Is America The Most Materialistic Society In The History Of The World?

When it comes to materialism, has any nation ever surpassed what we are seeing in the United States right now?  We define our lives by how much stuff we have, to a large degree our personal and business relationships are defined by how much money we make, and even most of the important dates on our calendar are all about materialism.  Just think about it.  We throw outrageous birthday parties for our kids and we shower them with gifts.  Most of our “holidays” have become highly materialistic, and the biggest holiday of all in our society, Christmas, is an absolute orgy of materialism.  We make lists of the “wealthiest Americans” and we glorify their achievements.  We spend most of our time either making money or spending it.  Even the phrase “the American Dream” reveals how materialistic we are.  When most people are asked what “the American Dream” is, they start talking about a house, a car, vacations, retirement, sending your kids to college, etc.  The American Dream has become all about money and stuff.  Sadly, no matter how big our homes are and no matter how many shiny new toys we accumulate, we never seem to be happy.  We always want more, and we always seem to be willing to go into more debt to get it.  We are the most materialistic society in the history of the world, and our endless greed is going to end up swallowing us alive.

When it comes to materialism in America, there are outrageous examples all around us, but one of my favorite examples is the “Rich Kids of Instagram“.  It is a Tumblr blog of photos from Instagram of young Americans showing off how they are enjoying the vast wealth of their parents.  The following is how the Washington Post describes the blog….

The controversial new Tumblr is a collection of snapshots from the photo-sharing site that depicts the children of wealth and privilege — summering in the Hamptons, lounging on yachts and posing by their luxury cars.

One does a back-flip out of a helicopter near St. Tropez. Others snap pictures of their restaurant bills — allegedly paying thousands of dollars for lobster, champagne and high-end liquor.

In the warm patina of the Instagram, the youngsters appear to be living over-the-top lifestyles — and enjoying every moment.

“Our everyday is better than your best day,” reads one caption, a bit tauntingly. And, “Do you have a horse in your backyard? Didn’t think so.”

But just because you have a horse on your property does that make your life better than the rest of our lives?

Of course not.

Wealth does not equal happiness.

Unfortunately, however, most Americans have totally bought into this lie.

Most Americans believe that more money equals a better life.

In response to “the Rich Kids of Instagram”, the Huffington Post recently put together a piece entitled “the Rich Cats of Instagram” that features photos of cats as they “model upscale accessories, lounge with bottles of champagne, sail on yachts and ponder life while relaxing atop piles of money.”

Of course a lot of those pictures are quite funny, but they also reveal a deep truth about our society.

We have spent our lives chasing after the almighty dollar thinking that it will make us happy.  Study after study has shown that we tend to link wealth and happiness.  The following is from a recent NBC News article about one of those studies….

Many parents already know older children can be materialistic. Some tweens not only want the latest games and clothes, but also think owning these things will bring them happiness, friends and popularity. And marketers are eager to get them to buy: Tweens spend $28 billion a year, not including the more than $200 billion their parents spend on them, according to market research company C+R Research.

But even though we have an incredibly high standard of living compared to most of the rest of the world, are most of us actually happy?

No way.  In fact, Americans take more anti-depressants than anyone else on the planet.

It is really easy to get caught up in materialism though.  Let me share an example from my own life.

Several months ago our old truck completely died.  Instead of pouring thousands of more dollars into fixing it, we decided that we would get another used truck.

So the other day I stopped by a dealership while my wife was grabbing some things from Home Depot.  The salesperson started showing me some of the used trucks on the lot, but after a while I suggested that he show me some of the new trucks that were sitting on the other side of the lot.

Before I knew it, I was sitting in the most expensive truck on the lot and he was showing me all of the cool features it had.

And I have to admit – for a few moments there I was really enamored with that truck.  It was the coolest truck that I had ever seen in my life.

Of course my wife and I don’t need a truck like that.  We only need to haul stuff around a few times a month.  And we certainly do not need the amount of debt that it would take to buy such a truck.

But for a few moments there I really wanted it.  The pull of materialism can be very strong.

So would that truck have “changed my life” or brought me lasting happiness?

Of course not.

It would have brought some thrills for the first couple of days, but after a while it would just be sitting in the garage taking up space just like any other truck would.

So did I end up buying a truck?

Not yet.  But we need one soon.  My wife has been without a truck for quite a few months now and she is getting impatient.

But whether we get a nice used truck or a used truck that has one foot in the grave, it really isn’t going to change our lives much.

In the end, our lives should not be defined by what we own or by how much money we have in the bank.

But how do we refer to ourselves in this day and age?

The American people are called “consumers” and the truth is that we consume far more than anyone else on the globe does.

Just look at our eating habits.  Of all the major industrialized nations, America is the most obese.

The next time you go into a store, take note of how many people are overweight.

It has not always been this way.  Back in 1962, only 13 percent of all Americans were obese.

But now overeating is a national sport.  At this point, approximately 36 percent of all Americans are obese, and it is being projected that number will rise to 42 percent by 2030.

