On Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives finally approved a bill that would repeal and replace significant portions of the law that created Obamacare. But it was a very close vote. On Donald Trump’s 105th day in the White House, 217 members of the House voted in favor of the bill, and 213 members of the House voted against the bill. Of course “Trumpcare” is far from perfect, and it actually does very little to fix our rapidly failing healthcare system, but the reason why this is the best thing that Trump has done so far is because this bill would greatly reduce federal funding for Planned Parenthood. But first this bill must get through the Senate before it can become law, and that is looking extremely doubtful at this point. In fact, The Hill is reporting that one Republican Senator has said that this bill has less than a 20 percent chance of succeeding in the Senate…
A senior GOP senator said the chances of getting 51 votes for legislation based on the House healthcare bill are less than 1 in 5.
The senator also put the chances that the House bill will meet Senate budgetary rules preventing a filibuster at less than 1 in 5, meaning portions of the legislation would have to be removed.
Lawmakers are keeping quiet about their concerns because they want to help Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), whose job they fear may be in jeopardy if the House fails again to approve an ObamaCare repeal bill.
Yes, I know that Trump and the Republicans in the House were greatly celebrating on Thursday, but there really isn’t anything to celebrate yet.
The Senate is probably going to come up with an entirely different version of this legislation, and it is likely to look far different from the bill that just passed the House.
If a bill of some sort can actually get through the Senate, and that is a huge “if”, then an attempt would be made to reconcile the differences between the two bills, and then the final version would be submitted to both the House and the Senate for an up or down vote.
The problem is that the Senate is not going to pass anything like the version that the House just came up with, and conservatives in the House are likely to balk at anything that the Senate comes up with.
So please don’t think that an Obamacare repeal is a done deal.
The truth is that it probably is not going to happen any time soon.
But for the moment, I am going to applaud President Trump and House Republicans for doing something right. I have been very tough on them in recent weeks, and rightly so, but when they do something good I am certainly going to give them the praise that they are due.
The bill that the House just passed would greatly reduce federal funding for Planned Parenthood, and that fact alone more than makes up for all of the other flaws in it. The following comes from CNS News…
The American Health Care Act—the Obamacare repeal-and-replace bill that the House of Representatives passed by a 217-to-213 vote this afternoon–will temporarily and significantly reduce, but not eliminate, federal funding for Planned Parenthood.
The bill will prevent Planned Parenthood from receiving funding through “mandatory” federal funding streams—primarily Medicaid—for exactly one calendar year after the president signs it.
But it does not prevent Planned Parenthood from getting “discretionary” funding through the Title X family planning program.
It is just for one year, which is far from ideal, but at least for 12 months Planned Parenthood would see their funding go down by hundreds of millions of dollars…
The pro-life bill would eliminate more than $390 million (over 86%) of over $450 million in annual federal funding to Planned Parenthood, from all mandatory spending programs. The measure also redirects funding to community health centers which outnumber Planned Parenthood facilities 20 to 1 and offer a wider array of health care services, but not abortion.
Of course this is one of the provisions in the bill that some Republicans in the Senate want to eliminate.
It is extremely unlikely that any bill that even defunds Planned Parenthood in part will ever get through the Senate, but Trump should make an all-out effort to get this accomplished anyway.
And if Republican leadership can somehow get a bill through the Senate and signed into law that at least significantly reduces federal funding for Planned Parenthood, I will officially take back all of the negative things that I have said about the Republicans so far this year.
This week President Trump also signed a landmark executive order that does a great deal to protect religious liberty…
The order, signed during a ceremony in the White House Rose Garden, directs the Internal Revenue Service to exercise “maximum enforcement discretion” over the so-called Johnson amendment, which prevents churches and other tax-exempt religious organizations from endorsing or opposing political candidates. The order also provides “regulatory relief” for organizations that object on religious grounds to a provision in Obamacare that mandates employers provide certain health services, including coverage for contraception.
All Americans, including Christians, should be free to express their political beliefs without fearing repercussions from the federal government. The Johnson Amendment was probably always unconstitutional, and that is one of the reasons why it has never really been enforced. Congress should go even farther and completely repeal it, and hopefully that will happen someday.
So once again I want to take this opportunity to applaud Trump for doing something right. This is a good executive order, although it doesn’t quite go far enough. A major war against people of faith is being waged by very powerful forces in this country, and I am thankful for a president that is at least trying to keep some of the heat off of our backs.
I tend to get criticized by both the pro-Trump and anti-Trump camps because I try to be objective.
When our politicians do things that are wrong, I am going to say that they are wrong.
And when our politicians do things that are right, I am going to say that they are right.
We lose credibility when we act as cheerleaders for politicians that are “on our side” no matter what they say or do.
In our society today, there is a desperate need for people that are willing to think critically and that are willing to cling objectively to the truth.
Because once we let go of the truth we are all in trouble…
Top Republicans are now publicly saying that Obamacare will never be fully repealed. In fact, many Republicans in Congress are already using the term “repair” instead of “repeal” to describe what is going to happen to Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law. Without a doubt, the Republicans in Congress are eventually going to do something, but strategists in both parties are now suggesting that most of the key elements of Obamacare are going to remain once everything is all said and done. It will be put into a more “conservative” package, but it will still be Obamacare.
On Thursday, former House Speaker John Boehner made headlines all over the country when he said that a complete repeal of Obamacare is “not what’s going to happen”. Instead, Boehner said that Republicans are going to “fix Obamacare” and that they will “put a more conservative box around it” in order to keep their constituents happy.
Of course this isn’t what we voted for. For years, Republican politicians all across the country have been promising that Obamacare would be repealed once they got control of Congress, but now Boehner is telling us that all of that was just “happy talk”…
Earlier in the panel discussion, Boehner said he “started laughing” when Republicans started talking about moving lightning fast on repeal and then coming up with an alternative.
“In the 25 years that I served in the United States Congress, Republicans never, ever, one time agreed on what a health care proposal should look like. Not once,” Boehner said. “And all this happy talk that went on in November and December and January about repeal, repeal, repeal—yeah, we’ll do replace, replace—I started laughing, because if you pass repeal without replace, first, anything that happens is your fault. You broke it.”
When the Republicans finally get around to doing something, they will inevitably declare it to be a great victory, but will it actually be that much different from what we have now?
Yes, the IRS penalty for not having health insurance will probably go. But there will still be coverage for children up to the age of 26, there will still be mandatory coverage for preexisting conditions, there will still be mandatory coverage for maternity expenses, there will still be some form of Medicaid expansion and there will still be subsidies for the poor.
In the end, we are still going to have a healthcare system where half the country pays for the healthcare for the other half of the country.
That isn’t fair, and it never will be. One half of the country shouldn’t have to pay much higher rates for their own health insurance and also pay for the healthcare of everyone else in the nation as well. Either we should go back to a free market system, or they might as well go ahead and socialize the entire thing.
The thought of sticking with what we have right now is utter insanity, but unfortunately that is what top Republicans mean when they speak of “repairing” Obamacare. The following comes from the New York Times…
“When you talk about ‘repeal,’ you have just used a word that is very polarizing,” said Representative Tom MacArthur, Republican of New Jersey, who meets weekly with moderate Republicans and Democrats of equal number. “When you go to Democrats and say, ‘Help us repeal,’ that puts them in a box. If you say, ‘Would you help us repair something?’ people start listening in a whole other way.”
How in the world do you “repair” a steaming pile of garbage?
I just don’t understand.
What the Republicans need to do is very simple. As Jim Demint has suggested, the Republicans in Congress simply need to pass the same Obamacare repeal that Barack Obama vetoed not too long ago…
Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint, the former South Carolina Republican senator, called on activists attending the Conservative Political Action Conference to push their members of Congress to send to President Donald Trump the same legislation that dismantled the law and was vetoed by President Barack Obama with all due haste.
“We must and we can repeal Obamacare now,” DeMint said. “They should send that same bill to President Trump right now.”
So what is keeping Republicans in Congress from moving forward?
One thing is the defunding of Planned Parenthood. Some liberal Republicans are promising to vote against any Obamacare repeal bill that defunds Planned Parenthood…
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) says she will not vote for an ObamaCare repeal bill that defunds Planned Parenthood.
In her address to Alaska’s state legislature Wednesday, the moderate Republican offered her firmest commitment yet that she will not support defunding Planned Parenthood.
