United States.

The Federal Reserve was designed to be a perpetual debt machine.  And it has performed that task very well.  The U.S. national debt is now more than 5000 times larger than it was when the Federal Reserve was first created.

So yes, even though things seem somewhat “stable” for the moment, there are all kinds of reasons to be concerned about the viability of our economy and our financial system in the years ahead.

The other day, I was quoted in a Reuters article about our coming economic problems….

“Most people have a gut feeling that something has gone terribly wrong, but that doesn’t mean that they understand what is happening,” he said. “A lot of Americans sense that a massive economic storm is coming and they want to be prepared for it.”

Of course the Reuters reporter did not even bother to spell my name correctly, but at least he got the quote right.

A great economic storm is coming.

Don’t let this false prosperity and this “calm before the storm” fool you.

We are living in the greatest debt bubble the world has ever seen, and no matter how it plays out there is going to be a massive amount of pain.

You might want to get yourself and your family prepared for that.

59.9 Percent? Americans Are Racking Up Huge Credit Card Balances Once Again And Some Of The Interest Rates Are Absolutely Outrageous!

Well, it was nice while it lasted.  One of the really good things that came out of the recent economic downturn was that millions of American families decided to get out of debt.  In particular, we had seen a sustained trend of reduced credit card usage in the United States.  It looked like Americans had finally wised up.  But we should have known that Americans would not be willing to tighten their belts forever.  Unfortunately, it appears that getting out of debt is no longer so “trendy”.  In fact, the month of December was the third month in a row in which consumer credit grew in the United States.  Prior to that, consumer credit in the United States had declined for 20 months in a row.  The American people were doing so, so good.  Why did they have to stop?  It appears that the American people have fallen off the wagon and have gotten a taste for credit card debt once again.  This time, however, the credit card companies are back with interest rates that are higher than ever.  In fact, one national credit card company has hundreds of thousands of customers signed up for a card that charges interest rates of up to 59.9%.

59.9%?

You mean there are people that are stupid enough to actually sign up for a credit card that will charge them 59.9% interest?

Unfortunately the answer is yes.

In fact, the top rate was 79.9% before First Premier Bank lowered it.

These cards are targeted at Americans that have a poor credit history, and these days there are a whole lot of those.

A recent story on the website of CNN described how large numbers of U.S. consumers with poor credit are gobbling up credit cards like these.  Unfortunately, many of these consumers are also not smart enough to realize what they are getting into.  The CNN story contained a quote from a woman who was in complete shock when she discovered that her interest rate was going to go up by 50 percentage points….

“I about had a heart attack when I got a disclosure notice saying that my starting rate of 29.9% was going up to 79.9%.”

First Premier Bank has since lowered the top rate on those cards to 59.9%, but that it still completely outrageous.

Not only are the interest rates on those cards super high, but they also charge a whole bunch of fees on those cards as well.  The following are some of the fees that First Premier Bank charges….

*$45 processing fee to open the account

*Annual fee of $30 for the first year

*$45 fee for every subsequent year

*A monthly servicing fee of $6.25

So you would think that nobody in their right mind would ever sign up for such a card, right?

Wrong.

CNN is reporting that almost 700,000 Americans have signed up for the card.

Ouch.

In fact, CNN says that First Premier Bank gets between 200,000 to 300,000 new applications a month for the card, but that they only open about 50,000 new accounts each month.

Are there really this many Americans that are this gullible?

If Americans would just remember the “DBS” rule they would be so much better off.

DBS = Don’t Be Stupid

Do you know how long it would take to pay off a credit card with a 59.9 percent interest rate?

Just a 20 percent interest rate is bad enough.

According to the credit card repayment calculator, if you owe $6000 on a credit card with a 20 percent interest rate and only pay the minimum payment each time, it will take you 54 years to pay off that credit card.

During that time you will pay $26,168 in interest rate charges in addition to the $6000 in principal that you are required to pay back.

Ouch!

