The Beginning Of The End
The Beginning Of The End By Michael T. Snyder - Kindle Version

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Money Is A Form Of Social Control And Most Americans Are Debt Slaves

Money Is A Form Of Social Control And Most Americans Are Debt Slaves - Photo by Serge Melki from Indianapolis, USAIs America really “the land of the free”?  Most people think of money as simply a medium of exchange that makes economic transactions more convenient, but the truth is that it is much more than that.  Money is also a form of social control.  Just think about it.  What did you do this morning?  Well, if you are like most Americans, you either got up and went to work (to make money) or to school (to learn the skills that you will need to make money).  We spend a great deal of our lives pursuing the almighty dollar, and there are literally millions of laws, rules and regulations about how we earn our money, about how we spend our money and about how much of our money the government gets to take from us.  Not that money is a bad thing in itself.  Without money, it would be really hard to have a modern society.  Unfortunately, our money is based on debt, and debt levels in the United States have exploded to absolutely unprecedented levels in recent years.  The borrower is the servant of the lender, and if you are like most Americans, nearly every major purchase that you make in your life is going to involve debt.  Do you want to get a college education so that you can get a “good job”?  You are told to get a student loan.  Do you want a car?  You are encouraged to get an auto loan and to stretch out the payments for as long as possible.  Do you want a home?  You are probably going to end up with a big fat mortgage.  And of course I could go on and on and on.  The cold, hard truth of the matter is that most Americans are debt slaves.  Most of us spend our entire lives trapped in an endless cycle of debt that we never escape until we die, and meanwhile our years of hard labor are greatly enriching those that own our debts.

Have you ever found yourself wondering why you can never seem to get ahead financially no matter how hard you work?

Well, it is probably because you have gotten yourself enslaved to debt.

Just consider the following example about credit card debt from a former Goldman Sachs banker

On the debt side of things, how much does your credit card company earn if you carry just an average of a $5,000 credit card balance, paying, say, 22% annual interest rate (compounding monthly) for the next 10 years?

In your mind you owe a balance of only $5,000, which is not a huge amount, especially for someone gainfully employed.  After all, $5,000 is just a quick Disney trip, or a moderately priced ski-trip, or that week in Hawaii.  You think to yourself, “how bad could it be?”

The answer, including the cost of monthly compounding, is $44,235, or about 9 times what it appears to cost you at face value.

But a large percentage of Americans never pay off their credit cards at all.  They make small payments each month, but then they just keep on adding to their balances.

In the end, that is financial suicide.

If you carry an “average balance” on your credit cards each month, and those credit cards have an “average” interest rate, you could end up paying millions of dollars to the credit card companies by the end of your life…

Let’s say you are an average American household, and you carry an average balance of $15,956 in credit card debt.

Also, as an average American household, let’s assume you pay an average current rate of 12.83%.

Finally, let’s assume you carry this average balance for 40 years, between ages 25 and 65.  How much did your credit card company make off of you and your extreme averageness?

Answer: $2,629,618.64

Sadly, approximately 46% of all Americans carry a credit card balance from month to month.

How stupid can we be as a nation?

When you become enslaved to the credit card companies, your toil and sweat makes them much wealthier.  It is a form of slavery that does not require anyone pointing a gun at you.

But we never seem to learn.  Incredibly, 43 percent of all American families spend more than they earn each year.

As the chart below demonstrates, consumer credit actually declined for a short while during the last recession, but now it has turned around and the growth of consumer credit is on the same trajectory as it was before the last economic crisis…

Consumer Debt

Today, the total amount of consumer credit in the United States is 15 times larger than it was 40 years ago.

And every major “milestone” in our lives typically involves even more debt.

-The total amount of student loan debt in the United States recently passed a trillion dollars, and approximately two-thirds of all college students graduate with student loan debt at this point.

-Total home mortgage debt in the United States is now about 5 times larger than it was just 20 years ago, and mortgage debt as a percentage of GDP has more than tripled since 1955.

-Car loans just keep getting longer and longer, and approximately 70 percent of all car purchases in the United States now involve an auto loan.

-Want to get married?  That average cost of a wedding is now $26,989 which is probably going to mean even more debt unless you have wealthy parents.

-Do you have a serious medical problem?  According to a report published in The American Journal of Medicine, medical bills are a major factor in more than 60 percent of the personal bankruptcies in the United States.

Are you starting to understand why approximately half of all Americans die broke?

And I have not even begun to talk about our collective debts yet.

Government debt is a collective form of debt.  You may not have voted for any of the politicians that have been racking up debt in your name, but part of it still belongs to you.

Since the year 2000, state and local government debt has more than doubled.  These are collective debts for which we are all responsible…

State And Local Government Debt

And of course the biggest collective debt of all is the U.S. national debt.