While we are gorging ourselves with food, what else do we like to do?

That’s right – we love to watch television.  In fact, the average American watches 28 hours of television every single week.

We have become completely and totally addicted to entertainment, and we have become trained to be constantly “plugged in” to something.

Our lives have become all about constantly feeding our greed and our selfishness.  In fact, that is a major reason for the breakdown of the family in America.  We tend to view marriage as a temporary condition that can be quickly discarded when it no longer makes us happy.

Sadly, the United States has the highest divorce rate in the world by a very wide margin at this point.

In addition, more Americans than ever are putting off marriage these days.  Young Americans are being told that “an education” and “a career” are more important.  According to the Pew Research Center, only 51 percent of all American adults are currently married.  Back in 1960, 72 percent of all adults in America were married.

As a result of these factors, we are an incredibly lonely nation.  Today, the United States has the highest percentage of one person households on the entire globe.

In order to fill the void, the American people turn to things that will numb the pain.  American use more legal drugs than anyone else on the planet and they also use more illegal drugs than anyone else on the planet.

We have more “stuff” than any other society in the history of the world has ever had, but it has not made us happy.

And how did we pay for all of this?

We paid for a lot of this with debt.  In fact, we have accumulated the biggest mountain of debt in the history of the world.

During my lifetime, the debt of the U.S. government has gotten more than 30 times larger.  For much more on this, please see my previous article entitled “27 Things That Every American Should Know About The National Debt“.

But the federal government is not the only one with a debt problem.  The truth is that our entire society is absolutely drowning in debt.

Over the past 50 years, the total amount of debt in the U.S. has grown from less than a trillion dollars to nearly 55 trillion dollars….

We have used massive amounts of debt in an attempt to feed our endless greed and materialism and we have gotten ourselves into a whole lot of trouble.

This is one of the reasons why I write.  I want people to understand how bad things have really gotten.

Thanks to our foolishness, our economy has been declining, it is going to continue to decline, and a massive economic collapse is coming.

Some people believe that this is a message of “doom and gloom”, but that is not the case at all.

Sticking our heads in the sand and pretending that somehow everything is going to be just fine is not going to do anyone any good.

Instead, I believe that warning people about the coming economic collapse is a message of hope.

There is hope in understanding what is happening, developing a plan to deal with it, and preparing yourself and your family for the storm that is coming.

It is the people that are ignoring all of the warnings that are going to be in real trouble.

Millions upon millions of people will be absolutely blindsided by what is coming.  Many will give in to total despair once they realize that their prosperity is gone and they have done nothing to prepare for what they are now facing.

My hope is that the information that I write about will be shocking enough that it will wake people up and motivate them to get prepared so that they can handle the incredibly challenging years that are ahead.

And the truth is that our lives should not be about our money and our stuff anyway.

Your possessions are just temporary.  None of them are going to last forever and you certainly cannot take them with you when you die.

Even though our economy has had some rough times, we still have a higher standard of living than 99 percent of the humans that have ever lived on this planet have had.

You would think that would be enough for us.

But it isn’t.  We have hoarded our wealth and we have lived in luxury and self-indulgence.

When our debt-fueled prosperity disappears, most Americans are not going to know how to handle it.

Most Americans will believe that their lives are “over” at that point.

But those that are not caught up in materialism and that have prepared for what is ahead will understand that the next chapters of their lives can be the greatest chapters of all.

The Worst Time Of The Year?

For a lot of Americans, this is the worst time of the year.  If you don’t have any money, it can be really hard to hear others go on and on about how good “Santa Claus” was to them this year.  For many, there is simply not much to be cheerful about as the year ends.  There are millions of people in this country that do not have a “happy family” to spend the holidays with, there are millions of people in this country that do not have any money to spend on gifts, and there are millions of people that are either already sleeping in the streets or that are in imminent danger of losing their homes.  It can be really difficult to feel “holiday cheer” when you are freezing cold and you don’t have any food in your stomach.  The realization that you are not going to enjoy any of the good things that other people get to enjoy this time of the year is enough to push many people over the edge.  Yes, for most of the country this time of the year is filled with food, family and fun but for millions of others this time of the year tends to magnify despair, depression and thoughts of suicide.  If you are blessed as we get ready to enter 2012, please remember those out there that are really hurting.  If someone does not help them, they might not make it to 2013.

In our society today, the “holiday season” is held up as the ultimate time of the year.  Often expectations are so high that they are almost impossible to fulfill.  The truth is that materialism is never going to bring anyone true fulfillment, and once Christmas is over many Americans are left with a very hollow feeling.

But all of the “Christmas hype” on television and in the movies can make it seem like this is a “magical” time of the year for most people.  For those that are in a tremendous amount of emotional pain, the holidays can be excruciating because they can feel as though they are “missing out” on all the fun and happiness that everyone else is experiencing.  That is why for many Americans that are “on the edge”, this can be the absolute worst time of the year.

