Did you know that the big banks have a way to legally steal your house from you even if you don’t owe a single penny on your mortgage? Big banks and hedge funds are buying billions of dollars worth of tax liens from local governments all over the nation, and they are ruthlessly foreclosing on homeowners when they can’t pay the absolutely ridiculous penalties and legal fees that are tacked on to the original tax bill. As you will see below, one 76-year-old man lost his $197,000 home that he fully owned over a $134 tax bill. A 95-year-old woman lost her $300,000 home over a $44.79 tax bill. This is a very, very dirty way to make money, and the predatory financial institutions that are involved in this business definitely do not want to talk about it.
Of course much of the blame should also be shouldered by the local governments that are coldly selling these tax liens to these ruthless predators. If local governments want to collect their tax bills, they should do it themselves. They should not be auctioning off their tax liens to cold-hearted financial institutions that are very eager to commit a legal version of highway robbery.
A few days ago, the Washington Post reported on the tragic story of a 76-year-old former Marine named Bennie Coleman. Coleman had originally purchased his home with cash, but that didn’t stop tax lien predators from stealing his home over an unpaid $134 property tax bill…
On the day Bennie Coleman lost his house, the day armed U.S. marshals came to his door and ordered him off the property, he slumped in a folding chair across the street and watched the vestiges of his 76 years hauled to the curb.
Movers carted out his easy chair, his clothes, his television. Next came the things that were closest to his heart: his Marine Corps medals and photographs of his dead wife, Martha. The duplex in Northeast Washington that Coleman bought with cash two decades earlier was emptied and shuttered. By sundown, he had nowhere to go.
All because he didn’t pay a $134 property tax bill.
So why couldn’t he pay such a small bill?
Well, as the Post explained, these big banks and hedge funds keep tacking on interest, penalties and legal fees until the tax bills are many times the size that they originally were. When the distressed homeowners can’t come up with thousands of dollars to pay off the debts, the big banks and the hedge funds move in for the kill…
For decades, the District placed liens on properties when homeowners failed to pay their bills, then sold those liens at public auctions to mom-and-pop investors who drew a profit by charging owners interest on top of the tax debt until the money was repaid.
But under the watch of local leaders, the program has morphed into a predatory system of debt collection for well-financed, out-of-town companies that turned $500 delinquencies into $5,000 debts — then foreclosed on homes when families couldn’t pay, a Washington Post investigation found.
In particular, hedge funds have discovered that this is a great way to make huge piles of money. The following is a short excerpt from a CNN article that was published back in May…
With buyers identified only by numbers or unrelated names, the fragmented, unregulated industry is opaque. Even the market’s size is debated — $15 billion a year, according to Howard Liggett, the chief executive of Distressed Real Estate Consulting Services, or $5 billion a year, according to the National Tax Lien Association, a trade group. While returns are a closely kept secret, investors typically make between 2.5% and 10% a year, or in the low teens for larger buys.
“The hedge funds are chasing yield in this business” says Albert Friedman, a principal at Alterna Capital, an alternative investment firm in Boca Raton that buys tax liens.
Insiders estimate hedge funds now control 40% of the tax-lien market, from under 5% five years ago, with regional banks, obscure partnerships sporting names like God’s ATM LLC, and mom-and-pop investors making up the rest.
And a number of “too big to fail” banks are involved in this business as well.
In a previous article, I described exactly how this works…
1) The big Wall Street banks set up or invest in shell companies that will disguise who they really are.
2) These shell companies run around and buy up all of the tax liens that they can get their hands on.
3) Predatory levels of interest (in some states as high as 18 percent), fees and penalties rapidly pile up on these unpaid tax liens. The affected homeowners quickly end up owing much, much more than what the original tax bills were for.
4) If the collecting firm has to hire a lawyer, then that gets charged to the homeowner as well. The bloated legal fees for some of these lawyers can end up being the biggest expense of all.
5) If the tax liens do not get paid, the collecting firms move in to foreclose as quickly as legally possible.
According to the Huffington Post, Wall Street banks such as Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase have been gobbling up several hundred thousand tax liens from local governments. It appears that “distressed housing markets” are being particularly targeted.
Many of these tax liens are sold in online auctions, so it is unclear if many local government officials even realize who the big money behind many of these shell companies is.
These big financial institutions may consider this to be “good business”, but the truth is that they are absolutely shattering lives in the process. This is particularly true when it comes to older people that do not fully understand what is happening to them. Just consider the following examples from a recent Washington Post article…
A 48-year-old math teacher paid his taxes in 2007, but the tax office took his $1,400 payment and applied it to the wrong house, crediting an entirely different taxpayer.
A 58-year-old bank employee almost lost her house in 2010 because the tax office mistakenly sent bills and notices to a wooded lot across from a strip shopping center in Virginia — 12 times.
A 69-year-old hat designer was given the wrong payoff amount and ended up in court to save her property, owned by her family since 1943.
Those homeowners found out about the mistakes in time to fight. Ninety-five-year-old Daisy Dolsey, living in a nursing home and struggling with Alzheimer’s, wasn’t so lucky: She lost her $300,000 house over a $44.79 tax debt even after she paid her taxes.
