Did you know that 40 percent of all American workers make less than $20,000 a year before taxes? And 65 percent of all American workers make less than $40,000 a year before taxes. If you work on Wall Street, or have a cushy job with the federal government, or work for a big tech firm out on the west coast, life is probably pretty good for you right now. But the truth is that most Americans are not living the high life. In fact, most Americans are just trying to figure out how to survive from month to month. For many Americans, making a choice between buying food for your family and paying the light bill is a common occurrence. But if you don’t live in that America, hearing that people actually live like that may sound very strange to you. After all, if everyone around you has expensive cars, the latest electronic gadgets and million dollar homes, the notion that America is in the midst of a very serious “economic decline” may seem very bizarre to you.
On Wednesday, the Dow hit a brand new record high, and Wall Street celebrated. Since the financial crisis of 2008, stocks have been on an unprecedented run. The top performers in the market have not just made millions of dollars – they have made billions of dollars. Luxury apartments in Manhattan and beachfront homes in the Hamptons are selling for absolutely astronomical prices, and it seems like life in the good parts of New York City is one gigantic endless party these days.
Meanwhile, life is quite good down in Washington D.C. as well. The wealth is spread more evenly, but on average the D.C. region actually has the highest standard of living of any major U.S. city. The reason for this is the obscene growth of the federal government. Over the past couple of decades, the U.S. government has ballooned in size and so have government salaries. During one recent year, the average federal employee living in the Washington D.C. area received total compensation worth more than $126,000.
Out in the San Francisco area, Internet money is flowing like wine right now. As I wrote about yesterday, top employees of companies such as Facebook and Twitter can make millions of dollars a year. And if you were lucky to get a piece of the ownership of one of those companies at a very early stage, you are essentially set for life.
And with the Twitter IPO coming up, Internet euphoria is once again reaching a fever pitch. For example, just check out what a 56-year-old administrative assistant said this week about why she is going to buy Twitter stock…
“I’m just buying because everybody’s talking about Twitter,” she said. “I’m just gonna take a chance.”
Is that how we should make our investment decisions from now on?
Just buy a stock because everybody’s talking about it?
That is the kind of insanity that is going on in “wealthy America” right now.
Unfortunately, the gap between “wealthy America” and “poor America” is greater than ever before.
If you live in “wealthy America”, what you are about to hear next will probably sound very strange.
CNN recently profiled a 44-year-old overnight prison guard named Delores Gilmore. She works really hard, but a lot of times she simply does not have enough money to pay all of her bills…
“The first of the month, I pay the rent,” she said. “The next check, I pay my light bills. Sometimes I won’t pay my rent and I pay the light bill from last month — if they cut if it off. Then I pay the rent the end of the month.”
Her life consists of going to work, taking care of her children, going to sleep, and then getting back up and repeating that same cycle once again…
“I’m not fooling anybody,” she told me. “I don’t have any friends. And that’s sad. … I go to work, come home, take them where they gotta go, if they gotta go somewhere, come back home, lay down, go to work.
“That’s what I do. All day, that’s what I do.”
Sadly, the truth is that tens of millions of Americans can identify with what she is going through on a daily basis. In millions of families, both the husband and the wife work multiple jobs and it is still not enough.
If we truly did have a free market capitalist system, the entire country would be a land of opportunity and things would be getting better for everybody. Unfortunately, that is not the case at all. The following are 21 facts about “wealthy America” and “poor America” that are hard to believe…
#1 The lowest earning 23,303,064 Americans combined make 36 percent less than the highest earning 2,915 Americans do.
#2 40 percent of all American workers (39.6 percent to be precise) make less than $20,000 a year.
#3 According to the Pew Research Center, the top 7 percent of all U.S. households own 63 percent of all the wealth in the country.
#4 On average, households in the top 7 percent have 24 times as much wealth as households in the bottom 93 percent.
#5 According to numbers that were just released this week, 49.7 million Americans are living in poverty. That is a brand new all-time record high.
#6 In the United States today, the wealthiest one percent of all Americans have a greater net worth than the bottom 90 percent combined.
#7 Household incomes have actually been declining for five years in a row and total consumer credit has risen by a whopping 22 percent over the past three years.
#8 According to Forbes, the 400 wealthiest Americans have more wealth than the bottom 150 million Americans combined.
#9 The homeownership rate in the United States is at an 18 year low.
#10 The six heirs of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton have as much wealth as the bottom one-third of all Americans combined.
#11 18 percent of all food stamp dollars are spent at Wal-Mart.
#12 According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the middle class is taking home a smaller share of the overall income pie than has ever been recorded before.
#13 It is hard to believe, but right now 1.2 million students that attend public schools in America are homeless. That number has risen by 72 percent since the start of the last recession.
#14 One recent study discovered that nearly half of all public students in the United States come from low income homes.
#15 In 1980, CEOs at S&P 500 companies made 42 times as much as their employees did on average. Today, CEOs at S&P 500 companies make 354 times as much as their employees do on average. In fact, there are many CEOs that make more than 1000 times what the average employees in their companies make.
#16 U.S. families that have a head of household that is under the age of 30 have a poverty rate of 37 percent.
#17 At this point, one out of every four American workers has a job that pays $10 an hour or less.
#18 Today, the United States actually has a higher percentage of workers doing low wage work than any other major industrialized nation does.
#19 Approximately one out of every five households in the United States is now on food stamps.
#20 The number of Americans on food stamps has grown from 17 million in the year 2000 to more than 47 million today.
