Could you imagine being a single parent and trying to survive in America today on $10.50 an hour? For a moment, I want you to imagine that you are living in a moldy apartment that is so badly maintained that rain seeps in whenever it rains. You are employed, but you are completely dependent on government programs such as food stamps and Medicaid in order to make ends meet. Sometimes you would really like to take your small child somewhere fun, like a movie theater, but you can’t really afford the gas money. You are working as hard as you can, but you never seem to get anywhere, and you feel trapped because nobody seems to want to hire you for a better job. What I have just described for you is real life for a 22-year-old single mother from Chicago named Adriana Alvarez, but there are tens of millions of other Americans that have similar stories. If every day seems like it is a soul-crushing struggle for you, I want you to know that you are not alone. The long-term economic collapse that I chronicle on my website is not just about facts and figures. It is about real people that are quietly leading lives of silent desperation, and by now it has becoming exceedingly apparent that our politicians, the mainstream media and the gigantic corporations that dominate our economy do not really care much about the rest of us at all.
Life fundamentally changes once you become a parent. Instead of living just for yourself, all of a sudden you have a precious little child that is completely and totally dependent on you. And it is absolutely heartbreaking for any parent to look into the eyes of a little child and try to explain why there is not enough food or why they can’t afford a better place to live.
With that in mind, I want you to read an excerpt from Adriana’s recent blog post entitled “What It’s Really Like To Support Yourself On McDonald’s Pay“…
I’m a single mom with a three-year-old son named Manny. To support him, I work full-time as a cashier at a McDonald’s in Chicago.
I’ve worked at McDonald’s for five years, but still make only $10.50 an hour. The only way my son and I can make it is with food stamps, Medicaid, and a child care subsidy. Most of my coworkers are in the same boat, no matter how long they’ve held their jobs.
With child care, transportation to work, food, rent, and our other basic expenses, there’s no money left over for living. Every time I think about taking Manny somewhere fun, like to a movie, I have to think about whether we can really afford the gas.
When you only make $10.50 an hour and you have a child to take care of, you are obviously very limited as far as where you can live, and where Adriana lives sounds extremely depressing…
We live in a basement apartment, because it’s all I can afford. When it rains, water seeps into the apartment. This wetness brings mold, and I can’t get rid of the smell. We can’t even leave anything on the floor, which is tough with a three-year-old. Toys or anything else on the floor may get ruined when the water comes in.
So what is the solution for Adriana?
Well, she is taking part in nationwide strikes to try to force McDonald’s to pay workers like her a livable wage.
Unfortunately, that simply is not going to happen. McDonald’s restaurants are already experiencing a sales downturn, and if they raise wages substantially they will get crushed by the competition.
And of course those jobs were never meant for people that are trying to raise families. When I was growing up, it was teenagers and senior citizens that worked at McDonald’s. I know, because I was one of those teenagers.
But now millions upon millions of Americans in their prime working years are doing these kinds of jobs. As good jobs have disappeared from our economy, the competition for the jobs that remain has become extremely intense. It is really easy to tell Adriana that she should “get a better job”, but that can be extremely difficult in this economy, especially if you don’t have much education.
I know a lot of sharp, talented, responsible people that have been unemployed for a very long time or that are working at places like McDonald’s because nobody else will hire them. I am amazed that there is not a place for their talents and abilities in the “greatest economy on Earth”. But you know what? Things are about to get a whole lot worse out there.
A few months ago, I wrote that the crashing price of oil was going to cause massive job losses in the energy industry, and now it is happening.
According to Yahoo, more than 100,000 layoffs have already been announced, and this could be just the tip of the iceberg…
Since crude prices began tumbling last year, energy companies have announced plans to lay off more than 100,000 workers around the world. At least 91,000 layoffs have already materialized, with the majority coming in oil-field-services and drilling companies, according to research by Graves & Co., a Houston consulting firm.
And remember, these are not $10.50 an hour jobs. Many of these jobs pay well into the six figures annually. These are exactly the kinds of jobs that the U.S. economy simply cannot afford to lose.
Meanwhile, Barack Obama is colluding with Congress to push through the next great job killing trade agreement. The following was in the Wall Street Journal on Thursday…
Lawmakers introduced fast-track trade legislation into the House and Senate Thursday that could pave the way for President Barack Obama to conclude a major agreement with 11 nations around the Pacific.
This agreement is called “The Trans-Pacific Partnership”, and it would result in millions more good jobs being sent overseas. For much more about this shocking betrayal of the American people, please see my previous article entitled “Obama’s Secret Treaty Would Be The Most Important Step Toward A One World Economic System“.
What our economy desperately needs is more jobs, not less jobs.
And traditionally, small businesses have been the primary engine of job growth in this country.
Unfortunately, our politicians have been absolutely killing small businesses for decades. Just look at the chart below. It comes from the U.S. Census Bureau, and it is extremely alarming. Back in 1980, nearly half of all firms in America were considered to be “young”, and those young firms accounted for almost half of all job creation. Since that time, there has been a slow, steady, depressing decline…
And as I discussed the other day, more businesses have closed in the United States than have opened for each of the past six years.
Prior to 2008, that had never happened before in all of American history.
Thank you Barack Obama.
When I talk about our “long-term economic collapse”, I am not exaggerating.
Our economy is literally dying right in front of our eyes, and it is people like Adriana Alvarez that are paying the price.
We desperately need to go back and start doing the things that once made this country so great, but unfortunately we continue running in the other direction as fast as we can.
So in the end, things are going to get much, much worse.
Things did not have to turn out this way, but these are the choices that we have made, and now we get to live with them.
