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3 Examples That Show How Common Core Is Destroying Math Education In America

Whenever you let federal bureaucrats get their hands on anything they are probably going to ruin it.  During the Obama administration, the Department of Education spearheaded a transformation of American education that was absolutely breathtaking.  Over a period of about five years, Common Core standards were implemented in almost every state in the entire nation.  Unfortunately, this has resulted in a huge step backward for public education in this country.  Common Core has been called “state-sponsored child abuse”, and it is a big reason why U.S. students are scoring so poorly on standardized tests compared to much of the rest of the world.

According to Wikipedia, at one point 46 states had adopted Common Core, but now some states are having second thoughts…

46 states initially adopted the Common Core State Standards, although implementation has not been uniform. At least 12 states have introduced legislation to repeal the standards outright,[1] and Indiana has since withdrawn from the standards.

Sadly, many parents don’t even understand how dramatically our system of education has been tampered with.  In her book entitled The Education Invasion: How Common Core Fights Parents for Control of American Kids, Joy Pullmann exposes how the Gates Foundation has been one of the key players in the effort to get Common Core introduced into classrooms all over America…

Organized in seven chapters, her book describes how the Gates Foundation promoted and continues to promote one extremely wealthy couple’s uninformed, unsupported, and unsupportable ideas on education for other people’s children while their own children are enrolled in a non-Common Cored private school. It explains how (but not exactly why) the Gates Foundation helped to centralize control of public education in the U.S. Department of Education. It also explains why parents, teachers, local school boards, and state legislators were the last to learn how the public schools their local and state taxes supported had been nationalized without Congressional knowledge or permission; and why they were expected to believe that their local public schools were now accountable for what and how they teach … not to the local and state taxpayers who fund them or to locally-elected school boards that by law are still supposed to set education policies not already determined by their state legislature … but to a distant bureaucracy in exchange for money to their state department of education to close “achievement gaps” between unspecified groups.

But this isn’t just an issue about control.  The truth is that the approach to teaching basic fundamentals such as how to add and how to subtract is fundamentally different under Common Core.

Let me share just three examples that show how much Common Core is changing the way that U.S. students learn math.  All of these examples have been floating around Facebook, and if you have never seen these before they are likely to make you quite angry.

If I asked you to subtract 12 from 32, how would you do it?  Well, the “new way” is much, much more complicated than how we were all taught to do it…

If that first one seemed bizarre to you, than you really aren’t going to like this one…

And this last one was so confusing that a parent with a degree in engineering decided to include his own commentary on his child’s homework…

How are kids supposed to function in the real world if this is how they are learning to do basic math?

Personally, I am going to teach my daughter that 9 + 6 equals 15.  But that isn’t how it is supposed to be done under Common Core.  You can watch a video of a teacher explaining the very convoluted Common Core way to solve that math equation right here.

And of course it isn’t just math that is the problem.  Common Core is systematically “dumbing down” our young people, and that may help to explain why the average U.S. college freshman now reads at a seventh grade level.

So what is the answer?

The first step in fixing our education system is to repeal Common Core.  But even in red states such as Idaho there is a lot of resistance

Since their inception, the Idaho Core Standards have been enmeshed in controversy.

Some legislators and citizens have pushed for a repeal of the Idaho Core Standards, the state’s version of Common Core standards in math and English language arts. Those repeal efforts have gone nowhere in the Legislature.

I don’t know what is wrong with our legislators.  The Republicans have full control in this state, and so there is absolutely no excuse for not getting something done.

As I end this article, I want to give you an idea of just how far the quality of education in America has fallen over the past 100 years.  In Kentucky, an eighth grade exam from 1912 made a lot of headlines when it was donated to the Bullitt County History Museum.  As you can see, it is doubtful whether many of our college students would be able to pass such an exam today…

14 Facts That Prove That America’s Absolutely Pathetic System Of Public Education Deserves An ‘F’ Grade

One thing that almost everyone can agree upon is that our system of public education is broken.  We spend far more money on public education than anyone else in the world, and yet the results are depressing to say the least.  Considering how much we are putting into education, we should be producing the best students on the entire planet, but it just isn’t happening.  Personally, I attended public schools from kindergarten all the way up through law school, and the quality of education that I received was extremely poor.  Even on the collegiate level, most of the courses were so “dumbed down” that even the family dog could have passed them.  And of course millions of other people all over the country would say the same sorts of things about their own educations.  Many refer to what is happening to our society as “the dumbing down of America”, and if we don’t get things fixed the United States is on course to become a second class nation.

If you believe that I am exaggerating, I would like you to consider the following numbers.  The following are 14 facts that prove that America’s absolutely pathetic system of education deserves an “F” grade…

#1 Somewhere around 50 million students attend public schools in America today.

#2 Education is the most expensive item in 41 different state budgets.

#3 The latest PISA tests show that U.S. students are below average compared to the rest of the industrialized world…

One of the biggest cross-national tests is the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), which every three years measures reading ability, math and science literacy and other key skills among 15-year-olds in dozens of developed and developing countries. The most recent PISA results, from 2015, placed the U.S. an unimpressive 38th out of 71 countries in math and 24th in science. Among the 35 members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which sponsors the PISA initiative, the U.S. ranked 30th in math and 19th in science.

#4 A report from the Educational Testing Service found that American Millennials are way behind Millennials in most other industrialized nations…

Half of American Millennials score below the minimum standard of literacy proficiency. Only two countries scored worse by that measure: Italy (60 percent) and Spain (59 percent). The results were even worse for numeracy, with almost two-thirds of American Millennials failing to meet the minimum standard for understanding and working with numbers. That placed U.S. Millennials dead last for numeracy among the study’s 22 developed countries.

#5 According to one very disturbing study, fewer than half of all high school graduates “are able to proficiently read or complete math problems”.

#6 According to U.S. News & World Report, “inflation-adjusted spending per student in American public schools has increased by 663 percent.”

#7 In 2015, the percentage of students in our public schools coming from low income homes crossed the 50 percent mark.  That was the first time that had happened in at least 50 years.

#8 One study found that a whopping 76 percent of all high school graduates “were not adequately prepared academically for first-year college courses.”

#9 The following are five numbers which show how far the quality of college education has fallen in the United States…

-“After two years in college, 45% of students showed no significant gains in learning; after four years, 36% showed little change.”

-“Students also spent 50% less time studying compared with students a few decades ago.”

-“35% of students report spending five or fewer hours per week studying alone.”

-“50% said they never took a class in a typical semester where they wrote more than 20 pages.”

-“32% never took a course in a typical semester where they read more than 40 pages per week.”

#10 Just 36 percent of all full-time college students receive a bachelor’s degree within four years, and just 77 percent of all full-time college students have earned a bachelor’s degree by the end of six years.

