It Is Time To Go: Over Half Of All California Voters “Have Considered Leaving The State”

Why in the world does anyone still want to live in California?  Great weather and good paying jobs are the two biggest positives that residents often point out, but the high cost of living and the absolutely ridiculous housing prices often eat up all of the extra money that Californians think that they are making.  In fact, it was recently reported that it now takes approximately $350,000 a year to live a middle class lifestyle in the city of San Francisco.  If you have a ton of money, it can partially insulate you from the problems that are increasingly ravaging the state, but unless you never go out in public nothing is going to insulate you completely.  Cities all over the state are degenerating into drug-infested, crime-ridden hellholes that are literally being overrun by millions of rats.  California has some of the worst traffic in the entire world, unchecked illegal immigration is causing a whole host of social problems, and gang activity has become a massive problem.  On top of everything else, California is being constantly hit by wildfires, mudslides, earthquakes and other natural disasters.  In fact, scientists tell us that it is just a matter of time before “the Big One” hits, and that is probably one of the best reasons to leave California while you still can and never look back.

Yes, there are some California residents that continue to insist that it is a great place to live.

But if California is so wonderful, why have more than half of all California voters “considered leaving the state”?  The following comes from the Los Angeles Times

Just over half of California’s registered voters have considered leaving the state, with soaring housing costs cited as the most common reason for wanting to move, according to a new poll.

Young voters were especially likely to cite unaffordable housing as a reason for leaving, according to the latest latest UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll conducted for the Los Angeles Times. But a different group, conservatives, also frequently suggested they wanted to leave — and for a very different reason: They feel alienated from the state’s political culture.

With the way the state is being run, conservatives have been moving out of California in large numbers for years.  In fact, I have a number of really good friends that left the state for political reasons and will never return.

On the other hand, California’s reputation for handing out free goodies has been a magnet for another class of people.  Today, almost half of all homeless people in the entire nation live in the state of California, and this has become such a huge crisis that it literally makes headlines all over the globe.

For example, the following comes from an article in a British news source

Cali Carlisle admits she is a heroin addict — ‘but in a healthy way,’ she insists, even if the visual evidence belies that claim.

Her nose is the brightest shade of red imaginable. She constantly picks at scabs all over her body. Her home is a makeshift bed beneath Interstate 80 in Sacramento.

And Monday was her 26th birthday. Not that you would ever guess. Anyone looking at her would think she is at least 15 years older.

This is the cold, hard reality of the glorious drug lifestyle that so many go to California to experience.

Every year, thousands upon thousands of young people that once had bright futures ahead of them end up on the streets, in prison or dead due to this raging epidemic.

And one of the places where it is the worst is in the capital of the state itself.  Not too long ago, a salon owner in Sacramento made headlines all over the nation when her rant about homelessness on social media went viral

“I just want to tell you what happens when I get to work,” stated Liz Novak, a local salon owner, to the media about what she’s had to deal with trying to conduct business in Sacramento.

“I have to clean up the poop and the pee off of my doorstep. I have to clean-up the syringes. I have to politely ask the people who I care for – I care for these people that are homeless – to move their tents out of the way of the door to my business.”

She ultimately had to move her salon completely because it became clear that things were not going to get better any time soon.

In the state of California today, virtually everything has been defiled.

At one time, California was teeming with natural beauty.  But today the entire state has become a trash dumpster, and that includes California’s once pristine beaches.  Just check out what Dr. Drew Pinsky recently told Laura Ingraham

“There is an organization out here called Heal the Bay which keeps tabs on safety of our beaches in Southern California, from Orange County to Ventura. Since the rains last Winter, [Heal the Bay] has been giving our beaches C’s to F’s, and F means completely overrun with fecal bacteria. What comes with that are other things like syringes, Hepatitis A and other infectious diseases.”

On top of everything else, seismic activity is a constant threat.

There have been more than 1,500 earthquakes in California and Nevada over the past 7 days, and these days that is considered to be a slow week.

Of course most of the earthquakes are very small, but scientists assure us that one of these days “the Big One” will hit the state.  When that day arrives, the geography of the state will be radically changed, and the death and destruction will be off the charts.

