Did you know that 89 percent of all minimum wage workers in the United States are not teens? At this point, the average age of a minimum wage worker in this country is 36, and 56 percent of them are women. Millions upon millions of Americans are working as hard as they can (often that means two or three jobs), and yet despite all of their hard work they still find themselves mired in poverty. One of the big reasons for this is that we have created two classes of workers in the United States. “Full-time workers” are entitled to an array of benefits and protections by law that “part-time workers” do not get. And thanks to perverse incentives contained in Obamacare and other ridiculous laws, we have motivated employers to move as many workers from the “full-time” category to the “part-time” category as possible. It may be hard to believe, but right now only 44 percent of all U.S. adults are employed for 30 or more hours each week. But to get any kind of a job at all is a real challenge in many parts of the country today. As you read this article, there are more than 100 million working age Americans that are not employed in any capacity. And according to John Williams of shadowstats.com, if the federal government was actually using honest numbers the unemployment rate would be sitting at 23 percent. That is not an “employment recovery” – that is a national crisis.
The following infographic comes from the Economic Policy Institute. I certainly do not agree with a lot of the things that the Economic Policy Institute stands for, but I think that these numbers do accurately reflect what “part-time America” looks like today…
So what is the solution to this problem?
Most Democrats believe that raising the minimum wage would fix this. But as Zero Hedge has pointed out, it isn’t quite that simple…
Last week, we noted that Democratic lawmakers in the US are pushing for what they call “$12 by ’20” which, as the name implies, is an effort to raise the minimum wage to $12/hour over the course of the next five years. Republicans argue that if Democrats got their wish and the pay floor were increased by nearly 70%, it would do more harm than good for low-income Americans as the number of jobs that would be lost as a result of employers cutting back in the face of dramatically higher labor costs would offset the benefit that accrues to the workers who are lucky enough to keep their jobs.
Yes, raising the minimum wage would make life better for many minimum wage workers in America. But a large number of them would also lose their jobs completely, and a lot of small businesses would deeply suffer financially.
Ideally, what we would love to see happen is for the U.S. economy to be producing so many good jobs that the only people that are looking for entry-level part-time jobs would be teens, people just starting out in the workforce, etc. Back when I was a teen, I remember walking into a McDonald’s and getting hired on the spot because they were in dire need of workers. Sadly, those days are long, long gone.
Over the past several decades, millions of good paying American jobs have been shipped overseas, and millions more have been lost to advancing technology. And as I wrote about the other day, Barack Obama is deeply betraying American workers by working on a global economic treaty that would destroy millions more good paying jobs.
Thanks to the foolishness of our politicians, there is now intense competition even for minimum wage jobs at this point.
We keep hearing about an “employment recovery”, but it is a giant lie. Posted below is a chart of the civilian employment to population ratio. As you can see, the percentage of the working age population that is actually employed is much, much lower than it used to be…
In recent months, we have seen the employment-population ratio move slightly higher. But can this be called “an employment recovery”? Of course not. We are still way, way below the level that we were at just prior to the last recession, and now the next recession is just about upon us.
Meanwhile, the quality of our jobs continues to decline as more Americans are being pushed into “part-time work” with each passing year.
Since February of 2008, the size of the U.S. population has grown by 16.8 million people. But during that same time frame, the number of full-time jobs in this country has actually decreased.
And at this point, the majority of American workers simply do not make enough money to support a middle class family. The following income numbers come directly from the Social Security Administration…
-39 percent of American workers make less than $20,000 a year.
-52 percent of American workers make less than $30,000 a year.
-63 percent of American workers make less than $40,000 a year.
-72 percent of American workers make less than $50,000 a year.
Are you starting to see why I am so fired up about all of this?
We have developed a business culture in this country which does not care about workers. In business schools all over America, future executives are taught that a corporation only has one goal – to maximize wealth for the shareholders. Taking care of those that are part of your team is treated as an afterthought at best.
As corporations have gotten bigger, they have shown less and less concern for those that work for them. These days, employees are generally regarded as “expensive liabilities” that are to be discarded the moment that their usefulness has come to an end. And news of layoffs is often rewarded by Wall Street by a surge in the stock prices of the companies making those layoffs.
In the old days, more businesses in America were family-owned, and employees were often regarded as almost “part of the family”. Unfortunately, those days have disappeared forever.
Now, employees are treated like scum by many big companies, and if they don’t like how they are being treated they are told that they can leave. For example, just consider what was going on at a security company down in Florida…
Jose Molero worked as a site inspector for the company, which provides security for neighborhoods and companies across the country, for more than a year.
Molero says when he went to the Kensington Golf and Country Club guardhouse, he found wooden paddles on a desk, some with staff names on them and one reading “for staff discipline.”
He says there was also what is called a “Wall of Shame,” where the supervisor points out and posts reports that contain grammatical errors.
When Molero complained about these things to his district manager, he was told that if anyone was offended “maybe they shouldn’t work here”…
Molero contacted his operations manager, who told him to speak with the district manager. He says the district manager sent him an email response that said, “if that hurts their feelings then maybe they shouldn’t work here.”
Do you have a similar horror story to share?
Most of us do.
The U.S. economy is absolutely dominated by cold, heartless corporations that have no interest in listening to the little guy. If they could find a way to do it, many of them would operate with no low-level employees at all. And as technology continues to advance, they will replace as many of us as they can with robots, drones, machines and computers.
I’ll be honest with you – the future for workers in America looks really bleak. The competition for any jobs that can’t be shipped overseas or replaced by technology is going to become even more heated. This means that the middle class is going to get even smaller, the number of Americans dependent on the government is going to continue to explode, and the disparity between the wealthy and the poor is going to become even greater.
