21 Facts About America’s Decaying Infrastructure That Will Blow Your Mind

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  Hurricane Katrina showed how vulnerable our levees are, and drinking water systems all over the country are badly outdated.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.

Is America The Most Materialistic Society In The History Of The World?

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.

Obama Has Stolen $5.3 Trillion From Our Children In Order To Make Himself Look Good

Barack Obama has destroyed the future of America in order to improve his chances of winning the next election.  Under Obama, 5.3 trillion dollars has been ruthlessly stolen from our children and our grandchildren.  That money has been used to pump up the debt-fueled false prosperity that we have been experiencing.  When the U.S. government borrows money that it does not have from someone else (such as China) and spends that money into the economy it is going to make our economic numbers look better.  Even if the government spends that money on incredibly stupid things, it still gets into the hands of average Americans who in turn spend that money on food, gas, clothes, etc.  If we were to go back and take that extra 5.3 trillion dollars out of the U.S. economy, I guarantee you that we would be in a rip-roaring depression right now.  We would look a lot like Greece at this point.  For several years Greece has been raising taxes and cutting government spending in an attempt to balance the budget and these austerity measures have resulted in an unemployment rate of over 23 percent and an economy that has contracted by close to 25 percent.  Most Americans don’t want to go through pain like that so they are okay with continuing to financially rape our children and our grandchildren.  Just imagine how you would feel if your parents died tomorrow and you found out that they had left you with a million dollar debt that you were legally obligated to pay off.  How would you feel, knowing that you had just been sold into debt slavery for the rest of your life?  Well, that is how our children and our grandchildren are going to feel.  We are destroying the greatest economic machine the world has ever seen, we are accumulating the biggest mountain of debt in the history of the planet, and the coming economic collapse that we have caused is going to wipe out the promising future that our children and our grandchildren were supposed to have.  If they get the chance, future generations of Americans will curse us bitterly and will spit on our graves.  What we are doing to our children and our grandchildren is the kind of stuff that horror movies are made of.  You should be ashamed of yourself America.

The federal budget deficit for 2012 will be larger than the entire U.S. national debt was 30 years ago.  In 1982 Ronald Reagan was in the White House and the U.S. national debt was considered to be a tremendous national crisis.  But somehow we have allowed our national debt to grow from about a trillion dollars back then to approximately $16,000,000,000,000 today.

By the end of Obama’s first term, the U.S. national debt will have grown more than it did from the time that George Washington became president to the time that George W. Bush became president.

That is hard to believe.

Obama is going to outdo all the presidents from George Washington through Bill Clinton in just one term.

Amazing.

At this point, the U.S. national debt is more than 22 times larger than it was when Jimmy Carter became president.

This has allowed us to enjoy a standard of living far beyond what we deserved to.  We have stolen from the future to make the present more pleasant.

But hardly anybody wants the party to end.  Especially not our Congress critters – they are living like kings and queens at our expense.  Our “representatives” in Washington D.C. love to give speeches about being “financially responsible”, but most of them never take any serious action about the debt because the way things are working now has been incredibly good to them.

And the truth is that both political parties have been responsible.  In 2010, Republicans took control of the House of Representatives with a clear mandate to get government spending under control.  Not a single penny of government money can be spent without their permission.  But since they took control, the U.S. national debt has increased by another 1.8 trillion dollars.

At this point, this current Congress (controlled by both Republicans and Democrats) has added more to the national debt than the first 97 Congresses combined.

We expect this kind of nonsense from the Democrats, but the Republicans are supposed to know better.

Of course our entire financial system is designed to permanently entrap our federal government in an endless spiral of debt, but neither political party ever talks about that.

Sadly, the U.S. national debt is now more than 5000 times larger than it was when the Federal Reserve was first created.

But we never hear about the link between the Federal Reserve and our national debt from either political party or on the mainstream news.

So most Americans do not even realize that our system is designed to create government debt.

It is absolutely disgusting.

We say that we care about our kids, and yet we are passing down a $16,000,000,000,000 debt to them.

Talk about child abuse.

Most people have a really hard time grasping how much money 16 trillion dollars actually is.

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.

And it would take you more than half a million years to spend 16 trillion dollars.

This is a debt that is impossible to pay back.  Just look at how it has exploded over the past 40 years….

In a previous article I discussed the distressing rate at which our debt is growing….

It took more than 200 years for the U.S. national debt to reach 1 trillion dollars.  In 1986, the U.S. national debt reached 2 trillion dollars.  In 1992, the U.S. national debt reached 4 trillion dollars.  In 2005, the U.S. national debt doubled again and reached 8 trillion dollars.  Now the U.S. national debt is about to cross the 16 trillion dollar mark.  How long can this kind of exponential growth go on?