#21 At this point, the poorest 50 percent of all Americans collectively own just 2.5 percent of all the wealth in the United States.
So which America do you live in? Please feel free to tell us what is going on in your neck of the woods by posting a comment below…
If your neighborhood is not as safe as it used to be, then you have something in common with the rest of the country. All over America, crime is on the rise. According to a government survey that was just released, violent crime in the United States increased by 15 percent last year, and property crime was up by 12 percent. If violent crime keeps increasing at this rate, it will approximately double in just six years. But as I wrote about the other day, when the next major economic downturn strikes it will probably greatly accelerate the growth of the crime rate in this country. Desperate people do desperate things, and as you will read about below, there are people out there that are already stealing entire truckloads of food. In the future, when people are extremely hungry or crazy for their next drug hit, they won’t think twice about invading your home or pulling you out of your vehicle. The rise in crime that we are witnessing right now is just the beginning. It is going to get a lot worse than this.
Whenever I do this type of an article, inevitably someone leaves a comment insisting that I am lying because crime rates are going down.
Well, that used to be true. It is no longer accurate.
As an ABC News article that was just released explains, the crime victimization survey shows that violent crime in America has now increased for two years in a row…
The violent crime rate went up 15 percent last year, and the property crime rate rose 12 percent, the government said Thursday, signs that the nation may be seeing the last of the substantial declines in crime of the past two decades.
Last year marked the second year in a row for increases in the crime victimization survey, a report that is based on household interviews.
This is one of the primary reasons why so many people are moving out of the big cities right now. In the city of Chicago, police are so overwhelmed with crime that they will no longer respond in person “to 911 calls reporting vehicle theft, garage burglary or simple assault“.
Things have gotten so bad in Chicago that a 14-year-old girl was sexually assaulted as she was walking to a bus stop this week and it barely made a blip on the news.
But we have come to expect this kind of thing in crime-infested cities such as Chicago. We don’t expect it to happen in “quiet communities” such as Augusta, Georgia…
“When we first moved out here three and a half years ago, my wife and I, it was a quiet community, it was a deal that we felt we couldn’t pass up on,” Don McIntee says.
McIntee lives in the Butler Creek Mobile Home Community, but he’s trying to change that. He recently put his home up for sale because he says the crime in his neighborhood is too much to deal with.
“I want to live in a place that I feel is secure and safe for my wife because I’m out of town a lot,” he says.
And it seems like criminals are becoming more brutal than ever. For example, one thug actually put his gun into the mouth of a 92-year-old World War II veteran in Fresno, California and threatened to kill him during one recent home invasion…
“I was sound asleep at about one or two o’clock in the morning, all the lights were on and a guy shook me with a gun in my face. (I said) Hey what’s going on? (He said) Shut up and he slapped me,” he explained.
While the suspect held him at gunpoint, three others ransacked his house, taking about 200 dollars in cash and jewelry including his 1941 class ring from Woodlake High School in Tulare County.
“They were in there for almost a half hour,” said Fresno County Sheriff Department spokesperson Chris Curtice. “So they had plenty of time to search the house, it was the middle of the night.”
At one point, Joseph said one of the suspects put a gun in his mouth and threatened to kill him. While being ordered into the bedroom closet, he said he hit him in the head with a handgun, causing him to fall to the floor.
Was there any need for that? That 92-year-old man was certainly no threat to the four home invaders.
But this is what is happening all over the nation now. Criminals appear to be getting crazier and crazier.
In Houston recently, one team of home invaders decided to storm a house at 8 AM in the morning while people all along the street were leaving their homes to go to work and to school…
It was about 8am — daylight, with people going to work and kids going to school, yet no one apparently saw this coming. The homeowner told me four men, armed with guns, broke in through her garage and forced their way inside her house.
The woman’s daughter and son-in-law were in the home with her, along with two of their daughters, ages four and six. The homeowner says the gunmen pointed guns at all of them — even the children — and demanded money over and over. They ransacked the house and the cars- and eventually got away with some cash, at least one cell phone and the homeowner’s wallet.
Who robs a house at 8 AM in the morning?
That is either incredibly bold or incredibly stupid.
In my article yesterday, I included another example of a crime which is either incredibly bold or incredibly stupid. One very enterprising carjacker actually decided to try to carjack the police chief of Detroit while he was sitting in a clearly marked police vehicle…
Just four months on the job, Detroit’s new police chief got an early taste of the city’s hardscrabble streets.
While in his patrol car at an intersection on Jefferson two weeks ago, Police Chief James Craig was nearly carjacked, police spokeswoman Kelly Miner confirmed today.
Craig said he was in a marked police car with mounted lights when a man quickly tried to approach the side of his car. Craig, who became police chief in June, retold the story Monday during a program designed to crack down on carjackings.
So what is going on here?
Are criminals becoming bolder or are they just becoming stupider?
I don’t have an answer for that question, but one thing seems certain – crime is definitely getting worse.
As I mentioned at the top of this article, some criminals are now actually stealing entire truckloads of food. A recent CBS News article explained how they are doing this…
To steal huge shipments of valuable cargo, thieves are turning to a deceptively simple tactic: They pose as truckers, load the freight onto their own tractor-trailers and drive away with it.
It’s an increasingly common form of commercial identity theft that has allowed con men to make off each year with millions of dollars in merchandise, often food and beverages. And experts say the practice is growing so rapidly that it will soon become the most common way to steal freight.
