Happy New Year Middle Class: The Fiscal Cliff Is Going To Rip You To Shreds

Happy New Year Middle Class - The Fiscal Cliff Is Going To Rip You To ShredsThe middle class has quite a gift welcoming them as the calendar flips over to 2013.  Their payroll taxes are going to go up, their income taxes are going to go up, and approximately 28 million households are going to be hit with a huge, unexpected AMT tax bill on their 2012 earnings.  So happy New Year middle class!  You are about to be ripped to shreds.  In addition to the tax increases that I just mentioned, approximately two million unemployed Americans will instantly lose their extended unemployment benefits when 2013 begins, and new Obamacare tax hikes which will cost American taxpayers about a trillion dollars over the next decade will start to go into effect.  If Congress is not able to come to some sort of a deal, all middle class families in America will be sending thousands more dollars to Uncle Sam next year than they were previously.  And considering the fact that the middle class is already steadily shrinking and that the U.S. economy is already in an advanced state of decline, that is not good news.  You would think that both major political parties would want to do something to keep the middle class from being hit with this kind of tax sledgehammer.  Unfortunately, at this point it appears that our “leaders” in Washington D.C. are incapable of getting anything done.  So get ready for much smaller paychecks and much larger tax bills.  What is coming is not going to be pleasant.

So what happened?

Weren’t the tax increases only supposed to be for the wealthy?

Well, that is what the politicians always promise, but it is always the middle class that ends up getting hit the hardest.

In this day and age, the big corporations and the ultra-wealthy are absolute masters at avoiding taxes.

For example, Facebook paid approximately $4.64 million in taxes on their entire foreign profits of $1.344 billion for 2011.

That comes out to a tax rate of about 0.3 percent.

Overall, the global elite have approximately 18 trillion dollars parked in offshore tax havens such as the Cayman Islands.

Keep in mind that U.S. GDP for 2011 was only slightly above 15 trillion dollars.

So the global elite have an amount of money parked in offshore banks that is substantially larger than the total value of all goods and services produced in the United States each year.

According to one estimate, a third of all the wealth in the entire world is stationed in offshore banks.  Our politicians are playing checkers and the global elite are playing chess when it comes to taxes.  Our current system of taxation is irreversibly broken and should be entirely thrown out and replaced with something else.

And of course under our current system those that are poor don’t pay much in taxes because they are just trying to survive.

So who always ends up getting the painful end of the hammer?

The middle class does, and that really stinks.

Let us hope and pray that our politicians can come together and do something for the middle class.  In particular, we should all be screaming and yelling at our politicians about the Alternative Minimum Tax.  It was originally designed as a method to “tax the rich”, but unless Congress does something the middle class is about to be ripped to shreds by it.  The following is from a recent CNBC article about the AMT…

In a cruel epilogue to 2012, roughly 28 million families would owe the IRS $86 billion more than they anticipated for this year should the country plunge off the cliff, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.

Those families would face the “Alternative Minimum Tax,” which was introduced in 1969 to supposedly guarantee that wealthy Americans could not elude the taxman. But the AMT not only flopped, it was never indexed to inflation. So with each passing year, it seeps away from high society and into the wallets of Target and Wal-Mart shoppers. That sets up a disaster for April 15.

So how much money are we talking about?

According to that same article, many families are about to be socked by tax bills that will be absolutely huge…

On the whole, 98 percent of those with incomes between $200,000 to $500,000 would pay an additional $11,000 in AMT this year, according to the center’s estimates. About 88 percent of those with incomes of $100,000 to $200,000 would need to fork over another $3100, and even the majority of Americans with earnings between $75,000 and $100,000 would have an AMT liability.

Most of the tax increases that will be coming as a result of the fiscal cliff will be for 2013 earnings, but the AMT tax hike will apply to 2012 earnings.  So if you end up falling under the AMT, you better get ready to write a very large check to Uncle Sam in just a couple of months.

And the AMT is only just one of the very painful tax increases that American families will be facing.  If no deal is reached in Congress, every single middle class American taxpayer will be dealing with significantly higher taxes.

A recent ABC News report entitled “Fiscal Cliff: By The Numbers” detailed some of the other tax increases that you can expect in 2013…

So why don’t our politicians do something about all of this?

What are they fighting so bitterly about anyway?

Sadly, neither side is actually serious about substantially reducing the size of government deficits or about getting government spending under control.

During a recent interview on CNBC, Ron Paul explained that “they pretend they are fighting up there, but they really aren’t. They are arguing over power, spin, who looks good, who looks bad; all trying to preserve the system where they can spend what they want, take care of their friends and print money when they need it.”

Most in the mainstream media are making it sound like some kind of a “battle royal” is going on in Washington, but as Lou Dobbs recently pointed out, the U.S. national debt is going to end up in just about the same place no matter what happens.

According to Dobbs, if we “do nothing” the U.S. national debt will be approximately 25.8 trillion dollars in 2022.

If “Obama wins”, the U.S. national debt will be approximately 25.4 trillion dollars in 2022.

If “Boehner wins”, the U.S. national debt will be approximately 25.2 trillion dollars in 2022.

You can watch the entire analysis by Lou Dobbs right here

So they are putting all of us through all of this torture even though nothing will really change in the long run no matter who wins?

What kind of a circus is this?

Meanwhile, the reckless spending continues.

Barack Obama has just issued a new executive order that ends the pay freeze for federal workers that had been in place.

So now all federal employees will be getting a nice hefty pay raise.

For example, Vice President Joe Biden brought in $225,521 this year.

Next year, he will make $231,900.

Not that our politicians really need the money.  Most members of Congress are millionaires anyway.  But if they can get us to pay for it, they might as well go for it, eh?

There are now close to half a million federal employees that bring home at least $100,000 a year.  Plus, it is important to keep in mind that the benefits that federal employees get are absolutely outstanding, and it is close to impossible to actually fire a federal worker.

Life is good if you are working for Uncle Sam.