Should the federal government be spending billions of dollars to pump up Wal-Mart’s profits? I know that question sounds really bizarre, but unfortunately this is essentially what is happening. Because Wal-Mart does not pay them enough money, hundreds of thousands of Wal-Mart employees enroll in Medicaid, food stamps and other social welfare programs. Even though Wal-Mart makes enormous profits, they refuse to properly take care of their employees so the federal government has to do it. And of course this is not just a Wal-Mart problem. There are hundreds of other major corporations doing exactly the same thing. And they will keep on doing it as long as they can because relying on the federal government to take care of their employees allows them to make much larger profits. This gives these companies an enormous competitive advantage and it distorts the marketplace. If you love the free enterprise system, you should be aghast at this. Our big corporations have become the biggest “welfare queens” of all, and Wal-Mart is near the top of that list.
Does your local Wal-Mart store seem like it needs help from the federal government?
Of course not.
Wal-Marts all over the nation were absolutely packed this holiday season, but according to a recent Bloomberg article, the average amount of welfare that Wal-Mart employees receive from the government each year breaks down to about $420,000 per store…
Wal-Mart’s low wages have led to full-time employees seeking public assistance. These are not the 47 percent, lazy, unmotivated bums. Rather, these are people working physical, often difficult jobs. They receive $2.66 billion in government help each year (including $1 billion in healthcare assistance). That works out to about $5,815 per worker. And about $420,000 per store.
Does that make you angry?
Today, Wal-Mart employs approximately 1.2 million people in the United States, and it makes a yearly profit of about 17 billion dollars.
So why does it need 2.6 billion dollars of help from the U.S. government?
Wal-Mart is a colossal money-making behemoth. Just consider the following numbers…
The size of Wal-Mart is sometimes difficult to visualize. To put it into some context, consider the following: 100 million U.S. shoppers patronize Wal-Mart stores every week. Wal-Mart has twice the number employees of the U.S. Postal Service, a larger global computer network than the Pentagon, and the world’s largest fleet of trucks. Americans spend about $36 million dollars per hour at the stores. Wal-Mart now sells more food than any other company in the world, capturing one of every four dollars spent on food in the U.S. The average American family of four spends over $4,000 a year there. Each week, it has 200 million customers at more than 10,400 stores in 27 countries. If the company were an independent country, it would be the 25th largest economy in the world.
Wal-Mart does well enough to be able to pay their workers a livable wage.
And yet they refuse to do it.
Shame on them.
Meanwhile, the six heirs of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton have as much wealth as the poorest one-third of all Americans combined.
This reminds me of something that I read in the fifth chapter of James the other day…
Come now, you rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. Your riches are corrupted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have stored up treasures for the last days. Indeed the wages that you kept back by fraud from the laborers who harvested your fields are crying, and the cries of those who harvested have entered into the ears of the Lord of Hosts. You have lived in pleasure on the earth and have been wayward. You have nourished your hearts as in a day of slaughter.
But we continue to reward this behavior, don’t we?
100 million of us continue to visit Wal-Mart every single week, and we continue to fill up our shopping carts with cheap products that are made outside this country.
We refuse to support American workers and American businesses, and this is a recipe for utter disaster. For much more on this, please see my previous article entitled “National Economic Suicide: The U.S. Trade Deficit With China Just Hit A New Record High“.
The truth is that we cannot consume our way to prosperity. When we consume far more wealth than we produce, we pile up debt and we become poorer as a nation.
And as a country we have become exceedingly cold-hearted toward our workers. If you truly love free markets and capitalism, you should be encouraging big companies to pay their workers properly. Instead, we are moving closer and closer to the slave labor model employed by China and other communist nations with each passing day. Sadly, I am becoming increasingly convinced that many prominent “pro-business” voices in America today are actually closet communists. They seem to want everything to be made in China and for American workers to be paid just like Chinese workers.
At this point, the U.S. middle class is well on the way to being destroyed. As I have written about previously, 40 percent of all American workers now make less than what a minimum wage worker made back in 1968 after you account for inflation.
How is the middle class supposed to survive in such an environment?
And for any “pro-business” people that want to defend Wal-Mart, do you actually like paying suffocating taxes to support all of the people that are being forced on to the safety net?
What is our society going to look like as millions more Americans become dependent on the federal government each year? Government dependence is already at an all-time record high. How much worse do things have to get before we admit that we have a real problem?
Unfortunately, it looks like our problems are only going to accelerate in 2015. Thanks to the stunning decline in the price of oil, we are starting to lose good paying jobs in the energy industry…
One company caught in the industry downturn is Hercules Offshore Inc. The Houston-based firm is laying off 324 employees, roughly 15% of its workforce, because oil companies aren’t renewing contracts for its offshore drilling rigs in the Gulf of Mexico while crude prices are depressed.
“It’s been breathtaking,” said Jim Noe, executive vice president of Hercules, which was founded in 2004. “We’ve never seen this glut of supply and dislocation in oil markets. So we’re not surprised to see a significant decline in demand for our services.”
These are jobs that we cannot afford to lose.
Since the end of the last recession, the energy industry has been the leading creator of good paying jobs in America.
But now as the U.S. energy boom goes bust, it might lead the way in job losses.
In order to have a middle class, we have got to have middle class jobs.
Unfortunately, those kinds of jobs are disappearing and the entire U.S. economy is moving toward the Wal-Mart model.
In the end, we will all pay a great price for such foolishness.
For years, the Obama administration has been making it abundantly clear that it is a friend of illegal immigrants. Border security is a joke, the federal government refuses to go after “sanctuary cities” even though they are breaking federal law, there is a website that instructs immigrants how to sign up for welfare programs once they arrive in the United States, and the Obama administration has distributed flyers that tell illegal immigrants that their immigration status will not be checked when they apply for food stamps. And Obama has even instructed officials to use “prosecutorial discretion” in deportation cases involving non-criminals. In other words, Obama has been flashing a huge green light to illegal immigrants, and so of course our borders were going to be inundated with them.
Apologists for the Obama administration will debate you all day about what Obama “intended” and what he didn’t “intend”, but there is no doubt about what message immigrants from Central America have been receiving.
For example, one young mother recently told the press that she heard that if you “go to America with your child, you won’t be turned away“.
And you can view video of a little boy from Central America telling an investigate reporter that he believes that Barack Obama has “given permission” for him to live in the United States right here.