And what we are talking about is not just a few isolated incidents. This is literally happening from coast to coast and the dollar values of some of these thefts are staggering…
News reports from across the country recount just a few of the thefts: 80,000 pounds of walnuts worth $300,000 in California, $200,000 of Muenster cheese in Wisconsin, rib-eye steaks valued at $82,000 in Texas, $25,000 pounds of king crab worth $400,000 in California.
As economic conditions continue to deteriorate, I actually expect that we will start seeing armed guards on food trucks in a few years.
Desperate people do desperate things, and as food prices continue to rise I believe that food trucks will become highly prized targets.
America is rapidly changing, and not for the better.
So what are things like in your area of the country?
Are you noticing an increase in crime?
Please feel free to share your thoughts by posting a comment below…
The percentage of Americans that are participating in the labor force is the lowest that it has been in 35 years. During the 70s, 80s and 90s, the labor force participation rate consistently rose as large numbers of women entered the workforce. It peaked at 67.3 percent in early 2000, and just before the last recession it was sitting at about 66 percent. Since the start of the last recession, the labor force participation rate has not stopped falling and it is now at a 35 year low. In September, 11,255,000 Americans were considered to be “unemployed”, and an astounding 90,609,000 Americans were considered to be “not in the labor force”. The number of Americans “not in the labor force” has increased by more than 10 million since Barack Obama entered the White House. When you add the number of unemployed Americans to the number of Americans “not in the labor force”, you come up with a grand total of more than 101 million working age Americans that do not have a job.
The Obama administration and the mainstream media continue to insist that we are in the midst of an “economic recovery”, but that is a total joke. Does the chart posted below look like a recovery to you?…
Americans are leaving the labor force in droves. If the labor force participation rate was at the same level that it was when Obama first became president, the official unemployment rate would be up around 10 percent and everyone would be wondering when the “economic depression” would finally end.
It is funny how our perceptions of reality are so greatly shaped by what our televisions tell us to think.
Below I have posted a chart of the “inactivity rate” of U.S. men in the 25 to 54-year-old age group. As you can see, the percentage of men in their prime working years that are not employed and not considered to be unemployed either has been rising steadily…
We have millions upon millions of men just sitting around and doing essentially nothing. Not that women are doing so much better. In fact, the labor force participation rate for women is at a 24 year low.
Some people may be tempted to think that all of this is happening because more Americans are choosing to stay home and raise children. But that is not the case at all. In fact, in a previous article I showed that the marriage rate in the U.S. is at an all-time low and the birth rate for young women in this country is also at an all-time low.
People are not staying home because of family obligations. Rather, people are staying home because there aren’t enough jobs available.
And when Americans that are actually employed do lose their jobs, it is taking them a very, very long time to find another one. Just check out the following chart…
Once again, I must ask – does that look like a “recovery” to you?
Obama can say the word “recovery” as much as he would like, but that does not make it a reality.
So is anyone out there actually doing well?
Yes, as I have talked about frequently, some pockets of the country are doing quite nicely. In fact, government workers (think Washington D.C.) and finance workers (Wall Street, etc.) are tied for the lowest rates of unemployment in the nation (3.9 percent).
But for almost everyone else, things are very hard right now and poverty continues to grow.
Just today, I came across a recent study that discovered that nearly half of all public students in the United States come from low income homes.
That is an incredible number.
But this is just the beginning of our problems. Our debt continues to grow by leaps and bounds and our big banks are engaging in extraordinarily reckless behavior. As Richard Russell recently discussed, it is only a matter of time before this entire house of cards comes tumbling down…
In this whole process, debt has been created to an extent never seen before in history. So far, the debt has been managed with super-low interest rates and borrowing. But the compounding process goes on, and the debt mountain continues to grow. So, to be brief, I see the theme of today as the “haves” doing whatever they have to — to remain in power.
The dangers in the background for the haves are the possibilities that (1) interest rates will begin to advance, and (2) inflation will rise and be so visible that even the common man will recognize it, and begin to protest, or even revolt and (3) the whole debt structure will rise so high that it will topple over of its own weight and take down the entire world economy with it.
So as bad as things are today, the truth is that they are far, far better than what is eventually coming.
If you want to get a glimpse of the future of the U.S. economy, just check out what has happened to Greece…
Greeks are on average almost 40 percent poorer than they were in 2008, data indicated, laying bare the impact of a brutal recession and austerity measures the government may be forced to extend into next year.
Gross disposable incomes fell 29.5 percent between the second quarters of 2008 and 2013, statistics service ELSTAT said on Tuesday. Adding in cumulative consumer price inflation over the same period takes the decline close to 40 percent.
As you can see from the charts posted above, our economy has never even come close to getting back to the level that we were at before the last financial crisis.
And now the next wave of the economic collapse is approaching.
Right now, Spain has an unemployment rate that is above 26 percent and Greece has an unemployment rate that is above 27 percent.
We will eventually be heading up toward those levels.
As millions of good paying jobs continue to be shipped overseas, and as technology continues to eliminate millions of our jobs, the unemployment situation in this country will continue to grow even worse.
And whenever the next great financial crisis inevitably strikes, that will greatly accelerate our employment problems.
If you can move toward becoming more independent of the “system”, now would be a good time to do so. The job that you have today may not be there next month or next year.
We are moving into the greatest period of economic instability in U.S. history.
Get ready for it while you still can.
