The evidence that the middle class in America is dying continues to mount. As you will see below, nearly half the country would be unable “to cover an unexpected $400 expense”, and about two-thirds of the population lives paycheck to paycheck at least part of the time. Of course the economy has not been doing that well overall in recent years. Barack Obama was the only president in all of U.S. history not to have a single year when the economy grew by at least 3 percent, and U.S. GDP growth during the first quarter of 2017 was an anemic 0.7 percent. During the Obama era, it is true that wealthy enclaves in New York, northern California and Washington D.C. did thrive, but meanwhile most of the rest of the country has been left behind.
Nearly eight years into an economic recovery, nearly half of Americans didn’t have enough cash available to cover a $400 emergency. Specifically, the survey found that, in line with what the Fed had disclosed in previous years, 44% of respondents said they wouldn’t be able to cover an unexpected $400 expense like a car repair or medical bill, or would have to borrow money or sell something to meet it.
Just as concerning were other findings from the study: just under one-fourth of adults, or 23%, are not able to pay all of their current month’s bills in full while 25% reported skipping medical treatments due to cost in the prior year. Additionally, 28% of adults who haven’t retired yet reported to being grossly unprepared, indicating they had no retirement savings or pension whatsoever.
But just because you can pay your bills does not mean that you are doing well. Tens of millions of Americans barely scrape by from paycheck to paycheck each and every month.
In fact, a survey by CareerBuilder discovered that 75 percent of all Americans live paycheck to paycheck at least some of the time…
Three-quarters of Americans (75 percent) are living paycheck-to-paycheck to make ends meet, according to a survey from CareerBuilder. Thirty-eight percent of employees said they sometimes live paycheck-to-paycheck, 15 percent said they usually do and 23 percent said they always do. While making ends meet is a struggle for many post-recession, those with minimum wage jobs continue to be hit the hardest. Of workers who currently have a minimum wage job or have held one in the past, 66 percent said they couldn’t make ends meet and 50 percent said they had to work more than one job to make it work.
So please don’t be fooled into thinking that the U.S. economy is doing well because the stock market has been hitting new record highs.
The stock market was soaring just before the financial crisis of 2008 too, and we remember how that turned out.
Just about everywhere you look, businesses are struggling and stores are shutting down. Yes, there are a few wealthy enclaves where everything seems wonderful for the moment, but for most of the country it seems like the last recession never ended.
In a desperate attempt to stay afloat, a lot of families have been turning to debt to make ends meet. U.S. household debt has just hit a brand new all-time record high of 12.7 trillion dollars, but we are starting to see an alarming rise in auto loan defaults and consumer bankruptcies. This is precisely what we would expect to see if the U.S. economy was moving into another major recession.
In fact, we are seeing all sorts of signs that point to a major economic slowdown right now. Just check out the following from Wolf Richter’s latest article…
Over the past five decades, each time commercial and industrial loan balances at US banks shrank or stalled as companies cut back or as banks tightened their lending standards in reaction to the economy they found themselves in, a recession was either already in progress or would start soon. There has been no exception since the 1960s. Last time this happened was during the Financial Crisis.
Now it’s happening again – with a 1990/91 recession twist.
Commercial and industrial loans outstanding fell to $2.095 trillion on May 10, according to the Fed’s Board of Governors weekly report on Friday. That’s down 4.5% from the peak on November 16, 2016. It’s below the level of outstanding C&I loans on October 19. And it marks the 30th week in a row of no growth in C&I loans.
Perhaps we will be very fortunate and break this pattern that has held up all the way back to the 1960s.
But I wouldn’t count on it. Here is what Zero Hedge has to say about this alarming contraction in commercial and industrial loans…
Here’s the bottom line: unless there is a sharp rebound in loan growth in the next 3-6 months – whether due to greater demand or easier supply – this most accurate of leading economic indicators guarantees that a recession is now inevitable.
As Americans, we tend to have such short memories. Every time a new financial bubble starts forming, a lot of people out there start behaving as if it can last indefinitely.
But of course no financial bubble is going to last forever. They all burst eventually, and now the biggest one in U.S. history is about to end in spectacular fashion.
Trump will get a lot of the blame since he is the current occupant of the White House, but the truth is that the conditions for the next crisis have been building up for many years, and the horrors that the U.S. economy is heading for were entirely predictable.
Should we make homelessness against the law and simply throw all homeless people into prison so that we don’t have to deal with them? Incredibly, this is actually starting to happen in dozens of major cities all across the United States. It may be difficult to believe, but in many large urban areas today, if you are found guilty of “public camping” you can be taken directly to jail. In some cities, activities such as “blocking a walkway” or creating any sort of “temporary structure for human habitation” are also considered to be serious crimes. And there are some communities that have even made it illegal to feed the homeless without an official permit. Unfortunately, as the U.S. economy continues to slow down the number of homeless people will continue to grow, and so this is a crisis that is only going to grow in size and scope.
Of course the goal of many of these laws is to get the homeless to go somewhere else. But as these laws start to multiply all across the nation, pretty soon there won’t be too many places left where it is actually legal to be homeless.
One city that is being highly criticized for passing extremely draconian laws is Houston. In that city it is actually illegal for the homeless to use any sort of material to shield themselves from the wind, the rain and the cold…
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner is taking a similar approach—his anti-encampment ordinance makes it illegal to use “fabric, metal, cardboard, or other materials as a tent or temporary structure for human habitation.” This ensures that the Houstonian homeless are vulnerable not just to the elements, but also to the constant threat of the police. Officials cite one of the most common justifications for crackdowns on the homeless: neighborhood safety (a more socially acceptable way of talking about the not-in-my-backyard mentality).
