The Beginning Of The End
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Job = Just Over Broke

Jobs - Public DomainIf you are fortunate enough to have a job in America today, the phrase “just over broke” probably describes you.  Yes, there are a handful of jobs that certainly pay very well, but most Americans that work for somebody else are just barely making it from month to month.  More than half of all working Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, and more than half of all working Americans make less than $30,000 a year.  That is an amazing statistic but it is actually true.  Once upon a time, anyone that was responsible and that was willing to work hard could get a good job in America.  But now those days are long gone.  Instead, we live at a time when good jobs are disappearing and when the middle class is getting smaller with each passing year.  In some homes, the husband and the wife are both working multiple jobs and they can still barely pay their bills.  Something has gone horribly wrong, and yet our leaders just keep telling us how wonderful our economy is.

One of the biggest things that has killed jobs in this country is the fact that the U.S. economy has been steadily merged into the emerging one world economic system over the past several decades.  They call it “free trade”, but they never told us that we would be merged into a single global labor pool where we would be competing directly for jobs with workers on the other side of the planet that live in nations where it is legal to pay slave labor wages.

According to Gallup, only about 1.3 billion people around the world work full-time for an employer at this point.

But overall there are more than 7 billion people.

That means that there are a whole lot of really poor, really desperate people that need to be employed.

This has been wonderful for the big corporations.  They can just take jobs away from American workers and give them to people who are willing to work for less than a tenth of what an American worker would make.  This has resulted in the systematic deindustrialization of the United States and horrific decline in dozens of formerly great manufacturing cities.

At the same time, we have also been losing millions of middle class jobs to technology.  At this point, robots are even starting to replace warehouse workers and fast food employees.  As robots become even more advanced and become even cheaper to produce, there will be less jobs available for the rest of us.

And what happens when robots can do everything better than us?

Because there are fewer middle class jobs available, the competition for the remaining jobs has become incredibly intense.  In recent years, millions of Americans have been forced to take just about anything that they can get.  For those Americans, “just over broke” has become “just trying to survive” as they scratch and claw their way through life.

A recent CNBC article profiled one such individual.  His name is Ken Bowman, and his job at a guitar shop just barely enables him to pay his rent and feed himself…

Ken Bowman joins the line for a free lunch in the Youngstown Salvation Army canteen, just like he does every Friday.

Looking younger than his 21 years, his hair dyed jet black and wearing big, battered boots, Bowman plays heavy metal on his cell phone. He chooses a seat at the end of a table and sits hunched over his tray, his blues eyes furtively sweeping the room. The others sit in packs, regulars who’ve formed lunchtime friendships over their burnt coffee and peppered corn, discussing the jobs they once had and the government benefits they no longer get.

Bowman is sensitive to the stigma of accepting handouts like lunch. “[It] doesn’t mean you’re homeless or poor, people have standards but they struggle,” he said, his chin jutting out, his eyes glowering.

After paying his rent, Bowman says his job in a guitar shop leaves him with $50 a month to live on — if he can get shifts. He is one of America’s “underemployed,” a group of as many as 11 million Americans struggling to survive in society’s shadows on wages that put them below the federal poverty line.

There are millions of others out there just like Bowman.  In fact, as I mentioned in a previous article, one out of every four part-time workers in America is living below the poverty line.  The “working poor” is a phrase that describes a very large segment of the U.S. population today.

And the cold, hard truth of the matter is that most of the country is steadily getting poorer.  According to a study recently discussed in the New York Times, the “typical American household” is now worth 36 percent less than it was worth a decade ago.  That is a staggering decline in just ten years.

Meanwhile, the cost of living continues to rise.  This is something that I have discussed repeatedly, but sometimes a picture can say things far better than any words can.

The photo posted below has been floating around on Twitter.  It is of a McDonald’s menu from the 1960s.  As you can see, prices have gone up a little bit since then…

Inflation - McDonald's

Most people think that I am crazy when I tell them that I can remember a cup of coffee being sold for a quarter when I was young.  But it is true.  Over the long-term, our purchasing power has been systematically destroyed by the insane polices of the Federal Reserve.

Sadly, most Americans don’t understand any of this.  They just trust that our leaders actually know what they are doing.  Meanwhile, they just keep on struggling to survive in an economic system that is stacked against them.

According to one recent study, 40 percent of all households in the United States are experiencing financial stress right now and the homeownership rate for Americans under the age of 35 is at an all-time low.

In the old days, if you got your education, worked hard and did all the right things, it was just about an automatic ticket to the middle class.

Today it doesn’t work like that.

Instead, more Americans than ever are being forced to become dependent on the government.  If you can believe it, Americans received more than 2 trillion dollars in benefits from the federal government last year alone.

So it astounds me whenever I hear anyone say that the economy is in “good shape”.

How can it be in “good shape” when one out of every three adults in the United States has an unpaid debt that is “in collections” and there are 49 million Americans that are dealing with food insecurity?

The truth is that we are in the midst of a long-term economic decline that is the result of decades of incredibly foolish decisions.

Until the American people start understanding what has happened to us, they are never going to demand real change that actually accomplishes something.

The Robots Are Coming, And They Are Replacing Warehouse Workers And Fast Food Employees

Robot 2014There are already more than 101 million working age Americans that are not employed and 20 percent of the families in the entire country do not have a single member that has a job.  So what in the world are we going to do when robots start taking millions upon millions more of our jobs? Thanks to technology, the balance of power between employers and workers in this country is shifting dramatically in favor of the employers.  These days, many employers are wondering why they are dealing with so many human worker “headaches” when they can just use technology to get the same tasks done instead.  When you replace a human worker with a robot, you solve a whole bunch of problems.  Robots never take a day off, they never get tired, they never get sick, they never complain, they never show up late, they never waste time on the Internet and they always do what you tell them to do.  In addition, robotic technology has advanced to the point where it is actually cheaper to buy robots than it is to hire humans for a vast variety of different tasks.  From the standpoint of societal efficiency, this is a good thing.  But what happens when robots are able to do just about everything less expensively and more efficiently than humans can?  Where will our jobs come from?

And this is not something that is coming at some point in “the future”.

This is already happening.

According to CNN, there will be 10,000 robots working to fulfill customer orders in Amazon.com warehouses by the end of 2014…

Amazon will be using 10,000 robots in its warehouses by the end of the year.

CEO Jeff Bezos told investors at a shareholder meeting Wednesday that he expects to significantly increase the number of robots used to fulfill customer orders.

Don’t get me wrong – I absolutely love Amazon.  And if robots can get me my stuff faster and less expensively that sounds great.

