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Generation Snowflake: Percentage Of Young Adults Living With Their Parents Hasn’t Been This High Since 1940

snowflake-public-domainHave we failed this generation of young adults by not equipping them to be able to handle the harsh realities of the real world?  According to the Wall Street Journal, the percentage of Americans in the 18 to 34-year-old age bracket that are currently living with their parents hasn’t been this high in 75 years.  At this point nearly 40 percent of our young adults in that age range are living at home, and many are concerned that this could have some alarming implications for the future of our nation.

In the United States today, more than 60 million people live in multi-generational households, and it is a good thing to have a tight family.  But at some point young adults need to learn how to live their own independent lives, and in millions of cases this independence is being delayed or is never happening at all.

There are many factors involved in this trend.  First of all, there is truly a lack of good jobs despite what we are being told about an “economic recovery”.  Millions of young adults are graduating from college only to discover that there is a very limited number of good jobs available for our college graduates.  So some college graduates are able to secure the types of jobs that they were hoping for, but millions of others are not.

Normally when a recession ends, the percentage of young adults living with their parents starts to go back down.  But this has not happened this time around.  Instead, the percentage of young adults that live at home has just continued to rise

The trend runs counter to that of previous economic cycles, when after a recession-related spike, the number of younger Americans living with relatives declined as the economy improved.

The result is that there is far less demand for housing than would be expected for the millennial generation, now the largest in U.S. history. The number of adults under age 30 has increased by 5 million over the last decade, but the number of households for that age group grew by just 200,000 over the same period, according to the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies.

Another major factor in all of this is the fact that Americans are getting married later in life than ever before and they are having fewer kids than previous generations.

In the old days, people got married young and they set up their own households even if they were dirt poor.  But these days we have hordes of single young adults that are perfectly content to sit at home and sponge off of Mommy and Daddy.

There seems to be a real lack of toughness to this generation of young adults, and many that have perceived this lack of toughness have resorted to referring to them as “Generation Snowflake”.  Over the past 12 months this term has become so common that the Guardian has dubbed it “the defining insult of 2016″…

Until very recently, to call someone a snowflake would have involved the word “generation”, too, as it was typically used to describe, or insult, a person in their late teens or early 20s. At the start of November, the Collins English Dictionary added “snowflake generation” to its words of the year list, where it sits alongside other vogue-ish new additions such as “Brexit” and “hygge”. The Collins definition is as follows: “The young adults of the 2010s, viewed as being less resilient and more prone to taking offence than previous generations”. Depending on what you read, being part of the “snowflake generation” may be as benign as taking selfies or talking about feelings too much, or it may infer a sense of entitlement, an untamed narcissism, or a form of identity politics that is resistant to free speech.

The phrase came to prominence in the UK at the beginning of 2016, after Claire Fox, director of the thinktank Institute of Ideas, used it in her book I Find That Offensive to address a generation of young people whom she calls “easily offended and thin-skinned”.

Of course there are exceptions.  I have some close friends that are young adults in this age range, and they are extraordinary people.

But overall, we seem to have dramatically failed this generation.  Maybe it is because we tend to baby our children from a very early age, and we want to protect them from danger so much that we never allow them to be exposed to the challenges that they need to face in order to toughen up and mature.

And it certainly doesn’t help that many of our young adults enter “the real world” already drowning in tens of thousands of dollars of debt.  According to CNN, about 70 percent of all college graduates in the U.S. will leave school with student loan debt, and the average loan balance for those college graduates is approximately $28,950.  Paying off student loan debt can be extremely painful, and it can be financially crippling for young people that are just trying to start their new lives.

When our high school kids are looking toward the future, we very much encourage them to go to the very best schools that they can possibly get into, and we tell them to not even worry about the cost.  We promise them that there will be plenty of good jobs once they graduate, and we push them into these loans without even warning them to consider the future implications.

According to a stunning article in the Wall Street Journal, many Baby Boomers are actually having money taken out of their Social Security checks because of unpaid student loans.  So when you go into student loan debt, it can literally haunt you for the rest of your life…

The government has collected about $1.1 billion from Social Security recipients of all ages to go toward unpaid student loans since 2001, including $171 million last year, the Government Accountability Office said Tuesday. Most affected recipients in fiscal year 2015—114,000—were age 50 or older and receiving disability benefits, with the typical borrower losing about $140 a month. About 38,000 were above age 64.

