The fat cats in Washington D.C. are living the high life, and they are doing it at your expense. Over the past decade, there has been one area of the country which has experienced a massive economic boom. Thanks to wildly out of control government spending, the Washington D.C. region is absolutely swimming in cash. In fact, at this point the state of Maryland has the most millionaires per capita in the entire nation and it isn’t even close. If you have never lived there, it is hard to describe what the D.C. area is like. Every weekday morning, hordes of lawyers, lobbyists and government bureaucrats descend upon D.C. from the surrounding suburbs. And at the end of the day, the process goes in reverse. Everyone is just trying to get their piece of the pie, and it is a pie that just keeps on growing as government salaries, government contracts and government giveaways just get larger and larger. Of course our founders never intended for this to happen. They wanted a very small and simple federal government. Sadly, today we have the most bloated central government in the history of the planet and it gets worse with each passing year.
If you were to ask most Americans, they would tell you that the wealthiest Americans probably live in cities such as New York or San Francisco. But thanks to the Obama administration (and before that the Bush and Clinton administrations), the state of Maryland is packed with millionaires. In particular, the Maryland suburbs immediately surrounding D.C. are absolutely overflowing with government fat cats that make a living at our expense. Every weekday morning, huge numbers of them leave their mini-mansions in places such as Potomac and Rockville and drive their luxury vehicles to work in the city. As the Washington Post has detailed, at this point approximately 8 percent of all households in the entire state of Maryland contain millionaires, and the rest of the area is not doing too shabby either…
In Maryland, nearly 8 out of every 100 households in 2014 had assets topping $1 million, giving the state more millionaires per capita than any other in the country, according to a new report from Phoenix Marketing International.
The rest of the Beltway isn’t lacking in millionaires either: The District and Virginia ranked in the top 10 among those with the highest number of millionaire households per capita in 2014. In Virginia, which was No. 6 on the list, 6.76 percent of the state’s 3.17 million households are millionaires. And in the District, which rounds out the top 10, 6.25 percent of its more than 292,000 households are millionaires.
And while not too many of them are millionaires, your average federal workers that toil in D.C. are doing quite well too.
Once upon a time, it was considered to be a “sacrifice” to go into “government service”.
If you can believe it, approximately 17,000 federal employees made more than $200,000 last year.
Overall, compensation for federal employees comes to a grand total of close to half a trillion dollars every 12 months.
In fact, there are tens of thousands of federal employees that make more than the governors of their own states do.
Does that seem right to you?
If you want to live “the American Dream” these days, the Washington area is the place to go. Just check out the following description of the region from the Washington Post…
Washingtonians now enjoy the highest median household income of any metropolitan area in the country, and five of the top 10 jurisdictions in America — Loudoun, Howard and Fairfax counties, and Falls Church and Fairfax City — are here, census data shows.
The signs of that wealth are on display all over, from the string of luxury boutiques such as Gucci and Tory Burch opening at Tysons Galleria to the $15 cocktails served over artisanal ice at the W Hotel in the District to the ever-larger houses rising off River Road in Potomac.
And of course let us not forget the fat cats in Congress.
According to CNN, our Congress critters are now wealthier than every before…
The typical American family is still struggling to recover from the Great Recession, but Congress is getting wealthier every year.
The median net worth of lawmakers was just over $1 million in 2013, or 18 times the wealth of the typical American household, according to new research released Monday by the Center for Responsive Politics.
And while Americans’ median wealth is down 43% since 2007, Congress members’ net worth has jumped 28%.
Not only that, there are nearly 200 members of Congress that are actually multimillionaires…
Nearly 200 are multimillionaires. One hundred are worth more than $5 million; the top-10 deal in nine digits. The annual congressional salary alone—$174,000 a year—qualifies every member as the top 6 percent of earners. None of them are close to experiencing the poverty-reduction programs—affordable housing, food assistance, Medicaid—that they help control. Though some came from poverty, a recent analysis by Nicholas Carnes, in his book White Collar Government: The Hidden Role of Class in Economic Policymaking, found that only 13 out of 783 members of Congress from 1999 to 2008 came from a “blue-collar” upbringing.
But even though almost all of them are quite wealthy, they don’t hesitate to spend massive amounts of taxpayer money on their own personal needs.
For example, according to the Weekly Standard, more than five million dollars was spent on the hair care needs of U.S. Senators alone over one recent 15 year period…
Senate Hair Care Services has cost taxpayers about $5.25 million over 15 years. They foot the bill of more than $40,000 for the shoeshine attendant last fiscal year. Six barbers took in more than $40,000 each, including nearly $80,000 for the head barber.
And in one recent year, an average of $4,005,900 was spent on “personal” and “office” expenses per U.S. Senator.
So the grand total would have been over 400 million dollars for a single year.
That seems excessive, doesn’t it?
And even when they end up leaving Washington, our Congress critters have ensured that they will continue to collect money from U.S. taxpayers for the rest of their lives…
In 2011, 280 former lawmakers who retired under a former government pension system received average annual pensions of $70,620, according to a Congressional Research Service report. They averaged around 20 years of service. At the same time, another 215 retirees (elected in 1984 or later with an average of 15 years of service) received average annual checks of roughly $40,000 a year.
If you can believe it, there are quite a few former lawmakers that are collecting federal pensions for life worth at least $100,000 annually. The list includes Newt Gingrich, Bob Dole, Trent Lott, Dick Gephardt and Dick Cheney.
Of course the biggest windfalls of all are for our ex-presidents. Most Americans would be shocked to learn that the U.S. government is spending approximately 3.6 million dollars a year to support the lavish lifestyles of former presidents such as George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
So does this make you angry?
Or are you okay with these fat cats living the high life at our expense?
Please feel free to add to the discussion by posting a comment below…
Should the federal government be spending billions of dollars to pump up Wal-Mart’s profits? I know that question sounds really bizarre, but unfortunately this is essentially what is happening. Because Wal-Mart does not pay them enough money, hundreds of thousands of Wal-Mart employees enroll in Medicaid, food stamps and other social welfare programs. Even though Wal-Mart makes enormous profits, they refuse to properly take care of their employees so the federal government has to do it. And of course this is not just a Wal-Mart problem. There are hundreds of other major corporations doing exactly the same thing. And they will keep on doing it as long as they can because relying on the federal government to take care of their employees allows them to make much larger profits. This gives these companies an enormous competitive advantage and it distorts the marketplace. If you love the free enterprise system, you should be aghast at this. Our big corporations have become the biggest “welfare queens” of all, and Wal-Mart is near the top of that list.
Does your local Wal-Mart store seem like it needs help from the federal government?
Of course not.
Wal-Marts all over the nation were absolutely packed this holiday season, but according to a recent Bloomberg article, the average amount of welfare that Wal-Mart employees receive from the government each year breaks down to about $420,000 per store…
Wal-Mart’s low wages have led to full-time employees seeking public assistance. These are not the 47 percent, lazy, unmotivated bums. Rather, these are people working physical, often difficult jobs. They receive $2.66 billion in government help each year (including $1 billion in healthcare assistance). That works out to about $5,815 per worker. And about $420,000 per store.
Does that make you angry?
Today, Wal-Mart employs approximately 1.2 million people in the United States, and it makes a yearly profit of about 17 billion dollars.
So why does it need 2.6 billion dollars of help from the U.S. government?
Wal-Mart is a colossal money-making behemoth. Just consider the following numbers…
The size of Wal-Mart is sometimes difficult to visualize. To put it into some context, consider the following: 100 million U.S. shoppers patronize Wal-Mart stores every week. Wal-Mart has twice the number employees of the U.S. Postal Service, a larger global computer network than the Pentagon, and the world’s largest fleet of trucks. Americans spend about $36 million dollars per hour at the stores. Wal-Mart now sells more food than any other company in the world, capturing one of every four dollars spent on food in the U.S. The average American family of four spends over $4,000 a year there. Each week, it has 200 million customers at more than 10,400 stores in 27 countries. If the company were an independent country, it would be the 25th largest economy in the world.
Wal-Mart does well enough to be able to pay their workers a livable wage.
And yet they refuse to do it.
Shame on them.
Meanwhile, the six heirs of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton have as much wealth as the poorest one-third of all Americans combined.
This reminds me of something that I read in the fifth chapter of James the other day…
Come now, you rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. Your riches are corrupted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have stored up treasures for the last days. Indeed the wages that you kept back by fraud from the laborers who harvested your fields are crying, and the cries of those who harvested have entered into the ears of the Lord of Hosts. You have lived in pleasure on the earth and have been wayward. You have nourished your hearts as in a day of slaughter.
But we continue to reward this behavior, don’t we?
100 million of us continue to visit Wal-Mart every single week, and we continue to fill up our shopping carts with cheap products that are made outside this country.
