The American Dream Is Getting Smaller, And The Reason Why Is Painfully Obvious…

Over the past decade, an unprecedented stock market boom has created thousands upon thousands of new millionaires, and yet the middle class in America has continued to shrink.  How is that even possible?  At one time the United States had the largest and most vibrant middle class in the history of the planet, but now the gap between the wealthy and the poor is the largest that it has been since the 1920s.  Our economy has been creating lots of new millionaires, but at the exact same time we have seen homelessness spiral out of control in our major cities.  Today, being part of the middle class is like playing a really bizarre game of musical chairs.  Each month when the music stops playing, those of us still in the middle class desperately hope that we are not among the ones that slip out of the middle class and into poverty.  Well over 100 million Americans receive money or benefits from the federal government each month, and that includes approximately 40 percent of all families with children.  We are losing our ability to take care of ourselves, and that has frightening implications for the future of our society.

One of the primary reasons why our system doesn’t work for everyone is because virtually everything has been financialized.  In other words, from the cradle to the grave the entire system has been designed to get you into debt so that the fruits of your labor can be funneled to the top of the pyramid and make somebody else wealthier.  The following comes from an excellent Marketwatch article entitled “The American Dream is getting smaller”

More worrying, perhaps: 33% of those surveyed said they think that dream is disappearing. Why? They have too much debt. “Americans believe financial security is at the core of the American Dream, but it is alarming that so many think it is beyond their reach,” said Mike Fanning, head of MassMutual U.S.

Almost everyone that will read this article will have debt.  In America today, we are trained to go into debt for just about everything.

If you want a college education, you go into debt.

If you want a vehicle, you go into debt.

If you want a home, you go into debt.

If you want that nice new pair of shoes, you don’t have to wait for it.  Just go into more debt.

As a result, most Americans are currently up to their necks in red ink

Some 64% of those surveyed said they have a mortgage, 56% said they had credit-card debt and 26% said they have student-loan debt. Many surveyed said they don’t feel financially secure. More than a quarter said they wish they had better control of their finances.

You would have thought that we would have learned from the very hard lessons that the crisis of 2008 taught us.

But instead, we have been on the greatest debt binge in American history in recent years.  Here is more from the Marketwatch article

It makes sense that debt is on Americans’ minds. Collectively, Americans have more than $1 trillion in credit-card debt, according to the Federal Reserve. They have another $1.5 trillion in student loans, up from $1.1 trillion in 2013. Motor vehicle loans are now topping $1.1 trillion, up from $878.5 billion in 2013. And they have another nearly $15 trillion in mortgage debt outstanding.

That is one huge pile of debt.

We criticize the federal government for running up 21 trillion dollars in debt, and rightly so, but American consumers have been almost as irresponsible on an individual basis.

As long as you are drowning in debt, you will never become wealthy.  In order to build wealth, you have got to spend less than you earn, but most Americans never learn basic fundamentals such as this in our rapidly failing system of public education.

Many Americans long to become financially independent, but they don’t understand that our system is rigged against them.  The entire game is all about keeping consumers on that debt wheel endlessly chasing that piece of proverbial cheese until it is too late.

Getting out of debt is one of the biggest steps that you can take to give yourself more freedom, and hopefully this article will inspire many to do just that.

To end this article today, I would like to share 14 facts about how the middle class in America is shrinking that I shared in a previous article

#1 78 million Americans are participating in the “gig economy” because full-time jobs just don’t pay enough to make ends meet these days.

#2 In 2011, the average home price was 3.56 times the average yearly salary in the United States.  But by the time 2017 was finished, the average home price was 4.73 times the average yearly salary in the United States.

#3 In 1980, the average American worker’s debt was 1.96 times larger than his or her monthly salary.  Today, that number has ballooned to 5.00.

#4 In the United States today, 66 percent of all jobs pay less than 20 dollars an hour.

#5 102 million working age Americans do not have a job right now.  That number is higher than it was at any point during the last recession.

#6 Earnings for low-skill jobs have stayed very flat for the last 40 years.

