Why The Jobs Report Is Not Nearly As Strong As You Are Being Told

Jobs Unemployment Main Street - Public DomainHappy days are here again? On Friday, the mainstream media was buzzing with the news that the U.S. economy had added 255,000 jobs during the month of July. But as you will see below, the U.S. economy did not add 255,000 jobs during the month of July. In fact, without an extremely generous “seasonal adjustment”, the number of jobs added during the month of July would not have even kept up with population growth. But the pretend number sounds so much better than the real number, and so the pretend number is what is being promoted for public consumption.

Why doesn’t the government ever just tell us the plain facts? Unfortunately, we live at a time when “spin” is everything, and just about everyone in the mainstream media seemed quite pleased with the “good jobs report” on Friday. However, as Zero Hedge has pointed out, the truth is that the “unadjusted” numbers tell a very different story…

As Mitsubishi UFJ strategist John Herrmann wrote in a note shortly after the report, the “jobs headline overstates” strength of payrolls. He adds that the unadjusted data show a “middling report” that’s “nowhere as strong as the headline” and adds that private payrolls unadjusted +85k in July vs seasonally adjusted +217k.

In Herrmann’s view, the government applied a “very benign seasonal adjustment factor upon private payrolls to transform a soft private payroll gain into a strong gain.”

He did not provide a reason why the government would do that.

Every month, the U.S. economy must create at least 150,000 new jobs just to keep up with population growth. According to the unadjusted numbers, we did not hit that threshold, and so the employment situation in this country actually got worse last month.

In America today, there are 7.8 million Americans that are considered to be officially unemployed, and another 94.3 million working age Americans that are considered to be “not in the labor force”.

When you add those two numbers together, you get a grand total of 102 million working age Americans that do not have a job right now.

Rather than focusing on the headline “unemployment” figure, we get a much fairer look at the employment crisis in the United States when we examine the employment-population ratio. The following chart comes directly from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and it shows that the percentage of Americans that are employed has never even come close to getting back to where it was just prior to the last recession…

Employment-Population Ratio 2016

Over the past couple of years we have seen a slight bump in this number, and that is good, but normally after a recession ends the employment-population ratio goes back to at least as high as it was before.  Unfortunately, this has not happened after the last two recessions.  The following comes from Wolf Richter

The ratio always drops during recessions, but before 2001, it always climbed to higher highs during the recoveries. The 2001 recession and subsequent recovery changed this. For the first time, the ratio never fully recovered, never got even close to fully recovering. That was a new phenomenon: employment growth could no longer keep up with population growth.

When the Great Recession hit, the ratio plunged from its lower starting point at the fastest pace on record (going back to 1948). The Fed’s efforts were all focused exclusively on bailing out bondholders, re-inflating the stock market, re-inflating the housing market, and generally creating what had become the official Fed policy at the time, the Wealth Effect (here’s Bernanke himself explaining it). This has re-inflated asset prices – many of them way beyond their prior bubble peaks.

But the Fed’s astounding focus on capital accelerated the already changing dynamics of the economy, at the expense of labor.

Even the Wall Street Journal admits that we are in the weakest “economic recovery” since 1949, and now there are lots of signs that we have entered a brand new economic downturn.  Here are just a few examples from Chad Shoop

  • Ford, GM and Chrysler — three of the U.S.’ largest auto companies — reported sales for July that missed estimates: down 3%, 1.9% and up 0.3%, respectively.
  • Delta Airlines, one of the largest airlines in the world, said revenue fell 7% in July as part of its monthly performance update.
  • Macy’s, the biggest department store company, reported a decline in sales for July, leading to more aggressive markdowns and an industry-wide sell-off.

And lots of ominous signs continue to pop up on Wall Street as well.  For one thing, the Libor rate has surged to the highest level since the last financial crisis.  If you are not familiar with Libor, here is a pretty good explanation of it from Business Insider

The Libor, or London Interbank Offered Rate, measures the interest rate at which banks lend to each other at different durations, and its sharp jump was a harbinger of the financial crisis.

And according to that same article, the Libor rate is now the highest that we have seen since early 2009

In the past month, the Libor rate has spiked to rates not seen since the first quarter of 2009, the heart of the banking meltdown.

Not to mention, the spread between the Libor and the Overnight Index Swap rate, which tracks the lending rate from the Federal Reserve, has widened, another potentially worrying sign.

But of course I have been quoting facts and figures like this for months, and yet U.S. financial markets continue to hold it together.

There are literally dozens of parallels between the global financial crisis of 2008 and what is happening in 2016, but Wall Street continues to defy the laws of economics.

Of course it won’t last forever, but it certainly has been a sight to behold.

