The middle class American worker is in danger of becoming an endangered species. The politicians are not telling you the truth, and the mainstream media is certainly not telling you the truth, but the reality is that there is nothing but bad news on the horizon for workers in the United States. In the old days, when the big corporations that dominate our society did well, that also meant good things for American workers since those corporations would need more of us to work for them. But in the emerging one world economic system that our economy is being merged into, those corporations have other choices now. For instance, the big corporations can now choose to limit the number of “expensive” American workers that they employ by shipping millions of jobs to the other side of the world. And from their perspective, it makes perfect sense. They can make much bigger profits by hiring people on the other side of the planet to work for them for less than a dollar an hour. If they can get good production out of those people, then why should they hire Americans for ten to twenty times as much, plus have to give those Americans health insurance and other benefits? Another major factor in the slow, agonizing death of the American worker is technology. We live during a period when technology is advancing at a pace that is almost unimaginable at the same time that it is steadily becoming cheaper and cheaper. That means that it is going to become easier and easier for companies to replace workers with robots and computers. As I have written about previously, it is being projected that our economy will lose millions of jobs to technology in the coming years. Yes, some of us will still be needed to help build the robots and the computers, but not all of us will. And of course the overall general weakness of the economy is not helping matters either. The American people inherited the greatest economic machine in the history of the world, and we have wrecked it. Decades of very foolish decisions have resulted in the period of steady economic decline that we are experiencing now.
America is simply not the economic powerhouse that it once was. Back in 2001, the U.S. economy accounted for 31.8 percent of global GDP. By 2011, the U.S. economy only accounted for 21.6 percent of global GDP. That is a collapse any way that you want to look at it.
Today, American workers are living in an economy that is rapidly declining, and their jobs are steadily being stolen by robots, computers and foreign workers that live in countries where it is legal to pay slave labor wages. Politicians from both political parties refuse to do anything to stop the bleeding because they think that the status quo is working just great.
So don’t expect things to get better any time soon.
The following are 10 amazing charts that demonstrate the slow, agonizing death of the American worker…
#1 Wages And Salaries As A Percentage Of GDP
As you can see, wages as a percentage of GDP are hovering near an all-time record low. That means that American workers are bringing home a smaller share of the economic pie than ever before.
#2 Average Annual Hours Worked Per Employed Person In The United States
We are an economy that is rapidly trading good paying full-time jobs for low paying part-time jobs. The decline in average annual hours worked that we have witnessed represents the equivalent of losing millions of jobs. There has been an explosion of “the working poor” in the United States, and this trend is probably only going to accelerate in the years to come.
#3 Manufacturing Employment
As you can see, there are less Americans working in manufacturing today than there was in 1950 even though the population of the country has more than doubled since then. The United States has lost more than 56,000 manufacturing facilities since 2001, and yet our politicians stand around and do nothing about it.
#4 Employment-Population Ratio
This is one of my favorite charts. It shows that there has been absolutely no employment recovery at all since the end of the last recession. The percentage of working age Americans that have a job has stayed under 59 percent for 44 months in a row. How much worse will things get when the next major economic downturn strikes?
#5 Labor Force Participation Rate
This is how the Obama administration is getting the “unemployment rate” to magically go down. They are pretending that millions upon millions of Americans simply do not want to work anymore. As you will notice, the decline of the labor force participation rate has accelerated greatly since Barack Obama entered the White House.
#6 Duration Of Unemployment
The average amount of time that it takes an unemployed worker to find a new job has declined slightly, but it is still far above normal historical levels. It is a crying shame that it takes the average unemployed worker two-thirds of a year to find a new job, but this is the new economic reality that we are all living in.
#7 Delinquency Rate On Residential Mortgages
Since there are not enough jobs for all of us, and since our wages are not rising as rapidly as the cost of living is, a whole bunch of us are falling behind on our mortgages. As you can see, the mortgage delinquency rate has only dropped slightly and is still way, way above typical levels.
#8 New Homes Sold
American workers also don’t have enough money to go out and buy new homes either. Yes, new home sales have rebounded slightly this year, but we are nowhere near where we used to be.
#9 Consumer Credit
Millions of American families continue to resort to going into debt in a desperate attempt to make ends meet. After a slight interruption during the last recession, consumer credit once again is growing at a frightening pace.
#10 Self-Employment At A Record Low
Since there aren’t enough jobs for everyone, why aren’t more Americans trying to start their own businesses? Well, the reality of the matter is that the government has made it exceedingly difficult to start your own business today. Taxes, rules, regulations and red tape are choking the life out of millions of small businesses in the United States. As a result, the percentage of self-employed Americans is at a record low.
As all of these long-term trends continue, the middle class will continue to shrink, poverty in America will continue to explode and government dependence will continue to rise.
The U.S. health care system is a giant money making scam that is designed to drain as much money as possible out of all of us before we die. In the United States today, the health care industry is completely dominated by government bureaucrats, health insurance companies and pharmaceutical corporations. The pharmaceutical corporations spend billions of dollars to convince all of us to become dependent on their legal drugs, the health insurance companies make billions of dollars by providing as little health care as possible, and they both spend millions of dollars to make sure that our politicians in Washington D.C. keep the gravy train rolling. Meanwhile, large numbers of doctors are going broke and patients are not getting the care that they need. At this point, our health care system is a complete and total disaster. Health care costs continue to go up rapidly, the level of care that we are receiving continues to go down, and every move that our politicians make just seems to make all of our health care problems even worse. In America today, a single trip to the emergency room can easily cost you $100,000, and if you happen to get cancer you could end up with medical bills in excess of a million dollars. Even if you do have health insurance, there are usually limits on your coverage, and the truth is that just a single major illness is often enough to push most American families into bankruptcy. At the same time, hospital administrators, pharmaceutical corporations and health insurance company executives are absolutely swimming in huge mountains of cash. Unfortunately, this gigantic money making scam has become so large that it threatens to collapse both the U.S. health care system and the entire U.S. economy.
The following are 50 signs that the U.S. health care system is a massive money making scam that is about to collapse…
#1 Medical bills have become so ridiculously large that virtually nobody can afford them. Just check out the following short excerpt from a recent Time Magazine article. One man in California that had been diagnosed with cancer ran up nearly a million dollars in hospital bills before he died…
By the time Steven D. died at his home in Northern California the following November, he had lived for an additional 11 months. And Alice had collected bills totaling $902,452. The family’s first bill — for $348,000 — which arrived when Steven got home from the Seton Medical Center in Daly City, Calif., was full of all the usual chargemaster profit grabs: $18 each for 88 diabetes-test strips that Amazon sells in boxes of 50 for $27.85; $24 each for 19 niacin pills that are sold in drugstores for about a nickel apiece. There were also four boxes of sterile gauze pads for $77 each. None of that was considered part of what was provided in return for Seton’s facility charge for the intensive-care unit for two days at $13,225 a day, 12 days in the critical unit at $7,315 a day and one day in a standard room (all of which totaled $120,116 over 15 days). There was also $20,886 for CT scans and $24,251 for lab work.
#10 According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the U.S. is currently experiencing a shortage of at least 13,000 doctors. Unfortunately, that shortage is expected to grow to 130,000 doctors over the next 10 years.
Brace yourself for longer lines at the doctor’s office.
Whether you’re employed and insured, elderly and on Medicare, or poor and covered by Medicaid, the Florida Medical Association says there’s a growing shortage of doctors — especially specialists — available to provide you with medical care.