So what is the solution to this giant mess? Please feel free to tell us what you think by posting a comment below…
On Saturday night, the city of Baltimore resembled a warzone as protests over the death of Freddie Gray turned wildly violent. One eyewitness reported watching the streets around him and his friend “turn into madness” as they left a baseball game between the Boston Red Sox and the Baltimore Orioles. Car windows were smashed, stores were robbed, chairs were thrown and large numbers of random bystanders were attacked. One prominent Democrat claims that those committing the violence were “mainly from out of town“, but how would he know that? Today, there are approximately 2.7 million people living in the Baltimore metropolitan area. It is an area that has been known for poverty, crime and drugs for many years, and as racial tensions continue to increase in this country it is a powder keg that could erupt at literally any time. We got a preview of what can happen on Saturday night. If this is how people will act while economic conditions are still relatively stable in this country, what in the world is going to happen when things really start falling apart?
On Saturday, April 11th, I delivered a presentation down in Dallas, Texas in which I warned about the rioting and civil unrest that are soon coming to this nation. On slide number 145 of the presentation, I specifically named the city of Baltimore as one of the cities where this would happen. But I had no idea that the rioting in Baltimore would begin so quickly. And the violence that we saw on Saturday night was at a level that was quite shocking. The following is how the Daily Mail described some of the chaos that ensued…
Local news captured live footage of a man throwing a flaming trash can at the police line.
A group of roughly 100 protesters broke out a window of a department store with a chair they got at a restaurant across the street at The Gallery, a downtown shopping mall.
The same group broke the windows of restaurants including a Subway sandwich shop near Camden Yards, tossing chairs and tables through the glass.
Protesters also engaged with a group of Orioles fans at Slider’s Bar and Grille and began fighting with patrons.
This kind of thing is not supposed to happen in America.
But it is happening. Ferguson set the precedent, and now this is going to spread all over the country.
You can see some excellent photographs of the chaos that happened in Baltimore right here, and in the video posted below several young thugs smash out the front window of a police cruiser as dozens of onlookers cheer them on…
I also want to share with you another video, but I need to warn you about it first. This YouTube video strings together a bunch of clips of some of the worst of the violence, but it also contains some very graphic language. So please don’t let any young children watch this. I felt that it was important to share this because we need to really understand what is happening to our cities. America is changing, and not for the better. This is what social decay looks like…
Are you starting to get the picture?
Things were so bad outside of the stadium where the Baltimore Orioles play that some of the Orioles actually thought about spending the night inside the clubhouse.
One of the things that is being ignored by many in the mainstream media is that fact that one of the key organizers of the Baltimore protests is a former national chairman of the New Black Panther Party named Malik Shabazz. These days, he is the president of an organization known as “Black Lawyers for Justice”, but he is definitely still up to his old tricks. The following is an excerpt from an article about the Baltimore riots in the New York Times…
There, Malik Shabazz, president of Black Lawyers for Justice, a Washington, D.C.-based group that called for the demonstration and advertised it on social media, told the crowd that he would release them in an hour, adding: “Shut it down if you want to! Shut it down!”
Mr. Shabazz said in a later interview that his rhetoric was intended only to encourage civil disobedience — not violence — but added that he was “not surprised” by the scattered angry outbursts because people here “haven’t received justice.”
If you are marching for “justice”, you don’t throw objects at random bystanders, loot stores or attack vehicles that are just driving through the area. But all of those things happened on Saturday night. The following is how an eyewitness described one of the most harrowing attacks…
The crowd of protesters then stopped a blue station wagon carrying a white family as they tried to drive past Pickles, Bullpen and Sliders along a narrow one-way stretch between the bars and the main road. As a horde of them smashed their open and closed fists on the hood of the car—while impeding them by standing in front of them—the driver backed up on the one way pass in a desperate attempt to get out of dodge. Then, stopped on the other side with nowhere to go, protesters ripped open the passenger door of the car and began reaching around inside the vehicle. As hundreds of people looked on, including several police officers who didn’t engage the violent protesters, the white woman in the front seat—middle-aged and a little heavyset with dark hair—was visibly terrified. The group of black men who ripped open the car door suddenly realized they were separated from the larger group of protesters and abandoned their quest to seemingly either carjack the station wagon or rob the people inside in front of hundreds, driving out of the one-way street back onto the main road and presumably out of dodge.
Of course all of this did not just erupt out of a vacuum. Racial tensions on all sides have been stirred up by the mainstream media, by our politicians, and by other prominent national leaders for years. At this point, even pastors are inflaming the tensions…
Activist Jamal Bryant, pastor of Empowerment Temple AME Church, told his congregation Sunday that “somebody is going to have to pay” for Gray’s death, the Associated Press reported.
If “you’re black in America, your life is always under threat,” Bryant said.
Why can’t we all just learn to love one another, forgive one another, and peacefully come up with some solutions that are going to work for all of us?
Sadly, all of this hate and anger is just another sign of the social decay that is eating away at the foundations of our society like a cancer.
And if people are willing to act like this when our economy is still relatively stable and things are still relatively good in this nation, what are they going to do when they don’t have any money in their pockets and they don’t know where their next meal is going to come from?
What we witnessed in Baltimore on Saturday night is just the beginning.
Much worse is coming, and eventually we are going to see tremendous civil unrest and rioting all over this nation.
So what do you think about all of this? Please feel free to share your opinion by posting a comment below…
Did you know that 65 percent of all children in the United States live in a home that receives aid from the federal government? We live at a time when child poverty in America is exploding. Yes, the U.S. economy is experiencing a temporary bubble of false stability for the moment, but even during this period of false stability the gap between the wealthy and the poor continues to rapidly expand and the middle class is being systematically destroyed. And sadly, this is having a disproportionate impact on children. This is happening for a couple of reasons. First of all, poorer households tend to have more children than wealthier households. Secondly, most people tend to have children when they are in their young adult years, and right now young adults are being absolutely hammered by this economy. As a result, things just continue to get even worse for children living in this country. Here are 14 facts that show that the number of children in America living in poverty this Christmas is at an all-time record high…
#1 The National Center for Children in Poverty says that 45 percent of all U.S. children belong to low income families.