Meanwhile, our politicians seem determined to keep draining more blood out of the middle class.  Even if a “deal” is reached, we will still be hit by some categories of tax increases.  Let’s just hope and pray that we don’t get hit by all of the tax increases that are scheduled to go into effect.  That would be a financial disaster for millions of families.

So happy New Year middle class.  Your taxes are about to go through the roof and our politicians are too busy fighting with each other to do anything about it.

What else will 2013 bring?

Funny Baby

Show This To Anyone That Believes That Taxes Are Too Low

Every year average Americans pay dozens of different types of taxes, and yet many of our politicians are very open about the fact that they want to raise rates even higher and invent even more ways to bleed us all dry.  Someday historians will look back and be absolutely amazed at how stupid we were.  We have the most complicated tax code in all of human history and at this point the federal tax code is more than four times as long as the entire collected works of William Shakespeare.  In many places it is so incomprehensible that nobody actually understands what it means and the entire thing is absolutely riddled with loopholes from the beginning to the end.  Trust me, I used to study this stuff.  Nobody could ever read the entire thing – it is close to four million words long.  But that is just for federal income taxes.  We have a number of other taxes taken out of our paychecks such as state income taxes, Social Security taxes and Medicare taxes.  Sadly, the taxes taken out of your paycheck are only just the beginning.  As I will detail below, there are more than 40 other taxes that average Americans pay each year in addition to the taxes that are taken out of our paychecks.  Our politicians love to find ways that they can “raise revenue” without us feeling it.  Most people just focus on income tax rates and they forget about the dozens of other ways that they are bleeding us dry.  It really is kind of like “death by a thousand cuts”, and of course the middle class gets hit the hardest.  The poor are exempt from many taxes, the ultra-wealthy are masters at cheating the system and avoiding taxes, and so the most pain is always felt by those in the middle.  Hard working middle class families and small businesses all over America are being financially raped by this insidious system.  If you know of anyone out there that believes that taxes are “too low”, please show this article to them.

Just counting federal, state and local income taxes, some Americans will be paying marginal tax rates of over 50 percent in 2013.  But like I said, there are a lot of other taxes we pay than just those.

The following are 44 more taxes that at least some average Americans are paying now or will be paying soon other than federal, state and local income taxes…

#1 Building Permit Taxes

#2 Capital Gains Taxes

#3 Cigarette Taxes

#4 Court Fines (indirect taxes)

#5 Dog License Taxes

#6 Drivers License Fees (another form of taxation)

#7 Federal Unemployment Taxes

#8 Fishing License Taxes

#9 Food License Taxes

#10 Gasoline Taxes

#11 Gift Taxes

#12 Hunting License Taxes

#13 Inheritance Taxes

#14 Inventory Taxes

#15 IRS Interest Charges (tax on top of tax)

#16 IRS Penalties (tax on top of tax)

#17 Liquor Taxes

#18 Luxury Taxes

#19 Marriage License Taxes

#20 Medicare Taxes

#21 Medicare Tax Surcharge On High Earning Americans Under Obamacare

#22 Obamacare Individual Mandate Excise Tax (if you don’t buy “qualifying” health insurance under Obamacare you will have to pay an additional tax)

#23 Obamacare Surtax On Investment Income (a new 3.8% surtax on investment income that goes into effect next year)

#24 Property Taxes

#25 Recreational Vehicle Taxes

#26 Toll Booth Taxes

#27 Sales Taxes

#28 Self-Employment Taxes

#29 School Taxes

#30 Septic Permit Taxes

#31 Service Charge Taxes

#32 Social Security Taxes

#33 State Unemployment Taxes (SUTA)

#34 Tanning Tax (a new Obamacare tax on tanning services)

#35 Telephone Federal Excise Taxes

#36 Telephone Federal Universal Service Fee Taxes

#37 Telephone Minimum Usage Surcharge Taxes

#38 Telephone State And Local Taxes

#39 Tire Taxes

#40 Tolls (another form of taxation)

#41 Traffic Fines (indirect taxation)

#42 Utility Taxes

#43 Vehicle Registration Taxes

#44 Workers Compensation Taxes

Sadly, this list is far from complete.  There are many more forms of taxation that could be included.

When you account for all forms of taxation, there are some Americans that “play by the rules” that are sending more than half of their incomes to the government.

This is why “tax avoidance” has become a multi-billion dollar industry in the United States.  People are sick and tired of being drained dry by a system that is way too complicated and way too unfair.

Posted below are 30 reasons why the U.S. tax system is stupid.  Some of these facts I have discussed before, and some of them are new.  You might want to be sitting down while you are reading this, because this list is likely to make many of you very angry…

1. Thanks to Proposition 30, many high income residents of California will be paying marginal income tax rates of 51.9% in 2013 if the fiscal cliff is not avoided.  Keep in mind that the 51.9% figure only includes federal and state income taxes.  It does not count any of the dozens of other taxes that we pay each year.

2. If a fiscal cliff deal is not reached, many residents of New York and Hawaii will also be paying marginal income tax rates of more than 50 percent.

3. If Americans fully funded the government through their taxes without any borrowing, the average American would have to work for 197 days just to meet the expenses incurred by government.

4. The U.S. tax code is now 3.8 million words long.  If you took all of William Shakespeare’s works and collected them together, the entire collection would only be about 900,000 words long.

5. According to the National Taxpayers Union, U.S. taxpayers spend more than 7.6 billion hours complying with federal tax requirements each year.  Imagine what our society would look like if all of that time was spent on more economically profitable activities.

6. 75 years ago, the instructions for Form 1040 were two pages long.  Today, they are 189 pages long.

7. There have been 4,428 changes to the tax code over the last decade.  It is incredibly costly to change tax software, tax manuals and tax instruction booklets for all of those changes.

8. According to the National Taxpayers Union, the IRS currently has 1,999 different publications, forms, and instruction sheets that you can download from the IRS website.