#11 One survey found that nearly 10 percent of our college graduates believe that Judge Judy is on the Supreme Court…

#12 Another survey found that 29 percent of all U.S. adults cannot name the Vice-President.

#13 And yet another survey found that only 43 percent of all U.S. high school students knew that the Civil War was fought some time between the years of 1850 and 1900.

#14 Perhaps worst of all, 75 percent of our young adults cannot find Israel on a map of the Middle East.

This is what happens when we put federal bureaucrats in charge of education.

All over the country there are calls to abolish the Department of Education.  For example, the following was published on CNBC

The DOE currently employs 5,000 government workers and has an annual budget of $73 billion, yet according to the CATO Institute, it has not affected student outcomes in any demonstrable way over its 40-year history . It has successfully created a system that requires educators to teach reams of “politically-correct” content and focus on scoring well on standardized tests. It has created an atmosphere of testing in our schools, putting intense pressure on teachers and students to “ace the test” rather than mastering the material. This promotes a culture of teaching to the test and score tampering.

Unfortunately, abolishing the Department of Education is not going to be easy, because there is a tremendous amount of money at stake.  And whenever there is a tremendous amount of money at stake, there are going to be very powerful interests that are determined to keep things just the way that they are…

The major stakeholders in K-12 public education are at an impasse. Teachers’ Unions are primarily concerned with self-preservation, maintaining extravagant perks for union administrators and exerting disproportionate political influence. A handful of publishing houses sell us $8 billion worth of warmed- over text books every year. Testing companies collectively spent tens of millions lobbying in states and on Capitol Hill from 2009 to 2014. These politically powerful, entrenched special interests are heavily invested in maintaining the failing status quo.

But even though there is going to be a lot of resistance, I am going to try to abolish the Department of Education anyway.  I believe that full control over education should be returned to the state and local levels, but that is just the beginning.

Ultimately, we need to rebuild our system of education from the ground up.  Instead of politically-correct indoctrination centers that endlessly pump progressive propaganda into impressionable young minds, we need to transform our public schools into institutions that focus on the essentials.  We need a renewed emphasis on reading, writing, math and the skills that will enable our young people to function successfully once they get out into the real world.

At one time America’s system of education was the best in the world, and we can get there again.  But of course the left is going to fight against the changes that need to be made every step of the way.

Welcome To One of The Most Pivotal Weeks In Modern American History

United States Flag Map - Public DomainMany are anticipating that a wonderful new era of peace and prosperity is just a few days away, but others are using terms such as “civil unrest” and “civil war” for what they believe is about to happen in America.  Without a doubt, Donald Trump is one of the most electrifying politicians in modern American history, but he is also one of the most polarizing.  So will the next four years bring us together as a nation, or will anger, frustration, strife and discord tear us much farther apart?  It is being projected that extremely large crowds of supporters will attend Donald Trump’s inauguration on January 20th, but the mainstream media is also reporting that “hundreds of thousands of protesters” are on their way to Washington.  Many on the far left are hoping to turn Trump’s inauguration into one of the biggest riots in U.S. history, but thousands of law enforcement personnel are going to do their very best to prevent that from happening.

There are sites on the Internet that are literally counting down the hours until Barack Obama leaves office.  Knowing that his time is short, Obama seems determined to squeeze as much “change” out of his final hours as he possibly can.  Just check out what the Washington Post says that he was able to accomplish on just one day last week…

On Thursday alone, the administration designated three new national monuments and expanded another two in sites including a forest in the Pacific Northwest and a school for freed slaves in South Carolina; took away one of the special immigration privileges Cubans arriving in the United States without visas have enjoyed for 50 years; announced sanctions designations against 18 senior Syrian officials for their role in the use of chlorine as a chemical weapon in 2014 and 2015; awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Vice President Biden; and accused Fiat Chrysler of cheating on national emission standards for some of its diesel trucks.

And in the last few days of his presidency, there is a great deal of concern about how much more damage he may be able to do on his way out the door.  Late last week he enraged the Russians by moving U.S. troops into Poland, and Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova is warning that Obama still has a few more days left to “destroy the world”

Zakharova charged that “Obama and his illiterate foreign policy team have dealt a crushing blow to America’s prestige and leadership” and described his administration as “a bunch of geopolitical losers, enraged and shortsighted.”

Obama’s administration still has a few days left to “destroy the world,” Zakharova wrote.

However, there is one piece of good news.  According to the Jerusalem Post, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Obama will not support any additional action against Israel at the UN Security Council before Trump is inaugurated.

Of course politicians lie all the time, and John Kerry may not have been entirely honest with Netanyahu, and so we will keep a close eye on the UN Security Council when they meet on Tuesday.

On Friday, the eyes of the entire world will be on Washington.  What once seemed so impossible is on the verge of actually becoming a reality, and security officials will be working overtime to make sure that nobody tries to stop Trump from being inaugurated at the last minute.

Needless to say, the festivities on Friday would be a big, fat juicy target for anyone that hates Trump, hates America or that just wanted to make an unforgettable political statement.  In fact, Republican Senator Roy Blunt has admitted that the inauguration of Donald Trump will be “the most appealing target in the world”

“Security is my greatest concern,” Republican Senator Roy Blunt, chairman of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, has said. “No question that on inaugural day, this would be the most appealing target in the world.”

Even if there isn’t any violence on Friday, there will definitely be plenty of angry protesters.  And instead of attempting to calm things down, many in the mainstream media are actually promoting the protests.  For example, the Washington Post has even published a “guide to inauguration demonstrations, marches and protests”.

It appears that most of those on the left plan to protest peacefully, but there are definitely groups that are planning to be as disruptive as they possibly can.  I have previously reported about an organization known as DisruptJ20, and now audio has been released of one of their leaders saying that they want to “do everything we can to try and stop people from being able to access the inauguration”

A conservative group also shared with FoxNews.com what it said was audio from a Jan. 8 #DisruptJ20 meeting at a Washington church, giving even greater insight into the group’s planned D.C. “shutdown.”

The audio, recorded by Trevor Loudon with Capital Research Center, purports to show a female member detailing plans to “do everything we can to try and stop people from being able to access the inauguration.”

It doesn’t take much imagination to figure out how they are going to do that.  According to the shocking new audio recording obtained by Fox News, DisruptJ20 plans to physically block “roads and other modes of transit into the city”

“We’re going to be doing blockades,” the woman says in the audio. “We’re going to [be] blockading checkpoints into the security zones. We’re also going to be blockading roads and other modes of transit into the city.”

Traffic in the Washington D.C. area is a major headache even at the best of times, and so even if everything went perfectly transportation would be a major issue at Trump’s inauguration.  So it isn’t going to take much for these anarchists to create a very real crisis.

