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The United Nations Wants To Crash The World Economy In Order To Save The Environment

The United Nations says that the earth is in great danger and that the way you and I are living is the problem.  In a shocking new report entitled, “Resilient People, Resilient Planet: A Future Worth Choosing” the UN declares that the entire way that we currently approach economics needs to be changed.  Instead of focusing on things like “economic growth”, the UN is encouraging nations all over the world to start basing measurements of economic success on the goal of achieving “sustainable development”.  But there is a huge problem with that.  The UN says that what we are doing right now is “unsustainable” by definition, and the major industrialized nations of the western world are the biggest culprits.  According to the UN, since we are the ones that create the most carbon emissions and the most pollution, we are the ones that should make the biggest sacrifices.  In addition, since we have the most money, we should also be willing to finance the transition of the developing world to a “sustainable development” economy as well.  As you will see detailed in the rest of this article, the United Nations basically wants to crash the world economy in order to save the environment.  Considering the fact that the U.S. and Europe are in the midst of a horrible economic crisis and are already drowning in debt, this is something that we simply cannot afford.

There is certainly nothing wrong with taking care of the environment.  But what the United Nations wants is a fundamental restructuring of the global economy based on flawed science.

In this new UN report, we find the following statement….

Achieving sustainability requires us to transform the global economy. Tinkering on the margins will not do the job.

This is absolutely crucial to understand.

The folks over at the UN don’t just want to change things a little.

Their goal is a radical transformation of the entire world.

According to the United Nations, if we don’t implement their recommendations the consequences will be absolutely disastrous….

But what, then, is to be done if we are to make a real difference for the world’s people and the planet? We must grasp the dimensions of the challenge. We must recognize that the drivers of that challenge include unsustainable lifestyles, production and consumption patterns and the impact of population growth. As the global population grows from 7 billion to almost 9 billion by 2040, and the number of middle-class consumers increases by 3 billion over the next 20 years, the demand for resources will rise exponentially. By 2030, the world will need at least 50 percent more food, 45 percent more energy and 30 percent more water — all at a time when environmental boundaries are throwing up new limits to supply. This is true not least for climate change, which affects all aspects of human and planetary health.

So what changes are needed in order for us to achieve a “sustainable” global economy?

Well, the following are some of the disturbing recommendations that we find in the new UN report….

Raise Prices

According to the United Nations, we need to start significantly raising the prices of things that are made in an “unsustainable” way so that they reflect the “true cost” of their production….

Most goods and services sold today fail to bear the full environmental and social cost of production and consumption. Based on the science, we need to reach consensus, over time, on methodologies to price them properly. Costing environmental externalities could open new opportunities for green growth and green jobs

That means that you and I would start paying a lot more for the basic things that we need every day – food, gasoline, etc.

Carbon Taxes

The UN report also discusses the need to use regulations and taxation as tools to penalize economic activities that are not “sustainable”….

Establish natural resource and externality pricing instruments, including carbon pricing, through mechanisms such as taxation, regulation or emissions trading systems, by 2020

This is one of the favorite things that social engineers like to do.  They love to use taxation and regulations as weapons to get people to do the things they want.

Base Lending Decisions On Sustainable Development Criteria

The United Nations is actually suggesting that lending decisions be based on whether or not the money will be used for something “sustainable”….

Reform national fiscal and credit systems to provide long-term incentives for sustainable practices, as well as disincentives for unsustainable behaviour

Considering the fact that the entire global economy is based on credit, this is a very dangerous recommendation.

Green Jobs

The UN report also says that governments all over the world should seek to create as many “green jobs” as possible….

Governments should adopt and advance “green jobs” and decent work policies as a priority in their budgets and sustainable development strategies while creating conditions for new jobs in the private sector.

This is something that we have seen Barack Obama try to do, but obviously he has not had much success at it.

A New Economic Paradigm

According to the UN, the very way that we define “economic success” needs to be changed.  Instead of looking at statistics such as GDP and inflation, we should be measuring what we do by how much it gets us closer to a “sustainable world”….

Expanding how we measure progress in sustainable development by creating a sustainable development index or set of indicators

So an economic collapse could actually be “good” if we make “progress” toward the goal of sustainable development.

Wealthy Countries Funding The Sustainable Development Goals Of Poor Countries

The UN report makes it clear that you and I will be paying for sustainable development all over the world in addition to paying for our own transition to a sustainable economy….

Financing sustainable development requires vast new sources of capital from both private and public sources. It requires both mobilizing more public funds and using global and national capital to leverage global private capital through the development of incentives. Official development assistance will also remain critical for the sustainable development needs of low-income countries

But considering the fact that the United States is already flat broke, where are we going to come up with all of this money?

Teach Sustainable Development To Our Children

The United Nations also believes that this philosophy of “sustainable development” should be taught to children in public schools all over the globe….

Government and non-governmental entities should promote the concept of sustainable development and sustainable consumption, and these should be integrated into curricula of primary and secondary education.

Sadly, this agenda is already being pushed on our children in schools all over the United States.  When these children grow up, the concepts behind “sustainable development” will be second nature for them.

Population Control

Those that believe in sustainable development want to reduce carbon emissions by as much as possible.

When you sit down and really think about that, it becomes quite frightening.

Nearly every form of economic activity produces carbon emissions.

In fact, if you just sit in your home and breathe, you are producing carbon emissions.

So to them, you and I are the problem.

For those that are worried about man-made global warming, the math is simple.

The more people on earth, the higher the level of carbon emissions will be.

The less people on earth, the lower the level of carbon emissions will be.

So those that believe in sustainable development love to promote things that will reduce the human population of the earth.

In fact, we see this agenda reflected in one of the recommendations of the new UN report….

Ensuring universal access to quality and affordable family-planning and other sexual and reproductive rights and health services.

If more women have access to abortion facilities, then less babies will be born.  For those that believe in sustainable development, that is a good thing.

But the UN has been pushing this kind of agenda for a long time.

For example, the United Nations Population Fund released a report back in 2009 entitled “Facing a Changing World: Women, Population and Climate” that included the following very chilling statement….

“Each birth results not only in the emissions attributable to that person in his or her lifetime, but also the emissions of all his or her descendants. Hence, the emissions savings from intended or planned births multiply with time.”

