Full Spectrum Dominance: 8 Examples Of How The Government Is Attempting To Take Total Control Of Our Food, Our Health, Our Money And Even Our Dignity

Over the past several decades, no matter which political party has been in power the government has continued to become a larger part of our lives. These days many people are speaking of the “nanny state” that we have created, but the reality is far worse than that. The truth is that the government has become a gluttonous, out of control behemoth that is gobbling up everything in sight and that is attempting to exert full spectrum dominance over our lives.  Today, the government seems to have an insatiable hunger to watch us, track us and control us.  Now they even want to feel our private parts before we get on an airplane.  No matter what politicians we send to Washington D.C., it just seems to get worse and worse.  Anyone who still believes that we live in “the land of the free” is completely and totally delusional.

It isn’t just in one particular area that all of this government intrusion into our lives is so offensive.  What we are witnessing is the government slowly digging its fingers even deeper into our lives in a thousand different ways.  Sadly, most Americans see the government as the one who is supposed to take care of them from the cradle to the grave, as the one who is supposed to fix all of the problems in society and as the one who is their ultimate authority.

This is in direct contradiction to the concept of a “limited government” that our Founding Fathers tried so desperately to enshrine in our founding documents.  The American people need a big-time wake up call.  The following are 8 examples of how the U.S. government is attempting to take even more control over our lives….

#1 Taking Total Control Of Our Food – S. 510 “The Food Safety Modernization Act”

S. 510, “The Food Safety Modernization Act”, is another huge power grab by the FDA and the federal government over our food supply.  The bill is written so broadly and so vaguely that nobody really knows what it means.  The potential for abuse of these vague new powers would be staggering.  So will the government abuse these powers?  Those who are in favor of the bill say that of course the government will be reasonable, but those who are opposed to the bill point to all of the other abuses that are currently taking place as evidence that we simply cannot trust the feds with vague, undefined powers.

Fortunately, the Tester Amendment has been attached to S. 510 at least for now, but big agriculture is not happy about this, and they will be doing everything they can to get it kicked out of the final version of the law.  In any event, if this food safety law does get passed, tens of millions of Americans will be left wondering what they are allowed to grow in their back yards, what seeds they are allowed to save and what can and cannot be sold at farmer’s markets.

In case you think this is paranoid, just consider what is already happening.  It has been documented that the feds recently raided an Amish farmer at 5 AM in the morning because they claimed that he was was engaged in the interstate sale of raw milk in violation of federal law.  If the feds are willing to stoop so low as to raid Amish farmers, do you think they will have any hesitation when the time comes to raid your home?

#2 Taking Total Control Of Air Travel – The Dehumanizing Full Body Scanners And “Enhanced Pat-Downs”

Totalitarian governments throughout history have always sought to dehumanize their subjects.  Sadly, that is exactly what is happening in America today.  If you want to get on an airplane in the United States, you will now be forced to either let TSA agents gawk at your naked body or let TSA agents grope your entire body including your genitals.

What these TSA agents are being instructed to do to ordinary Americans is so bizarre that it is hard to believe.  It is being reported that in many instances TSA agents are actually reaching down the pants of male travelers and up the skirts of female travelers.  One retired special education teacher was left humiliated, crying and covered with his own urine after an “enhanced pat-down” by TSA agents.  Quite a number of women that have been through these “enhanced pat-downs” have used the phrase “sexual assault” to describe the experience.

So is this what America has become?  A place that is so “dangerous” that we all must be treated like prison inmates?  Large numbers of Americans are swearing that they will simply not fly anymore, but what happens when these “enhanced pat-downs” start showing up at our schools, our shopping centers and our sporting events someday?

#3 Taking Total Control Of Our Health Care – The Loss Of Our Health Freedom

Once upon a time, Americans had control over their own health care decisions.  That is no longer true today.  Thanks to major changes in our health care laws, the health care landscape in America has been dramatically changed.  Americans are now forced to participate in the officially-sanctioned health care system by purchasing health insurance.  But Americans cannot just get any kind of health insurance policy that they want.  Our health insurance choices are now tightly constrained by thousands of regulations.

Not only that, but doctors in America no longer have the freedom to treat patients however they see fit.  Only “approved” treatments are permissible, and now the federal government is going to be telling doctors which of those “approved” treatments are “cost-effective” enough.  As the new health care laws are fully implemented over the next decade, the American people are going to become truly horrified not only about how much their health insurance premiums are going up, but also about how much health freedom they have actually lost.

#4 Taking Control Of Our Money – Multiplying Taxes

Whenever one tax goes down, it seems like several other taxes either go up or get invented.  The truth is that Americans are being drained by the federal government, state governments and local governments in dozens upon dozens of different ways.  To our various levels of government, our primary function is to serve as a revenue source.  Each year it seems like they find more ways to stick it to us.  In fact, it looks like 2011 is going to be a banner year for tax increases.  If you doubt this, just see my previous article entitled “2011: The Year Of The Tax Increase“.

#5 Taking Control Of Our Businesses – Thousands Of Ridiculous Regulations

Why would anyone in America even attempt to be an entrepreneur today?  Most small businesses are literally being strangled by hordes of red tape.

Just consider how things have changed in America.  The Federal Register is the main source of regulations for U.S. government agencies.  In 1936, the number of pages in the Federal Register was about 2,600.  Today, the Federal Register is over 80,000 pages long.

