Would This Have Happened Under President Hillary? Holiday Retail Sales Soar Compare To Last Year

We are nearly a year into Donald Trump’s presidency, and the economic numbers continue to look quite good.  On Monday, we learned that U.S. retail sales during the holiday season are projected to be way up compared to 2016.  Yes, there are all sorts of economic red flags popping up all over the place, and I write about them regularly.  And without a doubt, 2017 has been one of the worst years for brick and mortar retail stores in a very long time.  But when something good happens we should acknowledge that too, and many are giving President Trump credit for the fact that retail sales are projected to be up 4.9 percent this holiday season compared to last year…

Despite thousands of store closings this year, Americans supplied a final flurry of spending to give retailers their best holiday season sales since 2011, figures released Tuesday show.

U.S. year-end holiday retail sales rose 4.9% compared to the same period last year, a welcome gift to U.S. retailers amid new signs of consumer confidence.

Of course this doesn’t mean that things have completely turned around for the retail industry.  We still absolutely shattered the all-time record for store closings in a single year, and the final number is going to be somewhere right around 7,000.  The following comes from CNBC

A larger-than-average slew of retail bankruptcies and stores being shuttered rocked the industry this year, making headlines and dragging even some of the better-performing companies such as Home Depot, TJ Maxx and Costco down with the dismal news.

So far in 2017, 6,985 store closure announcements have been made, according to a tracker from FGRT (formerly Fung Global Retail & Technology). That’s up more than 200 percent from a year ago, based on the firm’s findings.

More specifically, the number of store closings is up 229 percent compared to last year.

So yes, we are still very much in the midst of a “retail apocalypse”.

And actually, earlier this month we got news that Toys R US has filed for bankruptcy protection and could soon close as many as 200 stores

It’s hardly fun and games for the toy industry this holiday season with the bankruptcy of Toys ‘R’ Us hurting the fortunes of toymakers Mattel (MAT) and Hasbro (HAS). The sector’s prospects aren’t expected to improve anytime soon.

Toys ‘R’ Us, which filed for bankruptcy in September, is now said to be considering closing as many as 200 U.S. stores, roughly 21 percent of its brick-and-mortar locations, because of lackluster sales.

The fact that retail sales are up so much during this holiday season may slow the retail apocalypse, but it certainly will not end it.

We have got so much work to do to turn the economy around, but at least we have taken a few small steps in the right direction.  The recent tax bill that Congress passed was one of those small steps, but there is still so, so much more that needs to be accomplished.

Michael Snyder is a Republican candidate for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District, and you can learn how you can get involved in the campaign on his official website. His new book entitled “Living A Life That Really Matters” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.

41 Million Americans Are Living In Poverty This Christmas

Even though the stock market continues to set new record high after new record high, poverty is exploding all over America.  It is being reported that 41 million people are living in poverty at this moment, and 9 million of them do not receive a single penny of income from anyone.  Once you have been unemployed for long enough, you don’t qualify for unemployment payments any longer, and once you are on the street there is nowhere for other governments programs to send a check to.  I have previously discussed the rising epidemic of homelessness in our nation, but most people don’t want to think about that sort of a thing these days.  Even though New York City has the most homeless since the Great Depression, and even though homelessness in Los Angeles is at an all-time record high, most people want to pretend that everything is just fine.

Well, the truth is that everything is not just fine.

A reporter from the Guardian recently traveled with a special UN envoy to some of the most impoverished areas of the United States.  His report is extremely eye-opening, and I wanted to share a short excerpt from his story.  This portion of his article is about a 41-year-old woman named Ressy Finley who is desperately trying to stay alive on the mean streets of Skid Row in Los Angeles…

Ressy Finley, 41, was busy sterilizing the white bucket she uses to slop out in her tent in which she has lived on and off for more than a decade. She keeps her living area, a mass of worn mattresses and blankets and a few motley possessions, as clean as she can in a losing battle against rats and cockroaches. She also endures waves of bed bugs, and has large welts on her shoulder to prove it.

She receives no formal income, and what she makes on recycling bottles and cans is no way enough to afford the average rents of $1,400 a month for a tiny one-bedroom. A friend brings her food every couple of days, the rest of the time she relies on nearby missions.

She cried twice in the course of our short conversation, once when she recalled how her infant son was taken from her arms by social workers because of her drug habit (he is now 14; she has never seen him again). The second time was when she alluded to the sexual abuse that set her as a child on the path towards drugs and homelessness.

Los Angeles has declared a state of emergency because the number of homeless is rising so rapidly, and so have nine other cities along the west coast.  For much more on this, please see my previous article entitled “As America Gives Thanks, Homelessness Continues To Set New Records In Major Cities All Over The Nation”.