But what if everyone starts using these kinds of robots?

What will that do to warehouse jobs?

PC World has just done a report on a new warehouse robot known as “UBR-1″.  This robot is intended to perform tasks “normally done by human workers”…

The UBR-1 is a 4-foot tall, one-armed robot that could make warehouses and factories more efficient by performing tasks normally done by human workers.

Unlike the industrial robots widely used in manufacturing today—usually large machines isolated from people for safety reasons—this robot can work alongside humans or autonomously in a workspace filled with people.

This little robot costs $50,000, and it can work all day and all night.  It just needs a battery change every once in a while.  The creators of this robot envision it performing a vast array of different tasks…

“We see the robot as doing tasks, they could be dull, they could be dirty, they could be dangerous and doing them repetitively all day in a light manufacturing environment,” said Melonee Wise, Unbounded Robotics CEO and co-founder. Those tasks include stocking shelves, picking up objects and assembling parts.

The UBR-1 isn’t designed for small component assembly, but it can manipulate objects as small as dice or a Lego piece, Wise said. Unbounded Robotics is targeting companies that want some automation to speed up their manufacturing process, but can’t afford to fully automate their businesses.

To many people this may sound very exciting.

But what if a robot like that took your job?

Would it be exciting then?

Of course you can’t outlaw robots.  And you can’t force companies to hire human workers.

But we could potentially have major problems in our society as jobs at the low end of the wage scale quickly disappear.

According to CNN, restaurants all over the nation are going to automated service, and a recent University of Oxford study concluded that there is a 92 percent chance that most fast food jobs will be automated in the coming years…

Panera Bread is the latest chain to introduce automated service, announcing last month that it plans to bring self-service ordering kiosks as well as a mobile ordering option to all its locations within the next three years. The news follows moves from Chili’s and Applebee’s to place tablets on their tables, allowing diners to order and pay without interacting with human wait staff at all.

Panera, which spent $42 million developing its new system, claims it isn’t planning any job cuts as a result of the technology, but some analysts see this kind of shift as unavoidable for the industry.

In a widely cited paper released last year, University of Oxford researchers estimated that there is a 92% chance that fast-food preparation and serving will be automated in the coming decades.

It is being projected that other types of jobs will soon be automated as well

Delivery drivers could be replaced en masse by self-driving cars, which are likely to hit the market within a decade or two, or even drones. In food preparation, there are start-ups offering robots for bartending and gourmet hamburger preparation. A food processing company in Spain now uses robots to inspect heads of lettuce on a conveyor belt, throwing out those that don’t meet company standards, the Oxford researchers report.

Could you imagine such a world?

When self-driving vehicles take over, what will happen to the 3.1 million Americans that drive trucks for a living?

Our planet is changing at a pace that is almost inconceivable.

Over the past decade, the big threat to our jobs has been workers on the other side of the globe that live in countries where it is legal to pay slave labor wages.

But now even those workers are having their jobs taken away by robots.  For example, just check out what is happening in China

Foxconn has been planning to buy 1 million robots to replace human workers and it looks like that change, albeit gradual, is about to start.

The company is allegedly paying $25,000 per robot – about three times a worker’s average salary – and they will replace humans in assembly tasks. The plans have been in place for a while – I spoke to Foxconn reps about this a year ago – and it makes perfect sense. Humans are messy, they want more money, and having a half-a-million of them in one factory is a recipe for unrest. But what happens after the halls are clear of careful young men and women and instead full of whirring robots?

Perhaps you think that your job could never be affected because you do something that requires a “human touch” like caring for the elderly.

Well, according to Reuters, robots are moving into that arena as well…

Imagine you’re 85, and living alone. Your children are halfway across the country, and you’re widowed. You have a live-in aide – but it’s not human. Your personal robot reminds you to take your medicine, monitors your diet and exercise, plays games with you, and even helps you connect with family members on the Internet.

And robots are even threatening extremely skilled professions such as doctors.  For instance, just check out this excerpt from a Bloomberg article entitled “Doctor Robot Will See You Shortly“…

Johnson & Johnson proposes to replace anesthesiologists during simple procedures such as colonoscopies — not with nurse practitioners, but with machines. Sedasys, which dispenses propofol and monitors a patient automatically, was recently approved for use in healthy adult patients who have no particular risk of complications. Johnson & Johnson will lease the machines to doctor’s offices for $150 per procedure — cleverly set well below the $600 to $2,000 that anesthesiologists usually charge.

And this is just the beginning.  In a previous article, I discussed the groundbreaking study by Dr. Carl Frey and Dr. Michael Osborne of Oxford University which came to the conclusion that 47 percent of all U.S. jobs could be automated within the next 20 years.

47 percent?

That is crazy.

What will the middle class do as their jobs are taken away?

The world that we live in is becoming a radically different place than the one that we grew up in.

The robots are coming, and they are going to take millions of our jobs.

So what do you think of this robot invasion?  Please feel free to share your thoughts by posting a comment below…

The Number Of Working Age Americans Without A Job Has Risen By Almost 10 Million Under Obama

Obama SmilingThat headline is not a misprint.  The number of working age Americans that do not have a job has increased by nearly 10 million since Barack Obama first entered the White House.  In January 2009, the number of “officially unemployed” workers plus the number of Americans “not in the labor force” was sitting at a grand total of 92.6 million.  Today, that number has risen to 102.2 million.  That means that the number of working age Americans that are not working has grown by close to 10 million since Barack Obama first took office.  So why does the “official unemployment rate” keep going down?  Well, it is because the federal government has been pretending that millions upon millions of unemployed workers have “left the labor force” over the past few years and do not want to work anymore.  The government says that another 347,000 workers “left the labor force” in December.  That is nearly five times larger than the 74,000 jobs that were “created” by the U.S. economy last month.  And it is important to note that more than half of those jobs were temporary jobs, and it takes well over 100,000 new jobs just to keep up with population growth each month.  So the unemployment rate should not have gone down.  If anything, it should have gone up.

In fact, if the federal government was using an honest labor force participation rate, the official unemployment rate would be far higher than it is right now.  Instead of 6.7 percent, it would be 11.5 percent, and it has stayed at about that level since the end of the last recession.

But “6.7 percent” makes Obama look so much better than “11.5 percent”, don’t you think?

The labor force participation rate is now at a 35 year low, and the only way that the federal government has been able to get the “unemployment rate” to go down is by removing hundreds of thousands of Americans out of the labor force every month.

