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Handout Nation: Combined Enrollment In America’s 4 Largest Safety Net Programs Hits A Record High Of 236 Million

Margaret Thatcher once said that the problem with socialism “is that eventually you run out of other people’s money”.  As you will see below, the combined enrollment in America’s four largest safety net programs has reached a staggering 236 million.  Of course that doesn’t mean that 236 million people are getting benefits from the government each month because there is overlap between the various programs.  For example, many Americans that are on Medicaid are also on food stamps, and many Americans that are on Medicare are also on Social Security.  But even accounting for that, most experts estimate that the number of Americans that are dependent on the federal government month after month is well over 100 million.  And now that so many people are addicted to government handouts, can we ever return to a culture of independence and self-sufficiency?

On Wednesday, CNN ran an editorial by Bernie Sanders in which he called President Trump’s proposed budget “immoral” because it would cut funding for government aid programs.

But is it moral to steal more than a hundred million dollars from future generations of Americans every single hour of every single day to pay for these programs?

Of course the answer to that question is quite obvious.

There will always be some Americans that are unable to take care of themselves, and we should want to help them.

But as millions upon millions of Americans continue to jump on to the safety net, eventually we are going to get to the point where it is going to break.

As I mentioned above, the combined enrollment in the four largest safety net programs has reached a new all-time record high…

More than 74 million Americans are on Medicaid and CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program).

More than  58 million Americans are on Medicare.

More than 60 million Americans are on Social Security.

Approximately 44 million Americans are on food stamps.  And even though we are supposedly in an “economic recovery”, this number is still dramatically higher than the 26 million Americans that were on food stamps prior to the last financial crisis.

When you add the figures for those four programs together, you get a grand total of 236 million, and that doesn’t even count any of the other federal programs which are helping people.

Once again, there is overlap in enrollment between these various programs, but even accounting for that most experts believe that well over a third of the country is currently receiving benefits from the government each month.

How far down this road do we have to go before people start calling it “socialism”?

As I was writing this, I was reminded of one of Benjamin Franklin’s most famous quotes

“When the people find that they can vote themselves money that will herald the end of the republic.”

In our country today, many politicians have discovered that one of the best ways to win elections is to promise the voters as much free stuff as possible.  This is one of the primary reasons why Bernie Sanders did so well.  Young people loved his socialist policies, and he received more votes from Millennials in the primaries and caucuses than Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton combined.

As older generations of Americans continue to die off, the Millennials will just become even more powerful politically.  And considering the fact that they are far more liberal than other generations, that is a very alarming prospect…

In the minds of 80 percent of baby boomers and 91 percent of elderly Americans, communism was a major problem in years past and remains a significant concern today. But millennials, aged 16 to 20 years, see it differently. Only 55 percent of the younger generation take issue with communism, 45 percent say they would vote for a socialist and 21 percent say they’d vote for a communist.

And millennials made all that clear during the Democratic presidential primary, when many of them cast their vote for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, a self-avowed socialist. In fact, the report credits the New England lawmaker with a “bounce” that led to less than half of millennials — 42 percent — having a favorable view of capitalism.

At this point, the Republic that our founders established is barely recognizable, and if it is going to be saved we need a conservative revolution as soon as possible.

A good place to begin would be to dramatically reduce the size and scope of the federal government, and there are some promising signs in the budget that President Trump has proposed.  He wants to completely eliminate 66 federal programs, and liberals are screaming bloody murder over this.

Of course Trump’s budget is “dead on arrival” in Congress because many among his own party do not support him.  Most Republicans campaign as conservatives but govern like Democrats, and it is high time that we held them accountable for that.  In 2018 we are going get Trump a whole bunch of friends in Congress, and a lot of those establishment Republicans that have been betraying conservatives for years are going to have to find a new line of work.

We simply cannot afford to keep sending the same cast of characters back to Washington time after time.  Just look at the debacle that the effort to repeal Obamacare has become.  According to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, getting any sort of bill through the Senate is going to be extremely challenging

Referring to behind-the-scenes work among Senate Republicans on a healthcare bill, McConnell said, “I don’t know how we get to 50 (votes) at the moment. But that’s the goal.”

Under a scenario of gathering the votes needed for passage in the 100-seat chamber, Republican Vice President Mike Pence would be called upon to cast any potential tie-breaking Senate vote.

McConnell opened the interview by saying, “There’s not a whole lot of news to be made on healthcare.” He declined to provide any timetable for producing even a draft bill to show to rank-and-file Republican senators and gauge their support.

And yet somehow when Obama was in office the Republicans in the House and the Senate were able to easily pass a bill to repeal Obamacare and get it to Obama’s desk.

Why can’t they get that exact same bill to Trump’s desk?

We definitely need to “drain the swamp” in D.C., and we can start with Congress.

But the alliance between big money and big government is going to be hard to defeat, and so if we want our country back we are going to have to fight harder than we have ever fought before.

The U.S. Has Lost 195,000 Good Paying Energy Industry Jobs

Layoffs - Public DomainNot all jobs are created equal.  There is a world of difference between a $100,000 a year energy industry job and a $10 an hour job running a cash register at Wal-Mart.  You can comfortably support a middle class family on $100,000 a year, but there is no way in the world that you can run a middle class household on a part-time job that pays just $10 an hour.  The quality of our jobs matters, and if current long-term trends continue unabated, eventually we are not going to have much of a middle class left.  At this point the middle class has already become a minority in America, and according to the Social Security Administration 51 percent of all American workers make less than $30,000 a year right now.  We have a desperate need for more higher paying jobs, and that is why what is happening in the energy industry is so deeply alarming.

Just today we got some more disturbing news.  According to Challenger, Gray & Christmas, the U.S. has lost 195,000 good paying energy jobs since the middle of 2014…

Cheap oil has fueled a massive wave of job cuts that may not be over yet.

Since oil prices began to fall in mid-2014, cheap crude has been blamed for 195,000 job cuts in the U.S., according to a report published on Thursday by outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

It’s an enormous toll that is especially painful because these tend to be well-paying jobs. The average pay in the oil and gas industry is 84% higher than the national average, according to Goldman Sachs.

Those are good paying jobs that are not easy to replace, and unfortunately the jobs losses appear to be accelerating.  In their new report, Challenger, Gray & Christmas went on to say that 95,000 of those job cuts have come in 2016, and 17,725 of them were in July alone.

