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Government Shutdown? 36 Facts Which Prove That Almost Everything Is Still Running

The West Front of the U.S. CapitolAll of this whining and crying about a “government shutdown” is a total joke.  You see, there really is very little reason why this “government shutdown” cannot continue indefinitely because almost everything is still running.  63 percent of all federal workers are still working, and 85 percent of all government activities are still being funded during this “shutdown”.  Yes, the Obama administration has been making a big show of taking down government websites and blocking off the World War II Memorial, but overall business in Washington D.C. is being conducted pretty much as usual.  It turns out that the definition of “essential personnel” has expanded so much over the years that almost everyone is considered “essential” at this point.  In fact, this shutdown is such a non-event that even referring to it as a “partial government shutdown” would really be overstating what is actually happening.  The following are 36 facts which prove that almost everything is still running during this government shutdown…

#1 According to U.S. Senator Rand Paul, 85 percent of all government activities are actually being funded during this “government shutdown”.

#2 Approximately 1,350,000 “essential” federal employees will continue to work during this “government shutdown”.

#3 Overall, 63 percent of the federal workforce will continue to work during this “government shutdown”.

#4 The U.S. Postal Service will continue to deliver our mail.

#5 U.S. military personnel will remain on duty and will continue to get paid.

#6 Social Security recipients will continue to get their benefits.

#7 Medicare recipients will continue to get their benefits.

#8 Medicaid recipients will continue to get their benefits.

#9 Food stamp recipients will continue to get their benefits.

#10 Those on unemployment will continue to get their benefits.

#11 Federal retirees will continue to get their pensions.

#12 The federal school lunch program has enough money to go through at least the end of this month.

#13 Public schools all over the country will continue to stay open.

#14 Almost all federal law enforcement officials will continue working.

#15 The Federal Reserve will remain “completely functional“.

#16 The Supreme Court will continue to operate normally and federal courts have enough money to keep going for at least two weeks.

#17 TSA employees will continue to molest travelers at our airports.

#18 Air traffic controllers will continue to monitor traffic at our airports.

#19 Hopelessly outmanned border patrol agents will continue to try to stem the tide of illegal immigration.

#20 Visas and passports will continue to be issued by the State Department.

#21 The Veterans Administration will continue to offer substandard medical services, and it will be able to continue processing benefit payments at least for now.

#22 The Obama administration apparently has plenty of money to spend on closing open-air memorials that are usually open to the public 24 hours a day.

#23 The Department of Defense announced the awarding of 94 new contracts worth a combined total of more than 5 billion dollars on September 30th – the day right before the “government shutdown”.

#24 The “government shutdown” has not prevented the new two billion dollar NSA spy center from opening up.

#25 Federal prisons will continue to operate normally.

#26 Amtrak trains will continue to run.

#27 The Patent and Trademark Office will be open.

#28 The Consumer Product Safety Commission will continue to issue product recalls if the products “create an immediate threat to the safety of human life“.

#29 The National Weather Service and the National Hurricane Center will continue to track weather patterns.

#30 If the federal government needs to respond to a natural disaster, this “shutdown” will not affect that.

#31 NASA will continue to support the Mars Rover and the two American astronauts up on the International Space Station.

#32 All city employees of the D.C. government have been deemed “essential” and will continue to go to work.

#33 Even though the Obamacare exchanges are not working properly, people will still be able to access them.

#34 The IRS will continue to collect taxes, but it will be suspending punitive audits of conservative organizations.

#35 Barack Obama will continue to get paid for the full duration of this “shutdown”.

#36 The U.S. Congress will continue to get paid for the full duration of this “shutdown”.

Of course not everything is operating normally during this government shutdown.  Government parks are closed.  The EPA and the Department of Energy have almost totally closed up shop.  But overall, most Americans are not going to notice much of a difference.

And perhaps now is a good time for the American people to evaluate whether or not they actually need a gigantic federal government that wastes enormous mountains of our money.

For example, our federal government recently spent $98,670 to construct a single outhouse in Alaska.

That is more than a lot of Americans pay for their entire houses.

For many more examples like this, please see my previous article entitled “The Waste List: 66 Crazy Ways That The U.S. Government Is Wasting Your Hard-Earned Money“.

It is about time that Washington D.C. started experiencing some of the “belt-tightening” that the rest of the country has been going through.  For far too long, the fatcats in D.C. have been living in an alternate reality where they have been able to live the high life at our expense.  A recent blog post by Daniel Greenfield discussed how this shutdown is going to affect the alternate reality that the Obamas have been living in…

The government shutdown has forced Obama to make do with only a quarter of his 1,701 person staff. That would leave 436 “vital” employees. The 90 people who look after his living quarters would be slashed to 15 to “provide minimum maintenance and support”.

Buckingham Palace, which is twelve times the size of the White House and has its own clockmaker, only has an 800 person staff. King Harald V of Norway and his court make do with 152 staffers. King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden gets by with 203.

On Twitter, Michelle Obama announced that she is unable to Tweet on her own without the aid of all of her sixteen assistants; many of whom take home six figure salaries. There are more directors, associate directors and deputy associate directors on Michelle Obama’s staff than there were in George Washington’s entire administration.

Presidents have fought wars and made peace, explored and annexed vast territories and built a nation out of a handful of colonies with fewer senior staffers than are needed to handle Michelle Obama’s Twitter account.

Oh the humanity!  Will Michelle Obama ever tweet again?  And how will the White House continue to function without at least one projectionist on duty at the White House 24 hours a day?

No wonder Barack Obama is so upset about this shutdown.

In the end, this shutdown could turn out to be very good for America.  We have a government that is wildly out of control and that desperately needs to be reigned in.

During the Obama administration, federal debt held by the public has risen by 90 percent, and overall federal government spending has risen by a whopping 317 percent since 1990.

So is it really a bad thing that the federal government has been forced to cut back for a little while?

Our politicians can whine and cry all they want.  They won’t be getting any sympathy from me.

22 Reasons Why Starting World War 3 In The Middle East Is A Really Bad Idea

Tomahawk cruise missileWhile most of the country is obsessing over Miley Cyrus, the Obama administration is preparing a military attack against Syria which has the potential of starting World War 3.  In fact, it is being reported that cruise missile strikes could begin “as early as Thursday“.  The Obama administration is pledging that the strikes will be “limited”, but what happens when the Syrians fight back?  What happens if they sink a U.S. naval vessel or they have agents start hitting targets inside the United States?  Then we would have a full-blown war on our hands.  And what happens if the Syrians decide to retaliate by hitting Israel?  If Syrian missiles start raining down on Tel Aviv, Israel will be extremely tempted to absolutely flatten Damascus, and they are more than capable of doing precisely that.  And of course Hezbollah and Iran are not likely to just sit idly by as their close ally Syria is battered into oblivion.  We are looking at a scenario where the entire Middle East could be set aflame, and that might only be just the beginning.  Russia and China are sternly warning the U.S. government not to get involved in Syria, and by starting a war with Syria we will do an extraordinary amount of damage to our relationships with those two global superpowers.  Could this be the beginning of a chain of events that could eventually lead to a massive global conflict with Russia and China on one side and the United States on the other?  Of course it will not happen immediately, but I fear that what is happening now is setting the stage for some really bad things.  The following are 22 reasons why starting World War 3 in the Middle East is a really bad idea…

#1 The American people are overwhelmingly against going to war with Syria…

Americans strongly oppose U.S. intervention in Syria’s civil war and believe Washington should stay out of the conflict even if reports that Syria’s government used deadly chemicals to attack civilians are confirmed, a Reuters/Ipsos poll says.