It isn’t an accident that our southern border is literally being flooded with illegal immigrants right now. Newspapers in El Salvador and Honduras have been publicizing how easy illegal immigration has become, and even the President of Honduras has said that people are coming to the United States for “Obama’s amnesty”.
When they arrive, thousands upon thousands of these illegal immigrants are using rehearsed answers that border patrol agents are hearing over and over again. Word has spread that if illegal immigrants claim that they are “fleeing gang violence” that it is more likely that they will be allowed to stay.
What we are witnessing down on the southern border is really unprecedented. It has been estimated that twelve times as many kids are crossing our borders illegally now compared to just a few years ago.
And they just keep on coming.
This is utter madness.
Now, please don’t think that I am anti-immigrant. I am all for legal immigration. This is a nation of immigrants and we will always need immigration. But everyone should be required to come in through the front door. Encouraging illegal immigration is simply a recipe for disaster.
If we keep the back door wide open, the truth is that we have absolutely no idea who is coming into our country. Do we really want countless numbers of criminals, welfare parasites, drug dealers and gang members pouring into our cities? According to the FBI, there are now approximately 1.4 million gang members living in the United States, and it has been estimated that illegal immigrants make up approximately 30 percent of the total population in federal, state and local prisons.
And why in the world would we not want to control the diseases coming into this country? Over the past several weeks, it has been documented that some of the illegal immigrants that have been apprehended have scabies and tuberculosis.
But instead of sending them right back out of the country, U.S. officials are setting up camps for this tsunami of illegal immigrants. In other cases, the federal government is simply putting them on buses and planes and shipping them all over the country. The illegal immigrants are released into their new communities and are given papers which order them to eventually appear in court, but of course the vast majority of them never show up. You can see a map that documents areas where the federal government has been shipping illegal immigrants right here.
The rational thing to do would be to secure our borders and to send a very clear message that illegal immigration is not welcome in the United States.
But instead of doing that, the Obama administration is actually bringing in a riot squad to deal with anti-immigration protesters.
During normal times all of this would be crazy enough, but right now we are at a point where we cannot even take care of millions upon millions of our own citizens.
We are told that illegal immigrants do the jobs “that Americans don’t want to do”, but is that really accurate?
In this day and age, there is intense competition for just about any kind of a job. Despite what the mainstream media says, the truth is that there hasn’t been a significant employment recovery in the United States. As you can see from the chart posted below, the percentage of the working age population that is actually working is still far, far below where it was just prior to the last recession…
Yes, there has been a very slight bump in the numbers in recent months, but it is certainly no reason for celebration. When the mainstream media declares that unemployment in America has been steadily going down, they are simply being disingenuous. Right now things are only slightly better than they were during the worst times of the past several years.
And according to shadowstats.com, the broadest measure of unemployment is still well over 20 percent and has been steadily rising since the end of the last recession.
So no, there aren’t nearly enough jobs in the United States.
And thanks to competition from immigrant labor and thanks to the fact that millions of good jobs have been shipped overseas, the quality of our jobs continues to decline as well. For much more on that trend, please see this article.
Needless to say, now is not the time to open up the floodgates to millions of immigrants that will need jobs to support themselves. Many of our major cities are already so economically depressed that they look like war zones. In fact, things have gotten so bad in Detroit that a plan is being considered to bulldoze a fifth of the entire city…
In May, a group ominously titled the “Detroit Blight Removal Task Force” released a report claiming that around 22 percent of the city’s properties were “blighted” – vacant, damaged or considered dangerous. They also found that, of the 84,000 properties owned by public entities, just over 5,000 were occupied by squatters, making the city of Detroit, the report’s authors noted, “a very large and inadvertent landlord”.
The task force’s proposed solution is to demolish it all over the next five years and start again. Unfortunately, the plan doesn’t extend to rebuilding the properties – it’ll be down to private companies and developers to buy up the land and rebuild.
For much more on the decay of our major cities, please see my previous article entitled “The Death Of The Rust Belt“.
Considering the fact that we are already having such a severe problem taking care of our current population, what do you think is going to happen to these waves of illegal immigrants as they attempt to settle in to communities all around the nation?
Ultimately, we are going to have to end up financially supporting a very large percentage of them too.
Right now, more than 20 percent of children in this country are already living in poverty, and 49 million Americans are dealing with food insecurity.
If Obama continues to encourage mass illegal immigration, those numbers are going to get much worse.
Government dependence is already at an all-time record high, and about half the country currently receives benefits of some sort from the federal government every month.
How much more weight can we put on the “safety net” before it breaks? Just check out some more numbers about this crisis from one of my previous articles…
–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.
–The U.S. government has spent an astounding 3.7 trillion dollars on welfare programs over the past five years.
–Today, the federal government runs about 80 different “means-tested welfare programs”, and almost all of those programs have experienced substantial growth in recent years.
–Back in 1960, the ratio of social welfare benefits to salaries and wages was approximately 10 percent. In the year 2000, the ratio of social welfare benefits to salaries and wages was approximately 21 percent. Today, the ratio of social welfare benefits to salaries and wages is approximately 35 percent.
–While Barack Obama has been in the White House, the total number of Americans on food stamps has gone from 32 million to nearly 47 million.
–Back in the 1970s, about one out of every 50 Americans was on food stamps. Today, about one out of every 6.5 Americans is on food stamps.
–It sounds crazy, but the number of Americans on food stamps now exceeds the entire population of the nation of Spain.
–According to one calculation, the number of Americans on food stamps is now greater than the combined populations of “Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming.”
–According to a report from the Center for Immigration Studies, 43 percent of all immigrants that have been in the United States for at least 20 years are still on welfare.
A lot of people that are trying to immigrate here illegally just want to make a better life for themselves, and I can appreciate that.
But a policy of making it incredibly difficult for honest people to come in through the front door while keeping the back door completely wide open for lawbreakers is a recipe for national suicide.
And right now we don’t have jobs for these immigrants.
We can’t even take care of the people that are already living here.