The sad thing is that there are more than a million homes sitting empty in America right now.  As economic opportunities have dried up, many communities in the middle part of the nation are becoming “ghost towns”, and it is getting worse with each passing day

There are nearly 1.4 million vacant residential properties across the country — abandoned, not for sale, mostly unoccupied homes. With vacant properties comprising as much as 30% of residential properties, some neighborhoods are starting to feel like ghost towns.

Many believe that the answer to the decline of the middle class and the growth of poverty is even more socialism.

But if you want to see where that road leads, just look at what is happening in Venezuela.  People are eating cats and dogs, and just today there were a whole bunch of mainstream news articles about how children are literally starving to death.

No, the real answer is to do what made our economy so great in the first place.  Between 1872 and 1913, we didn’t have an income tax or a central bank, and it was the greatest period of economic growth in U.S. history.

What we have today is not free market capitalism.  We have gone very far down the road toward government-controlled socialism, and it has created a giant mess.

If we want to have a healthy middle class again, we need to have a society that promotes entrepreneurs and the creation of small businesses.  Today we are literally choking the financial life out of entrepreneurs and small businesses, and when I am elected to Congress I am going to fight as hard as I can to change that.

Michael Snyder is a Republican candidate for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District, and you can learn how you can get involved in the campaign on his official website. His new book entitled “Living A Life That Really Matters” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.

As America Gives Thanks, Homelessness Continues To Set New Records In Major Cities All Over The Nation

If the economy is doing just fine, then why is homelessness at levels not seen “since the Great Depression” in major cities all over the country?  If the U.S. economy was actually in good shape, we would expect that the number of people that are homeless would be going down or at least stabilizing.  Instead, we have a growing national crisis on our hands.  In fact, within the past two years “at least 10 cities or municipal regions in California, Oregon and Washington” have declared a state of emergency because the number of homeless is growing so rapidly.

Things are particularly bad in southern California, and this year the Midnight Mission will literally be feeding a small army of people that have nowhere to sleep at night…

Thanksgiving meals will be served to thousands of homeless and near-homeless individuals today on Skid Row and in Pasadena and Canoga Park amid calls for donations and volunteers for the rest of the year.

The Midnight Mission will serve Thanksgiving brunch to nearly 2,500 homeless and near-homeless men, women and children, according to Georgia Berkovich, its director of public affairs.

Overall, the Midnight Mission serves more than a million meals a year, and Berkovich says that homelessness hasn’t been this bad in southern California “since the Great Depression”

Berkovich said the group has been serving nearly 1 million meals a year each year since 2013.

“We haven’t seen numbers like this since the Great Depression,” she said.

And of course the official numbers confirm what Berkovich is claiming.  According to an article published earlier this year, the number of homeless people living in Los Angeles County has never been higher…

The number of homeless people in Los Angeles has jumped to a new record, as city officials grapple with a humanitarian crisis of proportions remarkable for a modern American metropolis.

Municipal leaders said that a recent count over several nights found 55,188 homeless people living in a survey region comprising most of Los Angeles County, up more than 25% from last year.

If the California economy is truly doing well, then why is this happening?

We see the same thing happening when we look at the east coast.  Just check out these numbers from New York City

In recent years the number of homeless people has grown. Whereas rents increased by 18% between 2005 and 2015, incomes rose by 5%. When Rudy Giuliani entered City Hall in 1994, 24,000 people lived in shelters. About 31,000 lived in them when Mike Bloomberg became mayor in 2002. When Bill de Blasio entered City Hall in 2014, 51,500 did. The number of homeless people now in shelters is around 63,000.

For New York, this is the highest that the homeless population has been since the Great Depression, and city leaders are trying to come up with a solution.

Meanwhile, things are so bad in Seattle that “400 unauthorized tent camps” have popped up…

Housing prices are soaring here thanks to the tech industry, but the boom comes with a consequence: A surge in homelessness marked by 400 unauthorized tent camps in parks, under bridges, on freeway medians and along busy sidewalks. The liberal city is trying to figure out what to do.

Are you noticing a theme?

Homelessness is at epidemic levels all over the U.S., and this crisis is getting worse with each passing day.  Some communities are trying to care for their growing homeless populations, but others are simply trying to force them to go somewhere else.  They are doing this by essentially making it illegal to be homeless.  In some cities it is now a crime to engage in “public camping”, to “block a walkway” or to create any sort of “temporary structure for human habitation”.  These laws specifically target the homeless, and they are very cruel.

Many of us tend to picture the homeless as mostly lazy older men that don’t want to work and that instead want to drink or do drugs all day.