About 60 percent of Americans surveyed said the United States should not intervene in Syria’s civil war, while just 9 percent thought President Barack Obama should act.

#2 At this point, a war in Syria is even more unpopular with the American people than Congress is.

#3 The Obama administration has not gotten approval to go to war with Syria from Congress as the U.S. Constitution requires.

#4 The United States does not have the approval of the United Nations to attack Syria and it is not going to be getting it.

#5 Syria has said that it will use all means available” to defend itself if the United States attacks.  Would that include terror attacks in the United States itself?

#6 Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem made the following statement on Tuesday

“We have two options: either to surrender, or to defend ourselves with the means at our disposal. The second choice is the best: we will defend ourselves”

#7 Russia has just sent their most advanced anti-ship missiles to Syria.  What do you think would happen if images of sinking U.S. naval vessels were to come flashing across our television screens?

#8 When the United States attacks Syria, there is a very good chance that Syria will attack Israel.  Just check out what one Syrian official said recently

A member of the Syrian Ba’ath national council Halef al-Muftah, until recently the Syrian propaganda minister’s aide, said on Monday that Damascus views Israel as “behind the aggression and therefore it will come under fire” should Syria be attacked by the United States.

In an interview for the American radio station Sawa in Arabic, President Bashar Assad’s fellow party member said: “We have strategic weapons and we can retaliate. Essentially, the strategic weapons are aimed at Israel.”

Al-Muftah stressed that the US’s threats will not influence the Syrain regime and added that “If the US or Israel err through aggression and exploit the chemical issue, the region will go up in endless flames, affecting not only the area’s security, but the world’s.”

#9 If Syria attacks Israel, the consequences could be absolutely catastrophic.  Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is promising that any attack will be responded to “forcefully“…

“We are not a party to this civil war in Syria but if we identify any attempt to attack us we will respond and we will respond forcefully”

#10 Hezbollah will likely do whatever it can to fight for the survival of the Assad regime.  That could include striking targets inside both the United States and Israel.

#11 Iran’s closest ally is Syria.  Will Iran sit idly by as their closest ally is removed from the chessboard?

#12 Starting a war with Syria will cause significant damage to our relationship with Russia.  On Tuesday, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said that the West is acting like a “monkey with a hand grenade“.

#13 Starting a war with Syria will cause significant damage to our relationship with China.  And what will happen if the Chinese decide to start dumping the massive amount of U.S. debt that it is holding?  Interest rates would absolutely skyrocket and we would rapidly be facing a nightmare scenario.

#14 Dr. Jerome Corsi and Walid Shoebat have compiled some startling evidence that it was actually the Syrian rebels that the U.S. is supporting that were responsible for the chemical weapons attack that is being used as justification to go to war with Syria…

With the assistance of former PLO member and native Arabic-speaker Walid Shoebat, WND has assembled evidence from various Middle Eastern sources that cast doubt on Obama administration claims the Assad government is responsible for last week’s attack.

You can examine the evidence for yourself right here.

#15 As Pat Buchanan recently noted, it would have made absolutely no sense for the Assad regime to use chemical weapons on defenseless women and children.  The only people who would benefit from such an attack would be the rebels…

The basic question that needs to be asked about this horrific attack on civilians, which appears to be gas related, is: Cui bono?

To whose benefit would the use of nerve gas on Syrian women and children redound? Certainly not Assad’s, as we can see from the furor and threats against him that the use of gas has produced.

The sole beneficiary of this apparent use of poison gas against civilians in rebel-held territory appears to be the rebels, who have long sought to have us come in and fight their war.

#16 If the Saudis really want to topple the Assad regime, they should do it themselves.  They should not expect the United States to do their dirty work for them.

#17 A former commander of U.S. Central Command has said that a U.S. attack on Syria would result in “a full-throated, very, very serious war“.

#18 A war in the Middle East will be bad for the financial markets.  The Dow was down about 170 points today and concern about war with Syria was the primary reason.

#19 A war in the Middle East will cause the price of oil to go up.  On Tuesday, the price of U.S. oil rose to about $109 a barrel.

#20 There is no way in the world that the U.S. government should be backing the Syrian rebels.  As I discussed a few days ago, the rebels have pledged loyalty to al-Qaeda, they have beheaded numerous Christians and they have massacred entire Christian villages.  If the U.S. government helps these lunatics take power in Syria it will be a complete and utter disaster.

#21 A lot of innocent civilians inside Syria will end up getting killed.  Already, a lot of Syrians are expressing concern about what “foreign intervention” will mean for them and their families…

“I’ve always been a supporter of foreign intervention, but now that it seems like a reality, I’ve been worrying that my family could be hurt or killed,” said one woman, Zaina, who opposes Assad. “I’m afraid of a military strike now.”

“The big fear is that they’ll make the same mistakes they made in Libya and Iraq,” said Ziyad, a man in his 50s. “They’ll hit civilian targets, and then they’ll cry that it was by mistake, but we’ll get killed in the thousands.”

#22 If the U.S. government insists on going to war with Syria without the approval of the American people, the U.S. Congress or the United Nations, we are going to lose a lot of friends and a lot of credibility around the globe.  It truly is a sad day when Russia looks like “the good guys” and we look like “the bad guys”.

What good could possibly come out of getting involved in Syria?  As I wrote about the other day, the “rebels” that Obama is backing are rabidly anti-Christian, rabidly anti-Israel and rabidly anti-western.  If they take control of Syria, that nation will be far more unstable and far more of a hotbed for terrorism than it is now.

And the downside of getting involved in Syria is absolutely enormous.  Syria, Iran and Hezbollah all have agents inside this country, and if they decide to start blowing stuff up that will wake up the American people to the horror of war really quick.  And by attacking Syria, the United States could cause a major regional war to erupt in the Middle East which could eventually lead to World War 3.

I don’t know about you, but I think that starting World War 3 in the Middle East is a really bad idea.

Let us hope that cooler heads prevail before things spin totally out of control.

Are These The Last Days Of The U.S. Marine Corps?

MarinesAre the current personnel cuts the beginning of the end for the U.S. Marines?  Could these actually be the last days of the U.S. Marine Corps?  A decade ago, such a notion would have been absolutely unthinkable, but times have changed.  The Marine Corps was already in the process of drawing down from a peak of 202,100 Marines to 182,100, and now Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is warning that the sequester cuts may force the Army to be cut down to a size of 380,000 and the Marine Corps to be cut down to a size of 150,000.  Unfortunately for the Marines, even larger cuts may eventually be coming.  Many in the Obama administration and in the Pentagon are now openly questioning whether there will be an important role for the Marines to play in the future.  After all, the U.S. military has not conducted a major amphibious landing since the Korean War.  As our politicians look for even more ways to cut military expenses in the years ahead, the Marines may end up being very tempting “low hanging fruit” that the bureaucrats can’t resist.  And unless another major conflict erupts, it seems clear that more cuts are probably coming.  In fact, even the New York Times admits that “deep reductions” to the U.S. military have long been an important goal for Barack Obama.