And I am certainly not alone in my analysis.  As I noted the other day, DoubleLine Capital CEO Jeffrey Gundlach is entirely convinced that stocks “should be down massively”…

“The artist Christopher Wool has a word painting, ‘Sell the house, sell the car, sell the kids.’ That’s exactly how I feel – sell everything. Nothing here looks good,” Gundlach said in a telephone interview. “The stock markets should be down massively but investors seem to have been hypnotized that nothing can go wrong.”

For the moment, investors continue to pay extremely irrational prices for stocks, and the mainstream media is just giddy about the state of the economy.

So let us enjoy this very strange period of stability for however much longer it lasts, but let us also protect ourselves from the horrible crash that will inevitably follow.

The Economic Collapse In Venezuela Is So Bad That People Are Slaughtering And Eating Zoo Animals

Black Stallion - Public DomainIf you were hungry enough, would you kill and eat zoo animals?  To most of us such a notion sounds absolutely insane, but this is actually happening in Venezuela right now.  This is a country where people are standing in lines for up to 12 hours hoping that there will be food to buy that day, and where rioting and looting have become commonplace.  So even though the U.S. economy is in dreadful shape at this moment, we should be thankful for what we have, because at least we are not experiencing a full-blown economic collapse yet like Venezuela currently is.

Black stallions can be some of the most beautiful horses on the entire planet, but things are so desperate down in Venezuela this summer that everything looks like food to some people at this point.  What happened at the Caricuao Zoo on Sunday is so horrible that I actually debated whether or not to share it with you.  Desperate people do desperate things, and when people get hungry enough they will do things such as this

Venezuela’s worsening food shortages had tragic consequences for a rare show horse last weekend, when a group of intruders broke into the zoo, pulled the black stallion from its cage, then slaughtered it for meat.

Prosecutors say the crime occurred in the small hours of Sunday morning at Caracas’ Caricuao Zoo, when “several people” sneaked into the state-run park under the cover of darkness and busted into the stallion’s pen. The horse, the only one of its kind in the zoo, was then led to a more secluded area and butchered on the spot. Only its head and ribs were left behind in a gruesome pile for zookeepers to find after sunrise.

Unfortunately, this precious animal was not even the first victim at that particular zoo.

A few weeks ago, pigs and sheep were the targets

Sadly, this horse wasn’t the first zoo animal to suffer the effects of Venezuela’s crippling food shortages. Some Vietnamese pigs and sheep were reportedly stolen from the same zoo earlier this month.

Dozens of other zoo animals are slowing starving to death because there is no food available to give to them.  In fact, it is being reported that at least 50 animals have died from lack of food at one zoo alone

At least 50 animals have died in the last six months at the Caricuao zoo in Caracas, Venezuela, due to widespread food shortages that are affecting both man and beast in the socialist nation.

Marlene Sifontes, a union leader for employees of state parks agency Inparques which oversees zoos, told Reuters that the zoo lost Vietnamese pigs, tapirs, rabbits and birds after the animals went weeks without eating. Others animals at the zoo are in danger of severe malnutrition. Lions and tigers, which should be on a carnivorous diet, are being fed mango and pumpkin just to get something in their empty stomachs, while an elephant is being fed tropical fruit instead of its usual diet of hay, the union leader said. According to one report, the big cats are being fed slaughtered thoroughbred racehorses from a nearby race track.

If what you have just read hurts your heart, let us not forget that it is not just the animals that are suffering.  There are millions of precious people down there that are living on the very edge of starvation as you read this article.

Earlier this year, one mayor came forward and admitted to the world that some people are so hungry that they are actually hunting “cats, dogs and pigeons” for food…

Ramón Muchacho, Mayor of Chacao in Caracas, said the streets of the capital of Venezuela are filled with people killing animals for food.

Through Twitter, Muchacho reported that in Venezuela, it is a “painful reality” that people “hunt cats, dogs and pigeons” to ease their hunger. People are also reportedly gathering vegetables from the ground and trash to eat as well.

The crisis in Venezuela is worsening everyday due in part to shortages reaching 70 percent […] six Venezuelan military officials were arrested for stealing goats to ease their hunger, as there was no food at the Fort Manaure military base.

With each passing week, the situation in Venezuela keeps on getting worse.

And even though the United States has made many of the exact same mistakes that Venezuela has made, most of us just assume that what is happening down there could never happen up here.

After all, we have “the greatest economy in the world” and we are “the wealthiest nation on the entire planet”, right?