9. Our tax system has become so complicated that it is almost impossible to file your taxes correctly.  For example, back in 1998 Money Magazine had 46 different tax professionals complete a tax return for a hypothetical household.  All 46 of them came up with a different result.

10. In 2009, PC World had five of the most popular tax preparation software websites prepare a tax return for a hypothetical household.  All five of them came up with a different result.

11. The IRS spends $2.45 for every $100 that it collects in taxes.  That is incredibly inefficient.

12. According to The Tax Foundation, the average American has to work until April 17th just to pay federal, state, and local taxes.  Back in 1900, “Tax Freedom Day” came on January 22nd.

13. When the U.S. government first implemented a personal income tax back in 1913, the vast majority of the population paid a rate of just 1 percent, and the highest marginal tax rate was just 7 percent.

14. Residents of New Jersey pay $1.64 in taxes for every $1.00 of federal spending that they get back.

15. The United States is the only nation on the planet that tries to tax citizens on what they earn in foreign countries.

16. According to Forbes, the 400 highest earning Americans pay an average federal income tax rate of just 18 percent.

17. Warren Buffett had an effective federal income tax rate of just 17.4 percent for 2010.

18. The top 20 percent of all income earners in the United States pay approximately 86 percent of all federal income taxes.

19. Sadly, as Bill Whittle has shown, you could take every single penny that every American earns above $250,000 and it would only fund about 38 percent of the federal budget.

20. The United States has the highest corporate tax rate in the world (35 percent).  In Ireland, the corporate tax rate is only 12.5 percent.  This is causing thousands of corporations to move operations out of the United States and into other countries.

21. Some tax havens are doing a booming business in setting up sham headquarters for U.S. corporations.  For example, the city of Zug, Switzerland only has a population of 26,000 people but it is the headquarters for 30,000 companies.

22. In 1950, corporate taxes accounted for about 30 percent of all federal revenue.  In 2012, corporate taxes will account for less than 7 percent of all federal revenue.

23. In a previous article, I discussed how many of our largest corporations make huge profits and yet pay less than nothing in taxes….

What U.S. corporations are able to get away with is absolutely amazing.

The following figures come directly out of a report by Citizens for Tax Justice.  These are combined figures for the tax years 2008, 2009 and 2010.

During those three years, all of the corporations below made a lot of money.  Yet all of them paid net taxes that were below zero for those three years combined.

How is that possible?  Well, it turns out that instead of paying in taxes to the federal government, they were actually getting money back.

So for these corporations, their rate of taxation was actually below zero.

If you have not seen these before, you are going to have a hard time believing some of these statistics…..

*Honeywell*

Profits: $4.9 billion

Taxes: -$34 million

*Fed Ex*

Profits: $3 billion

Taxes: -$23 million

*Wells Fargo*

Profits: $49.37 billion

Taxes: -$681 million

*Boeing*

Profits: $9.7 billion

Taxes: -$178 million

*Verizon*

Profits: $32.5 billion

Taxes: -$951 million

*Dupont*

Profits: $2.1 billion

Taxes -$72 million

*American Electric Power*

Profits: $5.89 billion

Taxes -$545 million

*General Electric*

Profits: $7.7 billion

Taxes: -$4.7 billion

Are you starting to get the picture?

24. Exxon-Mobil paid $15 billion in taxes in 2009, but not a single penny went to the U.S. government.

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

26. The number of traffic accidents spikes each year right around April 15th.  The following is from a recent Bloomberg article….

Deaths from traffic accidents around April 15, traditionally the last day to file individual income taxes in the U.S., rose 6 percent on average on each of the last 30 years of tax filing days compared with a day during the week prior and a week later, according to research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

27. The elite are not stupid.  They are not just going to sit there and let our politicians tax them into oblivion.  In fact, many of them will openly cheat if that is what it takes to avoid taxes.  Most of them have become masters at avoiding taxes or they have hired people that do that kind of work for them.  According to the IMF, the global elite are holding a total of 18 trillion dollars in offshore banking havens such as the Cayman Islands.

28. It has been reported that 80 percent of all international banking transactions involve offshore banks.  A whopping 1.4 trillion dollars is being held in offshore banks in the Cayman Islands alone.

29. An article that appeared in the Guardian estimated that a third of all the wealth on the entire planet is being kept in offshore banks.  One of the primary reasons for this is tax avoidance.

30. If a deal is not reached and the “fiscal cliff” is not avoided, the average American taxpayer can expect to pay about $3,500 more in taxes next year.

Clearly, the tax system that we are using right now is not working.

The big corporations and the ultra-wealthy have mastered the art of moving money offshore and using loopholes to make their tax burdens as low as possible.

So our politicians just keep finding more ways to squeeze more money out of the middle class and small businesses in order to make up the difference.

If you are a middle class American and you don’t think that you are paying enough taxes already then you are one sick puppy.

They are draining blood from us in dozens of different ways, and they are constantly inventing new ways to tax all of us.

So what is the solution?

Well, a good first step would be to completely abolish the federal income tax.  It is terribly inefficient, it is way too complicated and it is terribly unfair.  It rewards those that know how to exploit loopholes and those that know how to cheat the system.  Those that “play by the rules” always get the short end of the stick.

Our government could easily be funded by tariffs and other forms of taxation that are more equitable.  There were vast stretches of American history when there was no federal income tax, and the federal government did just fine.

And of course one of our biggest problems is that the federal government simply spends way, way too much money.  There is not a single category of government spending that does not need to be reduced and/or made much more efficient.  The amount of waste that goes on in Washington D.C. is absolutely mind boggling.

Unfortunately, both political parties seem content to be married to the current system so I would not expect any significant changes any time soon.

So what do you think about all this?

Do you believe that taxes are too low, or do you believe that they are too high?

Please leave a comment below with your thoughts, and please share this article with as many people as you can.