But the truth is that women and children make up a significant percentage of the homeless.  In fact, the number of homeless children in our country has increased by about 60 percent since the end of the last recession.

And there are thousands upon thousands of military veterans that are homeless.  For example, a 34-year-old man named Johnny that served in the Marine Corps recently used his last 20 dollars to buy fuel for a woman that had run out of gas and was stranded along I-95 in Miami

Pulled over on the side of I-95, McClure, 27, was approached by a homeless man named Johnny. She was apprehensive at first, but Johnny told her to get back into her car and to lock the doors while he walked to get her help. He went to a nearby gas station, used his last $20 fill a can and brought it back to fill up her car.

Grateful, but without a dollar to repay him, McClure promised she would come back with something.

In the weeks since, she’s returned to the spot along I-95 where Johnny stays with cash, snacks and Wawa gift cards. Each time she’s stopped by with her boyfriend, Mark D’Amico, they’ve learned a bit more about Johnny’s story, and become humbled by his gratitude.

Deciding that they wanted to do even more for Johnny, they started a GoFundMe page for him and have since raised approximately $250,000.

So it looks like there is going to be a happy ending to Johnny’s story, but the truth is that more people are falling into homelessness with each passing day.

If things are this bad now, how much worse will they become as the economy really starts slowing down?  Already, we have shattered the all-time yearly record for retail store closings, and we still have more than a month to go.  The following is from a CNN article entitled “Is This The Last Black Friday?”

A record number of store closures — 6,735 — have already been announced this year. That’s more than triple the tally for 2016, according to Fung Global Retail and Technology, a retail think tank.

And there have been 620 bankruptcies in the sector so far this year, according to BankruptcyData.com, up 31% from the same period last year. Prominent names such as Toys R Us, Gymboree, Payless Shoes and RadioShack have all filed this year, and Sears Holdings (SHLD), which owns both the iconic Sears and Kmart chains, has warned there is “substantial doubt” it can remain in business.

Sadly, analysts are projecting that the number of store closings could be as high as 9,000 next year.

Yes, there are some areas of the country that are doing well right now, but there are many others that are not.

Let us always remember to have compassion on those that are struggling, because someday we may be the ones that end up needing some help.

Michael Snyder is a Republican candidate for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District, and you can learn how you can get involved in the campaign on his official website. His new book entitled “Living A Life That Really Matters” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.

The Mainstream Media Is Talking About A Coming Middle East War That Could Involve Saudi Arabia, Iran, The U.S. And Israel

People better start waking up and paying attention to what is happening in the Middle East, because the situation is becoming quite serious.  If things go badly, we could be facing a major regional war which would involve not only Saudi Arabia and Iran, but also potentially the United States and Israel.  Yesterday, I quoted an article in the New York Times that warned that tensions between the Saudis and the Iranians were raising “the threat of a direct military clash between the two regional heavyweights”.  And now Jake Novak of CNBC is saying that a “direct conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran, as opposed to the proxy war they’re fighting in Yemen, looks inevitable.”

I put those last two words in bold so that there wouldn’t be any confusion.  In fact, Novak is warning that the Saudis “are marching ever closer towards a wider regional war”.  Novak understands the dynamics of the Middle East, and he realizes where things could be headed if cooler heads do not prevail.

Saudi Arabia and Iran have already been fighting proxy wars against one another in Syria and Iran for quite a while, but a direct military conflict between the two could literally be a nightmare scenario.

One of the primary characters in this ongoing drama is Saudi Arabia’s extremely hawkish crown prince Mohammed bin Salman.  He hates Iran with a passion, and he has already said that he believes that a peace dialogue with Iran is impossible.

And over the past several days, events in Saudi Arabia and Lebanon have moved talk of war to the front burner

First, the kingdom squarely blamed Iran for a missile attack on Riyadh from Yemen that was thwarted by the U.S.-made Patriot anti-missile system. The Saudis called that attack “direct military aggression by the Iranian regime and may be considered an act of war.”

Second, the Saudis accused Lebanon of — figuratively at least — declaring “war” against it because of aggression from Hezbollah. That statement spurred even Saudi ally and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to publicly urge for calm.

In an article yesterday, I discussed the “purge” that is currently taking place in Saudi Arabia.  Many believe that this purge is all about removing any potential obstacles to a war with Iran.  Mohammed bin Salman and his father have made dealing with Iran their number one strategic priority, and they have even enlisted the Israelis as allies in their cause…

As is already well-known, the Saudi and Israeli common cause against perceived Iranian influence and expansion in places like Syria, Lebanon and Iraq of late has led the historic bitter enemies down a pragmatic path of unspoken cooperation as both seem to have placed the break up of the so-called “Shia crescent” as their primary policy goal in the region. For Israel, Hezbollah has long been its greatest foe, which Israeli leaders see as an extension of Iran’s territorial presence right up against the Jewish state’s northern border.

