The Sobering Reality Of What Life Is Like In Reno, Nevada

What do you do when the city where you live is dying?  All over the United States formerly great cities are crumbling, but some are definitely in worse shape than others.  One reader recently wrote to me about what she sees happening all around her in Reno, Nevada.  The unemployment rate in Reno is now up to 11.7 percent, which is well above the national average of 8.3 percent.  But that doesn’t tell the whole story.  The recent recession hit Nevada particularly hard and people have been moving out of the state in waves.  In fact, the labor force in Nevada has shrunk by close to 20 percent over the past year as workers have moved elsewhere in search of work.  But even though the labor force is now nearly 20 percent smaller, the unemployment rate is still well above 11 percent.  There simply are not enough jobs in large Nevada cities such as Reno and Las Vegas.  Unfortunately for Reno, it does not have the same kind of big corporate money pouring into it that Las Vegas does.  The good news is that you can buy a house very, very cheaply in Reno because homes were foreclosed on in droves during the housing crash.  Even today, some housing developments that were put up near the end of the boom times look like virtual ghost towns.  The main industry in Reno is “entertainment”, but many of Reno’s strip clubs and gambling establishments have aged so badly at this point that they just look kind of depressing.  I guess that is kind of fitting, because Nevada has the fifth highest suicide rate in the nation, and Reno has been ranked as one of the top 10 depressed cities in the entire country.  As the city has declined, gangs have moved in and the drug trade is flourishing.  Reno has been called the meth capital of America, and crime is on the rise.  Despite being surrounded by tremendous natural beauty, Reno has become a very unpleasant place in which to live.  But what is happening in Reno is also happening in hundreds of other communities across the United States.  Our economy is collapsing and our cities are crumbling right in front of our eyes, and it is only going to get worse from here.

A reader of my site named Heather who has been unemployed since November of last year recently shared the following with me….

I am living in Reno/Sparks Nevada and I feel like it is ground zero for collapse. There are a lot of people who are in denial right now and cannot see the larger picture. I keep also saying we are the canary in the coal mine for the rest of the country.  It is quite depressing driving around seeing empty office buildings with vacancies and retail areas just empty. Went to the stores and retail seems pretty slow also. I am volunteering at ProNet locally and it helps unemployed people finds jobs and skills. It has been depressing there too with very little jobs out there for many people who need one.

She said that I should share what is happening in Reno with my readers.  She wanted people to know what those living in Reno are going through.

You might think that since Reno is so sunny, so warm and surrounded by such natural beauty that it would be one of the happiest places in America.

Unfortunately it turns out that the opposite is true.

Reno is actually a very sad place.

In fact, last year Men’s Health ranked Reno as the ninth saddest city in the United States.

In response to this ranking, one resident of Reno wrote the following….

In light of this disheartening list-making, it is, of course, important for Nevadans to look on the bright side. Rather than allowing these statistics to depress us further, we can consider them a series of challenges that make living in places like Reno and Las Vegas all the more impressive. You don’t just live in Reno. You survive Reno! To dwell in Reno, you must triumph over the odds that are stacked against you—one of the things we’re supposed to do best here.

If we can withstand all of the emotional curveballs thrown at us because we have selected such a turbulent location in which to reside, we can probably survive anything.

As a lifelong Renoite, I am inclined to respond to these lists with defiance. Yeah, things can look pretty grim sometimes when no one can find a job, and there seems to be no way out.

And that is how many Americans are feeling these days.  They are broke, unemployed, depressed and out of options.

How can you pick up and start a new life somewhere else when you have no job and no money?

Sadly, a lot of younger Americans are turning to drugs in an attempt to escape the pain of their daily lives.

One article that I found attempted to find humor in the raging meth epidemic that is happening in Reno….

Reno has been affectionately called the meth capital of the nation. Some foolishly think mass drug usage can ravage a city as swiftly as it can ruin a user’s clear complexion. In all reality, drug addiction is no more than an endearing quirk, certainly not a cause for concern. Babies and adolescents with addiction-addled parents should stop being coddled and learn how to take care of themselves. I’ve been doing my own laundry since I was six months old­ — I’m sure they can do the same. If there is anything disturbing about the meth problem in Reno, it’s that it shows the lack of variety in this town. Why don’t you try some uppers like MDMA? Your teeth will thank me.