In a previous article, I discussed how the national debt has exploded out of control in recent years.  If you can believe it, the U.S. debt to GDP ratio has increased from 66.6 percent to 103 percent since 2007, and the U.S. government accumulated more new debt during Barack Obama’s first term than it did under the first 42 U.S. presidents combined.

When you break things down by household, the numbers look even more frightening.

During Barack Obama’s first four years in the White House, the amount of new debt accumulated by the federal government breaks down to approximately $50,521 for every single household in the United States.

And as I have mentioned previously, if you started paying off just the new debt that the federal government has accumulated during the Obama administration at the rate of one dollar per second, it would take more than 184,000 years to pay it off.

Well, you might argue, none of that debt will ever be paid off in our lifetimes.

And you would be right.

But what we are doing is consigning our children, our grandchildren and all future generations of Americans to a lifetime of debt slavery.

How nice of us, eh?

Over the past 10 years, the U.S. national debt has grown by an average of 9.3 percent per year, but the overall U.S. economy has only grown by an average of just 1.8 percent per year.

How do we expect to continue doing this?

Fortunately, more Americans are starting to wake up to how foolish all of this is.

For example, the following is what Home Depot Founder Kenneth Langone told CNBC on Tuesday…

“The fundamentals haven’t changed … And we don’t know when the storm is going to hit,” he predicted. “It has to happen.If you look at our debt to GDP, eventually you reach a point where there’s no turning back.”

He used an analogy to make his point. “If you had one meal left, and you had your grandchild with you, would you eat if or give it to your grandchild?”

He said all people would say “give it to my grandchild.”

But pursuing the president’s vision, he argued, “[Is] eating the grandchildren’s breakfast, lunch and dinner right now. And the [grandchildren] haven’t been born yet.”

What we are doing to our children and our grandchildren is beyond criminal.  We are selling away their futures in order to make our lives more pleasant.

Right now, we are stealing more than 100 million dollars from our children and our grandchildren every single hour of every single day.

So where is the outrage over this theft?

Sadly, most Americans don’t even realize that all of this is by design.  When the Federal Reserve system was created back in 1913, it was designed to get the U.S. government trapped in an endless spiral of debt.

And it worked.  Today, the U.S. national debt is now more than 5000 times larger than it was when the Federal Reserve was first created.

Our society has become addicted to debt, and that means that we have become addicted to slavery.

We are not the “land of the free”.  The truth is that we are now the “land of the servants”.

Over the past 40 years, the total amount of debt owed in the United States (government, business, consumer, etc.) has grown from less than 2 trillion dollars to more than 55 trillion dollars

Total Credit Market Debt Owed

So who benefits from all of this?

I talked about this in a previous article.  The ultra-wealthy and the international bankers make enormous profits by lending money to all the rest of us.

According to a stunning report that was released last summer, the global elite have up to 32 trillion dollars stashed away in offshore tax havens around the globe.

How did they get so much money?

The borrower is the servant of the lender.  They have gotten rich at our expense.

But most people live their entire lives without ever understanding how the game is being played.

Today, most Americans see that the Dow is back above 14,000 and they hear the mainstream media telling them that happy days are here again and so they just believe that things are going to turn out okay somehow.

And it certainly does not help that most people seem to let others do their thinking for them.  In fact, about 23% of all Americans can’t even read at this point.

So is there any hope for us?

Please feel free to post a comment with your opinion below…

Money - Photo by selbstfotografiert

A Warning Sign For The World

Any financial system that is based on debt is doomed to fail.  Today, we are living in the greatest debt bubble that the world has ever seen, and if all of a sudden people could not use credit to buy things our economy would immediately ground to a halt.  Unfortunately, no debt bubble can last forever.  When this current debt bubble finally bursts, faith in the financial system is going to disappear, credit is going to freeze up and there is going to be a massive wave of bank failures.  Right now, Greece is a warning sign for the world.  Nobody wants to lend money to Greece, the Greek banking system is dying, one out of every four businesses has already shut down, unemployment is soaring and the Greek economy has now been in recession for five years in a row.  Sadly, the economic implosion in Greece is rapidly accelerating.  The Greek economy shrunk at a 7 percent annual rate during the 4th quarter of 2011.  That wasn’t supposed to happen.  Things were supposed to be getting better in Greece by now.  But instead the Greek depression is getting even worse, and very soon the rest of the world is going to be going through what Greece is currently experiencing.

Unfortunately, most in the mainstream media are treating what is happening in Greece as an “isolated incident” rather than as a very serious warning sign for the world.

Thankfully, there are at least a few reporters out there that are realizing the gravity of the situation.  The following is how one reporter from the New York Times recently described what life is like in Greece now….