Why don’t they just get it over with and announce that they have decided that all workers immediately leave the labor force the moment that they lose their jobs?  That way we could have an unemployment rate of “0.0 percent” and Obama could be hailed as a great economic savior.

Of course the truth is that the employment crisis in the United States is about as bad now as it was during the depths of the last recession.

If you want a much more accurate reading of the employment picture in America, just look at the employment-population ratio.  The percentage of working age Americans that actually have a job continues to stagnate at an extremely low level.  In fact, the percentage of working age Americans that are employed has stayed between 58.2 percent and 58.8 percent for 52 months in a row…

Employment-Population Ratio 2014

Does that look like an “employment recovery” to you?

Because no matter how hard I squint my eyes, I just can’t see it.

The percentage of Americans that actually have jobs should have bounced back at least a little bit by now.

But it has not happened.

And guess what?  Most people don’t know this, but the U.S. economy actually created fewer jobs in 2013 than it did in 2012.  So the momentum of job creation is actually going the wrong way.

No matter how rosy the mainstream media makes things out to be, the reality on the ground tells an entirely different story.

For example, just check out the desperation that was displayed on the streets of New York City last week…

The line wrapped nearly around an entire city block on Friday as approximately 1,500 people waited in Queens for a chance to apply for a coveted union job as painters or blasters on bridges and steel structures.

The first few people on line had been there since 1 p.m. on Tuesday when the temperature in New York City was in the single digits.

The job that those desperate workers wanted to apply for only pays $17.20 an hour.

Of course that is far from an isolated incident.  Last week, I wrote about how 1,600 workers recently applied for just 36 jobs at an ice cream plant in Maryland.

We would not be witnessing scenes like these if the unemployment rate in America was really just 6.7 percent.

An article by Phoenix Capital Research does a good job of summarizing how useless the official government numbers have become…

Since 2009, we’ve been told that things have improved. The fact of the matter is that the improvement has been largely due to accounting tricks rather than any real change in reality.

Sure you can make unemployment look better by not counting people, you can claim the economy is growing by ignoring inflation, you can argue that inflation is low because you don’t count food or energy, but the reality is that all of these arguments are grade “A” BS.

We are now five years into the “recovery.” The single and I mean SINGLE accomplishment from spending over $3 trillion has been the stock market going higher. This is a complete and total failure. Based on the business cycle alone, the economy should be roaring.

What does it say that we’ve spent this much money and accomplished so little?

The word is FAILURE.

The media is lying about the economy. They have been for years. Even the BLS now admits that its methodologies are either inefficient (read: DON’T work) or outright wrong.

The cold, hard reality of the matter is that there has not been an economic recovery in this nation.

Anyone that tries to tell you that is lying to you.

And now the next major wave of the economic collapse is rapidly approaching.

The U.S. national debt is on pace to more than double during the eight years of the Obama administration and the Federal Reserve has been recklessly printing up trillions of dollars.  The long-term damage that they have done to our economy is incalculable.  But despite all of those extraordinary “stimulus” measures, the percentage of Americans that are actually working has not budged.

If we were going to have a recovery, it would have happened by this point.  In fact, this is all the “recovery” that we are going to experience.

From here on out, this is about as good as things are going to get.  As bad as you may think things are now, the truth is that this is rip-roaring prosperity compared to what is coming.

I hope that you are getting prepared.

Where Is The Recovery? A Higher Percentage Of Americans Had Jobs Three Years Ago

Where Is The Recovery?If you think that the latest employment numbers are good news, you might want to look again.  In April 2013, 58.6 percent of all working age Americans had a job.  But three years ago, in April 2010, 58.7 percent of all working age Americans had a job.  Well, you may argue, that is not much of a difference.  And that is precisely my point.  The percentage of Americans that have a job fell like a rock during the last recession.  It dropped from about 63 percent all the way down to below 59 percent, and it has stayed below 59 percent for 44 months in a row.  So where is the recovery?  This is the first time in the post-World War II era that the employment-population ratio has not bounced back after the end of a recession.  So anyone that tells you that we are experiencing an employment recovery is lying to you.  Yes, the U.S. economy added 165,000 jobs last month.  But it takes nearly that many jobs just to keep up with population growth.  The truth is that we are just treading water.

So why has the unemployment rate been going down?  Well, it is because the government has been pretending that millions upon millions of unemployed Americans “don’t want jobs” anymore.  In fact, an astounding 9.5 million Americans have “left the workforce” since Barack Obama took office.

Some in the mainstream media have started calling them “missing workers”.  But whatever label you want to use, the reality of the matter is that they are really hurting.  They are part of the reason why food stamp enrollment has soared from 32 million to more than 47 million while Barack Obama has been in the White House.

If you still believe that the employment market is getting better, just look at the following numbers.  The percentage of working age Americans with a job has been sitting at about the same level for four years in a row…

April 2008: 62.7 percent

April 2009: 59.8 percent

April 2010: 58.7 percent

April 2011: 58.4 percent

April 2012: 58.5 percent

April 2013: 58.6 percent

So why is everyone getting so excited over the latest numbers?  When you step back and look at what has happened to the employment-population ratio over the past decade it really is quite horrifying…

Employment-Population Ratio 2013

So exactly what part of that chart are we supposed to get excited about?

Yes, I suppose that we should be thankful that the percentage of Americans with a job has not continued to decline over the past few years.  Unfortunately, the next major wave of the economic collapse is rapidly approaching and that is going to make our employment crisis far worse.

A recovery was supposed to already happen by now.  Now we are running out of time before the next major downturn strikes.

And things have been particularly hard for our young people.  Even if our young people do go to college, there is a very good chance that good jobs will not be waiting for them once they graduate.

According to Accenture’s 2013 College Graduate Employment Survey, 41 percent of all Millennials who graduated from college during the past two years are working in jobs that actually do not require a college degree.

And a different survey conducted a while back found that 53 percent of all college graduates under the age of 25 are either unemployed or underemployed.

Perhaps you have noticed this.  Perhaps you have noticed that there seems to be large numbers of young people that are living with their parents or that can’t seem to get their lives started.

It is because the economy is not producing enough jobs for them.

We have shipped millions of good jobs overseas, we have replaced millions of jobs with technology, and we have created an economic environment that is murdering our small businesses.

Sadly, the future does not look bright for the American worker.  The big corporations that dominate our society are feverishly trying to increase profits by getting rid of as many “expensive” American workers as possible.  That is one of the reasons why corporate profits as a percentage of GDP are at a record high, but wages as a percentage of GDP are at an all-time low.

