Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos And Warren Buffett Have More Money Than The Poorest 50% Of The U.S. Population Combined

The problem is not that we have a few people that are rich – the problem is that we have so many that are poor.  As you will see below, three extremely wealthy individuals have as much money as the poorest half of the nation combined.  In a free market capitalist society, there are always going to be some that do better than others, and there is nothing wrong with that.  But in our society today, there are so few that are doing well.  At this point a majority of all Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, and “one in five households have zero or negative net worth”

In the United States, the 400 richest individuals now own more wealth than the bottom 64 percent of the population and the three richest own more wealth than the bottom 50 percent, while pervasive poverty means one in five households have zero or negative net worth.

Those are just several of the striking findings of Billionaire Bonanza 2017, a new report (pdf) published Wednesday by the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) that explores in detail the speed with which the U.S. is becoming “a hereditary aristocracy of wealth and power.”

That means that if you have no debt and a single dime in your pockets, you have more wealth than one-fifth of the entire country.

Okay, so let’s talk about the three men that have more wealth than the poorest 50 percent of the U.S. population combined.  Those three men are Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos of Amazon.com, and Warren Buffett.  I don’t want to take anything away from what those three have accomplished, because we need more risk takers and entrepreneurs.

Sadly, the level of small business creation has fallen in every presidential administration going all the way back to George H.W. Bush, and the percentage of Americans that are self-employed is hovering near all-time record lows.

As a nation, we desperately need to return to a culture that encourages free market capitalist thinking.  We want young men and women to create, invent, innovate and start new ventures.  But instead, today our culture encourages young people to become dependent on the government and on the big corporations, and as a result the middle class is evaporating.

As I discussed above, at this point 20 percent of all U.S. households have “either zero or negative wealth”

The rise at the wealthiest end of society comes as one in five US households live in what the report’s authors call the “underwater nation”, with either zero or negative wealth. Inequality is even more stark among minorities. Three in 10 black households and 27% of Latino ones have zero or negative wealth, compared with 14% of white families.

In recent years, unprecedented intervention by global central banks has created an absolutely enormous stock market bubble, but the real economy has continued to struggle.

Just look at what is happening to Sears.  This week they announced that they lost between $525 million and $595 million during the 3rd quarter of 2017.

How in the world do you do that?

If they had their employees doing nothing all day but flushing one dollar bills down the toilet, I still don’t think that they could lose that much money in three months.

Sears is going to sell 140 stores in a desperate attempt to stay afloat, but many believe that this is simply delaying the inevitable.  In fact, one prominent analyst named Bill Dreher believes that Sears will never be profitable again

One Wall Street analyst is beginning to doubt whether Sears Holdings will ever be profitable again, as the 124-year-old retailer struggles for liquidity and same-store sales evaporate.

“Sears’ operational performance is clearly NOT improving, and we grow increasingly concerned whether the company will ever return to profitability,” wrote Susquehanna analyst Bill Dreher in a note to clients Wednesday. “Further highlighting the company’s weakened position is the reality that manufacturers are increasingly demanding tighter payment and/or withholding products.”

Once upon a time, Sears was the number one shopping destination for the middle class.

But like the middle class in America, the best days for Sears are now long gone.

If we want to restore our economy to greatness, we need a vibrant middle class.

And in order to have a vibrant middle class, we need to have a system that encourages entrepreneurs and small businesses.  Free markets work if you allow them to, but unfortunately today we are strangling our entrepreneurs and small businesses with rules, regulations, red tape and oppressive levels of taxation, and until we change our ways we are going to continue to get the same very poor results.

Michael Snyder is a Republican candidate for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District, and you can learn how you can get involved in the campaign on his official website. His new book entitled “Living A Life That Really Matters” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.

They Are Killing Small Business: The Number Of Self-Employed Americans Is Lower Than It Was In 1990

After eight long, bitter years under Obama, will things go better for entrepreneurs and small businesses now that Donald Trump is in the White House?  Once upon a time, America was the best place in the world for those that wanted to work for themselves.  Our free market capitalist system created an environment in which entrepreneurs and small businesses greatly thrived, but today they are being absolutely eviscerated by the control freak bureaucrats that dominate our political system.  Year after year, leftist politicians just keep piling on more rules, more regulations, more red tape and more taxes.  As a result, the number of self-employed Americans is now lower than it was in 1990

In April 1990, 8.7 million Americans were self-employed, but today only 8.4 million Americans are self-employed.

Of course our population has grown much, much larger since that time.  In 1990, there were 249 million people living in the United States, but today there are 321 million people living in this country.

What this means is that the percentage of the population that is self-employed is way down.

In fact, one study found that the percentage of Americans that are self-employed fell by more than 20 percent between 1991 and 2010.

