The Beginning Of The End
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9 Of The Top 10 Occupations In America Pay An Average Wage Of Less Than $35,000 A Year

CashierAccording to stunning new numbers just released by the federal government, nine of the top ten most commonly held jobs in the United States pay an average wage of less than $35,000 a year.  When you break that down, that means that most of these workers are making less than $3,000 a month before taxes.  And once you consider how we are being taxed into oblivion, things become even more frightening.  Can you pay a mortgage and support a family on just a couple grand a month?  Of course not.  In the old days, a single income would enable a family to live a very comfortable middle class lifestyle in most cases.  But now those days are long gone.  In 2014, both parents are expected to work, and in many cases both of them have to get multiple jobs just in order to break even at the end of the month.  The decline in the quality of our jobs is a huge reason for the implosion of the middle class in this country.  You can’t have a middle class without middle class jobs, and we have witnessed a multi-decade decline in middle class jobs in the United States.  As long as this trend continues, the middle class is going to continue to shrink.

The following is a list of the most commonly held jobs in America according to the federal government.  As you can see, 9 of the top 10 most commonly held occupations pay an average wage of less than $35,000 a year

  1. Retail salespersons, 4.48 million workers earning  $25,370
  2. Cashiers  3.34 million workers earning $20,420
  3. Food prep and serving staff, 3.02 million workers earning $18,880
  4. General office clerk, 2.83 million working earning $29,990
  5. Registered nurses, 2.66 million workers earning $68,910
  6. Waiters and waitresses, 2.40 million workers earning $20,880
  7. Customer service representatives, 2.39 million workers earning $33,370
  8. Laborers, and freight and material movers, 2.28 million workers earning $26,690
  9. Secretaries and admins (not legal or medical),  2.16 million workers earning $34,000
  10. Janitors and cleaners (not maids),  2.10 million workers earning, $25,140

Overall, an astounding 59 percent of all American workers bring home less than $35,000 a year in wages.

So if you are going to make more than $35,000 this year, you are solidly in the upper half.

But that doesn’t mean that you will always be there.

More Americans are falling out of the middle class with each passing day.

Just consider the case of a 47-year-old woman named Kristina Feldotte.  Together with her husband, they used to make about $80,000 a year.  But since she lost her job three years ago, their combined income has fallen to about $36,000 a year

Three years ago, Kristina Feldotte, 47, and her husband earned a combined $80,000. She considered herself solidly middle class. The couple and their four children regularly vacationed at a lake near their home in Saginaw, Michigan.

But in August 2012, Feldotte was laid off from her job as a special education teacher. She’s since managed to find only part-time teaching work. Though her husband still works as a truck salesman, their income has sunk by more than half to $36,000.

“Now we’re on the upper end of lower class,” Feldotte said.

There is a common assumption out there that if you “have a job” that you must be doing “okay”.

But that is not even close to the truth.

The reality of the matter is that you can even have two or three jobs and still be living in poverty.  In fact, you can even be working for the government or the military and still need food stamps

Since the start of the Recession, the dollar amount of food stamps used at military commissaries, special stores that can be used by active-duty, retired, and some veterans of the armed forces has quadrupled, hitting $103 million last year. Food banks around the country have also reported a rise in the number of military families they serve, numbers that swelled during the Recession and haven’t, or have barely, abated.

There are so many people that are really hurting out there.

Today, someone wrote to me about one of my recent articles about food price increases and told me about how produce prices were going through the roof in that particular area.  This individual wondered how ordinary families were going to be able to survive in this environment.

That is a very good question.

I don’t know how they are going to survive.

In some cases, the suffering that is going on behind closed doors is far greater than any of us would ever imagine.

And often, it is children that suffer the most

A Texas couple kept their bruised, malnourished 5-year-old son in a diaper and locked in a closet of their Spring home, police said in a horrifying case of abuse.

The tiny, blond-haired boy was severely underweight, his shoulder blades, ribs and vertebrae showing through his skin, when officers found him late last week.

You can see some photos of that poor little boy right here.

I hope that those abusive parents are put away for a very long time.

Sadly, there are lots of kids that are really suffering right now.  There are more than a million homeless schoolchildren in America, and there are countless numbers that will go to bed hungry tonight.

But if you live in wealthy enclaves on the east or west coasts, all of this may sound truly bizarre to you.  Where you live, you may look around and not see any poverty at all.  That is because America has become increasingly segregated by wealth.  Some are even calling this the “skyboxification of America”

The richest Americans—the much-talked about 1 percent—are a cloistered class. As the Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz scathingly put it, they “have the best houses, the best educations, the best doctors, and the best lifestyles, but there is one thing that money doesn’t seem to have bought: an understanding that their fate is bound up with how the other 99 percent live.” The Harvard political philosopher Michael Sandel has similarly lamented the “skyboxification” of American life, in which “people of affluence and people of modest means lead increasingly separate lives.”

The substantial and growing gap between the rich and everyone else is increasingly inscribed on our geography. There have always been affluent neighborhoods, gated enclaves, and fabled bastions of wealth like Greenwich, Connecticut; Grosse Pointe, Michigan; Potomac, Maryland; and Beverly Hills, California. But America’s bankers, lawyers, and doctors didn’t always live so far apart from teachers, accountants, and small business owners, who themselves weren’t always so segregated from the poorest, most struggling Americans.

Nobody should talk about an “economic recovery” until the middle class starts growing again.

Even as the stock market has soared to unprecedented heights over the past year, the decline of middle class America has continued unabated.

And most Americans know deep inside that something is deeply broken.  For example, a recent CNBC All-America Economic Survey found that over 80 percent of all Americans consider the economy to be “fair” or “poor”.

Yes, for the moment things are going quite well for the top 10 percent of the nation, but that won’t last long either.  None of the problems that caused the last great financial crisis have been fixed.  In fact, they have gotten even worse.  We are steamrolling toward another great financial crisis and our leaders are absolutely clueless.

When the next crisis strikes, the economic suffering in this nation is going to get even worse.

As bad as things are now, they are not even worth comparing to what is coming.

So I hope that you are getting prepared.  Time is running out.

 

29-Year-Old Welfare Parasite Would Not Accept An $80,000 A Year Job Driving A Truck

Truck North DakotaWhat should be done with a 29-year-old welfare parasite that believes that in addition to practicing with his rock band, his main job in life is to “make sure the sun’s up and the girls are out”?  Most people that receive government assistance truly need the help and do not abuse the system, but there are definitely others that do abuse the system and do not make any excuses for doing so.  When 29-year-old Jason Greenslate was recently asked if he would be willing to take a job driving a truck in North Dakota for $80,000 a year, he said that he would not.  He would rather keep purchasing sushi and lobster with his EBT card and hanging out with his rock band.  Greenslate seems very happy with his taxpayer-funded lifestyle, and he says that he wants “to thank the United States of America, and the situation — the way things are set up”.  Is this really what we pay taxes for?  The rest of us are taxed into oblivion so that we can fund the endless partying of parasites like Jason Greenslate?  What in the world is happening to this country?

