If enough people truly believe that things will get better, will that actually cause them to get better? There is certainly something to be said for being positive and thinking that anything is possible. And as Americans, optimism seems to come naturally for us. However, no amount of positive thinking is ever going to turn the sun into a block of wood or turn the moon into a block of cheese. Any good counselor will tell you that one of the first steps toward recovery is to stop being delusional and to come to grips with how bad things really are. When we deny reality and engage in irrational wishful thinking, we are engaging in something called “hopium”. This is a difficult term to define, but the favorite definition of hopium that I have come across so far goes like this: “The irrational belief that, despite all evidence to the contrary, things will turn out for the best.” In hundreds of articles, I have documented how the U.S. economy is mired in a long-term decline which is about to get a lot worse. But most Americans see things very differently. In fact, according to a brand new CNN/ORC poll, 52 percent of Americans describe the U.S. economy as “very” or “somewhat good”, and more than two-thirds of all Americans believe that the U.S. economy will be in “good shape” a year from right now. But if you asked most of those people why they are so optimistic, they would probably mumble something about “Obama” or about how “we’re Americans and we always bounce back” or some other such gibberish. Well, it’s wonderful that so many people are feeling good and looking forward to the future, but are those beliefs rational?
We witnessed a perfect example of this “hopium” on Wednesday. Sales at McDonald’s restaurants have been in decline for quite a while, and the numbers for the first quarter of 2015 were just abysmal…
The ubiquitous burger-and-fries chain said US sales, the largest share of global income, fell 2.6 percent from a year ago for comparable outlets.
Sales in the Asia-Pacific and Middle East region dropped 8.3 percent, helping bring overall global sales down 2.3 percent, “reflecting negative guest traffic in all segments,” the company said.
Total revenue sank 11 percent to $5.96 billion in the quarter to March 31, and net income plunged 32.6 percent to $812 million, or 84 cents a share (-31 percent).
So you would think that the stock price would have tanked on Wednesday, right?
Thanks to news that a “turnaround plan” would be announced on May 4th, McDonald’s stock actually skyrocketed…
McDonald’s closed up 3.13 percent after spiking more than 4.5 percent in early trade as investors cheered a turnaround plan expected on May 4. However, the fast food chain’s earnings missed on both the top and bottom lines.
This is pure hopium. Why don’t McDonald’s executives just tell us what the plan is now? But instead, the mystery of a “secret turnaround plan” gives people just enough hope to keep the stock from tumbling – at least for the moment.
And of course there are all sorts of other stocks that are being massively inflated by hopium right now.
Many years ago, when I was an undergraduate, I was taught that a price to earnings ratio of more than 20 was really, really high.
But these days that is the norm on Wall Street, and at the moment there are quite a few stocks that actually have price to earnings ratios that are greater than 100…
There are 10 stocks in the Standard & Poor’s 500, including industrial giant General Electric, video-streamer Netflix and oil and gas explorer Cabot Oil & Gas that are trading for 100 times their diluted earnings the past 12 months excluding extraordinary items, according to a USA TODAY analysis of data from S&P Capital IQ.
And if you can believe it, General Electric has a PE on its training earnings of more than 200…
Take General Electric, the industrial giant that’s swiftly selling off banking assets so it can return to its manufacturing roots. GE sports a PE on its trailing earnings of 227, says S&P Capital IQ.
This is completely and totally irrational. General Electric is a giant mess and is being very badly mismanaged. But investors continue to pay a massive premium for GE stock because they hope that things will turn around eventually.
Look, hope will get you a lot of things in life, but it won’t put money in your pockets or dinner on the table.
Our politicians and the mainstream media continue to sell us hard on the idea that things are getting better in America, but meanwhile our economic infrastructure continues to decay. Just check out what is happening in the steel industry…
United States Steel Corporation issued layoff notices to 1,404 workers in the latest sign of struggle for the American steel industry. The missives went out in recent days to workers producing pipe and tube products that are used in the oil and gas sector. Job cuts could come as early as June for 17 to 579 employees at a plant in Lone Star, Texas, 166 at a factory in Houston, 255 at a mill in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and 404 managers across the company’s tubular operations nationwide.
Since last June, the company has informed 7,800 employees of potential job cuts, a tally from Pittsburgh Business Times indicated. U.S. Steel spokeswoman Sarah Cassella said the ongoing layoffs are the result of “challenging market conditions and global influences in the market including a high level of imports, reduced prices for oil and natural gas and reduced steel prices.”
A little over a month ago, I published an article entitled “10 Charts Which Show We Are Much Worse Off Than Just Before The Last Economic Crisis” in which I demonstrated that we are in far worse economic shape than we were just prior to the last recession, and now another great economic crisis is at our door.
Unfortunately, most Americans have no idea what is going on out there. Most of them get their news from the giant propaganda matrix that very tightly controls the flow of ideas and information in this country. This is something that I explain on my new DVD. Six colossal corporations control over 90 percent of the news, information and entertainment that Americans consume, and that gives them an awesome amount of power.
And right now that propaganda matrix is assuring the American people that everything is going to be just fine.