The report highlights the sharp growth in baby boomers entering retirement with student debt, most of it borrowed years ago to cover their own educations but some used to pay for their children’s schooling. Overall, about seven million Americans age 50 and older owed about $205 billion in federal student debt last year. About 1 in 3 were in default, raising the likelihood that garnishments will increase as more boomers retire.

What we are doing is clearly not working, but I am not particularly optimistic that this system will be fixed any time soon.

If you are a young person, you need to have a solid plan before pursuing an expensive college education.  Many young people just major in anything that they want without even considering if it will lead to a good career.  And instead of working hard to graduate in four years, many decide that they want to stretch the “college experience” out for five or six years so that they can party as much as possible before entering the real world.

The real world is a cold, cruel place, and if you start your new life drowning in debt that is just going to make things even more difficult for you.

On a personal note, I want to thank everyone that has supported the growth of The Most Important News.  It is a central news hub where you can find all of my articles, posts by incredible guest authors and many of the key news stories from all over the globe all gathered in one place.  Some technical issues have forced the site to be down for extended periods of time lately, but now it is being migrated to a much more powerful server.  I will not be updating it during the migration, but I should resume a normal posting schedule again very soon.

And I would like to thank all of my readers for making 2016 an absolutely amazing year.  I love you all, and I wish you all the very best as we head into what should prove to be a very “interesting” 2017.

No Matter What Happens, We Won’t Know Who The Next President Will Be Until December 19th

what-public-domainMost Americans assume that their votes decide who the next president will be, but that is actually not the case.  It is the Electoral College that will elect the next president, and they don’t meet until December 19th.  And the truth is that all of the members of the Electoral College never meet in one place.  Rather, electors gather together in all 50 state capitals on the second Wednesday in December, and it is at that time that the next president and vice president are officially elected.  Of course members of the Electoral College have voted according to the will of the people about 99 percent of the time throughout our history, but with how crazy this election has turned out to be you never know what might happen.  For example, later on in this article you will see that one elector in Washington state has already publicly stated that he will not cast his vote for Hillary Clinton.  If other “faithless electors” emerge, that could potentially change the entire outcome of the election.

If you are not familiar with the basics of how the Electoral College works, here is a pretty good summary from Wikipedia

Even though the aggregate national popular vote is calculated by state officials, media organizations, and the Federal Election Commission, the people only indirectly elect the president, as the national popular vote is not the basis for electing the president or vice president. The President and Vice President of the United States are elected by the Electoral College, which consists of 538 presidential electors from the fifty states and Washington, D.C.. Presidential electors are selected on a state-by-state basis, as determined by the laws of each state. Since the election of 1824,[35] most states have appointed their electors on a winner-take-all basis, based on the statewide popular vote on Election Day. Maine and Nebraska are the only two current exceptions, as both states use the congressional district method. Although ballots list the names of the presidential and vice presidential candidates (who run on a ticket), voters actually choose electors when they vote for president and vice president. These presidential electors in turn cast electoral votes for those two offices. Electors usually pledge to vote for their party’s nominee, but some “faithless electors” have voted for other candidates.

A candidate must receive an absolute majority of electoral votes (currently 270) to win the presidency or the vice presidency. If no candidate receives a majority in the election for president or vice president, that election is determined via a contingency procedure established by the Twelfth Amendment. In such a situation, the House chooses one of the top three presidential electoral vote-winners as the president, while the Senate chooses one of the top two vice presidential electoral vote-winners as vice president.

In an attempt to make sure that their electors vote according to the will of the people, 29 states have passed laws that impose penalties on “faithless electors”.  In many cases the punishment consists of a fine, but that may not be enough to keep some electors in line this time around.  According to ABC News, one elector that was supposed to be committed to Hillary Clinton has already announced that he is refusing to vote for her despite the fact that he will get hit by a $1,000 fine…

One elector has already said he won’t vote for Clinton, despite a fine. Robert Satiacum, a member of Washington’s Puyallup Tribe, says he believes Clinton is a “criminal” who doesn’t care enough about American Indians and “she’s done nothing but flip back and forth.”