If Saudi Arabia and Iran go to war, it is probably inevitable that Hezbollah will strike Israel at the same time, thus getting the Israelis directly involved in the conflict.

Not only that, if a major regional war does erupt in the Middle East it would almost certainly mean that the U.S. would have to get involved as well.  Here is more from Jake Novak of CNBC

But if full blown war breaks out directly between the two countries, it’s hard to see the U.S. being able to sit it out without at least some form increased weapons support and other aid. Then it will be up to Iran’s possible allies, like Russia and China to make the next move.

If you are thinking that this sounds like the type of scenario that could cause World War III to erupt, you would be correct.

The Iranians and the Saudis both have weapons of mass destruction, and so a direct conflict between the two would seem to be unthinkable.

But rational thinking does not always prevail in the Middle East.  The conflict between Sunni Islam and Shia Islam has a long and bitter history, and the bad blood between the Saudis and the Iranians is never going to subside until one side or the other ultimately prevails.

Let us hope that a “hot war” between Saudi Arabia and Iran does not erupt any time soon, because such a war would not be good for the United States whatsoever.  Pretty much every scenario that you can imagine ends with enormous numbers of innocent people dead, and such a conflict could ultimately be the spark that sets off World War III.

Michael Snyder is a Republican candidate for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District, and you can learn how you can get involved in the campaign on his official website. His new book entitled “Living A Life That Really Matters” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.

Is Saudi Arabia Heading For War With Iran?

Is a major war in the Middle East looming on the horizon?  Most of us living in the western world simply do not realize how much Saudi Arabia and Iran truly hate one another.  Saudi Arabia is the global center for Sunni Islam, and Iran is the global center for Shia Islam, and the two major sects of Islam have a history of bad blood that literally goes back for over a thousand years.  The Saudis and the Iranians are already engaged in “proxy wars” in Syria and in Yemen, and now a missile that was fired at Riyadh’s international airport threatens to turn the conflict between the two regional powers into a hot war.

If you are tempted to think that I am exaggerating one bit, just consider what the New York Times is saying about this…

Saudi Arabia charged Monday that Iran had committed “a blatant act of military aggression” by providing its Yemeni allies with a missile fired at the Saudi capital over the weekend, raising the threat of a direct military clash between the two regional heavyweights.

The accusations represent a new peak in tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran at a time when they are already fighting proxy wars in Yemen and Syria, as well as battles for political power in Iraq and Lebanon.

And Yahoo is reporting that the Saudis are saying that this missile attack “may amount to an act of war”…

On Monday, a Saudi-led military coalition battling Tehran-backed rebels in Yemen said it reserved the “right to respond” to the missile attack on Riyadh at the weekend, calling it a “blatant military aggression by the Iranian regime which may amount to an act of war”.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir also warned Tehran.

“Iranian interventions in the region are detrimental to the security of neighbouring countries and affect international peace and security. We will not allow any infringement on our national security,” Jubeir tweeted.

For those that have not grasped the implications of what I am saying yet, let me break this down very simply for you.

If Saudi Arabia and Iran go to war, the United States will be involved in that war on the side of the Saudis.

It would be a war unlike anything we have ever seen in the history of the Middle East, and it is almost a certainty that weapons of mass destruction would be used in such a war.

Essentially, what we are talking about is the potential for World War III to erupt in the Middle East.

And all of this comes at a time when the biggest “purge” in the modern history of Saudi Arabia is taking place

A campaign of mass arrests of Saudi Arabian royals, ministers and businessmen expanded on Monday after a top entrepreneur was reportedly detained in the biggest anti-corruption purge of the kingdom’s affluent elite in its modern history.

The reported arrest of Nasser bin Aqeel al-Tayyar followed the detention of dozens of top Saudis including billionaire investor Prince Alwaleed bin Talal in a crackdown that the attorney general described as “phase one”.

The purge is the latest in a series of dramatic steps by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to assert Saudi influence internationally and amass more power for himself at home.

Some would say that the Saudis are “cracking down on corruption”, while others would say that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is “consolidating power” prior to going to war.

In any event, this situation deserves our full attention, because it could ultimately result in a major regional war in which the United States is directly involved.

Michael Snyder is a Republican candidate for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District, and you can learn how you can get involved in the campaign on his official website. His new book entitled “Living A Life That Really Matters” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.