With all of the other problems that we are facing as a nation, it stuns me that there are politicians that would spend their time dreaming up such sick and twisted laws.
According to one news report, the homeless in Houston are now officially banned from doing all of the following things…
1. They can’t block a sidewalk, stand in a roadway median or block a building doorway. (AKA they can’t panhandle).
2. They also can’t do any of these things — blocking walkways — under state law that already existed.
3. They can’t sleep in tents, boxes or any other makeshift shelter on public property.
4. They also can’t have heating devices.
5. They can’t carry around belongings that take up space more than three feet long, three feet wide, three feet tall.
6. People can’t spontaneously feed more than five homeless people without a permit.
If I was a homeless person in Houston, I would definitely be looking to get out of there.
But where are they going to go?
Things are almost as bad in Dallas. In fact, it is being reported that the police in Dallas “issued over 11,000 citations for sleeping in public from January 2012 to November 2015.”
When you break that number down, it comes to 323 citations per month.
Of course some people have tried to challenge these types of laws in court, but most of the challenges have been unsuccessful. For example, just check out what recently happened in Denver…
Three people who were contesting Denver’s urban-camping ban were found guilty on Wednesday, April 5, at the Lindsey-Flanigan courthouse. The defendants — Jerry Burton, Randy Russell and Terese Howard — were determined to have unlawfully camped on November 28, 2016, and to have interfered with police operations at one location. All three were sentenced with court-ordered probation for one year and between twenty and forty hours of community service.
The case challenged Denver’s unauthorized-camping ordinance, which has been divisive ever since Denver City Council approved it in 2012.
Since the courts are generally upholding these laws, this has just emboldened more communities to adopt anti-homelessness ordinances. According to one report, dozens of major cities have now passed such laws…
City-wide bans on public camping (PDF) have increased by 69 percent throughout the United States. What used to be seen as an annoyance is now prohibited, forcing fines or jail time on those who certainly can’t afford it. The only nationwide nonprofit devoted to studying this, the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, has been tracking these changes since 2006. Their findings? There are a scary number of laws passed that ironically make it costly to be homeless.
For example, in 33 of the 100 U.S. cities they studied, it’s illegal to publicly camp. In 18, it’s illegal to sleep in public. Panhandling is illegal in 27 cities.
In 39 cities, it’s illegal to live in vehicles.
As I have warned repeatedly, we are seeing hearts grow cold all around us. Instead of doing everything that they can to try to help those in need, communities are trying to make them go some place else, and those that try to feed and help the homeless are being harshly penalized.
Sadly, all of this comes at a time when homelessness is on the rise all over America. In a previous article I pointed out that in New York City the number of homeless people recently hit a brand new all-time high, and things have gotten so bad in Los Angeles that the L.A. City Council has formally requested that Governor Jerry Brown declare a state of emergency.
We tend to think of the homeless as bearded old men with drinking problems, but the truth is that many of the homeless are children.
In fact, the number of homeless children in the United States has risen by about 60 percent since the end of the last recession.
If this is how we are going to treat some of the most vulnerable members of our society while things are still relatively stable, how are we going to be treating one another when the economy completely collapses?
If you want to be a “Good Samaritan” to the homeless in your community, you might want to check and see if it is legal first. All over the country, cities are passing laws that make it illegal to feed and shelter the homeless. For example, in this article you will read about a church in Maryland that was just fined $12,000 for simply allowing homeless people to sleep outside the church at night. This backlash against homeless people comes at a time when homelessness in America is absolutely exploding. In a previous article, I shared with my readers the fact that the number of homeless people in New York City has just set a brand new all-time high, and the homelessness crisis in California has become so severe that the L.A. City Council has formally asked Governor Jerry Brown to declare a state of emergency. Sadly, instead of opening up our hearts to the rapidly growing number of Americans without a home, way too many communities are trying to use the law to force them to go somewhere else.
For nearly two thousand years, churches have been at the forefront of helping the poor and disadvantaged, but now many communities are trying to stop this from happening. Earlier today, I was absolutely stunned when I came across an article that talked about how a church in Dundalk, Maryland has been fined $12,000 for allowing the homeless to sleep outside the church at night…
“I showed up Wednesday morning to find a citation on the door that said we’re going to be fined $12,000 and have a court date because we have unhoused homeless people sleeping outside the church at night,” said Reverend Katie Grover with the Patapsco United Methodist Church.
Grover added that the men and women who sleep outside their doors do so because they have nowhere else to go and because they feel safe there.
“We feel we here as a church that it’s scriptural mandate that’s it an imperative to care for the least, the last, the lost, the poor, the hungry,” she said.
The authorities in Dundalk say that the church is running a “non-permitted rooming and boarding house”, and the severity of this fine is likely to put the church in significant financial difficulty if it is forced to pay it. You can watch a local news report discussing this story on YouTube right here…
Of course Dundalk is far from alone. All across the U.S. laws have been passed that specifically target the homeless. According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, the following are some of the most typical ways that the homeless are targeted…
Carrying out sweeps (confiscating personal property including tents, bedding, papers, clothing, medications, etc.) in city areas where homeless people live.
Making panhandling illegal.
Making it illegal for groups to share food with homeless persons in public spaces.
Enforcing a “quality of life” ordinance relating to public activity and hygiene.
There are some people that have been feeding the hungry for decades that now find that their work has been suddenly made illegal. For instance, down in Houston a Good Samaritan named Jay Hamberger is outraged that the help that he has been providing to the homeless for 27 years has now made him an outlaw…
Jay Hamberger has been bringing food to Houston’s homeless for 27 years. He feels the city is infringing on his right to help others by requiring him to have prior permission to distribute food on public and private property.