The number one piece of financial advice that most of the “financial gurus” give is that you should get out of credit card debt – particularly credit card debt that has a high interest rate.

Unfortunately, 46% of all Americans carry a credit card balance from month to month today.

According to the United States Census Bureau, there are approximately 1.5 billion credit cards in use in the United States.

Of U.S. households that have credit card debt, the average amount owed on credit cards is $15,788.

This is how the bankers enslave us.

We end up paying them 3, 4 or even 5 times as much as we originally borrowed.

Month after month after month we slave away to make them wealthy.

So how do you stop this vicious cycle?

You quit buying stuff that you can’t afford!

Unfortunately, the vast majority of Americans have never received any formal training on how to manage finances.

Most of us were never taught any of this stuff in school.  Most of us were totally unprepared when the financial predators started preying on us in college.  Most of us got sucked in and spent years and years trapped in credit card debt.

When you carry a balance from month to month you are willingly signing up to become a debt servant to the big banks.  They get rich while you suffer.

The sad thing is that the mainstream media is pointing to increased credit card spending as a sign that the U.S. economy is getting back to normal.

But gigantic mountains of debt is what got us into all of this trouble in the first place.

Average household debt in the United States has now reached a level of 136% of average household income.

In China that figure is only 17%.

Obviously, we have a massive, massive problem with debt in this country.

Cranking the debt spiral back up is not going to cause the economy to recover.

Well, the profits of the big banks might recover, but the rest of us will suffer.

If you want to be financially free, then it is time to pay off your credit card debt and get off the debt payment treadmill for good.

The entire global economy is on the verge of collapse, so now is a great time to renounce consumerism.  Instead, we need to be preparing ourselves and our families for the hard times that are coming.

So what do you all think about the outrageous interest rates that the credit card companies are charging these days?  Feel free to post your thoughts in the comments section below….

The American People Don’t Need More Handouts – What They Need Are Good Jobs

Without millions more good jobs, the U.S. economy is simply never, ever going to recover.  But at this point, there is every indication that the U.S. economy is going to continue to bleed jobs.  In the past, employment would bounce up and down as the economy went through various cycles.  But today what we are witnessing is something much different.  Over the past 30 or 40 years, literally millions of good jobs have been shipped off to China, India and to dozens of third world nations where half-starving workers are more than happy to slave away for big global corporations for less than a dollar an hour.  In the new “global economy” that we were promised would be so good for us, the expensive American worker is obsolete.  The giant global predator corporations that now dominate our economy do not exist to provide you and your family with a nice home, two cars and college educations for all your children.  No, their goal is to keep costs as low as possible so that their profits will be as high as possible.  For many of these giant global predator corporations, that means that paying workers as close to zero as possible is the best decision for the bottom line. 

The truth is that the American people were never told that “free trade” and a “global economy” would mean that they would soon be lumped into a giant global labor pool and would be forced to compete for jobs with people on the other side of the globe.

No, we were just told that we should enjoy all of the cheap plastic crap made overseas that all of the “big box” retail stores were pushing us to buy.

Well, the party was fun while it lasted.  Americans ran up unprecedented amounts of debt on their credit cards buying all this stuff, while our once great manufacturing cities degenerated into rotted-out war zones.

But isn’t it a good thing to get all these products at such a cheap price?

After all, who wants to pay substantially more for things?

Well, running an economy this way is kind of like tearing off pieces of your house in order to keep your fire going.  Sure the fire will burn brightly for a while, but eventually you will have torn down your entire house.

One way or another, we end up paying dearly for the jobs we have shipped overseas.

You see, the millions of Americans who are now chronically unemployed because of “free trade” have to be supported by the U.S. government.

That means that it is the U.S. taxpayers who end up footing the bill.

You didn’t think that we were going to let all of those unemployed workers starve in the streets, did you?

Without good jobs, an increasing number of Americans are becoming completely dependent on government handouts.

Already, state governments across the United States are going broke trying to pay out unemployment benefits to the hordes of Americans who don’t have a job and can’t find a job.