“I, for one, do not believe that Planned Parenthood has any place in our deliberations on the Affordable Care Act,” she said.
Another thing that is giving some Republicans pause are the angry protesters that they are running into at town hall meetings…
U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa and Reps. Jason Chaffetz of Utah, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee and Tom McClintock of California are among Republicans who faced hostile audiences at recent town hall meetings.
This comes after the Women’s March on Washington that drew hundreds of thousands of protestors the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration.
“Republicans need to be paying attention and doing their best to understand the energy from the town halls,” said Nathan Gonzales, editor and publisher of Inside Elections, a Washington-based publication that tracks congressional races.
Of course a lot of those “angry protesters” are from Barack Obama’s private army of more than 30,000 volunteers that are being deployed around the nation in a desperate attempt to defend Obamacare.
In the end, the truth is that the Republicans should be listening to the voters that sent them to Washington in the first place. Most of those voters expected an immediate Obamacare repeal, and now that it has not happened it is making for a very confusing tax season. The following comes from Politico…
Republicans’ stalled campaign to repeal the Affordable Care Act is sowing confusion among those now trying to do their taxes.
Many taxpayers believe Republicans have already repealed the law, tax preparers say, and they’re surprised and upset to learn they are still subject to Obamacare’s penalty for failing to have health insurance — a charge that climbed this year to more than $2,000 per family.
Until it is repealed, Obamacare will continue to kill jobs and will continue to kill the middle class.
It was one of the worst pieces of legislation ever written, and it boggles the mind that so many Republicans in Congress are hesitant about repealing it.
Unfortunately, just as I portray in my novel, America is rapidly going crazy.
We have been given over to a reprobate mind, and our leaders can’t even seem to think straight any longer.
If Obamacare is going to be repealed, now is the time. Please contact your representatives in Congress and tell them that a “fix” will not work and that we want Obamacare to be completely repealed and replaced with a free market alternative.
Did you know that when you take the number of working age Americans that are officially unemployed (8.2 million) and add that number to the number of working age Americans that are considered to be “not in the labor force” (94.3 million), that gives us a grand total of 102.5 million working age Americans that do not have a job right now? I have written about this before, but today I want to focus just on Americans that are in their prime working years. When you look at only Americans that are from age 25 to age 54, 23.2 percent of them are unemployed right now. The following analysis and chart come from the Weekly Standard…
Here’s a chart showing those in that age group currently employed (95.6 million) and those who aren’t (28.9 million):
“There are 124.5 million Americans in their prime working years (ages 25–54). Nearly one-quarter of this group—28.9 million people, or 23.2 percent of the total—is not currently employed. They either became so discouraged that they left the labor force entirely, or they are in the labor force but unemployed. This group of non-employed individuals is more than 3.5 million larger than before the recession began in 2007,” writes the Republican side of the Senate Budget Committee.
Clearly, we have never recovered from the impact of the last recession.
But let’s try to put these numbers in context.
Below, I would like to share two charts with you. They show what has happened to the inactivity rates for men and for women in their prime working years in the United States in recent years.
In order to be considered “inactive”, you can’t have a job and you can’t be looking for a job. So this subset of people is smaller than the group that we were talking about above. The 23.2 percent of Americans in their prime working years that are unemployed right now includes those that are looking for a job and those that are not looking for a job.
These next two charts do not include anyone that has a job or that is currently looking for a job. These charts only cover “inactive” people in their prime working years that are not considered to be in the labor force.
As you can see in this first chart, the inactivity rate for men in their prime working years exploded higher during the last recession and then continued to go up even after the recession supposedly ended. At this point, it is hovering near all-time record highs. Does this look like an “economic recovery” to you?…
For women, we see a similar thing. In this next chart, you can see that the inactivity rate for women in their prime working years rose during the last recession and then just kept on rising. At this point, it remains far higher than it was during the last recession…
What are we to make of all this?
For both men and women in their prime working years, the inactivity rate is significantly higher than it was during the last recession.
All of these people neither have a job nor are they looking for one.
So what in the world is going on here?
Are they independently wealthy?
Have these people found rich spouses to marry so they don’t have to work?
No, the truth is that the middle class in America is steadily eroding and poverty is absolutely exploding. Credit card debt has soared to a new record high, and 48 percent of all U.S. adults under the age of 30 believe that “the American Dream is dead”.
The issue isn’t that people don’t want to work.
The issue is that people cannot find enough work.
And even if you have a job, that does not mean that you are on easy street. According to the Social Security Administration, 51 percent of all American workers make less than $30,000 a year.
Tens of millions of Americans are now among the ranks of “the working poor”. So many families are watching their expenses soar while their paychecks go down or stagnate. If you are in this situation right now, then you probably know how exceedingly stressful it can be.
Just look at what is happening to the cost of health insurance. The following comes from Fox News…
Health insurance premiums have increased faster than wages and inflation in recent years, rising an average of 28 percent from 2009 to 2014 despite the enactment of Obamacare, according to a report from Freedom Partners.
And I am not exactly sure where they got those numbers. Personally, I know that my health insurance rates have gone up far faster than that.
Two years ago, my health insurance company wanted to double the health insurance premiums for my family even though we never get sick. So I switched to another insurance company that offered a policy that was only about 30 percent higher than my last one. But then when it came time to renew, that insurance company wanted to raise my rate by another 50 percent.
Thanks to Obamacare, American families are being absolutely crippled by the cost of health care. And of course we are seeing the rising cost of living so many other places as well. Our paychecks are being squeezed harder and harder, and this is absolutely killing the middle class. In fact, the middle class in America is now a minority for the first time ever.
And now for the real bad news – this is about as good as things are ever going to get in this country. As you can see from what I have shared above, we never really had any sort of meaningful “economic recovery”, and now we have entered the early phases of the next major downturn.
So where do we go from here? Unfortunately, our debt-fueled prosperity has provided us with a massively inflated standard of living that is not even close to sustainable. As this bubble bursts, the economic pain is going to be absolutely unprecedented.
But it won’t be just economic pain that we are facing. In my new book, I detail the things that I believe that are coming to this country, and I explain why the entire planet will soon be facing incredibly challenging times. It is going to be one of the most controversial Christian books of 2016, because it directly challenges many of the things that are being taught in mainstream churches today. My book is an ominous message of warning and an inspiring message of hope, and I truly believe that it is the most important thing that I have ever written.
No matter how you may see the future, the key is that we all learn to love one another. The years ahead are going to be extremely challenging, and those that want to chase everyone else away and survive as lone wolves are going to have a very rough time. We all need each other, and those that have friends, family and communities around them are going to be in a much better position to weather the coming storms.
So let us hope for the best, but let us also prepare for the worst…
Barack Obama promised to fundamentally transform America, and when it comes to health care he has definitely kept his promise. Thanks to Obamacare, health care spending is up, health insurance premiums are up, the number of hours Americans are working is down and employer-based health insurance is becoming an endangered species. Of course employer-based health insurance will not disappear completely any time soon, but it has been steadily shrinking for over a decade, and Obamacare will greatly accelerate that decline. If you go back to 1999, 64.1 percent of all Americans were covered by employment-based health insurance. That was pretty good. Today, only 54.9 percent of all Americans are covered by employment-based health insurance, and now thousands upon thousands of U.S. employers are considering reducing the scope of the health plans they offer to employees or eliminating them altogether due to Obamacare. If you are thinking that this sounds like a potential nightmare for millions of Americans families, you would be exactly right.
There have already been widespread reports of companies dropping health insurance, but nobody knows for sure how widespread the carnage will be. According to Businessweek, the surveys that have been done up to this point have come up with widely varying results…
A Deloitte study last year suggested 10 percent of employers would stop offering group health plans. A widely criticized McKinsey report from 2011 put the number as high as one-third. The Congressional Budget Office’s latest projections suggest 8 million fewer people will be covered by employer plans five years from now under the ACA than without it. Many of them will get policies through health insurance exchanges instead.
But what everyone does agree on is that employer-based health coverage will continue to diminish.
And we are already watching this happen right in front of our eyes. Just this week, the Wall Street Journal reported that the largest security guard firm in the United States is dropping health coverage for 55,000 employees…
The nation’s largest provider of security guards plans to discontinue its lowest-cost health plans and steer roughly 55,000 workers to new government-sponsored insurance exchanges for coverage next year, in the latest sign of the fraying ties between employment and health care.