The following is just one example of how bizarre things have gotten in this country.  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is projecting that the food service industry will have to spend an additional 14 million hours every single year just to comply with new federal regulations that mandate that all vending machine operators and chain restaurants must label all products that they sell with a calorie count in a location visible to the consumer.

Do we really need to spend 14 million more hours telling Americans that if they keep eating hamburgers and fries that they are likely to get fat?

But it is not just the federal government that is the problem.  One reader recently described how difficult  it was to try to run a business in the state of California….

Had 10 employees, but one almost exclusively to deal with government regs, taxes, reporting etc, Received a $144 penalty for a .33 (yes, cents)error on my quarterly payroll taxes from Cal Franchise Tax Board. I called to ask if that was not a bit repressive, why level penalize someone for what was obvisouly a didminimus error? I was told “we would have penalized you if it was .03!” I said, I did not volunteer to be the income tax collector for the State and Fed government, you should be paying me to do all this work and insane paper pushing. Reply: “That is part of the PRIVILIGE of being a business owner!!!”

#6 Taking Control Of Our Environment – The Green Police

The government is using the “green movement” as an excuse to take an unprecedented amount of control over our lives.  From coast to coast, communities have been given government grants to track our trash with RFID microchips. The following are just some of the communities that will now be using microchips to track what we throw away….

*Cleveland, Ohio

*Charlotte, North Carolina

*Alexandria, Virginia

*Boise, Idaho

*Dayton, Ohio

*Flint, Michigan

Not only that, but some cities are now starting to fine citizens for not recycling properly.

In Cleveland, Ohio if an RFID tracking chip signals that a recycle bin has not been brought out to the curb within a certain period of time, a “trash supervisor” will actually sort through the trash produced by that home for recyclables.

According to Cleveland Waste Collection Commissioner Ronnie Owens, trash bins that contain over 10 percent recyclable material will be subject to a $100 fine.

Does that sound like America to you?

Now we don’t even have the freedom to throw out trash the way we want to.

#7 Taking Away Our Independence – The Exploding Welfare State

You don’t have much freedom if you can’t take care of yourself.  But in America today, tens of millions of Americans have literally become completely dependent on the government for survival.  Over 42 million Americans are now on food stamps.  Approximately one out of every six Americans is enrolled in a federal anti-poverty program.

The number of Americans living in poverty has increased for three consecutive years, and the 43.6 million poor Americans in 2009 was the highest number that the U.S. Census Bureau has ever recorded in 51 years of record-keeping.

The more Americans that are destitute and totally dependent on the government the easier it will be for the government to control them.  Today a rapidly growing percentage of Americans fully expect the government to take care of them.  But this is not what our founders intended.

#8 Taking Away Our Patriotism – We Are Even Losing The Freedom To Be Proud Of America

Do you ever think things will get so repressive in America that a group of high school students will be forbidden from singing the national anthem at the Lincoln Memorial?  Well, that has already happened.  Do you think that areas of our nation will ever become so anti-American that they will forbid students from riding to school with an American flag on their bikes?  Well, that has already happened.

Fortunately, there was such an uproar over what happened to 13-year-old Cody Alicea that it made national headlines and he ended up being escorted to school by hundreds of other motorcycles and bicycles – most of them displaying American flags as well.  The school reversed its policy and now Cody can ride his bike to school every day proudly displaying the American flag.

But what if nobody had decided to stand up?

That school would have gotten away with banning the flag if the American people had allowed them to.

Our liberties and our freedoms are under attack from a thousand different directions and they are being stripped away from us at a blinding pace.

It has gotten to the point where most of us just sit in our homes and enjoy the “freedom” of digesting the “programming” that is constantly being hurled at us through our televisions.  Of course the vast majority of that programming is produced by just 6 monolithic corporations that control almost everything that we watch, hear and read.

Power and money have become more highly concentrated in America today than ever before, and yet most Americans don’t even realize it.

Most Americans are so busy just trying to survive from month to month that they don’t even have time to think about the deeper issues.  At the end of the night most of them are so exhausted from serving the system that all they can do is collapse on the sofa and turn on some programming.

But the American people desperately need to wake up.  Without liberty and freedom our country cannot work.  But our freedoms and liberties are being stripped away a little bit more each and every day.

The America that so many of us grew up adoring is dying right in front of our eyes.  If you plan on saying something about it, you better do so before it is too late.

111 Obamacare Waivers And Counting – Can The Rest Of Us Get Waivers From Having To Comply With Obamacare Please?

In a stunning admission of just how job-killing and business-crushing the new health care law really is, the Obama administration has issued a staggering total of 111 Obamacare waivers (and counting) so far. The list of the dozens of companies and organizations that have been approved for a waiver is very, very deeply buried on the website of the Department of Health & Human Services.  In fact, it takes six separate clicks to get to the list.  Some of the companies that have been granted waivers include McDonald’s, Darden Restaurants (owners of the Olive Garden and Red Lobster restaurant chains), Aetna, the United Federation of Teachers Welfare Fund in New York, and Dish Network.  These Obamacare waivers cover a total of 1.2 million Americans.  However, as news of these waivers spreads, it is inevitable that thousands more companies will want to apply.  In the end, tens of millions of Americans may be covered by health plans that have been exempted from Obamacare.  So can the rest of us get in on this action or is the Obama administration going to play favorites with these waivers?