When people go “over the edge”, the consequences can be devastating.

For example, have you noticed how there always seems to be a rash of murder-suicides at this time of the year?

One murder-suicide that made national headlines happened down in Texas.  It turns out that the killer actually dressed up as Santa Claus.  The following description of this stunning incident comes from an article posted on USA Today….

Police said the man they believe is responsible for a Christmas Day shooting that left him and six members of his extended family dead was dressed as Santa Claus.

Grapevine police spokesman Sgt. Robert Eberling said Monday the shooter “showed up shortly before the incident took place” in the Santa outfit and was a member of the family opening gifts in the apartment.

Could you imagine being killed by a family member dressed as Santa Claus?

But sometimes people do not snap in a family setting.  For some, it is the work environment that sets them off.  Just consider the following example from a recent article in the Washington Post….

A Southern California Edison employee chatted calmly with co-workers in the moments between gunning down four managers during a rampage at an office complex, authorities said as the building reopened Tuesday.

Investigators still were trying to determine what pushed gunman Andre Turner to finish a normal workday by shooting the workers with a semiautomatic handgun before turning it on himself.

We have also seen shocking murder-suicides reported in recent days in Illinois, in California, in Colorado and in Arizona.

Every year we also see reports of Christmas presents being stolen right out from under the tree.  The following comes from an article in the Los Angeles Times….

A Northern California family victimized in a burglary a few days before Christmas is hoping to at least get their dog back.

The Lancers lost all of the presents under the tree along with their dog when their home in Morgan Hill, southeast of San Jose, was broken into last week, authorities said Sunday.

There are a lot of people out there that do not have any hesitation about stealing from others.  Desperate people do desperate things, and right now the number of desperate people in America is growing.

Tonight, there are millions upon millions of Americans that cannot find work and that are incredibly stressed.  The truth is that there are not nearly enough jobs for everyone.  If the number of Americans considered to be “looking for work” was the same today as it was back in 2007, the “official” unemployment rate would be up to 11 percent.

But the Obama administration does not want to report such a depressing number.

8.6 percent just sounds so much more pleasant.

For even more crazy economic numbers that show just how bad the U.S. economy really was in 2011, just check out this article.

But of course our leaders are enjoying a good, long break from all of the “hard work” that they have put in toward fixing the economy.

Nancy Pelosi has jetted off to Hawaii and is spending her holidays in a suite that rents for $10,000 a night.

Barack Obama and his family are in Hawaii as well.  It has been estimated that their Hawaiian vacation will cost somewhere in the neighborhood of 4 million dollars.

It is shameful that our “leaders” are enjoying such luxury at a time when so many millions of Americans are barely surviving.

One of the reasons why my site has struck such a nerve is because the pain that millions of Americans are going through right now is very real.

For example, the following is a comment that a reader identified as “Ricci” left on one of my recent articles….

I sleep in my car. I have nowhere else to go. It gets really cold and hurts my bones. I would love love love to go back to work but I was hospitalized 12 times in two years. I wouldn’t be able to keep a job because of my health i’m not dependable. THESE are the people who are homeless. It’s also a LOT of veterans that are homeless. But I sleep in my car. Often on family property and I’m still stalked and harassed by police and I’m sick of it.

In another comment, Ricci shared even more of her story….

Wow….do you really think that? I am a licensed social worker for 10 years. In 2005 I lost a son & daughter 3 hours after they were born. For 3 years I suffered in pain, still working my ass off, but found I was very ill. After chemo, immuno-suppressants, and a myriad of other medications I could not afford, I went bankrupt and lost my house. By this time, I was awarded disability on the first try w/o an attorney. I wasn’t expected to live. But here I am. I can barely move somedays I hurt so much. I don’t have family willing to take me in. I look fine on the outside you know. If I would just have more faith or exercise more or eat the right foods I would be cured. Whatever. I often worked 50 to 60 hours a week to protect kids from real problems (not taken away for poverty as people say……so sick of the myths about social services). Anyway, before that I worked mental health, and worked in the school district. I have busted my ass to care for other people. My husband left, children died, and when my health failed I lost everything and fell through the cracks. It’s people like me who are homeless…I do not drink. I do not use drugs. I can barely get the medications I need even w/ supplemental insurance. I get stalked and harassed by police if I so much as get tired and pull over so I don’t wreck. I was on my dad’s property in my car 3 times in two months I was approached by police…one time there were 4 cops that came to my car……on our family’s private property. My car has totally been profiled. I’m so sick of it. At this point, I would be better off dead.

So what do you say to someone like Ricci?

I have never slept in my car.  I have never lost a son or daughter.  I have never lost a house.  I have never been homeless.

How can I identify with someone who has gone through all of that?

But we do need to tell people like Ricci not to ever give up.   The vast majority of us have been at very low points in our own lives, and the secret is to keep on fighting and to never, ever give up.  No matter how bad things get, they can always be turned around if you will just have faith.