And if you go back even farther, the numbers are even more depressing.  It may be hard to believe, but the percentage of “new entrepreneurs and business owners” declined by a staggering 53 percent between 1977 and 2010.

Sometimes I like to watch a television show called Shark Tank, and on that show they make it seem like entrepreneurship in America is thriving.

But the exact opposite is actually the case.  In a previous article, I discussed how the number of new businesses being created in the United States has been steadily falling over the years.  According to economist Tim Kane, the number of startup jobs per one thousand Americans has been declining for several consecutive presidential administrations

Bush Sr.: 11.3

Clinton: 11.2

Bush Jr.: 10.8

Obama: 7.8

So why is this happening?

As I mentioned at the top of this article, self-employed Americans are being absolutely strangled by oppressive rules, regulations and taxes.

To illustrate this point, I would like to share with you some quotes from an open letter that was authored by a small business owner named Don Chernoff…

#1 I work for myself and have to pay my own medical expenses. Before the “affordable care act” I was paying about $200 per month for a high deductible policy. It was far from perfect but it got so much worse under the “Affordable” care act.

I now pay over $400 a month, my deductible went from $5,000 to over $6,000 and my out of pocket costs for care have skyrocketed.

#2 I have to spend dozens of hours and thousands of dollars for a tax accountant each spring to prepare my taxes because I cannot possibly understand how to do it myself, and I have a master’s degree in engineering.

#3 Many years ago when I quit a perfectly good job to start my own small business, I was shocked to learn that I had to pay both my share and what had been my employer’s share of Social Security.

#4 Between state, federal and local taxes you’ve probably paid 50% or more of your income in taxes, but that’s not enough for politicians.

If you’ve been lucky enough to have created a business you can sell, now you’ll get to enjoy paying another tax on the capital gain from the sale.

This is another reason why we need a conservative revolution in Washington.  We should demand that our members of Congress lower tax rates dramatically, completely eliminate the self-employment tax, greatly simplify the tax code and get rid of as many regulations on small business owners as possible.

In fact, if it was up to me I would abolish a number of federal agencies completely.

What we are doing right now is not working.  Small businesses have traditionally been one of the main engines of economic growth in this country, but thanks to the left they are unable to play that role at the moment.

It isn’t an accident that over the last ten years the U.S. economy has grown at exactly the same rate as it did during the 1930s.

If we want our economy to be great again, we need to go back and start doing the things that made it great in the first place.  If we continue to suffocate our economy, we will continue to get the same results.

And with each passing day, we get more signs that the economy is heading into another major downturn.  For instance, we just learned that Sears is closing 30 more stores on top of the 150 that had already been announced…

Sears Holdings, which wasn’t shy when it announced at the start of the year that it is closing 150 underperforming stores, has quietly added at least 30 more to the list.

Another 12 Sears stores and 18 Kmarts are among the locations that are closing, from Carson, Calif., to Hialeah, Fla., with most scheduled to shut their doors in July, based on calls to the stores, malls and confirmation in local media.

At the start of the year, the retailer pinpointed the 150 stores it said it would close. But it declined this week to provide a list of additional locations that are slated to shut since then, saying that it update store counts each quarter.

In addition, we just learned that new home sales in April were 11.4 percent lower than they were in March

If you’re surprised by the collapse in new home sales in April, then you’re not paying attention.

The 11.4% MoM plunge in new home sales in April was 5 standard deviations below expectations and the biggest since March 2015.

Yes, the stock market is holding up for the moment, but for most Americans the “real economy” just continues to deteriorate.  Just because we are at the end of a giant financial bubble does not mean that everything is going to be okay.

The numbers that I brought up in this article are just another example of our long-term economic decline.  In a healthy economy, entrepreneurs and small businesses would be thriving.  But instead, they are being systematically strangled out of existence by a political system that is wildly out of control.

Trump’s Approval Rating Is Supposedly Only 37 Percent, But Small Business Optimism Just Hit The Highest Level In 12 Years

donald-trump-and-mike-pence-public-domainA Quinnipiac University Poll that was released on Tuesday says that Donald Trump only has an approval rating of 37 percent.  Meanwhile, that same survey found that Barack Obama currently has an approval rating of 55 percent.  Of course considering the fact that Quinnipiac polls showed Hillary Clinton winning the election in November easily, perhaps we should not put too much stock in these results.  But other polling organizations have come up with similar results.  In fact, an average of nine recent polls indicates that Trump’s approval rating is somewhere around 42 percent.  So without a doubt there are a whole lot of people out there that do not like Donald Trump.

