The American Dream Is Getting Smaller, And The Reason Why Is Painfully Obvious…

Over the past decade, an unprecedented stock market boom has created thousands upon thousands of new millionaires, and yet the middle class in America has continued to shrink.  How is that even possible?  At one time the United States had the largest and most vibrant middle class in the history of the planet, but now the gap between the wealthy and the poor is the largest that it has been since the 1920s.  Our economy has been creating lots of new millionaires, but at the exact same time we have seen homelessness spiral out of control in our major cities.  Today, being part of the middle class is like playing a really bizarre game of musical chairs.  Each month when the music stops playing, those of us still in the middle class desperately hope that we are not among the ones that slip out of the middle class and into poverty.  Well over 100 million Americans receive money or benefits from the federal government each month, and that includes approximately 40 percent of all families with children.  We are losing our ability to take care of ourselves, and that has frightening implications for the future of our society.

One of the primary reasons why our system doesn’t work for everyone is because virtually everything has been financialized.  In other words, from the cradle to the grave the entire system has been designed to get you into debt so that the fruits of your labor can be funneled to the top of the pyramid and make somebody else wealthier.  The following comes from an excellent Marketwatch article entitled “The American Dream is getting smaller”

More worrying, perhaps: 33% of those surveyed said they think that dream is disappearing. Why? They have too much debt. “Americans believe financial security is at the core of the American Dream, but it is alarming that so many think it is beyond their reach,” said Mike Fanning, head of MassMutual U.S.

Almost everyone that will read this article will have debt.  In America today, we are trained to go into debt for just about everything.

If you want a college education, you go into debt.

If you want a vehicle, you go into debt.

If you want a home, you go into debt.

If you want that nice new pair of shoes, you don’t have to wait for it.  Just go into more debt.

As a result, most Americans are currently up to their necks in red ink

Some 64% of those surveyed said they have a mortgage, 56% said they had credit-card debt and 26% said they have student-loan debt. Many surveyed said they don’t feel financially secure. More than a quarter said they wish they had better control of their finances.

You would have thought that we would have learned from the very hard lessons that the crisis of 2008 taught us.

But instead, we have been on the greatest debt binge in American history in recent years.  Here is more from the Marketwatch article

It makes sense that debt is on Americans’ minds. Collectively, Americans have more than $1 trillion in credit-card debt, according to the Federal Reserve. They have another $1.5 trillion in student loans, up from $1.1 trillion in 2013. Motor vehicle loans are now topping $1.1 trillion, up from $878.5 billion in 2013. And they have another nearly $15 trillion in mortgage debt outstanding.

That is one huge pile of debt.

We criticize the federal government for running up 21 trillion dollars in debt, and rightly so, but American consumers have been almost as irresponsible on an individual basis.

As long as you are drowning in debt, you will never become wealthy.  In order to build wealth, you have got to spend less than you earn, but most Americans never learn basic fundamentals such as this in our rapidly failing system of public education.

Many Americans long to become financially independent, but they don’t understand that our system is rigged against them.  The entire game is all about keeping consumers on that debt wheel endlessly chasing that piece of proverbial cheese until it is too late.

Getting out of debt is one of the biggest steps that you can take to give yourself more freedom, and hopefully this article will inspire many to do just that.

To end this article today, I would like to share 14 facts about how the middle class in America is shrinking that I shared in a previous article

#1 78 million Americans are participating in the “gig economy” because full-time jobs just don’t pay enough to make ends meet these days.

#2 In 2011, the average home price was 3.56 times the average yearly salary in the United States.  But by the time 2017 was finished, the average home price was 4.73 times the average yearly salary in the United States.

#3 In 1980, the average American worker’s debt was 1.96 times larger than his or her monthly salary.  Today, that number has ballooned to 5.00.

#4 In the United States today, 66 percent of all jobs pay less than 20 dollars an hour.