Doesn’t that just sicken you?
And then the big banks and the hedge funds have the gall to wonder why people dislike them so much.
In this day and age, large financial institutions have become more cold-hearted than ever before.
Always make sure that your property taxes are fully paid, and always keep a paper record of all financial transactions involving your home.
If you do slip up and make a mistake at some point, there is a very good chance that a ruthless financial institution will try to swoop in and steal your home right out from under your nose.
What would you do if you woke up one day and discovered that the banksters had “legally” stolen about 80 percent of your life savings? Most people seem to assume that most of the depositors that are getting ripped off in Cyprus are “Russian oligarchs” or “wealthy European tycoons”, but the truth is that they are only just part of the story. As you will see below, there are small businesses and aging retirees that have been absolutely devastated by the wealth confiscation that has taken place in Cyprus. Many businesses can no longer meet their payrolls or pay their bills because their funds have been frozen, and many retirees have seen retirement plans that they have been working toward for decades absolutely destroyed in a matter of days. Sometimes it can be hard to identify with events that are happening on the other side of the globe, but I want you to try to put yourself into their shoes for a few minutes. How would you feel if something like this happened to you?
For example, just consider the case of one 65-year-old retiree that has had his life savings totally wiped out by the “wealth tax” in Cyprus. His very sad story was recently featured by the Sydney Morning Herald…
”Very bad, very, very bad,” says 65-year-old John Demetriou, rubbing tears from his lined face with thick fingers. ”I lost all my money.”
John now lives in the picturesque fishing village of Liopetri on Cyprus’ south coast. But for 35 years he lived at Bondi Junction and worked days, nights and weekends in Sydney markets selling jewellery and imitation jewellery.
He had left Cyprus in the early 1970s at the height of its war with Turkey, taking his wife and young children to safety in Australia. He built a life from nothing and, gradually, a substantial nest egg. He retired to Cyprus in 2007 with about $1 million, his life savings.
He planned to spend it on his grandchildren – some of whom live in Cyprus – putting them through university and setting them up. There would be medical bills; he has a heart condition. The interest was paying for a comfortable retirement, and trips back to Australia. He also toyed with the idea of buying a boat.
He wanted to leave any big purchases a few years, to be sure this was where he would spend his retirement. There was no hurry. But now it is all gone.
”If I made the decision to stay, I was going to build a house,” John says. ”Unfortunately I didn’t make the decision yet.
”I went to sleep Friday as a rich man. I woke up a poor man.”
You can read the rest of the article right here.
How would you feel if you suddenly lost almost everything that you have been working for your entire life?
And many small and mid-size businesses have been ruined by the bank account confiscation that has taken place in Cyprus.
The following is a bank account statement that was originally posted on a Bitcoin forum that has gone absolutely viral all over the Internet. One medium size IT business has lost a staggering amount of money because of the “bail-in” that is happening in Cyprus…
The following is what the poster of this screenshot had to say about what this is going to do to his business…
Over 700k of expropriated money will be used to repay country’s debt. Probably we will get back about 20% of this amount in 6-7 years.
I’m not Russian oligarch, but just European medium size IT business. Thousands of other companies around Cyprus have the same situation.
The business is definitely ruined, all Cypriot workers to be fired.
We are moving to small Caribbean country where authorities have more respect to people’s assets. Also we are thinking about using Bitcoin to pay wages and for payments between our partners.
Special thanks to:
– Jeroen Dijsselbloem
– Angela Merkel
– Manuel Barroso
– the rest of officials of “European Comission”
With each passing day, things just continue to get worse for those with deposits of over 100,000 euros in Cyprus. A few hours ago, a Reuters story entitled “Big depositors in Cyprus to lose far more than feared” declared that the initial estimates of the losses by big depositors in Cyprus were much too low.
And of course the truth is that those that have had their deposits frozen will be very fortunate to ever see any of that money ever again.
But just a few weeks ago, the Central Bank of Cyprus was swearing that nothing like this could ever possibly happen. Just check out the following memo from the Central Bank of Cyprus dated “11 February 2013” that was recently posted on Zero Hedge…
Sadly, the truth is that the politicians will lie to you all the way up until the very day that they confiscate your money.
You can believe our “leaders” when they swear that nothing like this will ever happen in the United States, in Canada or in other European nations if you want.
But I don’t believe them.
In fact, as an outstanding article by Ellen Brown recently detailed, the concept of a “bail-in” for “systemically important financial institutions” has been in the works for a long time…
Confiscating the customer deposits in Cyprus banks, it seems, was not a one-off, desperate idea of a few Eurozone “troika” officials scrambling to salvage their balance sheets. A joint paper by the US Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Bank of England dated December 10, 2012, shows that these plans have been long in the making; that they originated with the G20 Financial Stability Board in Basel, Switzerland (discussed earlier here); and that the result will be to deliver clear title to the banks of depositor funds.