If we can’t even slow down the growth of our debt, how do we ever expect to repay a single penny?

The sad truth is that we aren’t ever going to start paying down our debt.  We have gotten to the point where if we take our foot off the debt accelerator we plunge directly into a depression and the entire system collapses.  It is like a really sick version of the movie “Speed”.

Where is Keanu Reeves when you need him?

Since Barack Obama entered the White House, he has approved a whole host of measures that have been good for the economy in the short-term.  TARP, the stimulus packages, the auto industry bailout and the payroll tax cut are just a few examples.

Barack Obama has wanted to do everything he possibly can to stimulate the economy in the short-term so that he can win again in 2012.

But what about the future?

Barack Obama could not care less about the future.  He is just like so many of our other politicians.  He is blinded by selfish ambition.

Since Barack Obama became president, the U.S. national debt has increased by an average of more than $64,000 per taxpayer.

Are you willing to write a check for your share?

No?

Oh, let’s just pass this horrific debt on to our children, right?

The path that we are on as a nation cannot go on too much longer.  The truth is that we are headed for financial oblivion.

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.

Of course we will never get to the point.  Our financial system will collapse long before then.

Sadly, the United States already has more government debt per capita than Greece, Portugal, Italy, Ireland or Spain does.

So why are we not like Greece or Spain yet?

Well, it is because we are still able to borrow huge piles of money very, very cheaply.

But at some point that will come to an end, and when it does the consequences are going to be nightmarish.

Historically, the interest rate on 10 year U.S. Treasuries has averaged 6.68 percent.  If the average rate of interest on U.S. debt rose to that level today, we would be paying more than a trillion dollars a year just in interest on the national debt.

And when you consider our future unfunded liabilities things get even more frightening.

According to Boston University economist Laurence Kotlikoff, the “fiscal gap” is “the present value difference between projected future spending and revenue”.  His calculations have led him to the conclusion that the United States is facing a fiscal gap of 222 trillion dollars.

And this gap is rising at a breathtaking pace.

The following is an excerpt from a recent article co-authored by Kotlikoff….

In 2007, the first year the CBO produced the Alternative Fiscal Scenario, the gap, by our reckoning, stood at $175 trillion. By 2009, when the CBO began reporting the AFS annually, the gap was $184 trillion. In 2010, it was $202 trillion, followed by $211 trillion in 2011 and $222 trillion in 2012.

But if we interrupt this debt cycle we immediately go into a depression.

We are a debt addict that will die without more debt.

Meanwhile, our national ability to produce wealth is going down the toilet.

All over the country businesses are shutting down, factories are being closed and millions of jobs are being sent overseas.

As I wrote about the other day, American families are steadily getting poorer.  The middle class is shrinking and the tax base is shriveling up.

Many Americans end up flat broke at the end of their lives these days.  In fact, one study found that nearly half of all retirees end up with $10,000 or less when they die.

So where is all of the money for servicing this gigantic national debt going to come from?

Even if Bill Gates gave every single penny of his fortune to the U.S. government, it would only cover the U.S. budget deficit for 15 days.

So what is the solution?

If we keep spending money like this we are doomed, but if we stop spending money like this we are doomed.

And debt is not just a problem that the federal government is facing.

Posted below is a chart that shows the growth of all forms of debt in the United States over the past several decades.  40 years ago, there was less than 2 trillion dollars of total debt owed in the United States.  Now there is nearly 55 trillion dollars of debt owed.  This generation has destroyed the future and has set the stage for an unprecedented economic collapse.  Shame on you America….

Eurobonds: The Issue That Could Shatter Europe

Would you pool your debt with a bunch of debt addicts that have no intention of reducing their wild spending habits?  Of course you wouldn’t.  But that is exactly what Germany is being asked to do.  Increasingly, “eurobonds” are being touted as the best long-term solution to the financial crisis in Europe.  These eurobonds would represent jointly issued debt by all 17 members of the eurozone.  This debt would also be guaranteed by all 17 members of the eurozone.  This would allow all countries in the eurozone to enjoy the same credit rating that Germany does, and borrowing costs for nations such as Greece, Portugal, Italy and Spain would plummet.  But borrowing costs for Germany would rise substantially.  In fact, it is being estimated that Germany could be facing an extra 50 billion euros a year in interest expenses.  So over ten years that would come to about 500 billion euros.  Needless to say, Germany is not thrilled about this idea.  But new French President Francois Hollande is pushing eurobonds very hard, and he has the support of the OECD, the IMF and many top Italian politicians.  In the end, this could be the key to the future of the eurozone.  If the Germans give in and decide that they are willing to deeply subsidize their profligate neighbors indefinitely, then the euro could potentially be saved.  If not, then this issue could end up shattering Europe.

