15 Trillion Dollars In Debt, 45 Million Americans On Food Stamps And Zero Solutions On The Horizon

How does a country end up 15 trillion dollars in debt?  30 years ago, we were just a little over a trillion dollars in debt.  How in the world do supposedly rational people living in “the greatest nation on earth” allow themselves to commit national financial suicide by allowing government debt to explode like that?  It almost seems like there should be some sort of official ceremony in Washington D.C. to commemorate this achievement.  It really takes something special to be able to roll up 15 trillion dollars of debt.  To get to this level, we really had to indulge in some wild spending.  For example, did you know that the U.S. national debt grows by more than 2 million dollars every single minute?  All of this debt has fueled an unprecedented boom of prosperity for the last 30 years, but now that prosperity is drying up.  Today, there are over 45 million Americans that are on food stamps.  America is being deindustrialized at a blinding pace and there are not nearly enough jobs for everyone.  Poverty is exploding all over the nation, and millions of families have lost their homes to foreclosure.  Unfortunately, there are zero solutions on the horizon.  The leaders of both major political parties seem even more clueless right now than in past years.  We really could use some hope, but hope is in very short supply.

When evaluating the health of America’s economy, it is important not to look at the short-term numbers.  Rather, the key is to look at the long-term trends and the balance sheet numbers.

For example, if a mother and a father gave their teenage kids a bunch of credit cards and told them to go out and buy whatever they wanted, that would create a lot of “economic activity”, but it would also send that family to the poorhouse really quickly.

Well, we have basically done the same thing as a nation.  We are drowning in debt, and all of this debt is going to destroy us financially.

Unfortunately, the federal government continues to spend money as if there was no tomorrow.  Right now, spending by the federal government accounts for about 24 percent of GDP.  Back in 2001, it accounted for just 18 percent.

When you are running up a credit card, it can be a lot of fun and it can seem like there aren’t any consequences.

But when it comes to debt, there are always consequences.  The following is what former Republican Senator Alan Simpson (of the Simpson-Bowles Commission) recently had to say about the horrific debt crisis we are currently facing….

“It’s very simple. If you spend more than you earn, you lose your butt”

In the United States, we love to have the government spend money on all sorts of things, but we never want to pay for it.

So the debt just keeps piling up higher and higher.

A lot of Republicans say that spending on social programs has gotten out of control.  A lot of Democrats say that spending on the military has gotten out of control.

They are both right.  As I have written about previously, the U.S. military accounts for close to half of all the military spending in the world.  In fact, U.S. military spending is greater than the military spending of the next 15 countries combined.

Yes, we will always need a very powerful military, but we can have one without going broke in the process.

But an even larger problem is our rampant spending on social programs.

The following comes from a recent article by Janet Tavakoli….

In 1950 spending for social programs was only one percent of the total Federal Budget. As the economy grew, social programs expanded to include Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Food Stamps, Unemployment Compensation, Supplemental Security for the Disabled, and educational programs. In 1983 as the United States pulled out of an ugly recession and brought inflation under control, social programs consumed 26% of the budget. In fiscal year 2012, they’ll eat up an estimated 57% of the budget.

Tens of millions of Americans have become absolutely addicted to government money.  Nobody ever wants “their government benefits” to be cut, but nobody ever seems to want to have their taxes raised to pay for them.

To get a really good idea of how government transfer payments have absolutely skyrocketed over the years, just check out this chart.

Obviously, the course that we are on is not anywhere close to sustainable.

To say that the “war on poverty” was a failure would be a huge understatement.

The more money we seem to spend on social programs, the more that poverty seems to grow.

Right now, there are over 45 million Americans on food stamps.  The economy is supposed to be “recovering”, but the number of Americans on food stamps has grown by over 8 percent in just the past year.

Food stamps are the modern equivalent of the old-fashioned bread lines.  The federal government is now feeding an almost unbelievable number of Americans.

According to the Wall Street Journal, nearly 15 percent of all Americans are now on food stamps.  That means that approximately one out of every seven Americans is dependent on the federal government for food.

That is not just a crisis – that is a total nightmare.