At this point there are more than 101 million working age Americans that do not have a job, and that number is going to go a lot higher in the years ahead.

But the financial markets seem to be absolutely thrilled with the present state of affairs.  The latest employment numbers caused the Dow to shoot past 15,000 and the S&P 500 to push past 1600.

Of course stocks have become completely and totally divorced from economic reality, but this does happen from time to time and it never lasts forever.  At some point there will be a rude awakening.

And I anticipated that we could potentially see the Dow hit 15,000 before it finally crashed.  Back in February, I made the following statement…

Right now, everyone seems to be quite giddy about the fact that the Dow is marching toward an all-time high.  And I actually do believe that the Dow will blow right past it.  In fact, it is even possible that we could see the Dow hit 15,000 before everything starts falling apart.

Well, now we have seen the Dow hit 15,000.  But that doesn’t change any of the long-term trends that are absolutely eviscerating our economy.

So enjoy this bubble of false hope while you can.

It will not last much longer.

The Beginning Of The End by Michael T. Snyder

Rise Of The Droids: Will Robots Eventually Steal All Of Our Jobs?

Rise Of The Droids: Will Robots Eventually Steal All Of Our Jobs? - Photo by stephen bowlerWill a robot take your job?  We have entered a period in human history when technology is advancing at an exponential rate.  In some ways, this has been a great blessing for humanity.  For example, I am absolutely blown away by all of the things that my little iPod can do.  But on the other hand, all of this technology is eliminating millions upon millions of high paying jobs.  In the past, I have written extensively about how millions of American jobs have been sent to the other side of the world, but now we may be moving into a time when workers all over the planet will be steadily losing jobs to super-efficient robots.  For employers, robots provide a lot of advantages to human workers.  Robots never complain, they never get tired, they never need vacation, they never show up late, they never waste time of Facebook, they don’t need any health benefits and there are a whole lot of rules, regulations and taxes that you must deal with when you hire a human worker.  In the past, robots were exceedingly expensive, and that limited their usefulness in the workplace, but as you will see later in this article that is rapidly changing.  As robots continue to become even more advanced and even less expensive, will there eventually come a point where the “human worker” is virtually obsolete?

Of course I can hear the objections already.  Many of you will insist that even though automation has always eliminated jobs in the past, it has also always created new jobs that were even better.  For instance, once upon a time most of the U.S. population worked on farms, but thanks to automation now hardly any of us do.

But what happens when we get to the point where super-intelligent robots are more efficient at everything?

What will be left for “human workers” to do?

And if human workers are no longer needed for most tasks, what will their role in society be?

Personally, I still complain about self-service check-in kiosks at airports and self-checkout lanes at supermarkets, but most people seem to have accepted them.  There are even many bank branches now that don’t have any humans in them at all.  The number of jobs where a human worker is absolutely “required” is dwindling all the time.

And a lot of the jobs that are disappearing thanks to advances in technology are fairly high paying jobs.  In fact, one recent study of employment data from 20 countries discovered that “almost all the jobs disappearing are in industries that pay middle-class wages, ranging from $38,000 to $68,000.”

As I mentioned earlier, in the past robots were simply far too expensive to perform most tasks.  So human workers had an advantage.

But that advantage is disappearing right in front of our eyes.  For example, one company has produced a new robot called “Baxter” that only costs $22,000.  The following is from an article about Baxter in the MIT Technology Review

Baxter was conceived by Rodney Brooks, the Australian roboticist and artificial-intelligence expert who left MIT to build a $22,000 humanoid robot that can easily be programmed to do simple jobs that have never been automated before.

Eventually, the goal is to produce versions of Baxter that will perform tasks even more cheaply than Chinese workers do…

Brooks’s company, Rethink Robotics, says the robot will spark a “renaissance” in American manufacturing by helping small companies compete against low-wage offshore labor. Baxter will do that by accelerating a trend of factory efficiency that’s eliminated more jobs in the U.S. than overseas competition has. Of the approximately 5.8 million manufacturing jobs the U.S. lost between 2000 and 2010, according to McKinsey Global Institute, two-thirds were lost because of higher productivity and only 20 percent moved to places like China, Mexico, or Thailand.

The ultimate goal is for robots like Baxter to take over more complex tasks, such as fitting together parts on an electronics assembly line. “A couple more ticks of Moore’s Law and you’ve got automation that works more cheaply than Chinese labor does,” Andrew McAfee, an MIT researcher, predicted last year at a conference in Tucson, Arizona, where Baxter was discussed.

So it won’t just be American workers that will be displaced by robots – it will literally be workers all over the planet.

In the future, when you call someone for customer service you probably won’t be talking to someone in India.  Instead, you will probably be talking to a robot.  In fact, this transition is already starting to happen…

IPsoft is a young company started by Chetan Dube, a former mathematics professor at New York University. He reckons that artificial intelligence can take over most of the routine information-technology and business-process tasks currently performed by workers in offshore locations. “The last decade was about replacing labour with cheaper labour,” says Mr Dube. “The coming decade will be about replacing cheaper labour with autonomics.”

IPsoft’s Eliza, a “virtual service-desk employee” that learns on the job and can reply to e-mail, answer phone calls and hold conversations, is being tested by several multinationals. At one American media giant she is answering 62,000 calls a month from the firm’s information-technology staff. She is able to solve two out of three of the problems without human help. At IPsoft’s media-industry customer Eliza has replaced India’s Tata Consulting Services.

Even some of the largest companies in China are starting to make the transition from human workers to robots.  The following is from a recent TechCrunch article

Foxconn has been planning to buy 1 million robots to replace human workers and it looks like that change, albeit gradual, is about to start.

The company is allegedly paying $25,000 per robot – about three times a worker’s average salary – and they will replace humans in assembly tasks. The plans have been in place for a while – I spoke to Foxconn reps about this a year ago – and it makes perfect sense. Humans are messy, they want more money, and having a half-a-million of them in one factory is a recipe for unrest. But what happens after the halls are clear of careful young men and women and instead full of whirring robots?

So what will the world look like as robots begin to replace humans in just about every industry that you can imagine?

A recent Wired article described what this transition might look like…

First, machines will consolidate their gains in already-automated industries. After robots finish replacing assembly line workers, they will replace the workers in warehouses. Speedy bots able to lift 150 pounds all day long will retrieve boxes, sort them, and load them onto trucks. Fruit and vegetable picking will continue to be robotized until no humans pick outside of specialty farms. Pharmacies will feature a single pill-dispensing robot in the back while the pharmacists focus on patient consulting. Next, the more dexterous chores of cleaning in offices and schools will be taken over by late-night robots, starting with easy-to-do floors and windows and eventually getting to toilets. The highway legs of long-haul trucking routes will be driven by robots embedded in truck cabs.

