The number of Americans that renounced their citizenship was 221 percent higher in 2013 than it was in 2012. That is a staggering figure, and it is symptomatic of a larger trend. In recent years, a lot of really good people with very deep roots in this country have made the difficult decision to say goodbye to the United States permanently. A few actually go to the trouble to renounce their citizenship, and that is mostly done for tax purposes. But most willingly choose to leave America for other reasons. Some were very serious when they said they would leave the U.S. if Barack Obama got a second term, some (such as Jesse Ventura) are dismayed at how our freedoms and liberties are eroding and are alarmed at the rise of the Big Brother police state, some are absolutely disgusted by the social and moral decay that is eating away at the foundations of our society, and there are yet others that consider “the grass to be greener” on the other side of the planet. Personally, I have a number of friends that have made the very hard decision to relocate their families thousands of miles away because they see what is coming to America and they believe that there isn’t any hope of turning things around at this point. I also have a lot of friends that are determined to stay in the United States no matter what. When it comes to the future of America, almost everyone has a very strong opinion, and these are discussions that we need to start having.
Once upon a time, the United States was seen as “the land of opportunity” all over the globe and it seemed like everyone wanted to come here.
But now that is all changing. As we have abandoned the principles that this country was founded upon, our economy has gone steadily downhill.
As I wrote about the other day, the middle class in America is slowly dying. As millions of good paying jobs have been shipped out of the country, the competition for the remaining jobs has become quite intense. At this point, there is even tremendous competition for minimum wage jobs.
Compared to exactly six years ago, 1,154,000 fewer Americans have jobs. Meanwhile, our population has gotten significantly larger since then. There simply are not enough jobs for everyone, and we continue to fall even farther behind. In January, the economy only added 113,000 jobs and in December the economy only added 75,000 jobs. Both of those figures are well below what we need just to keep up with population growth.
Looking ahead, things look even more troubling.
The number of “planned job cuts” in January was 12 percent higher than 12 months earlier, and it was actually 47 percent higher than in December.
The competition for jobs has also resulted in an extended period of declining incomes in the United States.
As I mention frequently, median household income in the United States has fallen for five years in a row, and the rate of homeownership in the United States has fallen for eight years in a row.
Those that read my articles regularly probably have those facts memorized by now.
In addition, a study that just came out has shown that the number of “low-wage breadwinners” in the United States is at an all-time high…
A staggering number of American households are relying on low-wage jobs as their leading or sole source of income.
Meet the low-wage breadwinner. There were about 21 million of them in the United States in 2011, according to a forthcoming study by University of Massachusetts Boston economists Randy Albelda and Michael Carr.
Unlike other studies which often focus just on low-wage workers, the researchers looked at those who also live in low-income households. This way, they were able to strip out the teenager making $8 an hour flipping burgers but still living comfortably with his parents. Or the mom who works a part-time job in retail to supplement her husband’s otherwise ample salary.
For tens of millions of average American families, there simply is not enough money left at the end of each month.
That is why many of them turn to debt to try to make up the difference. Consumer credit is increasing at an alarming pace once again, and when the next great economic shock arrives many of those families are going to be in for a tremendous amount of financial pain.
In this type of economic environment, it should not be a surprise that anger, frustration and desperation are rising to very dangerous levels.
It was desperation and a fear of losing everything that he had ever worked for that drove one 80-year-old man to become a methamphetamine courier.
It was intense anger and frustration that drove a 58-year-old military veteran to package up cat feces and send it to employers that had turned him down…
Rather than simply grumble to himself or complain to others, a St. Louis man aggrieved by a company’s failure to hire him took another approach.
Jevons Brown packaged up cat feces and sent it through the mail.
Brown, 58, was sentenced Friday to two years of probation after pleading guilty in August to a misdemeanor charge of mailing injurious articles.
The plea says Brown, a veteran, became frustrated with his lack of employment opportunities and lashed out at employees of companies that failed to hire him.
This is just the tip of the iceberg.
In the years ahead, we are going to see much, much worse.
And if you do lose everything, don’t expect anyone to care very much. There is already a frightening lack of compassion for those that are down on their luck in the United States today. For example, in Pensacola, Florida it is actually illegal for homeless people to use blankets or cardboard boxes to shield themselves from the cold…
So there I was with my wife and three kids, all of us huddled under blankets with the fireplace roaring, watching the temperature continue to drop from a comfortable 65 degrees down to 45. But outside it was 17 degrees and raining and sleeting, and if you were homeless, you had to consider that if you used a blanket to shield yourself from the elements, that you might be hauled off to jail for a violation of a local ordinance prohibiting using blankets, cardboard, or newspaper to cover yourself.
Once you lose everything, society just wants you to go away.
And this lack of compassion is going to get a whole lot worse during the very hard times that are coming.
So it is easy to understand why many Americans would want to get out of this country while they still can.
However, the truth is that the grass is not necessarily greener on the other side.
For instance, you may be dreaming of moving to a tropical paradise where you can enjoy the sand and the sun every single day.
In the past, many Americans considered Puerto Rico a good place to relocate to. After all, it is a United States territory and if you only speak English you can still get around pretty well.
But you wouldn’t want to move down to Puerto Rico these days. Right now it is in the middle of a full-blown economic collapse…
Puerto Rico’s slow-motion economic crisis skidded to a new low last week when both Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s downgraded its debt to junk status, brushing aside a series of austerity measures taken by the new governor, including increasing taxes and rebalancing pensions. But that is only the latest in a sharp decline leading to widespread fears about Puerto Rico’s future. In the past eight years, Puerto Rico’s ticker tape of woes has stretched unabated: $70 billion in debt, a 15.4 percent unemployment rate, a soaring cost of living, pervasive crime, crumbling schools and a worrisome exodus of professionals and middle-class Puerto Ricans who have moved to places like Florida and Texas.
In fact, Puerto Rico is a preview of the kind of societal chaos that we could be seeing inside the United States in just a few years…
Schools sit shuttered either because of disrepair or because of a dwindling number of students. In this typically convivial capital, communities have erected gates and bars to help thwart carjackers and home invaders. Illegal drugs, including high-level narcotrafficking, are one of the few growth industries.
Well, what about South America?
In recent years, South America has been an extremely popular destination for those wishing to leave the United States.