So far, the Obamacare waivers have primarily been granted to companies that offer very limited health plans.  The Obama administration has apparently been afraid of the public relations nightmare that would result if dozens of companies suddenly started dropping health coverage for their employees.  The following is how the New York Times recently described what is going on with these waivers….

Last month, federal officials granted dozens of one-year waivers that were aimed at sparing certain employers, including McDonald’s, insurers and unions who offer plans that sharply limit the coverage they provide. These limited-benefit plans, also known as “minimeds,” fail to comply with new rules phasing out limits on how much policies will provide in medical care each year.

So do you want to get an Obamacare waiver for your own company?  Well, just over a week ago the Department of Health & Human Services published a set of new guidelines for those seeking to apply for a waiver.  As news of these waivers starts to spread they will likely get absolutely swamped with applications, so you better get yours in early.  In fact, it is being reported that the number of approved applications has tripled in just the last month alone.

But these waivers raise some very important questions.

-If Obamacare is such a great law, shouldn’t it apply equally to everybody?

-If Obamacare is going to cause firms to drop their “mini-med” health plans, shouldn’t all firms with “mini-med” plans be given a blanket exemption?

-Are all firms that apply for an Obamacare exemption going to be given one or will the Obama administration be playing favorites?

-Won’t firms that are granted these Obamacare waivers be given a very substantial competitive advantage over other firms in the same industry that do not have an exemption?

-What does it say about an administration when they grant dozens upon dozens of exemptions from a law that they spent months upon months selling to the American people as the ultimate solution to our health care problems?

The following is a recent video news report about these Obamacare exemptions…..

The truth is that the U.S. health care system was deeply broken before Obamacare, and after the new health care law the U.S. health care system is still deeply broken.

Before Obamacare, the U.S. health care system was all about making as much money as possible for health insurance companies and the pharmaceutical industry.  After Obamacare, the U.S. health care system is still about making as much money as possible for health insurance companies and the pharmaceutical industry, only now we all have to deal with more suffocating layers of government bureaucracy and much higher health insurance premiums.

The entire health care system in the United States should be dismantled and built again from scratch.  It was a complete and total nightmare before Obamacare and it is still a complete and total nightmare.

But perhaps you disagree.  Freedom of speech is a wonderful thing, and if you have a different perspective feel free to express it below….

27 Signs That The Standard Of Living For America’s Middle Class Is Dropping Like A Rock

If you still have a job and you can put food on the table and you still have a warm house to come home to, then you should consider yourself to be very fortunate.  The truth is that every single month hundreds of thousands more Americans fall out of the middle class and into poverty.  The statistics that you are about to read are incredibly sobering.  Household incomes are down from coast to coast.  Enrollment in government anti-poverty programs sets new records month after month after month.  Home ownership is down, personal bankruptcies are way up and there are not nearly enough jobs to go around.  Meanwhile, the price of basics such as food and health care continue to skyrocket.  Don’t be fooled by a rising stock market or by record bonuses on Wall Street.  The U.S. economy is not getting better.  After World War II, the great American economic machine built the largest and most vigorous middle class in the history of the world, but now America’s middle class is disintegrating at a blinding pace.

Most of those who write about the plight of the American middle class believe that things can be turned around and that the middle class will eventually be stronger than it ever has been.  But unfortunately, that is just not the case.  As a society, we have lived far, far beyond our means for decades.  Now the bills are coming due and none of our leaders seem to know what to do.

Meanwhile, the U.S. economy is being rapidly assimilated into the emerging one world economy.  Middle class American workers now find themselves in direct competition for jobs with the cheapest labor on the other side of the globe.  Of course many multinational corporations have taken advantage of this by moving factories and jobs to countries like China where blue collar workers make about a dollar an hour.  This has helped raise the standard of living for workers in those nations by a nominal amount, but it has been absolutely devastating for the standard of living of America’s middle class.

So what does all of this mean?

It means that the U.S. economy is headed for collapse and middle class Americans are in for some really, really hard times.

The following are  27 signs that the standard of living for America’s middle class is dropping like a rock….

#1 Household spending for the middle fifth of all U.S. income earners was down 3.5% in 2009.  That was the steepest one year decline since records began being kept back in 1984.

#2 Median household income in the United States fell from $51,726 in 2008 to $50,221 in 2009.

#3 According to one new report, in 2009 residents of New York state experienced their first full-year decline in income in more than 70 years.

#4 Of the 52 largest metro areas in the United States, only the city of San Antonio did not see a decline in median household income in 2009.

#5 Home ownership in the United States declined for the third year in a row in 2009.

#6 In 2009, approximately 4 million Americans fell out of the middle class and now live below the federal poverty line.

#7 The number of Americans enrolled in the food stamp program has set a new all-time record for 20 consecutive months

#8 In July (the last month for which data is available), 41.8 million Americans were on food stamps.

#9 The number of Americans in the food stamp program skyrocketed more than 55 percent between December 2007 and July 2010.

#10 In 2009, more than 48 million Americans were enrolled in the Medicaid program.

#11 One out of every six Americans is now enrolled in at least one anti-poverty program run by the U.S. government.