This population control agenda is also being heavily promoted by many of the wealthiest people in the world.  Many big “philanthropists” such as Bill Gates are using their money to fund research into population control measures.  For example, Gates is currently funding research on “cutting edge” forms of birth control that could potentially be used all over the world.  The following comes from a recent Natural News article….

Mass vaccination is apparently not the only depopulation strategy being employed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, as new research funded by the organization has developed a way to deliberately destroy sperm using ultrasound technology. BBC News reports that the Gates Foundation awarded a grant to researchers from the University of North Carolina (UNC) to develop this new method of contraception.

For their study, the UNC team tested ultrasound on lab rats and found that two 15-minute doses “significantly reduced” both sperm counts and sperm integrity. When administered two days apart through warm salt water, ultrasound caused the rats’ sperm counts to drop below ten million sperm per milliliter, which is five million less than the “sub-fertile” range, and stay that way for up to six months.

This population control agenda is one of the most frightening elements of sustainable development.  Many advocates of sustainable development would actually cheer if something suddenly caused the population of the earth to drop dramatically.

Much Stronger Global Governance

The new UN report also advocates stronger “international governance” by bodies such as the United Nations….

International institutions have a critical role. International governance for sustainable development must be strengthened by using existing institutions more dynamically and by considering the creation of a global sustainable development council and the adoption of sustainable development goals

But this has been the ultimate goal of these control freaks for a long time.  The idea is that a “global government” and a “global economy” will bring a great era of peace and prosperity to all of humanity.

Of course that is a complete and total lie, but there are a lot of people out there that actually believe this stuff.

In fact, the economic crisis that we are going through right now has renewed calls for a “global currency” which would be used by the whole world.

For example, you can watch banker Evelyn de Rothschild discuss the “need” for an “international currency” on Bloomberg Television in the following video….

The new UN report reflects this globalist agenda.  The report states that “the peoples of the world” are not going to put up with all of this “inequality” any longer and that they will be demanding that their national governments adopt a “sustainable development” agenda….

“The peoples of the world will simply not tolerate continued environmental devastation or the persistent inequality which offends deeply held universal principles of social justice. Citizens will no longer accept governments and corporations breaching their compact with them as custodians of a sustainable future for all. More generally, international, national and local governance across the world must fully embrace the requirements of a sustainable development future, as must civil society and the private sector.”

If you want to get a really good idea of what a “sustainable development” society would look like, just check out the video posted below….

If you do not want to end up living in a “Planned-opolis” where virtually everything you do is watched, tracked and controlled by bureaucratic control freaks, then you better say something now.

If the United Nations actually succeeded in implementing this agenda worldwide, it would crash the global economy and it would be the end of national sovereignty.

Unfortunately, many of those that are promoting this agenda are absolute fanatics about it because they are convinced that they are saving the planet.  They are so obsessed with “rescuing the earth” that they would do almost anything to all the rest of us in order to accomplish that goal.

Yes, we need to be concerned about the future of the planet, but the truth is that the “sustainable development” agenda is based on flawed science and it would make our economic problems far worse.

But the control freaks that are obsessed with “sustainable development” are going to continue to try to cram this agenda down our throats, so this is a battle that is likely to go on for many years.

The Financial Collapse Of Greece: The Canary In The Coal Mine For The Global Economy?

The rest of the world needs to sit up and take notice of what is going on in Greece right now.  This is what can happen when you allow government debt to spiral out of control.  Once it becomes clear that you can’t pay your debts, a financial collapse can happen very suddenly and you start losing your sovereignty to those that you must turn to for financial help.  So is the financial collapse of Greece the “canary in the coal mine” for the global economy?  EU finance ministers have given the Greek government two weeks from Monday to approve another round of brutal austerity measures.  If the austerity measures are not approved, Greece will not receive the next bailout installment of 12 billion euros.  If that happens, the whole globe better buckle up because it is going to get crazy.

July 3rd is the deadline.  Basically the EU has put a gun to the head of the Greek government.  Without this bailout money, Greece will default and economic hell will break loose all across the country.

It is important to keep in mind that this is just the first Greek bailout that we are talking about.  Last year, the EU and the IMF agreed to provide the Greek government with a 110 billion euro bailout. The current 12 billion euro installment is part of that package.

Sadly, it has become apparent that the first bailout is not going to be nearly enough for Greece.  A second bailout, which will be the same size or even larger, is already being discussed.  This is going to put the Greek people even more under the heel of the money powers in Europe.

Keep in mind that all of these “bailouts” are just more loans.  There is no way that the Greeks are ever going to be able to repay all of this money.

But this is what happens when a nation lets debt get out of control.  For years and years it can seem like all of that debt does not have any consequences, but then the day of reckoning comes and it is a complete and total nightmare.

In order to get the next installment of 12 billion euros, European finance ministers are insisting that the Greek Parliament approves a package of austerity measures that will be worth approximately 28 billion euros.

At this point, it is uncertain whether those austerity measures will pass.

However, the pressure on the Greek government to get them pushed through is immense.

These austerity measures include tax increases, budget cuts and a “large-scale privatization program”.

This is often what happens to third world nations that cannot pay their debts.  Organizations such as the IMF or the World Bank will come in and insist that they tax their people more, cut back on their spending and sell some of their public assets to big corporations.

As we can see from the wild protests that have been taking place in Greece, a significant percentage of the Greek population is not happy with all of these austerity measures.

Unfortunately, the EU and the IMF are able to put a lot more pressure on the Greek government than the Greek people are.

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou recently gave the following warning to the Greek people about what could happen if this debt crisis ends badly….

The consequences of a violent bankruptcy or exit from the euro would be immediately catastrophic for households, the banks, and the country’s credibility.

Not only would a Greek default be a total disaster for Greece, it would potentially be a total disaster for the entire global financial system.

Sung Won Sohn, an economics professor at California State University, recently made the following statement about the seriousness of the debt crisis in Europe….

“The European debt crisis has the potential to have as big an impact as the subprime mortgage crisis did in the United States”

So will these bailouts solve the problem?

No, giving Greece more loans is only going to kick the can down the road for a little while longer.

The truth is that Greece is bankrupt.  Unless huge amounts of Greek debt are forgiven, Greece is going to default sooner or later.

When confidence in the finances of a nation is lost, borrowing costs can go up very quickly.  Today, the yield on two year Greek bonds is up to 28.6%.

