Almost Everything Is A Crime In America Now: 14 Of The Most Ridiculous Things That Americans Are Being Arrested For

Doesn’t it seem like almost everything is becoming a crime in America now?  Americans are being arrested and charged with crimes for doing things like leaving dog poop on the ground, opening up Christmas presents early, not recycling properly, farting in class and having brown lawns.  But is it healthy for our society for the police to be involved in such silly things?  Every single day the United States inches closer to becoming a totalitarian society.  While there are some that would welcome this shift, the truth is that throughout history the societies that have experienced the greatest economic prosperity have all had at least a certain level of freedom.  Business thrives when people feel free to live and work.  When a government tightens the grip too much many people just start shutting down.  Just look at places like North Korea.  Even though the rest of the world is sending them huge amounts of food starvation is still quite common in that totalitarian regime.  That is why it is so disturbing that it seems like almost everything has become a crime in America now.  As we continue to criminalize relatively normal behavior our slide toward becoming a totalitarian state will only accelerate.

We are throwing anyone and everyone in prison these days.  It is getting absolutely ridiculous.  Today, the United States leads the world in the number of prisoners and in the percentage of the population in prison.  The United States has 5% of the world’s population, but approximately 25% of the world’s incarcerated population.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, as of the end of 2009 a total of 7,225,800 people were either on probation, in prison or on parole in America.

That is a sign of a very, very sick society.  Either we have a massive crime problem or the “control grid” that our leaders have erected for us is wildly out of control.

Or both.

But how in the world are we supposed to have a healthy economy if our entire nation is being turned into one gigantic prison?

Sadly, it is not just hardcore criminals that are being rounded up and abused by authorities these days.  The following are 14 of the most ridiculous things that Americans are being arrested for….

#1 A Michigan man has been charged with a felony and could face up to 5 years in prison for reading his wife’s email.

#2 A 49-year-old Queens woman had bruises all over her body after she was handcuffed, arrested and brutally beaten by NYPD officers.  So what was her offense?  The officers thought that her little dog had left some poop that she didn’t clean up.

#3 A 56-year-old woman who was once a rape victim refused to let airport security officials feel her breasts so she was thrown to the floor, put in handcuffs and arrested.

#4 In Milwaukee, one man was recently fined $500 for swearing on a public bus.

#5 Several years ago a 12-year-old boy in South Carolina was actually arrested by police for opening up a Christmas present early against his family’s wishes.

#6 In some areas of the country, it is now a crime to not recycle properly.  For example, the city of Cleveland has announced plans to sort through trash cans to ensure that people are actually recycling according to city guidelines.

#7 A 12-year-old girl from Queens was arrested earlier this year and taken out of her school in handcuffs for writing “Lex was here. 2/1/10″ and “I love my friends Abby and Faith” on her desk.

#8 Back in 2008, a 13-year-old boy in Florida was actually arrested by police for farting in class.

#9 The feds recently raided an Amish farmer at 5 AM in the morning because they claimed that he was was engaged in the interstate sale of raw milk in violation of federal law.

#10 A few years ago a 10-year-old girl was arrested and charged with a felony for bringing a small steak knife to school.  It turns out that all she wanted to do was to cut up her lunch so that she could eat it.

#11 On June 18th, two Christians decided that they would peacefully pass out copies of the gospel of John on a public sidewalk outside a public Islamic festival in Dearborn, Michigan and within three minutes 8 policemen surrounded them and placed them under arrest.

#12 A U.S. District Court judge slapped a 5oo dollar fine on Massachusetts fisherman Robert J. Eldridge for untangling a giant whale from his nets and setting it free.  So what was his crime?  Well, according to the court, Eldridge was supposed to call state authorities and wait for them do it.

#13 Once upon a time, a food fight in the cafeteria may have gotten you a detention.  Now it may get you locked up.  About a year ago, 25 students between the ages of 11 and 15 at a school in Chicago were taken into custody by police for being involved in a huge food fight in the school cafeteria.

#14 A few years ago a 70 year old grandmother was actually put in handcuffs and hauled off to jail for having a brown lawn.

Why in the world would anyone approve of the police arresting ordinary Americans for such things?

It seems like ever since 9/11 the whole country has gotten “security fever”.

Suddenly we need to “get tough” on everyone.

Yes, crime is making a comeback, but once upon a time the police in this country were able to handle crime quite well and be courteous and helpful to ordinary citizens at the same time.

But today it seems like nearly every single encounter with police ends up being negative.

It does not have to be that way.

The rest of the world sees what is going on in this country and many of them are deciding that they simply do not want to spend their tourist dollars here anymore.  That is not a good thing for our economy.

As the government continues to get even bigger and exerts even more control over our lives, many of our own people are getting sick of it and are moving abroad.

America used to be the land of the free and the home of the brave.

That is no longer true.

Now we get thrown to the floor, handcuffed, beaten and arrested for things that we did not even know were crimes.

If America continues to move in this direction it is going to ruin our economy, our reputation in the world and our national spirit.

Unfortunately, history has shown us that once a free nation starts to lose that freedom it is hard to reverse that slide.  Perhaps we will be different.  Perhaps the American people will stand up and demand that we restore the principles of liberty and freedom that this country was founded on.

Do you think that will happen?  Feel free to leave a comment with your opinion….

Christmas Stories

If you and your family are blessed and prosperous this holiday season, you should consider yourself to be very fortunate, because there are tens of millions of other Americans that are desperately hanging on by their fingernails.  The Christmas stories that you are going to read below aren’t going to give you any warm fuzzies.  They aren’t about “Santa Claus” sliding down the chimney to leave huge piles of presents around the tree.  Rather, they are representative of what so many American families are feeling this holiday season – horrible, suffocating, soul-crushing despair.  As you and your family gather around the holiday tree on December 25th, millions of other Americans will be facing a Christmas with absolutely no gifts.  As you and your family dig into a delicious holiday meal, millions of other Americans will be breaking out the meager supplies they picked up at the food bank or that their food stamps have enabled them to purchase.  As you and your family tell stories around the fire, millions of other Americans will literally sit shivering in their own homes because they have no money to heat them.  The stories of those who are suffering so deeply very rarely get put on television, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t very real.