But the business community sure seems thrilled with him.  We just witnessed one of the greatest post-election stock market rallies in American history, numerous corporations have already announced that they will be bringing jobs back to the United States, and Bloomberg is reporting that small business optimism has hit the highest level that we have seen since the end of 2004…

Optimism among America’s small businesses soared in December by the most since 1980 as expectations about the economy’s prospects improved dramatically in the aftermath of the presidential election.

The National Federation of Independent Business’s index jumped 7.4 points last month to 105.8, the highest since the end of 2004, from 98.4. While seven of the 10 components increased in December, 73 percent of the monthly advance was due to more upbeat views about the outlook for sales and the economy, the Washington-based group said.

On the surface, all of these numbers appear to be contradictory.  If the American people are not feeling good about our new president, then it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense that the small business community would be so optimistic.

But of course the American people are not a single monolithic entity in 2017.  We are a deeply, deeply divided nation, and Donald Trump is the single most polarizing political figure to come along in generations.

Those that love Trump tend to really love Trump, and most of those people are quite optimistic about the future.

And those that hate Trump tend to really hate Trump.  Yesterday, I explained that the radical left wants to transform Inauguration Day into an epic riot, and many of his opponents are planning to spend the next four years doing whatever they can to destroy him.

Just look at what happened today.  The top story on CNN was about how the Russians supposedly have “compromising personal and financial information” on Donald Trump that they can use to blackmail him…

Classified documents presented last week to President Obama and President-elect Trump included allegations that Russian operatives claim to have compromising personal and financial information about Mr. Trump, multiple US officials with direct knowledge of the briefings tell CNN.

The allegations were presented in a two-page synopsis that was appended to a report on Russian interference in the 2016 election. The allegations came, in part, from memos compiled by a former British intelligence operative, whose past work US intelligence officials consider credible. The FBI is investigating the credibility and accuracy of these allegations, which are based primarily on information from Russian sources, but has not confirmed many essential details in the memos about Mr. Trump.

If you want to read the full 35 page report, you can do so right here.  Some of the things in the report are so absolutely laughable that I don’t know how anyone could possibly take them seriously.  And one particularly absurd section of the report was reportedly originally fabricated by some pranksters on the Internet, but you probably won’t hear that in the mainstream media.  CNN is standing by the legitimacy of these documents, and apparently U.S. Senator John McCain thought so much of them that he handed copies of them over to FBI Director James Comey on December 9th

CNN has also learned that on December 9, Senator John McCain gave a full copy of the memos — dated from June through December, 2016 — to FBI Director James Comey. McCain became aware of the memos from a former British diplomat who had been posted in Moscow. But the FBI had already been given a set of the memos compiled up to August 2016, when the former MI6 agent presented them to an FBI official in Rome, according to national security officials.

The raw memos on which the synopsis is based were prepared by the former MI6 agent, who was posted in Russia in the 1990s and now runs a private intelligence gathering firm. His investigations related to Mr. Trump were initially funded by groups and donors supporting Republican opponents of Mr. Trump during the GOP primaries, multiple sources confirmed to CNN. Those sources also said that once Mr. Trump became the nominee, further investigation was funded by groups and donors supporting Hillary Clinton.

According to this report, the Russian government has been “cultivating, supporting and assisting” Donald Trump “for at least five years”.

So has Donald Trump really been a super secret Russian agent all this time?

Of course not.  The mainstream media has decided to peddle Internet hoaxes, rampant speculation and fake news as legitimate journalism, and it is absolutely disgraceful.

But we are going to see much more of this.  The goal is to destroy Donald Trump, and this is a game that will be played daily now for the next four years.

We are a nation that is bitterly divided, and after everything that has already been said and done I don’t know if Donald Trump could bring us back together even if he wanted to do so.

The protests against Trump in Washington D.C. start in just four days.  I think that the period of time immediately surrounding Inauguration Day is going to set the tone for how Trump’s first year is going to play out.

I am definitely hoping for the best, but I also know that there is a large portion of the population that considers him to be the personification of everything that is wrong with America, and they have absolutely no intention of following his leadership.

It has been said that a house divided against itself will surely fall, and America is a deeply, deeply divided nation in early 2017.

Perhaps Trump can prove the naysayers wrong and bring us all together in unity, but at this point I am not optimistic that any president will be able to do this ever again.

Small Business Ownership In America Is At An All-Time Low

Small Business - Public DomainAccording to the Federal Reserve, the percentage of American families that own a small business is at the lowest level that has ever been recorded.  In a report that was just released entitled “Changes in U.S. Family Finances from 2010 to 2013: Evidence from the Survey of Consumer Finances“, the Federal Reserve revealed that small business ownership in America “fell substantially” between 2010 and 2013.  Even in the midst of this so-called “economic recovery”, small business ownership in America has now fallen to an all-time low.  If the economy truly was healthy, this would not be happening.  And it isn’t as if Americans are flooding the labor market either.  As I detailed yesterday, the labor force participation rate in this country is at a 36 year low.  That would not be happening if the economy was actually healthy either.  The truth is that the middle class in America is dying, and this new report from the Federal Reserve is more evidence of this very harsh reality.