3 Examples That Show How Common Core Is Destroying Math Education In America

Whenever you let federal bureaucrats get their hands on anything they are probably going to ruin it.  During the Obama administration, the Department of Education spearheaded a transformation of American education that was absolutely breathtaking.  Over a period of about five years, Common Core standards were implemented in almost every state in the entire nation.  Unfortunately, this has resulted in a huge step backward for public education in this country.  Common Core has been called “state-sponsored child abuse”, and it is a big reason why U.S. students are scoring so poorly on standardized tests compared to much of the rest of the world.

According to Wikipedia, at one point 46 states had adopted Common Core, but now some states are having second thoughts…

46 states initially adopted the Common Core State Standards, although implementation has not been uniform. At least 12 states have introduced legislation to repeal the standards outright,[1] and Indiana has since withdrawn from the standards.

Sadly, many parents don’t even understand how dramatically our system of education has been tampered with.  In her book entitled The Education Invasion: How Common Core Fights Parents for Control of American Kids, Joy Pullmann exposes how the Gates Foundation has been one of the key players in the effort to get Common Core introduced into classrooms all over America…

Organized in seven chapters, her book describes how the Gates Foundation promoted and continues to promote one extremely wealthy couple’s uninformed, unsupported, and unsupportable ideas on education for other people’s children while their own children are enrolled in a non-Common Cored private school. It explains how (but not exactly why) the Gates Foundation helped to centralize control of public education in the U.S. Department of Education. It also explains why parents, teachers, local school boards, and state legislators were the last to learn how the public schools their local and state taxes supported had been nationalized without Congressional knowledge or permission; and why they were expected to believe that their local public schools were now accountable for what and how they teach … not to the local and state taxpayers who fund them or to locally-elected school boards that by law are still supposed to set education policies not already determined by their state legislature … but to a distant bureaucracy in exchange for money to their state department of education to close “achievement gaps” between unspecified groups.

But this isn’t just an issue about control.  The truth is that the approach to teaching basic fundamentals such as how to add and how to subtract is fundamentally different under Common Core.

Let me share just three examples that show how much Common Core is changing the way that U.S. students learn math.  All of these examples have been floating around Facebook, and if you have never seen these before they are likely to make you quite angry.

If I asked you to subtract 12 from 32, how would you do it?  Well, the “new way” is much, much more complicated than how we were all taught to do it…

If that first one seemed bizarre to you, than you really aren’t going to like this one…

And this last one was so confusing that a parent with a degree in engineering decided to include his own commentary on his child’s homework…

How are kids supposed to function in the real world if this is how they are learning to do basic math?

Personally, I am going to teach my daughter that 9 + 6 equals 15.  But that isn’t how it is supposed to be done under Common Core.  You can watch a video of a teacher explaining the very convoluted Common Core way to solve that math equation right here.

And of course it isn’t just math that is the problem.  Common Core is systematically “dumbing down” our young people, and that may help to explain why the average U.S. college freshman now reads at a seventh grade level.

So what is the answer?

The first step in fixing our education system is to repeal Common Core.  But even in red states such as Idaho there is a lot of resistance

Since their inception, the Idaho Core Standards have been enmeshed in controversy.

Some legislators and citizens have pushed for a repeal of the Idaho Core Standards, the state’s version of Common Core standards in math and English language arts. Those repeal efforts have gone nowhere in the Legislature.

I don’t know what is wrong with our legislators.  The Republicans have full control in this state, and so there is absolutely no excuse for not getting something done.

As I end this article, I want to give you an idea of just how far the quality of education in America has fallen over the past 100 years.  In Kentucky, an eighth grade exam from 1912 made a lot of headlines when it was donated to the Bullitt County History Museum.  As you can see, it is doubtful whether many of our college students would be able to pass such an exam today…

Dying Middle Class: The Number Of Americans That Can’t Afford Their Own Homes Has More Than Doubled

Have you lost your spot in the middle class yet?  For years I have been documenting all of the numbers that show that the middle class in America has been steadily shrinking, and we just got another one.  According to a report that was produced by researchers at Harvard University, the number of Americans that spend more than 30 percent of their incomes on housing has more than doubled.  In 2001, nearly 16 million Americans couldn’t afford the homes that they were currently living in, but by 2015 that figure had jumped to 38 million.

When I write about “economic collapse”, I am writing about a process that has been unfolding for decades in this country.  Back in the early 1970s, well over 60 percent of all Americans were considered to be “middle class”, but now that number has fallen below 50 percent.  Never before in our history has the middle class been a minority of the population, but that is where we are at now, and the middle class continues to get even smaller with each passing day.

So these new numbers saddened me, but they didn’t exactly surprise me.  The following comes from NBC News

Over 38 million American households can’t afford their housing, an increase of 146 percent in the past 16 years, according to a recent Harvard housing report.

