In addition to all of our wars in the Middle East and the war that has erupted on the streets of America, we are now engaged in a cyber war with North Korea and an economic war with Russia. Without a doubt, the United States has the capability to do a tremendous amount of damage to both of them. But what about the damage that they could potentially do to us? We have a society that is absolutely teeming with soft targets. Our Internet infrastructure is extremely vulnerable, our debt-based economic system is already teetering on the edge of disaster, and government officials freely admit that security at key facilities such as power plants is sorely lacking. And these kinds of bitter conflicts have a way of escalating. The North Koreans and the Russians are both very proud, and neither one is going to back down any time soon. If a foreign power wanted to really make us hurt, it wouldn’t take much imagination at all. There are thousands of ways to do it. So Americans should not just smugly assume that we are untouchable. In a war, it is often those that are overconfident that get hurt the worst.
Last week, Barack Obama blamed North Korea for the nightmarish hack attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment and he promised that the U.S. would respond.
Well, it looks like that response began on Monday. According to Bloomberg, North Korea’s connection to the Internet was totally cut off…
North Korea’s limited access to the Internet has been cut off, according to a network-monitoring company, days after the U.S. government accused the country of hacking into Sony Corp. (6758)’s files.
North Korea, which has four official networks connecting the country to the Internet — all of which route through China — began experiencing intermittent problems yesterday and today went completely dark, according to Doug Madory, director of Internet analysis at Dyn Research in Hanover, New Hampshire.
Needless to say, that got the attention of the North Koreans.
On their end, the North Koreans are still denying that they had anything to do with the attack on Sony. And we may never know the actual truth. In reality, Russia could have carried out such an attack. Or it could have been the Chinese. Or it could have even been a false flag cyberattack conducted by a three letter U.S. agency. We just don’t know.
“The DPRK has already launched the toughest counteraction. Nothing is more serious miscalculation than guessing that just a single movie production company is the target of this counteraction. Our target is all the citadels of the U.S. imperialists who earned the bitterest grudge of all Koreans,” a report on state-run KCNA read.
“Our toughest counteraction will be boldly taken against the White House, the Pentagon and the whole U.S. mainland, the cesspool of terrorism,” the report said, adding that “fighters for justice” including the “Guardians of Peace” — a group that claimed responsibility for the Sony attack — “are sharpening bayonets not only in the U.S. mainland but in all other parts of the world.”
So can North Korea back up those bold words?
We shall see.
But without a doubt our Internet infrastructure is very vulnerable. As I have written about previously, our big banks are under Internet attack every single minute of every single day. And in recent months we have seen a whole host of retailers and major corporations get hacked.
This is an emerging threat that should not be underestimated. As a society, we have become extremely dependent on the Internet, and these attacks are constantly becoming more powerful and more sophisticated.
I think that Steve Quayle put it very well during one recent interview…
“Cyberwarfare is increasing dramatically as we speak. There are serious concerns about the ability of the United States’ banking system to whether extremely sophisticated cyberattacks. The Sony breach is just one example of how a detrimental cyberattack can bring one of the world’s most prominent entertainment giants to its knees.”
And we do know that the North Koreans take hacking very seriously.
In fact, it has been reported that North Korea has a small army of hackers that are continually harassing the western world known as “Unit 121″…
Just like in a Bond movie, an army of teenage geniuses tap away at keyboards in fortified complex tucked away from prying eyes in a rogue state, bent on bringing cyber-carnage to their Western enemies on the orders of their leader who is bent on revenge.
But this isn’t the plot line from a film. This is North Korea in 2014. And the cyber-warriors inside have diverted from their usual work of disrupting governments and big business to turn their collective fury on Sony.
The building, the Kim Il-Sung Military Academy, is one of four North Korean universities known to train children, hand-picked for their intelligence from all around the country, and turn them into recruits for an elite group of hackers simply known as Unit 121 or Bureau 121.
Meanwhile, the struggle between the United States and Russia over Ukraine has escalated into a full-blown economic war.
At first, both sides started slapping each other with relatively minor economic sanctions.
But then things started escalating. I think that things really began to get serious for the U.S. when Russia started to make moves against the petrodollar. This is not something that has been reported on much at all by the mainstream media in the United States, but it is a very big deal. If you want to become enemy #1 in the eyes of the U.S. government, just start attacking the petrodollar. So when Russia began cutting the U.S. dollar out of oil and natural gas transactions, that definitely got the attention of some folks in Washington. You can read much more about what Russia has been doing in this regard in this article, this article and this article.
Of course Washington was not just going to sit back and let this happen. The Obama administration has retaliated by going after two of the most important pillars of the Russian economy – oil and the ruble. And without a doubt, a tremendous amount of damage has already been done.
At this point, Russia is facing a full-blown currency crisis, major banks are starting to fail and economists are forecasting a deep recession for next year…
The central bank bailed out its first victim of the collapsing currency, authorities announced a tax on grain exports to protect domestic stocks and a Reuters poll of 11 economists predicted that Russia’s gross domestic product would fall 3.6 percent next year.
Russia has been hit by what Economy Minister Alexei Ulyukayev recently called a “perfect storm” of plummeting oil prices, sanctions related to its military action in Ukraine, and a flight of investors’ capital — made worse by a lack of structural reforms that means the economy is overwhelmingly dependent on oil revenues.
But don’t count out the Russians just yet.
They are a very crafty people, and they are not afraid to fight dirty.
And it is important to keep in mind that the Russian Bear never forgives and it never forgets. Most Americans don’t realize this, but right now anti-American sentiment in Russia is actually higher than it was at the end of the Cold War era. Many Russians believe that this is a new Cold War, and that the United States is the greatest force for evil on the entire planet.
This conflict between the United States and Russia is not going to end any time soon. And someday down the road, it could evolve into something more than just an economic war. But before that happens, the Russians have a whole host of other ways that they can damage us.
Yes, the United States can hurt Russia.
But Russia can also hurt us.
In the end, this conflict is not going to be good for anyone.
What would you do if the Internet or the power grid went down for over a year? Our key infrastructure, including the Internet and the power grid, is far more vulnerable than most people would dare to imagine. These days, most people simply take for granted that the lights will always be on and that the Internet will always function properly. But what if all that changed someday in the blink of an eye? According to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s latest report, all it would take to plunge the entire nation into darkness for more than a year would be to knock out a transformer manufacturer and just 9 of our 55,000 electrical substations on a really hot summer day. The reality of the matter is that our power grid is in desperate need of updating, and there is very little or no physical security at most of these substations. If terrorists, or saboteurs, or special operations forces wanted to take down our power grid, it would not be very difficult. And as you will read about later in this article, the Internet is extremely vulnerable as well.
When I read the following statement from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s latest report, I was absolutely floored…
“Destroy nine interconnection substations and a transformer manufacturer and the entire United States grid would be down for at least 18 months, probably longer.”
What would you do without power for 18 months?
FERC studied what it would take to collapse the entire electrical grid from coast to coast. What they found was quite unsettling…
In its modeling, FERC studied what would happen if various combinations of substations were crippled in the three electrical systems that serve the contiguous U.S. The agency concluded the systems could go dark if as few as nine locations were knocked out: four in the East, three in the West and two in Texas, people with knowledge of the analysis said.
The actual number of locations that would have to be knocked out to spawn a massive blackout would vary depending on available generation resources, energy demand, which is highest on hot days, and other factors, experts said. Because it is difficult to build new transmission routes, existing big substations are becoming more crucial to handling electricity.
So what would life look like without any power for a long period of time? The following list comes from one of my previous articles…
-There would be no heat for your home.
-Water would no longer be pumped into most homes.
-Your computer would not work.
-There would be no Internet.
-Your phones would not work.
-There would be no television.