We also got some other bad news for the U.S. economy on Thursday.

Factory orders are down again, and at this point U.S. factory orders have now been down on a year over year basis for 20 months in a row.  That is the longest streak in all of U.S. history.

Needless to say, we have never seen such a thing happen outside of a recession.

In addition, it is being reported that U.S. banks have been tightening lending standards for four quarters in a row.

Once again, this is something that has never happened outside of a recession.

On top of all that, tax receipts continue to plummet.  This is a very bad sign for the economy, because falling tax receipts are usually a sign that we are headed into a recession.  The following comes from Zero Hedge

July “Withheld” receipts – those tax and withholding payments that come straight from wage earner pay stubs – are down 1.0% year over year. 

This data series can be choppy, and looking at the three month trailing average yields a 3.1%.  That’s a touch slower than the 2016 YTD comp of 3.3%, and tells us to not expect too much from Friday’s number.

Also worth noting: YTD non-withheld tax receipts (such as those that come from “Gig economy” workers) are down 6.5%, and July’s comp is 15% lower than a year ago.

Last, corporate tax receipts are down 11% YTD, and if the current pace of these payments holds it will be the first negative comp since 2011. Bottom line: if the tax man isn’t as busy, can the U.S. economy really be expanding?

Are you starting to see a pattern here?

And let’s review what else we have learned over the past couple of weeks…

-U.S. GDP growth came in at an extremely disappointing 1.2 percent for the second quarter of 2016, and the first quarter was revised down to 0.8 percent.

-The rate of homeownership in the United States has fallen to the lowest level ever.

-The Wall Street Journal says that this is the weakest “economic recovery” since 1949.

-Barack Obama is on track to be the only president in U.S. history to never have a single year of 3 percent GDP growth.

Meanwhile, things continue to get worse around the rest of the planet as well.  For example, the economic depression in Brazil continues to deepen and it is being reported that the Brazilian economy has now been shrinking for five quarters in a row

Brazil’s economy, the world’s ninth largest, contracted by 0.3 percent in the first quarter, marking the fifth straight quarter it shrank. Last year, Brazil’s gross domestic product fell to its lowest level since 2009.

Inflation has also shot higher recently, rising 9 percent in 2015, from 6.3 percent in 2014, according to data from the World Bank. Energy as a percentage of exports, meanwhile, fell to 7 percent in 2015, from 9 percent in the previous year.

And of course Brazil is hosting the Olympics this summer, and that is turning out to be a major debacle.  Many of the international athletes will actually be rowing, sailing and swimming in open waters that are highly contaminated by raw sewage, and Brazilian police have been welcoming tourists to Rio with a big sign that says “Welcome To Hell“.  And let us not forget that right next door in Venezuela the economic collapse has gotten so bad that people are killing and eating zoo animals.

As the global economy continues to deteriorate, what should we do?

Legendary investor Bill Gross shared some of his thoughts on the matter in his latest Investment Outlook

“Negative returns and principal losses in many asset categories are increasingly possible unless nominal growth rates reach acceptable levels,” Gross said in his latest Investment Outlook note published Wednesday.

“I don’t like bonds; I don’t like most stocks; I don’t like private equity. Real assets such as land, gold, and tangible plant and equipment at a discount are favored asset categories.”

I tend to agree with Gross.  Bonds are in a tremendous bubble right now, and the stock market bubble has grown to ridiculous proportions.  In the end, the only wealth that you are going to be able to fully rely on is wealth that you can physically have in your possession.

As you have seen in this article, signs of economic decline are all around us.

And yet, many people out there are still convinced that good times are right around the corner.

What is it going to take to convince them that they are wrong?

It Is Mathematically Impossible To Pay Off All Of Our Debt

Money - Public DomainDid you know that if you took every single penny away from everyone in the United States that it still would not be enough to pay off the national debt?  Today, the debt of the federal government exceeds $145,000 per household, and it is getting worse with each passing year.  Many believe that if we paid it off a little bit at a time that we could eventually pay it all off, but as you will see below that isn’t going to work either.  It has been projected that “mandatory” federal spending on programs such as Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare plus interest on the national debt will exceed total federal revenue by the year 2025.  That is before a single dollar is spent on the U.S. military, homeland security, paying federal workers or building any roads and bridges.  So no, we aren’t going to be “paying down” our debt any time in the foreseeable future.  And of course it isn’t just our 18 trillion dollar national debt that we need to be concerned about.  Overall, Americans are a total of 58 trillion dollars in debt.  35 years ago, that number was sitting at just 4.3 trillion dollars.  There is no way in the world that all of that debt can ever be repaid.  The only thing that we can hope for now is for this debt bubble to last for as long as possible before it finally explodes.

It shocks many people to learn that our debt is far larger than the total amount of money in existence.  So let’s take a few moments and go through some of the numbers.

When most people think of “money”, they think of coins, paper money and checking accounts.  All of those are contained in one of the most basic measures of money known as M1.  The following definition of M1 comes from Investopedia

A measure of the money supply that includes all physical money, such as coins and currency, as well as demand deposits, checking accounts and Negotiable Order of Withdrawal (NOW) accounts. M1 measures the most liquid components of the money supply, as it contains cash and assets that can quickly be converted to currency.

As you can see from the chart below, M1 has really grown in recent years thanks to rampant quantitative easing by the Federal Reserve.  At the moment it is sitting just shy of 3 trillion dollars…

M1 Money Supply 2015

So if you gathered up all coins, all paper currency and all money in everyone’s checking accounts, would that even make much of a dent in our debt?

Nope.

We’ll have to find more “money” to grab.

M2 is a broader definition of money than M1 is, because it includes more things.  The following definition of M2 comes from Investopedia

A measure of money supply that includes cash and checking deposits (M1) as well as near money. “Near money” in M2 includes savings deposits, money market mutual funds and other time deposits, which are less liquid and not as suitable as exchange mediums but can be quickly converted into cash or checking deposits.

As you can see from the chart below, M2 is sitting just short of 12 trillion dollars right now…

M2 Money Supply 2015

That is a lot more “money”, but it still wouldn’t pay off our national debt, much less our total debt of 58 trillion dollars.