Anyone that has ever been late on paying their credit cards knows how painful an interest rate like that can be.

So why doesn’t Greece just slash government spending to the bone and get their financial house in order?

Well, it is not that easy.  Harsh austerity measures have already been implemented.  As a result, unemployment is rampant and there is rioting in the streets.

The truth is that, as an article in The Guardian recently explained, austerity has taken a brutal toll on the Greek economy….

A year of wage and pension cuts, benefit losses and tax increases has taken its toll: almost a quarter of the population now live below the poverty line, unemployment is at a record 16% and, as the economy contracts for a third year, economists estimate that about 100,000 businesses have closed.

As the economy crumbles, Greece has descended into an almost permanent state of civil unrest.

The fact that the EU and the IMF want even more austerity measures has sparked some wild rioting In Greece in recent days.  You can see video of the stunning violence going on in Greece right here.

Not all protesters are being violent.  Some of them are showing their displeasure in non-violent ways.  For example, workers for Greece’s state-owned electric utility are staging 48 hours of rolling strikes that are designed to create blackouts over large areas.

The frightening thing is that Greece is not alone.  Ireland has already received a bailout and they are probably going to need another one at some point.

Portugal is a financial basket case and they are probably next in line for a bailout.

The employment situation in Spain is absolutely nightmarish.  Spain will probably be able to squeak by without a bailout if the global economy stays stable, but if the dominoes start to fall Spain could be in a massive amount of trouble very quickly.

Not that many people are talking about Italy, but the truth is that Italy has a huge debt problem.  On Friday, Moody’s warned that it may downgrade Italy’s Aa2 debt rating at some point within the next 90 days.

Belgium and France also have very substantial debt problems.  They probably would not be the first dominoes to fall, but if the “contagion” starts to spread they could certainly have massive problems.

The truth is that Europe’s entire financial system is extremely vulnerable right now.  Big banks all over Europe (and especially in Germany) are leveraged to the hilt.  All it would take to topple many of them is a stiff breeze.

When Lehman Brothers collapsed, it was leveraged 31 to 1.

Today, German banks are leveraged 32 to 1.

German banks are also holding a massive amount of Greek debt.

That is why there is so much fear that the crisis in Greece could spread across the rest of Europe and start toppling dominoes.

The sovereign debt crisis in Europe did not happen overnight and it is going to be with us for a long, long time even if the global economy remains relatively stable.

At the moment, the best that officials in Europe can seem to come up with is to put off the pain for another day.  Pimco’s Mohamed El-Erian told CNBC the following on Monday….

“This problem is not going to go away. It’s going to weigh on markets here and we’re going to see the same set of headlines over and over again. We simply cannot continue to kick the can down the road, because we’re coming to the end of the road in Greece.”

So if Europe starts having major problems will the U.S. step in and help?

Yes, if the crisis in Europe gets worse, the Federal Reserve will probably step in just like they did back in 2008.

But the U.S. is rapidly approaching a day of reckoning like the one that Greece is going through.  The U.S. government has piled up the biggest mountain of debt in the history of the world and faith in the U.S. dollar is dying.

The economic crisis in the United States gets worse with each passing year.  Yes, the Federal Reserve can print up stacks of money and send it over to Europe, but that isn’t going to solve anything in the long run.  The truth is that the U.S. is not even going to be able to keep itself from drowning.

The world financial system is far more vulnerable today than it was back in 2008.  The next wave of the financial collapse is going to hit at some point, and when it does it is going to probably be even more painful than the last wave.

Our world is becoming an incredibly unstable place.

You better get ready.

The Internet Kill Switch – One Of The Favorite New Tools Of Tyrannical Governments All Over The Globe

This past week was a perfect example of how the “Internet kill switch” is rapidly becoming one of the favorite new tools of tyrannical governments all over the globe. Once upon a time, the Internet was a bastion of liberty and freedom, but now nation after nation is cracking down on it. In fact, legislation has been introduced once again in Congress that would give the president of the United States an “Internet kill switch” that he would be able to use in the event of war or emergency. Of course there would be a whole lot of wiggle room in determining what actually constitutes a true “emergency”. The members of Congress that are pushing this “Internet kill switch” bill want the U.S. to become more like China in this regard. In China, the Internet is highly controlled, highly regulated and highly censored. In fact, China has shut down the Internet in entire regions when they have felt it necessary. So what Egypt did in shutting down the Internet this past week is not unprecedented – but it was quite shocking.

Organizers of the protests in Egypt had been using the #Jan25 hashtag on Twitter and had been communicating with each other via Facebook, and so the Mubarak regime thought that they could significantly derail the protest movement by shutting down the Internet.

It has been widely reported that approximately 88 percent of the Internet in Egypt was shut down at one point.  Jim Cowie, the chief technology officer of an Internet monitoring firm known as Renesys, described on his blog just how complete and total this Internet shutdown in Egypt actually was….

“Every Egyptian provider, every business, bank, Internet cafe, website, school, embassy, and government office that relied on the big four Egyptian ISPs for their Internet connectivity is now cut off from the rest of the world.”

So how was this all done?  How could such a large section of the Internet be taken offline so rapidly?  Well, a recent article on MSNBC described how it works….

According to David Clark, an MIT computer scientist whose research focuses on Internet architecture and development, a government’s ability to control the Internet depends on its control of Internet Service Providers (ISPs), the private sector companies that grant Internet access to customers.

“ISPs have direct control of the Internet, so what happens in any country depends on the control that the state has over those ISPs,” Clark told Life’s Little Mysteries in an e-mail. “Some countries regulate the ISPs much more heavily. China has in the past ‘turned off’ the Internet in various regions.”

Whenever the subject of Internet censorship comes up, China always seems to be involved in the conversation.  China has more Internet users than anyone else in the world, but they also have the tightest controls.

The Chinese government is absolutely obsessed with “maintaining order” and it has shown that it will go to extreme lengths to quell dissent.

For example, the government of China cut off the entire Xinjiang region from the Internet for nearly a year after civil unrest erupted there in 2009.

The Chinese government is so sensitive to political dissent that they even began censoring the word “Egypt” on a number of micro-blogging websites this past week.

A recent article posted on Raw Story explained what happened….

On the sina.com and sohu.com sites, the Chinese equivalents of Twitter, which is censored in China, a query with the word “Egypt” returned the response: “According to the laws in force, the results of your search cannot be given.”