The U.S. arm of Sweden’s Securitas AB is among more than 1,200 employers that offer the kind of bare-bones health plans that must be phased out beginning Jan. 1 under the health-care law. Nearly four million people are enrolled in these so-called mini-med plans, which cap benefits to participants, sometimes at as little as $3,000 a year.
“The mini-meds go away and we’re not replacing them,” said Jim McNulty, a spokesman for Securitas’s U.S. operation. “Their option is to go to the exchanges.”
Other big employers, including Darden Restaurants Inc., Home Depot Inc. and Trader Joe’s Co., say they will stop offering health insurance to part-time workers, and will direct those employees to the state exchanges. Darden, Home Depot and Trader Joe’s previously offered mini-meds to their part timers.
Speaking of Trader Joe’s, I wrote about how they are eliminating health coverage for part-time workers the other day. Instead of providing health insurance for their part-time workers, Trader Joe’s will be writing them a check and pushing them on to the Obamacare exchanges…
Trader Joe’s, the grocer once lauded for providing health care coverage to its part-time workers, is about to push those employees off its plan.
According to a memo obtained by the Huffington Post, the company will stop covering employees who work less than 30 hours per week.
The change is set for the start of 2014. Instead of insurance, workers instead will get a check for $500 in January.
“Depending on income you may earn outside of Trader Joe’s, we believe that with the $500 from Trader Joe’s and the tax credits available under the [Affordable Care Act (ACA)], many of you should be able to obtain health care coverage at very little if any net cost to you,” said Trader Joe CEO Dan Bane in the memo.
And this is a huge reason why the shift from full-time work to part-time work in America has accelerated this year. Obamacare creates an incentive for companies to have more part-time workers and less full-time workers. In fact, almost all of the jobs that have been “created” by the U.S. economy in 2013 have been part-time jobs.
But it is incredibly difficult to try to support a family on a part-time job. Sadly, the quality of our jobs continues to decline rapidly and only 47 percent of all adults have a full-time job in America today. This is only going to continue to get even worse under Obamacare.
As a result of these trends, more Americans are going to be forced to go out and buy health insurance “on the individual market”. When they do, they are likely to be in for a really nasty surprise…
Andy and Amy Mangione of Louisville, Ky. and their two boys are just the kind of people who should be helped by ObamaCare. But they recently got a nasty surprise in the mail.
“When I saw the letter when I came home from work,” Andy said, describing the large red wording on the envelope from his insurance carrier, “(it said) ‘your action required, benefit changes, act now.’ Of course I opened it immediately.”
It had stunning news. Insurance for the Mangiones and their two boys,which they bought on the individual market, was going to almost triple in 2014 — from $333 a month to $965.
The insurance carrier made it clear the increase was in order to be compliant with the new health care law.
Are you ready to have your health insurance premiums potentially double or triple?
In other cases, families are discovering that health insurance companies are simply cancelling their health insurance plans…
Across the country, insurers are sending out ObamaCare-induced health plan death notices to untold tens of thousands of other customers in the individual market. Twitter users are posting their ObamaCare cancellation notices and accompanying rate increases:
Linda Deright posted her letter from Regency of Washington state: “63 percent jump, old policy of 15 yrs. cancelled.” Karen J. Dugan wrote: “Received same notice from Blue Shield CA for our small business. Driving into exchange and no info since online site is down.” Chris Birk wrote: “Got notice from BCBS that my current health plan is not ACA compliant. New plan 2x as costly for worse coverage.” Small-business owner Villi Wilson posted his letter from HMSA Blue Cross Blue Shield canceling his individual plan and added: “I thought Obama said if I like my health care plan I can keep my health care plan.”
In fact, this even happened to one member of Congress. U.S. Representative Cory Gardner had purchased health insurance on his own because he wanted to experience what his constituents were going through, and he recently got a letter informing him that his old plan had been “discontinued”…
“After my current plan is discontinued,” he wrote last week, “the closest comparable plan through our current provider will cost over 100 percent more, going from roughly $650 a month to $1,480 per month.” He now carries his ObamaCare cancellation notice with him as hardcore proof of the Democrats’ ultimate deception.
Is this what Obama was talking about when he promised that we could keep our old health insurance plans if we were happy with them?
In the end, millions upon millions of us are going to get pushed on to the Obamacare health insurance exchanges.
We were promised that there would be lots of competition and that prices would be reasonable.
Unfortunately, in some areas of the country it turns out that the “exchanges” are turning out to be “monopolies” where consumers will only have one company to choose from…
“Although seven insurance companies currently operate in North Carolina, under the new Obamacare exchanges, those options will dwindle down to one in the majority of counties,” Ellmers said Thursday following the disclosure of figures by federal health officials showing that more than 60 percent of North Carolina counties will have only one insurance provider option under Obamacare: Blue Cross Blue Shield.
“The whole point of an online marketplace was to provide options, so North Carolinians could go online, compare prices, and choose plans from different companies. That is how competition is supposed to work!,” Ellmers said.
Beginning October 1 under Obamacare, Blue Cross Blue Shield will be the only health insurance provider serving the entire state of North Carolina in the new Obamacare exchanges, serving all 100 of the state’s counties. Its competitor Coventry Health Care, which is owned by Aetna, will only reach 39 counties.
That leaves 61 counties, or 61 percent of all the state’s counties, in a Blue Cross Blue Shield-only zone.
Not only that, but a lot of these exchanges are not even going to be ready to function properly on October 1st. For example, according to the Washington Post, the D.C. “health marketplace” is a complete and total mess at this point…
Just days away from launch, the District of Columbia’s health marketplace is announcing a pretty significant delay.
While the D.C. Health Link will launch a Web site on October 1, shoppers will not have access to the their premium prices until mid-November. The delay comes after the District marketplace discovered “a high error rate” in calculating the tax credits that low- and middle-income people will use to purchase insurance on the marketplace.
The insurance marketplaces, if working as plan, are supposed to spit out an estimate for a tax credit after a shopper enters in some basic information about where she lives and how much she earns. In the District, that won’t happen next month. Instead, the eligibility determination will be made “off-line by experts” by early November.
So who is going to benefit from this new system?
Well, it turns out that the health insurance companies will greatly benefit. Health insurance companies helped write Obamacare, and their stock prices have absolutely soared since Obamacare was signed into law. If you doubt this, just check out the amazing charts in this article.
Not that they were hurting under the old system either. They have been raking in gigantic mountains of cash for years while trying to provide as little health care as possible. For much more on this, please see my previous article entitled “50 Signs That The U.S. Health Care System Is A Gigantic Money Making Scam“.
For the rest of us, Obamacare is going to be even worse than the old system. A 2013 Health Care Survey that polled 200 top health care professionals discovered the following about what they believe Obamacare will bring…
— 53 percent, “Quality of health insurance policies will suffer.”
— 51 percent, “Quality of care will go down.”
— 49 percent, “The law is overly complicated.”
— 42 percent, “Insurance exchanges will be poorly managed.”
— 37 percent, “The law still allows insurance companies to be the middleman.”
— 32 percent, “Too complex for businesses.”
— 19 percent, “Americans will die earlier.”
So Americans are going to pay more, get worse care, have more paperwork and a more complicated system, and they are likely to die younger too?
Wow, that sounds like a great deal.
Where do we sign up?
The middle class American worker is in danger of becoming an endangered species. The politicians are not telling you the truth, and the mainstream media is certainly not telling you the truth, but the reality is that there is nothing but bad news on the horizon for workers in the United States. In the old days, when the big corporations that dominate our society did well, that also meant good things for American workers since those corporations would need more of us to work for them. But in the emerging one world economic system that our economy is being merged into, those corporations have other choices now. For instance, the big corporations can now choose to limit the number of “expensive” American workers that they employ by shipping millions of jobs to the other side of the world. And from their perspective, it makes perfect sense. They can make much bigger profits by hiring people on the other side of the planet to work for them for less than a dollar an hour. If they can get good production out of those people, then why should they hire Americans for ten to twenty times as much, plus have to give those Americans health insurance and other benefits? Another major factor in the slow, agonizing death of the American worker is technology. We live during a period when technology is advancing at a pace that is almost unimaginable at the same time that it is steadily becoming cheaper and cheaper. That means that it is going to become easier and easier for companies to replace workers with robots and computers. As I have written about previously, it is being projected that our economy will lose millions of jobs to technology in the coming years. Yes, some of us will still be needed to help build the robots and the computers, but not all of us will. And of course the overall general weakness of the economy is not helping matters either. The American people inherited the greatest economic machine in the history of the world, and we have wrecked it. Decades of very foolish decisions have resulted in the period of steady economic decline that we are experiencing now.