So is there anything else that we could grab?

Well, the broadest definition of “money” that is commonly used is M3.  The following definition of M3 comes from Investopedia

A measure of money supply that includes M2 as well as large time deposits, institutional money market funds, short-term repurchase agreements and other larger liquid assets. The M3 measurement includes assets that are less liquid than other components of the money supply, and are more closely related to the finances of larger financial institutions and corporations than to those of businesses and individuals. These types of assets are referred to as “near, near money.”

The Federal Reserve no longer provides charts for M3, but according to John Williams of shadowstats.com, M3 is currently sitting somewhere in the neighborhood of 17 trillion dollars.

So even with the broadest possible definition of “money”, we simply cannot come up with enough to pay off the debt of the federal government, much less the rest of our debts.

That is not good news at all.

Alternatively, could we just start spending less than we bring in and start paying down the national debt a little bit at a time?

Perhaps that may have been true at one time, but now we are really up against a wall.  Our rapidly aging population is going to put an enormous amount of stress on our national finances in the years ahead.

According to U.S. Representative Frank Wolf, interest on the national debt plus “mandatory” spending on programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid will surpass the total amount of federal revenue by the year 2025.  That is before a single penny is spent on homeland security, national defense, paying federal workers, etc.

But even now things are a giant mess.  We are told that “deficits are under control”, but that is a massive hoax that is based on accounting gimmicks.  During fiscal year 2014, the U.S. national debt increased by more than a trillion dollars.  That is not “under control” – that is a raging national crisis.

Many believe that that we could improve the situation by raising taxes.  And yes, a little bit more could probably be squeezed out of us, but the impact on government finances would be negligible.  Since the end of World War II, the amount of tax revenue taken in by the federal government has fluctuated in a range between 15 and 20 percent of GDP no matter what tax rates have been.  I believe that it is possible to get up into the low twenties, but that would also be very damaging to our economy and the American public would probably throw a huge temper tantrum.

The real problem, of course, is our out of control spending.

During the past two decades, spending by the federal government has grown 63 percent more rapidly than inflation, and “mandatory” spending on programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid has actually doubled after you adjust for inflation.

We simply cannot afford to keep spending money like this.

And then there is the matter of interest on the national debt.  For the moment, the rest of the world is lending us gigantic mountains of money at ridiculously low interest rates.  However, if the average rate of interest on U.S. government debt was just to return to the long-term average, we would be spending more than a trillion dollars a year just in interest on the national debt.

So the best possible environment for “paying down our debt” that we are ever going to see is happening right now.  The only place that interest rates on U.S. government debt have to go is up, and our population is going to just keep getting older and more dependent on government programs.

Meanwhile, our overall debt continues to spiral out of control as well.  According to CNBC, the total amount of debt that Americans owe has reached a staggering 58.7 trillion dollars…

As the nation entered the 1980s, there was comparatively little debt—just about $4.3 trillion. That was only about 1.5 times the size of gross GDP. Then a funny thing happened.

The gap began to widen during the decade, and then became basically parabolic through the ’90s and into the early part of the 21st century.

Though debt took a brief decline in 2009 as the country limped its way out of the financial crisis, it has climbed again and is now, at $58.7 trillion, 3.3 times the size of GDP and about 13 times what it was in 1980, according to data from the Federal Reserve’s St. Louis branch. (The total debt measure is not to be confused with the $18.2 trillion national debt, which is 102 percent of GDP and is a subset of the total figure.)

As I discussed above, there isn’t enough money in our entire system to even pay off a significant chunk of that debt.

So what happens when the total amount of debt in a society vastly exceeds the total amount of money?

Is there any way out other than collapse?

You can share what you think by posting a comment below…

24 Reasons Why Millennials Are Screaming Mad About Our Unfair Economy

Angry Woman - Public DomainDo you want to know why Millennials seem so angry?  We promised them that if they worked hard, stayed out of trouble and got good grades that they would be able to achieve the “American Dream”.  We told them not to worry about accumulating very high levels of student loan debt because there would be good jobs waiting for them at the end of the rainbow once they graduated.  Well, it turns out that we lied to them.  Nearly half of all Millennials are spending at least half of their paychecks to pay off debt, more than 30 percent of them are living with their parents because they can’t find decent jobs, and this year the homeownership rate for Millennials sunk to a brand new all-time low.  When you break U.S. adults down by age, our long-term economic decline has hit the Millennials the hardest by far.  And yet somehow we expect them to bear the burden of providing Medicare, Social Security and other social welfare benefits to the rest of us as we get older.  No wonder there is so much anger and frustration among our young people.  The following are 24 reasons why Millennials are screaming mad about our unfair economy…

#1 The current savings rate for Millennials is negative 2 percent.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Not only aren’t Millennials saving any money, they are actually spending a good bit more than they are earning every month.

#2 A survey conducted earlier this year found that 47 percent of all Millennials are using at least half of their paychecks to pay off debt.

#3 For U.S. households that are headed up by someone under the age of 40, average wealth is still about 30 percent below where it was back in 2007.

#4 In 2005, the homeownership rate for U.S. households headed up by someone under the age of 35 was approximately 43 percent.  Today, it is sitting at about 36 percent.

#5 One recent survey discovered that an astounding 31.1 percent of all U.S. adults in the 18 to 34-year-old age bracket are currently living with their parents.

#6 At this point, the top 0.1 percent of all Americans have about as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent of all Americans combined.  Needless to say, there aren’t very many Millennials in that top 0.1 percent.

#7 Since Barack Obama has been in the White House, close to 40 percent of all 27-year-olds have spent at least some time unemployed.

#8 Only about one out of every five 27-year-olds owns a home at this point, and an astounding 80 percent of all 27-year-olds are paying off debt.

#9 In 2013, the ratio of what men in the 18 to 29-year-old age bracket were earning compared to what the general population was earning reached an all-time low.

#10 Back in the year 2000, 80 percent of all men in their late twenties had a full-time job.  Today, only 65 percent do.

#11 In 2012, one study found that U.S. families that have a head of household that is under the age of 30 have a poverty rate of 37 percent.

#12 Another study released back in 2011 discovered that U.S. households led by someone 65 years of age or older are 47 times wealthier than U.S. households led by someone 35 years of age or younger.