And if the Florida Legislature goes along with Gov. Rick Scott’s recommendation to offer Medicaid coverage to an additional 1 million Floridians — part of the Affordable Care Act that takes effect next January — the FMA says that shortage will only get worse.
#12 At this point, approximately 40 percent of all doctors in the United States are 55 years of age or older.
In December, when the New York Times ran a story about how a deficit deal might threaten hospital payments, Steven Safyer, chief executive of Montefiore Medical Center, a large nonprofit hospital system in the Bronx, complained, “There is no such thing as a cut to a provider that isn’t a cut to a beneficiary … This is not crying wolf.”
Actually, Safyer seems to be crying wolf to the tune of about $196.8 million, according to the hospital’s latest publicly available tax return. That was his hospital’s operating profit, according to its 2010 return. With $2.586 billion in revenue — of which 99.4% came from patient bills and 0.6% from fundraising events and other charitable contributions — Safyer’s business is more than six times as large as that of the Bronx’s most famous enterprise, the New York Yankees. Surely, without cutting services to beneficiaries, Safyer could cut what have to be some of the Bronx’s better non-Yankee salaries: his own, which was $4,065,000, or those of his chief financial officer ($3,243,000), his executive vice president ($2,220,000) or the head of his dental department ($1,798,000).
#14 Health insurance administration expenses account for 8 percent of all health care costs in the United States each year. In Finland, health insurance administration expenses account for just 2 percent of all health care costs each year.
#16 All over America, people are reporting huge health insurance premium increases thanks to Obamacare. The following example is from a recent article by Robert Wenzel…
A California small businessman tells me that he switched healthcare insurance carriers in 2012. The monthly premium for him and his wife was about $400, but when he received his first bill in January of this year it was for $1,200. He hasn’t been to a doctor in years, his wife has only gone for minor care.
Apparently there is some clause in the Affordable Healthcare Act that results in health insurance firms using a new method to calculate premiums. Those who have health insurance plans that have been in effect since at least 2010 are grandfathered under the old calculation method, but insurance carriers are using a new formula for new plans.
#17 Blue Shield of California has announced that it wants to raise health insurance premiums by up to 20 percent this year in an effort to keep up with rising health costs.
#18 Aetna’s CEO says that health insurance premiums for many Americans will double when the major provisions of Obamacare go into effect in 2014.
#19 Close to 10 percent of all U.S. employers plan to drop health coverage completely when the major provisions of Obamacare go into effect in 2014.
#20 According to a survey conducted by the Doctor Patient Medical Association, 83 percent of all doctors in the United States have considered leaving the profession because of Obamacare.
#21 Approximately 16,000 new IRS agents will be hired to help oversee the implementation of Obamacare, and the Obama administration has given the IRS 500 million extra dollars “outside the normal appropriations process” to help the IRS with their new duties.
#25Nearly half of all Americans now use prescription drugs on a regular basis according to the CDC. Not only that, the CDC also says that approximately one-third of all Americans use two or more pharmaceutical drugs on a regular basis, and more than ten percent of all Americans use five or more pharmaceutical drugs on a regular basis.
#26 The percentage of women taking antidepressants in America is higher than in any other country in the world.
#27 In 2010, the average teen in the U.S. was taking 1.2 central nervous system drugs. Those are the kinds of drugs which treat conditions such as ADHD and depression.
#28 Children in the United States are three times more likely to be prescribed antidepressants as children in Europe are.
#32 The top executives at the five largest for-profit health insurance companies in the United States combined to bring in nearly $200 million in total compensation for 2009.
#33 The chairman of Aetna, the third largest health insurance company in the United States, brought in a staggering $68.7 million during 2010. Ron Williams exercised stock options that were worth approximately $50.3 million and he raked in an additional $18.4 million in wages and other forms of compensation. The funny thing is that he left the company and didn’t even work the entire year.
#34 It turns out that the financial assistance that Barack Obama promised would be provided for those with “pre-existing conditions” under Obamacare is already being shut down because of a lack of funding…
Tens of thousands of Americans who cannot get health insurance because of preexisting medical problems will be blocked from a program designed to help them because funding is running low.
Obama administration officials said Friday that the state-based “high-risk pools” set up under the 2010 health-care law will be closed to new applicants as soon as Saturday and no later than March 2, depending on the state.
#40 The state of California now ranks dead last out of all 50 states in the number of emergency rooms per million people.
#41 According to a doctor interviewed by Fox News, “a gunshot wound to the head, chest or abdomen” will cost $13,000 at his hospital the moment the victim comes in the door, and then there will be significant additional charges depending on how bad the wound is.
#43 One trained medical billing advocate says that over 90 percent of the medical bills that she has audited contain “gross overcharges“.
#44 It is not uncommon for insurance companies to get hospitals to knock their bills down by up to 95 percent, but if you are uninsured or you don’t know how the system works then you are out of luck.
#45 According to a study conducted by Deloitte Consulting, a whopping 875,000 Americans were “medical tourists” in 2010.
#46 Today, there are more than 56 million Americans on Medicaid, and it is being projected that Obamacare will add 16 million more Americans to the Medicaid rolls.
#47 Back in 1965, only one out of every 50 Americans was on Medicaid. Today, one out of every 6 Americans is on Medicaid.
#48 Today, there are more than 50 million Americans on Medicare, and that number is projected to grow to 73.2 million in 2025.
#49 When Medicare was first established by Congress, it was estimated that it would cost the federal government $12 billion a year by the time 1990 rolled around. Instead, it cost the federal government $110 billion in 1990, and it will cost the federal government close to $600 billion this year.
#50 Even if you do have health insurance, that is no guarantee that medical bills will not bankrupt you. Just check out what a recent Time Magazine article says happened to one unfortunate couple from Ohio that actually did have health insurance…
When Sean Recchi, a 42-year-old from Lancaster, Ohio, was told last March that he had non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, his wife Stephanie knew she had to get him to MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Stephanie’s father had been treated there 10 years earlier, and she and her family credited the doctors and nurses at MD Anderson with extending his life by at least eight years.
Because Stephanie and her husband had recently started their own small technology business, they were unable to buy comprehensive health insurance. For $469 a month, or about 20% of their income, they had been able to get only a policy that covered just $2,000 per day of any hospital costs. “We don’t take that kind of discount insurance,” said the woman at MD Anderson when Stephanie called to make an appointment for Sean.
Stephanie was then told by a billing clerk that the estimated cost of Sean’s visit — just to be examined for six days so a treatment plan could be devised — would be $48,900, due in advance.
By the way, that hospital down in Houston made a profit of 531 million dollars in one recent year.
So what can be done about all of this?
Well, the truth is that the status quo is a complete and total disaster, and every “solution” being promoted by politicians from both major political parties would only make things worse.
In the end, the U.S. health care system needs to be rebuilt from the ground up, but we all know that is not going to happen.
Instead, our politicians and the health care industry will just find additional ways to extract money from all of us, and the level of care that we all get will continue to decline.
If you don’t believe this, just check out what Paul Krugman of the New York Times had to say recently…
We’re going to need more revenue…Surely it will require some sort of middle class taxes as well.. We won’t be able to pay for the kind of government the society will want without some increase in taxes… on the middle class, maybe a value added tax…And we’re also going to have to make decisions about health care, doc pay for health care that has no demonstrated medical benefits . So the snarky version…which I shouldn’t even say because it will get me in trouble is death panels and sales taxes is how we do this.
Sick children are being discharged from NHS hospitals to die at home or in hospices on controversial ‘death pathways’.