It is easy to try to portray the Germans as the “bad guys” in all this, but try to step into their shoes for a minute.

If you had some relatives that were spending wildly and that had already run up $100,000 in credit card debt, would you be a co-signer on their next credit card application?

Of course not.

The recent elections in France and Greece made it abundantly clear that the populations of those two countries are rejecting austerity.

Instead, they want a return to the debt-fueled prosperity that they have always enjoyed in the past.

Unfortunately, they need German help to be able to do that.

That is why new French President Francois Hollande is pushing so hard for eurobonds.  He wants the rest of the eurozone to be able to “piggyback” on Germany’s sterling credit rating so that everyone can return to the days of wild borrowing and spending.

But Germans greatly fear what a co-mingling of eurozone debt could eventually mean.  Not only would Germany’s borrowing costs rise dramatically, but there is also a concern that the rest of the eurozone could eventually pull Germany down with them.

Austria, Finland and the Netherlands are also against eurobonds, but the key is Germany.

For now, Germany is not budging on the issue of eurobonds at all.  The following is a statement that German Chancellor Angela Merkel made during a recent speech in Berlin….

“It’s just about not spending more than you collect. It’s astonishing that this simple fact leads to such debates”

And she is right.

Why is it so controversial to insist that people not spend more than they bring in?

But this is the problem that is created when you create a false lifestyle fueled by debt that goes on for decades.  People become accustomed to that false standard of living and they throw hissy fits when that false standard of living begins to disappear.

The Germans don’t want to make great sacrifices just so the Greeks, the French and the Italians can go back to borrowing and spending wildly.

Why would the Germans want to do that?

And as a recent CNN article noted, German politicians believe that eurobonds are explicitly banned under existing EU treaties anyway….

“There is no way of introducing them under the current [EU] treaties. Indeed, there is an explicit ban on them,” one senior German official said, adding Berlin would not drop its opposition in the foreseeable future. “That’s a firm conviction which will not change in June.”

But politicians such as Hollande are complaining that austerity could seriously damage living standards throughout Europe.

And Hollande is right about that.

When you inflate your standard of living with borrowed money for many years, eventually there comes a time when you must pay a great price.

Anyone that has ever been in trouble with credit card debt knows how painful that can be.

It is shameful for the rest of Europe to be pleading and begging Germany to help them.

They should take care of themselves.

As I wrote about the other day, Greece would be much better off in the long run if it left the euro and created a new financial system based on sound financial principles.

But in the financial press all over the world there are calls for someone to come up with a “plan” to “rescue” Europe.  For example, the following is from a recent Wall Street Journal article….

There have been two main responses to the crisis: austerity, and kicking cans down roads. Austerity, in case you haven’t noticed, is so last year. It’s out. Which means that unless something else is found, some other comprehensive plan, the other main response, can kicking, is going to run out of road.

Just about everybody backed the idea of eurobonds, except for the Germans, and since they’re the ones with all the money, they’re kind of the only ones whose vote counts anyway. So, it’s time to go to plan B. Only there’s no Plan B, and there’s no time, either.

If Germany does not agree to subsidize the rest of the eurozone, will that ultimately mean that the eurozone will be forced to break up?

Probably.

And that would cause a huge amount of pain in the short-term.

But the euro never was a good idea in the first place.  It was foolish to expect a monetary union to work smoothly in the absence of fiscal and political union.

And to be honest, the entire world would be a better place with less European integration.  The EU has become a horrifying bureaucratic nightmare and it would be wonderful if the entire thing broke up.

But for now, the only thing that is in danger is the euro.

Increasingly, it is looking like Greece may be the first country to exit the euro.

This week, former Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos admitted that the Greek government is considering making preparations for Greece to leave the euro.

Not only that, Reuters is reporting that top officials in the eurozone are now working on “contingency plans” for a Greek exit from the euro….

Each euro zone country will have to prepare a contingency plan for the eventuality of Greece leaving the single currency, euro zone sources said on Wednesday.

Officials reached the consensus on Monday afternoon during an hour-long teleconference of the Eurogroup Working Group (EWG).

As well as confirmation from three euro zone officials, Reuters has seen a memo drawn up by one member state detailing some of the elements that euro zone countries should consider.

So obviously a Greek exit from the euro has become a very real possibility.