Well, they better be right. Because if not, they are going to have millions of people extremely angry with them when things really start falling to pieces.
Their names are familiar to all of us: Cleveland, Flint, Youngstown, Saginaw, Gary, Toledo, Reading, Akron, Flint and Buffalo were all once booming manufacturing cities that were absolutely packed with thriving middle class families. But now most of the manufacturing jobs are gone and all of those cities are just shadows of their former selves. When you drive through many of these communities, you will notice that a lot of people have a really hollow look in their eyes. Decades of slow, steady economic decline have really taken a toll, and even the architecture in these cities looks depressed. But despite all of the decay, there is still evidence that there was once something truly great about these communities. Will we be able to recapture that greatness before it is too late?
A lot of writers make economics really complicated, but the truth is that it does not have to be. For example, if you want your country to have a great economy it has got to produce wealth. And one of the primary ways to produce wealth is to make stuff. Immediately after World War II, the United States had the greatest manufacturing base the world had ever seen and we outproduced the rest of the planet combined. Great manufacturing cities sprouted up all over America and the middle class thrived. It was truly a great time to be an American.
But then we decided to start shipping in cheaper products from overseas. At first it didn’t create too much of a problem for our massive economy, but eventually the floodgates opened up and we lost tens of thousands of manufacturing facilities and millions upon millions of good paying jobs. Our labor pool was merged with the labor pool of countries such as communist China where it is legal to pay slave labor wages to manufacturing workers. Needless to say, our workers could not compete with that and our middle class started to shrink rapidly.
Today, there are many American cities that were once truly great that are now truly frightening to visit. For example, a recent CNBC article detailed the plight of Reading, Pennsylvania…
In August 2008, factory workers David and Barbara Ludwig treated themselves to new cars—David a Dodge pickup, Barbara a sporty Mazda 3. With David making $22 an hour and Barbara $19, they could easily afford the payments.
A month later, Baldwin Hardware, a unit of Stanley Black & Decker, announced layoffs at the Reading plant where they both worked. David was unemployed for 20 months before finding a janitor job that paid $10 an hour, less than half his previous wage. Barbara hung on, but she, too, lost her shipping-dock job of 26 years as Black & Decker shifted production to Mexico. Now she cleans houses for $10 an hour while looking for something permanent.
They still have the cars. The other trappings of their middle-class lifestyle? In the rear-view mirror.
I once had an aunt that lived in Reading. She is dead now, and so is most of the city. At this point, more than 40 percent of those living in Reading are impoverished and the city government is flat broke.
But similar things could also be said about the rest of the Rust Belt…
Perhaps no other region in the country has more eerie examples of urban decay than the once dominant industrial region known as the Rust Belt. Covering the Midwestern states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania, the region is plagued by a number of abandoned factories, houses and buildings that lay in crumbling ruins.
You can see some incredible photographs by Seph Lawless of the decay in the Rust Belt right here. The pictures are incredibly depressing, but it doesn’t take too much imagination to see that these cities were once truly impressive.
Just take Gary, Indiana for instance. It was once known as “the Magic City” because it was doing so well, but now it is a rotting, decaying hellhole. The following is from an excerpt from a Daily Mail article about Gary…
Gary, a struggling city 30 miles south of Chicago along the shores of Lake Michigan, is a prime example of the trend.
Known as the ‘Magic City’ in the roaring 1920s for its spectacular growth, Gary is still home to U.S. Steel’s largest plant, but the number of mill jobs has shrunk to 5,000 from 30,000 in the 1970s.
Gary’s population in 1960 was more than 178,000, but it disintegrated to just 79,000 by 2012.
Some one-third of its residents live in poverty and the home and business vacancy rate is about 35 percent. Gary recorded 43 murders in 2012 – three times as many per capita as nearby Chicago.
At one time, Gary was the envy of the rest of the globe.
But now very few people would ever want to willingly live there.
The following is how James Kunstler described what he saw when he traveled through Gary, Indiana…
Between the ghostly remnants of factories stood a score of small cities and neighborhoods where the immigrants settled five generations ago. A lot of it was foreclosed and shuttered. They were places of such stunning, relentless dreariness that you felt depressed just imagining how depressed the remaining denizens of these endless blocks of run-down shoebox houses must feel. Judging from the frequency of taquerias in the 1950s-vintage strip-malls, one inferred that the old Eastern European population had been lately supplanted by a new wave of Mexicans. They had inherited an infrastructure for daily life that was utterly devoid of conscious artistry when it was new, and now had the special patina of supernatural rot over it that only comes from materials not found in nature disintegrating in surprising and unexpected ways, sometimes even sublimely, like the sheen of an oil slick on water at a certain angle to the sun. There was a Chernobyl-like grandeur to it, as of the longed-for end of something enormous that hadn’t worked out well.
Sadly, what is happening to Reading and Gary is just a preview of what is slowly happening to the entire nation as a whole.
Since 2001, the United States has lost more than 56,000 manufacturing facilities.
That is absolutely astounding.