#2 According to a Census Bureau report that was released just this week, 65 percent of all children in America are living in a home that receives some form of aid from the federal government…
“Almost two-thirds (65 percent) of children,” said the Census Bureau, “lived in households that participated in at least one or more of the following government aid programs: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), Medicaid, and the National School Lunch Program.”
#3 According to a report recently released by UNICEF, almost one-third of all children in this country “live in households with an income below 60 percent of the national median income”.
#4 When it comes to child poverty, the United States ranks 36th out of the 41 “wealthy nations” that UNICEF looked at.
#5 An astounding 45 percent of all African-American children in America live in areas of “concentrated poverty”.
#640.9 percent of all children in the United States that are living with only one parent are living in poverty.
#7 These days, a lot of single mothers are really, really struggling to survive. A decade ago, the number of women in America that had jobs outnumbered the number of women in America on food stamps by more than a 2 to 1 margin. But now the number of women in America on food stamps actually exceeds the total number of women that have jobs.
#9 According to a report that was released last month by the National Center on Family Homelessness, the number of homeless children in the United States has reached a new all-time high of 2.5 million.
#13 One of the primary reasons why kids are suffering so much is because their parents are simply not making enough money. This is especially true for parents of young children. For example, check out the following numbers from the Atlantic…
Since the Great Recession struck in 2007, the median wage for people between the ages of 25 and 34, adjusted for inflation, has fallen in every major industry except for health care.
In retail, wholesale, leisure, and hospitality—which together employ more than one quarter of this age group—real wages have fallen more than 10 percent since 2007. To be clear, this doesn’t mean that most of this cohort are seeing their pay slashed, year after year. Instead it suggests that wage growth is failing to keep up with inflation, and that, as twentysomethings pass into their thirties, they are earning less than their older peers did before the recession.
#14 Overall, the quality of the jobs in America continues to decline. At this point, most Americans do not bring home enough income to support a middle class lifestyle for their families. Below I have shared an excerpt from an article that I published a while back…
The following are some statistics about wages in the U.S. from a Social Security Administration report that was recently released…
-39 percent of American workers made less than $20,000 last year.
-52 percent of American workers made less than $30,000 last year.
-63 percent of American workers made less than $40,000 last year.
-72 percent of American workers made less than $50,000 last year.
In addition to all of these numbers, there is also a lot of anecdotal evidence that families with children are really struggling right now.
For example, McDonald’s has traditionally been a place where poor and middle class families have taken their children for a cheap meal. But the restaurant chain just released the worst sales numbers that we have seen in more than a decade.
And the really bad news is that this is just the beginning of the economic pain for families with children. The U.S. economy is in a bubble period right now, and the authorities have been trying with all of their might to keep the bubble inflated.
Just imagine a bodybuilder that is pressing with all of his might to do one more rep on the bench press. That is essentially where we are at. In a recent piece, Brian Pretti summarized some of the extraordinary measures that global central banks have taken to keep the economic bubble inflated…
Since early 2009, central banks globally have printed more than $13 trillion. In addition, governments across the planet have increased their borrowings at historic proportions (the US just crossed $18T – another new high!), all in an effort to stimulate economies and avoid deflationary pressures. Total US Federal debt has more than doubled in five years, an increase of $9.5 trillion and counting.
Despite all of these efforts, the best that we have achieved is economic stagnation.
And now it is becoming clear that the overwhelming deflationary forces around the globe are starting to win the battle. The central banks have used up their ammunition and they still have not turned things around. In fact, as Ambrose Evans-Pritchard so eloquently put it recently, what we see all around us is “evidence of a 1930s-style depression, albeit one that is still contained”…
What is clear is that the world has become addicted to central bank stimulus. Bank of America said 56pc of global GDP is currently supported by zero interest rates, and so are 83pc of the free-floating equities on global bourses. Half of all government bonds in the world yield less that 1pc. Roughly 1.4bn people are experiencing negative rates in one form or another.
These are astonishing figures, evidence of a 1930s-style depression, albeit one that is still contained. Nobody knows what will happen as the Fed tries to break out of the stimulus trap, including Fed officials themselves.
But will it still be contained once the next major financial crash strikes?
As I discussed yesterday, there has never been a time when conditions have been more ideal for a financial crisis since the last one happened in 2008.
So as bad as things are for the children of America right now, they are only going to get worse.
In the years ahead may we all have great compassion for these victims of our incredibly foolish economic mistakes.
The global economy is structured to systematically funnel wealth to the very top of the pyramid, and this centralization of global wealth is accelerating with each passing year. According to the United Nations, 85 super wealthy people have more money than the poorest 3.5 billion people on the planet combined. And 1.2 billion of those poor people live on less than $1.25 a day. There is something deeply, deeply broken about a system that produces these kinds of results. Seven out of every ten people on the planet live in countries where the gap between the wealthy and the poor has increased in the last 30 years. Despite our technological advances, somewhere around a billion people go to bed hungry every single night. And when our fundamentally flawed financial system finally does collapse, it will be the poor that will suffer the worst.
Now, let me make one thing clear at the outset.
Big government and more socialism are not the answer to anything. Big government and more socialism almost always result in increased oppression and increased poverty. If you want to see where that road ultimately leads to, just look at North Korea.
What we need is a system that empowers individuals and families to work hard, be creative, build businesses and to take care of themselves.
But instead, we have a system where all power and all wealth are increasingly controlled by giant banks and giant corporations that are in turn controlled by the global elite. The “financialization” of the global economy has turned almost everyone on the planet into “deft serfs”, and the compound interest on all of that debt enables the global elite to constantly increase their giant piles of money.
As I have written about previously, the total amount of government debt in the world has increased by about 40 percent since the last recession.
And when you consider all forms of debt, the grand total for the planet is now up to a whopping 223 trillion dollars.
This enables the super wealthy to constantly become even wealthier. It is like a giant vacuum cleaner that sucks wealth out of all of our pockets and transfers it to them.