So does Barack Obama plan to go after the Marines?  Well, for now Barack Obama is publicly praising the Marines.  In fact, Obama made the following promise to the Marines during a recent speech at Camp Pendleton

“After all you’ve given to our nation, you have to know your nation will always be faithful to you.”

Will Obama keep that promise?

Well, considering his track record perhaps you should not hold your breath.

In any event, the Marine Corps brass is certainly bracing for very deep budget cuts right now.  Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Jim Amos says that the Marine Corps is going to do “the very best we possibly can” with what they are given…

Amos said he assumes the Corps’ planned shift to more operations in the Pacific will continue, but the size of the force and the number of missions it will be able to undertake will be reduced if the budget cuts stay in place.“We’re going to do less with less,” Amos told the House committee. “That doesn’t mean we’re going to do it poorly or we’re going to do it inadequately. We’ll do it the very best we possibly can.”

Unfortunately for the Marines, they are being given less and less these days.

You see, the cuts to the Marines did not start with the sequester.  The truth is that plans to reduce the size of the Marines started very early in the Obama administration.  For example, the following are recommendations for cuts that came from the 2010 Force Structure Review Group report

• A 13 percent drop in ground combat forces, including an 11 percent reduction in infantry, 20 percent reduction in cannon artillery and a 20 percent reduction in armor

•A 16 percent drop in fixed-wing tactical aviation squadrons

• A 9 percent drop in logistics

• A 7 percent drop in Marines assigned to non-operational billets

• And a 12 percent drop in the civilian work force.

And back in 2010, Defense Secretary Robert Gates stated that the Marines had “gotten too big” and he also publicly questioned the future of the Marines

“All of the military services have been challenged to find the right balance between preserving what is unique and valuable in their traditions, while at the same time making the changes necessary to win the wars we are in and prepare for the likely future threats in the years and decades to come,” he said. “Looking ahead, I do think it is proper to ask whether large-scale amphibious landings along the lines of Inchon [the Marine’s invasion of the Korea peninsula in 1950] are feasible.”

Of course part of the problem for the Marines is that they are still considered to be a part of the U.S. Navy.  The following is from a recent Fiscal Times article

The Marines, while considered a separate branch of the military, are actually part of the Navy. They’re often referred to as the “infantry of the Navy.”

“The Marines don’t have a separate fiscal existence. They are a wholly owned subsidiary of the Navy,” Adams said.

When it comes time to cut the Navy budget, it is often the Marines that feel the most pain…

But the Navy has authority over the Marine’s personnel budget–expected to be $12.9 billion in 2014. This means that Navy brass can decide how it pays to train, house, feed and maintain readiness of the troops.

Because of this, according to Adams, the Marines often find themselves the victims of Navy spending fights.

And right now the U.S. military is experiencing a spending squeeze that they have not felt in many, many years.  In addition to personnel cuts, a whole host of other Marine programs could be cut back significantly because of the sequester

Fewer F-35B Joint Strike Fighters, MV-22 Ospreys, AH-1 Cobras, and UH-1 Hueys. No Marine Personnel Carrier. Maybe no Joint Light Tactical Vehicle to replace the Humvee. 8,000 fewer Marines on active duty. The Marine Commandant has put all that on the table as part of his proposal to the Defense Secretary’s Strategic Choices and Management Review. If sequester goes into effect in its full 10-year, $500 billion glory – and all signs so far are it will – then Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos stands ready to sacrifice almost everything except the Amphibious Combat Vehicle and combat readiness.

As the size of the U.S. Marine Corps gets whittled away, we need to be very careful that we do not lose a very important part of our culture.  The Marines have a very special place in U.S. history, and we should never forget the blood that so many of them shed to defend our liberties and our freedoms.

Unfortunately, our liberties and our freedoms are being eroded at an astounding pace today, and even the Marines themselves are quickly becoming an endangered species.

After surviving the Japanese and the North Koreans, it is a shame that many old vets may have to watch the Marine Corps that they love fall victim to Barack Obama and the bureaucrats.

The few and the proud are rapidly becoming fewer, and it just doesn’t seem right.

Member Of Congress: Edward Snowden’s Revelations Are “Just The Tip Of The Iceberg”

Iceberg - Photo by Gerald TappAccording to U.S. Representative Loretta Sanchez, members of Congress learned “significantly more than what is out in the media today” during a closed briefing about the NSA on Tuesday, and that what has been revealed so far about NSA snooping is “just the tip of the iceberg”.  During her interview with C-SPAN on Wednesday, she also stated that NSA spying is “just broader than most people even realize” but due to security restrictions she could not reveal more than that.  So precisely what are the American people not being told?  And do our leaders ever plan to tell us the truth?  Many of our politicians have come down extremely hard on whistleblower Edward Snowden, but if it wasn’t for him most Americans would have no idea what the NSA has been up to.  Is the Obama administration going to come clean on this, or do we have to wait for even more whistleblowers to come forward?  The American people deserve to know that they are being spied on, and it appears that those in charge of doing this spying have been flat out lying to Congress about it.

Today, one of the most powerful men in the U.S. government is Keith Alexander, the Director of the NSA.  According to a Wired article that just came out, Alexander “is regarded with a mixture of respect and fear” by those inside the government…

Inside the government, the general is regarded with a mixture of respect and fear, not unlike J. Edgar Hoover, another security figure whose tenure spanned multiple presidencies. “We jokingly referred to him as Emperor Alexander—with good cause, because whatever Keith wants, Keith gets,” says one former senior CIA official who agreed to speak on condition of anonymity. “We would sit back literally in awe of what he was able to get from Congress, from the White House, and at the expense of everybody else.”

And according to that same article, Alexander foresees a day when the entire Internet will be directly under NSA control…

Alexander runs the nation’s cyberwar efforts, an empire he has built over the past eight years by insisting that the US’s inherent vulnerability to digital attacks requires him to amass more and more authority over the data zipping around the globe. In his telling, the threat is so mind-bogglingly huge that the nation has little option but to eventually put the entire civilian Internet under his protection, requiring tweets and emails to pass through his filters, and putting the kill switch under the government’s forefinger. “What we see is an increasing level of activity on the networks,” he said at a recent security conference in Canada. “I am concerned that this is going to break a threshold where the private sector can no longer handle it and the government is going to have to step in.”

Does that paragraph put a chill up your spine?

It should.

The free and open Internet that we enjoy today may not always exist.  The power of government may eventually transform it into something else entirely.

And as Dr. Jerome Corsi has just written about, Alexander has now publicly confirmed much of what Edward Snowden has been alleging…

The NSA director confirmed to Congress today that leaker Edward Snowden had access to a highly sensitive database containing personal information that could be mined to track a target’s thoughts and actions and possibly predict future acts.

U.S. Army General Keith B. Alexander, commander of U.S. Cyber Command and director of the National Security Agency, told the Senate Appropriations Committee that Snowden “had great skills as an IT (Internet Technology) system administrator.”

Yes, in this day and age every nation needs intelligence agencies.  But they should be used to spy on the enemies of the American people, not on the American people themselves.  The Fourth Amendment is supposed to be our guarantee that the government will not invade our privacy or investigate us unless there is probable cause that we have committed a crime.  That means that if they don’t have probable cause they are supposed to leave us alone.