Most of those jobs have gone overseas. That is why it seems like most of our products say “Made in China” these days. They are getting rich while our communities suffer, and then we have to beg the Chinese to lend our money back to us.
Meanwhile, we have a permanent epidemic of unemployment in this country. Back in the 1980s, over 20 percent of the jobs in the U.S. were manufacturing jobs. Today, only about 9 percent of the jobs in the U.S. are manufacturing jobs.
And an astounding number of our young men are just sitting at home instead of doing something productive. As I wrote about the other day, one out of every six men in their prime working years (25 to 54) do not have a job at this point.
Also, the percentage of working age Americans not participating in the labor force is up to 37.2 percent – a 36 year high.
Not only that, but the quality of our jobs has also steadily declined as we have lost good paying manufacturing jobs to overseas workers.
Right now, half the country makes $27,520 a year or less from their jobs.
No wonder the middle class is dying.
And of course there is so much more that could be said about this. For even more numbers about our manufacturing decline, please see my previous article entitled “Shocking Facts About The Deindustrialization Of America That Everyone Should Know“.
These problems were not created overnight, and they are not going to be solved overnight either.
But as a nation, we have got to understand that we cannot consume our way to prosperity. That is only going to result in even more debt.
Instead, we have got to make the decision to produce our way to prosperity.
In other words, we have got to start making stuff in this country again.
That may sounds “crazy” to a lot of people, but it is possible. We have just got to have the willingness to do it.
No, the economy is most definitely not “recovering”. Despite what you may hear from the politicians and from the mainstream media, the truth is that the U.S. economy is in far worse shape than it was prior to the last recession. In fact, we are still pretty much where we were at when the last recession finally ended. When the financial crisis of 2008 struck, it took us down to a much lower level economically. Thankfully, things have at least stabilized at this much lower level. For example, the percentage of working age Americans that are employed has stayed remarkably flat for the past four years. We should be grateful that things have not continued to get even worse. It is almost as if someone has hit the “pause button” on the U.S. economy. But things are definitely not getting better, and there are a whole host of signs that this bubble of false stability will soon come to an end and that our economic decline will accelerate once again. The following are 17 facts to show to anyone that believes that the U.S. economy is just fine…
#1 The homeownership rate in the United States has dropped to the lowest level in 19 years.
#2 Consumer spending for durable goods has dropped by 3.23 percent since November. This is a clear sign that an economic slowdown is ahead.
#3 Major retailers are closing stores at the fastest pace that we have seen since the collapse of Lehman Brothers.
#4 According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 20 percent of all families in the United States do not have a single member that is employed. That means that one out of every five families in the entire country is completely unemployed.
#5 There are 1.3 million fewer jobs in the U.S. economy than when the last recession began in December 2007. Meanwhile, our population has continued to grow steadily since that time.
#6 According to a new report from the National Employment Law Project, the quality of the jobs that have been “created” since the end of the last recession does not match the quality of the jobs lost during the last recession…
- Lower-wage industries constituted 22 percent of recession losses, but 44 percent of recovery growth.
- Mid-wage industries constituted 37 percent of recession losses, but only 26 percent of recovery growth.
- Higher-wage industries constituted 41 percent of recession losses, and 30 percent of recovery growth.
#7 After adjusting for inflation, men who work full-time in America today make less money than men who worked full-time in America 40 years ago.
#8 It is hard to believe, but 62 percent of all Americans make $20 or less an hour at this point.
#9 Nine of the top ten occupations in the U.S. pay an average wage of less than $35,000 a year.
#10 The middle class in Canada now makes more money than the middle class in the United States does.
#11 According to one recent study, 40 percent of all Americans could not come up with $2000 right now even if there was a major emergency.
#12 Less than one out of every four Americans has enough money put away to cover six months of expenses if there was a job loss or major emergency.
#13 An astounding 56 percent of all Americans have subprime credit in 2014.
#14 As I wrote about the other day, there are now 49 million Americans that are dealing with food insecurity.
#15 Ten years ago, the number of women in the U.S. that had jobs outnumbered the number of women in the U.S. on food stamps by more than a 2 to 1 margin. But now the number of women in the U.S. on food stamps actually exceeds the number of women that have jobs.
#16 69 percent of the federal budget is spent either on entitlements or on welfare programs.
#17 The number of Americans receiving benefits from the federal government each month exceeds the number of full-time workers in the private sector by more than 60 million.
Taken individually, those numbers are quite remarkable.
Taken collectively, they are absolutely breathtaking.
Yes, things have been improving for the wealthy for the last several years. The stock market has soared to new record highs and real estate prices in the Hamptons have skyrocketed to unprecedented heights.
But that is not the real economy. In the real economy, the middle class is being squeezed out of existence. The quality of our jobs is declining and prices just keep rising. This reality was reflected quite well in a comment that one of my readers left on one of my recent articles…
It is getting worse each passing month. The food bank I help out, has barely squeaked by the last 3 months. Donors are having to pull back, to take care of their own families. Wages down, prices up, simple math tells you we can not hold out much longer. Things are going up so fast, you have to adopt a new way of thinking. Example I just had to put new tires on my truck. Normally I would have tried to get by to next winter. But with the way prices are moving, I decide to get them while I could still afford them. It is the same way with food. I see nothing that will stop the upward trend for quite a while. So if you have a little money, and the space, buy it while you can afford it. And never forget, there will be some people worse off than you. Help them if you can.