Unfortunately, many areas of South America are experiencing full-blown economic collapse right now as well. As I wrote about recently, deteriorating economic conditions have resulted in widespread crime, looting, violence, blackouts, shortages of basic supplies, and runs on the banks in Argentina and Venezuela. The following is an excerpt from a recent interview with Fernando Aguirre who actually lives down in Argentina…
Chris Martenson: Okay. Bring us up to date. What is happening in Argentina right now with respect to its currency, the peso?
Fernando Aguirre: Well, actually pretty recently, January 22, the peso lost 15% of its value. It has devalued quite a bit. It ended up losing 20% of its value that week, and it has been pretty crazy since then. Inflation has been rampant in some sectors, going up to 100% in food, grocery stores 20%, 30% in some cases. So it has been pretty complicated. Lots of stores don’t want to be selling stuff until they get updated prices. Suppliers holding on, waiting to see how things go, which is something that we are familiar with because that happened back in 2001 when everything went down as we know it did.
Chris Martenson: So 100%, 20% inflation; are those yearly numbers?
Fernando Aguirre: Those are our numbers in a matter of days. In just one day, for example, cement in Balcarce, one of the towns in Southern Argentina, went up 100% overnight, doubling in price. Grocery stores in Córdoba, even in Buenos Aires, people are talking about increase of prices of 20, 30% just these days. I actually have family in Argentina that are telling me that they go to a hardware store and they aren’t even able to buy stuff from there because stores want to hold on and see how prices unfold in the following days.
Well, what about Europe?
Isn’t Europe a lot more stable?
Unfortunately, that is not necessarily true. In recent years we have seen rioting, civil unrest and Depression-like conditions in Ukraine, Greece, Spain, Italy and Portugal.
And now you can add Bosnia to that list…
More than 150 people were wounded in Bosnia on Friday in the worst civil unrest in the country since the 1992-95 war as anger over the dire state of the economy and political inertia boiled over.
Angry protesters set fire to part of the presidential palace in Sarajevo in protests over unemployment and corruption, as well as government buildings in the capital Sarajevo, Tuzla and Zenica.
Just because you move out of the United States does not necessarily mean that you will avoid what is coming.
We are heading for a global economic collapse, and the pain is going to be felt to the farthest corners of the planet.
But of course there are many that will end up leaving the United States and will ultimately thrive.
So what do you think?
Is now a time for people to consider leaving the United States permanently?
Please feel free to share what you think by posting a comment below…
America is being suffocated to death by red tape. You are about to read about an 11-year-old girl in Illinois that had her cupcake business brutally shut down by government bureaucrats. Her name is Chloe Stirling and her crime was doing something that we used to applaud young people in America for doing. Instead of sitting on her sofa and watching television all day, she actually started her own business. And it turned out there her little business started thriving. In fact, it started doing so well that a local newspaper took notice of it. Well, that is when the control freaks swooped in and took her business away and banned her from selling any more cupcakes. The really sad thing is that people are being paid to do this with our tax dollars. All over America, little entrepreneurs are having their lemonade stands shut down and are being banned from selling Girl Scout cookies, and our tax dollars are paying the people that are doing it. As I wrote about earlier this month, the level of economic freedom in the United States is at an all-time low, and it gets worse with each passing year. The country that so many of us love is dying, and it is being replaced with something that I like to call “the USSA”.
In the Union of Soviet Socialist Americans, you have to have a government “license” or “permit” to do just about anything. If the government does not give you permission, you can get into a whole lot of trouble.
Little 11-year-old Chloe Stirling must have thought that this was still the nation that George Washington and Thomas Jefferson once founded, because she dared to actually start a business and sell cupcakes to the public. Little did she know that she would soon make national news…
An 11-year-old girl from Illinois got a dose of regulation American-style this week when local government officials shut down her cupcake business.
Chloe Stirling, from Troy, got the front-page treatment from her local newspaper, which featured how well her business, Hey, Cupcake, was doing. By all accounts, it was a successful little enterprise. Chloe was getting $10 for a dozen cupcakes and $2 for each specialty cupcake. She even donated her cupcakes when a boy in her school fighting cancer held a fundraiser.
So why did they shut her down?
Well, it turns out that she didn’t have a “permit” to sell cupcakes and her kitchen was not “licensed”.
Like I said, you have to have permission from the government to do just about anything these days.
Another example of this phenomenon that is absolutely infuriating took place out in Fauquier County, Virginia. When a mother held a birthday party for eight 10-year-old girls and posted the photos on Facebook, she never imagined that she would soon be hit with $15,000 in fines…
Martha Boneta owns a small farm in Fauquier County, Virginia, where she recently hosted a birthday party for eight 10-year-old girls. They wore hats, picked veggies, and made goat’s milk soap. The county says she should have obtain a license before hosting such an event and hit her with a $5,000 fine.
Boneta also got slammed with two more fines for $5,000 each, one for advertising a pumpkin carving and another for violations in the small shop on her property. Boneta sells produce from her farm, as well as eggs, yarn, birdhouses, and local crafts. She sought and received a license for the shop in 2011, but the county now says she can’t sell handiwork or produce from her neighbors under that license.
Stuff like this just makes me want to scream sometimes.
What is happening to this country?
A few years ago, my wife used to take old pieces of furniture, sand them down, repaint them and sell them to others. It was something that she really enjoyed doing and she made some extra money along the way.
But if you try doing that in some areas of the country today, the EPA could potentially hit you with a fine of $30,000 for a single incident in which you do not follow the proper procedures. The following is an excerpt from a discussion that some furniture painters were having on Facebook. It is a little technical, but it is worth reading. In this excerpt the identity of the business has been removed to protect the business from overzealous regulators…
As a painter in PA, I am required by law to test everything that I disturb and I must charge the customer $60 for every test I perform which adds up. What the law states in my area is that if I disturb more than 6 square inches on anything made prior to Jan 1 1979 I must test it. Disturbing means, sanding, scraping, or even using a sponge/scuff pad (like you use on your pots) if I disturb more than 6 inches, I must take photographs, document in 4 different logs, I have local, county, state, and federal log books. If I find lead then I must suit up. Originally, the law stated that if there were no children around then you didn’t have to do that however some lame brained legislator decided that if a child enters the premises for more than one hour a day, we must assume they will be in contact with the lead and therefore will contract lead poisoning. Then the legislators decided that if you were over the age of 60 then it didn’t matter, you didn’t have to test who cares if you get poisoned. Lo and behold OSHA stepped in and joined forces with the EPA, they decided that all were at risk including your pets and the leaves on your trees can hold the lead dust and …..well, that’s a whole other issue.
