Can Donald Trump turn the U.S. economy around? This week Trump unveiled details of his new economic plan, and the mainstream media is having a field day criticizing it. But the truth is that we simply cannot afford to stay on the same path that Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and the Democrats have us on right now. Millions of jobs are being shipped out of the country, the middle class is dying, poverty is exploding, millions of children in America don’t have enough food, and our reckless spending has created the biggest debt bubble in the history of the planet. Something must be done or else we will continue to steamroll toward economic oblivion. So is Donald Trump the man for the hour?
If you would like to read his full economic plan, you can find it on his official campaign website. His plan starts off by pointing out that this has been the weakest “economic recovery” since the Great Depression…
Last week’s GDP report showed that the economy grew a mere 1.2% in the second quarter and 1.2% over the last year. It’s the weakest recovery since the Great Depression – the predictable consequence of massive taxation, regulation, one-side trade deals and onerous energy restrictions.
And Trump is exactly right about how weak this economic recovery has been.
So how would he fix things?
The following are 10 things that every American should know about Donald Trump’s plan to save the U.S. economy…
#1 Donald Trump would lower taxes on the middle class
The tax savings under Trump’s plan would actually be quite substantial for middle class families. The following numbers come from a recent Charisma article…
• A married couple earning $50,000 per year with two children and $8,000 in child care expenses will save 35% from their current tax bill.
• A married couple earning $75,000 per year with two children and $10,000 in child care expenses will receive a 30% reduction in their tax bill.
• Married couple earning $5 million per year with two children and $12,000 in child care expenses will get only a 3% reduction in their tax bill.
#2 Donald Trump would lower taxes on businesses
Under his plan, no business in America would be taxed more than 15 percent. Alternatively, Hillary Clinton’s plan would tax some small businesses at a rate of close to 50 percent. So Trump’s plan would undoubtedly be good for businesses, and it would encourage many that have left the country to return.
But where would the lost tax revenue be made up?
#3 Childcare expenses would be exempt from taxation
For working families with children this would be a great blessing. Without a doubt this is an effort to win over more working women, and this is a demographic that Trump has been struggling with.
It is definitely an idea that I support, but once again where will the money come from to pay for this?
#4 U.S. manufacturers will be allowed to immediately fully expense new plants and equipment
This would undoubtedly lead to a boom in capital investment, but it would also reduce tax revenue. As an emergency measure this would be very good for encouraging manufacturers to stay in America, but it would also likely increase the budget deficit.
#5 A temporary freeze on new regulations
Red tape is one of my big pet peeves, and so I greatly applaud Trump for this proposal. I think that Bob Eschliman put it very well when he wrote the following about Trump’s planned freeze on new regulations…
In 2015 alone, federal agencies issued over 3,300 final rules and regulations, up from 2,400 the prior year. Studies show that small manufacturers face more than three times the burden of the average U.S. business, and the hidden tax from ineffective regulations amounts to “nearly $15,000 per U.S. household” annually. Excessive regulation is costing our country as much as $2 trillion dollars per year, and Trump will end it.
#6 All existing regulations would be reviewed and unnecessary regulations would be eliminated
In particular, Trump’s plan would focus on getting rid of regulations that inhibit hiring. The following are some of the specific areas that he identifies on his official campaign website…
- The Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, which forces investment in renewable energy at the expense of coal and natural gas, raising electricity rates;
- The EPA’s Waters of the United States rule, which gives the EPA the ability to regulate the smallest streams on private land, limiting land use; and
- The Department of Interior’s moratorium on coal mining permits, which put tens of thousands of coal miners out of work.
#7 Donald Trump would fundamentally alter our trade relationships with the rest of the globe
Donald Trump is the first major party nominee in decades to recognize that our trade deficit is absolutely killing our economy. I write about this all the time, and it is a hot button issue for me. So I definitely applaud Trump for proposing the following…
- Appoint trade negotiators whose goal will be to win for America: narrowing our trade deficit, increasing domestic production, and getting a fair deal for our workers.
- Renegotiate NAFTA.
- Withdraw from the TPP.
- Bring trade relief cases to the world trade organization.
- Label China a currency manipulator.
- Apply tariffs and duties to countries that cheat.
- Direct the Commerce Department to use all legal tools to respond to trade violations.
#8 Donald Trump’s plan would be a tremendous boost for the U.S. energy industry
Barack Obama promised to kill the coal industry, and that is one of the few promises that he has actually kept. Obama also killed the Keystone Pipeline, and right now the energy industry as a whole is enduring their worst stretch since the last recession. To turn things around, Trump would do the following…
- Rescind all the job-destroying Obama executive actions including the Climate Action Plan and the Waters of the U.S. rule.
- Save the coal industry and other industries threatened by Hillary Clinton’s extremist agenda.
- Ask Trans Canada to renew its permit application for the Keystone Pipeline.
- Make land in the Outer Continental Shelf available to produce oil and natural gas.
- Cancel the Paris Climate Agreement (limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius) and stop all payments of U.S. tax dollars to U.N. global warming programs.
#9 Trump would repeal Obamacare
Trump claims that Obamacare would cost our economy two million jobs over the next ten years. And without a doubt, it has already cost the U.S. economy a lot of jobs.
Not only that, but Obamacare has also sent health insurance premiums soaring, and this is putting a tremendous amount of financial pressure on many families.
Trump says that he would “replace” Obamacare, but that is a rather vague statement.
What exactly would he replace it with?
#10 Trump’s plan says nothing about the Federal Reserve
This is a great concern, because the Federal Reserve has far more power over the economy than anyone else does. It is at the very heart of our debt-based system, and unless something is done about the Fed our debt bubble will continue to get even larger.
Since the Federal Reserve was created in 1913, the value of the U.S. dollar has fallen by more than 96 percent and our national debt has gotten more than 5000 times larger. For Trump to not even mention the Federal Reserve in his economic plan is a tremendous oversight.
We are in the midst of a long-term economic decline, and things have not gotten better during the Obama years. If you can believe it, a study that was just released by Harvard even acknowledges this…
America’s economic performance peaked in the late 1990s, and erosion in crucial economic indicators such as the rate of economic growth, productivity growth, job growth, and investment began well before the Great Recession.
Workforce participation, the proportion of Americans in the productive workforce, peaked in 1997. With fewer working-age men and women in the workforce, per-capita income for the U.S. is reduced.
Median real household income has declined since 1999, with incomes stagnating across virtually all income levels. Despite a welcome jump in 2015, median household income remains below the peak attained in 1999, 17 years ago. Moreover, stagnating income and limited job prospects have disproportionately affected lower-income and lower-skilled Americans, leading inequality to rise.
That same study found that the percentage of Americans participating in the labor force peaked back in 1997 and has been steadily declining since that time…
If we continue to do the same things, we will continue to get the same results.
Donald Trump is promising change, and many of his proposals sound good, but there are also some areas to be concerned about.
Ultimately, just tinkering with the tax code and reducing regulations is not going to be enough to turn the U.S. economy around. We need a fundamental overhaul of our economic and financial systems, and Trump’s plan stops well short of that. But without a doubt what he is proposing is vastly superior to Hillary Clinton’s plan, and so he should definitely be applauded for at least moving in the right direction.
If the economy is getting better, then why do incomes keep falling? According to a shocking new report that was just released by the U.S. Census Bureau, median household income (adjusted for inflation) has declined for five years in a row. This has happened even though the federal government has been borrowing and spending money at an unprecedented rate and the Federal Reserve has been on the most reckless money printing spree in U.S. history. Despite all of the “emergency measures” that have been taken to “stimulate the economy”, things just continue to get worse for average American families. Americans are working harder than ever, but their paychecks are not reflecting that. Meanwhile, the cost of everything just keeps going up. The Federal Reserve insists that inflation is “low”, but anyone that goes grocery shopping or that stops at a gas station knows that is a lie. In fact, if inflation was calculated the exact same way that it was calculated back in 1980, the inflation rate would be somewhere between 8 and 10 percent right now. Paychecks are being stretched more than ever before, and that is probably the reason why about three-fourths of the entire country is living paycheck to paycheck at this point.
