Global Economy? 23 Facts Which Prove That Globalism Is Pushing The Standard Of Living Of The Middle Class Down To Third World Levels

From now on, whenever you hear the term “the global economy” you should immediately equate it with the destruction of the U.S. middle class.  Over the past several decades, the American economy has been slowly but surely merged into the emerging one world economic system.  Unfortunately for the middle class, much of the rest of the world does not have the same minimum wage laws and worker protections that we do.  Therefore, the massive global corporations that now dominate our economy are able to pay workers in other countries slave labor wages and import the products that they make into the United States to compete with products made by “expensive” American workers.  This has resulted in a mass exodus of manufacturing facilities and jobs from the United States.

But without good, high paying jobs the U.S. middle class cannot continue to be the U.S middle class.  The only thing that the vast majority of Americans have to offer in the economic marketplace is their labor.  Sadly, that labor has now been dramatically devalued.  American workers now must directly compete for jobs with millions upon millions of workers on the other side of the world that toil away for 15 hours a day at slave labor wages.  This is causing jobs to leave the United States at an almost unbelievable rate, and it is putting tremendous downward pressure on the wages of millions of jobs that are still in the United States.

So when you hear terms such as “globalization” and “the global economy”, it is important to keep in mind that those are code words for the emerging one world economic system that is systematically wiping out the U.S. middle class.

A one world labor pool means that the standard of living for the U.S. middle class will continue falling toward the standard of living in the third world.

We keep hearing about how the U.S. economy is being transformed from a “manufacturing economy” into a “service economy”.  But “service jobs” are generally much lower paying than “manufacturing jobs”.  The number of good paying “middle class jobs” in the United States is rapidly decreasing.  So how can the U.S. middle class survive in such an environment?

What makes things even worse for manufacturers in the United States is that other nations often impose a “value-added tax” of 20 percent or more on U.S. goods entering their shores and yet most of the time we do not reciprocate with similar taxes.

But whenever someone mentions how incredibly unfair and unbalanced our trade agreements with other nations are, they are immediately labeled as a “protectionist”.

Well, someone should be looking out for U.S. interests when it comes to trade, because the current state of the global economy is ripping the U.S. middle class to shreds.

Right now, the United States consumes far more wealth than it produces.  This nation buys much, much more from the rest of the world than they buy from us.  This is called a “trade deficit”, and it is one of the most important economic statistics.  The U.S. runs a massive trade deficit every single year, and it is wiping out our national wealth, it is destroying our surviving industries and it is absolutely shredding middle class America.

We cannot allow tens of thousands of factories to continue to leave the United States.  We cannot allow millions of jobs to continue to be “outsourced” and “offshored”.  We cannot allow tens of billions of dollars of our national wealth to continue to be transferred into foreign hands every single month.

The truth is that the global economy is bad for America.  The following are 23 facts which prove that globalism is pushing the standard of living of the middle class down to third world levels….

#1 From December 2000 to December 2010, the U.S. ran a total trade deficit of 6.1 trillion dollars.

#2 The U.S. trade deficit was about 33 percent larger in 2010 than it was in 2009.

#3 The U.S. trade deficit with China in 2010 was 27 times larger than it was back in 1990.

#4 The U.S. economy is rapidly trading high wage jobs for low wage jobs.  According to a new report from the National Employment Law Project, higher wage industries accounted for 40 percent of the job losses over the past 12 months but only 14 percent of the job growth.  Lower wage industries accounted for just 23 percent of the job losses over the past 12 months and a whopping 49 percent of the job growth.

#5 Between December 2000 and December 2010, 38 percent of the manufacturing jobs in Ohio were lost, 42 percent of the manufacturing jobs in North Carolina were lost and 48 percent of the manufacturing jobs in Michigan were lost.

#6 In Germany, exports account for approximately 40 percent of GDP.  In China, exports account for approximately 30 percent of GDP.  In the United States, exports account for approximately 13 percent of GDP.

#7 Do you remember when the United States was the dominant manufacturer of automobiles and trucks on the globe?  Well, in 2010 the U.S. ran a trade deficit in automobiles, trucks and parts of $110 billion.

#8 In 2010, South Korea exported 12 times as many automobiles, trucks and parts to us as we exported to them.

#9 The U.S. economy now has 10 percent fewer “middle class jobs” than it did just ten years ago.

#10 The United States currently has 7.7 million fewer payroll jobs than it did back in December 2007.

#11 Back in 1970, 25 percent of all jobs in the United States were manufacturing jobs. Today, only 9 percent of the jobs in the United States are manufacturing jobs.

#12 In 2002, the United States had a trade deficit in “advanced technology products” of $16 billion with the rest of the world.  In 2010, that number skyrocketed to $82 billion.

#13 The United States now spends more than 4 dollars on goods and services from China for every one dollar that China spends on goods and services from the United States.

#14 In China, working conditions are so bad that large numbers of “employees” regularly try to commit suicide.  One major employer, Foxconn, has even gone so far as to install “anti-suicide nets” in an attempt to keep their employees from jumping off of their buildings.

#15 Wages for workers in China are incredibly low.  For example, one facility in the city of Longhua that makes iPods employs approximately 200,000 workers.  These workers put in endless 15-hour days but they only make about $50 per month.

#16 In Bangladesh, manufacturing workers toil in absolutely horrific conditions and make an average of about $38 per month.

#17 In Vietnam, teenage workers often work seven days a week for as little as 6 cents an hour making promotional Disney toys for McDonald’s.

#18 Since 2001, over 42,000 manufacturing facilities in the United States have been closed.

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

#20 In the United States today, 6.2 million Americans have been out of work for 6 months of longer.

#21 8.4 million Americans are currently working part-time jobs for “economic reasons”.  These jobs are mostly very low paying service jobs.