#13 Half of all college graduates in America are still financially dependent on their parents when they are two years out of college.

#14 In 1994, less than half of all college graduates left school with student loan debt.  Today, it is over 70 percent.

#15 At this point, student loan debt has hit a grand total of 1.2 trillion dollars in the United States.  That number has grown by about 84 percent just since 2008.

#16 According to the Pew Research Center, nearly four out of every ten U.S. households that are led by someone under the age of 40 are currently paying off student loan debt.

#17 In 2008, approximately 29 million Americans were paying off student loan debt.  Today, that number has ballooned to 40 million.

#18 Since 2005, student loan debt burdens have absolutely exploded while salaries for young college graduates have actually declined

The problem developing is that earnings and debt aren’t moving in the same direction. From 2005 to 2012, average student loan debt has jumped 35%, adjusting for inflation, while the median salary has actually dropped by 2.2%.

#19 According to CNN, 260,000 Americans with a college or professional degree made at or below the federal minimum wage last year.

#20 Even after accounting for inflation, the cost of college tuition increased by 275 percent between 1970 and 2013.

#21 In the years to come, much of the burden of paying for Medicare for our aging population will fall on Millennials.  It is being projected that the number of Americans on Medicare will grow from 50.7 million in 2012 to 73.2 million in 2025.  In addition, it has been estimated that Medicare is facing unfunded liabilities of more than 38 trillion dollars over the next 75 years.  That comes to approximately $328,404 for every single household in the United States.

#22 In the years to come, much of the burden of paying for our exploding Medicaid system will fall on Millennials.  Today, more than 70 million Americans are on Medicaid, and it is being projected that Obamacare will add 16 million more Americans to the Medicaid rolls.

#23 In the years to come, much of the burden of paying for our massive Ponzi scheme known as Social Security will fall on Millennials.  Right now, there are more than 63 million Americans collecting Social Security benefits.  By 2035, that number is projected to soar to an astounding 91 million.  In 1945, there were 42 workers for every retiree receiving Social Security benefits.  Today, that number has fallen to 2.5 workers, and if you eliminate all government workers, that leaves only 1.6 private sector workers for every retiree receiving Social Security benefits.

#24 Our national debt is currently sitting at a grand total of $17,937,617,036,693.09.  It is on pace to roughly double during the Obama years, and Millennials are expected to service that debt for the rest of their lives.

Yes, there are certainly some Millennials that are flat broke because they are lazy and irresponsible.

But there are many others that have tried to do everything right and still find that they can’t get any breaks.  For example, Bloomberg recently shared the story of a young couple named Jason and Jessica Alinen…

The damage inflicted on U.S. households by the collapse of the housing market and recession wasn’t evenly distributed. Just ask Jason and Jessica Alinen.

The couple, who live near Seattle, declared bankruptcy in 2011 when the value of the house they then owned plunged to less than $200,000 from the $349,000 they paid for it four years earlier, just as the economic slump was about to start. Jason even stopped getting haircuts to save money.

“We thought we’d have a white picket fence, two kids, two dogs, and we’d have $100,000 in equity,” said Jason, 33, who does have two children. “It’s just really frustrating.”

Can you identify with them?

Most young Americans just want to work hard, buy a home and start a family.

But for millions of them, that dream might as well be a million miles away right now.

Unfortunately, most of them have absolutely no idea why this has happened.

Many of them end up blaming themselves.  Many of them think that they are not talented enough or that they didn’t work hard enough or that they don’t know the right people.

What they don’t know is that the truth is that decades of incredibly foolish decisions are starting to catch up with us in a major way, and they just happen to be caught in the crossfire.

Sadly, instead of becoming informed about what is happening to our country, a very large percentage of our young people are absolutely addicted to entertainment instead.

Below, I want to share with you a video that I recently came across.  You can find it on YouTube right here.  A student at Texas Tech University recently asked some of her classmates a series of questions.  When they were asked about Brad Pitt or Jersey Shore they knew the answers right away.  But when they were asked who won the Civil War or who the current Vice-President of the United States is, they deeply struggled.  I think that this video says a lot about where we are as a society today…

So what do you think about all of this?

Please feel free to add to the discussion by posting a comment below…

50 Percent Of American Workers Make Less Than 28,031 Dollars A Year

Real Median Household Income 2014The Social Security Administration has just released wage statistics for 2013, and the numbers are startling.  Last year, 50 percent of all American workers made less than $28,031, and 39 percent of all American workers made less than $20,000.  If you worked a full-time job at $10 an hour all year long with two weeks off, you would make $20,000.  So the fact that 39 percent of all workers made less than that amount is rather telling.  This is more evidence of the declining quality of the jobs in this country.  In many homes in America today, both parents are working multiple jobs in a desperate attempt to make ends meet. Our paychecks are stagnant while the cost of living just continues to soar.  And the jobs that are being added to the economy pay a lot less than the jobs lost in the last recession.  In fact, it has been estimated that the jobs that have been created since the last recession pay an average of 23 percent less than the jobs that were lost.  We are witnessing the slow-motion destruction of the middle class, and very few of our leaders seem to care.

The “average” yearly wage in America last year was just $43,041.  But after accounting for inflation, that was actually worse than the year before

American paychecks shrank last year, just-released data show, further eroding the public’s purchasing power, which is so vital to economic growth.

Average pay for 2013 was $43,041 — down $79 from the previous year when measured in 2013 dollars. Worse, average pay fell $508 below the 2007 level, my analysis of the new Social Security Administration data shows.

Flat or declining average pay is a major reason so many Americans feel that the Great Recession never ended for them. A severe job shortage compounds that misery not just for workers but also for businesses trying to profit from selling goods and services.

Average pay declined in 59 of the 60 levels of worker pay the government reports each October.

And please keep in mind that “average pay” is really skewed by the millionaires and billionaires at the top end of the spectrum.

Median pay in 2013 was just $28,031.02.  That means that 50 percent of American workers made less than that number, and 50 percent of American workers made more than that number.

Here are some more numbers from the report that the Social Security Administration just released…

-39 percent of American workers made less than $20,000 last year.

-52 percent of American workers made less than $30,000 last year.

-63 percent of American workers made less than $40,000 last year.

-72 percent of American workers made less than $50,000 last year.