“I’ve done it with impunity for 27 years now, and I’m the most law-abiding outlaw, because what I’m doing is illegal,” Hamberger said. “My understanding is that there’s no legal way to make this right with the city.”
This is just another example of how our society is being strangled to death by control freaks.
If I see someone that is desperately hungry and I want to give that person food, then I am going to do it no matter what the law says.
Unfortunately, as the homelessness crisis continues to escalate these types of laws are only going to increase. Even in supposedly “tolerant” areas of the country we are seeing draconian measures being implemented. For example, just check out the new ordinance that was just passed in Los Angeles…
LA legislators passed an ordinance that would ban people from sleeping in cars and recreational vehicles (RVs) near homes, parks and schools. Advocates see the ordinance as the latest move to criminalize homeless people.
The Los Angeles City Council voted in favor of the ordinance on Wednesday. Banning people from sleeping near homes, schools and parks in their vehicles, would, if signed into law, only make it legal to sleep overnight in cars and RV’s in industrial or commercial districts from 9:00pm to 6:00am.
As millions of Americans have fallen out of the middle class in recent years, we have seen an explosion in the number of people living in cars, trucks and recreational vehicles. This is something that I addressed in my recent article entitled “Living In A Van Down By The River – Time To Face The True State Of The Middle Class In America“. During this time of the year many that live in their vehicles head for warmer climates, and cities like Los Angeles are responding to the influx of homeless people by trying to force them to go somewhere else.
And this “war on the homeless” has actually been ramping up for quite a while. Just check out these numbers from the Washington Post…
Cities have enacted a wave of crackdowns and new laws against panhandling, camping and other activities associated with homelessness. They say such efforts help preserve the renewed vitality, curbing crime, health problems and behaviors that bother residents and disrupt business.
Between 2011 and 2014, the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty found that bans on sleeping in cars shot up 119 percent, citywide camping prohibitions jumped 60 percent, anti-loitering laws increased 35 percent and anti-begging laws increased 25 percent in a survey of 187 cities.
Homeless people do not have a permanent address, and there is always a temptation to try to force them to go somewhere else so that they become someone else’s problem.
But the truth is that we have a massive national crisis on our hands. The number of homeless children in this country has increased by 60 percent since the end of the last recession, and the number of homeless people sleeping in shelters has risen to record levels in major cities on both the east and west coast.
And considering the fact that about two-thirds of the country is currently living paycheck to paycheck, how bad will things get once the next major recession strikes?
Poverty is growing all over the nation, and at the same time hearts all over America are growing very cold.
I truly fear for what this country is going to look like just a few years from now.
If you tried to put up a large cross in a public park in New York City there would be lawsuits flying all over the place, but apparently an ancient pagan arch that served as a gateway to the Temple of Baal is no problem at all. On Monday, September 19th, a reconstructed version of Palmyra’s Arch Of Triumph (also known as the Monumental Arch) will be erected in New York City. Specifically, it will be located in City Hall Park in Manhattan. The organization behind this project is known as the Institute for Digital Archaeology, and they have confirmed the location and the date on their official website…
This arch was originally constructed in Palmyra, Syria by the Roman Emperor Septimius Severus in the 3rd century A.D., and it stood there until it was destroyed by ISIS in 2015. The following comes from the Wikipedia article about this arch…
The Monumental Arch, also called the Arch of Triumph (Arabic: قوس النصر) or the Arch of Septimius Severus, was a Roman ornamental archway in Palmyra, Syria. It was built in the 3rd century during the reign of emperor Septimius Severus. Its ruins later became one of the main attractions of Palmyra, until it was destroyed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in October 2015. Most of its stonework still survives and there are plans to rebuild it using anastylosis.
On this map you can see how Palmyra was laid out. The Arch of Triumph (identified on the map as the “monumental arch”) connected the main street of the Colonnade with the Temple of Bel. If you wanted to go to the Temple of Bel, there was essentially one way in and one way out, and everyone coming and going would pass through this arch.
Those that are familiar with ancient Middle Eastern deities already know that “Bel” and the “Baal” that we find in the Bible were one and the same. Here is more from Wikipedia…
Back in April, the arch that stood directly in front of the Temple of Baal was supposed to be put up in Times Square, but fortunately that project was ultimately canceled. A reproduction of the Arch of Triumph (the arch discussed in this article) was put up in Trafalgar Square in London at that time, and there were rumblings that a reproduction of the Arch of Triumph would also come to New York at a later date.
Unfortunately, that has now become a reality.
So why are people getting so upset about some ancient arch that may be connected to an ancient god that nobody seems to worship anymore?
Well, the truth is that “Baal” is mentioned in the Bible more than 100 times. A very high percentage of current world religions can be traced directly back to this ancient deity and to ancient Babylon, and the practices involved in ancient Baal worship are “eerily similar” to things that go on in society today. The following comes from an excellent article by Matt Barber…
Ritualistic Baal worship, in sum, looked a little like this: Adults would gather around the altar of Baal. Infants would then be burned alive as a sacrificial offering to the deity. Amid horrific screams and the stench of charred human flesh, congregants – men and women alike – would engage in bisexual orgies. The ritual of convenience was intended to produce economic prosperity by prompting Baal to bring rain for the fertility of “mother earth.”
The natural consequences of such behavior – pregnancy and childbirth – and the associated financial burdens of “unplanned parenthood” were easily offset. One could either choose to engage in homosexual conduct or – with child sacrifice available on demand – could simply take part in another fertility ceremony to “terminate” the unwanted child.