The truth is that there are millions upon millions of American families that have been pushed to the edge of despair by the lack of jobs.  In August 2009, only 10 percent of the unemployed had been out of work for 2 years or longer.  Today that number is up to 35 percent.

One very disturbing sign of the times is that many churches are now holding “blue Christmas” services to comfort those who are going through hard times.  Back during the “good times” such a thing would have been unimaginable, but now they are being held from coast to coast.

All over the nation, food banks, aid agencies and homeless shelters find themselves absolutely overwhelmed this winter.  Connie Lassandro, Nassau County’s director of Housing and Homeless Services, recently was quoted in the Huffington Post as saying that she has never seen a greater demand for her agency’s services….

“The new faces we’re seeing are families who have never before faced the risk of actually being homeless. Children don’t understand. ‘Where’s my bedroom? Where’s my toys? Where are my friends?'”

Sadly, the truth is that the U.S. economy no longer produces even close to enough jobs for everyone, so somebody is going to suffer.  Today, there are over 6 million Americans that have been unemployed for half a year or longer.  It can be really easy to quote economic statistics such as this, but sometimes what gets lost in all the numbers are the very real stories of the people that are actually living through all of this.  This year there are literally millions of American families that have sad Christmas stories to share.

On The American Dream blog, a reader of my column identified as “momma loses hope” recently left a comment in which she really opened up and shared her story with us. Sadly, her story is so similar to what so many millions of other young American families are going through this holiday season….

While my husband has experience, and an education, he is yet to find and keep a job that is worth anything, that would be possible to pay back these $400/mnth loans on deferment, let alone keep us going barely.

Despite his greatest effort and attempts, to locate work that would pay anything over $10 an hour in the field he trained for, or some cross over skills in another profession, still nothing has been happening beyond numerous and then dwindling interviews in the last 2 years.

He is currently working at a $10/hr people mill that has outrageous expectations that are near impossible to meet, just to keep your job. Much of what you are supposed to control, is not within your control! That was after having lost unemployment due to its exhaustion, where we had nothing coming in for 30 days. He found this job and went through training. We were thankful to have anything coming in, but it is not going well. Half of his training class is gone either bc they quit or were fired. We are finding out this is the normal for this business.

Prior to the unemployment of 99 weeks, he had a great new job. $60 k a year was good from having some on the job experience at another job prior to that which was an internship, he got. So this was a good option for a chance out of school. They were content with his level of experience of 3- 4 years in IT w/ the hands on education and internship. We moved to relocate for this job 2500 miles away and then he was let go 6 months later, after he was able to clean up a bunch of unresolved problems for them. They wanted someone with 10 years of experience, all the sudden, despite they knew his skill level! Anyhow, the network was held together with tape and bubble gum. So long “best practice” theory.

I guess they had been left in the lurch bc someone left without notice, they advertised for help for months even out of state, and then they hired my husband to fill the desperate gap. Then they didn’t want to keep shelling out the money to keep him. Used him and turned us away, like no big deal; They fired him after 6 months, after we spent all our savings to move to another state… That is when we went on unemployment, and hubby returned for more education, while still looking for a job too.

We moved back home confused as could be. We were helpful that something would come along back home. Things only got worse for the prospect of careers being offered.

I was hoping they were going to improve, but no they have not. We are dying here. But that is not the end of our troubles.

Last year my husband got a $10 a hour job, got H1N1 and Dble Pneumonia and went to the hospital for 14 days or whatever. He was fired by Stream for not being in training and they refused to place him in another training class when he got out the ICU. Then we were left with over $10,000 ( the other $90 grand was forgiven) and we have collectors after us. We survive day by day, we don’t have anything extra to pay anyone or anything….

So, we don’t have any savings,( we used it to relocate to gain employment as I already mentioned) & we have needed things bc we have a baby coming. We haven’t made it long enough to get anything else saved up to rely on, bc unemployment doesn’t pay you what you were making at your job. The unemployment is gone and there is none left, if he loses this job. We don’t qualify for anymore student loans at this stage. This job is shaky at best and these people fire and lose people like there is no tomorrow, and have constant training going on. What a nightmare! We are not able to get a career in the IT Industry that he trained for and paid for with these loans. What do we do? We have a 6 year old and a baby that is on the way in 3 months.

We are so lost and without hope. We trust in Jesus, but what do we do beyond trying to get a better job? It takes effort to gain a job, but there are not enough possiblities hiring as this article states, and I testify to. All my husband does beyond going to this crap job, and playing with our son, is scouring the internet for jobs, and this has been going on for so long!….

I can’t believe this is happening again…..What is a mother and wife to do? We can’t get on track! We don’t drink or drug or sabotage ourselves and our family, and yet we cannot get on track “with the go to school and get a great job” crap I have heard my whole life. Something is broken and cannot be fixed. Sometimes we wonder why God hadn’t just taken my husband’s life when it was in peril and the rest of our family, as it would be better than dealing with this pain and unresolved heartache.

I am so scared and lonely, I could just die. My tears go unnoticed. I sit here without answers. I am one of millions going through the same thing.

Can you imagine being in such a situation?  What is perhaps saddest of all is what this economy is doing to so many children.  According to one recent study, approximately 21 percent of all children in the United States are living below the poverty line in 2010 – the highest rate in 20 years.

Poverty is absolutely exploding all over the United States.  The number of Americans living in poverty has increased for three consecutive years, and the 43.6 million poor Americans in 2009 was the highest number that the U.S. Census Bureau has ever recorded in 51 years of record-keeping.

So, no, this Christmas is not “a season of joy” for many Americans.  For example, a commenter on the Unemployed-Friends website identified only as “jobless_in_MA” says that her holidays are going to be quite depressing since she has been out of work for 2 Christmases in a row now….

Well, this is now my 2nd Holiday season in a row being jobless, and this year seems far bleaker than last years. Ive always been the type to love this time of they year. I would look forward to it. I was always the one in the family who would be the great gift giver, especially to the younger members of my family.