#5 102 million working age Americans do not have a job right now.  That number is higher than it was at any point during the last recession.

#6 Earnings for low-skill jobs have stayed very flat for the last 40 years.

#7 Americans have been spending more money than they make for 28 months in a row.

#8 In the United States today, the average young adult with student loan debt has a negative net worth.

#9 At this point, the average American household is nearly $140,000 in debt.

#10 Poverty rates in U.S. suburbs “have increased by 50 percent since 1990”.

#11 Almost 51 million U.S. households “can’t afford basics like rent and food”.

#12 The bottom 40 percent of all U.S. households bring home just 11.4 percent of all income.

#13 According to the Federal Reserve, 4 out of 10 Americans do not have enough money to cover an unexpected $400 expense without borrowing the money or selling something they own.

#14 22 percent of all Americans cannot pay all of their bills in a typical month.

This article originally appeared on The Economic Collapse Blog.  About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

The Number Of Americans Living In Their Vehicles “Explodes” As The Middle Class Continues To Disappear

If the U.S. economy is really doing so well, then why is homelessness rising so rapidly?  As the gap between the rich and the poor continues to increase, the middle class is steadily eroding.  In fact, I recently gave my readers 15 signs that the middle class in America is being systematically destroyed.  More Americans are falling out of the middle class and into poverty with each passing day, and this is one of the big reasons why the number of homeless is surging.  For example, the number of people living on the street in L.A. has shot up 75 percent over the last 6 years.  But of course L.A. is far from alone.  Other major cities on the west coast are facing similar problems, and that includes Seattle.  It turns out that the Emerald City has seen a 46 percent rise in the number of people sleeping in their vehicles in just the past year

The number of people who live in their vehicles because they can’t find affordable housing is on the rise, even though the practice is illegal in many U.S. cities.

The number of people residing in campers and other vehicles surged 46 percent over the past year, a recent homeless census in Seattle’s King County, Washington found. The problem is “exploding” in cities with expensive housing markets, including Los Angeles, Portland and San Francisco, according to Governing magazine.

Amazon, Microsoft and other big tech companies are in the Seattle area.  It is a region that is supposedly “prospering”, and yet this is going on.

Sadly, it isn’t just major urban areas that are seeing more people sleeping in their vehicles.  Over in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, many of the homeless sleep in their vehicles even in the middle of winter

Stephanie Monroe, managing director of Children Youth & Family Services at Volunteers of America, Dakotas, tells a similar story. At least 25 percent of the non-profit’s Sioux Falls clients have lived in their vehicles at some point, even during winter’s sub-freezing temperatures.

“Many of our communities don’t have formal shelter services,” she said in an interview. “It can lead to individuals resorting to living in their cars or other vehicles.”

It is time to admit that we have a problem.  The number of homeless in this country is surging, and we need to start coming up with some better solutions.

But instead, many communities are simply passing laws that make it illegal for people to sleep in their vehicles…

A recent survey by the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty (NLCHP), which tracks policies in 187 cities, found the number of prohibitions against vehicle residency has more than doubled during the last decade.

Those laws aren’t going to solve anything.

At best, they will just encourage some of the homeless to go somewhere else.

And if our homelessness crisis is escalating this dramatically while the economy is supposedly “growing”, how bad are things going to be once the next recession officially begins?

We live at a time when the cost of living is soaring but our paychecks are not.  As a result, middle class families are being squeezed like never before.

A recent Marketwatch article highlighted the plight of California history teacher Matt Barry and his wife Nicole…

Barry’s wife, Nicole, teaches as well — they each earn $69,000, a combined salary that not long ago was enough to afford a comfortable family life. But due to the astronomical costs in his area, including real estate — a 1,500-square-foot “starter home” costs $680,000 — driving for Uber was a necessity.