And some leftists have been encouraging those that cannot physically come to Washington D.C. to go online and help take down the official White House website on January 20th…

PR Newswire, a global news-release distribution service, circulated a release on Thursday highlighting a campaign launched by Protester.io, a digital protest organizing platform, to “take down” the White House website next Friday in protest of Trump’s inauguration.

“On January 20th, hundreds of thousands of Americans are going to Washington, DC to march in protest of the inauguration of Donald Trump. Millions more around the country will be joining the cause from home. If you can’t make it to Washington DC on inauguration day, you can still participate by occupying whitehouse.gov online,” the release read.

Many on the left truly believe that Trump is the modern equivalent of Adolf Hitler, and therefore he must be resisted at all costs.

And one of the reasons why they want to be as disruptive as possible is so that they can provoke an extremely harsh response.  If law enforcement officials can be filmed treating protesters very harshly, that can be used as fuel to inspire thousands of others to join the movement against the “fascist” Donald Trump.

Following the “blockades” and other “actions” on the 20th, there will be a “million woman march” on the 21st.  Michael Moore and a whole host of liberal celebrities will be there, and it is being reported that there will be close to 300 “sister marches” in other cities around the nation

Protesters are using the hashtag #WhyIMarch to explain why they are heading to Washington — from calls for equality to initiatives to curb gun violence to pleas for health care reform.

Nearly 300 “sister marches” have been organized in other US cities — including New York, Boston, Los Angeles and Seattle — and around the world.

This is going to be a week that none of us will ever forget.

Many are hoping (myself included) that the protests will soon fade and that Trump’s presidency will represent a true turning point for America.

But there are many others that are literally gearing up for a “war”, and they intend to fight for as long as it takes to achieve their goals.

We are a nation that is deeply, deeply divided, and it isn’t going to take much to push us over the edge.

So this week is definitely a beginning, but is it the beginning of a wonderful new chapter in American history, or is it the beginning of the end for our once great nation?

This story will unfold over the next four years, and let us hope that it is a good one.

About the author: Michael Snyder is the founder and publisher of The Economic Collapse Blog and The Most Important News. Michael’s controversial new book about Bible prophecy entitled “The Rapture Verdict” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.

14 Signs That There Is A Plot To Use Russia As An Excuse To Steal The Presidency From Trump On December 19th Or January 6th

14-sign-public-domainDonald Trump could have the election legally stolen from him on either December 19th when the Electoral College casts their votes or on January 6th when a joint session of Congress gathers to count those votes.  The establishment is in full-blown panic mode at this point, and they seem to have settled on “Russian interference in the election” as the angle that they plan to use to try to deny Trump the presidency.  As you will see below, there is an all-out effort to try to persuade members of the Electoral College that are supposed to be committed to Donald Trump to cast their votes for someone else instead.  And if that doesn’t work, the groundwork is being laid for the Electoral College votes to potentially be invalidated when a joint session of Congress meets to count those votes on January 6th.  I will explain how that would work later on in this article, but first let’s take a look at 14 signs that indicate that there is a plot to use Russia as an excuse to steal the presidency from Donald Trump…

#1 A group of 10 presidential electors has sent a letter to National Intelligence Director James Clapper asking to be briefed on Russian efforts to interfere in the election in November.  This group is being led by Nancy Pelosi’s daughter Christine.

#2 The Clinton campaign is publicly supporting the effort to arrange for the members of the Electoral College to be given an “intelligence briefing” on Russian interference in the election before they cast their votes.

#3 White House spokesman Josh Earnest claims that Donald Trump “called on Russia to hack his opponent” and that Trump “benefited from malicious Russian cyberactivity”.

#4 Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has announced that he supports an investigation into “Russian election interference”.

#5 On Sunday, U.S. Senators Chuck Schumer, Jack Reed, John McCain and Lindsey Graham announced that they very much desire to see an investigation into Russian interference in the election.

#6 U.S. Representative David Cicilline is urging electors to consider the “extent that foreign interference in the United States presidential elections may have influenced the final result” before they cast their votes.

#7 U.S. Representative Jim Himes is calling Donald Trump “a danger to the republic” and is publicly encouraging members of the Electoral College to vote for someone other than Donald Trump on December 19th.  I don’t recall any member of Congress ever suggesting members of the Electoral College do such a thing in any other election.

#8 Time Magazine is openly lobbying for members of the Electoral College to vote for someone other than Donald Trump on December 19th.

#9 The former acting director of the CIA has boldly proclaimed that Russian attempts to alter the outcome of the election in November were “the political equivalent of 9/11”.

#10 Former CIA agent Bob Baer recently went on CNN and publicly called for a new election if it can be shown that the first election was not legitimate due to Russian interference.

#11 Former CIA operative and erstwhile presidential candidate Evan McMullin says that Donald Trump is “not a loyal American” because his views are not anti-Russian enough.

#12 The Huffington Post is touting a 1995 federal court ruling as a precedent that could be used to take the presidency from Donald Trump and hand it to Hillary Clinton if a court finds that Russian interference altered the outcome of the election.

#13 Hillary Clinton’s Communications Director Jennifer Palmieri is now claiming that a “foreign state” tried to hack her Gmail account just days before the election.

#14 Barack Obama has ordered the intelligence community to gather all of the evidence that it can find of Russian interference in the election and to deliver that evidence to him before he leaves office.

Most Trump supporters do not realize how very serious this is.  The establishment absolutely hates Trump and wants to find a way to keep him from taking office.  Now that they have gained traction with this “Russian hacking” angle, they plan to push this as hard as they can.  An article that was just posted by Time Magazine explained why this issue could potentially cause some members of the Electoral College to change their votes…

And still further, we now learn that the Russians played a significant role in manipulating information available to the American people in a concerted effort to bring about the election of Trump. Even if this was not Trump’s doing, is it not the duty of the members of the Electoral College to consider whether the 2016 presidential election was undermined by a foreign power? And mustn’t it matter that the foreign power did so in order to bring about the election of a particular candidate? As Alexander Hamilton made clear, this was, one of the chief concerns of the Framers. As Hamilton explained in The Federalist Papers, a primary reason for the Electoral College was the need to protect our nation against “the desire of foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils . . . by raising a creature of their own to the chief magistracy of the Union.”

Of course this is completely and utterly ridiculous, but this is the kind of mental gymnastics that they are going through right now.  They want to feel justified in denying Donald Trump the presidency, and so they are going to make this “Russian interference in the election” into the biggest issue that they possibly can.

Which is ironic, because as Paul Joseph Watson has pointed out, foreigners have been influencing our elections and we have been influencing foreign elections for many, many years…

Isn’t it funny how all you democrats who cry over foreign influence had no objection whatsoever to Saudi Arabia bankrolling Hillary’s campaign. You had no problem taking all that George Soros money, did you? You had no problem with the Obama State Department overthrowing the government of Ukraine. You had no problem with Obama interfering in the U.K.’s referendum on leaving the EU.

