30 Signs That The U.S. Economy Is About To Go Into The Toilet

If you think the U.S. economy is bad now, just wait for a few months.  Things are about to become absolutely nightmarish.  None of the long-term economic trends that are hollowing out our economy have been addressed and more bad economic news seems to come out virtually every single day.  Now there is constant talk of the “next recession” in the mainstream media.  But did the last recession ever truly end?  The number of good jobs continues to decline, more stores are closing, incomes continue to go down, credit card debt and student loan debt are soaring, the housing market resembles a corpse, the number of Americans living in poverty continues to rise and government debt is at unprecedented levels.  We are losing blood fast, and almost all of our leaders are either too corrupt or too incompetent to be able to do anything about it.  The U.S. economy really and truly is about to go into the toilet, and if something is not done very quickly we are going to experience a complete and total economic disaster in this nation.

Americans have been promised over and over that this economic downturn is just “temporary” and that things will return to normal soon.  During this upcoming election cycle, the Democrats will swear that they have all the answers and that if we just elect them everything will be okay.  The Republicans will also swear that they have all the answers and that if we just elect them everything will be okay.

Well, both sides are lying.  The economic plans of both major political parties are a joke.  Neither of them can restore economic prosperity to this nation.

Our politicians could delay the coming economic collapse by borrowing gigantic piles of money and pumping all of that cash into the economy.  But stealing from our children and our grandchildren is not exactly sound economic policy.

Yes, the U.S. economy is in bad shape right now, but things are about to get even worse.  The long-term problems that are destroying our economy have not been fixed, and the leaks in our ship are going to continue to grow.

The following are 30 signs that the U.S. economy is about to go into the toilet….

#1 An increasing number of unemployed Americans have become so desperate that they have started to look for work overseas.  For example, the number of Americans that are submitting applications for temporary work visas in Canada has approximately doubled since 2008.  Other Americans are willing to learn foreign languages and travel to the other side of the world if that is what it takes to land a decent job.  Just consider the following quote from a recent USA Today report….

Job placement firms are reporting a surge in American worker interest in booming economies such as Hong Kong, Singapore, China and, increasingly, India. Hunt Partners, an executive search firm, estimates that it’s getting 50% to 100% more unsolicited résumés from Americans looking for Asia-based positions today than before the recession.

#2 When Barack Obama first took office, the official U.S. unemployment rate was 7.6 percent.  Today it is 9.1 percent.

#3 The number of Americans that are concerned that they will lose their jobs continues to hover near record highs.  According to Gallup, 30 percent of all employed Americans are worried that they will soon be laid off.

#4 After three straight years of very high unemployment, you can feel frustration and desperation in the air almost everywhere that you go.  Many unemployed Americans are now at the end of their ropes.  The following is from a testimonial that was recently posted on The Atlantic….

The most difficult part of the job search is:

1. that I don’t live near a factory or outsource outlet in China, India, or Malaysia.

2. trying not to appear desperate for a job when I am, in fact, quite desperate for a job.

3. that I am subject to everyone’s advice on how to get a job, but no real job leads.

4. that I am reminded that having a good job is not an entitlement.

5. that when I become depressed from my job search, I’m told told to cheer up or else give a bad vibe to prospective employers … yet when I become happy through non-search related activities, I am reminded that I should be looking for work

7. that when I confide to friends and family that I have “given up” to pursue more fruitful interests,  it elicits a crushing look of disbelief, disappointment, and disgust

8. waiting for permission to give up.

#5 The percentage of American men that are employed continues to plummet.  In July, only 63.5 percent of all men in the United States had a job.  Since 1948, that number has only been lower one time (63.3 percent in December 2009).

#6 Back in the 1950s, manufacturing accounted for about 28 percent of U.S. GDP.  Last year, it accounted for just 11.7 percent.  Meanwhile, manufacturing now accounts for about 25 percent of GDP in China and they now actually have more factory production each year than we do.  Sadly, Barack Obama is pushing for even more trade agreements that will send millions more of our jobs overseas.

#7 The percentage of Americans that are working low paying jobs continues to relentlessly march upwards.  Back in 1980, less than 30% of all jobs in the United States were low income jobs.  Today, more than 40% of all jobs in the United States are low income jobs.

#8 According to John Williams of shadowstats.com, after you add in all short-term discouraged workers, all long-term discouraged workers and all Americans that are working part-time because they cannot find full-time employment, the real unemployment rate should be approximately 23 percent.

#9 We are starting to see another huge wave of store closings and layoffs.  For example, the parent company of Payless stores has announced that it will be permanently closing 475 stores.  Borders is in the process of closing every single one of its 399 stores.  Also, Bank of America has just announced that it will be closing about 600 branches, and that could result in the loss of about 30,000 good jobs.

#10 Median household income has fallen for three years in a row.