So what can be done?

Well, we certainly shouldn’t let our people starve in the streets.

But handouts should only be a temporary solution.

What these people really need are good jobs.  Unfortunately, our “leaders” have created a business environment in this country that is incredibly toxic, and they have stood by as millions upon millions of good jobs have been shipped out of the country.  That is one of the reasons why I write about the insane trade policies of the globalists over and over and over.  The American people need to understand that globalization is going to mean a continuing loss of jobs for this country and it is going to result in the destruction of the middle class.

If we are not going to provide good jobs for American workers, then we are going to have to pay higher taxes in order to feed them and take care of them.

But what happens when the “safety net” breaks?

Even now, a lot of state and local governments all over the country are flat broke and they are cutting back on assistance for the poor.

The following is a brief excerpt from a recent article about this issue that was posted on the Fiscal Times….

For years, hundreds of thousands of people in dire straits – mentally or physically disabled, homeless and unemployed, ineligible for federal welfare, disability, or food subsidies – could generally count on state or local government largesse for modest handouts of cash to help scrape by. Under the rubric of “General Assistance,” these down-and-out Americans received modest payments – often no more than a few hundred dollars a month – to help defray the cost of necessities including rent, food, clothing, toilet paper, aspirin, phone cards, and bus tickets.

But in the midst of the worst recession of modern times and changing attitudes about the poor, many states have been gradually chipping away at general assistance programs or eliminating them altogether. Only 30 of 50 states currently offer any form of general assistance – down from 38 in 1989. And just this week, Washington State formally ended its “Disability Lifeline” program for an estimated 18,000 to 22,000 economically desperate residents.

Sadly, even more of us may be joining the ranks of the poor soon.  The layoffs just keep on coming.

Normally, most major store closings do not happen until after the holiday season.  You see, the reality is that most troubled retailers tend to want to bring in one more year of holiday sales before they finally shut the doors.  If you announce store closings before the holidays, that is going to make holiday shoppers less likely to shop at those stores.

So that is why some of the recent store closing announcements have been so troubling.

For example, it just came out that all 46 Syms and Filene’s Basement stores are closing.

Also, Gap recently announced plans to close 189 stores in the United States.

So if this is what we are already seeing now, what is going to happen after the holidays?

That is a very good question.

So many jobs are being lost all around the nation.  These days, there is massive competition for just about any job that is available.

People are getting desperate.  They just want to be able to pay the bills and take care of their families.

The other day, thousands upon thousands of people lined up to apply for casino jobs in south Florida.  Scenes like this are going to become even more frequent in the years ahead.

So do our politicians have any solutions?

Of course not.

The worst of the Republican candidates are actually at the top of the polls.  The cold, hard truth is that Romney, Cain and Perry are all clueless when it comes to the economy.

Of course you might as well call Barack Obama “Captain Clueless” when it comes to the economy.  Obama keeps giving great speeches about jobs while at the same time signing more “free trade” agreements that will send thousands more businesses and millions more jobs out of the country.  Even the CEOs on Obama’s jobs creation panel are shipping huge numbers of jobs out of the United States.

Obama gave a speech in Washington D.C. today that exemplified his clueless approach to the economy.  During the speech, Obama made the following statement….

“If Congress tells you they don’t have time, they got time to do it. We’ve been in the House of Representatives, what have you guys been debating? John, you’ve been debating a commemorative coin for baseball? You have legislation reaffirming that In God We Trust is our motto. That’s not putting people back to work. I trust in God, but God wants to see us help ourselves by putting people back to work”

First of all, Obama is not putting people back to work.  He has been helping big corporations ship jobs out of the country at a record pace.

Secondly, how does he know what God wants?

A lot of people actually think that the phrase “God helps those who help themselves” is in the Bible.

But it isn’t.

A while after the Obama speech, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney made matters worse when he told reporters the following….

“I believe the phrase from the Bible is ‘The Lord helps those who help themselves”

But once again, there is no such verse in the Bible.

Okay, so quoting a “mystery verse” from the Bible is not that big of a thing at the end of the day, but this is yet another example of how the Obama administration just can’t seem to get anything right.