According to the Census report, the high point for median household income in the United States was back in 1999 ($56,080). It almost got back to that level in 2007 ($55,627), but ever since then there has been a steady decline. The following figures come directly from the report, and as you can see, median household income has fallen every single year for the past five years…
How far does that number have to go down before we admit that we have a major problem on our hands?
The new Census report also revealed that 46.5 million Americans are living in poverty. As CNSNews.com noted, this is far higher than when Barack Obama first entered the White House…
During the four years that marked President Barack Obama’s first term in office, the real median income of American households dropped by $2,627 and the number of people on poverty increased by approximately 6,667,000, according to data released today by the Census Bureau.
So why does Obama continue to insist that things are getting better?
Right now, one out of every five households in the United States is on food stamps.
One out of every five.
How bad does it have to get before we acknowledge that what we are doing economically is not working.
Will half of us eventually end up on food stamps?
In addition, the new Census report also says that 48 million Americans are currently without any kind of health insurance whatsoever.
The biggest culprit for this is the stunning decline of employment-based health insurance. Back in 1999, 64.1 percent of all Americans were covered by employment-based health insurance. Today, only 54.9 percent are covered by employment-based health insurance.
And of course as I noted yesterday, even more companies are going to be dumping health insurance plans because of Obamacare.
All in all, what we have been witnessing over the past decade and a half is the systematic evisceration of the middle class.
After accounting for inflation, right now 40 percent of all U.S. workers are making less than what a full-time minimum wage worker made back in 1968.
Over the years, our incomes have certainly gone up, but inflation has increased even faster.
Back when I was growing up, $50,000 a year sounded like a whole lot of money. I thought that anyone should be able to live a very comfortable lifestyle on that amount of money.
Unfortunately, $50,000 a year doesn’t go nearly as far as it once did.
If you take the current median household income ($51,017) and divide it up by 12 months, it comes to just a little bit more than $4000 a month.
And as I noted last year, it is not easy for the average American family to do everything that it needs to do on $4000 a month…
So can an average family of four people make it on just $4000 a month?
Well, first of all you have got to take out taxes. After accounting for all forms of taxation you will be lucky if you have $3000 remaining.
With that $3000, you have to pay for all of the following…
*At Least One Vehicle
*Home Or Rental Insurance
*Student Loan Debt Payments
*Credit Card Payments
*Entertainment (although it is hard to imagine any money will be left for that)
Have I left anything out?
The truth is that $3000 does not go as far as it used to.
No wonder American families are feeling so stretched financially these days.
The new Census report also noted that the gap between the wealthiest Americans and the rest of us continues to grow. There is certainly nothing wrong with making money, but if the economy was working properly all Americans should be able to have the opportunity to better themselves.
According to CNBC, the 400 wealthiest Americans now have more money than the poorest 50 percent of all Americans combined.
So why is this happening? Well, certainly there are a lot of reasons, but in recent years quantitative easing has definitely played a role. As I noted in my recent article about the Federal Reserve, quantitative easing has been incredibly good for those with stocks and other forms of financial investments. All of that liquidity has juiced the financial markets, and the extremely wealthy have been loving it.
Meanwhile, things just continue to get even tougher for most of the rest of the American people, and the frightening thing is that the next major wave of the economic collapse has not even hit us yet.
How bad will things be for average American families once that happens?
And there are certainly lots of troubling signs as we get ready to head into the fall season…
-Total mortgage activity has dropped to the lowest level that we have seen since October 2008.
-One of the largest furniture manufacturers in America was just forced into bankruptcy.
-According to the Wall Street Journal, the 2013 holiday shopping season is already being projected to be the worst that we have seen since 2009.
Hopefully the slow and steady economic decline that we have been experiencing will not accelerate into a full-blown avalanche any time soon.
But I would definitely get prepared just in case.
Can you support a family on $2,000 a month? Recently, McDonald’s and Visa teamed up to launch a website that is intended to help employees of McDonald’s manage their money. The aspect of the website that is getting a tremendous amount of national attention is the “McDonald’s Budget” which is a sample monthly budget which is designed to help workers plan their spending. You can see a copy of it for yourself right here. This budget is laughably unrealistic, but it is also deeply tragic, because there are tens of millions of American workers that are actually trying to raise families on this kind of an income.
The first thing that you will notice about the McDonald’s Budget is that it expects workers to have two jobs. It is an open admission that working at McDonald’s is not enough to survive. So this budget assumes that the worker will take on a second job which will pay nearly as much as the first one does. Assuming that both jobs pay about the minimum wage, the budget will require about 70 to 80 hours of work every week.
People can put in those kind of hours for a time, but after a while your body starts to break down. I have been there, and I have known many others that have been there.
But let’s assume that the hypothetical worker that this budget is for can work that many hours indefinitely. The budget assumes a yearly income of about $24,000 after taxes, and that would make it a fairly typical budget for a typical working class American.
In the United States today, 47 percent of all U.S. workers make less than $25,000 a year before taxes. So millions upon millions of U.S. workers are trying to make ends meet each month on very limited incomes.
Does the “McDonald’s Budget” provide any solutions for those workers?
Well, this budget allocates $0 for food, so if you plan on following this budget you might want to anticipate fasting a lot each month.
This budget also allocates $0 for gasoline. So either you will have to ride a bicycle or walk everywhere you go.
This budget does not allocate any money for clothing either. If you really need something to wear, perhaps you can take some cash from the “monthly spending money” category and go down to the local thrift store and get something.
In addition, this budget has no money for water, no money for child care and you might as well forget about saving for retirement. But if you work yourself 70 to 80 hours a week, you probably won’t even make it to retirement age anyway.
So what are some of the things that actually are in the budget?
Well, it allocates $20 a month for health insurance.
Wow – where can I sign up for that health insurance plan?
As the Washington Post noted, nobody is going to be able to get health insurance that cheaply…
Low-income individuals receive assistance from Medicaid, but an after-tax income of $24,720 would put Medicaid out of reach in most states. The same point will likely apply to the subsidies offered by Obamacare: An individual with an income of $17,000 in California will be able to get a basic health insurance plan at no cost, but an individual making $28,000 will have to pay at least $137 per month.
So even a young, healthy person will have to pay $100 or more for an individual health insurance policy in most circumstances. Perhaps McDonalds is tacitly admitting that many low-income workers, including McDonalds employees, can’t afford health insurance and simply make do without it.
The original version of the budget also assumed that the worker would spend zero dollars a month on “heating”.
Perhaps McDonald’s just expects their workers to freeze all winter.
The new version of the budget now allocates $50 a month for heating. Perhaps that may work for the state of Florida, but anyone that lives in a northern state knows that it takes a whole lot more than that just to heat up your home to a level that is barely livable during the winter.
This budget is absolutely crazy. But perhaps even more patronizing then the budget itself is the following statement that is made on the website: “You can have almost anything you want as long as you plan ahead and save for it.”
Do they expect anyone to actually fall for that line?
Don’t get me wrong. Working at McDonald’s is great for some people. I worked there myself when I was in high school. But the vast majority of adult Americans need jobs that will enable them to take care of their families. And those kinds of jobs are rapidly disappearing.
Last month, the U.S. economy lost 240,000 full-time jobs. We are about 6 million full-time jobs below the all-time record that was set back in 2007. For much more on this, please see my previous article entitled: “The Decline Of Breadwinner Jobs Has Resulted In The Longest Bread Lines In American History“.