What is happening now is that so many painters decided they weren’t going to follow the lead law, that OSHA and EPA send out secret shoppers. A lot of us don’t even put our logo’s on our vehicles because that invites these shoppers to investigate. If you come to the **** ********, you won’t see signage on the building, you have to get to the actual door of the workroom to know we are there. We no longer have logo’s on our vehicles either as the fines are too stiff. There isn’t one of us that can afford a find of $30,000.00 A DAY, not a year, A DAY.
The government bureaucrats are running wild and the rest of us are just sitting back and letting it happen.
Things have gotten so bad in this country that the federal government even requires small-time magicians to submit “disaster plans” for the rabbits that they use in their acts. The following is an excerpt from one of my previous articles…
Central planning in this country is getting completely and totally out of control. These days, you can hardly do anything without running into a suffocating web of red tape. For example, a small-time magician from Missouri that does magic shows for kids was absolutely horrified when he learned that the Obama administration is requiring him to submit a 32 page “disaster plan” for the rabbit that he uses in his shows. Yes, this is actually true. His name is Marty Hahne, and he thought that it was bad enough when the U.S. Department of Agriculture busted him for not having a “license” for his rabbit. He went out and acquired the proper “license” for his rabbit, but he never dreamed that eventually he would also have to submit a 32 page “disaster plan” for the same rabbit.
You can read the rest of that article right here.
Are you starting to get the picture?
These control freaks want to completely dominate every aspect of our lives. The “nanny state” is entirely out of control and it is up to “we the people” to do something about it.
Barack Obama revealed the kind of mentality that is behind this “nanny state” when he recently made the following statement…
“I would not let my son play pro football”
And without a doubt, the control freaks that run things will try to ban football (or at least “tone it down”) the moment that they think that they can get away with it.
America was supposed to be a place where liberty and freedom were maximized and the interference of the federal government in our lives was supposed to be minimized.
Instead, what we have now is just the opposite.
No wonder Americans consider the government to be their biggest problem.
Is the U.S. consumer tapped out? If so, how in the world will the U.S. economy possibly improve in 2014? Most Americans know that the U.S. economy is heavily dependent on consumer spending. If average Americans are not out there spending money, the economy tends not to do very well. Unfortunately, retail sales during the holiday season appear to be quite disappointing and the middle class continues to deeply struggle. And for a whole bunch of reasons things are likely going to be even tougher in 2014. Families are going to have less money in their pockets to spend thanks to much higher health insurance premiums under Obamacare, a wide variety of tax increases, higher interest rates on debt, and cuts in government welfare programs. The short-lived bubble of false prosperity that we have been enjoying for the last couple of years is rapidly coming to an end, and 2014 certainly promises to be a very “interesting year”.
Obamacare Rate Shock
Most middle class families are just scraping by from month to month these days.
Unfortunately for them, millions of those families are now being hit with massive health insurance rate increases.
In a previous article, I discussed how one study found that health insurance premiums for men are going to go up by an average of 99 percent under Obamacare and health insurance premiums for women are going to go up by an average of 62 percent under Obamacare.
Most middle class families simply cannot afford that.
Earlier today, I got an email from a reader that was paying $478 a month for health insurance for his family but has now received a letter informing him that his rate is going up to $1,150 a month.
Millions of families are receiving letters just like that. And to say that these rate increases are a “surprise” to most people would be a massive understatement. Even people that work in the financial industry are shocked at how high these premiums are turning out to be…
“The real big surprise was how much out-of-pocket would be required for our family,” said David Winebrenner, 46, a financial adviser in Lebanon, Ky., whose deductible topped $12,000 for a family of six for a silver plan he was considering. The monthly premium: $1,400.
Since Americans are going to have to pay much more for health insurance, that is going to remove a huge amount of discretionary spending from the economy, and that will not be good news for retailers.
Get Ready For Higher Taxes
When you raise taxes, you reduce the amount of money that people have in their pockets to spend.
Sadly, that is exactly what is happening.
Congress is allowing a whopping 55 tax breaks to expire at the end of this year, and when you add that to the 13 major tax increases that hit American families in 2013, it isn’t a pretty picture.
This tax season, millions of families are going to find out that they have much higher tax bills than they had anticipated.
And all of this comes at a time when incomes in America have been steadily declining. In fact, real median household income has declined by a total of 8 percent since 2008.
If you are a worker, you might want to check out the chart that I have posted below to see where you stack up. In America today, most workers are low income workers. These numbers come from a recent Huffington Post article…
-If you make more than $10,000, you earn more than 24.2% of Americans, or 37 million people.
-If you make more than $15,000 (roughly the annual salary of a minimum-wage employee working 40 hours per week), you earn more than 32.2% of Americans.
-If you make more than $30,000, you earn more than 53.2% of Americans.
-If you make more than $50,000, you earn more than 73.4% of Americans.
-If you make more than $100,000, you earn more than 92.6% of Americans.
-You are officially in the top 1% of American wage earners if you earn more than $250,000.
-The 894 people that earn more than $20 million make more than 99.99989% of Americans, and are compensated a cumulative $37,009,979,568 per year.
It is important to keep in mind that those numbers are for the employment income of individuals not households. Most households have more than one member working, so overall household incomes are significantly higher than these numbers.
Higher Interest Rates Mean Larger Debt Payments
On Tuesday, the yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries rose to 3.03 percent. I warned that this would happen once the taper started, and this is just the beginning. Interest rates are likely to steadily rise throughout 2014.
The reason why the yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries is such a critical number is because mortgage rates and thousands of other interest rates throughout our economy are heavily influenced by that number.
So big changes are on the way. As a recent CNBC article declared, the era of low mortgage rates is officially over…
The days of the 3.5% 30-year fixed are over. Rates are already up well over a full percentage point from a year ago, and as the Federal Reserve begins its much anticipated exit from the bond-buying business, I believe rates will inevitably go higher.