Under federal guidelines, households that spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing costs are considered “cost burdened” and will have difficulty affording basic necessities like food, clothing, transportation and medical care.

But the number of Americans struggling with their housing costs has risen from almost 16 million in 2001 to 38 million in 2015, according to the Census data crunched in the report. That’s more than double.

Sometimes people try to convince me that the economy is doing “well”, but when I ask them how they are doing personally the news is almost always dreary.  I know so many people that are working for close to minimum wage that used to be solidly in the middle class.

One of the biggest reasons why the middle class is shrinking is because paychecks are staying about the same while the cost of living continues to rise steadily.  Of course one of the biggest factors in the rise of the cost of living is health insurance.

There are many people out there that have seen their health insurance premiums double since Obamacare went into effect.  And one health insurance company actually tried to do this to me and my family too, and so at that time I immediately switched carriers.

But even though virtually every single Republican in Congress campaigned on repealing Obamacare, it doesn’t look like it is going to happen.  In fact, on Sunday Senator John McCain told Face the Nation that the effort to repeal Obamacare is “probably going to be dead”

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said Sunday the Republican bill to repeal and replace Obamacare is “probably going to be dead.”

“My view is that it’s probably going to be dead,” he said on CBS’s Face the Nation.

Support for the bill has been eroding over the July 4th recess, and McCain said he believes Republicans should work with Democrats to craft health care legislation.

As a voter, this greatly frustrates me.  The Republicans got a bill to repeal Obamacare through the House and through the Senate and on to Barack Obama’s desk in early 2016.  So why can’t they get that exact same bill to Donald Trump’s desk now?

We worked really hard to give the Republicans control of the White House, the Senate and the House, and now they are stabbing us in the back once again.

This is just one example of why I intend to be a “wrecking ball” if I get the chance to go to Washington.

We have got to lower health care costs on the middle class.  There is no other option.  Millions of families all over the country are being absolutely suffocated by rising health insurance premiums.  Sometimes I get so frustrated with these RINOs (Republicans In Name Only) that I want to scream.

So many families are living on the edge right now.  Various surveys have discovered that somewhere around two-thirds of the entire nation is living paycheck to paycheck at least part of the time, and one study found that 69 percent of all Americans do not have an adequate emergency fund.

But when you are living on the edge, there is always a danger that you could go over.

Every month, more Americans fall out of the middle class and into poverty.  Even during this so-called “economic recovery”, we are seeing alarming spikes in poverty all over the nation.  For example, the number of homeless people living on the street in New York City has increased by 39 percent over the past year…

Street homelessness in New York increased by 39 percent in 2017, according to the latest annual survey by the Department of Homeless Services.

There were 3,892 homeless and unsheltered people on the night of February 6, 2017, up from 2,794 people at the same time last year, said the report, which is conducted on one night of the year. This is the highest increase since 2005, when Michael Bloomberg was mayor.

And bankruptcies continue to rise as well.  Consumer bankruptcies were up once again last month, and commercial bankruptcies continue their very disturbing climb

Commercial Chapter 11 bankruptcies – an effort to restructure the business, rather than liquidating it – jumped 16% year-over-year in June to 581 filings across the US. Total commercial bankruptcies of all types, by large corporations to tiny sole proprietorships, rose 2% year-over-year to 3,385 filings, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute. This was up 39% from June 2015 and up 18% from June 2014.

Since the end of the last recession, the middle class has continued to get smaller and smaller in this country, and now it appears that another economic downturn is upon us.

Are we just going to stand aside and do nothing as the middle class in America dies?

The Democrats don’t seem to care.

The Republicans don’t seem to care.

If we continue to do the same things that we have been doing, we are going to continue to get the same results.

In other words, unless we start doing things differently the middle class in America is going to continue to be systematically eviscerated.

Wake up America.  The middle class is dying and if we want to save it we have to take action now.

14 Facts That Prove That America’s Absolutely Pathetic System Of Public Education Deserves An ‘F’ Grade

One thing that almost everyone can agree upon is that our system of public education is broken.  We spend far more money on public education than anyone else in the world, and yet the results are depressing to say the least.  Considering how much we are putting into education, we should be producing the best students on the entire planet, but it just isn’t happening.  Personally, I attended public schools from kindergarten all the way up through law school, and the quality of education that I received was extremely poor.  Even on the collegiate level, most of the courses were so “dumbed down” that even the family dog could have passed them.  And of course millions of other people all over the country would say the same sorts of things about their own educations.  Many refer to what is happening to our society as “the dumbing down of America”, and if we don’t get things fixed the United States is on course to become a second class nation.