Today, one out of every four American workers has a job that pays $10 an hour or less. A lot of very talented people are cutting hair, flipping burgers or working for temp agencies. Those people should be doing something that takes advantage of their skills and abilities, but the U.S. economy is not producing enough of those kinds of jobs anymore.
Unfortunately, this is only just the beginning. The next major wave of the economic collapse is rapidly approaching, and when it strikes unemployment in this country is going to get much worse.
So don’t put all of your faith in the system, because the system is failing. Even if you do have a good job right now, you could lose it at any moment.
Whatever you can do to become more independent of the system is a good thing. For example, starting up a side business is a wonderful thing. It takes a tremendous amount of effort, but nobody can fire you if you are the boss.
So what do you think of the “McDonald’s Budget”? Please feel free to share your opinion by posting a comment below…
Is “discretionary income” rapidly becoming a thing of the past for most American families? Right now, there are a lot of signs that we are on the verge of a nightmarish consumer spending drought. Incomes are down, taxes are up, many large retail chains are deeply struggling because of the lack of customers, and at this point nearly a quarter of all Americans have more credit card debt than money in the bank. Considering the fact that consumer spending is such a large percentage of the U.S. economy, that is very bad news. How will we ever have a sustained economic recovery if consumers don’t have much money to spend? Well, the truth is that we aren’t ever going to have a sustained economic recovery. In fact, this debt-fueled bubble of false hope that we are experiencing right now is as good as things are going to get. Things are going to go downhill from here, and if you think that consumer spending is bad now, just wait until you see what happens over the next several years.
Even though the Dow is surging toward a record high right now, everyone knows that things are not good for the middle class. A recent quote from CPA Howard Dvorkin kind of summarizes our current state of affairs very nicely…
“The fact of the matter is that America is broke — whether it’s mortgages, student loans or credit cards, we are broke. The old rule of thumb is that people should have six months’ of savings,” Dvorkin says.”If you talk to people, most don’t have two pennies.”
These days most Americans are living from paycheck to paycheck, and thanks to rising prices and rising taxes, those paychecks are getting squeezed tighter and tighter. Many families have had to cut back on unnecessary expenses, and some families no longer have any discretionary income at all.
The following are 16 signs that the middle class is rapidly running out of money…
#1 According to one brand new survey, 24 percent of all Americans have more credit card debt than money in the bank.
#2 J.C. Penney was once an unstoppable retail powerhouse, but now J.C. Penney has just posted its lowest annual retail sales in more than 20 years…
J.C. Penney Co. (JCP) slid the most in more than three decades after the department-store chain lost $4.3 billion in sales in the first year of Chief Executive Officer Ron Johnson’s turnaround plan.
The shares fell 18 percent to $17.40 at 11:28 a.m. in New York after earlier declining 22 percent, the biggest intraday drop since at least 1980, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. J.C. Penney yesterday said its net loss in the quarter ended Feb. 2 widened to $552 million from $87 million a year earlier. The Plano, Texas-based retailer’s annual revenue slid 25 percent to $13 billion, the lowest since at least 1987.
How much worse can things get? At this point the decline has become so steep for J.C. Penney that Jim Cramer of CNBC is declaring that they are in “a true tailspin“.
#3 In the United States today, a new car has become out of reach for most middle class Americans according to the 2013 Car Affordability Study…
Looking to buy a new car, truck or crossover? You may find it more difficult to stretch the household budget than you expected, according to a new study that finds median-income families in only one major U.S. city actually can afford the typical new vehicle.
The typical new vehicle is now more expensive than ever, averaging $30,500 in 2012, according to TrueCar.com data, and heading up again as makers curb the incentives that helped make their products more affordable during the recession when they were desperate for sales. According to the 2013 Car Affordability Study by Interest.com, only in Washington could the typical household swing the payments, the median income there running $86,680 a year.
#4 The founder of Subway Restaurants, Fred Deluca, says that the recent tax increases are having a noticeable impact on his business…
“The payroll tax is affecting sales. It’s causing sales declines,” he said, estimating a decline of about 2 percentage points off sales at his restaurants. “There are a lot of pressures on consumers,” Deluca said, adding “I think this is on the permanent side, but I think business will adjust to it.”
#5 Many other large restaurant chains are also struggling in this tough economic environment…
Darden Restaurants, which owns the casual dining chains Oliver Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse and Red Lobster, said blended same-store sales at its three eateries would be 4.5 percent lower during its fiscal third quarter.
Clarence Otis, Darden’s chairman and chief executive, said that “while results midway through the third quarter were encouraging, there were difficult macro-economic headwinds during the last month of the quarter.”
“Two of the most prominent were increased payroll taxes and rising gasoline prices, which together put meaningful pressure on the discretionary purchasing power of our guests,” he added.
#6 The CFO of Family Dollar recently admitted to CNBC that this is a “challenging time” because of reduced consumer spending…
At Family Dollar where the average customer makes less than $40,000 a year, the combination of a two-percent hike in the payroll tax, rising gas prices and delayed tax refunds has created a “challenging time and an uncertain time for the consumer right now,” said Mary Winston, the company’s chief financial officer.
“In our case, anything that takes money out of our customer’s wallet gives them less money to spend in our stores,” she told CNBC. “So I think all of those things create nervousness for the consumer, and I think there are sometimes political dynamics going on that they might not even fully understand the details, but they know it’s not good.”
#7 Even Wal-Mart is really struggling right now. According to a recent Bloomberg article, Wal-Mart is struggling “to restock store shelves as U.S. sales slump“…
Evelin Cruz, a department manager at the Wal-Mart Supercenter in Pico Rivera, California, said Simon’s comments from the officers’ meeting were “dead on.”
“There are gaps where merchandise is missing,” Cruz said in a telephone interview. “We are not talking about a couple of empty shelves. This is throughout the store in every store. Some places look like they’re going out of business.”
This all comes on the heels of an internal Wal-Mart memo that was leaked to the press earlier this month that described February sales as a “total disaster”.
#8 Electronics retailer Best Buy continues to struggle mightily. Best Buy just announced that it will be eliminating 400 jobs at its headquarters in Richfield, Minnesota.
#9 It is being projected that many of the largest retail chains in America, including Best Buy, will close down hundreds of stores during 2013. The following is a list of projected store closings for 2013 that I included in a previous article…
Forecast store closings: 200 to 250
Sears Holding Corp.
Forecast store closings: Kmart 175 to 225, Sears 100 to 125
Forecast store closings: 300 to 350
Forecast store closings: 125 to 150
Barnes & Noble
Forecast store closings: 190 to 240, per company comments
Forecast store closings: 500 to 600
Forecast store closings: 150 to 175
Forecast store closings: 450 to 550
#10 Another sign that consumer spending is slowing down is the fact that less stuff is being moved around in our economy. As I have mentioned previously, freight shipment volumes have hit their lowest level in two years, and freight expenditures have gone negative for the first time since the last recession.
#11 Many young adults have no discretionary income to spend because they are absolutely drowning in student loan debt. According to the New York Federal Reserve, student loan debt nearly tripled between 2004 and 2012.
#12 The student loan delinquency rate in the United States is now at an all-time high. It is only a matter of time before the student loan debt bubble bursts.
#13 Due to a lack of jobs and high levels of debt, poverty among young adults in America is absolutely exploding. Today, U.S. families that have a head of household that is under the age of 30 have a poverty rate of 37 percent.
#14 According to one recent survey, 62 percent of all middle class Americans say that they have had to reduce household spending over the past year.
#15 Median household income in the United States has fallen for four consecutive years. Overall, it has declined by more than $4000 during that time span.
#16 According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the middle class is currently taking home a smaller share of the overall income pie than has ever been recorded before.