Until now, end of life regime the Liverpool Care Pathway was thought to have involved only elderly and terminally-ill adults.
But the Mail can reveal the practice of withdrawing food and fluid by tube is being used on young patients as well as severely disabled newborn babies.
One doctor has admitted starving and dehydrating ten babies to death in the neonatal unit of one hospital alone.
Writing in a leading medical journal, the physician revealed the process can take an average of ten days during which a baby becomes ‘smaller and shrunken’.
In the end, my philosophy is just to avoid the U.S. health care system as much as possible. Most doctors are just trained to do two things – prescribe drugs and cut you open. In an emergency situation where you are about to die, those may be your best options, but otherwise I would just as soon avoid the gigantic money making scam that the U.S. health care industry has become.
Avoid contact with the existing health care system as far as possible. Yes, emergencies arise that require the help of physicians, but by and large one can learn to care for one’s own minor issues. Though it is flawed, the internet has been an information leveler for the masses and permits each person to be his or her own physician to a large degree. Take advantage of it! Educate yourself about your own body and learn to fuel and maintain it as you would an expensive auto or a pet poodle. One does not need a medical degree to:
1. avoid excessive use of tobacco or alcohol or, for that matter, caffeine;
2. avoid poisons like fluoride, aspartame, high fructose corn syrup, and addictive drugs (legal or illicit);
3. avoid unnecessary and potentially lethal imaging studies (TSA’s radiation pornbooths, excessive mammography, repetitive CT scans – exposure to all significantly increases cancer risk);
4. avoid excessive cell phone use and exposure to other forms of EMR pollution where possible (the NSA is recording everything you say and text anyway);
5. avoid daily fast food use and abuse (remember: pink slime and silicone) ;
6. avoid untested GM foods (do you really want to become “Roundup Ready?”):
7. avoid most vaccinations and pharmaceutical agents promoted by the establishment;
8. avoid risky behaviors (and, we do not need a bunch of Nanny State bureaucrats to define and police these);
9. exercise moderately;
10. get plenty of sleep;
11. drink plenty of good quality water (buy a decent water filter to remove fluoride, chloride, and heavy metals);
12. wear protective gear at work and play where appropriate (helmets, eye-shields, knee and elbow pads, etc.):
13. seek out locally-grown, whole, organic foods and support your local food producers;
14. take appropriate nutritional supplements (multi-vitamins, Vitamin C, Vitamin D3);
15. switch off the TV and the mainstream media it represents;
16. educate yourself while you can;
17. QUESTION AUTHORITY!
Doing these simple, common-sense things will add healthy years to a person’s life and help one avoid most medical encounters during his or her allotted time on earth.
So what do you think?
Do you believe that the U.S. health care system is a gigantic money making scam that is about to collapse?
Please feel free to post a comment with your thoughts below…
Did you know that median household income in the United States is lower today than it was when the last recession supposedly ended? If we are in the middle of an “economic recovery”, how can this possibly be happening? Stunning new statistics compiled by Sentier Research show that the U.S. economy is not nearly as healthy as we have been led to believe. According to the study that Sentier Research has just released, median household income in the United States was sitting at $55,470 back in January 2000. In December 2007, when the recession began, it was sitting at $54,916. In June 2009, when the recession supposedly ended, it was sitting at $53,508. Today, it is sitting at $50,964. This is a long-term trend that is definitely going in the wrong direction. The fact that median household income in the U.S. is now 4.8 percent lower than it was when the last recession ended is incredibly disturbing, especially since all of the things that we buy on a regular basis just keep going up in price. Food, gas, electricity, car insurance and health insurance all cost a whole lot more today than they did back in the year 2000, and yet median household income has dropped 8.1 percent since that time. So what does all of this mean? It means that American families ARE getting poorer.
Yes, the stock market has been soaring, corporate profits have set all-time records in recent years and the big Wall Street banks that were showered with bailout money are absolutely thriving.
But there has been no economic recovery on “Main Street”.
According to the Sentier Research report mentioned above, incomes have been declining in all geographic regions of the country and in all sectors of the economy….
-Median household income for the self-employed has fallen 9.4 percent since June 2009.
-Median household income for private sector employees has fallen 4.5 percent since June 2009.
-Median household income for government workers has fallen 3.5 percent since June 2009.
-Median household income for Americans living in the West has fallen 8.5 percent since June 2009.
-Median household income for Americans living in the Northeast has fallen 4.9 percent since June 2009.
-Median household income for Americans living in the South has also fallen 4.9 percent since June 2009.
-Median household income for Americans living in the Midwest has fallen 1.1 percent since June 2009.
Remember, the recession supposedly ended in June 2009.
Since that time we have supposedly been in a “recovery”.
So if it has seemed to you that American families have been getting poorer it has not just been your imagination.
In a previous article, I detailed 84 statistics that prove that the middle class in America is being systematically destroyed. If you have not read it yet, I encourage you to go check it out. At this point it is absolutely undeniable that the middle class in America is declining. The following are just a couple of the numbers from my recent article….
1. According to the Pew Research Center, 61 percent of all Americans were “middle income” back in 1971. Today, only 51 percent of all Americans are.
2. The Pew Research Center has also found that 85 percent of middle class Americans say that it is harder to maintain a middle class standard of living today compared with 10 years ago.
We don’t need someone to come in and “tweak” the economy.
We need radical reconstructive surgery.
But most Americans do not understand this.
Most Americans do not seem to grasp these things until economic hardship touches them personally.
After all, if you still have a good job and the mainstream media is telling you that everything is going to be okay it is really easy to pretend that we aren’t heading for an economic disaster of unimaginable proportions.
A massive problem that we are facing right now is something known as “normalcy bias”. This is how Wikipedia defines “normalcy bias”….
The normalcy bias, or normality bias, refers to a mental state people enter when facing a disaster. It causes people to underestimate both the possibility of a disaster occurring and its possible effects. This often results in situations where people fail to adequately prepare for a disaster, and on a larger scale, the failure of governments to include the populace in its disaster preparations. The assumption that is made in the case of the normalcy bias is that since a disaster never has occurred then it never will occur. It also results in the inability of people to cope with a disaster once it occurs. People with a normalcy bias have difficulties reacting to something they have not experienced before. People also tend to interpret warnings in the most optimistic way possible, seizing on any ambiguities to infer a less serious situation.
Doesn’t that sound exactly like the vast majority of Americans right now?
Most Americans just assume that since we have always recovered from every other economic downturn in the past that we will always be able to easily handle whatever the future throws at us.
If only that was true.
We are heading into a time that will be unlike anything any of us have ever experienced before, and many people that have blind faith in the system are going to be absolutely devastated when this coming crisis blindsides them.
Our economy has been collapsing, it is continuing to collapse, and the collapse is going to accelerate dramatically in the coming years.
You can have blind faith in the system, or you can get prepared for what is coming.
Once upon a time, anyone that was relatively competent and willing to work hard could go out and easily get a job that would enable that person to financially support a family. Unfortunately, that is simply no longer true anymore. Well paying “middle income jobs” are being rapidly replaced with “low income jobs” and part-time jobs. As the economy crumbles, it is becoming increasingly difficult for the typical American worker to survive from month to month. The number of companies that provide benefits such as health insurance has fallen steadily over the past ten years, and paychecks have not been keeping up with the rising prices of food and gas. Average American families are seeing their budgets squeezed like never before, and many of them are going into huge amounts of debt in order to make up the difference. Sadly, this is a problem that has developed over an extended period of time and that is not going to be reversed overnight. Over the past four decades, the ratio of wages and salaries to GDP in America has fallen dramatically. The typical American worker is not as valued as much as he or she used to be, and if current trends continue even more of us will be working part-time jobs or “low income jobs” in the years ahead.