A recent Bloomberg article detailed how a Greek exit from the euro could play out during the 46 hours that global financial markets are closed over the weekend….

Greece may have only a 46-hour window of opportunity should it need to plot a route out of the euro.

That’s how much time the country’s leaders would probably have to enact any departure from the single currency while global markets are largely closed, from the end of trading in New York on a Friday to Monday’s market opening in Wellington, New Zealand, based on a synthesis of euro-exit scenarios from 21 economists, analysts and academics.

Over the two days, leaders would have to calm civil unrest while managing a potential sovereign default, planning a new currency, recapitalizing the banks, stemming the outflow of capital and seeking a way to pay bills once the bailout lifeline is cut. The risk is that the task would overwhelm any new government in a country that has had to be rescued twice since 2010 because it couldn’t manage its public finances.

Right now, nobody is quite sure what is going to happen next and panic is spreading throughout the European financial system.

At this point, everyone is afraid of what is going to happen if Greece is forced to start issuing drachmas again.  As CNBC is reporting, some big European corporations are already beginning to implement their own “contingency plans”….

Big tourism operators like TUI of Germany and Kuoni of Britain are demanding the addition of so-called drachma clauses to contracts with Greek hoteliers should the euro no longer be in use here. British newspapers are filled with advice columns for travelers worried about the wisdom of planning a vacation in Greece, or even Portugal and Spain, should the euro crisis worsen. Large multinational companies like Vodafone Group, Reckitt Benckiser and Diageo have taken to sweeping cash every day from euro accounts back to Britain to limit their exposure.

Sadly, this is probably only a small taste of the financial anarchy that is coming.

France is likely to keep pushing hard for the creation of eurobonds.

Germany is likely to keep fiercely resisting this.

At some point, a moment of crisis will arrive and a call will have to be made.

Will Germany give in or will political turmoil end up shattering Europe?

It will be interesting to see how all of this plays out.

3.6 Million Taxpayer Dollars Being Used To Support The Lavish Lifestyles Of Former Presidents Such As Bush And Clinton

You are not going to believe how much money is being spent on our former presidents.  At a time when U.S. government spending is wildly out of control, a total of 3.6 million dollars is being used to support the lavish lifestyles of former presidents such as George W. Bush and Bill Clinton in 2012.  For 2013, the plan is to increase that amount to 3.7 million dollars.  But do any of them really need this kind of welfare?  The truth is that all of them are very wealthy.  So what justification is there for giving them so much money?  You can see the GSA budget proposal for former presidents for 2013 right here.  The 3.7 million dollars for 2013 does not even include the cost of Secret Service protection.  Rather, it only covers expenses such as office rentals, travel, phone bills, postage, printing and pension benefits.  Certainly it is not unreasonable to grant former presidents a small pension, but should we be showering them with millions of dollars each year?  At a time when the federal government is drowning in so much debt, the fact that these former presidents are willing to take such huge amounts of taxpayer money really does make them look like parasites.

So why are these former presidents getting this money?

Congress passed The Former Presidents Act of 1958 because they didn’t want other presidents to end up as poor as Harry Truman did.

Well, these days former presidents are definitely not in danger of ending up poor.  But this law does enable former presidents to stick the U.S. taxpayer with some absolutely outrageous bills.

For example, George W. Bush is scheduled to get $1,356,000 from U.S. taxpayers in 2013.

$85,000 of that will be for phone expenses.

He must have a really, really bad calling plan.

Bill Clinton is scheduled to get $1,019,000 from U.S. taxpayers in 2013.

A whopping $442,000 of that will be for office space.

That breaks down to more than $36,000 a month.

I hope that office space is nice.

Perhaps he needs a lot of office space to hide from Hillary.

George H.W. Bush is scheduled to get $879,000 from U.S. taxpayers in 2013.

$63,000 of that total will be going toward “equipment”.

How many iPads does he really need?

Even the old peanut farmer, Jimmy Carter, will be getting $518,000 from U.S. taxpayers in 2013.

But do they even need this money?

Exactly how wealthy are these former presidents?

Well, it turns out that they are very, very wealthy.

Bill Clinton earned an estimated $41 million in speaking fees during the first six years after he left office.  He also received a $12 million advance for for his memoir, “My Life”.

George W. Bush earned an estimated $15 million in speaking fees during just the first two years after he left office.

So why are we spending millions to support these guys?

Perhaps this is yet another question that we don’t have an answer to.  We can add it to the list….

-Why do chimps throw poop?

The federal government has spent $592,527 to try to find the answer.

-Do unhappy people spend more time on Twitter or on Facebook?

The federal government has spent $198,000 in an attempt to get an answer.