Something desperately needs to be done about this, but I wouldn’t hold your breath waiting for Obama to make a bold move to stop illegal immigrants from pouring over the border.
The death of the middle class in America has become so painfully obvious that now even the New York Times is doing stories about it. Millions of middle class jobs have disappeared, incomes are steadily decreasing, the rate of homeownership has declined for eight years in a row and U.S. consumers have accumulated record-setting levels of debt. Being independent is at the heart of what it means to be “middle class”, and unfortunately the percentage of Americans that are able to take care of themselves without government assistance continues to decline. In fact, the percentage of Americans that are receiving government assistance is now at an all-time record high. This is not a good thing. Sadly, the number of people on food stamps has increased by nearly 50 percent while Barack Obama has been in the White House, and at this point nearly half the entire country gets money from the government each month. Anyone that tries to tell you that the middle class is going to be “okay” simply has no idea what they are talking about. The following are 28 signs that the middle class is heading toward extinction…
#1 You don’t have to ask major U.S. corporations if the middle class is dying. This fact is showing up plain as day in their sales numbers. The following is from a recent New York Times article entitled “The Middle Class Is Steadily Eroding. Just Ask the Business World“…
In Manhattan, the upscale clothing retailer Barneys will replace the bankrupt discounter Loehmann’s, whose Chelsea store closes in a few weeks. Across the country, Olive Garden and Red Lobster restaurants are struggling, while fine-dining chains like Capital Grille are thriving. And at General Electric, the increase in demand for high-end dishwashers and refrigerators dwarfs sales growth of mass-market models.
As politicians and pundits in Washington continue to spar over whether economic inequality is in fact deepening, in corporate America there really is no debate at all. The post-recession reality is that the customer base for businesses that appeal to the middle class is shrinking as the top tier pulls even further away.
#2 Some of the largest retailers in the United States that once thrived by serving the middle class are now steadily dying. Sears and J.C. Penney are both on the verge of bankruptcy, and now we have learned that Radio Shack may be shutting down another 500 stores this year.
#3 Real disposable income in the United States just experienced the largest year over year drop that we have seen since 1974.
#4 Median household income in the United States has fallen for five years in a row.
#5 The rate of homeownership in the United States has fallen for eight years in a row.
#6 In 2008, 53 percent of all Americans considered themselves to be “middle class”. In 2014, only 44 percent of all Americans consider themselves to be “middle class”.
#7 In 2008, 25 percent of all Americans in the 18 to 29-year-old age bracket considered themselves to be “lower class”. In 2014, an astounding 49 percent of them do.
#8 Incredibly, 56 percent of all Americans now have “subprime credit”.
#9 Total consumer credit has risen by a whopping 22 percent over the past three years.
#10 The average credit card debt in the United States is $15,279.
#11 The average student loan debt in the United States is $32,250.
#12 The average mortgage debt in the United States is $149,925.
#13 Overall, U.S. consumers are $11,360,000,000,000 in debt.
#14 The U.S. national debt is currently sitting at $17,263,040,455,036.20, and it is being reported that is has grown by $6.666 trillion during the Obama years so far. Most of the burden of servicing that debt is going to fall on the middle class (if the middle class is able to survive that long).
#15 According to the Congressional Budget Office, interest payments on the national debt will nearly quadruple over the next ten years.
#16 Back in 1999, 64.1 percent of all Americans were covered by employment-based health insurance. Today, only 54.9 percent of all Americans are covered by employment-based health insurance.
#17 More Americans than ever find themselves forced to turn to the government for help with health care. At this point, 82.4 million Americans live in a home where at least one person is enrolled in the Medicaid program.
#18 There are 46.5 million Americans that are living in poverty, and the poverty rate in America has been at 15 percent or above for 3 consecutive years. That is the first time that has happened since 1965.
#19 While Barack Obama has been in the White House, the number of Americans on food stamps has gone from 32 million to 47 million.
#20 While Barack Obama has been in the White House, the percentage of working age Americans that are actually working has declined from 60.6 percent to 58.6 percent.
#21 While Barack Obama has been in the White House, the average duration of unemployment in the United States has risen from 19.8 weeks to 37.1 weeks.
#22 Middle-wage jobs accounted for 60 percent of the jobs lost during the last recession, but they have accounted for only 22 percent of the jobs created since then.
#23 It is hard to believe, but an astounding 53 percent of all American workers make less than $30,000 a year in wages.
#24 Approximately one out of every four part-time workers in America is living below the poverty line.
#25 According to the most recent numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau, an all-time record 49.2 percent of all Americans are receiving benefits from at least one government program each month.
#26 The U.S. government has spent an astounding 3.7 trillion dollars on welfare programs over the past five years.
#27 Only 35 percent of all Americans say that they are better off financially than they were a year ago.
#28 Only 19 percent of all Americans believe that the job market is better than it was a year ago.
As if the middle class didn’t have enough to deal with, now here comes Obamacare.
As I have written about previously, Obamacare is going to mean higher taxes and much higher health insurance premiums for middle class Americans.
Not only that, but millions of hard working Americans are going to end up losing their jobs or having their hours cut back thanks to Obamacare. For example, a fry cook named Darnell Summers recently told Barack Obama directly that he and his fellow workers “were broken down to part time to avoid paying health insurance“…
And the Congressional Budget Office now says that Obamacare could result in the loss of 2.3 million full-time jobs by 2021.
Several million people will reduce their hours on the job or leave the workforce entirely because of incentives built into President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, the Congressional Budget Office said Tuesday.
That would mean job losses equal to 2.3 million full-time jobs by 2021, in large part because people would opt to keep their income low to stay eligible for federal health care subsidies or Medicaid, the agency said. It had estimated previously that the law would lead to 800,000 fewer jobs by that year.
But even if we got rid of Obamacare tomorrow that would not solve the problems of the middle class.
The middle class has been shrinking for a very long time, and something dramatic desperately needs to be done.