America is simply not the economic powerhouse that it once was. Back in 2001, the U.S. economy accounted for 31.8 percent of global GDP. By 2011, the U.S. economy only accounted for 21.6 percent of global GDP. That is a collapse any way that you want to look at it.
Today, American workers are living in an economy that is rapidly declining, and their jobs are steadily being stolen by robots, computers and foreign workers that live in countries where it is legal to pay slave labor wages. Politicians from both political parties refuse to do anything to stop the bleeding because they think that the status quo is working just great.
So don’t expect things to get better any time soon.
The following are 10 amazing charts that demonstrate the slow, agonizing death of the American worker…
#1 Wages And Salaries As A Percentage Of GDP
As you can see, wages as a percentage of GDP are hovering near an all-time record low. That means that American workers are bringing home a smaller share of the economic pie than ever before.
#2 Average Annual Hours Worked Per Employed Person In The United States
We are an economy that is rapidly trading good paying full-time jobs for low paying part-time jobs. The decline in average annual hours worked that we have witnessed represents the equivalent of losing millions of jobs. There has been an explosion of “the working poor” in the United States, and this trend is probably only going to accelerate in the years to come.
#3 Manufacturing Employment
As you can see, there are less Americans working in manufacturing today than there was in 1950 even though the population of the country has more than doubled since then. The United States has lost more than 56,000 manufacturing facilities since 2001, and yet our politicians stand around and do nothing about it.
#4 Employment-Population Ratio
This is one of my favorite charts. It shows that there has been absolutely no employment recovery at all since the end of the last recession. The percentage of working age Americans that have a job has stayed under 59 percent for 44 months in a row. How much worse will things get when the next major economic downturn strikes?
#5 Labor Force Participation Rate
This is how the Obama administration is getting the “unemployment rate” to magically go down. They are pretending that millions upon millions of Americans simply do not want to work anymore. As you will notice, the decline of the labor force participation rate has accelerated greatly since Barack Obama entered the White House.
#6 Duration Of Unemployment
The average amount of time that it takes an unemployed worker to find a new job has declined slightly, but it is still far above normal historical levels. It is a crying shame that it takes the average unemployed worker two-thirds of a year to find a new job, but this is the new economic reality that we are all living in.
#7 Delinquency Rate On Residential Mortgages
Since there are not enough jobs for all of us, and since our wages are not rising as rapidly as the cost of living is, a whole bunch of us are falling behind on our mortgages. As you can see, the mortgage delinquency rate has only dropped slightly and is still way, way above typical levels.
#8 New Homes Sold
American workers also don’t have enough money to go out and buy new homes either. Yes, new home sales have rebounded slightly this year, but we are nowhere near where we used to be.
#9 Consumer Credit
Millions of American families continue to resort to going into debt in a desperate attempt to make ends meet. After a slight interruption during the last recession, consumer credit once again is growing at a frightening pace.
#10 Self-Employment At A Record Low
Since there aren’t enough jobs for everyone, why aren’t more Americans trying to start their own businesses? Well, the reality of the matter is that the government has made it exceedingly difficult to start your own business today. Taxes, rules, regulations and red tape are choking the life out of millions of small businesses in the United States. As a result, the percentage of self-employed Americans is at a record low.
As all of these long-term trends continue, the middle class will continue to shrink, poverty in America will continue to explode and government dependence will continue to rise.
The numbers don’t lie. Today, the number of Americans on Social Security Disability now exceeds the entire population of Greece, and the number of Americans on food stamps now exceeds the entire population of Spain.
We are in the midst of a horrifying economic collapse, and the next major wave of that collapse is rapidly approaching.
Are you ready?
The U.S. health care system is a giant money making scam that is designed to drain as much money as possible out of all of us before we die. In the United States today, the health care industry is completely dominated by government bureaucrats, health insurance companies and pharmaceutical corporations. The pharmaceutical corporations spend billions of dollars to convince all of us to become dependent on their legal drugs, the health insurance companies make billions of dollars by providing as little health care as possible, and they both spend millions of dollars to make sure that our politicians in Washington D.C. keep the gravy train rolling. Meanwhile, large numbers of doctors are going broke and patients are not getting the care that they need. At this point, our health care system is a complete and total disaster. Health care costs continue to go up rapidly, the level of care that we are receiving continues to go down, and every move that our politicians make just seems to make all of our health care problems even worse. In America today, a single trip to the emergency room can easily cost you $100,000, and if you happen to get cancer you could end up with medical bills in excess of a million dollars. Even if you do have health insurance, there are usually limits on your coverage, and the truth is that just a single major illness is often enough to push most American families into bankruptcy. At the same time, hospital administrators, pharmaceutical corporations and health insurance company executives are absolutely swimming in huge mountains of cash. Unfortunately, this gigantic money making scam has become so large that it threatens to collapse both the U.S. health care system and the entire U.S. economy.
The following are 50 signs that the U.S. health care system is a massive money making scam that is about to collapse…
#1 Medical bills have become so ridiculously large that virtually nobody can afford them. Just check out the following short excerpt from a recent Time Magazine article. One man in California that had been diagnosed with cancer ran up nearly a million dollars in hospital bills before he died…
By the time Steven D. died at his home in Northern California the following November, he had lived for an additional 11 months. And Alice had collected bills totaling $902,452. The family’s first bill — for $348,000 — which arrived when Steven got home from the Seton Medical Center in Daly City, Calif., was full of all the usual chargemaster profit grabs: $18 each for 88 diabetes-test strips that Amazon sells in boxes of 50 for $27.85; $24 each for 19 niacin pills that are sold in drugstores for about a nickel apiece. There were also four boxes of sterile gauze pads for $77 each. None of that was considered part of what was provided in return for Seton’s facility charge for the intensive-care unit for two days at $13,225 a day, 12 days in the critical unit at $7,315 a day and one day in a standard room (all of which totaled $120,116 over 15 days). There was also $20,886 for CT scans and $24,251 for lab work.
#2 This year the American people will spend approximately 2.8 trillion dollars on health care, and it is being projected that Americans will spend 4.5 trillion dollars on health care in 2019.
#3 The United States spends more on health care than Japan, Germany, France, China, the U.K., Italy, Canada, Brazil, Spain and Australia combined.
#4 If the U.S. health care system was a country, it would be the 6th largest economy on the entire planet.
#5 Back in 1960, an average of $147 was spent per person on health care in the United States. By 2009, that number had skyrocketed to $8,086.
#6 Why does it cost so much to stay in a hospital today? It just does not make sense. Just check out these numbers…
In 1942, Christ Hospital, NJ charged $7 per day for a maternity room. Today it’s $1,360.
#7 Approximately 60 percent of all personal bankruptcies in the United States are related to medical bills.
#8 One study discovered that approximately 41 percent of all working age Americans either have medical bill problems or are currently paying off medical debt.
#9 The U.S. health care industry has spent more than 5 billion dollars on lobbying our politicians in Washington D.C. since 1998.
#10 According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the U.S. is currently experiencing a shortage of at least 13,000 doctors. Unfortunately, that shortage is expected to grow to 130,000 doctors over the next 10 years.
#11 The state of Florida is already dealing with a very serious shortage of doctors…
Brace yourself for longer lines at the doctor’s office.
Whether you’re employed and insured, elderly and on Medicare, or poor and covered by Medicaid, the Florida Medical Association says there’s a growing shortage of doctors — especially specialists — available to provide you with medical care.
And if the Florida Legislature goes along with Gov. Rick Scott’s recommendation to offer Medicaid coverage to an additional 1 million Floridians — part of the Affordable Care Act that takes effect next January — the FMA says that shortage will only get worse.
#12 At this point, approximately 40 percent of all doctors in the United States are 55 years of age or older.
#13 In America today, many hospital executives make absolutely ridiculous amounts of money…
In December, when the New York Times ran a story about how a deficit deal might threaten hospital payments, Steven Safyer, chief executive of Montefiore Medical Center, a large nonprofit hospital system in the Bronx, complained, “There is no such thing as a cut to a provider that isn’t a cut to a beneficiary … This is not crying wolf.”