Look, everyone makes mistakes once in a while.  I know that I certainly do.

But when you are wrong about almost everything almost all of the time, that is a major problem.

Especially when you are the president of the United States.

But both political parties are to blame for the mess that we are in.  Budget deficits exploded during Republican administrations just like they have under the Democrats.

Both political parties are responsible for us being 15 trillion dollars in debt.

Both political parties are responsible for 45 million Americans being on food stamps.

Both political parties are responsible for the fact that there are not nearly enough good jobs.

If Barack Obama, Mitt Romney or Rick Perry is elected in 2012, we are just going to have more of the same.

America is running out of time.  If we are going to change course, we need to do it immediately.

The borrower is the servant of the lender.  We are enslaving ourselves and we are enslaving future American generations by going into so much debt.

Shame on the politicians that have rolled up so much debt in our name and shame on us for continuing to send those same politicians back to Washington D.C. time after time after time.

It is so sad to watch what is happening to America.

In Debt Up To Our Eyeballs

The entire financial system of the western world is designed to be a debt spiral.  The total amount of money and and the total amount of debt are supposed to continually expand.  Today, we are in debt up to our eyeballs and it seems like nearly everyone is talking about “deleveraging” and reducing government debt.  But in a world where the entire financial system is based on debt, is there any way for massive deleveraging to take place without plunging us all into a horrific worldwide depression?  The governments of the western world have had a lot of fun spending money as if there was no tomorrow, but now tomorrow has arrived and all of that debt is rapidly catching up with us.  Politicians in Europe and in the United States are running around trying to come up with a “plan”, but there is no “plan” that is going to fix the current debt-based system.  Over the next few years we are going to reap what we have sown.

For fiscal year 2011, the U.S. federal government had a budget deficit of nearly 1.3 trillion dollars.  That was the third year in a row that our budget deficit has topped a trillion dollars.

Sadly, most Americans simply have no idea how much money a trillion dollars is.

Perhaps an illustration or two would help.

If on the day when Jesus was born you began spending one million dollars every single day, you still would not have spent one trillion dollars by now.

That is how large a trillion dollars is.

If you went out today and started spending one dollar every single second, it would take you over 31,000 years to spend one trillion dollars.

Some people have suggested that we could solve our problems by taxing the rich.

Well, if Bill Gates gave every single penny of his fortune to the U.S. government, it would only cover the U.S. budget deficit for about 15 days.

No, the truth is that what we have is a spending problem.

The U.S. federal government is spending way, way too much money.  Total U.S. government debt will soon cross the 15 trillion dollar mark.

Should we do something to celebrate such a monumental national achievement?

It really takes a special effort to borrow 15 trillion dollars.

We have accumulated the largest mountain of debt in the history of the world, and yet our government continues to add to our debt at a blistering pace.

If the federal government began right at this moment to repay the U.S. national debt at a rate of one dollar per second, it would take over 440,000 years to pay off the national debt.

Unfortunately, we are not paying it off right now.  Instead, we are adding even more to it.

Back in the early 1980s, Ronald Reagan declared the national debt to be a national crisis.

Well, today our national debt is more than 14 times larger than it was when Reagan took office.

Something has gone horribly, horribly wrong.

Right now, spending by the federal government accounts for about 24 percent of GDP.  Back in 2001, it accounted for just 18 percent.

Spending is going in the wrong direction.

And most government spending goes into the pockets of individual Americans.

59 percent of all Americans now receive money from the federal government in one form or another.

We have got tens of millions of Americans that are completely and totally addicted to getting money from the federal government.

But wasn’t the Tea Party supposed to do something about all of this crazy government spending?

Unfortunately, the Tea Party has failed in this area.  In the mainstream media there is talk of “austerity” by the federal government, but the truth is that spending by the federal government has increased by about 5 percent so far this year.

We are hurtling toward a “debt wall” and the brakes don’t seem to work.

Europe is in a massive amount of debt trouble as well.  In fact, a financial meltdown is probably going to happen in Europe before it happens in the United States.