All the while, robots will continue their migration into white-collar work. We already have artificial intelligence in many of our machines; we just don’t call it that. Witness one piece of software by Narrative Science (profiled in issue 20.05) that can write newspaper stories about sports games directly from the games’ stats or generate a synopsis of a company’s stock performance each day from bits of text around the web. Any job dealing with reams of paperwork will be taken over by bots, including much of medicine. Even those areas of medicine not defined by paperwork, such as surgery, are becoming increasingly robotic. The rote tasks of any information-intensive job can be automated. It doesn’t matter if you are a doctor, lawyer, architect, reporter, or even programmer: The robot takeover will be epic.

I don’t know about you, but the phrase “robot takeover” is not exactly comforting.

Perhaps I just watch too many movies.

In any event, as technology advances there will eventually be very few jobs that robots cannot perform.  In fact, you might be surprised to learn some of the things that robots are already doing.  The following is from a recent Yahoo News article

Google and Toyota are rolling out cars that can drive themselves. The Pentagon deploys robots to find roadside explosives in Afghanistan and wages war from the air with drone aircraft. North Carolina State University this month introduced a high-tech library where robots — “bookBots” — retrieve books when students request them, instead of humans. The library’s 1.5 million books are no longer displayed on shelves; they’re kept in 18,000 metal bins that require one-ninth the space.

So what will the 3.1 million Americans that drive trucks do for a living once robots are driving all of our trucks?

What will the 573,000 Americans that drive buses do for a living once robots are driving all of our buses?

And eventually even our skies may be filled with robotic drones that are busy performing one task or another.  Just check out what a recent Time Magazine article had to say about the emerging drone industry…

But the drone industry is ramping up for a big landgrab the moment the regulatory environment starts to relax. At last year’s Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) trade show in Las Vegas, more than 500 companies pitched drones for filming crowds and tornados and surveying agricultural fields, power lines, coalfields, construction sites, gas spills and archaeological digs. A Palo Alto, Calif., start-up called Matternet wants to establish a network of drones that will transport small, urgent packages, like those for medicine.

In other countries civilian drone populations are already booming. Aerial video is a major application. A U.K. company called Skypower makes the eight-rotored Cinipro drone, which can carry a cinema-quality movie camera. In Costa Rica they’re used to study volcanoes. In Japan drones dust crops and track schools of tuna; emergency workers used one to survey the damage at Fukushima. A nature preserve in Kenya ran a crowdsourced fundraising drive to buy drones to watch over the last few northern white rhinos. Ironically, while the U.S. has been the leader in sending drones overseas, it’s lagging behind when it comes to deploying them on its own turf.

Unfortunately, many people will not understand what I am really trying to get at in this article.

They will just say something like this: “Well, they are going to need someone to build all of those robots.”

Even if that is true, they won’t need hundreds of millions of us to build them.

No, the truth is that when human workers become “obsolete”, those that dominate society with technology will look at the rest of us as “useless eaters” that are not contributing anything to society at all.

Already, there are many economists that are warning that advancements in technology are steadily reducing “the natural employment rate”.

And we are already seeing this happen in the United States.  As I wrote about the other day, the percentage of the labor force that is employed has declined every single year since 2006…

2006: 63.1

2007: 63.0

2008: 62.2

2009: 59.3

2010: 58.5

2011: 58.4

In January, only 57.9 percent of the civilian labor force was employed.

Of course there are certainly a lot of factors involved in why those numbers are declining, but without a doubt technology is playing a role.

So what do we do with all of the workers that are being displaced?

Are we just going to put everybody on food stamps?

Will the gap between the rich and the poor grow even larger than it is today?

Will most people eventually become dependent on the government in order to survive?

We are moving into uncharted territory, and nobody is quite sure what comes next.

As time goes by, robots will even start to look more like us.  In fact, this is already starting to happen.  Just check out the following description of a “bionic man” that has been created from a recent article in the Guardian

He cuts a dashing figure, this gentleman: nearly seven feet tall, and possessed of a pair of striking brown eyes. With a fondness for Ralph Lauren, middle-class rap and sharing a drink with friends, Rex is, in many ways, an unexceptional chap.

Except that he is, in fact, a real-world bionic man. Housed within a frame of state-of-the-art prosthetic limbs is a functional heart-lung system, complete with artificial blood pumping through a network of pulsating modified-polymer arteries. He has a bionic spleen to clean the blood, and an artificial pancreas to keep his blood sugar on the level. Behind the deep brown irises are a pair of retinal implants, giving him a vista of the crowds of curious humans who meet his gaze.

He even has a degree of artificial intelligence: talk to him, and he’ll listen (through his cochlear implants), before using a speech generator to respond.

As robots become more like us, will we eventually become more like them?

Will we be told that we must “merge with the machines” in order to keep up and be useful in society?

As we rapidly approach the “technological singularity” that futurist Ray Kurzweil and others have talked about, will humans increasingly seek to “enhance” themselves with technology in an attempt to “get an edge”?

What will happen to those of us that refuse to “merge with the machines” and that refuse to “enhance ourselves” with technology?

Will we be outcasts?

Those are some important questions.  Feel free to share your thoughts on those questions by posting a comment below…

Terminator - Photo by tenaciousme

37 Statistics Which Show How Four Years Of Obama Have Wrecked The U.S. Economy

37 Statistics Which Show How Four Years Of Obama Have Wrecked The U.S. EconomyThe mainstream media covered the inauguration of Barack Obama with breathless anticipation on Monday, but should we really be celebrating another four years of Obama?  The truth is that the first four years of Obama were an absolute train wreck for the U.S. economy.  Over the past four years, the percentage of working age Americans with a job has fallen, median household income has declined by more than $4000, poverty in the U.S. has absolutely exploded and our national debt has ballooned to ridiculous proportions.  Of course all of the blame for the nightmarish performance of the economy should not go to Obama alone.  Certainly much of what we are experiencing today is the direct result of decades of very foolish decisions by Congress and previous presidential administrations.  And of course the Federal Reserve has more influence over the economy than anyone else does.  But Barack Obama steadfastly refuses to criticize anything that the Federal Reserve has done and he even nominated Ben Bernanke for another term as Fed Chairman despite his horrific track record of failure, so at a minimum Barack Obama must be considered to be complicit in the Fed’s very foolish policies.  Despite what the Obama administration tells us, the U.S. economy has been in decline for a very long time, and that decline has accelerated in many ways over the past four years.  Just consider the statistics that I have compiled below.  The following are 37 statistics which show how four years of Obama have wrecked the U.S. economy…

1. During Obama’s first term, the number of Americans on food stamps increased by an average of about 11,000 per day.

2. At the beginning of the Obama era, 32 million Americans were on food stamps.  Today, more than 47 million Americans are on food stamps.