We refuse to support American workers and American businesses, and this is a recipe for utter disaster. For much more on this, please see my previous article entitled “National Economic Suicide: The U.S. Trade Deficit With China Just Hit A New Record High“.
The truth is that we cannot consume our way to prosperity. When we consume far more wealth than we produce, we pile up debt and we become poorer as a nation.
And as a country we have become exceedingly cold-hearted toward our workers. If you truly love free markets and capitalism, you should be encouraging big companies to pay their workers properly. Instead, we are moving closer and closer to the slave labor model employed by China and other communist nations with each passing day. Sadly, I am becoming increasingly convinced that many prominent “pro-business” voices in America today are actually closet communists. They seem to want everything to be made in China and for American workers to be paid just like Chinese workers.
At this point, the U.S. middle class is well on the way to being destroyed. As I have written about previously, 40 percent of all American workers now make less than what a minimum wage worker made back in 1968 after you account for inflation.
How is the middle class supposed to survive in such an environment?
And for any “pro-business” people that want to defend Wal-Mart, do you actually like paying suffocating taxes to support all of the people that are being forced on to the safety net?
What is our society going to look like as millions more Americans become dependent on the federal government each year? Government dependence is already at an all-time record high. How much worse do things have to get before we admit that we have a real problem?
Unfortunately, it looks like our problems are only going to accelerate in 2015. Thanks to the stunning decline in the price of oil, we are starting to lose good paying jobs in the energy industry…
One company caught in the industry downturn is Hercules Offshore Inc. The Houston-based firm is laying off 324 employees, roughly 15% of its workforce, because oil companies aren’t renewing contracts for its offshore drilling rigs in the Gulf of Mexico while crude prices are depressed.
“It’s been breathtaking,” said Jim Noe, executive vice president of Hercules, which was founded in 2004. “We’ve never seen this glut of supply and dislocation in oil markets. So we’re not surprised to see a significant decline in demand for our services.”
These are jobs that we cannot afford to lose.
Since the end of the last recession, the energy industry has been the leading creator of good paying jobs in America.
But now as the U.S. energy boom goes bust, it might lead the way in job losses.
In order to have a middle class, we have got to have middle class jobs.
Unfortunately, those kinds of jobs are disappearing and the entire U.S. economy is moving toward the Wal-Mart model.
In the end, we will all pay a great price for such foolishness.
Do you want to know the primary reason why rapidly rising interest rates could take down the entire global financial system? Most people might think that it would be because the U.S. government would have to pay much more interest on the national debt. And yes, if the average rate of interest on U.S. government debt rose to just 6 percent (and it has actually been much higher in the past), the federal government would be paying out about a trillion dollars a year just in interest on the national debt. But that isn’t it. Nor does the primary reason have to do with the fact that rapidly rising interest rates would impose massive losses on bond investors. At this point, it is being projected that if U.S. bond yields rise by an average of 3 percentage points, it will cause investors to lose a trillion dollars. Yes, that is a 1 with 12 zeroes after it ($1,000,000,000,000). But that is not the number one danger posed by rapidly rising interest rates either. Rather, the number one reason why rapidly rising interest rates could cause the entire global financial system to crash is because there are more than 441 TRILLION dollars worth of interest rate derivatives sitting out there. This number comes directly from the Bank for International Settlements – the central bank of central banks. In other words, more than $441,000,000,000,000 has been bet on the movement of interest rates. Normally these bets do not cause a major problem because rates tend to move very slowly and the system stays balanced. But now rates are starting to skyrocket, and the sophisticated financial models used by derivatives traders do not account for this kind of movement.
So what does all of this mean?
It means that the global financial system is potentially heading for massive amounts of trouble if interest rates continue to soar.
Today, the yield on 10 year U.S. Treasury bonds rocketed up to 2.66% before settling back to 2.55%. The chart posted below shows how dramatically the yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries has moved in recent days…
Right now, the yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries is about 30 percent above its 50 day moving average. That is the most that it has been above its 50 day moving average in 50 years.
Like I mentioned above, we are moving into uncharted territory and this data doesn’t really fit into the models used by derivatives traders.
The yield on 5 year U.S. Treasuries has been moving even more dramatically…
Last week, the yield on 5 year U.S. Treasuries rose by an astounding 37 percent. That was the largest increase in 50 years.
Once again, this is uncharted territory.
If rates continue to shoot up, there are going to be some financial institutions out there that are going to start losing absolutely massive amounts of money on interest rate derivative contracts.
So exactly what is an interest rate derivative?
The following is how Investopedia defines interest rate derivatives…
A financial instrument based on an underlying financial security whose value is affected by changes in interest rates. Interest-rate derivatives are hedges used by institutional investors such as banks to combat the changes in market interest rates. Individual investors are more likely to use interest-rate derivatives as a speculative tool – they hope to profit from their guesses about which direction market interest rates will move.
They can be very complicated, but I prefer to think of them in very simple terms. Just imagine walking into a casino and placing a bet that the yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries will hit 2.75% in July. If it does reach that level, you win. If it doesn’t, you lose. That is a very simplistic example, but I think that it is a helpful one. At the heart of it, the 441 TRILLION dollar derivatives market is just a bunch of people making bets about which way interest rates will go.
And normally the betting stays very balanced and our financial system is not threatened. The people that run this betting use models that are far more sophisticated than anything that Las Vegas uses. But all models are based on human assumptions, and wild swings in interest rates could break their models and potentially start causing financial losses on a scale that our financial system has never seen before.
We are potentially talking about a financial collapse far worse than anything that we saw back in 2008.
Remember, the U.S. national debt is just now approaching 17 trillion dollars. So when you are talking about 441 trillion dollars you are talking about an amount of money that is almost unimaginable.
Meanwhile, China appears to be on the verge of another financial crisis as well. The following is from a recent article by Graham Summers…
China is on the verge of a “Lehman” moment as its shadow banking system implodes. China had pumped roughly $1.6 trillion in new credit (that’s 21% of GDP) into its economy in the last two quarters… and China GDP growth is in fact slowing.
This is what a credit bubble bursting looks like: the pumping becomes more and more frantic with less and less returns.
And Chinese stocks just experienced their largest decline since 2009. The second largest economy on earth is starting to have significant financial problems at the same time that our markets are starting to crumble.
And don’t forget about Europe. European stocks have had a very, very rough month so far…
The narrow EuroStoxx 50 index is now at its lowest in over seven months (-5.4% year-to-date and -12.5% from its highs in May) and the broader EuroStoxx 600 is also flailing lower. The European bank stocks pushed down to their lowest in almost 10 months and are now in bear market territory – down 22.5% from their highs. Spain and Italy are now testing their lowest level in 9 months.
So are the central banks of the world going to swoop in and rescue the financial markets from the brink of disaster?
At this point it does not appear likely.
As I have written about previously, the Bank for International Settlements is the central bank for central banks, and it has a tremendous amount of influence over central bank policy all over the planet.
The other day, the general manager of the Bank for International Settlements, Jaime Caruana, gave a speech entitled “Making the most of borrowed time“. In that speech, he made it clear that the era of extraordinary central bank intervention was coming to an end. The following is one short excerpt from that speech…
“Ours is a call for acting responsibly now to strengthen growth and avoid even costlier adjustment down the road. And it is a call for recognizing that returning to stability and prosperity is a shared responsibility. Monetary policy has done its part. Recovery now calls for a different policy mix – with more emphasis on strengthening economic flexibility and dynamism and stabilizing public finances.”
Monetary policy has done its part?
That sounds pretty firm.
And if you read the entire speech, you will see that Caruana makes it clear that he believes that it is time for the financial markets to stand on their own.
But will they be able to?
As I wrote about yesterday, the U.S. financial system is a massive Ponzi scheme that is on the verge of imploding. Unprecedented intervention by the Federal Reserve has helped to prop it up for the last couple of years, and there is a lot of fear in the financial world about what is going to happen once that unprecedented intervention is gone.
So what happens next?
Well, nobody knows for sure, but one thing seems certain. The last half of 2013 is shaping up to be very, very interesting.
The number of Americans receiving money directly from the federal government has grown from 94 million in the year 2000 to over 128 million today. A shocking new research paper by Patrick Tyrrell and William W. Beach contains that statistic and a whole bunch of other very revealing numbers. According to their research, the federal government hands out money to 41.3 percent of the entire population of the United States each month. Overall, more than 70 percent of all federal spending goes to what they call “dependence-creating programs”. It is the most massive wealth redistribution scheme in the history of the world, and it continues to grow at a very rapid pace with each passing month. But can we really afford this? Of course we never want to see a single person go without food to eat or a roof to sleep under, but can the federal government really afford to support 128 million Americans every month? If millions more Americans keep jumping on to the “safety net” each year, how long will it be before it breaks and it is not there for anyone? The federal government is already drowning in debt. This year the U.S. national debt will easily blow past the 17 trillion dollar mark and we are rapidly heading toward financial oblivion. We are stealing more than 100 million dollars from our children and our grandchildren every single hour of every single day with no end in sight. If we don’t get our finances in order as a nation, what will the end result be?
