The Beginning Of The End
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Retail Apocalypse: Why Are Major Retail Chains All Over America Collapsing?

Why Are Major Retail Chains All Over America Collapsing? -  Photo by Gars129If the economy is improving, then why are many of the largest retail chains in America closing hundreds of stores?  When I was growing up, Sears, J.C. Penney, Best Buy and RadioShack were all considered to be unstoppable retail powerhouses.  But now it is being projected that all of them will close hundreds of stores before the end of 2013.  Even Wal-Mart is running into problems.  A recent internal Wal-Mart memo that was leaked to Bloomberg described February sales as a “total disaster”.  So why is this happening?  Why are major retail chains all over America collapsing?  Is the “retail apocalypse” upon us?  Well, the truth is that this is just another sign that the U.S. economy is falling apart right in front of our eyes.  Incomes are declining, taxes are going up, government dependence is at an all-time high, and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the percentage of the U.S. labor force that is employed has been steadily falling since 2006.  The top 10% of all income earners in the U.S. are still doing very well, but most U.S. consumers are either flat broke or are drowning in debt.  The large disposable incomes that the big retail chains have depended upon in the past simply are not there anymore.  So retail chains all over the United States are now closing up unprofitable stores.  This is especially true in low income areas.

When you step back and take a look at the bigger picture, the rapid decline of some of our largest retail chains really is stunning.

It is happening already in some areas, but soon half empty malls and boarded up storefronts will litter the landscapes of cities all over America.

Just check out some of these store closing numbers for 2013.  These numbers are from a recent Yahoo Finance article

Best Buy

Forecast store closings: 200 to 250

Sears Holding Corp.

Forecast store closings: Kmart 175 to 225, Sears 100 to 125

J.C. Penney

Forecast store closings: 300 to 350

Office Depot

Forecast store closings: 125 to 150

Barnes & Noble

Forecast store closings: 190 to 240, per company comments

Gamestop

Forecast store closings: 500 to 600

OfficeMax

Forecast store closings: 150 to 175

RadioShack

Forecast store closings: 450 to 550

The RadioShack in a nearby town just closed up where I live.  This is all happening so fast that it is hard to believe.

But the truth is that those store closings are not the entire story.  When you dig deeper you find a lot more retailers that are in trouble.

For example, Blockbuster recently announced that this year they will be closing about 300 stores and eliminating about 3,000 jobs.

Toy manufacturer Hasbro recently announced that they will be reducing the size of their workforce by about 10 percent.

Even Wal-Mart is going through a tough stretch right now.  According to documents that were leaked to Bloomberg, Wal-Mart is having an absolutely disastrous February…

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. had the worst sales start to a month in seven years as payroll-tax increases hit shoppers already battling a slow economy, according to internal e-mails obtained by Bloomberg News.

“In case you haven’t seen a sales report these days, February MTD sales are a total disaster,” Jerry Murray, Wal- Mart’s vice president of finance and logistics, said in a Feb. 12 e-mail to other executives, referring to month-to-date sales. “The worst start to a month I have seen in my ~7 years with the company.”

So what in the world is going on here?

The mainstream media continues to proclaim that we are experiencing a robust “economic recovery”, but at the same time there are a whole host of indications that things are continually getting worse.

Even global cell phone sales actually declined slightly in 2012.  That was the first time that has happened since the last recession.

Perhaps it is time that we faced the truth.  The middle class is shrinking, incomes are declining and there are not nearly as many jobs as there used to be.

Mort Zuckerman pointed this out in a recent article in the Wall Street Journal

The U.S. labor market, which peaked in November 2007 when there were 139,143,000 jobs, now encompasses only 132,705,000 workers, a drop of 6.4 million jobs from the peak. The only work that has increased is part-time, and that is because it allows employers to reduce costs through a diminished benefit package or none at all.

So how can the mainstream media be talking about how “good” things are if we still have 6.4 million fewer jobs than we had back in November 2007?

