The Beginning Of The End
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Do Not Make Fun Of Those That Have Fallen Out Of The Middle Class – You Could Be Next

Frustrated - Photo by BlechhhyThere are millions of American families that once lived very comfortable middle class lifestyles that have lost it all.  When you are unemployed and you can’t find a decent job, it can crush your soul.  Every day you can see the disappointment or the disapproval in the eyes of your family and friends, and it can be really easy to want to give up completely.  And then there are always those that choose to actively vocalize their disdain for those that are down on their luck.  But telling people “to get a job” or shaming them for being on welfare isn’t going to solve anything in an economy where there simply are not enough jobs for everyone.  Only a small minority of welfare recipients are actually trying to abuse the system.  Most people just want to work hard and take care of their families.  Unfortunately, that is much harder to do than it was before the last financial crisis.

At this point, our economy has stabilized at a much lower level than it was at before.  For example, 32 million Americans were on food stamps when Barack Obama took office, and subsequently that number shot up to about 47 million.  Fortunately, that number has been relatively stable for the last couple of years, but there has been no recovery.  This can be seen in lots of other economic statistics as well.

If we were going to have an “economic recovery”, it should have happened by now.

Unfortunately, it has not materialized, and now the next downturn is coming.

Since I run a website called “The Economic Collapse”, a lot of people seem to assume that I actually want an economic collapse to happen.  But that is not the truth at all.  I love this country, and just like most other people I really enjoy life in modern America.  I wish that the party could go on forever.  But I know that it cannot.

And every day I hear from people that are deeply suffering in this economy.  Anyone that has a heart that hears of such suffering would want things to get better.  Why would anyone want to see even more pain?

But I know that more pain is coming.

In the years ahead, a tremendous amount of love and compassion are going to be needed.  When people lose their jobs, their entire lives can be turned upside down.  Just consider the case of one formerly middle class woman named Abby Henson

Last winter I ran into a friend pushing his two youngest children in a stroller. When I asked how he was doing, he told me he’d recently lost his job. I walked away thinking, “Thank God that’s not us.” Fast-forward seven months and now we’re the family people walk away from with a sigh of relief.

One day this summer, my husband came home early from work with the news he’d lost his job. Since then, we’ve gone through all the stages of grief, with a few additions of our own. I’ve gone into what I’ve dubbed “Mama Bear mode,” wanting to do everything with my husband and our two small children, maybe because I just don’t want to face anyone alone. “How are you doing?” is a hard question to answer in the rush of school pickup. So I keep my mate and cubs close, or we hibernate at home, trying to avoid scrutiny.

Sadly, this kind of thing has happened to millions of families.  Those that doubt this just need to look at the survey numbers.

Back in 2008, 53 percent of all Americans considered themselves to be “middle class”.

In 2014, only 44 percent of all Americans still consider themselves to be “middle class”.

This next story that I want to share with you is from a reader named Joe.  Please look past the lack of punctuation, and consider what he is saying.  This is a man that has had his heart broken…

im not sure whats worse. never having a career and family or losing them both. i know that when i got the honor of handing 20 years of hard work to the chinese it plunged me in to despair and a horrible spin. 3 years later and a college degree and ive lost my home and my family over it. and all i got was, you could have, you should have. so its all my fault that someone elses greed caused all this. by the way the corporate CEO that did this makes 7 million bucks a year. she caused 2 divorces. a dozen early forced retirements, countless career losses and multiple wrecked families. im lucky i still have my RV which is home now. i used to have a nice 4 bedroom house with all the middle class trimmings. now i consider myself lucky to have a job where i barely make the space rent and no hope of recovering my former career or my family. i had it all and lost it so i dont know whats worse having or never having it at all and pining for it. either way it hurts knowing that no one wants you after you fall apart youre just a hot potato. all i know is that im lost with no hope with a clean 30 year work history thats now moot. in retrospect i wish i had stayed in the saddle and kept riding my motorcycle till i was no more.

And it is not just older Americans that are suffering in this economy.

Many young people that worked incredibly hard through school and that did everything “right” now find the door to the middle class completely shut.  The following is testimony from a recent college graduate that is incredibly sad…

I’m a college graduate. I live at home. I am on food stamps. I graduated about two years ago and the only work I’ve been able to get is sign waving. Temp agencies are all so flooded with applicants they are almost useless. I’ve sent out hundreds of resumes, filled out dozens of applications, and nothing ever happens. Everyone acts like it’s YOUR fault. That used to be hurtful, but now I’m past caring, because I realize what life holds for me: nothing. I will never have a family or career. I will never own a home or even live on my own again. I will never be able to have a social life again. I will never be financially independent, like I was for a brief period of time at an age younger than most because I worked so hard for it. And all of it was for this nothing. A lifetime of hard work, completely wasted. I wish I had just partied and screwed around my whole life – the outcome probably would have been better.