We live at a time when our planet is being greatly shaken, and many believe that what we have seen so far is just the beginning.

The coastline of the state of California lies directly along the infamous “Ring of Fire”, and scientists have been persistently warning us that the San Andreas fault is “locked and loaded” and could possibly “unzip all at once”.

It is such a shame what has happened to the state.  California should be one of the most beautiful, prosperous and enjoyable places to live in the entire world.  Unfortunately, Californians have been making exceedingly poor choices for decades, and the consequences of those decisions will be extremely bitter indeed.

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared Now, The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters. His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News. From there, his articles are republished on dozens of other prominent websites. If you would like to republish his articles, please feel free to do so. The more people that see this information the better, and we need to wake more people up while there is still time. Of course the most important thing that we can share with people is the gospel of Jesus Christ, and if you would like to learn more about how you can become a Christian I would encourage you to read this article.

A Shocking New Survey Finds That Most Americans Are Completely Unprepared For The Next Recession

Just like in 2008, most Americans are living right on the edge financially, and so any sort of an economic downturn is going to be extremely painful for tens of millions of American families.  When you have not built up a financial cushion, any sort of a setback can be absolutely disastrous.  During the last recession, millions of Americans suddenly lost their jobs, and because most of them were living paycheck to paycheck a lot of them suddenly couldn’t pay their mortgages.  In the end, millions of Americans lost their homes during the “subprime mortgage meltdown”, and today the housing bubble is even larger than it was back then.  Sadly, the reality of the matter is that many of us are just barely scraping by from month to month, and that is a very dangerous position to be in.

A new survey that was just released shows just how vulnerable American consumers have become at this point in time.  According to the survey, the top financial priority for 38 percent of all Americans is just trying to pay the bills, and for 19 percent of all Americans it is dealing with credit card debt.  The following comes from Fox Business

Among survey respondents in the nationally representative poll, 38 percent said their top financial priority is “just staying current on living expenses or getting caught up on all the bills.” Almost 3 in 10 respondents (29 percent) said their chief priority was “saving more money,” and 19 percent indicated they were mainly working on paying down debt from products like credit cards and student loans.

So that means that for nearly 60 percent of all Americans, the top financial priority each month is either finding a way to pay the bills or dealing with credit card debt.

And if you are struggling to pay the bills each month or you are drowning in credit card debt, the truth is that you are definitely not ready for the next recession.

The same survey also discovered that a very large percentage of Americans are not following any sort of a financial budget

More than a decade into the longest economic expansion on record, almost two-fifths of people said in a new Bankrate poll that their main financial priority was just keeping their heads above water on living expenses rather than saving money.

Nearly as many of those surveyed said that they’re not following financial budgets, according to Bankrate’s September Financial Security Poll.

So many people out there spend money whenever they feel like it and they don’t have any sort of a plan for their finances.

And then when they get deep into debt they wonder how that could have possibly happened.

It is so important to take charge of your money and to have a plan for where you want to go financially.  Because if you don’t have a plan for your money, I promise you that somebody else does.  As many of us have learned the hard way, it is all too easy to fall victim to all of the financial predators that are constantly circling these days.  The big financial institutions want to get Americans into as much debt as possible, because the deeper we are in debt the more money they make.

In our society, everything has become all about extracting as much money out of you as possible.  Even when we are at the checkout counter at the supermarket we are asked if we want to get some “cash back” so that they can charge us a “convenience fee” and make even more money.  And of course most of the money that is extracted out of us ultimately ends up at the very top of the financial pyramid, and as a result the gap between the “haves” and the “have nots” continues to grow.

In fact, the U.S. Census Bureau is telling us that the gap between the rich and the poor is now “greater than it has ever been”

In the midst of the longest economic expansion the United States has ever seen, with poverty and unemployment rates at historic lows, the separation between rich and poor from 2017 and 2018 was greater than it has ever been, federal data show.

To be fair, the U.S. Census Bureau has only been measuring this since 1967, and so it is entirely possible that things could have been even worse earlier in our history.

