25 Bitter And Painful Facts About The Coming Baby Boomer Retirement Crisis That Will Blow Your Mind

For decades we were warned that when the Baby Boomers started to retire that this country would be facing a retirement crisis of unprecedented magnitude.  Well, that day has arrived ladies and gentlemen.  Back on January 1st, the Baby Boomers began to retire and more than 10,000 of them will be retiring every single day for years to come.  Most of them have not saved up nearly enough money for retirement.  At the same time, private sector pension plans are failing all over the place, hundreds of state and local government pension plans from coast to coast are woefully underfunded, and the Social Security system is on the road to complete and total disaster.  A massive wave of humanity is hitting retirement age at a moment in history when the U.S. economy is coming apart at the seams.  We do not have the resources to keep the promises that we made to the Baby Boomers, and most of them have not made adequate preparations for retirement.  What we have is a gigantic mess on our hands, and millions of Baby Boomers are going to find retirement to be very bitter and very painful.

A lot of younger Americans just assume that Social Security is enough to take care of the needs of elderly Americans.  But that is just not the case.

Have you ever tried to live solely on a Social Security check?

It is not easy.  The truth is that those checks are just not that large.

The following comes directly from the Social Security Administration….

The average monthly Social Security benefit for a retired worker was about $1,177 at the beginning of 2011.

Could you live on less than 300 dollars a week?

And keep in mind that the $1,177 monthly figure is just an average.  Many receive a lot less than that.

In addition, Social Security benefits have been seriously squeezed by inflation in recent years.  The cost of food and other basics has risen briskly and Social Security benefits have not.

Today, many elderly Americans have to make a choice between buying food, heating their homes or buying medicine that they need.  They simply do not have enough money to do all of them.

It would have been nice if all of the Baby Boomers had been busy saving money for retirement all these years, but that just did not happen.  In fact, the Baby Boomers as a group are trillions of dollars short of what they need for retirement.

So why doesn’t the U.S. government step in to help them out?

Well, the reality of the situation is that the U.S. government is flat broke.  The federal government is now over 15 trillion dollars in debt.  During the Obama administration so far, the U.S. government has accumulated more new debt than it did from the time that George Washington took office to the time that Bill Clinton took office.

Lawmakers are already looking at ways to make the Social Security program less costly.  No, the federal government is not going to be riding to the rescue.

In fact, it will be a minor miracle if the Social Security program is able to survive until the end of this decade, and it will be a major miracle if the Social Security program is able to survive until 2030.

As for myself, I do not believe that I will ever see a single penny from Social Security, and many other working age Americans feel the same way.

Retirement is supposed to be a fun time, but sadly most Americans that are approaching retirement age are not going to have any “golden years” to look forward to.

Rather, millions of elderly Americans are going to find the years ahead absolutely agonizing as they struggle just to survive.

The following are 25 bitter and painful facts about the coming Baby Boomer retirement crisis that will blow your mind….

#1 According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute, 46 percent of all American workers have less than $10,000 saved for retirement, and 29 percent of all American workers have less than $1,000 saved for retirement.

#2 According to a recent poll conducted by Americans for Secure Retirement, 88 percent of all Americans are worried about “maintaining a comfortable standard of living in retirement”.  Last year, that figure was at 73 percent.

#3 A study conducted by Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research has found that American workers are $6.6 trillion short of what they need to retire comfortably.

#4 Today, one out of every six elderly Americans lives below the federal poverty line.

#5 On January 1st, 2011 the very first Baby Boomers started to retire.  For almost the next 20 years, more than 10,000 Baby Boomers will be retiring every single day.

#6 At the moment, only about 13 percent of all Americans are 65 years of age or older.  By 2030, that number will soar to 18 percent.

#7 Right now, there are somewhere around 40 million senior citizens.  By 2050 that number is projected to increase to 89 million.

#8 Back in 1991, half of all American workers planned to retire before they reached the age of 65.  Today, that number has declined to 23 percent.

#9 According to one recent survey, 74 percent of American workers expect to continue working once they are “retired”.

#10 According to a recent AARP survey of Baby Boomers, 40 percent of them plan to work “until they drop”.

#11 A poll conducted by CESI Debt Solutions found that 56 percent of American retirees still had outstanding debts when they retired.

#12 A study by a law professor at the University of Michigan found that Americans that are 55 years of age or older now account for 20 percent of all bankruptcies in the United States.  Back in 2001, they only accounted for 12 percent of all bankruptcies.

#13 Between 1991 and 2007 the number of Americans between the ages of 65 and 74 that filed for bankruptcy rose by a staggering 178 percent.

#14 What is causing most of these bankruptcies among the elderly?  The number one cause is medical bills.  According to a report published in The American Journal of Medicine, medical bills are a major factor in more than 60 percent of the personal bankruptcies in the United States.  Of those bankruptcies that were caused by medical bills, approximately 75 percent of them involved individuals that actually did have health insurance.

#15 Public retirement funds all over the United States are woefully underfunded.  For example, it has been reported that the $33.7 billion Illinois Teachers Retirement System is 61% underfunded and is on the verge of complete collapse.