In America today there is a great deal of focus on the unemployed, but there are also millions upon millions of Americans that are working part-time jobs because that is all that they can find.
It can be absolutely soul crushing to go all the way through school getting good grades, spend a ton of money on an education, and then work for 8 bucks an hour doing meaningless work for some predator corporation that simply does not care about how talented you are.
Today, an astounding 48 percent of all Americans are considered to be either “low income” or are living in poverty.
According to the New York Times, approximately 100 million Americans are either living in poverty or in “the fretful zone just above it”.
A lot of those people actually do have jobs. Unfortunately, a part-time job that pays 8 or 9 dollars an hour just will not get you anywhere close to getting over the poverty line.
This is not the way that the U.S. economy used to work. Back in the old days, good paying jobs that would allow you to live “the American Dream” were plentiful.
But now millions upon millions of Americans are scrambling for anything that they can get. According to a recent survey conducted by Gallup, the percentage of Americans that are working part-time jobs but that would like full-time jobs is now higher than it has been at any other time in the last two years.
In this economy, a good paying full-time job is incredibly precious. If you still have one, you should consider yourself to be very fortunate.
Check out the following chart. It is a chart that shows the level of wages and salaries as a percentage of GDP in the United States since the late 1940s. As you can see, the slice of the pie being taken home by American workers has been dropping like a rock since about 1970….
Is that a clear trend or what?
And it is going to continue year after year as long as we continue to pursue the same foolish economic policies.
As our politicians continue to allow millions of American jobs to be shipped overseas, competition for the jobs that remain inside this country is becoming extremely intense.
Back in 1967, 97 percent of all U.S. men with a high school degree between the ages of 30 and 50 had jobs. Today, that figure is down to 76 percent.
As you read this, there are hordes of hard working American workers sitting at home staring at their televisions as they wonder why nobody will hire them.
But even if you do have a job that does not mean that you are in good shape. The percentage of “low income jobs” just continues to climb. Back in 1980, less than 30% of all jobs in the United States were low income jobs. Today, more than 40% of all jobs in the United States are low income jobs.
Many Americans work as hard as they can and still find that they must turn to the government for financial assistance. According to author Paul Osterman, about 20 percent of all U.S. adults are currently working jobs that pay poverty-level wages.
And that number is just going to keep climbing unless we change what we are doing as a nation.
Perhaps you are working a “low income job” right now. Most of us have worked a job like that at least once in our lives. Hopefully you will find the following list amusing. Yes, I have exaggerated a few things slightly, but I think you will get the point.
The following are 20 signs you might be a typical American worker….
#1 If you are working three jobs and you still don’t have enough money at the end of the month, you might be a typical American worker.
#2 If your job involves asking the question “Would you like fries with that?”, you might be a typical American worker.
#3 If you shop at the dollar store because Wal-Mart is too expensive, you might be a typical American worker.
#4 If your job requires you to wear a smock, a brightly colored polo shirt or lots of “flair”, you might be a typical American worker.
#5 If people are constantly asking you where the restroom is while you are at work, you might be a typical American worker.
#6 If your employer hires extra part-time workers in order to avoid giving anyone full-time hours, you might be a typical American worker.
#7 If you are required to watch a mindless “training video” after being hired, you might be a typical American worker.
#8 If the company you work for is owned by someone on the other side of the world, you might be a typical American worker.
#9 If a trained seal could do your job and you feel like your expensive education is going to waste, you might be at typical American worker.
#10 If you don’t have any health insurance at all, you might be a typical American worker. Only about 25 percent of all part-time workers in the United States receive employee benefits such as health insurance or paid sick leave.
#11 If your car is older than your kids are, you might be a typical American worker.
#12 If you can’t afford to buy the things that you are selling to the public, you might be a typical American worker.
#13 If the balances on your credit cards are larger than your bank accounts are, you might be a typical American worker.
#14 If going to Burger King is your idea of “fine dining”, then you might be a typical American worker.
#15 If it costs more to fill up your car with gas than you will make at your job today, you might be a typical American worker. The price of gasoline has increased by 83 percent since Barack Obama first took office, and the average cost of a gallon of gas in the United States is now up to $3.52.
#16 If you eat your cereal with a fork so that you can save milk, you might be a typical American worker.
#17 If your electricity bill keeps going up but your paycheck never does, you might be a typical American worker.
#18 If it feels like you are losing an organ every time you pay for health insurance each month, you might be a typical American worker.
#19 If you feel like your employer is constantly tempted to replace you with someone younger and cheaper, then you might be a typical American worker.
#20 If you are so poor that you cannot even afford to pay attention, you might be a typical American worker.
Unfortunately, a lot more Americans are going to be forced into working these kinds of jobs if current trends continue.
Since the year 2000, we have lost 10% of our middle class jobs even though our population has increased by more than 30 million since then. In the year 2000 there were about 72 million middle class jobs in the United States, but today there are only about 65 million middle class jobs.
The lack of good jobs in America has some very real consequences. In particular, our young adults are really feeling the pain of not being able to find quality employment.
According to a recent poll conducted by Generation Opportunity, huge numbers of Americans in the 18 to 29 year old age bracket are delaying major life decisions due to the poor economy….
-44% are delaying buying a home
-28% are delaying saving for retirement
-27% are delaying paying off student loans or other debt
-27% are delaying going back to school or getting more education
-23% are delaying starting a family
-18% are delaying getting married
All of those things take a lot of money, and if you simply don’t have the money it makes things really tough.
Sadly, the economy is about to get even worse.
As I have written about previously, what is going on in Greece right now is a warning sign for the rest of the world, and we are on the precipice of another major global financial crisis.
There are an increasing number of voices in the financial world that believe that we are going to see a Greek default in March. So will this actually happen? I certainly don’t know. But what some folks are currently saying about the situation sure does make for interesting reading.
In the old days, you could graduate from college, get a good job, work for the same company for 30 years, save up for retirement and count on a comfortable life in your old age.
That paradigm is now totally shattered. The entire global economic system is in a state of chaos and things change faster today than they ever have before.
If you have a job today, it may be gone tomorrow.
The financial institution or insurance company that you are working with today may be out of business by next month.
We live in a world that is becoming increasingly unstable. That is why it is imperative to try to become more self-sufficient and less dependent on the system.
It is tough to plan in such an environment, but one thing is for sure – tough times are coming and things are not going to get any easier than they are now.
How in the world does the average American family survive in this economy? The median household income is a little bit less than $50,000 a year right now. So let’s call that about $4000 a month. But before any of that money gets spent, you have to take out at least $1000 in taxes. That leaves about $3000 a month to pay all the bills with. With that $3000 you have to pay the mortgage (or rent), make the car payments, make the student loan payments, pay for power and water, pay for health insurance, pay for home insurance, pay for car insurance, pay the phone bill, pay the Internet bill and pay the cable bill. On top of all that, every member of the family needs three meals a day and the cars need to be filled up with gasoline or they won’t go anywhere. Of course I haven’t even mentioned expenses that don’t happen every month such as car repairs or new shoes. No wonder so many families are feeling so financially stressed!
The truth is that American families are getting squeezed harder than they have been in ages. The number of good jobs is declining, incomes are going down, and the cost of living just keeps going up.