#22 When you adjust wages for inflation, middle class workers in the United States make less money today than they did back in 1971.

#23 According to Willem Buiter, the chief economist at Citigroup, China will be the largest economy in the world by the year 2020, and India will surpass China by the year 2050.

Those that promote “free trade” can never explain how the U.S. middle class is going to continue to have plenty of jobs in the new global economy.

By merging our labor pool with the rest of the world, we have also merged our standard of living with the rest of the world.  High unemployment is rapidly becoming “the new normal” in America, and wages are going to continue to decline in many, many industries.

Already, there are quite a few formerly great U.S. cities (such as Detroit) that are beginning to resemble third world hellholes.  If something is not done about our massive trade imbalance, even more cities are going to follow Detroit into oblivion.

Unfortunately, most of our politicians continue to insist that globalism is good for our society.  They continue to insist that we should not be worried that jobs formerly done by middle class American workers are now being done by slave laborers on the other side of the globe.  They continue to insist that having 43 million Americans on food stamps is a temporary thing and that soon our economy will be better than ever.

Well, it is time to stop listening to the politicians that are promoting “the global economy”.  They are lying to us.

Globalism is great for nations such as China and it is helping multinational corporations make huge profits, but for the U.S. middle class it is an economic death sentence.

If you want an America where there are less jobs, where more Americans are on food stamps and other anti-poverty programs and where our cities continue to be transformed into deindustrialized hellholes, then you should strongly support the emerging global economy.

But if you care about the standard of living of the U.S. middle class and you want for there to be some kind of viable economic future for your children and your grandchildren then you had better start caring about these issues and doing something about them.

Please wake up America.

Mob Robbers And Rampant Looting: Is This The Future Of America?

Have you ever heard of mob robberies?  What happens is that dozens of young people storm a store at the same time, take whatever they want, and then storm out as powerless store clerks watch helplessly.  Most of the time these “mob robbers” end up getting caught, but unfortunately “group crime” is a trend that is rising.  Is it a sign of the times that large groups of people are starting to recklessly invade retail establishments?  Is this the future of America?  As I have written about so frequently, the U.S. middle class is being destroyed by this economy and large numbers of our young people are losing hope.  Frustration and anger are rising from coast to coast and millions of Americans are losing faith in the system.  The thin veneer of civilization which we all take for granted is already starting to disappear.  So what is going to happen when the economy collapses?  As our economic system fails, mob robberies and rampant looting are only going to become more common.  Let us hope that the economy can hold together for at least a couple more years, because once society falls apart things are going to get really, really ugly in our major cities.

Are you prepared for what America is going to look like during the next Great Depression?  It isn’t going to be pretty.  Over the past couple of decades we have gotten hints of what America is going to look like when society breaks down, and those hints have been very frightening.

This first video is a news report about the mob robberies that have taken place in Minnesota recently.  What would you do if you were a store clerk in this situation….

Unfortunately, these mob robberies are not just an anomaly.  The American people really do seem to be losing it.  Over the past couple of years, some almost unbelievable brawls have been breaking out in restaurants and in retail establishments all over the nation.

In addition, who could forget the wild mob scenes that erupted at stores all over America during the most recent Black Friday holiday sales?

Of course we all remember what happened during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.  All along the Gulf Coast looting was rampant.  Sadly, people were even openly looting stores in front of television news cameras….

This third video contains a compilation of footage from all over the United States over the past few decades.  Is this what America is going to look like when the economy breaks down and people are going wild in the streets?….

But don’t think that Americans only act this way in the big cities.  The truth is that human decency is breaking down everywhere.  This was perfectly illustrated by a recently reported case of horrific child abuse in Oklahoma.

According to CNN, a 9-year-old girl, an 11-year-old boy and a 15-year-old boy were actually forced to eat pet food and had suffered burns all over their bodies due to the nightmarish abuse that they had received from the couple that adopted them.

The 15-year-old boy in this case told authorities that at one point he was forced to live in a plastic dog carrier for two months and that all three of the children have had their tongues burned with a hot spoon by their “parents”.

The following is how CNN described some of the abuse that these children were subjected to….

Authorities said the Kluths are accused of burning the children with hot spoons, choking them and locking them “in the storm shelter behind the residence for long periods of time with only chairs to sit in and plastic buckets for bathroom use. It was also alleged that the Kluths deprived the children of meals for punishment and fed them cat food and dog food,” according to a statement from authorities.

Can you imagine?

As Americans, we like to think of ourselves as “good people”, but is that really true?

In the United States today, the percentage of the population that is in prison is more than ten times higher than it is in Japan.

Part of that is because the U.S. is rapidly becoming a “Big Brother” police state, but we also have to admit that the American people don’t seem to be made of the same “stuff” that they used to.

Something has gone dramatically wrong.

We have lost our way.

Is this country going to be able to handle another Great Depression?

Right now more than 43 million Americans are on food stamps.  This is helping keep the population under control.  But what is going to happen when the price of food goes up 50 percent and all of these millions of people can’t even feed themselves anymore?

That is a frightening thing to think about.

Most Americans have never known hard times.  Most Americans cannot even imagine what deep economic suffering is like.

When the U.S. economy does completely unravel, it is going to blindside most of the population.  Many Americans will go completely crazy when they finally realize that the “good times” are gone and are never coming back.

What we are seeing in Wisconsin right now is only a very small foretaste of the kinds of economic protests that we will see in the future.  There are tens of millions of Americans that are just not going to quietly accept that their affluence is gone permanently.

Unfortunately, the time to start saying something was years ago.  Our economy is being gutted right in front of our eyes and yet most Americans just keep on voting for the globalist politicians that continue to ship our factories, our jobs and our prosperity overseas.