#16 Most U.S. states have huge pension obligations which threaten to bankrupt them.  For example, pension consultant Girard Miller told California’s Little Hoover Commission that state and local government bodies in the state of California have $325 billion in combined unfunded pension liabilities.  When you break that down, it comes to $22,000 for every single working adult in the state of California.

#17 Robert Novy-Marx of the University of Chicago and Joshua D. Rauh of Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management have calculated the combined pension liability for all 50 U.S. states.  What they found was that the 50 states are collectively facing $5.17 trillion in pension obligations, but they only have $1.94 trillion set aside in state pension funds.  That is a difference of 3.2 trillion dollars.  So where in the world is all of that extra money going to come from?

#18 According to the Congressional Budget Office, the Social Security system paid out more in benefits than it received in payroll taxes in 2010.  That was not supposed to happen until at least 2016.  Sadly, in the years ahead these “Social Security deficits” are scheduled to become absolutely nightmarish as hordes of Baby Boomers retire.

#19 In 1950, each retiree’s Social Security benefit was paid for by 16 U.S. workers.  According to new data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are now only 1.75 full-time private sector workers for each person that is receiving Social Security benefits in the United States.

#20 The U.S. government now says that the Medicare trust fund will run out five years faster than they were projecting just last year.

#21 The total cost of just three federal government programs – the Department of Defense, Social Security and Medicare – exceeded the total amount of taxes brought in during fiscal 2010 by 10 billion dollars.  In the years ahead expenses related to Social Security and Medicare are projected to skyrocket dramatically.

#22 The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation is the agency of the federal government that pays monthly retirement benefits to hundreds of thousands of retirees that were covered under defined benefit pension plans that failed.  The retirement crisis has barely even begun and the PBGC is already dead broke.  The PBGC says that it ran a deficit of $26 billion during the fiscal year that just ended and that it will probably need a huge bailout from the federal government.

#23 According to a survey by careerbuilder.com, 36 percent of all Americans say that they don’t contribute anything at all to retirement savings.

#24 More than 30 percent of all investors in the United States that are currently in their sixties have more than 80 percent of their 401k plans invested in equities.  So what is going to happen to them if the stock market crashes?

#25 A survey taken earlier this year found that 20 percent of all U.S. workers admitted that they had postponed their planned retirement age at least once during the last 12 months.  Back in 2008, that number was only at 14 percent.

Our politicians should have addressed the retirement crisis decades ago before we got to the point of being in debt up to our eyeballs.

It is being projected that the U.S. national debt will hit 344% of GDP by the year 2050, and the Congressional Budget Office says that U.S. government debt held by the public will reach a staggering 716% of GDP by the year 2080.

Obviously those figures will never be reached because our financial system would totally collapse long before then.

So what do we do?

We have tens of millions of elderly Americans that are completely and totally dependent on Social Security and Medicare, but those programs also threaten to bankrupt us as a nation.

Anyone that believes that there is a “quick fix” to these issues is being naive.

The “supercommittee” was supposed to address this problem, but they failed so spectacularly that they have become a national joke.

Sadly, most of our politicians just keep kicking the can down the road.  They hope that somehow things will just magically “work out”.

Well, the truth is that things are not going to “work out”.  The poverty level among the elderly is going to continue to increase.  Pension plans all over this nation are going to continue to fail in staggering numbers.  Social Security and Medicare are going to bleed more red ink with each passing year.

Something should have been done about this problem a long, long time ago.

But it wasn’t.

This crisis was ignored, dealing with it was put off time after time and all the doomsayers were laughed at.

Now the crisis is here, and we are all going to pay the price.

21 Signs That The New Reality For Many Baby Boomers Will Be To Work As Wage Slaves Until They Drop Dead

All over America tonight, millions of elderly Americans are wondering if their money is going to run out before it is time for them to die.  Those that are now past retirement age are not going to be rioting in the streets, but that doesn’t mean that large numbers of them are not deeply suffering.  There are millions of elderly Americans that are leading lives of “quiet desperation” as they try to get by on meager fixed incomes.  Many are surviving on Ramen noodles, oatmeal, peanut butter or whatever other cheap food they can find in the stores.  There are some that are so short on cash that they will not turn on the heat in their homes until things get really desperate.  As health care costs soar, millions of elderly Americans find themselves deep in debt and facing huge medical bills that they cannot possibly pay.  A lot of older Americans would go back to work if they could, but jobs are scarce and very few companies seem to even want to consider hiring them.  Right now caring for all of the Americans that have already retired is turning out to be an overwhelming challenge, and things are about to get a whole lot worse.  On January 1st, 2011 the very first Baby Boomers turned 65.  A massive tsunami of retirees is coming, and America is not ready for it.

Sadly, most retirees have not adequately prepared for retirement.  For many, the recent economic downturn absolutely devastated their retirement plans.  Many were counting on the equity in their homes, but the recent housing crash crushed those dreams.  Others had their 401ks shredded by the stock market.

Meanwhile, corporate pension plans all across America are vastly underfunded.  Many state and local government pension programs are absolute disasters.  The federal government has already begun to pay out significantly more in Social Security benefits than they are taking in, and the years ahead are projected to be downright apocalyptic for the Social Security program.

So needless to say, things do not look good for the Baby Boomers that are now approaching retirement age.