Actually, Safyer seems to be crying wolf to the tune of about $196.8 million, according to the hospital’s latest publicly available tax return. That was his hospital’s operating profit, according to its 2010 return. With $2.586 billion in revenue — of which 99.4% came from patient bills and 0.6% from fundraising events and other charitable contributions — Safyer’s business is more than six times as large as that of the Bronx’s most famous enterprise, the New York Yankees. Surely, without cutting services to beneficiaries, Safyer could cut what have to be some of the Bronx’s better non-Yankee salaries: his own, which was $4,065,000, or those of his chief financial officer ($3,243,000), his executive vice president ($2,220,000) or the head of his dental department ($1,798,000).
#14 Health insurance administration expenses account for 8 percent of all health care costs in the United States each year. In Finland, health insurance administration expenses account for just 2 percent of all health care costs each year.
#15 If you can believe it, the U.S. ambulance industry makes more money each year than the movie industry does.
#16 All over America, people are reporting huge health insurance premium increases thanks to Obamacare. The following example is from a recent article by Robert Wenzel…
A California small businessman tells me that he switched healthcare insurance carriers in 2012. The monthly premium for him and his wife was about $400, but when he received his first bill in January of this year it was for $1,200. He hasn’t been to a doctor in years, his wife has only gone for minor care.
Apparently there is some clause in the Affordable Healthcare Act that results in health insurance firms using a new method to calculate premiums. Those who have health insurance plans that have been in effect since at least 2010 are grandfathered under the old calculation method, but insurance carriers are using a new formula for new plans.
#17 Blue Shield of California has announced that it wants to raise health insurance premiums by up to 20 percent this year in an effort to keep up with rising health costs.
#18 Aetna’s CEO says that health insurance premiums for many Americans will double when the major provisions of Obamacare go into effect in 2014.
#19 Close to 10 percent of all U.S. employers plan to drop health coverage completely when the major provisions of Obamacare go into effect in 2014.
#20 According to a survey conducted by the Doctor Patient Medical Association, 83 percent of all doctors in the United States have considered leaving the profession because of Obamacare.
#21 Approximately 16,000 new IRS agents will be hired to help oversee the implementation of Obamacare, and the Obama administration has given the IRS 500 million extra dollars “outside the normal appropriations process” to help the IRS with their new duties.
#22 During 2013, Americans will spend more than 280 billion dollars on prescription drugs.
#23 Prescription drugs cost about 50% more in the United States than they do in other countries.
#24 In the United States today, prescription painkillers kill more Americans than heroin and cocaine combined.
#25 Nearly half of all Americans now use prescription drugs on a regular basis according to the CDC. Not only that, the CDC also says that approximately one-third of all Americans use two or more pharmaceutical drugs on a regular basis, and more than ten percent of all Americans use five or more pharmaceutical drugs on a regular basis.
#26 The percentage of women taking antidepressants in America is higher than in any other country in the world.
#27 In 2010, the average teen in the U.S. was taking 1.2 central nervous system drugs. Those are the kinds of drugs which treat conditions such as ADHD and depression.
#28 Children in the United States are three times more likely to be prescribed antidepressants as children in Europe are.
#29 There were more than two dozen pharmaceutical companies that made over a billion dollars in profits during 2008.
#30 According to the CDC, approximately three quarters of a million people a year are rushed to emergency rooms in the United States because of adverse reactions to pharmaceutical drugs.
#31 According to a report by Health Care for America Now, America’s five biggest for-profit health insurance companies ended 2009 with a combined profit of $12.2 billion.
#32 The top executives at the five largest for-profit health insurance companies in the United States combined to bring in nearly $200 million in total compensation for 2009.
#33 The chairman of Aetna, the third largest health insurance company in the United States, brought in a staggering $68.7 million during 2010. Ron Williams exercised stock options that were worth approximately $50.3 million and he raked in an additional $18.4 million in wages and other forms of compensation. The funny thing is that he left the company and didn’t even work the entire year.
#34 It turns out that the financial assistance that Barack Obama promised would be provided for those with “pre-existing conditions” under Obamacare is already being shut down because of a lack of funding…
Tens of thousands of Americans who cannot get health insurance because of preexisting medical problems will be blocked from a program designed to help them because funding is running low.
Obama administration officials said Friday that the state-based “high-risk pools” set up under the 2010 health-care law will be closed to new applicants as soon as Saturday and no later than March 2, depending on the state.
#35 In America today, you are 64 times more likely to be killed by a doctor than you are by a gun.
#36 People living in the United States are three times more likely to have diabetes than people living in the United Kingdom.
#37 Today, people living in Puerto Rico have a greater life expectancy than people living in the United States do.
#38 According to OECD statistics, Americans are twice as obese as Canadians are.
#39 Greece has twice as many hospital beds per person as the United States does.
#40 The state of California now ranks dead last out of all 50 states in the number of emergency rooms per million people.
#41 According to a doctor interviewed by Fox News, “a gunshot wound to the head, chest or abdomen” will cost $13,000 at his hospital the moment the victim comes in the door, and then there will be significant additional charges depending on how bad the wound is.
#42 It has been estimated that hospitals overcharge Americans by about 10 billion dollars every single year.
#43 One trained medical billing advocate says that over 90 percent of the medical bills that she has audited contain “gross overcharges“.
#44 It is not uncommon for insurance companies to get hospitals to knock their bills down by up to 95 percent, but if you are uninsured or you don’t know how the system works then you are out of luck.
#45 According to a study conducted by Deloitte Consulting, a whopping 875,000 Americans were “medical tourists” in 2010.
#46 Today, there are more than 56 million Americans on Medicaid, and it is being projected that Obamacare will add 16 million more Americans to the Medicaid rolls.
#47 Back in 1965, only one out of every 50 Americans was on Medicaid. Today, one out of every 6 Americans is on Medicaid.
#48 Today, there are more than 50 million Americans on Medicare, and that number is projected to grow to 73.2 million in 2025.
#49 When Medicare was first established by Congress, it was estimated that it would cost the federal government $12 billion a year by the time 1990 rolled around. Instead, it cost the federal government $110 billion in 1990, and it will cost the federal government close to $600 billion this year.
#50 Even if you do have health insurance, that is no guarantee that medical bills will not bankrupt you. Just check out what a recent Time Magazine article says happened to one unfortunate couple from Ohio that actually did have health insurance…
When Sean Recchi, a 42-year-old from Lancaster, Ohio, was told last March that he had non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, his wife Stephanie knew she had to get him to MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Stephanie’s father had been treated there 10 years earlier, and she and her family credited the doctors and nurses at MD Anderson with extending his life by at least eight years.
Because Stephanie and her husband had recently started their own small technology business, they were unable to buy comprehensive health insurance. For $469 a month, or about 20% of their income, they had been able to get only a policy that covered just $2,000 per day of any hospital costs. “We don’t take that kind of discount insurance,” said the woman at MD Anderson when Stephanie called to make an appointment for Sean.
Stephanie was then told by a billing clerk that the estimated cost of Sean’s visit — just to be examined for six days so a treatment plan could be devised — would be $48,900, due in advance.
By the way, that hospital down in Houston made a profit of 531 million dollars in one recent year.
So what can be done about all of this?
Well, the truth is that the status quo is a complete and total disaster, and every “solution” being promoted by politicians from both major political parties would only make things worse.
In the end, the U.S. health care system needs to be rebuilt from the ground up, but we all know that is not going to happen.
Instead, our politicians and the health care industry will just find additional ways to extract money from all of us, and the level of care that we all get will continue to decline.
If you don’t believe this, just check out what Paul Krugman of the New York Times had to say recently…
We’re going to need more revenue…Surely it will require some sort of middle class taxes as well.. We won’t be able to pay for the kind of government the society will want without some increase in taxes… on the middle class, maybe a value added tax…And we’re also going to have to make decisions about health care, doc pay for health care that has no demonstrated medical benefits . So the snarky version…which I shouldn’t even say because it will get me in trouble is death panels and sales taxes is how we do this.
Others are urging us to become more like Europe.
But do we really want what they have in the UK?…
Sick children are being discharged from NHS hospitals to die at home or in hospices on controversial ‘death pathways’.
Until now, end of life regime the Liverpool Care Pathway was thought to have involved only elderly and terminally-ill adults.