Believe it or not, cities like Detroit, Michigan were once the envy of the world.

In 2011, the rest of the world laughs at Detroit.  It has become a global joke.

And you know what?

Hundreds of other communities across the United States are being slowly but surely transformed into new Detroits.

Today, there are many towns across the United States where you can almost reach out and feel the despair.  It is almost as if someone has sucked all of the hope right out of the atmosphere.

People are getting desperate.  As the economy crumbles crime is only going to increase.  In fact, many of our biggest cities have large areas where residents simply do not ever want to venture outside after the sun goes down.  Life is getting crazier in America with each passing year.

The America that so many of us so fondly remember is being rapidly destroyed.

So what do you all think?  Are mob robbers and rampant looting the future of America?  Are people going to go crazy when the economy collapses or are Americans going to be able to handle it fairly well?  Please feel free to leave a comment with your opinion below….

18 Sobering Facts Which Prove That The Middle Class Is Not Being Included In This “Economic Recovery”

Have you heard the news?  The stock market is absolutely soaring and according to the U.S. government and the Federal Reserve we are in the beginning stages of a robust economic recovery.  Yippee!  The S&P 500 is up 6.8 percent so far in 2011, and the stock market recently hit a two and a half year high.  So shouldn’t we all be celebrating?  Well, if stock market performance was an accurate measure of economic health, then Zimbabwe would have had one of the healthiest economies on the entire globe during the last decade.  But just like Zimbabwe’s stock market was artificially pumped up with “funny money” that was rapidly being devalued, so is ours.  All of the “quantitative easing” that the Federal Reserve has been doing is pumping plenty of money into the financial markets and is helping to inflate a false stock market bubble, but it is doing very little to alleviate the suffering of the U.S. middle class.  In fact, when you take a closer look at the numbers you quickly find out that the suffering of the middle class is getting even worse.

According to Gallup, the unemployment rate is now over 10%.  The number of Americans that have given up looking for work recently set a new all-time record.  The number of mortgages in foreclosure tied a record high during the fourth quarter of 2010.  Gas and food prices are rising rapidly.  The number of Americans on food stamps continues to increase every single month.

Yes, right now the economic situation is not in free fall like it was a couple years ago.  We should be thankful for that.  Periods of relative stability such as we are enjoying now will be few and far between in the years ahead.  This “bubble” of economic calm is a great opportunity that we should all be taking advantage of.

However, those that are hoping that this is an economic “turning point” and that things will soon be back to “normal” are going to be greatly disappointed.  This is about as “normal” as things are going to be ever again.

Even during this time of relative economic stability, the U.S. middle class is still being ripped to shreds.  If there are those among your family and friends that are somehow convinced that the U.S. economy is recovering nicely, you might want want to show them the following 18 very sobering facts….

#1 According to Gallup, the U.S. unemployment rate is currently 10.3 percent.  When you add in part-time American workers that want full-time employment, that number rises to 20.2 percent.

#2 According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of job openings in the United States declined for a second straight month during December.

#3 There are currently more than 4 million Americans that have been unemployed for more than a year.

#4 The number of Americans that have become so discouraged that they have given up searching for work completely now stands at an all-time high.

#5 Gasoline prices in the United States recently hit a 28-month high.

#6 During the 4th quarter of 2010, 4.63 percent of all U.S. home loans were in foreclosure.  That matched the all-time high, and it was up significantly from 4.39 percent in the 3rd quarter.

#7 It is estimated that there are about 5 million homeowners in the United States that are at least two months behind on their mortgages, and it is being projected that over a million American families will be booted out of their homes this year alone.

#8 Almost 14 percent of all credit card accounts in the United States are currently 90 days or more delinquent.

#9 The average credit card rate in the United States had increased to a whopping 13.44 percent at the end of 2010.

#10 Americans now owe more than $890 billion on student loans, which is even more than they owe on credit cards.

#11 Average household debt in the United States has now reached a level of 136% of average household income.  In China, average household debt is only 17% of average household income.

#12 U.S. life expectancy at birth is now three years less than Canada and four years less than Japan.

#13 New home sales in the state of California were at the lowest level ever recorded in the month of January.

#14 43 percent of all mortgages in south Florida are currently underwater.

#15 Prior to the most recent economic downturn, there were usually somewhere around four to five million job openings in America.  Today there are about 3 million.

#16 When you adjust wages for inflation, middle class workers in the United States make less money today than they did back in 1971.

#17 One out of every seven Americans is now on food stamps.

#18 One out of every six elderly Americans now lives below the federal poverty line.

You know things are bad when articles start popping up in the mainstream news instructing us how to interact socially with the hordes of unemployed Americans that are out there today.  A recent USA Today article entitled “What not to say to someone who is unemployed” listed some of the things that you should not say to someone that does not have a job.  The following are some of their suggestions on what NOT to say….

“Hey, have you found anything yet?”

“How’s the search going?”

“You just have to pound the pavement.”

“Something will turn up.”

“It’s tough out there.”

“Other people are going through the same thing.”

“Maybe you’re asking for too much money.”

“Maybe you should go back to school.”

“There are plenty of jobs out there.”

I am sure most of us have heard things like this at one time or another.  It can be a soul-crushing thing to have others like at you in pity because you don’t have a job and you can’t pay the mortgage and feed your family.

Most unemployed Americans are not lazy.  The vast majority of them desperately want jobs.  But the U.S. economy is not producing nearly enough jobs today.  As noted above, the U.S. economy currently has about 3 million job openings, but approximately 20 percent of the workforce wants to find a full-time job.  The demand for jobs is far, far, far greater than the supply.

Unfortunately, this is the legacy of decades of bad economic decision-making.  The U.S. economy should be able to provide work for every single person that wants it, but because of the choices that have been made that will never be the case again.