“Teachers are killing themselves,” Barry says in Alissa Quart’s new book, “Squeezed: Why Our Families Can’t Afford America” (Ecco), out Tuesday. “I shouldn’t be having to drive Uber at eight o’clock at night on a weekday. I just shut down from the mental toll: grading papers between rides, thinking of what I could be doing instead of driving — like creating a curriculum.”

Home prices are completely out of control, but that bubble should soon burst.

However, other elements of our cost of living are only going to become even more painful.  Health care costs rise much faster than the rate of inflation every year, food prices are becoming incredibly ridiculous, and the cost of a college education is off the charts.  According to author Alissa Quart, living a middle class life is “30% more expensive” than it was two decades ago…

“Middle-class life is now 30% more expensive than it was 20 years ago,” Quart writes, citing the costs of housing, education, health care and child care in particular. “In some cases the cost of daily life over the last 20 years has doubled.”

And thanks to the trade war, prices are going to start going up more rapidly than we have seen in a very long time.

On Tuesday, we learned that diaper and toilet paper prices are rising again

Procter & Gamble said on Tuesday that it was in the process of raising Pampers’ prices in North America by 4%. P&G also began notifying retailers this week that it would increase the average prices of Bounty, Charmin, and Puffs by 5%.

P&G is raising prices because commodity and transportation cost pressures are intensifying. The hikes to Bounty and Charmin will go into effect in late October, and Puffs will become more expensive beginning early next year.

I wish that I had better news for you, but I don’t.  We are all going to have to work harder, smarter and more efficiently.  And we are definitely going to have to tighten our belts.

Many middle class families are relying on debt to get them from month to month, and consumer debt in the United States has surged to an all-time high.  But eventually a day of reckoning comes, and we all understand that.

The U.S. economy is not going to be getting any better than it is right now.  So it is time to be a lean, mean saving machine, because it will be important to have a financial cushion for the hard times that are ahead of us.

Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

Police Union President Laments That Portland Has Become A “Cesspool” As West Coast Cities Struggle With An Unprecedented Surge In Homelessness

Even though it has always been kind of crazy, at one time Portland, Oregon was quite an attractive place to live, but now those days are long gone.  Today, the city streets are strewn with garbage, drug paraphernalia and human feces.  Mentally ill homeless people and drug addicts wander about like zombies, and there are certain areas of the city that you absolutely do not want to visit at night.  In essence, the city is slowly becoming a post-apocalyptic version of its former self, and those that love the city are seething with frustration.  Of course Portland is simply experiencing the same surge in homelessness that so many other west coast cities are struggling to deal with.  As housing prices have risen dramatically, many on the lower end of the income scale have been priced out of the market entirely, and an increasing number of people are being forced to sleep in vehicles, in shelters or on the streets.

The president of the police union in Portland has had enough.  His officers are overwhelmed by the needs of the homeless on a nightly basis, and he is calling on the mayor to finally do something to resolve this crisis.  The following is the first paragraph from a statement that PPA President Daryl Turner just released

Our City has become a cesspool. Livability that once made Portland a unique and vibrant city is now replaced with human feces in businesses doorways, in our parks, and on our streets. Aggressive panhandlers block the sidewalks, storefronts, and landmarks like Pioneer Square, discouraging people from enjoying our City. Garbage-filled RVs and vehicles are strewn throughout our neighborhoods. Used needles, drug paraphernalia, and trash are common sights lining the streets and sidewalks of the downtown core area, under our bridges, and freeway overpasses. That’s not what our families, business owners, and tourists deserve.

If that sounds familiar, that is because many other west coast cities are dealing with the exact same issues right now.

For example, new San Francisco Mayor London Breed recently admitted that there “is more feces on the sidewalks than I’ve ever seen”

There is more feces on the sidewalks than I’ve ever seen growing up here,” Breed told KNTV. “That is a huge problem and we are not just talking about from dogs — we’re talking about from humans.”

The streets of San Francisco are littered with a “dangerous mix of drug needles, garbage, and feces”, KNTV’s investigative team reported in February after surveying the city’s streets.