But the Mail can reveal the practice of withdrawing food and fluid by tube is being used on young patients as well as severely disabled newborn babies.
One doctor has admitted starving and dehydrating ten babies to death in the neonatal unit of one hospital alone.
Writing in a leading medical journal, the physician revealed the process can take an average of ten days during which a baby becomes ‘smaller and shrunken’.
In the end, my philosophy is just to avoid the U.S. health care system as much as possible. Most doctors are just trained to do two things – prescribe drugs and cut you open. In an emergency situation where you are about to die, those may be your best options, but otherwise I would just as soon avoid the gigantic money making scam that the U.S. health care industry has become.
But just don’t take my word for it. The following is some very sound advice from Dr. Robert S. Dotson…
Avoid contact with the existing health care system as far as possible. Yes, emergencies arise that require the help of physicians, but by and large one can learn to care for one’s own minor issues. Though it is flawed, the internet has been an information leveler for the masses and permits each person to be his or her own physician to a large degree. Take advantage of it! Educate yourself about your own body and learn to fuel and maintain it as you would an expensive auto or a pet poodle. One does not need a medical degree to:
1. avoid excessive use of tobacco or alcohol or, for that matter, caffeine;
2. avoid poisons like fluoride, aspartame, high fructose corn syrup, and addictive drugs (legal or illicit);
3. avoid unnecessary and potentially lethal imaging studies (TSA’s radiation pornbooths, excessive mammography, repetitive CT scans – exposure to all significantly increases cancer risk);
4. avoid excessive cell phone use and exposure to other forms of EMR pollution where possible (the NSA is recording everything you say and text anyway);
5. avoid daily fast food use and abuse (remember: pink slime and silicone) ;
6. avoid untested GM foods (do you really want to become “Roundup Ready?”):
7. avoid most vaccinations and pharmaceutical agents promoted by the establishment;
8. avoid risky behaviors (and, we do not need a bunch of Nanny State bureaucrats to define and police these);
9. exercise moderately;
10. get plenty of sleep;
11. drink plenty of good quality water (buy a decent water filter to remove fluoride, chloride, and heavy metals);
12. wear protective gear at work and play where appropriate (helmets, eye-shields, knee and elbow pads, etc.):
13. seek out locally-grown, whole, organic foods and support your local food producers;
14. take appropriate nutritional supplements (multi-vitamins, Vitamin C, Vitamin D3);
15. switch off the TV and the mainstream media it represents;
16. educate yourself while you can;
17. QUESTION AUTHORITY!
Doing these simple, common-sense things will add healthy years to a person’s life and help one avoid most medical encounters during his or her allotted time on earth.
So what do you think?
Do you believe that the U.S. health care system is a gigantic money making scam that is about to collapse?
Please feel free to post a comment with your thoughts below…
When financial markets in the United States crash, so does the U.S. economy. Just remember what happened back in 2008. The financial markets crashed, the credit markets froze up, and suddenly the economy went into cardiac arrest. Well, there are very few things that could cause the financial markets to crash harder or farther than a derivatives panic. Sadly, most Americans don’t even understand what derivatives are. Unlike stocks and bonds, a derivative is not an investment in anything real. Rather, a derivative is a legal bet on the future value or performance of something else. Just like you can go to Las Vegas and bet on who will win the football games this weekend, bankers on Wall Street make trillions of dollars of bets about how interest rates will perform in the future and about what credit instruments are likely to default. Wall Street has been transformed into a gigantic casino where people are betting on just about anything that you can imagine. This works fine as long as there are not any wild swings in the economy and risk is managed with strict discipline, but as we have seen, there have been times when derivatives have caused massive problems in recent years. For example, do you know why the largest insurance company in the world, AIG, crashed back in 2008 and required a government bailout? It was because of derivatives. Bad derivatives trades also caused the failure of MF Global, and the 6 billion dollar loss that JPMorgan Chase recently suffered because of derivatives made headlines all over the globe. But all of those incidents were just warm up acts for the coming derivatives panic that will destroy global financial markets. The largest casino in the history of the world is going to go “bust” and the economic fallout from the financial crash that will happen as a result will be absolutely horrific.
There is a reason why Warren Buffett once referred to derivatives as “financial weapons of mass destruction”. Nobody really knows the total value of all the derivatives that are floating around out there, but estimates place the notional value of the global derivatives market anywhere from 600 trillion dollars all the way up to 1.5 quadrillion dollars.
Keep in mind that global GDP is somewhere around 70 trillion dollars for an entire year. So we are talking about an amount of money that is absolutely mind blowing.
So who is buying and selling all of these derivatives?
Well, would it surprise you to learn that it is mostly the biggest banks?
According to the federal government, four very large U.S. banks “represent 93% of the total banking industry notional amounts and 81% of industry net current credit exposure.”
These four banks have an overwhelming share of the derivatives market in the United States. You might not be very fond of “the too big to fail banks“, but keep in mind that if a derivatives crisis were to cause them to crash and burn it would almost certainly cause the entire U.S. economy to crash and burn. Just remember what we saw back in 2008. What is coming is going to be even worse.
It would have been really nice if we had not allowed these banks to get so large and if we had not allowed them to make trillions of dollars of reckless bets. But we stood aside and let it happen. Now these banks are so important to our economic system that their destruction would also destroy the U.S. economy. It is kind of like when cancer becomes so advanced that killing the cancer would also kill the patient. That is essentially the situation that we are facing with these banks.
It would be hard to overstate the recklessness of these banks. The numbers that you are about to see are absolutely jaw-dropping. According to the Comptroller of the Currency, four of the largest U.S. banks are walking a tightrope of risk, leverage and debt when it comes to derivatives. Just check out how exposed they are…
Total Assets: $1,812,837,000,000 (just over 1.8 trillion dollars)
Total Exposure To Derivatives: $69,238,349,000,000 (more than 69 trillion dollars)
Total Assets: $1,347,841,000,000 (a bit more than 1.3 trillion dollars)
Total Exposure To Derivatives: $52,150,970,000,000 (more than 52 trillion dollars)
Bank Of America
Total Assets: $1,445,093,000,000 (a bit more than 1.4 trillion dollars)
Total Exposure To Derivatives: $44,405,372,000,000 (more than 44 trillion dollars)
Total Assets: $114,693,000,000 (a bit more than 114 billion dollars – yes, you read that correctly)
Total Exposure To Derivatives: $41,580,395,000,000 (more than 41 trillion dollars)
That means that the total exposure that Goldman Sachs has to derivatives contracts is more than 362 times greater than their total assets.
To get a better idea of the massive amounts of money that we are talking about, just check out this excellent infographic.
How in the world could we let this happen?
And what is our financial system going to look like when this pyramid of risk comes falling down?
Our politicians put in a few new rules for derivatives, but as usual they only made things even worse.
According to Nasdaq.com, beginning next year new regulations will require derivatives traders to put up trillions of dollars to satisfy new margin requirements.
Swaps that will be allowed to remain outside clearinghouses when new rules take effect in 2013 will require traders to post $1.7 trillion to $10.2 trillion in margin, according to a report by an industry group.
The analysis from the International Swaps and Derivatives Association, using data sent in anonymously by banks, says the trillions of dollars in cash or securities will be needed in the form of so-called “initial margin.” Margin is the collateral that traders need to put up to back their positions, and initial margin is money backing trades on day one, as opposed to variation margin posted over the life of a trade as it fluctuates in value.
So where in the world will all of this money come from?
Total U.S. GDP was just a shade over 15 trillion dollars last year.
Could these rules cause a sudden mass exodus that would destabilize the marketplace?
Let’s hope not.
But things are definitely changing. According to Reuters, some of the big banks are actually urging their clients to avoid new U.S. rules by funneling trades through the overseas divisions of their banks…
Wall Street banks are looking to help offshore clients sidestep new U.S. rules designed to safeguard the world’s $640 trillion over-the-counter derivatives market, taking advantage of an exemption that risks undermining U.S. regulators’ efforts.
U.S. banks such as Morgan Stanley (MS.N) and Goldman Sachs (GS.N) have been explaining to their foreign customers that they can for now avoid the new rules, due to take effect next month, by routing trades via the banks’ overseas units, according to industry sources and presentation materials obtained by Reuters.