-How do rats respond to jazz music when they are high on cocaine?

Your tax dollars are being spent to get to the bottom of it.

-Does cocaine cause Japanese quail to engage in sexually risky behavior?

The federal government has spent $175,587 to find out the truth.

Right now there are more than 100 million working age Americans that do not have jobs, and this is the kind of nonsense that the federal government is spending money on.

Shame on these former presidents for taking this money.

If our Congress critters are looking for a place to cut the federal budget, this would be a good place to start.

Chimps Throwing Poop And 29 Other Mind Blowing Ways That The Government Is Wasting Your Money

Why do chimpanzees throw poop?  The federal government would like to know and is using your tax dollars to investigate the matter.  Every single year, we all send huge amounts of our hard-earned money to the federal government.  We hope that they will spend that money wisely.  Unfortunately, that is simply not the case.  You are about to read some examples of how the government is wasting your money that are absolutely mind blowing.  Anyone that claims that there is not a lot of waste that can be cut out of the federal budget is lying to you.  Our politicians have racked up the biggest pile of debt in the history of the world and they are spending our money on some of the stupidest things imaginable.  It is imperative that the American people be educated about all of this outrageous government waste, because right now the political will to change this corrupt system is simply not there among the current crop of politicians in Washington.  We are stealing trillions of dollars from future generations and many of the things that our politicians are wasting that money on are almost too bizarre to believe.

The following are 30 mind blowing ways that the government is wasting your money….

#1 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.

#2 The National Institutes of Health has spent more than 5 million dollars on a website called Sexpulse that is targeted at “men who use the Internet to seek sex with men”.  According to Fox News, the website “includes pornographic images of homosexual sex as well as naked and scantily clad men” and features “a Space Invaders-style interactive game that uses a penis-shaped blaster to shoot down gay epithets.”

#3 The General Services Administration spent $822,751 on a “training conference” for 300 west coast employees at the M Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.

The following is how the Washington Post described some of the wasteful expenses that happened during this “conference”….

Among the “excessive, wasteful and in some cases impermissable” spending the inspector general documented: $5,600 for three semi-private catered in-room parties and $44 per person daily breakfasts; $75,000 for a “team-building” exercise — the goal was to build a bicycle; $146,000 on catered food and drinks; and $6,325 on commemorative coins in velvet boxes to reward all participants for their work on stimulus projects. The $31,208 “networking” reception featured a $19-per-person artisanal cheese display and $7,000 of sushi. At the conference’s closing-night dinner, employees received “yearbooks” with their pictures, at a cost of $8,130.

You can see some stunning pictures of GSA employees living the high life in Las Vegas right here.

#4 Do you remember a few days ago when credit rating agency Egan Jones downgraded U.S. government debt from AA+ to AA?  Well, someone in the federal government apparently did not like that at all.  According to Zero Hedge, the SEC plans to file charges against Egan Jones for “misstatements” on a regulatory application with the SEC.

Normally, the SEC does not go after anyone.  After all, when is the last time a major banker went to prison?

No, the truth is that the SEC is usually just a huge waste of taxpayer money.  According to ABC News, one investigation found that 17 senior SEC officials had been regularly viewing pornography while at work.  While the American people were paying their salaries, this is what senior SEC officials were busy doing….

One senior attorney at SEC headquarters in Washington spent up to eight hours a day accessing Internet porn, according to the report, which has yet to be released. When he filled all the space on his government computer with pornographic images, he downloaded more to CDs and DVDs that accumulated in boxes in his offices.

An SEC accountant attempted to access porn websites 1,800 times in a two-week period and had 600 pornographic images on her computer hard drive.

Another SEC accountant used his SEC-issued computer to upload his own sexually explicit videos onto porn websites he joined.

And another SEC accountant attempted to access porn sites 16,000 times in a single month.

#5 According to InformationWeek, the federal government is spending “millions of dollars” to train Asian call center workers.

#6 If you can believe it, the federal government has actually spent $750,000 on a new soccer field for detainees held at Guantanamo Bay.

#7 The U.S. Agency for International Development spent 10 million dollars to create a version of “Sesame Street” for Pakistani television.

#8 The Obama administration has plans to spend between 16 and 20 million dollars to help students from Indonesia get master’s degrees.

#9 The National Science Foundation spent $198,000 on a University of California-Riverside study that explored “motivations, expectations and goal pursuit in social media.” One of the questions the study sought an answer to was the following: “Do unhappy people spend more time on Twitter or Facebook?”

#10 The federal government actually has spent $175,587 “to determine if cocaine makes Japanese quail engage in sexually risky behavior”.