Isn’t that bizarre?

Nothing like that would ever happen in the United States, right?

Well, don’t be so sure.

Last year, U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman made the following statement to CNN’s Candy Crowley….

“Right now China, the government, can disconnect parts of its Internet in case of war and we need to have that here too.”

That statement should chill you to your bones.

U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman wants Chinese-style Internet censorship to come to the United States.

In fact, as mentioned above, legislation that would give the president of the United States an “Internet kill switch” has been introduced in the Senate once again, and in fact it has already been approved by a Senate panel.

The legislation has bipartisan support, and it is being pushed this time by Maine Senator Susan Collins, who is a ranking member on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

This bill, S.3480, is entitled “The Protecting Cyberspace As A National Asset Act of 2010“.  It would create a brand new government agency (as if we needed more of those) known as the National Center for Cybersecurity and Communications.

This new agency would be given extraordinary power over the Internet – including the power to completely shut down the Internet for 30 days.

Collins insists that this new law is necessary because it would enable us to protect the Internet against “cyber threats” before they could cause serious damage.

While that may sound good on paper, the reality is that giving the government an “Internet kill switch” would create opportunities for tremendous government abuse.

Wired recently ran an article that detailed some of these concerns….

A congressional white paper (.pdf) on the measure said the proposal prohibits the government from targeting websites for censorship “based solely on activities protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.”

Oddly, that’s exactly the same language in the Patriot Act used to test whether the government can wiretap or investigate a person based on their political beliefs or statements.

Of course we all know how that turned out.

It has been revealed time after time after time that the U.S. government has been investigating large numbers of people based on their political beliefs.

The Internet is a great way for people to express and share their political thoughts and ideas, but it is also providing a way for governments around the world to watch and track dissenters.

For example, major news websites in China now require users to register their true identities before they are able to leave any comments.  This enables the government to be able to identify (and potentially deal with) anyone that does not express the “right” views.

In the same manner, the Obama administration is now proposing the introduction of a “universal Internet ID” for Americans.  The program is being touted as “voluntary”, but how long do you think it would be before a whole host of government agencies started to use these universal Internet IDs to watch, monitor, track and control the Internet activities of tens of millions of Americans?

The following is a video news report from CBS News about these new universal Internet IDs….

So where does all of this Internet censorship end?

Well, the truth is that it is only going to get tighter and tighter as the years go by.

Eventually you will probably need a government-issued license to put up websites such as this one, and in fact someday you will probably need a government-issued license before you can even log on to the Internet.

So enjoy this era of relatively unlimited Internet freedom while you can, because it is rapidly coming to an end.  Tyrannical governments all over the globe are realizing that in order to maintain “control” they must place a much tighter grip on the flow of information on the Internet.

If you live in the United States or another nation where there is still at least a limited amount of liberty and freedom, it is going to be important to let your representatives know that you do not want Internet censorship and you certainly do not want any sort of an Internet kill switch.

Liberties and freedoms are incredibly precious, and once they are taken away they are very difficult to get back.

Economy News Nightmare: 20 Things That You Should Not Read If You Do Not Want To Become Very Angry

Today America is very, very frustrated.  In fact, we probably have not seen this level of anger in the country since World War 2 ended.  So why are so many Americans so frustrated and so angry right now?  Well, for most Americans it comes down to the economy.  Very few things are more frustrating than not being able to find a job that will enable you to pay the mortgage and feed your family.  Middle class Americans that do have a little bit of money are digging into their savings and investments at a staggering rate as they desperately try to keep their heads above water.  Millions of other families that do not have a “safety cushion” are on the verge of losing their homes or have already been callously tossed out onto the streets by big, greedy banks.  Meanwhile, our politicians continue to burden us with increasingly larger amounts of government debt and they stand idly by as our jobs and our industries are shipped overseas.  So even though the mainstream media seems absolutely puzzled by the growing anger in America, the truth is that it is not a great mystery.  The economy is an absolute nightmare, and if it gets even worse people are going to become even more angry.

The mainstream media and our top politicians are running around proclaiming that the economy has turned around, and yet all of the important long-term economic numbers continue to get worse.  Do they think that the American people are stupid?

Perhaps they are just trying to be “optimistic” and are trying to get us all to “believe” in the economic recovery.

Well, while it certainly does not hurt to “stay positive” and to “have faith” when there is some basis in reality for doing so, but what the mainstream media is asking us all to do is to stick our heads in the sand and to pretend that all of our horrific economic problems are not even there.

Until we recognize exactly what our problems are and how bad they have gotten we will never be able to come up with the appropriate solutions.

Our economy does not just need a “tweak” or two.  Our economy is a total nightmare at this point.

The following are 20 things about our nightmare of an economy that you will not want to read if you do not want to become very, very angry….

#1 Today, millions of American families are digging deep into their savings and investments in a desperate attempt to stay afloat. Over the past two years, U.S. consumers have withdrawn $311 billion more from savings and investment accounts than they have put into them.

#2 15 billion dollars: the total amount of compensation that Goldman Sachs paid out to its employees for 2010.

#3 The number of American families that were booted out of their homes and into the streets set a new all-time record in 2010.

#4 Dozens of packages that we buy in the supermarket have been reduced in size by up to 20%.  For example, there are now 2 less slices of cheese in a typical package of Kraft American cheese, and there is now 9 percent less toilet paper in a typical package of Scott toilet paper.  So now, you may think that you are paying the same amount for these items that you always have, but the truth is that you have been hit with a large price increase.

#5 One Canadian company is making a ton of money shipping “millions and millions of dollars” worth of manufacturing equipment from factories that are being shut down in the United States over to new factories that are being set up in China.

#6 In America today, the wealthiest 20% own a whopping 93% of all the “financial assets” in the United States.

#7 Only 35 percent of Americans now have enough “emergency savings” to be able to cover three months of living expenses.

#8 47 percent of all Americans now believe that China is the number one economic power in the world.

#9 If the U.S. banking system is healthy, then why does the number of “problem banks” continue to keep increasing?  This past week the number of U.S. banks on the unofficial list of problem banks reached 937.

#10 According to former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich, the wealthiest 0.1% of all Americans make as much money as the poorest 120 million.

#11 U.S. housing prices have now fallen further during this economic downturn than they did during the Great Depression of the 1930s.