Satiacum faces a $1,000 fine in Washington if he doesn’t vote for Clinton, but he said he doesn’t care.

“She will not get my vote, period,” he told The Associated Press.

And there are 21 states that do not impose penalties on “faithless electors” at all.

So while it is true that over 99 percent of all Electors throughout our history have voted the way that they were supposed to, that may not happen in 2016.

There is also the possibility that the winning candidate could die or become incapacitated between Election Day and December 19th.  If that happens, the electors that are supposed to be committed to the winning candidate would be free to vote for someone else.  The following comes from archives.gov

If a candidate dies or becomes incapacitated between the general election and the meeting of electors, under federal law, the electors pledged to the deceased candidate may vote for the candidate of their choice at the meeting of electors. Individual states may pass laws on the subject, but no federal law proscribes how electors must vote when a candidate dies or becomes incapacitated. In 1872, when Horace Greeley passed away between election day and the meeting of electors, the electors who were slated to vote for Greeley voted for various candidates, including Greeley. The votes cast for Greeley were not counted due to a House resolution passed regarding the matter. See the full Electoral College vote counts for President and Vice President in the 1872 election.

As to a candidate who dies or becomes incapacitated between the meeting of electors and the counting of electoral votes in Congress, the Constitution is silent on whether this candidate meets the definition of “President elect” or “Vice President elect.” If the candidate with a majority of the electoral votes is considered “President elect,” even before the counting of electoral votes in Congress, Section 3 of the 20th Amendment applies. Section 3 of the 20th Amendment states that the Vice President elect will become President if the President elect dies or becomes incapacitated.

If a winning Presidential candidate dies or becomes incapacitated between the counting of electoral votes in Congress and the inauguration, the Vice President elect will become President, according to Section 3 of the 20th Amendment.

Our Constitution really should be amended to deal with a situation where a winning candidate dies between Election Day and the Electoral College vote, but up until now that has not happened.

So the cold, hard reality of the matter is that we will enter a period of great uncertainty between November 8th and December 19th.  Even though the American people will have spoken, we will not have a “President-elect” yet, and if something happens to the winning candidate that could throw us into an unprecedented constitutional crisis.

And of course if the election results are very tight and a few “faithless electors” throw the election in the opposite direction on December 19th, that could create an enormous constitutional crisis as well.

Following the vote of the Electoral College on December 19th, a joint session of Congress takes place on January 6th of the following year to formally declare the winner

The Twelfth Amendment mandates that the Congress assemble in joint session to count the electoral votes and declare the winners of the election.[53] The session is ordinarily required to take place on January 6 in the calendar year immediately following the meetings of the presidential electors.[54] Since the Twentieth Amendment, the newly elected House declares the winner of the election; all elections before 1936 were determined by the outgoing House.

Two weeks later, the winning candidate will be inaugurated on January 20th, and at that point the next president will begin to serve.

It would be a whole lot simpler and more rational to just allow the American people to directly elect the president, and it would probably take a major crisis in order to get the kind of constitutional amendment that is needed to do that.

But for now the system is what it is, and that means that the election is not over until it is over.

So November 8th is definitely not the end of the story, and the craziest chapters of this election season may still be yet to come.

UNSUSTAINABLE

When it comes to explaining the problems with our economy, one of the hardest things to do is to get people to understand that we are living in an economic fantasy world that is completely and totally unsustainable.  As a nation we consume far more than we produce, we spend far more than we bring in, our debt is growing much faster than our GDP is, our entitlement programs are growing at an exponential rate, our retirement system is a Ponzi scheme and the Federal Reserve is printing money as if there is no tomorrow in a desperate attempt to paper over all of our problems.  But we have all grown so accustomed to the debt-fueled prosperity that we have been enjoying for so many decades that it actually feels “real” to most of us.  Unfortunately, history has shown us that it is simply not possible to grow your debt faster than your economy indefinitely.  At some point your consumption will drop back to a level more equal to your production.    Sometimes that adjustment can be gradual, but other times it can be extremely painful.  In our case, we have been living way above our means for so long that it would take a major economic miracle just to keep our adjustment to an “exceedingly painful” level.  We are living in the largest debt-fueled prosperity bubble in the history of the world, and our unsustainable economy is going to crash and burn at some point.  Hopefully it will be later rather than sooner, but a crash is most definitely coming.