Unfortunately, those running our government seem to have a tremendous disdain for the U.S. Constitution.  In fact, all over the western world we are seeing freedoms and liberties being destroyed.  The following is what Simon Black recently had to say about all of this…

By now it should be clear to anyone paying attention that most of Western civilization is on a dangerous slide into tyranny.

They’re confiscating funds directly from people’s bank accounts. They’re seizing reporters’ personal records and phone logs. They’re digitally spying on everyone’s emails.

They’ve authorized military detention and drone assassination of their own citizens.

They’re using tax offices to harass political opposition groups.

They tell us what we are allowed to eat and drink, what foods we are allowed to put in our own body.

Think about it. These are Soviet tactics, plain and simple.

What’s more, they don’t even care. They think we’re all idiots who are too stupid to even notice what they’re doing.

Now is the time for the American people to stand up and object to all of this.

If you are waiting for our politicians to save you, then you are going to be waiting for a very, very long time.

And most Americans have already figured this out.  According to a new Gallup survey that was just released, the confidence that the American people have in Congress is at an all-time low.  Only 10 percent of all Americans have confidence in our legislative branch at this point.

If the American people do not demand change now, it will be a signal to those doing the snooping that they can push the envelope even farther.

We need to heed the warnings of the whistleblowers.  Our own government has been listening to our most private conversations and they have been totally getting away with it.  Just check out what NSA whistleblower Adrienne J. Kinne told NSA expert James Bamford

I also wrote about Adrienne J. Kinne, an NSA intercept operator who attempted to blow the whistle on the NSA’s illegal eavesdropping on Americans following the 9/11 attacks. “Basically all rules were thrown out the window,” she said, “and they would use any excuse to justify a waiver to spy on Americans.” Even journalists calling home from overseas were included. “A lot of time you could tell they were calling their families,” she says, “incredibly intimate, personal conversations.” She only told her story to me after attempting, and failing, to end the illegal activity with appeals all the way up the chain of command to Major General Keith Alexander, head of the Army’s Intelligence and Security Command at the time.

Do you want the government to listen to your “intimate, personal conversations”, record them and stash them in a giant data center out in Utah where they will be held forever?

If not, then this is your chance to stand up and demand change.

 

How Has The U.S. Government Been Getting User Data From Major Internet Companies?

Prism****IMPORTANT UPDATE****  Apparently the big Internet companies are not as “innocent” in all of this as they originally led us to believe.  So this additional information changes some of the conclusions that I reached in my original article.  It appears that some of the biggest Internet companies have been cooperating with the government in this data collection effort at least to a certain extent.  The following is from an article in the New York Times that describes how the U.S. government has been getting user data from major Internet companies…

The companies that negotiated with the government include Google, which owns YouTube; Microsoft, which owns Hotmail and Skype; Yahoo; Facebook; AOL; Apple; and Paltalk, according to one of the people briefed on the discussions. The companies were legally required to share the data under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. People briefed on the discussions spoke on the condition of anonymity because they are prohibited by law from discussing the content of FISA requests or even acknowledging their existence.

In at least two cases, at Google and Facebook, one of the plans discussed was to build separate, secure portals, like a digital version of the secure physical rooms that have long existed for classified information, in some instances on company servers. Through these online rooms, the government would request data, companies would deposit it and the government would retrieve it, people briefed on the discussions said.

****END OF UPDATE****

The U.S. government has been hacking in to the servers of Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube and Apple and has been taking their user data without their knowledge or consent.  According to the Washington Post, the information being stolen includes “audio and video chats, photographs, e-mails, documents, and connection logs”.  This program is known as PRISM, and it was first revealed by the Washington Post on Thursday.  Since the story broke, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has admitted that PRISM exists and so has Barack Obama.  The Washington Post initially claimed that all of the Internet companies were willingly handing over their user data to the government.  Now we are learning that is NOT true.  In fact, all of the Internet companies named in the Washington Post story have denied knowing about PRISM or ever giving the federal government permission to directly access their servers.  So this means that the U.S. government has been stealing massive amounts of user data from the largest Internet companies in the world without their permission.  Of course this is highly illegal and it directly violates the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, but you can bet that the Obama administration is going to do everything that it can to get the courts to “make it legal”.  Hopefully the revelation of this program will be enough to get the American people to realize that we are rapidly being transformed into a Big Brother police state that is descending into tyranny.

Barack Obama has described the systematic gathering of cell phone records and the Internet spying that the federal government has been doing as “modest encroachments” that we should all just accept as part of the price of living in a modern world, but if we allow the government to get away with this, where will it end?

Even if we had a total “Big Brother” society where the government watched everything that we did 24 hours a day, bad people would still do bad things.  There would still be terror attacks and great tragedies.  No matter how much the government intrudes into our lives, it can never guarantee us 100% safety.

Those that founded the United States understood this.  They did not want this country to be turned into a police state.  That is why they guaranteed us some very important protections in the Bill of Rights.  If the government wants to do a search, there are some very important procedures that must be followed first.

Unfortunately, the Obama administration appears to believe that the Constitution does not apply to user data on the Internet.  The NSA is apparently hacking into Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube and Apple and taking whatever they want without ever getting permission from those companies.

You can bet that there are some very, very angry executives at those companies right now that are trying to figure out how to respond to these revelations.

All of these companies have vehemently denied that they were involved.  At this point, there is no reason to doubt their very strong denials.

For example, the following is what 

Dear Google users—

You may be aware of press reports alleging that Internet companies have joined a secret U.S. government program called PRISM to give the National Security Agency direct access to our servers. As Google’s CEO and Chief Legal Officer, we wanted you to have the facts.

First, we have not joined any program that would give the U.S. government—or any other government—direct access to our servers. Indeed, the U.S. government does not have direct access or a “back door” to the information stored in our data centers. We had not heard of a program called PRISM until yesterday.

Second, we provide user data to governments only in accordance with the law. Our legal team reviews each and every request, and frequently pushes back when requests are overly broad or don’t follow the correct process. Press reports that suggest that Google is providing open-ended access to our users’ data are false, period. Until this week’s reports, we had never heard of the broad type of order that Verizon received—an order that appears to have required them to hand over millions of users’ call records. We were very surprised to learn that such broad orders exist. Any suggestion that Google is disclosing information about our users’ Internet activity on such a scale is completely false.

Finally, this episode confirms what we have long believed—there needs to be a more transparent approach. Google has worked hard, within the confines of the current laws, to be open about the data requests we receive. We post this information on our Transparency Report whenever possible. We were the first company to do this. And, of course, we understand that the U.S. and other governments need to take action to protect their citizens’ safety—including sometimes by using surveillance. But the level of secrecy around the current legal procedures undermines the freedoms we all cherish.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has issued a similar denial.  He insists that Facebook never even heard of PRISM until Thursday…

I want to respond personally to the outrageous press reports about PRISM:

Facebook is not and has never been part of any program to give the US or any other government direct access to our servers. We have never received a blanket request or court order from any government agency asking for information or metadata in bulk, like the one Verizon reportedly received. And if we did, we would fight it aggressively. We hadn’t even heard of PRISM before yesterday.

When governments ask Facebook for data, we review each request carefully to make sure they always follow the correct processes and all applicable laws, and then only provide the information if is required by law. We will continue fighting aggressively to keep your information safe and secure.

We strongly encourage all governments to be much more transparent about all programs aimed at keeping the public safe. It’s the only way to protect everyone’s civil liberties and create the safe and free society we all want over the long term.