Needless to say, this is going to deeply affect the real estate market. As Mac Slavo recently noted, numbers are already starting to drop precipitously…
The National Association of Realtors reported that the month of September saw its single largest drop in signed home sales in 40 months. And that wasn’t just a one-off event. This month mortgage applications collapsed a shocking 66%, hitting a 13-year low.
And U.S. consumers can expect interest rates on all kinds of loans to start rising. That is going to mean higher debt payments, and therefore less money for consumers to spend into the economy.
Government Benefit Cuts
Well, if the middle class is going to have less money to spend, perhaps other Americans can pick up the slack.
Or maybe not.
You certainly can’t expect the poor to stimulate the economy. As I mentioned yesterday, it is being projected that up to 5 million unemployed Americans could lose their unemployment benefits by the end of 2014, and 47 million Americans recently had their food stamp benefits reduced.
So the poor will also have less money to spend in 2014.
The Wealthy Save The Day?
Perhaps the stock market will continue to soar in 2014 and the wealthy will spend so much that it will make up for all the rest of us.
You can believe that if you want, but the truth is that there are a whole host of signs that the days of this irrational stock market bubble are numbered. The following is an excerpt from one of my recent articles entitled “The Stock Market Has Officially Entered Crazytown Territory“…
The median price-to-earnings ratio on the S&P 500 has reached an all-time record high, and margin debt at the New York Stock Exchange has reached a level that we have never seen before. In other words, stocks are massively overpriced and people have been borrowing huge amounts of money to buy stocks. These are behaviors that we also saw just before the last two stock market bubbles burst.
If the stock market bubble does burst, the wealthy will also have less money to spend into the economy in 2014.
For the moment, the stock market has been rallying. This is typical for the month of December. You see, the truth is that investors generally don’t want to sell stocks in December because they want to put off paying taxes on the profits.
If stocks are sold before the end of the year, the profits go on the 2013 tax return.
If stocks are sold a few days from now, the profits go on the 2014 tax return.
It is only human nature to want to delay pain for as long as possible.
Expect to see some selling in January. Many investors are very eager to start taking profits, but they wanted to wait until the holidays were over to do so.
So what do you think is coming up in 2014? Please feel free to share what you think by posting a comment below…
Did you know that the big banks have a way to legally steal your house from you even if you don’t owe a single penny on your mortgage? Big banks and hedge funds are buying billions of dollars worth of tax liens from local governments all over the nation, and they are ruthlessly foreclosing on homeowners when they can’t pay the absolutely ridiculous penalties and legal fees that are tacked on to the original tax bill. As you will see below, one 76-year-old man lost his $197,000 home that he fully owned over a $134 tax bill. A 95-year-old woman lost her $300,000 home over a $44.79 tax bill. This is a very, very dirty way to make money, and the predatory financial institutions that are involved in this business definitely do not want to talk about it.
Of course much of the blame should also be shouldered by the local governments that are coldly selling these tax liens to these ruthless predators. If local governments want to collect their tax bills, they should do it themselves. They should not be auctioning off their tax liens to cold-hearted financial institutions that are very eager to commit a legal version of highway robbery.
A few days ago, the Washington Post reported on the tragic story of a 76-year-old former Marine named Bennie Coleman. Coleman had originally purchased his home with cash, but that didn’t stop tax lien predators from stealing his home over an unpaid $134 property tax bill…
On the day Bennie Coleman lost his house, the day armed U.S. marshals came to his door and ordered him off the property, he slumped in a folding chair across the street and watched the vestiges of his 76 years hauled to the curb.
Movers carted out his easy chair, his clothes, his television. Next came the things that were closest to his heart: his Marine Corps medals and photographs of his dead wife, Martha. The duplex in Northeast Washington that Coleman bought with cash two decades earlier was emptied and shuttered. By sundown, he had nowhere to go.
All because he didn’t pay a $134 property tax bill.
So why couldn’t he pay such a small bill?
Well, as the Post explained, these big banks and hedge funds keep tacking on interest, penalties and legal fees until the tax bills are many times the size that they originally were. When the distressed homeowners can’t come up with thousands of dollars to pay off the debts, the big banks and the hedge funds move in for the kill…
For decades, the District placed liens on properties when homeowners failed to pay their bills, then sold those liens at public auctions to mom-and-pop investors who drew a profit by charging owners interest on top of the tax debt until the money was repaid.
But under the watch of local leaders, the program has morphed into a predatory system of debt collection for well-financed, out-of-town companies that turned $500 delinquencies into $5,000 debts — then foreclosed on homes when families couldn’t pay, a Washington Post investigation found.
In particular, hedge funds have discovered that this is a great way to make huge piles of money. The following is a short excerpt from a CNN article that was published back in May…
With buyers identified only by numbers or unrelated names, the fragmented, unregulated industry is opaque. Even the market’s size is debated — $15 billion a year, according to Howard Liggett, the chief executive of Distressed Real Estate Consulting Services, or $5 billion a year, according to the National Tax Lien Association, a trade group. While returns are a closely kept secret, investors typically make between 2.5% and 10% a year, or in the low teens for larger buys.
“The hedge funds are chasing yield in this business” says Albert Friedman, a principal at Alterna Capital, an alternative investment firm in Boca Raton that buys tax liens.
Insiders estimate hedge funds now control 40% of the tax-lien market, from under 5% five years ago, with regional banks, obscure partnerships sporting names like God’s ATM LLC, and mom-and-pop investors making up the rest.
And a number of “too big to fail” banks are involved in this business as well.
In a previous article, I described exactly how this works…
1) The big Wall Street banks set up or invest in shell companies that will disguise who they really are.
2) These shell companies run around and buy up all of the tax liens that they can get their hands on.
3) Predatory levels of interest (in some states as high as 18 percent), fees and penalties rapidly pile up on these unpaid tax liens. The affected homeowners quickly end up owing much, much more than what the original tax bills were for.
4) If the collecting firm has to hire a lawyer, then that gets charged to the homeowner as well. The bloated legal fees for some of these lawyers can end up being the biggest expense of all.
5) If the tax liens do not get paid, the collecting firms move in to foreclose as quickly as legally possible.