According to Tyrrell and Beach, federal spending on entitlement programs has been rising more than 6 times as fast as population growth has in recent years…
Between 1988 and 2011, spending on dependence-creating federal government programs has increased 180 percent versus “only” a 62 percent increase in the number of people who are enrolled in federal government programs, and a 27 percent increase in the population. Not only are more people enrolled in government programs than ever before, but more US taxpayer dollars are being spent on each recipient every year.
But even though the numbers that Tyrrell and Beach present in their paper are incredibly shocking, the truth is that they have probably underestimated the true scope of government dependence in America today. Just consider the following numbers…
Back in the year 2000, there were about 17 million Americans on food stamps. That number has exploded to more than 47 million today.
If you can believe it, today more than 70 million Americans are on Medicaid, and it is being projected that Obamacare will add 16 million more Americans to the Medicaid rolls.
Right now, there are more than 53 million Americans on Social Security, and that number is projected to absolutely explode as huge waves of Baby Boomers retire in the coming years.
As I wrote about in a previous article, the number of Americans on Medicare is expected to grow from 50.7 million in 2012 to 73.2 million in 2025.
And those are only four examples of government programs that have seen their numbers explode in recent years. There are so many more that could be mentioned. Overall, the federal government runs nearly 80 different “means-tested welfare programs“, and almost all of them are experiencing explosive growth.
So is the “128 million” figure that Tyrrell and Beach have come up with actually too low? I believe that it is. But in any event, nobody can deny that the “welfare state” in the U.S. has absolutely mushroomed in size since the turn of the century.
According to one recent poll, 55 percent of all Americans say that they have received money from a safety net program run by the federal government at some point in their lives. We are a nation that has become very comfortable leaning on Uncle Sam for help.
And poor people from all around the globe see how good things are here and they are eager to get a seat at the table. In a previous article, I talked about a federal government website (“WelcomeToUSA.gov“) that actually teaches new immigrants how to apply for welfare once they are able to get into the United States.
Will we all eventually becoming dependent on the government? If that happens will we still be free men and women?
Once someone is dependent on the government, they become forced to do what the government tells them to do in order to survive. If we all eventually become dependent on the federal government, how much power will that give them over us?
That is something to think about.
Another thing to ponder is how the U.S. middle class is rapidly disappearing.
There will always be poor people, and we should always take care of them, but what we should be truly alarmed about is how the middle class in America has been dramatically shrinking in recent years.
One of the biggest reasons why so many Americans are applying for government assistance these days is because there simply aren’t enough jobs for everyone. Politicians from both political parties have fully embraced the one world “free trade” economic agenda of the global elite, and as a result millions of our jobs are being shipped out of the country. Big corporations can either choose to pay U.S. workers a living wage with benefits, or they can choose to set up shop on the other side of the globe where it is legal to pay workers slave labor wages with no benefits. Plus there are much fewer taxes and regulations to deal with typically on the other side of the globe.
As long as this nation pursues this “one world economic agenda”, there will never be enough jobs in the United States ever again. Chronic unemployment will become the new normal. Our formerly great manufacturing cities will continue to degenerate into gang-infested war zones.
Apologists for the current system continue to insist that the answer is “more education”, but the truth is that government dependence is even exploding among those with advanced degrees. The following is a brief excerpt from a recent article on The Chronicle Of Higher Education…
People who don’t finish college are more likely to receive food stamps than are those who go to graduate school. The rolls of people on public assistance are dominated by people with less education. Nevertheless, the percentage of graduate-degree holders who receive food stamps or some other aid more than doubled between 2007 and 2010.
During that three-year period, the number of people with master’s degrees who received food stamps and other aid climbed from 101,682 to 293,029, and the number of people with Ph.D.’s who received assistance rose from 9,776 to 33,655, according to tabulations of microdata done by Austin Nichols, a senior researcher with the Urban Institute. He drew on figures from the 2008 and 2011 Current Population Surveys done by the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Labor.
After reading that, does anyone still believe that “more education” is the answer to our problems?
What we need is more jobs, and lots of them. Unfortunately, our politicians continue to pursue policies that absolutely kill American jobs.
So the number of Americans that are forced to turn to the government for assistance will continue to grow, as will our national debt.
Sadly, most Americans still don’t realize what is happening. Most of them are still listening to those in the mainstream media that are insisting that everything is going to be just fine.
For example, the most famous economic journalist in the country, Paul Krugman of the New York Times, recently wrote that the deficit crisis has been “solved”…
True, there are projected problems further down the road, mainly because of the continuing effects of an aging population. But it still comes as something of a shock to realize that at this point reasonable projections do not, repeat do not, show anything resembling the runaway deficit crisis that is a staple of almost everything you hear, including supposedly objective news reporting.
So you heard it here first: while you weren’t looking, and the deficit scolds were doing their scolding, the deficit problem (such as it was) was being mostly solved.
I don’t know how in the world Paul Krugman can get paid to write such nonsense, but the truth is that our government debt problems are only just beginning.
In a previous article, I explained that the unfunded liabilities of the federal government are growing so rapidly that we could not cover them even if we raised the highest tax rate to 100%…
According to Chris Cox and Bill Archer, two men who served on Bill Clinton’s Bipartisan Commission on Entitlement and Tax Reform, there is no way in the world that we could raise taxes high enough to pay for all of the obligations that we are currently taking on. They say that even if we taxed all corporations and all individuals at a 100% tax rate on all income over $66,193, “it wouldn’t be nearly enough to fund the over $8 trillion per year in the growth of U.S. liabilities.“
Yes, Paul Krugman, we do have a spending problem. Even if Bill Gates gave every single penny of his fortune to the federal government, it would only cover the U.S. budget deficit for about 15 days. We simply cannot go on spending money like this.
If anyone out there believes Paul Krugman and is convinced that the federal government is no longer facing a massive debt problem, please read this article: “55 Facts About The Debt And U.S. Government Finances That Every American Voter Should Know“.
But if we can’t afford to do all of this spending, then why are we doing it?
Well, it is because there are a whole lot of people out there that are really hurting. Poverty in the U.S. is absolutely exploding, and the gap between the wealthy and the poor has grown to unprecedented heights.
According to a recent article posted on Economy In Crisis, the bottom 60 percent of all Americans only own 2.3 percent of all the financial wealth in the nation combined.
That is astounding.
If you live in a wealthy area of the country, you may look around and things may look really good to you. But in many other areas of the country things are worse than they have ever been in the post-World War II era. For the first time ever, more than a million public school students in the United States are homeless. That number has risen by 57 percent since the 2006-2007 school year.
Can you imagine that? We have over a million kids that are attending our public schools that do not have a home to go back to at night.
Our economy desperately needs more jobs, but we just continue to lose more of them. On Thursday, it was announced that American Express is eliminating 5,400 more jobs. More announcements like this come out just about every day now. 65 percent of all Americans expect 2013 to be a year of “economic difficulty”, and there aren’t a whole lot of reasons to be optimistic about things at this point.
When you lose your job, it can feel like your entire life is falling apart. The competition for jobs is absolutely fierce, and a lot of workers have fallen through the cracks. In this rough economic environment, there are millions of Americans that have never been able to put the pieces of their lives back together. A recent CNN article profiled a 42-year-old woman up in Oregon named Lynette who has had her life totally turned upside down by unemployment…
I’m a single mom with a son in high school.
Three years ago, I was laid off from a job working at a propane company. I had just gotten back on my feet after battling breast cancer, then cervical cancer, but the economy tanked, and I was the first to go.
I am now 42, and the cancer is gone. But it appears my employability is also gone.
She used to work in a position that helped others find government assistance, but now she is the one who has been forced to seek it…
Before I was diagnosed with cancer, I worked for the state of Oregon and was the number one service manager for the Department of Human Services. My job was to help low income families find work and get food stamps and insurance. Now, I cannot even get a job at McDonalds, and I’m the one living on social assistance.
Does anyone out there have a similar story to share? If so, please feel free to share it below…
Every single day more Americans fall into poverty. This should deeply alarm you no matter what political party you belong to and no matter what your personal economic philosophy is. Right now, approximately 100 million Americans are either “poor” or “near poor”. For a lot of people “poverty” can be a nebulous concept, so let’s define it. The poverty level as defined by the federal government in 2010 was $11,139 for an individual and $22,314 for a family of four. Could you take care of a family of four on less than $2000 a month? Millions upon millions of families are experiencing a tremendous amount of pain in this economy, and no matter what “solutions” we think are correct, the reality is that we all should have compassion on them. Sadly, things are about to get even worse. The next major economic downturn is rapidly approaching, and when it hits the statistics posted below are going to look even more horrendous.