The following are 21 signs that the new reality for many Baby Boomers will be to work as wage slaves until they drop dead….

#1 According to a shocking AARP survey of Baby Boomers that are still in the workforce, 40 percent of them plan to work “until they drop”.

#2 A recent survey of American workers that included all age groups found that 54 percent of them planned to keep working when they retire and 39 percent of them plan to either work past age 70 or never retire at all.

#3 A poll conducted by CESI Debt Solutions found that 56 percent of American retirees still had outstanding debts when they retired.

#4 A recent study by a law professor from the University of Michigan found that Americans that are 55 years of age or older now account for 20 percent of all bankruptcies in the United States.  Back in 2001, they only accounted for 12 percent of all bankruptcies.

#5 Between 1991 and 2007 the number of Americans between the ages of 65 and 74 that filed for bankruptcy rose by a staggering 178 percent.

#6 Most of the bankruptcies among the elderly are caused by our deeply corrupt health care system.  According to a report published in The American Journal of Medicine, medical bills are a major factor in more than 60 percent of the personal bankruptcies in the United States.  Of those bankruptcies that were caused by medical bills, approximately 75 percent of them involved individuals that actually did have health insurance.

#7 The U.S. government now says that the Medicare trust fund will run dry five years faster than they were projecting just last year.

#8 Starting on January 1st, 2011 the Baby Boomers began to hit retirement age.  From now on, every single day more than 10,000 Baby Boomers will reach the age of 65.  That is going to keep happening every single day for the next 19 years.

#9 Over 30 percent of all U.S. investors currently in their sixties have more than 80 percent of their 401k retirement plans invested in equities.  So what happens if the stock market crashes again?

#10 All over the United States predatory lenders are coldly and cruelly foreclosing on elderly homeowners.  You can read what one lender is doing to a 70-year-old woman and her terminally ill husband right here.

#11 Medical bills are absolutely devastating large number of elderly Americans right now.  Many are going to great lengths to try to pay their bills.  An elderly woman that lives in the Salem, Oregon area that is fighting terminal bone cancer tried to raise some money for her medical bills by holding a few garage sales on the weekends.  However, a neighbor ratted her out, and so now the police are shutting her garage sales down.

#12 Social Security’s disability program has already been pushed to the brink of insolvency and wave after wave of new applications continue to pour in.

#13 Approximately 3 out of every 4 Americans start claiming Social Security benefits the moment they are eligible at age 62.  Most are doing this out of necessity.  However, by claiming Social Security early they get locked in at a much lower amount than if they would have waited.

#14 According to the Congressional Budget Office, the Social Security system paid out more in benefits than it received in payroll taxes in 2010.  That was not supposed to happen until at least 2016.  Sadly, in the years ahead these “Social Security deficits” are scheduled to become absolutely nightmarish as hordes of Baby Boomers retire.

#15 In 1950, each retiree’s Social Security benefit was paid for by 16 U.S. workers.  In 2010, each retiree’s Social Security benefit was paid for by approximately 3.3 U.S. workers.  By 2025, it is projected that there will be approximately two U.S. workers for each retiree.  How in the world can the system possibly continue to function properly with numbers like that?

#16 According to a shocking U.S. government report, soaring interest costs on the U.S. national debt plus rapidly escalating spending on entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare will absorb approximately 92 cents of every single dollar of federal revenue by the year 2019.  That is before a single dollar is spent on anything else.

#17 Most states have huge pension liabilities that are woefully underfunded.  For example, pension consultant Girard Miller recently told California’s Little Hoover Commission that state and local government bodies in the state of California have $325 billion in combined unfunded pension liabilities.  When you break that down, it comes to $22,000 for every single working adult in the state of California.

#18 Robert Novy-Marx of the University of Chicago and Joshua D. Rauh of Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management recently calculated the combined pension liability for all 50 U.S. states.  What they found was that the 50 states are collectively facing $5.17 trillion in pension obligations, but they only have $1.94 trillion set aside in state pension funds.  That is a difference of 3.2 trillion dollars.  So where in the world is all of that extra money going to come from?  Most of the states are already completely broke and on the verge of bankruptcy.

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

#20 According to another recent survey, 24 percent of all U.S. workers say that they have postponed their planned retirement age at least once during the past year.

#21 Even though prices for necessities such as food and gas have been exploding, those receiving Social Security benefits have not received a cost of living increase for two years in a row.  Many elderly Americans that are living on fixed incomes are being squeezed like they have never been squeezed before.

There are millions of Americans out there that have done everything “right” all of their lives, but that now find the system letting them down in their golden years.

So how badly are some people hurting?  Well, a reader identified as “Anna44” recently shared with us what some of her family members have been going through in this economy….

My B-I-L was a dealership owner/manager who worked long hours over 38 years and had to close his doors when Saturn was dissolved. When his dealership went under, 72 others lost their job. That’s 72 families who took a hit. He lost his home, everything. A few of his former employees lost their homes as well eventually. They were not lazy or WORTHLESS. It took him a year and a half to finally find something, but now he lives in a hotel unable to qualify for a house or apartment. This is an educated man who competed nationwide for top dog and got it more then once. His biggest fault? He’s almost 60, young enough to need the work, but too old to be hired.