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

#13 According to the Cato Institute, anti-poverty spending by the U.S. government has increased 89 percent over the past decade.

#14 The cost of health care increased a staggering 9.6% for all U.S. households from 2007 to 2009.

#15 It turns out that only the top 5 percent of all U.S. households have earned enough additional income to match the rise in housing costs since 1975.

#16 35 percent of all U.S. households now live on $35,000 or less.

#17 New York state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli says that Wall Street bonuses for 2009 were up 17 percent when compared with 2008.

#18 According to a poll taken in 2009, 61 percent of Americans “always or usually” live paycheck to paycheck.  That was up substantially from 49 percent in 2008 and 43 percent in 2007.

#19 Today, 28% of all American households have at least one member that is searching for a full-time job.

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

#21 A recent Pew Research survey found that 55 percent of the U.S. labor force has experienced either unemployment, a pay decrease, a reduction in hours or an involuntary move to part-time work since the recession began.

#22 In 2009, 43.6 million Americans were living in poverty.  Sadly, the number of Americans living in poverty has increased for three consecutive years, and the 43.6 million poor Americans in 2009 was the highest number that the U.S. Census Bureau has ever recorded in 51 years of record-keeping.

#23 A staggering 25 percent of all American adults now have a credit score below 599.

#24 It is estimated that nearly a third of all Americans cannot qualify for a mortgage because of low credit scores.

#25 For the first time in U.S. history, banks own a greater share of residential housing net worth in the United States than all American households put together.

#26 Over 1.4 million Americans filed for personal bankruptcy in 2009, which represented a stunning 32 percent increase over 2008.

#27 According to a new report by the U.S. Census Bureau, the bottom fifth of all U.S. income earners brought in just 3.4 percent of all income in 2009 while the top fifth brought in a whopping 49.4 percent of all income.

So is there any hope that things will turn around soon?

No, not really.

At this point, even some of the top economic authorities in the nation are admitting that we are headed for very difficult times.

Goldman Sachs recently announced that the U.S. economy is likely to be either “fairly bad” or “very bad” over the next 6 to 9 months.

Not only that, but Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke now says that the U.S. economy is in a situation that is dire and “unsustainable”.

Not that Goldman Sachs or Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke should be trusted when it comes to the economy.

When it comes to the problems we are facing, the truth can be found in the long-term trends.  If you have not done so already, please read “11 Long-Term Trends That Are Absolutely Destroying The U.S. Economy“.  It will open your eyes to the true horrors that our economy is now facing.

But statistics alone do not tell the real story.

Sometimes what gets lost in the endless economic statistics is the very real pain of the millions of Americans who are trying to live through this.  The following story from the Unemployed Friends website is from a woman named Leetah who is desperately hoping to be able to get through this upcoming winter….

The place I live in right now has no jobs and no places to live. My fiance, Lloyd, and I have been looking for anything but he lost his job from McDonald’s and the factories (the only jobs to make a living off of) consider him an insurance liability. I can’t get hired to a factory because of I was fired from our major factory for attendance (I had to miss 3 days of work because I was sick). So we are moving to the Edmond/OKC region where we are hoping to find a job and a place with running water and heating. We’ve spent the last few years without heat and running water and so having a place with water and heat would be heaven.

Winter is coming up fast and I am so afraid. Last winter we almost died from the cold and now the thought of cold makes my throat close up and my heart pound. But it isn’t just ourselves we are looking out for, we have our dog too. Our wonderful APBT Maggie who is 2-years-old and has been with us since she was 5-months-old. She’s our baby girl and we can’t lose her. We almost lost her to the cold too and it scared me so much. We are going to be living in our car soon with our dog.

I am hoping to be able to keep our food stamps in the new city so we can still eat. I have already applied for ten+ jobs and nothing yet but I am keeping my hopes up. Hopefully it will get easier to find a job once we get there. Then we just have to save up and then we can afford an apartment. Now finding an apartment with my awesome dog is another story.

Please say a prayer for those who are out of work and on the verge of being forced out on the street.

You never know, you might be next.

11 Long-Term Trends That Are Absolutely Destroying The U.S. Economy

The U.S. economy is being slowly but surely destroyed and many Americans have no idea that it is happening.  That is at least partially due to the fact that most financial news is entirely focused on the short-term.  Whenever a key economic statistic goes up the financial markets surge and analysts rejoice.  Whenever a key economic statistic goes down the financial markets decline and analysts speak of the potential for a “double-dip” recession.  You could literally get whiplash as you watch the financial ping pong ball bounce back and forth between good news and bad news.  But focusing on short-term statistics is not the correct way to analyze the U.S. economy.  It is the long-term trends that reveal the truth.  The reality is that there are certain underlying foundational problems that are destroying the U.S. economy a little bit more every single day.

11 of those foundational problems are discussed below.  They are undeniable and they are constantly getting worse.  If they are not corrected (and there is no indication that they will be) they will destroy not only our economy but also our entire way of life.  The sad truth is that it would be hard to understate just how desperate the situation is for the U.S. economy. 

Long-Term Trend #1: The Deindustrialization Of America

The United States is being deindustrialized at a pace that is almost impossible to believe.  But now that millions upon millions of people have lost their jobs, more Americans than ever are starting to wake up and believe it.

A recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found that 69 percent of Americans now believe that free trade agreements have cost America jobs.  Ten years ago the majority of Americans had great faith in the new “global economy” that we were all being merged into, but now the tide has turned.

So why have Americans lost faith in “free trade”?

Well, it turns out that the current system is neither “free trade” nor “fair trade”.  Many other nations impose extremely high tariffs on U.S. goods and put up ridiculous barriers to American products and yet the United States has generally let everyone else openly manipulate currency rates and flood our shores with whatever cheap products they want.

The results have been disastrous.  Jobs and factories have been leaving the United States at a blinding pace.

The United States has lost approximately 42,400 factories since 2001.  An economy without a manufacturing base does not have a bright long-term future.  Yet our politicians have allowed our manufacturing base to be systematically dismantled.

As of the end of 2009, less than 12 million Americans worked in manufacturing.  The last time that less than 12 million Americans were employed in manufacturing was in 1941.

How is the United States supposed to have a bright economic future if it consumes everything in sight and yet makes very little?

Something needs to be done.

In 1959, manufacturing represented 28 percent of all U.S. economic output.  In 2008, it represented only 11.5 percent and it continues to fall.

Needless to say, millions of blue collar workers now find themselves unable to find jobs.  Today, 28% of all U.S. households have at least one person that is looking for a full-time job and there is no sign that things are going to improve much any time soon.

Long-Term Trend #2: The Exploding U.S. Trade Deficit

Each month, tens of billions more dollars go out of the United States than come into it.  In other words, every single month the United States gets poorer.

Recently, the U.S. trade deficit has been coming in at around 40 to 50 billion dollars a month.  About half of that is with communist China.

Between 2000 and 2009, America’s trade deficit with China increased nearly 300 percent.

Sadly, things are getting even worse.

As of the end of July, the U.S. trade deficit with China had risen 18 percent compared to the same time period a year ago.

There is a reason why China has been able to loan the U.S. government nearly a trillion dollars.  They have literally been bleeding us dry.

The United States spends approximately $3.90 on Chinese goods for every $1 that the Chinese spend on goods from the United States.

Does that sound like “fair trade” to you?

According to a new study conducted by the Economic Policy Institute, if the U.S. trade deficit with China continues to increase at its current rate, the U.S. economy will lose over half a million jobs this year alone.

Half a million jobs in just one year?

And that doesn’t even take into account the trade deficit that we have with all the other nations around the world.

We have literally built China into a superpower.

One prominent economist is now projecting that the Chinese economy will be three times larger than the U.S. economy by the year 2040.

But it isn’t just China that is a problem.

Since the implementation of NAFTA in 1994, 300,000 U.S. farms have gone out of business.

Globalism has forced U.S. workers to directly compete with the cheapest labor in the world for jobs.  That is not good for American workers and it is not good for America.

Long-Term Trend #3: The Shrinking Middle Class

As jobs continue to flee the United States and as wages continue to be depressed, America’s middle class is shrinking at an alarming rate.

According to a poll taken in 2009, 61 percent of Americans “always or usually” live paycheck to paycheck.  That was up substantially from 49 percent in 2008 and 43 percent in 2007.

Unfortunately, a growing number of Americans have found it impossible to make it from month to month without direct financial assistance from the federal government.

41 million Americans are now on food stamps.  One out of every six Americans is now enrolled in at least one anti-poverty program run by the federal government.  Economic pain is everywhere.

Tens of millions of Americans now live in poverty.  The U.S. Census Bureau says that 43.6 million Americans are now living in poverty and according to them that is the highest number of poor Americans that they have ever recorded in 51 years of record-keeping.

Long-Term Trend #4: The Growing Size Of The U.S. Government

No matter whether it is a Republican or a Democrat in the White House, the size of the U.S. government has continued to grow by leaps and bounds in recent years.

This is a tremendous drain on the U.S. economy.  The government produces very little value for the economy and yet costs a colossal amount to maintain.

In addition, multiplying government regulations have caused the United States to be a very difficult environment to operate a business in. 

The Federal Register is the main source of regulations for U.S. government agencies.  In 1936, the number of pages in the Federal Register was about 2,600.  Today, the Federal Register is over 80,000 pages long.

Long-Term Trend #5: The Constantly Growing U.S. National Debt

The United States has accumulated the biggest mountain of debt in the history of the world and every single month it gets worse.

According to an official U.S. Treasury Department report to Congress, the U.S. national debt will top $13.6 trillion this year and will climb to an estimated $19.6 trillion by 2015.

Do we really want to pass on a 20 trillion dollar debt to our children and grandchildren?

But the truth is that the situation is actually a lot worse than that.

If the U.S. government was forced to use GAAP accounting principles (like all publicly-traded corporations must), the U.S. government budget deficit would be somewhere in the neighborhood of $4 trillion to $5 trillion each and every year.

Needless to say, that is not anywhere close to sustainable.  We are literally destroying our economic future with all of this debt.

Long-Term Trend #6: The Ongoing Devaluation Of The U.S. Dollar

The Federal Reserve constantly destroys the value of the U.S. dollar.  Since the Federal Reserve was created in 1913, the U.S. dollar has lost over 95 percent of its purchasing power.

An item that cost $20.00 in 1970 would cost you $112.35 today.  An item that cost $20.00 in 1913 would cost you $440.33 today.