When it comes to poverty, most Americans immediately want to get into debates about tax rates and wealth redistribution and things like that.
But the truth is that they are missing the main point.
The way we slice up the pie is not going to solve our problems, because the pie is constantly getting smaller.
Our economic infrastructure is being absolutely gutted, the U.S. dollar is slowly losing its status as the reserve currency of the world and we are steadily getting poorer as a nation.
Don’t be fooled by the government statistics that show a very small amount of “economic growth”. Those figures do not account for inflation.
After accounting for inflation, our economic growth has actually been negative all the way back into the middle of the last decade.
According to numbers compiled by John Williams of shadowstats.com, our “real GDP” has continually been negative since 2005.
So that means we are getting poorer as a nation.
Meanwhile, we have been piling up astounding amounts of debt.
40 years ago the total amount of debt in the United States (government, business and consumer) was less than 2 trillion dollars.
Today it is nearly 55 trillion dollars.
So we have a massive problem.
Our economic pie is shrinking and millions of Americans have been falling out of the middle class. Meanwhile, we have been piling up staggering amounts of debt in order to maintain our vastly inflated standard of living. As our economic problems get even worse, those trends are going to accelerate even more.
So don’t look down on the poor. You might be joining them a lot sooner than you might think.
The following are 40 facts about poverty in America that will blow your mind….
#1 In the United States today, somewhere around 100 million Americans are considered to be either “poor” or “near poor”.
#2 It is being projected that when the final numbers come out later this year that the U.S. poverty rate will be the highest that it has been in almost 50 years.
#3 Approximately 57 percent of all children in the United States are living in homes that are either considered to be either “low income” or impoverished.
#4 Today, one out of every four workers in the United States brings home wages that are at or below the poverty level.
#5 According to the Wall Street Journal, 49.1 percent of all Americans live in a home where at least one person receives financial benefits from the government. Back in 1983, that number was below 30 percent.
#6 It is projected that about half of all American adults will spend at least some time living below the poverty line before they turn 65.
#7 Today, there are approximately 20.2 million Americans that spend more than half of their incomes on housing. That represents a 46 percent increase from 2001.
#8 During 2010, 2.6 million more Americans fell into poverty. That was the largest increase that we have seen since the U.S. government began keeping statistics on this back in 1959.
#9 According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the percentage of “very poor” rose in 300 out of the 360 largest metropolitan areas during 2010.
#10 Since Barack Obama became president, the number of Americans living in poverty has risen by 6 million and the number of Americans on food stamps has risen by 14 million.
#11 Right now, one out of every seven Americans is on food stamps and one out of every four American children is on food stamps.
#12 It is projected that half of all American children will be on food stamps at least once before they turn 18 years of age.
#13 The poverty rate for children living in the United States is 22 percent, although when the new numbers are released in the fall that number is expected to go even higher.
#14 One university study estimates that child poverty costs the U.S. economy 500 billion dollars a year.
#15 Households that are led by a single mother have a 31.6% poverty rate.
#16 In 2010, 42 percent of all single mothers in the United States were on food stamps.
#17 According to the National Center for Children in Poverty, 36.4 percent of all children that live in Philadelphia are living in poverty, 40.1 percent of all children that live in Atlanta are living in poverty, 52.6 percent of all children that live in Cleveland are living in poverty and 53.6 percent of all children that live in Detroit are living in poverty.
#18 Since 2007, the number of children living in poverty in the state of California has increased by 30 percent.
#19 Child homelessness in the United States has risen by 33 percent since 2007.
#20 There are 314 counties in the United States where at least 30% of the children are facing food insecurity.
#21 More than 20 million U.S. children rely on school meal programs to keep from going hungry.
#22 A higher percentage of Americans is living in extreme poverty (6.7 percent) than has ever been measured before.
#23 If you can believe it, 37 percent of all U.S. households that are led by someone under the age of 35 have a net worth of zero or less than zero.
#24 A lot of younger Americans have found that they cannot make it on their own in this economy. Today, approximately 25 million American adults are living with their parents.
#25 Today, one out of every six elderly Americans lives below the federal poverty line.
#26 Amazingly, the wealthiest 1 percent of all Americans own more wealth than the bottom 95 percent combined.
#27 The six heirs of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton have a net worth that is roughly equal to the bottom 30 percent of all Americans combined.
#28 At this point, the poorest 50% of all Americans now control just 2.5% of all of the wealth in this country.
#29 Back in 1980, less than 30% of all jobs in the United States were low income jobs. Today, more than 40% of all jobs in the United States are low income jobs.
#30 Right now, the United States actually has a higher percentage of workers doing low wage work than any other major industrialized nation does.
#31 Half of all American workers earn $505 or less per week.
#32 In 1970, 65 percent of all Americans lived in “middle class neighborhoods”. By 2007, only 44 percent of all Americans lived in “middle class neighborhoods”.
#33 Federal housing assistance outlays increased by a whopping 42 percent between 2006 and 2010.
#34 Approximately 50 million Americans do not have any health insurance at all right now.
#35 Back in 1965, only one out of every 50 Americans was on Medicaid. Today, approximately one out of every 6 Americans is on Medicaid.
#36 It is being projected that Obamacare will add 16 million more Americans to the Medicaid rolls.
#37 Back in 1990, the federal government accounted for 32 percent of all health care spending in America. Today, that figure is up to 45 percent and it is projected to surpass 50 percent very shortly.
#38 Overall, the amount of money that the federal government gives directly to the American people has risen by 32 percent since Barack Obama entered the White House.
#39 It was recently reported that 1.5 million American families live on less than two dollars a day (before counting government benefits).
#40 The unemployment rate in the U.S. has been above 8 percent for 40 months in a row, and 42 percent of all unemployed Americans have been out of work for at least half a year.
Recently, I wrote a long article about why there will never be enough jobs in the United States ever again.
That means that a whole lot of Americans are not going to be able to take care of themselves.
As our economy gets even worse, there is going to be a tremendous need for more love, compassion and generosity all over the country.
Don’t be afraid to lend a helping hand, because someday you may need one yourself.
One of the most important steps that we could take to bring prosperity back to America would be to nationalize the Federal Reserve. Doing so would allow the federal government to quit borrowing money, dramatically reduce taxes and eventually pay off the entire U.S. national debt. Instead of inheriting the largest debt in the history of the world, future generations would actually have a chance at economic prosperity because they would not be forced to pay off the horrific debt of previous generations. The Federal Reserve is a perpetual debt machine, it has almost completely destroyed the value of the U.S. dollar and it has an absolutely nightmarish track record of incompetence. There are no good reasons to keep the status quo. Our current debt-based monetary system will inevitably lead to a complete and total economic collapse. We desperately need to make a change while we still can. As you will see below, there are a ton of good reasons why we should nationalize the Federal Reserve.
Right now, most Americans believe that the Federal Reserve is actually an agency of the federal government. But that is simply not the case. The truth is that the Federal Reserve is about as “federal” as Federal Express is.
The Federal Reserve openly admits as much. For example, in defending itself against a Bloomberg request for information under the Freedom of Information Act, the Federal Reserve stated in court that it was “not an agency” of the U.S. government and therefore not subject to the Freedom of Information Act.
So who owns the Federal Reserve?
As the Federal Reserve’s own website describes, it is the member banks that own it….
The twelve regional Federal Reserve Banks, which were established by Congress as the operating arms of the nation’s central banking system, are organized much like private corporations–possibly leading to some confusion about “ownership.” For example, the Reserve Banks issue shares of stock to member banks. However, owning Reserve Bank stock is quite different from owning stock in a private company. The Reserve Banks are not operated for profit, and ownership of a certain amount of stock is, by law, a condition of membership in the System. The stock may not be sold, traded, or pledged as security for a loan; dividends are, by law, 6 percent per year.
The debt-based monetary system established by the Federal Reserve has greatly enriched the big banks and the people that own them. This has been at the expense of the American people.
A private central bank should not issue our currency, set interest rates and run our economy. Rather, we need to return control over the currency to the American people where it belongs.
The following are 14 reasons why we should nationalize the Federal Reserve….
#1 The U.S. Constitution says that the federal government is the one that should be issuing our money.
In particular, according to Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, it is the U.S. Congress that has been given the responsibility to “coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures”.
#2 Our current debt-based monetary system is a perpetual debt machine. It is absolutely imperative that we nationalize the Federal Reserve and begin to issue debt-free money.
In a previous article about money and debt, I explained how more government debt is created whenever the U.S. government puts more money into circulation….
When the government wants more money, the U.S. government swaps U.S. Treasury bonds for “Federal Reserve notes”, thus creating more government debt. Usually the money isn’t even printed up – most of the time it is just electronically credited to the government. The Federal Reserve creates these “Federal Reserve notes” out of thin air. These Federal Reserve notes are backed by nothing and have no intrinsic value of their own.