Last year I was REALLY upset because I couldn’t do 1/4 of what I normally would do, but still managed to enjoy the season. Im not so sure about it this year.

A lot has happened to my situation in the past year, Ive lost my place, filed bankruptcy, lost some of my dignity, and my marriage is on the rocks.

I am NOT in the holiday season at all, and its really bringing me down.

Usually around now we would be talking about getting a tree. Sometimes we would cut our own tree down, and decorate it together.

We would always have a family holiday party at our place, and I don’t see that happening this year at all.

Yes, every year there are some Americans that are “down and out”, but it is undeniable that the number of Americans that are suffering extreme economic pain has absolutely skyrocketed in recent years.  Today, one out of every six Americans is now enrolled in a federal anti-poverty program.  As 2007 began, “only” 26 million Americans were on food stamps, but now 42 million Americans are enrolled in the food stamp program and that number keeps rising every single month.

Sadly, there are millions upon millions of Americans that do have jobs and yet barely find themselves able to hang in there.  Many Americans have been forced to grab whatever job they can find.  In fact, the number of Americans working part-time jobs “for economic reasons” is now the highest it has been in at least five decades.

It is becoming increasingly more difficult to make a living in the United States.  Today, half of all American workers earn $505 or less per week.

Could your family get by on $505 per week?

That is something to really think about.

So is anyone doing well?

Well, the only group that saw their household incomes increase in 2009 was those making $180,000 or more.

Not that being wealthy is a bad thing, but what that statistic shows is that the middle class in America is being wiped out.

We are seeing this in community after community across the nation.  A reader of this column identified as “Bibi” recently left a comment that did a great job of describing the economic decline and economic despair that we are now seeing all across America….

I have recently traveled from coast to coast and then some. This is a synopsis of what is really going on. Californians seem to be in lalaland. Look good and spend money, lots of it that you don’t have. LA has become very dangerous. Police will knock on your van if you stop to rest with a coffee even if you are at a convenience store. It is illegal to sleep in your vehicle and you will be arrested. Las Vegas is full of poor and homeless wandering around aimlessly. Tent cities and blocks of people living on the streets. dirty and super dangerous. The decline is in your face. Police and security presence are at ‘ad nauseum’ levels. AZ and NM are ****holes. My family refused to get out of the van in Albuquerque. Sedona is still nice but its surrondings make it on borrowed time. Little artsy towns will be taken over quickly when TSHTF. The only city I went to in TX was Amarillo. Didn’t see much but it looked seedy and dirty along the highway. OKlahoma- ***. If I didn’t stay on a military base, I would have broke the speed limit to get through it. The thought of getting gas in Little Rock still gives me nightmares. Enough said. AK- Lots of boarded up towns. Saw this all along Route 40. TN- Stay away from Memphis if you want to live. Nashville is the craziest city I have ever seen. Everyone acts like they are on speed. When you get around Pigeon Forge, Maggie Valley and Gatlinburg, you see the true beauty of this state but they are tourist traps. W. VA is beautiful, but the people are very backward. I could live in Northern W. VA. East coast- VA. Beach has been in decline and was just dubbed the “most drunken city in the U.S.” They must be proud. Lots of trouble here. Big police presence. Took 10 minutes for me to get questioned about my out-of- state plates. N&S Carolina- Bigger cities are dangerous, especially Columbia, SC. Big police presence. Baltimore- be afraid, be very afraid. Keep going. NJ- Something like a horror movie. Do people really live here? Scary and smelly. NYC- Was advised by thruway attendent to “keep going and don’t stop” Overturned cars, tons of high rise ghettos, not a safe place. I was terrified my van would break down. Albany, NY.- my destination. Ghettopolis. Stopped by police within minutes as to why I was driving in city so late. ? Informed it was not safe. Stopped again the next day regarding my plates at a police check. They threatened to tow my van because my “license didn’t come up”. [he was holding it] Stopped again for seatbelt violation. I always wear it but he said he couldn’t see it. Am I imagining it or did I really see National Guard walking around with rifles? Well, I promply left NYS and will never go back. The Florida panhandle is far from perfect and has an ever expanding police force, but it is quiet. Not safe, but quiet.

Once upon a time, there were a few cities and towns around the U.S. that were obviously in a state of decline, but now it is happening everywhere.

In fact, there are many areas throughout the country that scream “economic despair” the moment you drive into them.  It is almost as if someone has sucked the life right out of them.

So why is this happening?  Well, as I recently pointed out, America’s economic pie is rapidly shrinking.  As our national wealth continues to be destroyed, even more American families are going to suffer.

For decades we have enjoyed a debt-fueled binge of prosperity that was unlike anything the world has ever seen.  But now the day of reckoning is fast approaching and things are going to get even worse.

So if you are doing really well this holiday season, be thankful, because next year it may be you that has the sad Christmas story.

Has The Financial Collapse Of Europe Now Become Inevitable?

What in the world is happening over in Europe?  Well, it is actually quite simple.  We are witnessing the slow motion collapse of the euro and of the European financial system.  At this point, many analysts are convinced that a full-blown financial implosion in Europe has become inevitable.  Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Italy, France and Belgium are all drowning in an ocean of unsustainable debt.  Meanwhile, Germany and the few other “healthy” members of the EU continue to try to keep all of the balls in the air by bailing everyone out.  But can Germany keep bailing the rest of the EU out indefinitely?  Are the German people going to continue to be willing to hand out gigantic sacks of cash to fix the problems of other EU nations?  The Irish were just bailed out, but their problems are far from over.  There are rumors that Greece will soon need another bailout.  Spain, Portugal, Italy and France have all entered crisis territory.  At the same time, there are a whole host of nations in eastern Europe that are also on the verge of financial collapse.  So is there any hope that a major sovereign debt crisis can be averted at this point?

One would like to think that there is always hope, but each month things just seem to keep getting worse.  Confidence in European government debt continues to plummet.  The yield on 10-year Irish bonds is up to 8.97%.  The yield on 10-year Greek bonds is up to an astounding 12.01%.  The cost of insuring French debt hit a new record high on December 20th.