As for my husband- 26 years AF officer, handling millions & billions on International & National levels has just entered his 7th month of unemployment. Two tours abroad- lazy he is NOT. He doesn’t qualify for unemployment, nor is he counted because he gets a retirement check. He wants and needs to work- yet there is little out there. If he doesn’t find something soon, we too will lose the home we sunk every cent into after 20 years of saving for it!

These are Americans that should be getting ready to enjoy their golden years, but that are now fighting just to survive.

Today you will find a disturbingly large number of elderly Americans flipping burgers or welcoming people to Wal-Mart.  But most of them are not doing it because they are bored with retirement.  Rather, most of them are working as wage slaves because that is what they have to do in order to survive.

Sadly, there are a whole lot of companies out there that do not want to hire people that are past a certain age.  If you are older than 50, there are a lot of jobs that you should just basically forget about applying for.

Instead of valuing the experience and wisdom of our elders, our society openly makes fun of them and treats them as undesirables.

If you are afraid of getting old, you are not being irrational.  Getting old is indeed something to fear in this society.  We tend to treat elderly Americans like garbage.

Abuse of the elderly is rampant.  For example, a report from a couple of years ago found that 94 percent of all nursing homes in the United States had committed violations of federal health and safety standards.

As the U.S. economy continues to crumble, the way we treat the elderly is probably going to get even worse.

Right now there is tons of bad news about the economy, and another major economic downturn would put even more pressure on federal, state and local government budgets.

The truth is that there is simply no way that we can keep all of the financial promises that we have made to elderly Americans even if the most optimistic projections for our economy play out.

If the worst happens, we are going to see a lot more elderly Americans eating out of trash cans and freezing to death in their own homes.

The United States is facing a retirement crisis of unprecedented magnitude.  A comfortable, happy retirement is rapidly going to become a luxury that only the wealthy will enjoy.

For most of the rest of us, our golden years are going to mean a whole lot of pain and suffering.

That may not be pleasant to hear, but that is the truth.

17 National Debt Statistics Which Prove That We Have Sold Our Children And Grandchildren Into Perpetual Debt Slavery

What we have done to future generations over the past 30 years is absolutely criminal.  30 years ago the U.S. national debt was a bit under one trillion dollars, and at that time it was considered a huge national crisis.  Today, the national debt is 14 times larger and the years ahead look absolutely apocalyptic at this point.  We have literally sold our children and our grandchildren into perpetual debt slavery.  We have accumulated the biggest mountain of debt in the history of the world, and our children and our grandchildren will be burdened with it for the rest of their lives.  All of our politicians keep talking about how it is vitally important that we do something about all of this debt “soon”, but they just can’t seem to stop wildly spending our money.  They keep telling us that now is not the time for deficit reduction because it would harm “the economic recovery”, but the “right time” for deficit reduction never seems to come along.  The national debt statistics in this article are meant to shock you.  Hopefully they will shock you enough to actually take action.  Up to this point, the vast majority of Americans have been extremely apathetic about the horrific crime that we are committing against future generations.

How would you feel if you found out one day that your parents had run up a million dollars in debt that now you were obligated to pay off?

Would you be absolutely furious?

Of course you would be, and rightly so.

So how do you think future generations will feel about us?

We were once the wealthiest nation on the planet, but we have taken that great inheritance and we have squandered it.

Now we are handing our children and our grandchildren the largest debt the world has ever seen.

How in the world can we do that?

How can we consign our descendants to perpetual debt slavery and still feel good about ourselves?

The America that we have all been enjoying so much today is going to be wiped out by all of this debt.

We have literally stolen the future.

We just had to keep spending more and more and more and more.

The greed of this generation will be remembered for a very, very long time.

The truth is that both political parties are responsible.  Both of them have voted over and over and over to keep running up these huge budget deficits.

If you have voted for big spending Democrats at any point over the past 30 years then you have contributed to the problem.  If you have voted for big spending Republicans at any point over the past 30 years then you have contributed to the problem.

Now we have reached a point where a horrific financial meltdown is basically inevitable.  We are living in the greatest debt bubble in the history of the world, and it is only a matter of time until it bursts.

The following are 17 national debt statistics which prove that we have sold our children and our grandchildren into perpetual debt slavery….

#1 As of December 28th, the U.S. national debt was $13,877,230,355,933.00.

#2 If the federal government began right at this moment to repay the U.S. national debt at a rate of one dollar per second, it would take over 440,000 years to pay off the national debt.

#3 If the federal government began repaying the national debt at a rate of $10 million dollars a day it would take approximately 3,800 years to pay off the national debt.

#4 Today, the U.S. national debt is increasing by roughly 4 billion dollars every single day.

#5 The U.S. government is borrowing approximately 2.63 million more dollars every single minute.

#6 On September 30th, 1980 the U.S. national debt was 907 billion dollars.  Just thirty years later, the U.S. national debt is over 14 times larger.

#7 According to a recent U.S. Treasury report to Congress, the U.S. national debt will reach 19.6 trillion dollars in 2015.

#8 It is being projected that the U.S. government will be paying 900 billion dollars just in interest on the national debt by the year 2019.

#9 A trillion $10 bills, if they were taped end to end, would wrap around the globe more than 380 times.  That amount of money would still not be enough to pay off the U.S. national debt.