Well, actually our economic infrastructure has been systematically gutted by free trade deals and we consume far more wealth than we produce.  We have artificially pumped up our standard of living by adding more than 1.1 trillion dollars a year to the national debt since Barack Obama has been in the White House, and one recent poll discovered that 62 percent of all Americans have less than $1,000 saved up.

But don’t worry.  Instead of turning out like Venezuela, the mainstream media insists that the best days for America are right around the corner.

In fact, just today I came across a Business Insider article that insisted that soon our biggest economic problem will be that we won’t be able to find enough workers.

And Barbra Streisand is so thrilled that Hillary Clinton is going to be our next president that she launched into a rousing rendition of “Happy Days Are Here Again” as she kicked off her farewell tour in Los Angeles.  The following account comes from the Drudge Report

So long sad times
Go along bad times
We are rid of you at last
Howdy gay times
Cloudy gray times
You are now a thing of the past
Happy days are here again
The skies above are clear again
So let’s sing a song of cheer again…

Streisand suddenly interrupted the lyric, realizing a Democrat was currently in the White House!

“By the way, I love Obama.”

Altogether shout it now
There’s no one
Who can doubt it now
So let’s tell the world about it now
Happy days are here again

So what is the truth?

Are we going to end up just like Venezuela, or are happy days here once more?

Unfortunately, I have a feeling that we are not going to have to wait too long to find out…

Painful To Watch: This Is The Weakest U.S. Economic ‘Recovery’ Since 1949

Dollar Bending - Public DomainMost of us have never witnessed an economic “recovery” this bad.  As you will see below, the average rate of economic growth since the last recession has been the lowest for any “recovery” in at least 67 years.  And unfortunately, the economy appears to be slowing down even more here in 2016.  On Friday, I talked about how the U.S. economy grew at a painfully slow rate of just 1.2 percent in the second quarter after only growing 0.8 percent during the first quarter.  And last week we also learned that the homeownership rate in the United States has dropped to the lowest level ever.  This is not what a recovery looks like.  Instead, it very much appears that a new economic downturn has already begun.

But don’t just take my word for how painful this economic “recovery” has been.  The following comes from a Wall Street Journal article that was just posted entitled “Seven Years Later, Recovery Remains the Weakest of the Post-World War II Era“…

Even seven years after the recession ended, the current stretch of economic gains has yielded less growth than much shorter business cycles.

In terms of average annual growth, the pace of this expansion has been by far the weakest of any since 1949. (And for which we have quarterly data.) The economy has grown at a 2.1% annual rate since the U.S. recovery began in mid-2009, according to gross-domestic-product data the Commerce Department released Friday.

The prior expansion, from 2001 through 2007, was the only other business cycle of the past 11 when the economy didn’t grow at least 3% a year, on average.

This entire seven year stretch has come while Barack Obama has been in the White House.  After more than seven and a half years, he is solidly on track to be the only president in U.S. history to never have a single year when the U.S. economy grew by at least three percent.

And unlike many presidents, he has had two terms in which to try to accomplish that feat.

One of the industries that had been doing fairly well during this recovery was the auto industry, but now in early 2016 they have found themselves struggling too

Now, the auto sector, which has propped up GDP growth for years, is slowing down. For the first six months, total car and light truck sales, at a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of 17.5 million vehicles, are lagging behind last year by 100,000 units. Over the first half, fleet sales to rent-a-car companies and big fleet buyers were up industry wide. But retail sales fell 2%.

All over the corporate world, earnings are down.

In some cases, they are way down.

It is being projected that this will be the fifth quarter in a row when corporate earnings have declined, and even mainstream analysts are now admitting that it is “evident” that we have entered “a global slowdown”

“Earnings season in the U.S. confirms the overall macro picture that we have. We have a global slowdown. It’s evident in all of the major economies,” said Peter Garnry, head of equity strategy at Saxo Bank, on a Bloomberg podcast.

Of course I have been saying this exact thing for the past 12 months, but a lot of people have tuned me out because the stock market in the United States has been doing so well.

But the stock market is not an accurate barometer for the real economy.  It never has been, and it never will be.

If stocks accurately reflected the health of the U.S. economy, they would have already crashed really hard a long time ago.  At this moment, stock prices are completely disconnected from economic reality, and this has many of the most respected names on Wall Street scratching their heads.  One of them is Jeffrey Gundlach, the chief executive of DoubleLine Capital.  Just check out what he told Reuters on Friday

Noting the recent run-up in the benchmark Standard & Poor’s 500 index while economic growth remains weak and corporate earnings are stagnant, Gundlach said stock investors have entered a “world of uber complacency.”

The S&P 500 on Friday touched an all-time high of 2,177.09, while the government reported that U.S. gross domestic product in the second quarter grew at a meager 1.2 percent rate.