Are you starting to get the picture?
Retailers are desperate for sales, but you can’t squeeze blood out of a rock.
For much more on how the middle class is absolutely drowning in debt, please see this article: “Money Is A Form Of Social Control And Most Americans Are Debt Slaves“.
But if you listen to the mainstream media, they would have you believe that happy days are here again.
Right now, everyone seems to be quite giddy about the fact that the Dow is marching toward an all-time high. And I actually do believe that the Dow will blow right past it. In fact, it is even possible that we could see the Dow hit 15,000 before everything starts falling apart.
But at some point, the financial markets will catch up with economic reality. It is just a matter of time.
In the meanwhile, those that are wise are taking advantage of these times of plenty to prepare for the great economic drought that is coming.
Don’t be caught living paycheck to paycheck and totally unprepared when the next wave of the economic collapse strikes. Anyone that believes that this debt-fueled bubble of false hope can last indefinitely is just being delusional.
By recklessly printing, borrowing and spending money, our authorities are absolutely shredding confidence in the U.S. dollar. The rest of the world is watching this nonsense, and at some point they are going to give up on the U.S. dollar and throw their hands up in the air. When that happens, it is going to be absolutely catastrophic for the U.S. economy. Right now, we export a lot of our inflation. Each year, we buy far more from the rest of the world than they buy from us, and so the rest of the world ends up with giant piles of U.S. dollars. This works out pretty well for them, because the U.S. dollar is the primary reserve currency of the world and is used in international trade far more than any other currency is. Back in 1999, the percentage of foreign exchange reserves in U.S. dollars peaked at 71 percent, and since then it has slid back to 62.2 percent. But that is still an overwhelming amount. We can print, borrow and spend like crazy because the rest of the world is there to soak up our excess dollars because they need them to trade with one another. But what will happen someday if the rest of the world decides to reject the U.S. dollar? At that point we would see a tsunami of U.S. dollars come flooding back to this country. Just take a moment and think of the worst superstorm that you can possibly imagine, and then replace every drop of rain with a dollar bill. The giant currency superstorm that will eventually hit this nation will be far worse than that.
Most Americans don’t realize that there are far more dollars in use in the rest of the world than in the United States itself. The following is from a scholarly article by Linda Goldberg…
The dollar is a major form of cash currency around the world. The majority of dollar banknotes are estimated to be held outside the US. More than 70% of hundred-dollar notes and nearly 60% of twenty- and fifty-dollar notes are held abroad, while two-thirds of all US banknotes have been in circulation outside the country since 1990
For decades we have been exporting gigantic quantities of our currency.
So what would happen if that process suddenly reversed and massive piles of dollars started coming back into the country?
It is frightening to think about.
Well, I guess the key is to get the rest of the world to continue to have confidence in the U.S. dollar so that will never happen, right?
Unfortunately, there are lots of signs that the rest of the world is accelerating their move away from the U.S. dollar.
For example, it was recently announced that the BRICS countries are developing their own version of the World Bank…
The BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) bloc has begun planning its own development bank and a new bailout fund which would be created by pooling together an estimated $240 billion in foreign exchange reserves, according to diplomatic sources. To get a sense of how significant the proposed fund would be, the fund would be larger than the combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of about 150 countries, according to Russia and India Report.
And as I noted in a previous article, over the past few years there have been a whole host of new international currency agreements that encourage the use of national currencies over the U.S. dollar. The following are just a few examples…
1. China and Germany (See Here)
2. China and Russia (See Here)
3. China and Brazil (See Here)
4. China and Australia (See Here)
5. China and Japan (See Here)
6. India and Japan (See Here)
7. Iran and Russia (See Here)
8. China and Chile (See Here)
9. China and the United Arab Emirates (See Here)
10. China, Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa (See Here)
Will this movement soon become a stampede away from the U.S. dollar?
That is a very important question.
But you don’t hear anything about this in the U.S. media and our politicians are not talking about this at all.
Meanwhile, our “leaders” seem to be doing everything that they can to destroy confidence in the U.S. dollar. The Federal Reserve is printing money like there is no tomorrow, and the federal government continues to run up trillion dollar deficits year after year.
They do not seem to understand that they are systematically destroying the U.S. financial system.
Other world leaders get it. For example, Russian President Vladimir Putin once said the following…
“Unreasonable expansion of the budget deficit, accumulation of the national debt – are as destructive as an adventurous stock market game.
During the time of the Soviet Union the role of the state in economy was made absolute, which eventually lead to the total non-competitiveness of the economy. That lesson cost us very dearly. I am sure no one would want history to repeat itself.”
Why can’t most of our politicians see how destructive debt is?
What the federal government continues to do is absolutely insane. The national debt increased by more than 24 billion dollars on the day after Thanksgiving this year. But utter disaster has not struck yet, and most Americans are not really that concerned about the debt. So things just keep rolling along.
And of course our national debt of $16,309,738,056,362.44 is nothing when compared to the future liabilities that our federal government is facing. Just check out what a recent article in the Wall Street Journal had to say about all this…
The actual liabilities of the federal government—including Social Security, Medicare, and federal employees’ future retirement benefits—already exceed $86.8 trillion, or 550% of GDP. For the year ending Dec. 31, 2011, the annual accrued expense of Medicare and Social Security was $7 trillion. Nothing like that figure is used in calculating the deficit. In reality, the reported budget deficit is less than one-fifth of the more accurate figure.
Other economists paint an even gloomier picture. According to economist Niall Ferguson, the U.S. government is facing future unfunded liabilities of 238 trillion dollars.
So where are we going to get all that money?
Well, why don’t we just print more money than ever before so that the U.S. government can borrow and spend more money than ever before?
Don’t laugh. That is actually what some of the top economists in the country are actually recommending.
The most famous economic journalist in the entire country, Paul Krugman of the New York Times, is boldly proclaiming that the solution to all of our problems is to print, borrow and spend a lot more money. He insists that there is no reason to fear that the giant mountain of debt that we are accumulating will someday collapse the system…
For we have our own currency — and almost all of our debt, both private and public, is denominated in dollars. So our government, unlike the Greek government, literally can’t run out of money. After all, it can print the stuff. So there’s almost no risk that America will default on its debt — I’d say no risk at all if it weren’t for the possibility that Republicans would once again try to hold the nation hostage over the debt ceiling.
But if the U.S. government prints money to pay its bills, won’t that lead to inflation? No, not if the economy is still depressed.
Now, it’s true that investors might start to expect higher inflation some years down the road. They might also push down the value of the dollar. Both of these things, however, would actually help rather than hurt the U.S. economy right now: expected inflation would discourage corporations and families from sitting on cash, while a weaker dollar would make our exports more competitive.
Of course what he is prescribing is complete and utter madness.
At some point this con game is going to collapse and the rest of the world is going to say a big, fat, resounding “NO” to the U.S. dollar.
Why should they continue to use a currency that is becoming extremely unstable and that is constantly being manipulated?
And when the rest of the world rejects the U.S. dollar, the value of the dollar will drop like a rock because there will be far less global demand for it.
In addition, if the rest of the world is not using the U.S. dollar for trade any longer, other nations will cease to soak up our excess currency and huge mountains of our currency that are floating around out there will start flooding back to our shores.
At that point we will be looking at inflation unlike anything we have ever seen before. The era of cheap imports will be over and we will pay far more for everything from oil to the foreign-made plastic trinkets that we buy at Wal-Mart.
Most Americans don’t even know what a “reserve currency” is, but when the U.S. dollar loses reserve currency status it is going to unleash a nightmare that most economists cannot even imagine.
So enjoy this holiday season while you can. There are still lots and lots of cheap imports filling the shelves of our stores.
Once the coming giant currency superstorm strikes, we will dearly wish for the good old days of 2012.