The middle class in America is being ripped to shreds right in front of our eyes and very little is being done to stop it.  Desperation is rising across the nation.  More Americans slip into poverty every single day.  It is almost as if a cloud of gloom and despair has descended upon the U.S. economy and every single month the situation only seems to get darker.

So what about you?  How has this economy affected you and your family?  Please feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts below….

27 Signs That The Standard Of Living For America’s Middle Class Is Dropping Like A Rock

If you still have a job and you can put food on the table and you still have a warm house to come home to, then you should consider yourself to be very fortunate.  The truth is that every single month hundreds of thousands more Americans fall out of the middle class and into poverty.  The statistics that you are about to read are incredibly sobering.  Household incomes are down from coast to coast.  Enrollment in government anti-poverty programs sets new records month after month after month.  Home ownership is down, personal bankruptcies are way up and there are not nearly enough jobs to go around.  Meanwhile, the price of basics such as food and health care continue to skyrocket.  Don’t be fooled by a rising stock market or by record bonuses on Wall Street.  The U.S. economy is not getting better.  After World War II, the great American economic machine built the largest and most vigorous middle class in the history of the world, but now America’s middle class is disintegrating at a blinding pace.

Most of those who write about the plight of the American middle class believe that things can be turned around and that the middle class will eventually be stronger than it ever has been.  But unfortunately, that is just not the case.  As a society, we have lived far, far beyond our means for decades.  Now the bills are coming due and none of our leaders seem to know what to do.

Meanwhile, the U.S. economy is being rapidly assimilated into the emerging one world economy.  Middle class American workers now find themselves in direct competition for jobs with the cheapest labor on the other side of the globe.  Of course many multinational corporations have taken advantage of this by moving factories and jobs to countries like China where blue collar workers make about a dollar an hour.  This has helped raise the standard of living for workers in those nations by a nominal amount, but it has been absolutely devastating for the standard of living of America’s middle class.

So what does all of this mean?

It means that the U.S. economy is headed for collapse and middle class Americans are in for some really, really hard times.

The following are  27 signs that the standard of living for America’s middle class is dropping like a rock….

#1 Household spending for the middle fifth of all U.S. income earners was down 3.5% in 2009.  That was the steepest one year decline since records began being kept back in 1984.

#2 Median household income in the United States fell from $51,726 in 2008 to $50,221 in 2009.

#3 According to one new report, in 2009 residents of New York state experienced their first full-year decline in income in more than 70 years.

#4 Of the 52 largest metro areas in the United States, only the city of San Antonio did not see a decline in median household income in 2009.

#5 Home ownership in the United States declined for the third year in a row in 2009.

#6 In 2009, approximately 4 million Americans fell out of the middle class and now live below the federal poverty line.

#7 The number of Americans enrolled in the food stamp program has set a new all-time record for 20 consecutive months

#8 In July (the last month for which data is available), 41.8 million Americans were on food stamps.

#9 The number of Americans in the food stamp program skyrocketed more than 55 percent between December 2007 and July 2010.

#10 In 2009, more than 48 million Americans were enrolled in the Medicaid program.

#11 One out of every six Americans is now enrolled in at least one anti-poverty program run by the U.S. government.

#12 According to one recent study, approximately 21 percent of all children in the United States are living below the poverty line in 2010.

#13 According to the Cato Institute, anti-poverty spending by the U.S. government has increased 89 percent over the past decade.

#14 The cost of health care increased a staggering 9.6% for all U.S. households from 2007 to 2009.

#15 It turns out that only the top 5 percent of all U.S. households have earned enough additional income to match the rise in housing costs since 1975.

#16 35 percent of all U.S. households now live on $35,000 or less.

#17 New York state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli says that Wall Street bonuses for 2009 were up 17 percent when compared with 2008.

#18 According to a poll taken in 2009, 61 percent of Americans “always or usually” live paycheck to paycheck.  That was up substantially from 49 percent in 2008 and 43 percent in 2007.

#19 Today, 28% of all American households have at least one member that is searching for a full-time job.

#20 Nearly 10 million Americans now receive unemployment insurance, which is almost four times as many that were receiving it back in 2007.

#21 A recent Pew Research survey found that 55 percent of the U.S. labor force has experienced either unemployment, a pay decrease, a reduction in hours or an involuntary move to part-time work since the recession began.

#22 In 2009, 43.6 million Americans were living in poverty.  Sadly, the number of Americans living in poverty has increased for three consecutive years, and the 43.6 million poor Americans in 2009 was the highest number that the U.S. Census Bureau has ever recorded in 51 years of record-keeping.

#23 A staggering 25 percent of all American adults now have a credit score below 599.

#24 It is estimated that nearly a third of all Americans cannot qualify for a mortgage because of low credit scores.

#25 For the first time in U.S. history, banks own a greater share of residential housing net worth in the United States than all American households put together.

#26 Over 1.4 million Americans filed for personal bankruptcy in 2009, which represented a stunning 32 percent increase over 2008.

#27 According to a new report by the U.S. Census Bureau, the bottom fifth of all U.S. income earners brought in just 3.4 percent of all income in 2009 while the top fifth brought in a whopping 49.4 percent of all income.

So is there any hope that things will turn around soon?

No, not really.

At this point, even some of the top economic authorities in the nation are admitting that we are headed for very difficult times.

Goldman Sachs recently announced that the U.S. economy is likely to be either “fairly bad” or “very bad” over the next 6 to 9 months.

Not only that, but Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke now says that the U.S. economy is in a situation that is dire and “unsustainable”.

Not that Goldman Sachs or Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke should be trusted when it comes to the economy.

When it comes to the problems we are facing, the truth can be found in the long-term trends.  If you have not done so already, please read “11 Long-Term Trends That Are Absolutely Destroying The U.S. Economy“.  It will open your eyes to the true horrors that our economy is now facing.

