The Beginning Of The End
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21 Ways To End The Phrase ‘Americans Are So Broke…’

Coins - Public DomainDid you know that 77 million Americans have unpaid debts that are “in collections” and that Congress is actually thinking about letting post offices offer payday loans?  We live in a country where almost everyone is drowning in debt and where most people are either flat broke or very close to flat broke.  Years ago, “your Mama is so broke” jokes were all the rage, and at the rate we are going they could make a big comeback.  Some of my favorites were “your Mama is so broke she went to McDonald’s and put a milkshake on layaway” and “your Mama is so broke your family ate cereal with a fork to save milk”.  Unfortunately, the facts that I am about to share with you are not funny at all.  In fact, they are quite sobering.  Yes, things are going fairly well for the elitists that live in the good areas of New York City, Washington D.C. and San Francisco right now, but most of the country is deeply struggling as our economic fundamentals continue to crumble.  Please share these numbers with as many people as you can, because we need people to understand that there has not been an “economic recovery” for most of America.  In fact, in many ways things just continue to get even worse.  The following are 21 ways to end the phrase “Americans are so broke”…

1. Americans are so broke that about a third of them have debt collectors on their heels.  One recent study discovered that more than one out of every three adults in the United States has an unpaid debt that is “in collections“.  That is a total of 77 million people.  In other words, the debt collection business in America is absolutely booming.

2. Americans are so broke that Congress is now actually considering allowing post offices to provide payday loans and check cashing services.

3. Americans are so broke that they are keeping their vehicles longer than ever.  The average age of vehicles on America’s roads recently set a new all-time high of 11.4 years.

4. Americans are so broke that car dealers are having to go to extreme lengths to get new customers.  Last year, one out of every four auto loans in the United States was made to someone with subprime credit.

5. Americans are so broke that 52 percent of them cannot even afford the homes that they are living in right now.

6. Americans are so broke that they are falling farther behind on their student loans than ever.  The total amount of student loan debt in the U.S. has now reached a whopping 1.2 trillion dollars, and approximately seven million Americans are in default on their student loans at this point.

7. Young Americans are so broke that half of all college graduates are still relying on their parents financially when they are two years out of school.

8. Young Americans are so broke that only 36 percent of American adults under the age of 35 currently own a home.  That is the lowest level that has ever been recorded.

9. Americans are so broke that many of them can’t even afford to shop at Wal-Mart and dollar stores anymore

Discount stores are slowly dying.

Yesterday, Dollar Tree announced it would buy Family Dollar, a chain that is in the process of closing hundreds of stores and firing workers.

Other discount stores have been struggling as well, writes Heidi Moore at The Guardian. Fashion discounter Loehmann’s filed for bankruptcy, while Wal-Mart’s sales have declined for the past five quarters.

“There’s just not enough money deployed by American families to keep all the discount chains in business,” Moore writes.

10. Americans are so broke that they are running up record levels of debt.  Overall, U.S. households are 11.68 trillion dollars in debt right now.

11. Americans are so broke that the wealth of the “typical American household” has fallen by 36 percent over the past decade.

12. Americans are so broke that one out of every four part-time workers in America is living below the poverty line.

13. Americans are so broke that more than 37 million Americans are now being served by food pantries and soup kitchens.

14. Americans are so broke that there are 49 million Americans that are dealing with food insecurity.

15. Americans are so broke that the number of people on food stamps has increased by about 14 million while Obama has been in the White House.  Ten years ago, the number of women in the U.S. that had jobs outnumbered the number of women in the U.S. on food stamps by more than a 2 to 1 margin.  But now the number of women in the U.S. on food stamps actually exceeds the number of women that have jobs.

16. Americans are so broke that the U.S. government has had to spend an astounding 3.7 trillion dollars on welfare programs over the past five years.

17. Americans are so broke that more than 20 percent of all children in the U.S. are living in poverty.

18. Americans are so broke that we have a record number of kids sleeping in the streets.  In fact, we have more than a million public school children that are homeless at this point.

19. Americans are so broke that 76 percent of all Americans are living paycheck to paycheck.

20. Americans are so broke that 26 percent of Americans have absolutely no emergency savings whatsoever.

21. Americans are so broke that approximately two-thirds of all Americans do not have enough money saved up to cover six months of expenses if an emergency arose.

If things are this bad now, during the so-called “economic recovery”, how bad will things get during the next major economic downturn?

Unfortunately, most Americans have been lulled into a false sense of security.  The financial crisis of 2008 seems like ancient history to most of them now, and most people appear to believe that our leaders have “fixed” whatever was wrong the last time.