And sadly, things may soon be getting a lot worse.  If Congress does not do anything about the “sequester”, millions of federal workers may shortly be facing some very painful furloughs according to CNN

Federal workers could start facing furloughs as early as April, according to federal agencies trying to prepare for the worst.

Unless Congress steps in, some $85 billion in massive spending reductions will hit the federal government, doling out furloughs to much of the nation’s 2.1 million federal workforce, experts say.

If you still live in an area of the country where the stores and the restaurants are booming, you should be very thankful because that is not the reality for most of the country.

I often write about the stunning economic decline of major cities such as Detroit, but there are huge sections of rural America that are in even worse shape than Detroit in many ways.

For example, many Indian reservations all over America have been shamefully neglected by the federal government and have become hotbeds for crime, drugs and poverty.

Business Insider recently profiled the Wind River Indian reservation in western Wyoming.  The following is a brief excerpt from that outstanding article

The Wind River Indian Reservation is not an easy place to get to, but I had to see it for myself.

Thirty-five-hundred square miles of prairie and mountains in western Wyoming, the reservation is home to bitter ancestral enemies: the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes.

Even among reservations, it’s renowned for brutal crime, widespread drug use, and legal dumping of toxic waste.

You can see some amazing photos of the Wind River Indian reservation right here.

It is hard to believe that there are places like that in America, but the truth is that conditions like that are spreading to more U.S. communities with each passing day.

We are a nation that is in an advanced state of decline.  But as long as the financial markets are okay, our leaders don’t seem too concerned about the suffering that everyone else is going through.

In fact, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan essentially admitted as much during a recent interview with CNBC.  The following is how a Zero Hedge article summarized that interview…

Starting at around 1:50, Greenspan states the odds of sequester occurring are very high – in fact, the playdough-faced ex-Chair-head notes, “I find it very difficult to find a scenario in which [the sequester] doesn’t happen” But when asked how this will affect the economy, Awkward Alan is unusually clearly spoken – “the issue is how does it affect the stock market.”

While not so many of our leaders have taken the path to direct truthiness, Greenspan somewhat shocks a Botox’d and babbling Bartiromo when he admits “the stock market is the key player in the game of economic growth.”

Bartiromo shifts uncomfortably in her seat, strokes her imaginary beard and stares blankly as Greenspan explains that while the sequester will have a real effect on the real economy, “if the stock market can hold up through this, then the effect will be rather minor.”

Do you see?

As long as the stock market is moving higher they think that everything is just fine and dandy.

And the Obama administration?

They continue to pursue the same policies that got us into this mess.

Their idea of “economic reform” is to threaten to sue businesses that do not hire ex-convicts.

And of course now that Obama has been re-elected he is putting a tremendous amount of effort into “stimulating the economy”.

For example, he spent this weekend golfing in Florida, and the Obamas recently spent about 20 million taxpayer dollars vacationing in Hawaii.

Meanwhile, the U.S. economy is getting worse with each passing day.

If you doubt that economic conditions are getting worse, please read this article: “Show This To Anyone That Believes That ‘Things Are Getting Better’ In America“.

When you look at the cold, hard numbers, it is undeniable what is happening to America.

And our leaders are not doing anything to fix our problems.  In fact, most of the time they are just making things worse.

So buckle up and get prepared.  We are in for very bumpy ride, and this is only just the beginning.