Greece, Portugal, Ireland and Italy all have debt to GDP ratios that are well above 100%.  Spain is in a massive amount of trouble as well.

Right now, Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Italy and Spain owe the rest of the world about 3 trillion euros combined.

Greece is on the verge of a default of one form or another, and Italy and Portugal look like they will not be far behind.

As the financial world braces for a Greek default, the yields on Greek bonds are going absolutely crazy.  The yield on 2 year Greek bonds is now over 70 percent.  The yield on 1 year Greek bonds is now over 170 percent.

Sadly, it looks like Portuguese bonds are starting to go down the same path.  The yield on 2 year Portuguese bonds is now over 17 percent.  A year ago the yield on those bonds was about 4 percent.

European banks are also drowning in an ocean of debt.

According to renowned financial journalist Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, banks in Europe need to reduce the amount of lending on their books by about 7 trillion dollars in order to get down to safe levels….

Europe’s banks face a $7 trillion lending contraction to bring their balance sheets in line with the US and Japan, threatening to trap the region in a credit crunch and chronic depression for a decade.

But can that be done safely?

Can that be done without plunging Europe into a financial nightmare?

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard is skeptical….

The risk is “Japanisation” without the benefits of Japan: without a single government, or a trade super-surplus, or 1pc debt costs, or unique social cohesion.

Already the financial crisis in Europe has pushed unemployment to frightening levels.  So what will happen if you add massive deleveraging to the equation?  Ambrose Evans-Pritchard is very concerned about what might happen in some of the most troubled nations….

Even today, the jobless rate for youth is near 10pc in Japan. It is already 46pc in Spain, 43pc in Greece, 32pc in Ireland, and 27pc in Italy. We will discover over time what yet more debt deleveraging will do to these societies.

Major European banks not only have too many loans on their books – they have also borrowed way, way too much money themselves.

The truth is that most major European banks are leveraged to the hilt and are massively exposed to sovereign debt.  Before it fell in 2008, Lehman Brothers was leveraged 31 to 1.  Today, major German banks are leveraged 32 to 1, and those banks are currently holding a massive amount of European sovereign debt.

What all of this means is that we are on the verge of some really bad stuff.

The governments of the world are up to their eyeballs in debt.  According to the Economist, the governments of the world combined are more than 40 trillion dollars in debt.  But that total only counts government debt held by the public and it does not include any future obligations (such as Social Security, etc.) owed by national governments.

It would be hard to overstate how much of a crisis this is.

But just like with the subprime mortgage meltdown of a few years ago, a number of very savvy investors and economists can see what is coming.

For example, Texas investor Kyle Bass made millions and millions of dollars betting against subprime mortgages, and now he is warning that we are facing a crisis much greater than that.

Bass believes that the European debt crisis is soon going to explode.  In particular, he has been putting his money into investments that will pay off big if Greek debt collapses.

But that is not all Bass has been up to.  He has been stockpiling gold, guns and nickels (20 million nickels to be exact).

Bass appears to be well prepared for the coming economic collapse.  The following is how one writer described his visit to the 40,000 square foot “fort” owned by Bass….

“We hopped into his Hummer, decorated with bumper stickers (God Bless Our Troops, Especially Our Snipers) and customized to maximize the amount of fun its owner could have in it: for instance, he could press a button and, James Bond–like, coat the road behind him in giant tacks. We roared out into the Texas hill country, where, with the fortune he’d made off the subprime crisis, Kyle Bass had purchased what amounted to a fort: a forty-thousand-square-foot ranch house on thousands of acres in the middle of nowhere, with its own water supply, and an arsenal of automatic weapons and sniper rifles and small explosives to equip a battalion.”

If only the rest of us were so well prepared, eh?

So if this is the kind of thing that the “financial experts” are doing, then what is the message for us?

A great storm is coming, and most Americans are going to be totally unprepared for it.

Not that things are not really, really bad already.

According to Shadow Government Statistics, the “real” rate of unemployment in the United States is creeping up toward 25 percent.

So what is going to happen if a worldwide depression hits?

Things could get very, very interesting over the next few years.