If you believe that I am exaggerating, I would like you to consider the following numbers.  The following are 14 facts that prove that America’s absolutely pathetic system of education deserves an “F” grade…

#1 Somewhere around 50 million students attend public schools in America today.

#2 Education is the most expensive item in 41 different state budgets.

#3 The latest PISA tests show that U.S. students are below average compared to the rest of the industrialized world…

One of the biggest cross-national tests is the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), which every three years measures reading ability, math and science literacy and other key skills among 15-year-olds in dozens of developed and developing countries. The most recent PISA results, from 2015, placed the U.S. an unimpressive 38th out of 71 countries in math and 24th in science. Among the 35 members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which sponsors the PISA initiative, the U.S. ranked 30th in math and 19th in science.

#4 A report from the Educational Testing Service found that American Millennials are way behind Millennials in most other industrialized nations…

Half of American Millennials score below the minimum standard of literacy proficiency. Only two countries scored worse by that measure: Italy (60 percent) and Spain (59 percent). The results were even worse for numeracy, with almost two-thirds of American Millennials failing to meet the minimum standard for understanding and working with numbers. That placed U.S. Millennials dead last for numeracy among the study’s 22 developed countries.

#5 According to one very disturbing study, fewer than half of all high school graduates “are able to proficiently read or complete math problems”.

#6 According to U.S. News & World Report, “inflation-adjusted spending per student in American public schools has increased by 663 percent.”

#7 In 2015, the percentage of students in our public schools coming from low income homes crossed the 50 percent mark.  That was the first time that had happened in at least 50 years.

#8 One study found that a whopping 76 percent of all high school graduates “were not adequately prepared academically for first-year college courses.”

#9 The following are five numbers which show how far the quality of college education has fallen in the United States…

-“After two years in college, 45% of students showed no significant gains in learning; after four years, 36% showed little change.”

-“Students also spent 50% less time studying compared with students a few decades ago.”

-“35% of students report spending five or fewer hours per week studying alone.”

-“50% said they never took a class in a typical semester where they wrote more than 20 pages.”

-“32% never took a course in a typical semester where they read more than 40 pages per week.”

#10 Just 36 percent of all full-time college students receive a bachelor’s degree within four years, and just 77 percent of all full-time college students have earned a bachelor’s degree by the end of six years.

#11 One survey found that nearly 10 percent of our college graduates believe that Judge Judy is on the Supreme Court…

#12 Another survey found that 29 percent of all U.S. adults cannot name the Vice-President.

#13 And yet another survey found that only 43 percent of all U.S. high school students knew that the Civil War was fought some time between the years of 1850 and 1900.

#14 Perhaps worst of all, 75 percent of our young adults cannot find Israel on a map of the Middle East.

This is what happens when we put federal bureaucrats in charge of education.

All over the country there are calls to abolish the Department of Education.  For example, the following was published on CNBC

The DOE currently employs 5,000 government workers and has an annual budget of $73 billion, yet according to the CATO Institute, it has not affected student outcomes in any demonstrable way over its 40-year history . It has successfully created a system that requires educators to teach reams of “politically-correct” content and focus on scoring well on standardized tests. It has created an atmosphere of testing in our schools, putting intense pressure on teachers and students to “ace the test” rather than mastering the material. This promotes a culture of teaching to the test and score tampering.

Unfortunately, abolishing the Department of Education is not going to be easy, because there is a tremendous amount of money at stake.  And whenever there is a tremendous amount of money at stake, there are going to be very powerful interests that are determined to keep things just the way that they are…

The major stakeholders in K-12 public education are at an impasse. Teachers’ Unions are primarily concerned with self-preservation, maintaining extravagant perks for union administrators and exerting disproportionate political influence. A handful of publishing houses sell us $8 billion worth of warmed- over text books every year. Testing companies collectively spent tens of millions lobbying in states and on Capitol Hill from 2009 to 2014. These politically powerful, entrenched special interests are heavily invested in maintaining the failing status quo.

But even though there is going to be a lot of resistance, I am going to try to abolish the Department of Education anyway.  I believe that full control over education should be returned to the state and local levels, but that is just the beginning.

Ultimately, we need to rebuild our system of education from the ground up.  Instead of politically-correct indoctrination centers that endlessly pump progressive propaganda into impressionable young minds, we need to transform our public schools into institutions that focus on the essentials.  We need a renewed emphasis on reading, writing, math and the skills that will enable our young people to function successfully once they get out into the real world.

At one time America’s system of education was the best in the world, and we can get there again.  But of course the left is going to fight against the changes that need to be made every step of the way.