In order to build wealth, middle class Americans either need to have their own businesses or they need good jobs.  Sadly, the percentage of Americans that own a business continues to decline steadily.  In the report that I mentioned above, the Federal Reserve says that the proportion of U.S. families that have an ownership interest in a small business fell from 13.3 percent in 2010 to a brand new all-time low of 11.7 percent in 2013.

This is one of the factors that is increasing the gap between the extremely wealthy and the rest of us in this country.  And of course another of the major factors is the steady decline in good paying jobs.

The U.S. Competitiveness Project at Harvard Business School is chaired by professors Michael E. Porter and Jan W. Rivkin.  It just released a new report entitled “An Economy Doing Half Its Job”, and it addressed the fact that the middle class is deeply struggling even though many large U.S. corporations have been thriving.  The following is an excerpt from an article in the Boston Globe about this report…

In a statement, Porter added: “Shortsighted executives may be satisfied with an American economy where firms operating here are winning without lifting US living standards. But leaders with longer perspectives understand that companies can’t thrive for long while their workers and their communities struggle.”

Unfortunately, this is not likely to change any time soon.  In fact, that same report discovered that Harvard Business School alumni foresee “falling pay and fewer openings for full-time jobs” for American workers in the years ahead…

U.S. workers face a dim future, with stagnant or falling pay and fewer openings for full-time jobs.

That’s the picture that emerges from a survey of Harvard Business School alumni.

More than 40 percent of the respondents foresee lower pay and benefits for workers. Roughly half favor outsourcing work over hiring staffers. A growing share prefer part-time employees. Nearly half would rather invest in new technology than hire or retain workers.

The Obama administration continues to tell us that the unemployment rate is “going down” and that the economy is recovering, but that does not match the reality of what most Americans are experiencing on a day to day basis.

As David Stockman recently so aptly put it, outside of health and education the U.S. economy has not produced a single job since mid-2000 even though our population has grown greatly since that time…

In a few deft seconds, a “no jobs” nobody who apparently doesn’t actually have one himself,  essentially explained the contents of the chart below to his silenced CNBC hosts. Over the course of 170 “jobs Fridays” since mid-2000, the latter have apparently never noticed the single most stunning fact embedded in the monthly BLS report. Namely, that outside of health and education there has not been one net new job created in the American economy since July 2000! Yes, not a single new job—as in none, nein, nichts, nada, zip!

In addition, most of the new jobs that are being “added to the economy” each month are part-time jobs.  Right now, we still have 1.4 million fewer full-time jobs than we did in 2008 even though more than 100,000 people are added to the population each month.

What this means is that the middle class is shrinking.

We are witnessing an increasing concentration of wealth among the ultra-wealthy, and most of the rest of us are getting poorer.  As a recent CNN article detailed, the Federal Reserve has also discovered that the gap between the rich and the poor in America is larger than the Fed has ever recorded before…

In its Study of Consumer Finances, released every three years, the Fed found that the wealthiest 3% of American households controlled 54.4% of the nation’s wealth in 2013, a slight increase from its last survey in 2010. It’s also substantially higher from the 44.8% they held in 1989, showing how quickly the income divide has been growing over the past decade or so.

At the same time, the share of wealth held by the bottom 90% fell to 24.7% in 2013. That’s compared to 33.2% in 1989.

How close does the share of wealth for the bottom 90 percent have to go before we admit that we have a major problem on our hands?

Is there anyone out there that would be okay with it hitting zero percent?

One of the big reasons why the wealthy have been doing so well is because the stock market has been soaring.  The money printing policies of the Federal Reserve have sent stock prices to unprecedented heights.  This has overwhelmingly benefited the extremely wealthy

According to recent data from the Federal Reserve, America has the lowest level of stock ownership in 18 years. Yet stock ownership for the wealthy is at a new high—and that has accounted for most of their good fortune compared to the rest of America.

In fact, the Fed says that the wealthiest top 10 percent of all Americans now own 81 percent of all stocks…

Stock ownership is even more concentrated when it comes to share of total stock holdings. In 2010, the latest period available, the top 10 percent of Americans by net worth held 81 percent of all directly held or indirectly held stocks, according to Edward N. Wolff, an economics professor at New York University who specializes in inequality and Federal Reserve data.

Wolff said that share—which has not been released yet for 2013—has probably gone even higher than 81 percent since 2010.