Unfortunately, no matter how banks respond to the new rules, it isn’t going to prevent the coming derivatives panic. At some point the music is going to stop and some big financial players are going to be completely and totally exposed.
When that happens, it might not be just the big banks that lose money. Just take a look at what happened with MF Global.
MF Global has confessed that it “diverted money” from customer accounts that were supposed to be segregated. A lot of customers may never get back any of the money that they invested with those crooks. The following comes from a Huffington Post article about the MF Global debacle, and it might just be a preview of what other investors will go through in the future when a derivatives crash destroys the firms that they had their money parked with…
Last week when customers asked for excess cash from their accounts, MF Global stalled. According to a commodity fund manager I spoke with, MF Global’s first stall tactic was to claim it lost wire transfer instructions. Then instead of sending an overnight check, it sent the money snail mail, including checks for hundreds of thousands of dollars. The checks bounced. After the checks bounced, the amounts were still debited from customer accounts and no one at MF Global could or would reverse the check entries. The manager has had to intervene to get MF Global to correct this.
How would you respond if your investment account suddenly went to “zero” because the firm you were investing with “diverted” customer funds for company use and now you have no way of recovering your money?
Keep an eye on the large Wall Street banks. In a previous article, I quoted a New York Times article entitled “A Secretive Banking Elite Rules Trading in Derivatives” which described how these banks dominate the trading of derivatives…
On the third Wednesday of every month, the nine members of an elite Wall Street society gather in Midtown Manhattan.
The men share a common goal: to protect the interests of big banks in the vast market for derivatives, one of the most profitable — and controversial — fields in finance. They also share a common secret: The details of their meetings, even their identities, have been strictly confidential.
According to the article, the following large banks are represented at these meetings: JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America and Citigroup.
When the casino finally goes “bust”, you will know who to blame.
Without a doubt, a derivatives panic is coming.
It will cause the financial markets to crash.
Several of the “too big to fail” banks will likely crash and burn and require bailouts.
As a result of all this, credit markets will become paralyzed by fear and freeze up.
Once again, we will see the U.S. economy go into cardiac arrest, only this time it will not be so easy to fix.
Do you agree with this analysis, or do you find it overly pessimistic? Please feel free to post a comment with your thoughts below…
The fastest way to go broke in America is to go to the hospital. These days it seems like almost everyone has an outrageous hospital bill story to share. It is getting to the point where most people are deathly afraid to go to the hospital. All the financial progress that you have made in recent years can literally be wiped out in just a matter of hours. For example, you are about to read about an Arizona woman that was recently charged $83,046 for a 3 hour hospital visit. How in the world is anyone supposed to pay a bill like that? I have a really hard time understanding why a visit to the doctor should ever be more than a couple hundred bucks or why a hospital stay should ever be more than a couple thousand dollars. Outrageous hospital bills are a real pet peeve of mine and I have not even been to the hospital in ages. What makes all of this even more infuriating is that Medicare, Medicaid and the big insurance companies are often charged less than 10 percent of what the rest of us are billed for the same procedures. There is a reason why 41 percent of all working age Americans are struggling with medical debt right now. It is because our health care system has become a giant money making scam. Millions of desperate Americans go into hospitals each year assuming that they will be treated fairly, but in the end they get stuck with incredibly outrageous bills and in many cases cruel debt collection techniques are employed against them if they don’t pay.
So why do we have to pay so much for medical care? Back in 1980, less than 10 percent of U.S. GDP went to health care. Today, about 18 percent of U.S. GDP goes toward health care.
And considering the fact that over the next 20 years the number of Americans 65 years of age or older is projected to double that number is going to go even higher.
On a per capita basis we spend about twice as much on health care as anyone else in the world.
In fact, if the U.S. health care system was a nation it would be the 6th largest economy on the entire planet.
America spent 2.47 trillion dollars on health care in 2009, and it is now being projected that we will spend 4.5 trillion dollars on health care in 2019.
Our system is completely and totally broken, and Obamacare is going to make things far worse. We need to throw the entire system out and start over.
A perfect example of why this is true is what happened when 52-year-old Marcie Edmonds went in to a hospital in Arizona recently to get treated for a scorpion sting….
With the help of a friend, she called Poison Control and was advised to go to the nearest hospital that had scorpion antivenom, Chandler Regional Medical Center. At the hospital, an emergency room doctor told her about the antivenom, called Anascorp, that could quickly relieve her symptoms. Edmonds said the physician never talked with her about the cost of the drug or treatment alternatives.
Her symptoms subsided after she received two doses of the drug Anascorp through an IV, and she was discharged from the hospital in about three hours.
Weeks later, she received a bill for $83,046 from Chandler Regional Medical Center. The hospital, owned by Dignity Health, charged her $39,652 per dose of Anascorp.
What makes this even more shocking is that hospitals in Mexico only charge $100 per dose of Anascorp.
These days many hospitals will do whatever they can get away with on hospital bills.
One NBC News reporter was absolutely stunned at the bill that she received after she went in for neck surgery for degenerative disc disease recently….
Once I got my itemized bill, the grand total was a little over $66,013.40! That was for a one night stay and a four level vertebrae fusion surgery. The charges included $22 for one sleeping pill, $427 for one dissecting tool, and $32,000 for four titanium plates and ten screws.
I brought it to Todd Hill, a fee based patient advocate who helps people decipher their medical bills. “The screws in your procedure were billed at $605 a piece for a total of $6050 dollars. We’ve seen those in our past research for $25 or $30,” he said. “In this case, the markup is tremendous,” he added.
Considering the fact that 77 percent of American families are living paycheck to paycheck at least part of the time, a single hospital bill like this can be a financial death blow.
If you have time, read this tragic story where one man was charged $11,000 and all he had was a case of bad indigestion. Nothing was even wrong with him and now his family is going to have to declare bankruptcy.
Often medical bills are so complex and so confusing that nobody can really understand them. A lot of the times this is probably done on purpose to keep people from understanding how badly they are being overcharged. The following is from a recent article in the New York Times….
Hospital care tends to be the most confounding, and experts say the charges you see on your bill are usually completely unrelated to the cost of providing the services (at hospitals, these list prices are called the “charge master file”). “The charges have no rhyme or reason at all,” Gerard Anderson, director of the Center for Hospital Finance and Management at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “Why is 30 minutes in the operating room $2,000 and not $1,500? There is absolutely no basis for setting that charge. It is not based upon the cost, and it’s not based upon the market forces, other than the whim of the C.F.O. of the hospital.”
And those charges don’t really have any connection to what a hospital or medical provider will accept for payment, either. “If you line up five patients in their beds and they all have gall bladders removed and they get the same exact medication and services, if they have insurance or if they don’t have insurance, the hospital will get five different reimbursements, and none of it is based on cost,” said Holly Wallack, a medical billing advocate in Miami Beach. “The insurers negotiate a different rate, and if you are uninsured, underinsured or out of network, you are asked to pay full fare.”
It has been estimated that hospitals in the United States overcharge their patients by about 10 billion dollars every single year.
Medical bills are the number one reason why Americans file for bankruptcy. As I mentioned earlier, approximately 41 percent of all working age Americans are struggling with medical debt.
And health insurance is not as much protection as you might think. According to a report published in the American Journal of Medicine, of all bankruptcies caused by medical debt, approximately 75 percent of the time the people actually did have health insurance.
And if you can’t pay your bills, many hospitals will come after you ruthlessly.
In fact, collection agencies sought to collect unpaid medical bills from approximately 30 million Americans during 2010 alone.
If you don’t cough up the cash they are demanding you can even end up in prison. The following example comes from CBS News….
How did breast cancer survivor Lisa Lindsay end up behind bars? She didn’t pay a medical bill — one the Herrin, Ill., teaching assistant was told she didn’t owe. “She got a $280 medical bill in error and was told she didn’t have to pay it,” The Associated Press reports. “But the bill was turned over to a collection agency, and eventually state troopers showed up at her home and took her to jail in handcuffs.”
Although the U.S. abolished debtors’ prisons in the 1830s, more than a third of U.S. states allow the police to haul people in who don’t pay all manner of debts, from bills for health care services to credit card and auto loans.
But why do these bills have to be so high? It is not like many doctors are getting rich these days. In fact, many of them are going broke.
So what is the deal?
Well, as a recent article by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts explained, there are a whole lot of people pulling profit out of the system other than just doctors these days….