#11 Americans are really starting to rack up consumer debt once again.  According to Time Magazine, U.S. consumers are on pace to collectively add 54 billion dollars in credit card debt in 2011.

#12 Student loan defaults are rising very sharply. Just consider the following excerpt from a recent New York Times article….

The share of federal student loan defaults rose sharply last year, especially at for-profit colleges and universities, where 15 percent of borrowers defaulted in the first two years of repayment, up from 11.6 percent the previous year.

#13 According to a chart in The Economist, whenever the number of newspaper articles in the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal that mention the word “recession” goes over 1,500 in a particular quarter, the U.S. economy almost always goes into a recession.

#14 The U.S. housing crash just continues to get worse.  The index of home builder sentiment put out by the National Association of Home Builders fell once again during the month of September.  With such a glut of unsold foreclosed homes on the market, it is making things really hard of home builders.  Things have gotten so bad that even the U.S. government now owns nearly a quarter of a million foreclosed homes.  The impact of this housing nightmare on families has been absolutely devastating.  Just check out what a recent Time Magazine article had to say about what has been going on in California….

The impact on children has been brutal: since 2007, 7% of the state’s children have had a foreclosure process started on their homes, the fourth-highest level in the nation, according to a study released this month by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

#15 Many believe that due to much tighter lending standards, it is now harder to be approved for a mortgage than at any other time since World War II.  This is absolutely crushing the housing market.

#16 Most Americans don’t seem to expect housing prices to recover for an extended period of time.  One recent survey found that 54 percent of Americans believe that there will not be a housing recovery until “2014 or later“.

#17 The combined debt of the largest GSEs (Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Sallie Mae) has increased from 3.2 trillion in 2008 to a whopping 6.4 trillion in 2011.  If that debt goes bad, U.S. taxpayers will be left holding the bill.

#18 There are now nearly 50 million Americans that do not have health insurance, and the percentage of Americans covered by employer-based health plans has fallen for 11 years in a row.  Meanwhile, Americans now spend about 3 times as much on health care as they did back in 1990.

#19 The Postal Service has publicly announced that it is “on the verge” of financial collapse.

#20 The number of small businesses continues to fall.  I recently noted this fact on The American Dream Blog….

The number of “self-employed” Americans continues to rapidly shrink.  According the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 16.6 million Americans were self-employed back in December 2006.  Today, that number has shrunk to 14.5 million.  Even though we have 14 million unemployed people in this country and jobs are incredibly difficult to come by, the number of people trying to work for themselves continues to decrease because the environment for small businesses in this country has become so incredibly toxic.

#21 American consumers have become tremendously pessimistic.  According to one recent survey, 61 percent of all Americans believe that they will not return to their “pre-recession” lifestyles until at least 2014.  According to a different recent survey, 39 percent of Americans actually believe that the U.S. economy has now entered a “permanent decline”.

#22 Many U.S. investors certainly seem to believe that trouble is coming.  According to CNN, last month the number of bets against the S&P 500 was the highest that we have seen in about a year.

#23 The number of U.S. households that are “doubling up” continues to grow.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of combined households has increased by 10.7 percent since 2007.

#24 When Barack Obama moved into the White House, the average price of a gallon of gasoline in the United States was $1.83.  Today it is $3.58.

#25 The number of Americans living in poverty grew by 2.6 million last year.  That was the largest increase since the U.S. government began calculating poverty figures back in 1959.

#26 Back in the year 2000, 11.3% of all Americans were living in poverty.  Today, 15.1% of all Americans are living in poverty.

#27 On Barack Obama’s first day on the job, there were about 32 million Americans on food stamps.  Today, there are more than 45 million Americans on food stamps.

#28 If there is a financial collapse in Europe, that will definitely plunge us into another recession.  Right now, things do not look promising.  At this point, headlines all over the world are proclaiming that Greece is dangerously close to defaulting.

#29 At some point soon, investors all over the globe may decide that it is time to start dumping U.S. government debt.  For example, Chinese officials are now openly talking about the need to “liquidate” their holdings of U.S. Treasuries.

#30 The U.S. national debt continues to explode in size and spiral out of control.  According to Professor Laurence J. Kotlikoff, the U.S. “fiscal gap” increased by about 6 trillion dollars last year.  In fact, Kotlikoff makes a compelling argument that Greece is actually in better shape financially than the United States is.

Do you now understand how much trouble we are in?

The long-term trends that are destroying us continue to get worse.

The United States is steamrolling directly toward an economic collapse.

When this economy hits bottom and splatters all over the place, it is not going to be easy to fix.

The America that we know today is going to be wiped out by a gigantic mountain of debt and by the consequences of decades of really bad decisions.

We were handed the keys to the greatest economic machine in the history of the world and we have wrecked it.

So prepare for really, really hard times ahead.

The era of endless prosperity is ending.

Next comes the pain.