But ultimately this is not about Russian interference in our election.

Rather, this is all about the elite doing whatever is necessary to stop Donald Trump.  The elite are going to fight against him every step of the way, and they are never, ever going to give up.  This is a point that I made during an interview with Alex Jones on Monday

The next key date that we need to be watching for is December 19th.

On Monday, members of the Electoral College will gather in Washington D.C. and in all 50 state capitols to cast their votes.  We know that at least one Republican elector that is supposed to be pledged to Trump will not be voting for him, and that elector claims that there are others that also will not be voting for Trump.

If 37 Republican electors can be persuaded to cast their votes for someone other than Trump, that would throw the election into the House of Representatives, and it is unclear what the House would do in that scenario.

If Trump is not stopped at the Electoral College, there is also the possibility that he could be derailed when a joint session of Congress gathers to count the Electoral votes on January 6th.

As I discussed yesterday, all it takes to force a vote on the validity of Electoral College votes is an objection in writing that is signed by at least one member of the House and one member of the Senate.  As the official House.gov website explains, if both the House and the Senate vote to approve the objection, the votes covered by the objection are not counted…

Since 1887, 3 U.S.C. 15 sets the method for objections to electoral votes. During the Joint Session, Members of Congress may object to individual electoral votes or to state returns as a whole. An objection must be declared in writing and signed by at least one Representative and one Senator. In the case of an objection, the Joint Session recesses and each chamber considers the objection separately in a session which cannot last more than two hours with each Member speaking for no more than five minutes. After each house votes on whether or not to accept the objection, the Joint Session reconvenes and both chambers disclose their decisions. If they agree to the objection, the votes in question are not counted. If either chamber does not agree with the objection, the votes are counted.

In both the Senate and the House, there are anti-Trump Republicans that would absolutely cherish the opportunity to deny him the presidency.

I don’t know if it will happen, but this Russian interference issue is the kind of thing that could be used to justify taking this kind of action.

Of course if the election was stolen from Donald Trump that would likely throw the entire nation into a state of chaos, but I think that at this point the elite would be willing to risk just about anything to keep Donald Trump out of the White House.

11 Very Depressing Economic Realities That Donald Trump Will Inherit From Barack Obama

donald-trump-and-barack-obama-talking-in-the-oval-office-public-domainIt would be a grave mistake to understate the amount of damage that has been done to the U.S. economy over the past eight years.  In this article, I am going to share some economic numbers with you that are extremely sobering.  Anyone that takes a cold, hard, honest look at the numbers should be able to see that our economy is in terrible shape.  Unfortunately, the way that we see things is often clouded by our political views.  Up until the election, Democrats were far more likely then Republicans to believe that the economy was improving, but now that is in the process of completely reversing.  According to Gallup, only 16 percent of Republicans believed that the economy was getting better before the election, but that number has suddenly jumped to 49 percent after Trump’s election victory.  And the percentage of Democrats that believe that the economy is getting better fell from 61 percent to 46 percent after the election.  Here are some additional details from Gallup

After Trump won last week’s election, Republicans and Republican-leaning independents now have a much more optimistic view of the U.S. economy’s outlook than they did before the election. Just 16% of Republicans said the economy was getting better in the week before the election, while 81% said it was getting worse. Since the election, 49% say it is getting better and 44% worse.

Conversely, Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents’ confidence in the economy plummeted after the election. Before the election, 61% of Democrats said the economy was getting better and 35% worse. Now, Democrats are evenly divided, with 46% saying it is getting better and 47% saying it is getting worse.

The truth, of course, is that the result of the election did not somehow magically alter the outlook for the U.S. economy.

We still have a giant mess on our hands, and the following are 11 very depressing economic realities that Donald Trump will inherit from Barack Obama…

#1 Nearly 7 out of every 10 Americans have less than $1,000 in savings.  That means that about two-thirds of the country is essentially living paycheck to paycheck at this moment.

#2 Reuters is reporting that U.S. mall investors are poised to lose “billions” of dollars as the “retail apocalypse” in this nation deepens.

#3 Credit card delinquencies have hit the highest level that we have seen since 2012.

#4 Approximately 35 percent of all Americans have a debt that is at least 180 days past due.

#5 The rate of homeownership has fallen for eight years in a row and is now hovering near a 50 year low.

#6 The total number of government employees now outnumbers the total number of manufacturing employees in this country by almost 10 million.

#7 The number of homeless people in New York City (where Donald Trump is from) has hit a brand new record high.

#8 About 20 percent of all young adults are currently living with their parents.

#9 Total household debt in the United States has now reached a grand total of 12.3 trillion dollars.

#10 The total amount of corporate debt in the U.S. has nearly doubled since the end of 2007.

#11 When Barack Obama entered the White House, the U.S. government was 10.6 trillion dollars in debt.  Today, the U.S. national debt is currently sitting at a staggering total of $19,842,173,949,869.58.

Despite nearly doubling the national debt during his eight years in the White House, Barack Obama is going to be the only president in United States history to never have a single year when U.S. GDP grew by at least three percent.

So will Donald Trump waltz in and suddenly turn everything around?

Just like when George W. Bush was elected, there is a lot of optimism about the future right now among Republicans.

And in 2017, Republicans are going to have control of the Senate and the House in addition to being in control of the White House.

But does that mean that they will actually get anything done?

For a moment, let’s review what didn’t happen the last time the Republicans were in this position.  The following is an extended excerpt from an article by author Devvy Kidd

—–

The Republicans had control of both houses of Congress part of the time during Bush, Jr.’s two terms. Did they lock down our borders? NO.

Did they pass legislation to stop ALL funding for illegals which would self-deport millions of liars, cheats and thieves? NO. (READ, please: How to Self-Deport Millions of Illegals)

Did they stop trillions in unconstitutional spending? NO.

Did they get rid of any of Clinton’s unconstitutional Executive Orders? One or two but otherwise let Comrade Bill Clinton crap in our faces.

Did they get rid of one unconstitutional cabinet like HHS, Department of Education and EPA? NO.

Did they stop the unconstitutional foreign aid? NO.

Did they stop unconstitutional spending for Planned Parenthood? NO. Congress just continues to use borrowed money to spend more debt.

Did they stop unconstitutional spending for the gigantic hoax called global warming or climate change? NO. Trump: The Left Just Lost The War On Climate Change

Did Bush, Jr., get us out of all the destructive trade treaties killing American jobs? NO.

Did they crack down on visas bringing in tens of thousands of foreign workers when American workers who want to work are left in the unemployment line? NO.

Did they stop more and more federal regulations strangling America’s businesses? NO.

Did they impeach one single activist judge destroying our freedom and liberty? NO.

A Republican controlled Congress with a Republican in the White House and they did virtually NOTHING to restore America to a constitutional republic and constitutional spending.