Unfortunately, Reno is far from alone.  In the past I have written about how formerly great cities such as Detroit, Cleveland and Baltimore are completely falling apart as well.  This kind of thing is literally happening from coast to coast.

There is a very serious lack of decent jobs in America right now.  At this point only 24.6 percent of all jobs in the United States are good jobs.

This has made it increasingly difficult for Americans to be able to take care of themselves.

If you can believe it, more than 100 million Americans are on welfare at this point.

And that number does not even include the tens of millions of people that are on Social Security and Medicare.

What in the world has happened to us?

These days most Americans work really hard all of their lives but never end up reaching their dreams.

In fact, one recent study found that 46 percent of all Americans die with less than $10,000 worth of financial assets.

Talk about depressing.

But instead of having us focus on how bad the economic numbers are, the Federal Reserve wants to start measuring how “happy” everyone is.  The following is from a recent ABC News article….

Ben Bernanke wants to know if you are happy.

The Federal Reserve chairman said Monday that gauging happiness can be as important for measuring economic progress as determining whether inflation is low or unemployment high. Economics isn’t just about money and material benefits, Bernanke said. It is also about understanding and promoting “the enhancement of well-being.”

So what would you say if the Federal Reserve contacted you and asked if you are happy?

Please feel free to post a comment with your thoughts below….

Now THAT Is Cold – 19 Signs That America Is Becoming A Very Heartless Place

The economy is not the only thing that is wrong with America.  In order for a society to function smoothly, people need to be able to trust one another and be able to expect that most of their fellow citizens will behave in a somewhat civilized manner.  Unfortunately, we are starting to see the very fabric of our society slowly unravel all over the nation.  The truth is that America is becoming a very heartless place.  People simply do not care about one another the way that they used to in this country.  Of course there are many exceptions, but the reality is that millions of hearts are going cold from coast to coast.  In America today, we are more self-absorbed than ever, more self-centered than ever, and we are more isolated from others than ever.  Just think about the number of people that you personally interact with on a regular basis.  Unless you are involved with a very large organization such as a school or a church, it is probably a very limited number.  Our addiction to entertainment gives us the illusion of being connected to society, but the truth is that Americans spend less time personally interacting with one another than ever before.  Meanwhile, Americans are seemingly becoming more arrogant, more prideful, more angry, more brutal, more greedy and more addicted to pleasure than ever before.  When you combine millions of very cold hearts with an economy that is rapidly crumbling, that adds up to a whole lot of trouble in the years ahead.

Even government authorities are becoming heartless.  TSA agents and police officers are actually trained to “act tough” and to bark orders at us.  In the old days, you could reason with a police officer, but these days if you try to talk common sense with some of these thugs you will get tasered before you even realize what is happening.

The American people can see the deep corruption in Washington D.C. and throughout most of our other major institutions and they wonder why they should keep trying to do “the right thing”.

If our leaders are selfish and heartless, then it is only natural that millions of average Americans will follow their examples.

In America today, we are taught to hate one another.  Democrats are taught to hate Republicans and Republicans are taught to hate Democrats.  We are a deeply divided nation and our hearts are getting colder with each passing year.

Parents are becoming more cruel, thieves are becoming more bold and thugs are becoming more brutal.  Hate, anger and frustration are fueling some really twisted behavior all over the country.  America is changing, and not for the better.

The following are 19 signs that America is becoming a very heartless place….

#1 At one airport in Hawaii, TSA agents recently required one new mother to go to a public restroom and fill up the empty baby bottles she was carrying with breast milk before they would allow her to get on to her flight.  The following is how one local news station described the incident….

She claims agents told her she couldn’t take the pump on the plane because the bottles in her carry-on were empty.

“I asked him if there was a private place I could pump and he said no, you can go in the women’s bathroom. I had to stand in front of the mirrors and the sinks and pump my breast in front of every tourist that walked into that bathroom. I was embarrassed and humiliated and then angry that I was treated this way.

When the bottles were full, she was allowed back on the plane.

#2 One way that a society is judged is by how it treats children.  Unfortunately, stories such as the following one from Texas are becoming increasingly common in America today….

Texas authorities said Tuesday they removed 11 children from a crowded home where a registered sex offender lives after they found eight confined in a small, dark bedroom with restraints tying some to their beds.