“The artist Christopher Wool has a word painting, ‘Sell the house, sell the car, sell the kids.’ That’s exactly how I feel – sell everything. Nothing here looks good,” Gundlach said in a telephone interview. “The stock markets should be down massively but investors seem to have been hypnotized that nothing can go wrong.”

If you follow Gundlach, you probably already know that he has been dead on accurate with regard to the financial markets over the past couple of years.

So when he says that the stock market “should be down massively” and that it is time to “sell everything”, we should all take him very, very seriously.

All throughout history, a huge decline in corporate earnings has almost always resulted in a huge decline in stock prices.  As Jesse Felder has noted, “we have never seen a decline in earnings of this magnitude without at least a 20% fall in stock prices” during the last 50 years.

To any rational observer, it is quite obvious that stock prices should have already started collapsing quite some time ago.

And to a large extent this has already happened around the planet, but here in the United States stocks continue to defy the laws of economics.

But at this point it isn’t going to do much good to warn people about this.  Those that could see the danger coming have already pulled their money out of stocks, and most of those that want to stick their heads in the sand and pretend that things are somehow going to be different this time are not likely to be persuaded this late in the game.

In the end, we should all be grateful that this absurd financial bubble has lasted for as long as it has, because stability is much more pleasant than instability.  The U.S. economy and the U.S. financial system have enjoyed a prolonged period of stability that has defied all the odds, and let us hope that it lasts for at least a little while longer…

Terror Attacks And Mass Killings Are Becoming A Daily Event

Globe On Fire - Public DomainTerror attacks and mass killings are happening so rapidly now that it is really difficult to keep up with them all.  In fact, as you will see below, so far there have been several this week alone.  This latest attack in France during which radical Islamic terrorists slit the throat of a Catholic priest was particularly disturbing.  Just a few days ago I warned that churches in the western world would be targeted, and now it is happening.  According to thereligionofpeace.com, there have been 1274 Islamic terror attacks in 2016.  These attacks have been spread across 50 different nations, and as a result of these attacks more than 11,000 people have been killed and more than 14,000 people have been injured.  When are we going to finally wake up and understand how serious this threat really is?

Very few people would have imagined that a sleepy Catholic church in France would be the target of an Islamic terror attack on Tuesday morning, but that is precisely what happened.  The following description of the attack comes from the New York Times

Mass was ending around 9:30 a.m. when two young men with knives burst in. They forced the auxiliary priest, the Rev. Jacques Hamel, 85, to kneel. When he resisted, they slit his throat. They held several worshipers and at least one nun hostage, while another nun escaped. Officers from a specialized police unit descended on the church. A short while later, officers shot the young men dead when they emerged from the church.

We have all seen images of ISIS slitting the throats of Christians in the Middle East, but now it is taking place in Europe.

As the terrorists emerged from the church, they reportedly shouted “Allahu Akbar” before being shot dead by the police.

ISIS has already taken responsibility for the attack and is referring to these two young men as “two soldiers of the Islamic State“.  And France knew that one of them had tried to go to Syria to join ISIS twice, but still allowed him to roam free for at least part of the day…

One of a pair of ISIS knifemen who stormed a church in Normandy before slitting the throat of an elderly priest has been named as known terror threat Adel Kermiche.

The 19-year-old ‘ISIS soldier’ was being monitored with an electronic ankle tag after he was arrested for twice attempting to flee France to join the terror group in Syria.

Despite having been released early from prison, Keriche’s bail conditions allowed him to roam unsupervised between 8.30am and 12.30pm, leaving him free to murder the priest in the attack which was carried out between 9am and 11am.

This horrific attack in France came on the heels of a tremendous tragedy in Japan.  Mass killings are fairly rare over there, and so virtually the entire Japanese nation is in shock at this point.  The following comes from the Washington Post

Early on Tuesday morning, a man identified as Satoshi Uematsu allegedly attacked a care home for disabled people in Sagamihara, about 35 miles west of Tokyo. Armed with three knives and tie cables, the assailant killed 19 people and wounded many before he drove to a police station and turned himself in.

And that mass killing in Japan came on the heels of a suicide bombing in Ansbach, Germany on Sunday

The Syrian man who blew himself up outside a bar in Ansbach vowed the people of Germany “won’t be able to sleep peacefully anymore” in a video filmed before the attack.

Investigators said the suicide bomber, known only as Mohammad D., had declared loyalty to Islamic State in the recording – and announced “a revenge act against Germans because they are standing in the way of Islam”.

Further details have emerged about the 27-year-old, who injured 15 people – four of them seriously – when he detonated a backpack filled with explosives and shrapnel after being turned away from a music festival being attended by thousands of people.