And the false stock bubble that the wealthy are enjoying right now will not last that much longer. It is an artificial bubble that has been pumped up by unprecedented money printing by the Federal Reserve, and like all bubbles that the Fed creates, it will eventually burst.
None of the long-term trends that are systematically destroying our economy have been addressed, and none of our major economic problems have been fixed. In fact, as I showed in this recent article, we are actually in far worse shape than we were just prior to the last major financial crisis.
Let us hope that this current bubble of false stability lasts for as long as possible.
That is what I am hoping for.
But let us not be deceived into thinking that it is permanent.
It will soon burst, and then the real pain will begin.
The pension nightmare that is at the heart of the horrific financial crisis in Detroit is just the tip of the iceberg of the coming retirement crisis that will shake America to the core. Right now, more than 10,000 Baby Boomers are hitting the age of 65 every single day, and this will continue to happen every single day until the year 2030. As a society, we have made trillions of dollars of financial promises to these Baby Boomers, and there is no way that we are going to be able to keep those promises. The money simply is not there. Yes, I suppose that we could eventually see a “super devaluation” of the U.S. dollar and keep our promises to the Baby Boomers using currency that is not worth much more than Monopoly money, but as it stands right now we simply do not have the resources to do what we said that we were going to do. The number of senior citizens in the United States is projected to more than double by the middle of the century, and it would have been nearly impossible to support them all even if we weren’t in the midst of a long-term economic decline. Tens of millions of Americans that are eagerly looking forward to retirement are going to be in for a very rude awakening in the years ahead. There is going to be a lot of heartache and a lot of broken promises.
What is going on in Detroit right now is a perfect example of what will soon be happening all over the nation. Many city workers stuck with their jobs for decades because of the promise of a nice pension at the end of the rainbow. But now those promises are going up in smoke. There has even been talk that retirees will only end up getting about 10 cents for every dollar that they were promised.
Needless to say, many pensioners are extremely angry that the promises that were made to them are not going to be kept. The following is from a recent article in the New York Times…
Many retirees see the plan to cut their pensions as a betrayal, saying that they kept their end of a deal but that the city is now reneging. Retired city workers, police officers and 911 operators said in interviews that the promise of reliable retirement income had helped draw them to work for the City of Detroit in the first place, even if they sometimes had to accept smaller salaries or work nights or weekends.
“Does Detroit have a problem?” asked William Shine, 76, a retired police sergeant. “Absolutely. Did I create it? I don’t think so. They made me some promises, and I made them some promises. I kept my promises. They’re not going to keep theirs.”
But Detroit is far from an isolated case. As Detroit Mayor Dave Bing said the other day, many other cities are heading down the exact same path…
“We may be one of the first. We are the largest. But we absolutely will not be the last.”
Yes, Detroit’s financial problems are immense. But other major U.S. cities are facing unfunded pension liabilities that are even worse.
For example, here are the unfunded pension liabilities for four financially-troubled large U.S. cities…
Detroit: $3.5 billion
Baltimore: $680 million
Los Angeles: $9.4 billion
Chicago: $19 billion
When you break it down on a per citizen basis, Detroit is actually in better shape than the others…
Los Angeles: $8,437
And many state governments are in similar shape. Right now, the state of Illinois has unfunded pension liabilities that total approximately $100 billion.
There are some financial “journalists” out there that are attempting to downplay this problem, but sticking our heads in the sand is not going to make any of this go away.
According to Northwestern University Professor John Rauh, the total amount of unfunded pension and healthcare obligations for retirees that state and local governments across the United States have accumulated is 4.4 trillion dollars.
So where are they going to get that money?
They are going to raise your taxes of course.
Just check out what is happening right now in Scranton, Pennsylvania…
Scranton taxpayers could face a 117 percent increase in taxes next year as the city’s finances continue to spiral out of control.
A new analysis by the Pennsylvania Economy League projects an $18 million deficit for 2014, an amount so massive it outpaces the approximate $17 million the struggling city collects annually
A 117 percent tax increase?
What would Dwight Schrute think of that?
Perhaps you are reading this and you are assuming that your retirement is secure because you work in the private sector.
Well, just remember what happened to your 401k during the financial crisis of 2008. During the next major stock market crash, your 401k will likely get absolutely shredded. Many Americans will probably see the value of their 401k accounts go down by 50 percent or more.
And if you have stashed your retirement funds with the wrong firm, you could end up losing everything. Just ask anyone that had their nest eggs invested with MF Global.
But of course most Americans are woefully behind on saving for retirement anyway. A study conducted by Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research found that American workers are $6.6 trillion short of what they need to retire comfortably.
That certainly isn’t good news.
On top of everything else, the federal government has been recklessly irresponsible as far as planning for the retirement of the Baby Boomers is concerned.