But the numbers do clearly show that the gap has been steadily widening for years, and at this point wealth inequality in the U.S. is far greater than it is in any country in Europe

The Gini index measures wealth distribution across a population, with zero representing total equality and 1 representing total inequality, where all wealth is concentrated in a single household. The indicator has been rising steadily during the past several decades. When the Census Bureau began studying income inequality more than 50 years ago, the Gini index was 0.397. In 2018, the Gini index rose to 0.485.

By comparison, no European country had a Gini index greater than 0.38 between 2017 and 2018.

So what this means is that we have a small group of people at the top of the pyramid doing really, really well, but meanwhile most of the rest of us are deeply struggling.

In fact, survey after survey has shown that the vast majority of Americans are currently living paycheck to paycheck.

The way that our entire system is structured greatly favors Wall Street, the big banks, the largest corporations and those with enormous amounts of money.  And they are able to maintain control of the system by literally buying elections and controlling public opinion through their control of the mainstream media.  Our founders were deeply suspicious of large concentrations of power, and we need to return to the values that our nation was founded upon if we ever hope to turn things around.

Unfortunately, more Americans that ever are convinced that socialism is the answer to the problems that I just discussed, and this is fueling the rise of politicians such as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

But socialist experiments have failed all throughout human history, and socialism would fail here too.

Big government is never the answer.  Sadly, we already have the biggest government in the history of the world, and many Americans seem absolutely determined to make it even bigger.

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared Now, The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters. His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News. From there, his articles are republished on dozens of other prominent websites. If you would like to republish his articles, please feel free to do so. The more people that see this information the better, and we need to wake more people up while there is still time. Of course the most important thing that we can share with people is the gospel of Jesus Christ, and if you would like to learn more about how you can become a Christian I would encourage you to read this article.

The Mainstream Media Says The Middle Class Isn’t Shrinking – But That Is Only Because Their Definition Includes Lots Of Poor People

If you ask the mainstream media, they will tell you that about half the country is still middle class.  In fact, a CNBC article that just came out says that “52% of American adults live in ‘middle class’ households”.  Of course that is down from 61 percent in 1971, but considering everything we have been through in recent years, that still looks pretty good.  But is it the truth?  In the end, it all comes down to how you define “the middle class”.  If I defined the middle class as anyone that makes from zero dollars to a trillion dollars a year, then 100 percent of Americans would be considered “middle class” by that definition.  So we can’t just look at the final number they give us.  Instead, we have to dig deeper and find out how they came up with the number in the first place.

The larger the household, the more income it takes to sustain a middle class lifestyle.  And according to CNBC, the definition of a “middle class household” is extremely broad at every household size…

  • Household of one: $26,093 to $78,281
  • Household of two: $36,902 to $110,706
  • Household of three: $45,195 to $135,586
  • Household of four: $52,187 to $156,561
  • Household of five: $58,347 to $175,041

If you are single person and you are making just $26,000 a year, there is no way that you should be considered part of “the middle class”.

First of all, there is no way that you would be able to buy a home in most major U.S. cities these days, and home ownership has always been considered to be one of the key hallmarks of the middle class.

Secondly, $26,000 a year breaks down to just a little over $2,000 a month before taxes.  After paying for rent, health insurance and a little bit of food, there wouldn’t be any money left.

You can define that as a “middle class lifestyle” if you want, but I sure don’t.

Over the past decade, the cost of living has increased at a far faster pace than our paychecks have.  As a result, many Americans that used to live middle class lifestyles are no longer able to do so.

Health insurance is just one example.  Thanks to Obamacare, health insurance premiums have absolutely skyrocketed, and this is financially crippling families all over the nation.  In addition to health insurance, here are just a few of the other expenses that average American families must pay on a regular basis…

-rent or mortgage payment

-the power bill

-the water bill

-food

-phone

-Internet

-vehicle payment(s)

-gasoline

-vehicle repairs

-car insurance

-dental bills

-home or rental insurance

-life insurance

-student loan debt payments

-credit card payments

-furniture, clothing and other necessities

If you are making just two or three thousand dollars a month before taxes, there is no way that you can cover all of that.

So I am sorry, but the way that CNBC is defining “the middle class” is just wrong.