We should remember to pray for people like Ricci and the millions of other Americans that are going through similar trials.  We should also look for ways to help people that are really hurting in our own communities.

Yes, we cannot possibly rescue everyone is hurting.  But what we can do is love the one that is in front of us.

Unfortunately, our economic problems are only going to get worse.  America is in the middle of a long-term decline that is rapidly accelerating.  That means that there are going to be lots more people that are going to lose their jobs and their homes.

So let us do what we can to focus on real world solutions and to focus on preparing for the hard times that are coming.

We waste so much time on unnecessary things.  For example, did you know that there are over 695,000 status updates on Facebook every single minute?

Every 60 seconds.

Amazing.

As bad as 2011 was, it looks like 2012 is going to be significantly worse.  It won’t be the end of the world of course, but huge challenges are ahead.  Now is the time to get our priorities in order and to start focusing on the things that really matter.

Christmas Stories

If you and your family are blessed and prosperous this holiday season, you should consider yourself to be very fortunate, because there are tens of millions of other Americans that are desperately hanging on by their fingernails.  The Christmas stories that you are going to read below aren’t going to give you any warm fuzzies.  They aren’t about “Santa Claus” sliding down the chimney to leave huge piles of presents around the tree.  Rather, they are representative of what so many American families are feeling this holiday season – horrible, suffocating, soul-crushing despair.  As you and your family gather around the holiday tree on December 25th, millions of other Americans will be facing a Christmas with absolutely no gifts.  As you and your family dig into a delicious holiday meal, millions of other Americans will be breaking out the meager supplies they picked up at the food bank or that their food stamps have enabled them to purchase.  As you and your family tell stories around the fire, millions of other Americans will literally sit shivering in their own homes because they have no money to heat them.  The stories of those who are suffering so deeply very rarely get put on television, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t very real.

The truth is that there are millions upon millions of American families that have been pushed to the edge of despair by the lack of jobs.  In August 2009, only 10 percent of the unemployed had been out of work for 2 years or longer.  Today that number is up to 35 percent.

One very disturbing sign of the times is that many churches are now holding “blue Christmas” services to comfort those who are going through hard times.  Back during the “good times” such a thing would have been unimaginable, but now they are being held from coast to coast.

All over the nation, food banks, aid agencies and homeless shelters find themselves absolutely overwhelmed this winter.  Connie Lassandro, Nassau County’s director of Housing and Homeless Services, recently was quoted in the Huffington Post as saying that she has never seen a greater demand for her agency’s services….

“The new faces we’re seeing are families who have never before faced the risk of actually being homeless. Children don’t understand. ‘Where’s my bedroom? Where’s my toys? Where are my friends?'”

Sadly, the truth is that the U.S. economy no longer produces even close to enough jobs for everyone, so somebody is going to suffer.  Today, there are over 6 million Americans that have been unemployed for half a year or longer.  It can be really easy to quote economic statistics such as this, but sometimes what gets lost in all the numbers are the very real stories of the people that are actually living through all of this.  This year there are literally millions of American families that have sad Christmas stories to share.

On The American Dream blog, a reader of my column identified as “momma loses hope” recently left a comment in which she really opened up and shared her story with us. Sadly, her story is so similar to what so many millions of other young American families are going through this holiday season….

While my husband has experience, and an education, he is yet to find and keep a job that is worth anything, that would be possible to pay back these $400/mnth loans on deferment, let alone keep us going barely.

Despite his greatest effort and attempts, to locate work that would pay anything over $10 an hour in the field he trained for, or some cross over skills in another profession, still nothing has been happening beyond numerous and then dwindling interviews in the last 2 years.

He is currently working at a $10/hr people mill that has outrageous expectations that are near impossible to meet, just to keep your job. Much of what you are supposed to control, is not within your control! That was after having lost unemployment due to its exhaustion, where we had nothing coming in for 30 days. He found this job and went through training. We were thankful to have anything coming in, but it is not going well. Half of his training class is gone either bc they quit or were fired. We are finding out this is the normal for this business.

Prior to the unemployment of 99 weeks, he had a great new job. $60 k a year was good from having some on the job experience at another job prior to that which was an internship, he got. So this was a good option for a chance out of school. They were content with his level of experience of 3- 4 years in IT w/ the hands on education and internship. We moved to relocate for this job 2500 miles away and then he was let go 6 months later, after he was able to clean up a bunch of unresolved problems for them. They wanted someone with 10 years of experience, all the sudden, despite they knew his skill level! Anyhow, the network was held together with tape and bubble gum. So long “best practice” theory.

I guess they had been left in the lurch bc someone left without notice, they advertised for help for months even out of state, and then they hired my husband to fill the desperate gap. Then they didn’t want to keep shelling out the money to keep him. Used him and turned us away, like no big deal; They fired him after 6 months, after we spent all our savings to move to another state… That is when we went on unemployment, and hubby returned for more education, while still looking for a job too.