#10 The U.S. Congress has raised the federal debt ceiling six times in just the past three years.

#11 The 111th Congress added more to the U.S. national debt than the first 100 U.S. Congresses combined.

#12 The 111th Congress got us into so much new debt that it breaks down to $10,429.64 for each of the 308,745,538 people counted by the 2010 U.S. census.

#13 The U.S. government currently has to borrow approximately 41 cents of every single dollar that it spends.

#14 When you break down the debt that the U.S. government owes to China alone it comes to over $10,000 for every single American family.

#15 If you were alive when 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.  Almost unbelievably, the U.S. government will accumulate well over a trillion dollars more debt in 2011.

#16 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.

#17 The Congressional Budget Office is projecting that U.S. government debt held by the public will reach a staggering 716 percent of GDP by the year 2080.

But the American people don’t want to hear that we have spent decades creating a horrific debt crisis that is not going to be easy to fix.  They just want someone to “tweak” a few things and get us back to being the greatest economy on earth.  Unfortunately, it is simply not that easy.

Just check out the chart posted below.  Our debt is exploding at an almost exponential rate….

But what do you tell a nation that is completely addicted to debt?

On an individual level, it can be a lot of fun to wildly run up credit card debt, but at some point you have to stop and start paying down that debt.

Unfortunately, on a national level we can’t even get our politicians to slow down the rate at which our debt is increasing.

Sadly, the chart above does not tell the real story.  It is based on fraudulent government accounting.  If the government used GAAP accounting (like all public companies on Wall Street must), the numbers would look much worse.

John Williams of Shadow Government Statistics says that if the federal government would have used GAAP accounting standards to calculate the federal budget deficit for 2009, it would have been approximately 8.8 trillion dollars and that there is simply no way out of all this debt….

The government’s finances not only are out of control, but the actual deficit is not containable.  Put into perspective, if the government were to raise taxes so as to seize 100% of all wages, salaries and corporate profits, it still would be showing an annual deficit using GAAP accounting on a consistent basis. In like manner, given current revenues, if it stopped spending every penny (including defense and homeland security) other than for Social Security and Medicare obligations, the government still would be showing an annual deficit. Further, the U.S. has no potential way to grow out of this shortfall.

The U.S. government is essentially bankrupt at this point.  It is just a matter of playing out the hand.

The rest of the world is starting to realize this, and confidence in the U.S. dollar is beginning to significantly decline.

Things did not have to turn out this way, but Americans did not listen to the warnings and so now this is where we are at as a nation.

The next time you see a small child, look into the hopeful eyes of that child and just think about what we have done to the future of all of our children.

We have obliterated the financial future of this nation.  Someone should be put into prison for all this.  But instead the mainstream media treats prominent politicians from both political parties like rock stars.

The mainstream media continues to perpetuate the myth that the U.S. economy is on the road to a grand recovery and that eventually we can get a handle on all this debt and that somehow everything is going to be okay.

Well, everything is not going to be okay.

All that is on the horizon is great financial pain, and the sad thing is that it could have all been avoided.

But now the game is over and the day of reckoning is coming soon.

We are going to reap what we have sown.

11 Long-Term Trends That Are Absolutely Destroying The U.S. Economy

The U.S. economy is being slowly but surely destroyed and many Americans have no idea that it is happening.  That is at least partially due to the fact that most financial news is entirely focused on the short-term.  Whenever a key economic statistic goes up the financial markets surge and analysts rejoice.  Whenever a key economic statistic goes down the financial markets decline and analysts speak of the potential for a “double-dip” recession.  You could literally get whiplash as you watch the financial ping pong ball bounce back and forth between good news and bad news.  But focusing on short-term statistics is not the correct way to analyze the U.S. economy.  It is the long-term trends that reveal the truth.  The reality is that there are certain underlying foundational problems that are destroying the U.S. economy a little bit more every single day.

11 of those foundational problems are discussed below.  They are undeniable and they are constantly getting worse.  If they are not corrected (and there is no indication that they will be) they will destroy not only our economy but also our entire way of life.  The sad truth is that it would be hard to understate just how desperate the situation is for the U.S. economy. 

Long-Term Trend #1: The Deindustrialization Of America

The United States is being deindustrialized at a pace that is almost impossible to believe.  But now that millions upon millions of people have lost their jobs, more Americans than ever are starting to wake up and believe it.

A recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found that 69 percent of Americans now believe that free trade agreements have cost America jobs.  Ten years ago the majority of Americans had great faith in the new “global economy” that we were all being merged into, but now the tide has turned.

So why have Americans lost faith in “free trade”?

Well, it turns out that the current system is neither “free trade” nor “fair trade”.  Many other nations impose extremely high tariffs on U.S. goods and put up ridiculous barriers to American products and yet the United States has generally let everyone else openly manipulate currency rates and flood our shores with whatever cheap products they want.

The results have been disastrous.  Jobs and factories have been leaving the United States at a blinding pace.

The United States has lost approximately 42,400 factories since 2001.  An economy without a manufacturing base does not have a bright long-term future.  Yet our politicians have allowed our manufacturing base to be systematically dismantled.