If you do not believe that what just happened in Cyprus could happen in the United States, you need to read the rest of her article. The following is an extended excerpt from that article…
Although few depositors realize it, legally the bank owns the depositor’s funds as soon as they are put in the bank. Our money becomes the bank’s, and we become unsecured creditors holding IOUs or promises to pay. (See here and here.) But until now the bank has been obligated to pay the money back on demand in the form of cash. Under the FDIC-BOE plan, our IOUs will be converted into “bank equity.” The bank will get the money and we will get stock in the bank. With any luck we may be able to sell the stock to someone else, but when and at what price? Most people keep a deposit account so they can have ready cash to pay the bills.
The 15-page FDIC-BOE document is called “Resolving Globally Active, Systemically Important, Financial Institutions.” It begins by explaining that the 2008 banking crisis has made it clear that some other way besides taxpayer bailouts is needed to maintain “financial stability.” Evidently anticipating that the next financial collapse will be on a grander scale than either the taxpayers or Congress is willing to underwrite, the authors state:
An efficient path for returning the sound operations of the G-SIFI to the private sector would be provided by exchanging or converting a sufficient amount of the unsecured debt from the original creditors of the failed company [meaning the depositors] into equity [or stock]. In the U.S., the new equity would become capital in one or more newly formed operating entities. In the U.K., the same approach could be used, or the equity could be used to recapitalize the failing financial company itself—thus, the highest layer of surviving bailed-in creditors would become the owners of the resolved firm. In either country, the new equity holders would take on the corresponding risk of being shareholders in a financial institution.
No exception is indicated for “insured deposits” in the U.S., meaning those under $250,000, the deposits we thought were protected by FDIC insurance. This can hardly be an oversight, since it is the FDIC that is issuing the directive. The FDIC is an insurance company funded by premiums paid by private banks. The directive is called a “resolution process,” defined elsewhere as a plan that “would be triggered in the event of the failure of an insurer . . . .” The only mention of “insured deposits” is in connection with existing UK legislation, which the FDIC-BOE directive goes on to say is inadequate, implying that it needs to be modified or overridden.
You can find the rest of her excellent article right here. I would encourage everyone to especially pay attention to what she has to say about derivatives.
Sadly, what is happening in Cyprus right now is just the continuation of a trend. In recent years, governments all over the world have turned to the confiscation of private wealth in order to solve their financial problems. The following examples are from a recent article posted on Deviant Investor…
October 2008 – Argentina’s leftist government, facing a gigantic revenue shortfall, proposes to nationalize all private pensions so as to meet national debt payments and avoid its second default in the decade.
November 2010 – Headline – Hungary Gives Its Citizens an Ultimatum: Move Your Private Pension Fund Assets to the State or Permanently Lose Your Pension – This is an effective nationalization of all pensions.
November 2010 – Ireland elects to appropriate ten billion euros from its National Pension Reserve Fund to help fund an eighty-five billion euro rescue package for its besieged banks. Ireland also moves to consider a regulatory move that compels some private Irish pension funds to hold more Irish government debt, thereby providing the state with a captive investor base but hugely raising the risk for savers.
December 2010 – France agrees to transfer twenty billion euros worth of assets belonging to its Fonds de Reserve pour les Retraites (FRR), the funded portion of its retirement system, to help pay off recurring social benefits costs. No pensioners are consulted.
April 2012 – Argentina announces that its Economy Ministry has taken an emergency loan from the national pension fund in the amount of $4.3 billion. No pensioners were consulted.
June 2012 – Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner unilaterally appropriates $45 billion from US federal pension funds to help tide over US deficits for the remainder of fiscal year 2011.
January 2013 – Treasury Secretary Geithner again announces that the government has begun borrowing from the federal employees pension fund to keep operating without passing the approaching “fiscal cliff” debt limit. The move effectively creates $156 billion in borrowing authority from federal pension funds.
March 2013 – Open Bank Resolution finance minister, Bill English, is proposing a Cyprus style solution for potential New Zealand bank failures. The reserve bank is in the final stages of establishing a rescue scheme which will put all bank depositors on the hook for bailing out their banks. Depositors will overnight have their savings shaved by the amount needed to keep distressed banks afloat.
Can you see the pattern?
As I wrote about the other day, no bank account, no pension fund, no retirement account and no stock portfolio will be able to be considered 100% safe ever again.
And once the global derivatives casino melts down, there are going to be a lot of major banks that are going to need to be “bailed in”.
When that day arrives, they are going to try to come after your money.
So don’t leave your entire life savings sitting in a single bank – especially not one of the banks that has a tremendous amount of exposure to derivatives.
Hopefully we can get more people to wake up and realize what is happening. We are moving into a time of great financial instability, and what worked in the past is not going to work in the future.
Be smart and get prepared while you still can.
Time is running out.