Of course that is not the case at all.  In fact, our long-term problems have just continued to grow since then.

The truth is that what we are experiencing right now is about as good as things are going to get for the U.S. economy.  When the next crisis arrives, all of the numbers in the list above are going to rapidly get a lot worse.

So enjoy the rest of this “bubble” while you still can.  It certainly will not last for too much longer.

25 Facts About The Fall Of Detroit That Will Leave You Shaking Your Head

Detroit - Photo by Bob JagendorfIt is so sad to watch one of America’s greatest cities die a horrible death.  Once upon a time, the city of Detroit was a teeming metropolis of 1.8 million people and it had the highest per capita income in the United States.  Now it is a rotting, decaying hellhole of about 700,000 people that the rest of the world makes jokes about.  On Thursday, we learned that the decision had been made for the city of Detroit to formally file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy.  It was going to be the largest municipal bankruptcy in the history of the United States by far, but on Friday it was stopped at least temporarily by an Ingham County judge.  She ruled that Detroit’s bankruptcy filing violates the Michigan Constitution because it would result in reduced pension payments for retired workers.  She also stated that Detroit’s bankruptcy filing was “also not honoring the (United States) president, who took (Detroit’s auto companies) out of bankruptcy“, and she ordered that a copy of her judgment be sent to Barack Obama.  How “honoring the president” has anything to do with the bankruptcy of Detroit is a bit of a mystery, but what that judge has done is ensured that there will be months of legal wrangling ahead over Detroit’s money woes.  It will be very interesting to see how all of this plays out.  But one thing is for sure – the city of Detroit is flat broke.  One of the greatest cities in the history of the world is just a shell of its former self.  The following are 25 facts about the fall of Detroit that will leave you shaking your head…

1) At this point, the city of Detroit owes money to more than 100,000 creditors.

2) Detroit is facing $20 billion in debt and unfunded liabilities.  That breaks down to more than $25,000 per resident.

3) Back in 1960, the city of Detroit actually had the highest per-capita income in the entire nation.

4) In 1950, there were about 296,000 manufacturing jobs in Detroit.  Today, there are less than 27,000.

5) Between December 2000 and December 2010, 48 percent of the manufacturing jobs in the state of Michigan were lost.

6) There are lots of houses available for sale in Detroit right now for $500 or less.

7) At this point, there are approximately 78,000 abandoned homes in the city.

8) About one-third of Detroit’s 140 square miles is either vacant or derelict.

9) An astounding 47 percent of the residents of the city of Detroit are functionally illiterate.

10) Less than half of the residents of Detroit over the age of 16 are working at this point.

11) If you can believe it, 60 percent of all children in the city of Detroit are living in poverty.

12) Detroit was once the fourth-largest city in the United States, but over the past 60 years the population of Detroit has fallen by 63 percent.

13) The city of Detroit is now very heavily dependent on the tax revenue it pulls in from the casinos in the city.  Right now, Detroit is bringing in about 11 million dollars a month in tax revenue from the casinos.

14) There are 70 “Superfund” hazardous waste sites in Detroit.

15) 40 percent of the street lights do not work.

16) Only about a third of the ambulances are running.

17) Some ambulances in the city of Detroit have been used for so long that they have more than 250,000 miles on them.

18) Two-thirds of the parks in the city of Detroit have been permanently closed down since 2008.

19) The size of the police force in Detroit has been cut by about 40 percent over the past decade.

20) When you call the police in Detroit, it takes them an average of 58 minutes to respond.

21) Due to budget cutbacks, most police stations in Detroit are now closed to the public for 16 hours a day.

22) The violent crime rate in Detroit is five times higher than the national average.

23) The murder rate in Detroit is 11 times higher than it is in New York City.

24) Today, police solve less than 10 percent of the crimes that are committed in Detroit.

25) Crime has gotten so bad in Detroit that even the police are telling people to “enter Detroit at your own risk“.

It is easy to point fingers and mock Detroit, but the truth is that the rest of America is going down the exact same path that Detroit has gone down.

Detroit just got there first.

All over this country, there are hundreds of state and local governments that are also on the verge of financial ruin

“Everyone will say, ‘Oh well, it’s Detroit. I thought it was already in bankruptcy,’ ” said Michigan State University economist Eric Scorsone. “But Detroit is not unique. It’s the same in Chicago and New York and San Diego and San Jose. It’s a lot of major cities in this country. They may not be as extreme as Detroit, but a lot of them face the same problems.”

A while back, Meredith Whitney was highly criticized for predicting that there would be a huge wave of municipal defaults in this country.  When it didn’t happen, the critics let her have it mercilessly.