But statistics alone do not tell the real story.

Sometimes what gets lost in the endless economic statistics is the very real pain of the millions of Americans who are trying to live through this.  The following story from the Unemployed Friends website is from a woman named Leetah who is desperately hoping to be able to get through this upcoming winter….

The place I live in right now has no jobs and no places to live. My fiance, Lloyd, and I have been looking for anything but he lost his job from McDonald’s and the factories (the only jobs to make a living off of) consider him an insurance liability. I can’t get hired to a factory because of I was fired from our major factory for attendance (I had to miss 3 days of work because I was sick). So we are moving to the Edmond/OKC region where we are hoping to find a job and a place with running water and heating. We’ve spent the last few years without heat and running water and so having a place with water and heat would be heaven.

Winter is coming up fast and I am so afraid. Last winter we almost died from the cold and now the thought of cold makes my throat close up and my heart pound. But it isn’t just ourselves we are looking out for, we have our dog too. Our wonderful APBT Maggie who is 2-years-old and has been with us since she was 5-months-old. She’s our baby girl and we can’t lose her. We almost lost her to the cold too and it scared me so much. We are going to be living in our car soon with our dog.

I am hoping to be able to keep our food stamps in the new city so we can still eat. I have already applied for ten+ jobs and nothing yet but I am keeping my hopes up. Hopefully it will get easier to find a job once we get there. Then we just have to save up and then we can afford an apartment. Now finding an apartment with my awesome dog is another story.

Please say a prayer for those who are out of work and on the verge of being forced out on the street.

You never know, you might be next.

Can A Family Of Four Survive On A Middle Class Income In America Today?

When I was growing up, $50,000 sounded like a gigantic mountain of money to me.  And it was actually a very significant amount of money in those days.  But in 2010 it just does not go that far.  Today, the median household income in the United States for a year is approximately $50,000.  About half of all American households make more than that, and about half of all American households make less than that.  So if your family brings in $50,000 this year that would put you about right in the middle.  So can a family of four survive on $50,000 in America today?  The answer might surprise you.  Twenty years ago a middle class American family of four would have been doing quite well on $50,000 per year.  But things have changed.

You see, despite government efforts to manipulate the official inflation numbers, the price of everything just keeps going up.  The price of food slowly but surely keeps moving up each year.  The price of gas is far higher than it was 10 or 20 years ago.  Taxes just keep going up.  Utility bills just keep going up.  Each year middle class American families have found themselves increasingly squeezed as their expenses have risen much more rapidly than their incomes.  

So just how far will $50,000 go for a middle class American family of four today?  Well, $50,000 breaks down to about $4,000 a month.  So how far will $4,000 a month stretch for a family of four in today’s economy?….

First of all, the family of four needs some place to live.  Even though house prices have come down a bit recently, they are still quite expensive compared to a decade ago.  Let’s assume that our family of four has found a great deal and is only spending $1000 a month on rent or on a mortgage payment.  In many of the larger U.S. cities this is a completely unrealistic number, but let’s go with it for now.

Next, our family of four has to pay for power and water for their home.  This amount can vary dramatically depending on the climate, but let’s assume that the average utility bill is somewhere around $300 a month.

Our family is also going to need phone and Internet service.  Cell phone bills for a family of four can balloon to ridiculous proportions, but let’s assume that our family of four is extremely budget conscious and has found a package where they can get basic phone service, Internet and cable for $100 a month.  Most middle class American families spend far more than that.

Both parents are also going to need cars to get to work.  Let’s assume that both cars were purchased used, so the car payments will only total about $400 a month.  If the vehicles were purchased new this number could potentially be much higher.

If our family has two cars that means that they will also be paying for automobile insurance.  Let’s assume that they both have exemplary driving records and so they are only spending about $100 a month on car insurance.

Our hypothetical family of four is also going to need health insurance.  In the past, families could choose to go without health insurance (at least for a while), but now thanks to Barack Obama all American families will essentially be forced to purchase health insurance.  Health insurance premiums are absolutely skyrocketing, but let’s assume that our family has somehow been able to find an amazing deal where they only pay $500 a month for health insurance.

Our hypothetical family is also going to have to eat.  Let’s assume that our family clips coupons and cuts corners any way that it can and only spends about $50 for each member of the family on food and toiletries each week.  That works out to a total of $800 a month for the entire family.

Lastly, the parents are also going to need to buy gas to get to and from work each week.  Let’s assume that they don’t live too far from work and only need to fill up both cars about once per week.  That would give them a gasoline bill of about $50 a week or $200 a month.  Of course if either of them lived a good distance from work or if a lot of extra driving was required for other reasons this expense could be far, far higher.

So far our family has spent $3400 out of a total of $4000 for the month.  Not bad, eh?

Wrong.

We haven’t taken federal, state and local taxes out of the paycheck yet.  Depending on where our family lives, this will be at least $1000 a month. 

So now we are $400 in the hole.

But to this point we have assumed that our family does not have any credit card debt or student loan debt at all.  If they do, those payments will have to be made as well.

In addition, the budget above includes no money for clothing, no money for dining out, no money for additional entertainment, no money for medications, no money for pets, no money for hobbies, no money for life insurance, no money for vacations, no money for car repairs and maintenance, no money for child care, no money for birthday or holiday gifts and no money for retirement.

On top of all that, if our family of four has a catastrophic health expense that their health insurance won’t pay for (and health insurance companies try to weasel out of as many claims as they can), then our family of four is not just broke – they are totally bankrupt.

Are you starting to get the picture?

It is getting really, really hard out there for middle class American families these days.