Bond ratings all over Europe are being slashed or are being threatened with being slashed.  For example, Moody’s Investors Service recently cut Ireland’s bond rating by five levels.  Now there is talk that Spain, Belgium and even France could soon all have their debt significantly downgraded as well.

But if the borrowing costs for these troubled nations keep going up, that is just going to add to their financial problems and swell their budget deficits.  In turn, larger budget deficits will cause investors to lose even more confidence.

So how far are we away from a major crisis point?

Professor Willem Buiter, the chief economist at Citibank, is warning that quite a few EU nations could financially collapse in the next few months if they are not quickly bailed out….

“The market is not going to wait until March for the EU authorities to get their act together. We could have several sovereign states and banks going under. They are being far too casual.”

Many analysts are even calling for some of these troubled nations to stop using the euro for a while so that they can recover.  In fact, Andrew Bosomworth, the head of portfolio management for Pimco in Europe says that Greece, Ireland and Portugal must all quit the euro at least for a little while if they expect to survive….

“Greece, Ireland and Portugal cannot get back on their feet without either their own currency or large transfer payments.”

Sadly, most Americans don’t realize just how bad the situation in Europe is becoming.  This is truly a historic crisis that is unfolding.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel declared earlier this year that this is the biggest financial crisis that the EU has ever faced….

“The current crisis facing the euro is the biggest test Europe has faced for decades, even since the Treaty of Rome was signed in 1957.”

So what is the answer?

Well, many are speculating that the EU could actually break up over this whole thing, but another possibility is that we could eventually see much greater integration.

In fact, for the first time the idea that “euro bonds” could be issued is gaining some traction.  This would spread the risk of European government debt throughout the European Union.  At this point, Andrew Bosomworth says that things have gotten so bad that it now seems inevitable that we will soon see the creation of euro bonds….

“Whether now or later, there is no way around a euro bond.”

So just how bad are things going to get in Europe? Well, earlier this year Anthony Fry, the senior managing director at Evercore Partners had the following to say about the emerging bond crisis in Europe….

“I don’t want to scare anyone but I am considering investing in barbed wire and guns, things are not looking good and rates are heading higher.”

So why should Americans care about all this?

Well, what is happening to these troubled European states is eventually going to happen to us.

If rates on U.S. government debt eventually hit 8 or 12 percent it will literally be financial armageddon in this country.  The U.S. government has piled up the biggest mountain of debt in the history of the world, and if we continue piling up debt at the pace that we are, then it will only be a matter of time before the IMF is demanding that we implement our own “austerity measures”.

As I have written about previously, there are already numerous indications that confidence in U.S. Treasuries is dying.  If that happens, we could literally see interest costs on the national debt double or even triple.

But it is not just the U.S. government that is in trouble.  A bloodbath in the municipal bond market has already started.  Hundreds of state and local governments across the United States are on the verge of bankruptcy.

So don’t laugh at what is going on in Ireland or Greece.  The next victims could be financially troubled states such as California and Illinois.

In the history of global finance, we have never faced a sovereign debt crisis like we are seeing now.  All over the globe governments are being suffocated by absolutely crushing debt loads.  Once a couple of dominoes fall, it is going to be really hard to keep the rest of the dominoes from falling.

This is the biggest crisis that the euro has ever faced.  At some point Germany will either be unwilling or unable to continuing rescuing the rest of the EU countries from the unsustainable mountains of debt that they have accumulated.  When that moment arrives, it is going to throw world financial markets into turmoil.

But this is what happens when we allow long-term debt bubbles to be created.  Eventually they always burst.

So keep your eye on the euro, because if a financial collapse does happen in Europe it is going to have a dramatic impact on the United States as well.

Municipal Bond Market Crash 2011: Are Dozens Of State And Local Governments About To Default On Their Debts?

In the United States, it is not just the federal government that has a horrific debt problem.  Today, state and local governments across America are collectively deeper in debt than they ever have been before.  In fact, state and local government debt is now sitting at an all-time high of 22 percent of U.S. GDP.  Once upon a time, municipal bonds (used to fund such things as roads, sewer systems and government buildings) were viewed as incredibly safe investments.  They were considered to have virtually no risk.  But now all of that has changed.  Many analysts are now openly speaking of the possibility of a municipal bond market crash in 2011.  The truth is that dozens upon dozens of city and county governments are teetering on the brink of bankruptcy.  Even the debt of some of our biggest state governments, such as Illinois and California, is essentially considered to be “junk” at this point.  There are literally hundreds of governmental financial implosions happening in slow motion from coast to coast, and up to this point not a lot of people in the mainstream media have been talking about it.

Fortunately, a recent report on 60 Minutes has brought these issues to light.  If you have not seen it yet, do yourself a favor and click on the video below and spend a few minutes watching it.  It is absolutely stunning.

In the piece, one of the people that 60 Minutes interviewed was Meredith Whitney – one of the most respected financial analysts in the United States.  According to Whitney, the municipal bond crisis that we are facing is a massive threat to our financial system….

“It has tentacles as wide as anything I’ve seen. I think next to housing this is the single most important issue in the United States and certainly the largest threat to the U.S. economy.”

State and local governments across the United States are facing a complete and total financial nightmare.  The 60 Minutes report posted below does a pretty good job of describing the problem but it doesn’t even pretend to come up with any solutions….

Unlike the federal government, state and local governments cannot just ask the Federal Reserve to print up endless amounts of cash.  If state and local governments want to spend more than they bring in, they must borrow it from investors.

If the municipal bond market crashes, and investors around the world are no longer willing to hand over gigantic sacks of cash to state and local governments in the United States, then the game is over.  Either state and local governments will have to raise taxes or they will have to start spending within their means.

Most Americans have no idea what this would mean.  For decade after decade, state and local governments throughout the nation have been living way, way, way above their means.  If the debt cycle gets cut off, it is going to mean that many local communities around the nation will start degenerating into rotting hellholes nearly overnight.

We are already seeing this happen in places such as Detroit, Michigan and Camden, New Jersey but if the municipal bond market totally collapses we are quickly going to have dozens of Detroits and Camdens from coast to coast.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the state and local governments that are in some of the biggest trouble….