#12 According to some very disturbing new research, 45 percent of U.S. college students exhibit “no significant gains in learning” after two years in college.

#13 Americans now owe more than $884 billion on student loans, which is a new all-time record.

#14 The United Nations says that the global price of food hit an all-time record high in December, and the price of oil is surging towards $100 a barrel, but the U.S. government continues to insist that we barely have any inflation at all.

#15 The more Americans that are on food stamps the more profits that JP Morgan makes.  Today, an all-time record of 43.2 million Americans are on food stamps, and JP Morgan is making a lot of money processing millions of those benefit payments.

#16 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.

#17 Dozens of U.S. states are either implementing tax increases in 2011 or are considering proposals to raise taxes.

#18 The United States has had a negative trade deficit every single year since 1976.

#19 The U.S. national debt has crossed the $14 trillion mark for the first time, and at some point during 2011 it will cross the $15 trillion mark.

#20 What the U.S. economy really needs is for the government to get off all of our backs, but instead they continue to tighten their grip on us.  In fact, the Obama administration is proposing a “universal Internet ID” that would watch, track, monitor and potentially control everything that you do on the Internet.

12 Economic Collapse Scenarios That We Could Potentially See In 2011

What could cause an economic collapse in 2011? Well, unfortunately there are quite a few “nightmare scenarios” that could plunge the entire globe into another massive financial crisis.  The United States, Japan and most of the nations in Europe are absolutely drowning in debt.  The Federal Reserve continues to play reckless games with the U.S. dollar.  The price of oil is skyrocketing and the global price of food just hit a new record high.  Food riots are already breaking out all over the world.  Meanwhile, the rampant fraud and corruption going on in world financial markets is starting to be exposed and the whole house of cards could come crashing down at any time.  Most Americans have no idea that a horrific economic collapse could happen at literally any time.  There is no way that all of this debt and all of this financial corruption is sustainable.  At some point we are going to reach a moment of “total system failure”.

So will it be soon?  Let’s hope not.  Let’s certainly hope that it does not happen in 2011.  Many of us need more time to prepare.  Most of our families and friends need more time to prepare.  Once this thing implodes there isn’t going to be an opportunity to have a “do over”.  We simply will not be able to put the toothpaste back into the tube again.

So we had all better be getting prepared for hard times.  The following are 12 economic collapse scenarios that we could potentially see in 2011….

#1 U.S. debt could become a massive crisis at any moment.  China is saying all of the right things at the moment, but many analysts are openly worried about what could happen if China suddenly decides to start dumping all of the U.S. debt that they have accumulated.  Right now about the only thing keeping U.S. government finances going is the ability to borrow gigantic amounts of money at extremely low interest rates.  If anything upsets that paradigm, it could potentially have enormous consequences for the entire world financial system.

#2 Speaking of threats to the global financial system, it turns out that “quantitative easing 2″ has had the exact opposite effect that Ben Bernanke planned for it to have.  Bernanke insisted that the main goal of QE2 was to lower interest rates, but instead all it has done is cause interest rates to go up substantially.  If Bernanke this incompetent or is he trying to mess everything up on purpose?

#3 The debt bubble that the entire global economy is based on could burst at any time and throw the whole planet into chaos.  According to a new report from the World Economic Forum, the total amount of credit in the world increased from $57 trillion in 2000 to $109 trillion in 2009.  The WEF says that now the world is going to need another $100 trillion in credit to support projected “economic growth” over the next decade.  So is this how the new “global economy” works?  We just keep doubling the total amount of debt every decade?

#4 As the U.S. government and the Federal Reserve continue to pump massive amounts of new dollars into the system, the floor could fall out from underneath the U.S. dollar at any time.  The truth is that we are already starting to see inflation really accelerate and everyone pretty much acknowledges that official U.S. governments figures for inflation are an absolute joke.  According to one new study, the cost of college tuition has risen 286% over the last 20 years, and the cost of “hospital, nursing-home and adult-day-care services” rose 269% during those same two decades.  All of this happened during a period of supposedly “low” inflation.  So what are price increases going to look like when we actually have “high” inflation?

#5 One of the primary drivers of global inflation during 2011 could be the price of oil.  A large number of economists are now projecting that the price of oil could surge well past $100 dollars a barrel in 2011.  If that happens, it is going to put significant pressure on the price of almost everything else in the entire global economy.  In fact, as I have explained previously, the higher the price of oil goes, the faster the U.S. economy will decline.

#6 Food inflation is already so bad in some areas of the globe that it is setting off massive food riots in nations such as Tunisia and Algeria.  In fact, there have been reports of people setting themselves on fire all over the Middle East as a way to draw attention to how desperate they are.  So what is going to happen if global food prices go up another 10 or 20 percent and food riots spread literally all over the globe during 2011?

#7 There are persistent rumors that simply will not go away of massive physical gold and silver shortages.  Demand for precious metals has never been higher.  So what is going to happen when many investors begin to absolutely insist on physical delivery of their precious metals?  What is going to happen when the fact that far, far, far more “paper gold” and “paper silver” has been sold than has ever actually physically existed in the history of the planet starts to come out?  What would that do to the price of gold and silver?

#8 The U.S. housing industry could plunge the U.S. economy into another recession at any time.  The real estate market is absolutely flooded with homes and virtually nobody is buying.  This massive oversupply of homes means that the construction of new homes has fallen off a cliff.  In 2010, only 703,000 single family, multi-family and manufactured homes were completed.  This was a new record low, and it was down 17% from the previous all-time record which had just been set in 2009.

#9 A combination of extreme weather and disease could make this an absolutely brutal year for U.S. farmers.  This winter we have already seen thousands of new cold weather and snowfall records set across the United States.  Now there is some very disturbing news emerging out of Florida of an “incurable bacteria” that is ravaging citrus crops all over Florida.  Is there a reason why so many bad things are happening all of a sudden?

#10 The municipal bond crisis could go “supernova” at any time.  Already, investors are bailing out of bonds at a frightening pace.  State and local government debt is now sitting at an all-time high of 22 percent of U.S. GDP.  According to Meredith Whitney, the municipal bond crisis that we are facing is a gigantic threat to our financial system….

“It has tentacles as wide as anything I’ve seen. I think next to housing this is the single most important issue in the United States and certainly the largest threat to the U.S. economy.”