According to the Huffington Post, Wall Street banks such as Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase have been gobbling up several hundred thousand tax liens from local governments. It appears that “distressed housing markets” are being particularly targeted.
Many of these tax liens are sold in online auctions, so it is unclear if many local government officials even realize who the big money behind many of these shell companies is.
These big financial institutions may consider this to be “good business”, but the truth is that they are absolutely shattering lives in the process. This is particularly true when it comes to older people that do not fully understand what is happening to them. Just consider the following examples from a recent Washington Post article…
A 48-year-old math teacher paid his taxes in 2007, but the tax office took his $1,400 payment and applied it to the wrong house, crediting an entirely different taxpayer.
A 58-year-old bank employee almost lost her house in 2010 because the tax office mistakenly sent bills and notices to a wooded lot across from a strip shopping center in Virginia — 12 times.
A 69-year-old hat designer was given the wrong payoff amount and ended up in court to save her property, owned by her family since 1943.
Those homeowners found out about the mistakes in time to fight. Ninety-five-year-old Daisy Dolsey, living in a nursing home and struggling with Alzheimer’s, wasn’t so lucky: She lost her $300,000 house over a $44.79 tax debt even after she paid her taxes.
Doesn’t that just sicken you?
And then the big banks and the hedge funds have the gall to wonder why people dislike them so much.
In this day and age, large financial institutions have become more cold-hearted than ever before.
Always make sure that your property taxes are fully paid, and always keep a paper record of all financial transactions involving your home.
If you do slip up and make a mistake at some point, there is a very good chance that a ruthless financial institution will try to swoop in and steal your home right out from under your nose.
Have things gotten so bad that it is time to leave the United States for good? That is a question that a lot of Americans are dealing with these days, and an increasing number of them are choosing to leave the country of their birth permanently. Some are doing it for tax reasons, some are doing it because they believe the future is brighter elsewhere, and others are doing it because they are very distressed about the direction that America is heading and they don’t see any hope for a turnaround any time soon. Personally, I have several friends and contacts that regard themselves as “preppers” that have decided that the United States is too far gone to recover. They have moved their families out of the country and they never plan to return. As this nation continues to head down the very troubled road that it is currently on, this trend is probably only going to accelerate even more.
In fact, some Americans are even going so far as to renounce their citizenship when they leave. This represents only a small percentage of those that are leaving the country, but as Bloomberg recently reported, the number of Americans that renounced their citizenship in the second quarter of 2013 was six times larger than the number that renounced their citizenship in the second quarter of last year…
Americans renouncing U.S. citizenship surged sixfold in the second quarter from a year earlier as the government prepares to introduce tougher asset-disclosure rules.
Expatriates giving up their nationality at U.S. embassies climbed to 1,131 in the three months through June from 189 in the year-earlier period, according to Federal Register figures published today.
Renouncing the country of your birth is not an easy thing to do. From the moment that we come into this world, those of us born in this country are trained to think of ourselves as “Americans”. The following is an excerpt from a recent article by Simon Black of the Sovereign Man blog…
It doesn’t matter where you’re from– the United States, Sweden, New Zealand, or Venezuela… many people all over the world are inculcated from birth with a sense that their country is ‘better’ than all the others.
We grow up with the songs, the flag waving, and the parades until the concept of motherland becomes deeply rooted in our emotional cores.
Not to mention, when so many of our friends and neighbors unquestionably fall in line, it’s a powerful social reinforcement that only strengthens the bond.
We come to view our nationalities rather ironically as a big piece of our core individuality. I am an American. I am a Canadian. I am an Austrian. Instead of– I am a human being.
It has taken decades… centuries even… to reach this point. So the fact that more and more people are making the gut-wrenching decision to ditch their US passports is truly a powerful trend.
Traditionally, the American people have been some of the most patriotic people on the face of the planet.
So why are we now seeing such an increase in the number of people choosing to leave the United States permanently?
Well, the truth is that there are a whole host of reasons why people are losing faith in this country and are deciding to leave…
-The U.S. economy has been steadily declining for many years and that decline now seems to be accelerating.
-We are being taxed into oblivion.
-The quality of the jobs in our economy is rapidly declining.
-The middle class is continually shrinking.
-Poverty is exploding.
-Escalating social decay in our major cities.
-Our culture is rapidly going down the toilet.
-Our health care system has become a complete mess and a giant money making scam. Obamacare is only going to make things even worse.
-Our politicians are tremendously corrupt, but the same clowns just keep getting sent back to D.C. over and over again.
-Our nation seems to be on a relentless march toward collectivism.
-America is rapidly turning into a “Big Brother” police state that is run by control freaks that seem obsessed with watching, tracking, monitoring and controlling virtually everything that we do.
Of course the list above could go on indefinitely, but hopefully I have made my point. A whole lot of people out there are absolutely horrified as they watch what is happening to America, and leaving the country for good is increasingly being viewed as a potential option by many.
But as tempting as “going Galt” may seem, please come up with a good plan first.
As one family recently discovered, hopping into a small boat and sailing off into the Pacific Ocean in search of a better life is probably not going to work out too well…
A northern Arizona family that was lost at sea for weeks in an ill-fated attempt to leave the U.S. over what they consider government interference in religion will fly back home Sunday.
Hannah Gastonguay, 26, said Saturday that she and her husband “decided to take a leap of faith and see where God led us” when they took their two small children and her father-in-law and set sail from San Diego for the tiny island nation of Kiribati in May.
But just weeks into their journey, the Gastonguays hit a series of storms that damaged their small boat, leaving them adrift for weeks, unable to make progress. They were eventually picked up by a Venezuelan fishing vessel, transferred to a Japanese cargo ship and taken to Chile where they are resting in a hotel in the port city of San Antonio.
Yes, life in America is definitely going to be extremely challenging in the years ahead, but the grass is not always greener on the other side of the planet either.
There are a whole host of things to consider before you make a permanent move to another country. The following is an extended excerpt from one of my previous articles…
The following are 10 questions to ask yourself before you decide to move to another country…
Do You Speak The Language? If Not, How Will You Function?
If you do not speak the language of the country that you are moving to, that can create a huge problem. Just going to the store and buying some food will become a challenge. Every interaction that you have with anyone in that society will be strained, and your ability to integrate into the culture around you will be greatly limited.