Of course just prior to the suicide bombing in Ansbach, there were two other acts of terror in Germany that made headlines all over the globe

The bombing has rattled the German public following a week of violence in southern Germany that began on July 18, when an immigrant teen, apparently also inspired by ISIS, stabbed passengers on a train in Wurzburg in Bavaria.

That was followed by a shooting spree Friday in which nine people were killed in the Bavarian state capital, Munich, before a Syrian asylum seeker killed a woman in Reutlingen, in the neighboring southern German state of Baden-Wurttemberg, on Sunday, hours ahead of the Ansbach attack.

Are you starting to get the point?

In the summer of 2016, it has been terror attack after terror attack and mass killing after mass killing.

And in this article I haven’t even mentioned Orlando, Dallas, Nice or Baton Rouge at all.

As I have written about extensively, we have entered a period of time when our world seems to be going crazy.  The love of most people has grown cold, and we are being hammered with headlines about horrific acts of violence almost every single day now.

The terrorists are not just going after military and political targets.  In fact, they seem to take glee in hitting us where we are most vulnerable.

Just recently, I wrote about how all the members of one particular church here in America ended up on an ISIS kill list.  It appears that ISIS is collecting names from church directories and synagogue directories that they find on the Internet.  So if you run a church or a synagogue you should take note of this.

Even bigger attacks than we have seen so far are coming.  At some point Islamic terrorists will get their hands on chemical, biological and potentially even nuclear weapons, and they will not hesitate to use them.

Many of our politicians are promising to rid the world of these terrorists, but I don’t think that they even know what we are really dealing with or how to really fight this battle.

After a decade and a half of dropping bombs and spending trillions of dollars fighting in the Middle East, the threat of Islamic terror is worse than ever.  And even nations that were never heavily involved in the “war on terror” are seeing Islamic terror rise to unprecedented levels.

The blind are leading the blind, and meanwhile the terror attacks and the mass killings are just going to continue to get even worse.

Axe-Wielding Terrorist Attacks Train Passengers In Germany And A Police Car Is Firebombed In Florida

Stop Terrorism Wall - Public DomainCrazy people committing random acts of senseless violence is rapidly becoming the “new normal” in the western world.  On Monday, a police vehicle was firebombed in Daytona, Florida by someone that was enraged by the recent shooting deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.  And over in Europe, an axe-wielding Islamic terrorist shouted “Allahu Akbar” as he started wildly attacking passengers on a train in southern Germany.  Authorities say that the young man was originally from Afghanistan, and according to the Mirror he was shot dead before he could flee the scene of the attack…

The horror began at around 9mpm local time when the teenager stormed a train that was traveling close to Wurzburg in southern Germany.

He then shouted “Allahu Akbar” – which means God is greatest – before launching into the terrifying attack on innocent passengers and then attempted to flee.

News outlets in Germany have claimed the crazed attacker was shot dead by armed police as he tried to escape.

Even though this 17-year-old Afghan terrorist was armed with an axe and a knife, none of the passengers were killed, although a few of them were seriously injured.

It is likely that this was a copycat attack.  This young Afghan probably saw the attention that the horrible attack in Nice received, and he probably thought that he could become famous too by jumping on a train and hacking innocent people to death with his axe.  Unfortunately for him, he is now dead and facing the afterlife, and most of the rest of the planet will probably forget about him by tomorrow.

Meanwhile, the wave of violence against police in the United States continues to intensify.  On Monday, a police vehicle in Daytona, Florida was firebombed by an unknown individual.  The following comes from the Daily Mail

A squad car in Florida was set on fire with a Molotov cocktail in what appears to be more anti-cop backlash following the shootings of two black men that have sparked protests throughout the nation.

The police cruiser was parked in front of the Islamic Center of Daytona about 2:30am Sunday when it was set on fire.

The car was fully engulfed in flames when police firefighters arrived.

By itself, it may have been difficult to connect this incident with the recent attacks on police in Dallas and in Baton Rouge, but the perpetrator removed all doubt about his or her motivation by leaving a note at the scene of the crime

Police said a note was found at the scene.

‘BLACK LIVES MATTER. A. Sterling. P. Castile,’ the note said, referencing the shootings of Alton Sterling, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Philando Castile in St. Paul, Minnesota.

There was a bit more to the note, but it contained an expletive directed toward police that would not be appropriate for young readers to see.

On Sunday, the deaths of three police officers in Baton Rouge overshadowed another very disturbing incident that took place in Wisconsin.  A suspect shot and seriously wounded a police officer while he was just sitting by himself in his vehicle

A domestic violence suspect opened fire on a Milwaukee police officer who was sitting in his squad car early Sunday, seriously wounding him before fleeing and apparently killing himself shortly afterward, authorities said.