3. According to one calculation, the number of Americans on food stamps now exceeds the combined populations of “Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming.”

4. The number of Americans receiving money directly from the federal government each month has grown from 94 million in the year 2000 to more than 128 million today.

5. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 146 million Americans are either “poor” or “low income” at this point.

6. The unemployment rate in the United States is exactly where it was (7.8 percent) when Barack Obama first entered the White House in January 2009.

7. When Barack Obama first entered the White House, 60.6 percent of all working age Americans had a job.  Today, only 58.6 percent of all working age Americans have a job.

8. During the first four years of Obama, the number of Americans “not in the labor force” soared by an astounding 8,332,000.  That far exceeds any previous four year total.

9. During Obama’s first term, the number of Americans collecting federal disability insurance rose by more than 18 percent.

10. The Obama years have been absolutely devastating for small businesses in America.  According to economist Tim Kane, the following is how the number of startup jobs per 1000 Americans breaks down by presidential administration

Bush Sr.: 11.3

Clinton: 11.2

Bush Jr.: 10.8

Obama: 7.8

11. Median household income in America has fallen for four consecutive years.  Overall, it has declined by over $4000 during that time span.

12. The economy is not producing nearly enough jobs for the hordes of young people now entering the workforce.  Approximately 53 percent of all U.S. college graduates under the age of 25 were either unemployed or underemployed in 2011.

13. According to a report from the National Employment Law Project, 58 percent of the jobs that have been created since the end of the recession have been low paying jobs.

14. Back in 2007, about 28 percent of all working families were considered to be among “the working poor”.  Today, that number is up to 32 percent even though our politicians tell us that the economy is supposedly recovering.

15. According to the Center for Economic and Policy Research, only 24.6 percent of all of the jobs in the United States are “good jobs” at this point.

16. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the middle class is taking home a smaller share of the overall income pie than has ever been recorded before.

17. According to the Economic Policy Institute, the United States is losing half a million jobs to China every single year.

18. The United States has fallen in the global economic competitiveness rankings compiled by the World Economic Forum for four years in a row.

19. According to the World Bank, U.S. GDP accounted for 31.8 percent of all global economic activity in 2001.  That number declined steadily over the course of the next decade and was only at 21.6 percent in 2011.

20. The United States actually has plenty of oil and we should not have to import oil from the Middle East.  We need to drill for more oil, but Obama has been very hesitant to do that.  Under Bill Clinton, the number of drilling permits approved rose by 58 percent.  Under George W. Bush, the number of drilling permits approved rose by 116 percent.  Under Barack Obama, the number of drilling permits approved actually decreased by 36 percent.

21. When Barack Obama took office, the average price of a gallon of gasoline was $1.84.  Today, the average price of a gallon of gasoline is $3.26.

22. Under Barack Obama, the United States has lost more than 300,000 education jobs.

23. 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.

24. Families that have a head of household under the age of 30 now have a poverty rate of 37 percent.

25. More than three times as many new homes were sold in the United States in 2005 as were sold in 2012.

26. Electricity bills in the United States have risen faster than the overall rate of inflation for five years in a row.

27. Health insurance costs have risen by 29 percent since Barack Obama became president.

28. Today, 77 percent of all Americans live paycheck to paycheck at least part of the time.

29. It is being projected that Obamacare will add 16 million more Americans to the Medicaid rolls.

30. The total amount of money that the federal government gives directly to the American people has grown by 32 percent since Barack Obama became president.

31. The Obama administration has been spending money on some of the most insane things imaginable.  For example, in 2011 the Obama administration spent $592,527 on a study that sought to figure out once and for all why chimpanzees throw poop.

32. U.S. taxpayers spend more than 20 times as much on the Obamas as British taxpayers spend on the royal family.

33. The U.S. government has run a budget deficit of well over a trillion dollars every single year under Barack Obama.

34. When Barack Obama was first elected, the U.S. debt to GDP ratio was under 70 percent.  Today, it is up to 103 percent.

35. During Obama’s first term, the federal government accumulated more debt than it did under the first 42 U.S presidents combined.

36. As I wrote about yesterday, when you break it down the amount of new debt accumulated by the U.S. government during Obama’s first term comes to approximately $50,521 for every single household in the United States.  Are you ready to contribute your share?

37. If you started paying off just the new debt that the U.S. has accumulated during the Obama administration at the rate of one dollar per second, it would take more than 184,000 years to pay it off.

But despite all of these numbers, the mainstream media and the left just continue to shower Barack Obama with worship and praise.  Newsweek recently heralded Obama’s second term as “The Second Coming“, and at Obama’s pre-inauguration church service Reverand Ronald Braxton openly compared Obama to Moses…

At Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church, Braxton reportedly crafted his speech around Obama’s personal political slogan: “Forward!”

Obama, said Braxton, was just like Moses facing the Red Sea: “forward is the only option … The people couldn’t turn around. The only thing that they could do was to go forward.” Obama, said Braxton, would have to overcome all obstacles – like opposition from Republicans, presumably, or the bounds of the Constitution. Braxton continued, “Mr. President, stand on the rock,” citing to Moses standing on Mount Horeb as his people camped outside the land of Israel.

But it wasn’t enough to compare Obama with the founder of Judaism and the prophet of the Bible. Braxton added that Obama’s opponents were like the Biblical enemies of Moses, and that Obama would have to enter the battle because “sometimes enemies insist on doing it the hard way.”

So what do you think the next four years of Obama will bring?

Please feel free to post a comment with your thoughts below…

Obama Inauguration

From Good Jobs To Bad Jobs To No Jobs – The Tragic Downfall Of The American Worker

There was a time in America when virtually anyone that wanted a job could go out and get one and the United States boasted the largest and most prosperous middle class in the history of the world.  Sadly, those days are long gone.  Back in 1969, 95 percent of all men between the ages of 25 and 54 had a job.  But now there are millions of Americans in their prime working years that cannot find a job.  Millions of others are working low wage jobs or part-time jobs because that is all they can get.  The other day I went to a large retail store and I got into a conversation with the lady who was checking me out.  She said that she had worked professional jobs all her life, and that she had taken this job to tide her over as she searched for a new job, but now she had been there for two years with no end in sight.  I felt really bad for her, because she was obviously a sharp lady with a lot of skills.  But this is the new reality.  Good paying manufacturing and professional jobs are being replaced by low paying service jobs.  We are transitioning from an economy with plenty of good jobs to an economy with plenty of bad jobs.  The next stage in our transition will be to an economy where it seems like there are no jobs for anyone.  We are witnessing the tragic downfall of the American worker, and it is heartbreaking.