How Will You Make A Living?
Unless you are independently wealthy, you will need to make money. In a foreign nation, it may be very difficult for you to find a job – especially one that pays as much as you are accustomed to making in the United States.
Will You Be Okay Without Your Family And Friends?
Being thousands of miles away from all of your family and friends can be extremely difficult. Will you be okay without them? And it can be difficult to survive in a foreign culture without any kind of a support system. Sometimes the people that most successfully move out of the country are those that do it as part of a larger group.
Have You Factored In Weather Patterns And Geological Instability?
As the globe becomes increasingly unstable, weather patterns and natural disasters are going to become a bigger factor in deciding where to live. For example, right now India is suffering through the worst drought that it has experienced in nearly 50 years. It would be very difficult to thrive in the middle of such an environment.
Many of those that are encouraging people to “escape from America” are pointing to Chile as an ideal place to relocate to. But there are thousands of significant earthquakes in Chile each year, and the entire nation lies directly along the “Ring of Fire” which is becoming increasingly unstable. That is something to keep in mind.
What Will You Do For Medical Care?
If you or someone in your family had a serious medical problem in the United States, you would know what to do. Yes, our health care system is incredibly messed up, but at least you would know that you could get the care that you needed if an emergency arose. Would the same be true in a foreign nation?
Are You Moving Into A High Crime Area?
Yes, crime is definitely on the rise in the United States. But in other areas where many preppers are moving to, crime is even worse. Mexico and certain areas of Central America are two examples of this. And in many foreign nations, the police are far more corrupt than they generally are in the United States.
In addition, many other nations have far stricter gun laws than the United States does, so your ability to defend your family may be greatly restricted.
So will your family truly be safe in the nation that you plan to take them to?
Are You Prepared For “Culture Shock”?
Moving to another country can be like moving to a different planet. After all, they don’t call it “culture shock” for nothing.
If you do move to another country, you may quickly find that thousands of little things that you once took for granted in the U.S. are now very different.
And there is a very good chance that many of the “amenities” that you are accustomed to in the U.S. will not be available in a foreign nation and that your standard of living will go down.
So if you are thinking of moving somewhere else, you may want to visit first just to get an idea of what life would be like if you made the move.
What Freedoms and Liberties Will You Lose By Moving?
Yes, our liberties and our freedoms are being rapidly eroded in the United States. But in many other nations around the world things are much worse. You may find that there is no such thing as “freedom of speech” or “freedom of religion” in the country that you have decided to move to.
Is There A Possibility That The Country You Plan To Escape To Could Be Involved In A War At Some Point?
We are moving into a time of great geopolitical instability. If you move right into the middle of a future war zone, you might really regret it. If you do plan to move, try to find a country that is likely to avoid war for the foreseeable future.
When The Global Economy Collapses, Will You And Your Family Be Okay For Food?
What good will it be to leave the United States if you and your family run out of food?
Today, we are on the verge of a major global food crisis. Global food reserves are at their lowest level in nearly 40 years, and shifting global weather patterns are certainly not helping things.
And the global elite are rapidly getting more control over the global food supply. Today, between 75 and 90 percent of all international trade in grain is controlled by just four gigantic multinational food corporations.
Leaving the United States permanently and setting up a new life in another country can be done, but it isn’t for the faint of heart. It takes planning, preparation and lots of hard work.
However, there are lots of people that have done it successfully, including quite a number of people that I know personally.
In the end, you have got to make the decision that is right for you and your family. Don’t let anyone else tell you what to do.
For many, staying in the United States and preparing for the tough years that are coming is the best choice. For others, getting out of the United States and heading for greener pastures is the right choice.
What about you?
What is your choice?
Please feel free to share your perspective by posting a comment below…
How much is 1,000,000,000,000,000 yen worth? Well, a quadrillion yen is worth approximately 10.5 trillion dollars. It is an amount of money that is larger than the “the economies of Germany, France and the U.K. combined“. It is such an astounding amount of debt that it is hard to even get your mind around it. The government debt to GDP ratio in Japan will reach 247 percent this year, and the Japanese currently spend about 50 percent of all central government tax revenue on debt service. Realistically, there are only two ways out of this overwhelming debt trap for the Japanese. Either they default or they try to inflate the debt away. At this point, the Japanese have chosen to try to inflate the debt away. They have initiated the greatest quantitative easing experiment that a major industrialized nation has attempted since the days of the Weimar Republic. Over the next two years, the Bank of Japan plans to zap 60 trillion yen into existence out of thin air and use it to buy government bonds. By the time this program is over, the monetary base in Japan will have approximately doubled. But authorities in Japan are desperate. They know that the Japanese debt bomb could set off global panic at any time, and they are trying to find a way out that will not cause too much pain.
Unfortunately, the only way that this bizarre quantitative easing program will work is if investors in Japanese bonds act very, very irrationally. You see, the only way that Japan has been able to pile up this much debt in the first place is because they have been able to borrow gigantic piles of money at super low interest rates.
Right now, the yield on 10 year Japanese bonds is sitting at an absurdly low 0.76%. But even with such ridiculously low interest rates, the central government of Japan is still spending about half of all tax revenue on debt service.
If interest rates go up, the game is over.
But now that the Japanese government has announced that it plans to double the monetary base, it would be extremely irrational for investors not to demand higher rates on Japanese government debt. After all, why would you want to loan money to the Japanese government for less than one percent a year when the purchasing power of your money could potentially be halved over the next two years?
Amazingly, this is exactly what the Japanese government is counting on. They are counting on being able to wildly print up money and monetize debt, but also keep yields on Japanese bonds at insanely low levels at the same time.
For the moment, it is actually working. Investors in Japanese bonds are behaving very, very irrationally.
But if that changes at some point, we could potentially be looking at the greatest Asian economic crisis of all time.
And there are some very sharp minds out there that believe that is exactly what is going to happen.
For example, the founder of Hayman Capital Management, Kyle Bass, has been sounding the alarm about Japan for a long time. He correctly predicted the subprime mortgage meltdown, and in the process he made hundreds of millions of dollars for his clients. Now he believes that the next major crash is going to be in Japan.