We moved back home confused as could be. We were helpful that something would come along back home. Things only got worse for the prospect of careers being offered.

I was hoping they were going to improve, but no they have not. We are dying here. But that is not the end of our troubles.

Last year my husband got a $10 a hour job, got H1N1 and Dble Pneumonia and went to the hospital for 14 days or whatever. He was fired by Stream for not being in training and they refused to place him in another training class when he got out the ICU. Then we were left with over $10,000 ( the other $90 grand was forgiven) and we have collectors after us. We survive day by day, we don’t have anything extra to pay anyone or anything….

So, we don’t have any savings,( we used it to relocate to gain employment as I already mentioned) & we have needed things bc we have a baby coming. We haven’t made it long enough to get anything else saved up to rely on, bc unemployment doesn’t pay you what you were making at your job. The unemployment is gone and there is none left, if he loses this job. We don’t qualify for anymore student loans at this stage. This job is shaky at best and these people fire and lose people like there is no tomorrow, and have constant training going on. What a nightmare! We are not able to get a career in the IT Industry that he trained for and paid for with these loans. What do we do? We have a 6 year old and a baby that is on the way in 3 months.

We are so lost and without hope. We trust in Jesus, but what do we do beyond trying to get a better job? It takes effort to gain a job, but there are not enough possiblities hiring as this article states, and I testify to. All my husband does beyond going to this crap job, and playing with our son, is scouring the internet for jobs, and this has been going on for so long!….

I can’t believe this is happening again…..What is a mother and wife to do? We can’t get on track! We don’t drink or drug or sabotage ourselves and our family, and yet we cannot get on track “with the go to school and get a great job” crap I have heard my whole life. Something is broken and cannot be fixed. Sometimes we wonder why God hadn’t just taken my husband’s life when it was in peril and the rest of our family, as it would be better than dealing with this pain and unresolved heartache.

I am so scared and lonely, I could just die. My tears go unnoticed. I sit here without answers. I am one of millions going through the same thing.

Can you imagine being in such a situation?  What is perhaps saddest of all is what this economy is doing to so many children.  According to one recent study, approximately 21 percent of all children in the United States are living below the poverty line in 2010 – the highest rate in 20 years.

Poverty is absolutely exploding all over the United States.  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.

So, no, this Christmas is not “a season of joy” for many Americans.  For example, a commenter on the Unemployed-Friends website identified only as “jobless_in_MA” says that her holidays are going to be quite depressing since she has been out of work for 2 Christmases in a row now….

Well, this is now my 2nd Holiday season in a row being jobless, and this year seems far bleaker than last years. Ive always been the type to love this time of they year. I would look forward to it. I was always the one in the family who would be the great gift giver, especially to the younger members of my family.

Last year I was REALLY upset because I couldn’t do 1/4 of what I normally would do, but still managed to enjoy the season. Im not so sure about it this year.

A lot has happened to my situation in the past year, Ive lost my place, filed bankruptcy, lost some of my dignity, and my marriage is on the rocks.

I am NOT in the holiday season at all, and its really bringing me down.

Usually around now we would be talking about getting a tree. Sometimes we would cut our own tree down, and decorate it together.

We would always have a family holiday party at our place, and I don’t see that happening this year at all.

Yes, every year there are some Americans that are “down and out”, but it is undeniable that the number of Americans that are suffering extreme economic pain has absolutely skyrocketed in recent years.  Today, one out of every six Americans is now enrolled in a federal anti-poverty program.  As 2007 began, “only” 26 million Americans were on food stamps, but now 42 million Americans are enrolled in the food stamp program and that number keeps rising every single month.

Sadly, there are millions upon millions of Americans that do have jobs and yet barely find themselves able to hang in there.  Many Americans have been forced to grab whatever job they can find.  In fact, the number of Americans working part-time jobs “for economic reasons” is now the highest it has been in at least five decades.

It is becoming increasingly more difficult to make a living in the United States.  Today, half of all American workers earn $505 or less per week.

Could your family get by on $505 per week?

That is something to really think about.

So is anyone doing well?

Well, the only group that saw their household incomes increase in 2009 was those making $180,000 or more.

Not that being wealthy is a bad thing, but what that statistic shows is that the middle class in America is being wiped out.

We are seeing this in community after community across the nation.  A reader of this column identified as “Bibi” recently left a comment that did a great job of describing the economic decline and economic despair that we are now seeing all across America….