The following are 17 facts that prove that the average American family is getting absolutely pulverized by this economy….
#1 The cost of a health insurance policy for the average American family rose by a whopping 9 percent last year. According to a report put out by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research and Educational Trust, the average family health insurance policy now costs over $15,000 a year.
How in the world can most families afford that? Yes, in many cases employers are paying for at least a portion of that, but still that seems absolutely outrageous.
#2 Due to rising costs, a lot of employers are completely getting rid of health plans for their employees. In fact, the percentage of Americans covered by employer-based health plans has fallen for 11 years in a row.
#3 The number of uninsured Americans continues to rise. Things have gotten so bad that an all-time record 49.9 million Americans do not have any health insurance at all.
#4 At this point, most American families are tapped out financially. According to the U.S. Labor Department, incomes and spending were both down for the second straight year in 2010.
#5 At the same time, the employment picture continues to look worse with each passing month. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of layoffs in the United States was up 14 percent in August.
#6 Even if you do have a job that doesn’t mean that you are doing much more than surviving. According to Paul Osterman, a professor of economics at MIT, approximately 20 percent of all employed Americans are making $10.65 an hour or less.
#7 The amount of debt that the average American family has piled up is absolutely staggering. The median yearly wage in the United States is just $26,261, but the average American household is carrying $75,600 in debt.
#8 Consumer confidence is extremely low right now. If the U.S. economy was in good shape, the Consumer Confidence Index would be up around 90. Instead, it is sitting at 45.4.
#9 Nearly every recent survey shows that the American people are feeling really depressed about the economy right now. In fact, one poll found that 80 percent of them believe that we are actually in a recession right now.
#10 Many consumers are seriously starting to cut back on spending again, and that is not a good sign for the U.S. economy. According to one recent study, 40 percent of all Americans have cut back on their spending within the last 60 days.
#11 It certainly does not help that millions of good jobs have been shipped out of the country. Sadly, the trend of offshoring our jobs is going to continue to accelerate if something is not done. According to Professor Alan Blinder of Princeton University, 40 million more U.S. jobs could be sent offshore over the next two decades.
#12 There is a lot of fear in the workforce right now. According to Gallup, 30 percent of all employed Americans are worried that they will be laid off soon.
#13 Today, there are 5.9 million Americans between the ages of 25 and 34 that are living with their parents. That is putting an even greater strain on the budgets of many families.
#14 American families have gotten very accustomed to using plastic to pay for things. Today, the average U.S. household has 13 different credit cards.
#15 Many American families are not making it at all in this economy. Last year, 2.6 million more Americans dropped into poverty. That was the largest increase that we have seen since the U.S. government began keeping statistics on this back in 1959.
#16 For many American families, living on food stamps has become a way of life. Today, there are more than 45 million Americans on food stamps and we keep setting a brand new record almost every single month.
#17 Things have gotten so bad that many American families are selling off whatever they can in order to survive. For example, down in Florida hundreds of people have been selling off their burial plots in an attempt to raise cash. The following is an excerpt from a local news report about this new trend….
Sellers are posting online, using burial plot brokers, and also funeral homes to market the real estate. Some of those advertisements show single plots starting at about $1,000, while family plots can go for up to $50,000.
Most American families are living in a state of almost constant financial stress. Way too many parents are spending way too many sleepless nights wondering how in the world they will be able to keep their heads above water for another month.
Very few families seem to have “extra money” for stuff these days. Yeah, there are the “privileged few”, but most people are really struggling to get by.
In America today, if you are able to keep your home from being foreclosed and you are able to put food on the table and clothes on the backs of your family then you are doing pretty good.
Sadly, as our current economic crisis deepens, the average American family is going to have an even more difficult time trying to survive financially.
So do you have any tips to share for how the average American family can survive in this very tough economy? Please feel free to share your ideas and thoughts below….
The U.S. health care system has become one gigantic money making scam, and you are about to see the statistics that prove it. Today, the United States spends more on health care per person than any other country in the world by far. The health insurance companies and the big pharmaceutical corporations are raking in gigantic mountains of cash and yet the quality of the health care that we receive in return is rather quite poor. People living in Puerto Rico have a greater life expectancy than we do. Residents of Cuba have a lower infant mortality rate than we do. We are the most medicated population on the planet and yet we are also one of the sickest. If the U.S. health care system was a country, it would have the 6th largest economy on the globe and yet rates of cancer, heart disease and diabetes continue to increase. The U.S. health care statistics that you are about to read below are absolutely stunning. For as much money as we shell out for health care, we should have the greatest system in the entire world. But we don’t. Something has gone horribly wrong.
As you read this, there are hordes of health bureaucrats and greedy corporate fatcats that are becoming incredibly wealthy while the rest of us go broke trying to pay for our health care. In the United States today, health care bills cause more bankruptcies than anything else does. Millions of Americans are afraid to go to the hospital because they know that even a short visit would be a huge financial burden.
Sadly, our politicians in Washington D.C. continue to make the problem worse. Obamacare was one of the worst pieces of legislation that anyone has ever come up with in the history of the United States. You could put a thousand monkeys in a room with a thousand typewriters for a thousand years and they wouldn’t come up with anything as bad as Obamacare. Rather than doing something to address the abuses of the health insurance companies and the pharmaceutical corporations, Obamacare actually gives them more power. In fact, huge portions of Obamacare are virtually identical to a bill that was written by the health insurance trade association in 2009. Under Obamacare our health care costs will go up even faster and the quality of our health care will continue to go down. So please don’t try to tell me that Obamacare is the solution to anything.
The health care system in the United States is so broken that it probably cannot be repaired. The entire thing needs to be dismantled and completely reinvented.
If you doubt this, just check out the stats that I have compiled below.
As I put together this list of statistics, Business Insider proved to be a very valuable resource. In addition, I relied heavily on the following articles which I previously authored….
#2 According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, health care costs accounted for just 9.5% of all personal consumption back in 1980. Today they account for approximately 16.3%.
#3 The United States spent 2.47 trillion dollars on health care in 2009. It is being projected that the U.S. will spend 4.5 trillion dollars on health care in 2019.
#4 One study found that approximately 41 percent of working age Americans either have medical bill problems or are currently paying off medical debt.
#5 According to a report published in The American Journal of Medicine, medical bills are a major factor in more than 60 percent of the personal bankruptcies in the United States. Of those bankruptcies that were caused by medical bills, approximately 75 percent of them involved individuals that actually did have health insurance.
#7 The chairman of Aetna, the third largest health insurance company in the United States, brought in a staggering $68.7 million during 2010. Ron Williams exercised stock options that were worth approximately $50.3 million and he raked in an additional $18.4 million in wages and other forms of compensation. The funny thing is that he left the company and didn’t even work the whole year.
#8 The top executives at the five largest for-profit health insurance companies in the United States combined to receive nearly $200 million in total compensation for 2009.
#9 Even as the rest of the country struggled with a deep recession, U.S. health insurance companies increased their profits by 56 percent during 2009 alone.
#11 In the United States, health insurance administration expenses account for 8 percent of all health care costs. In Finland, that figure is just 2 percent.
#12 Health insurance rate increases are getting out of control. According to the Los Angeles Times, Blue Shield of California announced plans earlier this year to raise rates an average of 30% to 35%, and some individual policy holders were slated to see their health insurance premiums rise by up to 59 percent.
#13 According to an article on the Mother Jones website, health insurance premiums for small employers in the U.S. increased 180% between 1999 and 2009.
#14 Since 2003, health insurance companies have shelled out more than $42 million in state-level campaign contributions.