The despair that our young adults are feeling right now shows up very clearly in the survey numbers.

Back in 2008, 25 percent of all Americans in the 18 to 29-year-old age bracket considered themselves to be “lower class”.

In 2014, 49 percent of them do.

That is an astounding shift in just six years.

Anyone that believes that the U.S. economy is “just fine” is crazy.

When you lose everything, it can plunge you into a spiral of depression and desperation that can be incredibly difficult to break free from.

Some people get tempted to give up completely, but that is never a good answer.

I hope that some people will take hope from a comment that a reader named Paul left on one of my recent articles

Due to a lack of job security and all the bad economic news I have lapsed into a clinical depression. I have been susceptible to anxiety and depression in the past. However, I did not have to deal with a bout of depression for about 5 years. I am writing this as a wakeup call to other people who may be feeling what I am feeling right now. I am extremely angry about the rampant corruption, laziness, hubris, and ignorance that is permeating through society today. I have shifted between anger, apathy, and sadness. However, I have family that I must protect. One of my purposes in life is to give people hope. Also, below is a list of actions I took to combat my depression.

· Take up a new hobby. Dancing helped me.
· Take stock of how your life impacts others.
· Prepare for harder times ahead. This is extremely empowering.
· Engage in acts of kindness. I found a twenty dollar bill on the floor at a store. Instead of keeping it I gave it to lost and found at customer service. I also removed a sharp piece of wood from the middle of a residential street.
· I remember the saying “Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem” Feelings of sadness, anger, hopelessness are transitory. If you have thoughts about taking your life please get help.
· Typing this has made me feel better.

I will continue to fight my depression. I am in a dark place right now. However, I am searching for the light.

Please pray for Paul and others just like him as they struggle with their pain.

The truth is that there is always hope.

If you are reading this and you are hurting, I want you to know that almost everyone hits a very deep low at some point.  But if you keep fighting, there is always a way for things to be turned around.

Personally, God took the broken pieces of my life and turned them into a beautiful thing, and He can do the same for you.

So never, ever, ever give up.

Yes, very challenging economic times are coming.

But our lives should not be defined by our material possessions anyway.

Personally, I am very glad to be alive during this time of human history.  When times are the darkest, that is when light is needed the most.  And times of great crisis also often bring great opportunity as well.

The years ahead are going to present an awesome opportunity to make a difference in this world.

Don’t miss out.

America In Decline: The Soul Crushing Despair Of Lowered Expectations

All over America tonight there are people that believe that their lives are over.  When you do everything that you know how to do to get a job and you still can’t get one it can be absolutely soul crushing.  If you have ever been unemployed for an extended period of time you know exactly what I am talking about.  When you have been unemployed for month after month it can be very tempting to totally cut yourself off from society.  Those that are kind will look at you with pity and those that are cruel will treat you as though you are a total loser.  It doesn’t matter that America is in decline and that our economy is not producing nearly enough jobs for everyone anymore.  In our society, one of the primary things that defines our lives is what we do for a living.  Just think about it.  When you are out in a social situation, what is one of the very first things that people ask?  They want to know what you “do”.  Well, if you don’t “do” anything, then you are not part of the club.  But the worst part of being unemployed for many Americans is the relentless pressure from family and friends.  Often they have no idea how hard it is to find a job in this economy – especially if they still have jobs.  Sometimes the pressure becomes too great.  Sadly, we are seeing unemployment break up a lot of marriages in America today.  Things are really hard out there right now.  A very large number of highly educated Americans have taken very low paying service jobs in recent years just so that they can have some money coming in even as they “look for something else”.  Unfortunately, in many cases that “something else” never materializes.  In the past, America was “the land of opportunity” where anything was possible.  But today America has become “the land of lowered expectations” and the worst is yet to come.

We live during a time when “the American Dream” is literally being redefined.  In the old days, just about anyone could get a good job that would pay enough to make it possible to buy a house, buy a nice car and raise a family.

Unfortunately, those days are long gone.  The following is from a recent NPR article….

The town of Lorain, Ohio, used to embody this dream. It was a place where you could get a good job, raise a family and comfortably retire.

“Now you can see what it is. Nothing,” says John Beribak. “The shipyards are gone, the Ford plant is gone, the steel plant is gone.” His voice cracks as he describes the town he’s lived in his whole life.