Considering everything that I have just discussed, it should not be surprising to learn that a survey conducted earlier this year found that 78 percent of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck at least part of the time.

And if you are living paycheck to paycheck, there is a really good chance that you are not middle class.

Of course another major factor is geography.  If you live in a very expensive coastal city like New York or San Francisco, it has been estimated that it now takes approximately $350,000 a year to be part of the middle class…

Here’s a sad reality: In order to raise a family in an expensive coastal city like San Francisco or New York, you’ve now got to make $350,000 or more a year.

You can certainly live on less, but it won’t be easy if your goal is to raise a family, save for your children’s education, save for your own home and save for retirement (so you can actually retire by a reasonable age).

When I was growing up, I thought that if someone was making $50,000 a year that person really had it made.

But these days $50,000 a year will barely get you above poverty level depending on the size of your household and where you live.

In a desperate attempt to maintain a middle class lifestyle when their incomes don’t really allow for it, many Americans are going into shocking amounts of debt.  And these days even our young adults are piling on debt as if tomorrow will never come

Millennials carry an average of $27,900 in debt, not including mortgages, according to new data released today by Northwestern Mutual. Gen Z, the oldest of whom are now 22 years old, have an average debt of $14,700.

Having sizable debt at a young age “is the new normal,” said Chantel Bonneau, wealth management advisor at Northwestern Mutual. “There are lots of people who exit school, and before they start their first job, have debt. That is a different situation from 30 years ago.”

But when you pile on too much debt, it can become financially suffocating very quickly, and many of our young people actually report becoming “physically ill” from worrying about it so much…

About 45% of millennials and 43% of Gen Z reported feeling guilty about their debt at least every month — more than other age groups. But debt is a major stressor across age groups. One-fifth of all respondents said their debt made them physically ill at least monthly, 45% said it made them anxious at least monthly, and 35% said they felt guilty once a month or more.

Overall, U.S. households are now over 13 trillion dollars in debt, and one of the primary reasons why we have accumulated so much debt is because most of us want to live lifestyles that we haven’t really earned.

We are also facing record levels of corporate debt, local government debt, state government debt and federal government debt.  And when this debt bubble bursts, it will completely destroy our system.

We have entirely mortgaged our future for short-term gain, and we are so proud whenever the short-term economic numbers tick up a little bit.

But in the process we have completely destroyed the future for every generation of Americans that was supposed to come after us, and that is not something to smile about at all.

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared Now, The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters. His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News. From there, his articles are republished on dozens of other prominent websites. If you would like to republish his articles, please feel free to do so. The more people that see this information the better, and we need to wake more people up while there is still time. Of course the most important thing that we can share with people is the gospel of Jesus Christ, and if you would like to learn more about how you can become a Christian I would encourage you to read this article.

California Nightmare: Over Half Of The People Living In The State Wish They Could Leave

This just shows what can happen when you let crazy people run a state for several decades.  In the 1960s and 1970s, the possibility of moving to the west coast was “the California dream” for millions of young Americans, but now “the California dream” has turned into “the California nightmare”.  According to a brand new survey, 53 percent of those living in California are considering leaving the state, and there are certainly lots of reasons to hit the road and never look back.  The cities are massively overcrowded, California has the worst traffic in the western world, drug use and illegal immigration both fuel an astounding amount of crime, tax rates are horrendous and many of the state politicians appear to literally be insane.  And on top of all that, let us not forget the earthquakes, wildfires and landslides that are constantly making headlines all over the world.  Last year was the worst year for wildfires in California history, and these days it seems like the state is hit by some new crisis every few weeks.

But none of those factors are the primary reason why so many people are eager to leave.

According to a brand new survey by Edelman Intelligence, the main reason why so many are considering leaving the state is the high cost of living

A growing number of Californians are contemplating moving from the state — and not due to wildfires or earthquakes but the sky-high cost of living, according to a survey released Wednesday.

The online survey, conducted last month by Edelman Intelligence, found that 53 percent of Californians surveyed are considering fleeing, representing a jump over the 49 percent polled a year ago. The desire to exit the nation’s most populous state was highest among millennials, the survey noted.