The following are some of the reasons why the bubble economy that we are living in right now is unsustainable….

The Trade Deficit

Most Americans do not really understand what a “trade deficit” is, but it is at the very core of our economic problems.

Basically, we buy far more stuff from the rest of the world than they buy from us.  We send them huge piles of our money, and they send us oil that we burn in our cars and cheap plastic products that we end up throwing away.  We keep doing this month after month after month, and this is systematically making us poorer as a nation.

In 2012, it is being projected that our trade deficit will fall somewhere between 500 billion and 600 billion dollars.

At this point, the United States has a trade imbalance that is more than 7 times larger than any other nation on earth has.

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

Instead of going out of the country, those 8 trillion dollars could have gone to U.S. businesses and U.S. workers.  In turn, taxes would have been paid on those 8 trillion dollars and our debt problems would not be nearly as dramatic today.

But we didn’t do that.

We chose to allow tens of thousands of businesses, millions of jobs and trillions of dollars of our national wealth to leave the country.

Stupid move, eh?

But both political parties have been endlessly pushing the “free trade” agenda.  They have both promised that it would bring us tremendous prosperity.

Well, just take a look at our formerly great manufacturing cities today.  Do they look prosperous to you?

It turns out that Ross Perot was right when he warned about the “giant sucking sound” that would happen if NAFTA was implemented.

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.

That didn’t work out so well, did it?

What about opening up trade with China?

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

In 2011, our trade deficit with China was 295.4 billion dollars.  That was the largest trade deficit that one nation has had with another nation in the history of the world.

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

This is a huge reason why shiny new factories are going up all over China, and our blue collar cities are turning into rotting war zones filled with unemployed people.

If you can believe it, the United States has actually lost more than 56,000 manufacturing facilities since 2001.

Until we fix the trade deficit we are going to continue bleeding factories, jobs and national wealth at an astounding pace.

The National Debt

It is being projected that U.S. GDP will grow at a rate of about 2.2 percent this year.

The problem is that our federal budget deficit will be somewhere around 7 percent of GDP this year.

With each passing day we are losing ground.  No other nation on earth has been able to run up debt like this indefinitely, and neither will we.

Does this chart look like a healthy situation to you?….

Sadly, all of this government debt is just about the only thing holding up our economy at this point.  Since Barack Obama has been in the White House, the U.S. national debt has increased by about 5.5 trillion dollars.  Of course the Obama administration has spent a lot of that money on incredibly stupid stuff, but it still gets into the pockets of average Americans that in turn spend it on food, gas, mortgage payments, etc.

If we could go back in time and suck that 5.5 trillion dollars of extra spending out of the economy we would be in a horrible economic depression right now.

But that does not mean that borrowing and spending all of that money was the right thing to do.  We have stolen it from our children and our grandchildren and we are going to stick them with the bill.

That is highly immoral and it is a national disgrace.

Yet we continue to do it because we can’t help ourselves.  We are ruining the future of this nation in order to make the present more pleasant for ourselves.

As I noted yesterday, the U.S. national debt jumped more on the very first day of fiscal year 2013 than it did from 1776 to 1941 combined.

We are completely addicted to debt and we can’t stop.  We know that we are destroying the future of the United States but we have absolutely no self-discipline.

By the end of Barack Obama’s first term, the U.S. government will have accumulated more debt during those four years than it did from the time that George Washington took office to the time that George W. Bush took office.

But most Americans seem fine with that.

Most Americans don’t even really know why this is happening, and most don’t really seem too concerned about finding out.  They just want the good times to continue to roll.

Sadly, the truth is that our financial system is designed to create government debt.  It is one of the primary purposes of the Federal Reserve system.

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

So I guess you could say that the Federal Reserve is doing a good job of what it was designed to do.

And until we change the system things are going to continue to get worse until the entire system collapses.