There are two main reasons that US medicine is so expensive. One is that profits are piled upon profits. In addition to wages and salaries for doctors, nurses, and medical personnel, the American health care system has to provide profits for private hospitals, diagnostic centers, insurance companies, and for the accountants, attorneys and management consultants made necessary by the enormous litigation and regulatory compliance cost. American medicine is the most regulated in the world and the most criminalized.
And another big factor is that the rest of us have to make up the difference for the patients that are not profitable.
It has gotten to the point where some doctors in certain kinds of practices barely make any profit on Medicare and Medicaid patients. In fact, in many cases doctors actually lose money treating them.
An article posted on medicalcostadvocate.com has some outrageous examples of the difference between what you and I are billed and what Medicare pays out for the exact same procedures….
A patient in Illinois was charged $12,712 for cataract surgery. Medicare pays $675 for the same procedure. In California, a patient was charged $20,120 for a knee operation for which Medicare pays $584. And a New Jersey patient was charged $72,000 for a spinal fusion procedure that Medicare covers for $1,629.
So not only do we pay very high taxes to support Medicaid and Medicare, we also have to pay higher medical bills in order to make up the difference for the money that doctors and hospitals are not seeing from those patients.
Unfortunately, Medicaid and Medicare are expected to grow dramatically in the years ahead.
For example, it is now being projected that Obamacare will add 16 million more Americans to Medicaid.
And enrollment in Medicare is projected to grow from 50.7 million today to 73.2 million in 2025.
How in the world can our current system possibly handle this?
And please don’t tell me that Obamacare is the answer.
The truth is that Obamacare is going to take everything that is wrong with our health care system and make it even worse.
For a good summary on this, please see this article.
In the years ahead it is going to get even harder for those that are not dependent on the government for health care….
-Approximately 10 percent of all employers plan to drop health insurance coverage entirely because of Obamacare.
-According to one recent poll, 83 percent of all doctors in the United States have considered quitting the profession because of Obamacare, and we were already projected to have a severe doctor shortage in the years ahead even before Obamacare came along.
We are heading into the greatest health care crisis the United States has ever seen, and none of our leaders seem to have any answers.
In a recent article entitled “11 Signs That The U.S. Health Care System Is Heading Straight Down The Toilet“, I detailed a lot more reasons why our health care system is a national disgrace. If you can handle some more ranting I encourage you to go check that article out.
I am just absolutely disgusted with the condition of our health care system. It is dominated by government bureaucrats, pharmaceutical corporations and the big health insurance companies. It is a giant money making scam that seeks to drain as much money from the rest of us as possible.
So do you have a hospital bill horror story to share? Please feel free to share your thoughts below….
Did you know that median household income in the United States is lower today than it was when the last recession supposedly ended? If we are in the middle of an “economic recovery”, how can this possibly be happening? Stunning new statistics compiled by Sentier Research show that the U.S. economy is not nearly as healthy as we have been led to believe. According to the study that Sentier Research has just released, median household income in the United States was sitting at $55,470 back in January 2000. In December 2007, when the recession began, it was sitting at $54,916. In June 2009, when the recession supposedly ended, it was sitting at $53,508. Today, it is sitting at $50,964. This is a long-term trend that is definitely going in the wrong direction. The fact that median household income in the U.S. is now 4.8 percent lower than it was when the last recession ended is incredibly disturbing, especially since all of the things that we buy on a regular basis just keep going up in price. Food, gas, electricity, car insurance and health insurance all cost a whole lot more today than they did back in the year 2000, and yet median household income has dropped 8.1 percent since that time. So what does all of this mean? It means that American families ARE getting poorer.
Yes, the stock market has been soaring, corporate profits have set all-time records in recent years and the big Wall Street banks that were showered with bailout money are absolutely thriving.
But there has been no economic recovery on “Main Street”.
According to the Sentier Research report mentioned above, incomes have been declining in all geographic regions of the country and in all sectors of the economy….
-Median household income for the self-employed has fallen 9.4 percent since June 2009.
-Median household income for private sector employees has fallen 4.5 percent since June 2009.
-Median household income for government workers has fallen 3.5 percent since June 2009.
-Median household income for Americans living in the West has fallen 8.5 percent since June 2009.
-Median household income for Americans living in the Northeast has fallen 4.9 percent since June 2009.
-Median household income for Americans living in the South has also fallen 4.9 percent since June 2009.
-Median household income for Americans living in the Midwest has fallen 1.1 percent since June 2009.
Remember, the recession supposedly ended in June 2009.
Since that time we have supposedly been in a “recovery”.
So if it has seemed to you that American families have been getting poorer it has not just been your imagination.
In a previous article, I detailed 84 statistics that prove that the middle class in America is being systematically destroyed. If you have not read it yet, I encourage you to go check it out. At this point it is absolutely undeniable that the middle class in America is declining. The following are just a couple of the numbers from my recent article….
1. According to the Pew Research Center, 61 percent of all Americans were “middle income” back in 1971. Today, only 51 percent of all Americans are.
2. The Pew Research Center has also found that 85 percent of middle class Americans say that it is harder to maintain a middle class standard of living today compared with 10 years ago.
3. 62 percent of middle class Americans say that they have had to reduce household spending over the past year.
4. The average net worth of a middle class family in America was $129,582 in 2001. By 2010 that figure had dropped to $93,150.
5. According to the Federal Reserve, the median net worth of all families in the United States declined “from $126,400 in 2007 to $77,300 in 2010“.
You can find 79 more statistics just like this right here.
At the same time that our incomes are going down, the cost of living just continues to rise steadily.
Thanks Ben Bernanke.
American families are being increasingly stretched financially, and if major changes are not made this is going to get even worse in the years ahead.
Another thing that we aren’t being told on the nightly news is that the percentage of working age Americans that have jobs is lower today than when the last recession ended.
So let’s summarize….
-A smaller percentage of Americans have jobs today compared to June 2009.
-Median household income has declined by 4.8 percent since June 2009.
-American families are far less wealthy than they were just a few years ago.
Are we sure that we are in an economic recovery?
Just look at what is happening to our cities.
The rest of the world once looked at Detroit in awe.
Now it is a global joke.
You can see some incredible photographs of the devastation in Detroit right here.
This kind of thing is happening on the east coast as well. I have written many times about how horrible life has become in places such as Camden, New Jersey.
Well, now the entire Camden police force is being disbanded, and the policing of the city is going to be turned over to the county.
We are a mess, and it is time to admit that.
Sadly, most Americans simply have no idea how close our economic system really is to total system failure.
Only 24.6 percent of the jobs in this country are “good jobs” at this point, the velocity of money in our economy has plunged to a post-World War II low, unemployment is rampant, more than half of all Americans are at least partially financially dependent on the government and our national debt is crossing the 16 trillion dollar mark.
We don’t need someone to come in and “tweak” the economy.
We need radical reconstructive surgery.
But most Americans do not understand this.
Most Americans do not seem to grasp these things until economic hardship touches them personally.
After all, if you still have a good job and the mainstream media is telling you that everything is going to be okay it is really easy to pretend that we aren’t heading for an economic disaster of unimaginable proportions.
A massive problem that we are facing right now is something known as “normalcy bias”. This is how Wikipedia defines “normalcy bias”….
The normalcy bias, or normality bias, refers to a mental state people enter when facing a disaster. It causes people to underestimate both the possibility of a disaster occurring and its possible effects. This often results in situations where people fail to adequately prepare for a disaster, and on a larger scale, the failure of governments to include the populace in its disaster preparations. The assumption that is made in the case of the normalcy bias is that since a disaster never has occurred then it never will occur. It also results in the inability of people to cope with a disaster once it occurs. People with a normalcy bias have difficulties reacting to something they have not experienced before. People also tend to interpret warnings in the most optimistic way possible, seizing on any ambiguities to infer a less serious situation.
Doesn’t that sound exactly like the vast majority of Americans right now?
Most Americans just assume that since we have always recovered from every other economic downturn in the past that we will always be able to easily handle whatever the future throws at us.
If only that was true.
We are heading into a time that will be unlike anything any of us have ever experienced before, and many people that have blind faith in the system are going to be absolutely devastated when this coming crisis blindsides them.
Our economy has been collapsing, it is continuing to collapse, and the collapse is going to accelerate dramatically in the coming years.
You can have blind faith in the system, or you can get prepared for what is coming.
The choice is up to you.