Yes, the U.S. dollar is alive and ticking for now. But at the pace that our authorities are abusing it, I would not say that things are looking good for a long and healthy lifespan.
The future of the United States of America is being systematically destroyed by our politicians, but unfortunately most Americans don’t really grasp exactly what is happening. 30 years ago, our national debt had just crossed the one trillion dollar mark. Just recently, it crossed the 16 trillion dollar mark. Prior to every election, politicians from both parties swear up and down that they will do something about our exploding debt, but it never happens. Once again this year, our politicians are making all kinds of grand promises about getting U.S. government finances under control. But they are also promising all kinds of new plans and programs which are going to cost a lot more money on top of what we are already spending. For the average American, all of this can be incredibly confusing. That is why I have put together a list of facts about the debt and U.S. government finances below. These are things that every voter should know. The federal government is stealing more than a trillion dollars a year from our children and our grandchildren, and they are spending that money in some of the most foolish ways that you could ever imagine. We have accumulated the largest mountain of debt in the history of the world, but our politicians just can’t help themselves – they appear to be absolutely addicted to spending money. If we continue on the path that we are currently on, our entire financial system and our entire economy will be destroyed by all of this debt. Time is running out and urgent action is needed to address this crisis.
Many of our founding fathers attempted to warn us about the dangers of government debt. For example, Thomas Jefferson once said the following…
I wish it were possible to obtain a single amendment to our Constitution. I would be willing to depend on that alone for the reduction of the administration of our government to the genuine principles of its Constitution; I mean an additional article, taking from the federal government the power of borrowing.
Where would we be today if such an amendment had been added to our Constitution?
How much brighter would our future be if the federal government had been forced to only spend what it took in all these years?
Those are very good questions.
The following are 55 facts about the debt and U.S. government finances that every American voter should know….
#1 While Barack Obama has been president, the U.S. government has spent about 11 dollars for every 7 dollars of revenue that it has actually brought in.
#2 During the fiscal year that just ended, the U.S. government took in 2.449 trillion dollars but it spent 3.538 trillion dollars.
#3 During fiscal year 2011, over a trillion dollars of government money was spent on 83 different welfare programs, and those numbers do not even include Social Security or Medicare.
#4 Over the past four years, welfare spending has increased by 32 percent. In inflation-adjusted dollars, spending on those programs has risen by 378 percent over the past 30 years. At this point, more than 100 million Americans are enrolled in at least one welfare program run by the federal government. Once again, these figures do not even include Social Security or Medicare.
#5 Over the past year, the number of Americans getting a free cell phone from the federal government has grown by 43 percent. Now more than 16 million Americans are enjoying what has come to be known as an “Obamaphone”.
#6 When Barack Obama first entered the White House, about 32 million Americans were on food stamps. Now, nearly 47 million Americans are on food stamps. And this has happened during what Obama refers to as “an economic recovery”.
#7 The U.S. government recently spent 27 million dollars on pottery classes in Morocco.
#8 The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently spent $300,000 to encourage Americans to eat caviar at a time when more families than ever are having a really hard time just trying to put any food on the table at all.
#9 During 2012, the National Science Foundation spent $516,000 to support the creation of a video game called “Prom Week”, which apparently simulates “all the social interactions of the event.”
#10 The U.S. Department of Agriculture gave the largest snack food maker in the world (PepsiCo Inc.) a total of 1.3 million dollars in corporate welfare that was used to help build “a Greek yogurt factory in New York.”
#11 The National Science Foundation recently gave researchers at Purdue University $350,000. They used part of that money to help fund a study that discovered that if golfers imagine that a hole is bigger it will help them with their putting.
#12 If you can believe it, $10,000 from the federal government was actually used to purchase talking urinal cakes up in Michigan.
#13 The National Science Foundation recently gave a whopping $697,177 to a New York City-based theater company to produce a musical about climate change.
#14 The National Institutes of Health recently gave $666,905 to a group of researchers that is studying the benefits of watching reruns on television.
#15 The National Science Foundation has given 1.2 million dollars to a team of “scientists” that is spending part of that money on a study that is seeking to determine whether elderly Americans would benefit from playing World of Warcraft or not.
#16 The National Institutes of Health recently gave $548,731 to a team of researchers that concluded that those that drink heavily in their thirties also tend to feel more immature.
#17 The National Science Foundation recently spent $30,000 on a study to determine if “gaydar” actually exists. This is the conclusion that the researchers reached at the end of the study….
“Gaydar is indeed real and… its accuracy is driven by sensitivity to individual facial features”
#18 Back in 2011, the National Institutes of Health spent $592,527 on a study that sought to figure out once and for all why chimpanzees throw poop.
#19 The U.S. government spends more on the military than China, Russia, Japan, India, and the rest of NATO combined. In fact, the United States accounts for 41.0% of all military spending on the planet. China is next with only 8.2%.
#20 In a previous article, I noted that close to 500,000 federal employees now make at least $100,000 a year.
#21 In 2006, only 12 percent of all federal workers made $100,000 or more per year. Now, approximately 22 percent of all federal workers do.
#22 If you can believe it, there are 77,000 federal workers that make more than the governors of their own states do.
#23 During 2010, the average federal employee in the Washington D.C. area received total compensation worth more than $126,000.
#24 The U.S. Department of Defense had just nine civilians earning $170,000 or more back in 2005. When Barack Obama became president, the U.S. Department of Defense had 214 civilians earning $170,000 or more. By June 2010, the U.S. Department of Defense had 994 civilians earning $170,000 or more.
#25 During 2010, compensation for federal employees came to a grand total of approximately 447 billion dollars.
#26 If you can believe it, close to 15,000 retired federal employees are currently collecting federal pensions for life worth at least $100,000 annually. That list includes such names as Newt Gingrich, Bob Dole, Trent Lott, Dick Gephardt and Dick Cheney.
#27 During 2010, the federal government spent $33,387 on the hair care needs of U.S. Senators.
#28 During 2010, U.S. Senators pulled $72,370 out of the “Senate Restaurant Fund”.
#29 During 2010, an average of $4,005,900 of U.S. taxpayer money was spent on “personal” and “office” expenses per Senator.
#30 In 2013, 3.7 million dollars will be spent to support the lavish lifestyles of former presidents such as George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
#31 During 2011, the federal government spent a total of 1.4 BILLION dollars just on the Obamas.
#32 When you combine all federal government spending, all state government spending and all local government spending, it comes to approximately 41 percent of U.S. GDP. But don’t worry, all of our politicians insist that this is not socialism.
#33 As I have written about previously, less than 30 percent of all Americans lived in a home where at least one person received financial assistance from the federal government back in 1983. Today, that number is sitting at an all-time high of 49 percent.
#34 Back in 1990, the federal government accounted for just 32 percent of all health care spending in America. This year, it is being projected that the federal government will account for more than 50 percent of all health care spending in the United States.
#35 The number of Americans on Medicaid soared from 34 million in 2000 to 54 million in 2011, and it is being projected that Obamacare will add 16 million more Americans to the Medicaid rolls.
#36 In one of my previous articles, I discussed how 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.
#37 If you can believe it, Medicare is facing unfunded liabilities of more than 38 trillion dollars over the next 75 years. That comes to approximately $328,404 for each and every household in the United States.
#38 In the United States today, more than 61 million Americans receive some form of Social Security benefits. By 2035, that number is projected to soar to a whopping 91 million.
#39 Overall, the Social Security system is facing a 134 trillion dollar shortfall over the next 75 years.
#40 When Barack Obama first took office, the U.S. national debt was about 10.6 trillion dollars. Now it is about 16.2 trillion dollars. That is an increase of 5.6 trillion dollars in less than 4 years.