The numbers that I shared above simply cannot convey the level of suffering that is going on out there on the streets of America today. That is why I also like to share personal stories when I can. Below, I have posted an excerpt from an open letter to Barack Obama that a woman with a Master’s degree and 30 years of work experience recently submitted to the Huffington Post. What this formerly middle class lady is having to endure because of this horrible economy is absolutely tragic…
Dear Mr. President,
I write to you today because I have nowhere else to turn. I lost my full time job in September 2012. I have only been able to find part-time employment — 16 hours each week at $12 per hour — but I don’t work that every week. For the month of December, my net pay was $365. My husband and I now live in an RV at a campground because of my job loss. Our monthly rent is $455 and that doesn’t include utilities. We were given this 27-ft. 1983 RV when I lost my job.
This is America today. We have no running water; we use a hose to fill jugs. We have no shower but the campground does. We have a toilet but it only works when the sewer line doesn’t freeze — if it freezes, we use the campground’s restrooms. At night, in my bed, when it’s cold out, my blanket can freeze to the wall of the RV. We don’t have a stove or an oven, just a microwave, so regular-food cooking is out. Recently we found a small toaster oven on sale so we can bake a little now because eating only microwaved food just wasn’t working for us. We don’t have a refrigerator, just an icebox (a block of ice cost about $1.89). It keeps things relatively cold. If it’s freezing outside, we just put things on the picnic table.
You can read the rest of her incredibly heartbreaking letter right here.
This is not the America that I remember.
What in the world is happening to us?
It may not happen this month, or even this year, but food stamp riots are coming to America. In fact, we got a small preview of the coming food stamp riots this past weekend when a “temporary system failure” caused food stamp cards to stop working in 17 U.S. states. Within hours, there were “mini-riots” at Wal-Marts and other retailers that rely heavily on food stamp users. So what would happen if food stamp benefits were cut off or reduced for an extended period of time? As you will see below, if Congress had not pushed through a “deal”, the USDA would have started cutting off food stamp benefits on November 1st. Considering the fact that 47 million Americans are on food stamps and more than 100 million Americans are enrolled in at least one welfare program run by the federal government, that could have sparked massive rioting. So the good news is that the coming food stamp riots will probably not happen in November. The bad news is that the “deal” in Congress only delays the political fighting until after Christmas. In just a few months we will be dealing with a potential “government shutdown” and a debt ceiling deadline once again.
Most Americans have no idea what almost just happened. According to Reuters, the state of North Carolina had already cut off some welfare benefits for the month of November…
North Carolina has become the first state to cut off welfare benefits to poor residents in the wake of the partial federal government shutdown, ordering a halt to processing November applications until a deal is reached to end the federal standstill.
More than 20,000 people – most of them children – receive monthly benefits aimed at helping them buy food and other basic supplies through North Carolina’s welfare program, called Work First, which is fully funded by the federal government. Recipients must reapply each month.
And as Mac Slavo recently detailed, the USDA was already planning to cut off food stamp assistance to millions of Americans on November 1st…
We say next month because the USDA, which oversees the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), has just issued an order to SNAP agency directors calling for their respective States to implement an emergency contingency program because of government funding issues. In a letter obtained by the Crossroads Urban Center food pantry, the USDA is directing state agencies to, “delay their November issuance files and delay transmission to State Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) vendors until further notice.”
What this means is that should Congress fail to increase the debt ceiling this week, come November there will literally be millions of people in the United States who will have exactly zero dollars transferred to their EBT cards.
What will happen to the nearly 50 million people who depend on these benefits to survive?
In fact, there have been quite a few news reports that have confirmed this…
In Utah, Fox News 13 in Salt Lake City reported that a local provider recently received a letter from the USDA sticking to the November 1 cut-off date.
“This is going to create a huge hardship for the people we serve here in our food pantry,” Bill Tibbits, Associate Director at Crossroads Urban Center, told Fox News 13.
“What this means [is] if there’s not a deal, if Congress doesn’t reach a deal to get federal government back up and running, in Utah about 100,000 families won’t get food stamp benefit,” added Tibbits.
The USDA letter says in part, “in the interest of preserving maximum flexibility, we are directing states to hold their November issuance files and delay transmission to state electronic benefit transfer vendors until further notice.”
So what would have happened if tens of millions of Americans suddenly had their food stamp benefits cut off without warning?
Well, what happened last weekend can give us a few clues. Just check out what happened at one Wal-Mart in Mississippi…
Customers staged a disturbance then walked out of a Mississippi Walmart store with groceries that hadn’t been paid for Saturday night after a computer glitch left them unable to use their food stamp cards.
People in 17 states found themselves unable to buy groceries with their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program cards after a routine check by vendor Xerox Corp. resulted in a temporary system failure.
Shortly after the mini-riot, managers decided to temporarily close the store, citing customer safety.
Due to this technical glitch, many parents were left wondering how they were going to feed their families. If this is the kind of anger that is unleashed over a single failed trip to the grocery store, what would we see if this kind of thing went on for an extended period of time?
At some Wal-Mart stores down in Louisiana, EBT cards were not showing any limits on Saturday night, and within two hours many store shelves in the grocery section were completely cleared of merchandise…
Shelves in Walmart stores in Springhill and Mansfield, LA were reportedly cleared Saturday night, when the stores allowed purchases on EBT cards even though they were not showing limits.
The chaos that followed ultimately required intervention from local police, and left behind numerous carts filled to overflowing, apparently abandoned when the glitch-spurred shopping frenzy ended.
Springhill Police Chief Will Lynd confirms they were called in to help the employees at Walmart because there were so many people clearing off the shelves. He says Walmart was so packed, “It was worse than any black Friday” that he’s ever seen.
Sadly, this was only a very small preview of the massive food stamp riots that are eventually coming to America. I like how Mike Adams explained what we are likely to see in the future…
Why does any of this matter? Because this is exactly the same way these people will behave when the federal government goes into default and nearly 50 million EBT cards stop working nationwide.