-There would be no radio.
-ATM machines would be shut down.
-There would be no banking.
-Your debit cards and credit cards would not work.
-Without electricity, gas stations would not be functioning.
-Most people would be unable to do their jobs without electricity and employment would collapse.
-Commerce would be brought to a standstill.
-Hospitals would not be able to function.
-You would quickly start running out of medicine.
-All refrigeration would shut down and frozen foods in our homes and supermarkets would start to go bad.
If you want to get an idea of how quickly society would descend into chaos, just watch the documentary “American Blackout” some time. It will chill you to your bones.
The truth is that we live in an unprecedented time. We have become extremely dependent on technology, and that technology could be stripped away from us in an instant.
Right now, our power grid is exceedingly vulnerable, and all the experts know this, but very little is being done to actually protect it…
“The power grid, built over many decades in a benign environment, now faces a range of threats it was never designed to survive,” said Paul Stockton, a former assistant secretary of defense and president of risk-assessment firm Cloud Peak Analytics. “That’s got to be the focus going forward.”
If a group of agents working for a foreign government or a terrorist organization wanted to bring us to our knees, they could do it.
In fact, there have actually been recent attacks on some of our power stations. Here is just one example…
The Wall Street Journal’s Rebecca Smith reports that a former Federal Energy Regulatory Commission chairman is acknowledging for the first time that a group of snipers shot up a Silicon Valley substation for 19 minutes last year, knocking out 17 transformers before slipping away into the night.
The attack was “the most significant incident of domestic terrorism involving the grid that has ever occurred” in the U.S., Jon Wellinghoff, who was chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission at the time, told Smith.
So what happens someday when the bad guys decide to conduct a coordinated attack against our power grid with heavy weapons?
It could happen.
In addition, as I mentioned at the top of this article, the Internet is extremely vulnerable as well.
For example, did you know that authorities are so freaked out about the security of the Internet that they have given “the keys to the Internet” to a very small group of individuals that meet four times per year?
The keyholders have been meeting four times a year, twice on the east coast of the US and twice here on the west, since 2010. Gaining access to their inner sanctum isn’t easy, but last month I was invited along to watch the ceremony and meet some of the keyholders – a select group of security experts from around the world. All have long backgrounds in internet security and work for various international institutions. They were chosen for their geographical spread as well as their experience – no one country is allowed to have too many keyholders. They travel to the ceremony at their own, or their employer’s, expense.
What these men and women control is the system at the heart of the web: the domain name system, or DNS. This is the internet’s version of a telephone directory – a series of registers linking web addresses to a series of numbers, called IP addresses. Without these addresses, you would need to know a long sequence of numbers for every site you wanted to visit. To get to the Guardian, for instance, you’d have to enter “184.108.40.206” instead of theguardian.com.
If the system that controls those IP addresses gets hijacked or damaged, we would definitely need someone to press the “reset button” on the Internet.
Sadly, the hackers always seem to be several steps ahead of the authorities. In fact, according to one recent report, breaches of U.S. government computer networks go undetected 40 percent of the time…
A new report by Sen. Tom Coburn (R., Okla.) details widespread cybersecurity breaches in the federal government, despite billions in spending to secure the nation’s most sensitive information.
The report, released on Tuesday, found that approximately 40 percent of breaches go undetected, and highlighted “serious vulnerabilities in the government’s efforts to protect its own civilian computers and networks.”
“In the past few years, we have seen significant breaches in cybersecurity which could affect critical U.S. infrastructure,” the report said. “Data on the nation’s weakest dams, including those which could kill Americans if they failed, were stolen by a malicious intruder. Nuclear plants’ confidential cybersecurity plans have been left unprotected. Blueprints for the technology undergirding the New York Stock Exchange were exposed to hackers.”
And things are not much better when it comes to cybersecurity in the private sector either. According to Symantec, there was a 42 percent increase in cyberattacks against businesses in the United States last year. And according to a recent report in the Telegraph, our major banks are being hit with cyberattacks “every minute of every day”…
Every minute, of every hour, of every day, a major financial institution is under attack.
Threats range from teenagers in their bedrooms engaging in adolescent “hacktivism”, to sophisticated criminal gangs and state-sponsored terrorists attempting everything from extortion to industrial espionage. Though the details of these crimes remain scant, cyber security experts are clear that behind-the-scenes online attacks have already had far reaching consequences for banks and the financial markets.
Up until now, attacks on our infrastructure have not caused any significant interruptions in our lifestyles.
But at some point that will change.
Are you prepared for that to happen?
We live at a time when our world is becoming increasingly unstable. In the years ahead it is quite likely that we will see massive economic problems, major natural disasters, serious terror attacks and war. Any one of those could cause substantial disruptions in the way that we live.
At this point, even NASA is warning that “civilization could collapse”…
A new study sponsored by Nasa’s Goddard Space Flight Center has highlighted the prospect that global industrial civilisation could collapse in coming decades due to unsustainable resource exploitation and increasingly unequal wealth distribution.
Noting that warnings of ‘collapse’ are often seen to be fringe or controversial, the study attempts to make sense of compelling historical data showing that “the process of rise-and-collapse is actually a recurrent cycle found throughout history.” Cases of severe civilisational disruption due to “precipitous collapse – often lasting centuries – have been quite common.”
What in the world is China up to? Over the past several years, the Chinese government and large Chinese corporations (which are often at least partially owned by the government) have been systematically buying up businesses, homes, farmland, real estate, infrastructure and natural resources all over America. In some cases, China appears to be attempting to purchase entire communities in one fell swoop. So why is this happening? Is this some form of “economic colonization” that is taking place? Some have speculated that China may be intending to establish “special economic zones” inside the United States modeled after the very successful Chinese city of Shenzhen. Back in the 1970s, Shenzhen was just a very small fishing village, but now it is a sprawling metropolis of over 14 million people. Initially, these “special economic zones” were only established within China, but now the Chinese government has been buying huge tracts of land in foreign countries such as Nigeria and establishing special economic zones in those nations. So could such a thing actually happen in America? Well, according to Dr. Jerome Corsi, a plan being pushed by the Chinese Central Bank would set up “development zones” in the United States that would allow China to “establish Chinese-owned businesses and bring in its citizens to the U.S. to work.” Under the plan, some of the $1.17 trillion that the U.S. owes China would be converted from debt to “equity”. As a result, “China would own U.S. businesses, U.S. infrastructure and U.S. high-value land, all with a U.S. government guarantee against loss.” Does all of this sound far-fetched? Well, it isn’t. In fact, the economic colonization of America is already far more advanced than most Americans would dare to imagine.
So how in the world did we get to this point? A few decades ago, the United States was the unchallenged economic powerhouse of the world and China was essentially a third world country.
So what happened?
Well, we entered into a whole bunch of extremely unfavorable “free trade” agreements, and countries such as China began to aggressively use “free trade” as an economic weapon against us.
Over the past decade, we have lost tens of thousands of businesses and millions of jobs to China. When the final numbers for 2012 come out, our trade deficit with China for the year will be well over 300 billion dollars, and that will be the largest trade deficit that one country has had with another country in the history of the world.
Overall, the U.S. has run a trade deficit with China over the past decade that comes to more than 2.3 trillion dollars. That 2.3 trillion dollars could have gone to U.S. businesses and U.S. workers, and in turn taxes would have been paid on all of that money. But instead, all of that money went to China.
Rather than just sitting on all of that money, China has been lending much of it back to us – at interest. We now owe China more than a trillion dollars, and our politicians are constantly pleading with China to lend more money to us so that we can finance our exploding debt.
Today, the U.S. government pays China approximately 100 million dollars a day in interest on the debt that we owe them. Those that say that the U.S. debt “does not matter” are being incredibly foolish.