Did you know that the U.S. national debt has increased by more than a trillion dollars in just over 12 months? On September 30th, 2012 the U.S. national debt was sitting at $16,066,241,407,385.89. Today, it is up to $17,075,590,107,963.57. These numbers come directly from official U.S. government websites and can easily be verified. For a long time the national debt was stuck at just less than 16.7 trillion dollars because of the debt ceiling fight, but now that the debt ceiling crisis has been delayed for a few months the national debt is soaring once again. In fact, just one day after the deal in Congress was reached, the U.S. national debt rose by an astounding 328 billion dollars. In the blink of an eye we shattered the 17 trillion dollar mark with no end in sight. We are stealing about $100,000,000 from our children and our grandchildren every single hour of every single day. This goes on 24 hours a day, month after month, year after year without any interruption.
Over the past five years, the U.S. government has been on the greatest debt binge in history. Unfortunately, most Americans don’t realize just how bad things have gotten because the true budget deficit numbers are not reported on the news. The following is where the U.S. national debt has been on September 30th during the five years previous to this one…
09/30/2009: $ 11,909,829,003,511.75
The U.S. national debt is now 37 times larger than it was 40 years ago, and we are on pace to accumulate more new debt under the 8 years of the Obama administration than we did under all of the other presidents in U.S. history combined.
Of course all of the blame can’t be placed at the feet of Obama. During the last two elections the American people have given the Republicans a solid majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, and the government cannot spent a single penny without their approval.
Unfortunately, House Speaker John Boehner and the Republicans that are allied with him have repeatedly turned their backs on the people that gave the Republicans the majority and they have authorized trillions of dollars of new debt which will be passed on to future generations of Americans…
Since John Boehner became speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives on Jan. 5, 2011, the debt of the federal government has increased by $3,064,063,380,067.72. That is more than the total federal debt accumulated in the first 200 years of the U.S. Congress–during the terms of the first 48 speakers of the House.
In fact, if all of that debt had been given directly to the American people, every household in America would have been able to buy a new truck…
The $26,722 in new debt per household accumulated under Speaker Boehner would have been more than enough to buy every household in the United States a minivan or pickup truck–or to pay three years of in-state tuition (not counting room and board) at the typical state college.
Sometimes we forget just how much money a trillion dollars is. In a previous article, I included some illustrations that I believe are helpful…
-If you were alive when Jesus Christ was born and you spent one million dollars every single day since that point, you still would not have spent one trillion dollars by now.
-If right this moment you went out and started spending one dollar every single second, it would take you more than 31,000 years to spend one trillion dollars.
We are doing the exact same thing that Greece did, only on a much larger scale. What we are doing is not even close to sustainable, and it will inevitably end very, very badly. The following is what Michael Pento, the president of Pento Portfolio Strategies, told RT the other day…
“That $17 trillion everybody says its 107 percent of GDP, that’s true. But who really cares about the percentage of GDP? It’s the percentage of the debt as a percentage of the revenue – its 700 percent of our revenue. Deficits are growing at 30 percent of our revenue every year added to the deficits we have already. So it’s unsustainable. What is going to happen eventually – a currency and bond market collapse! And it’s not going out 20 years, as I also heard someone mention. In 2016 we’ll probably be spending 40 percent of all of our revenue just to service our debt. That is what the interest payments will equal.”
The U.S. debt situation is so bad that even the Prime Minister of Cyprus is scolding us…
“The U.S. has been fortunate in the sense that it’s like a bank, it prints the money that other people accept. So you can live beyond your means over an extended period of time without being punished by the market.”
Unfortunately, we will not be able to live way beyond our means forever. Reality is going to catch up with us at some point.
Right now, the rest of the world is lending us giant mountains of money at interest rates that are far below the real rate of inflation. This is extremely irrational behavior, and this state of affairs will probably not last too much longer.
But if interest rates go up, it will absolutely cripple the U.S. economy. For much more on this, please see this article.
And what would make things much, much worse is if the rest of the globe starts moving away from using the U.S. dollar. At the moment, the U.S. dollar is the de facto reserve currency of the planet and this creates a tremendous demand for U.S. dollars and U.S. debt.
If that changes, it will be absolutely catastrophic for the United States, and unfortunately there are already lots of signs that this is already starting to happen. I wrote about this in my recent article entitled “9 Signs That China Is Making A Move Against The U.S. Dollar“.
But don’t just take my word for it. Just a couple of days ago a major U.K. newspaper came to the same conclusions…
China has overtaken the US as the world’s largest oil importer and goods trading nation. Over the next five years, it will surpass the rest of the world combined in its consumption of base metals.
Given the scale of the country’s consumption of fossil fuels and raw materials, it is only a matter of time before the renminbi replaces the dollar as the primary currency for trading commodities and resources such as crude oil and iron ore.
The debt ceiling farce in Washington and China’s growing reluctance to continue underwriting the US economy by buying up its bonds and adding to America’s near $17 trillion (£10.5 trillion) debt mountain suggests that this tectonic shift in the global trade system could be just around the corner.
So what will happen when the rest of the world decides that they don’t need to use our dollars or buy our debt any longer?
At that point the consequences of decades of incredibly foolish decisions will result in an avalanche of economic pain that the American people are not prepared for.