The shooting, coming the same day that three police officers were killed in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, prompted the Milwaukee Police Department to send all officers out in two-person squad teams, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

I think that what the Milwaukee Police Department has done is very wise.  No police officer should be alone in any major city at this point.

Sadly, I think that what we have seen so far is just the beginning of the violence.  Once the conventions are over, things will swing into full general election mode, and emotions on both sides will be running extremely high.

In particular, the radical left is being absolutely inundated with messages telling them that Donald Trump is basically the American equivalent of Adolf Hitler.  Of course that is complete and utter nonsense, but after hearing it enough times a lot of them are starting to believe it, and some of them are actually discussing the possibility of real violence against the government if Trump wins in November.  Just consider the following

The failed coup in Turkey that killed more than 200 people and wounded thousands more could be coming to America — if Donald Trump is elected and #BlackLivesMatter activist and Daily News columnist Shaun King has his way.

King tweeted this weekend that the U.S. would suffer the same fate as Turkey if the soon-to-be Republican nominee won the presidency.

If Donald Trump becomes President, you are fooling yourself if you think we’re far from having a coup our own selves,” King tweeted. “I’m dead serious.”

And of course I think that most people are anticipating that riots, protests and violence will follow the Trump campaign around the country between now and election day in November.  The radical left hates Donald Trump with a passion, and they have already shown what they are willing to do to disrupt Trump rallies.  If Donald Trump looks like he has a realistic shot at winning as we approach election day, that will just send activists on the radical left into overdrive.

We have entered a period of time when America is the most divided that it has been in decades.  The mainstream media loves to pit us against one another, and they love to focus on hatred and dissension.  This country is starting to come apart at the seams, and what we have witnessed so far is just the beginning.

As a nation, we have made certain choices, and at first those choices didn’t seem to have any serious consequences.  But now decades later we stand poised to reap what we have sown, and it is going to be a very, very bitter harvest.

America Wastes About HALF The Food That It Produces While Hunger Runs Rampant Around The Globe

Tomatoes - Public DomainIs the United States the most wasteful nation on the entire planet?  We are all certainly guilty of wasting food.  Whether it is that little bit that you don’t want to eat at the end of a meal, or that produce that you forgot about in the back of the refrigerator that went moldy, the truth is that we could all do better at making sure that good food does not get wasted.  It can be tempting to think that wasting food is not a big deal because we have so much of it, but an increasing number of people around the world are really hurting these days.  In fact, it has been estimated that there are more than a billion hungry people around the globe right now.  So as a society we need to figure out how to waste a whole lot less food and how to get it into the mouths of those that really need it.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, close to a third of all food in the United States gets wasted after it gets to the store.  This is commonly referred to as “downstream” waste.  When you add all of this “downstream” waste up, it comes to a grand total of 133 billion pounds of food each year

Nearly a third of the 430 billion pounds of food produced for Americans to eat is wasted, a potential catastrophe for landfills and a wake-up call to officials scrambling to feed the hungry, according to a stunning new report from the Department of Agriculture.

The just-issued report revealed that in 2010, 31 percent, or 133 billion pounds, of food produced for Americans to eat was wasted, either molded or improperly cooked, suffered “natural shrinkage” due to moisture loss, or because people became disinterested in what they purchased.

How many people do you think we could feed with 133 billion pounds of food?

But that isn’t all of the food that we waste.  In addition to “downstream” waste, we also have to add “upstream” waste to the equation.  Massive amounts of food are wasted each year because American consumers don’t want to eat fruits and vegetables that are “imperfect”.  The following comes from the Guardian

Americans throw away almost as much food as they eat because of a “cult of perfection”, deepening hunger and poverty, and inflicting a heavy toll on the environment.

Vast quantities of fresh produce grown in the US are left in the field to rot, fed to livestock or hauled directly from the field to landfill, because of unrealistic and unyielding cosmetic standards, according to official data and interviews with dozens of farmers, packers, truckers, researchers, campaigners and government officials.

And I know that as a consumer I am guilty of this.  Just yesterday, I was picking through the apricots at the grocery store looking for the prettiest ones that I could find.  Of course they were all good to eat, but most of us are in the habit of wanting produce that looks as “perfect” as possible.

As a result, a lot of perfectly good food that may look a little ratty ends of being wasted

“Sunburnt” or darker-hued cauliflower was ploughed over in the field. Table grapes that did not conform to a wedge shape were dumped. Entire crates of pre-cut orange wedges were directed to landfill. In June, Kirschenman wound up feeding a significant share of his watermelon crop to cows.