So thanks to our massive trade deficit and our exploding national debt, China is systematically getting wealthier and the United States is systematically getting poorer.
And now China is starting to use a lot of that wealth to aggressively expand their power and influence around the globe.
But isn’t it more than a bit far-fetched to suggest that China may be planning to establish Chinese cities and special economic zones in America?
Just look at what has already happened up in Canada. It is well-known that the Chinese population of Vancouver, Canada has absolutely exploded in recent years. In fact, the Vancouver suburb of Richmond is now approximately half Chinese. The following is an excerpt from a BBC article…
Richmond is North America’s most Asian city – 50% of residents here identify themselves as Chinese. But it’s not just here that the Chinese community in British Columbia (BC) – some 407,000 strong – has left its mark. All across Vancouver, Chinese-Canadians have helped shape the local landscape.
A similar thing is happening in many communities along the west coast of the United States. In fact, Chinese citizens purchased one out of every ten homes that were sold in the state of California in 2011.
But in other areas of the United States, the Chinese are approaching things much more systematically.
For example, as I have written about previously, a Chinese group identified as “Sino-Michigan Properties LLC” has purchased 200 acres of land near the town of Milan, Michigan. Their stated goal is to build a “China City” that has artificial lakes, a Chinese cultural center and hundreds of housing units for Chinese citizens.
In other instances, large chunks of real estate in major U.S. cities that are down on their luck are being snapped up by Chinese investors. Just check out what a Fortune article from a while back says has been happening over in Toledo, Ohio…
In March 2011, Chinese investors paid $2.15 million cash for a restaurant complex on the Maumee River in Toledo, Ohio. Soon they put down another $3.8 million on 69 acres of newly decontaminated land in the city’s Marina District, promising to invest $200 million in a new residential-commercial development. That September, another Chinese firm spent $3 million for an aging hotel across a nearby bridge with a view of the minor league ballpark.
Toledo is being promoted to Chinese investors as a “5-star logistics region“. From Toledo it is very easy to get to Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Columbus and Indianapolis…
With a population of 287,000, Toledo is only the fourth largest city in Ohio, but it lies at the junction of two important highways — I-75 and I-80/90. “My vision is to make Toledo a true international city,” Toledo’s Mayor Mike Bell told the Toledo Blade.
But some of these deals appear to be about far more than just making “investments”. According to the Idaho Statesman, a Chinese company known as Sinomach (which is actually controlled by the Chinese government) was actually interested in developing a 50 square mile self-sustaining “technology zone” south of the Boise airport…
A Chinese national company is interested in developing a 10,000- to 30,000-acre technology zone for industry, retail centers and homes south of the Boise Airport.
Officials of the China National Machinery Industry Corp. have broached the idea — based on a concept popular in China today — to city and state leaders.
The article suggested that this “technology zone” would be modeled after similar projects that already exist in China, and that Chinese officials were conducting similar negotiations with other U.S. states as well…
Sinomach is not looking only at Idaho.
The company sent delegations to Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania this year to talk about setting up research and development bases and industrial parks. It has an interest in electric transmission projects and alternative energy as well.
The technology zone proposal follows a model of science, technology and industrial parks in China — often fully contained cities with all services included.
Thankfully the deal in Idaho appears to be stalled for now, but could we soon see China establish special economic zones in other communities all around America?
The Chinese certainly do seem to be laying the groundwork for something. They have been voraciously gobbling up important infrastructure all over the country. The following comes from a recent American Free Press article…
In addition to already owning vital ports in Long Beach, Calif. and Boston, Mass., the China Ocean Shipping Company is eyeing major ports on the East Coast and Gulf of Mexico. China also owns access to ports at the entry and exit points of the Panama Canal.
And due to fiscal woes plaguing many American cities and states, U.S. legislators have been actively seeking out Chinese investors. In one of the worst cases, Baton Rouge, La., Mayor Kip Holden offered the Chinese government ownership and operating rights to a new toll way system if the Chinese would provide the funding to build it.
Does it make sense for the Chinese to own some of our most important ports?
Isn’t there a national security risk?
Sadly, there isn’t much of anything that our politicians won’t sell these days as long as someone is willing to flash a lot of cash.
The Chinese have also been busy buying up important real estate on the east coast as a recent Forbes article explained….
According to a recent report in the New York Times, investors from China are “snapping up luxury apartments” and are planning to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on commercial and residential projects like Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn. Chinese companies also have signed major leases at the Empire State Building and at 1 World Trade Center, the report said.
But it is not only just land and infrastructure that the Chinese have been buying up.
They have also been purchasing rights to vital oil and natural gas deposits all over the United States.
There have been two Chinese companies that have been primarily involved in this effort.
The first is the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC). According to Wikipedia, CNOOC is 100 percent owned by the Chinese government…
CNOOC Group is a state-owned oil company, fully owned by the Government of the People’s Republic of China, and the State-Owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council (SASAC) performs the rights and obligations of shareholder on behalf of the government.
The second is Sinopec Corporation. Sinopec Group is the largest shareholder (approx. 75% ownership) in Sinopec Corporation. And as the Sinopec website tells us, Sinopec Group is fully owned by the Chinese government…
Sinopec Group, the largest shareholder of Sinopec Corp., is a super-large petroleum and petrochemical group incorporated by the State in 1998 based on the former China Petrochemical Corporation. Funded by the State, it is a State authorized investment arm and State-owned controlling company.
So whenever you see CNOOC or Sinopec, you can replace those names with the Chinese government. The Chinese government essentially runs both of those companies.
And as you can see from the following list compiled by the Wall Street Journal, those two companies have been extremely aggressive in buying up rights to oil and natural gas all over the nation…
Colorado: Cnooc gained a one-third stake in 800,000 acres in northeast Colorado and southeast Wyoming in a $1.27 billion pact with Chesapeake Energy Corp.
Louisiana: Sinopec has a one-third interest in 265,000 acres in the Tuscaloosa Marine Shale after a broader $2.5-billion deal with Devon Energy.
Michigan: Sinopec gained a one-third interest in 350,000 acres in a larger $2.5 billion deal with Devon Energy.
Ohio: Sinopec acquired a one-third stake in Devon Energy’s 235,000 Utica Shale acres in a larger $2.5 billion deal.
Oklahoma: Sinopec has a one-third interest in 215,000 acres in a broader $2.5 billion deal with Devon Energy.
Texas: Cnooc acquired a one-third interest in Chesapeake Energy’s 600,000 acres in the Eagle Ford Shale in a $2.16-billion deal.
Wyoming: Cnooc has a one-third stake in 800,000 acres in northeast Colorado and southeast Wyoming after a $1.27 billion pact with Chesapeake Energy. Sinopec gained a one-third interest in Devon Energy’s 320,000 acres as part of a larger $2.5 billion deal.
Gulf of Mexico: Cnooc Ltd. separately acquired minority stakes in some of Statoil ASA’s leases as well as six of Nexen Inc.’s deep-water wells.
So why is the U.S. government allowing this?
That is a very good question.
For a nation that purports to be pursuing “energy independence”, we sure do have a funny way of going about things.
Unfortunately, the sad truth is that China is absolutely mopping the floor with the United States on the global economic stage. China is rising and America is in an advanced state of decline. Global economic power has shifted dramatically and most Americans still don’t understand what has happened.
The following are 44 more signs of how dominant the economy of China has become…
17. The United States has lost an average of 50,000 manufacturing jobs per month since China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001.
18. Overall, the United States has lost a total of more than 56,000 manufacturing facilities since 2001.
19. According to the Economic Policy Institute, America is losing half a million jobs to China every single year.
20. Between December 2000 and December 2010, 38 percent of the manufacturing jobs in Ohio were lost, 42 percent of the manufacturing jobs in North Carolina were lost and 48 percent of the manufacturing jobs in Michigan were lost.