And a lot of other San Francisco residents have noticed the exact same thing.  In fact, during one recent seven day period 16,000 complaints were submitted to the city about human feces.

Sounds like a great place to live, right?

It is important to keep in mind that San Francisco supposedly has a “booming economy” and some of the highest real estate prices in the entire nation.

If this is happening in a “prosperous area”, what are things like in major cities where things are not so prosperous?

Down in L.A., there was a nearly 26 percent increase in homelessness in 2017, and overall homelessness in L.A. has risen 75 percent over the past 6 years.

Let that sink in for a moment.

During this supposed “economy recovery”, our second largest city has seen homelessness go up 75 percent.

Sadly, it is estimated that 25 percent of the nation’s entire homeless population now lives in California…

While it’s tough to say precisely how many Californians are experiencing homelessness, the federal Housing and Urban Development Department estimates the number statewide at 130,000 on a given night. That’s 25 percent of the entire nation’s homeless population. Since 2016, California experienced a larger increase in homelessness than any other state.

At one time, L.A.’s “skid row” was limited to a single street, but now it goes on mile after mile.  I just have to share with you the following excerpt from an excellent article about what life is like for those living on this famous stretch of real estate

Most of its 2,000 residents sleep in tents or under tarps. Those with more status occupy the sides of streets shaded by trees. Location, location, location. The lowest caste sleep on cardboard or nothing. Some people rent tents for a few bucks a night.

There are no liquor stores so businessmen buy alcohol from shops a few miles away and sell it at a steep mark-up. Loan sharks collect debts by taking control of the debit cards issued to homeless people by government agencies.

A guy sits at a table on the sidewalk selling cigarettes and joints. The city has installed sidewalk restrooms. Ruffin pointed to one and figured people inside were shooting up or smoking. Meth, heroin and crack are the scourges of choice. Needles litter the gutter, as does a dead rat. On another block, homeless entrepreneurs chop and assemble bicycles for sale.

And let us not forget about Seattle.  Homeless encampments have become so pervasive in “the Emerald City” that authorities started building “tiny house villages” for the homeless out of desperation.  But these “tiny house villages” are a lot more depressing than they sound

In the nearby neighborhood of Wallingford, a newly erected outpost of small wooden shacks offer shelter for 22 of Seattle’s homeless residents. This is a “tiny house village,” sanctioned by the city as a kind of middle ground between living at a street address and on the street. The buildings sit in the corner of a parking lot across from a seafood restaurant, shielded from view by a metal fence. Each shack, painted with one of the bold colors of a Crayola starter pack, offers electricity and a roof sturdier than the tents in Seattle’s increasingly common homeless encampments. Every resident is issued a window fan for the occasional hot day, and the people here hope to receive heaters before winter. But the small collections of potted petunias and pothos that sit in front of their temporary homes are unlikely to survive the city’s harshest months.

Unfortunately, this is probably only just the beginning of this crisis.  Homelessness always explodes during a recession, and many believe that we are rapidly approaching another one.  West coast cities are really struggling to deal with this crisis right now, and it is hard to imagine how they will deal with the tsunami of human suffering that is coming their way once economic conditions begin to sour.

Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

‘Mentally Unstable’ Obama Looking To Start A War With China?

Obama SelfieThis week, Barack Obama sent a guided missile destroyer into disputed waters in the South China Sea to see if the Chinese would start shooting at it. Yes, this is what he actually did. Fortunately for us, the Chinese backed down and did not follow through on their threats to take military action. Instead, the Chinese have chosen to respond with very angry words. The Chinese ambassador to the United States, Cui Tiankai, says that what Obama did was “a very serious provocation, politically and militarily.” And as you will see below, a state-run newspaper stated that China “is not frightened to fight a war with the US in the region”. So why in the world would Obama provoke the Chinese like this? Yes, the Chinese claims in the South China Sea are questionable. But there are other ways to resolve things like this. My friend Rick Wiles began his radio broadcast yesterday by suggesting that these kinds of actions show that Barack Obama has become “mentally unstable”, and I would have to agree. You don’t risk military confrontations that could potentially spark World War III unless you have a really good reason to do so.