But Meredith Whitney was not wrong.

She was just early.

Detroit is only just the beginning.  When the next major financial crisis strikes, we are going to see a wave of municipal bankruptcies unlike anything we have ever seen before.

And of course the biggest debt problem of all in this country is the U.S. government.  We are going to pay a great price for piling up nearly 17 trillion dollars of debt and over 200 trillion dollars of unfunded liabilities.

All over the nation, our economic infrastructure is being gutted, debt levels are exploding and poverty is spreading.  We are consuming far more wealth than we are producing, and our share of global GDP has been declining dramatically.

We have been living way above our means for so long that we think it is “normal”, but an extremely painful “adjustment” is coming and most Americans are not going to know how to handle it.

So don’t laugh at Detroit.  The economic pain that Detroit is experiencing will be coming to your area of the country soon enough.

Retail Apocalypse: Why Are Major Retail Chains All Over America Collapsing?

Why Are Major Retail Chains All Over America Collapsing? -  Photo by Gars129If the economy is improving, then why are many of the largest retail chains in America closing hundreds of stores?  When I was growing up, Sears, J.C. Penney, Best Buy and RadioShack were all considered to be unstoppable retail powerhouses.  But now it is being projected that all of them will close hundreds of stores before the end of 2013.  Even Wal-Mart is running into problems.  A recent internal Wal-Mart memo that was leaked to Bloomberg described February sales as a “total disaster”.  So why is this happening?  Why are major retail chains all over America collapsing?  Is the “retail apocalypse” upon us?  Well, the truth is that this is just another sign that the U.S. economy is falling apart right in front of our eyes.  Incomes are declining, taxes are going up, government dependence is at an all-time high, and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the percentage of the U.S. labor force that is employed has been steadily falling since 2006.  The top 10% of all income earners in the U.S. are still doing very well, but most U.S. consumers are either flat broke or are drowning in debt.  The large disposable incomes that the big retail chains have depended upon in the past simply are not there anymore.  So retail chains all over the United States are now closing up unprofitable stores.  This is especially true in low income areas.

When you step back and take a look at the bigger picture, the rapid decline of some of our largest retail chains really is stunning.

It is happening already in some areas, but soon half empty malls and boarded up storefronts will litter the landscapes of cities all over America.

Just check out some of these store closing numbers for 2013.  These numbers are from a recent Yahoo Finance article

Best Buy

Forecast store closings: 200 to 250

Sears Holding Corp.

Forecast store closings: Kmart 175 to 225, Sears 100 to 125

J.C. Penney

Forecast store closings: 300 to 350

Office Depot

Forecast store closings: 125 to 150

Barnes & Noble

Forecast store closings: 190 to 240, per company comments

Gamestop

Forecast store closings: 500 to 600

OfficeMax

Forecast store closings: 150 to 175

RadioShack

Forecast store closings: 450 to 550

The RadioShack in a nearby town just closed up where I live.  This is all happening so fast that it is hard to believe.

But the truth is that those store closings are not the entire story.  When you dig deeper you find a lot more retailers that are in trouble.

For example, Blockbuster recently announced that this year they will be closing about 300 stores and eliminating about 3,000 jobs.

Toy manufacturer Hasbro recently announced that they will be reducing the size of their workforce by about 10 percent.

Even Wal-Mart is going through a tough stretch right now.  According to documents that were leaked to Bloomberg, Wal-Mart is having an absolutely disastrous February…

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. had the worst sales start to a month in seven years as payroll-tax increases hit shoppers already battling a slow economy, according to internal e-mails obtained by Bloomberg News.

“In case you haven’t seen a sales report these days, February MTD sales are a total disaster,” Jerry Murray, Wal- Mart’s vice president of finance and logistics, said in a Feb. 12 e-mail to other executives, referring to month-to-date sales. “The worst start to a month I have seen in my ~7 years with the company.”

So what in the world is going on here?

The mainstream media continues to proclaim that we are experiencing a robust “economic recovery”, but at the same time there are a whole host of indications that things are continually getting worse.

Even global cell phone sales actually declined slightly in 2012.  That was the first time that has happened since the last recession.

Perhaps it is time that we faced the truth.  The middle class is shrinking, incomes are declining and there are not nearly as many jobs as there used to be.

Mort Zuckerman pointed this out in a recent article in the Wall Street Journal

The U.S. labor market, which peaked in November 2007 when there were 139,143,000 jobs, now encompasses only 132,705,000 workers, a drop of 6.4 million jobs from the peak. The only work that has increased is part-time, and that is because it allows employers to reduce costs through a diminished benefit package or none at all.