#11 In 2011, $147,138 was given to the American Museum of Magic in Marshall, Michigan.  Their best magic trick is making U.S. taxpayer dollars disappear.

#12 The federal government recently spent $74,000 to help Michigan “increase awareness about the role Michigan plays in the production of trees and poinsettias.”

#13 In 2011, the federal government gave $550,000 toward the making of a documentary about how rock and roll contributed to the fall of the Soviet Union.

#14 The National Institutes of Health has contributed $55,382 toward a study of “hookah smoking habits” in the country of Jordan.

#15 The federal government gave $606,000 to researchers at Columbia University to study how heterosexuals use the Internet to find love.

#16 A total of $133,277 was recently given to the International Center for the History of Electronic Games for video game preservation.  The International Center for the History of Electronic Games says that it “collects, studies, and interprets video games, other electronic games, and related materials and the ways in which electronic games are changing how people play, learn, and connect with each other, including across boundaries of culture and geography.”

#17 The federal government has given approximately $3 million to researchers at the University of California at Irvine to fund their research into video games such as World of Warcraft.

#18 In 2011, the National Science Foundation gave one team of researchers $149,990 to create a video game called “RapidGuppy” for cell phones and other mobile devices.

#19 The U.S. Department of Agriculture once handed researchers at the University of New Hampshire $700,000 to study methane gas emissions from dairy cows.

#20 In 2011, $936,818 was spent developing an online soap opera entitled “Diary of a Single Mom”.  The show “chronicles the lives and challenges of three single mothers and their families trying to get ahead despite obstacles that all single mothers face, such as childcare, healthcare, education, and finances.”

#21 The federal government once shelled out $2.6 million to train Chinese prostitutes to drink responsibly.

#22 Last year, the federal government spent $96,000 to buy iPads for kindergarten students in Maine.

#23 The U.S. Postal Service once spent $13,500 for a single dinner at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse.

#24 In 2011, the Air Force Academy completed work on an outdoor worship area for pagans and Wiccans.  The worship area consists of “a small Stonehenge-like circle of boulders with [a] propane fire pit” and it cost $51,474 to build.  The worship area is “for the handful of current or future cadets whose religions fall under the broad category of ‘Earth-based’, which includes Wiccans, druids and pagans.”  At this point, that only includes 3 current students at the Air Force Academy.

#25 The National Institutes of Health once gave researchers $400,000 to study why gay men in Argentina engage in risky sexual behavior when they are drunk.

#26 The National Institutes of Health once gave researchers $442,340 to study the behavior of male prostitutes in Vietnam.

#27 The National Institutes of Health once spent $800,000 in “stimulus funds” to study the impact of a “genital-washing program” on men in South Africa.

#28 The National Science Foundation recently spent $200,000 on a study that examined how voters react when politicians change their stances on climate change.

#29 The federal government recently spent $484,000 to help build a Mellow Mushroom pizzeria in Arlington, Texas.

#30 At this point, China is holding over a trillion dollars of U.S. government debt.  But that didn’t stop the United States from sending 17.8 million dollars in foreign aid to China in 2011.

Do you feel good about paying your federal taxes after reading all of those examples of wasteful government spending?

All over America, middle class families are scratching and clawing in an effort to survive in this economy, and the oppressive levels of taxation imposed on those families certainly does not make things any easier for them.

It is tremendously immoral for the federal government to take money out of the hands of hard working families and spend it on such ridiculous things.

So what do you all think about the list above?

Do you have any things that you would add to that list?

Are you disgusted by how the federal government is mismanaging our money?

Feel free to leave a comment with your opinion below….

There Is Not Going To Be A Solution To Our Economic Problems On The National Level

For those waiting for our economic problems to be solved, you can quit holding your breath.  There is simply not going to be a solution to our economic problems on the national level.  So why is that the case?  Well, it is because the economic policies of both major political parties are very, very similar when you take a close look at them.  Yes, that statement may sound downright bizarre to many Americans, but it is true.  Both major political parties supported the Wall Street bailouts, both of them fully support the job-killing “free trade” globalization agenda, both of them have dramatically increased the national debt when in power, both of them fully support the currency-killing policies of the Federal Reserve, and neither major political party would get rid of the income tax and the IRS.  And that is just for starters.  Yes, there are some minor differences when it comes to taxing and spending between the two parties, but the truth is that they are a lot more similar on economic issues than they are different.  What we desperately need on the national level is a fundamental change in direction when it comes to economic policy, but we simply are not going to get that from either the Democrats or the Republicans.  That means that there is no hope that the economic storm that is coming will be averted.