So how has the U.S. government been getting this user data if they do not have the cooperation of these large Internet companies?

They have been stealing it.

Is this the kind of society that we want to have?  Do we really want the government to be free to hack into the servers of Internet companies and take user data any time that it wants?

And guess what?

According to the Wall Street Journal, the NSA has also been gathering massive amounts of credit card data as well…

The National Security Agency’s monitoring of Americans includes customer records from the three major phone networks as well as emails and Web searches, and the agency also has cataloged credit-card transactions, said people familiar with the agency’s activities.

So if you ever bought something embarrassing with a credit card, there is a very good chance that the NSA knows about it.

If you don’t like where all of this is headed, then now is the time to stand up and say something about it.

Sadly, the truth is that most of our politicians see absolutely nothing wrong with our current system.  The following is what Barack Obama said in response to the recent revelations about the NSA

“You can’t have 100 percent security and also then have 100 percent privacy and zero inconvenience. We’re going to have to make some choices as a society,” he said. “I think that on balance, we have established a policy and a procedure that the American people should feel comfortable with.”

Do you feel comfortable with the fact that the NSA is hacking into major Internet companies and stealing their user data?

I know that I definitely am not.

I think that the journalist that originally broke the story about how the government is systematically gathering our phone records summed up what many of us are feeling right now pretty well

“There is a massive apparatus within the United States government that with complete secrecy has been building this enormous structure that has only one goal, and that is to destroy privacy and anonymity, not just in the United States but around the world,” charged Glenn Greenwald, a reporter for the British newspaper “The Guardian,” speaking on CNN. “That is not hyperbole. That is their objective.”

What do you think?

Is all of this government spying good for America or bad for America?

Please feel free to share your opinion by posting a comment below…

 

The More Illegal Immigrants That Go On Food Stamps The More Money JP Morgan Makes

Greed - Photo by J. Solana from Madrid, SpainRecently uncovered documents prove that the Obama administration has been working with the Mexican government to increase the number of illegal immigrants on food stamps, and when more illegal immigrants go on food stamps JP Morgan makes more money.  As you will read about below, JP Morgan has made at least 560 million dollars processing Electronic Benefits Transfer cards.  Each month, JP Morgan makes between $.31 and $2.30 for every single person on food stamps (and that does not even include things like ATM fees, etc).  So JP Morgan has a vested interest in seeing poverty grow and the number of people on food stamps increase.  Meanwhile, the Obama administration has been aggressively seeking to expand participation in the food stamp program.  Under Obama, the number of people on food stamps has grown from 32 million to more than 47 million.  And even though poverty in America is absolutely exploding, that apparently is not good enough for the Obama administration.  It has now come out that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has provided the Mexican government with literature that actively encourages illegal immigrants to enroll in food stamps.  One flyer contains the following statement in Spanish: “You need not divulge information regarding your immigration status in seeking this benefit for your children.”  The bold and the underlining are in the original document in case you were wondering.  Overall, federal spending on food stamps increased from 18 billion dollars in 2000 to 85 billion dollars in 2012, and at this point one out of every five U.S. households in now enrolled in the food stamp program.  When people illegally or fraudulently enroll in the food stamp program, it makes it harder for those that desperately need the help to be able to get it.

It is certainly a good thing to help fellow Americans that are suffering.  It is a crying shame that more than a million public school students in America are homeless.  That should not be happening in the “wealthiest nation on earth”.

But today we have a system that has turned poverty into big business.  According to an article posted on Breitbart.com, JP Morgan has made at least 560 million dollars (and probably much more) processing EBT cards…

A new report by the Government Accountability Institute finds that JP Morgan has made at least $560,492,596 since 2004 processing the Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards of 18 of the 24 states it has under contract for the food stamp program.

A Daily Beast article provided some more specifics about the monster profits that JP Morgan is making…

Just how lucrative JP Morgan’s EBT state contracts are is hard to say, because total national data on EBT contracts are not reported. But thanks to a combination of public-records requests and contracts that are available online, here’s what we do know: 18 of the 24 states JP Morgan handles have been contracted to pay the bank up to $560,492,596.02 since 2004. Since 2007, Florida has been contracted to pay JP Morgan $90,351,202.22. Pennsylvania’s seven-year contract totaled $112,541,823.27. New York’s seven-year contract totaled $126,394,917.

These contracts are transactional contracts, meaning they are amendable based on changes in program participation. Each month, the three companies that administer EBT receive a small fee that can range from $.31 to $2.30 (or higher depending upon the number of welfare services on an EBT card and state contractual requirements) for each SNAP recipient.

So the more people that are out of work and that need to turn to the government for food, the bigger profits that JP Morgan makes.

What makes all of this even more insulting is that many of the jobs that JP Morgan could be providing to Americans to help alleviate this poverty are being shipped overseas instead.  As I noted in a previous article, many EBT card customer service calls are being routed to call centers in India by JP Morgan.

So why doesn’t anyone do anything about this?

Well, it turns out that JP Morgan has the politicians that oversee the food stamp program in their back pocket.  The following is from a recent Money Morning article

And the bank has taken steps to make sure the SNAP program remains a growing source of revenue. JPMorgan’s political donations to the members of House and Senate agricultural committees, the ones with legislative responsibility for the program, soared from just over $82,000 in 2002 to nearly $333,000 as of 2010.

What a wonderful system we have, eh?

And surely JP Morgan just loves the fact that the Obama administration is actively encouraging illegal immigrants to apply for food stamps.

What you are about to read should absolutely shock you.  At a time when the U.S. government is absolutely drowning in debt, the Obama administration is making it abundantly clear to illegal immigrants that their immigration status will not be checked when they apply for food stamps.  The following is from a recent Judicial Watch press release

Judicial Watch today released documents detailing how the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is working with the Mexican government to promote participation by illegal aliens in the U.S. food stamp program.

The promotion of the food stamp program, now known as “SNAP” (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), includes a Spanish-language flyer provided to the Mexican Embassy by the USDA with a statement advising Mexicans in the U.S. that they do not need to declare their immigration status in order to receive financial assistance.  Emphasized in bold and underlined, the statement reads, “You need not divulge information regarding your immigration status in seeking this benefit for your children.”

The documents came in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request made to USDA on July 20, 2012.  The FOIA request sought: “Any and all records of communication relating to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to Mexican Americans, Mexican nationals, and migrant communities, including but not limited to, communications with the Mexican government.”

The documents obtained by Judicial Watch show that USDA officials are working closely with their counterparts at the Mexican Embassy to widely broaden the SNAP program in the Mexican immigrant community, with no effort to restrict aid to, identify, or apprehend illegal immigrants who may be on the food stamp rolls.

You can see a copy of the flyer right here.

So who pays for all of this?

You do of course.

The Obama administration is doing all that it can to promote illegal immigration, and big banks such as JP Morgan just make bigger profits the more illegal immigration that we see, but it is you and I that end up with the bill.  This was put beautifully in a recent article by Mike Adams of NaturalNews.com

Nearly $75 billion of taxpayer money is spent each year on federal food stamps, and it turns out some of that is alarmingly being handed out to illegal immigrants — people who contribute nothing to the federal tax base in America but who seem to be experts on collecting social welfare benefits of all kinds. If you are working for a living, you are buying food for illegals who are being actively recruited by Obama and the democratic party so that they will vote more democrats into office.