Nearly 21 million people are working as modern day slaves, falling victim to trafficking, forced labor and sexual exploitation, a new UN report finds. The illicit market in exploited people generates billions of dollars in profit worldwide.
The report by the International Labour Organization (ILO), which draws on information gathered in a 2012 survey, also found that annual profits stemming from forced labor are three times higher than previous estimates.
“Put into perspective, the 21 million victims in forced labor and the more than US$150 billion in illegal profits generated by their work exceeds the population and GDP of many countries or territories around the world,” the ILO says.
Dialu Nial’s life changed forever when he was held down by his neck in a forest and one of his kidnappers raised an axe to strike.
He was asked if he wanted to lose his life, a leg or a hand.
Six days earlier, Nial had been among 12 young men being taken against their will to make bricks on the outskirts of one of India’s biggest cities, Hyderabad.
During the journey, they got a chance to escape and ran for it – but Nial and a friend were caught and this was their punishment.
And yes, he did end up losing his hand.
Fortunately, most of us are not facing that kind of oppression.
But that doesn’t mean that we aren’t slaves. The borrower is the servant of the lender, and over the past four decades the total amount of debt in America has gone from about 2.2 trillion dollars to nearly 60 trillion dollars. Many of us work as “debt serfs” our entire lives, and we never even know the names or the faces of those that we are making rich as we slowly pay off our debts.
And all of this debt is one of the primary factors destroying the middle class in America. Just this past week, the New York Times reported that the wealth of “the typical household” in the United States has declined by 36 percent over the past decade…
The inflation-adjusted net worth for the typical household was $87,992 in 2003. Ten years later, it was only $56,335, or a 36 percent decline, according to a study financed by the Russell Sage Foundation. Those are the figures for a household at the median point in the wealth distribution — the level at which there are an equal number of households whose worth is higher and lower. But during the same period, the net worth of wealthy households increased substantially.
The Russell Sage study also examined net worth at the 95th percentile. (For households at that level, 94 percent of the population had less wealth and 4 percent had more.) It found that for this well-do-do slice of the population, household net worth increased 14 percent over the same 10 years. Other research, by economists like Edward Wolff at New York University, has shown even greater gains in wealth for the richest 1 percent of households.
Does that upset you when you read that?
And the outlook for the next generation is even worse. Most of our young adults are absolutely drowning in student loan debt and other forms of debt, and wages for new college graduates are terrible.
Sadly, most people don’t even realize how the global financial system works or why the gap between the super wealthy and the rest of us continues to grow so rapidly.
It has been estimated that the wealthiest one percent currently have 110 trillion dollars.
That is 65 times more wealth than the bottom half of the global population combined.
They are hoarding wealth as we approach some of the most unstable days in all of human history.
So how do you think all of this will play out? Please feel free to share your thoughts by posting a comment below…
During a recent interview with Diane Sawyer, Hillary Clinton claimed that Bill and her were “dead broke” when they left the White House. And then on Sunday, Hillary told the Guardian that they are not “truly well off” despite having earned about a hundred million dollars since leaving the White House and owning a couple of luxury homes. This is yet another shocking example of how disconnected our political elite have become to the rest of the American people. Perhaps Hillary Clinton is not “truly well off” when compared to some of the ultra-wealthy individuals that she rubs shoulders with at Democratic fundraisers, but according to numbers provided by the Social Security Administration, the Clintons would easily be in the top 0.01% of all income earners in America since leaving the White House. So was Hillary Clinton joking, or is she really this out of touch with ordinary Americans?
Perhaps she thought that she could just tell a little white lie about how wealthy Bill and her truly are. After all, 66 percent of Americans believe that when it says “natural” on a food label that it actually means something. It seems like people will fall for almost anything these days.
Unfortunately for Clinton, people are not letting this one go. In fact, CNN anchor Alison Kosik recently burst out laughing on air in response to Clinton’s claim that she is not “truly well off”…
If Hillary Clinton really does want to see what “dead broke” actually looks like, she should travel to some of the deeply impoverished communities in the heartland of America.
For instance, just consider what the BBC found when they interviewed two young kids being raised by a single mother in Iowa.
10-year-old Kaylie Haywood and her brother spend much of their time desperately hungry and thinking about food…
-According to the U.S. Census Bureau, about one out of every six Americans is now living in poverty. The number of Americans living in poverty is now at a level that has not been seen since the 1960s.
-Even if you do have a job that does not mean that you are able to escape poverty in the United States today. In fact, about one out of every four part-time workers in America is now living below the poverty line.
-According to numbers provided by Wal-Mart, more than half of their hourly workers make less than $25,000 a year.
-Numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau reveal that 49.2 percent of all Americans are now receiving benefits from at least one government program.
But if you still feel sorry for Hillary Clinton after reading all of this, there is a way that you can help.
For just pennies a day, you can contribute to “The Hillary Clinton Fund For Broke Politicians”. In the video posted below, you can see how ordinary Americans respond when they are asked to donate to the fund…
So what do you think about all of this?
Are we being too harsh on Hillary Clinton or does she deserve the flak that she has been getting?
Please feel free to share what you think by posting a comment below…
If you want to get an idea of where the rest of America is heading, just take a trip through the western half of West Virginia and the eastern half of Kentucky some time. Once you leave the main highways, you will rapidly encounter poverty on a level that is absolutely staggering. Overall, about 15 percent of the entire nation is under the poverty line, but in some areas of eastern Kentucky, more than 40 percent of the population is living in poverty. Most of the people would work if they could. Over the past couple of decades, locals have witnessed businesses and industries leave the region at a steady pace. When another factory or business shuts down, many of the unemployed do not even realize that their jobs have been shipped overseas. Coal mining still produces jobs that pay a decent wage, but Barack Obama is doing his very best to kill off that entire industry. After decades of decline, vast stretches of impoverished Appalachia look like they have been through a war. Those living in the area know that things are not good, but they just try to do the best that they can with what they have.