And unfortunately, many American families now have at least one parent that is not working.  In some areas of the nation it just seems like there are virtually no jobs available.  For example, at 14.3%, the state of Nevada now has the highest unemployment rate in the nation.  Michigan (which had been number one) is not very far behind.

But even those Americans who are able to find work are finding themselves increasingly squeezed.  For many Americans, a new job means much lower pay.  Millions of highly educated people who once worked in professional positions now find themselves working in retail positions or in the food service industry.  Many are hoping that the economy will “turn around” soon and that they will be able to go back to higher paying jobs, but the truth is that the U.S. economy is simply not producing enough good jobs for everyone any longer.

So where did all the good jobs go?  Well, millions of them have been shipped off to China, India and dozens of other nations around the globe.  Today the United States spends approximately $3.90 on Chinese goods for every $1 that China spends on goods from the United States.  A Chinese factory worker makes about a tenth of what an American factory worker makes.  And China continues to keep their currency artificially low so that jobs will continue to flow into China and so that we will continue to run a massive trade imbalance with them.

In a previous article, “Winners And Losers“, I went into much greater detail about how globalism is destroying middle class jobs.  We are rapidly moving toward an America where there will be a small group of “haves” and a very large group of “have nots”. 

The middle class in America is going to continue to shrink and shrink and shrink in the years ahead.  Not only are both parents going to have to work to pay the bills, but both parents in many families will be forced to take two or three jobs each just to make it each month. 

So what do you think?  Do you think that a family of four can make it on a middle class income in America today?  Feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts….

30 Statistics That Prove The Elite Are Getting Richer, The Poor Are Getting Poorer And The Middle Class Is Being Destroyed

Not everyone has been doing badly during the economic turmoil of the last few years.  In fact, there are some Americans that are doing really, really well.  While the vast majority of us struggle, there is one small segment of society that is seemingly doing better than ever.  This was reflected in a recent article on CNBC in which it was noted that companies that cater to average Americans are doing rather poorly right now while companies that market luxury goods and services are generally performing exceptionally well.  So why aren’t all American consumers jumping on the spending bandwagon?  Well, it seems that there are a large number of Americans who either can’t spend a lot of money right now or who are very hesitant to.  A stunningly high number of Americans are still unemployed, and for many other Americans, there is a very real fear that hard economic times will return soon.  On the other hand, there is a significant percentage of Americans who are blowing money on luxury goods and services as if the economy has fully turned around and it is time to let the good times roll.  So exactly what in the world is going on here?

Well, in 2010 life is very, very different depending on whether you are a “have” or a “have not”.  The recent article on CNBC referenced above described it this way….

Consumer spending in the U.S. has turned into a tale of two cities in 2010, with an entire segment of consumers splurging confidently on the finer things in life, while another segment, concerned about unemployment and with little or no discretionary income, spends only on bare necessities.

So why is this happening?

It is happening because the rich are getting richer and they have plenty of money to buy stuff and the poor are getting poorer and have less money to spend than ever.

In case you haven’t been paying attention over the past couple of decades, what we have in America today is a system that is designed to funnel as much wealth into the hands of the elite as possible.

This isn’t capitalism that we have in America in 2010.  Instead, what we have created is a system where the laws are set up so that the power elite and their big, dominant corporations always win. 

Why do you think so many of America’s largest corporations pay so little in taxes? 

Why do you think so many of them are showered with government subsidies, tax breaks and bailouts?

It’s not about competition anymore.

It’s about rigging the game in your favor.

The power elite and the giant corporations they control spend millions and millions on lobbying and campaign contributions and they expect a big return on that investment.

Let’s take a look at one example.  Many people think that Barack Obama and the Democrats are supposed to be anti-business, right?

Well then why are some of Barack Obama’s biggest donors the very same corporations that are receiving giant bailouts, making record profits and paying their employees billions in bonuses?

Goldman Sachs was Barack Obama’s second biggest donor.  Microsoft was number four.  Citigroup was number six.  JPMorgan Chase was number seven.  Time Warner was number eight.

Are you starting to get the picture?

Every single year, the U.S. Congress passes law after law after law that makes it easier for big corporations to dominate and makes it easier for the rich to get even richer.

America’s economy is not about competition anymore.

It is about eliminating competition.

And unfortunately for middle class Americans, the giant predator corporations that now dominate our economy are realizing that they don’t really need nearly as many American workers anymore.

Instead, they are slowly but surely shipping our jobs off to the other side of the world where workers are willing to work for about a tenth as much.

And yet we still run out to the “big box” stores and fill up our carts with a bunch of plastic crap made on the other side of the world by these giant corporations.

Meanwhile, those giant corporations are taking the profits they make out of our communities and they are taking our jobs and are shipping them overseas.

So in the final analysis, is it any wonder why the income inequality gap is growing?

Without small businesses having a legitimate chance to compete and without good jobs for American workers, the middle class in America is going to continue to get chewed up and spit out.

The following are 30 statistics that prove that the elite are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer and the middle class is being destroyed in 2010….

The Rich Are Getting Richer

1 – As of 2007, the top 1 percent of all Americans was taking home 24 percent of the national income.  This was a level that had not been seen since the days of the Great Depression.

2 – Incomes have been growing in the United States, but those at the very top of the pyramid have been gobbling up almost all of the income growth.  According to Harvard Magazine, 66% of the income growth between 2001 and 2007 went to the top 1% of all Americans.

3 – Even official government figures bear out the fact that the rich are getting richer.  An analysis of income-tax data by the Congressional Budget Office a few years ago found that the top 1% of all American households own nearly twice as much of the corporate wealth as they did just 15 years ago.

4– Most Americans have suffered during the last few years, but not the boys and girls down on Wall Street.  New York state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli says that Wall Street bonuses for 2009 were up 17 percent when compared with 2008.