This process creates a huge problem. When each new dollar is created, the interest owed by the federal government on that new dollar is not also created at the same time.
Therefore, more debt is actually created than the amount of money that the federal government receives from the Federal Reserve.
This is a Ponzi scheme that is designed to drain wealth from the American people and transfer it to the banking system.
This is why I call the Federal Reserve system a perpetual debt machine. Today, the U.S. national debt is more than 5,000 times larger than it was 100 years ago.
Back in 1910, prior to the passage of the Federal Reserve Act, the national debt was only about $2.6 billion.
By going to a system of debt-free money, the U.S. government would never have to borrow a single dollar ever again.
#3 Our current debt-based monetary system requires very high personal income taxes to pay for it. It is no accident that the personal income tax was introduced at about the same time that the Federal Reserve system came into existence.
If we nationalized the Federal Reserve and capped federal government spending at a reasonable percentage of GDP, it would be entirely possible to massively cut taxes and still keep our promises regarding Social Security and other important social programs at the same time.
I believe that eventually the entire personal income tax system could be completely wiped out and the IRS could be totally shut down. This would save our economy billions upon billions of dollars in income tax compliance costs.
However, as an initial first step, I believe that we should eliminate all payroll taxes, all “self-employment taxes” and all taxes on the first $100,000 earned by every American.
This would provide much needed relief to the millions of poor and middle income families that have been hurt so badly by this economic downturn.
Also, I believe that we could instantly reduce the corporate tax rate to levels that would be competitive with the rest of the world, while closing corporate tax loopholes at the same time. This would remove the temptation for companies to leave the United States in order to escape our brutally high corporate tax rates.
Yes, the proposals above would definitely cut taxes.
So where would we make up the difference?
Well, the U.S. Constitution provides one clue. According to Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, the U.S. Congress has the right to impose “duties, imposts and excises” on goods sold in this country.
For way too long, big corporations have been taking advantage of sweatshops in the third world. For way too long, other nations have used predatory trade practices to take unfair advantage of us. For way too long, we have allowed nations with horrific human rights records to ship their goods into our country for free.
Well, we need to bring that to an end. By raising tariffs we would raise money for the federal government and we could potentially start to reverse the flow of jobs and businesses that have been leaving this country.
Access to the U.S. market is a privilege, not a right. High tariffs would be imposed on goods from any country that allows slave labor wages to be paid. Very high tariffs would be imposed on goods from any country that is using predatory trade practices against us. Extremely high tariffs would be imposed on any nation that does not respect basic human rights.
However, please keep in mind that none of this would work if we did not nationalize the Federal Reserve. The tax cuts proposed above would be suicidal under our current debt-based monetary system. But if we nationalize the Fed, we really could do this. It may sound crazy, but it really would work.
#4 If we nationalize the Federal Reserve, there would be no more budget deficits. If the federal government was a bit short one year, it would just print up a little bit of extra money in order to make up the difference.
It would also be very important to cap federal government spending as a percentage of GDP so that we don’t have crazy Congress critters creating a lot of inflation by spending us into oblivion.
Just because we would be adopting a debt-free monetary system does not mean that we could throw spending discipline out the window. Rather, it would actually become more important than ever.
#5 If we nationalize the Federal Reserve, we would instantly reduce the national debt by 1.6 trillion dollars. That is the amount that is currently on the balance sheet of the Federal Reserve. The Federal Reserve just created this money out of thin air anyway, so it was never their money to begin with. Some members of Congress have already proposed cancelling the debt held by the Federal Reserve, and it is a great idea.
#6 If we nationalize the Federal Reserve, we could eventually get rid of the entire national debt.
Under our current system, the U.S. national debt will never, ever be paid off. We are 15 trillion dollars in debt, and at this point we add more than a trillion dollars to that number every year.
As I have written about previously, if the federal government began right at this moment to repay the U.S. national debt at a rate of one dollar per second, it would take over 440,000 years to pay off the national debt.
But under our current system we are not paying it off. Rather we keep piling up more debt at an astounding pace.
In a system of debt-free money, there would be no more budget deficits, and we could actually start slowly paying off the national debt with newly issued “United States money”.
This would have to be done very slowly so as to not shock the financial system, but it could be done. As U.S. debt becomes due, a small percentage of it could be retired each year.
It is entirely conceivable that within 30 to 40 years we could pay it off entirely without causing tremendous damage to the financial system.
#7 If we nationalize the Federal Reserve, we will eventually totally eliminate the interest on the national debt. Most Americans don’t understand this, but each year we spend hundreds of billions of dollars just on interest on the national debt. For example, the U.S. government spent over 454 billion dollars on interest on the national debt during fiscal year 2011.
Under a debt-free monetary system, that number would eventually go to zero. That would save the federal government a ton of money.
#8 While there is certainly a danger that we would have inflation under a debt-free monetary system, the reality is that we are absolutely guaranteed inflation under the Federal Reserve system.
Most Americans believe that inflation is a fact of life, but the sad truth is that the United States has only had a major, ongoing problem with inflation since the Federal Reserve was created back in 1913.
If you do not believe this, just check out this chart.
Sadly, the U.S. dollar has lost well over 95 percent of its value since the Federal Reserve was created.
So, yes, there would be a need for monetary discipline under a debt-free monetary system, but it would be hard to do worse than the Federal Reserve has already been doing.
#9 If we nationalize the Federal Reserve, we would eliminate all of the financial bubbles that the Federal Reserve has been creating.
For example, there would not have been such a bad housing crash if the Federal Reserve had not created such perfect conditions for a housing bubble in the first place.
We should eliminate the Federal Reserve and allow the market to set interest rates. Having a central authority that sets interest rates is just simply wrong and it creates all sorts of problems.
#10 The Federal Reserve has not been doing a good job.
In case anyone has not noticed, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has a very long track record of incompetence. Nearly every major judgment that he has made since taking over that position has been dead wrong.
We are always told that we need someone to run the economy and that the Fed is there to keep depressions from happening.
Well, the truth is that the Fed actually greatly contributed to the Great Depression and it was at least partly responsible for the financial crash of 2008.
Now we are right on the verge of yet another massive financial implosion.
If someone keeps wrecking your car, you don’t let them keep driving it, do you?
#11 If we nationalize the Federal Reserve, we could potentially transition to “sound money” at some point.
There is great debate about this of course. But it is a debate that we need to have.
But before we go to “hard money” we need to do something about this horrific debt that we have piled up for future generations first. We simply cannot lock this debt in and expect them to pay for our mistakes.
We made this mess, so we need to clean it up.
Going to a debt-free monetary system would allow us to do that.
#12 If we nationalize the Federal Reserve, our local banks will have much more freedom. Most Americans simply do not understand just how much power the Federal Reserve actually has over our local banks.
For example, just last year Federal Reserve officials walked into one bank in Oklahoma and demanded that they take down all the Bible verses and all the Christmas buttons that the bank had been displaying.
#13 If we nationalize the Federal Reserve, we won’t have trillions of dollars of secret loans being made to big financial institutions on Wall Street and in foreign countries.
Most Americans don’t realize this, but the Federal Reserve made $16.1 trillion in secret loans to their friends during the last financial crisis.
Meanwhile, hundreds of small banks were left out in the cold and the American people got no help.
This is rampant corruption and it needs to be stopped.
#14 The Federal Reserve needs to be nationalized because it is an unelected, unaccountable “fourth branch of government” that has gotten completely and totally out of control. Even some members of Congress are now openly complaining about how much power the Fed has. For example, Ron Paul told MSNBC last year that he believes that the Federal Reserve is now more powerful than Congress…..
“The regulations should be on the Federal Reserve. We should have transparency of the Federal Reserve. They can create trillions of dollars to bail out their friends, and we don’t even have any transparency of this. They’re more powerful than the Congress.”
To learn much more about the Federal Reserve and how it is destroying prosperity in America, there is a great animated documentary on YouTube entitled “The American Dream” that you can watch right here.
It is absolutely imperative that the American people get educated about the Federal Reserve and about why a debt-based monetary system is bad for us.
In 1922, Henry Ford wrote the following….
“The people must be helped to think naturally about money. They must be told what it is, and what makes it money, and what are the possible tricks of the present system which put nations and peoples under control of the few.”
The U.S. government does not need to go into debt to anyone.
The U.S. government is a sovereign nation.
So why in the world are we 15 trillion dollars in debt?
We have allowed ourselves to become willingly enslaved.
In the book of Proverbs, it tells us the following….
The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.
By allowing ourselves to become enslaved to debt, we have become the servants of the international banking system.
Our founding fathers attempted to warn us about this.
For example, Thomas Jefferson strongly believed that when the federal government borrows money in one generation which must be paid back by future generations it is equivalent to stealing….
And I sincerely believe, with you, that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies; and that the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale.