Earlier today, I came across a photograph that perfectly captures what America is heading for. The following photo of Mt. Rushmore crying has not been photoshopped. It was taken by Megan Ahrens and it was posted on the Tea Party Command Center. If George Washington was alive today, this is probably exactly how he would feel about the nation that he helped establish…
Barack Obama is warning that if he does not get everything that he wants that he will force the U.S. government into a devastating debt default which will cripple the entire global economy. In essence, Obama has become so power mad that he is actually willing to take the entire planet hostage in order to achieve his goals. A lot of people are blaming the government shutdown on the Republicans, but they have already voted to fund the entire government except for Obamacare. The U.S. Constitution requires that all spending bills originate in the House of Representatives, and the House did their duty by passing a spending bill. If the Senate or the President do not like the bill that the House has passed, then negotiations need to take place. That is how our system works. And the weak-kneed Republicans have already indicated that they are willing to give up virtually all of their prior demands. In fact, if Obama offered all of them 20 dollar gift certificates to Denny’s to end this crisis they would probably jump at that deal. But that is not good enough for Obama. He has made it clear that he will settle for nothing less than the complete and unconditional surrender of the Republican Party.
Why is Obama doing this? Why is Obama willing to bring the country to the brink of financial disaster?
It isn’t hard to figure out. Just check out what one senior Obama administration official said last week…
“We are winning…. It doesn’t really matter to us” how long the shutdown lasts “because what matters is the end result,” a senior Obama Administration official told the Wall Street Journal last week.
This is all about a political victory and crushing the Republicans. Obama doesn’t really care how long this crisis lasts because he believes that he is getting the end result that he wants.
According to Obama, the Republican Party is just supposed to roll over and give him the exact spending bill that he wants and also give him another trillion dollar increase in the debt limit.
If the Republicans do not give him that, he is willing to plunge us into financial oblivion.
The funny thing is that most Americans do not want the debt limit increased. According to one new poll, 58 percent of all Americans do not even want the debt ceiling to be increased by a single penny.
And recent polls show that Americans are against Obamacare by an average margin of about 10 percent.
But the pathetic Republican Party is actually willing to hand Obama a trillion dollar debt ceiling increase and fully fund Obamacare if Obama will at least give them something.
Unfortunately, Obama won’t even give them the time of day.
So don’t blame the Republicans for what is happening. The Republicans have already compromised themselves to the point of utter disgrace. If Obama had been willing to even compromise a couple of inches this entire crisis would already be over.
And nobody should be claiming that the Republicans won’t vote to end this shutdown. They have already voted to end it. The following is from a recent article by Thomas Sowell…
There is really nothing complicated about the facts. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted all the money required to keep all government activities going — except for ObamaCare.
This is not a matter of opinion. You can check the Congressional Record.
As for the House of Representatives’ right to grant or withhold money, that is not a matter of opinion either. You can check the Constitution of the United States. All spending bills must originate in the House of Representatives, which means that Congressmen there have a right to decide whether or not they want to spend money on a particular government activity.
Whether ObamaCare is good, bad or indifferent is a matter of opinion. But it is a matter of fact that members of the House of Representatives have a right to make spending decisions based on their opinion.
Once again, the Republicans have already indicated that they are willing to fund Obamacare. They just want Obama to throw them a bone.
And Obama will not do it.
So either the Republicans are going to cave in completely (a very real possibility) or we are going to pass the “debt ceiling deadline”.
What happens then?
Well, we would have more of a “real government shutdown” than the fake shutdown that we are having right now.
Once the federal government cannot borrow any more money, it will only be able to spend what it actually has on hand. That means that a lot more government functions will have to shut down.
Money will still be coming in to the government, but it won’t be enough to fund everything. According to the Wall Street Journal, the federal government will still have enough money to pay interest on the debt, make Social Security payments, make Medicare payments, make Medicaid payments, provide food stamp benefits and pay the military if they cut almost everything else out.
The other day, I suggested that the federal government could potentially start defaulting on interest payments on the debt as early as November. But that would only happen if the federal government manages their money foolishly.
If the federal government managed their money smartly and saved cash for the interest payments as they came due, they would not have to miss any.
But when was the last time the federal government ever did anything “smartly”?
For the sake of argument, however, let’s assume that the federal government can manage money wisely and can save up enough cash ahead of time for large interest payments as they come due.
If that could somehow be managed, then according to Paul Mampilly the government would never need to actually default…
The U.S. Treasury always has money coming into its accounts. So its always got some amount of cash that it can use to pay interest on bonds. That’s especially true right now because the government is partially shutdown and there’s no cash going out from its accounts.
In fact, when you look at it the U.S. Treasury should simply have no trouble making interest payments on bonds that it has issued.
And there’s no restriction on the U.S. Treasury prioritizing interest payments. Why?
The obligation to pay interest is set by the 1917 Second Liberty Bond Act and laws that commanded the Treasury to pay interest on the debt. You can look this up in section 3123 of Title 31 of the U.S. Code and section 4 of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution and in Supreme Court precedent (Perry v. United States). It’s all there in black and white.
So the only possible way the U.S. defaults on its debt is if Barack Obama, President of the United States, instructs his Treasury secretary Jack Lew to default on the debt.
And according to the Washington Post, Moody’s has just issued a memo that also indicates that the federal government should be able to make all interest payments even if the debt limit is not increased…
In a memo being circulated on Capitol Hill Wednesday, Moody’s Investors Service offers “answers to frequently asked questions” about the government shutdown, now in its second week, and the federal debt limit. President Obama has said that, unless Congress acts to raise the $16.7 trillion limit by next Thursday, the nation will be at risk of default.
Not so, Moody’s says in the memo dated Oct. 7.