So how can the mainstream media be talking about how “good” things are if we still have 6.4 million fewer jobs than we had back in November 2007?

And sadly, things may soon be getting a lot worse.  If Congress does not do anything about the “sequester”, millions of federal workers may shortly be facing some very painful furloughs according to CNN

Federal workers could start facing furloughs as early as April, according to federal agencies trying to prepare for the worst.

Unless Congress steps in, some $85 billion in massive spending reductions will hit the federal government, doling out furloughs to much of the nation’s 2.1 million federal workforce, experts say.

If you still live in an area of the country where the stores and the restaurants are booming, you should be very thankful because that is not the reality for most of the country.

I often write about the stunning economic decline of major cities such as Detroit, but there are huge sections of rural America that are in even worse shape than Detroit in many ways.

For example, many Indian reservations all over America have been shamefully neglected by the federal government and have become hotbeds for crime, drugs and poverty.

Business Insider recently profiled the Wind River Indian reservation in western Wyoming.  The following is a brief excerpt from that outstanding article

The Wind River Indian Reservation is not an easy place to get to, but I had to see it for myself.

Thirty-five-hundred square miles of prairie and mountains in western Wyoming, the reservation is home to bitter ancestral enemies: the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes.

Even among reservations, it’s renowned for brutal crime, widespread drug use, and legal dumping of toxic waste.

You can see some amazing photos of the Wind River Indian reservation right here.

It is hard to believe that there are places like that in America, but the truth is that conditions like that are spreading to more U.S. communities with each passing day.

We are a nation that is in an advanced state of decline.  But as long as the financial markets are okay, our leaders don’t seem too concerned about the suffering that everyone else is going through.

In fact, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan essentially admitted as much during a recent interview with CNBC.  The following is how a Zero Hedge article summarized that interview…

Starting at around 1:50, Greenspan states the odds of sequester occurring are very high – in fact, the playdough-faced ex-Chair-head notes, “I find it very difficult to find a scenario in which [the sequester] doesn’t happen” But when asked how this will affect the economy, Awkward Alan is unusually clearly spoken – “the issue is how does it affect the stock market.”

While not so many of our leaders have taken the path to direct truthiness, Greenspan somewhat shocks a Botox’d and babbling Bartiromo when he admits “the stock market is the key player in the game of economic growth.”

Bartiromo shifts uncomfortably in her seat, strokes her imaginary beard and stares blankly as Greenspan explains that while the sequester will have a real effect on the real economy, “if the stock market can hold up through this, then the effect will be rather minor.”

Do you see?

As long as the stock market is moving higher they think that everything is just fine and dandy.

And the Obama administration?

They continue to pursue the same policies that got us into this mess.

Their idea of “economic reform” is to threaten to sue businesses that do not hire ex-convicts.

And of course now that Obama has been re-elected he is putting a tremendous amount of effort into “stimulating the economy”.

For example, he spent this weekend golfing in Florida, and the Obamas recently spent about 20 million taxpayer dollars vacationing in Hawaii.

Meanwhile, the U.S. economy is getting worse with each passing day.

If you doubt that economic conditions are getting worse, please read this article: “Show This To Anyone That Believes That ‘Things Are Getting Better’ In America“.

When you look at the cold, hard numbers, it is undeniable what is happening to America.

And our leaders are not doing anything to fix our problems.  In fact, most of the time they are just making things worse.

So buckle up and get prepared.  We are in for very bumpy ride, and this is only just the beginning.

Store Closed Until Further Notice - Photo by Gryllida

20 Signs That All Point To The Exact Same Thing – Can You Guess What That Is?

The U.S. economy is in a massive amount of trouble.  There aren’t enough jobs.  There isn’t enough money to go around.  Business activity is slowing down again.  Household wealth has been falling.  Food prices have been rising.  Many state and local governments all over the country are flat broke and are drowning in debt.  The federal government has been rolling up unprecedented amounts of debt in an attempt to keep things going, but everyone knows that kind of borrowing is simply unsustainable.  So where do we go from here?  We consume far more than we produce and we use debt to make up the difference.  40 years ago the total amount of debt in America (government, business and consumer) was less than 2 trillion dollars.  Today it is nearly 55 trillion dollars.  How in the world did we let the total amount of debt in the United States grow more than 27 times larger over the past 40 years?  Our economic system is fundamentally broken, but most Americans don’t realize it yet because times are still relatively good.

However, the next great economic crisis is going to wake a whole lot of Americans up.

And when they realize what has happened to our future, they are going to be really, really angry.

Enjoy the good times while they last.  The next recession is rapidly approaching, and it will not be pleasant.