 

Student Loan Debt Hell: 21 Statistics That Will Make You Think Twice About Going To College

Is going to college a worthwhile investment?  Is the education that our young people are receiving at our colleges and universities really worth all of the time, money and effort that is required?  Decades ago, a college education was quite inexpensive and it was almost an automatic ticket to the middle class.  But today all of that has changed.  At this point, college education is a big business.  There are currently more than 18 million students enrolled at the nearly 5,000 colleges and universities currently in operation throughout the United States.  There are quite a few “institutions of higher learning” that now charge $40,000 or even $50,000 a year for tuition.  That does not even count room and board and other living expenses.  Meanwhile, as you will see from the statistics posted below, the quality of education at our colleges and universities has deteriorated badly.  When graduation finally arrives, many of our college students have actually learned very little, they find themselves unable to get good jobs and yet they end up trapped in student loan debt hell for essentially the rest of their lives.

Across America today, “guidance counselors” are pushing millions of high school students to go to the very best colleges that they can get into, but they rarely warn them about how much it is going to cost or about the sad reality that they could end up being burdened by massive debt loads for decades to come.

Yes, college is a ton of fun and it is a really unique experience.  If you can get someone else to pay for it then you should definitely consider going.

There are also many careers which absolutely require a college degree.  Depending on your career goals, you may not have much of a choice of whether to go to college or not.

But that doesn’t mean that you have to go to student loan debt hell.

You don’t have to go to the most expensive school that you can get into.

You don’t have to take out huge student loans.

There is no shame in picking a school based on affordability.

The truth is that pretty much wherever you go to school the quality of the education is going to be rather pathetic.  A highly trained cat could pass most college courses in the United States today.

Personally, I have had the chance to spend quite a number of years on college campuses.  I enjoyed my time and I have some pretty pieces of parchment to put up on the wall.  I have seen with my own eyes what goes on at our institutions of higher learning.  In a previous article, I described what life is like for most “average students” enrolled in our colleges and universities today….

The vast majority of college students in America spend two to four hours a day in the classroom and maybe an hour or two outside the classroom studying. The remainder of the time these “students” are out drinking beer, partying, chasing after sex partners, going to sporting events, playing video games, hanging out with friends, chatting on Facebook or getting into trouble. When they say that college is the most fun that most people will ever have in their lives they mean it. It is basically one huge party.

If you are a parent and you are shelling out tens of thousands of dollars every year to pay for college you need to know the truth.

You are being ripped off.

Sadly, a college education just is not that good of an investment anymore.  Tuition costs have absolutely skyrocketed even as the quality of education has plummeted.

A college education is not worth getting locked into crippling student loan payments for the next 30 years.

Even many university professors are now acknowledging that student loan debt has become a horrific societal problem. Just check out what one professor was quoted as saying in a recent article in The Huffington Post….

“Thirty years ago, college was a wise, modest investment,” says Fabio Rojas, a professor of sociology at Indiana University. He studies the politics of higher education. “Now, it’s a lifetime lock-in, an albatross you can’t escape.”

Anyone that is thinking of going to college needs to do a cost/benefit analysis.

Is it really going to be worth it?

For some people the answer will be “yes” and for some people the answer will be “no”.

But sadly, hardly anyone that goes to college these days gets a “good” education.

To get an idea of just how “dumbed down” we have become as a nation, just check out this Harvard entrance exam from 1869.

I wouldn’t have a prayer of passing that exam.

What about you?

We really do need to rethink our approach to higher education in this country.

Posted below are 21 statistics about college tuition, student loan debt and the quality of college education in the United States….

#1 Since 1978, the cost of college tuition in the United States has gone up by over 900 percent.

#2 In 2010, the average college graduate had accumulated approximately $25,000 in student loan debt by graduation day.

#3 Approximately two-thirds of all college students graduate with student loans.

#4 Americans have accumulated well over $900 billion in student loan debt. That figure is higher than the total amount of credit card debt in the United States.

#5 The typical U.S. college student spends less than 30 hours a week on academics.

#6 According to very extensive research detailed in a new book entitled “Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses”, 45 percent of U.S. college students exhibit “no significant gains in learning” after two years in college.

#7 Today, college students spend approximately 50% less time studying than U.S. college students did just a few decades ago.

#8 35% of U.S. college students spend 5 hours or less studying per week.

#9 50% of U.S. college students have never taken a class where they had to write more than 20 pages.

#10 32% of U.S. college students have never taken a class where they had to read more than 40 pages in a week.

#11 U.S. college students spend 24% of their time sleeping, 51% of their time socializing and 7% of their time studying.

#12 Federal statistics reveal that only 36 percent of the full-time students who began college in 2001 received a bachelor’s degree within four years.

#13 Nearly half of all the graduate science students enrolled at colleges and universities in the United States are foreigners.