Not only that, Thomas Jefferson also once stated that if he could add just one more amendment to the U.S. Constitution it would be a ban on all government borrowing….
I wish it were possible to obtain a single amendment to our Constitution. I would be willing to depend on that alone for the reduction of the administration of our government to the genuine principles of its Constitution; I mean an additional article, taking from the federal government the power of borrowing.
If we had implemented that advice, how much better off would we be today?
We can still do this.
We can take back control of our financial system.
We can nationalize the Federal Reserve.
We can dramatically cut taxes and eventually shut down the IRS.
We can give our children and grandchildren a future that is debt free.
We can escape the tyranny of the international bankers.
The choice, America, is up to you.
Today, there are protests all over America that are targeting “the one percent” and all of the wealth and power that they have accumulated. Unfortunately, many of the solutions that these protesters are advocating simply will not work and will not lead to less wealth inequality. To understand this, you have to understand how we got to this point. Over the past several decades, our federal government has exploded in size and our large corporations have exploded in size. In fact, we have seen this pattern happen pretty much all over the world. Governments and corporations all over the globe are getting much bigger. Whenever you have very, very large concentrations of money and power like that, it is going to lead to massive wealth inequality. The Occupy Wall Street protesters would like to frame this debate as “socialism vs. capitalism”, but the truth is that wherever you find big government you will almost always find big corporations, and wherever you find big corporations you will almost always find big government. Sure, they spar once in a while, but the reality is that big government and big corporations work in tandem most of the time. Sometimes big government has the upper hand and sometimes big corporations have the upper hand, but they are both collectivist institutions. Wherever you find collectivism in the world, you will find an elite that receives most of the benefits while the rest of the population suffers. In the United States today, our gigantic government is thriving and our gigantic corporations are thriving and the middle class is rapidly shrinking. The solution to this is not to replace one form of collectivism with another form of collectivism. Rather, what we need is to go back to what our founding fathers intended. They were extremely suspicious of large concentrations of wealth and power, and they intended for us to live in a capitalist system where individuals and small businesses had the freedom to compete and thrive.
Today, Democrats tell us that we need an even bigger government and that we need to redistribute even more wealth to the poor. But the bigger the government gets, the more poor people we seem to have. As you will see below, the only people that seem to be thriving from big government are the bureaucrats.
Republicans tell us that we need to make life better for the big corporations. But the reality is that the bigger our giant corporations get, the faster the middle class shrinks. The big corporations are shipping millions of our jobs out of the country, and they are magnets for wealth and power. If you are not aware of how overwhelmingly dominant corporations have become in our society, just read this article.
Democrats should not be defending big government, and Republicans should not be defending the abuses of the big corporations.
Whenever big government and big corporations work together there is going to be massive income inequality, and massive income inequality is not a good thing.
Yes, there are always going to be some people that do much better than others (and there is nothing wrong with that), but we should not have a system which is designed to funnel almost all of the wealth and almost all of the power to a very small minority.
In essence, this article is arguing the following….
Gigantic government = bad.
Gigantic corporations = bad.
This was the view of our founding fathers, and this is what we need to get back to.
Let’s take a look at some of the results of our current system. Let’s start with income inequality caused by big government.
Today, the Washington D.C. region has the highest median household income in the entire nation. According to the most recent numbers, median household income in the D.C. area is $84,523.
So what is the cause of this?
Well, it is not because Washington D.C. is a great center of industry or finance. Rather, it is because the federal government is spending over 3 trillion dollars a year and is showering huge piles of cash on hordes of bureaucrats.
In a recent article, I noted some of the mind blowing statistics that show how bureaucrats in Washington D.C. are living the high life at our expense….
*When you total up all compensation (including health care and benefits), the average income for a federal worker in the Washington D.C. area last year was $126,369.
*In 2005, 7420 federal workers were making $150,000 or more per year. In 2010, a whopping 82,034 federal workers were making $150,000 or more per year. That is more than a tenfold increase in just five years.
*In 2005, the U.S. Department of Defense had just nine civilians earning $170,000 or more. When Barack Obama took office, the U.S. Department of Defense had 214 civilians earning $170,000 or more. In June 2010, the U.S. Department of Defense had 994 civilians earning $170,000 or more.
*Last year, federal employees “earned” approximately 447 billion dollars in total compensation.
As I have written about previously, our gigantic federal government also empowers the big corporations to continue to accumulate staggering amounts of wealth and power. This is one reason why the big corporations contribute so much money to political campaigns. The big corporations (and the elite that own and run them) have much more influence over the political process than we do. They have spent decades buying politicians and getting laws passed that tilt the rules of the game radically in their favor.
This is something that our founding fathers did not want to happen. In a 2010 article, Rick Ungar noted that there were very significant restrictions on corporations in the early days of America….
After the nation’s founding, corporations were, as they are today, the result of charters granted by the state. However, unlike today, they were limited in how long they were permitted to exist (typically 20 or 30 years), only permitted to deal in one commodity, they could not own shares in other corporations, and their property holdings were expressly limited to what they needed to accomplish their corporate business goals.
There was a lot of wisdom to that approach. Our founding fathers knew that corporations would become giant magnets for wealth and power if they were allowed to grow unchecked.
Today, multinational corporations completely and totally dominate the global economy. The following comes from a recent article I posted on The American Dream….
Corporations not only completely dominate the U.S. economy, they also completely dominate the global economy as well. A newly released University of Zurich study examined more than 43,000 major multinational corporations. The study discovered a vast web of interlocking ownerships that is controlled by a “core” of 1,318 giant corporations. But that “core” itself is controlled by a “super-entity” of 147 monolithic corporations that are very, very tightly knit. As a recent article in NewScientist noted, these 147 corporations control approximately 40 percent of all the wealth in the entire network
These giant corporations are so dominant that it is nearly impossible to compete with them. The number of small businesses in America is shrinking fast.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 16.6 million Americans were self-employed back in December 2006. Today, that number has shrunk to 14.5 million.
This is exactly what we would expect to see under “corporatism“, but under true capitalism we would expect to see the exact opposite.
As the federal government and the big corporations continue to grow, the middle class is being wiped out. If you doubt that the middle class is shrinking, just read this article.
Yes, there is a limited role for the federal government to play and there is a limited role for corporations to play. But right now things are radically, radically out of balance.
This is creating a tremendous amount of income inequality in the United States. The middle class is being systematically destroyed, and the growth of the gap between the one percent and the rest of us just continues to accelerate.
This was certainly illustrated by numbers that were recently released by the Congressional Budget Office. The very wealthy have done extremely well over the last 30 years. For the rest of us, things have not been so great. The following figures come from a recent blog post by the director of the Congressional Budget Office….
CBO finds that between 1979 and 2007:
- For the 1 percent of the population with the highest income, average real after-tax household income grew by 275 percent (see figure below).
- For others in the 20 percent of the population with the highest income, average real after-tax household income grew by 65 percent.
- For the 60 percent of the population in the middle of the income scale, the growth in average real after-tax household income was just under 40 percent.
- For the 20 percent of the population with the lowest income, the growth in average real after-tax household income was about 18 percent.
Meanwhile, as a recent USA Today article noted, the middle class continues to falter in the majority of the communities around the United States….
A USA TODAY analysis of Census data found the Reno area was among 150 nationwide where the share of income going to the middle class — generally made up of households that make $20,700 to $99,900 a year — shrank from 2006 to 2010. Metro areas where the middle class’ share of income dropped outnumbered those where it grew by more than 2-to-1.
So just how well is the top one percent doing compared to the rest of us?
The following statistics should be a wake up call for all of us….
*According to the Congressional Budget Office, the top one percent is the only group that saw its share of our national income increase between 1979 and 2007.
*According to a joint House and Senate report entitled “Income Inequality and the Great Recession“, the top one percent of all income earners in the United States brought in a total of 10.0 percent of all income income in 1980, but by the time 2008 had rolled around that figure had skyrocketed to 21.0 percent.
*Between 1979 and and 2007, the average household income of the top one percent of all Americans soared from $346,600 to $1.3 million.
*In the United States today, the wealthiest one percent of all Americans have a greater net worth than the bottom 90 percent combined.
*As the “one percent” thrives, the share of the pie being enjoyed by the middle class is shrinking. According to Heidi Shierholz, an economist with the Economic Policy Institute, about 53 percent of all income went to the middle class back in the 1970s, but today only about 46 percent of all income does.
*According to Harvard Magazine, 66% of the income growth between 2001 and 2007 went to the top one percent of all Americans.
*The wealthiest one percent of all Americans now own more than a third of all the wealth in the United States while the poorest 50 percent of all Americans collectively own just 2.5% of all the wealth in the United States.
*The wealthiest one percent of all Americans own over 50% of all the stocks and bonds.