Modern liberalism deviates little from its ancient predecessor. While its macabre rituals have been sanitized with flowery and euphemistic terms of art, its core tenets and practices remain eerily similar.
We tend to think that we are vastly more “advanced” than the pagan idol worshippers of the ancient world, but is that really the case?
They killed their babies by the thousands, but we have killed our babies by the millions.
They had “free love” around the altars of Baal, but we have turned it into a permanent lifestyle.
Multitudes would gather around the altars of Baal to watch the bisexual orgies, but we have turned watching others having sex into a multi-billion dollar industry.
Just like ancient Israel, our society has turned away from following the God that created all things, and instead we are embracing the ways of the ancient pagan world. Unfortunately, there are very serious consequences for doing this. Just consider what Jonathan Cahn recently told George Noory during an interview on Coast to Coast…
“Western Civilization was once totally pagan and then in a sense it got cleaned up,” Cahn said. “But what [one of these mysteries is] saying is, if it turns back away from God and turns to evil and immorality, it’s going to be seven times worse than it does before. And how that translates is, before you had the Gospel you had Nero, you had Caligula. But when you have a post-Christian civilization, it’s much more dangerous than a pre-Christian one. But that’s when you produce Hitlers, you produce Stalins, you produce ultimately the Antichrist. That’s end-time prophecy. We are witnessing that as well.”
I believe that it is quite appropriate that an arch that once served as a gateway to the Temple of Baal is going up in New York City on Monday, because we are going down the exact same path that ancient Israel once did.
Sadly, if we keep doing the same things that they once did, our ultimate fate will end up being very similar as well.
UPDATE: The arch has now been unveiled, and you can see video of the unveiling right here…
Michael Moore is a radical leftist that is trying to destroy everything that America once stood for, but for once he is making sense. In his recent article entitled “5 Reasons Why Trump Will Win“, he makes a compelling case for why Donald Trump could win the election in November. I can’t remember the last time I actually agreed with Michael Moore about something, but in this instance I do. The American people are very angry and very frustrated, and they want someone that is going to shake things up in Washington. Needless to say, that is not going to be Hillary Clinton. According to Real Clear Politics, Trump has won five of the last six major national polls, and top Democrats are starting to understand that they could actually lose to the New York billionaire.
As Michael Moore has pointed out, the key to the election may be the upper Midwest. That is why it may turn out to be very wise that Trump has picked a running mate from the region. Residents of the upper Midwest have watched NAFTA and other “free trade deals” turn their formerly booming economy into an area now known as “the rust belt”. Now that there is a major presidential candidate that is openly speaking out against these “free trade deals”, they will finally have a real opportunity to let their voices be heard. The following is from the Michael Moore article that I mentioned above…
I believe Trump is going to focus much of his attention on the four blue states in the rustbelt of the upper Great Lakes – Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Four traditionally Democratic states – but each of them have elected a Republican governor since 2010 (only Pennsylvania has now finally elected a Democrat). In the Michigan primary in March, more Michiganders came out to vote for the Republicans (1.32 million) that the Democrats (1.19 million). Trump is ahead of Hillary in the latest polls in Pennsylvania and tied with her in Ohio. Tied? How can the race be this close after everything Trump has said and done? Well maybe it’s because he’s said (correctly) that the Clintons’ support of NAFTA helped to destroy the industrial states of the Upper Midwest.
Since NAFTA went into effect on January 1, 1994, the United States has lost tens of thousands of manufacturing facilities and millions of good paying jobs. Once upon a time, the city of Detroit had the highest per capita income in the entire country, but now it is a rotting, decaying, crime-infested disaster zone that the rest of the world makes jokes about.
It was under Bill Clinton that NAFTA was implemented, and Bill and Hillary have long been supportive of NAFTA and other “free trade deals” that have been responsible for systematically dismantling America’s economic infrastructure. Trump has already made this a major theme of his campaign, and the voters in the rust belt states could potentially make the difference in who wins in November. Here is some additional analysis from Michael Moore…
And this is where the math comes in. In 2012, Mitt Romney lost by 64 electoral votes. Add up the electoral votes cast by Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. It’s 64. All Trump needs to do to win is to carry, as he’s expected to do, the swath of traditional red states from Idaho to Georgia (states that’ll never vote for Hillary Clinton), and then he just needs these four rust belt states. He doesn’t need Florida. He doesn’t need Colorado or Virginia. Just Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. And that will put him over the top. This is how it will happen in November.
But there is another factor that Michael Moore has pointed out that I think we should consider as well. While most American voters take their votes very seriously, there is a small minority that will let some of the most frivolous reasons imaginable decide their votes.
Some Americans just want a good story. Others want to stick it to the establishment. Yet others just “want to see what will happen” if a certain person gets into the White House. And it seems quite likely that Donald Trump will win the “curiosity vote”, the “anger vote”, and “the twisted sense of humor vote”. Everyone pretty much knows what we will get with Hillary Clinton in the White House (and it would be horrible), but there is a great mystery as far as what Donald Trump would do as president. I happen to agree with Michael Moore that this is a factor that greatly favors Trump…
You can take as long as you need in there and no one can make you do anything. You can push the button and vote a straight party line, or you can write in Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. There are no rules. And because of that, and the anger that so many have toward a broken political system, millions are going to vote for Trump not because they agree with him, not because they like his bigotry or ego, but just because they can. Just because it will upset the apple cart and make mommy and daddy mad. And in the same way like when you’re standing on the edge of Niagara Falls and your mind wonders for a moment what would that feel like to go over that thing, a lot of people are going to love being in the position of puppetmaster and plunking down for Trump just to see what that might look like.