#14 According to the Economic Policy Institute, the unemployment rate for college graduates younger than 25 years old was 9.3 percent in 2010.

#15 One-third of all college graduates end up taking jobs that don’t even require college degrees.

#16 In the United States today, over 18,000 parking lot attendants have college degrees.

#17 In the United States today, 317,000 waiters and waitresses have college degrees.

#18 In the United States today, approximately 365,000 cashiers have college degrees.

#19 In the United States today, 24.5 percent of all retail salespersons have a college degree.

#20 Once they get out into the “real world”, 70% of college graduates wish that they had spent more time preparing for the “real world” while they were still in school.

#21 Approximately 14 percent of all students that graduate with student loan debt end up defaulting within 3 years of making their first student loan payment.

There are millions of young college graduates running around out there that are wondering where all of the “good jobs” are.  All of their lives they were promised that if they worked really hard and got good grades that the system would reward them.

Sometimes when you do everything right you still can’t get a job. A while back The Huffington Post featured the story of Kyle Daley – a highly qualified UCLA graduate who had been unemployed for 19 months at the time….

I spent my time at UCLA preparing for the outside world. I had internships in congressional offices, political action committees, non-profits and even as a personal intern to a successful venture capitalist. These weren’t the run-of-the-mill office internships; I worked in marketing, press relations, research and analysis. Additionally, the mayor and city council of my hometown appointed me to serve on two citywide governing bodies, the planning commission and the open government commission. I used to think that given my experience, finding work after graduation would be easy.

At this point, however, looking for a job is my job. I recently counted the number of job applications I have sent out over the past year — it amounts to several hundred. I have tried to find part-time work at local stores or restaurants, only to be turned away. Apparently, having a college degree implies that I might bail out quickly when a better opportunity comes along.

The sad truth is that a college degree is not an automatic ticket to the middle class any longer.

But for millions of young Americans a college degree is an automatic ticket to student loan debt hell.

Student loan debt is one of the most insidious forms of debt.  You can’t get away from student loan debt no matter what you do.  Federal bankruptcy law makes it nearly impossible to discharge student loan debts, and many recent grads end up with loan payments that absolutely devastate them financially at a time when they are struggling to get on their feet and make something of themselves.

So are you still sure that you want to go to college?

Another open secret is that most of our colleges and universities are little more than indoctrination centers.  Most people would be absolutely shocked at how much unfiltered propaganda is being pounded into the heads of our young people.

At most colleges and universities, when it comes to the “big questions” there is a “right answer” and there is virtually no discussion of any other alternatives.

In most fields there is an “orthodoxy” that you had better adhere to if you want to get good grades.

Let’s just say that “independent thought” and “critical thinking” are not really encouraged at most of our institutions of higher learning.

Am I bitter because I didn’t do well?  No, I actually did extremely well in school.  I have seen the system from the inside.  I know how it works.

It is a giant fraud.

If you want to go to college because you want to have a good time or because it will help you get your career started then by all means go for it.

Just realize what you are signing up for.

Money Problems That Never Seem To End: 25 Reasons To Be Absolutely Disgusted With The U.S. Economy

It seems like wherever you turn there is bad news for the U.S. economy.  Unemployment is rampant, the cost of gasoline is going up, the cost of food is going up and American families are getting poorer.  Millions of jobs continue to leave the country and everyone is wondering why it seems like the “American Dream” is dying.  American consumers are absolutely swamped with staggering levels of credit card debt, student loan debt and mortgage debt and each year the consumer debt crisis only seems to get worse.  For millions of American families the money problems never seem to end.  Meanwhile, our politicians are doing next to nothing to fix our horrific national debt problem.  So yes, there are a whole lot of reasons to be absolutely disgusted with the U.S. economy.  We are living in the greatest debt bubble in the history of the world, and anyone with half a brain can see that we are heading for complete and total disaster.

A lot of Americans do not like to read about economics, but what has been going on over the last few years has been nothing short of extraordinary.  The Federal Reserve has basically tripled the adjusted monetary base.  We have now been conditioned to accept that trillion dollar deficits are “normal”.  The U.S. dollar is being systematically destroyed right in front of our eyes and most Americans don’t even seem alarmed about it.

Our entire financial system is coming apart.

The signs are everywhere.

The following are 25 reasons to be absolutely disgusted with the U.S. economy….

#1 There are now 6.4 million fewer jobs in America than there were when the recession began.

#2 In Southern California, the average price of a gallon of gasoline is $1.00 higher than it was at this time last year.

#3 The average price of gasoline in the United States has jumped about 20 cents in just the last two weeks.

#4 Over the past 12 months the average price of gasoline in the United States has gone up by about 30%.

#5 In the 8 days leading up to the “historic” $38.5 billion budget deal, the U.S. national debt increased by $54.1 billion dollars.