Somebody Should Start The ‘Stuff Costs Too Much’ Party

Stuff costs too much.  Seriously.  Every time I go to the grocery store these days, I am absolutely horrified by the prices.  I try not to buy anything that is not on sale, but the problem is that I am discovering that the new sale prices are the old regular prices.  So now paying what used to be “full price” is supposedly a “good deal”.  The other way that they are trying to hide rising prices is by shrinking package sizes.  As if we wouldn’t notice that a box of 21 garbage bags is now being sold for the exact same price that a box of 25 garbage bags used to be sold for.  It is one of my pet peeves.  I feel like I am in the middle of some bizarre movie entitled “The Incredible Shrinking Dollar”.  Sadly, I am far from alone.  There are millions upon millions of American families that are seeing their expenses continue to rise even as their paychecks remain the same.  But neither Barack Obama nor Mitt Romney seems very concerned about inflation.  In fact, the Federal Reserve, QE3 and Ben Bernanke were not even mentioned in any of the three presidential debates.  So I think that somebody should start the “Stuff Costs Too Much” Party.  Inflation is a tax which is destroying the value of each dollar that we hold a little bit more every single day, and the American people deserve to know the truth about what is going on.

In this day and age, it simply does not pay to put money into long-term savings.  When you finally pull your money out it will have far less purchasing power than it originally did.

Way back in 1950, you could buy a first-class stamp for just 3 cents and you could buy a gallon of gasoline for about 27 cents.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could still get a gallon of gasoline for 27 cents?

But we don’t have to go all the way back to 1950 to find low prices.  All we have to do is go back ten years.

A recent article by Benny Johnson detailed how the prices of many of the things that we buy on a regular basis absolutely soared between 2002 and 2012.  Just check out these price increases…

Eggs: 73%

Coffee: 90%

Peanut Butter: 40%

Milk: 26%

A Loaf Of White Bread: 39%

Spaghetti And Macaroni: 44%

Orange Juice: 46%

Red Delicious Apples: 43%

Beer: 25%

Wine: 60%

Electricity: 42%

Margarine: 143%

Tomatoes: 22%

Turkey: 56%

Ground Beef: 61%

Chocolate Chip Cookies: 39%

Gasoline: 158%

So what will the next ten years bring?  Unfortunately, we are already being told that it looks like inflation is going to start accelerating.  A recent CNBC article started this way…

Consumers will have to dig deeper into their pockets next year to pay for costlier health care, more expensive grocery bills and higher taxes, an extra drag on the country’s already slow-moving economy.

That is not what millions of struggling American families need to hear right about now.

Their bills just keep going up but their paychecks are not keeping pace.

Have you noticed that almost everything that we spend money on just keeps rising year after year?

According to USA Today, in some areas of the country water bills have actually tripled over the past 12 years.

Has your paycheck tripled?

Electricity bills in this country have risen faster than the overall rate of inflation for five years in a row.

Winter is a really bad time for power bills.  Millions of struggling families will set their thermostats very low this winter and yet will still be slammed with absolutely outrageous bills.

Of course just about every type of insurance is going up faster than the overall rate of inflation.

Have you gotten a price increase notice in the mail lately?

I have.

The price of health insurance in particular has soared in recent years.  Health insurance premiums increased faster than the overall rate of inflation in 2011 and that is happening once again in 2012.

All of these price increases are pushing many American families to the breaking point.

But Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke insists that there is very little inflation right now, and he has government statistics to back his assertions up.

Of course the way that the government calculates inflation has changed more than 20 times since 1978, but Bernanke never mentions that.

According to John Williams of shadowstats.com, if inflation was measured exactly the same way that it was back in 1990, the official inflation rate would be about 5 percent right now.

The American Institute for Economic Research says that inflation is even high than that right now.  According to them, the real rate of inflation was about 8 percent last year.

Meanwhile, household incomes are actually going down all over America.

Even though we are supposedly in the midst of an “economic recovery”, median household income has declined for four years in a row.

Overall, median household income has declined by more than $4000 over the past four years.

Incomes are going down and prices just keep on rising.

So how are families adjusting?

Well, many of them are spending less.  One survey found that 62 percent of all middle class Americans have had to reduce household spending over the past year.

Others are going into increasing amounts of debt in an attempt to survive from month to month.

Inflation has become a way of life in America.  But what could make it a whole lot worse is if a nationwide crisis suddenly disrupted the normal operation of the economy.  If that happened, we would see price gouging happen literally overnight.  Just check out what one article that was posted on CNBC said happened in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy…

Four dollars for a can of coke. Five hundred dollars a night for a hotel in downtown Brooklyn. A pair of D-batteries for $6.99.

These are just a few of the examples of price hikes I or friends of mine have personally come across in the run-up and aftermath of hurricane Sandy.

So you might want to use your extra dollars right now.  They are never going to be more valuable than they are today, and in the event of a major disaster they might lose value very, very rapidly.

Unfortunately, millions of American families don’t have any extra money at all.  Many of them have been slowly worn down by this economy and are now just desperately trying to survive.  The following is what one reader shared in a comment following one of my recent articles

There is one thing you should know about poverty: it is crushing! It crushes the spirit first and foremost, then it crushes the idea of dreams because people in extreme poverty don’t see a way out when they barely have enough to eat let alone get ahead in life.
So, by offering a hand up to those in poverty, we relieve a bit of that pressure…just enough so that their basic needs are met. Once those needs are met, those in poverty can start to see “LIGHT”, something hard to see when being crushed by the pressures and hardships of poverty.

I know of what I speak; I was once living an upper middle-class life and enjoyed all the trappings of material and financial successes.

However, an accident caused that life as I knew it to end in a moment. I’m no longer able to work and for the past few years have barely been able to feed myself.

When I became homeless in 2010, I felt suicidal. My lowest moment was holding a sign asking for help very near the 6 bedroom home I once lived.

Don’t think that it can’t happen to you.  What would you do if you suddenly lost your job and could not find another one?  Would you be able to survive?