In previous articles about areas of the country that are economically depressed, I have typically focused on large cities such as Detroit or Camden, New Jersey. But the economic suffering that is taking place in rural communities in the heartland of America is just as tragic. We just don’t hear about it as much.
Most of those that live in the heart of Appalachia are really good “salt of the earth” people that just want to work hard and do what is right for their families. But after decades of increasing poverty, the entire region has been transformed into an economic nightmare that never seems to end. The following is a description of what life is like in Appalachia today that comes from a recent article by Kevin D. Williamson…
Thinking about the future here and its bleak prospects is not much fun at all, so instead of too much black-minded introspection you have the pills and the dope, the morning beers, the endless scratch-off lotto cards, healing meetings up on the hill, the federally funded ritual of trading cases of food-stamp Pepsi for packs of Kentucky’s Best cigarettes and good old hard currency, tall piles of gas-station nachos, the occasional blast of meth, Narcotics Anonymous meetings, petty crime, the draw, the recreational making and surgical unmaking of teenaged mothers, and death: Life expectancies are short — the typical man here dies well over a decade earlier than does a man in Fairfax County, Va. — and they are getting shorter, women’s life expectancy having declined by nearly 1.1 percent from 1987 to 2007.
In these kinds of conditions, people do whatever they have to do just to survive. With so much poverty around, serving those on food stamps has become an important part of the local economy. In fact, cases of soda purchased with food stamps have become a form of “alternative currency” in the region. In his article, Williamson described how this works…
It works like this: Once a month, the debit-card accounts of those receiving what we still call food stamps are credited with a few hundred dollars — about $500 for a family of four, on average — which are immediately converted into a unit of exchange, in this case cases of soda. On the day when accounts are credited, local establishments accepting EBT cards — and all across the Big White Ghetto, “We Accept Food Stamps” is the new E pluribus unum – are swamped with locals using their public benefits to buy cases and cases — reports put the number at 30 to 40 cases for some buyers — of soda. Those cases of soda then either go on to another retailer, who buys them at 50 cents on the dollar, in effect laundering those $500 in monthly benefits into $250 in cash — a considerably worse rate than your typical organized-crime money launderer offers — or else they go into the local black-market economy, where they can be used as currency in such ventures as the dealing of unauthorized prescription painkillers — by “pillbillies,” as they are known at the sympathetic establishments in Florida that do so much business with Kentucky and West Virginia that the relevant interstate bus service is nicknamed the “OxyContin Express.” A woman who is intimately familiar with the local drug economy suggests that the exchange rate between sexual favors and cases of pop — some dealers will accept either — is about 1:1, meaning that the value of a woman in the local prescription-drug economy is about $12.99 at Walmart prices.
I would encourage everyone to read the rest of Williamson’s excellent article. You can find the entire article right here.
In Appalachia, the abuse of alcohol, meth and other legal and illegal drugs is significantly higher than in the U.S. population as a whole. In a desperate attempt to deal with the pain of their lives, many people living in the region are looking for anything that will allow them to “escape” for a little while. The following is an excerpt from an excellent article by Chris Hedges which describes what life is like in the little town of Gary, West Virginia at this point…
Joe and I are sitting in the Tug River Health Clinic in Gary with a registered nurse who does not want her name used. The clinic handles federal and state black lung applications. It runs a program for those addicted to prescription pills. It also handles what in the local vernacular is known as “the crazy check” — payments obtained for mental illness from Medicaid or SSI — a vital source of income for those whose five years of welfare payments have run out. Doctors willing to diagnose a patient as mentally ill are important to economic survival.
“They come in and want to be diagnosed as soon as they can for the crazy check,” the nurse says. “They will insist to us they are crazy. They will tell us, ‘I know I’m not right.’ People here are very resigned. They will avoid working by being diagnosed as crazy.”
The reliance on government checks, and a vast array of painkillers and opiates, has turned towns like Gary into modern opium dens. The painkillers OxyContin, fentanyl — 80 times stronger than morphine — Lortab, as well as a wide variety of anti-anxiety medications such as Xanax, are widely abused. Many top off their daily cocktail of painkillers at night with sleeping pills and muscle relaxants. And for fun, addicts, especially the young, hold “pharm parties,” in which they combine their pills in a bowl, scoop out handfuls of medication, swallow them, and wait to feel the result.
Of course this kind of thing is not just happening in the heart of Appalachia. All over the country there are rural communities that are economically depressed. In fact, according to the Wall Street Journal, economic activity in about half of the counties in the entire nation is still below pre-recession levels…
Did you know that the Obama administration is negotiating a super secret “trade agreement” that is so sensitive that he isn’t even allowing members of Congress to see it? The Trans-Pacific Partnership is being called the “NAFTA of the Pacific” and “NAFTA on steroids”, but the truth is that it is so much more than just a trade agreement. This treaty has 29 chapters, but only 5 of them have to do with trade. Most Americans don’t realize this, but this treaty will fundamentally change our laws regarding Internet freedom, health care, the trading of derivatives, copyright issues, food safety, environmental standards, civil liberties and so much more. It will also merge the United States far more deeply into the emerging one world economic system.
Once again, our politicians are betraying the American people and millions of jobs will be lost as a result.
But now the ongoing economic collapse seems to be picking up steam again. For example, the Baltic Dry Index (a very important indicator of global economic activity) is collapsing at a rate not seen since the great financial crash of 2008…
Despite ‘blaming’ the drop in the cost of dry bulk shipping on Colombian coal restrictions, it seems increasingly clear that the 40% collapse in the Baltic Dry Index since the start of the year is more than just that. While this is the worst start to a year in over 30 years, the scale of this meltdown is only matched by the total devastation that occurred in Q3 2008. Of course, the mainstream media will continue to ignore this dour index until it decides to rise once again, but for now, 9 days in a row of plunging prices is yet another canary in the global trade coalmine and suggests what inventory stacking that occurred in Q3/4 2013 is anything but sustained.
Soon economic conditions will get even worse for Appalachia and for the rest of the country. The consequences of decades of very foolish decisions are rapidly catching up with us, and millions upon millions of Americans are going to experience immense economic pain during the years to come.