22. Since the auto industry bailout, approximately 70 percent of all GM vehicles have been built outside the United States.
23. After being bailed out by U.S. taxpayers, General Motors is currently involved in 11 joint ventures with companies owned by the Chinese government. The price for entering into many of these “joint ventures” was a transfer of “state of the art technology” from General Motors to the communist Chinese.
24. Back in 1998, the United States had 25 percent of the world’s high-tech export market and China had just 10 percent. Ten years later, the United States had less than 15 percent and China’s share had soared to 20 percent.
25. The United States has lost more than a quarter of all of its high-tech manufacturing jobs over the past ten years.
43. According to the IMF, China will pass the United States and will become the largest economy in the world in 2016.
44. Nobel economist Robert W. Fogel of the University of Chicago is projecting that the Chinese economy will be three times larger than the U.S. economy by the year 2040 if current trends continue.
Without the “globalization” of the world economy, none of this would have ever happened. But instead of admitting our mistakes and fixing them, our politicians continue to press for even more “free trade” and even more integration with communist nations such as China.
In fact, according to Dr. Jerome Corsi, the U.S. government has already set up 257 “foreign trade zones” all over America. These “foreign trade zones” are apparently given “special U.S. customs treatment” and are used to promote “free trade”…
Corsi noted that the U.S. government has created 257 foreign trade zones, or FTZs, throughout the United States, designed to extend special U.S. customs treatment to U.S. plants engaged in international-trade-related activities.
The FTZs tend to be located near airports, with easy access into the continental NAFTA and WTO multi-modal transportation systems being created to move free-trade goods cheaply, quickly and efficiently throughout the continent of North America.
“There is nothing in the U.S. government’s description of FTZs that would prevent a foreign government, like China, from operating a shell U.S. company that is in reality owned and financed by the Chinese government and operated through a Chinese government-owned corporation,” Corsi wrote.
Sadly, we are probably going to see a whole lot more of this in the years ahead.
According to Corsi, a professor of economics at Tsighua University in Beijing named Yu Qiao has suggested the following plan as a way to transform the debt that the United States owes China into something more “tangible”…
China would negotiate with the U.S. government to create a “crisis relief facility,” or CRF. The CRF “would be used alongside U.S. federal efforts to stabilize the banking system and to invest in capital-intensive infrastructure projects such as high-speed railroad from Boston to Washington, D.C.
China would pool a portion of its holdings of Treasury bonds under the CFR umbrella to convert sovereign debt into equity. Any CFR funds that were designated for investment in U.S. corporations would still be owned and managed by U.S. equity holders, with the Asians holding minority equity shares “that would, like preferred stock, be convertible.”
The U.S. government would act as a guarantor, “providing a sovereign guarantee scheme to assure the investment principal of the CRF against possible default of targeted companies or projects”.
The Federal Reserve would set up a special account to supply the liquidity the CRF would require to swap sovereign debt into industrial investment in the United States.
Apparently the Bank of China really likes this plan and would like to see something like this implemented.
In the years ahead, perhaps many of you will end up working in a “special economic zone” for a Chinese company on a project that is being financially guaranteed by the U.S. government.
If that sounds like a form of slavery to you, the truth is that you are probably not too far off the mark.
The borrower is the servant of the lender, and we should have never allowed ourselves to get into so much debt.
Now we will pay the price.
To get an idea of how much the world has changed in recent years, just check out this incredible photo which contrasts the decline of Detroit over the years with the amazing rise of Shanghai, China.
Things did not have to turn out this way. Unfortunately, we made decades of incredibly foolish decisions and we wrecked the greatest economic machine that the world has ever seen.
Now the future for America looks really bleak.
Or could it be that I am being too pessimistic? Please feel free to post a comment with your thoughts below…
The beginning of the year has traditionally been a time of optimism when we all look forward to the exciting things that are going to happen over the next 12 months. Unfortunately, there are a whole bunch of things about 2013 that we already know are going to stink. Taxes are going to go up, good paying jobs will continue to leave the country, small businesses will continue to be destroyed, the number of Americans living in poverty will continue to soar, our infrastructure will continue to decay, global food supplies will likely continue to dwindle and the U.S. national debt will continue to explode. Our politicians continue to pursue the same policies that got us into this mess, and yet they continue to expect things to magically turn around. But that is not the way that things work in the real world. Bad decisions lead to bad outcomes. Instead of realizing that what we are doing is not working, our “leaders” continue to give us more of the same. As a result, there are going to be a lot of things about 2013 that will not be great. Sticking our heads in the sand and pretending that everything will be “okay” somehow is not going to help anyone. We’ve got to make people understand exactly what is happening and why it is happening if we ever hope to see real changes.
The following are 16 things about 2013 that are really going to stink…
#1 Taxes Are Going To Go Up
Even if a fiscal cliff deal is reached, some taxes will still go up next year. And if no deal is reached, there will be a whole bunch of different tax increases in 2013.
According to CBS News, these tax increases would be very painful for the middle class…
If lawmakers fail to work out any sort of deal, there will be severe long-term consequences for the economy: According to the Tax Policy Center, going off the “cliff” would affect 88 percent of U.S. taxpayers, with their taxes rising by an average of $3,500 a year; taxes would jump $2,400 on average for families with incomes of $50,000 to $75,000. Because consumers would get less of their paychecks to spend, businesses and jobs would suffer.
#2 The Middle Class Is About To Be Scorched By The Alternative Minimum Tax
Of more immediate concern for the middle class is the Alternative Minimum Tax. Many Americans have never heard of the AMT, but it is truly one of the worst things about our tax code.
If Congress does not act, and right now it does not look promising, millions of middle class households will see a massive increase in their tax bills for 2012.
According to one analysis, households that are forced to pay the AMT will end up paying an extra $3,700 in taxes…
Unless Congress acts by the end of the year, more than 26 million households will for the first time face the AMT, which threatens to tack $3,700, on average, onto taxpayers’ bills for the current tax year. Because those people have never paid the AMT, they have no idea they are in its crosshairs — put there by a broader stalemate over tax policy that has kept Congress from limiting the AMT’s reach.
Do you have an extra $3,700 sitting around to send to Uncle Sam?
If not, you had better contact your representatives in Congress and scream like crazy about passing a fix for the AMT. They have always gotten it done before, but this year there is so much animosity between the Republicans and the Democrats that nothing may end up getting done.
#3 The Economy Will Continue To Get Worse
Despite all of the talk in the mainstream media and from our politicians that our economy is getting better, the truth is that the U.S. economy continued to decline in 2012. If you doubt this, just read the 75 statistics in this article.
And there are a whole host of signs that the economy is starting to slow down even more as we enter 2013. For example, consumer confidence in the United States has experienced its largest two-month drop in over a year, and retail sales during the holiday season turned out to be quite disappointing.
#4 Good Paying Jobs Will Continue To Be Shipped Out Of The United States
Thanks to decades of “free trade agreements”, workers in the United States must directly compete for jobs with hundreds of millions of workers on the other side of the globe that live in countries where it is legal to pay slave labor wages.
We continue to see millions of jobs being shipped out of the country and our politicians stand by and do nothing.
Most Americans have no idea how this emerging one world economic system works. The beautiful product that you buy at the big retail store may have been made by someone working in some of the most horrific conditions imaginable.
A 42-year-old woman named Julie Keith recently found this letter inside a box of Halloween decorations that had been made in China…
“If you occasionally buy this product, please kindly resend this letter to the World Human Right Organization. Thousands people here who are under the persecution of the Chinese Communist Party Government will thank and remember you forever.
People who work here have to work 15 hours a day without Saturday, Sunday break and any holidays. Otherwise, they will suffer torturement, beat and rude remark. Nearly no payment (10 yuan/1 month).