When we reward illegal immigration, what happens?

That’s right – we are just going to get even more illegal immigration.

According to WND, we have already started seeing a huge increase in illegal immigrants coming across the border since Congress began debating the amnesty bill…

Illegal border crossings have doubled, and possibly even tripled, since the latest congressional push began toward comprehensive immigration reform.

In reporting first published by Townhall.com’s Katie Pavlich, border patrol agents in the Tucson/Nogales sector claim illegals are coming here in much higher numbers in just the past few months.

“We’ve seen the number of illegal aliens double, maybe even triple since amnesty talk started happening,” an unnamed border agent said to Townhall. The data from Customs and Border Protection cited in the report shows 504 illegals were detected crossing in that sector between Feb. 5 and March 1. Only 189 were caught on camera, and just 174 of the 504 were apprehended. Of those spotted on camera, 32 were carrying huge packs believed to contain drugs and several were heavily armed.

If that bill is passed, it is being projected that it will bring 33 million more people into this country…

The pending Senate immigration bill would bring a minimum of 33 million people into the country during its first decade of operation, according to an analysis by NumbersUSA, a group that wants to slow the current immigration rate.

By 2024, the inflow would include an estimated 9.2 million illegal immigrants, plus 2.5 million illegals who arrived as children — dubbed ‘Dreamers’ — plus roughly 3.4 million company-sponsored employees with university degrees, said the unreleased analysis.

The majority of the inflow, or roughly 17 million people, would consist of family members of illegals, recent immigrants and of company-sponsored workers, according to the NumbersUSA analysis provided to The Daily Caller.

We have made legal immigration a complete and total nightmare while leaving the back door completely wide open at the same time.

We greatly punish those who are trying to do things legally while at the same time we are greatly rewarding those that are cheating the system.

What kind of sense does that make?

Shouldn’t we insist that everyone come in through the front door?

Those that are coming over our borders illegally know what the score is

Linda Vickers, who owns a ranch in Brooks County, which is Ground Zero for the immigration debate, pins the blame directly on talk of ‘amnesty’ and a ‘path to citizenship’ for people who entered the U.S. illegally.

She recalls one man being arrested on her ranch not long ago.

“The Border Patrol agent was loading one man up, and he told the officer in Spanish, ‘Obama’s gonna let me go’.”

Border Patrol agents report that immigrants are crossing the border, and in some cases surrendering while asking, “Where do I go for my amnesty?”

We are already becoming a poverty-stricken nation.  We simply can’t afford to feed millions upon millions of illegal immigrants as well.

As I write this, the U.S. national debt is $16,758,107,082,298.63.

We now have a debt to GDP ratio of about 105 percent.

In the United States today, the amount of money that is deposited in our banks is about 9.3 trillion dollars.  If we took every penny of that and used it to pay off the national debt, we would still owe more than 7 trillion dollars.

We are stealing more than 100 million dollars from future generations of Americans every single hour of every single day to pay our bills, and yet everyone seems to think that this is “normal” somehow.

The truth is that what we are doing is absolutely criminal, and we should all be ashamed.

For much more on our exploding national debt, please see the following article: “55 Facts About The Debt And U.S. Government Finances That Every American Voter Should Know“.

In the end, it should be apparent to everyone that our system is failing.  Our government is corrupt, our big banks are consumed with greed and most average Americans are so addicted to entertainment that they have absolutely no idea what is going on.

What would those that bled and died for this country think about what we have become today?

JP Morgan Chase Tower - Photo by Krzykol

More Than 101 Million Working Age Americans Do Not Have A Job

More Than 101 Million Working Age Americans Do Not Have A Job - Photo by Sage RossThe jobs recovery is a complete and total myth.  The percentage of the working age population in the United States that had a job in March 2013 was exactly the same as it was all the way back in March 2010.  In addition, as you will see below, there are now more than 101 million working age Americans that do not have a job.  But even though the employment level in the United States has consistently remained very low over the past three years, the Obama administration keeps telling us that unemployment is actually going down.  In fact, they tell us that the unemployment rate has declined from a peak of 10.0% all the way down to 7.6%.  And they tell us that in March the unemployment rate fell by 0.1% even though only 88,000 jobs were added to the U.S. economy.  But it takes at least 125,000 new jobs a month just to keep up with population growth.  So how in the world are they coming up with these numbers?  Well, the reality is that the entire decline in the unemployment rate over the past three years can be accounted for by the reduction in size of the labor force.  In other words, the Obama administration is getting unemployment to go down by pretending that millions upon millions of unemployed Americans simply do not want jobs anymore.  We saw this once again in March.  According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 600,000 Americans dropped out of the labor market during that month alone.  That pushed the labor force participation rate down  to 63.3%, which is the lowest it has been in more than 30 years.  So please don’t believe the hype.  The sad truth is that there has been no jobs recovery whatsoever.

If things were getting better, there would not be more than 101 million working age Americans without a job.

So exactly where does that statistic come from?  Well, the following explains where I got that number…

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 11,742,000 working age Americans that are officially unemployed.

In addition, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says that there are 89,967,000 working age Americans that are “not in the labor force”.  That is a new all-time record, and that number increased by a whopping 663,000 during the month of March alone.

When you add 11,742,000 working age Americans that are officially unemployed to the 89,967,000 working age Americans that are “not in the labor force”, you come up with a grand total of 101,709,000 working age Americans that do not have a job.

When you stop and think about it, that is an absolutely staggering statistic.

And anyone that tells you that “a higher percentage of Americans are working today” is telling you a complete and total lie.  During the last recession the percentage of working age Americans with a job fell dramatically, and since then we have not seen that number bounce back at all.  In fact, this is the very first time in the post-World War II era that we have not seen the employment-population ratio bounce back after a recession.  At this point, the employment-population ratio has been under 60 percent for 49 months in a row…

Employment-Population Ratio 2013

Since the end of 2009, the employment-population ratio has been remarkably steady.  Just check out these numbers…

March 2008: 62.7 percent

March 2009: 59.9 percent

March 2010: 58.5 percent

March 2011: 58.4 percent

March 2012: 58.5 percent

March 2013: 58.5 percent

We should be thankful that the percentage of working age Americans with a job did not continue to decline, but we should also be quite alarmed that it has not bounced back at all.

If there was going to be a recovery, there would have been one by now.  The next major economic downturn is rapidly approaching, and that is going to push the employment-population ratio down even farther.

So why is the U.S. economy not producing as many jobs as it used to?  Well, certainly the overall decline of the economy has a lot to do with it.  We are a nation that is drowning in debt and that is getting poorer by the day.

But since the end of the last recession, corporate profits have bounced back in a big way and are now at an all-time high.  So you would figure that the big corporations should be able to hire a lot more workers by now.

Unfortunately, that is not the way things work anymore.  Big corporations are trying to minimize the number of expensive American workers that they have on their payrolls as much as possible these days.

One way that they are doing this is through the use of technology.  Thanks to robots, computers and other forms of technology, big corporations simply do not need as many human workers as they used to.  In future years, this trend is only going to accelerate.  I wrote about how this is changing the world of employment in one of my previous articles entitled “Rise Of The Droids: Will Robots Eventually Steal All Of Our Jobs?

Another way that big corporations are replacing expensive American workers is by shipping their jobs off to the other side of the globe.  Big corporations know that they can make bigger profits by making stuff in foreign countries where they can pay workers less than a dollar an hour with no benefits.  How in the world are American workers supposed to compete with that?