I have recently traveled from coast to coast and then some. This is a synopsis of what is really going on. Californians seem to be in lalaland. Look good and spend money, lots of it that you don’t have. LA has become very dangerous. Police will knock on your van if you stop to rest with a coffee even if you are at a convenience store. It is illegal to sleep in your vehicle and you will be arrested. Las Vegas is full of poor and homeless wandering around aimlessly. Tent cities and blocks of people living on the streets. dirty and super dangerous. The decline is in your face. Police and security presence are at ‘ad nauseum’ levels. AZ and NM are ****holes. My family refused to get out of the van in Albuquerque. Sedona is still nice but its surrondings make it on borrowed time. Little artsy towns will be taken over quickly when TSHTF. The only city I went to in TX was Amarillo. Didn’t see much but it looked seedy and dirty along the highway. OKlahoma- ***. If I didn’t stay on a military base, I would have broke the speed limit to get through it. The thought of getting gas in Little Rock still gives me nightmares. Enough said. AK- Lots of boarded up towns. Saw this all along Route 40. TN- Stay away from Memphis if you want to live. Nashville is the craziest city I have ever seen. Everyone acts like they are on speed. When you get around Pigeon Forge, Maggie Valley and Gatlinburg, you see the true beauty of this state but they are tourist traps. W. VA is beautiful, but the people are very backward. I could live in Northern W. VA. East coast- VA. Beach has been in decline and was just dubbed the “most drunken city in the U.S.” They must be proud. Lots of trouble here. Big police presence. Took 10 minutes for me to get questioned about my out-of- state plates. N&S Carolina- Bigger cities are dangerous, especially Columbia, SC. Big police presence. Baltimore- be afraid, be very afraid. Keep going. NJ- Something like a horror movie. Do people really live here? Scary and smelly. NYC- Was advised by thruway attendent to “keep going and don’t stop” Overturned cars, tons of high rise ghettos, not a safe place. I was terrified my van would break down. Albany, NY.- my destination. Ghettopolis. Stopped by police within minutes as to why I was driving in city so late. ? Informed it was not safe. Stopped again the next day regarding my plates at a police check. They threatened to tow my van because my “license didn’t come up”. [he was holding it] Stopped again for seatbelt violation. I always wear it but he said he couldn’t see it. Am I imagining it or did I really see National Guard walking around with rifles? Well, I promply left NYS and will never go back. The Florida panhandle is far from perfect and has an ever expanding police force, but it is quiet. Not safe, but quiet.

Once upon a time, there were a few cities and towns around the U.S. that were obviously in a state of decline, but now it is happening everywhere.

In fact, there are many areas throughout the country that scream “economic despair” the moment you drive into them.  It is almost as if someone has sucked the life right out of them.

So why is this happening?  Well, as I recently pointed out, America’s economic pie is rapidly shrinking.  As our national wealth continues to be destroyed, even more American families are going to suffer.

For decades we have enjoyed a debt-fueled binge of prosperity that was unlike anything the world has ever seen.  But now the day of reckoning is fast approaching and things are going to get even worse.

So if you are doing really well this holiday season, be thankful, because next year it may be you that has the sad Christmas story.

Happy Holidays? 28 Hard Questions It Would Be Great If We Could Get Some Real Answers To

Over the coming weeks, Americans will be wishing each other “happy holidays” millions upon millions of times.  But are these really happy times?  Record numbers of Americans are going to be going hungry and cold this winter.  Millions upon millions of our fellow citizens would gladly give up all holiday celebrations in exchange for a decent job.  The vast majority of us have plenty of examples of horrible personal tragedy all around us this holiday season, and much of that tragedy has been brought on by the deteriorating economic conditions.  Meanwhile, we have a “control freak” government that wants to establish an even tighter grip over our lives and that now insists on either viewing our exposed bodies or groping our private areas before we can get on an airplane.  Once upon a time in America the holiday season was a time to rejoice because we lived in a prosperous land where liberty and freedom were respected, but today we live in a nation with a highly centralized economy dominated by a federal government that is becoming more “totalitarian” by the day.

But we are told that centralized control by an overwhelmingly powerful national government is good in our case because “they” know what is best for us.

Oh really?  They sure have done a great job “managing” our economic system, haven’t they?  Unfortunately, it seems as though anything that the federal government takes control over just gets more messed up.

The following are 28 hard questions that you should ask anyone who believes that having a highly centralized economy and a highly centralized government is good for us….

#1 Why is the U.S. government trying to put a choke hold on our food production system? S. 510, The Food Safety Modernization Act, is being called one of the most dangerous bills in American history.  This very vague and incredibly broad bill (which you can read here) will give the U.S. government unprecedented control over the growing, storing and sale of food in the United States.

#2 Approximately 14.8 million Americans are unemployed this holiday season.  So why in the world is the “greatest economy on earth” not able to provide jobs for all of them?

#3 Why are the U.S. and South Korea insisting on conducting 4 days of naval exercises in the Yellow Sea when tensions in the reason are at an all-time high and when a single mistake could spark an all-out war?  Wouldn’t it be better to postpone these naval exercises until things have calmed down a bit?

#4 What prompted Russia and China to suddenly decide to quit using the U.S. dollar and instead start using their own national currencies when trading with each other?

#5 Why does it cost $181,757 per hour for Barack Obama to travel on Air Force One?