—–

So will things be any different under a Trump administration?

We shall see.

There will be tremendous pressure to maintain the status quo in many instances, because the process of fixing things would undoubtedly make conditions worse in the short-term.

A great example of this is the national debt.  As I discussed yesterday, the only reason why we are able to enjoy such a massively inflated standard of living in this country is because we have been able to borrow trillions upon trillions of dollars from the rest of the world at ultra-low interest rates.

If the federal government started spending only the money that it brought in through taxes, our ridiculous debt-fueled standard of living would begin collapsing immediately.

We consume far more wealth than we produce, and the only way that we are able to do this is by borrowing insane amounts of money.

Either Donald Trump will continue to borrow money recklessly, or we will go into a major league economic downturn.

It really is that simple.

But when our politicians borrow money, they are literally destroying the future of this country.  So the choice is pain in the short-term or greater pain in the long-term.

There is a way out, and that would involve shutting down the Federal Reserve and going to a completely debt-free form of money, but that is a topic for another article.

And unfortunately that is not something that is even on Donald Trump’s radar at this point.

No matter who won the election, the next president was going to be faced with some very harsh economic realities.

There are many out there that have faith that Donald Trump can pull off an unprecedented economic miracle, but there are others that are deeply skeptical.

Let us hope for the best, but let us also keep preparing for the worst.

Creepy Clowns Are Terrorizing Children, Parents And Schools All Over America

creepy-clown-posted-by-karen-mann-hicks-on-facebookAn epidemic of creepy clown sightings is sweeping America, and authorities don’t know who or what is behind it.  In some instances, clowns with horrific expressions painted on their faces have been spotted standing on the side of the road, lurking near the edge of the woods or just roaming about town staring at random people.  But in other instances there have been reports of clowns actually attempting to lure children with gifts, and there have even been some reports of children running away from creepy clowns that were chasing after them.  While doing research for this article, I came across recent creepy clown sightings from South Carolina, North Carolina, Ohio, Florida, Wisconsin, California, Alabama, Georgia and West Virginia.  This is truly a nationwide phenomenon, and many believe that it will get even worse as Halloween approaches.

This creepy clown trend appears to have begun with a very disturbing case at an apartment complex in South Carolina

Donna Arnold, one of the people residing at the complex who received the letter, said she called the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office to come out to Fleetwood Manor after her son and others reported seeing clowns behind the basketball court.

“I thought my child was seeing things,” Arnold said. “And then the next day I had about 30 kids come up to me and say, ‘Did you see the clown in the woods?”

Community activist Bruce Wilson said he is getting involved at the apartments to make sure children are safe, even if the sightings turn out to be harmless.

Authorities say that their investigation into this incident found that the clowns were approaching children with the intent “to persuade them into the woods further by displaying large amounts of money“.

At least one child that personally interacted with these clowns testified “that they had candy and they would give it to them if they came there“.

Whether people are dressed as clowns or not, attempting to abduct children in no joke.

Unsurprisingly, this case made national headlines, and at that point it appears that a whole host of copycats started to come out of the woodwork.  The following is how an article in the Week summarized what happened next…

A week later, a boy at an apartment ten miles away reported seeing a man in a clown mask in the woods near his home. Later that night, a boy at an apartment just three miles from Fleetwood Manor reported seeing another clown. That apartment also sits on the edge of a wooded area. There was another local sighting the next day. The following day, a woman told police she saw a clown standing outside a Greenville laundromat, simply staring at her.

By then, the clowns had begun to mobilize. The previous day, a 14-year-old boy in Columbus, Ohio, said that a man wearing a clown mask chased him with a knife while the boy was walking to his school bus stop. Less than a week later, on Sept. 5, two children in Winston-Salem, N.C., claimed a clown was offering candy, as long as they would follow him into the woods. Later that night, a woman in the area claimed that a clown tried to coax her into the woods, except this one was carrying a machete. He wore black gloves and a black tie. The next morning, in the nearby town of Greensboro, a man said he saw a clown in the woods behind his apartment. Yellow polka-dotted shirt, blue pants.

Since that time the creepy clown sightings have not stopped, and one of the most alarming incidents of all just took place in McDuffie County, Georgia

“It was this morning at 6:30 when we were leaving at the house,” said Cameron Frails, who saw the clown.

But as Frails and his neighbor, Hannah Rice, started walking, they noticed something.

“I was standing over there,” said Rice. “And I was like, ‘who’s that guy following Cameron?'”

“We saw a man with all black on, clown mask and a red wig,” said Frails.

They said they saw at least two men dressed in all black coming toward them between two trailers, so they started running.

But that isn’t the only report of these creepy clowns trying to chase down children.  Here is another one from Georgia

According to the police report, the woman said the children told her they were leaving the community center as it was getting dark Monday evening when five people dressed as clowns and wearing masks emerged from a white panel van and began chasing them.

The 48-year-old woman also told police she saw a white panel van slowly driving past her home prior to the supposed incident at the community center around the corner, on McKinley Drive.

A lot of the copycats out there may be doing this sort of thing as a prank, but law enforcement authorities are beginning to take this threat very seriously.

In fact, Time Magazine is reporting that two schools in Alabama “were put on lockdown” on Friday due to threats from a group known as “Flomo Clowns”…

Two southern Alabama schools were put on lockdown Friday because of threatening Facebook messages and emojis posted on the now-deleted page of a group called the ‘Flomo Klowns.’

The sinister Facebook messages said “It’s going down tonight,” followed by revolver emojis, and “I love kids.” A parent also contacted the Flomaton Police Department to say her child had been sent threatening messages by the group.

The entrances to Flomaton High School, which has around 400 students, and Flomaton Elementary School, which has about 300, were locked, as well as internal doors. Local officers and sheriff deputies secured the school grounds and searched the area, AL reports.

I think that this is another example of how sick and twisted our society has become.  There are a lot of unbalanced people out there that get a thrill from spreading terror, and the initial clown stories have inspired them to capitalize on this trend.

If you are able to take a photograph or some video of these creepy clowns, please feel free to contact me.  “Killer clown” costumes are always extremely popular during the Halloween season, and I have a feeling that this wave of terror is only going to intensify as we approach the end of October.

One photograph of a creepy clown that was taken on Simmons River Road near Duhring, West Virginia has gotten a lot of attention on social media.  It was originally posted by Karen Mann Hicks on Facebook, and you can view it right here

creepy-clown-posted-by-karen-mann-hicks-on-facebook

Hopefully this creepy clown craze will soon fade, but it is a quick way for deeply disturbed individuals to “get on the news”, and so it seems likely that there will be even more copycats.

But those that are tempted to dress up like creepy clowns and terrorize children should be aware that police all over the nation are taking this very seriously, and arrests will likely be made at the first sign of trouble.