A significant percentage of Americans have already lost faith in the system.  According to a new Gallup poll, 44 percent of all Americans say that our economic system is “unfair” to them on a personal level.

But sadly, most Americans don’t really understand the mechanics of our financial system.

They don’t understand what actually makes it unfair.

That is why we need to work so hard to educate the American people about the Federal Reserve.  The Federal Reserve system is at the very heart of our financial system, and it was designed to get the U.S. government perpetually enslaved to debt.

At this point, the U.S. national debt is 4700 times larger than it was when the Federal Reserve was created back in 1913.

It looks like the creators of the Federal Reserve achieved their goal.

Posted below is a cartoon that was published one year before the creation of the Federal Reserve.  The intent of this cartoon was to criticize the “Aldrich plan” which was a precursor to the plan to create the Federal Reserve.

As you can see below, the creator of this cartoon had a good idea of what would happen if the plan put forward by Rhode Island Senator Nelson Aldrich was adopted.

Today, the Federal Reserve totally dominates our financial system just like this cartoon once warned would happen if we allowed a central bank to control our money….

Celebrating Independence Yet Enslaved To Debt

Every year when July 4th rolls around, Americans from coast to coast celebrate July 4th with cookouts, outdoor concerts and fireworks.  We love celebrating Independence Day and yet we are deeply enslaved to debt.  We like to think of ourselves as “free” and yet we have rolled up the biggest pile of debt the world has ever seen.  The people that we have borrowed all of this money from expect to be paid.  Sadly, instead of addressing the problem, we have been loading more debt on to the backs of future generations with each passing year.  What we are doing to our kids and our grandkids is so immoral that is almost defies description.  At the heart of this debt-based system stands the Federal Reserve.  It is a perpetual debt machine that was designed to trap the U.S. government in a spiral of debt permanently.  Today, the U.S. national debt is 4700 times larger than it was when the Federal Reserve was created back in 1913.  This year alone, we will add more to the national debt than we did from the presidency of George Washington to the beginning of the presidency of Ronald Reagan.  So yes, enjoy the hotdogs and the fireworks, but also remember that we will never be free as long as this constantly expanding debt problem is hanging over our heads.

If you know anyone that does not take our national debt problem seriously, please share with them the video posted below.  It is entitled “Economic Armageddon and You” and it is definitely worth the 5 minutes that it takes to watch it.  Someone out there did a really great job of explaining our debt problem in a way that almost anyone can understand….

So is there any solution to this problem?

Not under the current system.

The debt-based Federal Reserve system is designed to expand U.S. government debt indefinitely.  But of course all debt bubbles burst eventually and we are rapidly reaching that point.

It is being projected that the U.S. national debt will hit 344% of GDP by the year 2050 if we continue on our current course.  The truth is that it would never get even close to that high because the whole system would completely collapse long before then.

So what should we do?

We need to abandon our current debt-based financial system.  The way that our current system normally works, whenever more money is created more debt is also created.  Such a system is inevitably doomed to fail.

We need to transition to an entirely new system that has nothing to do with the Federal Reserve or Federal Reserve notes.  We need an entirely new system where the money is not based on debt.

But even though more Americans than ever are awake to the flaws in our monetary system, the truth is that neither major political party is remotely ready to even consider an end to the current financial system.

Many Republicans believe that if we can just cut government spending enough we can solve the problem.  Many Democrats believe that if we can just “raise enough revenue” we can solve the problem.

Neither of those solutions will work.

Many conservatives are so frustrated with the whole thing that they just want Congress to refuse to raise the debt ceiling.  I have taken a lot of heat over the past couple of days for suggesting that this is a bad idea.

If we refuse to raise the debt ceiling, our borrowing costs will absolutely explode.  Even if the U.S. government adopted a “balanced budget” by some miracle, the reality is that the federal government would still need to “roll over” very large amounts of debt every single year.  If interest rates on U.S. debt rise substantially it will be beyond catastrophic.

In 2010, the U.S. government paid $413 billion in interest on the national debt.

If interest rates were to start rising as a result of a debt default, interest on the national debt would likely double or even triple.