Just because you are living a middle class lifestyle today does not mean that you will be in the same position a year from now.  The truth is that everything in your life can change in a single day.  The following is from a comment that one of my readers named Kimberly left recently

My husband lost his job of 20+ years to cut backs roughly 3 years ago, 8 months later his health declined of which I attribute to the depression he went through at not being able to find employment. I went back into the work force, or I should say tried… I’m a nursing assistant by trade but no nursing homes are hiring because the families are pulling their loved ones out because they cannot afford to keep them there, hospitals are not hiring because what jobs there are in my field go to nurses awaiting a nursing job and I’m sure my age (53) plays a role in it too. The closest hospital to us just announced it will be closing it’s doors on the 31 because despite it’s tries it cannot afford to remain open under Obamacare.

We have in the last couple years armed ourselves with a gun, started a garden and now do serious couponing to stock pile for emergencies which seem more and more each day are coming. We have dropped from a life lived on 65,000 – 75,000 a year to living on under 23,000 a year. We have made cut backs in every area of life and hope for the best.

We go to bed at night worried about tommorow, next week and next year .. you feel anxious all the time and panic attacks come more frequently with each passing day. I love the Lord with all my heart and I know He is in control, but am just human and one cannot stop the feelings that wash over them.

I have children and grandchildren and am scared to death what faces them in the coiming years. We all lived in within miles of each other until my children lost their jobs and could find nothing here in Mobile, Al. so they moved to Texas and have found at least some work… something is better than nothing you know. We are hundreds of miles apart now and rarely get to see them as gas is also so very high. I have a grand daughter I have never met because we cannot afford the trip and neither can they.

The U.S. economy has never even come close to recovering from the last economic downturn.  If you doubt this, just read this article.  Now the next economic crisis is rapidly approaching us.

If you think that the economic pain and suffering in this country are bad now, just wait.

We haven’t seen anything yet.

Things are going to get much, much worse.

20 Signs You Might Be A Typical American Worker

Once upon a time, anyone that was relatively competent and willing to work hard could go out and easily get a job that would enable that person to financially support a family.  Unfortunately, that is simply no longer true anymore.  Well paying “middle income jobs” are being rapidly replaced with “low income jobs” and part-time jobs.  As the economy crumbles, it is becoming increasingly difficult for the typical American worker to survive from month to month.  The number of companies that provide benefits such as health insurance has fallen steadily over the past ten years, and paychecks have not been keeping up with the rising prices of food and gas.  Average American families are seeing their budgets squeezed like never before, and many of them are going into huge amounts of debt in order to make up the difference.  Sadly, this is a problem that has developed over an extended period of time and that is not going to be reversed overnight.  Over the past four decades, the ratio of wages and salaries to GDP in America has fallen dramatically.  The typical American worker is not as valued as much as he or she used to be, and if current trends continue even more of us will be working part-time jobs or “low income jobs” in the years ahead.

In America today there is a great deal of focus on the unemployed, but there are also millions upon millions of Americans that are working part-time jobs because that is all that they can find.

It can be absolutely soul crushing to go all the way through school getting good grades, spend a ton of money on an education, and then work for 8 bucks an hour doing meaningless work for some predator corporation that simply does not care about how talented you are.

Today, an astounding 48 percent of all Americans are considered to be either “low income” or are living in poverty.

According to the New York Times, approximately 100 million Americans are either living in poverty or in “the fretful zone just above it”.

A lot of those people actually do have jobs.  Unfortunately, a part-time job that pays 8 or 9 dollars an hour just will not get you anywhere close to getting over the poverty line.

This is not the way that the U.S. economy used to work.  Back in the old days, good paying jobs that would allow you to live “the American Dream” were plentiful.

But now millions upon millions of Americans are scrambling for anything that they can get.  According to a recent survey conducted by Gallup, the percentage of Americans that are working part-time jobs but that would like full-time jobs is now higher than it has been at any other time in the last two years.

In this economy, a good paying full-time job is incredibly precious.  If you still have one, you should consider yourself to be very fortunate.

Check out the following chart.  It is a chart that shows the level of wages and salaries as a percentage of GDP in the United States since the late 1940s.  As you can see, the slice of the pie being taken home by American workers has been dropping like a rock since about 1970….

Is that a clear trend or what?

And it is going to continue year after year as long as we continue to pursue the same foolish economic policies.

As our politicians continue to allow millions of American jobs to be shipped overseas, competition for the jobs that remain inside this country is becoming extremely intense.

Back in 1967, 97 percent of all U.S. men with a high school degree between the ages of 30 and 50 had jobs.  Today, that figure is down to 76 percent.

As you read this, there are hordes of hard working American workers sitting at home staring at their televisions as they wonder why nobody will hire them.

Right now, if you gathered together all of the unemployed people in the United States, they would constitute the 68th largest country in the world.

That is absolutely insane.

But even if you do have a job that does not mean that you are in good shape.  The percentage of “low income jobs” just continues to climb.  Back in 1980, less than 30% of all jobs in the United States were low income jobs.  Today, more than 40% of all jobs in the United States are low income jobs.

Many Americans work as hard as they can and still find that they must turn to the government for financial assistance.  According to author Paul Osterman, about 20 percent of all U.S. adults are currently working jobs that pay poverty-level wages.

And that number is just going to keep climbing unless we change what we are doing as a nation.

Perhaps you are working a “low income job” right now.  Most of us have worked a job like that at least once in our lives.  Hopefully you will find the following list amusing.  Yes, I have exaggerated a few things slightly, but I think you will get the point.

The following are 20 signs you might be a typical American worker….

#1 If you are working three jobs and you still don’t have enough money at the end of the month, you might be a typical American worker.

#2 If your job involves asking the question “Would you like fries with that?”, you might be a typical American worker.

#3 If you shop at the dollar store because Wal-Mart is too expensive, you might be a typical American worker.

#4 If your job requires you to wear a smock, a brightly colored polo shirt or lots of “flair”, you might be a typical American worker.

#5 If people are constantly asking you where the restroom is while you are at work, you might be a typical American worker.

#6 If your employer hires extra part-time workers in order to avoid giving anyone full-time hours, you might be a typical American worker.