If you have never heard of Jason Greenslate, let me get you caught up by quoting the article that I wrote about him last year

When he was asked if he ever had any interest in actually getting a job, his response was “not whatsoever“.  Instead, he says that his job is to “make sure the sun’s up and the girls are out” and he would rather spend his days partying.  Of course every American should be free to live their own lives as they see fit, but the problem is that Jason Greenslate is using food stamps to help support his lifestyle.  In fact, he took Fox News into the gourmet section of a local supermarket where he purchased sushi and lobster with his EBT card.  Sadly, he is just like millions of other young men in America today that seemingly have had the drive to succeed and to be independent totally sucked out of them.  But what is the future of America going to look like if we continue to produce millions upon millions of young men that have absolutely no desire to make a living, get married and start a family?

Just recently, Sean Hannity had Greenslate on his program and asked him if he felt bad that his fellow Californians are being taxed at extremely high levels in order to pay for his lifestyle.   Sadly, this does not appear to bother Greenslate.  The following is from a recent Fox News article

Hannity pointed out that Greenslate rides around in a Cadillac Escalade and frequents strip clubs, all while receiving government assistance and not working at a job that actually pays.

When Hannity asked Greenslate who he thinks pays for his food stamps and free health care, Greenslate said, “Government, taxes, us, the people.”

“Not you, because you’re not paying taxes,” Hannity responded.

Hannity went on to point out that nearly 60 cents out of every working Californian’s dollar goes to taxes. “You’re taking their money and you just don’t seem to care,” Hannity said.

“Who says I don’t care?” Greenslate asked, adding that he was “thankful.”

Hannity even asked Greenslate if he would take a job as a truck driver for $80,000 a year, and Greenslate refused

Hannity went for broke: “If I could get you a job that would pay you $80,000 a year driving a truck in North Dakota, would you take it?

Greenslate paused for a moment to think about it: “No.

Of course most Americans actually do want to work, and only go on government assistance if they really need it.  Unfortunately, however, there are a lot of “Jason Greenslates” out there, and their numbers are growing with each passing year.

And without a doubt, life is tough if you are trying to survive at the low end of the wage scale these days.  It is hard enough to take care of yourself, much less an entire family, on 9 or 10 dollars an hour.

For many, it is simply easier to give up on working for a living and depend on the government instead.

Not that it is easy to find any kind of work these days.  The percentage of low wage jobs in our economy has steadily risen, and the competition for those jobs can be very intense.  Large numbers of college-educated workers are now finding themselves forced to apply for low wage jobs, and this is forcing many less educated workers out of the labor force entirely.  The following comes from a recent CNBC article

Today’s low-wage workers are also more educated, with 41 percent having at least some college, up from 29 percent in 2000. “Minimum-wage and low-wage workers are older and more educated than 10 or 20 years ago, yet they’re making wages below where they were 10 or 20 years ago after inflation,” said Mr. Schmitt, senior economist at the research center. “If you look back several decades, workers near the minimum wage were more likely to be teenagers—that’s the stereotype people had. It’s definitely not accurate anymore.”

But when many college-educated professionals start working these sorts of jobs, they find that they require extremely hard work.

For example, posted below is an excerpt from an article entitled “My Life as a Retail Worker: Nasty, Brutish, and Poor” by reporter Joseph Williams.  Let’s just say that he didn’t really care for his time working in retail after he unexpectedly lost his job…

It didn’t matter if it was at the beginning of my shift, if the store was empty, or if my knees, back, and feet ached from hours of standing. Park your behind while on the clock, went the unspoken rule, and you might find it on a park bench scanning the want-ads for a new job.

Another quick observation: Working in retail takes more skill than just selling stuff. Besides the mindless tasks one expects—folding, stacking, sorting, fetching things for customers—I frequently had to tackle a series of housekeeping chores that Stretch never mentioned in our welcome-aboard chat. Performed during the late shift, those chores usually meant I’d have to stay well past the scheduled 9 p.m. quitting time.

Mop the floors in the bathroom, replace the toilet paper and scrub the toilets if necessary. Vacuum. Empty the garbage. Wipe down the glass front doors, every night, even if they don’t really need it.

Yes, working in retail can be physically, mentally and emotionally exhausting.

I know this from personal experience.  In my younger years, I worked a number of retail jobs.

But nobody should be afraid of a little hard work.

That is what built America.

If you do have a job, you should be thankful.  The truth is that there are millions of Americans out there that would do just about anything for a decent job at this point.

Of course the U.S. economy should be doing better that it is right now.  I truly wish that it was like the good old days when any hard working person could easily find a decent job.  Thanks to decades of incredibly foolish decisions by our leaders, those days are permanently gone.

And if you think that things are bad now, just wait.  The U.S. economy is already heading toward another recession, and the next great financial crisis is rapidly approaching.

So let us enjoy this period of relative stability while we can.

Very soon, millions more Americans will be losing their jobs and the number of people that actually need government assistance is going to go even higher.

How The Super Rich Avoid Taxes Even As They Demand That The Rest Of Us Pay More

The way that we tax people in the United States is fundamentally broken and should be completely discarded.  The U.S. tax code is absolutely riddled with loopholes that allow the super rich to legally avoid taxes while many of the rest of us are being taxed into oblivion.  In our system of taxation, middle class families that work hard and try to play by the rules are deeply penalized while those that are willing to abuse the system make out like bandits.  There is something fundamentally wrong with a system that enables wealthy politicians such as Barack Obama and Mitt Romney to pay a smaller percentage of their incomes in taxes than millions of middle class families.  Mitt Romney has millions of dollars parked down in the Cayman Islands and in other tax havens.  He does this to avoid taxes.  Unfortunately, most Americans do not have the resources to funnel money through offshore tax havens.  Most Americans just automatically have their paychecks shredded by taxes and then try to live on whatever is left over.  Most Americans are just trying to survive financially from one month to the next.  But the super rich have options.  Thanks to technology, they can live almost anywhere they want and they can run their companies and manage their investments from anywhere in the world.  The truth is that the wealthier you are the easier it is to avoid taxes.  But even as the ultra-wealthy do their best to avoid taxes, many of them still feel free to demand that the rest of us be taxed more.

So what are some of the ways that the super rich avoid taxes?

Well, let’s start with those that are just “somewhat wealthy”.  Many millionaires still want or need to be U.S. citizens, so they are subject to the U.S. tax code.  Fortunately for them, their tax lawyers know of thousands of loopholes that have been designed to help the rich avoid taxes.