As of the end of 2009, less than 12 million Americans worked in manufacturing.  The last time that less than 12 million Americans were employed in manufacturing was in 1941.

How is the United States supposed to have a bright economic future if it consumes everything in sight and yet makes very little?

Something needs to be done.

In 1959, manufacturing represented 28 percent of all U.S. economic output.  In 2008, it represented only 11.5 percent and it continues to fall.

Needless to say, millions of blue collar workers now find themselves unable to find jobs.  Today, 28% of all U.S. households have at least one person that is looking for a full-time job and there is no sign that things are going to improve much any time soon.

Long-Term Trend #2: The Exploding U.S. Trade Deficit

Each month, tens of billions more dollars go out of the United States than come into it.  In other words, every single month the United States gets poorer.

Recently, the U.S. trade deficit has been coming in at around 40 to 50 billion dollars a month.  About half of that is with communist China.

Between 2000 and 2009, America’s trade deficit with China increased nearly 300 percent.

Sadly, things are getting even worse.

As of the end of July, the U.S. trade deficit with China had risen 18 percent compared to the same time period a year ago.

There is a reason why China has been able to loan the U.S. government nearly a trillion dollars.  They have literally been bleeding us dry.

The United States spends approximately $3.90 on Chinese goods for every $1 that the Chinese spend on goods from the United States.

Does that sound like “fair trade” to you?

According to a new study conducted by the Economic Policy Institute, if the U.S. trade deficit with China continues to increase at its current rate, the U.S. economy will lose over half a million jobs this year alone.

Half a million jobs in just one year?

And that doesn’t even take into account the trade deficit that we have with all the other nations around the world.

We have literally built China into a superpower.

One prominent economist is now projecting that the Chinese economy will be three times larger than the U.S. economy by the year 2040.

But it isn’t just China that is a problem.

Since the implementation of NAFTA in 1994, 300,000 U.S. farms have gone out of business.

Globalism has forced U.S. workers to directly compete with the cheapest labor in the world for jobs.  That is not good for American workers and it is not good for America.

Long-Term Trend #3: The Shrinking Middle Class

As jobs continue to flee the United States and as wages continue to be depressed, America’s middle class is shrinking at an alarming rate.

According to a poll taken in 2009, 61 percent of Americans “always or usually” live paycheck to paycheck.  That was up substantially from 49 percent in 2008 and 43 percent in 2007.

Unfortunately, a growing number of Americans have found it impossible to make it from month to month without direct financial assistance from the federal government.

41 million Americans are now on food stamps.  One out of every six Americans is now enrolled in at least one anti-poverty program run by the federal government.  Economic pain is everywhere.

Tens of millions of Americans now live in poverty.  The U.S. Census Bureau says that 43.6 million Americans are now living in poverty and according to them that is the highest number of poor Americans that they have ever recorded in 51 years of record-keeping.

Long-Term Trend #4: The Growing Size Of The U.S. Government

No matter whether it is a Republican or a Democrat in the White House, the size of the U.S. government has continued to grow by leaps and bounds in recent years.

This is a tremendous drain on the U.S. economy.  The government produces very little value for the economy and yet costs a colossal amount to maintain.

In addition, multiplying government regulations have caused the United States to be a very difficult environment to operate a business in. 

The Federal Register is the main source of regulations for U.S. government agencies.  In 1936, the number of pages in the Federal Register was about 2,600.  Today, the Federal Register is over 80,000 pages long.

Long-Term Trend #5: The Constantly Growing U.S. National Debt

The United States has accumulated the biggest mountain of debt in the history of the world and every single month it gets worse.

According to an official U.S. Treasury Department report to Congress, the U.S. national debt will top $13.6 trillion this year and will climb to an estimated $19.6 trillion by 2015.

Do we really want to pass on a 20 trillion dollar debt to our children and grandchildren?

But the truth is that the situation is actually a lot worse than that.

If the U.S. government was forced to use GAAP accounting principles (like all publicly-traded corporations must), the U.S. government budget deficit would be somewhere in the neighborhood of $4 trillion to $5 trillion each and every year.

Needless to say, that is not anywhere close to sustainable.  We are literally destroying our economic future with all of this debt.

Long-Term Trend #6: The Ongoing Devaluation Of The U.S. Dollar

The Federal Reserve constantly destroys the value of the U.S. dollar.  Since the Federal Reserve was created in 1913, the U.S. dollar has lost over 95 percent of its purchasing power.

An item that cost $20.00 in 1970 would cost you $112.35 today.  An item that cost $20.00 in 1913 would cost you $440.33 today.

Inflation is like a hidden tax.  The value of the dollars you are holding right now will decline a little bit more each and every month. 

And now that the Federal Reserve is threatening to unleash another round of quantitative easing, it appears that the value of our dollars will soon be declining even more rapidly.

Long-Term Trend #7: The Derivatives Bubble

The one thing that the “Wall Street reform bill” should have done was that it should have done something about the horrific abuses in the derivatives markets.  Instead, the Wall Street reform bill did next to nothing about derivatives and instead imposed hundreds of other useless regulations on Wall Street.

Most Americans don’t even know what derivatives are.  Basically, they are side bets.  They have no underlying value of their own.  But today derivatives have taken center stage on Wall Street.  Our financial markets have become a gigantic casino.