People who work here, suffer punishment 1-3 years averagely, but without Court Sentence (unlaw punishment). Many of them are Falun Gong practitioners, who are totally innocent people only because they have different believe to CCPG. They often suffer more punishment than others.”
But both political parties continue to tell us how wonderful it is that we are trading with communist China. They see no problem with the fact that good paying jobs that used to be performed in America are now being performed by slave laborers on the other side of the planet. And most Americans continue to support this system by filling their shopping carts with lots of stuff that has “made in China” stamped on it.
We are told that the economy is supposed to be “recovering”, but the number of “startup jobs” at new businesses has fallen for five years in a row. According to an analysis of U.S. Department of Labor data performed by economist Tim Kane, there were almost 12 startup jobs per 1000 Americans back in the year 2006. By 2011, that figure had fallen to less than 8 startup jobs per 1000 Americans.
How is our economy ever going to thrive if we keep killing off our small businesses?
#6 Hunger And Poverty Will Continue To Explode To Unprecedented Levels
As the U.S. economy bleeds jobs and loses small businesses, the number of Americans living in poverty continues to explode.
Here are some numbers to show to people who still don’t understand how desperate the situation is…
-Families that have a head of household under the age of 30 have a poverty rate of 37 percent.
-According to U.S. Census data, 57 percent of all American children live in a home that is either considered to be “poor” or “low income”.
-For the first time ever, more than a million public school students in the United States are homeless. That number has risen by 57 percent since the 2006-2007 school year.
#7 The Number Of Americans On Food Stamps Will Continue To Increase
If the economy is recovering, then why does the number of Americans on food stamps continue to soar?
As I wrote about yesterday, about 17 million Americans were on food stamps back in the year 2000.
Today, more than 47 million Americans are on food stamps.
Does anyone want to explain to me how that is a sign that things are getting better?
Three million Americans may become unwitting casualties of the political war in Washington over the fiscal cliff.
Since 2008, the federal government has funded extensions of the unemployment insurance offered by states, more than tripling the amount of aid available to the unemployed in some areas. But the program is expensive, with the Congressional Budget Office estimating it would cost $30 billion to extend it through 2013. President Barack Obama wants to extend the benefits for another year, but Congress has already pared back the program, and Republicans insist it represents the kind of largesse Washington can no longer afford.
#9 Our Infrastructure Will Continue To Rot And Decay
The United States once had the most beautiful infrastructure in the entire world. Our highways, bridges, airports, railroads, sewer systems and electrical grids were the envy of the entire planet.
Well, now we don’t even have enough money to repair what we already have, so our infrastructure will continue to rot and decay in 2013…
Highways and bridges will need $2.5 trillion in upgrades if they are to survive for another 50 years — a must-do to keep commerce thriving. And that figure doesn’t even take into account the airports, railroads, subways, sewage-treatment plants, waterworks, levees, electric grids, pipelines, and all of those other expensive systems that people ignore until they break down.
#10 Many Of Our Major Cities Will Continue To Be Transformed Into Festering Hellholes
A lot of our major cities are also rapidly degenerating. Detroit is one of my favorite examples, but the same kinds of things could be said about dozens of other major cities all over the country. The following is a brief excerpt from one of my recent articles…
If you can believe it, more than 50 percent of all children in Detroit are living in poverty, and close to 50 percent of all adults living in the city are functionally illiterate. The high school graduation rate in Detroit is down to about 25 percent, and the city has become a breeding ground for gangs and violence. The number of murders in Detroit is already higher than last year, and recently groups of young men toting AK-47s have been running around robbing gas stations. How much worse can things possibly get for Detroit?
#11 State And Local Governments Will Find Ways To Squeeze Even More Money Out Of Us
In case you haven’t noticed, state and local governments all over the country are bleeding cash and are desperate for money. In 2013 you can expect them to continue to find more ways to squeeze even more money out of all of us. Here is one example…
Over the course of 2013, the District government will add 134 traffic cameras to its network, more than doubling the size of a system that generated $85 million in revenues for the city in its last fiscal year.
Police spokeswoman Gwendolyn Crump told The Washington Examiner that the city will intensify its camera-based efforts to cite motorists for speeding and stoplight violations while also adding cameras to detect other moving violations.
#12 Drug Cartels Will Continue To Easily Cross Our Borders And Terrorize Our Citizens
The federal government continues to refuse to protect our borders, and that means that drug runners and gang members will continue to pour into the United States.
Down in the Southwest, many ranchers are being absolutely terrorized by these criminals. The following is from a recent NBC News article…
Just before nightfall, 73-year-old rancher Jim Chilton hikes quickly up and down the hills on his rugged cattle-grazing land south of Tucson, escorting two U.S. Border Patrol agents.
He wants to show them the disturbing discovery he made earlier in the day: a drug-smugglers’ camp on his private property. Stacked together under a stand of trees are blankets, jackets, food, water, binoculars and bales of marijuana from Mexico wrapped in burlap. The smugglers, themselves, are nowhere in sight and are believed to have fled the area, which is about 10 miles north of the Mexican border.
Chilton has had his house burglarized a couple of times and his family regularly encounters groups of armed drug smugglers coming across from Mexico…
Their cattle fences are frequently cut and paths heading north from Mexico cross their property. Beckham says a smuggler even fired shots at him while he walked his land with a U.S. Border Patrol agent. Several illegal border crossers have also approached his house at night–one even reaching his hand into their bathroom window.
“Several years ago, one of my children was taking a shower and had a gentleman reach into the shower while he was in there, and he came out screaming, absolutely refusing to take a shower for the next couple months.”
But even if you don’t live along the border, all of this still affects you. According to government figures, Mexican drug cartels are actively operating in more than 1,200 U.S. cities right now. They are probably hard at work in the community where you live.
So what is the Obama administration doing to fix the problem?
In fact, the Obama administration is actually encouraging people to come to the U.S. and become dependent on the system. If you can believe it, there is actually a website run by the Department of Homeland Security that teaches immigrants how to apply for welfare benefits once they get into the United States.
#13 Social Decay Will Continue To Accelerate
All over America we are seeing signs of social breakdown. Here is yet another example…
A woman sleeping on a street bench outside a drug store was doused with an accelerant and set on fire early Thursday morning in Van Nuys.
Witnesses told police that a man poured liquid — possibly a beverage containing alcohol — on the sleeping woman at about 1 a.m. outside a Walgreens store near Van Nuys Boulevard and Sherman Way. He lit a match and ran from the location, witnesses told police.
We need to admit that we have a major problem on our hands. Violent crime in the United States increased by 18 percent in 2011, and another huge increase is expected when the numbers for 2012 come out.
America is changing, and not for the better.
#14 Global Food Supplies Will Continue To Dwindle
Did you know that for six of the last eleven years the world has consumed more food than it has produced?
It really takes something to match more than 200 years of debt accumulation in less than four years.
But our politicians don’t seem to care about all of this debt. They will continue to steal more than 100 million dollars from our children and our grandchildren every single hour of every single day. That is beyond criminal, and yet the American people don’t seem to care.
What in the world has happened to this country?
Of course not everything about 2013 will be bad. Personally, I am looking forward to an exciting year. I have a new book that will be coming out, and my family is blessed and healthy. I would like to wish all of you a very blessed 2013. Things may be falling apart all around us, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t have a great year even in the midst of all the chaos.