I don’t know about you, but those numbers are deeply troubling to me.

It has been estimated that it takes approximately $50,000 a year to support a middle class lifestyle for a family of four, and so the fact that 72 percent of all workers make less than that amount shows how difficult it is for families that try to get by with just a single breadwinner.

The way that our economy is structured now, both parents usually have to work as hard as they can just to pay the bills.

But there was one group of Americans that did see their incomes actually increase last year.

Those making over 50 million dollars had their pay increase by an average of $12.8 million in 2013.

For everyone else, the news was not good.

And of course this is a trend that has been going on for a long time.

Posted below is a chart that comes from the Federal Reserve.  It shows how real median household income in the United States has declined since the year 2000…

Real Median Household Income 2014

Meanwhile, the cost of living has continued to rise at a steady pace.

Needless to say, this is putting a tremendous squeeze on the middle class.  With each passing day, more Americans are losing their spots in the middle class and this has pushed government dependence to an all-time high.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 49 percent of all Americans now live in a home that receives money from the government each month.  This is completely and totally unsustainable, but our long-term economic problems just keep getting worse.

Our politicians have stood by as millions upon millions of good paying jobs have been shipped out of the country.  Millions of other middle class jobs have been lost to technology.  This has resulted in intense competition for the middle class jobs that remain.

And at this point we are even losing lots of lower paying retail jobs.  For example, it is being reported that Sears plans to close 110 more stores and lay off more than 6,000 workers.  Sears says that the report “isn’t accurate”, but it isn’t denying that stores will be closed either…

In an email to USA Today, Sears spokesman Howard Riefs said the store count and closures “isn’t accurate,” but did not provide store closures or layoff numbers.

“As we stated in our (second quarter earnings report), we disclosed that we would be closing unprofitable stores as leases expire and in some cases will accelerate closings when it is economically prudent. And that we would consider closing additional stores during the remainder of the year,” Riefs said. “Make no mistake, we believe the store will continue to play an integral role in our transformation, however, if a store is not generating a profit, it is straightforward that the store should be considered for closure.”

No matter how many stores Sears does end up closing over the next few months, the truth is that our economy is a complete and total mess at this point.

Our politicians and the mainstream media are trying to put a happy face on everything, but the cold, hard numbers prove that we are not anywhere close to where we were prior to the last recession.

Because it is so difficult to find a good job in America today, I often recommend to people that they should consider starting their own businesses.

But thanks to the bureaucratic control freaks in the Obama administration and in our state governments, small business ownership in America today is at an all-time low.  It is almost as if they don’t want the “little guy” to win.  Every avenue of prosperity for the middle class is under assault, and there does not appear to be much hope that this will change any time soon.

And the truly frightening thing is that this is about as good as things are going to get for the middle class.  We are rapidly approaching the next major wave of our long-term economic decline, but that is a topic for a future article.

Half The Country Makes Less Than $27,520 A Year And 15 Other Signs The Middle Class Is Dying

Depressed - Photo by Sander van der WelIf you make more than $27,520 a year at your job, you are doing better than half the country is.  But you don’t have to take my word for it, you can check out the latest wage statistics from the Social Security administration right here.  But of course $27,520 a year will not allow you to live “the American Dream” in this day and age.  After taxes, that breaks down to a good bit less than $2,000 a month.  You can’t realistically pay a mortgage, make a car payment, afford health insurance and provide food, clothing and everything else your family needs for that much money.  That is one of the reasons why both parents are working in most families today.  In fact, sometimes both parents are working multiple jobs in a desperate attempt to make ends meet.  Over the years, the cost of living has risen steadily but our paychecks have not.  This has resulted in a steady erosion of the middle class.  Once upon a time, most American families could afford a nice home, a couple of cars and a nice vacation every year.  When I was growing up, it seemed like almost everyone was middle class.  But now “the American Dream” is out of reach for more Americans than ever, and the middle class is dying right in front of our eyes.

One of the things that was great about America in the post-World War II era was that we developed a large, thriving middle class.  Until recent times, it always seemed like there were plenty of good jobs for people that were willing to be responsible and work hard.  That was one of the big reasons why people wanted to come here from all over the world.  They wanted to have a chance to live “the American Dream” too.

But now the American Dream is becoming a mirage for most people.  No matter how hard they try, they just can’t seem to achieve it.

And here are some hard numbers to back that assertion up.  The following are 15 more signs that the middle class is dying…

#1 According to a brand new CNN poll, 59 percent of Americans believe that it has become impossible for most people to achieve the American Dream…

The American Dream is impossible to achieve in this country.

So say nearly 6 in 10 people who responded to CNNMoney’s American Dream Poll, conducted by ORC International. They feel the dream — however they define it — is out of reach.

Young adults, age 18 to 34, are most likely to feel the dream is unattainable, with 63% saying it’s impossible. This age group has suffered in the wake of the Great Recession, finding it hard to get good jobs.

#2 More Americans than ever believe that homeownership is not a key to long-term wealth and prosperity…

The great American Dream is dying. Even though many Americans still desire to own a home, they are losing faith in homeownership as a key to prosperity.

Nearly two-thirds of Americans, or 64%, believe they are less likely to build wealth by buying a home today than they were 20 or 30 years ago, according to a survey sponsored by non-profit MacArthur Foundation. And nearly 43% said buying a home is no longer a good long-term investment.

#3 Overall, the rate of homeownership in the United States has fallen for eight years in a row, and it has now dropped to the lowest level in 19 years.

#4 52 percent of Americans cannot even afford the house that they are living in right now…

“Over half of Americans (52%) have had to make at least one major sacrifice in order to cover their rent or mortgage over the last three years, according to the “How Housing Matters Survey,” which was commissioned by the nonprofit John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and carried out by Hart Research Associates. These sacrifices include getting a second job, deferring saving for retirement, cutting back on health care, running up credit card debt, or even moving to a less safe neighborhood or one with worse schools.”

#5 According to the U.S. Census Bureau, only 36 percent of Americans under the age of 35 own a home.  That is the lowest level that has ever been measured.

#6 Right now, approximately one out of every six men in the United States that are in their prime working years (25 to 54) do not have a job.

#7 The labor force participation rate for Americans from the age of 25 to the age of 29 has fallen to an all-time record low.