Fifty million. Consider that for a moment. Most of those 50 million people live in high-density cities. Many are proud owners of Obama phones, Obama food stamps, Obama unemployment checks and Obama subsidized housing. They have absolutely no clue that the government upon which they wholly depend to put food on the table is teetering on the verge of permanent collapse. (Seriously, they cannot conceive of the idea of government “running out of money” because they do not understand where money comes from.) Because of this distorted belief, they do not prepare for any future events other than more Obama handouts. Their entire “preparedness” plan is to vote for Democrats, because that’s who they know will give them the most handouts. And they will always win the popular vote, too, because any politician promising to restore responsible fiscal spending to the government by cutting programs will be viciously accused of being “mean” or involved in “hating poor people.” So the government handouts will only ratchet higher and higher, ensnaring more and more people, until the entire system is unsustainable and collapses under its own weight.
When that system of dependence fails, those who depend on it will panic in mere hours. As proof of this, consider the fact that this mass looting of Wal-Mart stores happened in less than three hours after the Saturday EBT card glitch struck. Police had to be called in to prevent the situation from getting completely out of control, and it was offline for only part of one day.
Now imagine what will happen when EBT cards go offline for 24, 48 or even 72 hours. And imagine it happening in every U.S. city simultaneously.
Of course not all Americans would go wild when food stamp benefits are cut off.
Other Americans express their desperation in other ways. According to Bloomberg, an increasing number of people are starting to sell hair, breast milk and their own eggs in a desperate attempt to make ends meet…
Hair, breast milk and eggs are doubling as automated teller machines for some cash-strapped Americans such as April Hare.
Out of work for more than two years and facing eviction from her home, Hare recalled Louisa May Alcott’s 19th-century novel and took to her computer.
“I was just trying to find ways to make money, and I remembered Jo from ‘Little Women,’ and she sold her hair,” the 35-year-old from Atlanta said. “I’ve always had lots of hair, but this is the first time I’ve actually had the idea to sell it because I’m in a really tight jam right now.”
The mother of two posted pictures of her 18-inch auburn mane on www.buyandsellhair.com, asking at least $1,000 and receiving responses within hours. Hare, who also considered selling her breast milk, joins others exploring unconventional ways to make ends meet as the four-year-old economic expansion struggles to invigorate the labor market and stimulate incomes.
We have moved into a time when things are becoming increasingly unstable and when people are becoming increasingly desperate.
In an attempt to keep order, the authorities will become increasingly forceful in the years ahead. At this point, many law enforcement officers already believe that there is very little that they cannot do to exert their “authority” over the rest of us. Just check out video of a drunk off-duty police officer “arresting” a woman that refused to go out on a date with him right here. Sadly, this type of behavior is becoming way too common these days.
And it looks like major financial institutions are getting ready for the chaos that is eventually coming as well. In fact, according to an article by Paul Joseph Watson, Chase Bank is now placing a limit on cash withdrawals and is banning business customers from sending wire transfers out of the country…
Chase Bank has moved to limit cash withdrawals while banning business customers from sending international wire transfers from November 17 onwards, prompting speculation that the bank is preparing for a looming financial crisis in the United States by imposing capital controls.
Numerous business customers with Chase BusinessSelect Checking and Chase BusinessClassic accounts have received letters over the past week informing them that cash activity (both deposits and withdrawals) will be limited to a $50,000 total per statement cycle from November 17 onwards.
Fortunately, the chaos that would have been unleashed if Congress had not made a deal has now been delayed for a few months.
But by kicking the can down the road, our politicians continue to make our long-term problems even worse. Either we are going to have tremendous pain now, or we are going to have even worse pain later. Peter Schiff explained the choice that we are facing this way…
If Republicans were to inexplicably prevail, and the federal government were to cut spending so that its expenditures matched its tax revenues (a truly radical idea) the country’s financial mess would be laid bare. The government would have to weigh the relative costs and benefits of making interest payments on Treasury debt (primarily to foreign creditors) or to trim entitlements promised to U.S. citizens. But those are choices we will have to make sooner or later anyway. In fact we should have dealt with these issues years ago. But generations of mechanistic debt ceiling increases have allowed us to perpetually kick the can down the road. What could possibly be gained by doing it again, particularly if it is done with no commitment to change course?
The Democrats’ argument that America needs to pay its bills is just hollow rhetoric. Paying off one’s Visa bill with a new and bigger MasterCard bill can’t be considered a legitimate payment of debt. At best it is a transfer. But in the government’s case, it doesn’t even qualify as that. Treasury debt is primarily bought by the Fed, foreign central banks, and major financial institutions. None of that will change with a debt ceiling increase. We will just go to the same people for greater quantities. So it’s like paying off your Visa card with a bigger Visa card.
We are living on borrowed time that has been purchased by stealing money from future generations.
We are literally destroying the future in order to make the present more palatable.
But whether it is this year, or next year or the year after that, at some point we are going to experience the pain that results from decades of incredibly foolish decisions.
I hope that you are getting ready.
Could that headline actually be true? Do Americans waste about 40 percent of all the food that we produce? That sounds like an absolutely crazy number, but it is actually quite accurate according to a study conducted by the Natural Resources Defense Council. What the NRDC discovered is that approximately 40 percent of our total food supply is either thrown into dumpsters by grocery stores, is discarded by restaurants, never gets harvested on our farms, or is thrown into the garbage by consumers in their homes. Even though 47 million Americans are on food stamps and millions of children go to bed hungry in this country every single night, we continue to waste approximately 263 million pounds of food every single day of the year. One day people will look back and regard us as probably the most wasteful society in the history of the planet.
So where does all of that food go?
Well, according to a recent Seattle Times article, “food waste” takes up more space in our landfills than anything else does…
Last year, the NRDC found that Americans throw out as much as 40 percent of the country’s food supply each year, adding up to $165 billion in losses.
Food waste makes up the largest portion of solid trash in landfills, according to researchers.
Some $900 million of expired food is dumped from the supply chain annually, much of it a result of confusion. Misinterpreted date labels cause the average American household of four to lose as much as $455 a year on squandered food, according to researchers.