In addition, for the first time in U.S. history, more than 40 million Americans are on food stamps, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture projects that number will go up to 43 million Americans in 2011.

Also, according to one new study, somewhere around 21 percent of all children in the United States are living below the poverty line in 2010, which is the highest rate in 20 years.

The truth is that more Americans are dependent on direct payments from the federal government than ever before.

But how long can we afford to support the millions upon millions of Americans who have been impoverished by this new “global economy”?

The U.S. government budget deficit was a record $1.4 trillion in 2009.  Now the White House says that we will exceed that figure in 2010 and again in 2011.

So just how long can we afford to run deficits equivalent to 10 percent of GDP?

Anyone with half a brain knows that these kind of debts are not anywhere close to sustainable.

So where is the money going to come from to pay for these exploding government programs?

Well, from you of course.

Recently I dubbed 2011 “the year of the tax increase”.  A whole slew of new taxes is scheduled to go into effect starting next year that will impact every single American taxpayer.

It is almost enough to make you want to stop working and start collecting government handouts instead.

But the American people don’t need even more handouts.

Handouts are only a temporary solution to a long-term problem.

What the American people need are good jobs.

But where in the world are these jobs going to come from?

The reality is that in the new “global economy”, the United States is a very unattractive place to do business.

If you were a global corporation, would you rather open a new facility in the third world where there are very few rules and regulations and where people will work for less than a dollar an hour, or would you rather open a new facility in the United States where there are literally thousands of laws and regulations to comply with and where you are going to have to pay workers at least ten times as much?

It doesn’t take a genius to see where all of this is headed.

For decades, an increasing number of Americans have been forced into lower paying service jobs, but now there aren’t even nearly enough of those to go around. 

But it isn’t just the jobs that have been shipped overseas that are depressing wages and causing unemployment to skyrocket.  The millions of illegal immigrants that have flooded unchecked across the border have depressed wages and fundamentally changed the employment picture in industries such as construction and food service. 

Not only that, but in this environment not even high tech workers are safe.  In fact, there are some corporations in the high tech industry that have been openly abusing worker visas to ship in large numbers of foreign workers to replace more expensive American employees.

What all this means is that it is becoming much more difficult to live a middle class lifestyle in the United States.

Perhaps that is why one of my articles struck such a nerve recently.  An article that I originally wrote for The American Dream blog and adapted by Business Insider has gone mega-viral and has ended up on Yahoo Finance.  The article was entitled “The Middle Class In America Is Radically Shrinking – Here Are The Stats To Prove it” and it has received over 9000 comments on Yahoo.

So why did it provoke such an extraordinary response?

Well, because it hits people where they live.

Today, millions of American families are really struggling.  Record numbers of middle class Americans are receiving foreclosure notices and record numbers of middle class Americans are going bankrupt.

In fact, more Americans than ever find themselves just trying to survive.

According to a poll taken in 2009, 61 percent of Americans “always or usually” live paycheck to paycheck, which was up from 49 percent in 2008 and 43 percent in 2007.

You see, the truth is that most American families are not concerned with saving for retirement or even with planning for next year.  In this economic environment, most American families are worried about how they are going to survive until next month.

So who has been doing well in the new global economy?

The very, very wealthy of course.

According to Harvard Magazine, 66% of the income growth between 2001 and 2007 went to the top 1% of all Americans.

Now, the truth is that there is absolutely nothing wrong with making money, but by any reasonable standard an economic system that produces such skewed results is horribly broken.

So will “redistributing the wealth” solve things?

No, it won’t.

At best, “redistributing the wealth” is only a temporary solution and it always ends up creating a lot of long-term problems.

What the American people really need are millions more good jobs.

But as we have seen, the current imbalances in the new “global economy” make it more likely that the American people will continue to lose millions more good jobs rather than gaining them.

Unless something is done, the standard of living for middle class Americans will continue to be forced down as labor increasingly becomes a global commodity.

So are you just going to accept that, or are you going to start demanding that your representatives change things?

The choice is up to you.

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