The following is from a recent article by Jen Talley….

Some of the richest people in the country pay the least, relatively speaking, in taxes. How is this possible? Answer: Through the clever manipulation of the U.S. tax code’s loopholes. And it works: as income rises, effective tax rates rise as well, but only up to a point. IRS data shows that the effective income tax rate flattens out at just over 24 percent for those making over a million dollars. As income exceeds $1.5 million, the rate begins to decline; those with incomes above $10 million pay an average income tax rate of around 19 percent. So, how do they do it?

You could write an entire series of books on the technical details of how this gets done.  Trust me, I studied tax law when I was in law school.

If you are interested in digging into some of the technical details of tax avoidance, a recent Businessweek article detailed 10 ways that the wealthy use our current tax code to avoid paying billions of dollars in taxes.  It is an article worth reading if you have the time.

Sadly, tax avoidance by the wealthy is not just something that happens in the United States.  The truth is that the exact same kind of thing happens in the UK as well.

There is not an easy fix to this problem.  Our politicians have had decades to try to come up with a fair tax system and they have completely failed.  The wealthy are always several steps ahead of them.

But federal taxes are not the only taxes that can be avoided.  The vast difference in state tax rates creates another opportunity.

One advantage that wealthy Americans have is that they are far more mobile than most other Americans are.  So if they don’t like the tax system in one state they can simply pick up and move to another state.

According to the Tax Foundation, 3.4 million Americans left New York state between 2000 and 2010.

So where did they go?

The following is from a recent CNS News article….

Where are they escaping to?  The Tax Foundation found that more than 600,000 New York residents moved to Florida over the decade – opting perhaps for the Sunshine State’s more lenient tax system – taking nearly $20 billion in adjusted growth income with them.

There is no state income tax in Florida.  So moving from New York to Florida can end up saving you a bundle.

The same kind of migration is happening out west as well.  According to that same CNS article, hundreds of thousands of people have been moving from California (a high tax state) to Texas (no state income tax)….

Between 2000 and 2010, the most recent data available, 551,914 people left California for Texas, taking $14.3 billion in income.  Texas has no state income tax or estate tax.

A total of 48,877 people moved to Texas from California between 2009 and 2010 alone, totaling $1.2 billion in income.  Another 28,088 from California relocated to Nevada and 30,663 to Arizona, a loss of  $699.1 million and $707.8 million in income respectively.

Not that anyone really needs much of an excuse to move away from California.  It is rapidly decaying right in front of our eyes.

But a lot of families do not have the same options that wealthy people do. Unfortunately, most average Americans are tied to their jobs and it would be much more difficult for them to pick up and move across the country.  In this economy it can be economic suicide to give up a good job.

The reality is that most of us simply do not have the resources to play the same kinds of games that the wealthy play.

Sadly, even our most prominent politicians avoid taxes.

Just look at Massachusetts Senator John Kerry.  He has avoided approximately $500,000 in taxes by docking his yacht in Rhode Island rather than in Massachusetts.

Yet Kerry sure does love to call for more taxes on the rest of us, doesn’t he?

Now let’s talk about the “super rich” and the “ultra-wealthy”.  For many people that are worth billions of dollars, tax avoidance has become an art from.

Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin made national headlines recently when he gave up his U.S. citizenship, but the truth is that his case is small potatoes compared to the global elite and the shadow banking system that supports them.

According to the IMF, the global elite are holding a total of 18 trillion dollars in offshore banks.

That amount is more than the GDP of the United States for an entire year.

So what do I mean by “offshore banks”?  I defined the term in a previous article….

Well, the term originally developed because the banks on the Channel Islands were “offshore” from the United Kingdom.  Most “offshore banks” are still located on islands today.  The Cayman Islands, Bermuda, the Bahamas, and the Isle of Man are examples of this.  Other “offshore banking centers” such as Monaco are actually not “offshore” at all, but the term applies to them anyway.

Traditionally, these offshore banking centers have been very attractive to both criminals and to the global elite because they would not tell anyone (including governments) about the money that anyone had parked there.

It has been reported that 80 percent of all international banking transactions involve offshore banks.  A whopping 1.4 trillion dollars is being held in offshore banks in the Cayman Islands alone.

An article that appeared in the Guardian estimated that a third of all the wealth on the entire planet is being kept in offshore banks.  One of the primary reasons for this is tax avoidance.

A lot of wealthy individuals never even visit these tax havens and yet reap the benefits anyway.  The truth is that tax avoidance has become way too easy.  The following example is from a recent Politico article….

A plausible scenario plays out like this: I hire an accountant. Doing her job, my accountant tells me that if I sign a few legal documents and route my money through a small Caribbean island, I could keep more of my paycheck and pay a lower tax rate. I may have earned my money in the United States, but legally I can claim that it was, in fact, earned in a tax haven.

Are you disgusted yet?

You should be.

But even though they avoid taxes like the plague, many of these elitists have the gall to call for higher taxes on all the rest of us.

For example, let’s review what the managing director of the IMF, Christine Lagarde, said in a recent interview….

“Do you know what? As far as Athens is concerned, I also think about all those people who are trying to escape tax all the time. All these people in Greece who are trying to escape tax.”

Even more than she thinks about all those now struggling to survive without jobs or public services? “I think of them equally. And I think they should also help themselves collectively.” How? “By all paying their tax. Yeah.”

It sounds as if she’s essentially saying to the Greeks and others in Europe, you’ve had a nice time and now it’s payback time.

“That’s right.” She nods calmly. “Yeah.”

And what about their children, who can’t conceivably be held responsible? “Well, hey, parents are responsible, right? So parents have to pay their tax.”

Well, it turns out that she doesn’t pay any income taxes at all on her own income….

The IMF chief Christine Lagarde was accused of hypocrisy yesterday after it emerged that she pays no income tax – just days after blaming the Greeks for causing their financial peril by dodging their own bills.

The managing director of the International Monetary Fund is paid a salary of $467,940 (£298,675), automatically increased every year according to inflation. On top of that she receives an allowance of $83,760 – payable without “justification” – and additional expenses for entertainment, making her total package worth more than the amount received by US President Barack Obama according to reports last night.

Her “diplomatic status” allows her to escape all income taxes.

So perhaps she should pay her “fair share” before pointing the finger at anyone else.

But she is not the only one being hypocritical.

The super rich claim that they should pay lower taxes on investment income for the good of our “capitalist system”, but when their banks are about to go under they are more than happy to have those losses be socialized.

As I wrote about yesterday, the stage is already set for another massive round of bailouts when the next great financial crisis strikes.  Once again our taxes will pay for the mistakes of the ultra-wealthy.

The truth is that our system is fundamentally broken.

We need to abolish the income tax and shut down the IRS.

Those two steps alone would do wonders for our economic system.