“We believe the government would continue to pay interest and principal on its debt even in the event that the debt limit is not raised, leaving its creditworthiness intact,” the memo says. “The debt limit restricts government expenditures to the amount of its incoming revenues; it does not prohibit the government from servicing its debt. There is no direct connection between the debt limit (actually the exhaustion of the Treasury’s extraordinary measures to raise funds) and a default.”
Of course the federal government would have to stop throwing money around like a drunk gambler at a casino in Las Vegas in order for this to work.
On the very first day of the government shutdown, the feds gave $445 million to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Apparently Elmo is considered to be “essential personnel” by the Obama administration.
And according to CNS News, the U.S. Army has committed more than $47,000 to buy a mechanical bull during this “shutdown”…
The government shutdown may be keeping furloughed federal workers at home, but on Monday the U.S. Army contracted to buy a mechanical bull.
The $47,174 contract was awarded on Oct. 7 to Mechanical Bull Sales Inc. of State College, Penn.
So needless to say, there is some serious doubt about whether the federal government would be able to manage their money effectively in the event that the debt ceiling deadline passes.
And if the U.S. did start defaulting on debt payments, it would be absolutely disastrous for the global economy as I discussed in a previous article…
“A U.S. debt default would cause stocks to crash, would cause bonds to crash, would cause interest rates to soar wildly out of control, would cause a massive credit crunch, and would cause a derivatives panic that would be absolutely unprecedented. And that would just be for starters.”
Other nations that we depend upon to lend us money would stop lending to us and would start dumping U.S. debt instead.
Could you imagine what would happen if China started dumping a large portion of the 1.3 trillion dollars in U.S. debt that they are holding?
It would be a total nightmare. The collapse of Lehman Brothers would pale in comparison.
And already some banks are stuffing their ATM machines with extra cash just in case the general public starts to panic.
But none of this has to happen.
If Obama decides to negotiate with the Republicans, this crisis will likely end very rapidly.
If not, and we pass the “debt ceiling deadline”, the federal government will still have enough money to make interest payments on the debt as long as they manage their money correctly.
Unfortunately, Obama seems far more interested in playing political games than he is in solving our problems.
In fact, Park Service rangers have been ordered to “make life as difficult for people as we can” during this government shutdown. Obama has apparently decided to punish the American people in order to get leverage on the Republicans. Just check out the following example from a new Weekly Standard article…
There’s a cute little historic site just outside of the capital in McLean, Virginia, called the Claude Moore Colonial Farm. They do historical reenactments, and once upon a time the National Park Service helped run the place. But in 1980, the NPS cut the farm out of its budget. A group of private citizens set up an endowment to take care of the farm’s expenses. Ever since, the site has operated independently through a combination of private donations and volunteer workers.
The Park Service told Claude Moore Colonial Farm to shut down.
The farm’s administrators appealed this directive—they explained that the Park Service doesn’t actually do anything for the historic site. The folks at the NPS were unmoved. And so, last week, the National Park Service found the scratch to send officers to the park to forcibly remove both volunteer workers and visitors.
Think about that for a minute. The Park Service, which is supposed to serve the public by administering parks, is now in the business of forcing parks they don’t administer to close. As Homer Simpson famously asked, did we lose a war?
The hypocrisy that Obama has demonstrated during this “government shutdown” has been astounding.
He has barricaded open air war memorials to keep military veterans from visiting them, but he temporarily reopened the National Mall so that a huge pro-immigration rally that would benefit him politically could be held.
He has continued to fund al-Qaeda rebels in Syria that are trying to overthrow the Syrian government, but he has been withholding death benefits from families of fallen U.S. soldiers.
The conduct of the Obama administration during this shutdown has been so egregious that is hard to put into words. Obama has chosen to purposely harm the American people in order to score political points.
But this is how our politicians view us these days. As Monty Pelerin recently explained, most of our politicians have absolutely no problem with exploiting us for their own purposes…
The concept of political service has been replaced by that of masked exploitation. The public is no longer viewed as clients or constituents to be served. Instead they have become political prey. Politicians see the public as a collection of wallets and votes, fair game to be hunted as the means to expand power and wealth. Constituents are now the Soylent Green of the political food chain.
The political class assumes the public exists to serve them, not the other way around. Public participation beyond the lightening of wallets or the provision of votes is unwelcome. It is considered “interference” that must be deterred by the ruling class.
The political class is now a huge, voracious parasite. Like the plant in the Little Shop of Horrors, its needs have grown to the point where it threatens anything productive. Its needs now exceed the willingness for continued sacrifice on the part of the productive. The parasite threatens the very existence of the host.
The political Ponzi scheme of tax, borrow and spend has reached its limit. Either it will die when citizens turn on it or it will kill the productive, ensuring its own destruction.
It perishes in the end. Whether it takes civilization with it is the bigger question.
Is there anyone out there that still does not believe that our system is broken?
Hopefully cooler heads will prevail and power mad Obama will decide to toss the Republicans a few crumbs and this crisis will be resolved.
Because if this crisis is not resolved soon, it could have consequences that are far beyond what any of us could possibly imagine.