As the Guardian article quoted above noted, when you add “downstream” waste and “upstream” waste together, we end up wasting about half our food.

This is tragic, because there are a whole lot of people in our own country that could use this food.  According to one estimate, there are 49 million Americans dealing with food insecurity.  But if we didn’t waste nearly half our food, we could likely feed just about everyone sufficiently.

Globally, about one-third of all food is wasted.  That is better than the U.S. number, but it is still way too high.

At this point, we just don’t have a lot of resources to waste.  So many people are suffering these days, and this includes an explosion of crushing poverty in the country that is hosting the Olympics this summer.  Just yards away from the primary stadium that will be used by the Olympic games, people actually have raw sewage running through their homes

In the Mangueira ‘favelas’ no more than 750m away from the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro, which will host the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, young families are living in makeshift houses with no sanitation.

The stadium will stage both the opening and closing ceremonies for the Olympics in August, and as global superstars such as Usain Bolt, Mo Farah, Jessica Ennis-Hill and Justin Gatlin take to the track, the favela residents will be dealing with raw sewage running through their homes.

It has been estimated that more than 20 percent of the population of Rio lives in “favelas”.  But instead of doing something for those people, the government of Brazil has spent hundreds of millions of dollars hosting the World Cup and the Olympics.

What is wrong with that picture?

Meanwhile, things continue to get even worse elsewhere in South America.  In Venezuela, 47 percent of the country can no longer provide three meals a day for their families, and the lack of toilet paper has become a national crisis

Venezuela’s government said it occupied Kimberly-Clark Corp.’s local plant, days after the company had halted operations because of shortages of raw materials in the socialist crisis-stricken country.

“Kimberly-Clark will continue producing for all Venezuelans and is now in the hands of the workers,” Labor Minister Oswaldo Vera said Monday in a televised address from the company’s plant in central Aragua state, before signing an order to take it over, according to WSJ. The labor ministry claims Kimberly-Clark had violated Venezuelan law by firing more than 900 workers without consulting the government.

“It doesn’t matter who’s running the factory,” said Henkel Garcia, director of the Caracas business consultancy Econometrica told WSJ. “The bottom line is that there are no raw materials that anyone can afford to import.”

As the global economy continues to deteriorate, the need to waste less food and less resources will become even more acute.  Over the past several decades, we have grown accustomed to not even thinking twice about wasting food.  In fact, I rarely come across parents that insist that their children finish everything on their plates these days.

But in the not too distant future, things are going to completely change.  Even in the United States, we will eventually get to the point where every scrap of food is considered to be precious.

We are moving into a time when wasting nearly half our food will no longer be an option, and so we should start coming up with better ways of doing things as soon as we can.

Those That Wanted To Get Prepared Have Already Gotten Prepared By Now

No Excuses Road Sign - Public DomainIs the time for warning people to prepare for what is ahead coming to an end?  For years, bold men and women all over America have been sounding the alarm and warning people to get prepared physically, financially, mentally, emotionally and spiritually for the great storm that is rapidly approaching.  Personally, I have written more than 2,500 articles on my primary two websites combined, and so nobody can accuse me of not blowing the trumpet.  It has gotten to the point that sometimes I am even tired of listening to myself warn the people.  But now we are shifting into a new phase.

The other day I was reflecting on some of the things that I have been hearing lately.  Sales of emergency food and supplies are way down across the entire industry.  Many organizations and websites that have been instrumental in sounding the alarm for a long time are really struggling right now.  On my websites, traffic has hit a bit of a plateau after experiencing a tremendous surge late last year.  Overall, “prepping” was very hot just a few years ago, and at one time it was estimated that there were approximately three million “preppers” in the United States.  But these days there seems to be a tremendous amount of apathy out there.

As I reflected on all of this, I came to one inescapable conclusion.

Those that wanted to get prepared have already gotten prepared by now, and those that did not want to get prepared are not likely to do so any time soon.

I personally know a lot of people that are very, very prepared and have been for a long time.  Yes, there is still a small minority of people out there that only recently woke up and started prepping, but overall most of the preparation that people wanted to do has already been completed.  And for those that have not done anything to prepare, you could argue with them until the moon turns to cheese and they still won’t take any action.

At this point the die has been cast.  Most of those that felt that they should prepare have already prepared.  Most of those that felt that they should repent have already repented.  Most of those that felt that they should warn America have already sounded the alarm.

So now all that is left is to wait for the shaking to begin.

In looking back at what has transpired over the last several years, I think that it would be appropriate to say something about the failure of the church in America.