Large U.S. cities that the rest of the world used to look at in envy are now being transformed into gang-infested hellholes with skyrocketing crime rates. Cities such as Chicago, Detroit, Camden, East St. Louis, New Orleans and Oakland were once bustling with economic activity, but as industry has fled those communities poverty has exploded and so has criminal activity. Meanwhile, financial problems have caused all of those cities to significantly reduce their police forces. Sadly, this same pattern is being repeated in hundreds of communities all over the nation. The mainstream media loves to focus on mass shooters such as Adam Lanza, but the reality is that gang violence is a far greater problem in the United States than mass shooters ever will be. There are approximately 1.4 million gang members living in America today according to the FBI. That number has shot up by a whopping 40 percent just since 2009. There are several factors fueling this trend. Unemployment among our young people is at an epidemic level, about one out of every three U.S. children lives in a home without a father, and there are millions of young men who have come into this country illegally and have no way to legally support themselves once they arrive in our cities. Gangs provide a support system, a feeling of “community”, and a sense of purpose for many young people. Unfortunately, most of these gangs use violence and crime to achieve their goals, and they are taking over communities all over America. If your community is not a gang-infested war zone yet, you should consider yourself to be very fortunate. If nothing is done about this, the violence and the crime that is fueled by these gangs will continue to spread, and eventually nearly every single community in the United States will be affected by it.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the large cities all over America that are degenerating into gang-infested war zones…
East St. Louis
East St. Louis has a national reputation for being a city that you want to avoid. The following is from a recent Bloomberg article about the growing crime in that community…
Dodging open manholes where thieves had swiped cast-iron covers, Stephen Wigginton drives the crumbling streets of his hometown, East St. Louis, Illinois, pointing out new landmarks in America’s most violent city.
There’s the shopping mall where a police officer was shot in the face, a youth center that saw a triple homicide in September, and scattered about the city of 27,000 are brightly lit gas stations that serve as magnets for carjackers, hit-and-run robbers and killers.
“It’s the Wild West,” said Wigginton, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Illinois.
Today, the murder rate in East St. Louis is 17 times higher than the national average, but financial problems have forced huge cuts to the police budget. The number of police patrolling the streets of East St. Louis was reduced by 33 percent between 2008 and 2011. Police in the city admit that they are outgunned and outmanned, but there is not much that can be done about it.
Camden, New Jersey is another city that has experienced huge cuts to the police budget. Their police force shrank by about a third between 2008 and 2011. Today, Camden is considered to be one of the most dangerous cities in America and it has a murder rate that is about ten times higher than New York City.
The gangs have a very strong hold over Camden, and kids kill kids on a regular basis in the city. The following is a brief excerpt from a recent article about the horrible violence that is plaguing Camden…
At the vigil last week, residents prayed that Camden would simply find peace and that the masked gunman who killed Jewel Manire and Khalil Gibson would be caught.
As it grew darker, Michael Benjamin stood toward the back of the crowd, his son huddled even closer now, and shook his head.
“I’ve known at least 45 kids who’ve been killed in my lifetime,” he said, the boy holding his finger. “I stopped counting in 2004, though.”
In recent years there have been massive cuts to the police budget in Chicago due to financial difficulties. At the same time, gang activity has dramatically increased in the city.
As a result, Chicago has become known for murders and violence. The murder rate in Chicago was about 17 percent higher in 2012 than it was in 2011, and Chicago is now considered to be “the deadliest global city“.
If you can believe it, the number of murders in Chicago during 2012 was roughly equivalent to the number of murders in the entire country of Japan during 2012.
And the primary reason for all of this violence in Chicago is the gangs. As I have written about previously, there are only about 200 police officers assigned to Chicago’s Gang Enforcement Unit. It is their job to handle the estimated 100,000 gang members living in the city.
Approximately 80 percent of all murders and shootings in the city of Chicago are gang-related, and as the gangs continue to grow in size the violence in the city is going to get even worse. If Barack Obama wants to do something about violence in America, perhaps he should start with his home city.
I write a lot about Detroit, but that is because they are a perfect example of where the rest of America is headed if something dramatic is not done.
Detroit used to be one of the greatest manufacturing cities the world has ever seen, but over the past several decades the economic infrastructure of Detroit has been gutted and now there is very little industry left in the city.
Over half the children in the city live in poverty and a sense of hopelessness hangs in the air. At the same time, financial problems have forced the city to lay off huge numbers of cops. Back in 2005, there were about 4,000 police officers in Detroit. Today there are only about 2,500 and another 100 are scheduled to be eliminated from the force soon.
Meanwhile, crime in Detroit just continues to get even worse. There were 377 homicides in Detroit in 2011. In 2012, that number rose to 411.
Things have gotten so bad that even even the Detroit police are telling people to “enter Detroit at your own risk“.
New Orleans was a crime-infested city even before Hurricane Katrina hit it in 2005, but life has never quite been the same since that time.
The gangs have a very strong presence in the city, and there simply are not enough financial resources to keep crime in check.
If New Orleans was considered to be a separate nation, it would have the 2nd highest murder rate on the entire planet. There are some areas of New Orleans that you simply do not ever want to venture into at night.
Meanwhile, the police force has been such a mess in recent years that the federal government finally decided to step in. It is hoped that the “reforms” will mean less crime in New Orleans in future years, but I wouldn’t count on it.