According to Bass, the bond bubble in Japan is so large that once it begins to implode fear is going to start spreading like wildfire…
Remember, Japanese banks in general have 900% of their tangible assets invested in JGBs that are the most negatively convex instrument you can put into a portfolio. Assume for instance that a bank holds a 10 year bond yielding 80 basis points. A 100 basis point move will cost the JGB investor about 10 years of expected interest payments.
Think about the psychology of all the players and financial implications if rates do move 100 basis points. Think about the solvency of a nation which currently spends 50% of its central government tax revenues on debt service, half of which earns the lowest yields of any country in the world.
You can’t look at this as a simple question. You need to think about this as a multivariate equation. You have to think about the incentives and the fears of all the participants. And you need to think about the fiscal sustainability of the government.
If rates even rise by a full percentage point, it could start a stampede toward the exits that nobody in the entire world would be able to control…
I ran a survey of 1,009 Japanese investors where we asked: “If rates were to move up 100 basis points, would that engender more confidence and make you want to buy more JGBs?” or, “Would you take your money elsewhere, even if it were hamstringing your government’s ability to operate?” 8 – 9% of respondents that said that they would buy more bonds and almost 80% said they would run, not walk the other way.
For much more on this, you can watch a video of Kyle Bass discussing why Japan is doomed right here.
And of course Japan is not the only “debt bomb” that could potentially go off over in Asia. As I mentioned in another article, the major problem over in China is the level of private debt…
In China, the big problem is the absolutely stunning growth of private domestic debt. According to a recent World Bank report, the total amount of credit in China has risen from 9 trillion dollars in 2008 to 23 trillion dollars today.
That increase is roughly equivalent to the entire U.S. commercial banking system.
There is simply way, way too much debt in our world today. Never before has there been so much red ink all over the planet at the same time.
Many in the mainstream media insist that this party can go on indefinitely.
But that is what they said about the housing bubble too.
Sadly, the truth is that every financial bubble eventually bursts, and this global debt bubble will be no exception.
I hope that you are getting prepared while you still can.
How would America ever survive without the central planners in the Obama administration and at the Federal Reserve? What in the world would we do if there was no income tax and no IRS? Could the U.S. economy possibly keep from collapsing under such circumstances? The mainstream media would have us believe that unless we have someone “to pull the levers” our economy would descend into utter chaos, but the truth is that the best period of economic growth in U.S. history occurred during a time when there was no income tax and no Federal Reserve. Between the Civil War and 1913, the U.S. economy experienced absolutely explosive growth. The free market system thrived and the rest of the world looked at us with envy. The federal government was very limited in size, there was no income tax for most of that time and there was no central bank. To many Americans, it would be absolutely unthinkable to have such a society today, but it actually worked very, very well. Without the inventions and innovations that came out of that period, the world would be a far different place today.
It is amazing what can happen when the government just gets out of the way. Check out all of the wonderful things that Wikipedia says happened for the U.S. economy during those years…
The rapid economic development following the Civil War laid the groundwork for the modern U.S. industrial economy. By 1890, the USA leaped ahead of Britain for first place in manufacturing output.
An explosion of new discoveries and inventions took place, a process called the “Second Industrial Revolution.” Railroads greatly expanded the mileage and built stronger tracks and bridges that handled heavier cars and locomotives, carrying far more goods and people at lower rates. Refrigeration railroad cars came into use. The telephone, phonograph, typewriter and electric light were invented. By the dawn of the 20th century, cars had begun to replace horse-drawn carriages.
Parallel to these achievements was the development of the nation’s industrial infrastructure. Coal was found in abundance in the Appalachian Mountains from Pennsylvania south to Kentucky. Oil was discovered in western Pennsylvania; it was mainly used for lubricants and for kerosene for lamps. Large iron ore mines opened in the Lake Superior region of the upper Midwest. Steel mills thrived in places where these coal and iron ore could be brought together to produce steel. Large copper and silver mines opened, followed by lead mines and cement factories.
In 1913 Henry Ford introduced the assembly line, a step in the process that became known as mass-production.
When hard working, industrious people are given freedom to pursue their dreams, great things tend to happen. The truth is that we were all designed to create, to invent, to build, and to trade with one another. We all have something that we can contribute to society, and when families are strong and the invisible hand of the free market is allowed to work, societies tend to prosper.
It is not a coincidence that the greatest period of economic growth in U.S. history was between the Civil War and 1913. The following information comes from Wikipedia…
The Gilded Age saw the greatest period of economic growth in American history. After the short-lived panic of 1873, the economy recovered with the advent of hard money policies and industrialization. From 1869 to 1879, the US economy grew at a rate of 6.8% for real GDP and 4.5% for real GDP per capita, despite the panic of 1873. The economy repeated this period of growth in the 1880s, in which the wealth of the nation grew at an annual rate of 3.8%, while the GDP was also doubled.
Wouldn’t you like U.S. GDP to double over the course of a decade now?
So why don’t we go back to a system like that?
In 1913, the Federal Reserve and a permanent national income tax were introduced. Today, the unelected central planners at the Federal Reserve totally run our financial system and the U.S. tax code is about 13 miles long. The value of our currency has declined by more than 96 percent since 1913, and the size of our national debt has gotten more than 5000 times larger.
Meanwhile, control freak bureaucrats seemingly run everything. Almost every business decision is heavily influenced either by taxes or by the millions of laws, rules and regulations that are sucking the life out of our economic system.
My favorite example of how suffocating red tape in America has become is the magician out in Missouri that was forced by the Obama administration to submit a 32 page “disaster plan” for the rabbit that he uses during his magic shows for kids.
It is no wonder why we don’t have any economic growth. The central planners in the federal government are killing our economy.
And the central planners over at the Federal Reserve are killing our financial system. In school we are taught that the Fed was created to bring stability to our financial system, but the truth is that they have been responsible for financial bubble after financial bubble, and now Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has created the largest bond bubble in the history of the world. When that thing bursts, and it will, we are going to see financial carnage on an unprecedented scale.
Unfortunately, the truth is that the Federal Reserve never has been looking out for the interests of the American people. It was created by the big banks and it has always worked very hard to benefit the big banks. During the Fed era, the big banks have become the most powerful economic entities on the entire planet. Our entire economy is now based on debt, and the big banks are at the very center of this debt spiral. The following is an excerpt from a recent article by Paul B. Farrell…
Today’s world includes four Wall Street banks each with assets over $1 trillion, each more than Goldman. Plus eight other big global banks each have over $2 trillion total assets, including, among the 100 largest, Barclays, HSBC, Deutsche, ICB-China and Japan’s Mitsubishi.