So why are the Democrats and the Republicans so similar on these issues?  Well, a big reason is because of who they are trying to please.

The reality of the matter is that most politicians do not really care about what you or I have to say.  Instead, what they are really concerned about is getting as much money for their campaigns as possible so that they can keep getting elected.

When you take a close look at the results of federal elections over the past several decades, it quickly becomes apparent that the candidate that raises the most money almost always wins.

So most politicians have learned to please those that fund their campaigns so that the money will keep rolling in.

Yes, there are a few candidates that are willing to rebel against “the system”, but they are few and far between and the major parties tend to marginalize them.

Once again in 2012, political races will overwhelmingly be won by those that raise the most cash.  The following is from Politifact….

In congressional races in 2010, the candidate who spent the most won 85 percent of the House races and 83 percent of the Senate races, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. That’s a large percentage, but it’s lower than what the sign indicated.

Indeed, the percentage for 2010 was lower than it had been in recent election cycles. The center found that in 2008, the biggest spenders won 93 percent of House races and 86 percent of Senate races. In 2006, the top spenders won 94 percent of House races and 73 percent of Senate races. And in 2004, 98 percent of House seats went to candidates who spent the most, as did 88 percent of Senate seats.

Once you understand how Washington works, it becomes easier to understand why our politicians do such stupid things.

For example, big corporations tend to donate large amounts of money to political campaigns and they love the “free trade” globalization agenda.

They love to import massive quantities of super cheap foreign goods so that they can undercut the prices of goods made in the United States.

They love to set up manufacturing facilities on the other side of the globe where it is legal to pay slave labor wages to workers.

The “free trade” agenda is great for the largest corporations, but it is horrible for the average American worker.

According to the Economic Policy Institute, the U.S. economy loses approximately 9,000 jobs for every $1 billion of goods that are imported from overseas.

Trade with other countries can be good as long as it is balanced.  Unfortunately, the U.S. trading relationship with the rest of the world is tremendously imbalanced.

In 2011, the United States bought more than 550 billion dollars more stuff from the rest of the world than they bought from us.

This trade deficit has enormous consequences that most Americans simply do not understand.

Over the past decade, tens of thousands of businesses, millions of jobs and trillions of dollars have left our country.

Our industrial base is being dismantled and we are rapidly becoming poorer as a nation.

According to U.S. Representative Betty Sutton, an average of 23 manufacturing facilities a day closed down in the United States during 2010.

Just think about that.

Every single day we lost 23 more.

Overall, America has lost a total of more than 56,000 manufacturing facilities since 2001.

Why do you think cities like Detroit are dying?

The truth is that we killed them with our idiotic policies.

America has a trade imbalance that is more than 5 times larger than any other nation on earth has.  We are losing wealth, jobs and businesses at a pace that is absolutely astounding.

It is neither “conservative” nor “liberal” to commit national economic suicide.

Our trade imbalance with China is particularly bad.  The U.S. spends about 4 dollars on goods and services from China for every one dollar that China spends on goods and services from the United States.

Does that sound fair to you?

China slaps huge tariffs on many of our products, they deeply subsidize their own national industries, the brazenly steal technology from us, and they manipulate currency rates so that their products end up being significantly cheaper than ours.

Our trade deficit with China in 2011 was nearly 300 billion dollars.  That was the largest trade deficit that one country has had with another country in the history of the world.

Yet both major political parties refuse to do anything about it.

Back in 1985, the U.S. trade deficit with China was only 6 million dollars for the entire year.

In 2011, our trade deficit with China was more than 49,000 times larger.

The consequences of this trade deficit with China are being felt all over the United States every single day.

For example, the United States has lost an average of 50,000 manufacturing jobs per month since China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001.

Do you support losing more than half a million manufacturing jobs a year?

If not, then you should be for “fair trade” instead of “free trade” where other nations can cheat us blind as often as they want.

The Economic Policy Institute says that since 2001 America has lost approximately 2.8 million jobs due to our trade deficit with China alone.

Do you think that the U.S. economy could use an extra 2.8 million jobs right now?

Sadly, if current trends continue things are going to get a lot worse.

According to Professor Alan Blinder of Princeton University, 40 million more U.S. jobs could be sent offshore over the next two decades.

So why won’t our politicians do something?

The United States has run a trade deficit every single year since 1976.

During that time, America has had a total trade imbalance of more than 7.5 trillion dollars with the rest of the world.

That 7.5 trillion dollars could have gone to support U.S. jobs and U.S. businesses.

Taxes could have been paid on that 7.5 trillion dollars.