Former Los Angeles mayor Richard Riordan is convinced that things are so bad that literally 90% of our states and cities could go bankrupt over the next five years….

#11 Of course on top of everything else, the quadrillion dollar derivatives bubble could burst at any time.  Right now we are watching the greatest financial casino in the history of the globe spin around and around and around and everyone is hoping that at some point it doesn’t stop.  Today, most money on Wall Street is not made by investing in good business ideas.  Rather, most money on Wall Street is now made by making the best bets.  Unfortunately, at some point the casino is going to come crashing down and the game will be over.

#12 The biggest wildcard of all is war.  The Korean peninsula came closer to war in 2010 than it had in decades.  The Middle East could literally explode at any time.  We live in a world where a single weapon can take out an entire city in an instant.  All it would take is a mid-size war or a couple of weapons of mass destruction to throw the entire global economy into absolute turmoil.

Once again, let us hope that none of these economic collapse scenarios happens in 2011.

However, we have got to realize that we can’t keep dodging these bullets forever.

As bad as 2010 was, the truth is that it went about as good as any of us could have hoped.  Things are still pretty stable and times are still pretty good right now.

But instead of using these times to “party”, we should be using them to prepare.

A really, really vicious economic storm is coming and it is going to be a complete and total nightmare.  Get ready, hold on tight, and say your prayers.

Two Americas: 12 Facts That Show That Those Who Are Too Big To Fail Are Thriving On The Bailout Money That Our Politicians Gave Them Even As The Economic Suffering Of Ordinary Americans Continues To Deepen

Most Americans have a deep aversion to the phrase “redistribution of wealth”, and rightly so.  On a fundamental level, it is just not right to take the money that one man has worked so hard to earn and “redistribute” it to someone else.  In the political realm, the phrase “a redistribution of wealth” is usually a reference to our ballooning social programs, but what most Americans don’t realize is that one of the biggest redistributions of wealth in world history took place during the Wall Street bailouts of a couple years ago.  Trillions of dollars of our money and of money that belongs to future generations was redistributed to the Wall Street bankers.  The Wall Street bankers did not earn this money and they did not deserve this money.  We were told that if Wall Street did not get this money that the global economy would collapse and that there would be martial law in the streets.  We were promised that this money would “fix” Wall Street and then the prosperity would “trickle down” to Main Street.  So did this happen?  Of course not.

What ended up happening is that Wall Street hoarded all of this cash.  Lending to individuals and small businesses actually decreased.  The Federal Reserve started handing out gigantic piles of nearly interest-free money which many of these big Wall Street banks immediately loaned back to the U.S. government at a significantly higher rate of interest.

Talk about easy money.

Now the big Wall Street banks and the ultra-wealthy are swimming in cash and sales of luxury goods in the United States are absolutely skyrocketing.  Meanwhile, millions of “ordinary” Americans continue to slip into poverty.

So is the answer to all of this just to “tax the rich” and redistribute the wealth again by giving more handouts to the poor?

Of course not.

The American people don’t need more handouts.

What the American people desperately need are some good jobs.

But Wall Street is hoarding the cash they got during the bailouts.

It would be one thing if these big Wall Street banks had made a ton of money based on their own efforts.  It is a very American thing to be able to enjoy the fruits of hard work.

However, the truth is that many big Wall Street banks and financial institutions may have completely imploded if not for the bailouts.

They were “too big to fail” and our politicians jumped to their service.

Our politicians redistributed wealth by taking trillions of dollars that belonged to us and to future generations and handed it to the folks on Wall Street.

So now the boys and girls over on Wall Street are thriving while tens of millions of “average” Americans are desperately suffering.

Does that seem right to you?

Isn’t it about time that the U.S. government gets out of the “redistribution of wealth” business altogether?

Just consider the following statistics.  Even as the economic suffering of ordinary Americans continues to deepen, those who got big piles of bailout money are living the high life….

#1 According to Stephen Lewis of Monument Securities, luxury retailers in the United States have seen an 8.1 percent increase in sales compared to a year ago, while “discount stores” that cater to the poor and the middle class have only seen a 1.2 percent increase in sales compared to a year ago.

#2 The sad truth is that just about every company that deals in luxury goods is booming, while those that primarily serve ordinary Americans are not doing nearly as well.  Just consider the following quote from a recent article by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard of the Telegraph….

Tiffany’s, Nordstrom, and Saks Fifth Avenue are booming. Sales of Cadillac cars have jumped 35pc, while Porsche’s US sales are up 29pc.

Cartier and Louis Vuitton have helped boost the luxury goods stock index by almost 50pc since October. Yet Best Buy, Target, and Walmart have languished.

#3 Elderly Americans in particular are really having a hard time of it right now.  A recent study by a law professor from the University of Michigan found that Americans that are 55 years of age or older now account for 20 percent of all bankruptcies in the United States.  Back in 2001, they only accounted for 12 percent of all bankruptcies.

#4 The number of Americans on food stamps has hit another all-time record.  There are now 43.2 million Americans enrolled in the food stamp program.

#5 According to the U.S. Conference of Mayors, visits to soup kitchens are up 24 percent over the past year.

#6 Meanwhile, the price of food continues to go up.  This hits poor and middle class Americans much harder than it hits the wealthy.  According to a report on 55 top food commodities by the Food and Agriculture Organization, global food prices reached a new record high during December.

#7 Lester Brown, the president of the Washington-based Earth Policy Institute, is publicly declaring that the world is just “one poor harvest” away from total chaos….

“The reality is that the world is only one poor harvest away from chaos. We are so close to the edge that politically destabilizing food prices could come at any time.”

#8 The price of clothes is also increasing dramatically.  It turns out that cotton is 80% more expensive now than it was back at the beginning of 2010.

#9 Americans will also be paying more at the gas pump this upcoming year.  In fact, former Shell Oil President John Hofmeister recently stated that Americans could be paying 5 dollars for a gallon of gasoline by the end of this upcoming year.

#10 Health insurance rates are also skyrocketing.  Blue Shield of California recently announced plans to raise health insurance rates by an average of 30% to 35% this year, and some individual policy holders could actually see their health insurance premiums rise by a whopping 59 percent.

#11 On top of everything else, the U.S. Census is now telling us that there are millions more poor people in America than they had previously calculated.  The U.S. Census Bureau recently revealed that the figure of 43.6 million Americans living in poverty that they announced last September was way too low and that actually 47.8 million Americans are now living in poverty.