As I noted yesterday, the U.S. government is facing a total of 222 trillion dollars in unfunded liabilities. Social Security and Medicare make up the bulk of that.
At this point, the number of Americans on Medicare is projected to grow from a little bit more than 50 million today to 73.2 million in 2025.
The number of Americans collecting Social Security benefits is projected to grow from about 56 million today to 91 million in 2035.
How is a society with a steadily declining economy going to care for them all adequately?
Yes, we truly are careening toward disaster.
If you are not convinced yet, here are some more numbers. The following stats are from one of my previous articles entitled “Do You Want To Scare A Baby Boomer?“…
1. Right now, there are somewhere around 40 million senior citizens in the United States. By 2050 that number is projected to skyrocket to 89 million.
2. According to one recent poll, 25 percent of all Americans in the 46 to 64-year-old age bracket have no retirement savings at all.
3. 26 percent of all Americans in the 46 to 64-year-old age bracket have no personal savings whatsoever.
4. One survey that covered all American workers found that 46 percent of them have less than $10,000 saved for retirement.
5. According to a survey conducted by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, “60 percent of American workers said the total value of their savings and investments is less than $25,000″.
6. A Pew Research survey found that half of all Baby Boomers say that their household financial situations have deteriorated over the past year.
7. 67 percent of all American workers believe that they “are a little or a lot behind schedule on saving for retirement”.
8. Today, one out of every six elderly Americans lives below the federal poverty line.
9. More elderly Americans than ever are finding that they must continue working once they reach their retirement years. Between 1985 and 2010, the percentage of Americans in the 65 to 69-year-old age bracket that were still working increased from 18 percent to 32 percent.
10. Back in 1991, half of all American workers planned to retire before they reached the age of 65. Today, that number has declined to 23 percent.
11. According to one recent survey, 70 percent of all American workers expect to continue working once they are “retired”.
12. According to a poll conducted by AARP, 40 percent of all Baby Boomers plan to work “until they drop”.
13. A poll conducted by CESI Debt Solutions found that 56 percent of American retirees still had outstanding debts when they retired.
14. Elderly Americans tend to carry much higher balances on their credit cards than younger Americans do. The following is from a recent CNBC article…
New research from the AARP also shows that those ages 50 and over are carrying higher balances on their credit cards — $8,278 in 2012 compared to $6,258 for the under-50 population.
15. A study by a law professor at the University of Michigan found that Americans that are 55 years of age or older now account for 20 percent of all bankruptcies in the United States. Back in 2001, they only accounted for 12 percent of all bankruptcies.
16. Between 1991 and 2007 the number of Americans between the ages of 65 and 74 that filed for bankruptcy rose by a staggering 178 percent.
17. What is causing most of these bankruptcies among the elderly? The number one cause is medical bills. According to a report published in The American Journal of Medicine, medical bills are a major factor in more than 60 percent of the personal bankruptcies in the United States. Of those bankruptcies that were caused by medical bills, approximately 75 percent of them involved individuals that actually did have health insurance.
18. In 1945, there were 42 workers for every retiree receiving Social Security benefits. Today, that number has fallen to 2.5 workers, and if you eliminate all government workers, that leaves only 1.6 private sector workers for every retiree receiving Social Security benefits.
19. Millions of elderly Americans these days are finding it very difficult to survive on just a Social Security check. The truth is that most Social Security checks simply are not that large. The following comes directly from the Social Security Administration website…
The average monthly Social Security benefit for a retired worker was about $1,230 at the beginning of 2012. This amount changes monthly based upon the total amount of all benefits paid and the total number of people receiving benefits.
You can view the rest of the statistics right here.
Sadly, most Americans are not aware of these things.
The mainstream media keeps most of the population entertained with distractions. This week it is the birth of the royal baby, and next week it will be something else.
Meanwhile, our problems just continue to get worse and worse.
There is no way in the world that we are going to be able to keep all of the financial promises that we have made to the Baby Boomers. A lot of them are going to end up bitterly disappointed.
All of this could have been avoided if we would have planned ahead as a society.
But that did not happen, and now we are all going to pay the price for it.
If you know someone that actually believes that the U.S. economy is in good shape, just show them the statistics in this article. When you step back and look at the long-term trends, it is undeniable what is happening to us. We are in the midst of a horrifying economic decline that is the result of decades of very bad decisions. 30 years ago, the U.S. national debt was about one trillion dollars. Today, it is almost 17 trillion dollars. 40 years ago, the total amount of debt in the United States was about 2 trillion dollars. Today, it is more than 56 trillion dollars. At the same time that we have been running up all of this debt, our economic infrastructure and our ability to produce wealth has been absolutely gutted. Since 2001, the United States has lost more than 56,000 manufacturing facilities and millions of good jobs have been shipped overseas. Our share of global GDP declined from 31.8 percent in 2001 to 21.6 percent in 2011. The percentage of Americans that are self-employed is at a record low, and the percentage of Americans that are dependent on the government is at a record high. The U.S. economy is a complete and total mess, and it is time that we faced the truth.