The following are 20 signs that all point to the exact same thing….

#1 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.  As I wrote about recently, there are never going to be enough jobs in America ever again.  As bad as things are right now, they are about to get even worse.  So what is our country going to look like once the unemployment rate starts shooting up rapidly once again?

#2 35 percent of all unemployed workers have had to dip into retirement savings in order to make ends meet over the past year.

#3 Since 2008, the U.S. economy has lost 1.3 million jobs while at the same time 3.6 million more Americans have been added to Social Security’s disability insurance program.

#4 A recent survey conducted by the National Association for Business Economics found that only 23 percent of all U.S. companies plan to hire more workers over the next 6 months.  When the same question was asked a few months ago that number was at 39 percent.

#5 An important measure of U.S. manufacturing activity has fallen to its lowest level since June 2009.

#6 Hundreds of thousands of federal jobs at civilian agencies will likely be lost if Congress allows the automatic federal budget cuts to go into effect next year.  The following is from a recent article posted on federalnewsradio.com….

A report released Tuesday suggests that several hundred thousand federal jobs at civilian agencies would be on the chopping block within the next year if Congress lets the automatic budget cutting process known as sequestration go into effect.

The study, authored by George Mason University professor Stephen Fuller, adds a new dimension to a budget debate that’s so far been centered on sequestration’s effects on the military.

#7 The teen unemployment rate in Washington D.C. right now is 51.7 percent.

#8 Gallup’s U.S. Economic Confidence Index is now the lowest that it has been since January.

#9 The median net worth of U.S. households in 2007 was $126,400.  By 2010, it had fallen to just $77,300.

#10 Pensions at S&P 500 companies are more under-funded than they have ever been before.

#11 According to the New York Times, state and local governments across America “shortchanged their pension plans by more than $50 billion” between 2007 and 2011.

#12 The city of Compton, California is evaluating whether or not it should declare bankruptcy.  If it did, it would become the fourth California city to declare bankruptcy this year.

#13 The percentage of U.S. households that are spending more than half their incomes on housing is at an all-time high.

#14 For the first time in modern history, Canadian households are wealthier than American households are.

#15 One recent poll found that 42 percent of all Americans believe that China is the leading economic power in the world while only 36 percent believe that the U.S. is still the leading economic power in the world.

#16 According to the federal government, the price of food rose much faster than the general rate of inflation did during 2011.  Just check out these rates of food inflation for 2011….

  • Beef: +10.2%
  • Pork: +8.5%
  • Fish: +7.1%
  • Eggs: +9.2%
  • Dairy: +6.8%
  • Oils and Fats: +9.3%

If that happened during a somewhat “normal year”, what will food prices look like after we are done with the drought of 2012?

#17 The price of a bushel of corn has risen by 54 percent since mid-June.

#18 According to one survey, 42 percent of all American workers are living paycheck to paycheck.

#19 A different survey found that 28 percent of all Americans have absolutely no emergency savings at all right now.

#20 Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke made the following statement to Congress on Tuesday: “At this point we don’t see a double dip recession. We see continued moderate growth.”

Do you remember that old Seinfeld episode when George Costanza decided that he would “do the opposite” of everything that his instincts were telling him to do and everything started working out great for him?

Well, when it comes to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, the key is to “believe the opposite” of everything that he says.

And since Bernanke does not believe that a double dip recession is going to happen, that probably means that we are about to hit another recession.

If you doubt this theory about Bernanke, just go back and check out his track record.

Okay, so if our economy is in big trouble shouldn’t our leaders be doing something about it?

Well, it is election season now so I wouldn’t expect too much from Barack Obama.  He is too busy raising money in France and in China.

I wouldn’t expect too much from Obama’s economic advisers either.  In fact, Obama’s much-ballyhooed “jobs council” has not even met in six months.

Not that the “jobs council” was ever going to do anything substantive anyway.

The truth is that it was just for show and most of the CEOs on the council have been sending jobs overseas anyway.

Well, what about the SEC?

Shouldn’t they be doing something to fix the financial system?

No, they are too busy investigating the Amish.

It looks like we are on our own.

Soon, even more parts of the country will start looking like Detroit or Baltimore or Cleveland.

This country is rapidly falling apart, and the federal government is not going to save us.

That is why we need to focus on preparing to weather the coming storm on a family and community level.

There is hope in being prepared.  The coming economic crisis will wipe out many Americans because they will never even see it coming.  But that does not have to happen to you.

If you work really hard right now to prepare your family for the storm that is on the horizon, then you will have a much better chance of making it through to the other side.