California

California is facing a 19 billion dollar budget deficit next year, and incoming governor Jerry Brown is scrambling to find billions more to cut from the California state budget.  At this point, investors are becoming increasingly wary about loaning any more money to the state.  The following quote from Brown about the desperate condition of California state finances is not going to do much to inspire confidence in California’s financial situation around the globe….

“We’ve been living in fantasy land. It is much worse than I thought. I’m shocked.”

Unfortunately, the economic situation in California continues to degenerate.  For example, 24.3 percent of the residents of El Centro, California are now unemployed.  In fact, the number of people unemployed in the state of California is approximately equivalent to the populations of Nevada, New Hampshire and Vermont combined.

The housing market in the state is also a major drag on the economy there. For instance, the average home in Merced, California has declined in value by 63 percent over the past four years.

The state of California is swamped with so much debt that there literally appears to be no way out.

Arizona

The state government of Arizona is so incredibly starved for cash that it actually sold off the state capitol building, the state supreme court building and the legislative chambers.  Now they are leasing those buildings back from the investors that they sold them to.

Arizona also recently announced that it has decided to stop paying for many types of organ transplants for people enrolled in its Medicaid program.

Illinois

Illinois is widely regarded to be in the worst financial condition of all the U.S. states.  At this point, Illinois has approximately $5 billion in outstanding bills that have not been paid.

According to 60 Minutes,  the state of Illinois is six months behind on bill payments.  60 Minutes correspondent Steve Croft asked Illinois state Comptroller Dan Hynes how many people and organizations are waiting to be paid by the state, and this is how Hynes responded….

“It’s fair to say that there are tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of people waiting to be paid by the state.”

The University of Illinois alone is owed 400 million dollars.  There are approximately two thousand not-for-profit organizations that are collectively owed a billion dollars by the Illinois state government.

New Jersey

The New Jersey state budget has been slashed by 26 percent, a billion dollars have been cut from education and thousands of teachers have been laid off.

But even with all of those cuts, New Jersey is still facing a $10 billion budget deficit next year, and the state has $46 billion in unfunded pension liabilities and $65 billion in unfunded health care liabilities that it is somehow going to have to address in the future.

Detroit

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing has come up with a new way to save money.  He wants to cut 20 percent of Detroit off from essential social services such as road repairs, police patrols, functioning street lights and garbage collection.

Miami

One Miami commissioner declared earlier this year that bankruptcy may be the city’s only financial hope.

Philadelphia, Baltimore and Sacramento

Major cities such as Philadelphia, Baltimore and Sacramento have instituted “rolling brownouts” in which various city fire stations are shut down on a rotating basis.

Camden

The second most dangerous city in the United States – Camden, New Jersey – is about to lay off about half its police in a desperate attempt to save money.

Oakland

Oakland, California Police Chief Anthony Batts has announced that due to severe budget cuts there are a number of crimes that his department will simply not be able to respond to any longer.  The crimes that the Oakland police will no longer be responding to include grand theft, burglary, car wrecks, identity theft and vandalism.

Nassau County, New York

In New York, the country of Nassau (one of the wealthiest counties in the state) has a budget deficit that is approaching 350 million dollars.

America used to be viewed as the land of great economic progress, but that is no longer the case.  Sadly, all over the United States there are signs that we are actually going backwards as a country.

All over the nation, asphalt roads are actually being ground up and are being replaced with gravel because it is cheaper to maintain.  The state of South Dakota has transformed over 100 miles of asphalt road into gravel over the past year, and 38 out of the 83 counties in the state of Michigan have transformed at least some of their asphalt roads into gravel roads.

Just think about that – we are actually going back to gravel roads.

What’s next?

But this is what is going to happen all over America if dozens of state and local governments start defaulting and the municipal bond market crashes.

In fact, don’t look now, but there are signs that a “bloodbath” in the municipal bond market has already begun.  The months of November and December have been incredibly rocky for municipal bonds.

The days when U.S. states and cities could borrow seemingly endless amounts of incredibly cheap money are officially over.

So where are state and local governments going to get the money that they need?

Well, they are going to come and try to get it from you of course.  Over the past two years, 36 of the 50 U.S. states have jacked up taxes or fees.

Many local governments are trying to raise funds any way that they can.  For example, from now on if you are caught jaywalking in Los Angeles you will be slapped with a $191 fine.

This kind of thing is happening all over America.  Police departments are being turned into revenue raising operations.  Police are so busy writing tickets that they barely have any time to investigate actual crimes anymore.

But it simply is not going to be enough.  State and local governments across the U.S. are facing financial holes of legendary proportions.

The 60 Minutes report above stated that the combined unfunded pension and health care liabilities of the 50 states is $1 trillion.  Unfortunately, that is an estimate that is probably way too conservative.  In fact, two prominent university professors have calculated that the combined unfunded pension liability for all 50 U.S. states is approximately 3.2 trillion dollars.

So if the municipal bond market does crash will the federal government step in and bail everyone out?

Well, this upcoming spring the $160 billion in federal “stimulus money” runs out.  At that point there will likely be a huge cry for even more “stimulus money” for state and local governments.

Unfortunately, as I wrote about yesterday, the federal government is also flat broke and swimming in an ocean of endless red ink.  Congress could potentially step in and try to bail all the state and local governments out, but in the end it is the American people who are going to have to pay the bill.

We are on the verge of a horrific economic collapse which is going to change life in this country as we know it forever.  All of this debt is absolutely going to swamp us.  Our politicians can keep trying to kick the can down the road for as long as they can, but eventually the financial nightmare that so many of us have been dreading is going to overtake us.

Did The Price Of Oil Help Cause The Financial Crisis Of 2008? Will Surging Oil Prices Soon Spark Another Financial Crisis?