#6 The $38.5 billion in budget cuts that the Republicans and the Democrats have agreed to represent approximately one percent of the federal budget.

#7 During the 2010 campaign, the Republicans promised voters they would cut $100 billion from the budget for 2011.  Instead, they gave in when the Democrats offered just $38.5 billion.

#8 The Obama administration had been estimating that the federal budget deficit for fiscal 2011 would be approximately 1.6 trillion dollars.  Now it will likely be somewhere around 1.55 trillion dollars which will still be an all-time record.

#9 According to numbers released by Deloitte Consulting, a whopping 875,000 Americans were “medical tourists” in 2010.

#10 The median pay for CEOs increased by 27 percent during 2010.

#11 Thanks to globalism, U.S. workers now must directly compete for jobs with workers in places such as Indonesia.  In Indonesia, full-time workers make as little as two dollars a day.  So how are Americans supposed to compete with that?

#12 Last week, the price of gold set a new all-time record on Tuesday, on Wednesday, on Thursday and on Friday.

#13 The price of silver rose almost 7 percent last week alone.

#14 Total home mortgage debt in the United States is now about 5 times larger than it was just 20 years ago.

#15 According to the Economic Policy Institute, almost 25 percent of U.S. households now have zero net worth or negative net worth.  Back in 2007, that number was just 18.6 percent.

#16 Americans now owe more than $903 billion on student loans.

#17 According to the New York Times, as of 2009 the wealthiest 5 percent of all Americans had 63.5 percent of all the wealth in America.  Meanwhile, the bottom 80 percent had just 12.8 percent of all the wealth.

#18 According to a recent report from the National Employment Law Project, higher wage industries accounted for 40 percent of the job losses over the past 12 months but only 14 percent of the job growth.  Lower wage industries accounted for just 23 percent of the job losses over the past 12 months and a whopping 49 percent of the job growth.

#19 The first week of air strikes in Libya cost the U.S. government about 600 million dollars.

#20 The price of corn has more than doubled over the past year.

#21 According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average length of unemployment in the U.S. is now an all-time record 39 weeks.

#22 Back in the 1950s, corporate taxes accounted for about 30 percent of all federal revenue.  Today they account for less than 7 percent of all federal revenue.

#23 If the U.S. government eliminated all discretionary spending and all defense spending it would still not balance the budget.

#24 It is being projected that U.S. government debt will rise to about 400 percent of GDP by the year 2050.

#25 Americans spend approximately 27.7 billion dollars a year preparing their tax returns.

That last statistic really gets me.  During the month of April the American people are going to be spending massive amounts of time and money to prepare their taxes.

But what do Americans get in return for their taxes?

What they get is a government that is completely and totally incompetent.  Our “leaders” are running the greatest economy in the history of the world into the ground, but unfortunately most Americans have no idea what is happening.

Why are Americans so clueless?

Well, the truth is that over time we have been turned into a nation of idiots and morons.

To get an idea of just how “dumbed down” we have become as a nation, just check out this Harvard entrance exam from 1869.

I wouldn’t have a prayer of passing that exam.

What about you?

Thanks to the slothfulness of society, the deficiencies in our education system and the toxins in our food, air and water it has become hard for most of us to think clearly.

Most of us are fat, dumb and totally clueless.  The entire economic system is being shredded and most of us just drool and turn up the television a little louder.

If we have money problems, most of us just run out and apply for another credit card.  If our state and local governments run into financial problems they just borrow even more money.

Of course the biggest offender of all is the federal government.  What our politicians are doing to future generations is not just criminal.  It is beyond criminal.  It is absolutely unconscionable.

So please excuse me if I am absolutely disgusted with the U.S. economy.

We took the greatest economy in the history of the world and we wrecked it.

How in the world are we going to explain this to our children and our grandchildren?

Everything Is Falling Apart: 20 Facts That You Will Not Want To Read If You Still Want To Feel Good About America’s Decaying Infrastructure

If you haven’t noticed lately, America is literally falling apart all around us.  Decaying infrastructure is everywhere.  Our roads and bridges are crumbling and are full of holes.  Our rail system is ancient.  Our airports and runways have definitely seen their better days.  Aging sewer systems all over the country are leaking raw sewage all over the place.  The power grid is straining to keep up with the ever-increasing thirst of the American people for electricity.  Dams are failing at an unprecedented rate.  Virtually all of our ports are handling far more traffic than they were ever intended to handle.  Meanwhile, our national spending on infrastructure is way down.  Back during the 1950s and 1960s we were spending between 3 and 4 percent of our national GDP on infrastructure, but today we are spending less than 2.5 percent of our national GDP on it.  According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, we need to spend approximately $2.2 trillion on infrastructure repairs and upgrades just to bring our existing infrastructure up to “good condition”.

Does anyone have an extra $2.2 trillion to spare?