Inflation is like a hidden tax.  The value of the dollars you are holding right now will decline a little bit more each and every month. 

And now that the Federal Reserve is threatening to unleash another round of quantitative easing, it appears that the value of our dollars will soon be declining even more rapidly.

Long-Term Trend #7: The Derivatives Bubble

The one thing that the “Wall Street reform bill” should have done was that it should have done something about the horrific abuses in the derivatives markets.  Instead, the Wall Street reform bill did next to nothing about derivatives and instead imposed hundreds of other useless regulations on Wall Street.

Most Americans don’t even know what derivatives are.  Basically, they are side bets.  They have no underlying value of their own.  But today derivatives have taken center stage on Wall Street.  Our financial markets have become a gigantic casino.

The total value of all derivatives worldwide is estimated to be somewhere between 600 trillion and 1.5 quadrillion dollars.  And thanks to the U.S. Congress, the derivatives bubble is still growing.

It would be hard to understate the danger that the derivatives bubble represents.  The danger from derivatives is so great that Warren Buffet once called them “financial weapons of mass destruction”.  

When the derivatives bubble finally pops, there will not be enough money in the entire world to fix it.

Long-Term Trend #8: The Health Care Industry

The United States health care system is completely and totally broken.  It has become a gigantic money making machine for health insurance companies, pharmaceutical corporations and greedy lawyers.

Americans pay more for health care than anyone else in the world and yet they get shockingly little in return.

Health care expenses are the number one reason why people file for personal bankrupty in the United States.  Surprisingly, most of those who get bankrupted by health care expenses actually have health insurance.

The health insurance system in the United States is a complete and total mess.  Health insurance premiums are busting the budgets of tens of millions of American families and yet they are getting ready to go up yet once again. 

Already, large numbers of health insurance companies across the United States have announced that they plan to increase health insurance premiums in response to the new health care law.

But do health insurance companies actually need more money?  Even as the rest of the U.S. economy deeply struggles, America’s health insurance companies increased their profits by 56 percent in 2009.

At least someone is doing well in this economy.

The truth is that the U.S. health care system needs to be totally and completely reinvented.  The system we had before did not work.  Barack Obama’s new health care system will be far worse.  Meanwhile, the health care industry is literally choking the life out of the U.S. economy.

Long-Term Trend #9: Financial Power Is Becoming Concentrated In Fewer And Fewer Hands

Once upon a time, the United States had a very diverse financial system.  But today financial power is becoming concentrated in fewer and fewer hands with each passing year.

More U.S. banks fail every single week.  In fact, the number of bank failures is on pace to far surpass the total of 140 U.S. banks that failed last year.

There are now nearly 900 banks (well over 10 percent of all U.S. banks) on the FDIC list of problem banks.

Meanwhile, the “too big to fail” banks continue to pick up market share.  The “big four” U.S. banks (Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo) had approximately 22 percent of all deposits in FDIC-insured institutions back in 2000.  As of June 30th of last year that figure was up to 39 percent.

Putting an increasing amount of financial power into the hands of just a few elite banks is a recipe for disaster any way you want to cut it.

Long-Term Trend #10: Rampant Corruption On Wall Street

Our financial system has become an absolute cesspool of corruption.  In the past I have written extensively about all of the corruption that Goldman Sachs has been involved in, but they are far from alone.

In fact, it seems like new stories of financial corruption emerge almost daily now.

For example, just recently Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and GMAC Mortgage have all suspended foreclosures in many U.S. states due to serious concerns about foreclosure procedures.

But there is a lot of corruption that is a lot worse than that.  The rampant manipulation of the gold and silver markets was completely blown open by an industry insider earlier this year, but the U.S. government had to be publicly shamed before they would even agree to look into it. 

The truth is that corruption on Wall Street has become so common that it is almost impossible to keep up with it all.  It seems like no matter what stone you turn over on Wall Street these days you find yet more corruption.

But if the core of our financial system is so incredibly corrupt, how long will it be before it collapses in on itself?

Long-Term Trend #11: The Growing Retirement Crisis That Threatens To Bankrupt America

The Baby Boomers may end up bankrupting America after all.  A retirement tsunami is coming that threatens to drown our nation in a sea of red ink.

The truth is that Americans have not been preparing for retirement on their own.  One shocking new study indicates that Americans are $6.6 trillion short of what they need to retire comfortably.

In fact, approximately half of all workers in the United States have less than $2000 saved up for retirement.

So what about corporate pension plans?

Are they in good shape?

No.

One recent study found that America’s 100 largest corporate pension plans were underfunded by $217 billion as of the end of 2008.

But sadly, the pension plans run by U.S. state governments are in even worse shape.

Robert Novy-Marx of the University of Chicago and Joshua D. Rauh of Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management recently calculated the combined pension liability of all 50 U.S. states.  What they found was that the 50 states are collectively facing $5.17 trillion in pension obligations, but they only have $1.94 trillion set aside in state pension funds.  That means that collectively, the 50 U.S. state governments are 3.2 trillion dollars short of what they need to meet their pension obligations.

But the biggest mess of all may be the U.S. Social Security system.

The sad reality is that anyone that has studied it closely knows that it is nothing more than a Ponzi scheme, and the scam has just about run its course.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the Social Security system will pay out more in benefits than it receives in payroll taxes in 2010.  That was not supposed to happen until at least 2016.