Oil prices are starting to spin out of control once again.  In London, Brent North Sea crude for delivery in February hit 91.89 dollars a barrel on Friday.  New York crude moved above 88 dollars a barrel on Friday.  Many analysts believe that 100 dollar oil is a virtual certainty now.  In fact, many economists are convinced that oil is going to start moving well beyond the 100 dollar mark.  So what happened the last time oil went well above 100 dollars a barrel?  Oh, that’s right, we had a major financial crisis.  Not that subprime mortgages, rampant corruption on Wall Street and out of control debt didn’t play major roles in precipitating the financial crisis as well, but the truth is that most economists have not given the price of oil the proper credit for the role that it played in almost crashing the world economy.  In July 2008, the price of oil hit a record high of over $147 a barrel.  A couple months later all hell broke loose on world financial markets.  The truth is that having the price of oil that high created horrific imbalances in the global economy.  Fortunately the price of oil took a huge nosedive after hitting that record high, and it can be argued that lower oil prices helped stabilize the world economy.  So now that oil prices are on a relentless march upward again, what can we expect this time?

Well, what we can expect is more economic trouble.  The truth is that oil is the “blood” of our economy.  Without oil nothing moves and virtually no economic activity would take place.  Our entire economic system is based on the ability to cheaply and efficiently move people and products.  An increase in the price of oil puts inflationary pressure on virtually everything else in our society.  Without cheap oil, the entire game changes.

The chart below shows what the price of oil has done since 1950 (although it doesn’t include the most recent data).  With the price of oil marching towards 100 dollars a barrel again, many people are wondering what this is going to mean for the U.S. economic “recovery”….


Just think about it.  What is it going to do to U.S. households when they have to start spending four, five or even six dollars on a gallon of gas?

What is it going to do to our trucking and shipping costs?

What is it going to do to the price of food?  According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, food inflation in the United States was already 1 1/2 times higher than the overall rate of inflation during the past year.  But that is nothing compared to what is coming.

During 2010, the price of just about every major agricultural commodity has shot up dramatically.  These price increases are just starting to filter down to the consumer level.  So what is going to happen if oil shoots up to 100, 120 or even 150 dollars a barrel?

Demand for oil is only going to continue to increase.  Do you know who the number one consumer of energy on the globe is today?  For about a hundred years it was the United States, but now it is China.  Other emerging markets are starting to gobble up oil at a voracious pace as well.

Not that the price of oil isn’t highly manipulated.  Of course it is.  The truth is that the price of oil should not be nearly as high as it currently is.  Unfortunately, you and I have very little say on the matter.

If the price of oil keep going higher, it is really going to start having a dramatic impact on global economic activity at some point.  Meanwhile, oil producers and the big global oil companies will pull in record profits, and radical “environmentalists” will love it because people will be forced to start using less oil.

When it comes to oil, there are a lot of “agendas” out there, and unfortunately it looks like the pendulum is swinging back towards those who have “agendas” that favor a very high price for oil.

So what does that mean for all of us?

It is going to mean higher prices at the pump, higher prices at the supermarket and higher prices for almost everything else that we buy.

If the price of oil causes a significant slowdown in economic activity, it could also mean that a whole bunch of us may lose our jobs.

In an article that I published yesterday entitled “Tipping Point: 25 Signs That The Coming Financial Collapse Is Now Closer Than Ever“, I didn’t even mention that price of oil.  There are just so many danger signs in the world economy right now that it is easy to overlook some of them.

Yes, it is time to start ringing the alarms.

The ratio of corporate insider stock selling to corporate insider stock buying is at the highest it has been in nearly four years.  This is so similar to what happened just prior to the last financial crisis.  The corporate insiders are seeing the writing on the wall and they are flocking for the exits.

Many savvy investors are getting out of paper and are looking for hard assets to put their money in.  For example, China is buying gold like there is no tomorrow.  The Chinese seem to sense that something is coming.  But of course they are not alone.  All over the world top economists are warning that we are flirting with disaster.

On Friday, Moody’s slashed Ireland’s credit rating by five notches to Baa1, and is warning that even more downgrades may follow.

Just think about that for a moment.

Moody’s didn’t just downgrade Irish debt a little – what Moody’s basically did was take out a big wooden mallet and pummel it into oblivion.

Irish debt is now considered little more than garbage in world financial markets now.  Unfortunately, Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Belgium and a bunch of other European nations are also headed down the same road.

The truth is that the euro is much closer to a major collapse than most Americans would ever dream.

The world financial system is teetering on the brink of another major financial crisis, and rising oil prices certainly are not going to help that.

If the price of oil breaks the 100 dollar mark, it will be time to become seriously alarmed.

If the price of oil breaks the 150 dollar mark in 2011 it will be time to push the panic button.

Let’s hope that the price of oil stabilizes for a while, but unfortunately that is probably not going to happen.

The truth is that the economic outlook for 2011 is bleak at best, especially if the price of oil continues to skyrocket.

Need A Job? Too Bad! The Good Jobs Are Being Shipped Out Of America As Part Of The New One World Economy

I hope that you enjoy the cheap foreign-made plastic trinkets that you will be exchanging with your family and friends this holiday season, because they are literally destroying the U.S. economy.  As part of the new “one world economy” that both Democrats and Republicans insist is so good for us, millions of good paying middle class jobs have been shipped out of America.  Do you need a job?  Are you wondering where all the good jobs went?  Well, the next time you are out just walk into a store and start looking at the product labels.  Most of the things that are sold in our stores are now made out of the country.  So if you need a good paying job to support your family that is just too bad – you have been merged into a global labor pool where you must compete for jobs with people on the other side of the globe willing to work for less than a tenth of what you usually make.  Welcome to the “one world economy” where big global corporations make a fortune exploiting slave labor on the other side of the world while “overly expensive American workers” get dumped out on the street.

Are you in favor of a redistribution of wealth?  Most of the time when the phrase “redistribution of wealth” is brought up, conservatives and libertarians visibly cringe – as they should.  But did you know that right now the greatest redistribution of wealth in the history of the world is taking place and our politicians are doing nothing about it?

For a moment, imagine a giant map of the world.  On that giant map, put a huge pile of money on the United States, and also put a huge pile of money on China and on the OPEC nations.  Now imagine a big hand coming along once a month that takes tens of billions of dollars out of the U.S. pile and puts it into the piles of China and the OPEC nations.

As this continues month after month after month, what is eventually going to happen?

The U.S. pile of money is going to get far smaller and the other piles of money are going to get much, much larger.