The expired food that gets wasted is one of my personal pet peeves.
I don’t do this a lot, but today I am going to share a personal story with you.
Earlier today I was out running errands and I decided that I wanted to pick up some mini-cupcakes from Safeway that I just love. I do try to eat a healthy diet, but I do also like a treat from time to time. So I got over to Safeway, and I noticed that the only mini-cupcakes that they had out were ones with chocolate frosting, but I wanted ones with vanilla frosting.
So I went up to the bakery counter and there was nobody there, but behind the counter I saw a stack of several containers of vanilla cupcakes. I waited until the bakery lady got back and I asked her if I could have them.
I was astounded when she very firmly told me that I could not buy them.
She said that it was against regulations.
I implored her to sell them to me. I explained that I had come over to Safeway just to buy them and I didn’t care if they were a little old.
Again she very firmly told me that I could not buy them.
I could not understand this. I knew that the cupcakes were just going to be thrown out, so I asked to speak to her manager.
After a few moments her manager came over and I was once again told very firmly that under no circumstances would I be able to buy the cupcakes.
So needless to say, I left the store with a sad look on my face and without any cupcakes.
Now of course I probably didn’t need the cupcakes anyway. They are not healthy for me. But big chains such as Safeway throw away massive amounts of very good food as well. The level of the waste that goes on is absolutely astounding.
Meanwhile, the number of Americans that are dealing with hunger and malnutrition grows with each passing day. I want to share with you an excerpt from a recent article authored by Jason Ford entitled “I Work On The Breadline“…
I work as a cashier at a nationally known discount store. I sell clothing, cleaning products, house wares and food. The people I sell to are people of all colors, races, ages and sex, but most of them have one thing in common; EBT cards. I would say about half of every transaction I do is paid for with an EBT card. Sometimes people will use three different methods of payment. They will use whatever is left on their EBT card, then use whatever is left on their debit card, and then scrape their purse to find the remaining balance, and sometimes they still don’t have enough.
Another common trait of the people I serve besides the poverty is the poor health. The food I sell is not healthy, by any stretch. I sell potato chips, candy bars, bread, canned food, ice cream, soda, packaged meat, cigarettes and alcohol. I noticed quickly that a common ingredient of most of the foods is sugar and grains. Sugar and grains are easy to grow and produce cheaply and are used as fillers in processed food to cut cost and mask the taste of other questionable ingredients. Grains work in conjunction with sugars to inflame the body and compromise the immune system. Grains and sugars also have no nutritional value besides calories, so on top of inflaming the body; they do not provide the sustenance the body needs to survive. As the functions of the body require these nutrients the diet lacks, the body sucks these minerals from the bones, teeth and brain. Bone loss, and tooth decay and decreased brain function are the unfortunate symptoms of malnutrition. The poorest of the customers I serve are also the sickest. I have witnessed toothless mouths in the young and old. Mental retardation is also a common trait among many of them. I have even witnessed one unfortunate woman whose skin was a pale green color. These people are dying a slow starvation and they don’t even know it.
Doesn’t that just break your heart?
People are living like that, and yet America discards 263 million pounds of food every single day.
Something is fundamentally wrong with the way our system works.
So what is society going to do as the number of hungry people continues to grow in this country and around the world?
Well, according to ABC News, some scientists plan to feed them with flour made out of bugs…
A team of MBA students were the recipients of the 2013 Hult Prize earlier this week, providing them with $1 million in seed money to produce an insect-based, protein-rich flour for feeding malnourished populations in other countries. The product is called Power Flour.
“It’s a huge deal because we had a very ambitious but highly executable five-year plan in place,” said team captain Mohammed Ashour, whose team hails from McGill University in Montreal. “So winning this prize is a great step in that direction.”
Ashour, along with teammates Shobhita Soor, Jesse Pearlstein, Zev Thompson and Gabe Mott, will be immediately working with an advisory board to recruit farmers and workers in Mexico, where a population of roughly 4 million live in slum conditions with widespread malnutrition.
“We will be starting with grasshoppers,” Ashour said.
Are you ready for a “protein-rich flour” made out of grasshoppers?
I know that I am not.
And in Japan, scientists have actually been working on a way to create meat out of poop. You can read more about that right here.
Perhaps if we just quit wasting so much food we would be able to feed everybody without resorting to such craziness.
These days, an increasing number of Americans are fighting back against the colossal waste that they see all around them. Some have even chosen to take advantage of the waste by regularly going “dumpster diving”. The following is how I described “dumpster diving” in one of my previous articles…
Have you ever thought about getting your food out of a trash can? Don’t laugh. Dumpster diving has become a hot new trend in America. In fact, dumpster divers even have a trendy new name. They call themselves “freegans”, and as the economy crumbles their numbers are multiplying. Many freegans consider dumpster diving to be a great way to save money on groceries. Others do it because they want to live more simply. Freegans that are concerned about the environment view dumpster diving as a great way to “recycle” and other politically-minded freegans consider dumpster diving to be a form of political protest. But whatever you want to call it, the reality is that thousands upon thousands of Americans will break out their boots, rubber gloves and flashlights and will be jumping into dumpsters looking for food once again tonight.
Who knows – perhaps some enterprising young dumpster diver will end up fishing the vanilla cupcakes that I wanted out of Safeway’s dumpsters this evening.
It is amazing what some of these dumpster divers are able to recover from “the trash”. In North Carolina, one man even takes his son dumpster diving with him…
A programmer by day, Todd takes to the streets of North Carolina by night, digging through Dumpsters at drug stores and grocery stores all around his rural neighborhood.
“You would be simply amazed at what businesses throw out,” he said. “I’ve only had to buy two loaves of bread all year. … Last week I had a trunk full of cereal, cookies, chips and ramen noodles.”
Todd slinks in and out of smelly places with low-light flashlights to evade rent-a-cops who will shoo him away. Most nights, his 14-year-old son comes along.