So what are things like in your area of the country right now? Please feel free to share your thoughts by posting a comment below…
If you are anxiously awaiting the arrival of the “economic collapse”, just open up your eyes and look at what is happening in Europe. The entire continent is a giant economic mess right now. Unemployment and poverty levels are setting record highs, car sales are setting record lows, and there is an ocean of bad loans and red ink everywhere you look. Over the past several years, most of the attention has been on the economic struggles of Greece, Spain and Portugal and without a doubt things continue to get even worse in those nations. But in 2014 and 2015, Italy and France will start to take center stage. France has the 5th largest economy on the planet, and Italy has the 9th largest economy on the planet, and at this point both of those economies are rapidly falling to pieces. Expect both France and Italy to make major headlines throughout the rest of 2014. I have always maintained that the next major wave of the economic collapse would begin in Europe, and that is exactly what is happening. The following are just a few of the statistics that show that an “economic collapse” is happening in Europe right now…
-The unemployment rate in the eurozone as a whole is still sitting at an all-time record high of 12.1 percent.
-It Italy, the unemployment rate has soared to a brand new all-time record high of 12.7 percent.
-The youth unemployment rate in Italy has jumped up to 41.6 percent.
-Many analysts expect major economic trouble in Italy over the next couple of years. The President of Italy is openly warning of “widespread social tension and unrest” in his nation in 2014.
-Citigroup is projecting that Italy’s debt to GDP ratio will surpass 140 percent by the year 2016.
-Citigroup is projecting that Greece’s debt to GDP ratio will surpass 200 percent by the year 2016.
-Citigroup is projecting that the unemployment rate in Greece will reach 32 percent in 2015.
-The unemployment rate in Spain is still sitting at an all-time record high of 26.7 percent.
-The youth unemployment rate in Spain is now up to 57.7 percent – even higher than in Greece.
-The percentage of bad loans in Spain has risen for eight straight months and recently hit a brand new all-time record high of 13 percent.
-The number of mortgage applications in Spain has fallen by 90 percent since the peak of the housing boom.
-The unemployment rate in France has risen for 9 quarters in a row and recently soared to a new 16 year high.
-For 2013, car sales in Europe were on pace to hit the lowest yearly level ever recorded.
-Deutsche Bank, probably the most important bank in Germany, is the most highly leveraged bank in Europe (60 to 1) and it has approximately 70 trillion dollars worth of exposure to derivatives.
Europe truly is experiencing an economic nightmare, and it is only going to get worse.
It would be hard to put into words the extreme desperation that unemployed workers throughout Europe are feeling right now. When you can’t feed your family and you can’t find work no matter how hard you try, it can be absolutely soul crushing.
To get an idea of the level of desperation in Spain, check out the following anecdote from a recent NPR article…
Having trouble wrapping your head around southern Europe’s staggering unemployment problem?
Look no further than a single Ikea furniture store on Spain’s Mediterranean coast.
The plans to open a new megastore next summer near Valencia. On Monday, Ikea’s started taking applications for 400 jobs at the new store.
The company wasn’t prepared for what came next.
Within 48 hours, more than 20,000 people had applied online for those 400 jobs. The volume crashed Ikea’s computer servers in Spain.
Of course that should kind of remind you of what I wrote about yesterday. We are starting to see this kind of intense competition for low paying jobs in the United States as well.
As global economic conditions continue to deteriorate, things are going to get even tougher for those on the low end of the economic food chain. Poverty rates are going to soar, even in areas where you might not expect it to happen. In fact, one new report discovered that poverty has already been rising steadily in Germany, which is supposed to be the strongest economy in the entire eurozone…
A few days before the Christmas holidays, the Joint Welfare Association published a report on the regional development of poverty in Germany in 2013 titled “Between prosperity and poverty—a test to breaking point”. The report refutes the official propaganda that Germany has remained largely unaffected by the crisis and is a haven of prosperity in Europe.
According to the report, poverty in Germany has “reached a sad record high”. Entire cities and regions have been plunged into ever deeper economic and social crisis. “The social and regional centrifugal forces, as measured by the spread of incomes, have increased dramatically in Germany since 2006,” it says. Germany faces “a test to breaking point.”
Of course poverty continues to explode on this side of the Atlantic Ocean as well. In the United States, the poverty rate has been at 15 percent or above for three years in a row. That is the first time that this has happened since the 1960s.
And this is just the beginning. The extreme recklessness of European banks such as Deutsche Bank and U.S. banks such as JPMorgan Chase, Citibank and Goldman Sachs is eventually going to cause a financial catastrophe far worse than what we experienced back in 2008.
When that crisis arrives, the flow of credit is going to freeze up dramatically and economic activity will grind to a standstill. Unemployment, poverty and all of our current economic problems will become much, much worse.
So as bad as things are right now, the truth is that this is nothing compared to what is coming.
I hope that you are getting prepared for the coming storm while you still can.
In America today, there are close to 50 million people living in poverty and there are more than 100 million people that get money from the federal government every month. As the middle class disintegrates, poverty is climbing to unprecedented levels. Even though the stock market has been setting record high after record high, the amount of anger and frustration boiling just under the surface in our nation grows with each passing day. And now extended unemployment benefits have been cut off for 1.3 million unemployed Americans, and it is being projected that a total of 5 million unemployed Americans will lose their benefits by the end of 2014. In addition, as I have written about previously, 47 million Americans recently had their food stamp benefits reduced. The conditions for a “perfect storm” are certainly being created. So how much longer will it be until we see all of this anger and frustration boil over in the streets of our major cities? Is America about to reach a breaking point?
If you think that the title of this article is “alarmist”, you probably have not been paying attention to what has been happening over the past few weeks. For example, a 600 person brawl broke out at at movie theater in Jacksonville, Florida just the other day…
Five teenagers were arrested when a 600-person brawl broke out in a Florida movie theater’s parking lot on Christmas night.