#12 If all of these economic problems were not bad enough, now many state and local governments are seriously considering raising taxes.  In Illinois, there is now a proposal to raise state income tax rates by 75 percent.  A recent article that appeared on the CNBC website explained why Illinois is so desperate for cash….

In a moment when states around the country are wrestling with withered revenues, Illinois faces a deficit of at least $13 billion; more than $6 billion in unpaid bills to social service agencies, schools and funeral homes; the most underfinanced state pension system; and growing signs of concern from bond investors.

So won’t the big Wall Street banks and the ultra-wealthy get hit by these tax increases too?

Some of them will, but many of them have learned to “play the game” so well that they barely pay any taxes at all.

As I have written about previously, a third of all the wealth in the world is now held in offshore banks.  When taxes go up, the ultra-wealthy are not the ones that have their wealth “redistributed”.  Instead, it is poor saps like you and I that have our wealth “redistributed”.

In fact, the next time another “financial crisis” comes along, the financial “powers that be” will once again come running to Congress and come running to the Federal Reserve begging for more bailouts.

Now that the precedent has been set, it will only seem natural to redistribute even more of our wealth to the folks over on Wall Street so that we can “save” the financial system.

But the truth is that our financial system is completely doomed to fail in the long run and throwing our money into the financial system is like throwing our money into a black hole.

In the end, all of us are going to greatly suffer when the financial system finally crashes.  But for the moment the wealthy are partying with all of the money that they have looted from the rest of America, and the rest of us which were “small enough to fail” have been left to scratch and claw and fight with each other as we desperately try to survive in this horrible economy.

14 Eye Opening Statistics Which Reveal Just How Dramatically The U.S. Economy Has Collapsed Since 2007

Most Americans have become so accustomed to the “new normal” of continual economic decline that they don’t even remember how good things were just a few short years ago.  Back in 2007, unemployment was very low, good jobs were much easier to get, far fewer Americans were living in poverty or enrolled in welfare programs and government finances were in much better shape.  Of course most of this prosperity was fueled by massive amounts of debt, but at least times were better.  Unfortunately, things have really deteriorated over the last several years.  Since 2007, unemployment has skyrocketed, foreclosures have set new all-time records, personal bankruptcies have soared and U.S. government debt has gotten completely and totally out of control.  Poll after poll has shown that Americans are now far less optimistic about the future than they were in 2007.  It is almost as if the past few years have literally sucked the hope out of millions upon millions of Americans.

Sadly, our economic situation is continually getting worse.  Every month the United States loses more factories.  Every month the United States loses more jobs.  Every month the collective wealth of U.S. citizens continues to decline.  Every month the federal government goes into even more debt.  Every month state and local governments go into even more debt.

Unfortunately, things are going to get even worse in the years ahead.  Right now we look back on 2005, 2006 and 2007 as “good times”, but in a few years we will look back on 2010 and 2011 as “good times”.

We are in the midst of a long-term economic decline, and the very bad economic choices that we have been making as a nation for decades are now starting to really catch up with us.

So as horrible as you may think that things are now, just keep in mind that things are going to continue to deteriorate in the years ahead.

But for the moment, let us remember how far we have fallen over the past few years.  The following are 14 eye opening statistics which reveal just how dramatically the U.S. economy has collapsed since 2007….

#1 In November 2007, the official U.S. unemployment rate was just 4.7 percent.  Today, the official U.S. unemployment rate is 9.4 percent.

#2 In November 2007, 18.8% of unemployed Americans had been out of work for 27 weeks or longer.  Today that percentage is up to 41.9%.

#3 As 2007 began, there were just over 1 million Americans that had been unemployed for half a year or longer.  Today, there are over 6 million Americans that have been unemployed for half a year or longer.

#4 Nearly 10 million Americans now receive unemployment insurance, which is almost four times as many as were receiving it back in 2007.

#5 More than half of the U.S. labor force (55 percent) has “suffered a spell of unemployment, a cut in pay, a reduction in hours or have become involuntary part-time workers” since the “recession” began in December 2007.

#6 According to one analysis, the United States has lost a total of approximately 10.5 million jobs since 2007.

#7 As 2007 began, only 26 million Americans were on food stamps.  Today, an all-time record of 43.2 million Americans are enrolled in the food stamp program.

#8 In 2007, the U.S. government held a total of $725 billion in mortgage debt.  As of the middle of 2010, the U.S. government held a total of $5.148 trillion in mortgage debt.

#9 In the year prior to the “official” beginning of the most recent recession in 2007, the IRS filed just 684,000 tax liens against U.S. taxpayers.  During 2010, the IRS filed over a million tax liens against U.S. taxpayers.

#10 From the year 2000 through the year 2007, there were 27 bank failures in the United States.  From 2008 through 2010, there were 314 bank failures in the United States.

#11 According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the number of U.S. families with children living in homeless shelters increased from 131,000 to 170,000 between 2007 and 2009.

#12 In 2007, one poll found that 43 percent of Americans were living “paycheck to paycheck”.  Sadly, according to a survey released very close to the end of 2010, approximately 55 percent of all Americans are now living paycheck to paycheck.

#13 In 2007, the “official” federal budget deficit was just 161 billion dollars.  In 2010, the “official” federal budget deficit was approximately 1.3 trillion dollars.

#14 As 2007 began, the U.S. national debt was just under 8.7 trillion dollars.  Today, the U.S. national debt has just surpassed 14 trillion dollars and it continues to soar into the stratosphere.

So is there any hope that we can turn all of this around?

Unfortunately, the massive amount of debt that we have piled up as a society over the last several decades has made that impossible.

If you add up all forms of debt (government debt, business debt, individual debt), it comes to approximately 360 percent of GDP.  It is the biggest debt bubble in the history of the world.

If the federal government and our state governments stop borrowing and spending so much money, our economy would collapse.  But if they keep borrowing and spending so much money they will continually make the eventual economic collapse even worse.

We are in the terminal stages of the most horrific debt spiral the world has ever seen, and when the debt spiral gets stopped the house of cards is going to finally come down for good.

So enjoy these times while you still have them.  Yes, today is not nearly as prosperous as 2007 was, but today is most definitely a whole lot better than 2015 or 2020 is going to be.