#6 Are we still a “great nation” when so many of our citizens are going hungry?  According to a recent BBC report, 15% of all U.S. households experienced a shortage of food at some point during 2009.  One of our readers named Gary recently left a comment that indicated that he encountered a very big crowd during his recent visit to a local food pantry….

The line at the food pantry was very long. There are a lot of folks who have little food and no money.

#7 If the U.S. economy is recovering, why were new home sales for October down 28.9 percent from a year ago and why were existing home sales for October down 25.9 percent over the previous year?

#8 Why are there so many reports of unprofessional behavior by TSA agents?  For example, it is being reported that some TSA agents have specifically targeted attractive young women for “additional screening”.

#9 Why are U.S. home builders only selling one-fifth of the homes that they were selling during the “boom times” five years ago?

#10 How did a man who had been convicted of misdemeanor harassment and stalking get hired to be a TSA agent?  Now it turns out he is being accused of abducting and sexually assaulting a woman.  These are the people who are supposed to be protecting us?

#11 In the “wealthiest nation on earth”, why are a record number of Americans going to be without heat this winter? According to the National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association, more than 10 million U.S. households will not be able to afford to heat their homes this winter without assistance, which would be a new all-time record.  One of our readers named Elaine recently shared that she is one of those Americans that is going to be cold this winter….

It’s starting to get cold here in the mountains. I’m unemployed, no heat, at risk for foreclosure, etc. Everyone is at risk for this, it’s just that many of the muddleclass can’t face it yet. For a lot of us, it’s not cutting back on that bi-weekly latte that’s going to help, it’s cutting back on having electricity. Don’t judge the poor until you’ve been here.

#12 Why are Americans becoming so pessimistic about the future?  According to one recent poll, now only 51 percent of Americans believe that today’s young people will have a better life than their parents did.

#13 How did we ever get to the point as a nation where only 39 percent of likely voters believe that the U.S. government is operating within the limits established by the U.S. Constitution?

#14 Why does the mainstream media largely ignore the fact that thousands of people are being slaughtered near the U.S. border with Mexico each year and a city just across the Mexican border is now being dubbed “the most dangerous place on earth”?

#15 What does it say about American politics that the companies that produce the new naked body scanners have more than doubled their spending on political lobbying over the last five years?

#16 Why is the Washington Post working so hard to defend the policies of the Federal Reserve?

#17 Have we now gotten to the point where the financial condition of the U.S. government is so bad that it will be virtually impossible to ever have a balanced federal budget ever again?

#18 Why aren’t more Americans deeply concerned about the dozens of nasty diseases that they could catch from TSA agents if they don’t change gloves between each groping?

#19 Why are there 18 times as many banks on the FDIC “problem list” as there were just four years ago?

#20 What does it say about the United States that now 39 percent of Americans believe that marriage is becoming obsolete?

#21 How can anyone claim that the U.S. economy is turning around as long as the number of Americans on food stamps continues to set a new all-time record month after month?

#22 As thousands of factories and millions of jobs continue to be shipped overseas, why does Barack Obama keep publicly proclaiming that globalism is so good for us?

#23 Why aren’t Homeland Security officials willing to consider changes to the new airport security procedures when many women are actually using the term “sexual assault” to describe their experiences with the new “enhanced pat downs”?

#24 The median wealth of a U.S. Senator in 2009 was 2.38 million dollars.  So exactly what does that say about the health of our Republic?

#25 Why have our leaders allowed U.S. strategic grain reserves to shrivel away to almost nothing?

#26 In 2009, 54.9 million international tourists visited the United States, and those tourists spent approximately 93 billion dollars.  How far will those numbers drop once stories of TSA abuse circulate all over the globe?

#27 If Congress does not authorize another emergency extension of long-term unemployment benefits, then what in the world are the 2 million Americans who are going to suddenly lose their checks going to do?

#28 Are there still any areas left in the United States where liberty and freedom are respected, where taxes are low, where regulations are not suffocating, where the people are friendly and where Americans can be free to live an independent lifestyle?

Black Friday: A Festival Of Greed In The Midst Of A Sea Of Pain And Suffering

Black Friday – the day after Thanksgiving when millions of Americans line up before the crack of dawn at retail stores across the nation hoping to find great deals on cheap plastic stuff made outside the United States.  The Friday after Thanksgiving has become an “unofficial holiday” in recent years, and in fact in many ways it is starting to become as big as Thanksgiving itself.  A recent search on Google News found over 31,000 stories about “Thanksgiving” and over 24,000 stories about “Black Friday”.  Almost every major news organization has been running stories about Black Friday for weeks now.  Some of the biggest retailers, including Wal-Mart, Sears, Old Navy and Toys R Us, have had such success with Black Friday sales that they have decided to stay open for Thanksgiving now.  You would think that we could all have one day off to spend with family and friends to give thanks for all that we have been blessed with, but apparently that is not going to be possible.  Just like so many of our other holidays, the true purpose behind having a holiday called “Thanksgiving” is being totally obliterated by a tsunami of greed.  Meanwhile, more Americans than ever are living in poverty this year and very few people even seem to notice.