Unfortunately, dumpster diving is not as easy as it used to be.
As dumpster diving has soared in popularity, some grocery stores have responded by putting locks on their dumpsters.
And in some areas of the country, police have even started regularly arresting dumpster divers.
But in the end, dumpster diving was not going to be a permanent solution anyway.
A permanent solution would be to quit wasting so much food.
I applaud the grocery store chains that choose to donate their expired food to homeless shelters and food banks.
We need to see a lot more of that going on.
And in our own homes we need to find ways to give more food away and waste less of it.
All of this needless wasting of food does not have to happen. Let’s work together to find some solutions.
Barack Obama has been running around the country taking credit for an “economic recovery”, but the truth is that things have not gotten better under Obama. Compared to when he first took office, a smaller percentage of the working age population is employed, the quality of our jobs has declined substantially and the middle class has been absolutely shredded. If we are really in the middle of an “economic recovery”, why is the homeownership rate the lowest that it has been in 18 years? Why has the number of Americans on food stamps increased by nearly 50 percent while Obama has been in the White House? Why has the national debt gotten more than 6 trillion dollars larger during the Obama era? Obama should not be “taking credit” for anything when it comes to the economy. In fact, he should be deeply apologizing to the American people.
And of course Obama is being delusional if he thinks that he is actually “running the economy”. The Federal Reserve has far more power over the U.S. economy and the U.S. financial system than he does. But the mainstream media loves to fixate on the presidency, so presidents always get far too much credit or far too much blame for economic conditions.
But if you do want to focus on “the change” that has taken place since Barack Obama entered the White House, there is no way in the world that you can claim that things have actually gotten better during that time frame. The cold, hard reality of the matter is that the U.S. economy has been steadily declining for over a decade, and this decline has continued while Obama has been living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
It is getting very tiring listening to Obama supporters try to claim that Obama has improved the economy. That is a false claim that is not even remotely close to reality. The following are 33 shocking facts which show how badly the U.S. economy has tanked since Obama became president…
#1 When Barack Obama entered the White House, 60.6 percent of working age Americans had a job. Today, only 58.7 percent of working age Americans have a job.
#2 Since Obama has been president, seven out of every eight jobs that have been “created” in the U.S. economy have been part-time jobs.
#3 The number of full-time workers in the United States is still nearly 6 million below the old record that was set back in 2007.
#4 It is hard to believe, but an astounding 53 percent of all American workers now make less than $30,000 a year.
#5 40 percent of all workers in the United States actually make less than what a full-time minimum wage worker made back in 1968.
#6 When the Obama era began, the average duration of unemployment in this country was 19.8 weeks. Today, it is 36.6 weeks.
#7 During the first four years of Obama, the number of Americans “not in the labor force” soared by an astounding 8,332,000. That far exceeds any previous four year total.
#8 According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the middle class is taking home a smaller share of the overall income pie than has ever been recorded before.
#9 When Obama was elected, the homeownership rate in the United States was 67.5 percent. Today, it is 65.0 percent. That is the lowest that it has been in 18 years.
#10 When Obama entered the White House, the mortgage delinquency rate was 7.85 percent. Today, it is 9.72 percent.
#11 In 2008, the U.S. trade deficit with China was 268 billion dollars. Last year, it was 315 billion dollars.
#12 When Obama first became president, 12.5 million Americans had manufacturing jobs. Today, only 11.9 million Americans have manufacturing jobs.
#13 Median household income in America has fallen for four consecutive years. Overall, it has declined by over $4000 during that time span.
#14 The poverty rate has shot up to 16.1 percent. That is actually higher than when the War on Poverty began in 1965.
#15 During Obama’s first term, the number of Americans on food stamps increased by an average of about 11,000 per day.
#16 When Barack Obama entered the White House, there were about 32 million Americans on food stamps. Today, there are more than 47 million Americans on food stamps.
#17 At this point, more than a million public school students in the United States are homeless. This is the first time that has ever happened in our history. That number has risen by 57 percent since the 2006-2007 school year.
#18 When Barack Obama took office, the average price of a gallon of regular gasoline was $1.85. Today, it is $3.53.
#19 Electricity bills in the United States have risen faster than the overall rate of inflation for five years in a row.
#20 Health insurance costs have risen by 29 percent since Barack Obama became president, and Obamacare is going to make things far worse.
#21 The United States has fallen in the global economic competitiveness rankings compiled by the World Economic Forum for four years in a row.
#22 According to economist Tim Kane, the following is how the number of startup jobs per 1000 Americans breaks down by presidential administration…
Bush Sr.: 11.3
Bush Jr.: 10.8
#23 In 2008, that total amount of student loan debt in this country was 440 billion dollars. At this point, it has shot up to about a trillion dollars.
#24 According to one recent survey, 76 percent of all Americans are living paycheck to paycheck.
#25 During Obama’s first term, the number of Americans collecting federal disability insurance rose by more than 18 percent.
#26 The total amount of money that the federal government gives directly to the American people has grown by 32 percent since Barack Obama became president.
#27 According to the Survey of Income and Program Participation conducted by the U.S. Census, well over 100 million Americans are enrolled in at least one welfare program run by the federal government.
#28 As I wrote about the other day, American households are now receiving more money directly from the federal government than they are paying to the government in taxes.
#29 Under Barack Obama, the velocity of money (a very important indicator of economic health) has plunged to a post-World War II low.
#30 At the end of 2008, the Federal Reserve held $475.9 billion worth of U.S. Treasury bonds. Today, Fed holdings of U.S. Treasury bonds have skyrocketed past the 2 trillion dollar mark.
#31 When Barack Obama was first elected, the U.S. debt to GDP ratio was under 70 percent. Today, it is up to 101 percent.
#32 During Obama’s first term, the federal government accumulated more new debt than it did under the first 42 U.S presidents combined.
#33 When you break it down, the amount of new debt accumulated by the U.S. government during Obama’s first term comes to approximately $50,521 for every single household in the United States. Are you able to pay your share?