Since the last financial crisis, the Federal Reserve has been very good to the elite.

But most of the rest of us have had a really hard time.

Until more Americans start getting good jobs and building small businesses, things are not going to turn around for the middle class.

But the policies being pursued by our politicians continue to kill good jobs and continue to kill small businesses, so I wouldn’t expect significant changes any time soon.

The “Economic Recovery” Continues: Businesses Are Being Destroyed Faster Than They Are Being Created

The Death Of Small Business - Photo by Tina McKimmieWhat would you say about an economy where businesses are shutting down faster than they are opening?  Well, a shocking new study released by the Brookings Institution indicates that this is exactly what is happening in the United States.  We are absolutely killing small businesses and the entrepreneurial spirit in this country, and as you will see below, the number of self-employed Americans has been on a downward trend for a decade even though our population has been steadily growing.  Traditionally, small businesses have been the primary engine of job growth in this nation, so the fact that study after study has found that small business creation is being crippled in the United States is a really bad sign for our economic future.

Personally, I write about our long-term economic decline nearly every day, but even I had no idea that businesses were being destroyed faster than they were being created.  According to the Brookings Institution, this first started happening in 2009

The American economy is less entrepreneurial now than at any point in the last three decades. That’s the conclusion of a new study out from the Brookings Institution, which looks at the rates of new business creation and destruction since 1978.

Not only that, but during the most recent three years of the study — 2009, 2010 and 2011 — businesses were collapsing faster than they were being formed, a first.

And this mirrors an earlier study conducted by economist Tim Kane.  According to his analysis of U.S. Department of Labor data, the following is how the decline in the number of new business jobs per one thousand Americans breaks down by presidential administration

Bush Sr.: 11.3

Clinton: 11.2

Bush Jr.: 10.8

Obama: 7.8

As you can see, this is a problem that has been building for decades and that has accelerated under the Obama administration.

We are strangling small business creation to death, and as a result the number of Americans that are self-employed just keeps going down.  Just check out this chart…

Self-Employed 2014

And keep in mind that throughout this entire time the U.S. population has been growing.  So the numbers in the chart above should be going up steadily as the population grows.  But instead they have just kept going down.

Meanwhile, the “economic recovery” is continuing in the corporate world as well.

On Tuesday, we learned that Office Depot is going to be closing 400 stores.

Why would that happen if the economy was actually getting better?

When this was announced, shares of Office Depot rose about 20 percent.

I can never understand why that happens.  You would think that when a business makes an announcement that essentially says “our business is failing” that it would cause people to dump the stock.

In any event, this comes on the heels of an announcement by Staples back in March that it was going to shut down 225 stores in the United States and Canada.

So where will we buy our pens and paper from now on?

If the economy really was “recovering”, you would think that demand for office supplies would actually be on the rise.

But the only places where the economy is “recovering” is in places such as Washington D.C., New York City and San Francisco.

Those at the top of the pyramid are doing well, but almost everyone else in the country is really suffering right now.

When you kill off small businesses and the entrepreneurial spirit, it tends to increasingly funnel money to the very top of the food chain.  And this is precisely what is happening in America at this point.  In a recent article, Charles Hugh Smith included a chart that shows how average household net worth in the U.S. breaks down by quartile…

Bottom 25%: $4,600
From 25% to 50%: $21,700
From 50% to 75%: $78,900
From 75% to 90%: $242,800
Top 10%: $1,606,600

As you can see, the bottom 50 percent are really not that much above zero at all.  In the old days, it seemed like almost everyone was “middle class” in America, but now that is rapidly changing.

We can see this increasing divide in the real estate market as well.  According to Bloomberg, sales of million dollar homes are booming, but sales of homes at the low end are plunging…

“Million-dollar homes in the U.S. are selling at double their historical average while middle-class property demand stumbles, showing that the housing recovery is mirroring America’s wealth divide.

Purchases costing $1 million or more rose 7.8 percent in March from a year earlier, according to data released last week by the National Association of Realtors. Transactions for $250,000 or less, which represent almost two-thirds of the market, plunged 12 percent in the period”

So this explains why it is almost impossible to find an affordable home in San Francisco, but the overall homeownership rate in the United States has dropped to the lowest level in 19 years.

But even in our wealthy enclaves there are signs of deep economic trouble.  For example, in New York City the number of homeless children has soared to a new all-time high…

They’re just like other kids except they have a secret. They are homeless.  Children are living hidden lives in plain sight. They are part a growing number of low income families who find themselves with no way out but they are working hard to find a solution.

It’s a big issue. And it’s growing. More than 23,000 children sleep in homeless shelters every night, an all-time high, according to the Coalition for the Homeless.