Yes, this new world is changing fast. Back in 2008 the world’s financial banks were in ruins. Wall Street sunk into virtually bankruptcy. Goldman and its Wall Street too-big-to-fail co-conspirators had trashed the global economy, triggered a virtual depression, and Wall Street’s casinos lost over $10 trillion of Main Street retirement funds.
And as we saw back in 2008, the Federal Reserve is going to do whatever is necessary to prop up Wall Street. Most Americans never even heard about this, but during the last financial crisis the Fed secretly loaned 16 trillion dollars to the big banks. Those loans were nearly interest-free and those banks knew that they could get basically as much nearly interest-free money as they wanted from the Fed.
So how much nearly interest-free money did the Fed loan to normal Americans?
Not a single penny.
That would be bad enough, but it is also important to remember that since 2008 the Fed has actually been paying banks NOT to lend money to the rest of us.
What is it going to take for the American people to start demanding that the Fed be abolished? They are absolutely destroying our financial system.
Meanwhile, the central planners in the Obama administration have been doing their part as well. During the second quarter of this year, the number of Americans working between 30 and 34 hours per week fell by 146,500. During that same time period, the number of Americans working between 25 and 29 hours rose by 119,000.
Why is this happening?
Well, the Obamacare employer mandate will apply to workers that work at least 30 hours each week, so employers are starting to cut back on the hours their employees are getting in order to comply with the law.
But this is just one example out of thousands, and most Americans already know that the U.S. economy has been crumbling for many years.
In fact, things have gotten so bad that even 53 percent of all Democrats believe that the American Dream is dead even though Barack Obama is residing in the White House.
But this is just the beginning. Things are going to get much, much worse. We are going down the same path that Greece has gone, and the unemployment rate in Greece has just hit a new all-time record high of 27.6 percent.
That is where the U.S. is headed eventually. Decades of very foolish decisions are catching up with us.
The primary reason why all of this is happening is debt. As a society, we simply have way, way, way too much debt.
The biggest offender, of course, is the federal government. Since 1970, federal spending has grown nearly 12 times as rapidly as median household income has, and since the year 2000 the size of the U.S. national debt has grown by more than 11 trillion dollars.
When government debt gets too large, it has a profoundly negative effect on an economy. The following is an excerpt from an outstanding article by Lacy H. Hunt, a Ph.D. economist…
Here are the studies, starting with the one with the broadest implications:
- “Government Size and Growth: A Survey and Interpretation of the Evidence,” from Journal of Economic Surveys. Published in April 2011, Swedish economists Andreas Bergh and Magnus Henrekson (both of the Research Institute of Industrial Economics at Lund University) found a “significant negative correlation” between size of government and economic growth. Specifically, “an increase in government size by 10 percentage points is associated with a 0.5% to 1% lower annual growth rate.”
- “The Impact of High and Growing Government Debt on Economic Growth: An Empirical Investigation for the Euro Area,” in European Central Bank working paper, Number 1237, August 2010. Cristina Checherita and Philipp Rother found that a government-debt-to-GDP ratio above the threshold of 90-100% has a “deleterious” impact on long-term growth. Additionally, the impact of debt on growth is nonlinear – as the government debt rises to higher and higher levels, the adverse growth consequences accelerate.
- The Real Effects of Debt, published by the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) in Basel, Switzerland in August 2011. Stephen G. Cecchetti, M. S.Mohanty, and Fabrizio Zampolli determined that “beyond a certain level, debt is bad for growth. For government debt, the number is about 85% of GDP.”
- “Public Debt Overhangs: Advanced-Economy Episodes Since 1800,”by Carmen M. Reinhart, Vincent R. Reinhart, Kenneth S. Rogoff, Journal of Economic Perspectives, Volume 26, Number 3, Summer 2012, pages 69-86. The authors identified 26 cases of “debt overhangs,” which they define as public-debt-to-GDP levels exceeding 90% for at least five years. In spite of the many idiosyncratic differences in these situations, economic growth fell in all but three of the 26 cases. All of the instances, which lasted an average of 23 years, are included in the paper. They found that average annual growth is 1.2% lower for countries with a debt overhang than for countries without. The long duration of such episodes means that cumulative shortfall from the debt excess—i.e., several years in a row of subpar economic growth—is potentially massive.
But it isn’t just federal government debt that is the problem. The rest of us have way too much debt as well.
If you can believe it, the ratio of private debt to GDP was 273.3% for the twelve months ending in the first quarter of 2013.
That is an astounding figure.
And as Hunt explained, having too much private debt is also very bad for an economy…
In Too Much Finance, published by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in March 2011, Jean Louis Arcand, Enrico Berkes, and Ugo Panizza found a negative effect on output growth when credit to the private sector reaches 104-110% of GDP. The strongest adverse effects are for credit over 160% of GDP.
The second is the 2011 BIS study authored by Cecchetti, Mohanty, and Zampolli. They found that private debt levels become “cancerous” (in BIS economic advisor Cecchetti’s own words) at 175% (90% for corporations and 85% for households)—just slightly more than the UNCTAD study.
When you add our private debt to GDP ratio of 273 percent to our federal debt to GDP ratio of 101 percent, you get a grand total of 384 percent.
This is how we have funded the false prosperity of the past couple of decades. Essentially, we have been putting our good times on a credit card.
And as anyone that has ever tried to live on credit knows, the good times eventually run out.
But this is what the Federal Reserve was designed to do. It was designed to get the U.S. government trapped in a debt spiral from which there would never be any escape.
It is not an accident that our national debt has gotten more than 5000 times larger than it was when the Fed was originally created. This is what the bankers wanted the system to do.
They wanted a system that would extract wealth from all of us through taxes, transfer it to the government, and then transfer it to them through interest payments.
We never needed a central bank, we never needed the IRS and we never needed an income tax. America would be doing just fine without any of them.
But instead, America chose to go down the path of collectivization and central planning, and now we are heading toward the biggest economic disaster in the history of mankind.