Today, there are 626 police officers in Oakland, California. That is about a 25 percent decline from the 837 police officers that were patrolling the streets of Oakland back in December 2008.
Predictably, criminals have stepped in and have taken advantage of the situation. At one point in 2012, burglaries in the city of Oakland were up 43 percent over the previous year.
If you can believe it, more than 11,000 homes, cars and businesses were burglarized in Oakland during 2012. That breaks down to approximately 33 burglaries a day.
Police cuts in the city of Stockton, California have been so severe that the Stockton Police Officers’ Association ran a billboard advertisement with the following message at one point: “Welcome to the 2nd most dangerous city in California: Stop laying off cops!”
At the same time, crime in Stockton continues to get even worse. there have been more than 250 gold chain robberies in Stockton since the month of April, and there is no indication that crime in the city is going to slow down any time soon.
So what is the solution?
Should we have everyone turn in their guns?
No, that would just make the problem even worse. The gangs aren’t going to turn in their guns. The only people who would turn in their guns would be law-abiding citizens. That would just make them even more vulnerable to the violence and crime that are starting to spread like wildfire all over the nation.
We don’t have a gun problem in America. What we have is a gang problem.
In 2006, the Justice Department’s National Drug Intelligence Center reported that Mexican drug cartels were actively operating in 50 different U.S. cities. By 2010, that number had risen to 1,286.
Many of these gang members run up long criminal records, but our overcrowded prison systems just keep releasing them back into the streets. The results of this philosophy have been predictable. The following is from a recent article by Daniel Greenfield…
A breakdown of the Chicago killing fields shows that 83% of those murdered in Chicago last year had criminal records. In Philly, it’s 75%. In Milwaukee it’s 77% percent. In New Orleans, it’s 64%. In Baltimore, it’s 91%. Many were felons who had served time. And as many as 80% of the homicides were gang related.
Chicago’s problem isn’t guns; it’s gangs. Gun control efforts in Chicago or any other major city are doomed because gangs represent organized crime networks which stretch down to Mexico, and trying to cut off their gun supply will be as effective as trying to cut off their drug supply.
This is not a time to take away the ability of law-abiding American families to defend themselves. Instead, people need to put even more emphasis on self-defense as police forces all over the country are cut back.
Just recently, the city attorney of San Bernardino, California told citizens living there to “lock their doors and load their guns” because the police force in that city is being cut back again.
And that is good advice. As the economy continues to decline and as millions more Americans fall into poverty, the violence is going to get even worse.
What would you do if a desperate criminal broke into your house and started searching through your home room by room? That is the horrifying situation that one young mother down in Georgia was recently faced with…
She quickly retreated to an attic crawlspace with the children, but not before she also picked up her handgun.
The burglar, whom police identified as Paul Ali Slater, did a room-by-room search of the home, and when he reached the attic, she was ready.
Walton County Sheriff Joe Chapman told WSBTV: ‘The perpetrator opens that door. Of course, at that time he’s staring at her, her two children and a .38 revolver.’
She reportedly fired all six rounds, missing only once. The other shots hit Slater about the face and neck.
Sheriff Chapman told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: ‘The guy’s face down, crying. The woman told him to stay down or she’d shoot again.’
What would have happened if she had not had any way to defend herself and her children?
That is something that we all need to think about.
For the last couple of decades, we have been fortunate to live in an era of falling crime rates. Unfortunately, that era is now over. Large cities all over the country are degenerating into gang-infested war zones, and what we are seeing right now is just the tip of the iceberg.
After the economy collapses, millions of people are going to become incredibly desperate and things are going to get much, much worse than this.
So what are you seeing in your area of the country? Please feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts below…
Barack Obama has destroyed the future of America in order to improve his chances of winning the next election. Under Obama, 5.3 trillion dollars has been ruthlessly stolen from our children and our grandchildren. That money has been used to pump up the debt-fueled false prosperity that we have been experiencing. When the U.S. government borrows money that it does not have from someone else (such as China) and spends that money into the economy it is going to make our economic numbers look better. Even if the government spends that money on incredibly stupid things, it still gets into the hands of average Americans who in turn spend that money on food, gas, clothes, etc. If we were to go back and take that extra 5.3 trillion dollars out of the U.S. economy, I guarantee you that we would be in a rip-roaring depression right now. We would look a lot like Greece at this point. For several years Greece has been raising taxes and cutting government spending in an attempt to balance the budget and these austerity measures have resulted in an unemployment rate of over 23 percent and an economy that has contracted by close to 25 percent. Most Americans don’t want to go through pain like that so they are okay with continuing to financially rape our children and our grandchildren. Just imagine how you would feel if your parents died tomorrow and you found out that they had left you with a million dollar debt that you were legally obligated to pay off. How would you feel, knowing that you had just been sold into debt slavery for the rest of your life? Well, that is how our children and our grandchildren are going to feel. We are destroying the greatest economic machine the world has ever seen, we are accumulating the biggest mountain of debt in the history of the planet, and the coming economic collapse that we have caused is going to wipe out the promising future that our children and our grandchildren were supposed to have. If they get the chance, future generations of Americans will curse us bitterly and will spit on our graves. What we are doing to our children and our grandchildren is the kind of stuff that horror movies are made of. You should be ashamed of yourself America.