*The top 0.01% of Americans make an average of $27,342,212. The bottom 90% make an average of $31,244.
*This is all happening at a time when the United States as a whole is slipping. Ten years ago, the United States was ranked number one in average wealth per adult. In 2010, the United States fell to seventh.
*Income inequality is not just growing in the United States. Today, the wealthiest one percent of the earth’s population controls 39% of the wealth.
There is certainly nothing wrong with being wealthy. If you and your family work really hard and provide great value to the community around you then you should greatly benefit.
But a system that is designed to systematically drain wealth from the general population and transfer it into the hands of an ultra-wealthy elite is not what our founding fathers ever hand in mind. At the time of our founding, England was dominated by big government (the monarchy) and by big business (the East India Company, for example). Our founders warned us over and over about the potential abuses that can happen when very large concentrations of wealth and power are allowed to dominate a society.
Unfortunately, the Occupy Wall Street movement has it all wrong. They recognize the overwhelming wealth and power accumulated by the one percent, but most of them are advocating even more collectivism as the answer.
Some of them even say that they want to “end capitalism” altogether. Michael Moore says that he is not part of the one percent and that he wants to “end capitalism”, even though he has made millions upon millions of dollars from his various projects.
But socialism and communism never bring equality. Like other forms of collectivism, socialism and communism almost always bring more tyranny and they almost always funnel most of the financial rewards to a very small elite.
Others simply wish to see the U.S. government transfer more wealth from the hands of the rich to the hands of the poor.
Helping the poor is certainly a noble goal, and handouts can certainly ease suffering at least temporarily. But handouts are never a permanent solution and they can cause large numbers of people to end up becoming completely and totally dependent on the government.
Back in 1980, government transfer payments accounted for just 11.7% of all income. Today, government transfer payments account for 18.4% of all income.
So has the plight of the poor gotten better?
No, we now have more than 45 million Americans on food stamps, last year we had the largest increase in the number of Americans living in poverty in U.S. history and the middle class continues to shrink rapidly.
The truth is that what poor and middle class Americans really need are opportunities. Handouts will keep people alive, but they will not give people hope and a future.
What Americans really need is an environment where they can find jobs or start small businesses. Unfortunately, the environment for small businesses in this country is incredibly toxic and millions of our good jobs have been shipped overseas. The big corporations have discovered that they can make even bigger profits by sending jobs to countries where it is legal to pay slave labor wages. To say that we need big corporations because they are the ones that “create jobs” is simply not true anymore.
So now we have tens of millions of Americans that we have to take care of every single month. There is nothing wrong with helping them survive, but giving them even more handouts is not going to permanently solve anything.
We need to have a population that is empowered to work hard, produce wealth and create a bright future for their families.
Instead, what we have is a system that greatly rewards the top one percent and that is pushing all of the rest of us toward poverty.
Gigantic government plus gigantic corporations is always going to equal massive wealth inequality.
The bigger we allow government to grow and the bigger we allow corporations to grow, the worse it is going to get.
So is any of this going to change any time soon?
Well, considering the fact that the vast majority of our politicians are in the pockets of the big corporations, I would not be getting your hopes up.
It is absolutely amazing how many Americans are still convinced that more “free trade” is the answer to our economic problems. The truth is that there is a vast difference between “free trade” and “fair trade”, and in this article I will prove that all true conservatives and all true liberals should be completely against the insane trade policies of the federal government. Yes, we will always need to trade with other nations. Other nations make or have things that we need to trade for. Balanced trade relationships with other nations that have similar economies and that share similar values can be very beneficial. For example, our trading relationship with Canada, though not perfect, is generally beneficial to both sides. However, the United States also has dozens of trading relationships that are highly destructive to the U.S. economy. There are some predatory nations that are blatantly and openly cheating and everyone can see it. They are getting away with bloody murder and they are robbing us blind. The United States of America is being taken advantage of, and as a result thousands of good businesses are being destroyed and millions of good jobs are being lost. If you are an American and you are in favor of all of the unfair trade that is currently going on, then either you don’t know much about economics or you actually want to see the U.S. economy be destroyed.
Congress has just passed new free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama. The Obama administration has also made “the NAFTA of the Pacific” a very high priority.
Obama says that all of these new trade pacts will create more U.S. jobs.
Well, either Barack Obama is completely ignorant when it comes to economics or else he is lying.
When we merge our economy with the economies of nations where wages are much lower, it is inevitable that large numbers of jobs are going to leave the high wage areas (where we live) and go to areas where wages are much lower.
It also certainly does not help that we have the highest corporate tax rate in the world, that we burden our businesses with mountains of ridiculous regulations, and that we allow our “trade partners” to give their businesses a huge advantage by openly subsidizing them.
The way that the system is set up now, nearly all U.S. businesses are at a massive, massive disadvantage. In general, the only businesses that can compete effectively in this environment are the giant corporations that can offshore huge portions of their operations.
If you are a conservative, then there is no way that you should support our current trade policies. If you are a liberal, then there is no way that you should support our current trade policies.
However, if you are a “George W. Bush Republican” or a “Clinton/Obama Democrat” that believes in globalism and the establishment of a one world economy as part of a “New World Order”, then it would make sense why you would want to see America deindustrialized and brought down to the level of the rest of the world.
But if you are a true conservative or a true liberal, then the following are reasons why you should be horrified by our current trade policies….
#1 Other Nations Openly Manipulate Their Currencies In Order To Gain A Significant Competitive Advantage
For example, China keeps its currency set at a super low level relative to the U.S. dollar. By doing this, their products are far cheaper than U.S. products, and U.S. businesses cannot compete with them. This has resulted in the death of large numbers of U.S. businesses and the loss of millions of U.S. jobs.
So just how bad is this problem? Well, a recent CNN article stated the following….
Critics of China’s policy estimate that the yuan is still undervalued by 25% to 40%, even with the recent rises in value.
The other day the U.S. Senate passed a bill that would impose tariffs on currency manipulators, and China has already retaliated, even though the bill has not become law yet and even though it almost certainly won’t.
China plays hardball. They love the advantage that they are getting right now and they do not plan on losing it.
#2 Millions Of Good Paying Jobs Have Been Shipped Overseas And They Are Never Coming Back
Our politicians all try to tell us how good they are at creating jobs.
But what is the truth?
The truth is that a total of zero jobs were created last decade. The following is a quote from a recent article in Washington Monthly….
“If any single number captures the state of the American economy over the last decade, it is zero. That was the net gain in jobs between 1999 and 2009—nada, nil, zip. By painful contrast, from the 1940s through the 1990s, recessions came and went, but no decade ended without at least a 20 percent increase in the number of jobs.”
Last decade we opened up our trade with the rest of the world more than ever before. But instead of creating jobs it destroyed them. Our trade deficits exploded and unemployment skyrocketed.
The Economic Policy Institute says that since 2001 America has lost approximately 2.8 million jobs due to our trade deficit with China alone.
So if you are unemployed, that is probably what happened to the job you are supposed to have.
It went overseas and it is not coming back.
#3 America Is Being Deindustrialized At A Blistering Pace Thanks To Globalism
The advocates of “free trade” cannot dispute the cold, hard facts….
*The United States has lost an average of 50,000 manufacturing jobs per month since China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001.
*The United States has lost a staggering 32 percent of its manufacturing jobs since the year 2000.
*If you can believe it, more than 42,000 manufacturing facilities in the United States have been closed down since 2001.
*Between December 2000 and December 2010, 38 percent of the manufacturing jobs in Ohio were lost, 42 percent of the manufacturing jobs in North Carolina were lost and 48 percent of the manufacturing jobs in Michigan were lost.
*Back in 1970, 25 percent of all jobs in the United States were manufacturing jobs. Today, only 9 percent of the jobs in the United States are manufacturing jobs.
#4 (For Conservatives) True Conservatives Should Be Horrified That We Are Being Taken Advantage Of By A Hardcore Communist Nation That Hates Us
Ronald Reagan would have never engaged in “free trade” with the Soviet Union. The Communist Party is in complete control of China and while we may regard China as a “frenemy”, they really do believe that they will totally defeat us someday. If you doubt this, just read what the top generals and politicians in China are writing.
It is so incredibly stupid what we are doing. Our trade relationship with China has enabled the largest communist economy in the world to go from third world status to superpower status. China is now the second largest economy in the world, and that would have never happened without our help.
A lot of people like to talk about how “capitalist” China is becoming, but the truth is that they have never wavered from their pure belief in communism. 7 of the 10 largest corporations in China are owned by the government.
A host of other corporations in China are very deeply subsidized by the government.
U.S. businesses have a very hard time competing with foreign businesses that are deeply subsidized by their own national governments.
It is called cheating, and we let other countries get away with it.
So our businesses die and their products fill up our store shelves.
#5 We Are Endangering Our National Security By Greatly Enriching Our Biggest Potential Enemies
The biggest threats to the United States are not some goat herders hiding out in the caves of Afghanistan.