And that is exactly what is happening in our world today.

Back in 1985, the U.S. trade deficit with China was 6 million dollars for the entire year – not really anything to worry about  it.

Well, let’s fast forward to 2010.  For the month of August alone, the trade deficit with China was more than 28 billion (that’s billion with a “b”) dollars.

In other words, the U.S. trade deficit with China in August was more than 4,600 times larger than the U.S. trade deficit with China was for the entire year of 1985.

My, how the world has changed in 25 years.

Oh, but doesn’t China “invest” some of that money they are getting from us back into our country?

Well yeah, our top officials regularly go over there to beg them to lend us more money.  Now we owe China close to a trillion dollars.  We also owe the major oil exporting nations of the Middle East massive amounts of money.

Is this a good idea?  Let us keep in mind the ancient principle that the borrower always ends up the servant of the lender.

Is it wise for the United States to become enslaved to China and to the oil exporters of the Middle East?

Is that any way to run an economy?  Is that any way to run a country?

All over the United States factories are closing down.  If you go to shopping centers in many areas of America you would think that the hottest new store was called “Space Available”.

Since the year 2000, we have lost 10% of our middle class jobs.  In the year 2000 there were about 72 million middle class jobs in the United States but today there are only about 65 million middle class jobs.

What kind of progress is that?

“But oh”, the supporters of the one world economy will declare, “the cheap goods, the cheap goods!”

Yes, I hope you enjoy paying ten percent less for your plastic trinkets.  But you will also support American workers one way or another.  Either you will provide them with good paying jobs, or you will pay for their food stamps and their unemployment checks.

One out of every six Americans is now enrolled in a federal anti-poverty program.  As 2007 began, 26 million Americans were on food stamps, but now 42 million Americans are on food stamps and that number keeps rising every single month.

Can anyone out there please explain how the “one world economy” is supposed to be good for us when 42 million Americans cannot even feed themselves?

Allowing our country to be deindustrialized just so that we can consume more cheap goods from China is like tearing down pieces of your house to keep your fire going.  In the end, you won’t have much of a house left.

Whatever your opinion of Donald Trump is, this next video is worth watching.  Trump certainly should not run for president, but as a savvy businessman he definitely understands what China is doing to us….

It is time for the American people to wake up.

We are being taken advantage of.

The one world economy is going to keep destroying the U.S. middle class.  There is no way that American workers can compete with slave labor on the other side of the globe.  It is impossible.

In fact, just about every kind of job imaginable is being shipped to places where labor is cheaper.  Even engineering and computer programming jobs are being offshored and outsourced.

The United States is even being slaughtered in high-tech industries.  Back in 1998, the United States had 25 percent of the world’s high-tech export market and China had just 10 percent. Ten years later, the United States had less than 15 percent and China’s share had soared to 20 percent.

According to one recent study, China could become the global leader in patent filings by next year.

The United States has become a bloated, slovenly nation that consumes massive amounts of wealth but that produces relatively little.

With each passing year, we make fewer things inside the United States….

*The United States has lost a staggering 32 percent of its manufacturing jobs since the year 2000.

*Since 2001, over 42,000 U.S. factories have closed down for good.

*As of the end of 2009, less than 12 million Americans worked in manufacturing.  The last time that less than 12 million Americans were employed in manufacturing was in 1941.

*Manufacturing employment in the U.S. computer industry is actually lower in 2010 than it was in 1975.

*In 2010, the number one U.S. export to China is “scrap and trash”.

Oh, but won’t “getting more education” solve all of our problems and get the American people back to work?

No.

The truth is that tens of millions of Americans have a “higher education” that is not doing them any good today.

In his article entitled “The Great College-Degree Scam“, Richard Vedder explains that a large percentage of U.S. college graduates are working in jobs that have not historically required college degrees….

Here it is:  approximately 60 percent of the increase in the number of college graduates from 1992 to 2008 worked in jobs that the BLS considers relatively low skilled—occupations where many participants have only high school diplomas and often even less.

Ouch.

Later on in his article, Vedder notes that the number of college graduates that are waiting tables or that are working as cashiers is absolutely exploding….

In 1992 119,000 waiters and waitresses were college degree holders. By 2008, this number had more than doubled to 318,000. While the total number of waiters and waitresses grew by about 1 million during this period, 20% of all new jobs in this occupation were filled by college graduates. Take cashiers as well. While 132,000 cashiers possessed college degrees in 1992, by 2008, 365,000 cashiers were college graduates. As with waiters and waitresses, 20% of new cashiers since 1992 are college graduates.

So do you still think that the “one world economy” is a great idea?

Well, you might want to practice the following two phrases….

#1 “Would you like fries with that?”

#2 “Welcome to Wal-Mart!”

Our economy is turning into a low-wage service economy because we don’t make much of anything in the United States anymore.

So if you need a good job, I am afraid that the joke is on you.

The good jobs are being shipped out of the United States as part of the new one world economy, and millions of unemployed Americans have been left to fight over the low paying service jobs that remain.

So if you are flipping burgers or stocking shelves for a big multinational retail chain, perhaps you should consider yourself to be fortunate.  At least you still have a job.  There are millions of desperate, hungry-eyed Americans that would take your job in a second.

And you know what?  Things are only going to get worse.

10 Signs That Confidence In U.S. Treasuries Is Dying And That Financial Armageddon May Be Approaching

Selling government debt is a gigantic confidence game.  For decades, investors all over the globe have gobbled up massive amounts of U.S. debt at incredibly low interest rates because they believed that it was a certainly that they would be paid back and be able to make a little bit of profit on top of it.  Unfortunately, things have changed.  Confidence is U.S. Treasuries is dying, and if confidence in U.S. government debt completely collapses at some point we could literally be looking at financial Armageddon.  Why is that so?  Well, when the world totally loses faith in U.S. Treasuries, interest rates on U.S. Treasuries will have to keep going up until enough investors are found to buy them.  But much higher interest rates will mean much higher interest on the national debt and thus much higher federal budget deficits.  That will erode confidence in U.S. Treasuries even further.  In the end, a vicious cycle of eroding confidence and higher interest rates could ultimately lead to hyperinflation as the U.S. government and the Federal Reserve flood the system with endless amounts of paper money to try to keep the system solvent.