Many of our politicians insist that things are getting better for American workers, but that is simply not true.  Just look at the chart below.  Back at the start of 2008, the percentage of working age Americans with a job was sitting at about 63 percent.  Since then it has fallen below 59 percent and it has stayed there for over 3 years.  After every other recession in the post-World War II era the employment-population ratio has always bounced back.  That has not happened this time…

If this number was going to recover, it would have done so by now.  We are rapidly approaching the next major economic crisis and the percentage of working age Americans with a job is going to go even lower.

And our politicians are certainly not helping matters.  Many of the things that they have done are actually going to accelerate the loss of good jobs.  For example, as one small business owner recently pointed out, Obamacare is going to force businesses all over the United States to minimize the number of full-time workers they are using and replace them with part-time workers…

Here is what I am doing for the rest of the year — working with every manager in my company so that as of January 1, 2013, none of our employees are working more than 28 hours a week.   I think most readers know the reason — we have got to get our company under 50 full time employees or else I am facing a bill from Obamacare in 2014 that will be several times larger than my annual profit.  I love my workers.  They make me a success.  But most of my competitors are small businesses that are exempt from the Obamacare hammer.  To compete, I must make sure my company is exempt as well.  This means that our 400+ full time employees will have to be less than 50 in 2013, so that when the Feds look at me at the start of 2014, I am exempt.  We will have more employees working fewer hours, with more training costs, but the Obamacare bill looks like about $800,000 a year for us, at least, and I am pretty sure the cost of more training will be less than that.

This will be unpopular but tolerable to most of my employees.  The vast majority of them are retired and our company is merely an excuse to stay busy, work outdoors, and get a little extra money.

But this is going to be an ENORMOUS change in the rest of the service sector.  I have talked to a lot of owners of restaurants and restaurant chains, and the 40-hour work week is a thing of the past in that business.  One of my employees said that in Hawaii, it was all the hotel employees could talk about.   Many chains are working on mutli-team systems where two teams of people working part-time replace the former group of full-time employees.  2013 is going to see a lot of people (who are not paid very well to begin with) getting their hours and pay cut by 25%.  At the same time that they are required, likely for the first time since many are relatively young, to purchase health insurance.

How could we be so foolish?

Unfortunately, this is not something new.  Our economy has been replacing good jobs with bad jobs for quite some time.  If you can believe it, 60 percent of the jobs lost during the last recession were mid-wage jobs, but 58 percent of the jobs created since then have been low wage jobs.

Will nearly all of us eventually be working in fast food restaurants or stocking shelves at retail giants like Wal-Mart?

Amazingly, the United States actually has a higher percentage of workers doing low wage work than any other major industrialized nation does.

No wonder our middle class is being absolutely destroyed.

At this point, wages as a percentage of GDP are at an all-time low in America.  As millions more good jobs are shipped out of the country, the competition for the remaining jobs will become incredibly fierce and that number will get even lower.

Many Americans that actually do have jobs right now find that they simply don’t make enough to take care of themselves and their families.  They are called “the working poor”, and their ranks are growing steadily.  Today, about one out of every four workers in the United States brings home wages that are at or below the federal poverty level.

American households are getting poorer at a time when prices continue to rise.  Median household income in America has declined for four years in a row.  Overall, it has fallen by over $4000 during that time span.

But have the prices in the stores declined?

Of course not.

No wonder middle class families are feeling more financial stress than ever before.  A survey conducted by the Pew Research Center found that 85 percent of middle class Americans say that it is harder to maintain a middle class standard of living today than it was 10 years ago.

The transition from good jobs to bad jobs in our economy has been taking place for a very long time, and it is not going to be reversed overnight.  Back in 1980, less than 30% of all jobs in the United States were low income jobs.  Today, more than 40% of all jobs in the United States are low income jobs.  There are less tickets to the middle class than there used to be, but neither political party seems interested in stopping the flow of good jobs out of the country.

If we keep doing the same things that we have been doing, we will continue to get the same results.

When I was young, I was told that there would always be “good jobs” available for anyone that got a good education and that worked hard.

What a crock of baloney that turned out to be.

According to a paper that was recently released by the Center for Economic and Policy Research, only 24.6 percent of all jobs in the United States qualify as “good jobs” at this point.

In a previous article, I detailed the three criteria that they used to define what a “good job” is….

#1 The job must pay at least $18.50 an hour.  According to the authors, that is the equivalent of the median hourly pay for American workers back in 1979 after you adjust for inflation.

#2 The job must provide access to employer-sponsored health insurance, and the employer must pay at least some portion of the cost of that insurance.

#3 The job must provide access to an employer-sponsored retirement plan.

More than 75 percent of all jobs in the U.S. today are not “good jobs”, and things are not looking promising for the future.

No wonder so many families are barely surviving these days.  Right now, approximately 77 percent of all Americans are living paycheck to paycheck at least some of the time.  That is a dreadful number.

But if you still do have a job, you should consider yourself to be fortunate.

There are millions upon millions of Americans out there without any job at all.

Did you know that 53 percent of all Americans with a bachelor’s degree under the age of 25 were either unemployed or underemployed during 2011?

Hordes of fresh college graduates are entering the marketplace each year only to find that the good jobs that they were promised simply are not there.

And now it looks like things are getting even worse.  This week Citigroup announced that it plans to eliminate 11,000 jobs in an attempt to reduce costs.  But Citigroup is far from alone.  We have seen dozens of major layoff announcements since the election.  If you doubt this, just see this article and this article.

It is time to wake up and admit that our economy is in an advanced state of decline, that we need to quit shipping our jobs out of the country, and that what we are doing now is clearly not working.

If we are “the greatest economy on earth”, then why are approximately 48 percent of all Americans either considered to be “low income” or are living in poverty?

We need to return to the principles that our Founding Fathers founded this country on or else things are going to get a lot worse and people are going to get very, very angry.

Our politicians have been pitting different groups of people against one another and many of them have been blaming the wealthy for all of our problems.  Never before in my lifetime have I seen so much anger directed toward those that have money.  This anger is even being expressed in ways that you would not normally expect.  For example, the California Federation of Teachers recently produced a video that portrays wealthy people peeing on poor people.  That shocked me.