The total value of all derivatives worldwide is estimated to be somewhere between 600 trillion and 1.5 quadrillion dollars.  And thanks to the U.S. Congress, the derivatives bubble is still growing.

It would be hard to understate the danger that the derivatives bubble represents.  The danger from derivatives is so great that Warren Buffet once called them “financial weapons of mass destruction”.  

When the derivatives bubble finally pops, there will not be enough money in the entire world to fix it.

Long-Term Trend #8: The Health Care Industry

The United States health care system is completely and totally broken.  It has become a gigantic money making machine for health insurance companies, pharmaceutical corporations and greedy lawyers.

Americans pay more for health care than anyone else in the world and yet they get shockingly little in return.

Health care expenses are the number one reason why people file for personal bankrupty in the United States.  Surprisingly, most of those who get bankrupted by health care expenses actually have health insurance.

The health insurance system in the United States is a complete and total mess.  Health insurance premiums are busting the budgets of tens of millions of American families and yet they are getting ready to go up yet once again. 

Already, large numbers of health insurance companies across the United States have announced that they plan to increase health insurance premiums in response to the new health care law.

But do health insurance companies actually need more money?  Even as the rest of the U.S. economy deeply struggles, America’s health insurance companies increased their profits by 56 percent in 2009.

At least someone is doing well in this economy.

The truth is that the U.S. health care system needs to be totally and completely reinvented.  The system we had before did not work.  Barack Obama’s new health care system will be far worse.  Meanwhile, the health care industry is literally choking the life out of the U.S. economy.

Long-Term Trend #9: Financial Power Is Becoming Concentrated In Fewer And Fewer Hands

Once upon a time, the United States had a very diverse financial system.  But today financial power is becoming concentrated in fewer and fewer hands with each passing year.

More U.S. banks fail every single week.  In fact, the number of bank failures is on pace to far surpass the total of 140 U.S. banks that failed last year.

There are now nearly 900 banks (well over 10 percent of all U.S. banks) on the FDIC list of problem banks.

Meanwhile, the “too big to fail” banks continue to pick up market share.  The “big four” U.S. banks (Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo) had approximately 22 percent of all deposits in FDIC-insured institutions back in 2000.  As of June 30th of last year that figure was up to 39 percent.

Putting an increasing amount of financial power into the hands of just a few elite banks is a recipe for disaster any way you want to cut it.

Long-Term Trend #10: Rampant Corruption On Wall Street

Our financial system has become an absolute cesspool of corruption.  In the past I have written extensively about all of the corruption that Goldman Sachs has been involved in, but they are far from alone.

In fact, it seems like new stories of financial corruption emerge almost daily now.

For example, just recently Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and GMAC Mortgage have all suspended foreclosures in many U.S. states due to serious concerns about foreclosure procedures.

But there is a lot of corruption that is a lot worse than that.  The rampant manipulation of the gold and silver markets was completely blown open by an industry insider earlier this year, but the U.S. government had to be publicly shamed before they would even agree to look into it. 

The truth is that corruption on Wall Street has become so common that it is almost impossible to keep up with it all.  It seems like no matter what stone you turn over on Wall Street these days you find yet more corruption.

But if the core of our financial system is so incredibly corrupt, how long will it be before it collapses in on itself?

Long-Term Trend #11: The Growing Retirement Crisis That Threatens To Bankrupt America

The Baby Boomers may end up bankrupting America after all.  A retirement tsunami is coming that threatens to drown our nation in a sea of red ink.

The truth is that Americans have not been preparing for retirement on their own.  One shocking new study indicates that Americans are $6.6 trillion short of what they need to retire comfortably.

In fact, approximately half of all workers in the United States have less than $2000 saved up for retirement.

So what about corporate pension plans?

Are they in good shape?

No.

One recent study found that America’s 100 largest corporate pension plans were underfunded by $217 billion as of the end of 2008.

But sadly, the pension plans run by U.S. state governments are in even worse shape.

Robert Novy-Marx of the University of Chicago and Joshua D. Rauh of Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management recently calculated the combined pension liability of all 50 U.S. states.  What they found was that the 50 states are collectively facing $5.17 trillion in pension obligations, but they only have $1.94 trillion set aside in state pension funds.  That means that collectively, the 50 U.S. state governments are 3.2 trillion dollars short of what they need to meet their pension obligations.

But the biggest mess of all may be the U.S. Social Security system.

The sad reality is that anyone that has studied it closely knows that it is nothing more than a Ponzi scheme, and the scam has just about run its course.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the Social Security system will pay out more in benefits than it receives in payroll taxes in 2010.  That was not supposed to happen until at least 2016.

Oops.

But things get really hairy when you start looking down the road.

The present value of projected scheduled benefits surpasses earmarked revenues for entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare by about 46 trillion dollars over the next 75 years.

Ouch.

It is time to face facts people.

We are in deep, deep, deep trouble.

An increasing number of Americans are starting to realize this.  They may not always know the specifics of what is going wrong, but more people than ever realize that something is broken.  According to one recent survey, 63 percent of Americans believe that the United States is on the wrong track.

And we are very much on the wrong track.  We have squandered the great wealth that our parents and grandparents left us and we are wrecking the greatest economic machine that the world has ever seen.