The following are 40 statistics about the fall of the U.S. economy that are almost too crazy to believe…
#1 Back in 1980, the U.S. national debt was less than one trillion dollars. Today, it is rapidly approaching 17 trillion dollars…
#2 During Obama’s first term, the federal government accumulated more debt than it did under the first 42 U.S presidents combined.
#3 The U.S. national debt is now more than 23 times larger than it was when Jimmy Carter became president.
#4 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.
#5 The federal government is stealing more than 100 million dollars from our children and our grandchildren every single hour of every single day.
#6 Back in 1970, the total amount of debt in the United States (government debt + business debt + consumer debt, etc.) was less than 2 trillion dollars. Today it is over 56 trillion dollars…
#7 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.
#8 The United States has fallen in the global economic competitiveness rankings compiled by the World Economic Forum for four years in a row.
#9 According to The Economist, the United States was the best place in the world to be born into back in 1988. Today, the United States is only tied for 16th place.
#10 Incredibly, more than 56,000 manufacturing facilities in the United States have been permanently shut down since 2001.
#11 There are less Americans working in manufacturing today than there was in 1950 even though the population of the country has more than doubled since then.
#12 According to the New York Times, there are now approximately 70,000 abandoned buildings in Detroit.
#13 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.
#14 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.
#15 Overall, the United States has run a trade deficit of more than 8 trillion dollars with the rest of the world since 1975.
#16 According to the Economic Policy Institute, the United States is losing half a million jobs to China every single year.
#17 Back in 1950, more than 80 percent of all men in the United States had jobs. Today, less than 65 percent of all men in the United States have jobs.
#18 At this point, an astounding 53 percent of all American workers make less than $30,000 a year.
#19 Small business is rapidly dying in America. At this point, only about 7 percent of all non-farm workers in the United States are self-employed. That is an all-time record low.
#20 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.
#21 In the United States today, the wealthiest one percent of all Americans have a greater net worth than the bottom 90 percent combined.
#22 According to Forbes, the 400 wealthiest Americans have more wealth than the bottom 150 million Americans combined.
#23 The six heirs of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton have as much wealth as the bottom one-third of all Americans combined.
#24 According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 146 million Americans are either “poor” or “low income”.
#25 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.
#26 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.
#27 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.
#28 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.
#29 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.
#30 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.
#31 Overall, the Social Security system is facing a 134 trillion dollar shortfall over the next 75 years.
#32 Today, the number of Americans on Social Security Disability now exceeds the entire population of Greece, and the number of Americans on food stamps now exceeds the entire population of Spain.
#33 According to a report recently issued by the Pew Research Center, on average Americans over the age of 65 have 47 times as much wealth as Americans under the age of 35.
#34 U.S. families that have a head of household that is under the age of 30 have a poverty rate of 37 percent.
#35 As I mentioned recently, the homeownership rate in America is now at its lowest level in nearly 18 years.
#36 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.
#37 45 percent of all children are living in poverty in Miami, more than 50 percent of all children are living in poverty in Cleveland, and about 60 percent of all children are living in poverty in Detroit.
#38 Today, 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.
#39 When Barack Obama first entered the White House, about 32 million Americans were on food stamps. Now, more than 47 million Americans are on food stamps.
#40 According to one calculation, the number of Americans on food stamps now exceeds the combined populations of “Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming.”
The United States is clearly in an advanced state of decline. Many people around the world (and even inside America) rejoice at this, but not me. I mourn for the country that I was born in and that I still love. Yes, the United States has never been perfect, but the Republic that our Founding Fathers started truly has been a light to the rest of the world in a lot of ways over the centuries. Unfortunately, our foundations are badly rotting and our nation is collapsing all around us. Many Americans like to think that the United States is greater today than it has ever been before, but the truth is that America is like a patient that has stage 4 cancer that has spread to almost every area of the body. Our nation is being destroyed in thousands of different ways, and more distressing news emerges with each passing day. This article will mainly focus on the economic decline of America, but much could also be said about our social, political, moral and spiritual decline as well. We are simply not the same country that we used to be. Americans are proud, selfish, greedy, arrogant, ungrateful, treacherous and completely addicted to entertainment and pleasure. Our country is literally falling apart all around us, but most Americans are so plugged into entertainment that they can’t even be bothered to notice what is happening. Most Americans seem to assume that we will always have endless prosperity just because of who we are, but unfortunately that simply is not true. We inherited the greatest economic machine the world has ever seen and we have wrecked it, and now a very painful day of reckoning is approaching. But most people will not understand until it is too late.
The following are 34 signs that America is in decline…
#1 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 freefall. Just check out the chart in this article.
#2 According to The Economist, the United States was the best place in the world to be born into back in 1988. Today, the United States is only tied for 16th place.
#3 The United States has fallen in the global economic competitiveness rankings compiled by the World Economic Forum for four years in a row.
#4 According to the Wall Street Journal, of the 40 biggest publicly traded corporate spenders, half of them plan to reduce capital expenditures in coming months.
#5 More than three times as many new homes were sold in the United States in 2005 as will be sold in 2012.