#7 Americans have been spending more money than they make for 28 months in a row.

#8 In the United States today, the average young adult with student loan debt has a negative net worth.

#9 At this point, the average American household is nearly $140,000 in debt.

#10 Poverty rates in U.S. suburbs “have increased by 50 percent since 1990”.

#11 Almost 51 million U.S. households “can’t afford basics like rent and food”.

#12 The bottom 40 percent of all U.S. households bring home just 11.4 percent of all income.

#13 According to the Federal Reserve, 4 out of 10 Americans do not have enough money to cover an unexpected $400 expense without borrowing the money or selling something they own.

#14 22 percent of all Americans cannot pay all of their bills in a typical month.

This article originally appeared on The Economic Collapse Blog.  About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

The Number Of Americans Living In Their Vehicles “Explodes” As The Middle Class Continues To Disappear

If the U.S. economy is really doing so well, then why is homelessness rising so rapidly?  As the gap between the rich and the poor continues to increase, the middle class is steadily eroding.  In fact, I recently gave my readers 15 signs that the middle class in America is being systematically destroyed.  More Americans are falling out of the middle class and into poverty with each passing day, and this is one of the big reasons why the number of homeless is surging.  For example, the number of people living on the street in L.A. has shot up 75 percent over the last 6 years.  But of course L.A. is far from alone.  Other major cities on the west coast are facing similar problems, and that includes Seattle.  It turns out that the Emerald City has seen a 46 percent rise in the number of people sleeping in their vehicles in just the past year

The number of people who live in their vehicles because they can’t find affordable housing is on the rise, even though the practice is illegal in many U.S. cities.

The number of people residing in campers and other vehicles surged 46 percent over the past year, a recent homeless census in Seattle’s King County, Washington found. The problem is “exploding” in cities with expensive housing markets, including Los Angeles, Portland and San Francisco, according to Governing magazine.

Amazon, Microsoft and other big tech companies are in the Seattle area.  It is a region that is supposedly “prospering”, and yet this is going on.

Sadly, it isn’t just major urban areas that are seeing more people sleeping in their vehicles.  Over in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, many of the homeless sleep in their vehicles even in the middle of winter

Stephanie Monroe, managing director of Children Youth & Family Services at Volunteers of America, Dakotas, tells a similar story. At least 25 percent of the non-profit’s Sioux Falls clients have lived in their vehicles at some point, even during winter’s sub-freezing temperatures.

“Many of our communities don’t have formal shelter services,” she said in an interview. “It can lead to individuals resorting to living in their cars or other vehicles.”

It is time to admit that we have a problem.  The number of homeless in this country is surging, and we need to start coming up with some better solutions.

But instead, many communities are simply passing laws that make it illegal for people to sleep in their vehicles…

A recent survey by the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty (NLCHP), which tracks policies in 187 cities, found the number of prohibitions against vehicle residency has more than doubled during the last decade.

Those laws aren’t going to solve anything.

At best, they will just encourage some of the homeless to go somewhere else.

And if our homelessness crisis is escalating this dramatically while the economy is supposedly “growing”, how bad are things going to be once the next recession officially begins?

We live at a time when the cost of living is soaring but our paychecks are not.  As a result, middle class families are being squeezed like never before.

A recent Marketwatch article highlighted the plight of California history teacher Matt Barry and his wife Nicole…

Barry’s wife, Nicole, teaches as well — they each earn $69,000, a combined salary that not long ago was enough to afford a comfortable family life. But due to the astronomical costs in his area, including real estate — a 1,500-square-foot “starter home” costs $680,000 — driving for Uber was a necessity.

“Teachers are killing themselves,” Barry says in Alissa Quart’s new book, “Squeezed: Why Our Families Can’t Afford America” (Ecco), out Tuesday. “I shouldn’t be having to drive Uber at eight o’clock at night on a weekday. I just shut down from the mental toll: grading papers between rides, thinking of what I could be doing instead of driving — like creating a curriculum.”