If we do not get our act together, someday people will look back and will curse this generation for how incredibly stupid we were.

22 Statistics About America’s Coming Pension Crisis That Will Make You Lose Sleep At Night

As the first of the 80 million Baby Boomers have begun to retire, it has become increasingly apparent that the United States is facing a pension crisis of unprecedented magnitude.  State and local government pension plans are woefully underfunded, dozens of large corporate pension plans either have collapsed or are on the verge of collapsing, Social Security is a complete and total financial disaster and about half of all Americans essentially have nothing saved up for retirement.  So yes, to say that we are facing a retirement crisis would be a tremendous understatement.  There is simply no way that we can keep all of the financial promises that we have made to the Baby Boomer generation.  Unfortunately, the crumbling U.S. economy simply cannot support the comfortable retirement of tens of millions of elderly Americans any longer.  The truth is that we are all going to have to start fundamentally changing the way that we think about our golden years.

Once upon a time, you could count on getting a big, fat pension if you put 30 years into a job.  But now pension plans everywhere are failing.  State and local governments are cutting back and are raising retirement ages.  A majority of Americans have even lost faith in the Social Security system, which was supposed to be the most secure of them all.

The reality is that we are moving into a time when there is not going to be such a thing as “financial security” as we have known it in the past.  Things have fundamentally changed, and we are all going to have to struggle to stay above water in the economic nightmare that is coming.

Part of the reason we have such a gigantic economic mess on the way is because we have promised vastly more than we can deliver to future retirees.  When you closely examine the numbers, it quickly becomes clear that a financial tsunami is about to hit us that is going to be so devastating that it will change everything that we know about retirement. 

The following are 22 statistics about America’s coming pension crisis that will make you lose sleep at night…. 

Private Pension Plans And Retirement Funds

1 – One recent study found that America’s 100 largest corporate pension plans were underfunded by $217 billion at the end of 2008.

2 – Approximately half of all workers in the United States have less than $2000 saved up for retirement.

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

4 – The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation says that the number of pensions at risk inside failing companies more than tripled during the recession.

5 – According to another recent survey, 24% of U.S. workers admit that they have postponed their planned retirement age at least once during the past year.

State And Local Government Pensions

6– Pension consultant Girard Miller recently told California’s Little Hoover Commission that state and local government bodies in the state of California have $325 billion in combined unfunded pension liabilities.  When you break that down, it comes to $22,000 for every single working adult in California.

7 – According to a recent report from Stanford University, California’s three biggest pension funds are as much as $500 billion short of meeting future retiree benefit obligations.

8 – In New Jersey, the governor has proposed not making the state’s entire $3 billion contribution to its pension funds because of the state’s $11 billion budget deficit.

9 – It has been reported that the $33.7 billion Illinois Teachers Retirement System is 61% underfunded and is on the verge of total collapse.

10 – The state of Illinois recently raised its retirement age to 67 and capped the salary on which public pensions are figured.

11 – The state of Virginia is requiring employees to pay into the state pension fund for the first time ever.

12 – In New York City, annual pension contributions have increased sixfold in the past decade alone and are now so large that they would be able to finance entire new police and fire departments.

13– Robert Novy-Marx of the University of Chicago and Joshua D. Rauh of Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management recently calculated the combined pension liability for all 50 U.S. states.  What they found was that the 50 states are collectively facing $5.17 trillion in pension obligations, but they only have $1.94 trillion set aside in state pension funds.  That is a difference of 3.2 trillion dollars.

Social Security

14 – According to one recently conducted poll, 6 out of every 10 non-retirees in the United States believe that the Social Security system will not be able to pay them benefits when they stop working.

15 – A very large percentage of the federal budget is made up of entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare that cannot be reduced without a change in the law.  Approximately 57 percent of Barack Obama’s 3.8 trillion dollar budget for 2011 consists of direct payments to individual Americans or is money that is spent on their behalf.

1635% of Americans over the age of 65 rely almost entirely on Social Security payments alone.

17 – According to the Congressional Budget Office, the Social Security system will pay out more in benefits than it receives in payroll taxes in 2010.  That was not supposed to happen until at least 2016.  The Social Security deficits are projected to get increasingly worse in the years ahead. 

18 – 56 percent of current retirees believe that the U.S. government will eventually cut their Social Security benefits.

19 – In 1950, each retiree’s Social Security benefit was paid for by 16 U.S. workers.  In 2010, each retiree’s Social Security benefit is paid for by approximately 3.3 U.S. workers.  By 2025, it is projected that there will be approximately two U.S. workers for each retiree.

20 – The shortfall in entitlement programs in the years ahead is mind blowing.  The present value of projected scheduled benefits surpasses earmarked revenues for entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare by about 46 trillion dollars over the next 75 years. 

21According to a recent U.S. government report, soaring interest costs on the U.S. national debt plus rapidly escalating spending on entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare will absorb approximately 92 cents of every single dollar of federal revenue by the year 2019.  That is before a single dollar is spent on anything else.

22 – Right now, interest on the U.S. national debt and spending on entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare is somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 percent of GDP.  By 2080, those combined expenditures are projected to eat up approximately 50 percent of GDP.

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