#17 Prescription drugs cost about 50% more in the United States than they do in other countries.
#18Nearly half of all Americans now use prescription drugs on a regular basis according to a CDC report that was recently released. According to the report, approximately one-third of all Americans use two or more pharmaceutical drugs, and more than ten percent of all Americans use five or more drugs on a regular basis.
#21 Children in the United States are three times more likely to be prescribed antidepressants than children in Europe are.
#22 The percentage of women taking antidepressants in America is higher than in any other country in the world.
#23 Lawyers are certainly doing their part to contribute to soaring health care costs. According to one recent study, the medical liability system in the United States added approximately $55.6 billion to the cost of health care in 2008.
#24 According to one doctor interviewed by Fox News, “a gunshot wound to the head, chest or abdomen” will cost $13,000 at his hospital the moment the victim comes in the door, and then there will be significant additional charges depending on how bad the wound is.
#25 Why are c-sections on the rise? It is because a vaginal delivery costs approximately $5,992, while a c-section costs approximately $8,558.
#26 According to the CIA World Factbook, the United States had a higher infant mortality rate than 45 other nations in 2009.
#41 According to a PricewaterhouseCoopers report, “inefficient claims processing” costs the U.S. health care system 210 billion dollars every single year.
#42 Today, approximately 40% of all U.S. doctors are age 55 or older.
#43 According to the American Association of Medical Colleges, we were already going to be facing a shortage of more than 150,000 doctors over the next 15 years even before Obamacare was passed.
#44 An IBD/TIPP poll taken back in August 2009 found that 4 out of every 9 American doctors said that they “would consider leaving their practice or taking an early retirement” if Congress passed Obamacare.
#45According to a survey published in the New England Journal of Medicine, approximately one-third of all practicing physicians in the United States indicated that they may leave the medical profession because of the new health care law.
#46 According to a Merritt Hawkins survey of 2,379 doctors that was conducted in August 2010, 40 percent of all U.S. doctors plan to “retire, seek a nonclinical job in health care, or seek a job or business unrelated to health care” at some point over the next three years.
Most Americans have a deep aversion to the phrase “redistribution of wealth”, and rightly so. On a fundamental level, it is just not right to take the money that one man has worked so hard to earn and “redistribute” it to someone else. In the political realm, the phrase “a redistribution of wealth” is usually a reference to our ballooning social programs, but what most Americans don’t realize is that one of the biggest redistributions of wealth in world history took place during the Wall Street bailouts of a couple years ago. Trillions of dollars of our money and of money that belongs to future generations was redistributed to the Wall Street bankers. The Wall Street bankers did not earn this money and they did not deserve this money. We were told that if Wall Street did not get this money that the global economy would collapse and that there would be martial law in the streets. We were promised that this money would “fix” Wall Street and then the prosperity would “trickle down” to Main Street. So did this happen? Of course not.
What ended up happening is that Wall Street hoarded all of this cash. Lending to individuals and small businesses actually decreased. The Federal Reserve started handing out gigantic piles of nearly interest-free money which many of these big Wall Street banks immediately loaned back to the U.S. government at a significantly higher rate of interest.
Talk about easy money.
Now the big Wall Street banks and the ultra-wealthy are swimming in cash and sales of luxury goods in the United States are absolutely skyrocketing. Meanwhile, millions of “ordinary” Americans continue to slip into poverty.
So is the answer to all of this just to “tax the rich” and redistribute the wealth again by giving more handouts to the poor?
Of course not.
The American people don’t need more handouts.
What the American people desperately need are some good jobs.
But Wall Street is hoarding the cash they got during the bailouts.
It would be one thing if these big Wall Street banks had made a ton of money based on their own efforts. It is a very American thing to be able to enjoy the fruits of hard work.
However, the truth is that many big Wall Street banks and financial institutions may have completely imploded if not for the bailouts.
They were “too big to fail” and our politicians jumped to their service.
Our politicians redistributed wealth by taking trillions of dollars that belonged to us and to future generations and handed it to the folks on Wall Street.
So now the boys and girls over on Wall Street are thriving while tens of millions of “average” Americans are desperately suffering.
Does that seem right to you?
Isn’t it about time that the U.S. government gets out of the “redistribution of wealth” business altogether?
Just consider the following statistics. Even as the economic suffering of ordinary Americans continues to deepen, those who got big piles of bailout money are living the high life….
#1 According to Stephen Lewis of Monument Securities, luxury retailers in the United States have seen an 8.1 percent increase in sales compared to a year ago, while “discount stores” that cater to the poor and the middle class have only seen a 1.2 percent increase in sales compared to a year ago.
#2 The sad truth is that just about every company that deals in luxury goods is booming, while those that primarily serve ordinary Americans are not doing nearly as well. Just consider the following quote from a recent article by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard of the Telegraph….
Tiffany’s, Nordstrom, and Saks Fifth Avenue are booming. Sales of Cadillac cars have jumped 35pc, while Porsche’s US sales are up 29pc.
Cartier and Louis Vuitton have helped boost the luxury goods stock index by almost 50pc since October. Yet Best Buy, Target, and Walmart have languished.
#3 Elderly Americans in particular are really having a hard time of it right now. A recent study by a law professor from the University of Michigan found that Americans that are 55 years of age or older now account for 20 percent of all bankruptcies in the United States. Back in 2001, they only accounted for 12 percent of all bankruptcies.
#4 The number of Americans on food stamps has hit another all-time record. There are now 43.2 million Americans enrolled in the food stamp program.
#5 According to the U.S. Conference of Mayors, visits to soup kitchens are up 24 percent over the past year.
#6 Meanwhile, the price of food continues to go up. This hits poor and middle class Americans much harder than it hits the wealthy. According to a report on 55 top food commodities by the Food and Agriculture Organization, global food prices reached a new record high during December.
#7 Lester Brown, the president of the Washington-based Earth Policy Institute, is publicly declaring that the world is just “one poor harvest” away from total chaos….
“The reality is that the world is only one poor harvest away from chaos. We are so close to the edge that politically destabilizing food prices could come at any time.”
#8 The price of clothes is also increasing dramatically. It turns out that cotton is 80% more expensive now than it was back at the beginning of 2010.
#9 Americans will also be paying more at the gas pump this upcoming year. In fact, former Shell Oil President John Hofmeister recently stated that Americans could be paying 5 dollars for a gallon of gasoline by the end of this upcoming year.
#10 Health insurance rates are also skyrocketing. Blue Shield of California recently announced plans to raise health insurance rates by an average of 30% to 35% this year, and some individual policy holders could actually see their health insurance premiums rise by a whopping 59 percent.
#11 On top of everything else, the U.S. Census is now telling us that there are millions more poor people in America than they had previously calculated. The U.S. Census Bureau recently revealed that the figure of 43.6 million Americans living in poverty that they announced last September was way too low and that actually 47.8 million Americans are now living in poverty.
#12 If all of these economic problems were not bad enough, now many state and local governments are seriously considering raising taxes. In Illinois, there is now a proposal to raise state income tax rates by 75 percent. A recent article that appeared on the CNBC website explained why Illinois is so desperate for cash….
In a moment when states around the country are wrestling with withered revenues, Illinois faces a deficit of at least $13 billion; more than $6 billion in unpaid bills to social service agencies, schools and funeral homes; the most underfinanced state pension system; and growing signs of concern from bond investors.
So won’t the big Wall Street banks and the ultra-wealthy get hit by these tax increases too?