Home prices are completely out of control, but that bubble should soon burst.

However, other elements of our cost of living are only going to become even more painful.  Health care costs rise much faster than the rate of inflation every year, food prices are becoming incredibly ridiculous, and the cost of a college education is off the charts.  According to author Alissa Quart, living a middle class life is “30% more expensive” than it was two decades ago…

“Middle-class life is now 30% more expensive than it was 20 years ago,” Quart writes, citing the costs of housing, education, health care and child care in particular. “In some cases the cost of daily life over the last 20 years has doubled.”

And thanks to the trade war, prices are going to start going up more rapidly than we have seen in a very long time.

On Tuesday, we learned that diaper and toilet paper prices are rising again

Procter & Gamble said on Tuesday that it was in the process of raising Pampers’ prices in North America by 4%. P&G also began notifying retailers this week that it would increase the average prices of Bounty, Charmin, and Puffs by 5%.

P&G is raising prices because commodity and transportation cost pressures are intensifying. The hikes to Bounty and Charmin will go into effect in late October, and Puffs will become more expensive beginning early next year.

I wish that I had better news for you, but I don’t.  We are all going to have to work harder, smarter and more efficiently.  And we are definitely going to have to tighten our belts.

Many middle class families are relying on debt to get them from month to month, and consumer debt in the United States has surged to an all-time high.  But eventually a day of reckoning comes, and we all understand that.

The U.S. economy is not going to be getting any better than it is right now.  So it is time to be a lean, mean saving machine, because it will be important to have a financial cushion for the hard times that are ahead of us.

Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

Police Union President Laments That Portland Has Become A “Cesspool” As West Coast Cities Struggle With An Unprecedented Surge In Homelessness

Even though it has always been kind of crazy, at one time Portland, Oregon was quite an attractive place to live, but now those days are long gone.  Today, the city streets are strewn with garbage, drug paraphernalia and human feces.  Mentally ill homeless people and drug addicts wander about like zombies, and there are certain areas of the city that you absolutely do not want to visit at night.  In essence, the city is slowly becoming a post-apocalyptic version of its former self, and those that love the city are seething with frustration.  Of course Portland is simply experiencing the same surge in homelessness that so many other west coast cities are struggling to deal with.  As housing prices have risen dramatically, many on the lower end of the income scale have been priced out of the market entirely, and an increasing number of people are being forced to sleep in vehicles, in shelters or on the streets.

The president of the police union in Portland has had enough.  His officers are overwhelmed by the needs of the homeless on a nightly basis, and he is calling on the mayor to finally do something to resolve this crisis.  The following is the first paragraph from a statement that PPA President Daryl Turner just released

Our City has become a cesspool. Livability that once made Portland a unique and vibrant city is now replaced with human feces in businesses doorways, in our parks, and on our streets. Aggressive panhandlers block the sidewalks, storefronts, and landmarks like Pioneer Square, discouraging people from enjoying our City. Garbage-filled RVs and vehicles are strewn throughout our neighborhoods. Used needles, drug paraphernalia, and trash are common sights lining the streets and sidewalks of the downtown core area, under our bridges, and freeway overpasses. That’s not what our families, business owners, and tourists deserve.

If that sounds familiar, that is because many other west coast cities are dealing with the exact same issues right now.

For example, new San Francisco Mayor London Breed recently admitted that there “is more feces on the sidewalks than I’ve ever seen”

There is more feces on the sidewalks than I’ve ever seen growing up here,” Breed told KNTV. “That is a huge problem and we are not just talking about from dogs — we’re talking about from humans.”

The streets of San Francisco are littered with a “dangerous mix of drug needles, garbage, and feces”, KNTV’s investigative team reported in February after surveying the city’s streets.

And a lot of other San Francisco residents have noticed the exact same thing.  In fact, during one recent seven day period 16,000 complaints were submitted to the city about human feces.

Sounds like a great place to live, right?

It is important to keep in mind that San Francisco supposedly has a “booming economy” and some of the highest real estate prices in the entire nation.