The New Reality For U.S. Cities: No Money For Street Lights, Roving Packs Of Wild Dogs And Open-Air Drug Markets

If you want to know what the early stages of an economic collapse look like, just walk around some of the downtown areas of our major cities.  Today, nearly all large U.S. cities are either flat broke or they are on the way to being flat broke.  Yes, New York City and Washington D.C. (and a few others) are still doing fairly well, but for most U.S. cities economic reality is catching up with them very quickly.  Right now, there are a number of major cities that are so broke that they cannot keep the street lights operating.  Down in St. Louis, parents in some areas are carrying golf clubs with them as they walk their kids to school in order to fend off roving packs of wild dogs.  In other major U.S. cities, open-air drug markets conduct business without fear.  All over the United States, cities that used to be clean and prosperous and full of hope are now being transformed into post-industrial wastelands.  We are certainly not in “Mad Max” territory yet, but it doesn’t take too much imagination to see where all of this is headed.

I have previously written about how Detroit is literally coming apart at the seams.  Well, now in many areas of the city they can’t even keep the street lights on anymore.  There simply is not enough money, and even if there was, thieves are stealing the copper wiring out of the street lights faster than the city can repair them.

At this point, there are some neighborhoods in Detroit where up to 50 percent of the street lights are not functioning.

The following is from a recent article in The Detroit News about this crisis….

The war to keep the lights on in Detroit is a serious one. Thieves, antiquated equipment and a lack of funding have made it impossible for city officials to catch up to the problem.

City officials estimate 15-20 percent of the 88,000 lights in the Motor City are not working, and they acknowledge that figure could be as high as 50 percent in some neighborhoods.

But it is not just Detroit that is having a major problem.  Over in Highland Park, Michigan the majority of the street lights have been repossessed because the city was not keeping up with the electricity bill.

So what are residents of Highland Park supposed to do?

Are they supposed to lock themselves in their own homes at night?

In Fresno, California the theft of copper wire from street lights has become a total nightmare.  At this point, the loss of copper wire and the cost of repairing the street lights is costing Fresno about $50,000 a month.  So far, approximately 2,500 street lights have been stripped of their wiring.

Down in St. Louis they are having a different problem.  In some of the worst areas of the city, roving packs of wild dogs are a serious threat to children that are walking to school.

A recent report by the local CBS affiliate in St. Louis described the situation this way….

…Lewis Reed is sounding the alarm. “I’ve witnessed packs of dogs, 10 and 15 dogs running together, and I’ve seen all these dogs I’m talking about they don’t have collars, they don’t have tags, these are truly wild dogs,” he said.

Reed says stray dogs are terrorizing the north side. “It’s obscene that parents have to walk their kids to school, in some parts of the city, with a golf club to fend off wild dogs.”

Can you imagine that?

They say that they are going to try to put more money into animal control efforts if they can find it.  But like most major U.S. cities, St. Louis is a financial basket case.

Moving west a bit, Las Vegas is a different kind of a problem.  It was once a mighty symbol of American luxury and decadence, but now it is a microcosm of everything that has gone wrong with our economy.

The following description of the decline of Las Vegas comes from a recent article in The Telegraph….

But Las Vegas’s days as a boom town are long gone. At 14 percent, unemployment is the highest in America (the national average is 9.1 per cent). House prices have fallen 58.1 per cent since their 2006 high – the biggest losses of anywhere in America, while according to the website RealtyTrac, which specialises in foreclosed properties, Las Vegas is the nation’s foreclosure capital. Some 70 per cent of homes in Las Vegas are thought to be ‘under water’, or in negative equity, meaning their value is worth less than the amount owed on the mortgage, while foreclosure notices have been served on one in 16 properties. A survey last year by the local Las Vegas Review-Journal and Channel 8 News Now found that 34 per cent of locals would leave Las Vegas if they could find a job elsewhere, or if they weren’t underwater on their home loan.

Last year, I wrote a piece entitled “The Death of Las Vegas“.  Since then, things have gotten even worse for the city in many ways.

Today, there are hundreds of people living in the tunnels underneath the streets of Las Vegas.  You can see CNN video of some of these people right here.

But at least the “tunnel people” have a “roof” over their heads.

Over in “Lost Angeles”, homelessness is absolutely exploding and there are thousands of people living in the streets.

The following is from a recent article by Nick Allen….

In Skid Row, a grimy pocket of downtown Los Angeles, the prostrate forms of homeless people lie strewn across the pavements.

The lucky ones have tents for shelter but others make do with a sliver of cardboard for a bed and a supermarket trolley to carry their rags.

At the last police count 1,662 people live on these streets, twice as many as a year ago.