Along with the children, 10 adults were living in the one-story, 1,700-square-foot home in Dayton, about 30 miles northeast of Houston, Child Protective Services spokeswoman Gwen Carter said. One month after a raid on the house, authorities are still trying to determine how the children are related and why they were there, she said.

#3 Across the United States, there have been an increasing number of reports of teens randomly attacking people on the street for no apparent reason whatsoever.  In some cases, the victims are actually being pulled out of their vehicles.  The following recent example comes from Philadelphia….

IN A HORRIFIC assault in Center City on Saturday night, three teenagers who were spouting racial slurs pulled a man out of a cab to beat him. And when the cabdriver intervened to stop the assault, the teens turned their rage on him, police said yesterday.

#4 One man down in Arizona was recently charged with skinning and eating a cat.  He told authorities that he did it because he was “hungry”.

#5 In the Detroit area, an 86-year-old World War II veteran was recently brutally carjacked in the middle of the day at a gas station.  His leg was broken during the assault, and as he slowly crawled across the concrete parking lot many people walked by him and drove by him as if he was not even there.

#6 One 69-year-old woman down in Texas recently went without running water for six years and nobody ever helped her out until just recently.

#7 In Ohio, one man has been charged with raping three children that he adopted and with allowing other men to have sex with them as well.

#8 One man down in Texas was recently fined by the city government for not mowing the lawn of a house that he had already lost to foreclosure.

#9 These days thieves will steal anything that is metal that they think that they can resell.  In the Philadelphia area recently, there has been a rash of brass door knocker thefts.  Thieves have been going up and pulling them right off of the front doors of private homes.

#10 As the price of gasoline rises, gasoline thieves are becoming more creative.  The following is a recent example from the Tampa Bay area….

As gas thefts go, this one was deceptively elaborate.

Inside a blue Chevrolet Venture minivan, criminals had cut out a large hole in the floorboard and set up a portable pumping station, complete with power source, pump and plastic container.

The goal: to steal hundreds of gallons of gas pulled directly from the gas station’s underground storage tank and funneled into a plastic tank inside the van.

Gasoline thefts have become so common in Detroit that one city councilman wants to force gas station owners to hire security guards.

#11 One 29-year-old female tutor was recently arrested for having a sexual relationship with a 12-year-old boy that she was supposed to be tutoring.

#12 The ACLU is trying to force one library district in Washington state to allow full public access to pornography on library computers – even if children will be walking by and able to see what is going on.

#13 In America today, a lot of parents are becoming extremely cruel.  Down in Alabama, one 9-year-old girl recently died after being forced by her mother and grandmother to run for three hours straight as punishment for lying about having eaten some candy bars.

#14 Some Americans have become so desperate that they are trying to get sent to prison on purpose.  For example, one ex-police officer in Georgia recently robbed a bank and allowed authorities to catch him so that he could get food, shelter and free medical care in jail.

#15 What can account for the rash of seemingly random violent crimes that we have been seeing lately?  Over near Seattle, an 88-year-old man and an 83-year-old woman were brutally attacked by a 31-year-old man armed with a crossbow and a hatchet for no apparent reason whatsoever….

Prosecutors say 31-year-old John Chase was walking down the highway when he saw Ralph Aldrich, 88, in his back yard. Detectives say Chase shot and killed Aldrich with a crossbow and then went inside the home and repeatedly hit 83-year-old June Aldrich with a hatchet.

#16 In America today, many people are so angry and so frustrated that even the slightest provocation can push them over the edge.  For example, one man in Georgia actually firebombed a Taco Bell because they did not put enough meat in his Chalupa.

#17 These days Americans are having a hard time feeling safe in their own homes.  Down in Maryland, one very sick home invader was recently sentenced to 100 years in prison for doing some very twisted things….

In one case, authorities said, he sexually assaulted a 17-year-old girl after breaking into her family’s Fort Washington home with a cinder block and forced her to pose nude on a bed as he took photographs and videos of her.  Authorities said in another case, Scott and an accomplice, Marcus Dermanellian Hunter – who has already pleaded guilty to federal firearms charges – held up a Bowie family at gunpoint in April 2009, used their debit cards to steal money from ATM machines and then stole a luxury car.