We also need to shut down the Federal Reserve and break up the too big to fail banks.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of our politicians are not even willing to consider any of those solutions.

So our fundamentally broken system will continue to chug along.

It really is sad.

The Man Without A Plan

Barack Obama is a man without a plan.  When you are young, they often tell you to “fake it until you make it”, but Barack Obama is taking this to ridiculous extremes.  Barack Obama has absolutely no idea what he is doing when it comes to the economy, and yet he continues to give speeches in which he declares that he is the man for the job.  The State of the Union speech the other night was just abysmal.  The federal government is spending way too much money, and yet Barack Obama is proposing even more government spending.  Entrepreneurs and small businesses are being taxed into oblivion and yet Barack Obama is proposing even higher taxes.  Our economy is being strangled to death by crippling regulations, and yet Barack Obama is proposing a vast array of new regulations.  Barack Obama always gives a nice speech, but it has become appallingly evident that he is totally out of ideas.  So our country will continue to drift aimlessly along without a direction and without a plan until the next financial tsunami comes along and makes things even worse.

And the American people are starting to clue in to the fact that Obama does not have a plan and does not have anything new to say.  Just check out how the audiences for his State of the Union addresses have declined each year….

2009: 52.3 million

2010: 48 million

2011: 42.8 million

2012: 37.8 million

His ratings are falling almost as fast as the ratings for American Idol are.

It is amazing how Barack Obama can use so many words to say so very little.

He always tickles our ears but then he never delivers the goods.  Toward the beginning of his speech the other night, he made the following statement….

“Tonight, I want to speak about how we move forward, and lay out a blueprint for an economy that’s built to last—an economy built on American manufacturing, American energy, skills for American workers, and a renewal of American values”

Well, that sounds pretty good.  Except for the fact that everything he has done for the past 3 years has been the exact opposite of that.

It is almost as if he woke up that morning and decided that he would try the whole “do the opposite” thing once made famous by George Costanza on Seinfeld.

Obama says that our employment situation is getting better, but that is not really true.  The only way that the federal government can claim that there is an 8.5 percent unemployment rate is because they have decided that millions of Americans that have been unemployed for a long time should not be considered “part of the workforce” any longer.

If the number of Americans that were considered to be part of the workforce was the same today as it was back in 2007, the “official” unemployment rate put out by the U.S. government would be up to approximately 11 percent.

Sadly, the number of Americans that are dependent on the government continues to soar even higher.

Since Barack Obama took office, the number of Americans on food stamps has actually increased by 14 million.

Things have not gotten better for average Americans.

They have gotten worse.

In fact, 10 million more Americans have fallen below the poverty line since 2006.  And in 2010, more Americans fell into poverty than ever before.

A lot of people out there are really hurting, and the American people deserve some real answers.

But instead, Obama was saying stuff like this the other night….

“I intend to fight obstruction with action, and I will oppose any effort to return to the very same policies that brought on this economic crisis in the first place”

Oh really?

What is Obama actually doing about the things that caused the last financial crisis?

The “financial reform” bill was a complete and total joke.  Obama has been shamefully soft on the big Wall Street banks that caused the last crisis.

Today, the “too big to fail” banks are larger than ever.  The total assets of the six largest U.S. banks increased by 39 percent between September 30, 2006 and September 30, 2011.

So now they are more of a danger to the financial system than ever.

And not a single Wall Street executive has gone to jail for what they did during the last financial crisis.

Thanks Obama.

But of course Obama was never going to seriously go after Wall Street.

After all, they are the ones that fund his campaigns.

Most Americans don’t realize this, but 3 of the top 7 donors to Obama’s campaign in 2008 were “too big to fail” banks.

And the Obama administration has been absolutely packed with ex-Wall Street bankers.  Last year, Michael Brenner wrote the following about the composition of the Obama administration….

Wall Street’s takeover of the Obama administration is now complete. The mega-banks and their corporate allies control every economic policy position of consequence. Mr. Obama has moved rapidly since the November debacle to install business people where it counts most. Mr.William Daley from JP Morgan Chase as White House Chief of Staff. Mr. Gene Sperling from the Goldman Sachs payroll to be director of the National Economic Council. Eileen Rominger from Goldman Sachs named director of the SEC’s Investment Management division. Even the National Security Advisor, Thomas Donilon, was executive vice president for law and policy at the disgraced Fannie Mae after serving as a corporate lobbyist with O’Melveny & Roberts. The keystone of the business friendly team was put in place on Friday. General Electric Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Immelt will serve as chair of the president’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.

During his State of the Union address, Obama also promised to bring manufacturing jobs back to America….

“Think about the America within our reach: A country that leads the world in educating its people. An America that attracts a new generation of high-tech manufacturing and high-paying jobs”

That sounds great, except for the fact that Obama has been doing everything he can to get more American jobs shipped out of the country.

The Obama administration has been aggressively pushing new “free trade” agreements with Panama, South Korea and Colombia.  The Obama administration has also made the Trans-Pacific Partnership (“the NAFTA of the Pacific“) an extremely high priority.

And of course we have all seen how wonderfully the first NAFTA worked out.

Our “free trade” policies have been an absolute nightmare for the American worker.

During 2010, an average of 23 manufacturing facilities a day shut down in the United States.  Overall, more than 56,000 manufacturing facilities in the United States have shut down since 2001.

We are bleeding jobs at a pace that is hard to believe.

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

Yet Obama promises more of the same and that is  supposed to help?

During his speech, Obama correctly noted that many foreign manufacturers are heavily subsidized….

“It’s not fair when foreign manufacturers have a leg up on ours, only because they’re heavily subsidized”

So are we going to deeply penalize those that have been cheating?

Are we going to warn them that we will stop trading with them unless they stop?

Of course not.

Obama is going to do next to nothing to stop what China and other predatory nations are doing to us.

Today, the United States spends approximately 4 dollars on goods and services from China for every one dollar that China spends on goods and services from the United States, and the U.S. trade deficit with China in 2010 was 27 times larger than it was back in 1990.

But the Obama administration doesn’t seem to care much about these things.

In fact, just check out what U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk told Tim Robertson of the Huffington Post about the Obama administration’s attitude toward keeping manufacturing jobs in America….

Let’s increase our competitiveness… the reality is about half of our imports, our trade deficit is because of how much oil [we import], so you take that out of the equation, you look at what percentage of it are things that frankly, we don’t want to make in America, you know, cheaper products, low-skill jobs that frankly college kids that are graduating from, you know, UC Cal and Hastings [don’t want], but what we do want is to capture those next generation jobs and build on our investments in our young people, our education infrastructure.

Oh, but Obama now says that he is going to toughen up on trade….

“I’m announcing the creation of a Trade Enforcement Unit that will be charged with investigating unfair trading practices in countries like China. There will be more inspections”

Oh boy – “inspections” – yeah, that is really going to have the Chinese shaking in their boots.