#41 The federal government has now run a budget deficit of more than a trillion dollars for four years in a row.
#42 If right this moment you went out and started spending one dollar every single second, it would take you more than 31,000 years to spend one trillion dollars.
#43 If you were alive when Jesus Christ was born and you spent one million dollars every single day since that point, you still would not have spent one trillion dollars by now.
#44 Some suggest that “taxing the rich” is the answer. Well, if Bill Gates gave every single penny of his entire fortune to the U.S. government, it would only cover the U.S. budget deficit for 15 days.
#45 If the federal government used GAAP accounting standards like publicly traded corporations do, the real federal budget deficit for 2011 would have been 5 trillion dollars instead of 1.3 trillion dollars.
#46 The United States already has more government debt per capita than Greece, Portugal, Italy, Ireland or Spain does.
#47 At this point, the United States government is responsible for more than a third of all the government debt in the entire world.
#48 The amount of U.S. government debt held by foreigners is about 5 times larger than it was just a decade ago.
#49 Between 2007 and 2010, U.S. GDP grew by only 4.26%, but the U.S. national debt soared by 61% during that same time period.
#50 The U.S. national debt is now more than 37 times larger than it was when Richard Nixon took us off the gold standard.
#51 The U.S. national debt is now more than 5000 times larger than it was when the Federal Reserve was first created.
#52 The U.S. national debt jumped more on the very first day of fiscal year 2013 than it did from 1776 to 1941 combined.
#53 Historically, the interest rate on 10 year U.S. Treasuries has averaged 6.68 percent. If the average interest rate on U.S. government debt rose to that level today, the U.S. government would find itself spending more than a trillion dollars per year just on interest on the national debt.
#54 A recently revised IMF policy paper entitled “An Analysis of U.S. Fiscal and Generational Imbalances: Who Will Pay and How?” projects that U.S. government debt will rise to about 400 percent of GDP by the year 2050.
#55 Boston University economist Laurence Kotlikoff is warning that the U.S. government is facing a gigantic tsunami of unfunded liabilities in the coming years that we are counting on our children and our grandchildren to pay. Kotlikoff speaks of a “fiscal gap” which he defines as “the present value difference between projected future spending and revenue”. His calculations have led him to the conclusion that the federal government is facing a fiscal gap of 222 trillion dollars in the years ahead.
Please share this article with as many people as you can. Time is running out to fix these problems.
Are you constantly tired and do you feel incredibly stressed almost all the time? Well, that means that there is a really good chance that you are a typical American worker. Even though our incomes are going down, Americans are spending more time at work than ever before. In fact, U.S. workers spend more time at work than anyone else in the world. But it was not always this way. Back in 1970, the average work week for an American worker was about 35 hours. Today, it is up to 46 hours. But there are other major economies around the globe that are doing just fine without burning their workers out. For example, the average American worker spends 378 more hours working per year than the average German worker does. Sadly, for many Americans work is not even finished once they leave the office. According to one recent survey, the average American worker spends an extra seven hours per week on work tasks such as checking emails and answering phone calls after normal work hours have finished. Other Americans are juggling two or three jobs in a desperate attempt to make ends meet. Americans are busier than ever and work is often pushing the other areas of our lives on to the back burner. What this also means is that “family vacations” are becoming increasingly rare in the United States. In fact, Americans spend less days on vacation than anyone else in the industrialized world. While some would applaud our “work ethic”, the truth is that the fact that we are being overworked is having some very serious consequences. In fact, as you will see below, Americans are literally being worked to death.
The following is an excerpt from a comment that one reader posted on one of my recent articles. Can you identify with what this family is going through?….
I always try and remember to be thankful and say prayers of gratitude for the blessings I have, however I can tell you that my wife and I are getting more and more exhausted.
Straight forward payroll taxes nailed us for $35k last year and the dozens of other taxes are often over-looked but also hitting us harder and harder.
My wife works 14 hour shifts at her dialysis clinic 3 days a week and every other weekend. On the Tuesdays and thursdays she has off she ends up resting half the day to give her poor feet a break since a nurse on her feet 14 straight hours of continual busyness is exhausting.
On top of that, her company has had a pay freeze for 3 years, has dropped Holidays down to just 2 per year ( Thanksgiving and Christmas of which she must work 1 of them), has canceled the reimbursement of her CEU’s ( medical professionals are required to continue to take schooling and classes for their entire career in order to renew their licenses) –also they no longer match 401k’s and her company health plan just bumped up $30 per week!!
I put in so many hours at times that when I get home I am too tired to eat. I come home, change clothes/shower and go straight to bed–this is not living. I try and keep up with my volunteer work and rounds at our local nursing home but something is going to have to give. My caseloads are growing and growing and people are making appts 2-3 weeks in advance. I never had a schedule so filled in advance before. I usually have more long-term pt’s with needs of stroke, Parkinson’s, traumatic brain injuries..but now ortho pt’s are scheduling surgeries as to when I’ll have slots for hip replacement and knee replacement rehab time.
I’m ground down and in the mean time everything is getting more expensive, they keep taking more of my money I earn and we are having all of our benefits cut or completely stopped.
All over this country, millions of hard working men and women are slowly being worn down by jobs that are sucking the life out of them. Working way too many hours for an extended period of time can have dramatic consequences for your health, your family and just about every other area of your life.
But for some Americans, there is simply no other choice. There are millions upon millions of Americans that live on the edge of financial disaster these days. According to one recent survey, 77 percent of all Americans live paycheck to paycheck at least some of the time, and the middle class in the United States has been shrinking at a very steady pace in recent years.
Many Americans are not working 60 or 70 hours per week because they want to.
Many are doing it because that is what they must do just to survive.
For example, a recent article posted on Economy In Crisis profiled a mother of four up in Michigan named Lisa Bosworth who can’t make ends meet for her family despite working three jobs….
Bosworth remarried but her current husband, Ray, was forced onto medical disability when a prescription medication caused health problems. The couple, who had a fourth child together, struggle to support their family on Lisa’s meager income.
Bosworth’s gross monthly income from working as a classroom aide in Reeths-Puffer schools and doing two Chronicle newspaper routes is $1,900. That amounts to $22,800 annually, nearly $5,000 below the poverty level for a family of six.
When they run out of money near the end of each month, Lisa and Ray Bosworth line up at one of several food trucks that visit Muskegon each month.
Earlier this month, the couple and three of their children waited in line at a food truck at Calvin Christian Reformed Church in Norton Shores. Lisa Bosworth had just finished her two newspaper routes and was clearly fatigued after another 70-hour work week. “I’m tired,” she said.
Today, there are more than 100 million Americans on welfare, and a significant percentage of those people actually do have jobs. In fact, some are working two or three jobs.
Working class Americans are working harder than ever, but at the same time many of them are making less money than they once did.
This is putting an incredible amount of stress on working class families.
In fact, it appears that a lot of Americans are literally working themselves to death.
And as a recent CBS News article described, this is particularly true for poor Americans that do not have much education….
Overall life expectancy has dropped for white Americans who have less than a high school diploma to rates similar to those of the 1950s and 1960s, new research finds.
The study found non-Hispanic white men without a diploma lived on average until 67.5 in 2008, three years less than they did in 1990. The drop in lifespan was even bigger for non-Hispanic white women with low education: They live five years shorter than 1990 rates, from 78 years old to just 73.5.
This is a sign that our society is going backwards. Working class Americans are actually living significantly shorter lives than they used to.
Of course the garbage that passes for “food” these days certainly is not helping matters any, but that is a topic for another article.
Sadly, those that are working themselves to death consider themselves to be the “lucky ones” in our society today.
There are countless millions of other Americans that are sitting at home right now without a job.