#7 If you are required to watch a mindless “training video” after being hired, you might be a typical American worker.

#8 If the company you work for is owned by someone on the other side of the world, you might be a typical American worker.

#9 If a trained seal could do your job and you feel like your expensive education is going to waste, you might be at typical American worker.

#10 If you don’t have any health insurance at all, you might be a typical American worker.  Only about 25 percent of all part-time workers in the United States receive employee benefits such as health insurance or paid sick leave.

#11 If your car is older than your kids are, you might be a typical American worker.

#12 If you can’t afford to buy the things that you are selling to the public, you might be a typical American worker.

#13 If the balances on your credit cards are larger than your bank accounts are, you might be a typical American worker.

#14 If going to Burger King is your idea of “fine dining”, then you might be a typical American worker.

#15 If it costs more to fill up your car with gas than you will make at your job today, you might be a typical American worker.  The price of gasoline has increased by 83 percent since Barack Obama first took office, and the average cost of a gallon of gas in the United States is now up to $3.52.

#16 If you eat your cereal with a fork so that you can save milk, you might be a typical American worker.

#17 If your electricity bill keeps going up but your paycheck never does, you might be a typical American worker.

#18 If it feels like you are losing an organ every time you pay for health insurance each month, you might be a typical American worker.

#19 If you feel like your employer is constantly tempted to replace you with someone younger and cheaper, then you might be a typical American worker.

#20 If you are so poor that you cannot even afford to pay attention, you might be a typical American worker.

Unfortunately, a lot more Americans are going to be forced into working these kinds of jobs if current trends continue.

Since the year 2000, we have lost 10% of our middle class jobs even though our population has increased by more than 30 million since then.  In the year 2000 there were about 72 million middle class jobs in the United States, but today there are only about 65 million middle class jobs.

The lack of good jobs in America has some very real consequences.  In particular, our young adults are really feeling the pain of not being able to find quality employment.

According to a recent poll conducted by Generation Opportunity, huge numbers of Americans in the 18 to 29 year old age bracket are delaying major life decisions due to the poor economy….

-44% are delaying buying a home

-28% are delaying saving for retirement

-27% are delaying paying off student loans or other debt

-27% are delaying going back to school or getting more education

-23% are delaying starting a family

-18% are delaying getting married

All of those things take a lot of money, and if you simply don’t have the money it makes things really tough.

Sadly, the economy is about to get even worse.

As I have written about previously, what is going on in Greece right now is a warning sign for the rest of the world, and we are on the precipice of another major global financial crisis.

There are an increasing number of voices in the financial world that believe that we are going to see a Greek default in March.  So will this actually happen?  I certainly don’t know.  But what some folks are currently saying about the situation sure does make for interesting reading.

In the old days, you could graduate from college, get a good job, work for the same company for 30 years, save up for retirement and count on a comfortable life in your old age.

That paradigm is now totally shattered.  The entire global economic system is in a state of chaos and things change faster today than they ever have before.

If you have a job today, it may be gone tomorrow.

The financial institution or insurance company that you are working with today may be out of business by next month.

We live in a world that is becoming increasingly unstable.  That is why it is imperative to try to become more self-sufficient and less dependent on the system.

It is tough to plan in such an environment, but one thing is for sure – tough times are coming and things are not going to get any easier than they are now.

34 Pieces Of Evidence That Prove That The Middle Class In America Is Rapidly Shrinking

Do you ever get the feeling that the middle class in America is shrinking?  Well, you are not imagining things.  A confluence of very troubling long-term economic trends has created an environment in which the middle class in America is being absolutely shredded.  Today, most American families would be absolutely thrilled if they could live as well as past generations did.  The dream of receiving a solid education, getting a good job, owning a beautiful home and enjoying the good things that America has to offer is increasingly becoming out of reach for a growing number of Americans.  The reality is that even though our population has grown, there are less jobs than there used to be.  A much higher percentage of the jobs that remain are low income jobs.  Millions of middle class American families are desperately trying to hang on as inflation far outpaces the growth of their paychecks.  Millions of others have fallen completely out of the middle class and are now totally dependent on the government for survival.  We once had the largest, most vibrant middle class in the history of the world, but now way too much unemployment, way too much inflation, way too much greed and way too much debt are all starting to catch up with us.  America is changing, and not for the better.

When most of us were growing up, we understood that there was an unspoken promise that if we got good grades, stayed out of trouble, worked really hard and did everything we were told to do, the system would reward us.

Well, today there are millions of Americans that have done all of those things but don’t have anything to show for it.

As large numbers of hard working people continue to fall out of the middle class, there is a growing sense that “the system” has betrayed us all.

Sadly, the truth is that the U.S. economy is dying.  The endless prosperity that we all enjoyed in the past is gone and it is never going to come back.

The following are 34 pieces of evidence that prove that the middle class in America is rapidly shrinking….

#1 In 1980, 52 percent of all jobs in the United States were middle income jobs.  Today, only 42 percent of all jobs are middle income jobs.

#2 Back in 1980, less than 30% of all jobs in the United States were low income jobs.  Today, more than 40% of all jobs in the United States are low income jobs.

#3 Only 63.5 percent of all men in the United States had a job last month.  According to Bloomberg, that figure is “just slightly above the December 2009 nadir of 63.3%. These are the lowest numbers since 1948.”

#4 In 1969, 95 percent of all men between the ages of 25 and 54 had a job.  Last month, only 81.2 percent of men in that age group had a job.

#5 According to one recent survey, 64 percent of Americans would be forced to borrow money if they had an unexpected expense of $1000.

#6 The wealthiest 1% of all Americans now control 40 percent of all the wealth in this country.

#7 The poorest 50% of all Americans now control just 2.5% of all the wealth in this country.

#8 The wealthiest 1% of all Americans now own over 50% of all the stocks and bonds.

#9 According to the Washington Post, the average yearly income of the bottom 90 percent of all U.S. income earners is just $31,244.