Oops.

But things get really hairy when you start looking down the road.

The present value of projected scheduled benefits surpasses earmarked revenues for entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare by about 46 trillion dollars over the next 75 years.

Ouch.

It is time to face facts people.

We are in deep, deep, deep trouble.

An increasing number of Americans are starting to realize this.  They may not always know the specifics of what is going wrong, but more people than ever realize that something is broken.  According to one recent survey, 63 percent of Americans believe that the United States is on the wrong track.

And we are very much on the wrong track.  We have squandered the great wealth that our parents and grandparents left us and we are wrecking the greatest economic machine that the world has ever seen.

If we do not get our act together, someday people will look back and will curse this generation for how incredibly stupid we were.

20 Signs That The Health Care Industry Has Become All About Making As Much Money As Possible

Once upon a time in America, people became doctors and nurses because they wanted to help people, building hospitals was a labor of love, lawyers didn’t chase ambulances, health insurance companies did not openly abuse their customers and greedy pharmaceutical companies did not dominate the entire health care industry.  But today all of that has changed.  Why do most people choose a career in the health care industry today?  It is because they want to make a lot of money and live a comfortable lifestyle.  Why do most health facilities get built today?  They get built because someone is hoping to make a huge profit.  Why do so many lawyers specialize in medical malpractice?  Here’s a hint – it is not because they want to make life better for people.  Why do health insurance companies keep raising premiums even while they are making record profits?  It is because they can and because they are greedy.  Why are pharmaceutical corporations some of the most profitable companies on the face of the earth even though their products are harming tens of millions of people?  It is because our health care system has become wildly corrupt and is now about making as much money as possible.

Not that everyone in the health care industry is motivated by greed.  Some doctors and nurses volunteer a ton of their time to assist the poor and the needy.  Others use their vacation time to go overseas and provide free medical care in third world nations.  Many religious groups and non-profit organizations build hospitals and clinics because they are truly trying to help people.  And there are a few health insurance companies that are trying to play the game honestly.

But unfortunately, those with noble intentions in the health care industry are the exception rather than the rule.  Overall, the health care industry in America is all about the money, and it is about time that we quit pretending otherwise.

The following are 20 signs that the health care industry in the United States has become all about making as much money as possible….  

1 – Even as the rest of the U.S. economy deeply struggles, America’s health insurance companies increased their profits by 56 percent in 2009.

2 – According to a report by Health Care for America Now, America’s five biggest for-profit health insurers ended 2009 with a combined profit of $12.2 billion.

3 – The top executives at the five largest for-profit health insurance companies in the United States received nearly $200 million in total compensation in 2009.

4 – According to an article on the Mother Jones website, health insurance premiums for small employers in the United States increased 180% between 1999 and 2009.

5 – Health insurance premium increases are getting totally out of control.  For example, the 39% increase in health insurance premiums that Anthem Blue Cross imposed on some California customers last year was so obscene that it made national headlines.

6 – Since 2003, health insurance companies have shelled out more than $42 million in state-level campaign contributions.

7 – There were more than two dozen pharmaceutical companies that made over a billion dollars in profits in 2008.

8 – Each year, tens of billions of dollars is spent on pharmaceutical marketing in the United States alone.

9Nearly half of all Americans now use prescription drugs on a regular basis according to a CDC report that was just 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 prescription drugs on a regular basis.

10 – According to the CDC, approximately three quarters of a million people a year are rushed to emergency rooms in the United States because of adverse reactions to pharmaceutical drugs.

11According to a very surprising new study, 85 percent of new pharmaceutical drugs are “lemons” and pose serious health risks to their users.

12 – The Food and Drug Administration reported 1,742 prescription drug recalls in 2009, which was a gigantic increase from 426 drug recalls in 2008.

13 – Shocking new research has found that expectant mothers taking antidepressants have an astounding 68 percent increase in the overall risk of miscarriage.  Yet the pharmaceutical companies are essentially doing nothing to stop this.

14 – The use of psychiatric medications among 18 to 34 year old members of the U.S. military and their wives increased by 42 percent between 2005 and 2009.

15 – There are some disturbing new medical studies that suggest that many of the most popular anti-depressant drugs are no more effective than a placebo.

16 – Pharmaceutical companies continue to rake in billions of dollars from selling vaccines and are encouraging even pregnant women to take them, even though there is mounting evidence that taking vaccines while pregnant dramatically increases the rate of miscarriage.

17 – One woman in New Hampshire is seeking more than $24 million in damages from the manufacturer of a prescription drug that she took for shoulder pain.  It turns out that as a result of taking the drug, she is now blind and has been left scarred by internal and external burns.

18According to one stunning new study, the medical liability system in the United States added approximately $55.6 billion to the cost of health care in 2008.

19 – Pharmaceutical companies have become so greedy that now they are even attempting to patent our genes.  It is being reported that over three million gene patent applications have been filed with the U.S. government so far.  Tens of thousands of gene patents have already been granted at this point.  It is estimated that companies hold approximately 40,000 patents on sections of the human genome right now.  Those patents cover approximately 20% of our genes. 

20 – According to a recent report, Americans spend about twice as much as residents of other developed countries on health care, but get much lower quality and far less efficiency in return.