“I mean, I grew up across the street from the steel plant when there was 15,000 people working there,” he says. “My dad worked there. I worked there when I got out of the Air Force. It’s just sad.”

We live in an economy that is in serious decline.  In this environment no job is safe.  In fact, even Goldman Sachs is laying off workers these days.

Millions of Americans are suffering from deep depression because they can’t find jobs.  Many of them are sitting at home right now blankly starting at their television screens as they wonder why nobody wants to hire them.  Some have been unemployed for years and have sent out thousands upon thousands of resumes.  The following is from a recent article by J.D. Hicks….

I have a brilliant cousin with a $180K Syracuse education working part-time at a department store. She has literally sent out 38,000 resumes in the span of a year to no avail. I have another very bright friend with the kindest heart who is so desperate he has applied for dishwashing jobs and didn’t get them, sending him deeper into depression. I’m sure we all know people like this, or perhaps have even been there ourselves.

Society has trained us to believe that we are worthless without a job. Indeed, we feel worthless when we are unemployed with few prospects of making money. Family, friends, and peers constantly remind us in subtle and not-so-subtle ways that we “need” a job.

Have you ever been unemployed?

How did it make you feel?

How were you treated by your family and friends?

In the old days, a college education was almost a guaranteed ticket to the middle class.

But these days, a college education guarantees you absolutely nothing.

As a recent article by Jed Graham detailed, most young unemployed workers in America today have at least some college education….

For the first time in history, the number of jobless workers age 25 and up who have attended some college now exceeds the ranks of those who settled for a high school diploma or less.

Out of 9 million unemployed in April, 4.7 million had gone to college or graduated and 4.3 million had not, seasonally adjusted Labor Department data show.

Overall, 53 percent of all Americans with a bachelor’s degree under the age of 25 were either unemployed or underemployed last year.

It is tough to tell young college graduates with their whole lives ahead of them that they need to lower their expectations because America is in decline.

So where did all the jobs go?

Well, one place they went is overseas.  Over the past couple of decades, millions upon millions of good jobs have left the United States and have gone over to the other side of the world.

That is why you see gleaming new factories going up all over China even while our once great manufacturing cities are turning into crime-infested warzones.

But as a recent WND article reported, the WTO has a solution.  They plan to replace “Made in China” labels with “Made in the World” labels so that we don’t feel so bad about losing our jobs and our economic infrastructure…

The World Trade Organization is moving closer to eliminating country-of-origin labels and replacing them with “Made in the World” initiative labels because they say we need to “reduce public opposition to free trade” and “re-engineer global governance.”

As the number of middle class jobs has steadily declined in recent years, the number of low paying service jobs has increased.

In a previous article, I discussed how approximately one out of every four U.S. workers now makes $10 an hour or less.

Could your family survive on 10 dollars an hour?

Today, you can find hordes of very smart, very talented Americans flipping burgers, waiting tables and welcoming people to Wal-Mart.

Sadly, the United States now has a higher percentage of workers doing low wage work than any other major industrialized nation does.

Perhaps we should applaud our leaders for doing such a great job of destroying the American Dream.

Because so many Americans are working crappy jobs, a very large percentage of them have absolutely no savings to speak of.

According to one survey, 42 percent of all American workers live paycheck to paycheck.

I am constantly encouraging people to save up an “emergency fund” that will enable them to pay their bills for at least 6 months if they suddenly become unemployed.

Unfortunately, for many Americans that is simply not possible.  Way too many families are just barely scraping by from month to month.

Another area of the economy where Americans are facing lowered expectations is in housing.

In the old days, most Americans dreamed of owning their own homes.

But today we are being told that things have changed.  For example, a recent USA Today article was entitled “Home rentals — the new American Dream?“….

Steve and Jodi Jacobson bought their Phoenix-area “dream home” in 2005. They built flagstone steps to the front door. They tiled the kitchen and bathroom. They entertained often, enjoying their mountain views.

“We put our soul into that house,” says Steve Jacobson, 37.

Then, home prices tanked more than 50%. Steve, a software quality assurance engineer, suffered pay cuts. In 2010, foreclosure claimed the home and their $100,000 down payment.

The Jacobsons didn’t lose their desire to live in a single-family home, however. They now rent one, like many other former homeowners displaced by foreclosure.

Is that what we are supposed to tell future generations of Americans?

“Listen Johnny and Suzie, if you work really, really hard at your minimum wage jobs perhaps someday you will be able to rent a home that has been foreclosed by a big, greedy bank”.

It is so sad to watch what is happening to this country.