#10 The average yearly income of the top 0.1% of all U.S. income earners is 5.6 million dollars.

#11 Between 1969 and 2009, the median wages earned by American men between the ages of 30 and 50 dropped by 27 percent after you account for inflation.

#12 Only the top 5 percent of all U.S. households have earned enough additional income to match the rise in housing costs since 1975.

#13 During this economic downturn, employee compensation in the United States has been the lowest that it has been relative to gross domestic product in over 50 years.

#14 According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, health care costs accounted for just 9.5% of all personal consumption back in 1980.  Today they account for approximately 16.3%.

#15 Total credit card debt in the United States is now more than 8 times larger than it was just 30 years ago.

#16 There are fewer payroll jobs in the United States today than there were back in 2000 even though we have added 30 million people to the population since then.

#17 Since the year 2000, we have lost approximately 10% of our middle class jobs.  In the year 2000 there were about 72 million middle class jobs in the United States but today there are only about 65 million middle class jobs.

#18 The competition for even the most basic jobs has become absolutely brutal.  Approximately 7 percent of all those that apply to get into Harvard are accepted.  At a recent “National Hiring Day” held by McDonald’s only about 6.2 percent of the one million Americans that applied for a job were hired.

#19 It now takes the average unemployed worker in America about 40 weeks to find a new job.

#20 According to a report released in February from the National Employment Law Project, higher wage industries are accounting for 40 percent of the job losses in America but only 14 percent of the job growth.  Lower wage industries are accounting for just 23 percent of the job losses but 49 percent of the job growth.

#21 Half of all American workers now earn $505 or less per week.

#22 The cost of college tuition in the United States has gone up by over 900 percent since 1978.

#23 In the United States today, there are more than 100,000 janitors and more than 317,000 waiters and waitresses that have college degrees.

#24 17 million college graduates are doing jobs that do not even require a college degree.

#25 According to one recent survey, 36 percent of Americans say that they don’t contribute anything at all to retirement savings.

#26 Back in 1965, only one out of every 50 Americans was on Medicaid.  Today, one out of every 6 Americans is on Medicaid.

#27 As 2007 began, there were 26 million Americans on food stamps.  Today, there are more than 45 million Americans on food stamps, which is a new all-time record.

#28 The number of Americans on food stamps has increased 74% since 2007.

#29 Today, one out of every four American children is on food stamps.

#30 In 1980, just 11.7% of all personal income came from government transfer payments.  Today, 18.4% of all personal income comes from government transfer payments.

#31 The number of Americans that are going to food pantries and soup kitchens has increased by 46% since 2006.

#32 One out of every six elderly Americans now lives below the federal poverty line.

#33 In the United States, over 20 percent of all children are now living in poverty.  In the UK and in France that figure is well under 10 percent.

#34 According to the Federal Reserve, the richest one percent of all Americans have a greater net worth than the bottom 90 percent combined.

As the middle class continues to shrivel up and die, the number of desperate people is going to continue to grow.

In the past, I have written extensively about how many Americans are already becoming so desperate that they will do just about anything for money.

Well, here are a couple more examples….

One unemployed man down in the Phoenix area that had reportedly robbed 12 banks told police the following about why he did it….

“I rob to survive.”

As millions more Americans fall into poverty, we are going to see a lot more crime.

Most of these people are not going to commit crimes because they enjoy them.  Rather, they will be doing what they feel they need to do in order to survive.

Not all of the shady activity will be so violent.  Desperation comes out in different ways.  For example, there are now actually websites where women advertise their “services” to potential “sugar daddies” that will help them with college expenses or support them financially.

Hopefully those reading this article will never resort to those kinds of things.

Yes, things are going to be tough, but there are always good alternatives if you are willing to look hard enough for them.

If you really need a job right now, pay close attention to the next couple of points.  Good jobs are very hard to come by in most areas at the moment, so you may have to be willing to make some sacrifices if you are desperate.

According to Bloomberg, there is a substantial shortage of truck drivers across the nation right now.

Driving a truck is really hard work, and it would take you away from home for extended periods of time, but the pay is pretty good.

If you are desperate for a job, this is something that you may want to look into.  There really is a shortage of truck drivers, and a paycheck is a paycheck.

Also, there are reportedly lots of jobs up in North Dakota right now.  Thanks to the oil boom up there, money is flowing and job opportunities are plentiful.

Just check out the following excerpt from a recent CNBC article about the employment boom going on in North Dakota right now….

Unemployment is a national problem in the U.S., but you wouldn’t know that if you travel through North Dakota.

The state’s unemployment rate hovers around 3 percent, and “Help Wanted” signs litter the landscape of cities such as Williston in the same way “For Sale” signs populate the streets of Las Vegas.

“It’s a zoo,” said Terry Ayers, who drove into town from Spokane, Wash., slept in his truck, and found a job within hours of arrival, tripling his salary. “It’s crazy what’s going on out here.”

Yes, it is really, really cold up in North Dakota.  There is very little housing available in the boom areas and for most of you it would require some significant sacrifices to take a job up there.

But there really are lots of jobs available up in North Dakota.  If you are desperate, you may want to really consider looking into it.

Now for the bad news.  Unfortunately, it is looking increasingly likely that we could have another major financial crisis some time fairly soon.

As I wrote about yesterday, Europe is a financial nightmare right now.  I honestly do not see any way that they are going to be able to fix things.

Fear is seemingly everywhere in Europe right now.  A recent article in The Telegraph entitled “Market crash ‘could hit within weeks’, warn bankers” postulated that we could be on the verge of a horrifying repeat of the financial crisis of 2008….

“The problem is a shortage of liquidity – that is what is causing the problems with the banks. It feels exactly as it felt in 2008,” said one senior London-based bank executive.

“I think we are heading for a market shock in September or October that will match anything we have ever seen before,” said a senior credit banker at a major European bank.

So you might want to try to get whatever kind of a job that you can right now before the next wave of the financial crisis hits.