Meanwhile, the Chinese just keep hitting us with new tariffs.  According to the New York Times, a Jeep Grand Cherokee that costs $27,490 in the United States will now cost about $85,000 in China thanks to these new tariffs.

So is Obama going to hit China with tough new tariffs in return?

Of course not.

Meanwhile, our economy continues to bleed businesses and jobs.  According to Professor Alan Blinder of Princeton University, 40 million more U.S. jobs could be sent offshore over the next two decades if current trends continue.

But if you listen to Obama, he makes it seem like many of our industries are in better shape than ever….

“We bet on American ingenuity, and tonight the American auto industry is back.”

Yes, the American auto industry is no longer on the brink of bankruptcy, but it is not “back”.  Just consider the following stats….

*In 1970, General Motors had about a 60 percent share of the U.S. automobile market.  Today, that figure is down to about 20 percent.

*Back in 2000, about 17 million new automobiles were sold in the United States.  During 2011, less than 13 million new automobiles were sold in the United States.

*Japan builds more cars than anyone else on the globe.  Japan now manufactures about 5 million more automobiles than the United States does.

*Since Alan Mulally became CEO of Ford, the company has reduced its North American workforce by nearly half.

*In the year 2000, the U.S. auto industry employed more than 1.3 million Americans.  Today, the U.S. auto industry employs about 698,000 people.

Obama bailed out the auto industry, and they responded by sending even more of our jobs overseas.

During his speech, Obama declared that there will be no more bailouts….

“No bailouts, no handouts, and no copouts.”

That is kind of funny because Obama is basically the all-time champion of handing out bailouts.

If Barack Obama and John McCain had not aggressively pushed for the Wall Street bailouts back in 2008, they never would have happened.

And once Obama became president, there was a seemingly endless parade of bailouts and “stimulus packages”.

So what do you honestly think he will do when the next financial crisis happens?  Do you think he would actually be able to resist the temptation for more bailouts?

Obama also says that he wants to spend more money on training for American workers….

“Join me in a national commitment to train two million Americans with skills that will lead directly to a job.”

But the American people already have enough training.  There are tons of college-educated Americans that are among the ranks of the unemployed right now.

What the American people need are jobs.

Unfortunately, jobs are leaving this country at an unprecedented pace.

Back in the year 2000, more than 20 percent of all jobs in America were manufacturing jobs.  Today, about 5 percent of all jobs in America are manufacturing jobs.

Not only that, but our incomes are also going down.  Because U.S. workers now have to compete for jobs with workers that make slave labor wages on the other side of the globe, pay in this country continues to decline.

A recent White House reported entitled “Investing in America: Building an Economy That Lasts” actually bragged that our trade policies have driven wages in America down.  The following chart is from that report….

The Obama administration has been very good for the largest corporations.

For the rest of us, not so much.

But Obama now says that he wants America to be a place that encourages entrepreneurs and small businesses to thrive….

“It means we should support everyone who’s willing to work; and every risk-taker and entrepreneur who aspires to become the next Steve Jobs.”

Unfortunately, the reality is that the federal government is strangling entrepreneurs and small businesses to death with taxes and crippling regulations.

According to 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.

That is not a good trend.

And right now small businesses are extremely hesitant to bring on new workers.

One recent survey found that 77 percent of all U.S. small businesses do not plan to hire any more workers in the coming year.

So obviously what the Obama administration is doing is not working.

During his speech, Obama also spoke of developing our own energy resources….

“A future where we are in control of our own energy, and our security and prosperity aren’t so tied to unstable parts of the world.”

Hopefully most of those watching laughed when they heard this, because this had to have been a joke.

America is absolutely swimming in oil and natural gas, and yet the Obama administration has blocked the development of those resources at every turn.

Instead, Obama has been very busy trying to push green energy companies on us, but they have had a nasty habit of going bankrupt.

During his speech, Obama also spoke of the need for “comprehensive immigration reform”.

But apparently Obama’s idea of “immigration reform” is to grant “backdoor amnesty” to the vast majority of the illegal immigrants in the United States and to continue to leave our borders completely wide open.

The consequences of such a policy are very serious.  As I wrote about the other day, there are now 1.4 million gang members living inside the United States, and that number has risen by an astounding 40 percent since 2009.

The last thing we need is more “immigration reform” from Barack Obama.

Of course the “class warfare” part was the centerpiece of Obama’s speech the other night.

Referring to it as the “defining issue of our time”, Obama said that now is the time to hit the wealthy with higher taxes….

“We can either settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do really well, while a growing number of Americans barely get by. Or we can restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules.”

This is going to be what Barack Obama is going to base his entire 2012 campaign on.  He is going to try to tap into the economic frustrations of the poor and the middle class and he is going to try to get them to blame the rich and the “party of the rich” (the Republicans).

But taxing the rich is not going to solve our problems.  If Bill Gates donated his entire fortune to the U.S. government, it would only cover the U.S. budget deficit for about 15 days.

The truth is that the ultra-wealthy are always several steps ahead of the U.S. government.  The global elite are hiding 18 trillion dollars in offshore banks, and they are absolute experts at avoiding taxes.

No, the people that always get hit when taxes are raised are small business owners that try to do things “by the book” and middle class families that are barely scraping by.

What we need to do is to get rid of the income tax system entirely.  It is deeply corrupt and it is full of thousands of loopholes.

Trust me, I know.  I used to study this stuff.

But Obama seems to think that taxing the rich is the solution to all of our problems….

“We don’t begrudge financial success in this country. We admire it. When Americans talk about folks like me paying my fair share of taxes, it’s not because they envy the rich. It’s because they understand that when I get tax breaks I don’t need and the country can’t afford, it either adds to the deficit, or somebody else has to make up the difference – like a senior on a fixed income; or a student trying to get through school; or a family trying to make ends meet. That’s not right. Americans know it’s not right. They know that this generation’s success is only possible because past generations felt a responsibility to each other, and to their country’s future, and they know our way of life will only endure if we feel that same sense of shared responsibility. That’s how we’ll reduce our deficit.”

Oh really?

If we just accept Obama’s plan the deficit will be fixed?

That worked out so well during his first term.  During the first three years of the Obama administration, the U.S. government accumulated more debt than it did from the time that George Washington took office to the time that Bill Clinton took office.

The truth is that Obama does not plan to fix anything.  Barack Obama’s proposed 2012 budget projects that the national debt will rise to 26 trillion dollars a decade from now.  And his budget numbers are ridiculously optimistic.

Not that our tax system does not need reform.

If we are going to have an income tax system (which we should not), then it should at least be fair.

There is no way in the world that General Electric and Mitt Romney should pay a lower tax rate than you and I do.