The only “recovery” being experienced in America is the one that is happening on Wall Street, in boardrooms in Silicon Valley and in the halls of power in Washington.

In the rest of the country, retail stores are closing at the fastest pace that we have seen since the collapse of Lehman Brothers, 20 percent of all families do not have a single member that is employed and 49 million Americans are dealing with food insecurity.

There is no way that we are ever going to have a broad-based economic recovery in this nation if we continue to destroy small businesses.  They are the lifeblood of any economy and they are the primary engine of job creation.

Sadly, our politicians seem completely clueless about all of this.  So they will continue to do the same things that they have always been doing and then wonder why the economy never seems to turn around.

11-Year-Old Girl BANNED From Selling Cupcakes By Control Freak Government Bureaucrats

Marble Cupcakes - Photo by F_A from Ostwestfalen, GermanyAmerica is being suffocated to death by red tape.  You are about to read about an 11-year-old girl in Illinois that had her cupcake business brutally shut down by government bureaucrats.  Her name is Chloe Stirling and her crime was doing something that we used to applaud young people in America for doing.  Instead of sitting on her sofa and watching television all day, she actually started her own business.  And it turned out there her little business started thriving.  In fact, it started doing so well that a local newspaper took notice of it.  Well, that is when the control freaks swooped in and took her business away and banned her from selling any more cupcakes.  The really sad thing is that people are being paid to do this with our tax dollars.  All over America, little entrepreneurs are having their lemonade stands shut down and are being banned from selling Girl Scout cookies, and our tax dollars are paying the people that are doing it.  As I wrote about earlier this month, the level of economic freedom in the United States is at an all-time low, and it gets worse with each passing year.  The country that so many of us love is dying, and it is being replaced with something that I like to call “the USSA”.

In the Union of Soviet Socialist Americans, you have to have a government “license” or “permit” to do just about anything.  If the government does not give you permission, you can get into a whole lot of trouble.

Little 11-year-old Chloe Stirling must have thought that this was still the nation that George Washington and Thomas Jefferson once founded, because she dared to actually start a business and sell cupcakes to the public.  Little did she know that she would soon make national news

An 11-year-old girl from Illinois got a dose of regulation American-style this week when local government officials shut down her cupcake business.

Chloe Stirling, from Troy, got the front-page treatment from her local newspaper, which featured how well her business, Hey, Cupcake, was doing. By all accounts, it was a successful little enterprise. Chloe was getting $10 for a dozen cupcakes and $2 for each specialty cupcake. She even donated her cupcakes when a boy in her school fighting cancer held a fundraiser.

So why did they shut her down?

Well, it turns out that she didn’t have a “permit” to sell cupcakes and her kitchen was not “licensed”.

Like I said, you have to have permission from the government to do just about anything these days.

Another example of this phenomenon that is absolutely infuriating took place out in Fauquier County, Virginia.  When a mother held a birthday party for eight 10-year-old girls and posted the photos on Facebook, she never imagined that she would soon be hit with $15,000 in fines…

Martha Boneta owns a small farm in Fauquier County, Virginia, where she recently hosted a birthday party for eight 10-year-old girls. They wore hats, picked veggies, and made goat’s milk soap. The county says she should have obtain a license before hosting such an event and hit her with a $5,000 fine.

Boneta also got slammed with two more fines for $5,000 each, one for advertising a pumpkin carving and another for violations in the small shop on her property. Boneta sells produce from her farm, as well as eggs, yarn, birdhouses, and local crafts. She sought and received a license for the shop in 2011, but the county now says she can’t sell handiwork or produce from her neighbors under that license.

Stuff like this just makes me want to scream sometimes.

What is happening to this country?

A few years ago, my wife used to take old pieces of furniture, sand them down, repaint them and sell them to others.  It was something that she really enjoyed doing and she made some extra money along the way.

But if you try doing that in some areas of the country today, the EPA could potentially hit you with a fine of $30,000 for a single incident in which you do not follow the proper procedures.  The following is an excerpt from a discussion that some furniture painters were having on Facebook.  It is a little technical, but it is worth reading.  In this excerpt the identity of the business has been removed to protect the business from overzealous regulators…

As a painter in PA, I am required by law to test everything that I disturb and I must charge the customer $60 for every test I perform which adds up. What the law states in my area is that if I disturb more than 6 square inches on anything made prior to Jan 1 1979 I must test it. Disturbing means, sanding, scraping, or even using a sponge/scuff pad (like you use on your pots) if I disturb more than 6 inches, I must take photographs, document in 4 different logs, I have local, county, state, and federal log books. If I find lead then I must suit up. Originally, the law stated that if there were no children around then you didn’t have to do that however some lame brained legislator decided that if a child enters the premises for more than one hour a day, we must assume they will be in contact with the lead and therefore will contract lead poisoning. Then the legislators decided that if you were over the age of 60 then it didn’t matter, you didn’t have to test who cares if you get poisoned. Lo and behold OSHA stepped in and joined forces with the EPA, they decided that all were at risk including your pets and the leaves on your trees can hold the lead dust and …..well, that’s a whole other issue.