You can tell a lot about a nation by the condition of the infrastructure. So what does our infrastructure say about us? It says that we are in a very advanced state of decay. At this point, much of America is being held together with spit, duct tape and prayers. Our roads are crumbling and thousands of our bridges look like they could collapse at any moment. Our power grid is ancient and over a trillion gallons of untreated sewage is leaking from our aging sewer systems each year. Our airports and our seaports are clogged with far more traffic than they were ever designed to carry. Approximately a third of all of the dam failures that have taken place in the United States since 1874 have happened during the past decade. Our national parks and recreation areas have been terribly neglected and our railroads are a bad joke. Hurricane Katrina showed how vulnerable our levees are, and drinking water systems all over the country are badly outdated. Sadly, at a time when we could use significant new investment in infrastructure, our spending on infrastructure is actually way down. Back during the 50s and the 60s, the U.S. was spending between 3 and 4 percent of GDP on infrastructure. Today, that figure is down to about 2.4 percent. But of course we don’t have any extra money to spend on infrastructure because of our reckless spending and because of the massive amount of debt that we have accumulated. While the Obama administration is spending more than half a million dollars to figure out why chimpanzees throw poop, our national infrastructure is literally falling apart all around us. Once upon a time nobody else on the planet could match our infrastructure, and now we are in the process of becoming a joke to the rest of the world.
The following are 21 facts about America’s failing infrastructure that will blow your mind….
#1 The American Society of Civil Engineers has given America’s crumbling infrastructure an overall grade of D.
#3 It is being projected that Americans will spend an average of 160 hours stuck in traffic annually by the year 2035.
#4 Approximately one-third of all roads in the United States are in substandard condition.
#5 Close to a third of all highway fatalities are due “to substandard road conditions, obsolete road designs, or roadside hazards.”
#6One out of every four bridges in America either carries more traffic than originally intended or is in need of repair.
#7 Repairing all of the bridges in the United States that need repair would take approximately 140 billion dollars.
#8 According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, our decaying transportation system costs the U.S. economy about 78 billion dollars annually in lost time and fuel.
#9 All over America, asphalt roads are being ground up and are being replaced with gravel roads because they are cheaper to maintain. The state of South Dakota has transformed over 100 miles of asphalt roads into gravel roads, and 38 out of the 83 counties in the state of Michigan have transformed at least some of their asphalt roads into gravel roads.
#10 There are 4,095 dams in the United States that are at risk of failure. That number has risen by more than 100 percent since 1999.
#11 Of all the dam failures that have happened in the United States since 1874, a third of them have happened during the past decade.
#12Close to half of all U.S. households do not have access to bus or rail transit.
#13 Our aging sewer systems spill more than a trillion gallons of untreated sewage every single year. The cost of cleaning up that sewage each year is estimated to be greater than 50 billion dollars.
#14 It is estimated that rolling blackouts and inefficiencies in the U.S. electrical grid cost the U.S. economy approximately 80 billion dollars a year.
#15 It is being projected that by the year 2020 every single major container port in the United States will be handling at least double the volume that it was originally designed to handle.
#16 All across the United States, conditions at many of our state parks, recreation areas and historic sites are deplorable at best. Some states have backlogs of repair projects that are now over a billion dollars long….
More than a dozen states estimate that their backlogs are at least $100 million. Massachusetts and New York’s are at least $1 billion. Hawaii officials called park conditions “deplorable” in a December report asking for $50 million per year for five years to tackle a $240 million backlog that covers parks, trails and harbors.
#17 Today, the U.S. spends about 2.4 percent of GDP on infrastructure. Meanwhile, China spends about 9 percent of GDP on infrastructure.
#19 China has plans to build 55,000 miles of highways by the year 2020. If all of those roads were put end to end, it would be longer than the total length of the entire U.S. interstate system.
#20 The World Economic Forum ranks U.S. infrastructure 23rd in the world, and we fall a little bit farther behind the rest of the developed world every single day.
#21 It has been projected that it would take 2.2 trillion dollars over the next 5 years just to repair our existing infrastructure. That does not even include a single penny for badly needed new infrastructure.
So where did we go wrong?
Well, one of the big problems is that we have become a very materialistic society that is obsessed with short-term thinking. Investing in infrastructure is something that has long-term benefits, but these days Americans tend to only be focused on what is happening right now and most politicians are only focused on the next election cycle.
Unfortunately, it is probably appropriate that our infrastructure is decaying because we are decaying in just about every other way that it is possible for a society to decay.
We are decaying economically, politically, mentally, emotionally, physically, morally and spiritually.
We are a complete and total mess. So why shouldn’t what is happening to our infrastructure on the outside match what is happening to us as a nation on the inside?
And sadly, we simply do not have the money that we need for infrastructure because of all the debt that we have piled up. The federal government, our state governments and our local governments are all struggling to stay afloat in an ocean of red ink, and unfortunately that means that spending on infrastructure is likely to be cut even more in the years ahead.
So get used to rotting, crumbling, decaying infrastructure. What you see out there right now is only just the beginning.
Jeffrey Immelt, the head of Barack Obama’s highly touted “Jobs Council”, is moving even more GE infrastructure to China. GE makes more medical-imaging machines than anyone else in the world, and now GE has announced that it “is moving the headquarters of its 115-year-old X-ray business to Beijing“. Apparently, this is all part of a “plan to invest about $2 billion across China” over the next few years. But moving core pieces of its business overseas is nothing new for GE. Under Immelt, GE has shipped tens of thousands of good jobs out of the United States. Perhaps GE should change its slogan to “Imagination At Work (In China)”. If the very people that have been entrusted with solving the unemployment crisis are shipping jobs out of the country, what hope is there that things are going to turn around any time soon?
As the administration struggles to prod businesses to create jobs at home, GE has been busy sending them abroad. Since Immelt took over in 2001, GE has shed 34,000 jobs in the U.S., according to its most recent annual filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. But it’s added 25,000 jobs overseas.
At the end of 2009, GE employed 36,000 more people abroad than it did in the U.S. In 2000, it was nearly the opposite.
GE is supposed to be creating the “jobs of tomorrow”, but it seems that most of the “jobs of tomorrow” will not be located inside the United States.
The last GE factory in the U.S. that made light bulbs closed last September. The transition to the new CFL light bulbs was supposed to create a whole bunch of those “green jobs” that Barack Obama keeps talking about, but as an article in the Washington Post noted, that simply is not happening….
Rather than setting off a boom in the U.S. manufacture of replacement lights, the leading replacement lights are compact fluorescents, or CFLs, which are made almost entirely overseas, mostly in China.
But GE is far from alone in shipping jobs and economic infrastructure out of the United States. For example, big automakers such as Ford are being very aggressive in China. Ford is currently “building three factories in Chongqing as part of $1.6 billion investment that also includes another plant in Nanchang”.
Today, China accounts for approximately one out of every four vehicles sold worldwide. The big automakers consider the future to be in China.
Just a few decades ago, China was an economic joke and the U.S. economy was absolutely unparalleled.
But disastrous trade policies have opened up the door for a mammoth transfer of jobs, factories and wealth from the United States to China.
China has become an absolute powerhouse and America is rapidly declining.
As you pass the city limits a blanket of gloom, neglect and cheapness descends. The buildings are shabbier, the paint is faded. The businesses, where they exist, are thrift shops and pawn shops or wretched groceries where the goods are old and tired. Finding somewhere to have breakfast, normally easy in any American city, involves a long hunt. ‘God bless Detroit’, says one billboard, just beside another offering the alternative solution: liquor.
You can see some really shocking images of the decline of Detroit right here.
Our politicians insisted that globalism would not result in a “giant sucking sound” as millions of jobs left America.
But that is exactly what has happened.
Sadly, most American families still don’t understand what has happened. Most of them are still waiting for things to get back to “normal”.
Millions of unemployed Americans are dealing with incredible amounts of stress right now as they wait for jobs to start opening up again. But the jobs that have been shipped overseas are not coming back. In a globalized economy, it doesn’t make sense to hire American workers when you can legally pay workers slave labor wages on the other side of the globe.