In a previous article, I noted some of the big corporations that have made enormous profits and yet have paid less than zero in taxes in recent years….

What U.S. corporations are able to get away with is absolutely amazing.

The following figures come directly out of a report by Citizens for Tax Justice.  These are combined figures for the tax years 2008, 2009 and 2010.

During those three years, all of the corporations below made a lot of money.  Yet all of them paid net taxes that were below zero for those three years combined.

How is that possible?  Well, it turns out that instead of paying in taxes to the federal government, they were actually getting money back.

So for these corporations, their rate of taxation was actually below zero.

If you have not seen these before, you are going to have a hard time believing some of these statistics…..

*Honeywell*

Profits: $4.9 billion

Taxes: -$34 million

*Fed Ex*

Profits: $3 billion

Taxes: -$23 million

*Wells Fargo*

Profits: $49.37 billion

Taxes: -$681 million

*Boeing*

Profits: $9.7 billion

Taxes: -$178 million

*Verizon*

Profits: $32.5 billion

Taxes: -$951 million

*Dupont*

Profits: $2.1 billion

Taxes -$72 million

*American Electric Power*

Profits: $5.89 billion

Taxes -$545 million

*General Electric*

Profits: $7.7 billion

Taxes: -$4.7 billion

Are you starting to get the picture?

Hopefully we can all agree that there is something seriously wrong with those numbers.

But fixing holes in the tax system is one thing – blaming America’s economic ills on the wealthy is another.

During his speech, Obama made the following statement….

“You can call this class warfare all you want”

And yes, we will hear the term “class warfare” over and over again for the rest of 2012.

Obama actually believes that “blaming the 1%” can get him sent back to the White House again.

But that isn’t going to solve any of our problems.

Instead, we should be focusing on the root causes of our economic problems.

I would love to see a president get up during a State of the Union address and declare that we need to shut down the Federal Reserve.

Since the Federal Reserve was created in 1913, the U.S. dollar has lost over 95 percent of its purchasing power.

Since the Federal Reserve was created in 1913, the U.S. national debt has gotten more than 5000 times larger.

Thanks to the debt-based Federal Reserve system, we are going into debt at a pace that is unlike anything the world has ever seen.

Right now, the federal government is stealing 150 million dollars an hour from our children and our grandchildren.

But Barack Obama loves the Federal Reserve.

In fact, he actually nominated Ben Bernanke for a second term as Federal Reserve Chairman even though Bernanke has a track record of incompetence that is legendary.

So no, nobody should be applauding Barack Obama for his absolutely abysmal speech the other night.

He is a man without a plan and he has been an absolute disaster for America.

The Global Elite Are Hiding 18 Trillion Dollars In Offshore Banks

In recent days, the fact that Mitt Romney has millions of dollars parked down in the Cayman Islands has made headlines all over the world.  But when it comes to offshore banking, what Mitt Romney is doing is small potatoes.  The truth is that the global elite are hiding an almost unbelievable amount of money in offshore banks.  According to shocking research done by the IMF, the global elite are holding a total of 18 trillion dollars in offshore banks.  And that figure does not even count any money being held in Switzerland.  That is a staggering amount of money.  Keep in mind that U.S. GDP in 2010 was only 14.58 trillion dollars.  So why do the global elite go to such trouble to hide their money in offshore banks?  Well, there are two main reasons.  One is privacy and the other is low taxation.  Privacy is a big issue for those that are involved in illegal enterprises such as drug running, but the biggest reason why people move money into offshore banks is in order to avoid taxes.  Some set up bank accounts in foreign nations because they want to legally minimize their taxes and others set up bank accounts in foreign nations because they want to illegally avoid taxes.  You would be absolutely amazed at what some large corporations and wealthy individuals do to get out of paying taxes.  Unfortunately, the vast majority of the rest of us don’t have the resources or the knowledge to play these games, so we get taxed into oblivion.

So why do they call it “offshore banking”?

Well, the term originally developed because the banks on the Channel Islands were “offshore” from the United Kingdom.  Most “offshore banks” are still located on islands today.  The Cayman Islands, Bermuda, the Bahamas, and the Isle of Man are examples of this.  Other “offshore banking centers” such as Monaco are actually not “offshore” at all, but the term applies to them anyway.

Traditionally, these offshore banking centers have been very attractive to both criminals and to the global elite because they would not tell anyone (including governments) about the money that anyone had parked there.

These days some governments (particularly the U.S. government) are trying to change this, but we certainly will not see the end of offshore banking any time soon.

The amount of money that goes through these offshore banks is absolutely astounding.

It has been estimated that 80 percent of all international banking transactions take place through these offshore banks.  $1.4 trillion is being held in offshore banks in the Cayman Islands alone.

One article in the Guardian estimated that a third of all the wealth on the entire globe is being held in offshore banks, and others believe that as much as half of all the capital in the world flows through offshore banks at some point.

Obviously, all of this tax avoidance means that governments around the world are missing out on a whole lot of money.

It has been estimated that the U.S. government is missing out on $100 billion a year because of these offshore banks.  Others would put that figure significantly higher.

Avoiding taxes is a game that the global elite have mastered.  They are playing a whole different ballgame than you and I are.  They don’t just sit there like idiots and get blasted with taxes.  Instead, they hire the best experts and they employ every trick in the book to hold on to as much money as they possibly can.

These days, taking advantage of offshore tax havens is not that complicated to do.  The following is from a recent Politico article….

A plausible scenario plays out like this: I hire an accountant. Doing her job, my accountant tells me that if I sign a few legal documents and route my money through a small Caribbean island, I could keep more of my paycheck and pay a lower tax rate. I may have earned my money in the United States, but legally I can claim that it was, in fact, earned in a tax haven.

If it is legal, perhaps more of us should look into this.

After all, if playing these kinds of games is good enough for Mitt Romney, then why isn’t it good enough for all the rest of us?

During a campaign stop recently, Romney said the following….

“I can tell you we follow the tax laws”

I certainly believe him when he says that.  But it is what he said next that is troubling….

“And if there’s an opportunity to save taxes, we like anybody else in this country will follow that opportunity.”

I certainly believe him when he says that too.

ABC News recently revealed that Bain Capital has established an astounding 138 different offshore funds in the Cayman Islands.

Something has got to work pretty well to want to do it 138 times.

But Bain Capital was also very busy over in other offshore banking centers as well.

One of the largest shell companies that Bain set up down in the Caribbean was called Sankaty High Yield Asset Investors Ltd.  It did not have an office in Bermuda and it had no staff in Bermuda.  But it helped clients of Bain Capital avoid a whole lot of taxes.

The following comes from a 2007 Los Angeles Times article….