The federal budget deficit for 2012 will be larger than the entire U.S. national debt was 30 years ago. In 1982 Ronald Reagan was in the White House and the U.S. national debt was considered to be a tremendous national crisis. But somehow we have allowed our national debt to grow from about a trillion dollars back then to approximately $16,000,000,000,000 today.
By the end of Obama’s first term, the U.S. national debt will have grown more than it did from the time that George Washington became president to the time that George W. Bush became president.
That is hard to believe.
Obama is going to outdo all the presidents from George Washington through Bill Clinton in just one term.
At this point, the U.S. national debt is more than 22 times larger than it was when Jimmy Carter became president.
This has allowed us to enjoy a standard of living far beyond what we deserved to. We have stolen from the future to make the present more pleasant.
But hardly anybody wants the party to end. Especially not our Congress critters – they are living like kings and queens at our expense. Our “representatives” in Washington D.C. love to give speeches about being “financially responsible”, but most of them never take any serious action about the debt because the way things are working now has been incredibly good to them.
And the truth is that both political parties have been responsible. In 2010, Republicans took control of the House of Representatives with a clear mandate to get government spending under control. Not a single penny of government money can be spent without their permission. But since they took control, the U.S. national debt has increased by another 1.8 trillion dollars.
At this point, this current Congress (controlled by both Republicans and Democrats) has added more to the national debt than the first 97 Congresses combined.
We expect this kind of nonsense from the Democrats, but the Republicans are supposed to know better.
Of course our entire financial system is designed to permanently entrap our federal government in an endless spiral of debt, but neither political party ever talks about that.
Sadly, the U.S. national debt is now more than 5000 times larger than it was when the Federal Reserve was first created.
But we never hear about the link between the Federal Reserve and our national debt from either political party or on the mainstream news.
So most Americans do not even realize that our system is designed to create government debt.
It is absolutely disgusting.
We say that we care about our kids, and yet we are passing down a $16,000,000,000,000 debt to them.
Talk about child abuse.
Most people have a really hard time grasping how much money 16 trillion dollars actually is.
If right this moment you went out and started spending one dollar every single second, it would take you more than 31,000 years to spend one trillion dollars.
And it would take you more than half a million years to spend 16 trillion dollars.
This is a debt that is impossible to pay back. Just look at how it has exploded over the past 40 years….
In a previous article I discussed the distressing rate at which our debt is growing….
It took more than 200 years for the U.S. national debt to reach 1 trillion dollars. In 1986, the U.S. national debt reached 2 trillion dollars. In 1992, the U.S. national debt reached 4 trillion dollars. In 2005, the U.S. national debt doubled again and reached 8 trillion dollars. Now the U.S. national debt is about to cross the 16 trillion dollar mark. How long can this kind of exponential growth go on?
If we can’t even slow down the growth of our debt, how do we ever expect to repay a single penny?
The sad truth is that we aren’t ever going to start paying down our debt. We have gotten to the point where if we take our foot off the debt accelerator we plunge directly into a depression and the entire system collapses. It is like a really sick version of the movie “Speed”.
Where is Keanu Reeves when you need him?
Since Barack Obama entered the White House, he has approved a whole host of measures that have been good for the economy in the short-term. TARP, the stimulus packages, the auto industry bailout and the payroll tax cut are just a few examples.
Barack Obama has wanted to do everything he possibly can to stimulate the economy in the short-term so that he can win again in 2012.
But what about the future?
Barack Obama could not care less about the future. He is just like so many of our other politicians. He is blinded by selfish ambition.
Since Barack Obama became president, the U.S. national debt has increased by an average of more than $64,000 per taxpayer.
Are you willing to write a check for your share?
Oh, let’s just pass this horrific debt on to our children, right?
The path that we are on as a nation cannot go on too much longer. The truth is that we are headed for financial oblivion.
A recently revised IMF policy paper entitled “An Analysis of U.S. Fiscal and Generational Imbalances: Who Will Pay and How?” projects that U.S. government debt will rise to about 400 percent of GDP by the year 2050.
Of course we will never get to the point. Our financial system will collapse long before then.
Sadly, the United States already has more government debt per capita than Greece, Portugal, Italy, Ireland or Spain does.
So why are we not like Greece or Spain yet?
Well, it is because we are still able to borrow huge piles of money very, very cheaply.
But at some point that will come to an end, and when it does the consequences are going to be nightmarish.
Historically, the interest rate on 10 year U.S. Treasuries has averaged 6.68 percent. If the average rate of interest on U.S. debt rose to that level today, we would be paying more than a trillion dollars a year just in interest on the national debt.
And when you consider our future unfunded liabilities things get even more frightening.