Thanks to absolutely ridiculous construction restrictions, it has become increasingly difficult to build new housing units in the state.  But meanwhile, people from all over the world continue to move there because they are attracted by what they see on television.

As a result, the supply of housing has not kept up with demand, and prices have shot through the roof in recent years.  The following numbers come from CNBC

Statewide, the median home value in California was $547,400 at the end of 2018, while the U.S. median home value was $223,900. By comparison, the median home value in New York state stood at $289,000 and $681,500 in New York City; New Jersey was $324,700.

Yes, there are a lot of good paying jobs in California, but you better have a really, really good job to be able to afford mortgage payments on a home worth half a million dollars.

Of course many Californians find themselves greatly stretched financially by out of control housing costs, and so more of them than ever are moving in with roommates.  In fact, one recent report found that the number of married couples in the U.S. that are living with roommates “has doubled since 1995”

The number of married couples living with roommates has doubled since 1995, according to a recent report from real estate site Trulia. About 280,000 married people now live with a roommate — and that’s particularly true in pricey cities like those on the West Coast.

The reason: Housing costs a ton. In Honolulu and Orange Country, Calif., the share of married couples with roommates is between four and five times the national rate. San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego and Seattle also have sky high rates of married couples with roomies. Those same cities all have well above average rental and housing costs (Trulia notes that housing costs in all these markets have risen more than 30% since 2009), with residents of uber-pricey San Francisco requiring more than $123,000 in income to live comfortably, one study showed.

In addition to housing costs, many Californians are greatly frustrated by the oppressive levels of taxation in the state.

At this point, the state has the highest marginal tax rate in the entire country

At 12.3 percent, California led the 50 states in 2018 with the highest top marginal tax rate, according to the Federation of Tax Administrators. And that doesn’t include an additional 1-percent surcharge for those Californians with incomes of $1 million or more.

Ouch.

But at least the weather is nice.

Yesterday, I wrote an article entitled “Rats, Public Defecation And Open Drug Use: Our Major Western Cities Are Becoming Uninhabitable Hellholes”, and it sparked something of a firestorm.  More than 1000 comments have already been posted on that article, and a few hearty individuals actually tried to convince the rest of us that life on the west coast is not actually all that bad.

I’m sorry, but if your city has far more intravenous drug users than it does high school students, that is not somewhere that I would want to raise a family

According to a report from the Chronicle, San Francisco now has more intravenous drug users than high school students. San Francisco, which operates 15 high schools, currently has 16,000 students enrolled grades nine through twelve.

By comparison, the northern California city currently has 24,500 “injection drug users.” That is approximately 8,500 more drug users than high school students.

As I mentioned yesterday, the city of San Francisco gave out 5.8 million free syringes to drug users last year.

When you have such widespread drug use, people are going to commit a lot of crime and they are going to do some really weird things.  Just consider the following example

Authorities are searching for a man seen on security footage licking the doorbell of a California home and relieving himself in the family’s yard.

Police have identified the man as Roberto Arroyo, 33, and say that he spent three hours around the Salinas home of Sylvia and Dave Dungan.

The couple had been out of town, during the strange incident, but their children were sleep inside the family’s home. They noticed something amiss when they woke up to multiple alerts from their surveillance system, which notifies the homeowners whenever there is movement near the front door.

A lot of really good people used to live in California, but they left because of stupid stuff like this.

In fact, quite a few of my best friends are people that have moved out of the state within the last 10 years.

Over the past decade we have seen a mass exodus out of California.  And according to Kristin Tate, the author of a new book entitled “How Do I Tax Thee?: A Field Guide to the Great American Rip-Off“, the “upper-middle class” has been moving out of the state faster than anyone else…

The largest socioeconomic segment moving from California is the upper-middle class. The state is home to some of the most burdensome taxes and regulations in the nation. Meanwhile, its social engineering — from green energy to wealth redistribution — have made many working families poorer. As California begins its long decline, the influx outward is picking up in earnest.

Overall, approximately 5 million people have packed up and permanently moved out of California within the last 10 years.

Unfortunately, the entire nation is slowly becoming just like California, and if we don’t turn things around eventually there will be no place left to go.