Faith in U.S. Treasury bonds is absolutely critical if the world financial system is going to continue to operate in a stable manner.  In the post-World War 2 era, U.S. Treasuries have been largely viewed as the absolutely safest investment out there.  So if there comes a point when the market for U.S. Treasuries completely collapses, it is going to cause unprecedented financial chaos.  The worldwide derivatives market, which is already highly unstable, would almost certainly implode.  Credit markets all over the globe would seize up.  Global trade would quickly grind to a standstill.

This isn’t going to happen overnight (hopefully).  Rather, the loss of confidence in U.S. Treasuries is something that is likely to take months or even years to play out.  But once that confidence is gone, it is not something that will be able to be rebuilt easily.

Think of it this way – once you drive a car off a cliff, is it easy to reconstruct it?

Of course not.

Well, that is where we are headed with U.S. Treasuries.

The Federal Reserve is flooding the system with new dollars, Barack Obama and the U.S. Congress seem poised to pass a new tax deal which does not include corresponding spending cuts which will cause U.S. government budget deficits to become even more bloated, and there is a tremendous lack of faith both in U.S. political leaders and in the Federal Reserve at this point.

The rest of the world is losing faith that the U.S. government is going to be able to handle all of the debt that it has accumulated.  We may be approaching a “tipping point” soon.

The following are 10 signs that confidence in U.S. Treasuries is dying….

#1 The financial community is extremely concerned that the tax deal that Barack Obama is pushing is going to dramatically increase U.S. government budget deficits over the next two years.  On Monday, Moody’s warned that if Barack Obama’s tax deal with the Republicans becomes law, it will increase the likelihood that Moody’s could soon be forced to slash the rating of U.S. government debt.

#2 Already there are signs that some bond investors are looking for the exits.  Last week, U.S. Treasuries suffered their largest  two day sell-off since the collapse of Lehman Brothers back in September 2008.

#3 The yield on 10-year Treasury bonds set a six-month high on Monday before pulling back a bit.  Most analysts believe that Treasury yields are going to push significantly higher in coming weeks.

#4 This trend of rising yields has been going on for a while.  In fact, yields on 10-year Treasury bonds have been steadily rising since October 7th.

#5 Even before the recent tax deal was announced there were already troubling signs regarding the growth of U.S. government debt.  The U.S. government budget deficit rose to $150.4 billion in November, which was the largest November budget deficit ever recorded.

#6 It is not just the new tax deal that has investors around the globe spooked.  The truth is that the rest of the globe reacted very negatively to the new round of quantitative easing that the Federal Reserve announced back in November.  The Federal Reserve is flooding the system with liquidity and the rest of the world is not amused.

#7 The American people have less faith in the Federal Reserve and in the financial system than at any other point in recent memory.  For example, a new Bloomberg National Poll has found that a majority of Americans now want the Federal Reserve to either be held more accountable or to be abolished entirely.

#8 Investors all over the globe are starting to wake up and realize that America’s debt problem is unsolvable.  David Bloom, the currency chief at HSBC, raised eyebrows when he recently stated that “if yields are rising because people think America’s fiscal situation is unsustainable, then its Armaggedon.”

#9 There is also a growing feeling among investors that the Federal Reserve simply does not care about the danger of inflation, and this is making bondholders very nervous.  Stephen Lewis of Monument Securities recently put it this way….

“There is a feeling that the Fed doesn’t care about inflation – in fact, wants more of it – and that is certainly not in the interest of bondholders.

#10 Over the next 12 months, the U.S. government is going to be rolling over trillions of dollars in debt along with all of the new borrowing that it is going to be doing. In fact, the U.S. government is somehow going to have to find a way to finance debt that is equivalent to 27.8 percent of GDP in 2011.

For years our politicians have told us that “deficits don’t matter”, but the truth is that they do matter.  The national debt of the United States is now the biggest debt in the history of the world by far, and yet most Americans do not seem to grasp the absolute financial horror that we are facing as a nation.

In the end, debt is always painful.  It can be a lot of fun to run out and buy a beautiful new house, a couple of brand new cars and to run your credit cards up to the max, but eventually it catches up with you.  Well, the same thing is now happening to us on a national level.

We are getting to the point where eventually we are not even going to be able to service the debt that we have already piled up.  Once that happens we can either declare national bankruptcy or we can try to hyperinflate our way out of trouble.

Meanwhile, the once great U.S. economic machine is dying as well.  The only reason we have been able to survive with all of this debt as long as we have is because of how powerful our economy has been.

But over the past couple of decades, the big global corporations that now dominate our economy have shipped thousands of factories and millions of jobs overseas.

The mighty economic machine which is supposed to provide funds to pay off all of this debt is being dismantled right in front of our eyes.

There was no way in the world that U.S. government debt was going to be sustainable even if our economy remained vibrant and healthy.  The sad truth is that U.S. government debt is approximately 13 times larger than it was just 30 years ago.

But now that the “real economy” is dying a savage death there is simply no hope that this thing is ever going to turn around.  The only thing left to do is to take bets on when the implosion is going to happen.

All of this “great tax cut debate” nonsense going on in Washington D.C. right now is just a bunch of incompetent politicians running around rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.  Perhaps these tax cuts will provide enough of a short-term economic boost to get many of them re-elected in 2012.  Meanwhile, our long-term economic problems continue to get a lot worse.

It has become quite obvious that Barack Obama is completely clueless about the economy, and what is even sadder is that the “highly educated” Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, seems almost equally as clueless.

Unfortunately, Americans have become so dumbed-down that they don’t even realize that their leaders are incompetent.  In fact, as sad as it is to say, most Americans you will meet on the street probably cannot even tell you what U.S. Treasuries are.

Let us hope and pray that investors around the globe continue to have at least some confidence in U.S. Treasuries for at least a little while longer.  When “financial Armageddon” finally does happen, it isn’t going to be pleasant for any of us.

So enjoy these happy economic times while you still have them, because at some point things are going to get a whole lot worse.