Not that there is anything wrong with enjoying all the things you and your family have been blessed with.  However, perhaps we should all take time this week to remember the tens of millions of Americans that are going to be deeply suffering this winter.  They keep telling us that “the recession is over” and yet poverty continues to spread like an out of control plague.  But for most Americans life is still relatively “normal”, and so the horrible suffering going on out there doesn’t really affect them.

The truth is that the U.S. economy is dying.  Americans have been living beyond their means for decades, and now we are starting to pay the price for the gigantic mountains of debt that we have accumulated.  But instead of preparing for harder times and looking for ways to help those who are hurting, most Americans are preparing for another orgy of shopping this holiday season….

*According to a new study by America’s Research Group and UBS, more Americans than ever before will be out shopping this Black Friday.

Meanwhile, nearly 15% of all American households experienced a food shortage at some point during 2009, and experts anticipate that the final number for 2010 will be even worse.

*Approximately 48.9 percent of all Americans plan to shop on Black Friday this year.

Meanwhile, many other Americans only have a very, very cold winter to look forward to.  According to the National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association, more than 10 million U.S. households will not be able to afford to heat their homes this winter without assistance, which would be a new all-time record.

*The National Retail Federation estimates that holiday retail sales will hit $447.1 billion for 2010.

Meanwhile, more Americans are on food stamps than ever before.  Today, more than 43 million Americans are enrolled in the food stamp program.  The number of Americans on food stamps has increased almost 60 percent since 2007.  If our economy is getting better, then why is hunger spreading like an out of control virus?….

*Millions of American families will be streaming into Wal-Mart and Target to buy foreign-made electronic gadgets this upcoming Friday.

Meanwhile, millions of other American families would gladly give up their Thanksgiving meals in exchange for a decent job for a family member.  According to one recent survey, 28% of all U.S. households have at least one person that is looking for a full-time job.  Unfortunately, there are not even close to enough jobs to go around in post-industrial America.

*Consumer Reports has posted a Black Friday shopping guide that encourages people to be prepared to wait in line out in the cold for several hours if they want to get the “best deals”….

It’s not always worth breaking down the ‘door.’ … But consumers shouldn’t bother to show up unless they are willing to wait in line, sometimes for hours before the store opens, and should be prepared for possible disappointment. There are no guarantees.

Meanwhile, there are millions of American children that barely have enough to eat.  According to one recent study, approximately 21 percent of all children in the United States are living below the poverty line in 2010.

The age of consumerism is coming to a close so enjoy it while it lasts.

Sadly, many proponents of “free trade” (which is actually not “free” or “fair” at all) point to the “great deals” available on Black Friday as evidence that globalism works.

Yes, you might get 20 extra bucks off on that 32-inch television, but in the end American workers are going to be supported somehow.

Either we provide jobs for American workers that enable them to feed their families or we provide for them by giving them food stamps and unemployment checks.

The United States has lost over 42,000 factories since 2001.  Are you willing to have your taxes raised to provide food and shelter for all of those displaced workers?

The following is how Wikipedia defines deindustrialization….

Deindustrialization (also spelled deindustrialisation) is a process of social and economic change caused by the removal or reduction of industrial capacity or activity in a country or region, especially heavy industry or manufacturing industry. It is an opposite of industrialization.

In case you haven’t noticed, that is what is happening to America.

The United States is rapidly becoming a post-industrial nation.

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

Not that all trade is a bad thing.  Trading with other nations such as Canada and Germany that have similar standards of living and that pay their workers similar wages could potentially be beneficial to both sides.

However, merging our economy with nations such as communist China was a colossal mistake.  In China, most workers earn less than a tenth of what most American workers make.  Today, our factories, our jobs and our wealth are being transferred to China at a pace that is almost unbelievable.

In 1985, the U.S. trade deficit with China was 6 million dollars for the entire year.  In the month of August alone, the U.S. trade deficit with China was over 28 billion dollars.

In case you are wondering, that is not a good trend.

Every single month, tens of billions of dollars more goes out of the United States than comes into it.

In other words, we are being drained.

But that isn’t going to stop tens of millions of Americans from running out on Black Friday and buying huge piles of stuff that nobody really needs with money that they can’t really afford to spend.

America is in the midst of a long-term economic decline, but nearly everyone in the media keeps expecting the economy to “snap out of it” and for the good times to start rolling once again.

Unfortunately, things aren’t going to get better.  This is about as good as things are going to get.

The federal government has piled up the biggest mountain of debt in the history of the world.  Our state and local governments are drowning in a sea of red ink.  Average Americans are seeing their incomes decline and their standards of living go down.  The greatest economic machine in world history is being dismantled and most Americans have become so dumbed-down that they don’t even understand what is going on.

But as they say, ignorance is bliss.

So enjoy this “Black Friday” while you still can.  Perhaps the memories of these good times will keep us warm during the truly dark days that are ahead.

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