The mainstream media is trying to convince us that the unemployment rate has been falling, but that is a lie. If the labor force participation rate was the same today as it was back when Barack Obama first took office, the unemployment rate in the United States would be 11.2 percent right now.
But that doesn’t sound nearly as good as 8.1 percent sounds, right?
And the percentage of working age Americans with a job is actually lower today than when the last recession supposedly ended.
In this economic environment, most people are scared to death of losing the jobs that they currently have because they don’t know if they will be able to get another one.
During the month of August, the unemployment rate actually increased in 26 different U.S. states, and yet we are supposedly in the midst of “an economic recovery”.
But the truth is that we are not better off than we were back during the last recession. In fact, there are a whole host of statistics that indicate that things are getting worse.
Unfortunately, much of the time people tend to forget that the horrible economic numbers that we are seeing have very substantial real life consequences.
People that cannot find work and people that work very long hours for a very long period of time tend to be much more depressed than the population as a whole.
And depression can often lead to suicide. According to a recent Daily Mail article, more Americans now die from suicide than from car accidents….
Suicide is the cause of more deaths than car crashes, according to an alarming new study.
The number of people who commit suicide in the U.S. has drastically increased while deaths from car accidents have dropped, making suicide the leading cause of injury death.
Suicides via falls or poisoning have risen significantly and experts fear that there could be many more unaccounted for, particularly in cases of overdose.
That is incredibly tragic, because there is never a reason for anyone to commit suicide. One of the things that I have learned in my own life is that there is always a way for things to be turned around.
Yes, life can be very hard when you don’t have much money, but our lives should not be about chasing material things anyway. Our lives should be about so much more than that.
If you are currently feeling overly tired and overly stressed because you have been working too much, I encourage you to take a vacation.
We are only given one life to live. We shouldn’t spend it working ourselves to death.
So what do you think about all of this? Please feel free to post a comment with your thoughts below….
You can tell a lot about a nation by the condition of the infrastructure. So what does our infrastructure say about us? It says that we are in a very advanced state of decay. At this point, much of America is being held together with spit, duct tape and prayers. Our roads are crumbling and thousands of our bridges look like they could collapse at any moment. Our power grid is ancient and over a trillion gallons of untreated sewage is leaking from our aging sewer systems each year. Our airports and our seaports are clogged with far more traffic than they were ever designed to carry. Approximately a third of all of the dam failures that have taken place in the United States since 1874 have happened during the past decade. Our national parks and recreation areas have been terribly neglected and our railroads are a bad joke. Hurricane Katrina showed how vulnerable our levees are, and drinking water systems all over the country are badly outdated. Sadly, at a time when we could use significant new investment in infrastructure, our spending on infrastructure is actually way down. Back during the 50s and the 60s, the U.S. was spending between 3 and 4 percent of GDP on infrastructure. Today, that figure is down to about 2.4 percent. But of course we don’t have any extra money to spend on infrastructure because of our reckless spending and because of the massive amount of debt that we have accumulated. While the Obama administration is spending more than half a million dollars to figure out why chimpanzees throw poop, our national infrastructure is literally falling apart all around us. Once upon a time nobody else on the planet could match our infrastructure, and now we are in the process of becoming a joke to the rest of the world.
The following are 21 facts about America’s failing infrastructure that will blow your mind….
#1 The American Society of Civil Engineers has given America’s crumbling infrastructure an overall grade of D.
#2 There are simply not enough roads in the United States today. Each year, traffic jams cost the commuters of America 4.2 billion hours and about 2.8 million gallons of gasoline.
#3 It is being projected that Americans will spend an average of 160 hours stuck in traffic annually by the year 2035.
#4 Approximately one-third of all roads in the United States are in substandard condition.
#5 Close to a third of all highway fatalities are due “to substandard road conditions, obsolete road designs, or roadside hazards.”
#6 One out of every four bridges in America either carries more traffic than originally intended or is in need of repair.
#7 Repairing all of the bridges in the United States that need repair would take approximately 140 billion dollars.
#8 According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, our decaying transportation system costs the U.S. economy about 78 billion dollars annually in lost time and fuel.
#9 All over America, asphalt roads are being ground up and are being replaced with gravel roads because they are cheaper to maintain. The state of South Dakota has transformed over 100 miles of asphalt roads into gravel roads, and 38 out of the 83 counties in the state of Michigan have transformed at least some of their asphalt roads into gravel roads.
#10 There are 4,095 dams in the United States that are at risk of failure. That number has risen by more than 100 percent since 1999.
#11 Of all the dam failures that have happened in the United States since 1874, a third of them have happened during the past decade.
#12 Close to half of all U.S. households do not have access to bus or rail transit.
#13 Our aging sewer systems spill more than a trillion gallons of untreated sewage every single year. The cost of cleaning up that sewage each year is estimated to be greater than 50 billion dollars.
#14 It is estimated that rolling blackouts and inefficiencies in the U.S. electrical grid cost the U.S. economy approximately 80 billion dollars a year.
#15 It is being projected that by the year 2020 every single major container port in the United States will be handling at least double the volume that it was originally designed to handle.
#16 All across the United States, conditions at many of our state parks, recreation areas and historic sites are deplorable at best. Some states have backlogs of repair projects that are now over a billion dollars long….
More than a dozen states estimate that their backlogs are at least $100 million. Massachusetts and New York’s are at least $1 billion. Hawaii officials called park conditions “deplorable” in a December report asking for $50 million per year for five years to tackle a $240 million backlog that covers parks, trails and harbors.
#17 Today, the U.S. spends about 2.4 percent of GDP on infrastructure. Meanwhile, China spends about 9 percent of GDP on infrastructure.
#18 In the United States today, approximately 16 percent of our construction workers are unemployed.
#19 China has plans to build 55,000 miles of highways by the year 2020. If all of those roads were put end to end, it would be longer than the total length of the entire U.S. interstate system.
#20 The World Economic Forum ranks U.S. infrastructure 23rd in the world, and we fall a little bit farther behind the rest of the developed world every single day.
#21 It has been projected that it would take 2.2 trillion dollars over the next 5 years just to repair our existing infrastructure. That does not even include a single penny for badly needed new infrastructure.
So where did we go wrong?
Well, one of the big problems is that we have become a very materialistic society that is obsessed with short-term thinking. Investing in infrastructure is something that has long-term benefits, but these days Americans tend to only be focused on what is happening right now and most politicians are only focused on the next election cycle.
Another major problem is that there is so much corruption and waste in our system these days. The government certainly spends more than enough money, but very little of that money is spent wisely. A lot of the money that could be going toward rebuilding our infrastructure is being poured down the toilet instead. For much more on this, please read my previous article entitled “16 Sickening Facts That Show How Members Of Congress And Federal Workers Are Living The High Life At Your Expense“.
Unfortunately, it is probably appropriate that our infrastructure is decaying because we are decaying in just about every other way that it is possible for a society to decay.
We are decaying economically, politically, mentally, emotionally, physically, morally and spiritually.
We are a complete and total mess. So why shouldn’t what is happening to our infrastructure on the outside match what is happening to us as a nation on the inside?
And sadly, we simply do not have the money that we need for infrastructure because of all the debt that we have piled up. The federal government, our state governments and our local governments are all struggling to stay afloat in an ocean of red ink, and unfortunately that means that spending on infrastructure is likely to be cut even more in the years ahead.
So get used to rotting, crumbling, decaying infrastructure. What you see out there right now is only just the beginning.