Kicked In The Groin: Health Insurance Companies Are Dramatically Increasing Premiums Due To The New Health Care Law And There Is Not Much We Can Do About It

Wasn’t the new health care reform law supposed to make health care more affordable for everyone?  Well, imagine my surprise when I opened up a letter from my health insurance company recently and found out that my health insurance premiums were going up by nearly 50 percent.  I am in perfect health and I have never had a single health insurance claim with this company.  Unfortunately, after doing a little research, I discovered that I am far from alone.  All over the United States, people are being hit with double-digit percentage increases in their health insurance premiums even as the health insurance predators continue to rake in record profits.  At a time when millions of American families are barely making it from month to month, the last thing they need is to be figuratively kicked in the groin by the health insurance companies.  But that is exactly what is happening. 

Not that health insurance companies ever needed an excuse to raise rates, but in 2010 many of them are blaming changes in health care law for the dramatic rise in premiums. 

Of course it is true that there are over a dozen new taxes on the health care industry in the “health care reform” law that Barack Obama and the Democrats rammed down the throats of the American people, and everyone should have realized that those taxes would ultimately be passed on to the consumer.

But what is also true is that the health insurance companies basically wrote large sections of the health care reform law and health insurance company stocks rose when this new law was passed.

So why is this new law so good for health insurance companies?

Well, the new health care law requires all of us to purchase health insurance from them.

We are no longer going to have the choice of opting out of their system.

We are going to be forced to buy health insurance.

And since they are all raising rates, there is no escape from the pillaging.

As the new health care bill was being debated, Obama promised that the average American family would save $2,500 in yearly premiums under the new law.

If any of you still believe that claim I have got a bridge to sell you.

The Congressional Budget office says that yearly health insurance premiums are actually going to increase by about $2,300 each year as a result of the new law, but that estimate is probably far, far too low.

The truth is that rates are already shooting through the roof.  Just consider the following excerpt from a recent article on Fox News….

Here is the terse reason CareFirst/Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Washington gave its subscribers for raising a monthly premium from $333 to $512 on a middle aged man who is healthy, is not a smoker and is not obese: “Your new rate reflects the overall rise in health care costs and we regret having to pass these additional costs on to you.”

Could you afford to pay $512 a month for health insurance just for yourself?

Unfortunately, the truth is that this is nothing new.  Many health insurance companies have been increasing health insurance premiums by double-digit percentages year after year after year even as they continue to reel in record profits.

In particular, health insurance companies seem to love to stick it to small businesses and the self-employed.

According to an article on the Mother Jones website, health insurance premiums for small employers increased 180% between 1999 and 2009.

The greed of the health insurance companies seems to know no bounds.  For example, the 39% hike that Anthem Blue Cross sent some California customers last year made headlines across the nation.  But executives defended the dramatic premium hikes as perfectly justifiable.

The reality is that health insurance is becoming so insanely expensive that millions of Americans can’t even afford it anymore.

But thanks to the new health care law they are being forced to keep shelling out their hard-earned money for it.

It is getting really hard for anyone to deny that the health care system in the United States is deeply, deeply broken.  The new health care law is not going to reduce costs.  It is only going to help the health insurance companies continue to rake in obscene profits.

But wasn’t the new health care law supposed to prevent the health insurance companies from abusing all of us?

Well, as it turns out, the new health care law does not give the federal government much regulatory power at all to prevent premium increases.

But what about the states?

Can’t they do something?

Well, yes they can, but unfortunately most state legislatures have been bought off by the health insurance industry.

Since 2003, health insurance companies have shelled out more than $42 million in state-level campaign contributions.

That is a lot of money, and they wouldn’t be spending that kind of money if they did not expect a return for it.

“The pressure that the industry can bring to bear in state legislatures is unbelievable,” J. Robert Hunter, a former insurance commissioner in the state of Texas recently told the Los Angeles Times. “They pretty much get what they want.”

The cold, hard reality is that health insurance companies are not in business to help people and provide affordable health care.  They are in business to make money and they are very good at it.

But there are a few states that have stood up to the health insurance companies.  States that have “prior approval” laws have been able to successfully fend off some of the over-the-top rate increases that health insurance companies have been trying to ram down the throats of consumers.  For example, the Los Angeles Times recently reported on what has been happening in the state of Oregon….

Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon was forced to cut back a proposed 26.4% increase in one of its individual plans to 17.3%. Other carriers were ordered to scrap altogether hikes as high as 20%.

Unfortunately, a number of these states that have these “prior approval” laws are now being sued by insurance companies.

That is how these folks work – they will either try to buy off politicians or they will keep filing lawsuits until they get what they want.

Meanwhile, the top executives at the five largest for-profit health insurance companies in the United States received nearly $200 million in total compensation in 2009.

Are you upset yet?

You should be.

And you know what?

When it finally comes time to actually use your health insurance, these predators will do anything they can to get out of paying up.

In fact, it has been documented that some of the largest health insurance companies actually pay their employees large bonuses for denying claims.  The employees who deny the most claims are the ones that get the largest bonuses.

The health care system in the United States is messed up beyond all recognition, and the new health care law has made things worse than ever.  Americans pay more than anyone else in the world for health care, and all that we get in return is a system that is deeply, deeply broken.

If you have a health insurance horror story of your own, please feel free to share it in the comments section below….

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