5 – Even as the number of Americans living in poverty skyrockets, the number of millionaires just keeps growing.  In fact, the number of millionaires in the United States rose a whopping 16 percent to 7.8 million during 2009.

6 – The amount of money some of these Wall Street hotshots are making is incredible.  Back in 2005, the top 25 hedge fund managers earned a total of 9 billion dollars.  That would be bad enough, but even in these hard economic times the rich just keep getting richer.  One year after the recent financial collapse the top 25 hedge fund managers earned a total of approximately $25 billion.  That breaks down to an average of $1 billion each.  The truth is that the United States has been experiencing uneven prosperity for quite some time and things just seem to get worse with each passing year.

The Poor Are Getting Poorer

7 – Government anti-poverty programs are exploding in size in response to the recent economic difficulties.  USA Today is reporting that a record one in six Americans are now being served by at least one government anti-poverty program.

8Over 50 million Americans are on now Medicaid.  That figure is up more than 17 percent since the beginning of the recession.

9 – The number of Americans in the food stamp program rose to a new all-time record of 40.8 million in May.  That number is up almost 50 percent since the beginning of the recession.

10 – The number of Americans who cannot afford even the basic necessities is absolutely staggering.  A whopping 50 million Americans could not afford to buy enough food in order to stay healthy at some point over the last year.

11 – Compared to other industrialized nations, the United States is doing very poorly.  The U.S. poverty rate is now the third worst among the developed nations tracked by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

12 – The saddest part of this is what we are doing to our children.  According to one recent study, approximately 21 percent of all children in the United States are living below the poverty line in 2010

13 – But the American people cannot provide for their families if they don’t have jobs.  Today there are not nearly enough jobs for everyone.  In 2010, it takes the average unemployed American worker over 8 months to find a job.

14 – Approximately 10 million Americans are currently receiving unemployment insurance, which is a number that is nearly four times higher than what it was at back in 2007.

15 – The truth is that we are creating a permanent underclass of Americans that cannot get jobs.  The number of Americans receiving long-term unemployment benefits has increased over 60 percent in just the past year.

16 – Increasingly, the wealth of the United States is being held in fewer and fewer hands.  One study found that as of 2007, the bottom 80 percent of American households held about 7% of the liquid financial assets.

17 – It is not a good time to be living in “the bottom half” in America.  The size of “the pie” being divided up among those at the low end of the wage scale is becoming really, really small.  In fact, the bottom 40 percent of all income earners in the United States now collectively own less than 1 percent of the nation’s wealth.

The Middle Class Is Being Destroyed

18 – Even those Americans that still do have decent jobs are seeing their wealth fade rapidly.  For example, U.S. families have $6 trillion less in housing wealth than they did just three years ago.

19 – Home ownership used to be a sign that one had arrived in the middle class, but in 2010 an increasing number of Americans are finding out that they simply can’t afford their homes anymore.  One out of every seven mortgages were either delinquent or in foreclosure during the first quarter of 2010.

20 – The reality is that incomes have just not kept up with housing costs.  This has put an incredible amount of pressure on the middle class.  Just how much pressure?  Well, only the top 5 percent of all U.S. households have earned enough additional income to match the rise in housing costs since 1975.

21 – The debt binge middle class Americans have been on over the past couple of decades has drained many of them completely dry, and now more Americans than ever have bad credit scores.  Over 25 percent of Americans now have a credit score below 599, which means that they are a very bad credit risk.

22 – A rapidly rising number of Americans are actually choosing bankruptcy as a way out of their financial problems.  Nationwide, bankruptcy filings rose 20 percent in the 12 month period ending this past June 30th.

23 – The middle class manufacturing jobs that once defined so many American cities are rapidly disappearing.  Despite the fact that the U.S. population has dramatically increased, less Americans are employed in manufacturing today than in 1950.

24 – These days it seems like almost everyone is looking for a good job, but very few people are finding them.  According to one recent survey, 28% of all U.S. households have at least one member that is looking for a full-time job.

25 – Even many of those Americans that still have decent jobs have been hit hard by this economic downturn.  A recent Pew Research survey found that 55 percent of the U.S. labor force has experienced either unemployment, a pay decrease, a reduction in hours or an involuntary move to part-time work since the recession began.

26 – The number of jobs that are evaporating is absolutely stunning.  According to one analysis, the United States has lost a total of 10.5 million jobs since 2007.

27 – So where are the jobs going?  It doesn’t take a genius to figure it out.  China’s trade surplus (much of it with the United States) climbed 140 percent in June compared to a year earlier.

28 – The truth is that “globalism” and “free trade” have put middle class American workers in direct competition with the cheapest labor in the world.  This is what middle class American workers must now compete against: in China a garment worker makes approximately 86 cents an hour and in Cambodia a garment worker makes approximately 22 cents an hour.

29 – Due to these difficult economic conditions, the middle class is being squeezed as never before.  According to a poll taken in 2009, 61 percent of Americans “always or usually” live paycheck to paycheck.  That was up significantly from 49 percent in 2008 and 43 percent in 2007.

30 – So what kind of future do our young people have in front of them?  Unfortunately, things don’t look pretty.  Many fresh college graduates can’t even get a job that will allow them to be independent.  One recent survey of last year’s college graduates discovered that 80 percent moved right back home with their parents after graduation.  That was up significantly from 63 percent in 2006.