The biggest threats to the United States are actually China and Russia.
Conservatives are supposed to be the ones that are so concerned about national security. But instead of expressing concerns about China, they just keep pushing for more free trade.
As a result, China has been able to become a true global military superpower.
Someday we will deeply, deeply regret that.
#6 China Brazenly Steals Technology From Anyone And Everyone That They Can
China gets away with bloody murder when it comes to stealing technology. They will do it “legally” if they can, and they will do it in “other ways” if they have to.
At this point, China has invented a whole host of ways to extract technology from any firms that wants to do business in China.
The following is a short excerpt from a recent article on CNN….
Foreign companies are often required to set-up joint ventures with Chinese firms before the can start doing business there. And China is instituting new “indigenous innovation” rules that U.S. companies say force them to transfer their own technology to their Chinese partners.
#7 We Should Never Trade With Any Nation That Has A “One Child” Policy
China has a very strict “one child policy” which should be absolutely abhorrent to all Americans.
Most Americans have no idea what is really going on over in China. The following is from a recent article in the Epoch Times….
Pregnant women lacking birth permits are hunted down like criminals by population planning police in China and forcibly aborted.
All over China, mobile abortion vans are used to help enforce the one child policy. What women in China must endure is absolutely sickening, and this kind of behavior should never be accepted in the global community.
But instead of penalizing China, we reward them for this behavior. They even get awards at the United Nations for it.
Look, conservatives are supposed to be pro-life. If you are a social conservative, then it goes against everything that you believe to support trade with China.
You can support trade with China if you want, but then don’t even try to call yourself “pro-life” again.
We should never trade with any nation that has a “one child policy”. Such a policy is against everything that America is supposed to stand for.
#8 Our Horrendous Trade Imbalance Has Allowed Other Nations To Accumulate Gigantic Amounts Of Our Debt
Every month, we send much more money to the rest of the world than they send to us. One thing that those other nations are doing with all of that money is that they are buying up our debt.
Our trade deficit with China has enabled them to accumulate nearly a trillion dollars of our debt. This gives them tremendous leverage over us and is a very serious threat to our economy and to our national security.
So now China can threaten the stability of our financial system with just a phone call.
#9 Globalist Trade Institutions Are A Serious Threat To Our National Sovereignty
Today, the “global economy” is governed by globalist institutions such as the G20, the WTO, the IMF and the World Bank. The United States has given up huge amounts of national sovereignty to these organizations.
If you are a true conservative, this should greatly disturb you.
We don’t want faceless international bureaucrats telling us what our trade policies will be. But to a large degree that is the situation that we have gotten ourselves into.
#10 Liberals (And All Americans) Are Supposed To Care About What Is Best For American Workers
Millions of working class jobs have been shipped overseas, and yet Barack Obama just keeps pushing for more “free trade” agreements which will make the problem even worse.
But instead of screaming bloody murder, liberals keep on supporting Obama.
The truth is that the Obama administration actually says that there are certain kinds of jobs that we “don’t want” in the United States.
For example, the following is what U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk recently told Tim Robertson of the Huffington Post about the Obama administration’s attitude toward keeping manufacturing jobs in America….
Let’s increase our competitiveness… the reality is about half of our imports, our trade deficit is because of how much oil [we import], so you take that out of the equation, you look at what percentage of it are things that frankly, we don’t want to make in America, you know, cheaper products, low-skill jobs that frankly college kids that are graduating from, you know, UC Cal and Hastings [don’t want], but what we do want is to capture those next generation jobs and build on our investments in our young people, our education infrastructure.
So where is the outrage?
Is anyone even awake out there?
Even the construction of many of our roads and bridges is being outsourced to China. Just check out the following quote from a recent ABC News article….
In New York there is a $400 million renovation project on the Alexander Hamilton Bridge.
In California, there is a $7.2 billion project to rebuild the Bay Bridge connecting San Francisco and Oakland.
In Alaska, there is a proposal for a $190 million bridge project.
These projects sound like steps in the right direction, but much of the work is going to Chinese government-owned firms.
“When we subsidize jobs in China, we’re not creating any wealth in the United States,” said Scott Paul, executive director for the Alliance for American Manufacturing.
Liberals are supposed to be working to defend the working class.
So why won’t they openly go after Obama on these issues?
Our unfair trade agreements have put American workers in direct competition for jobs with the cheapest labor on the globe.
Until this is fixed, you will continue to hear a “great sucking sound” as millions of jobs continue to leave the United States and go to places where labor is ten to twenty times cheaper.
It is insanity what we are doing. We allow big corporations to send their manufacturing offshore and also to ship their products back into the United States for free.
Where in that equation is good news for the American worker?
#11 Liberals (And All Americans) Should Be Horrified By The Exploitation Of Slave Labor Around The Globe
All over the globe, workers toil in nightmarish conditions for slave labor pay just so that Americans can feed their addiction for cheap foreign products.
Big corporations and collectivist governments such as China are getting unbelievably rich by exploiting this slave labor pool.
Get educated about this and find out the truth. It just might totally change the way that you view “free trade”.
#12 Liberals (And All Americans) Should Be Horrified By The Damage To The Environment Our Trade Relationships Cause
Liberals are supposed to deeply care about the environment. But our trade relationship with nations on the other side of the globe result in thousands of factories and businesses leaving our shores and ending up in countries where the environmental regulations are not nearly as strict. In fact, nations such as China are a complete and total environmental nightmare at this point. If liberals truly cared about the environment they would want to keep factories and businesses here.
#13 Very Dangerous Products Continue To Flood Into This Country From Overseas
Isn’t product safety supposed to be a big thing for liberals? Today, a huge percentage of the products we buy are made outside the United States far from the watchful eyes of our regulatory agencies. Over the past couple of years, there has been headline after headline about dangerous products made in China. The following is just one example of this: 10 Babies Die Mysteriously At Fort Bragg: Toxic Drywall From China Used In Base Homes The Culprit?
#14 The Globalization Of The Economy Causes Income Inequality To Grow
By paying slave labor wages to workers overseas, the big corporations are becoming very wealthy. At the same time, that means that there are much fewer jobs for average working class Americans, and wages for the jobs that remain are pushed down because of increased competition for jobs.
So the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
If you don’t believe that income inequality in the United States has become a huge problem, just check out this chart.
#15 Because Of All Of The Cheating And All Of The Predatory Behavior That Is Going On, Our Trade Relationships Have Become Incredibly Imbalanced
Today, the United States spends about 4 dollars on goods and services from China for every one dollar that China spends on goods and services from the United States.
So how is that even close to “fair”?
Our store shelves are absolutely packed with stuff from China.
In 2010, the number one U.S. export to China was “scrap and trash”.
Even in high technology products we are being destroyed. In 2002, the United States had a trade deficit in “advanced technology products” of $16 billion with the rest of the world. In 2010, that number skyrocketed to $82 billion.
#16 Our Gigantic Trade Deficit Is Destroying Our National Wealth
The United States has had a negative trade balance every single year since 1976, and since that time the United States has run a total trade deficit of more than 7.5 trillion dollars with the rest of the world.
Our gigantic trade deficits are making us poorer as a nation each and every month. Each year, somewhere around half a trillion dollars of our national wealth gets transferred out of the United States. That half a trillion dollars could be going to support U.S. businesses and U.S. jobs. Taxes could be paid on that half a trillion dollars. But instead it leaves the country and makes other nations wealthier.
#17 The Globalization Of The Economy Has Caused Unemployment In The United States To Explode
If you gathered together all of the workers that are “officially” unemployed in the United States today, they would constitute the 68th largest country in the world.
#18 As Our Cities Are Deindustrialized, Many Of Them Are Being Transformed Into Absolute Hellholes
The other day, I wrote the following about what is happening in cities and towns across the United States….
All across America there are cities and towns that were once prosperous and beautiful that are being transformed into absolute hellholes. The scars left by the long-term economic decline of the United States are getting deeper and more gruesome.
#19 Without Good Jobs, An Increasing Number Of Americans Are Having To Turn To Government Assistance
We are going to support U.S. workers one way or another. Either we are going to provide them with good jobs, or we are going to let their jobs be shipped out of the country and we are going to pay for the government to feed and house them.
Today, there are more than 45 million Americans on food stamps. That number has gone up by more than 70 percent since 2007. Almost every single month we set a new all-time record for the number of people being fed by the federal government.
#20 If Nothing Is Done, All Of This Is Going To Get A Lot Worse
According to Professor Alan Blinder of Princeton University, 40 million more U.S. jobs could be sent offshore over the next two decades.
Can you imagine what America is going to look like if that happens?
Okay, so in light of all of that information, can anyone out there defend the current “free trade” policies of the federal government?
Please feel free to share your thoughts by leaving a comment below….