#18 In America today you never know who is going to come driving up to you on the street.  Most of the time people that you meet will be at least somewhat “normal”, but there is also a chance that the next strangers that you run into will be crack-fueled perverts.  Unfortunately, that is exactly what happened to a Montana teacher named Sherry Arnold…

Spell and Waters had left Colorado days before the crime claiming they wanted work in eastern Montana and western North Dakota’s oil fields.

After smoking crack cocaine over the entire trip, Waters allegedly told Spell the drug ‘brought the devil out in him’ and began talking about kidnapping and killing a female, AP reports.

After they spotted Arnold, Spell claims that Waters told him to ‘grab the lady’ and pull her into their Ford Explorer as she jogged by.

After they got her into the Ford Explorer, they choked the life out of her and then buried her body in a shallow grave in North Dakota.

#19 In the Boston area, the FBI recently used a chainshaw to cut through the front door of one apartment during a raid.  They quickly subdued the woman living inside and had her on the floor for 35 minutes as her young daughter cried out to her.  Eventually they figured out that they had the wrong apartment and they issued a “routine apology” to the woman.

As our country falls apart all around us, there is going to be a greater need for love and compassion than ever before.

Don’t count on the government to help those in need.  The government always does  a miserable job of that.

As I have written about previously, already more than 40 percent of all children in Atlanta and more than 50 percent of all children in Detroit are living in poverty.

In the years ahead those numbers are going to get even worse.

But it isn’t just in the major cities where poverty is exploding.  Sadly, today one out of every four children in the United States is on food stamps.

As times get tough, you have two choices.

You can allow your heart to grow cold like so many other people are doing.

Or you can decide that you are going to become more loving and more compassionate than ever before.

America is becoming a very heartless place, and unfortunately there is no sign that trend is going to turn around any time soon.

But you don’t have to become heartless.

Be a light that shines in the darkness.

In the end, you will be glad that you were.

Who Owns The Media? The 6 Monolithic Corporations That Control Almost Everything We Watch, Hear And Read

Back in 1983, approximately 50 corporations controlled the vast majority of all news media in the United States.  Today, ownership of the news media has been concentrated in the hands of just six incredibly powerful media corporations.  These corporate behemoths control most of what we watch, hear and read every single day.  They own television networks, cable channels, movie studios, newspapers, magazines, publishing houses, music labels and even many of our favorite websites. Sadly, most Americans don’t even stop to think about who is feeding them the endless hours of news and entertainment that they constantly ingest.  Most Americans don’t really seem to care about who owns the media.  But they should.  The truth is that each of us is deeply influenced by the messages that are constantly being pounded into our heads by the mainstream media.  The average American watches 153 hours of television a month.  In fact, most Americans begin to feel physically uncomfortable if they go too long without watching or listening to something.  Sadly, most Americans have become absolutely addicted to news and entertainment and the ownership of all that news and entertainment that we crave is being concentrated in fewer and fewer hands each year.      

The six corporations that collectively control U.S. media today are Time Warner, Walt Disney, Viacom, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., CBS Corporation and NBC Universal.  Together, the “big six” absolutely dominate news and entertainment in the United States.  But even those areas of the media that the “big six” do not completely control are becoming increasingly concentrated. For example, Clear Channel now owns over 1000 radio stations across the United States.  Companies like Google, Yahoo and Microsoft are increasingly dominating the Internet.

But it is the “big six” that are the biggest concerns.  When you control what Americans watch, hear and read you gain a great deal of control over what they think.  They don’t call it “programming” for nothing. 

Back in 1983 it was bad enough that about 50 corporations dominated U.S. media.  But since that time, power over the media has rapidly become concentrated in the hands of fewer and fewer people….

In 1983, fifty corporations dominated most of every mass medium and the biggest media merger in history was a $340 million deal. … [I]n 1987, the fifty companies had shrunk to twenty-nine. … [I]n 1990, the twenty-nine had shrunk to twenty three. … [I]n 1997, the biggest firms numbered ten and involved the $19 billion Disney-ABC deal, at the time the biggest media merger ever. … [In 2000] AOL Time Warner’s $350 billion merged corporation [was] more than 1,000 times larger [than the biggest deal of 1983].

–Ben H. Bagdikian, The Media Monopoly, Sixth Edition, (Beacon Press, 2000), pp. xx—xxi

Today, six colossal media giants tower over all the rest.  Much of the information in the chart below comes from mediaowners.com.  The chart below reveals only a small fraction of the media outlets that these six behemoths actually own….