Eventually, all of this anger is going to lead to violence if we are not careful.  When the next major wave of the economic crisis strikes and unemployment gets significantly worse, I fear for what might happen.  I believe that it is very possible that we may see mobs of struggling people storm into wealthy neighborhoods and play “Robin Hood” with their possessions.

Instead of hating one another, we need to return to the principles that once made our economy so great.  Those principles would enable everyone to prosper.

Unfortunately, this country continues to turn away from those principles and hate and anger continue to grow.

If we continue down this path, the end result is going to be a complete and total nightmare.

It is possible to turn this economy around.  But we can’t do the same things that we have been doing.  We have to start making better decisions.

Will The Bottom Fall Out? 15 Signs That Layoffs And Job Losses Are Skyrocketing

If you still have a good job, you might want to hold on to it very tightly because there are a whole bunch of signs that unemployment in the United States is about to start getting worse again.  Over the past several weeks, a substantial number of large corporations have announced disappointing earnings for the third quarter.  Many of those large corporations are also loaded up with huge amounts of debt.  So what is the solution?  Well, the favorite solution on Wall Street these days seems to be to lay off workers.  In fact, it is almost turning into a feeding frenzy.  Since September 1st, we have seen more job cuts announced than during any other two month period since the start of 2010.  These announcements represent future layoffs and job losses which are not even showing up in the unemployment numbers yet.  So needless to say, things don’t look very promising for the end of 2012 or for the beginning of 2013.  If this race to eliminate jobs becomes a stampede, will we see the bottom fall out of the employment market?

If you are concerned about whether or not you will still have a job 12 months from now, you might find the numbers posted below to be quite alarming.  We have not seen layoff announcements come this fast and this furious since the gloomy days of the last recession.

According to Bloomberg, job cuts are well ahead of the pace set last year…

North American companies have announced plans to eliminate more than 62,600 positions at home and abroad since Sept. 1, the biggest two-month drop since the start of 2010, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Firings total 158,100 so far this year, more than the 129,000 job cuts in the same period in 2011.

So what happens if the economy really starts sliding rapidly and this loss of jobs becomes an avalanche?

Can the U.S. economy and the American people handle another major economic downturn?

Some of the biggest names in the business world have announced job cuts in recent weeks.  The following are 15 signs that layoffs and job losses are skyrocketing…

1. Dow Chemical has announced that it will be closing about 20 plants and will be letting about 2,400 workers go.

2. Colgate-Palmolive has announced that they will be eliminating about 2,300 jobs.

3. DuPont has announced plans to eliminate about 1,500 jobs.

4. Ford has announced that it will be eliminating 6,200 jobs and will be reducing production capacity in Europe by 18 percent.

5. Hewlett-Packard announced last month that they plan to eliminate 29,000 jobs.

6. Chip maker AMD has announced that they will be getting rid of about 15 percent of their workers.

7. Sony has announced plans to reduce their workforce by about 2,000 workers.

8. Electronics manufacturer Sharp reportedly plans to eliminate 11,000 jobs.

9. Engine maker Cummins Inc. has announced that they plan to get rid of about 1,500 jobs by the end of 2012.

10. Earlier this month Applied Materials announced a plan that will eliminate up to 1,300 jobs.

11. Zynga (known for making video games for Facebook such as FarmVille) has announced that they are reducing their workforce by about 5 percent.

12. Lattice Semiconductor has announced plans to eliminate about 13 percent of their jobs.

13. Alcatel-Lucent recently announced a plan to eliminate more than 5000 jobs all over the globe.

14. Siemens AG has announced that the number of positions being eliminated may reach 10,000 by the end of the year.

15. Banking giant UBS plans to eliminate up to 5,000 jobs.

Please keep in mind that these job cuts do not show up in the unemployment numbers yet.  When big corporations announce the elimination of jobs, it often takes a while before those job losses actually take place.

Sadly, I believe that this is just the tip of the iceberg.  I am convinced that the layoffs and the job losses are going to get a lot worse.

In fact, 2013 is already shaping up to be a very difficult year for the economy no matter how the election turns out.

Those of you that read my articles regularly already know that our economic system is becoming increasingly unstable.  We could literally plunge into another major recession at any moment.

Not that we need any more economic trouble.  Tens of millions of American families are having to fight tooth and nail just to make it from month to month right now.

There aren’t enough jobs and the middle class is rapidly shrinking.  Even if you do have a job, that does not mean that you are doing okay.  About a quarter of all jobs do not even pay enough to lift a family of four above the poverty level, and entry level wages for those with just a high school education have been steadily declining over the past 40 years.  If you doubt this, just check out this chart.

So what is going to happen if we do have another avalanche of job losses like we saw back in 2008 and 2009?

Will even more of us end up dependent on the government?

We are told that we are in the midst of an “economic recovery”, but the number of Americans that are dependent on the government just continues to soar.  In fact, at this point it is at an all-time high.

If the economy is getting better, then why does the number of Americans on food stamps just keep going up?  To get an idea of just how massive the food stamp program has become, just check out this infographic.

One of the most frightening things about the possibility of another major economic downturn is the loss of hope that it could bring.

At this point, most Americans still believe that things will get better eventually.

But what is going to happen when large segments of our population lose all hope?

How desperate will they become?

When people become desperate, they tend to do desperate things.

Just check out what happened to a family down in Woodstock, Georgia the other day.  They had just lost their home to foreclosure, and they were getting ready to move out.  So they posted an ad on Craigslist for people to come over and get some things that they were planning to get rid of.  What happened next is a glimpse into the kind of desperate behavior that we may see during the next major economic downturn…

Their online post was just a well-meaning ad for a giveaway in their driveway outside the small house, a giveaway scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Wednesday.

But big crowds showed up and ended up taking practically everything inside the house, too.

Wednesday night, Michael Vercher walked 11Alive’s Jon Shirek through his family’s almost empty soon-to-be former home.

“Well, when we got to the house, I mean, pretty much — this,” he said as he stepped from the foyer into the living room.

Their home — ransacked, ravaged, raked over.

Almost everything inside — gone.

My wife and I once used Craigslist quite a bit, but incidents like this make one question the wisdom of inviting strangers to come to your home.

Sadly, the truth is that society is rapidly decaying, and the worse unemployment becomes the more desperate people are going to get.

So what do you think about all of this?

Do you have any stories that you would like to share?

Please feel free to post a comment with your thoughts below…

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