For much more on how U.S. jobs are being killed by offshoring, please see this article: “55 Reasons Why You Should Buy Products That Are Made In America“.

And of course immigration is having a dramatic impact on the labor market in some areas of the country as well.  Cheap labor has dramatically driven down wages in a lot of professions.  For example, once upon a time you could live a very nice middle class lifestyle as a roofer.  But now many roofers really struggle to make a living.

When you add everything up, it paints a very bleak picture for the future of the American worker.

The cost of living keeps rising much faster than wages do, and the competition for good jobs has become incredibly fierce.

Meanwhile, the government continues to make things even easier for those that are not working.  This has caused some Americans to give up completely and to be content with letting the government take care of them.  The following is from a recent article by Monty Pelerin

As we make it easier to get unemployment benefits for longer time periods, more people take advantage of the system. So too with food stamps and disability. All programs are at or near record levels in what is supposed to be four years into an economic recovery. For many, the benefits of becoming a government dependent exceed what they can earn. One study reported that a family of four, collecting all the benefits for which they were entitled, would have to earn $65,000 per annum to have the same after-tax purchasing power.

If you are a product of the government schools and are legal to work (i.e., have skills enough that you are affordable at the minimum wage or higher), at what point do you realize that there is no need to go through the hassle of actual work. You can live pretty well by staying home and taking advantage of the entitlements available to you. That is exactly what a larger and larger percentage of the population are realizing. In many cases, it is economically irrational to work.

This behavior creates a social pathology that only worsens over time. Kids learn from their parents that work is not necessary and the many ways to game the system. In this regard, look for this problem to become worse over time unless these programs are cut back.

In some areas of the country, it actually pays not to work very hard.  According to Gary Alexander, the Secretary of Public Welfare for the state of Pennsylvania, a “single mom is better off earnings gross income of $29,000 with $57,327 in net income & benefits than to earn gross income of $69,000 with net income and benefits of $57,045.”

But the truth is that most Americans still want to work hard and would gladly take a good job if they could just find one.  The following is one example that was featured in a recent Fox News article

After a full year of fruitless job hunting, Natasha Baebler just gave up.

She’d already abandoned hope of getting work in her field, working with the disabled. But she couldn’t land anything else, either — not even a job interview at a telephone call center.

Until she feels confident enough to send out resumes again, she’ll get by on food stamps and disability checks from Social Security and live with her parents in St. Louis.

“I’m not proud of it,” says Baebler, who is in her mid-30s and is blind. “The only way I’m able to sustain any semblance of self-preservation is to rely on government programs that I have no desire to be on.”

And that is how most Americans feel.

Most Americans do not want to be dependent on the government.

Most Americans want to work hard and take care of themselves.

Unfortunately, our economy is not producing nearly enough jobs for everyone and it never will again.

So there will continue to be millions upon millions of Americans that find that they cannot take care of themselves and their families without government assistance no matter how hard they try.

And this is just the beginning – things are going to get much worse during the next major wave of the economic collapse.

Yes, at the moment there are more than 101 million working age Americans that do not have a job, but that number is actually going to go much higher in the years ahead.  The anger and frustration caused by a lack of employment opportunities is going to shake this nation.

That is why it is important to try to become less dependent on your own job.  In this economic environment, a job can disappear at literally any moment.  Anything that you can do to become less dependent on the system would be a good thing.

Homeless Bill Needs Rich Woman Photo By Josh Swieringa

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

You can tell a lot about a nation by the condition of the infrastructure.  So what does our infrastructure say about us?  It says that we are in a very advanced state of decay.  At this point, much of America is being held together with spit, duct tape and prayers.  Our roads are crumbling and thousands of our bridges look like they could collapse at any moment.  Our power grid is ancient and over a trillion gallons of untreated sewage is leaking from our aging sewer systems each year.  Our airports and our seaports are clogged with far more traffic than they were ever designed to carry.  Approximately a third of all of the dam failures that have taken place in the United States since 1874 have happened during the past decade.  Our national parks and recreation areas have been terribly neglected and our railroads are a bad joke.  Hurricane Katrina showed how vulnerable our levees are, and drinking water systems all over the country are badly outdated.  Sadly, at a time when we could use significant new investment in infrastructure, our spending on infrastructure is actually way down.  Back during the 50s and the 60s, the U.S. was spending between 3 and 4 percent of GDP on infrastructure.  Today, that figure is down to about 2.4 percent.  But of course we don’t have any extra money to spend on infrastructure because of our reckless spending and because of the massive amount of debt that we have accumulated.  While the Obama administration is spending more than half a million dollars to figure out why chimpanzees throw poop, our national infrastructure is literally falling apart all around us.  Once upon a time nobody else on the planet could match our infrastructure, and now we are in the process of becoming a joke to the rest of the world.

The following are 21 facts about America’s failing infrastructure that will blow your mind….

#1 The American Society of Civil Engineers has given America’s crumbling infrastructure an overall grade of D.

#2 There are simply not enough roads in the United States today.  Each year, traffic jams cost the commuters of America 4.2 billion hours and about 2.8 million gallons of gasoline.

#3 It is being projected that Americans will spend an average of 160 hours stuck in traffic annually by the year 2035.

#4 Approximately one-third of all roads in the United States are in substandard condition.

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

#6 One out of every four bridges in America either carries more traffic than originally intended or is in need of repair.

#7 Repairing all of the bridges in the United States that need repair would take approximately 140 billion dollars.

#8 According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, our decaying transportation system costs the U.S. economy about 78 billion dollars annually in lost time and fuel.

#9 All over America, asphalt roads are being ground up and are being replaced with gravel roads because they are cheaper to maintain.  The state of South Dakota has transformed over 100 miles of asphalt roads into gravel roads, and 38 out of the 83 counties in the state of Michigan have transformed at least some of their asphalt roads into gravel roads.

#10 There are 4,095 dams in the United States that are at risk of failure.  That number has risen by more than 100 percent since 1999.

#11 Of all the dam failures that have happened in the United States since 1874, a third of them have happened during the past decade.

#12 Close to half of all U.S. households do not have access to bus or rail transit.

#13 Our aging sewer systems spill more than a trillion gallons of untreated sewage every single year.  The cost of cleaning up that sewage each year is estimated to be greater than 50 billion dollars.

#14 It is estimated that rolling blackouts and inefficiencies in the U.S. electrical grid cost the U.S. economy approximately 80 billion dollars a year.

#15 It is being projected that by the year 2020 every single major container port in the United States will be handling at least double the volume that it was originally designed to handle.

#16 All across the United States, conditions at many of our state parks, recreation areas and historic sites are deplorable at best.  Some states have backlogs of repair projects that are now over a billion dollars long….

More than a dozen states estimate that their backlogs are at least $100 million. Massachusetts and New York’s are at least $1 billion. Hawaii officials called park conditions “deplorable” in a December report asking for $50 million per year for five years to tackle a $240 million backlog that covers parks, trails and harbors.

#17 Today, the U.S. spends about 2.4 percent of GDP on infrastructure.  Meanwhile, China spends about 9 percent of GDP on infrastructure.

#18 In the United States today, approximately 16 percent of our construction workers are unemployed.