Instead, it went out of the country and made foreigners wealthier.

So what is Barack Obama doing about all of this?

Well, Obama has been aggressively pushing for even more “free trade” agreements.  The Obama administration has inked deals with Panama, South Korea and Colombia and the Obama administration is making the Trans-Pacific Partnership (“the NAFTA of the Pacific“) a very high priority.

Well, Mitt Romney must be criticizing these moves, right?

No, Romney has actually criticized Obama for not pushing for more “free trade” fast enough.

Mitt Romney wants to make it even easier for jobs to go out of the country and for other countries to drain our wealth.  The following quote comes directly from the Romney campaign website….

Access to foreign markets is crucial to growing our economy. We must reassert American leadership in international negotiations, follow through on commitments we have already made, and push aggressively for advantageous new agreements.

So we are not going to see a change in direction in trade policy no matter who wins the next election.

Well, what about the national debt?

Are there differences between the two parties on this issue?

Sadly, there are only minor differences.

Both major political parties are packed with big spenders that have been spending us into oblivion.

Since Barack Obama entered the White House, the U.S. national debt has increased by $5,027,761,476,484.56.

That comes to $16,043.39 for every man, woman and child living in the United States.

What the Obama administration and the Democrats are doing to future generations is absolutely criminal.

So what about the Republicans?

Well, when the Republicans have had control of the White House they have run up debt “like a drunken sailor” as well.

If the Republican Party wants to have any credibility when it comes to fiscal issues, it needs to publicly admit that George W. Bush was a horrible failure when it came to the federal budget.

George W. Bush was a “big government” politician that dramatically increased the size of the federal government and spent money like it was going out of style.

He was not a conservative when it came to fiscal issues, and that is the truth.

Sadly, neither political party is proposing to balance the federal budget any time soon.  There are a few politicians that have suggested doing this, but they have been marginalized.

So why don’t our politicians support living within our means?

Well, the truth is that if the federal government balanced the budget today, it would result in a catastrophic drop in living standards inside the United States.  We are currently living in an era of debt-fueled “false prosperity”, and if that false prosperity were to disappear there would be riots in the streets of our major cities within months.

It is much easier for our politicians to continue to pile up more debt and to continue to kick the can down the road.

But this party cannot go on too much longer.  Already, the United States has more government debt per capita than Greece, Portugal, Italy, Ireland or Spain.

As you can see from the chart below, we are in a whole lot of trouble….

Our foolishness will catch up to us in a big way eventually.

Another area where the two major political parties agree is that they both fully support the Federal Reserve.

The Federal Reserve is supposed to keep inflation low, but the truth is that the Fed has absolutely killed the value of the U.S. dollar.  Just check out the chart below which was produced by the Fed itself.  It shows how dramatically the purchasing power of the U.S. dollar has declined over the years….

Keep in mind that the chart above is using official government numbers which actually downplay how much the U.S. dollar has been debased.

If inflation was measured the exact same way that it was back in 1980, the annual rate of inflation would be more than 10 percent right now.

By any measure, the Federal Reserve has been a colossal failure for the American people.  Since the Fed was created, our currency has lost more than 95 percent of its value and our national debt has gotten more than 5000 times larger.

The current Federal Reserve Chairman, Ben Bernanke, has a track record of failure that is legendary.  If you doubt this, just read this article, this article and this article.

But Barack Obama just loves Bernanke.  He nominated him for another term as Fed Chairman and he never criticizes anything that he does.

Thanks Obama.

So will things be any different under Mitt Romney?

Of course not.

During one Republican debate, Mitt Romney actually had the gall to try to explain to all of us why “we need to have a Fed“.

Mitt Romney says that he is “not going to take my effort and focus on the Federal Reserve“.

But the Federal Reserve is at the very heart of our economic problems.

Doesn’t Mitt Romney understand that?

The mainstream media is already telling us not to expect any significant changes at the Fed if Romney wins.  A recent Reuters article had the following headline….

Analysis: A Romney win would likely change little at Federal Reserve

Are you starting to understand why I am saying that there is not going to be a solution to our economic problems at the national level?

A great economic cataclysm is coming, and there is very little hope that it can be averted.

So what does that mean?

It means that we all need to start preparing to weather the coming storm on an individual level.

The nation as a whole may not change course, but as individuals and as families we can change course.

All of us can work to reduce our expenses, get out of debt, build up a six month financial cushion, learn to grow a garden and slowly become more independent of the system.

Both political parties are leading us down a road that will only end in economic disaster.

Instead of waiting for a “national solution” that is never going to come, you need to focus on being your own solution.

Time is short, so you better get ready.

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