Get Prepared NowAbout the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared Now, The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters. His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News. From there, his articles are republished on dozens of other prominent websites. If you would like to republish his articles, please feel free to do so. The more people that see this information the better, and we need to wake more people up while there is still time.

Scenes Of Despair

Sometimes it can be easy to forget that behind all of the horrible economic numbers that we hear about are millions of real people that have had their lives absolutely devastated by this economy.  Elderly couples are being brutally evicted from their homes, young families are living in their cars, terminally ill people are dying because they cannot afford medication that they need and millions of parents can’t sleep at night as they wrestle with anxiety over not being able to provide for their children.  Often those that lose their jobs or their homes discover that people start looking at them very differently and that there is very little compassion out there these days.  As you will read about below, one major U.S. bank is even kicking an elderly woman with stage 4 breast cancer out of her home because she cannot make her full mortgage payment each month.  When the next major global financial catastrophe happens, we are going to see a whole lot more economic despair.  Will society respond to that crisis by becoming warmer and more compassionate, or will the world around us become even more cold and even more cruel?  As bad as things are right now, it truly is frightening to think about what the world is going to look like after the next major economic downturn.

Many of the stories that you are about to read are truly heartbreaking.  Unfortunately, they represent thousands upon thousands of other stories that never make it into the news….

Foreclosing On An Elderly Woman With Stage 4 Breast Cancer

Wells Fargo is threatening to evict an elderly woman with stage 4 breast cancer named Cindi Davis from her family home in North Carolina….

“They want us to make a house payment of almost $900 a month,” Cindi told the station of their lender, Wells Fargo bank. “We can afford maybe half that. I pay $1,100 a month in prescription medications.”

The couple says they have tried to work with Wells Fargo, even sending notes from Cindi’s doctors explaining her condition, but haven’t been able to come to a workable solution.

“They’re just going to put us out and it’s like, we are willing to pay what we can pay, but it’s not enough,” Cindi said.

Her cancer is in her lungs, lymph nodes and on her liver and she’s gone through a double mastectomy and multiple chemotherapy treatments, but Cindi has handled her disease like a fighter.

Cindi and her husband say that if they are evicted they may have to move in to their pickup truck.

Can you imagine living your last days in a truck as you try desperately to battle stage 4 breast cancer?

Crushing Poverty In Greece

As I have written about before, Greece is essentially experiencing a full-blown economic depression at this point.

There is a severe shortage of medicine in Greece right now, and many doctors are essentially volunteers at this point because so few people can actually afford to pay their bills.  The following description of the chaos in the Greek healthcare system comes from a recent Natural News article….

The economic situation in Greece is only continuing to worsen, as reports indicate that hospitals and care centers throughout the nation are running completely out of medicines, and many healthcare workers are now voluntarily providing care services without pay.

Strapped with spiraling debt, the Greek healthcare, which is government-run, has had to receive gobs of international financial aid just to keep operating with some semblance of normalcy. There has also been plenty of IOUs issued, and desperate patients quietly forking over cash “gifts” to doctors to receive treatments. All in all, the healthcare situation is in utter chaos, save for those that have sacrificed their own time, often free of charge, just to help those in need.

But it is not just the healthcare system that is deeply troubled.

Economic conditions have gotten so bad in Greece that some parents are actually abandoning their children in the streets according to the Daily Mail….

Children are being abandoned on Greece’s streets by their poverty-stricken families who cannot afford to look after them any more.

Youngsters are being dumped by their parents who are struggling to make ends meet in what is fast becoming the most tragic human consequence of the Euro crisis.

Could you ever do that to your children?

Sadly, it looks like things are going to get even worse in Greece.  It is being projected that the unemployment rate in Greece will reach 30 percent by the end of the year.

Economic Shutdown In Portugal

Greece is not the only European nation that is going through an economic nightmare right now.  The truth is that much of southern Europe is virtually shutting down right now.

Simon Black has described what he witnessed during a recent visit to Porto – the second largest city in Portugal….

Excluding the city’s still-bustling tourist areas, it’s very quiet around the city.

Street-level retail shops and restaurants are either devoid of customers or have been vacated. On many blocks I’ve seen more “for lease” signs than operating businesses.