Some of them will, but many of them have learned to “play the game” so well that they barely pay any taxes at all.
As I have written about previously, a third of all the wealth in the world is now held in offshore banks. When taxes go up, the ultra-wealthy are not the ones that have their wealth “redistributed”. Instead, it is poor saps like you and I that have our wealth “redistributed”.
In fact, the next time another “financial crisis” comes along, the financial “powers that be” will once again come running to Congress and come running to the Federal Reserve begging for more bailouts.
Now that the precedent has been set, it will only seem natural to redistribute even more of our wealth to the folks over on Wall Street so that we can “save” the financial system.
But the truth is that our financial system is completely doomed to fail in the long run and throwing our money into the financial system is like throwing our money into a black hole.
In the end, all of us are going to greatly suffer when the financial system finally crashes. But for the moment the wealthy are partying with all of the money that they have looted from the rest of America, and the rest of us which were “small enough to fail” have been left to scratch and claw and fight with each other as we desperately try to survive in this horrible economy.
Today, millions of American families are extremely stressed out because they are working as hard as they can and yet they find at the end of the month they still haven’t been able to pay all of the bills. Unfortunately, things are only going to get rougher in the years ahead. The U.S. government has reached a terminal phase of the debt spiral that it is trapped in, and the only way to keep the system going is to print more money, borrow more money and spend more money. But won’t this cause horrible inflation eventually? Of course it will. That is why so many people around the world have so loudly denounced “quantitative easing 2″. The Federal Reserve is just creating hundreds of billions of dollars out of thin air and is chucking all of this money into the system in a desperate attempt to get it moving again. This is also why the Tea Party movement is so angry about the record amounts of government debt that are being piled up. When the U.S. government goes into more debt, it creates more dollars. As the Federal Reserve and the U.S. government flood the system with new dollars, it means that there are now more dollars chasing roughly the same number of goods and services, and that is a recipe for inflation.
Fortunately (or unfortunately, however you want to look at it), most of this new money is trapped in the financial markets right now. The first people that get their hands on all of this new money are banks, financial institutions and the folks down on Wall Street and right now they are hoarding much of it and much of it is going to pump up the stock market.
That is one reason why we saw such a tremendous bubble in commodities in 2010. It is also a key reason why we have seen such a stock market “recovery”.
But eventually all of this new money is going to get into the hands of average U.S. consumers and it is going to start pushing the price of everything up.
Ronald Reagan once said that inflation is “as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber, and as deadly as a hit man.” Ron Paul has called inflation a “hidden tax” on all of us, and that is exactly what it is. All of the paper money that we are storing in the banks is losing a little bit of value every single day. Over long periods of time, this loss of value becomes absolutely massive. For example, did you know that the U.S. dollar has lost over 95 percent of its purchasing power since the Federal Reserve was created in 1913?
Unfortunately, as the Federal Reserve and the U.S. government continue to flood the system with new dollars in a desperate attempt to stimulate the economy, inflation is only going to get worse and worse and worse.
So enjoy the relatively tame inflation that we are enjoying for now. The official U.S. government inflation rate has been hovering around 1 percent or so, but everyone knows that the official inflation rate is an absolute joke. The government pulls different categories in and out of the inflation rate almost at will in an attempt to keep the numbers low.
Others are convinced that the official rate of inflation is even higher than that. For example, John Williams of ShadowStats.com has closely studied inflation in the U.S. and he believes that it is currently hovering somewhere around 5 percent.
However, John Williams does not believe that inflation is going to stay at 5 percent for much longer. He recently released a “Hyperinflation Special Report” for 2010 that everyone needs to read. Personally, I do not agree with all of his conclusions and I do not believe that things are going to happen quite as quickly as he is projecting, but his overall analysis is sound.
The truth is that our financial system has now reached a terminal phase. Just look at the chart below. Really look at it. How can any financial system survive debt that is rising this fast? The printing and borrowing of money continues to spiral out of control with no end in sight. It is hard to imagine any scenario in which we can even achieve a “soft landing”. One way or another, this exploding debt is going to take us down…..
So are the politicians sorry that they have saddled us with all of this debt?
In fact there are quite a few politicians running around in Washington D.C. that are still convinced “that deficits don’t matter” and that all this debt will never catch up with us.
Well, hold on to your hats, because this is going to be the decade when all of this debt really does start to catch up with us.
One of the ways that we are going to feel the pain is through inflation.
In the months and years ahead, wages will remain relatively stable and government entitlement payments will not increase much while prices for the basic things that American families need go through the roof.
Already we are starting to see some troubling signs of inflation. In 2010, the price of almost every major agricultural commodity you can name shot up dramatically. We are starting to see these price increases filter into the supermarket. Some companies are trying to hide these price increases by shrinking package sizes.
Have you noticed this yet? Have any of the packages that you buy regularly seemed to shrink in recent months?
Sadly, it looks like food prices are headed even higher. According to a recent report by Reuters, world food prices hit an all-time record high in December….
World food prices rose to a record in December on higher sugar, grain and oilseed costs, the United Nations said, exceeding levels reached in 2008 that sparked deadly riots from Haiti to Egypt.
So what are you and your family going to do if a worldwide food shortage pushes food prices up significantly?
Another place where American families are really going to start feeling the pain is at the gas pump.
Do you remember back in October when I warned you that 100 dollar oil is coming?
Well, the price of Brent crude reached 95 dollars a barrel for the first time in almost two years on Monday.
Unfortunately, there are many who now believe that the price of oil is going to go a lot higher than that.
John Hofmeister, the former president of Shell Oil, believes that American consumers will likely be paying 5 dollars for a gallon of gas by the time 2012 rolls around.
So is your employer going to be paying you much more to keep up with rising gas prices?
Of course not.
And you know what?
When the price of oil rises, it affects the price of almost everything else in the stores, because nearly everything has to be transported in one way or another.
So why is the price of oil going up so much? Well, of course there are speculators and of course the price of oil is highly manipulated, but one of the big reasons why oil is going up is because the U.S. dollar is losing value.
The cost of other basics is going up as well. Have your health insurance premiums gone up lately? All over the country, horrific health insurance premium increases are being reported.
Quite a few of the readers of this column have stated that they simply cannot afford health insurance anymore and so they are now doing without it. There are millions of Americans that refuse to go to a hospital because there is no way they can pay for health insurance and there is no way they can pay the ridiculous fees charged by our hospitals today.
Sadly, in the months and years to come millions more working American families will be pushed into poverty-like conditions by rising inflation.
Already we are seeing huge numbers of American families that are working as hard as they can not being able to afford the basics.
So if even one person if your family has a decent job you should consider yourself to be very fortunate.
But sadly even families where everyone is working are going to continue to be stretched further and further financially as rapidly increasing inflation steals our purchasing power a little bit more every single day.
The “good times” are rapidly coming to an end. The greatest debt-fueled party in the history of the world is wrapping up and you should enjoy it while you still can, because the years ahead are just going to be brutal.
If you haven’t noticed lately, America is literally falling apart all around us. Decaying infrastructure is everywhere. Our roads and bridges are crumbling and are full of holes. Our rail system is ancient. Our airports and runways have definitely seen their better days. Aging sewer systems all over the country are leaking raw sewage all over the place. The power grid is straining to keep up with the ever-increasing thirst of the American people for electricity. Dams are failing at an unprecedented rate. Virtually all of our ports are handling far more traffic than they were ever intended to handle. Meanwhile, our national spending on infrastructure is way down. Back during the 1950s and 1960s we were spending between 3 and 4 percent of our national GDP on infrastructure, but today we are spending less than 2.5 percent of our national GDP on it. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, we need to spend approximately $2.2 trillion on infrastructure repairs and upgrades just to bring our existing infrastructure up to “good condition”.