Described by police as a “melee,” the fight occurred around 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday outside the Hollywood River City 14 movie theater in Jacksonville when a group tried to storm the theater’s doors without purchasing tickets, police said. Several had rushed an off-duty police officer working as a security guard.
The officer “administered pepper spray to disperse the group, locked the doors and called for backup, following protocol,” said Lauri-Ellen Smith, a spokeswoman for the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.
Soon after the pepper spray was used, “upward of 600 people moving throughout a parking lot about the size of a football field began fighting, disrupting and jumping on cars,” she said.
And a “flash mob” of “400 crazed teens” was so violent that it forced a mall in Brooklyn to shut down just a few days ago…
A wild flash mob stormed and trashed a Brooklyn mall, causing so much chaos that the shopping center was forced to close during post-Christmas sales, sources said Friday.
More than 400 crazed teens — who mistakenly thought the rapper Fabolous would perform — erupted into brawls all over Kings Plaza Shopping Center in Mill Basin on Thursday at 5 p.m., sources said.
The troublemakers looted and ransacked several stores as panicked shoppers ran for the exits and clerks scrambled to pull down metal gates.
In addition, the release of new Air Jordan sneakers caused mini-riots and brawls to break out all over the country just before Christmas.
So why is all of this happening?
Of course people will come up with all sorts of theories to explain these outbreaks of violence, but what pretty much everyone should be able to agree on is that we are seeing levels of anger and frustration rise to very dangerous levels in this country.
Right now, there are approximately 6 million Americans in the 16 to 24-year-old age group that are not in school and that are not working either. What that means is that we have an alarmingly high number of very frustrated young people that do not have anything better to do than to cause trouble.
In some of our largest cities this has become a massive problem. In fact, quite a few major U.S. cities actually have more than 100,000 “idle youth” living in them…
Just look at some of the nation’s largest cities. Chicago, Houston, Dallas, Miami, Philadelphia, New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Riverside, Calif., all have more than 100,000 idle youth, the Opportunity Nation report found.
But the Obama administration says that this should not be a problem. In fact, the Obama administration tells us that the unemployment rate has been steadily “declining” and that there are plenty of opportunities for everyone.
Of course that is a giant lie. Just before the last recession, about 63 percent of all working age Americans had a job. During the recession that number fell below 59 percent and it has stayed there ever since…
So the notion that we are experiencing an “employment recovery” is absolutely laughable.
But most of our politicians appear to believe this lie, and it is being used as justification to cut off extended unemployment benefits.
And the funny thing is that by cutting off these benefits, it is going to make it appear as though unemployment has gone down even more. Millions of unemployed workers that are being forced into the streets will now be counted as having “left the labor force”, and it is being projected that the unemployment rate could decline by as much as half a percentage point as a result.
“Not all of us have savings and a lot of us have to take care of family because of what happened in the economy,” said Walker, of Santa Clarita, who said she has applied for at least three jobs a week and shares an apartment with her unemployed son, his wife and two children. “It’s going to put my family and me out on the streets.”
So what is she going to do?
Well, at this point she appears to be down to just one option…
“I just don’t know what to do, except pray.”
And of course the unemployed are not the only ones that have had their benefits cut. As I mentioned above, all 47 million Americans that are currently on food stamps recently had their benefits reduced. The following is an excerpt from a recent article by Mac Slavo…
Earlier this year government benefits for nutritional assistance were reduced after the expiration of emergency legislation that was enacted following the 2008 financial collapse. Nearly all of the 48 million people receiving food stamp distributions were affected. The move led to warnings from food pantries and recipients around the country who said that the $40 billion in cuts would leave many American families without the ability to put food on dinner tables across America. According to Feed America, the roughly $29 per family that would no longer appear on their EBT cards will amount to about 1.5 billion meals in 2014.
The fact that government dependence has soared to all-time highs even in the midst of this so-called “economic recovery” is just another sign that the middle class is dying. For years, middle class families have tried strategy after strategy in an attempt to survive, but now it has become apparent that the middle class is rapidly approaching a breaking point…
Rising income inequality is starting to hit home for many American households as they run short of places to reach for a few extra bucks.
As the gap between the rich and poor widened over the last three decades, families at the bottom found ways to deal with the squeeze on earnings. Housewives joined the workforce. Husbands took second jobs and labored longer hours. Homeowners tapped into the rising value of their properties to borrow money to spend.
Those strategies finally may have run their course as women’s participation in the labor force has peaked and the bursting of the house-price bubble has left many Americans underwater on their mortgages.
And even though the Obama administration and the mainstream media have tried to convince us over and over that the economy is “getting better”, most Americans are not buying it. In fact, according to a new CNN poll, 70 percent of all Americans believe that “the economy is generally in poor shape”.
As the economy continues to decline, not all Americans will respond to their desperate situations by getting violent. Many suffer quietly, hoping that things will eventually turn around for them. Unfortunately, the ranks of the suffering grow with each passing year. For example, a recent CNN article discussed the continued growth of “tent cities” all over America…
The total number of homeless people residing in tents and makeshift homes is unknown. Many of these communities are small and hidden from public view, while others claim hundreds of residents and are sprinkled through major urban areas.
Some, like those tucked under roadways, are temporary and relocate frequently. Their conditions are vile, unsanitary and fail to provide refuge from storms and winds. Then there are communities, such as Dignity Village in Portland, Oregon, that have a more sustained presence. The 13-year-old “ecovillage” set up by homeless people is hygienic and self-sufficient.
Preliminary findings by The National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty show that tent cities have been documented in almost every state, and they’re growing.
So how do we solve these problems?
Are there any solutions that could get us out of this mess?
Of course there are. But don’t hold your breath waiting for any of them to be adopted. In fact, the American people continue to express great support for the very people that got us into this mess in the first place. For example, according to a Gallup survey that was just released, Barack Obama is the most admired man in America by a very wide margin and Hillary Clinton is the most admired woman in America by a very wide margin.