These days many Americans are scratching and clawing and doing everything that they can to make it, but they still find themselves short on money at the end of the month.

Many are turning to debt in an attempt to bridge the gap.  According to CNN, 40 percent of “low- and middle-income households” are using credit cards to pay for basic living expenses.

Overall, U.S. consumers have more than 11 trillion dollars in debt right now.

That is an incredible number.

As the economy has declined, a lot of families have completely given up trying to make it on their own and have turned to the U.S. government for financial help.  Today, an astounding 49.1 percent of all Americans live in a home where at least one person receives government benefits.

Just think about that number for a while.  It is one of the clearest signs that America is in deep, deep decline.

Unfortunately, things are about to get even worse.  The next wave of the financial crisis is unfolding in Europe and we will all be talking about another “major global recession” very soon.

That means that unemployment in the United States is going to get a lot worse.

For the millions upon millions of Americans that are already suffering through the horror of unemployment, that is really bad news.

Posted below is a trailer for a new HBO documentary entitled “Hard Times: Lost on Long Island”.  Please take a few minutes to watch this video, because I think it does a good job of showing the soul crushing despair that many unemployed Americans are going through right now….

So do any of you have any stories of lowered expectations to share?  Please feel free to post a comment with your thoughts below….

There Are 100 Million Working Age Americans That Do Not Have Jobs ***UPDATED***

The unemployment crisis in America is much worse than you are being told.  Did you know that there are 100 million working age Americans that do not get up in the morning and go to work?  No wonder why it seems like there are so many people that do not have jobs!  According to the federal government, there are 12.6 million working age Americans that are considered to be “officially” unemployed, but there are another 87.8 million working age Americans that are not working either.  The federal government considers those Americans to be “not in the labor force” so they are not included in the unemployment rate.  In fact, this is one of the key ways that the government manipulates the unemployment numbers.  The Obama administration would have us believe that the unemployment rate is going down and that that since the start of the last recession about as many Americans have left the labor force as we saw during the entire decades of the 1980s and 1990s combined.  Of course that is a bunch of nonsense, but that is what the Obama administration would have us believe.  The truth is that the percentage of working age Americans that are employed is just about the same right now as it was two years ago.  It was incredibly difficult to get a job back then and it is incredibly difficult to get a job right now.  So don’t believe the hype that things are getting much better.  If you still do have a good job, you might want to hold on to it tightly, because there is not much hope that things are going to improve significantly any time soon.

The first chart that I have posted below shows the total number of “officially” unemployed workers in America.  According to the Federal Reserve, that number is currently 12,673,000.  This chart makes it look like the employment picture in America is getting significantly better….

But if you dig deeper into the numbers you quickly see that this is not true.  A lot of those workers that were formerly classified as “unemployed” have now been moved into the “not in labor force” category.  Since the start of the last recession, the number of Americans not in the labor force has risen by more than 8 million according to the Obama administration.  The total number of working age Americans not in the labor force now stands at 87,897,000….

So when you add 12,673,000 and 87,897,000, you get a total of 100,570,000 working age Americans that do not have jobs.

Yes, there are certainly millions upon millions of working age Americans that do not have jobs and that do not want jobs.

But you have to be delusional to believe that there are nearly 88 million working age Americans that do not have jobs and that do not want jobs.

The Obama administration tells us that the labor force participation rate is now the lowest it has been since 1984.  But back then, a very large percentage of women were staying home and raising families.  The percentage of stay at home mothers has declined steadily since then.

So the truth is that the employment statistics that we are being fed are not portraying an accurate picture of what is really going on.

As a CNN article recently explained, there are millions of Americans that say that they would like to have a job even though they have not been “actively” looking for one in the past four weeks.  If those people were included in the unemployment rate, it would immediately shoot up to around 11 percent….

About six million people claim they want a job, even though they haven’t looked for one in the last four weeks. If they were to all start applying for work again, the unemployment rate would suddenly shoot up above 11%.

If you want a much more accurate picture of what is really happening to the employment situation in America, the key is to look at the employment to population ratio.  As I have written about previously, the percentage of working age Americans that have jobs is not increasing.

Let’s take a look at the employment to population ratio for the last six years for the month of March….

March 2007: 63.3%

March 2008: 62.7%

March 2009: 59.9%

March 2010: 58.5%

March 2011: 58.5%

March 2012: 58.5%

The percentage of the working age population that had jobs fell rapidly during the recession and it has stayed very low since then.

When Barack Obama tells you that “America is going back to work” he is lying to you.

The cold, hard reality of the matter is that there are millions of hard working Americans that have been sitting at home for years hoping that a new job will come along.