#19 China has plans to build 55,000 miles of highways by the year 2020.  If all of those roads were put end to end, it would be longer than the total length of the entire U.S. interstate system.

#20 The World Economic Forum ranks U.S. infrastructure 23rd in the world, and we fall a little bit farther behind the rest of the developed world every single day.

#21 It has been projected that it would take 2.2 trillion dollars over the next 5 years just to repair our existing infrastructure.  That does not even include a single penny for badly needed new infrastructure.

So where did we go wrong?

Well, one of the big problems is that we have become a very materialistic society that is obsessed with short-term thinking.  Investing in infrastructure is something that has long-term benefits, but these days Americans tend to only be focused on what is happening right now and most politicians are only focused on the next election cycle.

Another major problem is that there is so much corruption and waste in our system these days.  The government certainly spends more than enough money, but very little of that money is spent wisely.  A lot of the money that could be going toward rebuilding our infrastructure is being poured down the toilet instead.  For much more on this, please read my previous article entitled “16 Sickening Facts That Show How Members Of Congress And Federal Workers Are Living The High Life At Your Expense“.

Unfortunately, it is probably appropriate that our infrastructure is decaying because we are decaying in just about every other way that it is possible for a society to decay.

We are decaying economically, politically, mentally, emotionally, physically, morally and spiritually.

We are a complete and total mess.  So why shouldn’t what is happening to our infrastructure on the outside match what is happening to us as a nation on the inside?

And sadly, we simply do not have the money that we need for infrastructure because of all the debt that we have piled up.  The federal government, our state governments and our local governments are all struggling to stay afloat in an ocean of red ink, and unfortunately that means that spending on infrastructure is likely to be cut even more in the years ahead.

So get used to rotting, crumbling, decaying infrastructure.  What you see out there right now is only just the beginning.

The Bad Jobs Report Is Just A Very Small Taste Of The Economic Nightmare That Is Coming

Another month, another bad jobs report.  For the month of May, the U.S. economy only added 69,000 jobs and the unemployment rate rose to 8.2%.  Many are calling this a total “disaster” and are worried that the U.S. economy could be headed back into another recession.  Economists had been expecting 150,000 payroll jobs would be added, so the 69,000 number really shocked a lot of people.  The truth is that the economy needs to add approximately 125,000 new jobs every single month just to keep the unemployment rate steady.  So yes, this bad jobs report is not welcome news at all – especially for the Obama administration.  When Barack Obama first took office the unemployment rate was sitting at 7.6 percent and now it is sitting at 8.2 percent.  Some “recovery”, eh?  But the reality is that this jobs report was really not that “devastating” even though the stock market had its worst day of the year.  Unemployment in America is still about at the same level as it was back at the beginning of 2012.  The tough stretch that we are going through right now is only a very small taste of the economic nightmare that is on the horizon.  If you think that things are a “disaster” right now, just wait until you see what is coming.

At the moment, 53 percent of all Americans with a bachelor’s degree under the age of 25 are either unemployed or underemployed, and there are more than 100 million working age Americans that do not currently have jobs.

But this is only just the beginning.

During the next major economic downturn, the unemployment rate in the United States is going to soar well up into the double digits.

Many Americans will look back on 2010, 2011 and 2012 as “the good old days”.

Right now, there are only small pockets of the country that are total economic hellholes.

For example, Yuma, Arizona has an unemployment rate of 26 percent, and El Centro, California has an unemployment rate of 26.2 percent.

In the future, those kinds of numbers are going to become the norm all over the nation.

Sadly, most Americans have no idea what is coming.

Today, I wanted to share with you all a couple of chilling economic forecasts that I have been made aware of recently.

The first is from Raoul Pal.  According to Zero Hedge, Raoul Pal “previously co-managed the GLG Global Macro Fund in London for GLG Partners, one of the largest hedge fund groups in the world. Raoul came to GLG from Goldman Sachs where he co-managed the hedge fund sales business in Equities and Equity Derivatives in Europe… Raoul Pal retired from managing client money in 2004 at the age of 36 and now lives on the Valencian coast of Spain, from where he writes.”

The following is from a Zero Hedge summary of a recent presentation by Raoul Pal….

  • We don’t know exactly what is to come, but we can all join the very few dots from where we are now, to the collapse of the first major bank…
  • With very limited room for government bailouts, we can very easily join the next dots from the first bank closure to the collapse of the whole European banking system, and then to the bankruptcy of the governments themselves.
  • There are almost no brakes in the system to stop this, and almost no one realises the seriousness of the situation.
  • The problem is not Government debt per se. The real problem is that the $70 trillion in G10 debt is the collateral for $700 trillion in derivatives…
  • Yes, that equates to 1200% of Global GDP and it rests on very, very weak foundations
  • From an EU crisis, we only have to join one dot for a UK crisis of equal magnitude.
  • And then do you think Japan and China would not be next?
  • And then do you think the US would survive unscathed?
  • That is the end of the fractional reserve banking system and of fiat money.
  • It is the big RESET.

It continues:

  • Bonds will be stuck at 1% in the US, Germany, UK and Japan (for this phase).
  • The whole bond market will be dead.
  • Short selling on bonds – banned
  • Short selling stocks – banned
  • CDS – banned
  • Short futures – banned
  • Put options – banned
  • All that is left is the Dollar and Gold

It only gets better. We use the term loosely:

  • We have around 6 months left of trading in Western markets to protect ourselves or make enough money to offset future losses.
  • Spend your time looking at the risks of custody, safekeeping, counterparty etc. Assume that no one and nothing is safe.
  • After that…we put on our tin helmets and hide until the new system emerges

So how soon does Raoul Pal think all of this is going to happen?….

From a timing perspective, I think 2012 and 2013 will usher in the end.

You can find his entire presentation entitled “The End Game” right here.

What Raoul Pal is saying lines up very well with what Steve Quayle’s anonymous international banking source is telling him….

There is no stopping this…We are still on track as I have been predicting for a while now for a fall/winter collapse of the Eurozone and naked exposure of all derivative markets the world over. Europeans will go through a major reset, after time they will recover as Europeans do not carry the type of personal debt that Americans do. It is for America that I worry. Look for these signs next:

1- JPM will be bailed out again but it will not stop the coming market crash. More details will emerge about their derivative swap failure $150 billion and counting.

2-BOA (BAC Bank of America) will fold and be absorbed into JPM as a way to prop up the bleeding Giant. JPM will get the best picking of this deal just like they got with Bear Stearns.

3- Massive layoffs at Citigroup and Wells Fargo

4- Goldman Sachs finally pays the piper, look for massive cuts there as well as BIG Losses

5- Bond market bust which leads to freeze of all bond sales

6- Derivative bust the next one will be BOA followed by Citigroup

7- All CDS shorts and swaps will freeze.

8- Total Meltdown

You can read the rest of what that source is saying right here.

As I have been saying all along, there are two keys that you need to be watching right now….

#1 Europe

#2 Derivatives

Sadly, the articles that I write about Europe tend to get far less of a response than my other articles get.  Most Americans simply do not understand that what is happening in Europe right now is going to significantly affect their daily lives.

And most Americans have very little understanding of derivatives.  But as you just read, there are some in the financial community that are warning that we could see the derivatives bubble burst very soon.

Time is running out.  This period of relative stability that we are currently experiencing will not last forever.

You better get ready.

Finca Bayano

Panama Relocation Tours




 

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