Store Closed Until Further Notice - Photo by Gryllida

35 Statistics About The Working Poor In America That Will Blow Your Mind

35 Statistics About The Working Poor In America That Will Blow Your MindIn America tonight, tens of millions of men and women will struggle to get to sleep because they are stressed out about not making enough money even though they are working as hard as they possibly can.  They are called “the working poor”, and their numbers are absolutely exploding.  As a recent Gallup poll showed, Americans are more concerned about the economy than they are about anything else.  But why are Americans so stressed out about our economic situation if things are supposedly getting better?  Well, the truth is that unemployment is not actually going down, and the real unemployment numbers are actually much worse than what is officially being reported by the government.  But unemployment is only part of the story.  Most American workers are still able to find jobs, but an increasing proportion of them are not able to make ends meet at the end of the month.  Our economy continues to bleed good paying middle class jobs, and to a large degree those jobs are being replaced by low income jobs.  Approximately one-fourth of all American workers make 10 dollars an hour or less at this point, and we see them all around us every day.  They flip our burgers, they cut our hair and they take our money at the supermarket.  In many homes, both parents are working multiple jobs, and yet when a child gets sick or a car breaks down they find that they don’t have enough money to pay the bill.  Many of these families have gone into tremendous amounts of debt in order to try to stay afloat, but once you get caught in a cycle of debt it can be incredibly difficult to break out of that.

So what is the solution?  Well, the easy answer would be that we need the U.S. economy to start producing more good paying jobs, but that is easier said than done.  Our big corporations continue to ship huge numbers of good paying manufacturing jobs out of the country, and millions of Americans have been forced to scramble to find whatever work is available.  Today, there are so many very talented American workers that are trapped in low wage work.  According to the Working Poor Families Project, “about one-fourth of adults in low-income working families were employed in just eight occupations, as cashiers, cooks, health aids, janitors, maids, retail salespersons, waiters and waitresses, or drivers.”  A lot of those people could do so much more for society, but they don’t have the opportunity.

Sadly, the percentage of low paying jobs in our economy continues to increase with each passing year, so this is a problem that is only going to get worse.  So don’t look down on the working poor.  The good paying job that you have right now could disappear at any time and you could end up joining their ranks very soon.

The following are 35 statistics about the working poor in America that will blow your mind…

#1 According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 146 million Americans are either “poor” or “low income”.

#2 According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 57 percent of all American children live in a home that is either “poor” or “low income”.

#3 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.

#4 Back in 2007, 21 million U.S. children lived in “working poor” homes.  Today, that number is up to 23.5 million.

#5 In Arkansas, Mississippi and New Mexico, more than 40 percent all of working families are considered to be “low income”.

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

#7 Half of all American workers earn $505 or less per week.

#8 At this point, one out of every four American workers has a job that pays $10 an hour or less.

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

#10 Median household income in the United States has fallen for four consecutive years.

#11 Median household income for families with children dropped by a whopping $6,300 between 2001 and 2011.

#12 The U.S. economy continues to trade good paying jobs for low paying jobs.  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.

#13 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.

#14 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.

#15 There are now 20.2 million Americans that spend more than half of their incomes on housing.  That represents a 46 percent increase from 2001.

#16 Low income families spend about 8.6 percent of their incomes on gasoline.  Other families spend about 2.1 percent.

#17 In 1999, 64.1 percent of all Americans were covered by employment-based health insurance.  Today, only 55.1 percent are covered by employment-based health insurance.

#18 According to one survey, 77 percent of all Americans are now living paycheck to paycheck at least part of the time.

#19 Millions of working poor families in America end up taking on debt in a desperate attempt to stay afloat, but before too long they find themselves in a debt trap that they can never escape.  According to a recent article in the New York Times, the average debt burden for U.S. households that earn $20,000 a year or less “more than doubled to $26,000 between 2001 and 2010“.

#20 In 1989, the debt to income ratio of the average American family was about 58 percent.  Today it is up to 154 percent.

#21 According to the Economic Policy Institute, the wealthiest one percent of all Americans households on average have 288 times the amount of wealth that the average middle class American family does.

#22 In the United States today, the wealthiest one percent of all Americans have a greater net worth than the bottom 90 percent combined.

#23 According to Forbes, the 400 wealthiest Americans have more wealth than the bottom 150 million Americans combined.

#24 The six heirs of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton have a net worth that is roughly equal to the bottom 30 percent of all Americans combined.