Desperately Poor Teens In America’s Impoverished Inner Cities Are Trading Sex For Food

sad-girl-public-domainWhen people get hungry enough, they will do just about anything for some food.  According to brand new research that was just released this week from Feeding America and the Urban Institute, there are millions of teenagers in America that live in “food insecure” households, and researchers were stunned to learn what some of these teens are willing to do to feed themselves.  Some resort to shoplifting, others deal drugs, and there were a surprising number of participants in the study that actually admitted to trading sex for food.  It wouldn’t be a shock to hear that these kinds of things are going on in an economically-depressed nation such as Venezuela, but this is the United States of America.  We are supposed to be the wealthiest nation on the entire planet.  Sadly, even while the stock market has been soaring in recent years, poverty in America has been on the rise.  For those on the low end of the economic scale, things have gone from bad to worse since the end of the last recession, and millions of children are deeply suffering as a result.

Let’s start with some of the hard numbers.  The following comes directly from the Urban Institute website

An estimated 6.8 million people ages 10 to 17 are food insecure, meaning they don’t have reliable access to enough affordable, nutritious food. Another 2.9 million are very food insecure, and roughly 4 million live in marginally food secure households, where the threat of running out of food is real.

Food insecurity takes a tremendous toll on teenagers. Poor nutrition—and the stress of hunger and poverty—can jeopardize their physical and mental health and development and their academic success. But despite the gravity and prevalence of teen food insecurity, we know very little about how these young people experience and cope with hunger.

The researchers already knew that lots of young people were hungry in America.  But what surprised them were the lengths that many of these youngsters said that they would go to in order to get food

Some of the youths said they or someone they know — mostly young men — have turned to shoplifting food, selling drugs or stealing items to sell.

The teens also reported knowing young women who have sold their bodies for food or had sex for money so they could buy food for their families.

Going to jail or failing a class in order to have to attend summer school were also some of the lengths teens went to.

Could you imagine your daughter or your granddaughter exchanging her body for food?

For most of us that is absolutely unthinkable, but the truth is that this is taking place on the streets of America every single day.

And this wasn’t just some blind random phone survey.  The researchers conducted personal interviews with focus groups, and what these kids were willing to admit doing was absolutely astounding.  Here is another excerpt directly out of the report

  • When faced with acute food insecurity, teens in all but two of the communities said that youth engage in criminal behavior, ranging from shoplifting food directly to selling drugs and stealing items to resell for cash. These behaviors were most common among young men in communities with the most limited job options.
  • Teens in all 10 communities and in 13 of the 20 focus groups talked about some youth selling sex for money to pay for food. These themes arose most strongly in high-poverty communities where teens also described sexually coercive environments. Sexual exploitation most commonly took the form of transactional dating relationships with older adults.
  • In a few communities, teens talked about going to jail or failing school (so they could attend summer classes and get school lunch) as viable strategies for ensuring regular meals.

Many of these young people understand that what they are doing is wrong.  Just consider what some of them told the researchers

A girl in Portland, Oregon told researchers: “It’s really like selling yourself. Like you’ll do whatever you need to do to get money or eat.”

Another comment from Portland: “You’re not even dating … they’ll be like … ‘I don’t really love him, but I’m going to do what I have to do.’”

Many prefer to rationalise what they are doing as dating of sorts. A boy in rural North Carolina said: “When you’re selling your body, it’s more in disguise. Like if I had sex with you, you have to buy me dinner tonight … that’s how girls deal with the struggle … That’s better than taking money because if they take money, they will be labeled a prostitute.”

When I read the information in this report, I was stunned.  Yes, I write about our economic decline and the rise in poverty all the time, but I didn’t know that things were this bad.

And the researchers were surprised by what they were hearing as well.  One of them said that the fact that girls are trading their bodies for food “was really shocking to me”, and she believes that things are “just getting worse over time”

“I’ve been doing research in low-income communities for a long time, and I’ve written extensively about the experiences of women in high poverty communities and the risk of sexual exploitation, but this was new,” said Susan Popkin, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute and lead author of the report, Impossible Choices.

“Even for me, who has been paying attention to this and has heard women tell their stories for a long time, the extent to which we were hearing about food being related to this vulnerability was new and shocking to me, and the level of desperation that it implies was really shocking to me. It’s a situation I think is just getting worse over time.”

But aren’t we being told that things are getting better?

Aren’t we being told that our leaders “fixed” the economy?

Of course the truth is that America is mired in a long-term economic decline that stretches back for decades.  With each passing year the middle class gets smaller as a percentage of the population, and poverty continues to grow.  Last year the middle class became a minority of the population for the first time ever, and a lot of formerly middle class Americans are now among those that aren’t sure that they are going to have enough food to eat this month.

Hunger in America is a major crisis and it is growing.  Just because you may live in a comfortable home in a wealthy neighborhood does not mean that this problem is not real.

Tonight there are millions of Americans that do not know where their next meal is going to come from, and they deserve our love and compassion.

The Percentage Of Working Age Men That Do Not Have A Job Is Similar To The Great Depression

Great DepressionWhy are so many men in their prime working years unemployed?  The Obama administration would have us believe that unemployment is low in this country, but that is not true at all.  In fact, one author quoted by NPR says that “it’s kind of worse than it was in the depression in 1940”.  Most Americans don’t realize this, but more men from ages 25 to 54 are “inactive” right now than was the case during the last recession.  We have millions upon millions of strong young men just sitting around doing nothing.  They aren’t employed and they aren’t considered to be looking for employment either, and so they don’t show up in the official unemployment numbers.  But they don’t have jobs, and nothing the Obama administration does can eliminate that fact.

According to NPR, “nearly 100 percent of men between the ages of 25 and 54 worked” in the 1960s.

In those days, just about any dependable, hard working American man could get hired almost immediately.  The economy was growing and the demand for labor was seemingly insatiable.

But today, one out of every six men in their prime working years does not have a job

In a recent report, President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers said 83 percent of men in the prime working ages of 25-54 who were not in the labor force had not worked in the previous year. So, essentially, 10 million men are missing from the workforce.

One in six prime-age guys has no job; it’s kind of worse than it was in the depression in 1940,” says Nicholas Eberstadt, an economic and demographic researcher at American Enterprise Institute who wrote the book Men Without Work: America’s Invisible Crisis. He says these men aren’t even counted among the jobless, because they aren’t seeking work.

So why is this happening?

If you look at the inactivity rate for men in the 25 to 54 age bracket, it was sitting at just 8.1 percent in January 2000.

In January 2008, right at the beginning of the last recession, it was sitting at 9.2 percent, and by the end of the recession it had risen to 10.3 percent.

Today, it is sitting at 11.5 percent.

Remember, these are men that don’t even count toward the official unemployment rate.  They are not working, but they are not considered to be “looking for work” either.