But before you get too excited about a Trump presidency, let us not forget that the electoral map tends to greatly favor Democrats. All Hillary has to do is to win all of the states that she is expected to win and add one battleground state…
Perhaps you enjoy talk of battleground states. Well, there’s a scenario for you, too. First, pick the six “closest” swing states (VA, NH, IA, OH, FL, NC). Got it? Now understand that New Hampshire excepted, Clinton only has to win one of them in order to reach the requisite 270 electoral votes to win.
It remains my contention that the establishment will do whatever they have to do to keep Donald Trump out of the White House. And now that the general election looks like it will be much closer than anticipated, we may get to see what lengths the establishment is willing to go to in order to get rid of a “problem candidate”.
The gigantic wildfire that has forced the evacuation of the entire city of Fort McMurray in northern Alberta has been nicknamed “the Beast“, and mainstream news reports are telling us that it is now approximately 25 percent larger than New York City. 88,000 people have already been forced out of their homes, at least 1,600 buildings have been destroyed, and smoke from the fire has been spotted as far away as Iowa. To say that this is a “disaster” is a massive understatement. Northern Alberta is “tinder dry” right now, and authorities say that high winds could result in the size of the fire doubling by the end of the weekend. One-fourth of Canada’s oil output has already been shut down, and the edge of the fire is now getting very close to the neighboring province of Saskatchewan. This is already the most expensive natural disaster in the history of Canada, and officials fully expect to be fighting this blaze for months to come.
At this point, only rain is going to stop this fire. Canadian authorities insist that they are not going to be able to defeat this raging inferno no matter how many resources they throw at it. The best that they can hope for is to try to steer it away from heavily populated areas until the rain comes.
Nobody knows precisely how this tragedy is going to end, but everyone agrees that it is going to last for quite some time. According to the Washington Post, this fire has the potential to keep on burning “for months”…
The images are ones of devastation — scorched homes, virtually whole neighborhoods burned to the ground. And Canadian officials say they expect to fight the massive wildfire that has destroyed large parts of Alberta’s oil sands town for months.
There’s fear the growing wildfire could double in size and reach a major oil sands mine and even the neighboring province of Saskatchewan.
I have relatives that live up in Alberta, and this is the biggest thing to hit that part of the world in many, many years.
This massive fire is making headlines all over the planet, and some of the video footage that is emerging is so shocking that it can be hard to believe. Some of the terms being used to describe the devastation are “hell”, “the end of the world” and “Armageddon”…
“It was something like Armageddon,” said Morgan Elliott, who traveled with his fiancee, Cara Kennedy, and their baby, Abigail. “Everything was burnt, houses gone. Leaving the city, it was like a scene out of a movie. It reminded me of the TV show ‘The Walking Dead’ where you’re going on the highway, and there’s just abandoned vehicles everywhere; hundreds of cars, just abandoned vehicles.”
In this YouTube video, you can watch vehicles attempt to escape Fort McMurray as hot embers from towering flames just a few feet away rain down on them. What would you do in this kind of situation?…
The amount of resources that has been committed to fighting this fire has been unprecedented, and yet it just continues to rage wildly out of control. The following comes from CNN…
The blaze is moving in a northeast direction and could reach the border with Saskatchewan by the end of Saturday, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said.
The response has been massive. Notley said more than 500 firefighters are battling the blaze around Fort McMurray, with the help of 15 helicopters and 14 air tankers. More than 1,400 firefighters and 133 helicopters are fighting blazes across the province.
Unfortunately, a lot of Americans simply are not going to care what is happening up in Alberta because it is in Canada.
I just checked the U.S. Drought Monitor, and much of the western third of the country is still extremely dry. Conditions are certainly ripe for another horrible wildfire season, and so let us pray for lots of rain between right now and the end of the summer.
Because all we have to do to see what a worst case scenario looks like is to watch what is going on in Fort McMurray right now.
To me, this is the closest thing that we have seen to “hell on Earth” in a very long time…
Last month, a “secret meeting” that involved more than 100 executives from some of the biggest financial institutions in the United States was held in New York City. During this “secret meeting“, a company known as “Chain” unveiled a technology that transforms U.S. dollars into “pure digital assets”. Reportedly, there were representatives from Nasdaq, Citigroup, Visa, Fidelity, Fiserv and Pfizer in the room, and Chain also claims to be partnering with Capital One, State Street, and First Data. This “revolutionary” technology is intended to completely change the way that we use money, and it would represent a major step toward a cashless society. But if this new digital cash system is going to be so good for society, why was it unveiled during a secret meeting for Wall Street bankers? Is there something more going on here than we are being told?
On a recent Monday in April, more than 100 executives from some of the world’s largest financial institutions gathered for a private meeting at the Times Square office of Nasdaq Inc. They weren’t there to just talk about blockchain, the new technology some predict will transform finance, but to build and experiment with the software.
By the end of the day, they had seen something revolutionary: U.S. dollars transformed into pure digital assets, able to be used to execute and settle a trade instantly. That’s the promise of a blockchain, where the cumbersome and error-prone system that takes days to move money across town or around the world is replaced with almost instant certainty.
So it is not just Michael Snyder from The Economic Collapse Blog that is referring to this gathering as a “secret meeting”. This is actually how it was described by Bloomberg. And I think that there is a very good reason why this meeting was held in secret, because many in the general public would definitely be alarmed by this giant step toward a cashless society. Here is more on this new system from Bloomberg…
While cash in a bank account moves electronically all the time today, there’s a distinction between that system and what it means to say money is digital. Electronic payments are really just messages that cash needs to move from one account to another, and this reconciliation is what adds time to the payments process. For customers, moving money between accounts can take days as banks wait for confirmations. Digital dollars, however, are pre-loaded into a system like a blockchain. From there, they can be swapped immediately for an asset.