69 Percent Of Americans Do Not Have An Adequate Emergency Fund

Do you have an emergency fund?  If you even have one penny in emergency savings, you are already ahead of about one-fourth of the country.  I write about this stuff all the time, but it always astounds me how many Americans are literally living on the edge financially.  Back in 2008 when the economy tanked and millions of people lost their jobs, large numbers of Americans suddenly couldn’t pay their bills because they were living paycheck to paycheck.  Now the stage is set for it to happen again.  Another major recession is going to happen at some point, and when it does millions of people are going to get blindsided by it.

Despite all of our emphasis on education, we never seem to teach our young people how to handle money.  But this is one of the most basic skills that everyone needs.  Personally, I went through high school, college and law school without ever being taught about the dangers of going into debt or the importance of saving money.

If you are ever going to build any wealth, you have got to spend less than you earn.  That is just basic common sense.  Unfortunately, nearly one out of every four Americans does not have even a single penny in emergency savings…

Bankrate’s newly released June Financial Security Index survey indicates that 24 percent of Americans have not saved any money at all for their emergency funds.

This is despite experts recommending that people strive for a savings cushion equivalent to the amount needed to cover three to six months’ worth of expenses.

For years, I have been telling my readers that at a minimum they need to have an emergency fund that can cover at least six months of expenses.  It is great to have more than that, but everyone should strive to have at least a six month cushion.

Unfortunately, that same Bankrate survey found that only 31 percent of Americans actually have such a cushion

The June survey also found that 31 percent of Americans have what Bankrate considers an ‘adequate’ savings cushion — six or more months’ worth of money to pay expenses — which means that nearly two-thirds of the country isn’t saving enough money.

That means that a whopping 69 percent of all Americans do not have an adequate emergency fund.

So what is going to happen if another great crisis arrives and millions of people suddenly lose their jobs?

Just like last time, mortgage defaults will start soaring and countless numbers of families will lose their homes.

If you do not have anything to fall back on, you can lose your spot in the middle class really fast.  And in the case of a truly catastrophic national crisis, trying to operate without any money at all is going to be exceedingly challenging.

Just recently, the Federal Reserve conducted a survey that discovered that 44 percent of all Americans do not even have enough money “to cover an unexpected $400 expense”.

That is almost half the country.

And a different survey by CareerBuilder found that 75 percent of all Americans have lived paycheck to paycheck “at least some of the time”.

Unfortunately, in a desperate attempt to make ends meet many of us continue to pile up more and more debt.  According to Moneyish, Americans have now accumulated more than a trillion dollars of credit card debt, more than a trillion dollars of student loan debt, and more than a trillion dollars of auto loan debt.

We’ve racked up $1 trillion in credit card debt — and that’s just a fraction of what we owe. That’s according to data released this year from the Federal Reserve, which found that U.S. consumers owe $1.0004 trillion on their cards, up 6.2% from a year ago; this is the highest amount owed since January 2009. What’s more, this isn’t the only consumer debt to top $1 trillion. We now also owe more than $1 trillion for our cars, and for our student loans, the data showed.

Overall, U.S. consumers are now more than 12 trillion dollars in debt.

We often criticize the federal government for being nearly 20 trillion dollars in debt.  And that criticism is definitely valid.  What we are doing to future generations of Americans is beyond criminal.

But are we not doing something similar to ourselves?

When you divide the total amount of consumer debt by the size of the U.S. population, it breaks down to roughly $40,000 for every man, woman and child in our country.

When someone lends you money, you have to pay back more than you originally borrow.  And in the case of high interest debt, you can end up paying back several times what you originally borrowed.

If you carry a balance from month to month on a high interest credit card, it is absolutely crippling you financially.  But many Americans don’t understand this.  Instead, they just keep sending off the “minimum payment” every month because that is the easiest thing to do.

If you ever want to achieve financial freedom, you have got to get rid of your toxic debts.  There are some forms of low interest debt, such as mortgage debt, that are not going to financially cripple you.  But anything with a high rate of interest you will want to pay off as soon as possible.

And everyone needs a financial cushion.  Unless you can guarantee that your life is always going to go super smoothly and you are never going to have any problems, you need an emergency fund to fall back on.

Yes, you may need to make some sacrifices in order to make that happen.  Nobody ever said that it would be easy.  But just about everyone has somewhere that a little “belt tightening” can be done, and in the long-term it will be worth it.

When you don’t have to constantly worry about how you are going to pay the bills next month, it will help you sleep a lot easier at night.  Many of us have put a lot of unnecessary stress on ourselves by spending money that we didn’t have for things that we really didn’t need.

And now is the time to get your financial house in order, because it appears that another major economic downturn is not too far away.

It Is Becoming Illegal To Be Homeless In America As Houston, Dallas And Dozens Of Other Cities Pass Draconian Laws

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?