Time Warner

Home Box Office (HBO)
Time Inc.
Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.
Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
CW Network (partial ownership)
TMZ
New Line Cinema
Time Warner Cable
Cinemax
Cartoon Network
TBS
TNT
America Online
MapQuest
Moviefone
Castle Rock
Sports Illustrated
Fortune
Marie Claire
People Magazine

Walt Disney

ABC Television Network
Disney Publishing
ESPN Inc.
Disney Channel
SOAPnet
A&E
Lifetime
Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Buena Vista Theatrical Productions
Buena Vista Records
Disney Records
Hollywood Records
Miramax Films
Touchstone Pictures
Walt Disney Pictures
Pixar Animation Studios
Buena Vista Games
Hyperion Books

Viacom

Paramount Pictures
Paramount Home Entertainment
Black Entertainment Television (BET)
Comedy Central
Country Music Television (CMT)
Logo
MTV
MTV Canada
MTV2
Nick Magazine
Nick at Nite
Nick Jr.
Nickelodeon
Noggin
Spike TV
The Movie Channel
TV Land
VH1

News Corporation

Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
Fox Television Stations
The New York Post
Fox Searchlight Pictures
Beliefnet
Fox Business Network
Fox Kids Europe
Fox News Channel
Fox Sports Net
Fox Television Network
FX
My Network TV
MySpace
News Limited News
Phoenix InfoNews Channel
Phoenix Movies Channel
Sky PerfecTV
Speed Channel
STAR TV India
STAR TV Taiwan
STAR World
Times Higher Education Supplement Magazine
Times Literary Supplement Magazine
Times of London
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
20th Century Fox International
20th Century Fox Studios
20th Century Fox Television
BSkyB
DIRECTV
The Wall Street Journal
Fox Broadcasting Company
Fox Interactive Media
FOXTEL
HarperCollins Publishers
The National Geographic Channel
National Rugby League
News Interactive
News Outdoor
Radio Veronica
ReganBooks
Sky Italia
Sky Radio Denmark
Sky Radio Germany
Sky Radio Netherlands
STAR
Zondervan

CBS Corporation

CBS News
CBS Sports
CBS Television Network
CNET
Showtime
TV.com
CBS Radio Inc. (130 stations)
CBS Consumer Products
CBS Outdoor
CW Network (50% ownership)
Infinity Broadcasting
Simon & Schuster (Pocket Books, Scribner)
Westwood One Radio Network

NBC Universal

Bravo
CNBC
NBC News
MSNBC
NBC Sports
NBC Television Network
Oxygen
SciFi Magazine
Syfy (Sci Fi Channel)
Telemundo
USA Network
Weather Channel
Focus Features
NBC Universal Television Distribution
NBC Universal Television Studio
Paxson Communications (partial ownership)
Trio
Universal Parks & Resorts
Universal Pictures
Universal Studio Home Video

These gigantic media corporations do not exist to objectively tell the truth to the American people.  Rather, the primary purpose of their existence is to make money.

These gigantic media corporations are not going to do anything to threaten their relationships with their biggest advertisers (such as the largest pharmaceutical companies that literally spend billions on advertising), and one way or another these gigantic media corporations are always going to express the ideological viewpoints of their owners.

Fortunately, an increasing number of Americans are starting to wake up and are realizing that the mainstream media should not be trusted.  According to a new poll just released by Gallup, the number of Americans that have little to no trust in the mainstream media (57%) is at an all-time high.

That is one reason why we have seen the alternative media experience such rapid growth over the past few years.  The mainstream media has been losing credibility at a staggering rate, and Americans are starting to look elsewhere for the truth about what is really going on.

Do you think that anyone in the mainstream news would actually tell you that the Federal Reserve is bad for America or that we are facing a horrific derivatives bubble that could destroy the entire world financial system?  Do you think that anyone in the mainstream media would actually tell you the truth about the deindustrialization of America or the truth about the voracious greed of Goldman Sachs?

Sure there are a few courageous reporters in the mainstream media that manage to slip a few stories past their corporate bosses from time to time, but in general there is a very clear understanding that there are simply certain things that you just do not say in the mainstream news.

But Americans are becoming increasingly hungry for the truth, and they are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the dumbed down pablum that is passing as “hard hitting news” these days.

So what do you think about the state of the mainstream media?  Please feel free to leave a comment with your opinion below….

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