If you get the feeling that America is decaying as you drive around this great country of ours, it is not just your imagination.  It is literally happening.

You should not read the list of facts below if you want to keep feeling good about the condition of America’s infrastructure.  There really is no way to sugar-coat what is happening.  Previous generations handed us the greatest national infrastructure that anyone in the world has ever seen and we have neglected it and have allowed it to badly deteriorate.

This first set of facts about America’s decaying infrastructure was compiled from a fact sheet entitled “The Case For U.S. Infrastructure Investment” by an organization called Building America’s Future….

*****

#1 One-third of America’s major roads are in poor or mediocre condition.

#2 Traffic on more than half the miles of interstate highway exceeds 70 percent of capacity, and nearly 25 percent of the miles are strained at more than 95 percent of capacity.

#3 Americans waste 4.2 billion hours and 2.8 billion gallons fuel a year sitting in traffic – equal to nearly one full work week and three weeks’ worth of gas for every traveler.

#4 Over the next 30 years, our nation is expected to grow by 100 million and highway traffic will double again. Even if highway capacity grows no faster than in the last 25 years, Americans can expect to spend 160 hours – 4 work weeks – each year in traffic by 2035.

#5 Nearly a third of all highway fatalities are due to substandard road conditions, obsolete road designs, or roadside hazards.

#6 Over 4,095 dams are “unsafe” and have deficiencies that leave them more susceptible to failure, especially during large flood events or earthquakes.

#7 Rolling blackouts and inefficiencies in the U.S. electrical grid cost an estimated $80 billion a year.

#8 By 2020, every major U.S. container port is projected to at least double the volume of cargo it was designed to handle. Some East Coast ports will triple in volume, and some West Coast ports will quadruple.

#9 Other countries are leapfrogging past us by investing in world-class ports. China is investing $6.9 billion; the port of Shanghai now has almost as much container capacity as all U.S. ports combined.

#10 By 2020, China plans to build 55,000 miles of highways, more than the total length of the U.S. interstate system.

*****

The rest of these facts were compiled from various sources around the Internet.  The more research that you do into America’s decaying infrastructure the more depressing it becomes….

#11 According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, more than 25 percent of America’s nearly 600,000 bridges need significant repairs or are burdened with more traffic than they were designed to carry.

#12 More than a third of all dam failures or near failures since 1874 have happened in just the last decade.

#13 All across the United States, conditions at many 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.  The following is a quote from a recent MSNBC article about these project backlogs….

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.

#14 Over the past year, approximately 100 of New York’s state parks and historic sites have had to cut services and reduce hours.

#15 All over America, asphalt roads are 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.

So why don’t our state and local governments just spend the money necessary to fix all of these problems?

Well, they can’t spend the money because they are flat broke.

Just consider some of the financial problems that state and local governments around the nation are facing right now….

#16 One town in Michigan is so incredibly broke that it is literally begging the state to allow them to declare bankruptcy.

#17 One Alabama town is in such financial turmoil that it has decided to simply quit paying pension benefits.

#18 In Georgia, the county of Clayton recently eliminated its entire public bus system in order to save 8 million dollars.

#19 Major cities such as Philadelphia, Baltimore and Sacramento are so desperate to save money that they have instituted “rolling brownouts” in which various city fire stations are shut down on a rotating basis throughout the week.

#20 Detroit Mayor Dave Bing has come up with a unique 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.

The truth is that there are dozens of cities across the United States that are on the brink of bankruptcy.  To see a bunch of high profile examples of this, check out the following article from Business Insider: “16 US Cities Facing Bankruptcy If They Don’t Make Deep Cuts In 2011“.

But it just isn’t local governments that are in deep trouble right now.  In fact, there are quite a few state governments that are complete and total financial disaster zones at this point.

According to 60 Minutes,  the state of Illinois is at least six months behind on their bill payments.  60 Minutes correspondent Steve Croft recently 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.”

Investors across the globe are watching all this and they are starting to panic.  In fact, investors are now pulling money out of municipal bonds at a rate that is absolutely staggering.

But if states get cut off from all the debt that they need to operate, things are going to get a lot worse very quickly.

Already we are seeing all kinds of troubling signs.  For example, the state of Arizona recently decided to stop paying for many types of organ transplants for people enrolled in its Medicaid program.

Sadly, as much as our politicians try to “fix” our problems, things just only seem to keep getting worse.

One prominent illustration of this is our health care system.  Our health care system is absolutely falling apart all around us.  Thanks to the new health care reform law, doctors are flocking out of the profession in droves.  According to an absolutely stunning new poll, 40 percent of all U.S. doctors plan to bail out of the profession over the next three years.

Our economy continues to fall apart as well.  The number of personal bankruptcies in the United States continues to set stunning new highs.  According to the American Bankruptcy Institute, more than 1.53 million Americans filed bankruptcy petitions in 2010.  This was up 9 percent from 1.41 million in 2009.