#8 The number of working age Americans that are not employed has increased by 27 million since the year 2000.

#9 According to the government’s own numbers, about 20 percent of the families in the entire country do not have a single member that is employed at this point.

#10 This may sound crazy, but 25 percent of all American adults do not even have a single penny saved up for retirement.

#11 As I noted in one recent article, total consumer credit in the United States has increased by 22 percent over the past three years, and 56 percent of all Americans have “subprime credit” at this point.

#12 Major retailers are shutting down stores at the fastest pace that we have seen since the collapse of Lehman Brothers.

#13 It is hard to believe, but more than one out of every five children in the United States is living in poverty in 2014.

#14 According to one recent report, there are 49 million Americans that are dealing with food insecurity right now.

#15 Overall, the U.S. poverty rate is up more than 30 percent since 1966.  It looks like LBJ’s war on poverty didn’t work out too well after all.

Sadly, it does not appear that there is much hope on the horizon for the middle class.  More good jobs are being shipped out of the country and are being lost to technology every single day, and our politicians seem convinced that “business as usual” is the right course of action for our nation.

Unless something dramatic happens, it is going to become increasingly difficult to eke out a middle class existence as a “worker bee” in American society.  The truth is that most big companies these days do not have any loyalty to their workers and really do not care what ends up happening to them.

To thrive in this kind of environment, new and different thinking is required.  The paradigm of “go to college, get a job, stay loyal and retire after 30 years” has been shattered.  The business world is more unstable now than it has been during any point in the post-World War II era, and we are all going to have to adjust.

So what advice would you give to people that are struggling out there right now?  Please feel free to share your thoughts by posting a comment below…

Meet One Of The Victims Of Obama’s “Economic Recovery”

Barack Obama speaking into a microphone and pointing to the right - Photo by Pat HawksHave you ever cried yourself to sleep because you had no idea how you were going to pay the bills even though you were working as hard as you possibly could?  You are about to hear from a single mother that has been there.  Her name is Yolanda Vestal and she is another victim of Obama’s “economic recovery”.  Yes, things have never been better for the top 0.01 percent of ultra-wealthy Americans that have got millions of dollars invested in the stock market.  But for most of the rest of the country, things are very hard right now.  At this point, more than 102 million working age Americans do not have a job, and 40 percent of those that are actually working earn less than $20,000 a year in wages.  If we actually are experiencing an “economic recovery”, then why is the federal government spending nearly a trillion dollars a year on welfare?  And that does not even include entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare.  We live in a nation where poverty is exploding and the middle class is shrinking with each passing day.  But nothing is ever going to get fixed if we all stick our heads in the sand and pretend that everything is “just fine”.

What you are about to read is an open letter to Barack Obama that has gone absolutely viral on the Internet in recent days.  It is a letter that a single mother named Yolanda Vestal posted on her Facebook page, and it has really struck a nerve because countless other young parents can clearly identify with what she is going through.  The following is the text of her letter…

Dear President Obama,

I wanted to take a moment to say thank you for all you have done and are doing. You see I am a single Mom located in the very small town of Palmer, Texas. I live in a small rental house with my two children. I drive an older car that I pray daily runs just a little longer. I work at a mediocre job bringing home a much lower paycheck than you or your wife could even imagine living on. I have a lot of concerns about the new “Obamacare” along with the taxes being forced on us Americans and debts you are adding to our country. I have a few questions for you Mr. President.

Have you ever struggled to pay your bills? I have.

Have you ever sat and watched your children eat and you eat what was left on their plates when they were done, because there wasn’t enough for you to eat to? I have.

Have you ever had to rob Peter to pay Paul, and it still not be enough? I have.

Have you ever been so sick that you needed to see a doctor and get medicine, but had no health insurance because it was too expensive? I have.

Have you ever had to tell your children no, when they asked for something they needed? I have.

Have you ever patched holes in pants, glued shoes, replaced zippers, because it was cheaper than buying new? I have.

Have you ever had to put an item or two back at the grocery store, because you didn’t have enough money? I have.

Have you ever cried yourself to sleep, because you had no clue how you were going to make ends meet? I have.

My questions could go on and on. I don’t believe you have a clue what Americans are actually going through and honestly, I don’t believe you care. Not everyone lives extravagantly. While your family takes expensive trips that cost more than most of us make in two-four years, there are so many of us that suffer. Yet, you are doing all you can to add to the suffering. I think you are a very selfish and cold hearted man, who does not care what is best for the people he was elected by (not by me) to represent, but more so out for the glory of your name attached to history. So thank you Mr. President, thank you for pushing those of us that are barely staying afloat completely under water and driving America into the ground. You have made your mark in history, as the absolute worst and most hated president of the United States. God have mercy on your soul!

Sincerely,

Yolanda Vestal

Average American

These are the kinds of emotions that millions of American parents are wrestling with on a daily basis.  Many of them are working as hard as they possibly can and yet still find themselves unable to adequately provide for their families.

And now that food stamps are being cut back, more of them than ever are going to be forced to turn to food banks for help.  The following is what the head of a large food bank in Casper, Wyoming told one local newspaper about the increase in demand that he is witnessing in his area…

Across the state, food banks and other related programs aiming to feed the needy are worried the supply to meet the uptick in need during the holiday season won’t meet the growing demand for food caused by the expiration of SNAP benefits.

“People are scared to death of the lack of food availability,” Martin said.

Martin called Joshua’s Storehouse a reliable barometer for measuring the rate of need in Casper. The number of people using the food bank skyrocketed before the reduction in SNAP, he said.

Fewer than 2,000 people used the food bank in October 2012. Last month 2,500 people went there for help.

And of course this is not just happening in rural areas either.  Margarette Purvis, the head of the largest food bank organization in New York City, says that she is anticipating a huge surge in demand and that veterans are being hit particularly hard

“On this Veterans Day, when we’re waving our flags — I need every New Yorker to know — 40 percent of New York City veterans are relying on soup kitchens and pantries.”

Purvis says that there are 95,000 vets relying on food banks in New York City alone.

That is a lot of people.

And while Barack Obama may trot out a few vets on national holidays and promise that “we will never forget” them, the truth is that most of the time the federal government treats our military veterans like human garbage.  If you doubt this, please see my previous article entitled “25 Signs That Military Veterans Are Being Treated Like Absolute Trash Under The Obama Administration“.