In Bermuda, Romney served as president and sole shareholder for four years of Sankaty High Yield Asset Investors Ltd. It funneled money into Bain Capital’s Sankaty family of hedge funds, which invest in bonds and other debt issued by corporations, as well as bank loans.

Like thousands of similar financial entities, Sankaty maintains no office or staff in Bermuda. Its only presence consists of a nameplate at a lawyer’s office in downtown Hamilton, capital of the British island territory.

“It’s just a mail drop, essentially,” said Marc B. Wolpow, who worked with Romney for nine years at Bain Capital and who set up Sankaty Ltd. in October 1997 without ever visiting Bermuda. “There’s no one doing any work down there other than lawyers.”

The amount of money being funneled through Sankaty today is absolutely stunning….

Today, Bain Capital manages $60 billion in assets, according to a spokesman. The total includes $23 billion in Sankaty debt and credit funds. Half a dozen Sankaty affiliates now are active in Bermuda, corporate registry records show.

The Sankaty debt hedge funds are organized as partnerships in Delaware that produce taxable business income by investing in fixed-income bonds and other debt instruments. Under tax law, even tax-exempt U.S. institutions may face a 35% tax if they invest directly in such hedge funds. By investing instead through a Bermuda corporation, the taxes are legally blocked, experts say.

Of course all of this is perfectly legal.

So nobody gets into trouble for any of this.

By keeping money offshore, even those managing these kinds of funds can avoid being taxed.

Victor Fleischer, a tax professor at the University of Colorado Law School, recently explained how this works….

“The idea behind some of the Cayman Island strategies was that the income that the fund managers receive for managing the money would be kept offshore in the Cayman Island — and the chief benefit is that you can defer when you recognize that income until a later date and you can reinvest the money from the Cayman islands and none of those reinvested funds get taxed until you bring them back either”

So was Romney doing this?

We may never know unless he shows us his tax returns.

What we do know is that Romney has millions of dollars of his own personal wealth invested in offshore tax havens.

The following comes from ABC News….

In addition to paying the lower tax rate on his investment income, Romney has as much as $8 million invested in at least 12 funds listed on a Cayman Islands registry. Another investment, which Romney reports as being worth between $5 million and $25 million, shows up on securities records as having been domiciled in the Caymans.

But Romney does not just have money invested down in the Cayman Islands.  Apparently his money is invested in a whole host of offshore tax havens.

The following quote comes from a Reuters article….

Bain funds in which Romney is invested are scattered from Delaware to the Cayman Islands and Bermuda, Ireland and Hong Kong, according to a Reuters analysis of securities filings.

So is there anything wrong with this?

Well, it depends on how you define “wrong”.

What Romney is doing is perfectly legal.

But it also stinks.  Washington lawyer Jack Blum recently told ABC News the following about Romney’s finances….

“His personal finances are a poster child of what’s wrong with the American tax system”

So now we may have a few hints as to why Romney may not want to release his old tax returns.

But as noted above, what Romney is doing is just small potatoes compared to what the ultra-wealthy do.

The U.S. Congress has been trying to clamp down on offshore banking, but the ultra-wealthy are always two or three steps ahead of them.

The ultra-wealthy will go to just about any extreme in order to avoid paying taxes.

In fact, the Washington Post has reported that an increasing number of wealthy individuals are actually deciding to renounce their citizenship rather than face the wrath of the IRS.

The ultra-wealthy aren’t really concerned that much with national citizenship anyway.  If they want to influence an election, they can have far more influence by donating a few million bucks to a “Super PAC” than they can by casting the few votes that they have.

In a previous article, I described how the ultra-wealthy use offshore banks as a “shadow banking system” that plays by rules that most people don’t even know exist….

It is a shadow banking system that most Americans don’t know anything about. Most Americans don’t have the resources to be able to set up shell companies in half a dozen different countries so that they can “filter” their profits.  Most Americans don’t know a thing about complicated tax avoidance plans that tax lawyers use such as the “Double Irish” and the “Dutch Sandwich”.  Most Americans would have no idea how to eventually have most of the money that they make end up in Bermuda so that it can avoid taxes.

Most among the global elite simply do not care that U.S. debt is climbing into the stratosphere.  All they care about is keeping as much of their own money in their pockets as they possibly can.

Of course there are always exceptions to this rule.  Warren Buffett recently wrote a check to the U.S. Treasury for a little more than $49,000 to help pay off the national debt.

But considering the fact that the U.S. national debt is increasing by more than 100 million dollars an hour, that didn’t exactly do much to help.

Our system is deeply broken and the global elite are getting away with bloody murder.  Over the decades, they have carefully crafted the rules so that as much wealth as possible is funneled into their pockets, and they have carefully crafted the rules so that as much wealth as possible stays in their pockets.

Of course if we got rid of the personal income tax and the corporate income tax entirely and replaced them with a completely new system we could get rid of all of this game playing once and for all.

But what do you think the odds are of that happening?

Taxed Into Oblivion

In the United States today, we are being taxed into oblivion, yet it is being done so stealthily that most Americans don’t even realize what is happening.  Most people are fixated on federal income tax rates, but the federal income tax is only one of the dozens of different taxes that each of us pay each year.  The politicians have learned that people get really upset when income tax rates are raised, so they have found hundreds of other ways to raise taxes on us.  What most taxpayers in the United States today are facing is “death by a thousand cuts”.  When you add up all forms of taxation from all levels of government, approximately 40 percent of all the income in the country is taken in as taxes by government.  Large numbers of Americans end up paying well over 50 percent of their income in taxes, and many of them don’t even realize that it is happening.  We truly are being taxed into oblivion, and yet the politicians just keep coming back for more.

On all levels, government just keeps growing, and all of this government has got to be paid for somehow.  Politicians have become masters at finding ways to tax us so that we won’t even feel it.  They have an endless hunger to spend more money, and they depend on us to feed that addiction.  Today, the combination of federal government spending, state government spending and local government spending now accounts for a larger share of U.S. GDP than at any other time in our history.

Yes, federal income tax rates were significantly higher 30 or 40 years ago.  But virtually every other tax you can think of has gone way up since then or did not exist back then.

Federal income taxes definitely still hurt, but the reality is that where we really get hit is in all of the other taxes that we pay.  American families pay Social Security taxes, Medicare taxes, state income taxes, sales taxes, property taxes, death taxes, various excise taxes, gasoline taxes, tire taxes, utility taxes, liquor taxes, telephone taxes and cigarette taxes just to name a few.  The truth is that there are dozens and dozens of different taxes that most Americans pay each year, and there are a whole bunch of others that get passed on to us through businesses that we deal with.

Speaking of cigarette taxes, there is legislation in Congress right now that would send taxes on tobacco products absolutely skyrocketing yet again.

I don’t smoke and I never will smoke, but I find the attack on smokers by our politicians to be seriously offensive.  If smoking is legal, then leave them alone.  Don’t tax them into oblivion just because you don’t like what they are doing.