What is happening now is that so many painters decided they weren’t going to follow the lead law, that OSHA and EPA send out secret shoppers. A lot of us don’t even put our logo’s on our vehicles because that invites these shoppers to investigate. If you come to the **** ********, you won’t see signage on the building, you have to get to the actual door of the workroom to know we are there. We no longer have logo’s on our vehicles either as the fines are too stiff. There isn’t one of us that can afford a find of $30,000.00 A DAY, not a year, A DAY.

The government bureaucrats are running wild and the rest of us are just sitting back and letting it happen.

Things have gotten so bad in this country that the federal government even requires small-time magicians to submit “disaster plans” for the rabbits that they use in their acts.  The following is an excerpt from one of my previous articles

Central planning in this country is getting completely and totally out of control.  These days, you can hardly do anything without running into a suffocating web of red tape.  For example, a small-time magician from Missouri that does magic shows for kids was absolutely horrified when he learned that the Obama administration is requiring him to submit a 32 page “disaster plan” for the rabbit that he uses in his shows.  Yes, this is actually true.  His name is Marty Hahne, and he thought that it was bad enough when the U.S. Department of Agriculture busted him for not having a “license” for his rabbit.  He went out and acquired the proper “license” for his rabbit, but he never dreamed that eventually he would also have to submit a 32 page “disaster plan” for the same rabbit.

You can read the rest of that article right here.

Are you starting to get the picture?

These control freaks want to completely dominate every aspect of our lives.  The “nanny state” is entirely out of control and it is up to “we the people” to do something about it.

Barack Obama revealed the kind of mentality that is behind this “nanny state” when he recently made the following statement

“I would not let my son play pro football”

And without a doubt, the control freaks that run things will try to ban football (or at least “tone it down”) the moment that they think that they can get away with it.

America was supposed to be a place where liberty and freedom were maximized and the interference of the federal government in our lives was supposed to be minimized.

Instead, what we have now is just the opposite.

No wonder Americans consider the government to be their biggest problem.

Marble Cupcakes - Photo by F_A from Ostwestfalen, Germany

They Are Murdering Small Business: The Percentage Of Self-Employed Americans Is At A Record Low

They Are Murdering Small Business - The Percentage Of Self-Employed Americans Is At A Record Low - Photo by Tina McKimmieThe percentage of Americans that are working for themselves has never been lower in the history of the United States.  Once upon a time, the United States was a paradise for entrepreneurs and small businesses, but now the control freak bureaucrats that dominate our society have created a system that absolutely eviscerates them.  This is very unfortunate, because by murdering small business, the bureaucrats are destroying the primary engine of job growth in this country.  One of the big reasons why there are not enough jobs in America today is because small business creation is way down.  As I mentioned yesterday, entrepreneurs and small businesses are being absolutely devastated by rules, regulations, red tape and by oppressive levels of taxation.  If anyone doubts that small business in the United States is dying, just look at the charts below.  Sadly, this is what the bureaucrats that run things want.  They don’t want us to be independent of the system.  Instead, they are much more comfortable when as many of us as possible are heavily dependent on the system in one way or another.  If all of us have to go running to the government or to one of the big corporations for a job, then we are much easier to control.  But as the control freaks continue to construct their bureaucratic utopia, they are also killing off what once made the U.S. economy so great.

The other day I came across the following two charts in an article by Charles Hugh Smith, and I was absolutely stunned by what I saw.  This first chart shows that the number of unincorporated self-employed Americans has dropped back to levels that we have not seen since the mid-1980s even though our population has increased by tens of millions of people since that time…

The Number Of Self-Employed Americans

As you can see, from 1970 to the mid-1990s the number of unincorporated self-employed Americans rose steadily.  But in the mid-1990s it began to level off and now it is falling rapidly.

This next chart shows the percentage of self-employed Americans as a share of non-farm employment.  In other words, those that work on farms are excluded from this chart.  The percentage of self-employed Americans was fairly stable between 1970 and 1990, but since 1990 it has been steadily eroding and it has now reached a level never seen before…

Self-Employed As A Share Of Non-Farm Employment

At this point, only about 7 percent of non-farm workers are self-employed.  That is depressingly low.  That means that an overwhelming majority of those that are employed in America are working for the system in one capacity or another.