The Global Times is a Chinese state-run newspaper that has very close ties to the Communist party. After Obama’s provocation in the South China Sea, it published an editorial entitled “After the show, it’s time for US destroyer to leave“. The following is the most alarming portion of that editorial…

In face of the US harassment, Beijing should deal with Washington tactfully and prepare for the worst. This can convince the White House that China, despite its unwillingness, is not frightened to fight a war with the US in the region, and is determined to safeguard its national interests and dignity.

Beijing ought to carry out anti-harassment operations. We should first track the US warships. If they, instead of passing by, stop for further actions, it is necessary for us to launch electronic interventions, and even send out warships, lock them by fire-control radar and fly over the US vessels.

Another major Chinese newspaper also responded very angrily

The People’s Liberation Army Daily, China’s leading military newspaper, used a front-page editorial to accuse the US of sowing chaos in countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq.

“Cast-iron facts show that time and again the United States recklessly uses force and starts wars, stirring things up where once there was stability, causing the bitterest of harm to those countries directly involved,” the newspaper said, according to Reuters.

But the Obama administration is not backing down.

In fact, CNN is reporting that the decision has already been made to send even more patrols cruising by the disputed islands.

What do you think that will do to our delicate relationship with China?

Most Americans assume that an actual shooting war between the United States and China is not even within the realm of possibility, but many of our leaders see things very differently. For instance, just check out what CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell thinks

The current posturing in the area has led to heightened tensions between the world’s preeminent military powers, and in May Former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell told CNN that the confrontation indicates there is “absolutely” a risk of the U.S. and China going to war sometime in the future.

And Barack Obama’s good buddy George Soros has warned that the threat of a third world war involving the United States and China is very real

Earlier this year, billionaire investor George Soros also cautioned that the ruling Communist Party may see fit to rally its population around an external threat in order to head off a societal collapse in the aftermath of an economic implosion.

“There is a real danger that China will align itself with Russia politically and militarily, and then the threat of third world war becomes real,” said Soros.

Needless to say, if our relationship with China breaks down that is going to be really, really bad for the global economy. China accounts for more global trade than anyone else in the world, and the U.S. is number two.

And already we are witnessing a slowdown in global trade which is more than just a little bit alarming. So far in 2015 total global trade is down 8.4 percent, U.S. exports are down 11 percent, and Chinese imports during the month of September were down a whopping 20.4 percent from a year earlier.

So what do you think that an actual shooting war between the two great economic superpowers would do?

Meanwhile, the Obama administration continues to move toward sparking World War III in the Middle East as well. On Tuesday, we learned that Obama has authorized “direct action on the ground” in Iraq and in Syria. That means that our boys and girls could potentially end up in combat in areas inside Syria where the Russians are currently conducting operations. The following comes from NBC News

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said Tuesday that the U.S. will begin “direct action on the ground” against ISIS forces in Iraq and Syria, aiming to intensify pressure on the militants as progress against them remains elusive.

“We won’t hold back from supporting capable partners in opportunistic attacks against ISIL, or conducting such missions directly whether by strikes from the air or direct action on the ground,” Carter said in testimony before the Senate Armed Services committee, using an alternative name for the militant group.

When pressed, Carter admitted that U.S. soldiers “will be in harm’s way, no question about it“.

Wasn’t Obama supposed to be the president that brought all of our troops home and ended all of the wars?

Instead, his arrogance just seems to grow by the day and he is threatening to plunge the entire planet into World War III.

So what do you think of Barack Obama’s recent “foreign policy decisions”?

Please feel free to share your perspective by posting a comment below…