Not only that, but the housing crisis shows no signs of abating. 382,000 new foreclosures were initiated during the third quarter of 2010.  This was up 31.2 percent from the previous quarter and it was 3.7 percent higher than the third quarter of 2009.

The U.S. banking system is also falling apart.  In 2006, no U.S. banks failed.  In 2009, 140 U.S. banks failed.  So did things get better in 2010?  No.  In 2010, 157 U.S. banks failed.

Unemployment continues to remain at depressingly high levels, and in many areas of the country it is getting even worse.  According to the U.S. Labor Department, the unemployment rate rose in two-thirds of America’s largest metro areas during November.

Millions of Americans have become so disgusted with the job market that they have given up altogether.  The number of people who are so discouraged that they have completely given up searching for work now stands at an all-time high.

So who is doing a booming business during these hard times?  Welfare agencies and food banks are.  During this economic downturn, millions of American families have found themselves going to a food bank for the very first time ever.

It is getting harder and harder for average American families to feed themselves.  A recent survey conducted by the Pew Research Center found that 29 percent of Americans say that it is hard to afford food, and 48 of Americans say that it is hard to afford their heating and electric bills.

So is there any hope for the future?  Well, our new college graduates are supposed to lead us into the future, but most of them are saddled with overwhelming amounts of student loan debt.  Those who graduated during 2009 had an average of $24,000 in student loan debt.  This represented a 6 percent increase from the previous year.

Not only that, but these new college grads are not finding jobs.  According to the one recent report, the unemployment rate for recent college graduates was 8.7 percent in 2009.  This was up from 5.8 percent in 2008, and it was the highest unemployment rate ever recorded for college graduates between the ages of 20 to 24.

As if all of this was not bad enough, now the Baby Boomers are starting to reach retirement age.  Beginning January 1st, 2011 every single day more than 10,000 Baby Boomers will reach the age of 65.  That is going to keep happening every single day for the next 19 years.

So where in the world are we going to come up with all of the money to give them the retirement benefits that they are due?

The truth is that we are flat broke as a nation and so America’s decaying infrastructure is going to continue to decay.  We don’t have the money to repair what we already have, much less add desperately needed new infrastructure.

But perhaps it is only fitting.  The decay of our roads and cities will match the deep social, moral and political decay that has already been going on in this country for decades.

So will the American people awaken soon enough to be able to recapture the legacy of greatness that previous generations tried to pass on to us?

Unfortunately, the vast majority of our politicians are completely incompetent.  Posted below is a short video from Tim Hawkins that is absolutely hilarious but that also demonstrates just how incompetent our government really is….

Living Beyond Our Means: 3 Charts That Prove That We Are In The Biggest Debt Bubble In The History Of The World

Do you want to see something truly frightening?  Just check out the 3 charts posted further down in this article.  These charts prove that we are now in the biggest debt bubble in the history of the world.  As Americans have enjoyed an incredibly wonderful standard of living over the past three decades, most of them have believed that it was because we are the wealthiest, most prosperous nation on the planet with economic and financial systems that are second to none.  But that is not even close to accurate.  The reason why we have had an almost unbelievably high standard of living over the past three decades is because we have piled up the biggest mountains of debt in the history of the world.  Once upon a time the United States was the wealthiest country on the planet, but all of that prosperity was not good enough for us.  So we started borrowing and borrowing and borrowing and we have now been living beyond our means for so long that we consider it to be completely normal. 

We have been robbing future generations blind for so long that it doesn’t even seem to bother most people anymore.  We have become accustomed to living in debt.  We go into massive amounts of debt to get an education, we go into massive amounts of debt to buy a home, we go into massive amounts of debt to buy our cars, and we even pile up debt to buy holiday gifts and to purchase groceries.

Just check out the chart posted below.  It shows the total credit market debt owed in the United States.  In other words, it is a measure of what everyone owes (government, businesses and consumers). 

30 years ago, total credit market debt owed was less than 5 trillion dollars.  Today, it is over 50 trillion dollars.  Total credit market debt is now at a level equivalent to about 360 percent of GDP.  This is what has been fueling the great era of “economic prosperity” that we have been experiencing….        

So what is the answer to this problem? 

The truth is that there is not an easy answer under our current system.  The only way that the U.S. economy continues to “grow” is if the debt bubble continues to “expand”. 

If our leaders allowed the debt bubble to “pop” and the U.S. economy went into a deleveraging cycle, it would mean that we would start living far below our means for an extended period of time and it would spawn a deflationary depression that would make the Great Depression look like a Sunday picnic.

Most Americans are in no mood to take that kind of hard medicine.

Do you really think that the American people are going to vote in politicians who tell them that it is time to live below our means and that we are going to have to experience a standard of living far below what our parents experienced in order to pay for all the debt that they racked up?