Officially, the unemployment rate is 15.2% in Portugal, and the economy will contract 3% this year… yet the clear lack of economic activity suggests the real figures are much greater.

Without doubt, reality has set in. Locals have capitulated ‘hope’ that the good times will magically re-appear and have adjusted their habits accordingly.

American Families Living In Their Cars

In some areas of the United States you would never even know that an economic crisis is happening, but in other areas things are clearly falling apart very rapidly.  There is a very serious shortage of decent jobs in most parts of the country, and we are seeing clear signs of societal breakdown in many of our major cities.

During the last recession, millions of Americans lost their jobs.  Because a lot of them did not have much money saved up, many of those unemployed Americans also quickly lost their homes.

In the end, some of them ended up living in their vehicles.

And living in a car can be absolute hell.  The following is from an ABC News report….

Three children — one suffering second-degree burns — were taken into protective custody Monday after they were discovered living with their parents in a “filthy” car in a Walmart parking lot.

Police were called to the parking lot Monday morning in Mount Dora, Fla., where they found the family of five living in a 1987 Cadillac Coupe de Ville full of clothes and garbage. Police told the Orlando Sentinel that days-old chicken bones were strewn about the car, along with a spoiled carton of milk and a bottle of tequila.

Other families try to make the best of it that they can.  The following is one touching example from a recent 60 Minutes report….

This is the home of the Metzger family. Arielle, 15. Her brother Austin, 13. Their mother died when they were very young. Their dad, Tom, is a carpenter.  And, he’s been looking for work ever since Florida’s construction industry collapsed. When foreclosure took their house, he bought the truck on Craigslist with his last thousand dollars. Tom’s a little camera shy – thought we ought to talk to the kids – and it didn’t take long to see why.

Pelley: How long have you been living in this truck?

Arielle Metzger: About five months.

Pelley: What’s that like?

Arielle Metzger: It’s an adventure.

Austin Metzger: That’s how we see it.

Pelley: When kids at school ask you where you live, what do you tell ’em?

Austin Metzger: When they see the truck they ask me if I live in it, and when I hesitate they kinda realize. And they say they won’t tell anybody.

Arielle Metzger: Yeah it’s not really that much an embarrassment. I mean, it’s only life. You do what you need to do, right?

Could you imagine being 13 years old or 15 years old and living in a truck?

Unfortunately, during the next major economic downturn a whole lot more families are going to end up living like this.

Desperately Hoping For Rain

Yesterday I wrote about how corn crops are dying all over the United States right now.

For most Americans, this will just mean higher prices at the grocery store.

But for corn farmers, a lack of rain can be absolutely devastating.  The following are some recent comments from farmers about this crippling drought on agweb.com….

I am a small farmer, but my crops in Wayne County, Ill., are the worst I have had sine 1952-53. Corn will be lucky to make 10 bu. and beans are going downhill. It’s been over 100 degrees for 11 straight days. Bad crop.

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Dryland corn is done! Some people in denial need to walk in field. Later corn tasseled and pollinating with no silks! No rain in seven days or low humidity 90 degrees and warmer by weekend. Yield range for corn on our farms…0 to 0 bpa. Soybeans…if it rains which is a big if may have some hope, not holding my breath!!

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This is my 50th year of grain farming, so I think that I can say that I’ve seen it all. This is worse than 1988-Much worse for corn. Beans could still be fair if it starts to rain soon. Sat.-Sun. rains totaled only 1/4 inch.

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This is worse than 1983 and 1988. Corn yield will be 30 to 40% of last year’s yield. The jury is still out on the beans. $10 corn is likely, because there will be so little of it relative to demand. Very sad…

You can see some incredible pictures of the drought in the middle part of the country right here.

When the economy falls to pieces, the politicians and the big banks get all the air time, but it is average hard working people that feel the most pain.

As the economy gets a lot worse (and it will) there is going to be a huge need for more love and compassion.  The government is not going to be able “to save” everyone, and even now way too many people are falling through the cracks in the “safety net”.

Instead of looking down on the homeless and the unemployed, don’t be afraid to give them a helping hand up.

You never know, you might be the one in need of some assistance someday.

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