When it comes to materialism, has any nation ever surpassed what we are seeing in the United States right now? We define our lives by how much stuff we have, to a large degree our personal and business relationships are defined by how much money we make, and even most of the important dates on our calendar are all about materialism. Just think about it. We throw outrageous birthday parties for our kids and we shower them with gifts. Most of our “holidays” have become highly materialistic, and the biggest holiday of all in our society, Christmas, is an absolute orgy of materialism. We make lists of the “wealthiest Americans” and we glorify their achievements. We spend most of our time either making money or spending it. Even the phrase “the American Dream” reveals how materialistic we are. When most people are asked what “the American Dream” is, they start talking about a house, a car, vacations, retirement, sending your kids to college, etc. The American Dream has become all about money and stuff. Sadly, no matter how big our homes are and no matter how many shiny new toys we accumulate, we never seem to be happy. We always want more, and we always seem to be willing to go into more debt to get it. We are the most materialistic society in the history of the world, and our endless greed is going to end up swallowing us alive.
When it comes to materialism in America, there are outrageous examples all around us, but one of my favorite examples is the “Rich Kids of Instagram“. It is a Tumblr blog of photos from Instagram of young Americans showing off how they are enjoying the vast wealth of their parents. The following is how the Washington Post describes the blog….
The controversial new Tumblr is a collection of snapshots from the photo-sharing site that depicts the children of wealth and privilege — summering in the Hamptons, lounging on yachts and posing by their luxury cars.
One does a back-flip out of a helicopter near St. Tropez. Others snap pictures of their restaurant bills — allegedly paying thousands of dollars for lobster, champagne and high-end liquor.
In the warm patina of the Instagram, the youngsters appear to be living over-the-top lifestyles — and enjoying every moment.
“Our everyday is better than your best day,” reads one caption, a bit tauntingly. And, “Do you have a horse in your backyard? Didn’t think so.”
But just because you have a horse on your property does that make your life better than the rest of our lives?
Of course not.
Wealth does not equal happiness.
Unfortunately, however, most Americans have totally bought into this lie.
Most Americans believe that more money equals a better life.
In response to “the Rich Kids of Instagram”, the Huffington Post recently put together a piece entitled “the Rich Cats of Instagram” that features photos of cats as they “model upscale accessories, lounge with bottles of champagne, sail on yachts and ponder life while relaxing atop piles of money.”
Of course a lot of those pictures are quite funny, but they also reveal a deep truth about our society.
We have spent our lives chasing after the almighty dollar thinking that it will make us happy. Study after study has shown that we tend to link wealth and happiness. The following is from a recent NBC News article about one of those studies….
Many parents already know older children can be materialistic. Some tweens not only want the latest games and clothes, but also think owning these things will bring them happiness, friends and popularity. And marketers are eager to get them to buy: Tweens spend $28 billion a year, not including the more than $200 billion their parents spend on them, according to market research company C+R Research.
But even though we have an incredibly high standard of living compared to most of the rest of the world, are most of us actually happy?
No way. In fact, Americans take more anti-depressants than anyone else on the planet.
It is really easy to get caught up in materialism though. Let me share an example from my own life.
Several months ago our old truck completely died. Instead of pouring thousands of more dollars into fixing it, we decided that we would get another used truck.
So the other day I stopped by a dealership while my wife was grabbing some things from Home Depot. The salesperson started showing me some of the used trucks on the lot, but after a while I suggested that he show me some of the new trucks that were sitting on the other side of the lot.
Before I knew it, I was sitting in the most expensive truck on the lot and he was showing me all of the cool features it had.
And I have to admit – for a few moments there I was really enamored with that truck. It was the coolest truck that I had ever seen in my life.
Of course my wife and I don’t need a truck like that. We only need to haul stuff around a few times a month. And we certainly do not need the amount of debt that it would take to buy such a truck.
But for a few moments there I really wanted it. The pull of materialism can be very strong.
So would that truck have “changed my life” or brought me lasting happiness?
Of course not.
It would have brought some thrills for the first couple of days, but after a while it would just be sitting in the garage taking up space just like any other truck would.
So did I end up buying a truck?
Not yet. But we need one soon. My wife has been without a truck for quite a few months now and she is getting impatient.
But whether we get a nice used truck or a used truck that has one foot in the grave, it really isn’t going to change our lives much.
In the end, our lives should not be defined by what we own or by how much money we have in the bank.
But how do we refer to ourselves in this day and age?
The American people are called “consumers” and the truth is that we consume far more than anyone else on the globe does.
Just look at our eating habits. Of all the major industrialized nations, America is the most obese.
The next time you go into a store, take note of how many people are overweight.
It has not always been this way. Back in 1962, only 13 percent of all Americans were obese.
But now overeating is a national sport. At this point, approximately 36 percent of all Americans are obese, and it is being projected that number will rise to 42 percent by 2030.
While we are gorging ourselves with food, what else do we like to do?
That’s right – we love to watch television. In fact, the average American watches 28 hours of television every single week.
We have become completely and totally addicted to entertainment, and we have become trained to be constantly “plugged in” to something.
Our lives have become all about constantly feeding our greed and our selfishness. In fact, that is a major reason for the breakdown of the family in America. We tend to view marriage as a temporary condition that can be quickly discarded when it no longer makes us happy.
Sadly, the United States has the highest divorce rate in the world by a very wide margin at this point.
In addition, more Americans than ever are putting off marriage these days. Young Americans are being told that “an education” and “a career” are more important. According to the Pew Research Center, only 51 percent of all American adults are currently married. Back in 1960, 72 percent of all adults in America were married.
As a result of these factors, we are an incredibly lonely nation. Today, the United States has the highest percentage of one person households on the entire globe.
In order to fill the void, the American people turn to things that will numb the pain. American use more legal drugs than anyone else on the planet and they also use more illegal drugs than anyone else on the planet.
We have more “stuff” than any other society in the history of the world has ever had, but it has not made us happy.
And how did we pay for all of this?
We paid for a lot of this with debt. In fact, we have accumulated the biggest mountain of debt in the history of the world.
During my lifetime, the debt of the U.S. government has gotten more than 30 times larger. For much more on this, please see my previous article entitled “27 Things That Every American Should Know About The National Debt“.
But the federal government is not the only one with a debt problem. The truth is that our entire society is absolutely drowning in debt.
Over the past 50 years, the total amount of debt in the U.S. has grown from less than a trillion dollars to nearly 55 trillion dollars….
We have used massive amounts of debt in an attempt to feed our endless greed and materialism and we have gotten ourselves into a whole lot of trouble.
This is one of the reasons why I write. I want people to understand how bad things have really gotten.
Thanks to our foolishness, our economy has been declining, it is going to continue to decline, and a massive economic collapse is coming.
Some people believe that this is a message of “doom and gloom”, but that is not the case at all.
Sticking our heads in the sand and pretending that somehow everything is going to be just fine is not going to do anyone any good.
Instead, I believe that warning people about the coming economic collapse is a message of hope.
There is hope in understanding what is happening, developing a plan to deal with it, and preparing yourself and your family for the storm that is coming.
It is the people that are ignoring all of the warnings that are going to be in real trouble.
Millions upon millions of people will be absolutely blindsided by what is coming. Many will give in to total despair once they realize that their prosperity is gone and they have done nothing to prepare for what they are now facing.
My hope is that the information that I write about will be shocking enough that it will wake people up and motivate them to get prepared so that they can handle the incredibly challenging years that are ahead.
And the truth is that our lives should not be about our money and our stuff anyway.
Your possessions are just temporary. None of them are going to last forever and you certainly cannot take them with you when you die.
Even though our economy has had some rough times, we still have a higher standard of living than 99 percent of the humans that have ever lived on this planet have had.
You would think that would be enough for us.
But it isn’t. We have hoarded our wealth and we have lived in luxury and self-indulgence.
When our debt-fueled prosperity disappears, most Americans are not going to know how to handle it.
Most Americans will believe that their lives are “over” at that point.
But those that are not caught up in materialism and that have prepared for what is ahead will understand that the next chapters of their lives can be the greatest chapters of all.