#6 America once had the greatest manufacturing cities on the face of the earth. Now many of our formerly great manufacturing cities have degenerated into festering hellholes. For example, the city of Detroit is on the verge of financial collapse, and one state lawmaker is now saying that “dissolving Detroit” should be looked at as an option.
#7 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.
#8 Back in 1950, more than 80 percent of all men in the United States had jobs. Today, less than 65 percent of all men in the United States have jobs.
#9 If you can believe it, approximately one out of every four American workers makes 10 dollars an hour or less.
#10 Sadly, 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.
#11 Median household income in America has fallen for four consecutive years. Overall, it has declined by over $4000 during that time span.
#12 The U.S. trade deficit with China during 2011 was 28 times larger than it was back in 1990.
#13 Incredibly, more than 56,000 manufacturing facilities in the United States have been shut down since 2001. During 2010, manufacturing facilities were shutting down at the rate of 23 per day. How can anyone say that “things are getting better” when our economic infrastructure is being absolutely gutted?
#14 Back in early 2005, the average price of a gallon of gasoline was less than 2 dollars a gallon. During 2012, the average price of a gallon of gasoline has been $3.63.
#15 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.
#16 As I have written about previously, 61 percent of all Americans were “middle income” back in 1971 according to the Pew Research Center. Today, only 51 percent of all Americans are “middle income”.
#17 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.
#18 According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the poverty rate for children living in the United States is about 22 percent.
#19 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.
#20 Total home mortgage debt in the United States is now about 5 times larger than it was just 20 years ago.
#21 Total credit card debt in the United States is now more than 8 times larger than it was just 30 years ago.
#22 The value of the U.S. dollar has declined by more than 96 percent since the Federal Reserve was first created.
#23 According to one survey, 29 percent of all Americans in the 25 to 34 year old age bracket are still living with their parents.
#24 Back in 1950, 78 percent of all households in the United States contained a married couple. Today, that number has declined to 48 percent.
#25 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.
#26 In 1980, government transfer payments accounted for just 11.7 percent of all income. Today, government transfer payments account for more than 18 percent of all income.
#27 In November 2008, 30.8 million Americans were on food stamps. Today, 47.1 million Americans are on food stamps.
#28 Right now, one out of every four American children is on food stamps.
#29 As I wrote about the other day, according to one calculation the number of Americans on food stamps now exceeds the combined populations of “Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming.”
#30 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.
#31 In 2001, the U.S. national debt was less than 6 trillion dollars. Today, it is over 16 trillion dollars and it is increasing by more than 100 million dollars every single hour.
#32 The U.S. national debt is now more than 23 times larger than it was when Jimmy Carter became president.
#33 According to a PBS report from earlier this year, U.S. households that make $13,000 or less per year spend 9 percent of their incomes on lottery tickets. Could that possibly be accurate? Are people really that foolish?
#34 As the U.S. economy has declined, the American people have been downing more antidepressants and other prescription drugs than ever before. In fact, the American people spent 60 billion dollars more on prescription drugs in 2010 than they did in 2005.
So what are our “leaders” doing about all of this?
They just continue to insist that everything is “just fine”.
Sadly, the truth is that they live in a world that is very different from most of the rest of us.
Barack Obama is getting ready to take a 20 day vacation to Hawaii.
When was the last time you got to take a 20 day vacation?
And most of our “leaders” have no idea what it is like to struggle from month to month on a paycheck.
Overall, more than half of the members of Congress are millionaires. We are led by wealthy men who are serving the interests of other wealthy men.
But the problem with our system is not limited to the president and the members of Congress. The truth is that the political system in America has become a colossal beast that just continues to grow no matter who is in power. The political establishment of both parties is totally dependent on this beast, and they will continue to feed it and serve it because it has been very good to them. The following is from an outstanding article by Steve McCann…
The Republican and Democratic political establishments are made up of the following:
1) many current and nearly all retired national office holders whose livelihood and narcissistic demands depends upon fealty to Party and access to government largesse;
2) the majority of the media elite, including pundits, editors, writers and television news personalities based in Washington and New York whose proximity to power and access is vital to their continued standard of living;
3) academia, numerous think-tanks, so-called non-government organizations, and lobbyists who fasten onto those in the administration and Congress for employment, grants, favorable legislation and ego-gratification;
4) the reliable deep pocket political contributors and political consultants whose future is irrevocably tied to the political machinery of the Party; and
5) the crony capitalists, i.e. leaders of the corporate and financial community as well as unions whose entities are dependent on or subject to government oversight and/or benevolence .
Do you think that there is any chance that this insidious system will be uprooted any time soon?
Of course not.
We will continue on the same path that we are on right now and America will continue to decline.
Many will rejoice as America falls, but I will not.
I will mourn for a mighty Republic that has fallen and for a dream that has been lost.