So what are these men doing?

You may be tempted to think that many of them have decided to stay home and raise the kids as their wives go off to work.  But according to NPR, that is not what is happening

What the missing men aren’t doing in large numbers is staying home to take care of family. Forty percent of nonworking women are primary caregivers; that’s true of only 5 percent of men out of the workforce.

We do have the largest prison population in the entire world by far, and without a doubt that does play a role in these numbers.  However, a far bigger factor is the millions of men that have become content being dependents of the federal government.  More than 100 million Americans receive money from the government each month, and a lot of people (both men and women) have found that it is just easier to sit back and collect government checks than it is to go out and try to work hard for a living.

But of course the number one factor is the lack of jobs available.  I personally know people that have been looking for work in their fields for years and have not been able to get hired.  We have a major employment crisis in this nation, and it is only going to get worse in the years ahead as we continue to lose jobs to technology and millions more good jobs get shipped overseas.

And a lot of the “jobs” that have been created during the Obama administration have been very low quality jobs.  Since December 2014, we have gained about half a million jobs for waiters and bartenders, but meanwhile we have actually lost good paying manufacturing jobs.  If we continue down this road, the middle class will continue to shrink.

In addition to everything that I have just shared, here are some other facts that are pertinent to this discussion…

-Right at this moment, there are approximately 102 million working age Americans that do not have a job.

-Nearly one out of every five young adults are currently living with their parents.

-The Wall Street Journal recently declared that this is the weakest “economic recovery” since 1949.

-Barack Obama is on track to be the only president in U.S. history to never have a single year when the U.S. economy grew by at least 3 percent.

The economy is far weaker than you are being told, the employment crisis is far worse than you are being told, and as I mentioned yesterday, the stage is clearly set for a new financial crisis of epic proportions.

And if we are going to see markets crash, this time of the year is a good time for it.  In fact, CNBC says that history tells us that this is the “worst period of the year for stocks”…

The worst period of the year for stocks has just begun — at least based on market history.

Over the entire 120-year history of the Dow Jones industrial average, Sept. 6 to Oct. 29 tends to be the worst period for the market. And more specifically, the last few weeks of September have been an especially bad time.

Someday when people look back at this time in history, they will not be surprised by how horrific the coming collapse will be.  The truth is that anyone with a lick of common sense can see that the greatest debt bubble in the history of the world is going to end badly.

No, what is going to amaze them is that the system was able to hold together as long as it did.  It truly is incredible that the debt-based, fiat currency Ponzi scheme that the central banks of the world have been desperately trying to prop up has been able to keep chugging along all the way to the middle of 2016.

How much longer can they keep the magic going?

I don’t know, but history tells us that time is not on their side…

June 23, 2016: The Brexit Vote Could Change EVERYTHING And Plunge Europe Into Financial Chaos

Brexit - Public DomainOn June 23rd, a vote will be held in the United Kingdom to determine if Britain will stay in the European Union or not.  This is most commonly known as the “Brexit” vote, and that term was created by combining the words “Britain” and “exit”.  If the UK votes to stay in the European Union, things over in Europe will continue on pretty much as they have been.  But if the UK votes to leave, it will likely throw the entire continent into a state of economic and financial chaos.  And considering how bad the European economy is already, this could be the trigger that plunges Europe into a full-blown depression.

So if things will likely be much worse in the short-term if Britain leaves the EU, then it makes sense for everyone to vote to stay, right?

Unfortunately, it isn’t that simple.  Because this choice is not about short-term economics.  Rather, the choice is about long-term freedom.

The EU is a horribly anti-democratic bureaucratic monstrosity that is suffocating the life out of most of Europe a little bit more with each passing year.  So if I was British, I would most definitely be voting to leave the EU.

And in recent days, the campaign to leave has been rapidly picking up steam.  In fact, two of the latest major surveys show that “leave” has taken the lead

An ORB poll for the Telegraph showed 48 percent of Britons would vote to remain in the European Union, while 49 percent would vote to leave.

A YouGov poll for the Times of London showed 46 percent preferred to leave, while 39 percent wanted to remain.

Two other recent polls have “leave” ahead by 10 points, and there is another that actually has “leave” winning by 19 points.

The “leave” movement got a big boost just recently when the Sun officially endorsed that position.  The following is an excerpt from the editorial that announced this decision…

WE are about to make the biggest ­political decision of our lives. The Sun urges everyone to vote LEAVE.

We must set ourselves free from dictatorial Brussels.

Throughout our 43-year membership of the European Union it has proved increasingly greedy, wasteful, bullying and breathtakingly incompetent in a crisis.

Next Thursday, at the ballot box, we can correct this huge and ­historic mistake.

It is our last chance. Because, be in no doubt, our future looks far bleaker if we stay in.

I must say that I agree entirely with the Sun.  However, everyone needs to understand that a Brexit would be incredibly painful for the UK and for the rest of Europe in the short-term.  I think that Ambrose Evans-Pritchard of the Telegraph made this point very well in his recent column…

Let there be no illusion about the trauma of Brexit. Anybody who claims that Britain can lightly disengage after 43 years enmeshed in EU affairs is a charlatan or a dreamer, or has little contact with the realities of global finance and geopolitics.

So what could we potentially see happen?

Well, for one thing big banks like Morgan Stanley are warning that the euro and the British pound could take big hits

The pound and the euro will be hit on a Leave vote, but even if Britain decides to stay in the EU, there will be only “modest gains.” Morgan Stanley expects the pound “to weaken immediately on a vote to Leave, but by year-end we think Euro could weaken even more.”

Secondly, there is a very strong probability that financial markets all over Europe could horribly crash, and the European Central Bank and the Bank of England are already promising to provide artificial support for the markets if that happens.  The following comes from Reuters

The European Central Bank would publicly pledge to backstop financial markets in tandem with the Bank of England should Britain vote to leave the European Union, officials with knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

The preparations illustrate the heightened state of alert ahead of the June 23 referendum, which will help determine Britain’s future in trade and world affairs and also shape the EU. The pound and euro have lost value on fears a Brexit could tip the 28-member bloc into recession.

Such an announcement from the ECB would come on June 24 if an early-morning result showed that British voters had chosen to leave the EU, according to the sources.

But no matter what the consequences are, British voters should do what is right for their future and for the future of their children.

If that means leaving the EU, then so be it.

Needless to say, the prospect of “leave” winning has many among the European elite in full-blown panic mode.  For instance, just consider what the current chairman of the Bilderberg Group is saying

Just day after their mysterious annual meeting in Dresden, it appears The Bilderberg Group’s gravest concern is Brexit. While everything from The Middle East to Donald Trump was on the agenda, the remarks this week from AXA CEO (and Chairman of The Bilderberg Group) Henri de Castries that there is an “extremely high” probability that the U.K. will vote to leave the European Union and investors will face “a true landscape of uncertainties,” suggest the establishment is concerned.