#25 Sadly, the bottom 60 percent of all Americans own just 2.3 percent of all the financial wealth in the United States.

#26 The average CEO now makes approximately 350 times as much as the average American worker makes.

#27 Corporate profits as a percentage of GDP are at an all-time high.  Meanwhile, wages as a percentage of GDP are near an all-time low.

#28 Today, 40 percent of all Americans have $500 or less in savings.

#29 The number of families in the United States living on 2 dollars a day or less more than doubled between 1996 and 2011.

#30 The number of Americans on food stamps has grown from 17 million in the year 2000 to more than 47 million today.

#31 Back in the 1970s, about one out of every 50 Americans was on food stamps.  Today, about one out of every 6.5 Americans is on food stamps.

#32 More than one out of every four children in the United States is enrolled in the food stamp program.

#33 Incredibly, a higher percentage of children is living in poverty in America today than was the case back in 1975.

#34 If you can believe it, the federal government hands out money to 128 million Americans every single month.

#35 Federal spending on welfare has reached nearly a trillion dollars a year, and it is being projected that it will increase by another 80 percent over the next decade.

The Working Poor - Photo by Jml0519 at en.wikipedia

Outrageous! The Government Is Giving Out Free Cell Phones And Free Cell Phone Minutes To Welfare Recipients

Did you know that the federal government is giving out free cell phones and free cell phone minutes to welfare recipients?  It may be hard to believe, but it is true.  Right now, there are companies that are running advertisements specifically targeted at low income Americans informing them of the fact that all they have to do is sign up and they can get a free cell phone and hundreds of free cell phone minutes every single month and it will all be paid for by the federal government.  Some have referred to this as “The Obama Phone”, but that is not exactly accurate.  The outrageous federal programs that are paying for this were initiated before Barack Obama entered the White House.  But the fact that welfare recipients have been receiving free cell phones and free cell phone minutes under both the Bush and Obama administrations has been confirmed as being true by Snopes.  All of this is paid for by “the federal Universal Service Fund”.  That is one of those annoying little taxes that you may have noticed on your phone bill.  So what is essentially happening is the federal government is taking money from all of us so that they can provide free cell phone service for welfare recipients every single month.

When some of my readers informed me of this free cell phone scheme, I decided that I better go to the source.  So I went over to the FCC website, and it turns out that there are two federal programs involved.  “Link Up” provides a one-time connection discount on phone service, and it can be applied to the cost of a cell phone.  So this is where the free cell phone comes from.  “Lifeline” provides a monthly discount on telephone service.  So this is where the free cell phone minutes each month come from.  The following is a description of these programs from the FCC website….

What Benefits are Available Under the Lifeline and Link Up Programs?

  • Lifeline provides discounts on one basic monthly telephone service (wireline or wireless) for qualified subscribers. These discounts can be up to $10.00 per month, depending on your state. Federal rules prohibit qualifying low-income consumers from receiving more than ONE Lifeline service at the same time. That is, qualifying low-income consumers may receive a Lifeline discount on either a home telephone or wireless telephone service, but may not receive a Lifeline discount on both services at the same time. Lifeline also includes Toll Limitation Service, which enables a telephone subscriber to limit the amount of long distance calls that can be made from a telephone.
  • Link Up Up provides qualified subscribers with a one-time discount (up to a maximum of $30) off of the initial installation fee for one traditional, wireline telephone service at the primary residence or the activation fee for one wireless telephone. It also allows subscribers to pay the remaining amount they owe on a deferred schedule, interest-free. Federal rules prohibit qualifying low-income consumers from receiving more than ONE Link Up discount at a primary residence. That is, qualifying low-income consumers may receive a Link Up discount on installation or activation charges associated with either a home telephone or wireless telephone service.

Apparently these programs are becoming quite popular.