Look, if we want to come anywhere close to balancing the budget under our current system, it will be a whole lot easier to do if we are spending 400 billion dollars on interest on the national debt rather than 1.2 trillion dollars.

Today, the U.S. government only takes in about 2.2 trillion dollars in taxes.  How in the world are we going to have a chance if we have to pay out a trillion dollars just in interest on the national debt?

The yield on 10-year U.S. Treasuries rose from 2.86% to 3.18% just this past week.  Let us hope that this is not the beginning of a bad trend.

A refusal to raise the debt ceiling would also likely set off another recession (or worse).  The following is what a new article on CNBC says would happen if the U.S. does not raise the debt ceiling by August 2nd….

A U.S. default would not only be historic, it would also almost certainly lead to a new financial crisis. Interest rates would likely spike, equity markets would plunge along with the value of the dollar, and the country could fall back into a recession.

We have to raise the debt ceiling.

So does this mean that I am advocating “kicking the can down the road”?

No.

If you are a conservative, you can still get the same result that you want without destroying the credit rating of the United States.

All the Republicans in Congress have to do is to pledge that they will never pass anything but a balanced budget for 2012 or for any year beyond that.  Without the permission of the House of Representatives, Barack Obama and the Democrats cannot continue their deficit spending.  The sad truth is that the Republicans have been enabling and actively participating in this debt binge all along.

A balanced budget would definitely hurt the economy, but at least it would not wreck our credit rating and cause our borrowing costs to multiply.

But is that what the Republicans are shooting for?

No.

It is being reported that the Republicans and the Democrats have tentatively agreed to between $1 trillion and $2 trillion in budget cuts over the next 10 years.

So that comes to $200 billion in spending cuts a year at most.

Considering the fact that we are running budget deficits of about a trillion and a half dollars a year, that is not nearly enough.

So don’t accuse me of wanting to kick the can down the road.  I want to actually do something substantial about the national debt.  I just don’t think it is a good idea to trash our credit rating in the process.

It is the Republicans and the Democrats in Congress that are kicking the can down the road.

Trillion dollar deficits are not acceptable.  Our nation is on the road to financial ruin.

But it is not just the federal government that is in massive financial trouble.

The reality is that we have “government debt problems” from coast to coast.

Did you hear that the government of Minnesota shut down the other day?

As the financial health of almost every single state government continues to decline, this type of thing is going to become more common.

In the state of Illinois things are so bad that some income tax refunds have not been paid since 2009.  The following is a brief excerpt from an article on the Economic Policy Journal blog….

I repeat, this is no time to own state or municipal bonds. The desperation level at various states and municipalities is getting more and more intense.

With the start of a new budget year just two days away, thousands of Illinois businesses are still waiting for state income tax refunds dating back to 2009.

In a recent article entitled “Is The Economy Improving?“, I went into greater detail about the horrific financial crisis that Illinois is facing….

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Did you know that things have gotten so bad in Illinois at this point that the Illinois state government is letting bills go unpaid for long periods of time on a regular basis?

It’s true.

Right now they have billions in unpaid bills and they are facing a financial future that is so bleak that it is almost indescribable.

In one recent article, author Stephen Lendman described the horrific financial crisis that Illinois is facing right now….

With spending exceeding revenues, and obligations not postponed, unpaid bills are growing “at a frightening rate. For instance, IGPA’s Fiscal Futures Model indicates (they) could reach $40 billion by July 1, 2013, with an associated delay in paying those bills of more than five years.”

Besides its $13 billion deficit and $6 billion in unpaid bills, its pension fund is about $130 billion in the red – a red flag that state workers may lose out altogether, wiping out their promised retirement savings.

But it isn’t just the state government that is having problems.  According to Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas, the average household in Chicago would owe a whopping $63,525 if all local government debt was divided up equally among all of the households.

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How can we claim that our country is free when we are enslaved to such horrible debt burdens?

The borrower is always a servant of the lender.  As a nation, we are becoming a little bit less independent every single day.

So enjoy celebrating Independence Day while you still can.

If we continue on the path that we are currently on, nobody is going to be celebrating much of anything in the future.

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