Why would the president of the United States try to purposely hurt the American people? Well, in 2013 this is done in order to score political points and force the opposition in to doing what you want them to do. A few days ago, an angry Park Service ranger publicly admitted that he and his fellow rangers have been ordered to “make life as difficult for people as we can” during this government shutdown. That Park Service ranger would never have received such an order unless it came from the very top. Apparently the Obama administration plans to cause as much pain as possible until Obama gets everything that he is demanding. In many cases, it is actually going to cost far more money to put up barricades and use guards to keep Americans from visiting open air memorials, driving on roads, and fishing in bodies of water than it would to put up a “closed” sign and simply go home. As you will see from the examples posted below, the Obama administration is being extremely spiteful and vindictive. And the level of hypocrisy that we are now witnessing is hard to fathom. For instance, the National Mall has been totally closed to the public, but the Obama administration is specifically reopening it for a massive pro-immigration rally that will benefit the Democrats politically. The abuse of power that is taking place is absolutely staggering, and the American people need to demand that those that are abusing it be held accountable when all of this is over.
The following are just a few examples of how Obama is using this shutdown to make life as difficult for people as possible…
#1 The Obama administration is doing all it can to keep Americans from even getting a glimpse of Mount Rushmore, but Barack Obama’s chefs have been deemed “essential” and are still preparing his meals.
#2 Small businesses cannot get loans, but the exclusive gyms that are only for members of Congress have been deemed “essential” and remain open.
#3 The National Mall has been closed to the public, but it will be opened for a huge pro-immigration rally being held by Obama supporters.
#4 Last chance cancer treatments for children with cancer have been suspended, but the IRS continues to collect taxes from us.
#5 The NIH has stopped therapy dogs from visiting sick children, but Obama and Congress are still getting paid.
#6 The USDA website has been shut down, but Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move website is still operating.
#7 A runner has been fined $100 for jogging through Valley Forge National Historical Park, but the military golf course that Obama uses regularly is still open.
#8 The Obama administration has shut down the Grand Canyon, but the new two billion dollar NSA spy center is still spying on all of us.
#9 The federal government has forced an elderly couple out of their home on Lake Mead during this shutdown, but the operations of the Federal Reserve have not been affected at all.
#10 In South Carolina, the Obama administration is actually using Park Service rangers to keep people away from a privately-owned hotel.
#11 In Tennessee, the feds have totally shut down the Foothills Parkway, a major thoroughfare that runs through Blount County. At this point the feds are not even letting people visit the graves of their dead relatives.
#12 The Obama administration has actually removed all of the well pumps along a 184 mile trail that goes from Washington D.C. to Pittsburgh just so that anyone that decides to use the trail will not be able to get any water to drink.
#13 The Obama administration is actually attempting to close 1,100 square miles of ocean off of the coast of Florida. It is going to take a tremendous amount of time, money and energy to keep fishing boats out of that area.
#14 According to one news report, “Gestapo tactics” were used against one tour group made up mostly of senior citizens at Yellowstone National Park…
Pat Vaillancourt went on a trip last week that was intended to showcase some of America’s greatest treasures.
Instead, the Salisbury resident said she and others on her tour bus witnessed an ugly spectacle that made her embarrassed, angry and heartbroken for her country.
Vaillancourt was one of thousands of people who found themselves in a national park as the federal government shutdown went into effect on Oct. 1. For many hours her tour group, which included senior citizen visitors from Japan, Australia, Canada and the United States, were locked in a Yellowstone National Park hotel under armed guard.
The tourists were treated harshly by armed park employees, she said, so much so that some of the foreign tourists with limited English skills thought they were under arrest.
When finally allowed to leave, the bus was not allowed to halt at all along the 2.5-hour trip out of the park, not even to stop at private bathrooms that were open along the route.
#15 Of course one of the most disturbing abuses of power is how the Obama administration is using barricades and guards to keep military veterans away from open air memorials such as the World War II Memorial, the Vietnam War Memorial and the Iwo Jima Memorial that are normally open to the public 24 hours a day.
It is beyond disgusting for Barack Obama to take these memorials hostage for political gain.
And a lot of military veterans have decided that they are not going to take this slap in the face. In fact, one group is organizing a “Million Veteran March on the Memorials” this weekend. You can find their Facebook page right here. According to their page, a mass protest is being planned for 9 AM this Sunday morning…
“Join fellow Veterans at the war memorials in Washington DC on Sunday October 13th at 9 AM and at memorials across these United States.”
And veterans will not be the only ones in D.C. this weekend. An organization known as “Truckers Ride for the Constitution” will also be there. You can find their Facebook page right here. The truckers are planning a three day strike and protest which will stretch from Friday to Sunday…
“The American people are sick and tired of the corruption that is destroying America! We therefore declare a national protest in support of our nation’s truckers on the weekend of October 11-13, 2013! Truck drivers will not haul freight! Americans can strike in solidarity with truck drivers! Truckers will lead the path to saving our country if every American rides with them!”
Many truckers are even planning to take their trucks right into the heart of Washington D.C. itself.
It will certainly be interesting to see what happens.
Personally, I have never seen anything like what we are witnessing right now. The president of the United States is actually trying to purposely hurt the American people in order to put pressure on Congress. He isn’t even being subtle about it.
Whether you are a Democrat, a Republican or an Independent, you have got to be absolutely disgusted by what Obama is doing. He is showing an astounding lack of respect for the American people.
It is one thing to play hardball with Congress. That is acceptable. It is quite another thing to spitefully abuse the American people in order to get what you want.
What Obama has done goes way over the line. If the American people are not outraged by this, what will it take to wake them up?