This economic decline has been really hard on everyone, but it has been particularly hard on American men. During the last recession male employment dropped like a rock and it has not recovered much at all since then. That is why many referred to the last recession as a “mancession”. Industries where men are disproportionately represented such as construction and manufacturing have really been hit hard in recent years. In the old days, you could take a high school education down to the local factory and get a job that would enable you to live a middle class lifestyle and support a growing family on just that one income. Sadly, those days are long gone. Today, American men live in a world where their labor is not really needed. Wages are falling because almost any worker can be easily replaced by the vast pool of unemployed American workers that are currently searching for work, and a lot of big companies are shifting labor-intensive jobs overseas where workers only make a small fraction of what they make in the United States. American workers (especially those without much education) are considered to be expensive liabilities in a world where labor has become a global commodity. So the percentage of working age American men that have jobs is likely to continue to decline and wages are likely to continue to stagnate as well.
For many men, a long-term bout with unemployment can almost be worse than a major illness. It can be really hard to feel like a man when you don’t have a job. Men often see themselves as filling the “provider” role, and when they aren’t providing for their families self-esteem can fall through the floor. It is easy to feel worthless when there is no money coming in and your wife and your kids are looking at you with worry every single day.
As you read this, there are millions upon millions of unemployed men sitting at home with a glazed look in their eyes. When you talk with these men, many of them seem as though the life has been sucked right out of them.
As I wrote about recently, when you cannot find a job month after month after month people start to look at you differently. Some start to look at you with pity in their eyes, and others start to look at you with disgust in their eyes.
Most Americans don’t really understand how much the economy has fundamentally changed, and many of them still believe that it shouldn’t be too difficult to find a job in “the greatest economy on earth”.
But things have changed. If you don’t have a college education or some highly specialized skills then it is going to be exceedingly difficult to get a good paying job in this economy.
Unfortunately, finding a job is not going to be getting any easier. Times are hard now, but they are going to be getting a lot harder.
The following are 16 signs that this economic decline is sucking the life out of the American male….
#1 During the last recession, men lost twice as many jobs as women did.
#2 According to the Economic Policy Institute, the “real entry-level hourly wage for men who recently graduated from high school” has declined from $15.64 in 1979 to $11.68 last year.
#3 During the recent economic downturn millions of men saw their family finances get absolutely destroyed. According to the Federal Reserve, the median net worth of families in the United States declined “from $126,400 in 2007 to $77,300 in 2010“.
#4 As you can see from the chart below, in the 1950s there were times when nearly 85 percent of all working age men had a job. Sadly, that number has stayed below 65 percent since the end of the last recession….
#5 More unemployed fathers than ever are staying at home with the kids. Over the past decade the number of “stay at home dads” has doubled.
#6 Prior to the recession, women accounted for approximately 45 percent of the workforce. Now, they account for 49.4 percent of the workforce.
#7 According to one new survey, 23 percent of all small business owners in America have gone for more than a year without pay. More than half of all small business owners are men.
#8 The decline in manufacturing jobs has had a disproportionate impact on men. Back in 1940, 23.4% of all American workers had manufacturing jobs. Today, only 10.4% of all American workers have manufacturing jobs.
#9 More than half of all middle management jobs in America are now held by women.
#10 More than half of all health care jobs in America are now held by women.
#11 American men love to watch television. But because of harsh economic conditions more families than ever are eliminating cable television service. According to one survey, a whopping 6.9 million American homes cancelled cable service last year.
#12 According to the New York Times, approximately 57 percent of all Americans that are currently enrolled in college are women.
#13 According to one study, between 1969 and 2009 the median wages earned by American men between the ages of 30 and 50 dropped by 27 percent after you account for inflation.
#14 According to another study, “young, urban, childless women” make more money in America today than young, urban, childless men do.
#15 According to CNN, in the United States today men in the 25 to 34 age bracket are nearly twice as likely to live with their parents as women the same age are….
The number of adult children who live with their parents, especially young males, has soared since the economy started heading south. Among males age 25 to 34, 19% live with their parents today, a 5 percentage point increase from 2005, according to Census data released Thursday. Meanwhile, 10% of women in that age group live at home, up from 8% six years ago.
#16 Our system often treats elderly American men like absolute trash. Just check out what happened to one elderly veteran up in Montana recently….
Warren C. Bodeker is an 89 year old World War II Army Airborne combat veteran and war hero, living in Montana, who is being thrown off of his own land and thrown out of his own house, by Montana Federal Bankruptcy Trustee, Christy Brandon, with the approval of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Montana. And to make matters worse, Warren’s wife Lorna just died of cancer this past year, and is buried there on their land, right next to the house. Warren had planned to live there till he died and then be buried right next to his wife, there on their property at 11 Freedom Lane, in the town of Plains, Montana, but now, not only is he being forced off his land, he is being forced to exhume his wife’s body and take her with him.
As the ability of men (and women) to take care of their families continues to decline, the middle class continues to shrink rapidly.
Most Americans continue to expect our economy to be able to bounce back to where it was before, but the truth is that the U.S. economy is in the midst of a long-term decline.
We are heading for an absolute economic nightmare, and we desperately need to come together as a nation and find some real solutions.
Unfortunately, our nation is becoming more divided than ever, and most of our politicians are proposing that we continue to do the exact same things that got us into this mess.
So what do all of you think about “the mancession” and what this economic decline is doing to the American male? Please feel free to post a comment with your thoughts below….