According to Boston University economist Laurence Kotlikoff, the “fiscal gap” is “the present value difference between projected future spending and revenue”. His calculations have led him to the conclusion that the United States is facing a fiscal gap of 222 trillion dollars.
And this gap is rising at a breathtaking pace.
The following is an excerpt from a recent article co-authored by Kotlikoff….
In 2007, the first year the CBO produced the Alternative Fiscal Scenario, the gap, by our reckoning, stood at $175 trillion. By 2009, when the CBO began reporting the AFS annually, the gap was $184 trillion. In 2010, it was $202 trillion, followed by $211 trillion in 2011 and $222 trillion in 2012.
But if we interrupt this debt cycle we immediately go into a depression.
We are a debt addict that will die without more debt.
Meanwhile, our national ability to produce wealth is going down the toilet.
All over the country businesses are shutting down, factories are being closed and millions of jobs are being sent overseas.
As I wrote about the other day, American families are steadily getting poorer. The middle class is shrinking and the tax base is shriveling up.
Many Americans end up flat broke at the end of their lives these days. In fact, one study found that nearly half of all retirees end up with $10,000 or less when they die.
So where is all of the money for servicing this gigantic national debt going to come from?
Even if Bill Gates gave every single penny of his fortune to the U.S. government, it would only cover the U.S. budget deficit for 15 days.
So what is the solution?
If we keep spending money like this we are doomed, but if we stop spending money like this we are doomed.
And debt is not just a problem that the federal government is facing.
Posted below is a chart that shows the growth of all forms of debt in the United States over the past several decades. 40 years ago, there was less than 2 trillion dollars of total debt owed in the United States. Now there is nearly 55 trillion dollars of debt owed. This generation has destroyed the future and has set the stage for an unprecedented economic collapse. Shame on you America….
The way that we tax people in the United States is fundamentally broken and should be completely discarded. The U.S. tax code is absolutely riddled with loopholes that allow the super rich to legally avoid taxes while many of the rest of us are being taxed into oblivion. In our system of taxation, middle class families that work hard and try to play by the rules are deeply penalized while those that are willing to abuse the system make out like bandits. There is something fundamentally wrong with a system that enables wealthy politicians such as Barack Obama and Mitt Romney to pay a smaller percentage of their incomes in taxes than millions of middle class families. Mitt Romney has millions of dollars parked down in the Cayman Islands and in other tax havens. He does this to avoid taxes. Unfortunately, most Americans do not have the resources to funnel money through offshore tax havens. Most Americans just automatically have their paychecks shredded by taxes and then try to live on whatever is left over. Most Americans are just trying to survive financially from one month to the next. But the super rich have options. Thanks to technology, they can live almost anywhere they want and they can run their companies and manage their investments from anywhere in the world. The truth is that the wealthier you are the easier it is to avoid taxes. But even as the ultra-wealthy do their best to avoid taxes, many of them still feel free to demand that the rest of us be taxed more.
So what are some of the ways that the super rich avoid taxes?
Well, let’s start with those that are just “somewhat wealthy”. Many millionaires still want or need to be U.S. citizens, so they are subject to the U.S. tax code. Fortunately for them, their tax lawyers know of thousands of loopholes that have been designed to help the rich avoid taxes.
The following is from a recent article by Jen Talley….
Some of the richest people in the country pay the least, relatively speaking, in taxes. How is this possible? Answer: Through the clever manipulation of the U.S. tax code’s loopholes. And it works: as income rises, effective tax rates rise as well, but only up to a point. IRS data shows that the effective income tax rate flattens out at just over 24 percent for those making over a million dollars. As income exceeds $1.5 million, the rate begins to decline; those with incomes above $10 million pay an average income tax rate of around 19 percent. So, how do they do it?
You could write an entire series of books on the technical details of how this gets done. Trust me, I studied tax law when I was in law school.
If you are interested in digging into some of the technical details of tax avoidance, a recent Businessweek article detailed 10 ways that the wealthy use our current tax code to avoid paying billions of dollars in taxes. It is an article worth reading if you have the time.
Sadly, tax avoidance by the wealthy is not just something that happens in the United States. The truth is that the exact same kind of thing happens in the UK as well.
There is not an easy fix to this problem. Our politicians have had decades to try to come up with a fair tax system and they have completely failed. The wealthy are always several steps ahead of them.
But federal taxes are not the only taxes that can be avoided. The vast difference in state tax rates creates another opportunity.
One advantage that wealthy Americans have is that they are far more mobile than most other Americans are. So if they don’t like the tax system in one state they can simply pick up and move to another state.
According to the Tax Foundation, 3.4 million Americans left New York state between 2000 and 2010.
So where did they go?
The following is from a recent CNS News article….
Where are they escaping to? The Tax Foundation found that more than 600,000 New York residents moved to Florida over the decade – opting perhaps for the Sunshine State’s more lenient tax system – taking nearly $20 billion in adjusted growth income with them.
There is no state income tax in Florida. So moving from New York to Florida can end up saving you a bundle.
The same kind of migration is happening out west as well. According to that same CNS article, hundreds of thousands of people have been moving from California (a high tax state) to Texas (no state income tax)….