If this is happening in a “prosperous area”, what are things like in major cities where things are not so prosperous?

Down in L.A., there was a nearly 26 percent increase in homelessness in 2017, and overall homelessness in L.A. has risen 75 percent over the past 6 years.

Let that sink in for a moment.

During this supposed “economy recovery”, our second largest city has seen homelessness go up 75 percent.

Sadly, it is estimated that 25 percent of the nation’s entire homeless population now lives in California…

While it’s tough to say precisely how many Californians are experiencing homelessness, the federal Housing and Urban Development Department estimates the number statewide at 130,000 on a given night. That’s 25 percent of the entire nation’s homeless population. Since 2016, California experienced a larger increase in homelessness than any other state.

At one time, L.A.’s “skid row” was limited to a single street, but now it goes on mile after mile.  I just have to share with you the following excerpt from an excellent article about what life is like for those living on this famous stretch of real estate

Most of its 2,000 residents sleep in tents or under tarps. Those with more status occupy the sides of streets shaded by trees. Location, location, location. The lowest caste sleep on cardboard or nothing. Some people rent tents for a few bucks a night.

There are no liquor stores so businessmen buy alcohol from shops a few miles away and sell it at a steep mark-up. Loan sharks collect debts by taking control of the debit cards issued to homeless people by government agencies.

A guy sits at a table on the sidewalk selling cigarettes and joints. The city has installed sidewalk restrooms. Ruffin pointed to one and figured people inside were shooting up or smoking. Meth, heroin and crack are the scourges of choice. Needles litter the gutter, as does a dead rat. On another block, homeless entrepreneurs chop and assemble bicycles for sale.

And let us not forget about Seattle.  Homeless encampments have become so pervasive in “the Emerald City” that authorities started building “tiny house villages” for the homeless out of desperation.  But these “tiny house villages” are a lot more depressing than they sound

In the nearby neighborhood of Wallingford, a newly erected outpost of small wooden shacks offer shelter for 22 of Seattle’s homeless residents. This is a “tiny house village,” sanctioned by the city as a kind of middle ground between living at a street address and on the street. The buildings sit in the corner of a parking lot across from a seafood restaurant, shielded from view by a metal fence. Each shack, painted with one of the bold colors of a Crayola starter pack, offers electricity and a roof sturdier than the tents in Seattle’s increasingly common homeless encampments. Every resident is issued a window fan for the occasional hot day, and the people here hope to receive heaters before winter. But the small collections of potted petunias and pothos that sit in front of their temporary homes are unlikely to survive the city’s harshest months.

Unfortunately, this is probably only just the beginning of this crisis.  Homelessness always explodes during a recession, and many believe that we are rapidly approaching another one.  West coast cities are really struggling to deal with this crisis right now, and it is hard to imagine how they will deal with the tsunami of human suffering that is coming their way once economic conditions begin to sour.

Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

Tent Cities Full Of Homeless People Are Booming In Cities All Over America As Poverty Spikes

HomelessJust like during the last economic crisis, homeless encampments are popping up all over the nation as poverty grows at a very alarming rate.  According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, more than half a million people are homeless in America right now, but that figure is increasing by the day.  And it isn’t just adults that we are talking about.  It has been reported that that the number of homeless children in this country has risen by 60 percent since the last recession, and Poverty USA says that a total of 1.6 million children slept either in a homeless shelter or in some other form of emergency housing at some point last year.  Yes, the stock market may have been experiencing a temporary boom for the last couple of years, but for those on the low end of the economic scale things have just continued to deteriorate.

Tonight, countless numbers of homeless people will try to make it through another chilly night in large tent cities that have been established in the heart of major cities such as Seattle, Washington, D.C. and St. Louis.  Homelessness has gotten so bad in California that the L.A. City Council has formally asked Governor Jerry Brown to officially declare a state of emergency.   And in Portland the city has extended their “homeless emergency” for yet another year, and city officials are really struggling with how to deal with the booming tent cities that have sprung up

There have always been homeless people in Portland, but last summer Michelle Cardinal noticed a change outside her office doors.