If you are not familiar with the Bilderberg Group, please see my recent article on them.  Certainly the potential of a coming “Brexit” was high on the list of priorities during their recent conference, and it has been documented that the Bilderberg Group played a key role in the creation of the European Union in the first place.  So of course they are not exactly pleased that their grand experiment may now be unraveling right in front of their eyes.

Meanwhile, even without taking into account a potential “Brexit” things just continue to steadily get worse over in Europe.  On Tuesday, European stocks hit their lowest levels since the stock market crash that ended in February, and the stocks of both Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse hit all-time record lows

The truth is that those extremely prominent European banks are headed for a collapse even without a “Brexit”.  But if there is a “leave” vote, that will just accelerate the process.

And let us not forget that major stock indexes all over Europe are already in a bear market

Meanwhile, German stocks are in a bear-market, with the DAX down 23.2% from its April 2015 peak. The French CAC 40 is down 21.8%. The Spanish Ibex 35 and the Italian MIB are down 31.4% and 32.6% respectively.

Here in the United States, the smart money is dumping stocks like crazy right now, and major investors such as George Soros are feverishly buying gold.

So why are these things happening?

Do those “in the know” have some information regarding what is about to happen over in Europe?

For a long time, I have been sounding the alarm about Europe.  If the British people vote to stay in the European Union on June 23rd, the crisis in Europe will certainly continue to escalate, it will just be at a slower pace.  But if the British people vote to leave (which they should) that could be the trigger that changes everything.

I don’t know exactly what is going to happen on the 23rd, but without a doubt we should all be watching the outcome very, very closely…

*About the author: Michael Snyder is the founder and publisher of The Economic Collapse Blog. Michael’s controversial new book about Bible prophecy entitled “The Rapture Verdict” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.*

Rail Traffic Depression: 292 Union Pacific Engines Are Sitting In The Arizona Desert Doing Nothing

Union Pacific Engines - Google EarthWe continue to get more evidence that the U.S. economy has entered a major downturn.  Just last week, I wrote about how U.S. GDP growth numbers have been declining for three quarters in a row, and previously I wrote about how corporate defaults have surged to their highest level since the last financial crisis.  Well, now we are getting some very depressing numbers from the rail industry.  As you will see below, U.S. rail traffic was down more than 11 percent from a year ago in April.  That is an absolutely catastrophic number, and the U.S. rail industry is feeling an enormous amount of pain right now.  This also tells us that “the real economy” is really slowing down, because less stuff is being shipped by rail all over the nation.

One of the economic commentators that I have really come to respect is Wolf Richter of WolfStreet.com.  He has a really sharp eye for what is really going on in the economy and in the financial world, and I find myself quoting him more and more as time goes by.  If you have not checked out his site yet, I very much encourage you to do so.

On Wednesday, he posted a very alarming article about what is happening to our rail industry.  The kinds of numbers that we have been seeing recently are the kinds of numbers that we would expect if an economic depression was starting.  The following is an excerpt from that article

Total US rail traffic in April plunged 11.8% from a year ago, the Association of American Railroads reported today. Carloads of bulk commodities such as coal, oil, grains, and chemicals plummeted 16.1% to 944,339 units.

The coal industry is in a horrible condition and cannot compete with US natural gas at current prices. Coal-fired power plants are being retired. Demand for steam coal is plunging. Major US coal miners – even the largest one – are now bankrupt. So in April, carloads of coal plummeted 40% from the already beaten-down levels a year ago.

Because rail traffic is down so dramatically, many operators have large numbers of engines that are just sitting around collecting dust.  In his article, Wolf Richter shared photographs from Google Earth that show some of the 292 Union Pacific engines that are sitting in the middle of the Arizona desert doing absolutely nothing.  The following is one of those photographs…

Union Pacific Engines - Google Earth

As Wolf Richter pointed out, it costs a lot of money for these engines to just sit there doing nothing…

These engines are expensive pieces of equipment. When they just sit there, not pulling trains, they become “overcapacity,” and they get very expensive. Then there are engineers and other personnel who suddenly become unproductive. Some of them have already been laid off or are getting laid off.

All over the world, similar numbers are coming in.  For example, the Baltic Dry Index fell 30 more points on Wednesday after falling 21 on Tuesday.  Global trade is really, really slowing down during the early portion of 2016.  What this means on a practical level is that a lot less stuff is being bought, sold and shipped around the planet.

It is becoming increasingly difficult for authorities to deny that a new global recession has begun, and at this moment we are only in the very early chapters of this new crisis.

Another thing that I watch very closely is the velocity of money.  When an economy is healthy, people feel pretty good about things and money tends to circulate fairly rapidly.  For example, I may buy something from you, then you may buy something from someone else, etc.

But when times get tough, people tend to hold on to their money more tightly, and that is why the velocity of money goes down when recessions hit.  In the chart below, the shaded areas represent recessions, and you can see that the velocity of money has declined during every single recession in the post-World War II era…

M2 Velocity Of Money

During the last recession, the velocity of money declined precipitously, and that makes perfect sense.  But then a funny thing happened.  There was a slight bump up once the recession was over, but then it turned down again and it has kept going down ever since.

In fact, the velocity of money has now dropped to an all-time low.  The velocity of M2 just recently dipped below 1.5 for the first time ever.

This is not a sign of an “economic recovery”.  What this tells us is that our economy is very, very sick.

And we can see evidence of this sickness all around us.  For instance, the Los Angeles Times is reporting that homelessness in Los Angeles increased by 11 percent last year, and this marked the fourth year in a row that homelessness in the city has increased…

Homelessness rose 11% in the city of Los Angeles and 5.7% in the county last year despite an intensive federal push that slashed the county ranks of homeless veterans by nearly a third, according to a report released Wednesday.

The increase marks the fourth consecutive year of rising homelessness in L.A., as local officials struggle to identify funding for billion-dollar plans they approved to solve the nation’s most intractable homeless problem.

Let us also not forget that about half the country is basically flat broke at this point.

Just recently, the Federal Reserve found that 47 percent of all Americans could not pay an unexpected $400 emergency room bill without selling something or borrowing the money from somewhere.

With numbers such as these being reported, how in the world can anyone possibly claim that the U.S. economy is in good shape?

It boggles the mind, and yet there are people out there that would actually have you believe that everything is just fine.

The current occupant of the White House is one of them.

With each passing month, the real economy is getting even worse.  We may not have slipped into a full-blown economic depression just yet, but it is coming.

For now, let us be thankful for whatever remains of our debt-fueled prosperity, because we don’t deserve the massively inflated standard of living that we have been enjoying.

We have been consuming far more than we produce for decades, but it won’t last for much longer.  And when those days are gone for good, we will mourn them bitterly.

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