Does anyone have an extra $2.2 trillion to spare?
If you get the feeling that America is decaying as you drive around this great country of ours, it is not just your imagination. It is literally happening.
You should not read the list of facts below if you want to keep feeling good about the condition of America’s infrastructure. There really is no way to sugar-coat what is happening. Previous generations handed us the greatest national infrastructure that anyone in the world has ever seen and we have neglected it and have allowed it to badly deteriorate.
#1 One-third of America’s major roads are in poor or mediocre condition.
#2 Traffic on more than half the miles of interstate highway exceeds 70 percent of capacity, and nearly 25 percent of the miles are strained at more than 95 percent of capacity.
#3 Americans waste 4.2 billion hours and 2.8 billion gallons fuel a year sitting in traffic – equal to nearly one full work week and three weeks’ worth of gas for every traveler.
#4 Over the next 30 years, our nation is expected to grow by 100 million and highway traffic will double again. Even if highway capacity grows no faster than in the last 25 years, Americans can expect to spend 160 hours – 4 work weeks – each year in traffic by 2035.
#5 Nearly a third of all highway fatalities are due to substandard road conditions, obsolete road designs, or roadside hazards.
#6 Over 4,095 dams are “unsafe” and have deficiencies that leave them more susceptible to failure, especially during large flood events or earthquakes.
#7 Rolling blackouts and inefficiencies in the U.S. electrical grid cost an estimated $80 billion a year.
#8 By 2020, every major U.S. container port is projected to at least double the volume of cargo it was designed to handle. Some East Coast ports will triple in volume, and some West Coast ports will quadruple.
#9 Other countries are leapfrogging past us by investing in world-class ports. China is investing $6.9 billion; the port of Shanghai now has almost as much container capacity as all U.S. ports combined.
#10 By 2020, China plans to build 55,000 miles of highways, more than the total length of the U.S. interstate system.
The rest of these facts were compiled from various sources around the Internet. The more research that you do into America’s decaying infrastructure the more depressing it becomes….
#11 According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, more than 25 percent of America’s nearly 600,000 bridges need significant repairs or are burdened with more traffic than they were designed to carry.
#13 All across the United States, conditions at many state parks, recreation areas and historic sites are deplorable at best. Some states have backlogs of repair projects that are now over a billion dollars long. The following is a quote from a recent MSNBC article about these project backlogs….
More than a dozen states estimate that their backlogs are at least $100 million. Massachusetts and New York’s are at least $1 billion. Hawaii officials called park conditions “deplorable” in a December report asking for $50 million per year for five years to tackle a $240 million backlog that covers parks, trails and harbors.
#15 All over America, asphalt roads are being ground up and are being replaced with gravel because it is cheaper to maintain. The state of South Dakota has transformed over 100 miles of asphalt road into gravel over the past year, and 38 out of the 83 counties in the state of Michigan have transformed at least some of their asphalt roads into gravel roads.
So why don’t our state and local governments just spend the money necessary to fix all of these problems?
Well, they can’t spend the money because they are flat broke.
Just consider some of the financial problems that state and local governments around the nation are facing right now….
#19 Major cities such as Philadelphia, Baltimore and Sacramento are so desperate to save money that they have instituted “rolling brownouts” in which various city fire stations are shut down on a rotating basis throughout the week.
#20 Detroit Mayor Dave Bing has come up with a unique way to save money. He wants to cut 20 percent of Detroit off from essential social services such as road repairs, police patrols, functioning street lights and garbage collection.
But it just isn’t local governments that are in deep trouble right now. In fact, there are quite a few state governments that are complete and total financial disaster zones at this point.
According to 60 Minutes, the state of Illinois is at least six months behind on their bill payments. 60 Minutes correspondent Steve Croft recently asked Illinois state Comptroller Dan Hynes how many people and organizations are waiting to be paid by the state, and this is how Hynes responded….
“It’s fair to say that there are tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of people waiting to be paid by the state.”
But if states get cut off from all the debt that they need to operate, things are going to get a lot worse very quickly.
Already we are seeing all kinds of troubling signs. For example, the state of Arizona recently decided to stop paying for many types of organ transplants for people enrolled in its Medicaid program.
Sadly, as much as our politicians try to “fix” our problems, things just only seem to keep getting worse.
One prominent illustration of this is our health care system. Our health care system is absolutely falling apart all around us. Thanks to the new health care reform law, doctors are flocking out of the profession in droves. According to an absolutely stunning new poll, 40 percent of all U.S. doctors plan to bail out of the profession over the next three years.
Our economy continues to fall apart as well. The number of personal bankruptcies in the United States continues to set stunning new highs. According to the American Bankruptcy Institute, more than 1.53 million Americans filed bankruptcy petitions in 2010. This was up 9 percent from 1.41 million in 2009.
Not only that, but the housing crisis shows no signs of abating. 382,000 new foreclosures were initiated during the third quarter of 2010. This was up 31.2 percent from the previous quarter and it was 3.7 percent higher than the third quarter of 2009.
The U.S. banking system is also falling apart. In 2006, no U.S. banks failed. In 2009, 140 U.S. banks failed. So did things get better in 2010? No. In 2010, 157 U.S. banks failed.
Unemployment continues to remain at depressingly high levels, and in many areas of the country it is getting even worse. According to the U.S. Labor Department, the unemployment rate rose in two-thirds of America’s largest metro areas during November.
Millions of Americans have become so disgusted with the job market that they have given up altogether. The number of people who are so discouraged that they have completely given up searching for work now stands at an all-time high.
So who is doing a booming business during these hard times? Welfare agencies and food banks are. During this economic downturn, millions of American families have found themselves going to a food bank for the very first time ever.
It is getting harder and harder for average American families to feed themselves. A recent survey conducted by the Pew Research Center found that 29 percent of Americans say that it is hard to afford food, and 48 of Americans say that it is hard to afford their heating and electric bills.
So is there any hope for the future? Well, our new college graduates are supposed to lead us into the future, but most of them are saddled with overwhelming amounts of student loan debt. Those who graduated during 2009 had an average of $24,000 in student loan debt. This represented a 6 percent increase from the previous year.
Not only that, but these new college grads are not finding jobs. According to the one recent report, the unemployment rate for recent college graduates was 8.7 percent in 2009. This was up from 5.8 percent in 2008, and it was the highest unemployment rate ever recorded for college graduates between the ages of 20 to 24.
As if all of this was not bad enough, now the Baby Boomers are starting to reach retirement age. Beginning January 1st, 2011 every single day more than 10,000 Baby Boomers will reach the age of 65. That is going to keep happening every single day for the next 19 years.
So where in the world are we going to come up with all of the money to give them the retirement benefits that they are due?
The truth is that we are flat broke as a nation and so America’s decaying infrastructure is going to continue to decay. We don’t have the money to repair what we already have, much less add desperately needed new infrastructure.
But perhaps it is only fitting. The decay of our roads and cities will match the deep social, moral and political decay that has already been going on in this country for decades.
So will the American people awaken soon enough to be able to recapture the legacy of greatness that previous generations tried to pass on to us?
Unfortunately, the vast majority of our politicians are completely incompetent. Posted below is a short video from Tim Hawkins that is absolutely hilarious but that also demonstrates just how incompetent our government really is….