Meanwhile, anger and frustration with the economy are starting to rise to very dangerous levels in this nation.

In a previous article, I noted that violent crime in America rose by 15 percent last year.  One of the primary reasons for this is the economic despair that we see in our streets.

As the economy gets even worse, people will become even more desperate.  We will start to see even more flash mob crimes like we saw in Chicago recently.  Posted below is a video news report that shows footage of a flash mob in Chicago dragging entire racks of merchandise out of a Sports Authority store…

When you watch stuff like this, it helps to explain why demand for armored vehicles among the ultra-wealthy in America is skyrocketing.

Unfortunately, most Americans cannot afford armored vehicles and walled vacation homes in the middle of nowhere.

Most Americans are going to have to live right in the middle of all of this as it happens.

A volcano of anger, frustration and despair is simmering just below the surface in America.

When that volcano finally erupts, it is going to be a very frightening thing to behold.

Don’t Worry – The Government Says That The Inflation You See Is Just Your Imagination

Redd Fox HypnotizedIf you believe that there is high inflation in the United States, you are just imagining things.  That is the message that the U.S. government and the Federal Reserve would have us to believe.  You might have noticed that the government announced on Wednesday that the cost of living increase for Social Security beneficiaries will only be 1.5 percent next year.  This is one of the smallest cost of living increases that we have ever seen.  The federal government is able to get away with this because the official numbers say that there is hardly any inflation in the U.S. right now.  Of course anyone that shops for groceries or that pays bills regularly knows what a load of nonsense the official inflation rate is.  The U.S. government has changed the way that inflation is calculated numerous times since 1978, and each time it has been changed the goal has been to make inflation appear to be even lower.  According to John Williams of shadowstats.com, if the inflation rate was still calculated the same way that it was back when Jimmy Carter was president, the official rate of inflation would be somewhere between 8 and 10 percent today.  But if the mainstream news actually reported such a number, everyone would be screaming and yelling about getting inflation under control.  Instead, the super low number that gets put out to the public makes it look like the Federal Reserve has plenty of room to do even more reckless money printing.  It is a giant scam, but most Americans are falling for it.

Meanwhile, the prices of the things that most Americans buy on a regular basis just keep going up.  The following are just a few examples of price inflation that we have seen lately…

-McDonald’s has killed the dollar menu because it is becoming impossible to “make any money selling burgers for $1“.

But don’t worry – the government says that the inflation you see is just your imagination.

-Amazon.com has raised the minimum order size required for free shipping from $25 to $35.

But don’t worry – you can afford to order more stuff thanks to the great new job that you got during this “economic recovery”.

-It is being projected that those using natural gas to heat their homes will see their heating costs rise by 13 percent this winter.

But don’t worry – “global warming” should kick in to high gear any day now.

-The price of chocolate has gone up by 45 percent since 2007, and it is being projected that it will now be increasing at an even faster pace.

But don’t worry – eating chocolate is bad for you anyway.

-Thanks to Obamacare, the health insurance premiums of many American families are absolutely skyrocketing.  As I wrote about the other day, one family down in Texas just got a letter informing them that their health insurance premiums are going up by 539 percent.

But don’t worry – this is just “health care reform” in action.

Meanwhile, things just continue to get tougher for middle class American families.  Household incomes have actually been declining for five years in a row and total consumer credit has risen by a whopping 22 percent over the past three years.

The quality of our jobs continues to go down and our paychecks are not keeping up with inflation.  In fact, 40 percent of all U.S. workers are now making less than what a full-time minimum wage worker made back in 1968 after you account for inflation.

So what do the “authorities” say that the solution to our problems is?

They want even more inflation of course.  According to CNBC, many Federal Reserve officials (including Janet Yellen) believe that what the U.S. economy really needs is a lot more inflation…

Inflation is widely reviled as a kind of tax on modern life, but as Federal Reserve policy makers prepare to meet this week, there is growing concern inside and outside the Fed that inflation is not rising fast enough.

Some economists say more inflation is just what the American economy needs to escape from a half-decade of sluggish growth and high unemployment.

The Fed has worked for decades to suppress inflation, but economists, including Janet Yellen, President Obama’s nominee to lead the Fed starting next year, have long argued that a little inflation is particularly valuable when the economy is weak. Rising prices help companies increase profits; rising wages help borrowers repay debts. Inflation also encourages people and businesses to borrow money and spend it more quickly.

The rest of that article goes on and on about how wonderful inflation is for an economy and about how the U.S. economy desperately needs some more of it.

Well, if that was actually true, then the Weimar Republic should have had one of the best economies in the history of mankind.

But this inevitably happens when a nation starts producing fiat currency that is backed by absolutely nothing.  There is always a temptation to just print a little bit more.

In the end, we are going to be destroyed by our own foolishness.  We have the de facto reserve currency of the planet, and the rest of the world has trusted it for decades.  But now we are systematically destroying our currency, and the rest of the globe is looking on in horror.

If you want to see a very good example of the impact that inflation has had on our economy in recent years, just check out this amazing chart which shows what the Federal Reserve’s reckless policies have done to the prices of commodities.

Ultimately, the U.S. dollar will be destroyed, and we will have done it to ourselves.

Many people are attempting to protect themselves against this inevitability by putting a lot of their money into hard assets such as gold and silver, but before you do that you might want to make sure that you don’t have a vengeful spouse that will toss it all into a dumpster someday.  The following is from a recent New York Post article

A Colorado man was so angry at his ex-wife for divorcing him that he had the couple’s life savings of $500,000 converted to gold — then tossed it in a dumpster so she couldn’t have any of it, the Colorado Springs Gazette reports.

In June, Earl Ray Jones, 52, of Divide, Colorado, was ordered by a judge to pay $3,000 a month to the woman he’d been married to for 25 years, so he pillaged the couple’s retirement account and had it converted into 22 pounds worth of gold and silver bars,  the paper reports.

Jones claims he then tossed the modern-day treasure into a dumpster behind a motel, where he had been living temporarily, later telling the judge he had no money to give his ex-wife, according to the paper.

Did that story make you smile?  It sure did the trick for me.

But that story is also a picture of what the Federal Reserve is doing with our dollar.