Almost overnight, it seemed, tents popped up in the park that runs like a green carpet past the offices of her national advertising business. She saw assaults, drug deals and prostitution. Every morning, she said, she cleaned human feces off the doorstep and picked up used needles.

“It started in June and by July it was full-blown. The park was mobbed,” she said. “We’ve got a problem here and the question is how we’re going to deal with it.”

But of course it isn’t just Portland that is experiencing this.  The following list of major tent cities that have become so well-known and established that they have been given names comes from Wikipedia

Most of the time, those that establish tent cities do not want to be discovered because local authorities have a nasty habit of shutting them down and forcing homeless people out of the area.  For example, check out what just happened in Elkhart, Indiana

A group of homeless people in Elkhart has been asked to leave the place they call home. For the last time, residents of ‘Tent City’ packed up camp.

City officials gave residents just over a month to vacate the wooded area; Wednesday being the last day to do so.

The property has been on Mayor Tim Neese’s radar since he took office in January, calling it both a safety and health hazard to its residents and nearby pedestrian traffic.

“This has been their home but you can’t live on public property,” said Mayor Tim Neese, Elkhart.

If they can’t live on “public property”, where are they supposed to go?

They certainly can’t live on somebody’s “private property”.

This is the problem – people don’t want to deal with the human feces, the needles, the crime and the other problems that homeless people often bring with them.  So the instinct is often to kick them out and send them away.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t fix the problem.  It just passes it on to someone else.

As this new economic downturn continues to accelerate, our homelessness boom is going to spiral out of control.  Pretty soon, there will be tent cities in virtually every community in America.

In fact, there are people that are living comfortable middle class lifestyles right at this moment that will end up in tents.  We saw this during the last economic crisis, and it will be even worse as this next one unfolds.

Just like last time around, the signs that the middle class is really struggling can be subtle at first, but when you learn to take note of them you will notice that they are all around you.  The following comes from an excellent article in the New York Post

Do you see grocery stores closing? Do you see other retailers, like clothing stores and department stores, going out of business?

Are there shuttered storefronts along your Main Street shopping district, where you bought a tool from the hardware store or dropped off your dry cleaning or bought fruits and vegetables?

Are you making as much money annually as you did 10 years ago?

Do you see homes in neighborhoods becoming run down as the residents either were foreclosed upon, or the owner lost his or her job so he or she can’t afford to cut the grass or paint the house?

Did that same house where the Joneses once lived now become a rental property, where new people come to live every few months?

Do you know one or two people who are looking for work? Maybe professionals, who you thought were safe in their jobs?

Don’t look down on those that are living in tents, because the truth is that many “middle class Americans” will ultimately end up joining them.

The correct response to those that are hurting is love and compassion.  We all need help at some point in our lives, and I know that I am certainly grateful to those that have given me a helping hand at various points along my journey.

Sadly, hearts are growing cold all over the nation, and the weather is only going to get colder over the months ahead.  Let us pray for health and safety for the hundreds of thousands of Americans that will be sleeping in tents and on the streets this winter.

This Is Only Just The Beginning

For a long time, there have been those that have warned that economic riots are coming to this nation.  Anger and frustration with the economy and with our financial system have grown to unprecedented levels, and this has fueled the rise of the various protest movements that we have seen over the last couple of years.  People are fed up and they want solutions.  Unfortunately, anger and frustration can express themselves in dangerous and unpredictable ways.  What we have seen in Oakland, in Seattle and in other major U.S. cities this week is only just the beginning of the massive economic riots that are coming to this country.  Yes, “anarchists” were responsible for quite a bit of the violence that we have seen this week, but they were not the only ones involved.  Some protesters were getting violent too, and there has also been quite a bit of police brutality.  Of course the vast majority of Occupy Wall Street protesters do not want anything to do with violence and they recognize that violence is not the answer.  But that is the thing with anger and frustration.  It is hard to contain them in neat, self-disciplined packages.  As the economy continues to get worse, the protests will grow and unfortunately so will the violence.  You can preach the benefits of non-violence all day long to some people but they just will not get it.  America has reached a turning point, and what we are seeing now is only just the beginning of the madness.  In the years ahead we are going to see rioting that is going to be absolutely unprecedented.