Between 2000 and 2010, the most recent data available, 551,914 people left California for Texas, taking $14.3 billion in income. Texas has no state income tax or estate tax.
A total of 48,877 people moved to Texas from California between 2009 and 2010 alone, totaling $1.2 billion in income. Another 28,088 from California relocated to Nevada and 30,663 to Arizona, a loss of $699.1 million and $707.8 million in income respectively.
Not that anyone really needs much of an excuse to move away from California. It is rapidly decaying right in front of our eyes.
But a lot of families do not have the same options that wealthy people do. Unfortunately, most average Americans are tied to their jobs and it would be much more difficult for them to pick up and move across the country. In this economy it can be economic suicide to give up a good job.
The reality is that most of us simply do not have the resources to play the same kinds of games that the wealthy play.
Sadly, even our most prominent politicians avoid taxes.
Just look at Massachusetts Senator John Kerry. He has avoided approximately $500,000 in taxes by docking his yacht in Rhode Island rather than in Massachusetts.
Yet Kerry sure does love to call for more taxes on the rest of us, doesn’t he?
Now let’s talk about the “super rich” and the “ultra-wealthy”. For many people that are worth billions of dollars, tax avoidance has become an art from.
Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin made national headlines recently when he gave up his U.S. citizenship, but the truth is that his case is small potatoes compared to the global elite and the shadow banking system that supports them.
According to the IMF, the global elite are holding a total of 18 trillion dollars in offshore banks.
That amount is more than the GDP of the United States for an entire year.
So what do I mean by “offshore banks”? I defined the term in a previous article….
Well, the term originally developed because the banks on the Channel Islands were “offshore” from the United Kingdom. Most “offshore banks” are still located on islands today. The Cayman Islands, Bermuda, the Bahamas, and the Isle of Man are examples of this. Other “offshore banking centers” such as Monaco are actually not “offshore” at all, but the term applies to them anyway.
Traditionally, these offshore banking centers have been very attractive to both criminals and to the global elite because they would not tell anyone (including governments) about the money that anyone had parked there.
It has been reported that 80 percent of all international banking transactions involve offshore banks. A whopping 1.4 trillion dollars is being held in offshore banks in the Cayman Islands alone.
An article that appeared in the Guardian estimated that a third of all the wealth on the entire planet is being kept in offshore banks. One of the primary reasons for this is tax avoidance.
A lot of wealthy individuals never even visit these tax havens and yet reap the benefits anyway. The truth is that tax avoidance has become way too easy. The following example is from a recent Politico article….
A plausible scenario plays out like this: I hire an accountant. Doing her job, my accountant tells me that if I sign a few legal documents and route my money through a small Caribbean island, I could keep more of my paycheck and pay a lower tax rate. I may have earned my money in the United States, but legally I can claim that it was, in fact, earned in a tax haven.
Are you disgusted yet?
You should be.
But even though they avoid taxes like the plague, many of these elitists have the gall to call for higher taxes on all the rest of us.
For example, let’s review what the managing director of the IMF, Christine Lagarde, said in a recent interview….
“Do you know what? As far as Athens is concerned, I also think about all those people who are trying to escape tax all the time. All these people in Greece who are trying to escape tax.”
Even more than she thinks about all those now struggling to survive without jobs or public services? “I think of them equally. And I think they should also help themselves collectively.” How? “By all paying their tax. Yeah.”
It sounds as if she’s essentially saying to the Greeks and others in Europe, you’ve had a nice time and now it’s payback time.
“That’s right.” She nods calmly. “Yeah.”
And what about their children, who can’t conceivably be held responsible? “Well, hey, parents are responsible, right? So parents have to pay their tax.”
Well, it turns out that she doesn’t pay any income taxes at all on her own income….
The IMF chief Christine Lagarde was accused of hypocrisy yesterday after it emerged that she pays no income tax – just days after blaming the Greeks for causing their financial peril by dodging their own bills.
The managing director of the International Monetary Fund is paid a salary of $467,940 (£298,675), automatically increased every year according to inflation. On top of that she receives an allowance of $83,760 – payable without “justification” – and additional expenses for entertainment, making her total package worth more than the amount received by US President Barack Obama according to reports last night.
Her “diplomatic status” allows her to escape all income taxes.
So perhaps she should pay her “fair share” before pointing the finger at anyone else.
But she is not the only one being hypocritical.
The super rich claim that they should pay lower taxes on investment income for the good of our “capitalist system”, but when their banks are about to go under they are more than happy to have those losses be socialized.
As I wrote about yesterday, the stage is already set for another massive round of bailouts when the next great financial crisis strikes. Once again our taxes will pay for the mistakes of the ultra-wealthy.
The truth is that our system is fundamentally broken.
We need to abolish the income tax and shut down the IRS.
Those two steps alone would do wonders for our economic system.
We also need to shut down the Federal Reserve and break up the too big to fail banks.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of our politicians are not even willing to consider any of those solutions.
So our fundamentally broken system will continue to chug along.
It really is sad.