Our currency has been used for decades by almost everyone else around the planet.  In fact, more U.S. dollars are used outside of our country than inside of it.

But now the Federal Reserve is systematically trashing the dollar and the rest of the globe is starting to lose faith in it.

Instead of realizing their mistakes, Fed officials say that we need to create even more inflation and they just keep on wildly printing more money.

In the end, we will all pay a great price for their foolishness.

The Percentage Of Americans That Consider Themselves To Be “Lower Class” Is At An All-Time High

Urban Decay In BuffaloDo you consider yourself to be “lower class”?  Most Americans wouldn’t dream of thinking that way.  Even at the toughest times of my own life, I always considered myself to be “middle class”.  Traditionally, the vast majority of Americans have described themselves as either “middle class” or “working class”, but now we are witnessing a huge shift.  According to survey results that were just released, the percentage of Americans that identify themselves as “lower class” is now at an all-time high.  It is still only 8.4 percent of the country, but the fact that this number is rapidly growing shows that something is changing on a very fundamental level.  In America today, less people than ever believe that they have the opportunity to make a better life for themselves, and according to a brand new Gallup poll that was just released, 20 percent of all Americans did not have enough money to buy food that they or their families needed at some point over the past year.  We have 47 million people on food stamps and we have more than 100 million Americans enrolled in at least one welfare program, and that does not even count Social Security or Medicare.  We have gone from a “land of opportunity” to a land where tens of millions of people are being crushed by the system.

When I mentioned above that “less people then ever believe that they have the opportunity to make a better life for themselves”, perhaps you doubted that statement.

And I wish that it was not true.

But according to the Los Angeles Times, that is exactly what one new survey shows…

Last year, less than 55% of Americans agreed that “people like me and my family have a good chance of improving our standard of living,” the lowest level since the General Social Survey first asked the question in 1987.

And even those that are “educated” are becoming more pessimistic…

From 2002 to 2012, the “lower class” among Americans with one to four years of college more than doubled — from 2.6% to 5.8%.

So what about you?

Would you describe yourself as “lower class”?

Not that there is anything wrong with that.  It can be very hard to be optimistic about your economic situation when you are trapped in poverty and everyone around you is trapped in poverty.

Even as Barack Obama boldly proclaims that we are in the midst of an “economic recovery”, poverty continues to grow.  In New Jersey, poverty hit a 52-year high in 2011, and when the final numbers for 2012 come out it is anticipated that they will be even worse…

Poverty in New Jersey continued to grow even as the national recession lifted, reaching a 52-year high in 2011, according to a report released today. The annual survey by Legal Services of New Jersey found 24.7 percent of the state’s population — 2.1 million residents — was considered poor in 2011. That’s a jump of more than 80,000 people — nearly 1 percent higher than the previous year and 3.8 percent more than pre-recession levels. ”This is not just a one-year or five-year or 10-year variation,” said Melville D. Miller Jr., the president of LSNJ, which gives free legal help to low-income residents in civil cases. “This is the worst that it’s been since the 1960 Census.” And it may get worse: The report warned Census figures for 2012 to be released this month may be higher.

There are two Americas today.  In the “good America”, stock values are soaring and almost everyone has a job.  People from that America openly wonder why everyone is so concerned about the economy.

In the “bad America”, unemployment is rampant and poverty is everywhere.  At this point, low income households have an unemployment rate that is over 21 percent, and there is not much help on the horizon.

In the old days, if the wealthy wanted to get wealthier, they needed the rest of us to run their businesses and work in their factories.

But today, they have figured out that they can make much larger profits by replacing us with computers, robots and machines.  They have also figured out that they can ship millions of our jobs to the other side of the planet where it is legal to pay slave labor wages with no benefits.

This is putting a huge squeeze on average American workers.  For most Americans, the only thing that they have to offer in the marketplace is their labor.  Unfortunately, that labor is not valued as much as it used to be.

Yes, the elite still need us to do service jobs for them.  Those are not easily replaced by technology or shipped overseas.  So they still need us to cut their hair and flip their burgers.

But without a doubt we have a structural problem with unemployment.  As the Brookings Institution recently discovered, it would take 8 million more jobs before we could say that we have “recovered” from the last recession…

Last month, the unemployment rate fell to 7.3% from 8.1% a year ago. That might signal progress, but the share of workers with jobs was 58.6%; it has remained close to that for several years. The unemployment rate is inherently flawed and isn’t the best measure of economic progress; it counts only those with jobs or actively looking for work.

And in a frustratingly slow economic recovery that has discouraged countless workers, it risks ignoring these missing workers — an estimated 6 million, according to the Brookings Institution’s Hamilton Project.

The Washington-based think tank has come up with what it calls the “jobs gap,” or the number of jobs it would take to offset the effects of the Great Recession. Factoring in the millions of jobs lost during the Great Recession and the number of jobs needed to absorb new workers, the nation needs 8.3 million jobs to fully recover from the recession.

And of course the quality of our jobs continues to decline as well.  In America today, only 47 percent of adults have a full-time job, and one out of every ten jobs is now filled by a temp agency.

Unfortunately, thanks to Obamacare this trend is going to get a lot worse.  Millions more Americans are going to be forced into part-time employment.  For example, just check out what Trader Joe’s is doing

Trader Joe’s, the grocer once lauded for providing health care coverage to its part-time workers, is about to push those employees off its plan.

According to a memo obtained by the Huffington Post, the company will stop covering employees who work less than 30 hours per week.

The change is set for the start of 2014. Instead of insurance, workers instead will get a check for $500 in January.

“Depending on income you may earn outside of Trader Joe’s, we believe that with the $500 from Trader Joe’s and the tax credits available under the [Affordable Care Act (ACA)], many of you should be able to obtain health care coverage at very little if any net cost to you,” said Trader Joe CEO Dan Bane in the memo.

I wish that there was better news to report, but we have to be very honest about where we are at as a nation.

In order for there to be a thriving “middle class”, there needs to be lots of middle class jobs.

Sadly, the number of breadwinner jobs that the middle class depends upon is shrinking.

Unless a miracle happens, the percentage of Americans that consider themselves to be “lower class” is probably going to continue to grow.

So how would you solve this problem?

Please feel free to share your ideas by posting a comment below…

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