Millions of good middle class jobs have been replaced by low paying service jobs. Today there are huge numbers of Americans that are cutting hair or flipping burgers because that is all they can get right now.
Many others are only able to survive because of the safety net. One reader named David recently left a comment in which he shared his story. David did everything that the system asked him to do, but the promised rewards never materialized. Now David is broke, unemployed and he feels deeply frustrated….
A year ago I had a job, we were struggling, but bills were getting paid, and somehow we were getting by. Then I made the mistake of getting sick, one day before my company insurance kicked in. An auto-immune illness almost killed me, if it weren’t for the amazing efforts of my physicians and an emergency spleenectomy, I would not be here.
My wife would have been a single mother,raising two young sons, one of which is autistic. Instead, I pulled through. The disease damaged my liver, leaving me with a chronic condition, and even after a year, it is hard to get up and go some days. My “employer” dumped me as soon as I left the hospital, and I haven’t worked since. It isn’t for lack of looking. There just isn’t anything.
Oh, I get my government cheese money. Here I am college educated, unable to find something that can pay the bills better than the money that we get from the government. It sickens me to be this dependent on the system like this. But the system de-incentivizes work, and makes living on the dole make a perverse economic sense.
I used to have dreams, but I have given up on them. My wife and I have no savings, we have no life raft and if it weren’t for the generosity of her parents and mine, things would have ground to a halt a long time ago.
I believed every thing adults told me. Work hard, I did. Get an education, I did. Find a nice girl and settle down, I did. Two cars, a dog, a cat and couple of kids, a nice townhouse…the american dream. Yep.
I love my country. My heart is broken, broken because I have been betrayed. I did what you asked, I played by the rules. I did what you said to do; I submitted, I conformed, I stopped dreaming. Now what?
I am willing to pay for my faults and transgressions; my failures are my own, I get that. My children should not have to suffer for my failures, they did not do anything wrong. My youngest boy is autistic, we hope he will be able to integrate into society, but the fact is we may have to take care of him for the rest of his life. How do I do this with nothing, and no opportunity in the foreseeable future?
Depression, stress…yep, I’ve got all that. I used to be hopeful and optimistic about the future. Now all I am is afraid.
As the United States continues to bleed good jobs, stories like the one you just read are going to become much more common.
So what are our politicians doing about all of this?
They tell us that we need even more “free trade”!
Barack Obama says that we need more free trade.
The Republicans say that we need more free trade.
In Washington D.C. our politicians do not agree on much, but one thing they do agree on is that we need to keep shipping jobs out of the country.
Until the American people wake up and start demanding an end to the globalization of the U.S. economy, the job losses are just going to continue to get worse.
The American people are deeply concerned about the economy, but they still have not connected the dots on these issues. The mainstream media and most of our politicians keep telling them that the globalization of the economy is a wonderful thing.
It is so sad that people just do not understand what is going on right in front of their eyes.
Whether you are a conservative or a liberal or a libertarian, you should be against the deindustrialization of America.
Allowing our industrial base to be raped is not a good thing.
Allowing big corporations and foreign governments to pay slave labor wages to workers on the other side of the globe making things that will be sold inside the United States is not a good thing.
Allowing the destruction of our industrial capacity to threaten our national security is not a good thing.
Allowing millions of precious jobs to leave the country is not a good thing.
The biggest corporations are making some extra profits by exploiting cheap labor on the other side of the globe. Corporate executives love to shower themselves with larger and larger bonuses.
But our current trade policies are not working for American workers.
We need “fair trade”, not “free trade”.
The United States is being taken advantage of, and the Democrats and the Republicans are both laying down like doormats and letting it happen.
If you want to know where all the good jobs went, it is not a big mystery.
They have been shipped out of the country and they are not coming back.
Unless fundamental changes are made, things are going to get worse and worse and worse for American workers.
If you haven’t noticed lately, America is literally falling apart all around us. Decaying infrastructure is everywhere. Our roads and bridges are crumbling and are full of holes. Our rail system is ancient. Our airports and runways have definitely seen their better days. Aging sewer systems all over the country are leaking raw sewage all over the place. The power grid is straining to keep up with the ever-increasing thirst of the American people for electricity. Dams are failing at an unprecedented rate. Virtually all of our ports are handling far more traffic than they were ever intended to handle. Meanwhile, our national spending on infrastructure is way down. Back during the 1950s and 1960s we were spending between 3 and 4 percent of our national GDP on infrastructure, but today we are spending less than 2.5 percent of our national GDP on it. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, we need to spend approximately $2.2 trillion on infrastructure repairs and upgrades just to bring our existing infrastructure up to “good condition”.
Does anyone have an extra $2.2 trillion to spare?
If you get the feeling that America is decaying as you drive around this great country of ours, it is not just your imagination. It is literally happening.
You should not read the list of facts below if you want to keep feeling good about the condition of America’s infrastructure. There really is no way to sugar-coat what is happening. Previous generations handed us the greatest national infrastructure that anyone in the world has ever seen and we have neglected it and have allowed it to badly deteriorate.
#1 One-third of America’s major roads are in poor or mediocre condition.
#2 Traffic on more than half the miles of interstate highway exceeds 70 percent of capacity, and nearly 25 percent of the miles are strained at more than 95 percent of capacity.
#3 Americans waste 4.2 billion hours and 2.8 billion gallons fuel a year sitting in traffic – equal to nearly one full work week and three weeks’ worth of gas for every traveler.
#4 Over the next 30 years, our nation is expected to grow by 100 million and highway traffic will double again. Even if highway capacity grows no faster than in the last 25 years, Americans can expect to spend 160 hours – 4 work weeks – each year in traffic by 2035.
#5 Nearly a third of all highway fatalities are due to substandard road conditions, obsolete road designs, or roadside hazards.
#6 Over 4,095 dams are “unsafe” and have deficiencies that leave them more susceptible to failure, especially during large flood events or earthquakes.
#7 Rolling blackouts and inefficiencies in the U.S. electrical grid cost an estimated $80 billion a year.
#8 By 2020, every major U.S. container port is projected to at least double the volume of cargo it was designed to handle. Some East Coast ports will triple in volume, and some West Coast ports will quadruple.
#9 Other countries are leapfrogging past us by investing in world-class ports. China is investing $6.9 billion; the port of Shanghai now has almost as much container capacity as all U.S. ports combined.
#10 By 2020, China plans to build 55,000 miles of highways, more than the total length of the U.S. interstate system.
The rest of these facts were compiled from various sources around the Internet. The more research that you do into America’s decaying infrastructure the more depressing it becomes….
#11 According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, more than 25 percent of America’s nearly 600,000 bridges need significant repairs or are burdened with more traffic than they were designed to carry.
#13 All across the United States, conditions at many state parks, recreation areas and historic sites are deplorable at best. Some states have backlogs of repair projects that are now over a billion dollars long. The following is a quote from a recent MSNBC article about these project backlogs….
More than a dozen states estimate that their backlogs are at least $100 million. Massachusetts and New York’s are at least $1 billion. Hawaii officials called park conditions “deplorable” in a December report asking for $50 million per year for five years to tackle a $240 million backlog that covers parks, trails and harbors.
#15 All over America, asphalt roads are being ground up and are being replaced with gravel because it is cheaper to maintain. The state of South Dakota has transformed over 100 miles of asphalt road into gravel over the past year, and 38 out of the 83 counties in the state of Michigan have transformed at least some of their asphalt roads into gravel roads.
So why don’t our state and local governments just spend the money necessary to fix all of these problems?
Well, they can’t spend the money because they are flat broke.
Just consider some of the financial problems that state and local governments around the nation are facing right now….