By many indicators, Greece is devolving into something unprecedented in modern Western experience. A quarter of all Greek companies have gone out of business since 2009, and half of all small businesses in the country say they are unable to meet payroll. The suicide rate increased by 40 percent in the first half of 2011. A barter economy has sprung up, as people try to work around a broken financial system. Nearly half the population under 25 is unemployed. Last September, organizers of a government-sponsored seminar on emigrating to Australia, an event that drew 42 people a year earlier, were overwhelmed when 12,000 people signed up. Greek bankers told me that people had taken about one-third of their money out of their accounts; many, it seems, were keeping what savings they had under their beds or buried in their backyards. One banker, part of whose job these days is persuading people to keep their money in the bank, said to me, “Who would trust a Greek bank?”

Can you imagine?

Greece is experiencing a full-blown economic collapse and nobody can see a light at the end of the tunnel at this point.

As I have written about previously, the overall rate of unemployment in Greece has now risen above 20 percent and the youth unemployment rate in Greece has soared to an astounding 48 percent.

Deleveraging can be an extremely painful process.  Greece has been forced to try to reduce the size of its budget deficit, but every time it cuts government spending that causes economic activity (and thus government revenues) to slow down as well.

Now the EU and the IMF are demanding that even more very painful austerity measures be implemented in Greece even though Greece is already experiencing a full-blown depression.

The EU and the IMF are demanding that Greece fire 15,000 more government workers immediately and a total of 150,000 government workers by 2015.

The EU and the IMF are demanding that wages for government workers be cut by another 20 percent.

The EU and the IMF are demanding that the minimum wage be slashed by more than 20 percent.

The EU and the IMF are also demanding significant reductions in unemployment benefits and pension benefits.

Of course all of those cuts are going to make the short-term economic conditions in Greece even worse.

The rioting, looting and burning of buildings that we are witnessing right now in Greece is likely to continue for quite some time as exasperated citizens attempt to express their frustrations to politicians that simply do not seem to care.

According to the National Confederation of Greek Commerce, recent rioting resulted in damage to 153 businesses in Athens.  45 of those businesses were totally destroyed.

You can view some stunning footage of the current rioting in Greece right here.

Despite all of the austerity measures that have already been implemented, the truth is that Greece is very likely to default soon anyway.

There is a very good chance that the new austerity agreement that the Greek parliament just approved will never be implemented.  There are new elections scheduled for April and the current party in power is polling in the single digits.

The new Greek government is likely to look much different from the current one, and nobody knows for sure if the new government will follow through on any of the promises being made by the current government.

In addition, the German parliament must approve this new deal with Greece, and the German parliament is not scheduled to vote on it until February 27th.  Considering the mood in Germany right now, approval is not guaranteed.

So there are all kinds of things that could go wrong with the “deals” that are currently being discussed.  The truth is that a Greek default in the coming months seems to become more likely by the day.

Some in the financial world almost seem eager for a Greek default.  The following is what Jon Moulton, the chairman of Better Capital, recently told CNBC….

“If I was Greek, I wouldn’t be going for these measures, I’d be going for default and getting it over with. Would you like two to three years of pain or 20?”

But a disorderly Greek default would not be a pleasant thing for the global economy at all.  A recent article in the Guardian detailed what some of the consequences of a Greek default and exit from the eurozone might be….

But default and “re-drachmatisation” would be a costly and chaotic process. In the long term the euro might be strengthened if some of its weaker members headed for the door. But in the short term banks across the eurozone might have to be closed to prevent a run on the single currency as investors speculated about which country might be next. A new wave of bank nationalisations would be likely to follow as lenders counted their losses on now worthless Greek debt.

Capital controls would have to be imposed and borders shut to stop money flooding out of Greece. Portugal, Italy and Spain would come under intense pressure from investors wary about the risk of another victim. Banks everywhere, already reluctant to lend, would cut back hard, nervous about their exposure to the bonds of all Europe’s crisis-hit states.

And the financial crisis in Europe is going to continue to spread well beyond Greece.  Moody’s Investors Service just downgraded the credit ratings of six European nations.  The following is how Bloomberg described the downgrades….

Spain was downgraded to A3 from A1 with a negative outlook, Italy was downgraded to A3 from A2 with a negative outlook and Portugal was downgraded to Ba3 from Ba2 with a negative outlook, Moody’s said. It also reduced the ratings of Slovakia, Slovenia and Malta.

Countries such as Italy, Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Hungary are heading down the exact same road that Greece has gone.  Greece was the first one to experience a full-blown depression, but soon Greece will have a lot of company.

Greece is most definitely a warning sign for the world.  If you keep recklessly piling up debt, eventually a day of reckoning comes.  It is inevitable.

But Barack Obama does not seem to understand this.  He continues to pile another 150 million dollars on to our national debt every single hour.  He knows that cutting spending significantly right now would hurt the economy and that would significantly hurt his chances for another term.

Needless to say, Barack Obama is not likely to do anything that is going to significantly hurt his chances for another four years in the White House.

So we continue to roll on toward disaster.

The U.S. financial system is like a car with no brakes that is heading straight toward a 5,000 foot drop at 100 miles an hour.

It is all going to seem like fun and games to some people until we hit the canyon floor.

Once that happens, nobody will be laughing.

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….

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