An excerpt from S. 1403 (The IDEA Full Funding Act) is posted below.  You will notice that a portion of this legislation even refers to itself as the “Saving Lives by Lowering Tobacco Use Act”.  They are openly admitting that they want to make tobacco so expensive that people cannot afford to use it….

SEC. 3. TOBACCO TAX INCREASE AND PARITY.

(a) Short Title- This section may be cited as the ‘Saving Lives by Lowering Tobacco Use Act’.

(b) Increase in Excise Tax on Small Cigars and Cigarettes-

(1) SMALL CIGARS- Section 5701(a)(1) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 is amended by striking ‘$50.33’ and inserting ‘$100.50’.

(2) CIGARETTES- Section 5701(b) of such Code is amended–

(A) by striking ‘$50.33’ in paragraph (1) and inserting ‘$100.50’, and

(B) by striking ‘$105.69’ in paragraph (2) and inserting ‘$211.04’.

(c) Tax Parity for Pipe Tobacco and Roll-Your-Own Tobacco-

(1) PIPE TOBACCO- Section 5701(f) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 is amended by striking ‘$2.8311 cents’ and inserting ‘$49.55’.

(2) ROLL-YOUR-OWN TOBACCO- Section 5701(g) of such Code is amended by striking ‘$24.78’ and inserting ‘$49.55’.

(d) Clarification of Definition of Small Cigars- Paragraphs (1) and (2) of section 5701(a) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 are each amended by striking ‘three pounds per thousand’ and inserting ‘four and one-half pounds per thousand’.

(e) Clarification of Definition of Cigarette- Paragraph (2) of section 5702(b) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 is amended by inserting before the final period the following: ‘, which includes any roll for smoking containing tobacco that weighs no more than four and a half pounds per thousand, unless it is wrapped in whole tobacco leaf and does not have a cellulose acetate or other cigarette-style filter’.

(f) Tax Parity for Smokeless Tobacco-

(1) IN GENERAL- Section 5701(e) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 is amended–

(A) in paragraph (1), by striking ‘$1.51’ and inserting ‘$26.79’;

(B) in paragraph (2), by striking ‘50.33 cents’ and inserting ‘$10.72’; and

(C) by adding at the end the following:

‘(3) SMOKELESS TOBACCO SOLD IN DISCRETE SINGLE-USE UNITS- On discrete single-use units, $100.50 per each 1,000 single-use units.’.

You can view the full text of this legislation right here.  Please notice that some of the tax increases are absolutely mind blowing.  For example, the tax rate on pipe tobacco is going from 2.8311 cents to $49.55.

Now that is a tax increase you can really sink your teeth into.

We are seeing “quiet” tax increases like this happen on every level of government all over the United States.

Of course I haven’t even mentioned all of the fines and fees and “registration” charges that state and local governments are hitting us with.

Have you gone to renew your car registration lately?  In some states (such as California) the fees have gotten absolutely ridiculous.

Speaking of California, it looks like they are getting ready to target cellphone users once again.

According to USA Today, California is getting ready to seriously jack up the fines for talking on a cellphone while driving….

The state Senate has sent a bill to Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr. raising the basic fine for a first automotive offense from $20 to $50, the Sacramento Bee reports. For subsequent offenses, the fine would rise from $50 to $100. That’s not the worst of it: by the time state and local assessments are added on, the total for a first offense rises to between $208 to $328. For additional tickets, make that $328 to $528.

Yes, talking on a cellphone while driving is dangerous.  But hitting people with tickets of $300, $400 or even $500 is not about safety.  It is all about revenue generation.

Right now we are seeing an epidemic of speed traps all over the country.  State and local governments are desperate for money, and they see speeders as an easy source of revenue. You can read more about this phenomenon right here.

Speaking of “revenue”, that seems to have become Barack Obama’s new favorite word lately.  He seems absolutely obsessed with raising more money for the federal government.  The Obamacare law was absolutely packed to the gills with new taxes, but now he wants even more.

Yes, it is true that the wealthy are getting away with murder under our current tax system.  I find it highly offensive that many people that make millions of dollars each year are able to find ways to pay much, much smaller percentages of their incomes in taxes than I do.

But raising tax rates isn’t going to solve the problem.  Those that are masters at avoiding taxes are going to continue to do so.  Meanwhile, middle class Americans and small businesses will continue to get bled to death.

Our current tax system is fundamentally broken and needs to be completely thrown out and replaced.

However, no system is going to work until the federal government gets a handle on its spending addiction.

In the past couple of years, spending by the federal government as a share of GDP has been the highest that it has been since World War II.

You would think that there should be plenty of fat to trim, but as the recent debt ceiling deal clearly demonstrated, our politicians do not intend to significantly reduce government spending.

They are just going to keep borrowing, spending and finding more ways to tax us.

All of this nonsense in Washington D.C. is part of the reason why Americans are so displeased with Congress at this point.  According to Gallup, 84 percent of Americans now disapprove of the way Congress is doing its job, which is a brand new all-time high.

The truth is that sending more money to Washington D.C. is not going to “fix” things.

The federal government has multiplied in size over the past several decades, and yet the number of poor people just continues to increase.

Giving the poor more handouts may ease their suffering for a little while, but it is not the solution to their problems.  What they really need are good jobs, but our politicians have very busy setting up unfair trade agreements that allow millions of our jobs to be shipped overseas, and they continue to suffocate businesses in this country with mountains of ridiculous regulations.

No, the people that truly benefit when more money flows to the federal government are the fatcats that live and work around Washington D.C.

The past few decades have been a bonanza for government contractors, lobbyists and lawyers in the D.C. area.

According to the Washington Post, those living in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area now have a higher median household income than anyone else in the country….

Washingtonians now enjoy the highest median household income of any metropolitan area in the country, and five of the top 10 jurisdictions in America — Loudoun, Howard and Fairfax counties, and Falls Church and Fairfax City — are here, census data shows.

The signs of that wealth are on display all over, from the string of luxury boutiques such as Gucci and Tory Burch opening at Tysons Galleria to the $15 cocktails served over artisanal ice at the W Hotel in the District to the ever-larger houses rising off River Road in Potomac.

There is a ton of money in the D.C. area.  I know.  I used to work there.  Approximately one third of the GDP of the region comes from spending by the federal government.  Even during this recent economic downturn, the Washington D.C. region continues to do really, really well.

So, no, raising taxes is not going to fix what ails us.  It would just feed the monster that we have created in Washington.

We are already being taxed into oblivion.  Middle class America can’t take much more of this.

We need to change our entire approach to taxation in this country, because right now our tax system is fundamentally unfair and it is not working.

So what do all of you think about our tax system?  Please feel free to post a comment with your opinion below….

 

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