Boston University economist Laurence Kotlikoff is warning that we are basically facing financial armageddon if something is not done.  Kotlikoff speaks of a “fiscal gap” which he defines as “the present value difference between projected future spending and revenue”.  His calculations have led him to the conclusion that the United States is facing a fiscal gap of 222 trillion dollars in the years ahead.

Where in the world are we going to get an extra 222 trillion dollars?

Entitlements

Every society needs a safety net, but we are rapidly getting to the point where there are going to be more Americans on the safety net than there are Americans supporting it.

Back in 1983, less than 30 percent of all Americans lived in a home where at least one person received financial assistance from the federal government.

Today, that number is up to an all-time record of 49 percent.

Many people don’t believe me when I tell them that more than 100 million Americans are enrolled in at least one welfare program run by the federal government right now, and that does not even count Social Security or Medicare.

But it is actually true.

Overall, there are nearly 80 different “means-tested welfare programs” that the federal government is currently running.

But of course the biggest financial burdens are Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security.  All three are on course to become completely and totally unsustainable.

For example, the number of Americans on Medicaid soared from 34 million in 2000 to 54 million in 2011, and it is being projected that Obamacare will add 16 million more Americans to the Medicaid rolls.

Ouch.

Well, what about Medicare?

Sadly, Medicare is even more frightening.

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.

How in the world can we afford that?

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 each and every household in the United States.

Are you ready to contribute your share?

Social Security is in really bad shape as well.

At the moment, approximately 56 million Americans are collecting Social Security benefits.

By 2035, that number is projected to soar to a whopping 91 million.

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

Where are we going to get that money?

Total Debt

Of course the national debt is not out only debt problem.  All over the country there are state and local governments that are on the verge of insolvency.  Corporations and financial institutions are leveraged like crazy.  And of course consumers have absolutely gorged on debt over the past several decades.

As a result, we are drowning in debt from sea to shining sea.

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

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

Obviously this is something that cannot go on forever.

We simply cannot keep accumulating debt much faster than our economy is growing.

Nobody knows exactly when the “adjustment” is coming, but it most definitely will arrive at some point.

Money Printing

The Federal Reserve has attempted to monetize many of our economic problems by printing gigantic mountains of money in recent years.

The Federal Reserve is at the very heart of our economic problems, but most Americans don’t realize this.  It was the Federal Reserve that created the conditions for the housing bubble, and it was the Federal Reserve that badly mismanaged the response when that bubble burst.  The Federal Reserve decides how much money will be printed and what our interest rates will be.  The Federal Reserve lends out trillions of dollars to the banks that they like, and other banks they let die.  The Federal Reserve picks winners and losers in our economy, and most of the time that means good things for the big Wall Street banks and bad things for the rest of us.

In a desperate attempt to keep our unsustainable financial system from collapsing, the Federal Reserve has decided to start printing unprecedented amounts of money.  Just look at what this has done to the monetary base….

And QE3 really hasn’t even started to kick in yet.

So how bad will that chart look after QE3 has been adding another 40 billion dollars a month to the financial system for a while?

You know, the Weimar Republic was absolutely convinced that they were doing the right thing by printing lots of money too.

But in the end that didn’t work out very well for them at all….

So should we really be celebrating the fact that the Federal Reserve is going down the same path that the Weimar Republic did?

Demonocracy has released a great new graphic that does a wonderful job of illustrating just how huge the amounts of money involved in QE3 are going to be.  If you have not seen it yet, you can view the graphic right here.

The rest of the world is watching the games that we are playing with our currency.  Right now we think that we are getting away with it, but what we are doing is not sustainable.  At some point the rest of the world will totally lose confidence in the U.S. dollar, and when that happens the U.S. dollar could easily lose its status as the primary reserve currency of the world.

If that were to happen the coming shift in our standard of living would happen much more rapidly.

Please share this article with as many people as you can.  We need to wake people up and get them to understand how incredibly vulnerable our financial system really is.  We are on a path that is unsustainable any way that you want to look at it, and if something dramatic is not done our economy is going to experience an unprecedented collapse.

So what happens if nothing is done and everything crashes all around us?

Well, I hope that you are prepared because it isn’t going to be pretty.

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