But isn’t that what we pound into the heads of our children these days?  We teach them to work hard in school so that they can “get a good job” when they grow up.  From a very early age we train our children to plug themselves into the system.

Not that working for someone else is wrong.  Of course not.  It is just that we are not fostering a spirit of entrepreneurship in America today.  In fact, we seem to be doing everything that we can to kill it off.

In a previous article, I detailed how the number of new businesses (and the number of jobs those businesses create) has been steadily declining.  In particular, this decline has accelerated dramatically under the Obama administration.  According to an analysis of U.S. Department of Labor data performed by economist Tim Kane, the following is how the decline in the number of startup jobs per 1000 Americans breaks down by presidential administration

Bush Sr.: 11.3

Clinton: 11.2

Bush Jr.: 10.8

Obama: 7.8

Is that a good trend or a bad trend?

It doesn’t take an advanced degree in economics to figure out where things are going.

Kane speculated about why we are witnessing such a decline in his paper

There is anecdotal evidence that the U.S. policy environment has become inadvertently hostile to entrepreneurial employment. At the federal level, high taxes and higher uncertainty about taxes are undoubtedly inhibiting entrepreneurship, but to what degree is unknown. The dominant factor may be new regulations on labor.  The passage of the Affordable Care Act is creating a sweeping alteration of the regulatory environment that directly changes how employers engage their workforces, and it will be some time until those changes are understood by employers or scholars. Separately, there has been a federal crackdown since 2009 by the Internal Revenue Service on U.S. employers that hire U.S. workers as independent contractors rather than employees, raising the question of mandatory benefits. New firms tend to use part-time and contract staffing rather than full-time employees during the startup stage. According to Labor Department data, the typical American today only takes home 70 percent of compensation as pay, while the rest is absorbed by the spiraling cost of benefits (e.g., health insurance). The dilemma for U.S. policy is that an American entrepreneur has zero tax or regulatory burden when hiring a consultant/contractor who resides abroad. But that same employer is subject to paperwork, taxation, and possible IRS harassment if employing U.S.-based contractors. Finally, there has been a steady barrier erected to entrepreneurs at the local policy level. Brink Lindsey points out in his book Human Capitalism that the rise of occupational licensing is destroying startup opportunities for poor and middle class Americans.

In my previous article, I also pointed out some of the other statistics that show that small business in America is dying…

-According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. economy lost more than 220,000 small businesses during the last recession.

-As a share of the population, the percentage of Americans that are self-employed fell by more than 20 percent between 1991 and 2010.

-As a share of the population, the percentage of “new entrepreneurs and business owners” dropped by a staggering 53 percent between 1977 and 2010.

Unfortunately, this is a crisis that has taken decades to develop and that there are not any easy solutions for.  But there are certain factors that should be addressed immediately.  The following are some of the things that are contributing to the murder of self-employment and small business in America…

#1 Taxes: The IRS seems to especially enjoy tormenting entrepreneurs and small businesses.  In fact, things have gotten so bad that even late night talk show hosts are joking about it.  Recently, NBC Tonight Show host Jay Leno joked that if Barack Obama really wanted to close down Guantanamo Bay, he should “do what he always does: declare it a small business and tax it out of existence”

#2 Ridiculous Regulations: If you have ever tried to start a small business, you probably know how frustrating it can be dealing with government red tape.  In particular, the federal government has burdened our small businesses with gigantic mountains of rules and regulations and it gets worse with each passing day.

#3 State Governments That Are Openly Hostile To Business: A perfect example of this is the state of California.  In 2011, the state of California ranked 50th out of all 50 states in new business creation, and yet they just continue to pass more legislation that hurts small businesses.

#4 Obamacare: Our broken healthcare system is a tremendous burden on small businesses, and Obamacare is going to make things much worse.

#5 The One World Trade Agenda: In many industries, U.S. small businesses simply cannot compete against products made by workers that are being paid slave labor wages on the other side of the globe.

#6 Predator Corporations: Time after time we have seen corporate giants extract huge tax breaks and other enormous concessions from local officials which give them an overwhelming advantage.  But once the corporate giant moves into town, many of the existing small businesses find that they cannot compete and are forced to shut down.

#7 Our Corrupt Political System: On the national level, elections are almost always won by the politician that raises the most money.  Our politicians know that their careers depend on raising money, so they tend to be very good to those that they get big money from.  There is a reason why big corporations spend billions of dollars on campaign contributions and lobbying.  They do it because it works.  Over the decades, the big corporations have been able to shift the rules of the game massively in their favor, and this has been to the detriment of entrepreneurs and small businesses.

Can you think of any other factors that you would add to this list?  Please feel free to share your opinion by leaving a comment below…

Michael T Snyder's New Book