And the mainstream media will continue to tell all of us that “leaders” like Obama, Clinton, Reid, Boehner, McConnell and Pelosi can be trusted to get us out of this mess.
If you believe that, there is a bridge that I would like to sell you.
The American people need to stop having blind faith in the relentless propaganda that is being spewed at them through their televisions screens. The pretty faces that you see “reporting the news” do not care about you and they are not watching out for your best interests. The corporate-controlled news is highly scripted and it is pretty much the same whatever channel you turn to. If you have any doubt that “the news” is scripted, just check out this video…
During 2013, America continued to steadily march down a self-destructive path toward oblivion. As a society, our debt levels are completely and totally out of control. Our financial system has been transformed into the largest casino on the entire planet and our big banks are behaving even more recklessly than they did just before the last financial crisis. We continue to see thousands of businesses and millions of jobs get shipped out of the United States, and the middle class is being absolutely eviscerated. Due to the lack of decent jobs, poverty is absolutely exploding. Government dependence is at an all-time high and crime is rising. Evidence of social and moral decay is seemingly everywhere, and our government appears to be going insane. If we are going to have any hope of solving these problems, the American people need to take a long, hard look in the mirror and finally admit how bad things have actually become. If we all just blindly have faith that “everything is going to be okay”, the consequences of decades of incredibly foolish decisions are going to absolutely blindside us and we will be absolutely devastated by the great crisis that is rapidly approaching. The United States is in a massive amount of trouble, and it is time that we all started facing the truth. The following are 83 numbers from 2013 that are almost too crazy to believe…
#1 Most people that hear this statistic do not believe that it is actually true, but right now an all-time record 102 million working age Americans do not have a job. That number has risen by about 27 million since the year 2000.
#2 Because of the lack of jobs, poverty is spreading like wildfire in the United States. According to the most recent numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau, an all-time record 49.2 percent of all Americans are receiving benefits from at least one government program each month.
#3 As society breaks down, the government feels a greater need than ever before to watch, monitor and track the population. For example, every single day the NSA intercepts and permanently stores close to 2 billion emails and phone calls in addition to a whole host of other data.
#4 The Bank for International Settlements says that total public and private debt levels around the globe are now 30 percent higher than they were back during the financial crisis of 2008.
#5 According to a recent World Bank report, private domestic debt in China has grown from 9 trillion dollars in 2008 to 23 trillion dollars today.
#7 The six largest banks in the United States (JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley) have collectively gotten 37 percent larger over the past five years.
#8 The U.S. banking system has 14.4 trillion dollars in total assets. The six largest banks now account for 67 percent of those assets and all of the other banks account for only 33 percent of those assets.
#13 According to the Bank for International Settlements, the global financial system has a total of 441 trillion dollars worth of exposure to interest rate derivatives.
#14 Through the end of November, approximately 365,000 Americans had signed up for Obamacare but approximately 4 million Americans had already lost their current health insurance policies because of Obamacare.
#31 If you assume that the labor force participation rate in the U.S. is at the long-term average, the unemployment rate in the United States would actually be 11.5 percent instead of 7 percent.
#32 In November 2000, 64.3 percent of all working age Americans had a job. When Barack Obama first entered the White House, 60.6 percent of all working age Americans had a job. Today, only 58.6 percent of all working age Americans have a job.
#33 There are 1,148,000 fewer Americans working today than there was in November 2006. Meanwhile, our population has grown by more than 16 million people during that time frame.
#34 Only 19 percent of all Americans believe that the job market is better than it was a year ago.
#35 Just 14 percent of all Americans believe that the stock market will rise next year.
#37 Twitter is a seven-year-old company that has never made a profit. It actually lost 64.6 million dollars last quarter. But according to the financial markets it is currently worth about 22 billion dollars.
#48 When Barack Obama took office, the average duration of unemployment in this country was 19.8 weeks. Today, it is 37.2 weeks.
#49 Investors pulled an astounding 72 billion dollars out of bond mutual funds in 2013. It was the worst year for bond funds ever.
#50 Small business is rapidly dying in America. At this point, only about 7 percent of all non-farm workers in the United States are self-employed. That is an all-time record low.
#51 The six heirs of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton have as much wealth as the bottom one-third of all Americans combined.
#52 Once January 1st hits, it will officially be illegal to manufacture or import traditional incandescent light bulbs in the United States. It is being projected that millions of Americans will attempt to stock up on the old light bulbs before they are totally gone from store shelves.
#53 The Japanese government has estimated that approximately 300 tons of highly radioactive water is being released into the Pacific Ocean from the destroyed Fukushima nuclear facility every single day.
#54 Back in 1967, the U.S. military had more than 31,000 strategic nuclear warheads. That number is already being cut down to 1,550, and now Barack Obama wants to reduce it to only about 1,000.
#56 Wal-Mart recently opened up two new stores in Washington D.C., and more than 23,000 people applied for just 600 positions. That means that only about 2.6 percent of the applicants were ultimately hired. In comparison, Harvard offers admission to 6.1 percent of their applicants.
#57 At this point, almost half of all public school students in America come from low income homes.
#58 Tragically, there are 1.2 million students that attend public schools in the United States that are homeless. That number has risen by 72 percent since the start of the last recession.
#59 According to a Gallup poll that was recently released, 20.0 percent of all Americans did not have enough money to buy food that they or their families needed at some point over the past year. That is just under the all-time record of 20.4 percent that was set back in November 2008.
#60 The number of Americans on food stamps has grown from 17 million in the year 2000 to more than 47 million today.
#74 The U.S. national debt is on pace to more than double during the eight years of the Obama administration. In other words, under Barack Obama the U.S. government will accumulate more debt than it did under all of the other presidents in U.S. history combined.
#75 The federal government is borrowing (stealing) roughly 100 million dollars from our children and our grandchildren every single hour of every single day.
#76 At this point, the U.S. already has more government debt per capita than Greece, Portugal, Italy, Ireland or Spain.