And now amid the drug addicts and the drunks there are families who not so long ago had homes and ordinary suburban lives.

Wait, wasn’t the economy supposed to be getting better?

So why has the number of people living on Skid Row doubled over the past year?

Los Angeles, like much of California, is rapidly falling apart.  Decades of very foolish policies have turned the “California Dream” into the “California Nightmare“.

Unemployment is rampant, crime is seemingly everywhere and the gangs appear to be getting bolder by the day.  For example, 21 machine guns were recently stolen right out of an LAPD training facility.

But there are cities in California that are in even worse shape than Los Angeles is.  If you go east of Los Angeles about 100 miles, you will come to the city of San Bernardino.  34.6 percent of the residents of San Bernardino are currently living below the poverty line.  Among major U.S. cities, only Detroit has a worse poverty rate.

Heading back to the east coast, the city of Camden, New Jersey is representative of the post-industrial hellholes that you will find all over the mid-Atlantic region and up into New England.

In an extraordinary article entitled “City of Ruins“, Chris Hedges did an amazing job of documenting how bad things have gotten in Camden.  Today it is estimated that the actual rate of unemployment in Camden is somewhere around 30 or 40 percent.  For most young people in Camden, there are very few legitimate opportunities for a better life, so many of them have resorted to selling drugs or selling their bodies in a desperate attempt to survive.

The following is a brief excerpt from “City of Ruins”….

There are perhaps a hundred open-air drug markets, most run by gangs like the Bloods, the Latin Kings, Los Nietos and MS-13. Knots of young men in black leather jackets and baggy sweatshirts sell weed and crack to clients, many of whom drive in from the suburbs. The drug trade is one of the city’s few thriving businesses. A weapon, police say, is never more than a few feet away, usually stashed behind a trash can, in the grass or on a porch.

The era of “American exceptionalism” is over.  We have rejected the things that made us great.  We have forsaken the truth and now we are paying the price.

At this point, we are rapidly becoming a joke to the rest of the world.

You know that things are bad when headlines such as this start showing up in major international publications: “America Must Manage Its Decline“.

Is that what we are going to tell our kids and our grandkids?

Are we going to tell them that we must “manage” our decline?

Most Americans also realize that something is fundamentally wrong.  According to a recent Time Magazine poll, 81 percent of the American people believe that the country is on the wrong track.

So why don’t our cities just spend more money and fix all of these problems?

Well, it is because most of them are drowning in a sea of red ink.  Instead of spending more money, most of them are desperately searching for more places to cut.  If you can believe it, 72 percent of all U.S. cities are laying workers off this year.

The federal government has been pumping massive amounts of money into state and local governments in recent years, but that can’t last much longer.  As I wrote about yesterday, the federal government is in debt up to its eyeballs.  In fact, the national debt has become so large that it threatens to collapse our entire financial system.

Sadly, the cold, hard truth is that we are now going to pay the price for decades of financial foolishness.

We thought that it would be our children and our grandchildren that would pay the price for our financial recklessness, but the reality is that we are going to pay the price too.

America is in a serious state of decline and things are going to get a lot worse in the years to come.

Take advantage of the relative prosperity that we are enjoying now to prepare for the lean years which are ahead.

Broke! 10 Facts About The Financial Condition Of American Families That Will Blow Your Mind

The crumbling U.S. economy is putting an extraordinary amount of financial stress on American families.  For many Americans, “flat broke” has become a permanent condition.  Today, over half of all American families live paycheck to paycheck.  Unemployment is rampant and those that do actually have jobs are finding that their wages are rising much more slowly than prices are.  The financial condition of average American families continues to decline and this is showing up in all of the recent surveys.  For example, according to a new Gallup poll, “lack of money/low wages” is the number one financial concern for American families.  To make ends meet, many American families are going into even more debt and more American families than ever are turning to government assistance.  Right now, more Americans than at any other point since World War II are flat broke and have lost hope.  Until this changes, the frustration level in this country is going to continue to grow.

The following are 10 facts about the financial condition of American families that will blow your mind…..

#1 Only 58 percent of Americans have a job right now.

#2 Only 56 percent of Americans are currently covered by employer-provided health insurance.

#3 The median yearly wage in the United States is $26,261.

#4 The average American household is carrying $75,600 in debt.

#5 Only the top 5 percent of U.S. households have earned enough additional income to match the rise in housing costs since 1975.

#6 At this point, American families are approximately 7.7 trillion dollars poorer than they were back in early 2007.

#7 The poorest 50% of all Americans now own just 2.5% of all the wealth in the United States.

#8 According to one study, approximately 21 percent of all children in the United States were living below the poverty line in 2010.