Dark clouds are gathering on the horizon and things do not look promising.  The coming economic storms are going to be very hard on the middle class in America.

The number of good jobs is going to continue to decline and our paychecks are going to get stretched tighter and tighter.

The “system” is not going to save you.

The “system” is failing.

You better get ready.

Inflation 2011: Honey – They Shrunk Our Paychecks

Do you ever have the feeling that there are holes in your pockets?  These days our money seems to slip through our hands faster than ever.  The Federal Reserve keeps telling us that the rate of inflation in 2011 is “close to zero”, and this is causing confusion for many Americans because they are making just as much money as they did in previous years but it doesn’t seem to go nearly as far.  So what in the world is going on out there?  Well, sadly, the truth is that we really don’t even know what the government considers “inflation” to be anymore.  The way that the U.S. government calculates inflation has changed an astounding 24 times since 1978.  You see, it is always politically beneficial to have a low inflation rate, so recent administrations have been changing the formula constantly in an attempt to look good.  But these days most Americans know something is up.  All they have to do is stop at a gas station, go shopping for food or open up their bills. The reality is that inflation in 2011 is about as bad as we saw back in the 1970s, it is just that the government is much less honest about it now.

Many years ago Kenny Rogers released a song that contained the following lyrics….

You got to know when to hold em, know when to fold em
Know when to walk away and know when to run
You never count your money when you’re sitting at the table
There’ll be time for counting when the dealer’s done

Well, the U.S. middle class has been dealt a losing hand, but in the game of life you just can’t fold.

Over the past 3 decades, the average household income for the bottom 80 percent of Americans has been remarkably flat.  In fact, over the past several years we have actually seen median household income decline several times. If you do not know about how the U.S. middle class is being ripped to shreds, just read this article.  Without a doubt, America is getting poorer.

Well, not the top 1 percent, but the vast majority of the rest of us sure are.

Meanwhile, prices have started to rise with a vengeance.

According to an article in the Daily Mail, a Memorial Day cookout will cost you 29 percent more this year than it did last year.

That doesn’t sound good.

Will it be 29 percent more expensive again next year?

Perhaps some of us will just have to stop having Memorial Day cookouts because we can’t afford them anymore.

The price of gas is also digging into our paychecks big time.

A gallon of gas costs about a dollar more than it did a year ago, but we can’t avoid buying gas.  All of us have got to get to work and drive to the store.

Sadly, each time the price of gasoline goes up 50 cents it takes about $70 billion out of the U.S. economy (on a yearly basis).

A recent article in USA Today described the kind of impact these high gas prices are having on average American families….

For every $10 the typical household earns before taxes, almost a full dollar now goes toward gas, a 40 percent bigger bite than normal.

Households spent an average of $369 on gas last month. In April 2009, they spent just $201.

But don’t worry, according to Ben Bernanke we barely have any inflation at all in 2011.

Some companies are trying to avoid raising their prices by reducing their package sizes.  A recent article posted on Marketwatch entitled “Inflation diet: same price, less product” explored this phenomenon in detail.  Millions of Americans are going to the supermarket and are finding that many of their favorite products are now 10 or 20 percent smaller and yet they are paying the same price as before.

Another thing that is happening is that product quality is going down.  Have you noticed how things just don’t seem to be made the way that they used to?  This is not a coincidence.

According a recent article on CNBC, retailers are skimping on quality as a way to deal with rising costs….

According to Global Hunter Securities Macro and Consumer Strategist Richard Hastings, retailers have been collaborating with their production contractors for about two years. They are trying to push back on the total volume, cost and weight of every unit.

“Along the way, the consumer barely noticed. By now, everybody knows something is wrong,” said Hastings. “If we had to put a number on it, it’s probably a 7.5% decline in total quality and durability of products compared to a bigger increase in the cost of production per unit made outside of the U.S.”

But no matter how hard companies try to hide it, at some point the American people are going to wake up and they are going to realize that they aren’t getting as much for their money as they were before.

This is why so many people get upset when the Federal Reserve and the U.S. government devalue our money.  Inflation is a “hidden tax” on every single one of us.  When our dollars don’t buy as much stuff, that means that we are all poorer than we were before.

All of this inflation is coming at a time when the economy is really struggling.  Personally, I am seeing all kinds of signals that the economy is really starting to slow down once again.

What is going to make things even worse is all of the government austerity that is going to be implemented over the next couple of years.

Once upon a time, a government job was the safest kind of a job you could have.  Sadly, as a recent Reuters article noted, those days are long gone….

Around 450,000 people who work for U.S. states, counties, cities, towns and villages could get pink slips in fiscal 2012, sharply up from the 300,000 positions shed this year, a report said on Monday.

So should we, as many of our liberal friends insist, tax the rich so that we can pay for all of those government workers?

Well, the truth is that the wealthy are already being taxed into oblivion.  If you doubt this, just read this editorial in The Wall Street Journal: “A 62% Top Tax Rate?

Most of the “ultra-wealthy” have learned how to avoid most of this taxation by moving their wealth offshore.  In fact, as I have written about previously, it is estimated that a third of all the wealth in the world is now held in “offshore” tax havens.

So why are we seeing so much inflation right now?

Well, I covered that in my previous article entitled “When Faith In U.S. Dollars And U.S. Debt Is Dead The Game Is Over – And That Day Is Closer Than You May Think“.

The Federal Reserve and our politicians in Washington D.C. have been very naughty.  They have been systematically destroying the value of our dollars.

Someday when you are using your money as toilet paper because toilet paper is actually much more valuable than dollars are you will wish that the American people had stood up and insisted on a different path.

Don’t laugh – during the hyperinflation that the Weimar Republic experienced in the 1920s, German citizens were actually burning stacks of money in their furnaces in order to keep their homes warm.

100 years ago, a U.S. dollar had more than 20 times the purchasing power than it has today.

Sadly, we are now in a terminal phase of dollar devaluation.  It is only going to get worse from here.  Someday we will look back and long for the days of “low inflation” that we had back in 2011.

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