No, that is clearly a dog that isn’t going to hunt. 

The American people want to hear that better times are ahead.

One way to give the American people “better times”, for the short-term at least, is to crank the debt spiral back up.

By introducing another huge flood of paper money into the economy, the Federal Reserve and the U.S. government are hoping that banks will start lending again and that U.S. consumers will start going into more debt again.  Already, as you can see from the chart below, U.S. household debt has started to sink just a little bit.  But considering the fact that approximately 70 percent of our GDP is generated by U.S. consumer spending, that is not good news for “economic growth” statistics.

Three decades of “economic expansion” have been fueled by consumer debt that has spiralled completely out of control.  Over the past 30 years, total U.S. household debt has gone from less than 2 trillion dollars to almost 14 trillion dollars….

So where did the housing bubble come from?  It came from Americans going into insane amounts of debt that they could not afford.  The truth is that only the top 5 percent of all U.S. households have earned enough additional income to match the rise in housing costs since 1975.

Not only that, but Americans are going into staggering amounts of debt in order to pay for their educations.  Total student loan debt in the United States is climbing at a rate of approximately $2,853.88 per second, and today Americans owe an all-time record of more than $849 billion on student loans, which is actually more than the total amount that Americans owe on their credit cards.

The truth is that American families are stretched thinner financially than they ever have been in the post-World War 2 era.  According to a poll taken last year, 61 percent of Americans “always or usually” live paycheck to paycheck.  That was up significantly from 49 percent in 2008 and 43 percent in 2007.

Many Americans have come to the absolute breaking point.  1.41 million Americans filed for personal bankruptcy in 2009 – a 32 percent increase over 2008.

But remember, approximately 70 percent of our GDP is generated by U.S. consumer spending, so without more consumer spending there won’t be more economic growth.

So, instead of Obama and the Federal Reserve encouraging Americans to get out of debt and to save money, they are trying to get the American people to spend even more money and to go into even more debt because they desperately need positive “economic growth” figures. 

The worst offender of all when it comes to debt, of course, is the U.S. federal government.  Over the last 30 years, the U.S. national debt has gone from about 1 trillion dollars to almost 14 trillion dollars….

This is the largest single debt in the history of the world.

So just how big is one trillion dollars?

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. 

Yet somehow the U.S. government has accumulated a debt that is well over 13 trillion dollars.

Unfortunately, it keeps getting worse month after month after month.

According to the U.S. Treasury Department, the U.S. national debt is rapidly closing in on 14 trillion dollars and and will climb to an estimated $19.6 trillion by 2015.

Should we all throw a big party when it crosses the 20 trillion dollar mark?

I can just hear the theme song now….

“I’m going to party like I’m 19.99 trillion in debt!”

But the cold, hard reality is that we are in far, far more trouble than what the official government numbers tell us.

In a recent article, Boston University economics professor Laurence J. Kotlikoff analyzed the financial condition of the U.S. government, and he summarized the horror we are facing by making the following statement….

“Let’s get real. The U.S. is bankrupt.”

After carefully going over Congressional Budget Office data, Kotlikoff came to the conclusion that the U.S. government is now facing a “fiscal gap” of $202 trillion dollars.

Now how in the world did that happen?

Well, it turns out that we have made promises to future generations that we cannot possibly even come close to keeping.

Social Security and Medicare are fiscal nightmares that are far more immense than anything that U.S. government has ever faced before.

According to an official U.S. government report, rapidly growing interest costs on the U.S. national debt together with spending on major entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare will absorb approximately 92 cents of every dollar of federal revenue by the year 2019.  That is before a single penny is spent on anything else.

That is just 9 years away.

When people speak of the financial situation of the U.S. government being “unsustainable”, they aren’t kidding around.

The truth is that the U.S. government has been running gigantic Ponzi schemes which are about to collapse.

Take the Social Security shell game for example.  Back in 1950, each retiree’s Social Security benefit was paid for by approximately 16 workers.  Today, each retiree’s Social Security benefit is paid for by approximately 3.3 workers.  By 2025, it is projected that there will be approximately two workers for each retiree.

So exactly how is that supposed to work?

For much more on the coming Social Security nightmare, please see an article that I posted earlier this year: 22 Statistics About America’s Coming Pension Crisis That Will Make You Lose Sleep At Night.

Sadly, Professor Kotlikoff is not exaggerating in the least when he proclaims that the U.S. government is bankrupt.

At our current pace, the Congressional Budget Office is projecting that U.S. government public debt will hit 716 percent of GDP by the year 2080.

Public debt at a level of 100 percent of GDP is supposed to be an absolute nightmare scenario.

Needless to say, the whole thing is going to come crashing down long, long before we ever get to 2080.

We have been living far, far beyond our means for decades, and it has been the greatest party in the history of the world.

But it is time to turn out the lights because the party is over.

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