The American People Don’t Need More Handouts – What They Need Are Good Jobs

Without millions more good jobs, the U.S. economy is simply never, ever going to recover.  But at this point, there is every indication that the U.S. economy is going to continue to bleed jobs.  In the past, employment would bounce up and down as the economy went through various cycles.  But today what we are witnessing is something much different.  Over the past 30 or 40 years, literally millions of good jobs have been shipped off to China, India and to dozens of third world nations where half-starving workers are more than happy to slave away for big global corporations for less than a dollar an hour.  In the new “global economy” that we were promised would be so good for us, the expensive American worker is obsolete.  The giant global predator corporations that now dominate our economy do not exist to provide you and your family with a nice home, two cars and college educations for all your children.  No, their goal is to keep costs as low as possible so that their profits will be as high as possible.  For many of these giant global predator corporations, that means that paying workers as close to zero as possible is the best decision for the bottom line. 

The truth is that the American people were never told that “free trade” and a “global economy” would mean that they would soon be lumped into a giant global labor pool and would be forced to compete for jobs with people on the other side of the globe.

No, we were just told that we should enjoy all of the cheap plastic crap made overseas that all of the “big box” retail stores were pushing us to buy.

Well, the party was fun while it lasted.  Americans ran up unprecedented amounts of debt on their credit cards buying all this stuff, while our once great manufacturing cities degenerated into rotted-out war zones.

But isn’t it a good thing to get all these products at such a cheap price?

After all, who wants to pay substantially more for things?

Well, running an economy this way is kind of like tearing off pieces of your house in order to keep your fire going.  Sure the fire will burn brightly for a while, but eventually you will have torn down your entire house.

One way or another, we end up paying dearly for the jobs we have shipped overseas.

You see, the millions of Americans who are now chronically unemployed because of “free trade” have to be supported by the U.S. government.

That means that it is the U.S. taxpayers who end up footing the bill.

You didn’t think that we were going to let all of those unemployed workers starve in the streets, did you?

Without good jobs, an increasing number of Americans are becoming completely dependent on government handouts.

Already, state governments across the United States are going broke trying to pay out unemployment benefits to the hordes of Americans who don’t have a job and can’t find a job.

In addition, for the first time in U.S. history, more than 40 million Americans are on food stamps, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture projects that number will go up to 43 million Americans in 2011.

Also, according to one new study, somewhere around 21 percent of all children in the United States are living below the poverty line in 2010, which is the highest rate in 20 years.

The truth is that more Americans are dependent on direct payments from the federal government than ever before.

But how long can we afford to support the millions upon millions of Americans who have been impoverished by this new “global economy”?

The U.S. government budget deficit was a record $1.4 trillion in 2009.  Now the White House says that we will exceed that figure in 2010 and again in 2011.

So just how long can we afford to run deficits equivalent to 10 percent of GDP?

Anyone with half a brain knows that these kind of debts are not anywhere close to sustainable.

So where is the money going to come from to pay for these exploding government programs?

Well, from you of course.

Recently I dubbed 2011 “the year of the tax increase”.  A whole slew of new taxes is scheduled to go into effect starting next year that will impact every single American taxpayer.

It is almost enough to make you want to stop working and start collecting government handouts instead.

But the American people don’t need even more handouts.

Handouts are only a temporary solution to a long-term problem.

What the American people need are good jobs.

But where in the world are these jobs going to come from?

The reality is that in the new “global economy”, the United States is a very unattractive place to do business.

If you were a global corporation, would you rather open a new facility in the third world where there are very few rules and regulations and where people will work for less than a dollar an hour, or would you rather open a new facility in the United States where there are literally thousands of laws and regulations to comply with and where you are going to have to pay workers at least ten times as much?

It doesn’t take a genius to see where all of this is headed.

For decades, an increasing number of Americans have been forced into lower paying service jobs, but now there aren’t even nearly enough of those to go around. 

But it isn’t just the jobs that have been shipped overseas that are depressing wages and causing unemployment to skyrocket.  The millions of illegal immigrants that have flooded unchecked across the border have depressed wages and fundamentally changed the employment picture in industries such as construction and food service. 

Not only that, but in this environment not even high tech workers are safe.  In fact, there are some corporations in the high tech industry that have been openly abusing worker visas to ship in large numbers of foreign workers to replace more expensive American employees.

What all this means is that it is becoming much more difficult to live a middle class lifestyle in the United States.

Perhaps that is why one of my articles struck such a nerve recently.  An article that I originally wrote for The American Dream blog and adapted by Business Insider has gone mega-viral and has ended up on Yahoo Finance.  The article was entitled “The Middle Class In America Is Radically Shrinking – Here Are The Stats To Prove it” and it has received over 9000 comments on Yahoo.

So why did it provoke such an extraordinary response?

Well, because it hits people where they live.

Today, millions of American families are really struggling.  Record numbers of middle class Americans are receiving foreclosure notices and record numbers of middle class Americans are going bankrupt.

In fact, more Americans than ever find themselves just trying to survive.

According to a poll taken in 2009, 61 percent of Americans “always or usually” live paycheck to paycheck, which was up from 49 percent in 2008 and 43 percent in 2007.

You see, the truth is that most American families are not concerned with saving for retirement or even with planning for next year.  In this economic environment, most American families are worried about how they are going to survive until next month.

So who has been doing well in the new global economy?

The very, very wealthy of course.

According to Harvard Magazine, 66% of the income growth between 2001 and 2007 went to the top 1% of all Americans.

Now, the truth is that there is absolutely nothing wrong with making money, but by any reasonable standard an economic system that produces such skewed results is horribly broken.

So will “redistributing the wealth” solve things?

No, it won’t.

At best, “redistributing the wealth” is only a temporary solution and it always ends up creating a lot of long-term problems.

What the American people really need are millions more good jobs.

But as we have seen, the current imbalances in the new “global economy” make it more likely that the American people will continue to lose millions more good jobs rather than gaining them.

Unless something is done, the standard of living for middle class Americans will continue to be forced down as labor increasingly becomes a global commodity.

So are you just going to accept that, or are you going to start demanding that your representatives change things?

The choice is up to you.

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