All of this whining and crying about a “government shutdown” is a total joke. You see, there really is very little reason why this “government shutdown” cannot continue indefinitely because almost everything is still running. 63 percent of all federal workers are still working, and 85 percent of all government activities are still being funded during this “shutdown”. Yes, the Obama administration has been making a big show of taking down government websites and blocking off the World War II Memorial, but overall business in Washington D.C. is being conducted pretty much as usual. It turns out that the definition of “essential personnel” has expanded so much over the years that almost everyone is considered “essential” at this point. In fact, this shutdown is such a non-event that even referring to it as a “partial government shutdown” would really be overstating what is actually happening. The following are 36 facts which prove that almost everything is still running during this government shutdown…
#1 According to U.S. Senator Rand Paul, 85 percent of all government activities are actually being funded during this “government shutdown”.
#2 Approximately 1,350,000 “essential” federal employees will continue to work during this “government shutdown”.
#3 Overall, 63 percent of the federal workforce will continue to work during this “government shutdown”.
#4 The U.S. Postal Service will continue to deliver our mail.
#5 U.S. military personnel will remain on duty and will continue to get paid.
#6 Social Security recipients will continue to get their benefits.
#7 Medicare recipients will continue to get their benefits.
#8 Medicaid recipients will continue to get their benefits.
#9 Food stamp recipients will continue to get their benefits.
#10 Those on unemployment will continue to get their benefits.
#11 Federal retirees will continue to get their pensions.
#12 The federal school lunch program has enough money to go through at least the end of this month.
#13 Public schools all over the country will continue to stay open.
#14 Almost all federal law enforcement officials will continue working.
#15 The Federal Reserve will remain “completely functional“.
#16 The Supreme Court will continue to operate normally and federal courts have enough money to keep going for at least two weeks.
#17 TSA employees will continue to molest travelers at our airports.
#18 Air traffic controllers will continue to monitor traffic at our airports.
#19 Hopelessly outmanned border patrol agents will continue to try to stem the tide of illegal immigration.
#20 Visas and passports will continue to be issued by the State Department.
#21 The Veterans Administration will continue to offer substandard medical services, and it will be able to continue processing benefit payments at least for now.
#22 The Obama administration apparently has plenty of money to spend on closing open-air memorials that are usually open to the public 24 hours a day.
#23 The Department of Defense announced the awarding of 94 new contracts worth a combined total of more than 5 billion dollars on September 30th – the day right before the “government shutdown”.
#24 The “government shutdown” has not prevented the new two billion dollar NSA spy center from opening up.
#25 Federal prisons will continue to operate normally.
#26 Amtrak trains will continue to run.
#27 The Patent and Trademark Office will be open.
#28 The Consumer Product Safety Commission will continue to issue product recalls if the products “create an immediate threat to the safety of human life“.
#29 The National Weather Service and the National Hurricane Center will continue to track weather patterns.
#30 If the federal government needs to respond to a natural disaster, this “shutdown” will not affect that.
#31 NASA will continue to support the Mars Rover and the two American astronauts up on the International Space Station.
#32 All city employees of the D.C. government have been deemed “essential” and will continue to go to work.
#33 Even though the Obamacare exchanges are not working properly, people will still be able to access them.
#34 The IRS will continue to collect taxes, but it will be suspending punitive audits of conservative organizations.
#35 Barack Obama will continue to get paid for the full duration of this “shutdown”.
#36 The U.S. Congress will continue to get paid for the full duration of this “shutdown”.
Of course not everything is operating normally during this government shutdown. Government parks are closed. The EPA and the Department of Energy have almost totally closed up shop. But overall, most Americans are not going to notice much of a difference.
And perhaps now is a good time for the American people to evaluate whether or not they actually need a gigantic federal government that wastes enormous mountains of our money.
For example, our federal government recently spent $98,670 to construct a single outhouse in Alaska.
That is more than a lot of Americans pay for their entire houses.
For many more examples like this, please see my previous article entitled “The Waste List: 66 Crazy Ways That The U.S. Government Is Wasting Your Hard-Earned Money“.
It is about time that Washington D.C. started experiencing some of the “belt-tightening” that the rest of the country has been going through. For far too long, the fatcats in D.C. have been living in an alternate reality where they have been able to live the high life at our expense. A recent blog post by Daniel Greenfield discussed how this shutdown is going to affect the alternate reality that the Obamas have been living in…
The government shutdown has forced Obama to make do with only a quarter of his 1,701 person staff. That would leave 436 “vital” employees. The 90 people who look after his living quarters would be slashed to 15 to “provide minimum maintenance and support”.
Buckingham Palace, which is twelve times the size of the White House and has its own clockmaker, only has an 800 person staff. King Harald V of Norway and his court make do with 152 staffers. King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden gets by with 203.
On Twitter, Michelle Obama announced that she is unable to Tweet on her own without the aid of all of her sixteen assistants; many of whom take home six figure salaries. There are more directors, associate directors and deputy associate directors on Michelle Obama’s staff than there were in George Washington’s entire administration.
Presidents have fought wars and made peace, explored and annexed vast territories and built a nation out of a handful of colonies with fewer senior staffers than are needed to handle Michelle Obama’s Twitter account.
Oh the humanity! Will Michelle Obama ever tweet again? And how will the White House continue to function without at least one projectionist on duty at the White House 24 hours a day?
No wonder Barack Obama is so upset about this shutdown.
In the end, this shutdown could turn out to be very good for America. We have a government that is wildly out of control and that desperately needs to be reigned in.
During the Obama administration, federal debt held by the public has risen by 90 percent, and overall federal government spending has risen by a whopping 317 percent since 1990.
So is it really a bad thing that the federal government has been forced to cut back for a little while?
Our politicians can whine and cry all they want. They won’t be getting any sympathy from me.