#19 Major cities such as Philadelphia, Baltimore and Sacramento are so desperate to save money that they have instituted “rolling brownouts” in which various city fire stations are shut down on a rotating basis throughout the week.
#20 Detroit Mayor Dave Bing has come up with a unique way to save money. He wants to cut 20 percent of Detroit off from essential social services such as road repairs, police patrols, functioning street lights and garbage collection.
But it just isn’t local governments that are in deep trouble right now. In fact, there are quite a few state governments that are complete and total financial disaster zones at this point.
According to 60 Minutes, the state of Illinois is at least six months behind on their bill payments. 60 Minutes correspondent Steve Croft recently asked Illinois state Comptroller Dan Hynes how many people and organizations are waiting to be paid by the state, and this is how Hynes responded….
“It’s fair to say that there are tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of people waiting to be paid by the state.”
But if states get cut off from all the debt that they need to operate, things are going to get a lot worse very quickly.
Already we are seeing all kinds of troubling signs. For example, the state of Arizona recently decided to stop paying for many types of organ transplants for people enrolled in its Medicaid program.
Sadly, as much as our politicians try to “fix” our problems, things just only seem to keep getting worse.
One prominent illustration of this is our health care system. Our health care system is absolutely falling apart all around us. Thanks to the new health care reform law, doctors are flocking out of the profession in droves. According to an absolutely stunning new poll, 40 percent of all U.S. doctors plan to bail out of the profession over the next three years.
Our economy continues to fall apart as well. The number of personal bankruptcies in the United States continues to set stunning new highs. According to the American Bankruptcy Institute, more than 1.53 million Americans filed bankruptcy petitions in 2010. This was up 9 percent from 1.41 million in 2009.
Not only that, but the housing crisis shows no signs of abating. 382,000 new foreclosures were initiated during the third quarter of 2010. This was up 31.2 percent from the previous quarter and it was 3.7 percent higher than the third quarter of 2009.
The U.S. banking system is also falling apart. In 2006, no U.S. banks failed. In 2009, 140 U.S. banks failed. So did things get better in 2010? No. In 2010, 157 U.S. banks failed.
Unemployment continues to remain at depressingly high levels, and in many areas of the country it is getting even worse. According to the U.S. Labor Department, the unemployment rate rose in two-thirds of America’s largest metro areas during November.
Millions of Americans have become so disgusted with the job market that they have given up altogether. The number of people who are so discouraged that they have completely given up searching for work now stands at an all-time high.
So who is doing a booming business during these hard times? Welfare agencies and food banks are. During this economic downturn, millions of American families have found themselves going to a food bank for the very first time ever.
It is getting harder and harder for average American families to feed themselves. A recent survey conducted by the Pew Research Center found that 29 percent of Americans say that it is hard to afford food, and 48 of Americans say that it is hard to afford their heating and electric bills.
So is there any hope for the future? Well, our new college graduates are supposed to lead us into the future, but most of them are saddled with overwhelming amounts of student loan debt. Those who graduated during 2009 had an average of $24,000 in student loan debt. This represented a 6 percent increase from the previous year.
Not only that, but these new college grads are not finding jobs. According to the one recent report, the unemployment rate for recent college graduates was 8.7 percent in 2009. This was up from 5.8 percent in 2008, and it was the highest unemployment rate ever recorded for college graduates between the ages of 20 to 24.
As if all of this was not bad enough, now the Baby Boomers are starting to reach retirement age. Beginning January 1st, 2011 every single day more than 10,000 Baby Boomers will reach the age of 65. That is going to keep happening every single day for the next 19 years.
So where in the world are we going to come up with all of the money to give them the retirement benefits that they are due?
The truth is that we are flat broke as a nation and so America’s decaying infrastructure is going to continue to decay. We don’t have the money to repair what we already have, much less add desperately needed new infrastructure.
But perhaps it is only fitting. The decay of our roads and cities will match the deep social, moral and political decay that has already been going on in this country for decades.
So will the American people awaken soon enough to be able to recapture the legacy of greatness that previous generations tried to pass on to us?
Unfortunately, the vast majority of our politicians are completely incompetent. Posted below is a short video from Tim Hawkins that is absolutely hilarious but that also demonstrates just how incompetent our government really is….
One of the key signs that we are in the early stages of an economic collapse and that we are heading towards another Great Depression is America’s crumbling infrastructure. The truth is that our infrastructure is literally falling apart all around us. Thousands of bridges are structurally deficient and there have already been some very high profile collapses. Over 30 percent of the highways and roads in the United States are in very poor shape. Aging sewer systems are leaking raw sewage all over the place. The power grid is straining to keep up with the ever-increasing thirst of the American people for electricity. There have already been some regional blackouts, and unless something is done quickly things promise to get even worse. The truth is that a nation’s infrastructure says a lot about who they are. So what does America’s infrastructure say about us? It says that we are a rusting, crumbling, decaying leftover from a better, more prosperous time.
*According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, more than 25 percent of America’s nearly 600,000 bridges need significant repairs or are burdened with more traffic than they were designed to carry.
*According to the Federal Highway Administration, approximately a third of America’s major roadways are in substandard condition – a significant factor in a third of the more than 43,000 traffic fatalities in the United States each year.
*The Texas Transportation Institute estimates that traffic jams caused by insufficient infrastructure waste 4 billion hours of commuters’ time and nearly 3 billion gallons of gasoline a year.
*The Association of State Dam Safety Officials has found that the number of dams in the United States that could fail has grown 134% since 1999 to 3,346, and more than 1,300 of those are considered “high-hazard” – meaning that their collapse would threaten lives.
*More than a third of all dam failures or near failures since 1874 have happened in just the last decade.
*According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, aging sewer systems spill an estimated 1.26 trillion gallons of untreated sewage every single year, resulting in an estimated 50.6 billion dollars in cleanup costs.
*A decaying transportation system costs our economy more than $78 billion annually in lost time and fuel.
*The United States must invest $225 billion per year over the next 50 years to maintain and adequately enhance our surface transportation systems. Currently, we’re spending less than 40% of this amount.
*U.S. transit systems earned a D+ rating from the American Society of Civil Engineers. Transit funding is declining even as transit use increases faster than any other mode of transportation – up 21% between 1993 and 2002.
*Costs attributed to airline delays – due in large part to congestion and an antiquated air traffic control system – are expected to triple to $30 billion from 2000 to 2015.
*By 2020, every major U.S. container port is projected to be handling at least double the volume it was designed to handle.
*Throughout the United States, railroads are projected to need nearly $200 billion in investment over the next 20 years to accommodate freight increases.
Are you starting to get the picture?
America’s aging infrastructure cannot handle the number of people that we have now. With the population of the United States expected to hit 420 million by 2050, there are serious questions about how the national infrastructure is going to hold up under such a strain.
Already the infrastructure in many areas of the United States is beginning to resemble that of a third world nation. The video posted below contains some of the highlights from a History Channel special about America’s infrastructure from a couple of years ago that highlights many of these problems….
So can anything be done about America’s crumbling infrastructure?
State and local governments can spend the money needed to fix and maintain our infrastructure.
But that is not going to happen.
Because state and local governments are now facing unprecedented financial shortfalls.
In fact, it is more likely that expenditures on infrastructure will actually be cut.
According to a new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, after two years cutting spending on schools, health care, and other public services, U.S. states are preparing to carve even deeper into funding for 2011.
Of course the U.S. government could step in with necessary infrastructure funding, but considering the state of the U.S. national debt, it seems unlikely that state and local governments will be able to count on much more help from the folks in Washington D.C.
So what does that mean?
It means that America’s infrastructure will continue to rust, decay and fall to pieces. Our grandparents and great-grandparents invested a lot of time, energy and money into building up this great nation, but now we are letting it rot right in front of our eyes.