According to a recent Associated Press-GfK poll, 43 percent of all Americans believe that the economy is in “very poor” shape.  Millions of Americans have lost their jobs, millions of Americans have lost their homes and tens of millions of Americans have been sickened by what they have seen happen on Wall Street over the last four or five years.  It is easy to understand why people are frustrated and are marching in the streets.  As I wrote about yesterday, approximately one out of every seven Americans is on food stamps.  Poverty is rapidly spreading and large numbers of families have lost everything.  People want answers, and it is understandable why so many are joining these protest movements.

Over the last couple of years, people such as Gerald Celente and myself have been warning that economic riots are coming.  Those of us that have written about such things have been called “doom and gloomers” and “conspiracy theorists”.

But after the events of the last couple of months, almost everyone is starting to realize that something big is happening.

On Wednesday, huge crowds of protesters brought the city of Oakland, California to a standstill.  Some media organizations said that there were 5,000 protesters, but others claimed that there may have been up to 20,000 people marching at one point.

A group of approximately 3,000 protesters marched over and shut down the Port of Oakland, which is the fifth largest deepwater port in the United States.

In other areas of the city, windows were smashed, graffiti was sprayed on buildings and senseless acts of vandalism were committed.  There were also quite a few intense confrontations with police and dozens of protesters ended up getting arrested.

The following is how an article in USA Today described what went down….

Riot police arrested more than 80 protesters in the city’s downtown, where bands of demonstrators threw chunks of concrete and metal pipes as well as lit roman candles and firebombs, police said. Five protesters and several officers were injured.

You can see shocking pictures of some of the vandalism that was going on during these protests right here.

At one point, one group of protesters took over an empty building that had once been used to help the homeless.  The following is what an article in the Los Angeles Times says happened next….

Demonstrators managed to gain entry to an empty building that had housed the Traveler’s Aid Society, a nonprofit organization that assists the homeless but had suffered funding cuts. Leaflets indicated that protesters had targeted the building for “reuse.” They branded it a new “community center” in Twitter feeds. Video from a local ABC affiliate’s helicopter showed jubilant crowds flowing in and out of the building, where a banner marked “Occupy Everything” hung. Others built a barricade nearby, presumably to discourage police.

Shortly before midnight, local media reported that police officers from various agencies were suiting up in riot gear. Some demonstrators set the barricade aflame. Firefighters doused it. A police statement later said protesters had hurled rocks, explosives, bottles and flaming objects at officers.

Does any of this solve anything?

Of course not.

But when people are angry and frustrated it can be difficult to talk sense to them.

America has become a powder keg, and it is going to be very difficult for anyone to control what is going on.

However, it also must be noted that not all of the violence was initiated by Occupy Oakland protesters.  There were dozens of Black Bloc “anarchists” that were running around committing random acts of violence.  Some Occupy Oakland protesters were actually seen trying to prevent these “anarchists” from committing acts of violence.

In fact, it is certainly possible that someone may be using these Black Bloc “anarchists” to discredit the protests.  It has happened to other protest movements in the past.

In any event, it is very true that the “anarchists” were very much involved with much of the violence.  You can see some video of “anarchists” in action right here.

But Oakland was not the only city where protesters were becoming more aggressive.

In Seattle, protesters surrounded a Sheraton hotel where JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon was giving a speech. According to some media reports, some of the protesters were actually planning to make a “citizen’s arrest”.

Their plans were cancelled, however, when police dispersed them with a shower of pepper spray.

The funny thing is that Dimon was actually promoting some of the ideas of the Occupy Wall Street movement during his speech.

The following excerpt from his speech comes from the Seattle Times….