You can find a company called Safelink Wireless offering welfare recipients a free cell phone and 250 free cell phone minutes a month right here.

You can find a company called Assurance Wireless offering welfare recipients a program that is virtually identical right here.

This is absolutely outrageous, and it is yet another sign that dependence on the government is totally out of control.

Not that assisting the poor is bad.  Of course we always want to help those that cannot help themselves.  We never want to see anyone go without daily food or sleep in the streets.

But providing the poor with the basics of life is much different from providing them with luxuries such as cell phones.

In some areas of the country, the poor can also receive nearly free Internet service every single month.

Just check out the following example from the Houston Chronicle….

When Comcast acquired NBC Universal earlier this year, an FCC-mandated requirement was that the cable giant offer cheap Internet access to low-income households. Comcast is making good on the mandate through a new program called Internet Essentials.

Families who qualify will be able to sign up for 1.5-Mbps Internet access – the same download speed as AT&T’s basic DSL service – for just $9.95 a month. Customers may also be eligible for a computer that costs just $150 and free Internet training.

Also, a new bill has been introduced in Congress that would give “eligible” households money to help pay for gasoline….

Low-Income Gasoline Assistance Program Act – Directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services to make grants to states to establish emergency assistance programs to pay eligible households for the purchase of gasoline.

These days, as long as you are “eligible”, just about everything you need will either be purchased for you or subsidized by the federal government.

Yes, we will always need programs to help take care of the poor, but some of the things that go on today are absolutely outrageous.

There are millions of people out there that have become extremely comfortable receiving government benefits and it will be extremely difficult to ever get them to give them up.

After all, why bust your behind for 40 or 50 hours a week at some meaningless, low paying job when you can live a similar lifestyle by just depending on government benefits?

The following is a rap video that shows the kind of mindset that is developing all across America.  Please be advised that it contains some very strong language.  It was done by a rapper known as “Mr. EBT”, and it is a perfect example of the kind of attitude that many welfare recipients have today….

Yes, everyone needs a helping hand once in a while.  But if you do have to rely on government benefits for a time, you should be fighting like crazy to improve your situation so that you can get off of them as soon as possible.

Of course the biggest welfare recipients of all are the big corporations.  The federal government showers billions upon billions of dollars on them every year, and this has got to stop.

The following example comes from an article in the Weekly Standard….

General Electric, one of the largest corporations in America, filed a whopping 57,000-page federal tax return earlier this year but didn’t pay taxes on $14 billion in profits. The return, which was filed electronically, would have been 19 feet high if printed out and stacked.

Can you imagine a 57,000 page federal tax return?

That is absolutely disgusting and it is a perfect example of how corrupt our system has become.

All year long, GE has people pouring over the tax code just looking for any little tax loophole that it can exploit.

GE made $14,000,000,000 in profits, but they paid less taxes to the government than you or I did.

There is something very, very wrong with that picture.

All of this unnecessary welfare has got to stop.

No more free cell phones for people on welfare.

No more giving billions of dollars in tax breaks to big corporations.

We simply cannot afford it.

The U.S. debt problem is way, way out of control.  We have piled up the biggest mountain of debt in the history of the world, and it gets about 150 million dollars worse every single hour.

Sadly, none of this is likely to change any time soon.

The big corporations provide the money that our politicians need to win campaigns, and most of our politicians are very careful not to bite the hands that feed them.

On the other end of the spectrum, our economy continues to crumble and the number of poor Americans continues to increase.  So even if we don’t provide them with free cell phones, the truth is that the number of Americans that need basic food and housing is not going to go down any time soon.  In fact, it is going to go a lot higher in the years ahead.

We are rapidly becoming a European-style socialist welfare state.

In America today, the poor are absolutely showered with outrageous government benefits and so are the big corporations.

So who pays for all of this?

You and I do.

I am afraid that the joke is on us, and nothing is going to change as long as we keep sending the same kind of politicians back to Washington D.C. over and over.

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