Sadly, we could have avoided this financial disaster completely if only we had listened more carefully to those that founded this nation.  Once upon a time, Thomas Jefferson said the following….

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.

Instead Of Using This Period Of Economic Stability To Party We Should Be Using It To Prepare

The fact that the official U.S. government unemployment rate has dipped slightly is good news.  However, it is not the “economic turning point” that Barack Obama and others are proclaiming it to be.  Rather, what we are in right now is “the calm before the storm”.  The massive amount of government spending that the U.S. government has done over the past few years and the massive quantities of new dollars that the Federal Reserve has been pumping into the system has bought us all just a little bit of time.  Instead of using this brief period of economic stability to party, we should all be using it to prepare for the very hard economic times that are coming.  Please do not get fooled when the short-term economic numbers go up or down a little bit.  When evaluating the state of the U.S. economy, the key is to look at the long-term trends.  The truth is that when you take a longer-term view, it becomes undeniable that the United States is in the midst of a long-term economic decline from which there is no escape.

But how are most Americans responding to the “good news” that the U.S. economy has stabilized for the moment?  Many Americans are running right back out and are spending like it is 1999.  Many Americans are viewing the slight improvement in some of the economic numbers as a sign that “happy times are here again” and they are behaving just as they did right before the financial crisis of 2008.

Many of us have family or friends that are taking expensive trips, making huge purchases and partying as if the good times are never going to end.

But is this wise?

The fact that the official government unemployment rate declined to 9.4% in December has got a lot of people excited, including Barack Obama….

“The pace of hiring is beginning to pick up.”

So is the fact that the unemployment rate declined slightly good news?

Yes, it is good news.

However, there are also a whole lot of reasons not to be so excited about this one piece of unemployment data….

*A big part of the reason why the unemployment figure was down in December was because the government considered 260,000 Americans to have dropped out of the labor force.

*Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke says that unemployment is likely to stay very high for four or five more years.

*The 103,000 jobs that were added in December was actually far below the 140,000 to 178,000 jobs that economists were expecting.

*Gallup numbers tell an entirely different story when it comes to unemployment.  According to Gallup, the unemployment rate actually rose to 9.6% at the end of December.  This was a significant increase from 9.3% in mid-December and 8.8% at the end of November.

*Not only that, but Gallup also says that the underemployment rate is moving up dramatically.  According to Gallup, the underemployment rate in the United States increased to 19.0% during December, which was up substantially from 18.5% in mid-December and 17.2% at the end of November.

*The percentage of Americans participating in the labor force is now the lowest it has been since the early 1980s.  In December, the Labor Force Participation Rate fell to 64.3%.   Over the last twenty years, the Labor Force Participation Rate has usually been around 66 or 67 percent.  So do less Americans want jobs today?  Of course not.  What has happened is that millions of Americans have become so discouraged about the lack of jobs that they aren’t even actively searching anymore.

*The number of Americans working part-time for “economic reasons” continues to hover around all-time highs.

*According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of Americans that have been out of work for more than 26 weeks actually increased in December.  In November, there were 6.328 Americans in that category, and in December there were 6.441 million Americans in that category.

So, as you can see, there are a whole lot of reasons not to get too excited about the employment numbers.

But has the economic situation in the United States somewhat stabilized in the short-term?

Yes, but this is not going to last forever.

When you look at the longer-term economic trends they just keep getting worse and worse and worse….

#1 Every single month the U.S. government goes into even more debt.  The U.S. government is now over 14 trillion dollars in debt and this debt in increasing by about 4 billion dollars every single day.

#2 Even single month state and local governments across the United States go into even more debt.  As I have written about previously, our infrastructure is literally crumbling and falling apart from coast to coast but our state and local governments can’t do anything about it because they are drowning in a sea of red ink.

#3 Every single month we are getting poorer as a nation.  Every month we consume massive amounts of foreign oil and cheap, foreign-made plastic trinkets and we send the rest of the world hundreds of billions of dollars of our money.  Unfortunately, very few of our politicians ever even mention this obscene transfer of wealth.

#4 Every single month we send large numbers of our factories and our jobs overseas.  Over the past decade, over 42,000 factories in the United States have shut down permanently and millions of good jobs have been outsourced and offshored.  Those jobs and those factories are never coming back and America is rapidly becoming a “post-industrial” nation.

#5 Every single month the United States continues to lose not only factory jobs, but also many other types of good paying “middle class jobs”.  In fact, since the year 2000, we have lost 10% of our middle class jobs.  In the year 2000 there were about 72 million middle class jobs in the United States but today there are only about 65 million middle class jobs.  Meanwhile, our population continues to grow larger.

#6 Almost every single month the cost of basics such as food, gasoline and health care goes up faster than our incomes do.  Inflation is a brutal “hidden tax” which is destroying the standard of living of middle class Americans.

#7 Confidence in the U.S. dollar and U.S. Treasury bonds is starting to rapidly decline.  When global confidence in the U.S. dollar and in U.S. Treasury bonds is totally gone, the entire world financial system will be thrown into total chaos and the U.S. economic system will fall like a house of cards.

#8 We are being constantly looted and pillaged by those at the top of the food chain.  Every single month the ultra-wealthy and the international banking elite drain even more money out of the system and transfer it to “offshore” banks.  At this point, a third of all the wealth in the world is held in “offshore” banks.

Right now we are still able to enjoy relatively good times because the rest of the world continues to loan the U.S. government massive amounts of cheap money and because the Federal Reserve has so far gotten away with printing gigantic piles of new money out of thin air.

But this “can” cannot be kicked down the road forever.  At some point, the greatest debt bubble in the history of the world is going to completely burst and the fallout is going to be nightmarish.

So what should we all be doing?

What we shouldn’t be doing is partying as if the good times are going to last indefinitely.

What we need to be doing is starting to prepare.

So what are some things that we all can do to prepare for hard economic times?  Well, the following are just a few of the columns I have authored in the past about prepping….

*What To Do

*Disaster Plan

*20 Things You Will Need To Survive When The Economy Collapses And The Next Great Depression Begins

Use this brief time of economic stability to prepare – once the economy falls apart it will be too late.

Hopefully some of the readers of this column will be willing to share some of their best preparation tips.  If you have got some tips and ideas that you would like to share with the rest of us, please feel free to post a comment below….

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