“America has become more inequitable in the last 10 or 20 years. That’s a fact,” he said. “I don’t personally think that’s a good thing. I’ve been a big supporter of progressive taxes.”

But that is the funny thing about economic riots.  Just because you agree with the crowd, that does not mean that the crowd is not going to turn on you anyway.

Earlier that same day in Seattle, there was quite a bit of violence as police confronted groups of protesters.  The following is how the Seattle Times described the action….

Earlier in the day, Seattle police arrested six people, five of whom had sprawled across the floor inside a Chase Bank on Capitol Hill.

Officers launched pepper spray, shoved protesters out of the way and yanked others from under a police van during a tense 30-minute confrontation. Police said at least 10 officers were physically assaulted during the arrests, and at least two of them had minor injuries.

In New York City, a different kind of confrontation took place.  Approximately  100 military vets showed up in uniform and marched over to the New York Stock Exchange.  Once they arrived, they stopped directly in front of the building which was protected by a line of heavily armed NYPD officers.  It was a tense moment, but fortunately there was no violence.

This kind of “stare down” cannot be a sign of good things.  What would have happened if even a single person had lost their cool?

While standing in formation in front of the New York Stock Exchange, the vets were heard chanting the following slogans….

“We are veterans! We are the 99 percent!”

“Corporate profits on the rise, soldiers have to bleed and die!”

Things are certainly getting very, very interesting.

The Occupy Wall Street protests started off very peacefully, but sadly there is no guarantee that the violence we are seeing now is not going to escalate even further.

One recent survey found that 31 percent of those involved with the Occupy Wall Street protests “would support violence to advance their agenda”.

That is a frightening statistic.

Hopefully everyone will calm down and the protesters will realize that they will get much farther ahead by non-violent means.

But once again, anger and frustration are difficult to predict or control.  The more angry and frustrated that the American people get, the more chaotic the streets of our cities are going to become.

Sadly, while the vast majority of Americans agree that we have major problems, there is tremendous disagreement about what the solutions are.  There are some good ideas floating around out there, but there are also some groups that are promoting some very, very bad ideas.

For example, there are some elements involved in the Occupy Wall Street protests that are actually promoting communism as the answer.

During the recent craziness in Oakland, some protesters actually hung a very large black banner downtown that said the following: “DEATH TO CAPITALISM“.

But is that really the answer?

Of course not.

Yes, our system is deeply, deeply corrupt and deeply, deeply broken.

Yes, it is understandable that people are very frustrated with it.

But communism is not the answer.

Look, when Republicans defend the abuses of the big banks and the big corporations they are wrong to do so.

When Democrats defend big government and advocate even more big government as the answer, they are also very wrong.

The truth is that neither side is right.

We need to dramatically reduce the size of government and we need to dramatically reduce the size and the power of the big corporations.  That would mean a lot more liberty and freedom for the rest of us, and it would empower individuals and small businesses.

But most people don’t understand this.  Most people think that they have to either take the side of the big corporations or the side of big government.

Sadly, the cold, hard truth is that most of the time big government and the big corporations are working together, and it is not for our benefit.

Most people feel a sense of powerlessness these days.  Most people feel like things never seem to change no matter who they vote for.

People want things to change, but they don’t feel as though they have a way of bringing that change about.

This is not just happening in the United States.  As the global economy has faltered, anger and frustration have been growing all over the planet.

In fact, the International Labor Organization is warning that civil unrest could erupt all over the globe if the current economic crisis gets even worse.

We are moving into unprecedented times.

Nobody is quite sure what is going to happen next.

But the warning signs are there.

Pressure just keeps building and building and building.

According to a recent Fox News poll, 76 percent of all Americans are “dissatisfied with how things are going in the country”.  At the beginning of this year, that number was only at 61 percent.

When people get desperate, they do desperate things.

We can certainly hope that things will settle down, at least for a little while, but at some point another major financial crisis is going to erupt and the economy is going to get even worse.

So what will this country look like when that happens?

This is not the America that your grandparents grew up in.

Prepare accordingly.