“Instead of a record or message being moved, it’s the actual asset,” Ludwin said. “The payment and the settlement become the same thing.”
Why this is so alarming is because we are seeing other major moves toward a cashless system all over the planet. In Sweden, 95 percent of all retail transactions are already cashless, and ATM machines are being removed by the hundreds. In Denmark, government officials actually have a stated goal of “eradicating cash” by the year 2030. And in Norway, the biggest bank in the country has publicly called for the complete elimination of all cash.
As I have written about previously, cash transactions of more than 2,500 euros have already been banned in Spain, and France and Italy have both banned all cash transactions of more than 1,000 euros.
Little by little, cash is being eradicated, and what we have seen so far is just the beginning. 417 billion cashless transactions were conducted in 2014, and the final number for 2015 is projected to be much higher.
The global push toward a cashless society is only going to intensify, because banks and governments both tend to really like the idea of such a system.
Banks really like the concept of a cashless society because it would force everyone to be their customers. There would be no more hiding cash in a mattress at home or trying to pay all of your bills with paper money. Under a cashless system, we would all be dependent on the banks, and they would make lots of money whenever we swiped our cards or our “chips” were scanned.
Governments see a lot of advantages in a cashless society as well. They tell us that they would be able to crack down on drug dealers, tax evaders, terrorists and money launderers, but the truth is that it would enable them to watch, track, monitor and control virtually all of our financial transactions. Our lives would become open books to the government, and financial privacy would be a thing of the past.
In addition, the potential for tyranny would be absolutely off the charts.
Just imagine a world where the government could serve as the gatekeeper for who is allowed to use the cashless system and who is not. They could require that we all submit to some sort of government-issued form of identification before being permitted to operate within the system, or it is even conceivable that a loyalty oath would be required.
Of course if you did not submit to their demands, you could not buy, sell, open a bank account or get a job without access to the cashless system.
Hopefully people can understand where this is going. Paper money is a very important component of our freedom, and if it is taken away from us that will open the door for all sorts of abuse.
Even now, cash is slowly being “criminalized” in America. For example, if cash is used to pay for a hotel room that is considered by federal authorities to be “suspicious activity” that should be reported to the government. Of course it isn’t against the law to pay your hotel bill in cash just yet, but according to the government it is something that “terrorists” do so it needs to be closely watched.
It doesn’t take a whole lot of imagination to see where all of this is going. And for those of us that understand what time it is, this is a clear indication that it is getting late in the game.
*About the author: Michael Snyder is the founder and publisher of The Economic Collapse Blog. Michael’s controversial new book about Bible prophecy entitled “The Rapture Verdict” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.*
What do you say to people that have completely lost all hope that things will ever get any better? The mountains of Appalachia stretch all the way from southern New York to northern Mississippi, and nestled within those mountains are dozens upon dozens of little towns that are so impoverished that they look like they have been through a war. Thanks to Barack Obama’s relentless assault on the coal industry and the ongoing collapse of our industrial infrastructure, Appalachia has lost millions of good paying jobs over the past several decades. Today, more than 40 percent of the population is living in poverty in some areas of eastern Kentucky, and addiction to “hillbilly heroin” (Oxycontin) is absolutely out of control throughout the region. Yes, poverty is on the rise all over America, but it has especially been cruel to those that make the mountains of Appalachia their home.
An article that was published in the Guardian on Thursday profiled the deeply impoverished town of Beattyville in eastern Kentucky. Life is very hard in Beattyville today, and it seems to be getting harder all the time…
The town’s poverty rate is 44% above the national average. Half of its families live below the poverty line. That includes three-quarters of those with children, with the attendant consequences. More than one-third of teenagers drop out of high school or leave without graduating. Just 5% of residents have college degrees.
Surrounding communities are little better. Beattyville is the capital of Lee County, named after the commander of the Confederate army of Northern Virginia in the civil war, General Robert E Lee.
Five of the 10 poorest counties in the US run in a line through eastern Kentucky and they include Lee County. Life expectancy in the county is among the worst in the US, which is not unconnected to the fact that more than half the population is obese. Men lived an average of just 68.3 years in 2013, a little more than eight years short of the national average. Women lived 76.4 years on average, about five years short of national life expectancy.
Because life can be so bitter in little towns like Beattyville, many have chosen to turn to alcohol and drugs in an attempt to escape reality. The following description of what life is like in the region today comes from Kevin D. Williamson…
Thinking about the future here and its bleak prospects is not much fun at all, so instead of too much black-minded introspection you have the pills and the dope, the morning beers, the endless scratch-off lotto cards, healing meetings up on the hill, the federally funded ritual of trading cases of food-stamp Pepsi for packs of Kentucky’s Best cigarettes and good old hard currency, tall piles of gas-station nachos, the occasional blast of meth, Narcotics Anonymous meetings, petty crime, the draw, the recreational making and surgical unmaking of teenaged mothers, and death: Life expectancies are short — the typical man here dies well over a decade earlier than does a man in Fairfax County, Va. — and they are getting shorter, women’s life expectancy having declined by nearly 1.1 percent from 1987 to 2007.
Many of you that are reading this article know exactly what Williamson is talking about, because you are living in one of those communities. It can be absolutely soul crushing to look into the hollow eyes of those that have long since given up on life day after day. There are some communities in America where you can feel the bitterness the moment that you drive into them. It is almost as if all of the life has been sucked out of the entire town. If you have ever experienced this, you know what I mean.