You see, if the churches of America were doing their job, all of the “watchmen” out there would not even be needed.  Our voices would simply be lost in a chorus of thousands upon thousands of pastors, teachers, ministers and evangelists boldly warning people about what is coming to this nation.

But instead, there is just deafening silence coming from most of the mainstream churches.

The sad thing is that many, many church leaders understand very clearly what is coming, but they have purposely chosen not to warn the people.  Some time ago, George Barna conducted a study that looked into why our churches are not addressing the key issues of the day, and what he discovered was absolutely astounding

“‘What we’re finding is that when we ask them about all the key issues of the day, [90 percent of them are] telling us, ‘Yes, the Bible speaks to every one of these issues,” he explained. “Then we ask them: ‘Well, are you teaching your people what the Bible says about those issues?’ and the numbers drop…to less than 10 percent of pastors who say they will speak to it.”

Most churches in America don’t want to talk about the hard things, because they desperately want to make people feel comfortable.  They want to entertain people and make them happy so that they will come back week after week and drop their money into the offering plate.

When it comes to defining success as a church, Barna found that there were five primary factors that were important to the majority of pastors, and none of them had anything to do with repentance and salvation through Jesus Christ…

“There are five factors that the vast majority of pastors turn to,” he outlined. “Attendance, giving, number of programs, number of staff, and square footage.”

Sadly, most Christians in America actually prefer these lukewarm churches, and the Apostle Paul warned that these times were coming nearly 2000 years ago.  The following is what 2 Timothy 4:3-4 says in the Modern English Version

3 For the time will come when people will not endure sound doctrine, but they will gather to themselves teachers in accordance with their own desires, having itching ears, 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth and turn to myths.

You may not want to hear this, but the majority of churches in America have already gone apostate, and that is the truth.

We are slowly but surely losing an entire generation of Americans, and yet our dead and dying churches just continue to slumber.  I shared the following numbers in a previous article, but they bear repeating.  The following comes directly out of a Pew Research Center report

Millennials – especially the youngest Millennials, who have entered adulthood since the first Landscape Study was conducted – are far less religious than their elders. For example, only 27% of Millennials say they attend religious services on a weekly basis, compared with 51% of adults in the Silent generation. Four-in-ten of the youngest Millennials say they pray every day, compared with six-in-ten Baby Boomers and two-thirds of members of the Silent generation. Only about half of Millennials say they believe in God with absolute certainty, compared with seven-in-ten Americans in the Silent and Baby Boom cohorts. And only about four-in-ten Millennials say religion is very important in their lives, compared with more than half in the older generational cohorts.

Those numbers are absolutely horrifying.  Yes, there are still a few really good churches scattered across the country.  But overall, the church in America is in really sorry shape, and the numbers don’t lie.  Christianity is in rapid decline in the United States, and somebody better wake up and start doing something about it.

Over the years, I can’t tell you how many dead churches that I have sat in.  That is why it is so refreshing when I actually find one where the gospel is preached and where people truly love one another.  I have had the privilege of sharing my message in such a church in recent months, and I wish that there were a lot more of them out there.

Unfortunately, most ministers in America are really busy doing things other than what they should be doing.  For instance, have you ever heard of “clergy response teams”?  If you can believe it, the government has actually recruited ministers to help the population accept martial law when it is declared someday.  The following comes from KSLA News

Could martial law ever become a reality in America?  Some fear any nuclear, biological or chemical attack on U.S. soil might trigger just that.  KSLA News 12 has discovered that the clergy would help the government with potentially their biggest problem: Us.

Can you believe that?

Here is more from the report…

Such clergy response teams would walk a tight-rope during martial law between the demands of the government on the one side, versus the wishes of the public on the other.  “In a lot of cases, these clergy would already be known in the neighborhoods in which they’re helping to diffuse that situation,” assured Sandy Davis.  He serves as the director of the Caddo-Bossier Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.

For the clergy team, one of the biggest tools that they will have in helping calm the public down or to obey the law is the bible itself, specifically Romans 13.  Dr. Tuberville elaborated, “because the government’s established by the Lord, you know.  And, that’s what we believe in the Christian faith.  That’s what’s stated in the scripture.”

I don’t know about you, but I found that article to be extremely chilling.

But this is the state of things in America today.  We have a dead church that is stuffed to the gills with dead ministers, and the people are not being told the truth about the great shaking that is coming to America.

And when the great shaking comes, there will be multitudes of these dead churches and ministries that will go under and never rise again.

Meanwhile, God will be raising up a Remnant, and that Remnant is going to shake the world.

So what do you think about all of this?

Please feel free to share your thoughts by posting a comment below…

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