#9 Today, there are more than 44 million Americans on food stamps, and nearly half of them are children.

#10 According to Newsweek, close to 20 percent of all American men between the ages of 25 and 54 do not have a job at the moment.

So what is causing all of this?

Where in the world did all of the good jobs go?

Well, the truth is that millions of them have been shipped overseas.

Our politicians promised us that merging our economy with the economies of other nations where it is legal to pay slave labor wages to workers would not create more unemployment inside America.

They were dead wrong.

Now we are being told that we just need to accept a lower standard of living.

For example, billionaire Howard Marks says that it is time for all of us to just accept that the standard of living of American workers is inevitably going to decline to the level of the rest of the world….

“In addition to balancing the budget and growing the economy, I think we have to accept that the coming decades are likely to see U.S. standards of living decline relative to the rest of the world. Unless our goods offer a better cost/benefit bargain, there’s no reason why American workers should continue to enjoy the same lifestyle advantage over workers in other countries. I just don’t expect to hear many politicians own up to this reality on the stump.”

Are you willing to accept that?

Well, most Americans appear to be willing to accept this “new reality” because they keep sending most of the exact same bozos back to Washington D.C.

Meanwhile, the job losses continue to get worse.  As I wrote about the other day, as the U.S. economy has started to slow down again we are starting to see another huge wave of layoffs all over America.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out where all of our jobs are going.  But unfortunately, most Americans don’t understand what is happening because neither the mainstream media nor our politicians are telling them the truth.

For much more on how millions of our good jobs are being shipped out of the country, please see another article I recently published entitled “How Globalism Has Destroyed Our Jobs, Businesses And National Wealth In 10 Easy Steps“.

But it is not just the globalization of the economy that is destroying our jobs.

The federal government bureaucracy has become so oppressive that it is amazing that anyone is still willing to hire workers in this day and age.

Hiring workers has become so complicated and so expensive that many small business owners want to avoid it at all cost.

For example, a small business owner identified as “007” recently left the following comment on one of my recent articles….

Speaking as a small employer, I would rather have a root canal than another employee. Let’s see. You first have to hire someone you trust without some labor lawyer suing you for some type of discrimination. Then you have OSHA to make sure your work place is safe. Then you have workmans compensation insurance, unemployment taxes, health insurance, liability insurance, now Obamacare. Oh be careful not to be deemed to have a “hostile work environment”. Then you have to negotiate the labor laws. The Department of Labor is constantly cranking out regulation.

Then you get the pleasure of paying payroll taxes both state and federal along with the required filing of a multitude of payroll forms. Miss filing or paying these taxes and you will be crushed with interest and penalties.

Of course, you are competing with businesses that can hire at a fraction of the cost of American Labor and with very little regulations. In this economy, no one in their right mind is hiring into this unstable and declining economy.

If business turns down all you have to worry about is laying off workers. Of course your unemployment insurance tax will go up 200% for years. Then you only have to then worry about a wrongful termination law suit.

The entire system is stacked against American workers.

If you are a blue collar worker, you should give up hope that things are going to get better.  The system has failed you.

You can stop waiting for the “good jobs” to come back.

They aren’t coming back.

That is one reason why I try to encourage everyone to become more independent of the system.

As our economic system continues to degenerate, Americans are going to become increasingly desperate.

Sadly, desperate people do desperate things.  Already we are starting to see signs that the fabric of American society is starting to be ripped to shreds.

So what is going to happen if the economy gets even worse?

There is a limit to how many people we can actually put in prison.  The reality is that the number of Americans in prison has nearly tripled since 1987.

Our prisons are already dangerously overcrowded.  As society falls apart, many communities will simply not be able to shove more people behind bars.

Even with our prisons stuffed to the gills, many of our largest cities continue to be transformed into absolute hellholes.

Detroit is now the 3rd most dangerous city on the entire planet and New Orleans is now the 9th most dangerous city on the entire planet.

So what are our leaders doing about all of this?

Well, they appear to be too busy fighting with each other and cheating on their wives to do much about our problems.

According to Politico, U.S. Representative David Wu is the latest member of Congress to be accused of a sex scandal….

Rep. David Wu has been accused of an “unwanted sexual encounter” with the teenage daughter of a longtime friend, the latest scandal to engulf the troubled Oregon Democrat.

This country is a complete and total mess.  Tens of millions of American families are flat broke and are about to slip into poverty.  Meanwhile, our politicians continue to prove that they are some of the most corrupt on the planet.

There are many out there that still believe that America has a bright future ahead.

It is getting really hard to see why anyone could possibly believe that.

 

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