If there is hope, most people can endure just about anything. But when there is no hope, that is when deep depression sets in. And for many of those living in Appalachia, hope has long since departed. Just consider the words of long-time Beattyville resident Ed Courier…
“It’s bad. I don’t think rural America has a future,” said Courier. “The advantage rural areas had in the past of cheap labour is gone. We used to have a lot of little factories in this area but they’ve gone to Mexico or China. In rural areas housing is cheap but everything else costs more. Utility rates are higher. Food and transport are higher. Management doesn’t want to live in rural areas. Education is horrible here. This is a third-world county. My kids grew up here until they were eight or nine, then they went to school in Louisville [a 145-mile drive away]. I wouldn’t send them to school here.”
As economic conditions continue to deteriorate, people are starting to become more desperate. In many large cities, crime rates are already up by double digit percentages in 2015, and the thin veneer of civilization that we all take for granted is beginning to disappear. For example, down in Tampa it is being reported that there is an epidemic of house squatting going on right now…
Crooks find empty houses all over Tampa Bay and make themselves at home. And now, 8 On Your Side uncovered training manuals on the internet. They teach how to get away with squatting.
The handbooks are brazen. A pamphlet for sale on Amazon for $61.20. An entry on Wiki-How entices tells squatters how to “take a whole house from someone if you’re willing to take the risk.”
It points out the best areas to squat and even advises to spruce up the home to throw off suspicious neighbors.
And a tragic incident that just happened in Indianapolis really touched my heart. The following comes from ABC News…
A family in Indianapolis was torn apart when Amanda Blackburn, 28, died after being shot in the head by a mystery gunman.
Her husband, Pastor Davey Blackburn, returned to their home from the gym Tuesday and found his home broken into and his wife on the ground, officials said.
She died Wednesday, 12 weeks pregnant.
The couple, who have a child, appeared to be madly in love, posting YouTube videos on the way to a “romantic getaway” in Chicago and Amanda even offering marriage advice: “You can lead your wife best, by just being a really, really good Godly example to her.”
Please pray for Pastor Davey.
I can’t even imagine the pain that he must be going through right now.
Meanwhile, there are more signs that this new economic downturn that we are experiencing is about to get even worse…
-Unfortunately for all energy companies, the price of oil is not likely to go up significantly any time soon. The amount of oil being stored offshore has approximately doubled from earlier this year, and more supertankers full of unsold oil are joining the party almost every day…
While the crude oil tanker backlog in Houston reaches an almost unprecedented 39 (with combined capacity of 28.4 million barrels), as The FT reports that from China to the Gulf of Mexico, the growing flotilla of stationary supertankers is evidence that the oil price crash may still have further to run, as more than 100m barrels of crude oil and heavy fuels are being held on ships at sea (as the year-long supply glut fills up available storage on land).
-The amount of goods being shipped by rail, freight and air inside the United States continues to decline. For the month of October, the Cass Shipping Index was down 5.3 percent on a year over year basis.
-And it also looks like a new housing crisis is beginning to emerge. From September to October, the number of newly initiated foreclosures in the United States rose by 12 percent.
-Of course the elite understand what is happening, and they are working hard to get prepared. According to Bloomberg, global central banks are buying up gold “at a near-record pace”…
Central banks and other institutions boosted gold purchases to the second-highest level on record in the quarter to September as countries including China and Russia sought to diversify their foreign-exchange reserves.
Net purchases were 175 metric tons, nearing the record 179.5 tons in the same quarter a year earlier, and up from 127.9 tons in the preceding three-month period, the World Gold Council said in a report on Thursday. Still, over the first nine months central banks’ net purchases dropped 6.7 percent to 425.8 tons, according to the council.
Can you hear that sound? It is the sound of the air being let out of the economy. Since the election, there has been a massive tsunami of layoffs and business failures. Of course the company that is making the biggest headlines right now is Hostess. On Monday, Hostess will be in a New York bankruptcy courtroom as it begins the process of liquidating itself. Needless to say, Twinkie lovers all over America are horrified. Many are running out to grocery stores and hoarding as many as they can find, and some online sellers are already listing boxes of 10 Twinkies for as much as $10,000 on auction websites such as eBay. Well, there is really no reason to panic. It is very likely that another company will purchase the Twinkie brand and continue to produce them. In fact, it is already being rumored that a Mexican company may have the inside track. But even though the Twinkie may survive, the failure of Hostess is yet another sign of how weak the U.S. economy has become. Approximately 18,500 Hostess workers will be losing their jobs, and even if some of them are rehired by the company that takes over the Twinkie brand, the truth is that those workers will almost certainly be looking at greatly reduced pay and benefits. Sadly, we are seeing this kind of thing happen all over America. Large numbers of once thriving businesses are either shutting down or laying off workers. Overall, the failure of Hostess is not that big of a deal for the U.S. economy. But we may look back someday and remember Hostess as a symbol of the economic problems that were unleashed by the election of 2012. Since November 6th, a wave of pessimism has swept over the economy and we are now seeing some of the worst economic numbers that we have seen in more than a year. Many fear that we may have reached a tipping point and that things are only going to get worse from here.
Sadly, the reality is that Hostess is not the only iconic American company that is in a huge amount of trouble right now. Sears just announced a loss of nearly 500 million dollars in the third quarter. Sears has been bleeding money like this for a couple of years, and if they continue to do so it will just be a matter of time before Sears is headed for liquidation as well.
Can you imagine trying to explain the Sears catalog and Twinkies to future generations in a world where those things no longer exist?
Our world is changing at mind blowing speed, and the pace of change is only going to keep accelerating.
A few days after the election, I wrote an article about the huge number of layoff announcements that we saw after Barack Obama won.