Back in 2007, approximately 10 percent of all unemployed Americans had been out of work for one year or longer.

Today, that figure is above 30 percent.

The average duration of unemployment in the United States today is about three times as long as it was back in the year 2000.

And according to a recent Wall Street Journal article, the number of announced job cuts is actually rising again….

Also, announced jobs cuts rose 7.1% in April, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas, to 40,599 — and up 11.2% from last April — another bit of evidence that the jobs market isn’t doing well.

Economic conditions in the United States have been steadily getting worse for quite a while, but that is not the only reason for our employment problems.

There are two other trends that I want to briefly mention.

1) A lot of jobs that used to be very labor intensive are now being replaced by technology.  Thanks to robotics, automation and computers, a lot of big companies simply do not need as many workers these days.  Those are jobs that are never going to come back.

2) As labor has become a global commodity, millions upon millions of U.S. jobs have been sent overseas.  Today, you are not just competing for a job with your neighbors.  You are also competing with workers on the other side of the globe.  Unfortunately, it is legal to pay slave labor wages in many of those countries.  By sending our jobs out of the country, big corporations can also avoid a whole host of rules, regulations, taxes and benefit payments that they would be facing if they hired American workers.

So U.S. workers are at a massive competitive disadvantage.  Why should a big corporation pay 10 or 20 times more for an American worker when they can pad their profits by exploiting cheap foreign labor?

The sad truth is that the value that the marketplace puts on the labor of the average American worker is continually decreasing.

This is making it much more difficult to find a job and it is keeping wages down.

In the old days, pretty much any man that was a hard worker and that really wanted a good job could go out and get one.

But now all of that has changed.  Back in 1950, more than 80 percent of all men in the United States had jobs.  Today, less than 65 percent of all men in the United States have jobs.

And sadly, the vast majority of the jobs that are being lost are good jobs.  As I wrote about the other day, 95 percent of the jobs lost during the recession were middle class jobs.

So how are middle class families making it these days?

Many of them are going into tremendous amounts of debt.  As a recent CNN article detailed, the average debt load being carried by those of us in the bottom 95 percent of all income earners has risen dramatically over the past several decades….

In 1983, the bottom 95% had 62 cents of debt for every dollar they earned, according to research by two International Monetary Fund economists. But by 2007, the ratio had soared to $1.48 of debt for every $1 in earnings.

Unfortunately, many American families are absolutely maxed out at this point.  According to one recent survey, approximately one-third of all Americans are currently paying their bills late.

If your goal is to live a middle class lifestyle, you need to realize that the entire way that the game is being played is changing.

In the old days, you could start out with a company as a young person and stay with that company until you retired.  If you worked hard and you were loyal, there was a really good chance that the company would recognize that and be loyal to you too.

These days, most companies are absolutely heartless when it comes to their workers.  The good job that you have today could be gone tomorrow.  Workers are increasingly being viewed as “liabilities”, and there is a good chance that the moment you become “expendable” to your company you will be kicked out on the street.

That is one reason why I am encouraging people to consider starting their own businesses.  If you work for someone else, your security can be taken away from you at any moment.  But if you work for yourself, you aren’t going to get fired.

Unfortunately, tough economic times are coming and things are not going to be easy no matter what road you take.  It will be imperative to work harder than ever, to stay flexible, and to never, ever give up.

***UPDATE***

Since the monthly jobs numbers were released on Friday I thought I would update this article to reflect the latest figures.

The federal government has announced that the unemployment rate has declined to 8.1 percent.

That certainly sounds like good news.

But knowing better, I immediately went and checked how the employment to population ratio had changed.

Well, it turns out that the employment to population ratio has fallen once again.

That means that a smaller percentage of working age Americans had jobs in April than in March.

The following are the figures for the past three months….

February 2012: 58.6%

March 2012: 58.5%

April 2012: 58.4%

If the percentage of people that have jobs is going down, then how can they claim that things are getting better?

The following are the two Federal Reserve charts posted above after they have been updated with the new numbers.  These charts are very revealing.

1) There are now 12,500,000 workers that are “officially” considered to be unemployed….

2) There are now 88,419,000 Americans that are considered to be “not in the labor force”.  Please note that this number rose by 522,000 in just a single month!….

Okay, so now let’s do the same math that we did before.

12,500,000 unemployed workers plus 88,419,000 Americans that are “not in the labor force” equals 100,919,000 working age Americans that do not have jobs.

That number just continues to climb at a very rapid pace.

When is the mainstream media going to start telling us the truth?

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