Well, it has gotten even worse since then. The following is a partial list of the layoffs and job losses that have been announced since November 6th…
Abbott Labs 700
Adventist Health 48
Airlines SAS 6000
American Cotton Growers 110
American Independence Museum 4
American Airlines 4400 + 800 leaving voluntarily
American Coal 54
Atlantic Lottery Corporation 16
Assc Milk Producers 130
Aveo Oncology 45
Bechtel Power Corp 277
Bigpoint Games 47
Boston Scientific 1200
Brake Parts LLC 75
Brattleboro Retreat 31
Bristol Myers 500
Career Education 900 + Closing 23 Campuses
Consol Energy in W.V. 145
Crouse Hospital Syracuse NY 70
DEP in Tallahassee FL 15
DuPont, Co. 64
Eagle-Tribune, Andover 21
Emanuel Medical Cente 24
Energizer Holdings 1500
Exide Tech, Laureldale 150
City of Findlay, OH 39
First Energy 400
Gameforge Berlin 20
Gamesa Energy 92
GenOn Energy Inc 33
Glen Falls Hospital 29
GT Advanced Tech 165
Harris’ Broadcast 17
Hawker Beechcraft 400 + Facilities closing
Hill Rom 200
Hills Holdings 300
HMX Group 567
Iberia Airlines 4500
ICM of Colwich 25
Judson University 21
Juniper Networks 500
Kaiser Permanente 84
Kinetic Concepts 427
Kratos Defense Security 125
Lackawanna County PA 11
Lightyear Network Solutions 12+
Majestic Star Casino/hotel 80
Major Wind Company 3000
Martha Stewart Living 70
Mills Manufacturing NC 68
Momentive, Inc. 150
Monitor Group 235
Montco Behavioral Health/Dev 58
Nebraska Medical Center 38
Neovia Logistics Services 52
New Energy 40
Penn Refrigeration 40
Penske Logistics 50
Philips Electronics 218
Pierce Mfg 325
Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne 100
Research in Motion 200
Rheem Manufacturing 50
Sentry Foods 70
Shaw’s Supermarket 700
Shawano foundry WI 90
Smith & Nephew 770
Smithfield Packing Co. 125
Solel Solar Systems 140
Southeastern Container 15
SRA Intl Inc 222
St. Jude Medical 300
Sun Media 500
TE Connectivity 620
TECO Coal Corporation 90
Texas Instruments 1700
The Providence Journal Co 23
TMX Group Ltd. 100
Turkey Point Nuclear Plant 277
Oce North America, Inc. 135
Turbocare OCE 220
US Cellular 980
UtahAmerican Energy Inc 102
Volvo Trucks Pulaski County 300
Wake Forest Baptist Medical 950
Welch Allyn 275
West Ridge Mine 102
World Media Enterprises Inc 105
WPS Health Insurance 600
Wright Patterson AFB 115
Wyodak Coal Mine 11
Sadly, the list actually keeps going. You can view the remainder of the list right here.
Even companies owned by Obama supporters are laying people off. Just check out this excerpt from a report by CitizenLink…
A corporation whose part owner gave $2 million to a group committed to re-electing President Obama announced this week that it will be forced to lay off more than 1,000 employees in lieu of the financial hardship imposed by the president’s signature health care law.
Overall, more than 100,000 job losses have been announced since the election. It is almost as if the election was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Everyone in the business community that had been hoping for something different now realizes that no change is coming.
Meanwhile, Obama continues to pour on even more rules and regulations. According to CNSNews.com, the Obama administration has posted a total of 6,125 regulations on its reguations.gov website during the past 90 days. Our politicians are clueless and they simply don’t understand what they are doing to the business community.
But of course this goes for politicians from both sides. For decades we have been consuming far more than we produce and spending far more money then we bring in, and most of our politicians seem to be under the delusion that this can continue indefinitely.
The other night my wife had me watch a documentary entitled “The Queen of Versailles” that followed the lives of time share mogul David Siegel and his wife Jackie. I found it to be a perfect metaphor for what America is going through right now. David Siegel built the greatest time share empire the world has ever seen on a mountain of easy money and cheap credit. At the beginning of the movie, David and Jackie were living the high life and were constructing the largest house in America down in Florida.
Well, things dramatically changed when the financial crisis of 2008 struck. Suddenly nobody wanted to lend to David’s company and the house of cards started to crumble. But even though they were facing massive financial problems, Jackie found it incredibly difficult to adjust her lifestyle. She just kept spending and spending and spending.
It would be easy to pass judgment on David and Jackie, but the truth is that they are a perfect example of what this entire country is going through. Thousands of businesses are failing, our economic infrastructure is being gutted, millions of jobs are being shipped overseas, our financial system has become a gigantic casino and we keep piling even more mountains of debt on top of the mountains of debt that we already have. We have been living way above our means for so long that we don’t even have any concept of what “normal” is anymore.
If you have not seen “The Queen of Versailles” yet, I encourage you to do so. Don’t watch it to laugh at the downfall of David and Jackie Siegel. They are just trying to make their way in this world like all of us are. Rather, watch for parallels between their lives and what the United States is experiencing as a whole. As I mentioned earlier, I found their story to be a perfect metaphor for what is happening to this entire country. You can find the trailer for “The Queen of Versailles” right here.
As the economy falls apart, it is going to be really easy to point fingers at one another and blame one another. But what will really be needed is more love and compassion. A lot of workers at Hostess and a lot of other good companies just lost their jobs. The unemployment epidemic in this country is going to get a lot worse. These people are going to need our love and support.
In the end, we are all in this together. The coming economic storm is not going to be averted, but we can choose how we respond to it. Hopefully the crisis that is coming will bring out the best in many of us.